Published:

The Queen: “If we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome”

“The Queen delivered a historic rallying cry to the British public tonight, urging them to come together in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak in a poignant television address. Speaking from Windsor Castle, where the 93-year-old monarch is isolating with Prince Philip, she told millions of Brits watching from home: ‘If we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.’ Her Majesty’s extraordinary intervention is only the fifth time she has addressed the nation during her 67-year reign and comes as the UK death toll from the pandemic neared 5,000, with 621 new deaths today. She invoked the spirit of the Second World War, repeating Dame Vera Lynn’s famous words as she promised the nation: ‘We will meet again’.” – Daily Mail

  • The words which the Queen spoke to the nation were her own – The Times
>Yesterday:

Camilla Tominey: the Queen gave us comfort, hope and a united resolve

“It was the moment we had all been waiting for. Cooped up indoors like battery hens, facing an Easter separated from our loved ones, the nation needed the kind of rallying reassurance that only the Queen can provide. In these strange times of self-isolation and social distancing, there was only ever going to be one person Britons would willingly invite into their living rooms on a Sunday night. Forget Joe Wicks’ workouts or Carol Vorderman’s maths: here was the Queen of them all, delivering her own lesson, not just to the home-schoolers but their anxious parents, and their exiled grandparents and great-grandparents. From selfless NHS workers, to hard-working shelf-stackers, to the newly unemployed – this was a message of hope for all.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today:

Johnson taken to hospital over persistent Coronavirus symptoms

“Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital for tests last night because of his coronavirus symptoms, Downing Street said. The prime minister was taken there as a “precautionary step” on the advice of his doctor. He tested positive for the virus ten days ago, and had been in self-isolation inside his Downing Street flat since. A No 10 spokeswoman said: “The prime minister has tonight been admitted to hospital for tests. This is a precautionary step, as the prime minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus ten days after testing positive for the virus.” – The Times

  • PM had tried to keep working, but grew frustrated as disease drained strength – Daily Telegraph
  • Ministers glad Johnson admitted he needed medical help – FT
  • Johnson was more seriously ill than either he or his officials were prepared to admit – The Guardian
  • Aides deny that Johnson is unable to run the country – Daily Telegraph
  • Trump sends prayers to Johnson – Daily Mail
>Today:

Hancock 1) He backs off threat to intensify lockdown and close parks…

“The health secretary warned yesterday that people could be banned from exercising in parks if they continued to ignore social distancing rules. On the warmest weekend in six months, cyclists, sunbathers, joggers and picnickers continued to defy the ban on gatherings. Matt Hancock suggested that further restrictions may be needed to stop the spread of coronavirus if the lockdown begins to “fray”. The comments led to concerns that banning exercise would be impossible to enforce and could lead to a backlash. Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said that people without gardens would find themselves with “nowhere to go”. Mr Hancock subsequently softened his tone and said that further restrictions will not be introduced “imminently” after pressure from Downing Street. However he did not rule them out.” – The Times

  • Hancock backtracks on tightening lockdown rules – Financial Times
  • Police tell off “hypocrite” picnickers – Daily Telegraph
  • People with big houses shouldn’t judge lockdown sunbathers, says Angela Rayner – Daily Mail
>Today:
>Yesterday:

… As Ministers and civil servants plan to end coronavirus lockdown

“Ministers have begun discussions about how and when they might be able to ease the coronavirus lockdown amid Treasury fears about the long-term economic fallout of the measures. A team is understood to be drawing up a list of options to remove some restrictions as and when the number of new hospital admissions begin to fall. It comes after Treasury officials warned that if the lockdown lasted much beyond June then there would come a point when the government would no longer be able to prevent otherwise profitable industries from going to the wall.” – The Times

  • Mass testing and contact testing to form Coronavirus exit strategy – Daily Telegraph
  • Italy and Spain plot to end lockdown – The Times
  • Coronavirus rates fall across Europe’s worst-hit countries – Daily Telegraph
  • UK set to overtake Italy and France – Daily Mail
  • Sweden braces for thousands of coronavirus deaths – The Times

