Johnson leaves intensive care

“Boris Johnson has left intensive care after three nights and is in the “early stage of his recovery” from a coronavirus infection. The prime minister has been taken to a ward in St Thomas’ Hospital, where he was said to be in “extremely good spirits”, according to a statement from Downing Street last night. His move from intensive care, where he was taken after his condition deteriorated on Monday afternoon, came after the news that he was responding to treatment. He received standard oxygen treatment but did not require mechanical ventilation. Some in Downing Street believe that he may need as long as a month to return to work and even then may have to make a gradual return to full duties.” – The Times


  • Not the first time Downing St has managed the message of a sick Prime Minister – Dr Catherine Haddon, The Guardian
  • Raab still seems scared to stray above his pay grade – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph


  • The lift Britain needed – The Sun


UK should prepare for lockdown extension, warns Dowden…

“Oliver Dowden, the UK culture secretary, has suggested the public should prepare for an extension of the current three-week coronavirus lockdown that ends on Monday.  The review of current measures promised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to be concluded next week, but intense ministerial discussions are under way about how Britain can gradually ease the restrictions. Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Mr Johnson while the prime minister is in intensive care, will chair a virtual meeting of the government’s emergency planning committee (Cobra) on Thursday afternoon. However, Mr Dowden said no final decision would be made during the Cobra meeting and the public should expect an announcement next week.” – FT

  • Demand grows for exit strategy with 90% still coronavirus-free – The Times
  • Peak fatalities ‘still three weeks away’ – The Sun
  • Young people ‘should be first to be released from the lockdown’ – The Times
  • Police and military launch boat patrols to stop Brits hitting the beach – The Sun
  • Jenrick defends trip to deliver supplies to self-isolating parents – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Some political journalists seem set on making a drama out of this crisis without a second thought for the national interest

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Raab urges the British people to observe the lockdown over Easter at today’s press conference

…amidst ‘extraordinary row’ between scientific advisers over pandemic advice

“A furious row broke out among Government scientists tonight over whether they raised the alarm early enough over just how deadly coronavirus could be. A devastating Reuters investigation published today suggested that the scientific committees that advised Boris Johnson didn’t study, until mid-March, the option of a stringent lockdown. However, the chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance tonight insisted that experts did act swiftly to plan a potential total lockdown in the UK amid claims they left too late over fears of a public backlash. Earlier, Professor John Edmunds, an infectious disease expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, claimed that a total lock-down was not looked at until the middle of March, in an interview with Reuters.” – Daily Mail

  • Field hospitals will be needed after coronavirus crisis, medics say – The Times
  • Doctors question the ‘overly aggressive’ use of ventilators – Daily Telegraph


Piers Morgan: We’re being led by flawed experts, not our elected leaders

“Whatever your political persuasion, it’s been extremely concerning to see the British Prime Minister fighting for his life, and we should all wish him a full and speedy recovery. But the health of one man, however important he is, shouldn’t turn attention away from the horrifying new coronavirus death figures for the UK. Nearly 1000 deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, a massive spike in fatalities that now puts us on a trajectory to potentially having the worst death rate in Europe. This shocking revelation came on the same day that the highly respected Reuters news agency published a deeply worrying in-depth investigation into Britain’s handling of this crisis which exposed a litany of appalling complacency and catastrophic mistakes.” – Daily Mail

  • Scientists can model pandemics, but politicians must decide – David McCoy, The Guardian
  • Boris is worried lockdown has gone too far, but only he can end it – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph


  • Parliament should debate Government’s plans – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: The Coronavirus Easter

Home Office 1) Patel slaps down police over call for more powers

“Priti Patel has warned police against being “heavy-handed” over the sunny Easter weekend as she rejected calls by senior officers for tougher lockdown powers. Chief constables are demanding strict laws to enable them to break up private gatherings amid concern that there has been a rise in house parties. The government has mounted a “stay at home this Easter” campaign as temperatures are forecast to reach 26C today, making it the hottest day of the year so far. Ms Patel, the home secretary, said that the government would “absolutely not” be introducing new restrictions in addition to the emergency legislation already passed. She criticised Nick Adderley, chief constable of Northamptonshire, for suggesting that police could introduce roadblocks and start checking items in supermarket trolleys if people continued to flout the rules.” – The Times

  • Chief u-turns on shopping trolley searches – Daily Mail
  • Officers want powers to block ‘long journeys and outdoor exercise’ – The Sun
  • Fears that Britons will flout rules this Easter – The Guardian


  • Tyranny not tact from our blue light family – Quentin Letts, The Times

Home Office 2) Business bridles at rollout of points-based immigration system

“The government is pressing on with releasing guidance for a new points-based immigration system, prompting complaints from business groups that say the coronavirus crisis has made the incoming regime irrelevant. Firms responded on Thursday to the release of an “introduction for employers” to the system, which is scheduled to replace freedom of movement when the Brexit transition period closes at the end of December… Workers classed as low skilled will be largely excluded from entry – excluding many of those who are now classified as key workers in the response to coronavirus, in areas such as retail or social care. Sophia Wolpers, immigration policy manager at London First, said it was a “shame” that immigration guidelines had been “published based on what is rapidly becoming old thinking”.” – FT

  • Bullying report delayed for weeks while Boris Johnson is in hospital – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Danny Kruger MP in Comment: The charities package and real conservatism. Our focus is on neither the individual nor the state, but on what’s between them.

