Coronavirus 1) Face masks “to be made compulsory in shops”

“Face masks will become mandatory in shops and enclosed spaces, Boris Johnson has indicated, as he said it was time for the country to “go back to work”. The Prime Minister, who posed in a face covering for the first time on Friday, said the Government needed to be “stricter” on enforcing guidelines for wearing them indoors. He said: “We increasingly think we have to insist in confined spaces–transport, shops – wear a face covering.” Government sources confirmed that making it mandatory in shops and other enclosed spaces was under discussion following a hardening of the scientific advice on their effectiveness in preventing the spread of coronavirus. Mr Johnson’s shift in tone on face coverings came in conjunction with a marked change in his advice to workers.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Labour calls for clarity – BBC
  • They are already compulsory in Scotland – The Scotsman
  • Lowest Friday death toll since before lockdown – The Sun
  • Conservative councillor PPE contracts questioned – BBC
  • Lower congestion has reduced air pollution – The Times
  • Fears of a second wave – Daily Express
  • What Britain really needs to fight Covid-19 – Leader, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Research suggests lockdown came after the peak. But that doesn’t make the armchair epidemiologists right.

Coronavirus 2) PM gives message of hope to school leavers

“This is a final year like no other,” said Boris Johnson, in a video message to those who left school during the lockdown. In a rallying cry to those stepping out of school, without any of the usual leavers’ rites of passage, the prime minister told them to “rugby tackle that opportunity to the floor”. And whether it was reflecting on their lives or his own, he warned school leavers: “There are always going to be people who want to pour a bucket of cold water on your ideas.” Teenagers had missed out on much fun this summer, but their “sacrifice” had saved lives, he said, in a recorded YouTube and Facebook video, framed by Downing Street chandeliers and flags.” – BBC

  • MPs warn about bias in predicted results for pupils in England – The Guardian

Coronavirus 3) UK shuns EU vaccine scheme

“The UK on Friday turned down the chance to join a multibillion-euro EU plan to secure supplies of potential coronavirus vaccines, after concluding its conditions were unfavourable. Boris Johnson’s government made the decision after talks with the European Commission suggested London would be unable to take part in the plan’s governance or negotiating team, according to a letter published late on Friday. The UK’s potential entry to the scheme was a test of the possibilities for emergency co-operation with the EU at a time when talks over their wider post-Brexit relationship are tense. The negotiations came as an international battle escalates among rich countries to buy up coronavirus remedies, often long before their effectiveness has been confirmed. The UK government decided “on this occasion” not to join the EU plan because London would not have had any say in which vaccines to procure, at what price or in what quantity and to what delivery schedule.” – Financial Times

  • Taxpayers to lose billions to virus fraud – BBC
  • UK to contribute £16 millon for upgrade of EU Parliament building – The Sun

Coronavirus 4) Cavendish: Sunak offers a chance to deal with long terms failings

“The kickstart project offers an opportunity to get to grips with the long tail of poorly skilled and poorly paid workers which has been a persistent stain on UK society. Successive governments have paid more attention to higher education than to the vocational alternatives. More than half of young people do not take a degree. Across the nation, about 15 per cent of adults are functionally illiterate and 20 per cent are functionally innumerate. Before the crisis, many hopped bleakly between low-paid, insecure jobs in retail and hospitality. But Covid-19 has left nowhere to hide. If some good is to come of this, it will be in forcing us to think more creatively about what we mean by “skills” and “training”.”- Camilla Cavendish, Financial Times

Johnson planning NHS reform to boost Ministerial power

“Boris Johnson is planning a radical and politically risky reorganisation of the NHS amid government frustration at the health service’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, the Guardian has learned. The prime minister has set up a taskforce to devise plans for how ministers can regain much of the direct control over the NHS they lost in 2012 under a controversial shake-up masterminded by Andrew Lansley, the then coalition government health secretary. The prime minister’s health and social care taskforce – made up of senior civil servants and advisers from Downing Street, the Treasury and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) – is drawing up proposals that would restrict NHS England’s operational independence and the freedom Stevens has to run the service…“The options put forward to the prime minister will be about how the government can curb the powers of NHS England and increase the health secretary’s ‘powers of direction’ over it, so that he doesn’t have to try to persuade Simon Stevens to do something,” said a source with knowledge of the plans.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Steve Brine on Comment: Making the most of vaping to deliver a smoke-free Britain

Hunt: Civil servants and cabinet ministers must have the confidence to challenge “group think”

“There are clearly aspects of the prime minister’s style of government that trouble him…“We have to make sure group-think is challenged. We need to give outsiders the space to challenge orthodoxy…When I was a minister the biggest risk was not civil servants trying to undermine the cabinet but it was them not telling you when you were about to screw it up. They had a huge institutional memory and you need to give them the confidence to speak out.”..One Tory MP describes the cabinet as “nodding dogs” appointed on the basis of their obedience to No 10. “New cabinet ministers always look less experienced in the early days but that doesn’t mean to say that they don’t turn into great statesmen and women in due course,” he replies, tactfully.” – Interview with Jeremy Hunt, The Times

