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Hospitals facing ‘worst crisis in living memory’, says Whitty

“Emergency patients will be turned away from hospitals, causing “avoidable deaths”, unless the public starts obeying the lockdown, England’s chief medical officer warns today. In a stark intervention designed to shock, Professor Chris Whitty warns that everyone who meets friends and family unnecessarily is a “link in a chain” that threatens the lives of vulnerable people. Writing for us today, the country’s leading medic says people should “not act” as if vaccination had protected them already… Whitty spoke as Professor Neil Ferguson, the architect of the first lockdown, said the number of patients in hospital with Covid would soar by another 20%. “It will be quite difficult to avoid another 20,000 deaths,” he said as a further 1,035 reported yesterday took the total above 80,000.” – Sunday Times

  • Haemorrhaging of the nation’s health service has now started – Sunday Telegraph
  • Doctors raise alarm as Covid strikes down NHS workforce – The Observer
  • Britain must go into an ‘Asia-style’ lockdown, experts warn – Mail on Sunday
  • Inside the commuter ‘Covid triangle’, 1 in 15 are now infected – Sunday Times
  • Collapse in cancer treatment as coronavirus overwhelms hospitals – Sunday Telegraph

More:

  • Retired doctors must fill in 15 forms before being able to give jab – Sunday Telegraph
  • Ferguson puts his faith in the herd – Interview, Sunday Times

Chris Whitty: Lockdown-breakers are putting everyone in danger, so please stay at home

“If the virus continues on this trajectory, hospitals will be in real difficulties, and soon. The time people wait for care will continue to increase to potentially unsafe levels. Hospitals will not have room to take redirected emergency cases in regional networks. Staff-to-patient ratios — already stretched — will become unacceptable even in intensive care. There will be avoidable deaths. NHS staff are doing their best, and working remarkably. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude, but even they have limits. The public have made an extraordinary effort so far. Of course we are all tired of restrictions, but we must find the collective strength to get through this critical stage and save as many lives as we can. The advice right now is unambiguous: to drive the numbers down, we must stay home except for work, exercise and essential activities. Every unnecessary interaction you have could be the link in a chain of transmission that has a vulnerable person at the end.” – Sunday Times

  • How I managed to get a leftover Covid jab – India McTaggart and Cara McGoogan, Sunday Telegraph
  • We need to start talking now about how life will be once jabs make Covid less deadly – Robert Dingwall, Mail on Sunday
  • However the NHS weathers the storm, it must then be rebuilt to withstand another crisis – Robert Colvile, Sunday Times
  • We must treat the rollout of vaccines as a military operation – Christopher Snowdon, Sunday Telegraph

Editorial:

  • Let’s follow the Queen’s shining example and get on with the coronavirus jab – Sun on Sunday
  • We need gongs for our hero scientists, and the truth about Wuhan – Mail on Sunday

Police to issue fines to coronavirus rule breakers after one warning

“Every police officer has been told to fine people £200 if they believe they are in breach of the rules and refuse to return home at the first time of asking, in new guidance issued to all chief constables seen by the Sunday Telegraph. Ministers are dramatically increasing enforcement to stave off calls from scientists for tougher rules than March. A Home Office insider said officers would now “move through the gears” and be quicker to fine people, warning: “We are going to see more rapid movement to enforcement.” … The guidance from both the National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing, titled “Tier 4 National Lockdown”, marks a hardening in the stance of policing in the third national coronavirus lockdown.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Three officers ‘arrest a woman for sitting on a bench’ – Mail on Sunday
  • Patel defends officers’ strong enforcement of lockdown rules – Sun on Sunday

More:

Spring polls ‘set to be put on hold across Britain’

Local and mayoral elections that were scheduled for May 6 are likely to be delayed because of the coronavirus. Mayors and town hall leaders were approached by civil servants last week to discuss whether it would be too dangerous to proceed with the biggest test of political support in this parliament, with almost 40 million people entitled to vote. A unit in the cabinet office is working on contingency plans to hold the vote in June, July or September instead. The Tory party co-chairwoman, Amanda Milling, also spoke to Conservative candidates in key contests last week and signalled that a delay was likely. No 10 favours a delay of one month. If polls are delayed until the autumn, Tory candidates want them held in October, not September, because they fear it will be difficult to find doorstep activists willing to go door to door in August.” – Sunday Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Why the Government is under pressure to confirm the date of the local elections

Pupils ‘to sit mini summer exams’ marked by their own teachers

“Teenagers who were due to sit their GCSEs and A-levels this summer will face some form of test this year, the exam regulator Ofqual is expected to announce this week. Under the proposals, children will sit tests or “mini” exams in schools, to be marked by their teachers. The tests, which will be devised by exam boards, are likely to be taken late in the summer term, when it is hoped that coronavirus infection rates will have died down enough for schools to be fully reopened. There would also be internal assessments set by teachers in some subjects, including the chance for children to submit porfolios of work completed in the past two years. If schools do not reopen as planned, children may have to do the tests at home, raising the prospect of their having to produce important work from their bedroom, kitchen table or elsewhere.” – Sunday Times

