PM told safe return of all primary schoolchildren ‘impossible’

“Boris Johnson’s aim to have all primary-aged children return to school for a month before the summer holidays was dealt a blow yesterday when governors and head teachers said that it would be impossible to achieve. As schools started reopening their gates some year groups, Downing Street said that the government’s ambition to have the remaining children back by the start of next month was “under review”. Britain’s biggest head teachers’ union said that a full return before the summer would not be possible because many schools were too small for it to be completed safely. In a poll of 2,350 school governors for the National Governance Association three in four said it was unlikely that pupils would be back for a full month.” – The Times

  • Concerned parents keep up to 60% of eligible pupils at home – The Times
  • Plan to have every child back at school for a month under review’ – Daily Telegraph

Death toll at lowest since lockdown began

“Britain’s daily death toll has fallen to its lowest level since the lockdown was imposed, with half of hospitals reporting no deaths from Covid-19 in the past 48 hours. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said that there had been “significant progress” in addressing the number of deaths and hospital admissions, and those needing ventilators, as he defended the decision to ease the lockdown. “We’re getting this virus under control. This is why we can make the cautious small positive steps that we’ve been able to make,” he said at the daily briefing yesterday. No 10 insisted that allowing schools to reopen and more people to meet outdoors would not lead to a new surge of cases, as long as people observed social-distancing rules.” – The Times

  • Patients warned NHS may have to extend rationing – The Times
  • Infection rates show every metre counts – The Times
  • Review into impact of virus on BAME community delayed again – Sky News
  • Infection rate in North double that of London – Daily Mail

Whitty thwarted PM bid to lower virus threat level

“Boris Johnson’s hopes of downgrading the virus alert level last week were resisted by the chief medical officer for England. The prime minister had wanted to announce that the five-stage alert level was being reduced from 4 to 3 to coincide with yesterday’s partial relaxation of the lockdown. His road map published on May 11 said that the relaxation of social-distancing measures “must be warranted by the alert level”. In the event Mr Johnson was able only to repeat that the level was “moving towards 3” after Chris Whitty insisted it remain at the second-highest level. The decision to relax the lockdown without a full reduction in the alert level has prompted questions over the system’s credibility. No 10 has yet to explain what benchmarks, such as the number and location of daily new infections, inform the five levels.” – The Times

  • Sunak ‘considers national insurance holidays’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Emergency Budget presents Sunak with biggest challenge – Daily Telegraph
  • Sturgeon threatens five-mile travel limit – Daily Telegraph
  • No 10 rejects scientists’ claim of second spike risk – The Sun
  • Shops set to open within weeks – The Sun

Quarantine measures could feature ‘air bridges’

“Air bridges” between Britain and low-risk countries are likely to be introduced by the end of this month amid mounting opposition to quarantine measures. Blanket restrictions forcing arrivals in the country to isolate for a fortnight will be introduced on Monday. However, in a boost for hopes of summer holidays abroad, the government is planning to ease these measures three weeks later following warnings that the hardline approach would devastate the economic recovery. A five-point assessment will be used by ministers to judge which countries will be prioritised for possible quarantine-free “air bridge” agreements.” – The Times

  • Ditch quarantine before industry goes under, MPs urge – The Times
  • MPs revolt against quarantine plan – Daily Telegraph
  • Critics claim quarantine plan ‘ridiculous’ – Guardian
  • Moves to ‘soften’ quarantine plan – FT

Ministers ‘set to backdown’ on return to Commons

“MPs from all parties complained about plans for members to file through the chamber in a distanced queue to register their vote. Writing for The Times Red Box, Harriet Harman, one of the Labour MPs who helped to win proxy votes for new parents, said: “It’s outrageous to confront MPs with the choice that they either risk their health or fail to speak up for those who elected them.” Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader, was confronted yesterday by colleagues at a meeting of the executive of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers. He is understood to be considering the continuation of virtual proceedings for MPs who are self-isolating because they are vulnerable. However, it is believed that the concession would apply only to participation in debates and statements and not divisions, where MPs vote by moving into one of two rooms.” – The Times

  • ‘Not all of us have live-in nannies’, Rees-Mogg told – Daily Telegraph
  • MPs angry at plans to scrap virtual Commons – FT

