39 Tories call for Cummings to resign – as Johnson suffers poll slump

“Boris Johnson was struggling last night to contain a growing party revolt over Dominic Cummings as 39 Tory MPs demanded his resignation. With public opinion hardening against the senior adviser accused of repeated breaches of the lockdown, a new poll reveals the scale of the political damage caused by the controversy. A YouGov survey for The Times shows the Conservative lead over Labour cut by nine points in a week. Support for the Tories was down by four points, to 44 per cent. Labour added five points to 38 per cent compared with a week ago. David Cameron was the last Tory leader to see his party’s lead drop by the same amount as “Cleggmania” took hold after the first television debate of the 2010 election.” – The Times

  • “Up to six members of the Cabinet… believe Mr Cummings should resign” – Daily Telegraph
  • Cummings committed a “clear breach of the lockdown rules”, says Hunt – The Times
  • Criticism is crossing tribal divides – Daily Telegraph
  • Durham police start investigation as questions persist – Daily Telegraph
  • Cummings accused of altering blog post – The Times
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Paul Goodman: I think Cummings may walk

“Dominic Cummings began his statement on Monday by sitting down, and continued by reading his words out from behind a desk. This lecturely style of presentation, delivered amidst the sunshine of Downing Street’s rose garden, showed a side of him that’s largely unknown. Instead of War Cummings — hunched, baiting, goading and contemptuous — we saw Peace Cummings: not exactly wearing his heart on his sleeve, to be sure, but at least with his head firmly screwed on. He was in the mode that those of us who know him see a lot: analytical, polite, highly intelligent, agile but unyielding — cool rather than chilly. There followed a rush from his opponents to pick holes in the tapestry he wove. Why test drive for a journey by motoring on a round trip to Barnard Castle? Wasn’t that visit itself in breach of the lockdown regulations? And so on. But essentially, everything boils down to two contrasting views.” – The Times

Johnson 1) PM to face Commons liaison committee today

“Boris Johnson is expected to face only a few minutes of questioning about the conduct of Dominic Cummings at his first appearance before the Commons liaison committee since becoming prime minister. A briefing note from the controversially appointed Conservative chair, Sir Bernard Jenkin, prepared for the senior MPs shows that at 4pm on Wednesday, 20 minutes have been allocated to discuss Cummings plus three other coronavirus topics. There is also unhappiness that there is no opportunity for questions about China or any other aspect of national security or foreign affairs – and some members have complained Jenkin is “going soft” on the prime minister. The note, sent out on Monday lunchtime as the Cummings affair was dominating the news, says the first phase of the meeting will discuss “Dominic Cummings, roles and responsibilities, Covid-19 ‘war cabinet’, coordination with Scot/Wales/NI”.” – The Guardian

  •  Senior MPs denied chance to question PM – The Times

Johnson 2) Track and trace programme expected to go live tomorrow or Friday…

TOUGH local lockdowns to rapidly isolate new coronavirus sufferers could be thrown in place from Thursday, The Sun can reveal. Boris Johnson plans to announce the government’s crucial new ‘track and trace’ programme to stamp out new coronavirus contagion trails tomorrow. He will say it will go live either on Thursday or Friday, when an army of 25,000 contact tracers will begin work hunting down new cases. Whole towns could face lockdown if there are regional flare-ups and schools, businesses or workplaces may be closed. The PM pledged to introduce the new contact tracing system – that has proved highly successful in South Korea and Germany – by June 1.” – The Sun

  • … as he speaks to WHO director-general about the importance of an “independent investigation” into the origins of Coronavirus – Daily Mail
  • Queen lets PM exercise at Buckingham Palace – The Times

Hancock 1) Health Secretary confirms towns could face “local lockdowns”…

“‘Local lockdowns’ could be imposed on whole towns if there are regional flare-ups of coronavirus cases , Matt Hancock confirmed yesterday. The Health Secretary said the ability to tighten restrictions in individual regions will be part of the NHS test, track and trace system – which is set to expand on June 1. This could lead to local schools, businesses or workplaces being closed in areas with high prevalence of infection, according to the government’s road map on easing lockdown restrictions. Mr Hancock told the daily Downing Street press briefing: ‘I know there’s been a specific problem in terms of flare ups and in terms of the number of cases, particularly in Barrow in Furness.” – Daily Mail

  • MPs call on Johnson to reopen dentists in the second phase of lockdown easing – Daily Telegraph
  • Northern Ireland records no new Coronavirus deaths for the first time since March 23 – Daily Mail
  • Almost 13,000 unexplained deaths in England and Wales – Daily Telegraph
  • Friends set to be allowed outdoor reunions – The Times
  • Fearful bosses set to reopen only a fraction of their shops – The Times
  • UK “in talks with Portugal” over first “air bridge” – The Sun
  • Mothers almost 50 per cent likely to lose their jobs than fathers during lockdown – Daily Telegraph
  • Bank of England chief economist: Economy on track for a rapid V-shaped recovery – Daily Telegraph

