Johnson ‘to dash hopes’ coronavirus lockdown will be lifted soon

“Boris Johnson will on Thursday warn the nation not to expect major changes to the lockdown after it emerged Britain has one of the world’s worst coronavirus death rates. The Prime Minister will use his first Downing Street press conference since his return to work to explain why social restrictions must largely remain in place. Data published by the Cabinet Office on Wednesday show Spain and Belgium are the only two countries with a worse per-head death rate than Britain. On eight separate days this month, more than 1,000 people died of the virus, detailed statistics for accumulated deaths in hospitals, care homes and other settings showed. Mr Johnson will chair a Cabinet meeting on Thursday morning at which ministers will discuss the way forward, but it became clear on Wednesday that they favour a highly cautious approach to lifting the restrictions.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Death toll rises 17 per cent under new counting method – The Times
  • Only limited tweaks to coronavirus lockdown next week – The Sun
  • Advisers working ‘painstakingly’ through ‘multiple permutations’ for exit strategy – Daily Telegraph
  • Lessons for the UK from around the world – The Times


  • Government prepares blueprint for UK’s ‘safe’ return to work – FT
  • Garden centres won’t open by bank holiday, says Raab – The Sun
  • Police fear jobless and gangs will unleash summer of crime – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: The shutdown will be with us for the duration. What the South Korean route out of it will mean – and why it’s now necessary.

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: What’s the Government’s worst-case scenario for second and further waves? And when could the NHS cope with it?

Schools across England will reopen in phases, says education secretary

“Schools across England that have been closed for almost six weeks as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown will reopen in phases, with headteachers given as much notice as possible, the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has said. The secretary of state would not give a date for reopening, but ruled out schools opening during the summer holidays as a way of helping pupils who have missed out on education to catch up. Questioned by the education select committee on Wednesday, Williamson told MPs: “We recognise that the idea of schools all returning on day one with the full complement of pupils is not realistic or practical. “I do expect schools to be opened in a phased manner. I also intend to be giving schools as much notice as possible.”” – The Guardian

  • Child infection rate deals blow to hopes of schools opening – The Times

>Yesterday: Dr Luke Evans MP’s column: What is “the new normal” – in Parliament, my constituency, and throughout Britain?

Leadsom savages demands for Hancock to resign over failure to meet COVID-19 testing target

“Andrea Leadsom has hit out at calls for Health Secretary Matt Hancock to resign if his department does not meet its coronavirus testing target. The Department of Health and Social Care set itself a target of 100,000 coronavirus tests per day before May. However, it looks unlikely the ambitious goal will be met, sparking calls for the resignation of the Health Secretary. But Ms Leadsom stated that Mr Hancock’s bold target galvanised his department rather than hindered it. The Conservative MP said: “I am not a fan of people resigning over things like this. “I think what is really important here is, having run a department myself, the civil service is huge and it really responds well to a clear target. So, in setting out that target, what that did was galvanise the effort.” Ms Leadsom went on to insist it was not right to call for the resignation of a minister because a target was not met, outlining the merits of setting goals within Government.” – Daily Express

  • Minister: it’s ‘probable’ Government will miss out on 100,000 tests a day target – The Sun

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Raab announces 52,429 tests completed daily. And a statistics overhaul to include care home deaths.

James Forsyth: Boris has found a path out of lockdown – but it won’t be smooth

“He is now back at work, though, and has a plan for what to do next. Put simply, it is to drive the coronavirus transmission rate — the reproduction number, or ‘R’, which shows the expected number of infections directly generated by one case — down as low as possible and then stay on top of it through a ‘track, trace and test’ approach. In other words, the government is going to go South Korean on the virus. This raises the question: why wasn’t this the strategy all along? The answer is that the state simply wasn’t capable of doing this earlier in the crisis. The necessary infrastructure did not exist. The UK’s much heralded pandemic plan was designed for flu — not this Sars-style virus.” – The Spectator

  • Prime Minister must stop this breakdown of the lockdown – Rod Liddle, The Sun
  • Why Johnson isn’t getting the blame for coronavirus – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Aidan Shilson-Thomas in Think Tanks: The Job Retention Scheme was an excellent intervention. But it needs changes – fast.

