Coronavirus app failure ‘leaves tracing plan in disarray’

“A smartphone app to track the spread of Covid-19 may never be released, ministers admitted yesterday, as they abandoned a three-month attempt to create their own version of the technology. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, announced that the government was scrapping its coronavirus contact-tracing app to focus on one developed with Apple and Google technology. Mr Hancock said that in trials neither of the potential apps was accurate enough to be used by the public and he could not indicate when, or if, a usable version might be available. “The truth is that no app is better than a bad app,” a senior government source said.” – The Times

  • Audit discovered that just one in 25 contacts were being detected on Apple phones – Daily Telegraph


  • Treasury blocks plan for private hospitals to tackle NHS backlog – The Guardian
  • Frontline NHS and social care workers ‘will get Covid-19 vaccine first’ – Daily Mail


  • The NHS must now focus on its contact tracing army – The Sun
  • Reversal raises questions about the wider track-and-trace strategy – The Times

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Hancock has bad news on the App and better news on testing

Schools given £1bn to help pupils catch up after lockdown

“Schools in England will receive a £1bn boost to help pupils catch up after coronavirus, including a national tutoring programme for the most disadvantaged students hit hardest by months of school closures. Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, will on Friday set out a package for education that he promised would “protect a generation of children” from the impact of the pandemic. But after pupils have spent more than six months away from school, some educators are concerned the intervention may not do enough to tackle the “attainment gap” that has probably emerged between disadvantaged students and their peers. The government package includes £650m in one-off grants for state primary and secondary schools in England, for helping students catch up in the 2020-21 academic year.” – FT

  • ‘National tutor’ scheme to help struggling pupils in England – The Times
  • Fears exam boards will slash GCSE and A Level grades – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: The shake-up that the Government needs to rescue education for a generation of children

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Scottish schools face a full year of disruption, and the DUP clash with teaching unions

Gove warns Northern Irish voters will reject EU over bureaucratic customs rules

“Michael Gove has warned Northern Ireland will vote to break away from EU customs rules if Brussels is too “bureaucratic” about enforcing the new border in the Irish Sea. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster told MPs on a scrutiny committee that there would be “unfettered access” of Northern Irish products to mainland Britain. Pressed on whether that meant no exit declarations on goods travelling to the mainland, he said, “absolutely”. Michel Barnier said at the end of the fourth round of Brexit negotiations that avoiding exit declarations on goods moving from Northern Ireland was “incompatible with the legal commitments accepted by the UK” in the Northern Irish Protocol. Mr Gove, a cabinet minister, warned a heavy-handed approach would mean voters deciding against continued alignment with EU rules in the Stormont Vote planned for four years’ time.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Northern Irish firms ‘to be reimbursed for tariffs if Brexit talks fail’ – The Guardian


  • Johnson and Macron back renewed effort to strike UK-EU trade agreement – FT
  • Wartime camaraderie raises hopes of a swift Brexit conclusion – The Times
  • Britain warns Michel Barnier that the EU has until October to broker a Brexit deal – The Sun
  • ‘Zero chance’ of UK trade deal with Japan until Brexit negotiations are complete – Daily Express

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Six months on from last year’s general election, it’s only the LibDems who bang on about Europe

Swing no: England fans could be told to drop rugby anthem

“England rugby bosses are expected to call on fans to drop Swing Low, Sweet Chariot as their unofficial anthem because of its associations with slavery. The anthem, a 19th-century African-American slave song, is the subject of a review by the Rugby Football Union. First sung at Twickenham in 1987 for Martin Offiah — a black player nicknamed “Chariots” — it has become essential at England matches. The RFU is expected to discourage supporters from singing it. Bill Sweeney, the chief executive, will also lead an investigation into the use of the spiritual in the union’s “Carry Them Home” marketing strategy. The review marks a shift in policy prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement.” – The Times

  • I will make it my mission to get this going at every bloody game! – Ben Bradley MP, Twitter


  • Raab says Black Lives Matter kneeling ‘seems to be from Game of Thrones’ – The Sun
  • Foreign Secretary under fire over taking the knee comments – FT
  • Ex-universities minister says Cecil Rhodes must stay – Daily Mail


  • The Tories may not take the knee, but voters may not care – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian
  • Cowardly surrender is a wilful vandalism – Daniel Hannan, Daily Mail


>Yesterday: David Green in Comment: Johnson’s racial inequality inquiry must be free from political prejudice. Here are my tips for getting it right.

