Britain can aim for ‘significant return’ to normality ‘in time for Christmas’, says Johnson

“The UK can get back to normal in time for Christmas, Boris Johnson said as he unveiled the Government’s road map out of the coronavirus pandemic. The Prime Minister said the public should start “looking ahead with optimism” and “hope for the best”, even though the Government will continue “planning for the worst”. He urged people to go back to work from the start of August and scrapped the guidance to avoid using public transport… However, just hours later the Government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, struck a more pessimistic tone as he warned that Britain could need another national lockdown in the winter, when the challenge of tackling coronavirus will be “very much greater”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Sporting crowds, theatre and hugs: the roadmap out of lockdown – The Times
  • Prime Minister accused of ‘making policy on a wing and a prayer’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Plan for ‘return to normality’ met with scepticism – The Guardian
  • Social distancing will ‘continue for a long period of time’ warns Whitty – Daily Mail


Matthew Parris: Shameless PM is losing the respect of his colleagues

“The point about the Mafia is that people must be scared. As Boris Johnson approaches his first anniversary as prime minister next week, he could do worse than remind himself of the 1972 blockbuster, The Godfather. The film brings it home. The important thing is not to be disregarded. You can do some seriously crazy stuff with horses’ heads in victims’ beds but only so long as people can see there’s method in your madness. Only a year into Mr Johnson’s tenure at Downing Street the outside world has noticed the madness but begins to doubt the method. And once people start deriding you, you’ve lost it.” – The Times

>Today: David Gauke’s column: Required next time. A fresh, charistmatic Tory leader who embodies modern, multi-racial Britain. Does that suggest anyone?

Hancock orders urgent review into daily coronavirus death figures in England

“Matt Hancock has opened an urgent review of England’s coronavirus death toll after realising that anyone who has ever tested positive is included in the tally, regardless of their cause of death. In contrast with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, where daily deaths are now often zero, Covid-19 deaths in England have stayed stubbornly high and are falling only slowly. Yesterday 114 deaths were recorded and the seven-day average is 83. Statisticians have analysed the methodology used by Public Health England (PHE) and found that at least some of the difference in England is due to a method by which even someone who dies in a road accident is included in the coronavirus statistics if they had ever tested positive.” – The Times

  • ‘Game-changing’ coronavirus antibody test passes first major trials – Daily Telegraph
  • Lansley accuses Johnson of blaming NHS for government’s Covid-19 failings – The Guardian

>Yesterday: George Bathurst in Comment: We must prize the dead hand of officialdom from our railway network

Juliet Samuel: No wonder this committee thinks it runs the country

“Sir Patrick, as we can infer from this statement, neither runs a chain of city-centre hair salons or restaurants, nor works in one, nor runs a Government that relies on tax revenue from such establishments. If he did, he might admit there are some reasons – conceivable, imaginable reasons – why getting a bit more foot traffic into town centres is a good idea. Still, if Sir Patrick has somehow picked up the idea that he does, in fact, run the Government, it is surely not his fault. Ever since our senior-most ministers began to claim that they were merely “following the science”, the country has logically concluded that the people really in charge are the scientists, by which we mean the particular scientific committees convened by our bureaucracy to interpret the epidemiological runes.” – Daily Telegraph

  • PHE’s exaggerated death statistics are a scandal that has fed fear – Matthew Lesh, Daily Telegraph
  • We must not let the government seize back control from doctors – Andrew Lansley, The Guardian
  • Inexplicable advice has led Britain into a crisis of confidence – Ben Habib, Daily Telegraph
  • A chance to reshape UK public health strategy and target obesity – Camilla Cavendish, FT

>Today: ToryDiary: What the abolition of DfID tells us about the war on Civil Service generalists

Begum ruling brings call to make ‘moral support’ a terrorist crime

“The government has been urged to close a legal loophole so that people who provide “moral support” to jihadists can be prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws. Jonathan Hall, QC, who has been appointed by ministers to be the independent reviewer of terrorism, has told The Times that yesterday’s landmark court ruling on Shamima Begum highlighted a “lacuna in our current law”. Three Court of Appeal judges said that Ms Begum, who as a 15-year-old became an Islamic State bride and lived in Isis territory for three years, should be allowed to return to the UK to challenge the government’s decision to strip her of British citizenship.” – The Times

  • Predictable return shows how feeble our authorities have become – Leo McKinstry, Daily Telegraph
  • The jihadi bride is a traitor but is still British and Britain’s problem – Janice Turner, The Times


Johnson ‘is set to reward three Remainers with life peerages’

