Chancellor to help one in three self-employed people amid pushback over more big bailouts

“One in three self-employed workers are in line to have the Government pay their wages amid the coronavirus crisis after Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, warned that all five million could not expect “blanket cash subsidies”. On Thursday, Mr Sunak will announce an emergency package for the self-employed, nearly a week after setting out 80 per cent wage subsidies for employees.  The Treasury has spent days deliberating how to best target the self-employed people who need help most. One option is to offer a similar subsidy to the one given to employees, but with a lower cap than £2,500 to make the bailout more affordable. The money is expected only to be available to those self-employed people who can prove they have been directly affected, estimated at about 1.7 million out of nearly five million.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Bailout will compensate 2m self‑employed workers… – The Times
  • …but they will need to wait until end of May to get emergency cash – The Sun
  • Britain heading for a deep recession, say experts – FT
  • Almost 500,000 people in UK apply for universal credit in nine days – The Guardian


Katy Balls: Coronavirus is a stress-test for the cabinet, and Sunak is coming out best

“As the prime minister reluctantly brings in draconian measures, reports suggest that under-strain cabinet ministers have now turned their ire on one another – competing for promotion as the “chief executive” of government. The news that Dominic Raab is the “designated survivor” should Johnson fall ill is said to have gone down like a cup of cold sick with his rivals… The minister of the hour is Sunak. His fast promotion to chancellor had led to snipes that he would be a “baby chino” – a chancellor in name only. Instead, he’s become the poster boy of good government – praised for offering an emotional intelligence at the various press conferences that has at times been lacking from the prime minister. YouGov polling this week suggests Sunak has gone from relative unknown to most popular government minister.” – The Guardian

  • Recession will do more harm than the virus – Gerard Baker, The Times
  • Shock forces Europe to face its ‘Hamilton moment’ – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph
  • This is the cost of our hideous complacency – David Aaronovitch, The Times


  • How to support the self-employed through the pandemic – FT

NHS now likely to cope with coronavirus, says key scientist…

“The virus death toll could end up being “substantially lower” than 20,000 with most of the fatalities in people who would have died later this year anyway, a government adviser has said. Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College scientist whose research precipitated tougher government measures last week, told MPs: “It [the deaths of those who would have died anyway] might be as much as half or two thirds of the deaths we see, because these are people at the end of their lives or who have underlying conditions.” Professor Ferguson is a key member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, which is providing the evidence guiding Mr Johnson’s response to the coronavirus.” – The Times

  • Symptom tracker app suggests 6.5m Britons may already have coronavirus – Daily Telegraph
  • Loosen rules ‘to speed up hunt for coronavirus vaccine’ – The Times
  • Johnson pushed to accelerate coronavirus testing – FT
  • Chief Medical Officer warns of ‘global bottleneck’ of immunity kits – Daily Mail
  • NHS symptom checker may be giving people a ‘false sense of security’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Huge boost as 10,000 Dyson ventilators ordered for Britain – Daily Express
  • Hopes rise for home coronavirus antibody test – The Times


  • Testing is the best route back to normality – The Sun

>Today: Francis Davis in Comment: These virus guidelines signal a go-ahead for a cull of the vulnerable and disabled

…as Hancock scraps NHS parking charges for medical staff

“Parking charges for NHS staff will be lifted while they fight the coronavirus outbreak, the Government has said, with the move following a public outcry. NHS workers will also be able to park for free in council-owned car parks and parking bays, and Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said the move was in response to the “unprecedented challenge” faced by the NHS. Under the package, the National Car Parking Group confirmed that it will also provide NHS staff with free parking at all 150 of its car parks in England. It came as a petition calling for free parking for NHS staff attracted more than 400,000 signatures in four days. Rules vary by NHS trust, but health service workers can pay anything between £50 and £200 a month to park at work.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Fear ‘contagious’ among staff fighting on NHS front line – The Times
  • Equalise front-line doctors’ death benefits, says BMA – FT
  • UK outbreak may have started in January – Daily Telegraph
  • Army of black cabbies could ferry NHS staff – The Sun

>Yesterday: Dr Luke Evans MP’s column: New in Parliament. A doctor on the Health Select Committee. And tasked with helping to lead locally.

