UK’s top civil servant Sir Mark Sedwill resigns…

“The UK’s top civil servant Sir Mark Sedwill has resigned from his three-pronged role as cabinet secretary, national security adviser and head of the civil service. Sedwill announced his resignation today and will step down from his role in September, after 30 years in the civil service. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has nominated Sedwill for a life peerage and he will also lead a lead a new G7 panel on Global Economic Security. Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost will take up the role as national security adviser, while the soon-to-be vacant positions of cabinet secretary and head of the civil service will be recruited for.” City AM

  • Johnson “intends to reform Whitehall by recruiting more Brexiteers” – Daily Telegraph
  • Sedwill “privately described” cabinet ministers who opposed May’s Chequers deal as “children” – The Times
  • PM offered Sedwill “a plum peerage and pay-off at private lunch before he quit” – Daily Mail
  • Sir Richard Heaton, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, will not be kept on either – The Times
From earlier this month:
  • Foreign Office boss Sir Simon McDonald to step down – Sky News

… as David Frost is named as the new national security adviser

“Replacing Sir Mark Sedwill as national security adviser with Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator in Europe effectively sets a hard deadline on Brexit trade talks, Downing Street said last night. David Frost, a career diplomat, will move to his new role by the beginning of September. This means that talks with Brussels over a free trade deal will have to be completed by the end of August at the latest. If no agreement is reached by then, the UK will leave without a deal when the transition period ends on December 31. The Government hopes the deadline will increase pressure on EU leaders to make concessions which would make it easier to seal a free trade deal.” – Daily Mail

  • Defence officials are “going apesh*t”, says one senior Tory – FT
  • Frost’s dual role sends signal to the EU – The Times

PM to announce £1 billion school-building programme today…

“Boris Johnson will announce a £1 billion school-building programme today as he tries to reset the political agenda after the coronavirus crisis. The cash will pay for the first 50 projects of a ten-year investment, with a further £560 million for repairs and upgrades to schools next year. The spending will be aimed at schools in the worst condition. “Substantial” sums will be promised for those in the north and Midlands, Downing Street said last night. The first projects will start in September next year. Further education colleges will be able to access £200 million brought forward from an existing fund to refurbish their buildings.” – The Times

  • 50 building projects will start in September 2021 – BBC
  • Heads caution against fines for parents who keep children at home – The Times

… as he’s urged to curb TV junk food adverts

“Boris Johnson faces a test of his commitment to action against obesity after officials told him to consider plans to ban junk food advertising before 9pm and “buy one get one free” deals. Mr Johnson was converted to the need to deal with Britain’s national weight problem by his own brush with death and is planning to use people’s fear of coronavirus to encourage them to eat better and exercise more. Exercise and cookery classes for millions of the overweight are among proposals being considered as Mr Johnson widens the focus from preventing child obesity to treating it in adults, with officials actively drawing up policy options.” – The Times

Hancock: We’ve overcome huge supply challenges to deliver two billion items of PPE

“Protecting those who protect us has been one of our most important goals in our fight against coronavirus. We have strained every sinew to get NHS and care staff the PPE they need so they can do their important jobs safely and with confidence. Like every country across the world, we have faced unprecedented challenges in getting this PPE to the front line, partly because there is huge international demand for PPE and a global squeeze on supply, and also because we have understandably seen huge demand within the UK.” – The Times

> Today:

Sage adviser: Britain is on a “knife edge”

“Britain is on a “knife edge” and likely to see an increase in coronavirus cases by July, a Government adviser has warned. Sir Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said he was concerned that there will soon be a surge of new infections caused by lockdown restrictions being eased towards the end of May. “I would predict, I would guess, that we will start to see a few increases in cases towards the end of June or the first week of July, and the continued lifting of restrictions and people deciding to take things into their own hands and go about life as normal,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Private hospitals expect surge in cancer patients – The Times
  • Britons fall behind bills as pandemic squeezes household finances – The Times
  • Councils yet to make wedding venues “Covid secure” – Daily Telegraph
  • Thousands risk blindness as coronavirus delays treatment – The Times
  • Leicester could be the first city to suffer second lockdown, according to Patel – Daily Mail

