Britain can’t “photoshop” its history, warns Johnson…

“Boris Johnson has warned that Britain cannot “photoshop” its long and complicated cultural history and that to do so would be a “distortion” of our past, amid the ongoing row over the removal of public monuments. Writing for The Telegraph, the Prime Minister promises to fight “with every breath in his body” any attempt to remove the statue of Winston Churchill from Parliament Square. Mr Johnson acknowledges Britain has much more to do to tackle the issue of racism and has pledged to set up a cross-government commission to examine inequality. But he also launches a passionate defence of “one of the country’s greatest ever leaders”, declaring it the “height of lunacy” to accuse Churchill of racism.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Bishop calls for statue of Henry Morton Stanley to be removed – Daily Telegraph
  • English Heritage to assess 950 plaques in London – The Times
  • Protesters should be banned under Covid laws, says Police Fed – Daily Telegraph

… as he writes: “Rather than tear some people down we should build others up”

“It was utterly absurd that a load of far-Right thugs and bovver boys this weekend converged on London with a mission to protect the statue of Winston Churchill. It was right that a good number should have been arrested. They were violent. They were aggressive towards the police. They were patently racist. There is nothing that can excuse their behaviour. And yet it was also, frankly, absurd and deplorable that the statue of Winston Churchill should have been in any plausible danger of attack. It was outrageous that anyone could even have claimed that the statue needed protection. It was and is miserable to see his statue entombed in its protective sheath.” – Daily Telegraph

PM pledges to set up racial inequality commission

“Boris Johnson pledged last night to set up a commission that will report on racial inequalities across Britain as protests continued over the weekend. The prime minister said it would look at “all aspects of inequality – in employment, in health outcomes, in academic and all other walks of life”. The inquiry, to be overseen by Kemi Badenoch, the equalities minister, will produce recommendations for the government by the end of the year. It will be headed by an independent officer and include a mix of people from a variety of ethnic and social backgrounds. Mr Johnson warned Britain not to “photoshop” its history by removing controversial statues.” – The Times

  • Johnson criticised over “victimisation” comment – The Guardian
  • Racism “contributed to disproportionate UK BAME coronavirus deaths”, inquiry finds – The Guardian

Coronavirus 1) Shops reopen today – as PM urges public to “shop with confidence”

“Boris Johnson urged the country to return to the high street and ‘shop with confidence’ when non-essential stores reopen today with huge price cuts. The Prime Minister said he was ‘very optimistic’ that the lifting of restrictions would help the economy bounce back from three months of coronavirus lockdown. Stores including Zara, John Lewis and Debenhams have slashed prices by as much as 70 per cent in a bid to lure shoppers back. Desperate fashion chains are sitting on as much as £15billion of unsold stock they are keen to shift. Speaking during a visit to the Westfield shopping centre in east London yesterday, the PM said he hoped to see a ‘gradual’ build-up of people visiting the high street.” – Daily Mail

  • Shoppers could be tempted with VAT cut – The Times
  • Camden market reopens, as retailers unsure of how many shoppers will come out – FT
  • London’s West End expects 80 per cent fewer visitors – BBC

Coronavirus 2) Johnson to launch review of two-metre distancing…

“Boris Johnson began the process of relaxing the two-metre rule yesterday, launching a review of its economic impact and saying a change would be safer as infections fell. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, said that “everyone would like to see it reduce from an economic perspective” and that it was time for a “fresh look” at the social-distancing guidance. Public opposition to relaxing the rule has emerged as the main obstacle to change, with ministers nervous of being seen to put the economy before lives. The prime minister has set up a review involving economists and scientists that could report before pubs and restaurants are due to reopen on July 4.” – The Times

  • SAGE warned not to give view on two-metre rule – Daily Telegraph
  • PM must provide clarity or jobs will go, caution hospitality chiefs – Daily Telegraph
  • The WHO cautions against the further lifting of lockdown in England – The Guardian
  • The nine areas likely to be hardest hit by Covid-19 pandemic – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 3)… as 3,000 facemask police to start enforcing policy today

“More than 3,000 extra police officers and transport workers will be deployed at main railway stations from today to ensure that all passengers wear face coverings while travelling. Passengers could be prevented from travelling or fined £100 for failing to cover their mouth and nose as part of new measures to combat the spread of coronavirus. For the first time, face coverings will become compulsory on all public transport in England, including trains, trams, buses, ferries and aircraft. The move coincides with the relaxation of lockdown restrictions from today, with non-essential shops and outdoor tourist attractions about to reopen.” – The Times

  • One in six will refuse to follow face mask rules on public transport – i News
  • Covering up “had a bigger impact than keeping apart” – The Times

Coronavirus 4) Over 400 travel businesses warn Patel of “lost confidence”

“Bosses of some of Britain’s biggest travel and hospitality companies have warned Priti Patel they have lost confidence in her over the “misguided” quarantine policy – and urged her to quit if she loses a court case over it. In a letter to the Home Secretary, leaders of the group which includes hotelier and Tory donor Rocco Forte warn that 1.7 million jobs in their industry are being put at risk by a policy which they say renders economic recovery “impossible.” “How have we ended up with a policy that seeks to drive the final nails into the coffin of a once thriving domestic and international tourism industry?” said George Morgan-Grenville, leader of the Quash Quarantine group and chief executive of tour operator Red Savannah.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Queues build at Channel ports – The Times
  • Easyjet plans for flights to return – The Times
  • Lack of safety advice threatens staycation providers – Daily Mail
  • Spain opens its doors early to EU tourists – The Times

