Coronavirus 1) Johnson braces the public for ‘severe disruption’

“Summoning up a Blitz spirit, Mr Johnson warned the public that the measures planned by the government “will cause severe disruption across our country for many months”, but promised Britain would pull through… After confirmed cases rose yesterday by 140 to 596, the biggest daily rise yet, Mr Johnson said this was just the tip of the iceberg. “The true number of cases is higher, perhaps much higher, than the number of cases we have so far confirmed with tests,” he said. Government modelling suggests that the real figure is 5,000-10,000. While Professor Whitty stressed that the initial containment stage had slowed the rate at which cases rise each day – slower in Britain than some other countries – there was now no chance of stopping the virus spreading.” – The Times

  • Many families in Britain will lose loved ones before their time, he warns – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson rules out cancelling public gatherings for now despite Scotland ban – The Sun
  • Military ‘is on stand-by’ as MoD officials draw up emergency contingency plans – Daily Mail


>Today: MPs Etc.: Coronavirus Count

>Yesterday: VIdeo: WATCH: “I must level with you. Families are going to lose loved one before their time.” Johnson’s Coronavirus press conference.

Coronavirus 2) Brexit talks postponed as travel restrictions bite

“The second round of Brexit trade negotiations will not take place in London next week, as the UK and EU explore ways to keep talks going despite increasing travel restrictions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. In a joint statement on Thursday, London and Brussels said face-to-face negotiations would not take place as planned. “Given the latest COVID-19 developments, UK and EU negotiators have today jointly decided not to hold next week’s round of negotiations in London, in the form originally scheduled.” More than a hundred trade experts from Brussels were due to arrive in London next week to continue from the first round of talks that Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said revealed “very serious divergences” between both parties.” – FT

  • UK and EU agree to ‘dial down rhetoric’ in Brexit talks – The Guardian


  • Don’t be surprised if this virus delays Brexit – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Lagarde, von der Leyen and Merkel have all failed to take charge of Europe’s response to the Coronavirus

>Yesterday: Ben Roback’s column: How coronavirus could derail Trump’s economy-focused campaign

Coronavirus 3) Hunt breaks ranks to challenge Government’s strategy

“Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has revealed he is ‘surprised and concerned’ Boris Johnson didn’t lockdown parts of Britain to tackle the coronavirus ‘national emergency’ as debate rages over whether the PM has gone far enough to protect the 66million population from the pandemic. Mr Hunt, who is now chair of the Commons health and social care select committee, believes the Prime Minister must do more to encourage social distancing – and was particularly concerned care homes are not being told to ban visitors. The official number of coronavirus cases in the UK yesterday jumped by 134 to 590 with 10 deaths – but the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the true number was probably up to 10,000 cases and growing rapidly.” – Daily Mail

  • Health expert brands UK’s coronavirus response ‘pathetic’ – The Guardian
  • Global death toll from coronavirus nears 5,000 – Daily Mail
  • Has the Government got its strategy right? – Daily Telegraph


  • Seventh MP self-isolating after lunch with Dorries – The Sun
  • Parliament ‘panics’ as Cabinet minister awaits results – Daily Express

>Today: Paul Maynard MP in Comment: The Coronavirus and airlines. There’s an urgent need to suspend the slot allocation rules.


Coronavirus 4) Iain Martin: Crisis has revealed Johnson’s true colours

“In truth, Mr Johnson is not Churchill. He is much better understood as a follower of the Ancients, who thinks that the most important lessons in leadership come from Greek and Roman civilisation. In a different context, Paul Goodman, editor of the website ConservativeHome, observed earlier this year that Mr Johnson is a pre-Christian figure. In other words, he regards Christianity, with its restrictive moral codes, as a relatively new sect that turned up in Rome in the first century AD and ruined things. One historical parallel with his leadership style on coronavirus is Fabius Maximus. The Roman general was known as “the delayer” and deftly declined to deploy his entire armies against Hannibal’s superior forces.” – The Times

  • Johnson’s coronavirus plan protects the NHS, and that is vital – Prof Hugh Pennington, The Sun
  • Global response shows that the nation state is back – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • The Government should not be allowing sporting events to continue – Steven Fletcher, Daily Mail