  • The astonishing reason teachers are being excused live online lessons – Mail on Sunday

Sunak ‘to delay tax rises until the autumn but will end Stamp Duty holiday in March’

“Rishi Sunak is poised to delay plans for tax rises in his March budget due to the spiralling cost of the coronavirus crisis, it’s been reported. The Chancellor is said to believe it would be the “wrong time” to announce them and they are now likely to be pushed back until at least the autumn. However, he has rejected calls to extend the temporary cut on stamp duty which is due to expire at the end of March, the Times reported. Analysts say the property tax cut helped to fuel a boom in the housing market as buyers sought houses with gardens during lockdown…To try and help bring in extra cash there were plans to cut pensions tax relief for high income households, ramp up capital gains tax and introduce a digital sales tax.” – Sun on Sunday

>Today: ToryDiary: The campaign to oppose the 0.7 per cent aid cut will gain very little support from Party members

>Yesterday: Book Reviews: Peel increased the burden of taxation on the rich – perhaps Sunak and Johnson will too

Johnson’s critics say cabinet needs ‘massive jolt’

“MPs say that if Johnson is to prosper he must change some of those from whom he takes advice, with Williamson top of the hit list when the reshuffle does come. Discussions have been had about who might replace Williamson. The favourite is Oliver Dowden, the low-key but competent culture secretary. “He is calm in a crisis,” said one official. “He is also state-educated and his wife is a primary school teacher.” Another name that has been floated by Johnson’s head of policy, Munira Mirza, and her husband, Dougie Smith, a No 10 adviser, is Kemi Badenoch, a Treasury minister, whom they see as a key ally in the “war on woke” that Mirza and Smith have advocated. She grew up in Nigeria and did her A-levels in the state sector.” – Sunday Times

  • Sharma ‘shunted to climate change role to woo Biden’ – Sunday Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The short sharp shuffle. Sharma takes on COP26 full-time. Kwarteng steps up a rung to become Business Secretary.

‘Operation Bleach’ to scrub EU from the statute book

“Boris Johnson has secretly ordered civil servants to strip references to the European Union from tens of thousands of laws to stop Labour reversing Brexit after the next general election in a plan known by some in Whitehall as “Operation Bleach”. Officials have been tasked with leafing through regulations and statutory instruments (SIs) covering the UK’s 40 year membership of the EU so that Brexit is cemented in UK law and cannot be easily unwound by a future government. The news comes just days after the European Research Group of Conservative MPs, in its verdict on the UK-EU post Brexit trade deal, warned that ministers would have to be “robust” in ensuring that Britain is not gradually reassimilated back into the influence of Brussels by future administrations.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Baffling rules threaten export chaos, Gove is warned – The Observer
  • Ocado warns of shortages as Brexit red tape tightens – Sunday Times

More:

  • UK ‘cannot take back control of waters from super trawlers’ – Sunday Telegraph
  • SNP demands billions in compensation for Scotland over Brexit – Sunday Express

Patel sets up secret new high-tech command HQ in war on people smugglers

“Priti Patel has set up a high-tech command centre to sharpen action against illegal migrants crossing the English Channel. Gangbusters manning the HQ will coordinate land, sea and air operations aimed at catching criminal people smugglers. The Home Secretary has demanded tougher action after 8,417 migrants made the perilous 21-mile voyage in small boats and dinghies last year. The permanent hub, at a secret location in Dover, will bring all action to end the tide in human misery under one roof. It will be the lynchpin of an enhanced operation codenamed Altair, spearheaded by the government’s small boats commander Dan O’Mahoney. The ex-Royal Marine commando will direct all operational activities, involving ships, police and spotter planes, to tackle the threat.” – Sun on Sunday

  • ‘Army and navy candidates square off’ as Johnson seeks new defence chief – Sunday Times

Starmer supporter plans bid for leadership of Unite union

“A supporter of Keir Starmer’s leadership is to launch a new attempt to lead Labour’s most generous union backer, the Observer can reveal. Gerard Coyne, who was narrowly defeated by current leader Len McCluskey in a bitter battle for the Unite leadership in 2017, has announced that he will aim to become its new general secretary when a contest begins later this year. The battle over who leads Unite is an important one for Starmer. McCluskey, who will formally step down next year, was one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies and has already attacked the current Labour leader over his decision to pay damages to ex-staffers who claimed the party had not dealt with antisemitism. Unite has also cut its support to Labour in the wake of the decision.” – The Observer