Hancock 2)… and says Ebola drug is the “biggest step forward” in treating Covid-19

“NHS patients are to benefit from a drug hailed as the “biggest step forward” in treating coronavirus. Remdesivir, an antiviral originally designed to fight ebola, is the only drug shown to have any effect in combating Covid-19. It will soon be available to some of those in greatest need, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, announced yesterday. “This is probably the biggest step forward in the treatment of coronavirus since the crisis began,” he said. The drug interferes with the life cycle of the virus and in a large trial in the US was shown to shorten the time patients took to recover by about four days. It is undergoing other trials but has not been shown to cut mortality rates. The fact that it has any effect was described by Anthony Fauci, a leading member of the US coronavirus task force, as “a very important proof of concept”.” – The Times

  • UK stockpiles PPE to prepare for future outbreaks – Daily Mail

Hancock 3) Downing Street “debunks” his claim childcare fines will be reviewed

“Downing Street has debunked Matt Hancock’s off-the-cuff suggestion that fines handed out to families for childcare-related lockdown breaches could be overturned – as officials insist no review will take place. The Health Secretary suggested punitive penalties could be reviewed by the Treasury after Dominic Cummings made a 260-mile dash from London to Durham. Mr Cummings, Boris Johnson’s chief aide, justified the March 27 journey on the grounds that he was concerned that if he and his wife became ill no one would be able to look after his son. Mr Hancock tonight was put on the spot by Martin, a vicar from Brighton who asked one of the public questions at the daily Downing Street press conference.” – Daily Mail

  • Hancock said he would ask the Treasury about penalty notices – The Guardian

Sunak “prepares to block new furlough applications”

“The fortunes of millions of workers are hanging in the balance as Rishi Sunak weighs up whether to axe a crucial self-employment support programme and separately prepares to block new furlough applications. A decision on whether to extend the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) beyond May is expected to be made within days – and a sudden stop to the grant is still on the table, according to sources close to the discussions. Meanwhile the Treasury is reportedly preparing to stop accepting new applications for the furlough programme, a different subsidy aimed at helping employees. The self-employment scheme, which pays 2m people up to £2,500 a month, has been hailed as a lifeline for desperate entrepreneurs whose incomes vanished overnight due to the lockdown. But it is due to end in five days’ time, pitching workers into the universal credit system and putting many of their homes and livelihoods at risk.” – Daily Telegraph

  • UK economy faces five per cent annual deficit by 2024 – FT

Patel “drawing up plans” to tighten border security

“Priti Patel has launched a major push for controversial new powers designed to tackle the Channel migrant crisis, the Daily Mail can reveal. The Home Secretary has told Border Force chiefs to examine whether they have the legal authority to turn migrant boats around in the Channel – and send them back to France. If this proves impossible under current law, she is said to be drawing up plans for specific new legislation allowing UK patrol boats to turn back the vessels. A major tightening of asylum law is also on the drawing board, which will force claimants to lodge all their arguments at the beginning of a case. This would stop them making a series of claims in the courts under different parts of human rights laws to delay their deportation. Both measures are likely to be highly contentious.” – Daily Mail


Jenrick “unlawfully approved” billionaire’s property development

“The housing secretary unlawfully approved a property development of a billionaire tycoon who once donated to the Conservative Party. Robert Jenrick has accepted that he showed “apparent bias” when he gave the green light for Richard Desmond to build 1,500 homes in the Isle of Dogs, east London. The timing of the decision meant that the mogul avoided a £40 million bill over the scheme. Mr Jenrick agreed that planning approval should be quashed after the council initiated legal action against him alleging that the timing showed bias. Mr Jenrick rubber-stamped the scheme against the advice of the government’s planning inspector. The leader of the local Conservative group resigned over the decision and has called for an investigation.” – The Times

David Evans, a Blair-era staffer, becomes Labour general-secretary

“David Evans, a Blair-era Labour staffer, was elected as the party’s general- secretary last night in a significant victory for Sir Keir Starmer. The new leader had backed Mr Evans, Labour’s assistant general-secretary in 1999-2001. He was elected by the ruling national executive committee (NEC) despite opposition from the left of the party. He replaces Jennie Formby, an ally of Jeremy Corbyn. An ally of Sir Keir’s on the NEC said that Mr Evans was “a lifelong Labour campaigner but he’s also got the professional skills required. He’ll make the Labour machine more effective, professional and successful.” However, a left-wing source on the NEC warned Mr Evans not to take Labour “back to the toxic culture in HQ, purges of left-wing members and stitch-ups of parliamentary selections”.” – The Times

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