Dexamethasone declared first drug to save lives of coronavirus patients

“The world’s first coronavirus treatment proven to save lives is being given to NHS patients after a “huge breakthrough” by British scientists. Dexamethasone, a decades-old steroid that costs about 50p per day, was found to reduce Covid-19 deaths by up to one third for the sickest patients. NHS hospitals were advised to begin using it immediately amid hopes for a new era of treatment for the disease. Oxford University researchers said that up to 5,000 deaths could have been prevented in Britain if doctors had been aware of its potential and it had been used from the start of the pandemic. Boris Johnson said he was “delighted” by “the biggest breakthrough yet” in the fight against coronavirus.” – The Times


  • Trial is a ‘world beating’ British success story – Tom Whipple, The Times

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Johnson hails a life-saving steroid that will help counter the virus, and hints at an end for the two metre rule

Johnson says he ‘hears concerns’ about 2m rule

“Boris Johnson and his top scientists gave the strongest hint yet that they will relax two-metre social distancing rules. The PM told a member of the public who asked whether it would be cut to one-metre: “Watch this space”. He is currently doing a review of the rule, which will take in research from scientists and economists. Pubs, restaurants and hospitality venues have begged the PM to consider lowering it down to one metre in a desperate bid to stay afloat after the virus pandemic. Millions of jobs could be lost if they cannot open to full capacity, businesses have warned. And the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance gave the PM more wriggle room to move on the crucial rule by pointing out there are other measures that could be brought in alongside the change to lower the risk.” – The Sun

  • Watch this space on 2m rule, says the Prime Minister – The Times
  • Hague tells Johnson to ditch two-metre rule now or face ‘disaster’ as 600k lose jobs – The Sun


  • New CBI president calls for cut to social-distancing rules – FT
  • Hotelier accuses Government of putting ‘nail in coffin’ of tourist industry – Daily Telegraph
  • Air bridges to Spain, Portugal and others are expected this month – The Times
  • Al-fresco dining to come to London in relaxation of rules – FT
  • Sturgeon urges Boris to extend support for businesses – Daily Express
  • Coronavirus shielding scheme could stop in July – The Times


  • We need fast action to secure jobs – Yvette Cooper MP, The Guardian
  • Boris won’t escape the blame for tsunami of unemployment – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph

Rashford wins battle for poorest pupils to keep free school meals…

“Boris Johnson has promised that disadvantaged children will be given free school meals over the summer holidays after a campaign by Marcus Rashford, the England footballer. The prime minister announced a £120 million “Covid summer food fund” yesterday after Tory MPs threatened to rebel over the issue in the Commons. It represents a significant about-turn by the prime minister, who faced sustained criticism following the intervention by Rashford, 22, a striker for Manchester United, on Sunday. Mr Johnson said that he had personally congratulated Rashford on his campaign. “I do think it’s right that we should be looking after families of the most vulnerable and the neediest right now,” he told the Downing Street press conference.” – The Times

  • What is the state of play in the Premier League as the competition returns to screens – Sky News


…as Johnson urges parents to send kids back to school as he insists ‘it is safe’

“Boris Johnson last night urged parents who can to send their kids back to school as he reassured them “it is safe”. After months of lockdown, millions of primary pupils are now allowed back to class. And some teenagers in Years 10 and 12 have started returning to their first face to face classes since March. But many fearful parents are keeping their kids away from the classroom, terrified they could catch coronavirus. The PM – a dad-of-six himself – told families there is no need to let their children “miss out” on any more vital education… Primaries have been ordered to reopen for children in nursery, reception, and Years 1 and 6. But only around 868,000 children were in school on June 11 – around one in ten the usual number, official stats showed.” – The Sun

  • Ofsted accused of absence from education crisis – The Times

Independent schools:

  • Private schools set to ignore Government and open in September ‘come what may’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Some fee-paying schools are organising their own track and trace systems – Daily Mail


  • Scrap social distancing to reopen our schools – Alice Thomson, The Times
  • Why stop private schools from re-opening? – Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: June 18. Decision time for undergraduates – and the fate of universities

Prime Minister ‘to put UK security first’ as he scraps international development department

“Boris Johnson will use the £14 billion foreign aid budget to counter “Russian meddling” and protect national security after announcing he is to scrap the Department for International Development. The Prime Minister said Britain’s aid spending would no longer be “some giant cashpoint in the sky” following a series of cases such as a multi-million-pound grant to an Ethiopian girl band. He decided to merge Dfid with the Foreign Office and hand control of aid to Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, after losing patience with the way Dfid was allocating taxpayers’ cash. Mr Johnson is expected to rip up rules governing aid spending, which are set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, when a government review reports back in the autumn.” – Daily Telegraph

