Hancock reveals massive plan to ‘test, track and trace’ coronavirus victims…

“Every essential worker and their family will be eligible for free coronavirus tests from today after the Government finally announced a three-step ‘test, track and trace’ battle plan to ease the UK out of lockdown. Health Secretary Matt Hancock dramatically announced swab tests will be available for up to seven million Brits who show symptoms of the deadly disease and will no longer be restricted to health workers and hospital patients. The scheme marks a long-awaited turning point in the Government’s policy and mirrors the rigorous regime used in South Korea, which bucked the trend by opting against lockdown and squashing its outbreak within weeks. Authorities will push forward with more testing to keep track of who is currently infected with the virus and who has had it already.” – Daily Mail

  • Tests now available for seven million key workers – The Sun
  • How does mass coronavirus testing work? – The Times
  • Who qualifies – and how do I apply? – The Guardian


  • Health Secretary says UK jab must go to British people first… – Daily Telegraph
  • …and says it’s ‘mission critical’ to protect care homes – Daily Express
  • Stocks fall as coronavirus drug flops in first trial – FT

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: A shift in strategy as Hancock announces a scaling-up of testing and tracing. Today’s press conference.

…as Patel faces calls to relax palliative drug rules

“Home secretary Priti Patel is facing urgent calls to relax rules on the use of controlled drugs to treat seriously ill coronavirus patients, following repeated warnings that some are facing “significant and unnecessary distress and pain” because of the UK’s laws on palliative drug control. In a letter to Ms Patel, seen by the Financial Times, the head of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Martin Marshall, said the regulations should be changed for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis to facilitate the “more efficient and ethical supply” of drugs such as morphine, that help sufferers die with dignity. “We are aware of incidences where this has caused significant and unnecessary distress and pain to patients and their families at the end of their lives,” Prof Marshall wrote.” – FT

  • Scientists criticise UK government’s ‘following the science’ claim – The Guardian

>Today: MPs Etc.: Coronavirus Count

Johnson ‘back at the controls on Monday’

“Boris Johnson is planning to return to No 10 as early as Monday to take back control of the coronavirus crisis amid Cabinet concerns the lockdown has gone too far. The Prime Minister has told aides to schedule catch-up meetings with individual Cabinet ministers next week to get fully up to speed. He will return at a critical time, with the country more than a month into lockdown, and ministers are relying on him to inject fresh impetus into plans for an exit strategy. Senior Cabinet ministers are concerned that a prolonged shutdown will lead to tens of thousands of companies collapsing and inflict irreparable damage to the economy. There are clear signs that businesses and the public are growing tired of the lockdown, with increasing numbers of firms reopening and car use on the rise.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Trump says Prime Minister sounded ‘incredible… sharp and energetic’ – Daily Mail
  • Cummings said he felt weird, then he collapsed – The Times


  • Biggest threat to Johnson’s premiership is not Labour, but rebels in his own party – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph

…amidst fresh talk of Cabinet divisions…

“As the Government battles with how to free Britain from the lockdown, it also emerged last night that a fresh divide has emerged among Cabinet ministers on how much the epidemic must be stamped out first. The Sun has also learned that Health Secretary Matt Hancock wants to push down the rate the virus is being transmitted – known as R – as much as possible, meaning the lockdown would have to last longer. He is backed by Foreign Secretary and stand-in leader Dominic Raab, who said on Wednesday that the lower R goes, the “more options” it would give the government in terms of what restrictions it can lift. But others such as Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Business Secretary Alok Sharma are arguing for businesses to be allowed to reopen as soon and as safely as possible.” – The Sun

  • Senior Tories urge government to reveal plans on easing UK lockdown – The Guardian
  • Hancock refuses to be drawn on level of spare capacity NHS needs before restrictions are eased – Daily Mail