UK needs “biggest-ever peacetime job creation plan” to stop mass unemployment

“The biggest job creation package in peacetime is needed to prevent the worst unemployment crisis in Britain for a generation, a leading thinktank has warned. Sounding the alarm as job losses mount, the Resolution Foundation called on the government to continue subsidising the wages of workers in the sectors of the economy hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis until at least the end of next year. It said the coronavirus job retention scheme – which is supporting the wages of more than 9 million workers at a cost to the taxpayer of more than £22bn so far – should be turned into a job protection scheme that would be kept in place throughout 2021.” – The Guardian

Patel puts brakes on foreign holidays…

“Holidaymakers have been warned that it will take time to agree “air bridges” with other countries after travel sites were inundated with demand for summer breaks abroad over the weekend. Priti Patel said that more detailed negotiations were required before countries allowed Britons to travel. Agreements to allow holidaymakers to visit selected destinations without having to quarantine for 14 days on their return were expected to come into force on July 6. However, the home secretary told Sky News: “These measures won’t come in overnight. They will take time because some of this will be down to negotiation [and] discussion with certain countries.”” – The Times

  • Portugal fights back against UK threat to quarantine holidaymakers – Daily Telegraph

… as she accuses 33 Labour MPs of racism

“Priti Patel has said Labour MPs who accused her of attempting to “gaslight” black people in her response to Black Lives Matter protests were “racist” in their views of her. Ms Patel clashed with a group of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) Labour MPs after they accused the Tory politician of using her Indian heritage to cast doubt on black communities’ experience of racism in the UK. The Cabinet minister had previously told the 33 MPs who wrote to her that she would “not be silenced” by those suggesting she had used her own experiences of prejudice to “gaslight” the “very real racism” faced by black people.” – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

Web shoppers face levy on deliveries to tackle pollution

“Internet shoppers could be hit by a compulsory delivery charge as part of a campaign to cut congestion and toxic emissions, The Times has learnt. The government is considering a range of measures to reduce the damaging impact of the e-commerce boom, which has led to a rise in delivery vans on British roads. A report from the Department for Transport’s scientific advisers recommended a “mandatory charge”, similar to that imposed for plastic bags, on all Amazon-style consumer deliveries. It said that the introduction of free and next-day delivery deals had led to “unnecessary over-ordering”, with some people immediately sending back clothes they no longer wanted free of charge.” – The Times

Polls 1) More people want tax rises over austerity

“Britain has turned emphatically against austerity, with more people demanding tax rises to repair the public finances a decade after the coalition cut spending to balance the books. A YouGov poll for Times Radio shows a sharp reversal in public support for cutting back services to deal with ballooning levels of national borrowing. Asked how best to reduce the deficit — the gap between government spending and what it raises in tax — 47 per cent now back tax rises, up from 30 per cent in December 2009. Support for tackling the deficit mainly through spending cuts has almost halved from 52 per cent to 27 per cent. Borrowing this year could top £300 billion, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned.” – The Times

Polls 2) Statue activists “lack public support”

“Two thirds of the public believe that a minority of political activists are being given too much say over how Britain treats its monuments, a report says. Only one in ten people said that they would support the removal of the bronze statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square. Black Lives Matter campaigners in the UK have drawn up a list of statues, including Churchill’s, that they want to see removed over the commemorated individuals’ views on race. The polling was published by Policy Exchange, a centre-right think tank, to mark the launch of its History Matters Project, which is chaired by Trevor Phillips, the former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.” – The Times

  • Black Lives Matter accused of “spreading hate” in Tweet on West Bank – The Times