MPs face curbs on airing grievances in public

“Proposals to let MPs use the Commons to debate serious allegations against them have been severely curtailed over fears that the change would stop people reporting misconduct. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader, will ask the House to approve proposals next week for an independent expert panel to examine allegations of harassment or bullying. Some MPs had argued that they should be allowed to debate the findings against them, prompting concerns that they could rake over the accusations against them or smear the complainants without right of reply. While a debate on the panel’s conclusions will be allowed, Mr Rees-Mogg has acted to curtail it so that MPs may not name their accusers, discuss the allegations in detail or try to overturn them.” – The Times

Jacob Rees-Mogg: Parliament is at full steam and delivering on promises

“The lockdown has had its effect, however. Parliament was restricted to its interrogative proceedings for weeks. Ministers were able to benefit from the views of MPs, thanks to the ingenuity of the Speaker and his team, and parliament’s work of scrutiny could continue, at least in part. But the limitations of the hybrid proceedings prevented us from working properly on our legislative programme. As the public health advice changed and the lockdown was eased, MPs joined others who cannot do their jobs from home by returning to their place of work. Since Whitsun the Commons has once again been working at full speed.Not enough is said about the contributions made by MPs of all parties to this process. Four public bill committees are up and running and bills are being properly debated in a way that is simply impossible on Zoom.” – Times Red Box

Dysfunctional ‘toxic culture’ led to Labour defeat, major report finds

“Labour has a “mountain to climb” if it is to get back into power, according to a major review of the 2019 general election defeat, which paints a picture of dysfunctionality, toxicity and drift inside the party’s election-fighting machine. Negative perceptions of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, doubts about the manifesto and the party’s ambivalent Brexit stance reinforced each other in a “snowballing” effect to deliver December’s catastrophic result, the 150-page report by the party group Labour Together argues. However, it was also the product of two decades of demographic and political change that hit the party’s traditional base, and could endanger more Labour seats in 2024.” – The Guardian

  • True extent of public hated for Corbyn revealed – Daily Express
  • Disorder, doubts and infighting at the heart of Labour – Daily Mail


  • Antisemitism clean-up lures peers back to Labour – The Times
  • Tories’ poll lead over Labour slashed to four points – Daily Telegraph


  • Britain rejected Labour in 2019. Let’s learn the right lessons – Ed Miliband MP, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Tom Pridham in Comment: The SNP may be Starmer’s real stumbling block at the next election

China is blamed for huge cyber attack on Australian businesses, schools and hospitals

“Australia is under cyber attack from a foreign state targeting universities, hospitals, industry and governments, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said today – with suspicion immediately falling on China. Mr Morrison said a ‘sophisticated state-based actor’ was behind ongoing attacks which have been happening for ‘many months’ but have dramatically increased recently. Security chiefs say the attackers are using the so-called ‘spear-phishing’ method to steal sensitive login details by sending malicious emails, before hiding under cover of ‘legitimate remote accesses’ once they gain entry. The PM refused to name any suspects but said there are ‘not a large number’ of countries which can carry out such large-scale cyber operations.” – Daily Mail

  • Indians enraged by savage Chinese attack on soldiers at Ladakh border – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Wales’ covid crisis shows we need a One Nation health service – Matt Smith, CapX
  • The battle to elect Britain’s first black MP – Anthony Broxton, The Critic
  • Why the Tories face a new revolt on the Right – Matthew Goodwin, UnHerd
  • Our shaky ideological coalitions are on the brink – Matt Gillow, 1828
  • We are living through a frenzy of conformity – Andrew Doyle, The Spectator