Johnson prepares for return to work – and proclaims: “Salus populi suprema lex esto!”

Boris Johnson has told aides that he is “raring to go” ahead of his return to Downing Street on Monday…Government sources said the Prime Minister was now “back in the driving seat” having been given the green light by doctors to resume work. This week, Mr Johnson is expected to make a series of key decisions on lifting some restrictions imposed as part of the nationwide lockdown last month. In a three-hour summit on Friday afternoon with Dominic Raab and Rishi Sunak at Chequers, where he has been recovering from coronavirus, Mr Johnson stressed that his biggest concern was the danger of a “second peak”. With Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, joining via video conference, the Prime Minister quoted Cicero, the Roman statesman, saying Salus populi suprema lex esto – or, the health, or welfare, of the people should be the supreme law.” – Sunday Telegraph

Sunak presented a four-part shutdown relaxation plan to the Prime Minister on Friday: shops, changed work patterns, schools and “hygienic measures”

“During the three-hour Chequers summit, which included Cabinet Ministers such as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill and aides including chief adviser Dominic Cummings and No 10 Director of Communications Lee Cain, Mr Johnson was given a detailed briefing on the policy work being carried out on Covid-19. Mr Sunak presented an economic blueprint based on the ‘best practice’ that has been shown to work in countries such as Switzerland, Denmark and Germany.” – Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Unblocking the loans scheme traffic jam

The lockdown frays at the edges…

“It appears there has been a sharp increase in human traffic as the number of people walking across the country rose by around 8 percentage points on April 23 from last Saturday.  The number of people walking, driving, and using public transport networks in the UK took a nosedive in early March, as concern about the spreading coronavirus outside of China – believed to be the country of its origin – intensified and gripped the nation. It plummeted on March 24 – the day after Boris Johnson declared a ‘stay-at-home’ order. But newly released figures available on Apple Maps indicates the British public are growing restless of life under lockdown as many more take to the roads and the streets.  Each weekend of April – between the 4th and the 18th – the number of people walking, driving, and ‘transiting’ steadily climbed, even as police forces across the country became tougher on rule-breakers.” – Mail on Sunday

…But will SAGE go along with any proposal to ease it?

“Professor John Edmunds, a member of the government’s Sage group of Covid-19 experts, said if the lockdown was eased now, the newly enhanced testing and contact tracing system being put in place would be swamped. “The strategy behind plans to lift the lockdown is based on the idea [that] you could then control the epidemic by testing people for infections before tracing their contacts,” Edmunds said. “However, if we lifted the lockdown now, the testing and tracing system would be overwhelmed. We will have to get case numbers down a lot lower than they are now before we can think of lifting current regulations.” Professor Keith Neal of Nottingham University agreed that the number of patients being taken to hospital with Covid-19 remained far too high.” – Observer

  • Ferguson says social distancing measures will need to stay in place for at least a year in UnHerd interview – Sunday Times
  • BMA wants everyone wearing masks – Sunday Telegraph
  • Antibody tests “breakthrough”… – Sun on Sunday
  • …But WHO claims that there’s no evidence one can’t catch the virus twice – Mail on Sunday
  • Tests for key workers run out within minutes for the second day in a row – Sunday Times

Hospital death toll passes 20,000

“In the daily address to the nation this evening, the Home Secretary said the country was not ready to see an ease in lockdown restrictions which have entered a fifth weekend.  The Home Secretary said at the government’s daily press briefing it was not time to lift the lockdown as the country entered its fifth weekend with restrictions. She warned: ‘Our instruction remains clear, people should stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. We know that people are frustrated but we are not out of danger. It is imperative that we continue to follow the rules.’ It came after Britain announced a further 813 coronavirus victims, taking the total number of fatalities in the UK to 20,319.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Scottish cases breach 10,000 – Scotsman
  • Further 16 deaths recorded in Northern Ireland – Belfast Telegraph
  • Figures worldwide – Financial Times
  • People use Cardiff parks as outdoor gym, for barbecues, to ride horses and carts – Wales Online
  • ORB poll finds that satisfaction with Government handling of crisis falls for second week in a row: now at 52 per cent – Daily Telegraph
  • Two week airport quarantine plan – Sunday Telegraph
  • Tory donors call for lockdown relaxation – Sunday Times
  • Hidden costs of the shutdown – Financial Times
  • We could be the worst affected – Gerard Lyons, Sunday Telegraph
  • Strict British retail consortium guidelines for re-opening – Sunday Express
  • Just one in twenty at risk pupils are turning up to lessons – Observer
  • Teachers union issues five conditions for school re-openings – Mail on Sunday
  • Surcharge for migrant medics reviewed – Observer
  • Cabinet Office briefing warned of pandemic last year – Observer
  • Call for council Coronavirus cash – Sunday Telegraph
  • Government removes China’s totals from press conference graphs… – Mail on Sunday
  • (…China threatens EU – Sunday Express)
  • France, Australia, Germany, America: other lockdown and virus news – Observer
  • Davis call for Cummings SAGE ban – Mail on Sunday
  • Corbyn’s brother arrested at anti-lockdown protest – Sunday Telegraph
  • Captain Tom interview – Piers Morgan, Mail on Sunday
  • Disinfectant-scarred Trump cancels his press conference – Mail on Sunday
  • Our response to the Government’s response to our story – Sunday Times

