Johnson tells lockdown critics: there is only one way of doing this…

“Boris Johnson has defied calls for an easing of Covid restrictions, insisting the “only way” to fight a second wave of the virus is by making sacrifices which might have to get worse. In a riposte to his critics, the Prime Minister told a Downing Street press conference that “no matter how impatient we may be, how fed up we may become, there is only one way of doing this”. It came after Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, had said it was time to live “without fear” and many Tory MPs warned that lockdowns were damaging the economy. Making clear his determination to stick to his plan, Mr Johnson said: “I know some people will think we should give up and let the virus take its course, despite the huge loss of life that would potentially entail. I have to say I profoundly disagree. And I don’t think it’s what the British people want. I don’t think they want to throw in the sponge – they want to fight and defeat this virus, and that is what we are going to do.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister ‘will not hesitate’ to impose more virus restrictions – FT
  • Johnson to bring back weekly press conferences as corona cases spiral – The Sun
  • Coronavirus could be contained locally, says chief medical officer – The Times
  • Are the Covid crackdowns working? – Daily Mail


  • Hancock wrong to say government scientists ran coronavirus trial on vitamin D – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Our monthly survey finds that support for a Sweden-style Covid-19 policy is up from about a third of Party activists to almost half

…as Tory rebels accept promise of coronavirus votes ‘wherever possible’…

“Ministers staved off a Tory rebellion yesterday by promising votes for MPs on national coronavirus restrictions “wherever possible”. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said that parliament would be consulted on “significant national measures” but not on putting areas into local lockdown. The announcement won over the majority of Conservative backbenchers, who had been threatening to rebel after likening the government’s behaviour to George Orwell’s 1984. Mr Hancock conceded that “scrutinised decisions are better decisions” and that advance votes should become a new convention for the pandemic. The circumstances in which rules would be introduced without any consultation were unclear. “The government must act with speed when required and we cannot hold up urgent regulations which are needed to control the virus and save lives,” Mr Hancock said.” – The Times

  • Johnson backs down as tigerish MPs bare their teeth – Daily Telegraph
  • MPs will vote on any national coronavirus lockdown, says Hancock – The Sun
  • Scrutiny is meant to be inconvenient’ – Daily Telegraph


  • Johnson must know that the British public’s goodwill is fast draining away – The Sun


…and the Daily Mail re-runs Frayne’s ConHome column on the Government’s coronavirus strategy

“The Government always knew keeping public opinion onside during the early days of a second spike would be hard. As the threat to public health is getting graver, lockdown fatigue is setting in and concerns about national debt are growing. But all is not lost. This administration was elected with a landslide less than ten months ago. As a communications specialist who has worked at the Department of Education, alongside Dominic Cummings under Michael Gove – I see seven key ways Boris can win back the electorate. The Government needs to junk almost all its opinion polling. All the polls show that the public back strict lockdown measures – just as they always have. But voters are on morphine supplied in the form of vast furlough payments and emergency support.” – Daily Mail

  • MPs spent Wednesday widely circulating Frayne’s article – Daily Telegraph
  • Scientists mount vigorous defence against MPs’ criticisms – FT


  • Scientists shouldn’t have the final word on Covid-19 plans – Graham Medley, The Times

>Today: MPs Etc.: The seven Conservative MPs who voted against renewing the Coronavirus Act

Allister Heath: This Jekyll and Hyde government is infuriating even Boris loyalists

“It has even become easy to predict on which occasions the Government will display the good or the evil side of its personality. When it has thought deeply about a subject, it is invariably radical, brave, unorthodox and, with only a few relatively minor exceptions, spot-on. But when it hasn’t, when it doesn’t really care, has been caught by surprise or has simply run out of bandwidth, it reverts to the ultra-conventional, delegating the execution to a third-rate establishment hopelessly gripped by groupthink. In its core areas, it rightly shuns mainstream “experts”; elsewhere, it hugs them far too closely. The strange case of Dr Boris and Mr Johnson amounts to an unexpected and toxic dualism, an infuriating bundle of contradictions. For every policy that warms the Tory cockles, there is another that plunges the true blue into despair, sometimes on the very same day.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tories are thinking about life after Johnson – Iain Martin, The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: A Conservative leader can afford to take on his left or his right – but not the 1922 Committee’s Executive

Johnson seeks to appease Tory MPs over fears ‘mutant’ housing algorithm will ruin the countryside