Hancock 2) Britain won’t have all ventilators up and running for coronavirus peak

“Britain will not meet its goal of full ventilator capacity by the time the coronavirus peaks, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned last night. He said the country was on track to have ventilators for 18,000 patients – but they may not be in place in time. The virus is expected to peak between a week and ten days from now. He said the estimated total of 11,500 ventilators then should be enough because social distancing had helped to slow the spread of the virus. He defended the Government’s handling of the outbreak and said the Army had begun helping to get personal protective equipment (PPE) to the NHS frontline. Ventilators are needed in intensive care for patients who cannot breathe unaided.” – Daily Mail

Ministers 1) Dowden: Football clubs should think carefully about next steps

“We’re all missing the drama of sport right now, but this weekend we saw news on the back pages return for all the wrong reasons. Given how central sport is to British life, it’s perhaps no surprise that its contribution to the coronavirus battle is under the microscope. But the deadlock between the Professional Footballers Association and Premier League clubs on player wage cuts is deeply concerning, especially at a time when more clubs have announced they are furloughing many of their lowest paid staff. Football clubs are, of course, businesses and so, like any other business, the extraordinary steps the Government has made to support the economy, through interventions like the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, are there to support them in exceptional circumstances. But football is also much more than a business.” – Daily Telegraph

Ministers 2) Foreign Office under fire for only rescuing 1,450 stranded Brits

“An operation to repatriate Britons stuck overseas will begin in earnest this week after criticism of the government’s slow response. The Foreign Office announced last night that it would charter flights from Delhi, Goa and Mumbai in India to bring home UK citizens. Some 300,000 Britons are believed to be stranded abroad. Ten airlines have now joined the government’s repatriation scheme. Charter flights will also airlift Britons from Bolivia, Ecuador and the Philippines. Since Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, announced the repatriation operation almost a week ago, only 1,450 travellers have returned home on charter flights commissioned by the government including those from Peru, Tunisia and Algeria.” – The Times

Ministers 3) Johnson “extremely unlikely to sack Patel”

“Boris Johnson is ‘extremely unlikely’ to sack Home Secretary Priti Patel when the findings of a probe into bullying allegations are published this week, Downing Street sources say. The Cabinet Office investigation was launched last month after claims from civil servants and the resignation of Sir Philip Rutnam, the Home Office’s most senior official. He is suing the Government for constructive dismissal after accusing Ms Patel of ‘swearing and belittling people’.” – Daily Mail

Ministers 4) China had initially “allowed disinformation to spread as quickly as the virus”, says Tugendhat

“LIES about coronavirus by China are costing lives and hindering the fight against the disease, MPs have said. The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said China should have had a central role in collecting data on spread after the outbreak. But it added that Beijing had sought to “obfuscate” over what was really happening right from the outset. It also named Iran and Russia as being responsible for disseminating false information about the virus. Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat said Beijing had initially “allowed disinformation to spread as quickly as the virus”.” – The Sun

  • China should be sued for outbreak, says think tank – The Times

Ministers 5) Calls for start-up companies to receive financial support

“Britain’s start-up companies are set to receive financial support from the government after top investors warned that many are at risk of collapse amid the coronavirus crisis. Some start-ups, particularly those at the earliest stage of development, are lossmaking — and therefore not eligible for a new government-backed loan scheme for small companies. But ministers are keen on ensuring that Britain’s most innovative businesses survive the crisis, and the Treasury is considering proposals about how best to support start-ups, according to officials and investors.” – Financial Times

Lockdown costing £2.4 billion a day

“The coronavirus lockdown will cost the economy £2.4 billion a day for as long as it lasts and consumer confidence has crashed to its lowest level since the financial crisis, according to two gloomy new reports about the state of the economy. Shutting down the economy will reduce Britain’s gross domestic product by 31 per cent as social restrictions prevent businesses from functioning, the Centre for Economics and Business Research said. Output at hotels, restaurants, retailers, cleaning services, museums and galleries and manufacturing will more than halve.” –The Times