The Prime Minister is set to announce 30 new peers later this month to mark his first year in Downing Street. The list is said to include arch-Remainers Philip Hammond, Ken Clarke and Ed Vaizey in a bid to heal divisions in the Conservative Party. Former chancellors Mr Hammond and Mr Clarke and ex-culture minister Mr Vaizey had the Tory whip withdrawn after attempting to block Mr Johnson’s efforts to reach an agreement with the EU… And it was reported that there will be peerages for ex—Labour MPs Frank Field and Gisela Stuart who both supported Brexit in the 2016 referendum. Former Labour MPs Ian Austin and John Woodcock, who backed Remain but supported Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal and urged Labour voters not to support Jeremy Corbyn, are also said to be on the list.” – Daily Express

  • Botham given peerage ‘as reward for Brexit loyalty’ – The Times
  • Peers set to get full allowance for virtual Lords attendance – Daily Telegraph

One year on:

  • World sees ‘clown prince or a Donald Trump for the British’ – The Times
  • Downing Street vs the Conservative Party – FT
  • Series of photographs revealed to mark one year as Prime Minister – Daily Mail

Government plans £200million boost for houses of 5,000 military personnel

“A £200 million funding boost announced for armed forces personnel’s homes will give military families ‘the standard of living they deserve’, according to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. More than 5,000 military personnel and their families will have their homes modernised as part of the plan, Mr Wallace announced during a visit to Catterick Garrison, in North Yorkshire, on Friday with Chancellor Rishi Sunak. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the investment will fund new kitchens, bathrooms and furnishings, as well as re-roofing, plus measures to reduce the risk of mould and damp. It said that the funding injection will mean that 3,500 service homes will be upgraded as well as single living quarters.” – Daily Mail

  • Sunak urged to grant pubs and restaurants a year-long rent holiday – The Sun

China-UK conflict fears ‘explode’ as Beijing condemns ‘very dangerous’ carrier move

“China has reacted with fury to reports the UK is considering basing one of its new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, in the far-east in response to Beijing’s increasingly assertive stance in the region. Relations between Britain and China have soured over the past few months over Hong Kong, Huawei and China’s handing of the original coronavirus outbreak. Speaking to The Times Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to London, warned it would be a “very dangerous move” for Britain to station a carrier in the far-east. He said Beijing would interpret such a move as Britain deciding to “gang up with the United States on the Chinese”… Beijing is in dispute with a number of its neighbours over control of the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.” – Daily Express

  • Don’t threaten us, warns China envoy Liu Xiaoming – The Times
  • Huawei reveals plans to open three stores on UK high streets – Daily Mail


  • Downing Street warns Russia there may be retaliation over its cyber attacks – The Sun

Pressure on Starmer as McCluskey confirms early exit

“The leader of the Unite trade union is to stand down early, triggering an election for his successor next year, The Times can reveal. Len McCluskey, who was a leading ally of Jeremy Corbyn, will hand over to a new general secretary a year before his term in office was due to end. The move will trigger a pitched battle for control of Labour’s second largest union affiliate and biggest donor. It poses a challenge to Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, who faces increasing criticism from Unite figures. In an interview yesterday Mr McCluskey accused members of Sir Keir’s team of “timidity” over their approach to the economy and warned against any return to the centre ground.” – The Times

  • The British equivalent of the NYT’s weakness masquerading as liberal virtue is the BBC – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

EU leaders deadlocked on recovery fund as summit falters

“European leaders’ attempt to agree a €750bn economic recovery package to overcome the damage wrought by Covid-19 was in disarray in the early hours of Saturday morning after a summit in Brussels was suspended in acrimony. Prime ministers and presidents ventured to their hotel rooms without comment following 13 hours of talks that laid bare splits over the rules for doling out hundreds of billions of euros that the EU would borrow on the capitals markets. Negotiations at the summit — leaders’ first physical meeting since February — are set to resume at 11am Brussels time on Saturday. Diplomats said that much of the ire at the summit table was directed at Mark Rutte. The Dutch prime minister’s insistence on a national veto over the spending of recovery money led to tensions with other capitals that boiled over during an ill-tempered late-evening dinner.” – FT

  • If only Gove heeded ‘Captain Foresight’ on Brexit – Henry Mance, FT

Sturgeon’s own advisor mocks plan to hand Scots £11k a year

“Nicola Sturgeon’s economic advisor hit out at plans to pay £11,000 a year to working-age Scots under a new Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has backed the scheme which would see every citizen provided with guaranteed payments no matter what their circumstances are. Ms Sturgeon said of UBI: “I am a supporter of [UBI], I have long been interested in the concept, I think the case for it has been immeasurably strengthened by the crisis we’re living through.” But Benny Higgins, who helped to produce a recent report on how the Scottish economy should recover from COVID-19, said the scheme would be an “expensive distraction”.” – Daily Express

News in Brief:

  • Giving up on London is not a capital idea – Henry Hill, The Critic
  • Stop pretending the BLM protests were peaceful – Michael Tracey, UnHerd
  • What Britain thinks of race relations since Stephen Lawrence’s death – Sunder Katwala, CapX
  • Sturgeon’s coronavirus failings – Stephen Daisley, The Spectator
  • The West must get ready for the coming clash with China – Iain Martin, Reaction