Coronavirus 1) Dorries diagnosed with the virus

“A health minister who has met hundreds of people in parliament in the past week and attended a reception at No 10 with Boris Johnson has had coronavirus diagnosed, The Times can reveal. Nadine Dorries, who played a role in drawing up legislation to tackle the virus, fell ill on Friday last week and her diagnosis was confirmed yesterday evening. She is now in isolation and understood to be recovering. The identity of the individual who infected Ms Dorries is unknown but the minister has been working in parliament and the Department of Health and Social Care for the past week. Officials are identifying all those with whom she has been in contact since contracting the virus, including MPs. Any who have displayed similar symptoms will be tested. Ms Dorries said last night: “I can confirm I have tested positive for coronavirus. As soon as I was informed, I took all the advised precautions and have been self-isolating at home.” She added that she was more worried about her mother, 84, who had been staying with her and had developed a cough. Testing is due to take place.” – The Times

  • Princess Beatrice’s wedding plans “have been thrown into confusion” – Daily Express
  • Government “fails to detail how retired doctors plan will work” – The Guardian
  • Millions of patients could have face-to-face GP appointments replaced by phone or video – Daily Mail
  • Thanks for so many good wishes – Nadine Dorries,  Twitter
  • Latest advice – HM Government


>Yesterday: WATCH: Hancock on the Coronavirus. GPs should be contacted remotely rather than at surgeries

Coronavirus 2) Emergency cut in interest rates

“The Bank of England has announced an emergency cut in interest rates to shore up the economy in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Policymakers reduced rates from 0.75% to 0.25%, taking borrowing costs back down to the lowest level in history. The Bank said it would also free up billions of pounds of extra lending power to help banks support firms. It comes as the chancellor is expected to announce further measures to support growth and jobs in the Budget later.” – BBC

Coronavirus 3) Sixth person in UK dies

“A man in his early 80s who had underlying health conditions has become the UK’s sixth coronavirus victim, after officials announced 50 more patients in Britain have caught the killer infection. NHS bosses confirmed the man – who hasn’t been identified but is feared to have been infected on British soil – died last night at the Watford General Hospital. His death comes after leading experts today warned Britain – which now has 373 cases – may be heading straight for a coronavirus crisis like the one which has crippled Italy. In an unprecedented decision to contain the outbreak which has infected almost 10,000 people, Italy last night put all of its 60million people into lockdown and banned movement between cities. Scientists tracking the UK’s outbreak, which has risen eight-fold in the space of a week, have warned the situation is quickly following the same trajectory as Italy’s and could peak within a fortnight.” – Daily Mail

  • London’s mayor promises to keep capital on the move – Financial Times
  • Virus “could push social care crisis to breaking point” – The Sun
  • Hundreds flying in from Italy say there are still no checks – Daily Mail
  • Northern Ireland may face Italy-style quarantine within the next 14 days – Belfast Telegraph

Coronavirus 4) Virus testing to increase by 500 per cent

“Britain is increasing the number of coronavirus tests it processes by 500 per cent, as authorities ramp up preparations in anticipation of “many thousands” of cases at the epidemic’s peak. The National Health Service and Public Health England will increase the number of coronavirus tests they process from 1,500 to 10,000 daily, the NHS announced on Wednesday, in a move it said will help patients seek treatment and self-quarantine more quickly. The escalation came as the number of cases in the UK rose by 54 to 373, and the sixth British patient — a person with underlying health conditions who caught coronavirus in the UK — died of the disease.” – Financial Times


  • We libertarians who back coronavirus lockdown are far from being hypocrites – Christopher Snowdon, Daily Telegraph
  • Lockdown dilemma – Leader, The Times
  • Coronavirus is a global crisis, not a crisis of globalisation – Robert Armstrong, Financial Times
  • Italy’s chaotic lockdown proves that draconian pandemic measures don’t work in the West – Ross Clark, Daily Telegraph
  • Italy’s tight-knit society will be what saves it – Cristina Odone, Daily Telegraph
  • This crisis prompts difficult questions for democracies – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Budget 1) Sunak to “abandon fiscal rules with big increase in borrowing”

“Rishi Sunak will unleash the largest rise in public borrowing in 30 years when he delivers his first Budget on Wednesday, signalling a decisive end to austerity as he pours money into long-term investments. The chancellor will also turn the spending taps on in the short term to help the NHS, companies and individuals cope with the outbreak of the coronavirus, further increasing the UK government deficit. Mr Sunak’s proposed increases in day-to-day public spending and infrastructure projects over the next five years will mostly be funded by borrowing — jeopardising the government’s ability to meet fiscal rules it set only four months ago.” – Financial Times

  • Fuel duty to be frozen for tenth year – The Sun
  • Javid made ‘the right call’ in resigning, says Hammond – Daily Mail

>Today: Columnist Robert Halfon: The Budget we need today is for social as well as physical infrastructure

>Yesterday: Columnist Andy Street: Jobs are what will help us level up the economy

Budget 2) Pledge to fill 50 million potholes

“The chancellor will announce plans today to fill up to 50 million potholes as part of a drive to “level up” Britain. Rishi Sunak will say that £2.5 billion will be invested in local roads during the next five years to carry out repairs over hundreds of miles. The cash is part of a spree that will take public investment to levels not seen since Margaret Thatcher came to power. The budget will lay out plans for £600 billion on capital projects over five years, £100 billion more than forecast.” – The Times