  • End to Britain’s role as a ‘giant cashpoint in the sky’ – The Sun
  • Cameron takes swipe at Boris Johnson for abolishing Dfid – The Times
  • Three former UK PMs condemn DfID merger with Foreign Office – FT
  • The demise of Dfid: millions went on fruitless projects – The Times
  • Johnson’s Union Jack plane will win world hearts – Daily Express


  • Cameron the moderniser knew value of soft power to Tory brand – Oliver Wright, The Times
  • Why there is nothing new about scrapping the Dfid – Christopher Hope, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Christian Guy in Comment: Slavery. Not a remote horror from the past, but a living one in the present. It must be stamped out.

Ian Birrell: Good riddance to this house of ineffective narcissists

“One of Tony Blair’s first actions in government after winning the 1997 election was to weaken British diplomacy by spinning aid spending into a new department, accompanied by the usual guff about an ‘ethical foreign policy’ and ending global poverty. This was a catastrophic error. It created a narcissistic department for international development that constantly demanded bigger budgets despite a dismal track record; a department filled with self-serving officials claiming to be saintly saviours of the world. At the same time, the move neutered British diplomats in poorer parts of the planet, since local politicians became far more focused on free-spending Department for International Development (Dfid) officials with bulging pockets than any ambassadorial staff talking of democracy, human rights or trade.” – Daily Mail

  • Brave decision to merge Dfid with the Foreign Office will bolster British interests – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph


  • Foreign aid money will now be spent wisely – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: No, Prime Minister. Overseas aid and foreign policy aren’t “one and the same”

Pensions triple lock at risk from Covid-19 fallout

“Rishi Sunak is preparing to break the Conservative party’s “triple lock” state pension pledge, amid Treasury fears that the policy could soon become unaffordable because of the fallout from the coronavirus crisis. The UK chancellor’s willingness to break a 2019 Tory manifesto commitment is a sign of how the Covid-19 pandemic is forcing the government to confront political taboos. Mr Sunak has been warned that unless he breaks the pledge next year, the value of the state pension could rise sharply. The triple lock ensures the state pension goes up by whichever is higher – wages, inflation or 2.5 per cent. The Treasury has noted with alarm official forecasts that wages could soar in 2021 as they rebound from an artificial dip caused by the government’s job retention scheme.” – FT

  • Sunak is arguing that the triple lock needs to be suspended for two years – The Times


  • Tory councils warn second wave could bankrupt local authorities – The Guardian


Jenrick urged to publish his letters to Richard Desmond

“A cross-party group of MPs has challenged the housing secretary to release all his correspondences with the developer Richard Desmond and clear his name of cash-for-favours accusations. Clive Betts, chairman of the housing, communities and local government select committee, has written to Robert Jenrick saying a failure to publish the letters would lead to “an erosion of trust in the integrity of the planning system and our wider democratic process”. In January Mr Jenrick approved an application by Mr Desmond, the former owner of Express Newspapers and the founder of OK! magazine, to build 1,500 homes in east London. The approval for the Westferry Printworks scheme was given a day before new community charges by Tower Hamlets council came into effect, which would have cost Mr Desmond’s company, Northern & Shell, in the region of £50 million.” – The Times

  • Housing Secretary faces calls to resign – The Sun

Give memorial vandals a taste of war, says minister

“Protesters who desecrate war memorials should be sent to a battle camp to learn from military personnel, a former defence secretary has suggested. Penny Mordaunt, now a Cabinet Office minister, has written to Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, saying the camps would give an insight into what service personnel go through. Ms Mordaunt, Conservative MP for Portsmouth North and a Royal Navy reservist, said she understood the “immense anger” among the public about vandalism of war memorials. The government has said it will “earnestly consider” a proposed law to protect such sites. Labour has backed the idea of creating a specific offence of damaging war memorials.” – The Times

  • Patel ‘linked’ with monument protection campaign organiser – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Audio: The Moggcast: “Clearly one of the things the police are meant to do is to protect property”

News in Brief:

  • As a former Foreign Secretary, I know Boris is right to close DFID – Sir Malcolm Rifkind, CapX
  • Rashford has run rings around a useless No. 10 defence – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • The woke have no vision of the future – John Gray, UnHerd
  • Have the protests proved that Covid-19 risks are being vastly exaggerated? – Dr Chris von Csefalvay, The Spectator
  • On the importance of Primark – Emma Revell, 1828