…as Sturgeon heaps pressure on No 10 over coronavirus plan

“Ministers are under mounting pressure to reveal their plans for easing lockdown restrictions after senior Tories said that Nicola Sturgeon was right to outline her strategy for a “new normal” in Scotland. The first minister published a 26-page “framework” for easing the lockdown and discussed plans for reopening schools, businesses and allowing small gatherings. She said that she wanted to have a “grown-up” conversation with voters about how to get back to a “semblance of normality” while acknowledging that some social-distancing measures could be in place for years. Her approach was rejected by Matt Hancock, the health secretary, who said the government’s clarity of message in telling people to stay home had helped to “flatten the curve”. He said that there was an “awful lot of work that still needs to be done”.” – The Times

  • First Minister outlines plan for phased lifting of Scottish lockdown – FT
  • SNP’s ‘McExit’ points the way ahead – Daily Telegraph
  • Welsh first minister to set out plans for lifting country’s lockdown – The Guardian

>Today: Matthew Evans in Local Government: Devolution has caused confusion during this crisis

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Carlaw complains to the BBC about its coverage of the Scottish Government

Philip Collins: Johnson’s tragedy is that he has no safe option

“We are making this unnoticed trade-off between freedom and security every day of our lives. We accept a low level of undetected crime, implicitly, as part of the price of living in a free society. We are making the same unnoticed trade-off with the nation’s health. The separation between health and prosperity is not absolute. If businesses collapse, the resulting loss of income will lead to deleterious health effects. The dilemma itself, though, goes back to antiquity. In his Poetics, an anatomy of the traits of tragedy, Aristotle writes that “although a doctor will not question whether to pursue health when acting as a doctor; it is possible for that doctor on another occasion to question whether health is an appropriate pursuit”.” – The Times

  • Contact tracing is no silver bullet but it may help end lockdown – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • How politics thwarted the UK’s Covid-19 response – Philip Stephens, FT
  • Uneasy Tories know that the blame game has begun… – Iain Martin, The Times
  • …but Hancock may yet escape unscathed – Katy Balls, The Guardian


  • We must end lockdown as soon as it’s safely possible – The Sun
  • Government must encourage businesses to re-open safely – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Why it’s too soon to pronounce on the number of people who’ve died in Britain of the Coronavirus

Sunak bends to pressure for 100% guarantees on small business loans

“Chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing to offer 100 per cent guarantees on loans to Britain’s smallest businesses, after sustained pressure from Conservative MPs and the Bank of England. Mr Sunak’s colleagues say he is “weighing up” whether to go against his instincts and offer full state backing to loans of up to £25,000 to “micro-SMEs” struggling to get credit to see them through the coronavirus crisis. He said this week he was “not persuaded” that a total state guarantee was the right thing to do despite pleas from Tory MPs, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey, and former Tory chancellor George Osborne to change course. But senior bankers are working with the Treasury on a new scheme, which could be launched as early as next week, targeted at as many as 1m of the smallest companies, typically employing a handful of workers.” – FT

  • One in four companies has stopped trading because of lockdown – Daily Mail
  • Thousands of firms may fail if rescue schemes not expanded, says CBI – The Guardian
  • Treasury to quadruple borrowing to £180bn over next quarter – FT
  • Sunak wows viewers as he appears on BBC’s Big Night In fundraiser – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Commons sketch: Poor taste as the Business Committee tries to scrutinise Sharma

Stephen Bush: Chancellor’s approach to Covid-19 debt has returned politics to traditional party lines

“The big difference in countries that are lending more is that those governments have taken on more of the risk – guaranteeing 90 or 100 per cent of the loans. The bank’s only involvement is as an intermediary. So why hasn’t Sunak done the same? His fear is that if you have such easy lending requirements, banks will lend irresponsibly and recklessly, leaving the Government with a big bill to pay. Labour thinks differently. It believes that, in a crisis, the only entity big enough to take on the required debt is the Government, which should borrow more until the crisis ends – a date which is defined not as the end of lockdown but the return of economic growth to its pre-lockdown level of output and growth… Covid-19 is changing the world, but here in the United Kingdom, in this sense at least, it is making British politics normal again: with a traditional argument between the Conservatives and Labour on spending.” – The i

