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Johnson says Government has no plans for austerity

“Boris Johnson on Friday made it clear there was “no question” of freezing public sector workers’ pay, and said he would “double down” on funding new transport projects in the north of England. The Prime Minister reportedly told around 125 MPs on a conference call that there would be no return to austerity to cover the £300 billion cost of the coronavirus crisis. In the call with the 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs, Mr Johnson disclosed that he had been in talks with the Archbishop of Canterbury about reopening churches as soon as possible, and also hinted at longer-term reform of how Public Health England (PHE) is run. He also backed his Downing Street communications operation – which has been under fire over the messaging about easing the UK lockdown – and said he would do more to tackle obesity after the virus crisis had passed.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister’s easing plan begins, mixed messaging and the rising cost of furlough – FT
  • Tax increases could cost Britons £900 a year – Daily Express
  • Council tax to rise as coronavirus hits town hall investments – The Times
  • Sunak warned thousands will lose livelihoods unless self-employed bailout extended – The Sun
  • Gove makes himself the spider in a changing government web – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: This really is the time to let the deficit grow big enough to look after itself

Labour welcomes Johnson’s ‘conversion’ on obesity after coronavirus scare

“Labour has hailed a “welcome conversion” by Boris Johnson as Downing Street confirmed that the prime minister hopes to lead a public health drive, having blaming his stint in intensive care on obesity. The prime minister was hospitalised with coronavirus last month and spent several nights in intensive care at St Thomas’s hospital in London. Several slimmer colleagues, including the health secretary, Matt Hancock, and Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, escaped with milder symptoms. Asked about reports that Johnson had joked with aides that “thinnies” are not as prone to the worst effects of the coronavirus and now wants to lead a “war on fat”, his official spokesman said: “As we outlined in our recovery strategy, this government will invest in preventive and personalised solutions to ill health, helping people to live healthier and more active lives.”” – The Guardian

  • Johnson’s near death can change the shape of Britain – Camilla Cavendish, Daily Mail

Editorial:

  • Instead of levying sin taxes, Government must sell war on fat as a life-saver – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Covid-19 is a slender excuse for Johnson’s u-turn on lifestyle freedom

Schools ‘to defy unions on coronavirus and reopen next month’

“The country’s biggest primary school chains are preparing to defy teaching unions and reopen to pupils at the start of next month. Ministers are planning for children in reception and Years 1 and 6 to return to their classrooms from June 1. Unions oppose the plan, claiming that teachers, pupils and their families will be at risk of catching the coronavirus. The heads of four school chains — Reach 2, Harris, Oasis and GEP — said yesterday that they were backing the government plan. The children’s watchdog is supporting calls for pupils to be allowed back into the classroom as soon as possible and has urged unions and ministers to “stop squabbling”. Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England, called the government’s plans “sensible”.” – The Times

  • Stop ‘squabbling’ and get children back to school, unions told – Daily Telegraph
  • Top government scientists insist it’s safe for schools to reopen in just two weeks – The Sun
  • BMA backs teaching unions’ opposition to schools reopening – The Guardian
  • Schools and workplaces posing coronavirus risk will be shut – The Times
  • Academy boss brands opposition to re-opening ‘middle class’ – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Teaching unions should be ashamed of themselves – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph
  • Since when did teacher-shaming become Britain’s national sport? – Shami Chakrabarti, The Guardian
  • Closures have cut children adrift, with devastating consequences – Dr Jennie Bristow, Daily Mail

Labour council leader urges his residents to ignore government advice

“A council leader is urging his residents to ignore government advice on coronavirus — and still stay at home. Labour chief Martin Gannon has led a revolt over Whitehall’s Stay Alert message, saying the R rate in his region is twice that of London. He said: “We haven’t got the same powers as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. “If I did I would be saying I’m doing exactly what they are doing in Scotland.” The “extremely concerned” Gateshead leader called the easing of the lockdown “reckless”… Tory Richard Holden, whose Durham North West constituency borders Gateshead, said: “It’s not the time to be playing party politics in a health crisis. It is crucial we are singing from the same hymn sheet.” – The Sun

