Coronavirus: Government ‘prepares for death toll of 100,000’…

“Ministers are preparing for a potential coronavirus death toll as high as 100,000 as they try to brace the country for months of upheaval without spreading panic. Boris Johnson will chair his second meeting of the Cobra emergency committee tomorrow, where medical experts are expected to recommend that the government move formally into the second “delay” phase of the government’s response. That could lead to more people working from home and fewer public gatherings. Officials in Whitehall last week began describing a 100,000 figure as the “central estimate” of the potential death toll, according to a source involved in the preparations, rather than the previously publicised worst case scenario of 500,000 deaths if 80% of the population were infected.” – Sunday Times

  • 209 people test positive as UK case count surges – Sunday Telegraph
  • Emergency law would safeguard jobs of NHS volunteers – The Observer
  • GCSEs and A-levels ‘may be delayed’ – Sunday Times
  • Italy quarantines Lombardy over coronavirus – FT
  • Latest advice – HM Government


  • Crisis is turning Johnson into the leader he’s always wanted to be – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday
  • Playing down coronavirus is foolish – Matthew Syed, Sunday Times
  • Don’t let small businesses bear the brunt, Chancellor – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph


  • Whatever the virus does next, parliament must stay open – Sunday Times

>Today: ToryDiary: British politics begins self-isolation

…as Sunak pledges he will not let coronavirus cripple the economy

“Rishi Sunak has promised “targeted” measures to help businesses and workers “get through to the other side” of an economic downturn as he warns of the shock that could be caused by a coronavirus epidemic. In his first interview as Chancellor, Mr Sunak told The Telegraph that this week’s Budget would include plans to give firms additional time to pay tax if staff were unable to work and shoppers stopped “spending money in the normal way”. The comments suggested a possible expansion of the Time to Pay initiative, which allows firms to spread payments over months or years. Mr Sunak pledged to prevent an epidemic from having a “permanent impact” on firms that were otherwise financially sound, as he warned that the economy would suffer a “supply shock” if “lots of people” were ill and unable to go to work.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Chancellor promises budget aimed at helping firms deal with coronavirus – The Observer
  • Hammond says EU trade talks could be postponed due to outbreak – Sunday Express


  • Sunak set to unveil £5.2bn of funding for UK flood defences in Budget – FT
  • Treasury masterplan to turbocharge UK economy in north after Brexit – Sunday Express
  • Supermarkets begin food rationing after wave of panic buying – Sunday Telegraph
  • Budding football stars in UK’s poorest areas will get £43million – Sun on Sunday


  • ‘I’m the finance director, Boris is the chief executive’ – Sunday Telegraph

Senior Tories urge Johnson to curb the use of human rights laws in UK courts

“Boris Johnson could use his majority to depart from human rights laws in areas where European judges have “overreached”, under a plan being discussed by senior Tories. The Prime Minister is being urged to declare that laws such as those providing safeguards to soldiers would apply “notwithstanding” the Human Rights Act. The move would form part of an attempt to roll back the influence of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which Cabinet ministers have accused of distorting the 67-year-old European Convention on Human Rights. Martin Howe, an influential Brexiteer QC, sets out the proposal as a possible temporary measure which could be used to curb the use of human rights laws in UK courts, in particular cases where ministers believe the Strasbourg court has effectively created new legislation that goes significantly further than the 1953 convention.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Idea that Johnson is ‘moving left’ may be Thatcher’s final victory – Andy Beckett, The Observer

Parliamentary watchdog ‘to investigate Johnson’s Caribbean holiday’

“Parliament’s sleaze watchdog has launched an investigation into Boris Johnson and the mystery over who funded his recent luxury Caribbean holiday, the Observer has learned. Prompting fresh questions over the prime minister’s probity, the parliamentary commissioner for standards decided last week to pursue an official inquiry into Johnson amid unanswered questions over the identity of the donor who lent him a property on the island of Mustique over new year. It is the first time a serving prime minister has been investigated by the commissioner, who is responsible for regulating MPs’ conduct and propriety. The development means that three high-level inquiries are under way into allegations surrounding Johnson’s conduct, including his relationship with US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri.” – The Observer

Rutnam ‘declared war’ on Priti Patel, says senior civil servant in new backing for Home Secretary

“A senior civil servant has launched an attack on Sir Philip Rutnam, the Home Office’s former top official, for “declaring war” on Priti Patel, accusing him of having “undermined the integrity” of his profession. In an interview with The Telegraph, the mandarin said they had witnessed officials openly undermining Ms Patel in meetings, having apparently “disagreed with what she was trying to do”. The official witnessed the minister becoming “frustrated” but said they never witnessed “bullying”. The senior Whitehall figure, who has served under both Labour and Conservative governments, said the “normal process” in Whitehall would have seen Sir Philip take a new role if he and Ms Patel could not work together.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • She faces ‘a barrage of racist and sexist abuse on social media’ – Mail on Sunday
  • Home Secretary defended by almost 100 allies over bullying claims – Sun on Sunday
  • Patel ‘only guilty of seeking answers’ – Sunday Express
  • Javid is accused of stoking the bullying storm – Mail on Sunday