UK-US trade talks postponed indefinitely as Covid-19 crisis puts speedy deal in doubt…

“Negotiations on a UK-US free trade deal have been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus crisis, raising fresh doubts about whether an agreement can be struck before Donald Trump faces re-election in November. The Telegraph understands that formal talks were due to start after years of preparation in the week beginning March 23, with Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, flying out to Washington DC with her top trade officials. However the plans, which would have seen around 100 politicians and negotiators discuss terms over multiple days, were cancelled along with events across all aspects of public life as lockdowns were announced due to Covid-19.” – Daily Telegraph

  • American firm will help UK reach 100,000 coronavirus testing goal… – The Times
  • …as academics unveil new equipment to help hit it – Daily Mail

…as New York becomes global epicentre of Covid-19…

“New York state is now the coronavirus epicenter of the world with more infections than any other country outside of the United States. The number of confirmed cases in New York state increased to 159,937 on Thursday after the number of infections went up by 10,000 in 24 hours. In comparison, Spain has now recorded just over 152,000 cases and Italy’s infections increased to more than 142,000. China, which is where the coronavirus first broke out late last year, currently has nearly 83,000 infections. The United States has 469,450 cases and accounts for a third of the world’s total infections. In terms of fatalities, Italy’s death toll is the highest across with the globe with more than 18,000 cases. The US follows with 16,715 and then Spain with 15,300.” – Daily Mail

  • New Zealand lockdown on track to stamp outbreak out – The Times

…and EU agrees trillion-euro bailout plan to help shore up its coronavirus-hit economy

“The European Union agreed a trillion-euro bailout last night to shore up the bloc’s coronavirus-hit economy. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire, who labelled the agreement the most important in the EU’s history, said €500 billion (£430billion) will be made available immediately, with the remainder in a fund for specific countries. Following the deal, he said: ‘Europe has shown it can rise to the occasion of this crisis.’ The decision came amid warnings from Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte that the pandemic could cause the collapse of the EU. He hit out during a row between member states over how to share debts created by the economic tsunami sweeping the bloc. Italy, backed by six other nations, wanted EU countries to take on a bigger share of eurozone-wide debts.” – Daily Mail

  • Pandemic leaves Europe between a rock and a hard place – The Times
  • Extending transition could cost Britain £26 billion a year – Daily Mail


  • The coronavirus crisis could blow the EU apart – Iain Martin, The Times

>Yesterday: Garvan Walshe’s column: Orbán’s emergency power grab is shocking. But it shows how isolated he has become.

Starmer alarms Corbyn supporters with Blairite appointments

“UK opposition leader Keir Starmer has completed his shadow ministerial line-up by appointing a number of former Blairite MPs to the front bench, in a move which has caused concern among some on the left of the party. Sir Keir’s final team includes a number of big figures in the party who chose to “sit out” the years when Jeremy Corbyn was leader, including former business minister Pat McFadden and former leadership contenders Liz Kendall and Jess Phillips. The new Labour leader, who was elected on Saturday, had already unveiled a shadow cabinet almost entirely drawn from the “soft left” of the party – including figures such as Mr Corbyn’s predecessor, Ed Miliband. The choice of a senior team that was largely unscarred by the factional infighting of the last five years was seen as a gesture of compromise towards the warring wings of the party.” – FT


  • Labour councillor claims Johnson’s ICU trip was a ‘publicity stunt’ – The Sun
  • RMT fatcat says he’ll ‘celebrate’ if the Prime Minister dies – Daily Mail


  • Starmer’s Labour still depends on the grassroots left – Jack Shenker, The Guardian


Lopresti joins clergy’s attack on Welby’s decision to close churches

“Angry clerics have said that the Archbishop of Canterbury may have acted unlawfully in locking them out of their churches. Discontent is brewing over guidance from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, that clergy cannot enter churches even for solo prayer or to film a service, despite provisions for this in the government’s lockdown rules. Those who breach the rules have been threatened with disciplinary action that could mean suspension. Some are praying and lighting candles anyway, The Times understands. Downing Street said churches must remain closed to worshippers yesterday, after the Conservative MP Jack Lopresti called for services to resume for Easter in a letter to the Home Office.” – The Times

  • Christ’s resurrection shows that we can find light even in our present darkness – Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Daily Telegraph

>Today: James Somerville-Meikle in Comment: Our churches will open again after the virus. But for many Christians round the world, theirs will stay shut.

News in Brief:

  • Did Chinese migrant labour in the fashion industry bring Covid-19 to Europe? – Jonathan Foreman, The Critic
  • Where is God in this Covid horror? – Giles Fraser, UnHerd
  • Britain can be as prone to fascism as any other nation – Francis Beckett, The Spectator
  • Only a Thatcherite business renaissance can get the economy going again – Julian Knight MP, 1828
  • Corbynism will cast a long shadow on Europe – Jorge González and Gallarza Hernández, CapX