Get all children back to school, doctors tell Johnson

“More than 1,600 paediatricians have called on Boris Johnson to reopen schools or risk “scarring the life chances” of a generation of children. In an open letter to the prime minister they said that vulnerable children were suffering while schools remained shut during the lockdown. The letter, signed by members of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, asks the government to publish a clear plan for getting all children back to school as a first step in a national recovery programme for young people. Most children have been out of school for more than 12 weeks, a break that the letter describes as “without precedent” and which puts the opportunities of a generation of young people in jeopardy. Nine per cent of pupils are in school and many year groups are not expected back before September.” – The Times

  • Teachers’ unions accused of pushing view that schools are death traps – The Times
  • Starmer refuses three times to say it’s safe for kids to go back to school – The Sun
  • ‘Head teachers need a clear message from ministers and time to plan’ – The Times


  • Ashworth shamed over trade unions leaving teachers ‘in tears’ – Daily Express
  • Labour-supporting teacher says kids need ‘Marxist’ teachers – The Sun


  • It’s time for Sturgeon to act on schools – Jamie Greene MSP, Daily Telegraph


  • The school shutdown is wrecking children’s education – The Sun
  • The education secretary is asleep as tragedy unfolds – The Times


Ministers blame Apple as they consider ditching coronavirus tracing app

“Apple is being blamed by ministers for delays in launching the NHS’s Covid-19 phone-tracking app that could lead to the project being scrapped. Amid anger in Whitehall, officials have accused the company of prioritising its own interests over public health and failing to co-operate over a key aspect of the app’s development. Senior government figures said representations had been made at high levels of the company but they had been “pushing against a brick wall”. They warned that if Apple failed to change its approach the government might have to abandon the existing app and accept a system developed by the company and Google that they believe is inferior and would lead to further delays in its national introduction.” – The Times

  • NHS app could be delayed until winter – FT
  • Serco boss defends its work on setting up NHS test-and-trace system – The Guardian

>Today: Mark Pengelly and Ayesha Azad in Local Government: In Woking, the technological revolution will continue after the crisis has ended

Tom Harris: The Prime Minister needs to rediscover political nous

“The chair of the ’22, Sir Graham Brady, would be doing his party a favour if he quizzes the PM on the second issue: what is this government actually for? Is it simply a vehicle for winning elections or does it have a greater, more profound raison d’être, one that is about more than out-Labouring Labour in terms of public spending and social concern? Thirdly, a substantial proportion of Tory backbenchers find themselves in the same position that many Labour MPs found themselves in 1997: unexpectedly in parliament. These Red Wall MPs have by now come down off their election high and realised that being a government MP is actually a lot harder than they had thought. As former Tory MP Paul Goodman wrote yesterday on ConservativeHome, they will need to learn to say no, as previous generations of MPs from both parties had to. How do they reconcile their ambition to be re-elected with their government’s obligation to limit public spending?” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson’s U-turn shows the assault on liberal values is faltering – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • This is meant to be a Conservative government. It’s finally acting like one – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Sooner or later, Conservative MPs will have to remaster the vanishing art of Just Saying No

Furlough effect leaves Sunak with ‘triple lock’ pensions dilemma

“Rishi Sunak is being forced to consider ways of getting round the “triple lock” on pensions next year amid signs that the bounce back in wages for furloughed workers could put state pensioners in line for an 18% increase. While the Treasury said it had no plans to ditch the arrangement – by which pensions rise by the rate of inflation, average earnings or 2.5%, whichever is greater – the chancellor has accepted a problem is looming in 2021 as the economy recovers from the coronavirus lockdown. Officials will spend the next few months seeking a solution that “does not screw pensioners” but outside experts said a temporary suspension of the triple lock was inevitable unless the government is prepared to pay a massive bill next year.” – The Guardian

  • Downing Street rule out abolishing triple lock on pensions, but could suspend it – The Sun

Angry Tories give Johnson a roasting over his failure to scrap the two-metre rule