“Boris Johnson has pledged “to avoid desecrating our beautiful countryside” by relaxing planning rules to ensure the construction of more new homes, despite concerns from his own backbench MPs. Conservative MPs are furious that tweaks to the planning rules by a new “mutant” algorithm will lead to a “disastrous urbanisation of the suburbs” and building on beauty spots in the south of England. At Prime Minister’s Questions, former minister Harriet Baldwin urged Mr Johnson to change the formula – which will have been consulted on by the Government until October 1 – because it appeared to have “overshot in terms of numbers, and the investment is concreting down rather than levelling up”… However, new research from the CPRE countryside charity (formerly known as the Campaign to Protect Rural England) has found that the controversial algorithm will lead to a 178 per cent increase in new homes in the Lake District, when compared with the current formula for new homes.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tiny flats in converted office blocks to be banned under new planning rules – The Times

>Yesterday: Dean Russell MP in Comment: Why we must back this housing plan – for the sake of young people, first-time buyers, and people with lower incomes

Floating asylum centres ‘planned on retired ferries’

“Migrants seeking asylum in Britain would be processed on disused ferries moored off the coast under plans being considered by Downing Street, The Times can disclose. The prime minister wants to deter migrants from making dangerous crossings from France and is working on proposals to “prevent abuse of the system and criminality”. One option being considered is to buy retired ferries and convert them into asylum-processing centres. The Times has also been told that the Home Office held discussions about moving migrants to decommissioned oil platforms in the North Sea for processing. The idea was debated at a Whitehall brainstorming session but ministers decided that it was a “no go”. Other options, such as islands off the British coast, possibly in Scotland, are under consideration.” – The Times

  • Experience of other countries ‘being looked at’ after revelation of Ascension Island idea – FT
  • Offshore detention proposal could create ‘human rights disaster’ – The Guardian
  • Asylum seekers who enter the UK via Europe will have claims rejected – Daily Telegraph


  • All solutions for the temporary accommodation of migrants deserve examination – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Conservative Party Conference programme – and which ministers are up and down

Chancellor warned taxpayer faces losses of up to £23bn in bad state loans

“The UK taxpayer faces losses of as much as £23bn so far in bad loans across the state coronavirus emergency bailout schemes, according to government estimates that will raise concerns over the cost of supporting unviable companies through the pandemic. The warning comes just days after chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the programme of business support to the end of November to protect companies from collapse this winter. Figures published on Wednesday in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s annual report show officials estimate losses could rise to £23bn in the worst-case scenario based on August figures. Under the best-case scenario, this drops to about £12.9bn, using loss ranges based on similar previous programmes. Both estimates combine credit and fraud losses.” – FT

  • Bank of England chief economist says people need to stop catastrophizing Covid-19 – Daily Mail


  • Sturgeon sparks fury as attack on Sunak’s scheme backfires – Daily Express

>Today: Stephen Crabb in Comment: Sunak must extend the uplift to Universal Credit – and make his intentions clear now

>Yesterday: Ryan Bourne’s column: It’s time to admit that Eat Out to Help Out was a mistake – because it boosted the resurgence of the virus

Thousands could die in disrupted NHS, warns Hunt

“Tens of thousands of people will die needlessly within a year because of disruptions to the NHS caused by the pandemic, MPs predict today. Failure to test NHS staff weekly risks denying patients vital care if hospitals are forced to become “Covid-only” services during a winter second wave, according to Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative former health secretary. Mr Hunt, who now leads the health select committee, attacked ministers for not honouring repeated promises of regular testing for staff working in areas with high rates of infection. His committee has called for urgent improvements to ensure that patients are protected during a second wave. Doctors and NHS chiefs have warned that waiting lists will increase to ten million while a collapse in referrals for suspected cancer could mean 35,000 extra deaths within a year because tumours will be missed.” – The Times

  • NHS Covid disruption could cause tens of thousands of deaths, MPs warn – The Guardian
  • Former head of Britain’s nuclear deterrent to sue Hancock over £5bn care ‘scandal’ – Daily Telegraph


  • Ministers risk a still greater health crisis if hospitals are submerged by a second wave – The Times

