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Coronavirus 1) Tory MPs “in revolt on school closures”

“Schoolchildren have become the pandemic’s “forgotten victims”, Tory MPs have warned Boris Johnson, amid a growing backlash against plans that could keep classrooms closed until Easter. A dozen Conservative MPs, including the former Cabinet minister Esther McVey and Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, have backed a campaign by the parents’ pressure group UsforThem to fully reopen schools. They argue that the schools shutdown means education has become an “optional extra”, with the gulf between the most disadvantaged children and their wealthier peers growing “by the day”. At the same time, the pressure on parents who are trying to hold down full-time jobs while also acting as teachers “is simply becoming too much”, they say, meaning schools should reopen now.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Halfon calls for school reopenings in areas with low case numbers – The Sun
  • One in three locked-down families don’t have enough computers for their children to study – Daily Mail
  • Prospect of schools staying shut until Easter is a nightmare – Leader, The Sun
  • We must help these children fulfil their hopes and dreams – Sarah Vine, Daily Mail
  • Keep all cathedrals open for worship – Ysenda Maxtone Graham, The Times

>Today:

Coronavirus 2) 6.35 million have had the vaccine as the rollout intensifies

“According to government data released on Sunday, a total of 6,353,321 people in the UK have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine. A further slew of vaccination centres are due to open on Monday to speed up delivery of the jabs. These include at the Crick Institute in London, the Blackpool Winter Gardens, Lancaster town hall, Bath racecourse and the Black Country Living Museum, where scenes for the TV show Peaky Blinders were filmed.” – The Guardian

  • NHS on course to beat targets – The Times
  • Scottish vaccine rollout ‘at a standstill’ as nation falls further behind UK – Daily Telegraph
  • The information warriors fighting ‘robot zombie army’ of coronavirus sceptics – The Guardian
  • Even with vaccines, we’ll still have to learn to live with Covid – Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday:

Coronavirus 3) Sunak “backs Covid quarantine hotels for all UK arrivals”

“Rishi Sunak has thrown his weight behind plans to force everyone entering Britain to quarantine in a hotel to prevent new coronavirus strains jeopardising the mass vaccination programme. Amid growing support for the proposal among members of the cabinet, the chancellor is understood to have concluded that the economic cost of the move is outweighed by the risks of the present travel restrictions. A decision on tightening border rules is due to be made by Boris Johnson tomorrow at a meeting of the government’s Covid operations committee. Two senior government sources said that the prime minister was becoming “more swayed” by the need to take decisive action.” – The Times

  • Shapps disagrees with the proposal – Daily Telegraph
  • British holidaymakers returning home won’t escape the order – Daily Mail
  • France “may need third national lockdown” – BBC
  • MPs demand more help for the self-employed – Financial Times
  • Five ways to rebuild Britain’s economy after the pandemic – Julian Jessop, Daily Telegraph
  • A travel ban would be a serious, possibly irrevocable, step for Britain – Leader, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Liam Fox on Comment: Are we really going to close down the global economy every time a new virus emerges?

>Yesterday: WATCH: Nick Thomas-Symonds – Labour “would have acted more quickly” on border protections

Sturgeon denies misleading Scottish Parliament over Salmond

“Scotland’s first minister has insisted she did not mislead parliament about when she learned harassment allegations had been made against her predecessor Alex Salmond. Nicola Sturgeon said “false conspiracy theories were being spun” about her involvement by Mr Salmond’s supporters. A Holyrood inquiry into how the government handled the allegations against Mr Salmond is under way. She said she expects to give evidence to the inquiry in the coming weeks. The BBC’s Andrew Marr asked Ms Sturgeon how she responded to Mr Salmond saying that parliament had been repeatedly misled, and that evidence she gave to the inquiry was “simply” and “manifestly untrue”…Her interview came after the inquiry announced it would use legal powers to seek documents from the Crown Office.” – BBC

  • SNP blunder as £700,000 spent on ‘political propaganda’ thank-you letters – Daily Express
  • More than two million people could use postal votes in Scotland elections – The Guardian

>Yesterday: WATCH: Sturgeon – “I didn’t collude with Salmond and I didn’t conspire against him”

Gove “in talks with Brown to save the Union”

“Reports in The Sunday Times state that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has held talks with the former Labour prime minister around both the Conservatives and Labour’s plans to thwart the SNP’s push for independence. Mr Brown is leading a review of Labour’s policy position on the constitution which could suggest a federal system with new powers for Holyrood and is expected to return its recommendations within 18 months…The talks come as Downing Street has reportedly stepped up its attempts to tackle the SNP’s dominating support, with plans to fight the Holyrood elections without promising further constitutional concessions…The paper also reports plans to challenge the “woke left view” that Scotland’s union with England is a residue of empire and highlight the diversity within the UK Government cabinet. ” – The Scotsman

