Published:

Johnson: We need to trust in the good sense of the British people

“If 2020 has taught us anything, it is truly that the worst of times bring out the best in humanity. Every day brings heartbreaking news as more lives are lost before their time to this vicious coronavirus. Every victim leaves behind family, friends and loved ones who mourn their loss. They remain constantly in my thoughts; each death a spur to redouble our efforts to defeat this virus. We can only defeat it by acting together. In recent weeks we have seen phenomenal bravery, compassion and selflessness as people go above and beyond to protect the lives of others. Police and prison officers keeping order on our streets and in our prisons. Those producing, processing, distributing and selling food. Engineers keeping the lights on and our broadband connected.” – Mail on Sunday

  • PM wants to return to “near normality” by July – The Sun
  • Cafes, pubs and restaurants could be allowed to sell food and drink from street stalls – Sunday Telegraph
  • Visitors flock to beauty spots and national parks – Sunday Telegraph
  • Sadiq Khan tells Londoners to stay home – Daily Mail
  • Starmer owns up to seven acres of land that used to house donkeys – Mail on Sunday

>Yesterday:

… as he reportedly clashes with top civil servant

“Boris Johnson addressed the nation for 13 minutes last weekend, but it was a moment of silence afterwards that most clearly demonstrated the challenge the government faces in turning words on the coronavirus crisis into actions. A moment of “tense” standoff between the prime minister and Sir Mark Sedwill, Britain’s most senior civil servant, exposed growing fissures at the top over the implementation of his blueprint for lifting the lockdown. In a meeting early last week, two sources said Johnson had listened as the detail of the plan was outlined but then asked: “Who is in charge of implementing this delivery plan?” One recalled: “There was just silence. He looked over at Sedwill and said, ‘Is it you?’ Sedwill said, ‘No, I think it’s you, prime minister.’”” – Sunday Times

  • Public support for Government strategy decreases – Mail on Sunday
  • Coding that led to lockdown was a “buggy mess” – Sunday Telegraph
  • Scientists talked up herd immunity “despite warnings about early reinfection” – Sunday Telegraph

>Today:

Government to invest £93 million in vaccine manufacturing centre

“The British government will invest up to £93m to bring forward construction of a new vaccine manufacturing centre, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said on Saturday. The funding will ensure the new centre opens in summer 2021, a year ahead of schedule. The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) is a key component of the government’s programme to ensure that once a coronavirus vaccine is available, it can be rolled out quickly in mass quantities, the department said. The not-for-profit facility on the Harwell science and innovation campus in Oxfordshire will have the capacity to produce enough doses for the entire UK population in as little as six months.” – The Observer

Jonathan Sumption: Set us free from lockdown, ministers, and stop covering your backs

“The lesson of Covid-19 is brutally simple and applies generally to public regulation. Free people make mistakes and willingly take risks. If we hold politicians responsible for everything that goes wrong, they will take away our liberty so that nothing can go wrong. They will do this not for our protection against risk, but for their own protection against criticism. The lockdown was originally justified as a temporary measure to spread coronavirus infections over a longer period. This was to allow time for the NHS’s critical care capacity to catch up. Hence the slogan “Protect the NHS”. It was never much of a rationale. The NHS is there to protect us, not the other way round.” – Sunday Times

Britain heading for 80s-style unemployment crisis

“Britain is heading for an Eighties-style unemployment crisis with up to half the workforce braced for a hit to incomes, a top Bank of England official has warned. Andy Haldane, its chief economist, said more than half of the nation’s 33-million-strong workforce was already unemployed, furloughed or working shorter hours as a result of the Covid-19 shutdown. He said: “The very reason I got into economics and the reason I got into public policy was because of the scarring experience of the early Eighties unemployment which peaked at three and a bit million – and we’re going back to that, basically.”” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Britain’s wealthiest lose billions to Coronavirus – Sunday Times
  • Furloughed staff take on second jobs – Sunday Times
  • Wealth of the richest has gone into reverse for first time in 11 years – Sunday Times

Blood-thinning drugs can help save Covid-19 patients’ lives

“Blood-thinning drugs can help save Covid-19 patients’ lives, leading British doctors have found, raising hopes of a major breakthrough in the race to find a treatment for the deadly virus. London specialists made the breakthrough after discovering coronavirus triggered potentially deadly blood clots in every seriously ill patient they tested using pioneering scanning technology. The Telegraph understands that NHS England is set to issue hospitals with fresh guidance on blood thinning, which is likely to eventually lead to carefully administered higher doses for the critically ill.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Covid-19 could “burn out naturally”, claims former WHO director – Sunday Telegraph

Williamson defends reopening schools

“Gavin Williamson has said “we owe it to the children” to get students in England back to school as the government remained locked in a stand-off with teaching unions. Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing on Saturday, the education secretary insisted that proposals for the phased return of schools were based on the “best scientific advice with children at the very heart of everything we do”. It comes after the British Medical Association expressed support for the teaching unions, warning against risking a second spike in infections. Ministers have faced strong resistance after announcing plans this week for a phased reopening of nurseries and primary schools on June 1.” – FT

  • Pupils won’t be allowed to take pencil cases to school when they return – Daily Mail
  • Hartlepool and Liverpool will ignore June 1 return plan… – Daily Mail
  • as five former education secretaries back it – Sunday Times
  • Number of children using food banks up 122 per cent – Daily Telegraph
  • Union boss blocking reopening of schools “linked to far-Left group” that supported Corbyn – The Sun
  • Special “catch-up summer camps” could open in the school holidays – Mail on Sunday
  • Danish schools show the way forward – Daily Telegraph
Comment:

>Yesterday:

Cancer specialists demand urgent meeting with Matt Hancock

“Matt Hancock was plunged into a fresh virus row last night after it emerged thousands of cancer patients were being denied Covid-safe treatments that could save their lives. The Health Secretary was challenged to act over protests that half of England’s cancer centres were still not routinely providing advanced radiotherapy despite doctors insisting it was the safest way to treat many tumours during the virus crisis. The ‘stereotactic ablative’ technique (SABR) can spare patients dozens of exhausting hospital visits under traditional methods by delivering vital radiotherapy in as little as three to five sessions – with one lung cancer sufferer even being treated in a ‘breakthrough’ single session last week. Cancer specialists and MPs are demanding an urgent meeting with Mr Hancock over what some claim is a ‘crazy’ NHS decision to ration the treatment – especially as many chemotherapy and surgery alternatives have been suspended during the crisis as they could leave patients vulnerable to infection.” – Mail on Sunday

Heathrow trials thermal imaging temperature checks

“Heathrow will this week launch airport temperature checks in a move it hopes will allow Britons to head abroad safely without going into quarantine on their return. In a trial set to start as soon as Thursday, passengers arriving at the airport’s Terminal 2 will be automatically screened for raised temperatures by thermal imaging cameras mounted on tripods. Passengers will see the cameras as they pass through the immigration hall, with a sign telling them when they are entering an area being monitored. They will not have to stop to have their temperature checked – instead, screening will take just seconds using infrared sensors as passengers move through the area. The cameras can read temperatures at a distance of 8ft. If a high temperature or suspected fever is detected, checking systems will produce a warning signal.” – Mail on Sunday

Government accused of wasting taxpayer money on PPE from China

“Ministers have been accused of paying over the odds for personal protective equipment (PPE) after rejecting an offer from a British business to supply surgical gowns to deal directly with its Chinese supplier instead. The start-up’s three employees spent a week and about £10,000 sourcing the items, including paying distributors in China to translate specifications to ensure they met NHS requirements. It was asked to provide the Government with the names of the manufacturers it worked with, only to receive a notification from the Covid-19 response team at the Department of Health and Social Care nearly three weeks later that its offer had been rejected.” – Sunday Telegraph

Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost warns of No Deal

“Britain’s chief European trade deal negotiator has warned the Cabinet that Brussels talks are heading for collapse and has put Ministers on notice to prepare for No Deal. David Frost, who heads the Prime Minister’s ‘Taskforce Europe’, told Ministers to ‘take the moral high ground’ when speaking to their counterparts across the Channel in the face of stubbornness from Brussels. But he has also urged them to step up their planning in case talks over a new trading arrangement break down. Downing Street is preparing to issue warnings that the UK is heading for an ‘Australia-style deal’ with the EU – which in reality means No Deal and tariffs on imported and exported goods under terms set by the World Trade Organisation. After a ‘tetchy’ round of talks last week, Mr Frost admitted ‘very little progress’ had been made and he accused the EU of ideological intransigence.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Ministers move Coronavirus teams to tackle No Deal Brexit – Sunday Times
  • Britain faces extra £380 billion bill if Brexit is delayed beyond December – The Sun
Comment:

MPs raise new security fears over Chinese tech giant Huawei

“The university at the heart of Britain’s fight against coronavirus will this week announce a multi-million-pound sponsorship agreement from controversial Chinese tech giant Huawei, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. Imperial College London has cut a deal worth £5 million with the firm at the centre of a row over China’s influence in Britain to finance a new ‘tech hub’ on their West London campus. The Government has relied on Imperial College’s research to form policy on fighting Covid-19. More than a dozen scientists at the university have contributed to the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – Whitehall’s pandemic response unit. Huawei will provide a superfast 5G internet network for the university, as well as pay for research and facilities over five years.” – Mail on Sunday

Department for Transport “withheld” HS2 failings

“The Department for Transport withheld crucial information about delays and budget blowouts on Britain’s planned new HS2 high speed railway line, a damning investigation by cross-party MPs has found. Although the DfT and HS2 Ltd, the taxpayer-funded body charged with delivering the railway, knew the project had gone “badly off course” as early as October 2018, officials failed to disclose the cost and time overruns at two parliamentary hearings — including one in May 2019, a report by the public accounts committee said. The permanent secretary for transport Bernadette Kelly withheld information from the committee even in response to specific questions, the MPs said, potentially in breach of parliamentary code and privileges.” – FT

Comment:

Johnson and Raab hold crisis talks over Harry Dunn case

“Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab held crisis talks last week after a fresh diplomatic storm with the United States over the case of Harry Dunn, The Mail on Sunday has learnt. The Downing Street meeting came after it emerged British law enforcement officers had put an international wanted notice on former CIA agent Anne Sacoolas, who has been charged with dangerous driving after killing the teenage motorcyclist and then fleeing Britain claiming diplomatic immunity. The high level talks on Thursday were also attended by Home Secretary Priti Patel and Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill after Washington ‘went berserk’ that they had not been told about the Interpol request to have Sacoolas arrested if she left the United States.” – Mail on Sunday

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