Graham Brady: Ultimately, this is a political judgement, not a scientific one

“We all know that ending the current restrictions prematurely would likely lead to deaths that might otherwise be avoidable.  But it is also increasingly obvious that keeping the commercial and social life of the country on hold for longer than necessary would mean mass unemployment, business failure and catastrophic deterioration of the public finances. Every further day that passes in lockdown will see more businesses go to the wall and more furloughed workers with no job to go back to.….So ultimately, this is a political judgment not a scientific one. Yes, it must be informed by the best science and medicine (we are fortunate to have both in the UK), but it must also take account of the wider social and economic consequences.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Phased exit plan needed – Liam Fox, Sunday Telegraph
  • We need plastic for PPE – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
  • Johnson followed “the science” and it’s working – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday
  • BBC news and Government press conferences are dumbed down – David Goodhart, Sunday Times
  • China may win the race to a vaccine – Tobias Ellwood, Mail on Sunday
  • Swedes v Turnips – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph
  • Ending the lockdown will be the hard part – David Smith, Sunday Times
  • The new normal dystopia is coming – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph
  • This sunshine is blinding us to imminent catastrophe – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday
  • We need hope – Tony Parsons, Sun on Sunday
  • The army is the only part of the state that actually works – Simon Heffer, Sunday Telegraph
  • “Last year was the first in more than 100 years that the total income of countries governed by authoritarian systems outstripped that generated by democracies” – David Miliband, Mail on Sunday
  • We’ve put up with lockdown. Now tell us how it ends – Sunday Times Editorial
  • Johnson must show that there’s light at the end of the tunnel – Sun on Sunday

> Today:

> Yesterday:

EU negotiating team needs a political injection now, say Ministers

Ministers believe that a “political injection” is needed from the heads of European governments in order to “move the negotiations forward”, after David Frost, Britain’s chief negotiator, said the bloc’s demands on areas such as fishing and “level playing field” rules were unacceptable…No 10 has ruled out an extension to the transition period, despite large gaps remaining between the two sides. On Friday, following the second formal round of trade talks, Michael Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, claimed that the UK did not “wish to commit seriously on a number of fundamental points”. Mr Frost, his UK counterpart, has insisted the EU is making demands that are “unlike anything agreed” in other free trade agreements “and we will not agree to it here.” – Sunday Telegraph

Call in the cops. Starmer’s lastest anti-semitism woe.

“Labour chiefs have called in law enforcement as part of an inquiry into claims party HQ staff worked secretly for a Tory election victory.  A probe was ordered by the new Labour leader Keir Starmer and approved by an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee last week.  A leaked report alleged that senior campaign managers were part of a clandestine group trying to stop Corbyn becoming PM…Labour have quickly tried to to shut down any distribution of the leaked report. Officials have been in touch with social media companies to ask them to take down online copies and local members have also been told not to share it.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Labour leader turns to Miliband as Big Thinker – Sun on Sunday
  • Labour war over Russell-Moyle – Mail on Sunday
  • Starmer’s new Brexit-friendly adviser – Mail on Sunday
  • Pressure on UK Music over Witch-hunter Watson – Mail on Sunday

Where is Kim Jong-Un?

“China has dispatched a team of senior doctors to treat Kim Jong-un, it was reported yesterday…Other unconfirmed reports, attributed to senior party sources in Beijing, said Kim had died after the Chinese medical team arrived too late to save him following failed heart surgery…In contrast to the reports of Kim’s death, a South Korean media outlet reported US spy planes had tracked his entourage down to his beachside palace in Wonsan on the east coast…There is no known successor if Kim dies. He is reported to have young children, but that detail, like his age — he is believed to be 36 or 37 — has never been officially confirmed.” – Sunday Times