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‘Public being treated like children’ over lockdown

“Alok Sharma, the business secretary, became the latest senior minister to reject calls for more clarity, saying at the daily press conference that public discussion of options risked “muddying the waters”. However, other cabinet ministers privately agree with critics who say they risk losing public consent unless they match a commitment given by Nicola Sturgeon to treat “the public like grown-ups”. Scotland’s first minister says she will lay out a “decision-making framework” next week. Although ministers insist that public discussion risks undermining the “stay at home” message, their silence reflects internal uncertainty over the way forward.” – The Times

  • Lack of political leader leaves scientists in charge, say Tories – The Times
  • Ministers admit there is no exit plan – Daily Telegraph
  • And ministers in lockdown war – Daily Mail
  • Sharma refuses to discuss exit strategy – Daily Mail
  • ‘Stop treating public like kids’, ministers told – The Sun
  • Millions of doses before vaccine proven – The Times
  • UK death toll hits 14,576 – Daily Mail
  • Calls grow for masks to be worn – The Times
  • 7,500 feared to have died in care homes – Daily Telegraph
  • Death toll in care homes may be 6,000 – FT
  • Hancock admits testing goal is ‘ambitious’ – Daily Mail
  • Parliament expected to remain empty next week – Daily Telegraph
  • China admits 50% more died in Wuhan – The Times
  • Trump cheers as anti-lockdown protests spread – FT
Comment
>Today:
>Yesterday:

Sunak extends furlough scheme

“Rishi Sunak has been forced to extend the government’s £40 billion wage subsidy programme by a month until the end of June after the coronavirus lockdown was lengthened. Under the scheme the state pays 80 per cent of the wage of workers, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month, to prevent them being laid off. Mr Sunak left open the possibility of extending the scheme further. The chancellor made the announcement to prevent companies from triggering statutory redundancy consultations after the news on Thursday that the lockdown would remain in place for at least another three weeks.” – The Times

  • Government extends furlough scheme – Daily Telegraph
  • Furlough scheme extended – FT
  • Chancellor extends furlough scheme – Daily Mail
  • A quarter of UK businesses shut down – FT
  • Buy a paper, minister urges – The Times
  • Peers demand £323 per day to join virtual Parliament – Daily Telegraph
Comment
>Today:
>Yesterday:

PM keen to get back to work next week

“Boris Johnson has spoken to his deputy Dominic Raab by phone as he recovers from coronavirus and is ‘keen to get back to work’, it emerged today. The PM’s spokesman said he was in touch with the Foreign Secretary from Chequers yesterday – but is not doing any government work. Sources have told MailOnline that Mr Johnson is eager to get back to Downing Street next week, especially as the Commons recess is due to come to an end. However, his pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds and doctors are said to be concerned that might be too soon.” – Daily Mail

>Today:

English councils set for £1bn bailout

“Ministers are preparing a £1bn bailout to prevent a number of English councils from collapsing into insolvency as a result of huge cashflow problems caused by the coronavirus lockdown. The move, expected on Saturday, follows warnings that councils face liabilities running into several billion pounds due to the soaring costs of dealing with the crisis, as well as a massive expected shortfall in council tax income. Councils have been spending millions extra on providing social care and on housing rough sleepers throughout the lockdown, despite haemorrhaging even larger amounts in lost revenues from council tax, parking and leisure fees.” – The Guardian

  • Local authorities set for funding boost – FT

NHS staff told ‘wear aprons’

“NHS bosses have asked doctors and nurses to work without protective full-length gowns when treating Covid-19 patients, as hospitals came within hours of running out of supplies. The guidance is a reversal of Public Health England (PHE) guidelines stipulating that full-length waterproof surgical gowns, designed to stop coronavirus droplets getting into someone’s mouth or nose, should be worn for all high-risk hospital procedures. In a significant U-turn, PHE advised frontline staff to wear a flimsy plastic apron with coveralls when gowns ran out, in a move that doctors and nurses fear may lead to more of them contracting the virus and ultimately putting lives at risk.” – The Guardian

  • Staff to wear alternatives to gowns – FT
  • Frontline staff told to ‘wear aprons’ – Daily Mail
  • Gowns ‘will run out within hours’ – The Sun
  • Outrage as staff go without gowns – Daily Express

Bailey backs forecast of big UK economic downturn

Andrew Bailey has backed forecasts that output in the UK economy had already plunged 35 per cent since the coronavirus lockdown began but went further by warning there could be persistent “scarring” to the economy that would create a lasting hangover. Speaking on a conference call to journalists on Friday, the Bank of England governor said that the Office for Budget Responsibility’s assessment that gross domestic product had fallen off a cliff in the past month was fair and suggested Britain’s economic plight might be even worse than the picture painted by the British fiscal watchdog.” – FT

Scientists say vaccine could be ready in autumn

“Oxford University scientists are already manufacturing a million doses of their jab to be available by September because they are confident it will prove successful. Leading experts around the world are scrambling to find a vaccine, amid fears the infection will return in waves. Business Secretary Alok Sharma said at the Downing Street press conference this evening: ‘We cannot put a date on when we will get a vaccine. But, we live in a country with a rich history of pioneering science. The Government is backing our scientists, betting big to maximise the chance of success.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday:

Khan says UK must agree Brexit extension

“Sadiq Khan today accused the government of putting ‘dogma ahead of the national interest’ as he urged ministers to agree a Brexit transition period extension with the EU. Downing Street remains adamant it will not be asking to push back the deadline for trade talks, insisting a deal can be done despite ongoing coronavirus disruption. But Mr Khan, the Mayor of London, said it would be in both Britain’s and Brussels’ interests to extend transition beyond the end of the year. He said it ‘beggars belief’ the government is pursuing a strategy which could result in the two sides going their separate ways on December 31 without a comprehensive deal in place”. – Daily Mail

  • HS2 legal action over tunnel risk to homes threatens more delays – The Times
Comment

Parris: Failure is often the making of our heroes

“When this unwise global panic is over and we have finished with clapping the NHS and come to our senses again, the need for personal courage in public life will still be with us. Just as important, the need that we should respect personal courage in public life will still be there. So I was struck by a letter earlier this month to The Times Literary Supplement about Martin Niemöller, the German Lutheran pastor who stood up to the Nazis. I could accept everything that is alleged against the pastor, and to me his heroism and the luminosity of his example would be undimmed.” – The Times

Starmer says he ‘hated selling myself’ during leadership campaign

“The new Labour leader, who took over from Jeremy Corbyn after a 12-week contest, said he feels more comfortable in his new role than when he did in the process to obtaining the seat. “For me personally, I really hated selling myself into the membership and I much prefer having to take leadership decisions as leader of the Labour party,” he told the BBC. “I’m much more comfortable in this than I am in the campaign.” Sir Keir, who ran against Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey, both of whom he promoted to his shadow cabinet, said: “It’s the same in all political parties, you have to go round selling yourself to the membership.” – Daily Telegraph

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