Sunak reveals coronavirus bailout for self-employed… but they must wait until June

“Rishi Sunak has announced a £9 billion bailout for nearly 4 million self-employed workers hit by the coronavirus outbreak. The chancellor said that the self-employed would be able to claim up to £2,500 a month in the form of a government grant over a three-month period. The Treasury says that on average people will receive £940 a month each. However, the scheme will only be open to those with trading profits of up to £50,000 a year and those who earn the “majority” of their income from self-employment. It will also not be in place until June, with the Treasury advising people to claim Universal Credit until the system is online. Mr Sunak also warned the self-employed would face national insurance increases in future. The chancellor said that given the scale of support from the state it was only fair that they should contribute more in future.” – The Times

  • Unemployment to soar after Chancellor delays help – Daily Telegraph
  • How will Sunak’s support plan for the self-employed work? – FT
  • Chancellor warns of ‘payback time’ for taxpayers – Daily Express


  • Thousands of charities ‘teetering on the brink’, Chancellor warned – Daily Telegraph


  • Government support for the self-employed was extremely generous – The Times
  • The austerity years may soon look like a golden era of opulence – The Sun


>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: “We all stand together.” Sunak announces a package for the self-employed at the Government’s daily press conference.

Covid-19: UK missed out on EU equipment scheme due to ‘communications’ issue…

“The British government said Thursday that it missed the deadline for taking part in an EU-wide effort to purchase life-saving ventilators and other equipment to treat coronavirus because of a “communication problem.” The government had been accused of putting Brexit over the health of U.K. citizens by refusing to participate in EU joint procurement schemes after the prime minister’s spokesman said the U.K. was not participating because it is “no longer a member” and is “making our own efforts.”
But on Thursday, the British government said the U.K. missed the deadline to join because it did not receive an invitation from the European Commission in time. A U.K. government spokesperson said the Commission had since informed the U.K. it is eligible to take part until the end of the transition period on December 31.” – Politico

  • Britain calls on embassies to source ventilators for coronavirus fight – FT


  • UK-EU talks on post-Brexit relations ‘in deep freeze’ – The Guardian

>Today: MPs Etc.: Coronavirus Count

…as lack of testing means NHS ‘staff are infecting patients’

“NHS staff who have contracted coronavirus but remain at work because they show no symptoms are probably infecting patients, a public health official admitted yesterday. Doctors said they were worried about becoming “part of the problem” owing to a lack of testing and a shortage of protective equipment, particularly outside hospitals. Masks, gloves and visors can help stop people infecting others and stop them becoming infected. The British Medical Association said that staff testing was urgently needed so that doctors and nurses knew if it was safe for them to see patients. Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the union, said: “Each day more staff are self-isolating.” Social care chiefs said the same problems were affecting their sector. They warned that it was unlikely they would meet the NHS target of freeing up 15,000 beds by taking people into community settings.” – The Times

  • Test to show immunity to coronavirus is due ‘within two weeks’ – The Times
  • Lack of virus testing is hitting NHS staff numbers – FT
  • Nurses sent to London as capital faces ‘tsunami’ of virus patients – The Guardian
  • UK ‘peak’ expected to hit ‘in just nine days’ – Daily Express
  • BMA discourages medical students from unpaid roles – The Times
  • Doctor dies in the UK from suspected Covid-19 – Daily Telegraph


  • Manchester and Birmingham amongst hosts of 13 new field hospitals – The Sun
  • UK promises £210m to find coronavirus vaccine – The Times
  • Former chief adviser: Over-90s should not ‘clog up’ NHS hospitals during crisis – Daily Telegraph
  • Gwent becomes second-worst affected area after London – Daily Mail
  • Statistics: 11,658 infections, 578 deaths – The Sun
  • Latest advice – HM Government


Ministers 1) Jenrick unveils food parcels for the vulnerable

“New Government food hampers which will be sent out to 1.5 million vulnerable people from this weekend will contain packets of biscuits following a personal intervention by Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick. The packages are intended to provide enough food and supplies to last a vulnerable person living alone for a week. Their contents include a packet of cornflakes, penne pasta, tinned fruit, tea bags, a packet of apples and rolls of lavatory paper… Mr Jenrick, who will personally deliver some of the boxes this weekend to people stuck at home because of coronavirus, said they will eventually be tailored to individual tastes despite being generic for now.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Government preparing to launch Land Army-style campaign to help farmers harvest crops – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The last thing we need in the fight against this virus is a Ministry of Supply

