BMA ‘drops opposition to schools reopening’

“The British Medical Association has said schools can reopen on June 1, or earlier, as long as it is “safe to do so”. In an apparent softening of its stance regarding pupils returning to the classroom, the doctors’ union admitted there was “growing evidence that the risk to individual children from Covid-19 is extremely small”. However, it cautioned that there was still no consensus on how easily children could spread the disease to vulnerable adults. Tensions between the Government and teaching unions over plans for classes to return were raised further on Tuesday night as the National Education Union said that, as things stood, no school was safe to reopen on June 1. The BMA was dragged into the row when Chaand Nagpaul, the chairman of the BMA Council, wrote a letter of support to the NEU after it advised teachers “not to engage” with the Government’s plans to reopen schools after next week’s half term break.” – Daily Telegraph

  • ‘Track and trace’ must come first, warn scientists – The Times
  • England heading for schools split on 1 June reopening, Justice Secretary admits – Daily Telegraph
  • Northern towns revolt at plans – The Sun
  • At least 13 councils refuse to reopen schools – Daily Mail


>Yesterday: Mark Lehain in Comment: The rivalries and Corbynism that are driving the biggest education union’s extremist stance on school reopenings

Peter English: There’s no zero-risk way to reopen schools

“The early signs from European nations appears, on the face of it, promising. And yet we have seen that in just a week after a third of French children went back to school, there was a flurry of about 70 Covid-19 cases linked to schools. The Government’s decision on whether to reopen schools is a finely balanced and unenviable one. The focus of my committee is the eradication of health inequality. As the ONS has found, this virus disproportionately affects those from the most deprived backgrounds. We must safeguard against measures that risk exacerbating those inequalities. A second peak would impact the disadvantaged the most and could lead to schools being closed for far longer.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Bob Seely MP in Comment: What the Isle of Wight has learned from trialling the NHS’s Coronavirus App

Make lockdown science public, Hunt urges, as minister shifts blame

“Downing Street should follow the example of the Bank of England and publish the scientific advice it receives about coronavirus, Jeremy Hunt has said amid a “blame game” between ministers, officials and scientists. Thérèse Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, suggested yesterday that mistakes had been made by the government in its response to the coronavirus crisis because ministers were given the “wrong” advice by scientists. Downing Street distanced itself from Ms Coffey’s comments and said “scientists advise, ministers take decisions”. The row intensified at the Downing Street briefing when Dame Angela McLean, deputy chief scientific adviser, acknowledged that whether the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has been “secretive” will be a “big issue when we have to look back”…” – The Times

  • Blame game kicks off as minister claims coronavirus  ‘science was wrong’ – Daily Telegraph
  • UK coronavirus death figures fall for third week in a row – The Times


  • Rush to protect hospitals left care homes behind, MPs told – The Times
  • Trusts deny discharging elderly Covid patients to care homes – FT
  • New vaccine factory was turned down by ministers, says bank – The Times


  • There will be no winners in the UK’s coronavirus blame game – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian
  • Government sabotaged Britain’s pandemic-response system – George Monbiot, The Guardian

>Today: Dr Luke Evans MP’s column: The virus – and why the litigation nightmare that haunts our servicemen now also threatens our doctors


Sunak warns ‘more hardship to come’ as jobs market faces ‘severe recession’

“Britain faces “a severe recession the likes of which we haven’t seen” as the coronavirus and the lockdown ravage the economy, Rishi Sunak has warned. The Chancellor said “no doubt there will be more hardship to come” as he cautioned workers that “although we have put unprecedented mitigating actions in place, I certainly can’t protect every job and every business”. He was speaking after jobs numbers revealed employment likely slumped by around 450,000 in April, with almost 860,000 more people signing up for out of work benefits. That is the biggest jump since the harsh winter of 1947 slammed the brakes on the economy. One in nine people in some parts of Britain are now out of work.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Chancellor plays down hopes of quick economic recovery… – The Guardian
  • …as he hints that self-employed bailout will end in June – Daily Mail
  • Rolls-Royce to cut 9,000 jobs to prepare for years of disruption – FT
  • Blackpool, Liverpool and Hull suffer highest spikes in unemployment – The Sun
  • TUC boss calls for new council to build fairer economy after Covid-19 – The Guardian
  • Sturgeon says lockdown is creating an ‘economic emergency’ – Daily Mail
  • Apprentices hit hard by lockdown as businesses axe learning – FT

>Yesterday: Damian Green MP in Comment: Yes, this is a terrible crisis. But let’s recognise how Britain is meeting the challenge.

