Coronavirus 1) Testing machines can give result in 90 minutes

“Two on-the-spot tests that can detect coronavirus and flu within 90 minutes are to be rolled out across Britain this autumn, ministers have said. In a significant boost to the effort to control the virus as winter approaches, the government has approved the nationwide use of testing devices that are faster and more accurate than those presently being used. For the first time, the tests are able to identify coronavirus as well as winter infections such as flu and other respiratory viruses, potentially reducing the number of people asked to self-isolate. They also do not require invasive nasal and throat swabs that can make providing a sample difficult and reduce the chances of an accurate result.” – The Times

  • Secrecy has harmed UK government’s response to Covid-19 crisis, says top scientist – The Guardian
  • Eat out to help out offer begins – BBC
  • Nearly five in six office employees will stay at home today – Daily Mail


Coronavirus 2) Backlash over plans to extend the shielding programme to over-50s this winter

“Ministers faced a backlash on Sunday night over plans to extend the Government’s shielding programme to some over-50s this winter. Tory MPs and business leaders warned that telling over-50s to stay at home risks damaging the economy and runs contrary to Boris Johnson’s plea to get workers back to the office…. Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Treasurer of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, said: “You’ve got some of the most experienced part of the workforce, who tend to be in the more senior positions and therefore running businesses and organisations. We’ve found that some people can work reasonably at home, but others have got a need to be at work supervising. I think it would look very odd, and for some companies it would look very difficult.”- Daily Telegraph

  • PM warned “one size does not fit all” – Daily Express
  • No 10 may ban domestic travel – The Times
  • The prospect of a second national lockdown should chill every Brit to the bone – Leader, The Sun

Coronavirus 3) Teaching unions warned to “stop playing games”

“Teaching unions were last night urged to ‘stop playing political power games’ after trying to stall the Government’s school reopening plans next month. Two unions resumed their battle against children returning to classrooms after Boris Johnson’s decision to pause lockdown easing on Friday. The NASUWT demanded more clarity over the plans, warning schools will need ‘time to review and, if necessary, adjust’ reopening measures. The National Education Union (NEU) issued a statement calling for a ‘Plan B’ in case lockdown restrictions increased.” – Daily Mail

  • Schools “will be ready” – BBC
  • Back to School – Leader, The Times

Coronavirus 4) “No-deal” Brexit planning helped to prepare for the pandemic

“No-deal Brexit planning helped prepare the UK Government for the coronavirus crisis, a major report has found. A study by the Institute for Government found preparations for leaving the EU without a deal had improved stockpiles of medicines and other vital products. The emergency contingency planning had also ensured supply chains could be repurposed for coronavirus and also ensured there was a ready available team of officials on-hand trained in crisis management…No-deal planning helped the government prepare for possible medicine shortages, as work done by DHSC on securing supply chains could be repurposed for coronavirus.” – The Sun

  • Why has the UK done so badly on Covid-19? There are still no simple answers – David Spiegelhalter, The Guardian
  • Civil servants resist return to work – The Times

Coronavirus 5) Tory MPs call for German-style airports tests

“Leading Tory MPs have written to Boris Johnson urging him to introduce German-style tests at airports to replace blanket quarantine or risk being “left behind other nations.” The MPs including Sir Graham Brady, chair of the powerful 1922 Tory backbench committee, and former aviation minister Paul Maynard warn that the aviation industry faces “six-figure” job losses unless the Prime Minister adopts a “more nuanced” response. The 20 MPs who have signed the letter also want regional “air bridges” that would connect holidaymakers and business travellers to “low-risk” areas within countries hit by the UK travel ban.” – Daily Telegraph

Whip not withdrawn on arrested Tory MP

“A Tory MP arrested on suspicion of rape will not be suspended from the party while investigations are ongoing, the party’s whips’ office has said. A spokesman said the allegations were “serious” and “it is right that they are investigated fully”. The Sunday Times reported the allegations against the former minister had been made by an ex-parliamentary employee. The MP, in his 50s, was arrested on Saturday and has since been bailed. The Metropolitan Police said the allegations related to four separate incidents claimed to have taken place between July 2019 and January 2020. A spokesman for the Conservative Party whips’ office said: “The whip has not been suspended. This decision will be reviewed once the police investigation has been concluded.” – BBC

Truss to challenge the US over “punitive tariffs”

“Liz Truss, the UK’s international trade secretary, will express frustration at American officials this week over “punitive” tariffs levied on British goods in her first face-to-face meeting since negotiations for a trade agreement began. The meeting between Ms Truss and top American officials comes as the two sides move into the second week of the third round of talks, which have so far been conducted through online video conferencing because of the coronavirus pandemic. The minister’s trip to Washington, despite sharply rising numbers of coronavirus infections in the US, underlines the UK government’s desire to strike a trade deal with the US quickly. However, optimism is waning among British officials of reaching an agreement before the US presidential election in November.” – Financial Times