Gove warns face masks could make people behave in a ‘cavalier’ manner towards coronavirus

“Telling people to wear face masks to protect themselves from coronavirus could make them behave in a “cavalier” manner and risk spreading the disease, one of Boris Johnson’s most senior ministers has warned. Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, said it was a “finely balanced judgement” whether to ask people to wear the coverings to stop the spread of Covid-19 outside home. Mr Gove also used an appearance in the House of Commons to set out other ideas to lift the lockdown saying that restrictions could be lifted first on those working outside, while promising that teachers and public sector workers would only be asked to work if they had enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to shield them the virus. Pressure is on the UK Government to make a decision about face coverings after the Scottish government published advice on wearing face masks for shopping and travel.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Ministers split over coronavirus advice on wearing face masks – The Guardian
  • Businesses will run in different way to ensure staff safety – The Times
  • Why the Government has laid bare the scale of the challenge – Daily Telegraph


  • Academic behind UK tracing app seeks to dispel privacy doubts – FT
  • Small businesses locked out of government grant scheme – FT
  • Over-50s should be kept in lockdown longer, experts claim – The Sun

>Today: David Davis in Comment: The Government’s track and trace scheme needs a volunteer army if the lockdown is to end any time soon

Surge in care home deaths blamed on PPE mistakes…

“Social care cannot remain the poor relation of the NHS any longer, the industry demanded, as ministers faced questions about the rising death toll of the elderly outside hospitals. Dominic Raab, deputising for Boris Johnson, said he shared the “horror” at the toll taken on the vulnerable and elderly. He would not “sugar coat” the scale of the problem, but insisted that the government was getting a grip. Campaigners have said that a focus on the NHS meant care homes were at the back of the queue for testing and protective equipment. An NHS drive to free up beds has meant that patients with coronavirus were discharged too quickly to care homes without tests, potentially seeding outbreaks, they warned.” – The Times

  • Gown shortages ‘still plague NHS staff’ – FT


  • How much progress is being made on UK ventilators? – FT
  • Care home PPE whistleblowers fired, charity claims – The Times

…as Panorama defends using activists in investigation

“The BBC has been forced to defend its Panorama investigation into the supply of PPE after it emerged that many of the medics interviewed were political activists. The Tory MP Andrew Griffith accused the broadcaster of playing “unbalanced left-wing party politics during a national crisis” by not informing viewers of the contributors’ affiliations. Sonia Adesara, who spoke of fears on her ward about going to work unprotected, is a former prospective Labour candidate whose criticisms of Conservative health policies were once posted on Jeremy Corbyn’s Facebook page… BBC guidelines state that news programmes should provide viewers with “appropriate information” about contributors’ affiliations, funding and views, “where relevant to the context”. Only Ms Nolan was referred to as a union activist.” – The Times

  • How was flagship show infiltrated by the Left? – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Richard Holden MP in Comment: The virus, this pandemic, and how to respond. The public gets it. But the media doesn’t.

Labour leader demands review of Phillips’s role in inquiry

“Sir Keir Starmer has urged the government to “engage with concerns” about the appointment of Trevor Phillips to a review into the impact of coronavirus on ethnic minorities. Mr Phillips, 66, an antiracism campaigner and former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, was chosen last week to help lead the review by Public Health England (PHE). The inquiry will examine why black and ethnic minority people appear to be disproportionately affected by the virus… Mr Phillips’s appointment has prompted a backlash from critics, including 16 black and minority ethnic doctors’ groups and the Muslim Council of Britain, who have cited his past comments on Muslims and Islam. Sir Keir refused yesterday to offer his support to Mr Phillips, who was a member of his local Labour branch in Holborn & St Pancras until he was suspended from the party over allegations of Islamophobia last month.” – The Times