Budget 3) Hague: Sunak is the right man for the challenges ahead

“Preparing this Budget will have been like solving a Rubik’s Cube puzzle. It will be impossible for it to please everyone, and unlikely that it is not followed by further measures as we adapt to fighting the virus that might be all around us. Many people listening will be worried about multiple issues affecting their family incomes or prospects. If it wasn’t for the election results of December, however, the nation would be finding itself the victim of doctrinaire nationalisation and penal taxation on top of all this. We can be thankful that is not happening. We can be pleased we made this country more creditworthy while we could, in the face of many attacks on “austerity”. And for those who do not yet feel they know the Chancellor, you can be reassured that you will be in the hands of an unusually capable politician.” – William Hague, Daily Telegraph

  • Tories can’t let virus blow budget off course – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times
  • Chancellor’s decision to continue the freeze on fuel duty is great news for families – Leader, The Sun
  • Sunak has an impossible job: to spend, but not to tax – Rafael Behr, The Guardian
  • Let’s seize the day by chucking these 15 bits of EU red tape on our Brexit bonfire –  Lee Rotherham, Daily Telegraph
  • An Emergency Budget is needed – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Government defeats rebellion over Huawei

“Boris Johnson has been “put on warning” by his own MPs over Huawei’s involvement in the Britain’s 5G network, as he narrowly saw off his biggest backbench rebellion since the election. Nearly 40 Conservative MPs on Tuesday voted against the Government in a bid to force the Chinese firm out of the market by 2022 after a potential compromise was allegedly pulled by Downing Street. They included eight former Cabinet ministers, among them Sir Iain Duncan Smith, David Davis and Dr Liam Fox, who warned they would renew their efforts unless ministers committed to a timeframe for removing “high-risk” vendors from the network. In a move that poses a major headache for the Prime Minister, the rebels have threatened another mutiny when a second piece of legislation, the Telecoms Security Bill, is brought forward later this year.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: MPsETC: The 38 Conservatives MPs who rebelled over Huwaei

Grayling to be appointed to intelligence role

“Boris Johnson has sparked anger among Tory MPs by parachuting Chris Grayling into a prized intelligence job. The PM is to appoint the controversial former Cabinet minister to sit on Parliament’s esteemed Intelligence and Security Committee.Downing Street also plans to give other the other Conservative members on it the instruction to elect him as its new chair. Running the committee – which scrutinises the work of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ – is seen as the most prestigious job for any backbench MP.” – The Sun

Sedwill: Ministers should behave “courteously”

“Ministers should behave “professionally and courteously” when dealing with their officials, the head of the civil service has said. Sir Mark Sedwill told MPs that he could not comment on the allegations of bullying against Home Secretary Priti Patel, which she denies. But he said there was an “expectation” that “professional people conduct professional relationships”. He said ex-Home Office boss Sir Philip Rutnam’s resignation was “regrettable”. Last month, Sir Philip quit his role saying there had been a “vicious and orchestrated” campaign against him in Ms Patel’s office.” – BBC

Nandy: Row over suspension of Phillips shows complaints system is “badly discredited”

“The backlash over the suspension of Trevor Phillips from Labour for alleged Islamophobia has highlighted how “badly discredited” its disciplinary process have become, Lisa Nandy has claimed. Wading into the row on Tuesday, the Labour leadership candidate said the party’s complaints system needed to be overhauled and outsourced to an independent body free from political interference. While Ms Nandy refused to say whether Mr Phillips, the former chair of Britain’s equalities watchdog, should have been suspended, she warned that Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism meant it had “lost the trust of everybody”. She also expressed her unease that Mr Phillips had been suspended at a moment when the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, which he previously headed, was investigating the Labour Party for institutional anti-Semitism.” – Daily Telegraph

  • GMB viewers brand Nandy interview with Morgan “career-ending” – Daily Express

Woman accusing Salmond of attempted rape says she made claims “off her own back”

“The woman former First Minister Alex Salmond is accused of attempting to rape in Bute House, at the height of the 2014 independence campaign, has said she was not “cheerleaded” into reporting the alleged sexual assault to the police and had done so “off her own back”. The woman, who also declared she felt she was not anonymous despite her name not being made public, said she had decided to go to the police after revelations about Mr Salmond had been reported in a newspaper, and the Me Too movement gave her confidence she would be believed. In the second day of the trial in which Mr Salmond is pleading not guilty to 14 charges of sexual assault against ten women, the witness, known as Woman H, took the stand again, to resume giving evidence.” – The Scotsman

  • Blackford slaps down rebels over independence – Daily Express

Biden extends his lead over Sanders in the US primaries

“Joe Biden has cemented his position as front-runner in the Democratic race to take on President Donald Trump in November’s White House election. The former vice-president is projected to win Michigan – the biggest prize of primary voting on Tuesday – and extend his lead over Bernie Sanders. Mr Biden’s chances recovered with big wins on Super Tuesday, after which several former rivals endorsed him. It is unclear if Mr Sanders will fight on until the party convention in July. The Democrats’ next big election milestone is in a week’s time when 577 delegates are up for grabs. To secure the nomination, a candidate needs the support of 1,991 delegates. Before Tuesday’s vote, Mr Biden had 648 to Mr Sanders’ 563.” – BBC

Hundreds of British troops “to leave Afghanistan”

“Hundreds of British troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by mid-July in the first phase of the fragile US-Taliban peace deal, The Times has learnt. The UK is to remove 330 of the 1,100 regular personnel stationed in the country, all of whom are based in and around Kabul. Small numbers of British special forces are embedded with US forces elsewhere, including in the southern province of Helmand, it is understood.” – The Times

News in brief

  • Tories rebel over Huawei – meet the new ‘awkward squad’ – Katy Balls, The Spectator
  • Don’t panic – it’s only the Budget – Frances Coppola, CapX
  • The Bank of England needs to behave responsibly – John Redwood
  • Priti cartoon shows Guardian’s morality is a load of bull – Ollie Wright, Conservative Woman
  • When will the Left finally realise that money alone cannot win elections? Tom Harwood, Free Market Conservatives