  • Prime Minister “is in cloud cuckoo land on EU trade deal”, says his father – The Times
  • Interview with Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand – The Guardian

Conservative academics forced to censor their views

“Pro-Brexit and right-wing academics feel forced to censor their political views, putting free speech at universities under threat, a report has said. Campuses are increasingly governed by unwritten rules that mean lecturers are under pressure to muzzle unfashionable opinions for fear of being ostracised or passed over for promotion, the Policy Exchange think tank said. A YouGov poll of 820 academics found that nearly a third — 32 per cent — of those who say their political views are “right” or “fairly right” have stopped openly airing opinions in teaching and research, compared with 13 per cent of those in the centre and on the left. Among Brexit supporters, 27 per cent said they had refrained from publishing or airing views for “fear of consequences” to their career. This compares with 11 per cent of Remain supporters.” – The Times

  • Universities are failing to protect academic freedom from the anti-free speech radicals – Vernon Bogdanor, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Alexander Woolf on Comment: My economic views are mainstream – but have been almost impossible to air at Britain’s universities

Councils to resist loss of planning powers

“Local councils are to lose their powers to block individual housing developments under planning reforms to be unveiled this week. Ministers will announce what they describe as a planning revolution that will force authorities to allocate land for developments that will then not have to go through the full planning process. Critics said yesterday that the move would reduce democratic accountability and lead to poor-quality new houses being built in areas without adequate public services…Ministers said they would create new “design standards” to ensure that properties which get the go-ahead in this way are in keeping with the style of existing properties.” – The Times

  • Developers to pay more – Daily Telegraph
  • Planning reforms announced by the government are a welcome first step – Leader, The Times
  • Consider the alternatives before unleashing a house-building free-for-all – Leader, Daily Telegraph

>Today: John Myers on Local Government: A good design code is crucial to make new housing popular with local communities

Labour MPs praise threat to withdraw Unite funding

“The leader of Unite, Len McCluskey, has been praised by left-leaning Labour MPs for ordering a review of the union’s political donations after Keir Starmer’s decision to pay damages to former staff turned antisemitism whistleblowers. Ian Lavery, the party chair under Jeremy Corbyn, is one of three former shadow ministers who have told the Guardian they support the union’s general secretary for re-examining whether to donate to Labour in the wake of the six-figure settlements. Their interventions will increase tensions between the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs and Labour’s leader following the latter’s decision to apologise and pay damages to seven staff who claimed they had been defamed by senior party figures after taking part in a BBC Panorama documentary on antisemitism.” – The Guardian

  • Labour MP apologises for “silver shekels” – BBC

>Today: Columnist Richard Holden: Across the “Blue Wall”, there’s little sign Starmer’s approach to the crisis has cut through

Microsoft still hopes to buy TikTok’s US operations – despite Trump’s reservations

“Microsoft has said it will press ahead with talks to buy TikTok’s US operations from the video app’s Chinese owner ByteDance despite the reservations of Donald Trump, following a conversation between chief executive Satya Nadella and the US president…Microsoft said in a statement on Sunday that it was “committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury”. It added it “fully appreciates the importance of addressing” Mr Trump’s concerns.” – Financial Times

  • Pompeo says Trump to crack down on Chinese software in coming days – BBC

Lawson: Could Amazon save the high street?

“How would you like a High Street store where you could put all your items in your bag and then take them away without having to queue up to pay? This is not legalised shoplifting but an innovation by Amazon, which, it was revealed yesterday, will soon be coming to the UK. This new chain of shops will do away with cashiers and tills altogether. Instead, customers will download an app called Amazon Go on to their smartphones, which will gain them entry to the stores and record their purchases via sensors. They will then be billed electronically, and sent receipts via email. This is simultaneously extraordinary and predictable — the latter because Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos is focused with maniacal intensity on customer convenience; the former because everyone thought the whole point of his business was that it is an online venture, avoiding the overheads of the High Street.” – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail

Massie: An SNP explosion could rescue the Scottish Tories

“Last week’s defenestration of Jackson Carlaw, the leader of the Scottish Tories, offered further proof of the existential angst now obvious in Unionist quarters. Mr Carlaw was accused of not doing his utmost in taking the fight to Ms Sturgeon while also being too passive in terms of his relationship with a UK party and prime minister who remain liabilities in Scotland. His likely successor, Douglas Ross, the MP for Moray, is expected to offer a more belligerent opposition….grimly, the prospect of an uncivil war between pro-Salmond and pro-Sturgeon nationalists is arguably Unionism’s best hope this year.” – Alex Massie, The Times

  • Ross pledges jobs plan within 30 days if he wins Scots Tory leadership – The Scotsman

News in brief

  • The government’s new concern: winter is coming – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • Waves of destruction – John Redwood
  • It’s time the Tories got tough on landlords – Peter Franklin, Unherd
  • British Muslims are being scapegoated for the government’s coronavirus failures – Stephen Bush, New Statesman
  • Johnson is running out of time to get his coronavirus message right – Andrew Grice, Independent