Iain Duncan Smith: Claims that the Home Secretary is some kind of vile-tempered bully are wrong

“There is no doubt in my mind that the sustained attacks on Priti Patel have been ­orchestrated by a small clique of disgruntled civil servants. While this is an attack on one ­Cabinet minister, the truth is that this “death by a thousand smears,” is a direct challenge to who governs. And it’s a fight this government must win. It all started when Ms Patel’s ­Permanent Secretary, Sir Philip ­Rutnam, a somewhat miserable-looking ­individual, resigned on a ­drizzly Saturday – the weather fitting his look. His statement, laced with a sense of self-worth, deliberately set out to destroy the Home Secretary – and what followed over the following days has been an orchestrated ­campaign to smear her.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Treat officials as enemies and that’s what they’ll become – Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer
  • Patel is ‘short, aggressive and very angry’ – Tim Shipman, Sunday Times
  • How repellent to damn minorities for not having the ‘right’ politics – Nick Cohen, The Observer

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Grassroots members stand by Patel in our latest Cabinet League Table

UK to withdraw from EU aviation safety regulator, Shapps says

“The UK is to withdraw from the European Union aviation safety regulator (EASA) after the Brexit transition period, Grant Shapps has confirmed. The transport secretary said many of the most senior figures at the organisation headquartered in Cologne, Germany were British and that they would gradually return to the UK throughout this year as regulatory powers reverted to the Civil Aviation Authority. “As you would expect from an independent nation, we can’t be subject to the rules and laws made by somebody else, so we can’t accept rules from the EU commission and we can’t accept rulings in terms of court cases from the European court of justice or anybody else, any more than the US would,” he told Aviation Week in Washington.” – The Observer

  • UK aerospace industry warns of risk of move – FT

>Today: Elliott Keck in Comment: Johnson’s approach to the EU negotiation is straight out of The Office

Rees-Mogg wants to save the home of Victorian ‘Brexiteer’

“The Victorian radical Richard Cobden is revered by Brexiteers for setting Britain on the path to becoming a global trading power. So Jacob Rees-Mogg was dismayed to hear that Cobden’s family seat in West Sussex is being sold by its current owner, the YMCA, to a developer that wants to turn it into a wedding venue and a wellness centre offering massages and a hot tub. The Tory MP and Steve Baker, his successor as chairman of the European Research Group, are supporting a campaign to preserve Dunford House, a grade II listed property in West Sussex, as a “shrine” to the great free-trader… A campaign is launched this weekend by Anthony Howe, a professor at the University of East Anglia who is an authority on Cobden.” – Sunday Times

>Yesterday: Book Reviews: Conservatism is dying: the liberals have won

Salmond to appear in court on 14 sexual offences charges

“For the seven years before Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum, Alex Salmond was the dominant figure in the curved concrete parliament that sits at the foot of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. From Monday, the former first minister will appear in a very different arena a few minutes’ walk up the historic thoroughfare: the stern neoclassical building that houses the High Court.  The trial of Mr Salmond, on 14 charges including attempted rape and sexual and indecent assault, marks an extraordinary new chapter in the life of Scotland’s most influential politician of recent times, and a historic moment for the nation’s criminal justice system.  “It’s going to be the most high-profile sexual offence prosecution of the most high-profile person there has ever been in Scotland,” said Andrew Tickell, lecturer in law at Glasgow Caledonian University.” – FT

  • What will happen and how it will be reported – The Observer


  • Peston accuses BBC of pulling report on independence because bosses ‘feared the ire of Alex Salmond’ – Mail on Sunday

Unite ‘threatens to stop funding Labour’ if it ditches hard-left agenda

“Labour’s biggest union backer has threatened to stop funding the party if its next leader ditches Jeremy Corbyn’s hard-left agenda. Unite boss Len McCluskey bluntly warned it will “end in disaster” if the new chief attempts to drift back towards the middle ground. His remarks – clearly aimed at leadership favourite Sir Keir Starmer – show he is determined to keep his stranglehold on the party… Mr McCluskey’s giant Unite union is Labour’s biggest donor, pumping £3 million into campaign coffers during the last general election alone. Sir Keir has promised to continue a radical agenda but “Red Len” suspects it is all talk to win the votes of the hard-left members who elected Mr Corbyn.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Nandy demands answers after new party members are left without ballot papers – Mail on Sunday

News in Brief:

  • Maugham’s latest legal action is a portent of things to come – Henry Hill, CapX
  • Lammy’s double standards – Eric Kaufmann, UnHerd
  • Row over Moore is a test for the Guardian’s liberal credentials – Alex Massie, The Spectator
  • Subjective, judge-diagnosed feelings cannot be the basis for law – Ben Lewis, The Critic
  • Modern liberalism destroys liberty – Jack Dickens, Reaction