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Health service may hit peak capacity tomorrow…

“Hospitals have been ordered to open hundreds of extra intensive care unit (ICU) beds and hit “maximum surge capacity” by 8am tomorrow amid fears that care for the sickest coronavirus patients may have to be rationed. With critical care units in the capital filled with seriously ill patients, senior NHS officials are preparing to transfer “significant numbers” of Londoners requiring intensive care to the Midlands. At the same time, more than half of all hospital trusts have cancelled operations…lthough infections appear to be easing, the lag between new cases and hospitalisations means the number needing to be admitted to intensive care nationally will continue to rise.” – Sunday Times

…As Ministers float the vaccination of every adult by the end of June

“Every adult in Britain will be vaccinated by the end of June, senior Government figures hope, as they grow increasingly optimistic they will be able to accelerate the rollout. The Telegraph can reveal Whitehall sources believe this target could now realistically be achieved as they plan to vaccinate four to five million people a week within months. A further two vaccines in the pipeline, from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, could help Britain speed up the process to vaccinate all 54 million adults. A source said: “All over-18s by June – yes.” They added: “It is delivery, delivery, delivery.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • How Britain plans to tackle mutant variants – Sunday Telegraph
  • Care homes consider legal challenge to force staff to take vaccine – Sunday Times
  • Cancer 1) My story – Marina Wheeler, Sunday Telegraph
  • Cancer 2) Nokes warns of cancer threat to 600,000 women – Mail on Sunday
  • Rise in young people with eating disorders – Mail on Sunday
  • Schools 1) Teachers question unauthorised use of rapid tests – Observer
  • Schools 2) Williamson free books plan while schools remain closed – Sun on Sunday
  • Johnson Coronavirus TV drama coming – Mail on Sunday

Harper: We need a roadmap out of lockdown

“That’s why this week, we need a draft plan for the progressive lifting of restrictions from March 8 so that the public, businesses and reputable scientists can use it as the basis for a sensible debate, as the Prime Minister suggested on Friday. That will allow a definitive plan to be published ahead of February 15, when we all hope the Government will have hit its first vaccination target. It is unacceptable that businesses across our country are being asked to plan for their survival on the vague notion of ‘it will all be fine by the Spring’. “ – Sunday Telegraph

> Yesterday:

Ministers 1) Sunak eyes Corporation Tax rise and the Treasury mulls a property revaluation

“Rishi Sunak is planning to begin raising taxes in March’s budget to plug the black hole in the national finances as officials model a long-term plan to replace both council tax and stamp duty with a national property tax. Following talks with Boris Johnson over the past week, the chancellor is expected to use the budget on March 3 to announce an extension of government support, including the furlough and business loan schemes. Contrary to some reports, he is also considering an extension to stamp duty cuts and an increase in benefits.” – Sunday Times

> Today: ToryDiary – A new property tax would bring rises. Business rates reform could mean cuts. Is Sunak mulling both?

Ministers 2) Is Patel planning to reverse May’s legacy on stop and search?

“New legislation intended to tackle spiralling knife crime will give police the automatic right to search individuals who have previously been convicted of knife offences without, as at present, having ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect they are carrying a weapon. Ms Patel, whose move comes seven years after Theresa May introduced changes to the powers when she was at the Home Office to make it less ‘biased’, told The Mail on Sunday that she was acting because mothers of stabbed children insist ‘stop and search is a vital tool to tackle knife crime’.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Police will get new powers to break up protests – Sun on Sunday
  • Pressure over police records deletion – Observer