Eustice urges workers to ‘Pick for Britain’

“A website launched to help save this year’s harvest after coronavirus blocked foreign labourers from coming to the UK crashed this evening, just minutes after a minister begged furloughed Britons to lend a hand. The Pick for Britain website went down this evening within minutes of Environment Secretary George Eustice appealing for domestic workers to plug gaps in the nation’s fields. e used the daily Downing Street press conference to ask for help from those in need of more money, who wanted to ‘lend a hand and play their part’ or simply to get out into the open air. The UK normally relies on armies of mainly Romanian and Bulgarian workers, but as many as two thirds of the usual workforce is unable to get to the UK because of coronavirus, the minister revealed.” – Daily Mail

  • Website urging Brits to join new ‘Land Army’ crashes within seconds of launch – The Sun


  • Chancellor no longer sounds upbeat about the crisis – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Eustice reiterates at today’s press conference that Britain is “now in a position to move to level three”

Labour to move autumn conference online amid pandemic

“Labour’s annual autumn conference in Liverpool has been cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak, with an online event planned to replace it. The party conference, which would have been the first with Sir Keir Starmer as leader, was to be held at the ACC convention venue in mid-September. The Liberal Democrats are also expected to replace their conference with a virtual version. A Labour spokesperson said: “Our priority is the safety of members, staff and visitors to our events and the need to protect the public’s health. In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we have therefore decided to postpone this year’s annual and women’s conferences.” Plans for the online conference would be released at a later date, the party said. The decision was made by members of Labour’s national executive committee during an online meeting on Tuesday.” – The Guardian

UK tells EU it will take ‘any measures necessary’ to protect fishing waters

“British negotiators have told the European Union that the Royal Navy could board EU fishing boats if they breach the terms of a post-Brexit fishing deal. UK officials have said Britain will take any measures necessary to protect its fishing waters, negotiating documents published by the Government revealed on Tuesday. Britain has demanded that EU boats, which currently have the automatic right to fish in UK waters, apply for a licence and that the bloc provides the UK with a list of all vessels eligible to enter British fisheries “in good time”. “Access to our waters will be on our terms,” Michael Gove said in the House of Commons on Tuesday. The decision to publish a UK-authored free trade agreement and fisheries deal is designed to heap pressure on Brussels to shift from its red lines in the deadlocked trade negotiations.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Gove says Brussels must ditch ‘ideological’ Brexit stance – The Sun
  • Vision for EU trade deal prompts claims of cherry picking – FT
  • £30bn of post-Brexit tariffs slashed – The Sun


  • Macron and Merkel risk rebellion over €500bn EU coronavirus relief fund – The Times
  • Von der Leyen opens door for Sturgeon’s independence bid to split up UK – Daily Express

Home Office 1) NHS care workers left out of leave-to-remain scheme

“The Home Office has provoked outrage after leaving NHS care workers and cleaners out of a bereavement scheme that will support the families of workers who die of coronavirus. Under the scheme announced last month, the families and dependents of migrant NHS workers killed by the virus will be offered indefinite leave to remain in the UK. The government told the GMB union in an email yesterday, however, that the scheme applied only to certain occupations including nurses, radiographers and biochemists. Care workers, hospital cleaners or porters were not included. GMB condemned the policy as “heartless”. Lola McEvoy, the union’s NHS organiser, said: “Once again our lowest paid key workers are left in the cold. We ask them to take the maximum risk — but they get minimal reward.”” – The Times

Home Office 2) Unconvicted terrorism suspects face indefinite controls under UK bill

“Terrorism suspects who have not been convicted of any offence face expanded and potentially never-ending measures to control their lives under proposed counter-terrorism laws unveiled by the UK government. Ministers want to weaken the burden of proof for terrorism prevention and investigation measures (Tpims) to be imposed on people suspected of terrorist activityand remove the two-year cap on their use. Tpims are controversial and resource-heavy measures – usually based on secret intelligence – for controlling the risk presented by terrorism suspects at large where criminal prosecution is not an option…The Home Office said the proposals “support the use” of Tpims, which would continue to be used only when “necessary and proportionate”, but would not comment on whether the proposals would lead to an increase in their use.” – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • The schools row is a new front in the war between Parliament and ‘the Blob’ – Henry Hill, CapX
  • A response to my critics on lockdown – Lord Sumption, The Spectator
  • The NSC identified a pandemic as a serious risk to the country… and then didn’t act on it – Tom Swarbrick, UnHerd
  • Adding up the damage Britain’s Covid-19 policies have caused – Alistair Haimes, The Critic
  • Business and government must work together to defend free trade – Tom Cargill, 1828