  • Anti-lockdown rallies across country – The Times

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: Coronavirus Count

Hancock promises tests to all care homes

“All care home staff and residents in England will be tested for coronavirus by the end of June, Matt Hancock promised last night. The Health Secretary said there is a “huge need” to protect people in care homes as he unveiled a raft of new protection measures. Mr Hancock said a new £600 million Infection Control Fund will help to reduce infections in care homes and save lives… It comes after new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed there were 12,526 care home residents deaths involving coronavirus between March 2 and May 1 this year. This made up 27.3 percent of the total care home resident deaths across the period, which saw 45,899 people die overall.” – Daily Express

  • Health Secretary’s claim of ‘protective ring’ round care homes questioned – FT
  • Union warns care workers not to use UK government Covid-19 app – The Guardian
  • Virus ‘largely restricted to care homes’ – The Sun

More:

  • Fewer than a tenth of 18,000 contact tracers have been recruited – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Hancock leads today’s press conference. It reports that the R-rate has crept up to just below one.

MPs’ summer recess could be cut due to backlog of work

“MPs could have their summer recess cut short this year under plans being considered by the government to tackle a legislative backlog. Ministers are understood to want to avoid a scenario in which parliament shuts down just as the lockdown eases further and more of the public are urged back to work. Boris Johnson told a video meeting of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs yesterday that he believed parliament should return as soon as possible. This week Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader, accused MPs reluctant to return to Westminster of trying to hold up Tory manifesto promises. A government source said the arrangements that allow parliament to sit virtually were insufficient, adding: “MPs will expect us to do what it takes to meet our commitments.”” – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: MPs must return to Westminster, and subject the Government to proper scrutiny, at the earliest opportunity

Sturgeon claims she has backing of Scots as strict lockdown continues…

“Nicola Sturgeon has said her cautious approach to relaxing lockdown has the backing of the vast majority of Scots, as English residents prepared for their first weekend of outdoor activities in weeks. The First Minister on Thursday revealed the results of private polling that found more than eight in ten Scots supported a “slow and gradual” easing of restrictions and claimed the results showed she retained public backing. She revealed the data as parts of England prepared for a mini-heatwave this weekend, with sports such as golf and angling permitted for the first time since March. South of the border, people are also being permitted to meet others from outside their own household, enjoy picnics and sunbathing in parks and visit garden centres, activities that remain banned north of the border.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Covid-19 may yet tear Britain apart – Sebastian Payne, FT

…as ‘damning exposé’ of Welsh Assembly’s fatally cack-handed response shows how Labour would have fared

“To see how Labour is handling a real coronavirus outbreak, you just need to head west on the M4 until you reach Wales. Here, Sir Keir’s party has been in government since the late 1990s. It has sole charge of the health and social care systems — and is responsible for almost every aspect of the coronavirus response, from running hospitals to securing care homes to testing, tracing and making lockdown rules. In other words, Labour is running the show. And compared with England’s Conservative administration, it is falling woefully short on almost every measurable front, at times displaying surreal levels of incompetence. What lies behind this failure is a combination of negligence and stupidity.” – Daily Mail

  • Wales backs Boris’ plans to re-open schools – The Sun

Charles Moore: Lockdown is showing us the misery that Net Zero 2050 will demand

“As Lord Lilley, the former Cabinet minister, put it in a Global Warming Policy Foundation webinar this week, the coming Covid recession is caused “by a suppression of supply, not by a failure of demand”. In other words, it is not what people wanted. It has been imposed upon them. In a democracy, people rarely vote for what they do not want. After the Covid lockdown, voters will want to get back to work unimpeded and take the full benefits of the collapse of the oil price in falling costs for transport and heating. They will not, you would think, be in the mood to go on paying ever-higher electricity prices for renewables.” – Daily Telegraph

