Johnson commits £500m to trials for mass rapid coronavirus testing

“Boris Johnson’s government has ordered trials of “mass rapid testing” for coronavirus, vowing that it could reduce the need for social distancing at venues such as cinemas, theatres and even the House of Commons chamber. Mr Johnson told Conservative MPs on Wednesday he hoped tests could be deployed that would produce results within a matter of minutes, saying he wanted to see the country “get back to normal”. The government is to commit £500m for Covid-19 test trials using the latest technology, with funding also made available for scaling up testing capacity ahead of winter… Mr Johnson and his senior ministers have faced sustained criticism over the UK’s testing programme since the start of the pandemic. On Tuesday, Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called for the government to deliver on promises to implement mass testing for the virus.” – FT

  • Government is now ‘rationing’ Covid tests – Daily Mail


  • ‘I dodged a bullet’ by not getting in to No 10, says Hunt – Daily Telegraph
  • Prime Minister ‘reiterates refusal to meet Covid bereaved’ – The Guardian


  • Sturgeon’s Covid strategy ‘not going well’, expert warns – Daily Telegraph
  • Furious Glaswegians slam ban on indoor visits while pubs and restaurants remain open – Daily Mail

Jullien Gaer: In defence of ‘collective immunity’

“Whatever we decide to call it, herd immunity is the process whereby populations acquire resistance to disease. When 60 to 70 per cent of the “herd’” have antibodies to the pathogen in question, the virus may spread initially but quickly comes up against the two-thirds of the population who are immune and is stopped in its tracks. Those who have either survived infection or have had the good fortune to be vaccinated act as a barrier, preventing the virus from coming into contact with those who have been neither infected nor vaccinated. In effect, the “strong” protect the vulnerable. It is, in fact, almost the exact opposite of eugenics. But whatever we choose to call it, whether achieved through infection or vaccination, that is the route out of this pandemic.” – Daily Telegraph

Britain ‘battling to deport 1,000 illegal migrants who crossed Channel in small boats’

“Britain is struggling to deport around 1,000 illegal migrants who crossed the Channel in small boats, ministers admitted. Home Office minister Chris Philp said authorities were trying to return them to countries where they had already claimed asylum. His comments revealing the scale of backlogged deportations came as Boris Johnson reiterated his pledge to take advantage of Brexit to make it easier to deport migrants who have come here illegally. He said the UK had become a “target and magnet” for people traffickers. Calm seas saw another surge in migrants crossing the Channel, with more than 100 people rescued off the coast of Dover by Border Force patrol vessels. Some of the suspected migrants smiled and waved as they arrived into the busy port while others carried toddlers too young to walk.” – The Sun

  • Calm seas trigger ‘surge in migrant Channel crossings’ – The Times


  • SNP spark fury after blocking UK plans to give lie detector tests to terrorists – The Sun

Economy 1) Let’s be ‘honest’ about tax rises, Sunak tells Tories

“Rishi Sunak has signalled to new Tory MPs taxes will have to rise to restore the public finances as he warned the government must be honest with the public about the challenges ahead. The chancellor told MPs elected in December that while there would not be a “horror show of tax rises with no end in sight”, the government was going to have to make “difficult” decisions to recover from the pandemic. He said if the party chose to “simply borrow our way out of any hole” voters would see little difference between the Conservatives and Labour. Mr Sunak is considering an array of tax rises, including cuts to pensions tax relief for higher earners and increases in capital gains tax and fuel duty. It has led to a backlash from Tory MPs and concern among some ministers.” – The Times

  • Chancellor’s soaring popularity ‘may have made him a target for malign forces’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Leaked notes reveal Sunak’s tax rise warning – Daily Mail
  • Johnson tries to calm Tory mutiny with vow to keep taxes low – The Guardian
  • Downing Street ‘rules out’ huge 5p fuel tax hike to pay for coronavirus after drivers’ fury – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Why the obsessive focus on new tax rises when we need proper spending control – in the form of a real zero-based review?