Ministers 2) Patel in row with Boris Johnson over closing Britain’s borders

“Ms Patel tried to build a coalition of senior Cabinet ministers to put the case to Downing Street, only for Number 10 to state publicly that there were “no plans” to stop flights from countries blighted by coronavirus, including Iran and the US. Mr Johnson was angry that Home Office discussions of a border lockdown – disclosed in the Daily Telegraph – had been made public, according to Whitehall sources. Ms Patel is understood to have wanted to raise the issue in one of the daily meetings of Cabinet sub-committees, arguing that Border Force, which is overseen by the Home Office, would be able to use existing immigration rules to stop flights on the basis that they would not be “conducive to the public good”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Criminals face up to two years in jail for ‘weaponising’ coronavirus – The Sun
  • Police take to the streets to stop drivers during lockdown… – Daily Mail
  • …and measures ‘could be in place for six months’ – The Sun

Priti Patel: I will give our forces everything they need to help us beat this crisis

“I am beyond proud of our dedicated police officers and the compassion, courage and sacrifice they exemplify. We are asking a lot, but this country needs them to remain on our streets in this time of crisis. To protect us from unscrupulous criminals, and to protect us from those who do not play by the rules designed to protect us all from this deadly pandemic. The role of the police is crucial, and we all need to help – starting with the Government. That is why we have given them new powers to enforce the emergency rules we have put in place. This country has a proud history of policing by consent and the professional judgement of our frontline officers will be crucial in protecting our communities, protecting our NHS and saving lives.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Coronavirus has not suspended politics but revealed the nature of power – David Runciman, – The Guardian
  • The Left are playing politics with Covid-19 – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph
  • Even now, Corbyn’s fans think he’s winning – Philip Collins, The Times


  • There is a limit to how long lockdowns can be sustained – The Times

Banks call for freeze on UK home sales

“Banks are pressing for a full suspension of the housing market after the UK government told buyers and sellers to delay transactions because of the coronavirus outbreak.  In talks between lenders and ministers, banks have expressed concern about the impact of the pandemic on valuations. They are also concerned about granting credit when the economy is in freefall, according to senior bankers. They have told ministers it has become impossible to survey properties, according to people briefed on the discussion. Bank call centres have also been inundated with anxious homeowners requesting mortgage holidays. The government has urged buyers and sellers to delay moving. It said no visitors were allowed into properties while the ‘stay-at-home’ measures were in force, including estate agents, surveyors or potential buyers.” – FT

  • Hundreds of mortgages withdrawn from sale – Daily Telegraph
  • Coronavirus prompts No 10 to ‘suspend housing market’ – The Times


  • Barclayclard and BT named and shamed by MPs over poor working conditions – The Sun
  • Ministers warn lenders not to exploit emergency scheme – Daily Mail

China ‘bulk-bought medical supplies abroad before coronavirus crisis hit’

“As the coronavirus took hold in Wuhan in February, staff of a Chinese government-backed global property giant were ordered to buy up vast quantities of western medicines and medical equipment to send to China. Sources within the company told the Sydney Morning Herald that it was an international endeavour by the Greenland Group to scour the world for bulk supplies of surgical masks, thermometers, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitisers, gloves and paracetamol for China’s health system. According to a company newsletter, the Greenland Group’s overseas offices brought up three million protective masks, 700,000 hazmat suits and 500,000 pairs of protective gloves from “Australia, Canada, Turkey and other countries”.” – The Times

  • Trump and Xi signal a thaw with phone call – FT
  • US may not resuscitate the dying to aid doctors as cases overtake China – The Times

>Yesterday: Garvan Walshe’s column: South Korea, Taiwan and Germany gained from mass testing. Why have we been so slow?

MPs no longer to get automatic vote on constituency boundary plans

“MPs will no longer automatically get a vote on any future plans to redraw constituency boundaries. The government had planned to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 but announced a U-turn on Wednesday, the last day before parliamentary recess, citing the increased workload expected because of Brexit. However, it has also emerged that among the many changes planned by the government is that any future decisions from the Boundary Commission would be implemented automatically. The Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith said this would stop any “interference” in the process. A set of boundary plans were voted down by opposition MPs in 2013… The government has now changed the rules so that the new map would be implemented automatically by bringing it to parliament through a mechanism called an order in council.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The new boundary review will stick at 650 seats. Cui bono?

News in Brief:

  • Coronavirus will change nothing – Ben Gummer, UnHerd
  • How deadly is Covid-19? It’s still far from clear – Dr John Lee, The Spectator
  • Nobody has been ‘vindicated’ by the virus – Kristian Niemietz, CapX
  • How joyful to see resourceful ‘Covid-fluencers’ usurp our remote celebrities – Charlotte Gill, Daily Telegraph
  • The “real” Labour Party – Sarah Ditum, The Critic