  • The United Kingdom must urgently rediscover what holds it together – Gordon Brown, Daily Telegraph
  • Scottish independence referendum has Johnson cowerin’, Sturgeon insists – The Times
  • SNP plan to deliver referendum without UK consent is ‘deluded and pointless’, experts say – Daily Telegraph
  • This battle will make Brexit look genteel – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

Foster: Border poll would be “absolutely reckless”

“DUP leader Arlene Foster has said a potential vote on a united Ireland would be “absolutely reckless”. She was speaking after a poll commissioned by the Sunday Times in NI found 51% of people want a referendum on Irish unity in the next five years. Speaking to Sky News, the first minister said “we all know how divisive a border poll would be”. Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill said there was an “unstoppable conversation under way” on the issue.” – BBC

>Yesterday: WATCH: “It is very disappointing” to see talk of constitutional politics “during a time of national crisis”, says Foster

Daily Mail picks up Con Home’s call for “a coffey break”

“Boris Johnson plans to promote a raft of female ministers in a reshuffle aimed at addressing his ‘woman problem’. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is set to be handed a more senior Cabinet post after impressing the Prime Minister. Junior ministers Kemi Badenoch, Lucy Frazer, Gillian Keegan and Victoria Atkins are also seen by No 10 as rising stars….An analysis by the Sunday Times found Downing Street has put up only one female Cabinet minister to answer questions on either the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show or Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday since the start of the first lockdown on March 23….Miss Truss and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey were notably absent despite both holding high-ranking roles….The influential Conservative Home website said it was ‘inexplicable’ that Downing Street was not using Miss Coffey more on television.” – Daily Mail

An “anti-woke” version of the Citizens Advice service launched

“A new “anti-woke” version of the Citizens Advice service to support workers threatened by the culture wars launches today. The organisation, “Counterweight”, will “support people at work, school, and university who feel isolated and under threat from the imposition of anti-liberal policies and ideas,” its founders said. The service was conceived by Helen Pluckrose, a British author who became concerned about the imposition of “unconscious bias training” and other forms of woke “critical social justice ideology” in the workplace.” – Daily Telegraph

Police investigating MPs expenses fraud

“Police are investigating three cases of MPs’ expenses fraud — but Commons chiefs refuse to say who is involved. The incidents involve one serving MP, one aide and one former MP. The suspects’ blushes have been spared on privacy grounds. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority annual report states only that the investigations are ongoing. It is understood that one of the cases relates to the ex-Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson. Last year, he paid back £30,000 having said some expenses were paid “in error”.” – The Sun

New Zealand trade deal “just weeks away”

“White wine loving Brits are set for joy as a free trade deal with New Zealand is just weeks away, The Sun can reveal. Round three of talks start today with trade officials confident an agreement will be wrapped up before Easter – handing a welcome to boost to British businesses and for Sauvignon Blanc drinkers. Wine imports will be cheaper while we will send the Kiwis more gin with overall trade between the two nations worth nearly £3billion in 2019. The deal could see tariffs slashed on car exports – worth £200 million in trade alone – and busses, with a third or Kiwi coaches made in Leeds or Falkirk.” – The Sun

  • EU’s negotiations with Britain about fish are only just beginning – Financial Times

Romney says Trump trial is a “moment of truth” for Republicans

“Donald Trump led “an attack on the very foundation” of American democracy and must be tried by the Senate for the sake of “truth and justice”, the Republican senator Mitt Romney has said. The Senate trial will be triggered by the delivery, expected today, of the article of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives, which accuses Mr Trump of inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6.” – The Times

  • Johnson-Biden phone call: Love of railways puts US relations on right track – The Times
  • Democrats push for stimulas deal – Financial Times
  • Of course Joe Biden embraced Boris Johnson – our common interests and outlook demanded it – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Timothy: Biden’s call for unity is a sham

“The modern Left – in Britain as well as America – cannot hope to overcome division. They, as much as the nativist and populist Right they so despise, are often the very source of the discord. For blaming people on the basis of their own immutable characteristics for the misfortunes of others, for discriminating today to compensate for the discrimination of yesterday, for attacking the traditions and institutions that many hold dear, for policing thought, word and deed with such vindictiveness and zeal, the Left cannot be the unifiers they claim to be. And that will remain the case until they finally ditch their divisive dogma.” – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph

  • Liberalism’s abandonment of individual freedom and scepticism of authority is now complete – Douglas Murray, Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • The EU’s vaccine catastrophe is a crisis of its own making – Matthew Lynn, The Spectator
  • In practice and in principle, there is no good reason to delay May’s local elections – Harry Phibbs, CapX
  • 40 years on from its creation, the SDP has another chance – William Clouston, Unherd
  • How the ‘anti-racist’ bandwagon captured the classroom – Frank Palmer, Conservative Woman
  • Disruption to trade has been greater than Leavers expected, we must now hope common sense prevails – Hamish McRae, Independent