  • Maintaining the lockdown and saving the economy are mutually compatible – Martin Wolf, FT
  • Has the time come for a one-off wealth tax? – Ed Conway, The Times


Export bans blocked signed contracts to buy PPE, MPs told

“Contracts signed by the UK with international suppliers for kit to safeguard health workers were “not worth the paper they were written on” after countries imposed export bans in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, a senior NHS official said on Thursday. Mark Roscrow, director of NHS Wales’s shared services procurement, told MPs that contracts that had been placed for emergency deliveries of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the event of a pandemic were rendered worthless during the Covid-19 outbreak after countries including France and Germany prohibited their export. As the coronavirus crisis took hold, countries around the world began imposing bans on the export of certain medical goods, including PPE, in order to retain supplies for their own populations. The World Health Organization warned that this was putting pressure on global supply chains and meant that health workers could be left in unsafe conditions.” – FT

  • Doctors launch legal action over Government’s PPE guidance – Daily Telegraph

Starmer wins inquiry into antisemitism report leak

“Sir Keir Starmer has seen off an attempt by Corbynites to block an inquiry into the leaking of a report on the Labour Party’s handling of antisemitism allegations. Supporters of the former leader Jeremy Corbyn attempted to stop an independent party inquiry from examining how and why the report was leaked. A delegate from the Unite union tabled an amendment at a meeting of Labour’s national executive committee yesterday that sought to limit the scope of the inquiry into the report’s contents. The amendment was comfortably defeated, a sign that Sir Keir has consolidated his power in the party. Jon Lansman, the founder of the Corbynite group Momentum, was among those who voted against it.” – The Times

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Starmer makes a good start. Now, just remind me. His predecessor was Jeremy…who?

Labels oppose Watson’s role at UK Music

“The British music industry faces a bitter split as representatives of the country’s biggest record labels oppose the appointment of Tom Watson as chairman of an influential group. The former Labour deputy leader was named the boss of UK Music on a reported salary of £60,000 for 40 days’ work a year. His appointment alarmed the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), whose members account for 85 per cent of music sales. Opponents complain that Mr Watson lacks sufficient knowledge of the music industry and have highlighted his support for false allegations of child sexual abuse. Victims of false claims have included Sir Cliff Richard. There have also been allegations that his appointment followed “cronyism” by influential New Labour supporters within the music industry.” – The Times

  • The former Labour deputy leader’s appointment is a misjudgment – The Times

Stricter controls to stop Parliament’s billion pound restoration spiralling out of control

“Stricter controls must be put in place to stop the taxpayers’ bill for Parliament’s multi-billion pound restoration spiralling out of control, financial auditors warned today. The National Audit Office urged MPs and peers in charge of the project to ensure that costs do not slip, having seen the budget for Big Ben’s construction works soar by 176 percent. Under the current plans the entire building will be closed down for at least six years for the refurb to take place. MPs had originally pushed rival plans that would have seen only a partial vacating required, forcing builders to work around the Commons schedule. The idea has since raised its head again following the coronavirus outbreak. Veteran Conservative Sir Edward Leigh said “saving public money” should be the number one concern and last month called on authorities to temporarily move MPs to the House of Lords, rather than leave the premises entirely.” – Daily Express

  • Parliament must keep grip on restoration costs, says watchdog – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • How the WHO devastated the world to flatter China – Kapil Komireddi, The Critic
  • Where does Scottish Labour go under Starmer? – Tom Harris, CapX
  • Britain doesn’t care about social care – Ian Birrell, UnHerd
  • Squabbling scientists have shocked ministers – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • How South Korea flattened the coronavirus curve with technology – Michael Ahn, Reaction