>Yesterday: Ryan Bourne’s column: A message for Johnson and Sunak on tax rises. Not now. And not these.

Economy 2) Cheaper part-time season tickets ‘to encourage workers back into the office’, Johnson reveals

“Commuters will be offered a cheaper, part-time season ticket to encourage workers back into the office again, Boris Johnson said today. Ministers want to get more workers back into offices to save inner city economies from collapse, and rescue thousands of jobs. Many have been working from home permanently since the start of the pandemic in March, when Brits were ordered to stay in. But Brits have been slowly trickling back into their workplaces, with some traffic on the buses and tubes up. Road traffic is up to pre-lockdown levels too. It was reported last weekend the PM was looking at three-day season tickets to slash the costs of commuting part-time. Surveys found one way to tempt people back onto the trains would be to create tickets that match the flexible in-office approach many companies are offering.” – The Sun

  • Johnson warns UK’s economic health set to worsen… – FT
  • …as he rules out extending furlough scheme beyond October – Daily Mail
  • Campaign to get Britain back to work flounders – Daily Telegraph
  • Small businesses raise concern over £2bn Kickstart jobs scheme – FT

Foreign policy: Kushner to hold talks with Raab today…

“Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner will hold talks with U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in London on Thursday. The top White House aide is flying to Britain on Wednesday night on his way back to the U.S. from a tour of the Middle East. He will be hosted by Raab at a meeting in Westminster, a British official familiar with the talks said. On the agenda will be Kushner’s attempts over the last few days to broker a show of peace between Israel and other Middle East leaders before the U.S. election, and create a coalition of nations aimed at countering Iranian influence in the region… Raab has previously welcomed Trump’s so-called “peace plan” for the Middle East conflict, describing the proposals in January as “serious, reflecting extensive time and effort.”” – Politico

>Yesterday: Jason Reed in Comment: Who stands for freedom in America? Neither Trump nor Biden speak for me.

…and Mitchell leads calls for Government to to maintain commitment to foreign aid

“Boris Johnson has been urged not to “balance our books on the backs of the poorest women and children in the world”, as the Treasury eyes a raid on the UK’s overseas aid budget to help pay for the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Andrew Mitchell, a former international development secretary, warned the government that MPs would resist any attempt to rewrite the 2015 law that requires Britain to spend 0.7 per cent of its national income on foreign aid. The issue flared on the day that the newly created Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office was officially formed, with chancellor Rishi Sunak looking for savings across Whitehall ahead of a public spending review later this year. On Wednesday Dominic Raab, head of the new department that combines the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development, defended the 0.7 per cent target.” – FT

Prime Minister demands Putin answer latest assassination allegations…

“Boris Johnson has called on President Putin to explain the “outrageous” poisoning of the Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny with novichok. The prime minister demanded answers from Moscow last night after Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, revealed that the nerve agent had been used on Mr Navalny. Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, had said earlier that the Kremlin had a “clear case to answer” over the poisoning. Mr Navalny, a strong critic of Mr Putin’s government, was flown to Berlin for treatment after falling ill last month on a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk. Mr Johnson, echoing Mrs Merkel’s demand for answers from Mr Putin, said that Russia “must now explain what happened to Mr Navalny”, adding that Britain would “work with international partners to ensure justice is done”.” – The Times

…as he attacks ‘orgy of national embarrassment’ over proms

“Boris Johnson has called for an end to the “orgy of national embarrassment” about Britain’s history after the BBC U-turned on their “crazy” censorship of patriotic Proms songs. The Beeb scrapped the singing of the historic tunes over their perceived links to colonialism and slavery but today reversed their decision after a public outcry. In one of the first acts in charge, new BBC boss Tim Davie lifted the woke ban on Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory being sung at this year’s Last Night of the Proms. After major backlash over their fears of upsetting politically correct campaigners with the crowd pleasers, the new Director General climbed down and said the annual singalong must be “special and a Last Night truly to remember.”” – The Sun

  • Prime Minister says BBC reform imminent as TV licence fee fiasco spirals – Daily Express
  • Woke brigade refuses to accept defeat as they slam BBC u-turn – Daily Mail


  • Can Davie help the BBC escape the wormhole of woke that threatens to destroy it? – Liam Halligan, Daily Telegraph
  • A sure sign Auntie is adjusting the dial to ‘listen’ mode – Robert Hardman, Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Unconscious bias training. What’s the point of having a huge majority if Tories can’t say no to it?