Coronavirus 5) More than one million locked out of Coronavirus support schemes

“More than 1m people have been locked out of the main government coronavirus support schemes, according to a report published on Monday by the influential Treasury select committee. Mel Stride, the committee’s chair, said the government needed to act urgently “to help those who have fallen through the cracks” if it was to fulfil its promise of “doing whatever it takes” to protect people and businesses from the impact of the pandemic. The plight of those people who do not qualify for support will be further accentuated by the extension of the government job retention scheme to October, and of a separate scheme to support the self-employed to August.” – FT

Coronavirus 6) Human trials for £3 jab expected to start this week

“Human trials will begin this week of a candidate Covid-19 vaccine that could protect the British population from the disease for about £3 per person. Researchers at Imperial College London are seeking to harness a potentially powerful, but as yet unproven, technology. It could allow vast numbers of doses to be produced rapidly, using equipment bought off the shelf. If it works, the team has pledged to make the jab available at the lowest possible cost in Britain and the developing world. It would be licensed to outside manufacturers via a so-called social-enterprise company called VacEquity Global Health (VGH), which would waive royalty payments.” – The Times

  • Antibody tests “miss quarter of cases” – The Times
  • T-cell immunity could be more important than antibodies – Daily Telegraph
  • Disease could be “burning itself out” – The Times
  • Macron declares crisis over in France – The Times

Coronavirus 7) School closures could put kids at risk of obesity

“A generation of children is at risk of obesity because of school closures, senior doctors warned yesterday. They said that a lack of exercise could have dire consequences when one in five children was already excessively overweight. “We need to get kids back to school as soon as we can for their health,” Russell Viner, leader of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, told the Daily Mail. Many children will have been off school for six months by September. Professor Viner said: “The risk-balance equation for children is about the risks of not being in school and poor mental health, poor sleep and potentially lack of exercise and obesity.”” – The Times

  • Give one million children reliable broadband or risk harming their education, MPs say – The Guardian

Coronavirus 8) Jo Johnson plans four-year visa for foreign students

“Foreign students would be able to work in the UK for four years after their studies under plans from Jo Johnson, the former minister, to boost universities and put the “bounce” into Britain. He said that the UK should begin a recruitment drive for overseas students with the aim of doubling the number from India by 2024 and targeting those in Nigeria and Malaysia. He also said that the British Council should be overhauled and put in charge of the recruitment drive, paid for by a levy on the £8 billion a year universities get from overseas students’ tuition fees.” – The Times


Coronavirus 9) Government relaxed controls to stop Coronavirus spread in hospitals during height of crisis

“The Government quietly relaxed strict controls to stop the spread of coronavirus in hospitals at the height of the crisis, the Daily Telegraph can reveal. Whitehall officials watered down key aspects of the infection control guidance for healthcare providers as the pandemic worsened. The newspaper can also reveal that healthcare providers were not told to implement social distancing until 18 days after the country went into lockdown. The findings follow warnings by the Government’s scientific advisers that coronavirus appears to be spreading between hospital staff – potentially putting the whole country at risk of a second wave of infection.” – Daily Express

Johnson to threaten EU with no-deal if talks stall

“Boris Johnson will try to force the pace of Brexit talks by telling the EU today that Britain will opt for no-deal unless there is a sign of agreement by the end of next month. The head of the World Trade Organisation warned the prime minister yesterday, however, that relying on WTO terms under no-deal would slow Britain’s recovery from coronavirus, saying that sticking closer to present arrangements would be better for jobs. Roberto Azevêdo, director-general of the WTO, said that the car industry and agriculture would be hit particularly hard by failure to secure a deal as they would be subject to heavy tariffs under default trade rules.” – The Times

Ministers bring back work tribunal fees…

“Tribunal fees for workers bringing discrimination claims are likely to be reinstated as ministers aim to get round a Supreme Court ruling that an earlier scheme was unlawful. The Times has seen confidential correspondence between Whitehall officials and the head of the Law Commission that asks the think tank to “provide recommendations for creating a coherent system for charging and updating fees in the future”. The move will renew controversy after the government was found to have acted unlawfully when it brought in the previous fee scheme in 2013. Over the weekend, unions condemned any attempt to reinstate the fees. Unison, the public services staff union, challenged the original scheme, resulting in a humiliating defeat for the government.” – The Times

… and are under pressure to change domestic violence laws

“MINISTERS are under pressure to change domestic violence laws so that all women can access help or a refuge in a crisis. Under current proposals being set out in Parliament some immigrant women cannot escape abusive partners as they are not entitled to government funding. Shockingly it means that women and children who have gone to the police are refused access to a shelter and are often forced to move back in with an abuser. Labour MP Jess Phillips is campaigning to end the discrimination, and hopes an amendment to the law will open up help to every woman in crisis.” – The Sun

Labour avoids gender debate…

“Labour has sought to avoid being dragged into the debate over trans rights after it emerged that the government is considering scrapping plans to allow people to self-declare their legal gender. Ministers have drawn up proposals that would kill off plans set out under Theresa May to let transgender people “self-identify” as a different gender without the need for medical oversight. Measures designed to prevent people with male anatomy using female lavatories and domestic violence refuges have also been included in a package drawn up by Liz Truss, the equalities minister. A ban on gay conversion therapies has been included to head off criticism from equalities campaigners.” – The Times

… but calls for inquiry into Jenrick housing deal

“Labour has called for an urgent investigation into the role of the prime minister and a senior Downing Street adviser in the controversial approval of a party donor’s £1 billion housing development. Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, will face MPs at his departmental questions session today after he overruled objections from the local council and planninTg officers and approved an application by the businessman Richard Desmond to build 1,500 homes on the Isle of Dogs. Mr Jenrick subsequently quashed his decision and admitted he had shown “apparent bias” in making the ruling in mid-January, one day before the local council was due to vote on changes to a community charge that would have cost Mr Desmond up to £50 million.” – The Times

News in brief