Tory MSP forced to leave Scottish Parliament after furious attack on Sturgeon

“A Conservative MSP was ordered to leave the Scottish Parliament after calling First Minister Nicola Sturgeon “a lair”. Oliver Mundell claimed the First Minister had lied after promising the Scottish Government’s full cooperation with the inquiry into how harassment complaints against Alex Salmond were handled. The Scottish Government launched an internal investigation into harassment complaints against Mr Salmond from two females in January 2018. However, Mr Salmond launched a legal challenge which led to the Scottish Government admitting the investigation was unlawful. It resulted in the Scottish Government paying out £512,250 to the former first minister. The Scottish Government set up an inquiry after into its handling of complaints made against him. Mr Salmond was also cleared of 13 sexual offences in March at the High Court in Edinburgh separately.” – Daily Express

  • MSPs appeal to courts to break deadlock over Salmond inquiry – The Guardian

Beijing engaging in ‘warfare by stealth’, says General

“The head of the British military has raised concerns about China’s pursuit of “digital authoritarianism” as it increases mass surveillance of its own people and exports the technology abroad. General Sir Nick Carter yesterday unveiled a new “integrated operating concept” for the armed forces as he warned they must do more to combat adversaries attacking the nation using means beyond traditional warfare. Britain has become “exposed through our openness”, he said, warning that hostile states view the West’s commitment to ethics and values as an “attractive target”. In a speech at Policy Exchange, the UK-based centre-right think tank, Sir Nick said that Beijing has developed technologies that have outpaced the evolution of international law, as it has sought to avoid its actions “being classified as conflict”.” – The Times

>Yesterday: Sir Julian Brazier in Comment: The future of the Army – and why Haldane’s approach remains the best.

EU won’t grant preferential trade terms to UK car industry, admits Frost

“The British car industry will face new barriers exporting to Europe even if a UK-EU trade agreement is agreed later this year, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator has admitted. In a letter to the auto industry, David Frost conceded that he had failed to convince Brussels to take a more flexible approach when it came to assessing how cars manufactured using non-EU parts could qualify for zero-tariff access to the bloc under a trade deal.  The UK has been pushing during trade negotiations for manufacturers to be able to count, or “cumulate” Turkish, Japanese or other non-EU inputs as “local” for the purposes of exporting under the agreement but Brussels has rejected the request. Under standard EU trade rules, a vehicle must typically be 55 per cent “locally made” in order to qualify for zero-tariff access to the bloc.” – FT

  • Ireland confirms Brexit trade deal is ‘very doable’ after dropping No Deal talk – The Sun
  • Secret talks between SNP and EU chiefs sparks fury – Daily Express
  • UK strikes fishing deal with Norway and offers fisheries ‘transition period’ to EU – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Stephen Booth’s column: To reach a best in class trade deal with New Zealand and Australia, we need to liberalise on agriculture

Labour leader marks Black History Month with call for diverse school curriculum

“The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, is to call for schoolchildren to be taught more about Britain’s black history, to help them reach “a full understanding of the struggle for equality”. As he marks the start of Black History Month by visiting the Museum of London with the shadow equalities minister, Marsha de Cordova, Starmer will join calls for the curriculum to be made more diverse. “This month we celebrate the huge achievements of Black Britons and the Black community. But Black British history should be taught all year round, as part of a truly diverse school curriculum that includes and inspires all young people and aids a full understanding of the struggle for equality,” he said, in pre-released remarks… Research by the education charity Teach First found that pupils could complete their GCSEs and leave secondary school without having studied a single literary work by a non-white author.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Johnson should not try to abolish the distinction between academic and technical education

Khan sets out £5.7bn TfL rescue plan for London

“Sadiq Khan has called for a £5.7bn bailout of London’s transport system in a submission to the Treasury that lays bare the damage the coronavirus emergency measures have inflicted on the network. In the mayor’s official submission to the government’s spending review as chairman of Transport for London, Mr Khan said the funds were needed to keep the system going for the next 18 months. A similar package was struck a week ago for the national railway system. Meanwhile, Mr Khan, who is a member of the opposition Labour party, has accused the government of cutting London out of some of its recent spending announcements as it focuses on “levelling up” the regions. Senior Conservatives indicated that the government was likely to approve most of the money demanded by TfL but it could come with strings attached.” – FT

  • He refuses to attend city mayors’ summit in Saudi Arabia – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • American meltdown: a democratic disaster – Matt Purple, The Spectator
  • The rise and rise of Hancock and his battle to survive the crisis – Mattie Brignal, Reaction
  • Plaid’s roadmap to independence leads nowhere – Ioan Phillips, CapX
  • The liberal case for empire – Ed West, UnHerd
  • A brief guide to the British Film Institute’s 22 genders – Christopher Silvester, UnHerd