Patel calls for borders to be closed stop new coronavirus cases being imported

“Priti Patel has called for UK borders to be closed to stop people arriving from coronavirus hotspots. The Home Secretary is seeking support for her plans to stop passengers being able to fly in to the UK from countries with high levels of infections such as Iran, the US and China. Mrs Patel believes flights from virus hotspots should not be allowed when the country is on lockdown to prevent its spread… The lack of a travel ban in the UK is in stark contrast to policies in the EU and the US, which have closed their borders to travellers from many other countries. Flights headed to the UK from New York, Tehran, Rome and Beijing all took off yesterday. An estimated 100,000 passengers are still arriving through UK airports each day – around one fifth of the number before the pandemic.” – Daily Mail

  • Refugee doctors plead for fast-track to practise in UK – FT


>Today: MPs Etc.: Coronavirus Count

Johnson looks at ‘wartime’ powers to prevent profiteering during crisis…

“The Government is looking at new “wartime” powers to set a maximum price for certain foods and products in order to stop companies from profiteering amid the coronavirus outbreak. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, said he was examining “the legislative framework … to prevent profiteering, just as happened in wartime many many years ago”. There have been reports that the prices of some everyday food and other products, such as hand sanitiser, being increased as stocks have run low… The Government brought in maximum price controls during the Second World War in order to prevent businesses from profiteering. In one case, Blaydon District Industrial and Provident Society in Newcastle was fined £290 in 1941 after it sold two pounds of apples for about £11 when the maximum price was £4.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Expert claims UK could end up with food rationing – Daily Express
  • Grateful salute to best of Britain as 500,000 volunteer their help – The Times
  • Prime Minister backed by huge majority in new poll – Daily Express


  • Remember the heroes and villains of this crisis – Jenni Russell, The Times
  • We simply don’t know what kind of Britain will awake from all this – Martin Kettle, The Guardian


  • Overwhelmingly positive response shows a united and generous country – The Times



…as English police to ‘get power to use force’ to impose coronavirus lockdown

“Police will be authorised to use force to send people back home if they refuse to obey the coronavirus lockdown, under government plans. Ministers will issue fuller details by Thursday of how police will enforce the lockdown ordered by the prime minister on Monday, aimed at stopping the spread of the virus by keeping people apart. The Guardian has learned that, under plans being discussed by ministers and senior officials, officers would first encourage and cajole people to go back indoors if they suspect them of being out of their home in breach of the ban. If that and the issuing of a fine failed, reasonable force could be used as a last resort.” – The Guardian

  • Officers are drafted in to guard shops to stop panic buying – Daily Mail
  • Buckland says prisoners may be released early to ease coronavirus crisis in jails – Daily Telegraph


  • We must act before coronavirus overwhelms our prisons – Matthew Scott, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Richard Walton in Think Tanks: The challenge of the virus to policing. And how forces will and should respond.

Positive test for Prince Charles raises royal coronavirus fears

“The heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, on Wednesday became the most prominent public figure in the UK to be confirmed as having coronavirus, in a development that raises questions about the risk the virus poses to senior royals. Clarence House, the prince’s official residence, said the Prince of Wales, 71, had been tested for the illness in Aberdeenshire, where he has an official residence at Birkhall, on the queen’s Balmoral Estate.  “He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual,” Clarence House said.  The prince’s wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, had also been tested but did not have the virus, the statement added.” – FT

  • Heir to the throne ‘in good spirits’ after positive coronavirus test – The Times
  • Queen holds audience with PM by phone – The Guardian


  • As a future king, Charles could take no chances – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph

Corbyn attacks Government over builders being forced to work

“Jeremy Corbyn has revealed how a construction worker suffering from coronavirus has admitted to using the London Tube as he had “no choice” but to carry on working. At his last PMQs session today Jeremy Corbyn told the horrifying tale of a worker who felt like he had to go in anyway or he wouldn’t be paid. The Labour boss demanded that all non-essential construction work be stopped immediately to halt the spread of the virus. Ministers have said as long as all workers stay two metres apart that they can carry on coming in, sparking a huge row… However, the PM could only say that people are allowed to go into work if they can’t do their jobs at home.” – The Sun