  • The Prime Minister is gambling – The Times

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: The virus may give a permanent boost to home working – as employers learn to trust employees to do it

Budget: Sunak ‘has postponed tax rises’ with painful autumn budget expected

“The Chancellor is expected to deliver a “painful” Budget in November following his multibillion pound “giveaway” this week. Previous tax-raising plans were shelved in light of the coronavirus crisis, a source familiar with Treasury discussions told The Telegraph. “Difficult” decisions will now be delayed until later in the year, the source said, adding: “The next Budget will be the painful one.” On Wednesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled an £18 billion spending spree in addition to an emergency £12 billion of measures in response to the coronavirus health crisis. It marked the biggest loosening of the purse strings since Norman Lamont’s pre-election giveaway Budget of 1992, the Office for Budget Responsibility said.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Spending spree creates £1 trillion state, say economists – The Times
  • Budget lifts 200,000 out of the ‘pensions taper’ – FT


  • Think tank: £12bn relief package for small businesses ‘may be too late’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Sunak sets up five schemes to help SMEs survive virus – FT
  • Worst day for markets since Black Monday crash of 1987 – The Times


  • Egocentric budget gives Johnson everything and councils nothing – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian


Jenrick announces planning overhaul to help Brits ‘build up’

“Brits will be able to build extra storeys and rooms onto their homes without any planning permission in a major overhaul of red tape unveiled yesterday. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick revealed he is drawing up a regulations bonfire in a bid to finally deliver the 300,000 new homes a year needed to solve the housing crisis. A new planning blueprint will also boost councils’ power to use compulsory purchase orders to seize land that developers have failed to build on. Mr Jenrick told MPs yesterday that “home ownership seems like a dream out of reach” for too many still… Instead of bulldozing the green belt, the new strategy is centred on filling the nation’s existing towns and cities with many more homes than now.” – The Sun

  • Housing Secretary outlines reforms including greater use of brownfield sites – FT
  • Policy of building homes on flood plains to be reviewed – The Guardian


  • It’s time to bring our planning system into the 21st century – Robert Jenrick MP, Daily Telegraph


  • There was a hole in the budget where supply side reform should have been – The Times

>Today: James Palmer in Local Government: My plan to offer £100,000 homes in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

Attorney-General calls for more protection for veterans

“A specialist judge should assess allegations of crimes by British soldiers in Northern Ireland before giving the go-ahead for prosecution, the province’s senior law officer has said. John Larkin, QC, Northern Ireland’s attorney-general, backed the creation of a statute of limitations on all criminal offences in the province, provided there was wider political support for the move. He said yesterday that Boris Johnson’s commitment to curb legacy prosecutions of former army personnel would succeed only if the government changed the law. Johnny Mercer, the veterans minister, said that he would introduce a bill next week to protect ex-personnel from vexatious legal claims.” – The Times

  • Judge says police should be forced to be neutral during investigations – The Times


  • Met’s failure to learn from its mistakes is a national scandal – Sean O’Neill, The Times

I ‘stayed quiet for Scotland’, Salmond accuser tells court

“A civil servant whom Alex Salmond is accused of sexually assaulting has told a court that she did not report him to the police because she feared damaging the campaign for Scottish independence. The woman alleged that Scotland’s then first minister attacked her in December 2013, about nine months before the referendum. The High Court in Edinburgh heard yesterday that Mr Salmond allegedly got on top of the woman on a bed, kissed her “sloppily and haphazardly” and murmured that she was irresistible. She was able to leave and immediately texted a senior colleague who, during a conversation about a day later, told her that what had happened “could be a crime”, the court was told.” – The Times

  • Women told not to work with ex-SNP leader alone at night – FT


  • Secession would be disastrous – John Lloyd, FT

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Davies pivots in a devosceptic direction as he ‘relaunches’ his leadership

News in Brief:

  • Notes from the plague: inside Italy’s quarantine – John C Hulsman, CapX
  • Why social distancing won’t stop the pandemic – Jack Dickens, Reaction
  • How worried should we be about coronavirus? – Ross Clark, The Spectator
  • Four Eyes or Six? Huawei’s private sector implications – William Malcolmson, The Critic
  • Why aren’t women having more babies? – Mary Harrington, UnHerd