Hague: We must save the young from miserable future

“You have heard of the Millennials and Generation Z, and people of my age belong to the Boomers. Now get ready for Generation C, young people who were in education or newly employed when Covid struck. While the most tragic casualties of the pandemic are the older people who have lost their lives, and the families who mourn them, the generation bearing the greatest burden of its side-effects will be the youngest. For many, currently in school or college, the months of education that have been lost will never be replaced. This is particularly true of those from disadvantaged backgrounds.” – Daily Telegraph

Spence: Johnson’s future depends on resolving tensions in party

“Do you know what Sir Edward Lister or the other aides in Number Ten look like? Now might be a good time to have a Google — not least for the PM — to find some faces to front the government’s response to the situation it is in. Any face will do, as long as it’s not Dom’s. Though Cummings remains in place, as little interaction between him and the outside world would be the optimal solution for Boris Johnson. Cummings’s value to the PM in getting him out of the rut he caused is clear by virtue of the fact that he remains in a job. That does not mean Johnson wants the public to be reminded of his existence any more than he does right now.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Government fails to distance Cummings from sex discrimination case – The Guardian

Trump vows to send in troops as riots engulf US cities

“President Trump last night declared that he would send in the US military where states were unwilling to deploy the National Guard in sufficient strength to restore peace after a week of unrest. In a hastily arranged statement at the White House, Mr Trump vowed to bring an immediate end to the “riots and lawlessness” that have spread across the United States. “I will fight to protect you. I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters,” Mr Trump said, as police and the National Guard pushed back demonstrators from a park near the White House using tear gas. The president said that “justice will be served” for the family of George Floyd, the black man whose death in Minneapolis a week ago was the spark for the most widespread disorder seen in cities across America for four decades.” – The Times

  • President says he will use ‘thousands’ of troops to quell riots – Daily Telegraph
  • Protestors open fire on police in St Louis – Daily Express

‘We’ll compromise if you do too’, UK tells EU

“Britain is expected to signal compromise on fisheries and “level playing field” trade rules if the European Union backs off from its “maximalist” demands on regulatory alignment and fishing access, according to senior Brussels sources. Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator for the EU, has told European ambassadors that he believes the UK government wants progress over the next few weeks. David Frost, the prime minister’s negotiator, is keen to counter the perception that negotiations are deadlocked and that a free trade deal with the EU cannot be done this year.” – The Times

  • Johnson heading for crunch talks with von der Leyen – FT

Police look at Jenrick housing decision

“Police are “assessing” an allegation about housing secretary Robert Jenrick after he signed off a controversial £1bn east London development dreamed up by a Tory donor’s firm. The cabinet minister has faced fierce criticism after he admitted “unlawfully” approving the 1,500-home development at the former Westferry Printworks site on London’s Isle of Dogs in January. Jenrick handed the scheme a last-minute reprieve after the local council and then the independent Planning Inspectorate both decided it should be refused. They had said it lacked enough affordable housing and conflicted with local conservation policy.” – Huffington Post

UK must be tougher on China, says Farage

“Nigel Farage has put Boris Johnson’s Conservative party on notice saying he is ready to return to front-line politics and campaign for the UK to adopt a tougher stance on China, declaring the West’s dependence on Beijing an extension of the factors that drove the 2016 Brexit referendum. Speaking exclusively to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, the Brexit Party leader and former member of the European Parliament revealed he had already begun boycotting “mass-produced Chinese rubbish”, and urged the public to do the same to improve Britain’s self-reliance even though it would cost more. Trump has repeatedly referred to it as the Wuhan virus and lashed out at Beijing for not stopping the disease from leaving China. The [Chinese] administration has declared Hong Kong no longer autonomous.” – Sydney Morning Herald


Corbyn attacks antisemitism inquiry

“Jeremy Corbyn has questioned the impartiality of the equalities watchdog that is investigating Labour for antisemitism, claiming that it is “part of the government machine”. The former Labour leader said that the Conservatives had “taken away” the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s independent status and suggested that this could affect its inquiry into the Labour Party. The commission launched its inquiry into allegations of antisemitism in Labour in May last year and is expected to publish its findings this summer. In an interview with the Middle East Eye website published yesterday, Mr Corbyn said the Tory government had “underfunded” the watchdog and “decided to take away its independent status and make it part of the government machine”. – The Times

Other news
  • Defiant crime chief appoints deputy ruled unfit for office – The Times
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