Ministers 3) Jenrick to change law to protect statues

“Robert Jenrick is to change the law so that historic statues, plaques, memorials or monuments cannot be removed without going through a formal planning process. The law is also being changed so that controversial statues and monuments should be best explained and contextualised, not taken and hidden away, in a move which will further protect them.  Mr Jenrick is looking at ways to stop left-wing councils from unilaterally replacing street names which are linked to the Empire with more modern versions without a clear majority of people living in the streets affected.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Kelly Tolhurst resigns as Housing Minister, Eddie Hughes takes her place – Sunday Telegraph
  • McVey, Hayes, Lewer call for student union reform – Sunday Telegraph
  • Simon Hoare is very rude about Lawrence Fox – Mail on Sunday
  • We will save Britain’s statues from woke militants – Robert Jenrick, Sunday Telegraph

Johnson, Truss and Raab face Trade Bill revolt this week over China genocide amendment

“The PM is under mounting pressure to let British courts decide if the communist regime is committing genocide against the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. About 30 rebels are expected to back an amendment to the Trade Bill which would force ministers to block deals with countries the High Court has ruled are guilty of the crime. But the move is gaining support from other paries, the Jewish and Muslim communities and the International Bar Association. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Trade supremo Liz Truss were ordered to call MPs yesterday to try to avoid defeat.” – Sun on Sunday

Liverpool building firm hired by Unite probed as part of corruption investigation

“The Liverpool building firm hired to lead Unite’s £50million Birmingham  development is now being probed as part of a police investigation into unconnected alleged bribery and corruption in Liverpool.  Unite hired the Flanagan Group to head the construction of its multi-million pound Birmingham complex with work beginning in 2015. In 2019, the building firm’s boss Paul Flanagan was arrested as part of Operation Aloft – a 15-month investigation looking into agreements between property developers and the council. In December, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson was arrested as part of Operation Aloft too.” – Mail on Sunday

Alex Massie: Will Sturgeon v Salmond wreck the SNP’s independence campaign?

“Salmond is a greater threat to Sturgeon than the opposition parties. Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Tories, is not even an MSP and on Thursday Richard Leonard resigned as leader of the Scottish Labour party after three and a half hapless years in post. But even Tory and Labour MSPs wonder whether Salmond can inflict a fatal blow. Sturgeon might have lied to parliament but voters may consider that an antiquated offence even if they can be persuaded of her guilt.” – Sunday Times

  • Sarwar says he will rebuild Labour in Scotland – Observer
  • Conservatives should embrace the lessons of Brexit to save the Union – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph
  • Will Britain break up? – Gavin Esler, Mail on Sunday

Merkel ally is new CDU leader

“Armin Laschet, 59, the avuncular head of North Rhine-Westphalia, the country’s most populous state, beat Friedrich Merz, 65, a multimillionaire corporate lawyer, by 521 to 466 votes in a second-round run off at the party’s annual conference. The CDU looks likely to close ranks behind Laschet, who is taking over from Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. AKK, as she is widely known, was elected to the post in December 2018 after Merkel gave up the party leadership as part of a long goodbye that will culminate with her departure from the chancellery this autumn.” – Sunday Times

> Yesterday: Adrian Lee on Comment – Erhard’s economic miracle has lessons for Britain and Germany today

It’s inauguration week for Biden – who “believes that he and Johnson can decide the destiny of the world”

“A close friend of Mr Biden said the leaders will bury differences over Brexit as British officials said they expected the UK to be one of the first foreign destinations, in what would be a major diplomatic coup for Mr Johnson. Mr Biden is due to be sworn in on Wednesday. Sources who would be closely involved in any visit have circled the G7 summit in June, hosted in the UK, as the potential date for the new president’s trip across the Atlantic.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Prime Minister to woo President for G7 in Cornwall – Sunday Times
  • Truss to lobby Biden over scotch whisky tariffs – Mail on Sunday
  • Starmer foreign policy speech suggests return to “ethical foreign policy” – Observer
  • Trumpism lives on – Lord Ashcroft, Mail on Sunday
  • Could QAnon go mainstream? – Matthew Syed, Sunday Times
  • Free societies and social media hate – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph
  • You won’t see a storming of Westminster any time soon – Rob Colvile, Sunday Times