  • Bank of governor will oppose calls for the bank to start printing money – Daily Mail
  • Women and the young hit hardest by economic shutdown – The Times

20,000 cancer patients to be sent to private hospitals

“NHS cancer patients will start receiving treatment at private hospitals from today in a deal agreed between the health service and the country’s three largest private cancer clinic networks. Up to 20,000 patients could benefit after a series of high-level talks between NHS England and the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN), the representative body for the private operators. Strained resources because of the pandemic have led to gaps in NHS cancer care with thousands of patients already facing the cancellation of treatment.” – The Times

Millions of coronavirus tests do not work, says new testing chief

“None of the antibody tests ordered by the government is good enough to use, the new testing chief has admitted. Professor John Newton said that tests ordered from China were able to identify immunity accurately only in people who had been severely ill and that Britain was no longer hoping to buy millions of kits off the shelf. Instead, government scientists hope to work with companies to improve the performance of antibody tests and Professor Newton said he was “optimistic” that one would come good in months. However, Dame Deirdre Hine, the public health expert who chaired an official review that criticised failures of modelling in the 2009 swine flu pandemic, said that it was “difficult to understand” why the government had not planned for more testing.” – The Times

  • PHE statements about at-home antibody tests are “hyperbolic and inaccurate” – FT
  • Abu Dhabi ditches plan to charge NHS for use of Excel centre – The Times

Government accused of not protecting NHS 111 workers

“Call centre staff at the NHS’s 111 helpline are still coming into work even if they are showing symptoms of coronavirus because they are not being given adequate sick pay, according to a complaint made to MPs. Hundreds of people operating the telephone service are said to be at increased risk of catching the virus because they are crammed into call centres that are too small and not properly cleaned. An anonymous employee contacted the business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) committee, which has published a list of complaints it received after asking for evidence of employers who were not treating workers well or practising social distancing rules.” – The Times

Starmer removes Corbynistas from shadow cabinet and appoints new kids on the block

“The new Labour Party leader has given a top job to one of his leadership rivals but found no room to promote Jeremy Corbyn’s preferred successor as several Corbynite MPs left the shadow cabinet. Sir Keir Starmer, 57, has begun reshaping the party after winning a comprehensive victory in the Labour leadership election, promising that membership of his shadow cabinet would be “balanced across the party”. Last night he appointed Anneliese Dodds, 42, a member of John McDonnell’s Treasury team who became an MP in 2017, as shadow chancellor. The Welsh MP and former barrister Nick Thomas-Symonds, 39, was named shadow home secretary. Both were frontbenchers under Mr Corbyn’s leadership but avoided getting drawn into the party’s factional infighting.” – The Times

  • Starmer says there’s a “mountain to climb” for Labour to get back into power – FT
Comment:

Varadkar re-registers as medical practitioner 

“Ireland’s Prime Minister has re-registered as a medical practitioner and will work one shift a week to help out during the coronavirus crisis, his office said today. Leo Varadkar worked as a doctor for seven years before leaving the profession to become a politician. He was removed from the medical register in 2013. He rejoined the medical register in March, and offered his services to Ireland’s Health Service Executive for one session a week in areas within his scope of practice. ‘Many of his family and friends are working in the health service. He wanted to help out even in a small way,’ a spokesperson for his office added.” – Daily Mail

Scotland’s medical chief quits after ignoring own advice

“Scotland’s chief medical officer resigned last night after being warned by police for flouting rules on unnecessary journeys. Catherine Calderwood had admitted travelling to her second home at weekends despite ordering people to stay at home to save lives. Dr Calderwood, 51, who lives in Edinburgh during the week, has spent the past two weekends at her second home 44 miles away in Earlsferry, Fife. Earlier Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, had said that Dr Calderwood could continue in her post but that she could no longer brief journalists or appear in public health broadcasts.” – The Times

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