  • Close down building sites to slow spread of coronavirus, Johnson told – The Times
  • UK building sites start to close despite government advice – FT
  • Fury at Khan grows as key workers are forced onto packed Tubes – Daily Mail


  • Labour leader condemned as ‘worst of all time’ by own MP – Daily Express


  • The government’s Covid-19 plan is full of holes – John McDonnell MP, The Guardian


Spain overtakes China’s virus deaths with highest daily coronavirus toll

“Spain has recorded the highest daily death toll from coronavirus anywhere in the world since the pandemic began with 738 fatalities in one day, as its medical workers complained of critical shortages in equipment and supplies. The country has recorded a total of 3,434 deaths from the virus, more than China where the virus originated and killed 3,281. Italy has the most deaths of any country with 6,820. Salvador Illa, the health minister of Spain, said: “It is obvious that the number of deaths has increased and that it will continue to increase for a few more days as we approach the peak.” The universal healthcare system is a symbol of national pride but the virus, which has infected more than 47,000 in Spain, has exposed weaknesses after years of budget cuts, with emergency units in Madrid at full capacity.” – The Times

  • Coronavirus holds New York in its grip – Daily Telegraph
  • US package will send $1,200 to many Americans – Daily Mail
  • Japan fears new spike as Singapore’s GDP tumbles – FT
  • Putin slammed for refusing lockdown as Russia sees huge spike in cases – Daily Express
  • Threat of being shot on sight for Indians who defy lockdown – The Times
  • Region around Finnish capital to be isolated – The Guardian

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

>Yesterday: Ben Roback’s column: Trump wants to rush America’s response to COVID-19 – but the states might stop him

Johnson shelves plans to cut MPs to 600

“Proposals to slash the number of MPs from 650 to 600 have been shelved by Boris Johnson due to the “greater workload” that will be generated as a result of the UK leaving the European Union. Chloe Smith, the constitution minister, has confirmed that the plans have been dropped, citing the additional pressures that came with “taking back control” of the UK’s “political and economic independence”. However, she added that the Government will still press ahead with plans for a shakeup of constituencies to ensure that they contain near-equal numbers of voters. This is likely to lead to a significant redrawing of the electoral map, with several safe seats turned into marginals. The decision not to press ahead with the downsizing of Parliament is likely to be welcomed by the Labour Party, which stood to be worst impacted by the reforms.” – Daily Telegraph

Dominic Grieve: Military prosecutions bill creates more than problems than it fixes

“Firstly, the bill shows worrying signs of being an exercise in public relations rather than reasoned change. The government has emphasised that a key proposal is to prevent prosecution after a lapse of five years from the date of the alleged offence, save in exceptional circumstances — and it sets out elaborate hurdles that a prosecutor must leap in order to do so. But there is also a schedule to the bill which contains a list of exclusions that cover all forms of sexual offences. This could create the bizarre outcome that an allegation of torture or murder would not be prosecuted when a sexual offence arising out of the same incident could be.” – The Times

Salmond to reveal ‘plot’ in new book

“Alex Salmond is writing a “revelatory” book that will target his opponents in the Scottish National Party who he believes were conspiring against him. In a sign of the deep divisions within the nationalist movement, the former first minister has started work on his account of the past two years. It will cover the period from when allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him in January 2018 through to his acquittal this week on 13 charges at the High Court in Edinburgh. “It will be revelatory,” a supporter of Mr Salmond said. “I don’t think he will miss and hit the wall.” … He has identified senior figures in both the Scottish government and the SNP who he believes plotted to discredit him.” – The Times

  • A defence of ‘I’m sleazy but not criminal’ is nothing to smile about – Alex Bell, The Courier

News in Brief:

  • How the NHS is preparing for battle – Max Pemberton, The Spectator
  • Can ‘profiteering’ ever be justified? – Julian Jessop, CapX
  • How society can survive Covid-19 – Will Tanner, UnHerd
  • Why the UK might not be following the same coronavirus path as Italy – Jack Dickens, Reaction
  • Expect Starmerism to make much more sense in practice than in theory – Patrick Maguire, The Critic