Desmond told Johnson of his housing scheme plans during lunch in 2020

“Boris Johnson has been drawn into the planning row that has embroiled his Housing Secretary after it emerged that Richard Desmond discussed the property scheme with the Prime Minister over lunch, when he was London mayor. Mr Desmond, a Conservative Party donor, hosted the lunch on 25 May 2010 in the boardroom of his firm Northern & Shell’s headquarters in London. He took the opportunity to raise his initial £500m plans for the Westferry printworks in East London with Mr Johnson while he was mayor and had oversight of major planning decisions in the capital.” – The i Paper

  • Patel “probably would not” have acted as Housing Secretary did – Daily Mail
  • Desmond hired PR firm owned by Tory chief – The Times

Labour frontbencher apologises to JK Rowling

“Labour frontbencher Lloyd Russell-Moyle has apologised to Harry Potter author JK Rowling after accusing her of using her own sexual assault as “justification” for discriminating against trans people. Russell-Moyle, a shadow environment minister, made a public apology to Rowling after he wrote a piece in the Tribune saying he felt she had used her past experience to pass comment on a group of people who were not responsible for it. Rowling has been accused of transphobia after saying that only women menstruate, and later, in a blog post, for saying she is deeply protective of women-only spaces as a result of being sexually assaulted.” – The Guardian

… as she responds – and criticises the party’s view on sex-based rights

“JK Rowling has hit out at a Labour frontbencher who accused her of ‘using her own sexual assault as justification for discriminating,’ against the transgender community. This morning Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a shadow environment minister, wrote a grovelling apology for comments he made in The Tribune about the Harry Potter author. JK Rowling has hit back, warning people are ‘concerned’ about Labour’s position on women’s rights after saying: ‘When so-called leftists like (Lloyd Russell-Moyle) demand that we give up our hard won sex-based rights, they align themselves squarely with men’s rights activists.” – Daily Mail

Boost NHS mental health youth services to stop radicalisation, warn psychiatrists

“Leading psychiatrists have urged the government to boost public resources for youth mental health to tackle an association between depression or anxiety and sympathies with violent protest and terrorism. Edgar Jones and Kamaldeep Bhui, professors of psychiatry at King’s College London and the University of Oxford, warned that the underfunding of mental health services has left young people with PTSD, anxiety and depression susceptible to a range of poor outcomes, including radicalisation, which can culminate in violent extremism. Their call for greater focus on psychological and psychiatric services comes after last Saturday’s killing of James Furlong, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails in a Reading park.” – The Guardian

UK must reveal state-aid plan to unblock Brexit talks, EU warns

“Brussels is calling on the UK to reveal its post-Brexit policy on state aid, saying that Britain’s lack of a public plan for a domestic subsidy regime risks hampering the two sides’ future relationship talks. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has recently indicated his willingness to explore new solutions for ensuring that neither side can use subsidies to undermine the other’s economies — a core part of the EU’s “level playing field” demands in trade talks.” – FT

Covid-19 worldwide) US warned to “get a grip”

“The number of worldwide confirmed coronavirus infections passed ten million yesterday and deaths from the virus exceeded half a million. Less than six months after the health authorities in Wuhan, China, reported patients falling ill because of a mysterious new virus, Covid-19 has spread to more than 170 countries, the most disruptive global pandemic in modern history and one of the deadliest. Although the rate of new infections has receded in east Asia and Europe, the first regions to be affected, cases are multiplying rapidly in south Asia, Africa and particularly in Latin America where Brazil, the second most affected country, reported 38,693 new cases on Saturday.” – The Times

  • California closes all bars in Los Angeles – Daily Mail
  • Zurich quarantines 300 clubbers after reveller tests positive – The Times
  • Murder of three Chinese bosses in Africa linked to coronavirus lockdown – The Times
  • Drones patrol Spanish coast to make tourists keep their distance – The Times
  • Italians crowd on trains in rush for beaches – The Times
  • Germany tightens coronavirus measures amid regional outbreaks – Daily Telegraph
  • China puts half a million into strict Wuhan-style lockdown – Daily Mail

News in brief