  • Civil Service reform? Yes, Prime Minister – Frederick Forsyth, Daily Express

Reshuffle speculation after claims of tension between Truss and Gove

“Leading on Brexit certainly places Mr Gove in a formidable position as he molds and chairs “operations” committees in each policy area, tasked with holding Whitehall departments to account and ensuring the Prime Minister’s priorities don’t get bogged down in bureaucracy. Yet the all encompassing-role has already rubbed a number of Cabinet ministers up the wrong way. The first to take aim last week was International Trade Secretary Liz Truss who wrote a letter to Mr Gove and Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday questioning the “credibility” of Mr Gove’s new border Brexit regime…According to one well-placed source: “Liz is going for Gove because she knows she’s going to be sacked and has got nothing to lose. She’s angry with Gove because he doesn’t think a US trade deal is possible.” It is unlikely a reshuffle will take place until the Autumn…Defence Secretary Ben Wallace could be replaced by Anne-Marie Trevelyan after her Department for International Development was merged with the Foreign Office.” – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph

Confusion over Labour’s Wealth Tax stance

“Sir Keir Starmer faced the prospect of a new rift with the Labour left yesterday after a Corbynite shadow minister insisted that the party had not dropped plans for a wealth tax. In a sign of continuing tension within Labour over its response to Rishi Sunak’s summer statement on Wednesday, Dan Carden, the shadow financial secretary, broke ranks to dismiss as “false” reports that Sir Keir had abandoned plans for a new tax on wealth. Mr Carden, one of the few close allies of Jeremy Corbyn retained on Sir Keir’s frontbench, instead insisted that Anneliese Dodds, the shadow chancellor, and her team believed that “the cost of the crisis should be borne by those with the broadest shoulders” and were studying the detail of the policy.” – The Times

Trump spares ex-adviser from prison

“US President Donald Trump has commuted the prison sentence of his longtime ally and former adviser Roger Stone. The move – sparing Stone from jail but not a pardon – came just after a court denied Stone’s request to delay the start date of his 40-month prison term. He was convicted of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering. Stone was the sixth Trump aide found guilty on charges linked to a justice department probe that alleged Russia tried to boost the Trump 2016 campaign.” – BBC

  • Russia report committee ‘must be non-partisan’ – BBC

China 1) Moore: Now our China illusion is ending, can the West revive its love of freedom?

“There they were on Thursday, the three Huawei senior executives in a Zoom-talk with MPs. Greg Clark, chairman of the Commons Science and Technology Committee, asked them whether, in their positions, they were free to express their views. “Very much so,” replied Jeremy Thompson, vice-chairman of Huawei UK, brightly. So what did he think of the new Hong Kong security law imposed by Beijing, asked Mr Clark, sweetly. Mr Thompson coloured slightly: “I don’t think [saying anything] would be consistent with my role with Huawei in this forum,” he answered. His two colleagues claimed the same freedom, but, like him, declined to exercise it. It was a comical encapsulation of the problem of British engagement with all organisations ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – which is to say, all important organisations in China. What can those who are thus engaged say in public? If they admit the truth, they will wreck their standing with an audience which believes in liberal democratic values.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

  • How China seduced its useful idiots: Chinese communists infiltrated Britain to push their party line – Daily Mail
  • Labour MP given £200,000 – Daily Mail
  • Is Xi Jinping overplaying his hand? – Financial Times
  • Trump is a bigot and a hypocrite, but he’s right to condemn China – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
  • Jesus College, Cambridge, urged to cut ties with China – The Times
  • Security law leaves British judges with Hong Kong court dilemma – The Times
  • Tough Justice – Leader, The Times

China 2) Parris: We should be tough in private, diplomatic in public

“It’s personal now with Xi Jinping, and a fear of losing face can only reinforce his angry but essentially defensive response. Quite contrary to an impression common among commentators, Beijing is having a disastrous 2020. A century that began with China advancing vigorously economically but cautiously, almost stealthily, politically, now finds China’s leadership facing a slowing economy, diplomatic isolation, deep embarrassment over coronavirus, horrific images of Xi’s Hong Kong crackdown circulating internationally and growing concerns over the treatment of the Uighurs. Events conspire to unite the global community and knit together the hitherto fragmented world response to Xi’s government. But, counterintuitively perhaps, I don’t think this is a moment to rub it in. Trump doesn’t help. It’s a time for firm but courteous diplomatic language in public and, in private, a quiet, steely, relentless national and international resolve to show the Chinese leadership what they risk by straying from norms of civilised behaviour.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

News in brief

  • Boris Johnson changes ‘work from home’ advice – Kate Andrews, The Spectator
  • Devolution is dragging the UK’s economic recovery down – Matt Smith, CapX
  • T-cell immunity and the truth about Covid-19 in Sweden – Freddie Sayers, Unherd
  • What are the Lib Dems for? – Graham Stewart, The Critic
  • Universities, free thought and peer reviewed research – John Redwood