Cummings ‘weirdo’ called for activists to be shot

“A data scientist recruited by Downing Street as part of Dominic Cummings’s drive to bring “weirdos and misfits” into government has been fired after appearing to suggest that Black Lives Matter activists should be shot. Will O’Shea, 57, was hired by the Cabinet Office to work in the Government Digital Services (GDS) department but was dismissed after colleagues discovered social media posts in which he suggested the police use “live rounds” to disperse protesters. In January, Mr Cummings published a post on his private blog advertising jobs in No 10 for “data scientists, project managers, policy experts, assorted weirdos”. “What SW1 needs is not more drivel about ‘identity’ and ‘diversity’ from Oxbridge humanities graduates but more genuine cognitive diversity,” Mr Cummings wrote.” – The Times

  • How civil servants’ concerns about racism led them to Cummings recruit’s tweet – The Guardian

>Today: Majority: Securing the Majority? 4) Getting more Conservatives appointed to public bodies

Williamson to blame for England exams fiasco, says Ofqual chair

“Ofqual’s senior leadership told MPs that Ofqual should not be blamed for the fiasco that engulfed this summer’s exams in England, and accused the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, of causing the weekend of chaos that followed the publication of A-level results. Roger Taylor, Ofqual’s chair, said Williamson directly called the regulator to tell it to scrap new guidelines on appeals just hours after they had been approved by the Department for Education (DfE), including Williamson’s office, and published. Taylor also revealed that Ofqual told the government in March that awarding grades using a statistical model was “the worst-case scenario”… The education committee hearing was Ofqual’s first public foray since it announced two weeks ago that it would dump the statistical model it had developed to allocate A-level and GCSE grades this year, and would instead rely on grades produced by teachers and schools.” – The Guardian

  • Exams could have gone ahead this summer but Williamson canned them, watchdog tells MPs – The Sun


  •  Case should stand up for the integrity of a battered civil service – Jill Rutter, The Guardian

>Today: Anna Firth and Stephen James in Comment: To help children catch up, we need a massive extension of quality remote teaching and learning

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Javid is Chancellor. Tugendhat, Foreign Secretary. May, Home Secretary. Introducing the Alternative Cabinet.

Scottish Labour leader resists pressure to quit amid growing rebellion

“The Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard, is resisting intense pressure to quit after senior MSPs said the party faced “catastrophic defeat” in next year’s Holyrood elections. Two Labour frontbenchers, James Kelly, its justice spokesman, and Mark Griffin, its social security spokesman, resigned their posts on Wednesday as a rebellion over his refusal to stand down escalated. Two other MSPs, Jenny Marra and Daniel Johnson, joined Kelly and Griffin by calling on Leonard to resign, citing Scottish Labour’s dire poll ratings and Leonard’s very low public profile seven months before the Holyrood elections. Leonard accused his critics of mounting “an internal war” against him and suggested many could face deselection for showing disloyalty, insisting that he would fight any challenge for the leadership.” – The Guardian


  • Keeping Scotland is a bigger challenge than Covid – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Majority: Securing the Majority? 3) A Department for the Union

News in Brief:

  • How to save British farming (and the countryside) – James Rebanks, UnHerd
  • Will society ever open up again? – Johan Norberg, The Spectator
  • Revived Macron gambles big on political reform in Beirut – Walter Ellis, Reaction
  • Why China’s digital ambitions are doomed to fail – Henrik Tiemroth, 1828
  • In Northern Irish politics, it’s Sinn Fein vs the rest – Owen Polley, CapX