  • NHS memo says BAME hospital staff could be taken off the front-line fight – Daily Mail


  • Raab shuts down Keir Starmer’s claim coronavirus crisis getting ‘worse not better’ – Daily Express


Brussels and UK at odds over proposed EU office in Belfast

“Brussels and UK officials will clash over the increasingly fraught question of whether the European Union can open an office in Belfast. At the inaugural meeting on Thursday of a special committee of officials charged with enforcing a de facto Irish Sea border, the European commission is expected to press the case to open “a technical office” in Belfast, three days after the government rejected an EU “mini-embassy” in the Northern Irish capital. The EU is refusing to drop the issue, amid fears Boris Johnson’s government could renege on the Brexit withdrawal agreement that requires Northern Ireland to follow EU single market and customs rules. The British government, which says it is fully committed to the agreement, argues an EU office is not necessary and would sow division in Northern Irish politics.” – The Guardian

  • EU to press Britain on how it will honour Northern Ireland deal – FT

>Yesterday: Stephen Booth’s column: Why Trans-Pacific Partnership membership can bolster the UK’s relationship with the US

Westminster loses battle over pension fund investments

“The UK government lost a high profile court case on Wednesday over whether local council pension schemes can make investment decisions that go against the country’s foreign or defence policy. The UK’s Supreme Court ruled that the government’s investment strategy guidance — which bans boycotts or sanctions against foreign countries or defence companies — was unlawful.  The legal challenge, bought by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which supports the rights of Palestinian people, had revolved around government guidance that was issued in 2016 to the local government pension scheme about how funds are invested. The guidance says local council pension schemes should not use pension policies to pursue boycotts, sanctions or divestments against foreign nations or UK defence industries in a move that was criticised at the time by pension officials as amounting to political interference.” – FT

Prime Minister to take paternity leave later this year as he focuses on crisis…

“Boris Johnson will take a “short period of paternity leave later in the year” so he can now focus on tackling the coronavirus crisis, it has been announced. The Prime Minister and his fiancee Carrie Symonds’ first child was delivered in hospital earlier this morning. Mother and baby are doing very well and the couple are said to be “thrilled”. At a Westminster briefing, their spokesman added: “I do expect the Prime Minister to take a short period of paternity leave later in the year, rather than now.” The new family are planning to live in their Downing Street flat along with their dog Dilyn.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Boris’ dad Stanley and Carrie’s parents face meeting new baby over Zoom – The Sun


  • Baby is the perfect symbol of Johnson’s personality-driven politics – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • New arrival reflects a growing spirit of optimism – Madeline Grant, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Many congratulations to Symonds and Johnson on the birth of their baby

…as he praises ‘point of light’ Moore

“The Prime Minister has today called Colonel Tom Moore a ‘point of light in our lives’ as he wished him a happy 100th birthday and thanked him for helping to pull the nation together through the coronavirus pandemic. On an overwhelming day, Captain Tom was promoted to Honorary Colonel by the Queen to mark his birthday after he captured the hearts of the nation by raising £29 million for the NHS by doing laps of his garden. The 100-year-old World War II veteran was then treated to two poignant flypasts to mark his big day, fighting back tears as the historic aircraft roared through the skies in his honour this morning… Along with the usual cake and champagne, there were two poignant flypasts to mark his big day today – by Army Air Corps helicopters as well as a Spitfire and Hurricane in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.” – Daily Mail

  • He becomes a Colonel as MoD announces honorary promotion on 100th birthday – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Whitty explains why death toll is higher than official figures show – Jonathan Walker, Birmingham Post
  • In care homes people are dying while staff beg for help – Charlotte Cox, Manchester Evening News
  • No, trust in the media has not collapsed – Will Jennings, YouGov
  • How much do we really trust journalists? – Matt Singh, CapX
  • Could the lockdown have side-effects no one has considered? – Dr John Lee, The Spectator