“Tory MPs gave Boris Johnson a roasting yesterday over his failure to scrap the two-metre rule and a series of embarrassing U-turns. The Prime Minister told backbenchers he wants to ditch the social distancing restriction but cannot unless extra safety procedures are introduced to keep his scientific advisers happy. But he came under ‘a lot of pressure’ during a virtual 45-minute meeting with senior members of the backbench 1922 Committee. The PM was urged to improve communications with Tory MPs in order to avoid U-turns, such as those over free school meals and the migrant surcharge on foreign NHS staff. They told him to listen to feedback from experienced MPs rather than relying on a small circle of advisers such as Dominic Cummings.” – Daily Mail

  • Pull down the ‘iron curtain’ at No10, MPs urge Prime Minister – Daily Telegraph
  • Grim private polls, and the terror of being blamed for a new spike ‘paralysing’ the PM – Daily Mail


  • Ministers accused of governing by ‘fiat’ by rushing through sweeping changes – Daily Telegraph
  • Hancock: We don’t have replacement for the 2m distance rule yet – The Times

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

Department for International Trade ‘tipped to merge with FCO’

“The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office is eyeing plans to merge with the Department for International Trade for the next stage of its Whitehall power grab. Just a day after Boris Johnson announced that the Department for International Development, which oversees the overseas aid budget, would merge with the FCO, senior Whitehall officials told the Financial Times that the DIT was likely to be included in further changes to the structure of government in the coming years. The news came as the DIT revealed that two of its key post-Brexit trade deals will have a negligible effect on the UK economy. As well as negotiating to secure a trade agreement with the EU, the Johnson government has begun talks with the US, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. It has also applied to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership of 11 countries.” – FT

  • Fears over DfID and Foreign Office merger to be raised in Commons – The Guardian


  • Britain ready to seek membership of Pacific trade bloc, Truss reveals – The Times
  • UK plans Australia trade deal in just months – Daily Express
  • Trump’s trade rep: ‘almost impossible’ to get US-UK trade deal before election – Daily Telegraph
  • Raab warns Gov could be sued over air bridges – The Sun


  • At this time of global crisis, Britain’s development work is more vital than ever – Clare Short, The Guardian


Johnson accused by MPs of ‘PR disaster’ after spending almost £1 million on paint job for jet

“Boris Johnson was accused by his own MPs of “lurching from one PR disaster to another” after it emerged he has spent almost £1 million having his official military jet repainted. The Prime Minister decided to go ahead with having a Union flag-inspired design sprayed on the RAF A330 Voyager despite being told it would cost £900,000 of taxpayers’ money. Tory MPs expressed disbelief that Mr Johnson would consider spending such a sum on a “vanity project” at a time when public finances are stretched to the limit. They said the timing of the news “couldn’t be worse” after the Government was roundly criticised for resisting calls to provide free meals for deprived children over the summer.” – Daily Telegraph

Jenrick: ‘Downing Street stonewalls over donor planning decision’

“No 10 has declined to say whether Boris Johnson has spoken to a Conservative donor at the centre of a controversial £1 billion planning development since becoming prime minister. Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, is under scrutiny after admitting that his decision in January to overturn the recommendations of a local council and planning inspector and approve the scheme for 1,500 flats was unlawful. Mr Jenrick had sat next to Richard Desmond, the developer, at a Conservative Party fundraiser in November. Two weeks after the minister approved the development in Tower Hamlets, east London, Mr Desmond, the former owner of the Daily Express, donated £12,000 to the Tories. Mr Jenrick withdrew his decision after admitting to “apparent bias”.” – The Times

  • Labour quizzes Johnson on planning decision that saved Tory donor £40m – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • It’s time to complete the Conservatives’ education revolution – Henry Hill, CapX
  • School’s out: the true cost of classroom closures – Lucy Kellaway, The Spectator
  • What could the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office look like? – Jeremy Hutton, 1828
  • How US journalism lost its spine – Michael Tracey, UnHerd
  • University challenged: this is about much more than a statue – Lars Larundson, The Critic