Patel to push ahead to end free movement…

“Priti Patel will press ahead with legislation next week to end free movement, saying that the new immigration system will fulfil the demands of Brexit and help the country to recover from the coronavirus crisis. The government will bring forward the immigration bill on Monday after it was shelved in April as ministers focused on their response to the virus. The home secretary will say that the legislation fulfils the promise to “take back control” of Britain’s borders. The Conservatives say the move will reduce the levels of low-skilled migration from January next year after the transition period ends. Labour will vote against the legislation, arguing that the timing of the bill is “dangerous”.” – The Times

  • UK drops French exemption from 14-day quarantine for visitors – FT

Comment:

  • Home Secretary is amongst those having a bad war on Covid – Matthew Parris, The Times

…as UK negotiator says ‘change in EU approach’ needed to prevent collapse of talks

“The Brexit trade talks were at the point of collapse on Friday after the UK’s chief negotiator said the EU’s “ideological approach” made it impossible to reach an agreement. The two sides’ chief negotiators went public with their displeasure at the state of negotiations, raising the prospect that Britain could walk out of the talks in June and pursue no deal. David Frost, the UK’s top Brexit official, said “very little progress” had been made in this week’s negotiations, adding that “we very much need a change in EU approach”. Mr Frost demanded that Brussels drop its demands for “level playing field” guarantees on tax, labour rights, state aid and the environment, and status quo access to UK fishing waters under “existing conditions”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Change tack or there will be no Brexit trade deal, Frost warns Barnier – The Times

Khan forced to hike congestion charge as a condition of Government bailout

“The congestion charge is set to rise to £15 a day and be enforced seven days a week, as part of the Government’s £1.6 billion bailout for London’s transport system. The central London levy was suspended on March 23 to make it easier for key workers to get to work safely and will be reintroduced on Monday, two weeks earlier than anticipated. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan accused the Department for Transport (DfT) of “making ordinary Londoners pay the cost for doing the right thing on Covid-19″. The congestion charge will also increase from £11.50 to £15 from June 22 and be enforced seven days a week, rather than just on weekdays, and the evening operating hours will also be extended from 6pm to 10pm.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Transport for London rescue package fuels City Hall feud – FT

Lib Dems blame ‘cult of Umunna’ for poll defeat

“An internal report by the Liberal Democrats has concluded that the party’s poor general election performance was due to a “culture of decision-making in small closed groups”. The report, entitled The Election: A high-speed car crash was written by 15 councillors, activists and members and chaired by Baroness Thornhill. It focuses on the top-down decision making of Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, who lost her East Dunbartonshire seat to the SNP. Interviews appear to verify claims that she shut out established voices in the party and came under the undue influence of Chuka Umunna during the election. One member is quoted as saying: “That small group drunk the Kool-Aid and believed she could do it.” Another said that the Lib Dems offered a “wigwam of a message” to voters “with no central pole”.” – The Times

BBC shortlists four candidates to replace Tony Hall

“The BBC has drawn up a shortlist in the hunt for its next director general that includes Will Lewis, the outgoing chief executive of the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, and two of the corporation’s most senior executives, Tim Davie and Charlotte Moore. The final contender is thought to be another woman. The corporation’s board is understood to have informed the candidates and is planning to hold interviews in early June. The successful applicant will take over from Tony Hall when he stands down later this year. The BBC is known to have approached Alex Mahon, the chief executive of Channel 4, and held a conversation about the role in recent weeks, but she is understood to have declined to put her name in the hat.” – The Guardian

  • Editor who broke MP scandal tipped to be Corporation’s next chief – The Times

News in Brief:

  • The last thing we need is another ‘war on fat’ – Emma Revell, CapX
  • Boris’s war on obesity is a mistake – Christopher Snowdon, The Spectator
  • This Vote Leave government won’t rush out of lockdown – Robert Jackman, The Critic
  • Is the lockdown doing more harm than good? – Tom Chivers, UnHerd
  • Walking in the time of coronavirus – Edward Thicknesse, Reaction

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