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Vaccines 1) Zahawi pledges that the UK is “ready to help” the EU

“Britain stands ready to help the EU with its vaccination crisis, the vaccines minister said after Brussels abandoned its threat to block supplies at the border. In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Nadhim Zahawi said the focus is now on “collaboration” with the EU, adding that Britain has gone “out of our way” to help Brussels with its production problems and “will continue to do so”. The Government drew a line under the extraordinary diplomatic row over vaccine exports on Saturday after the EU promised Britain that it would not stop supplies from Pfizer’s Belgium factory reaching the UK.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • A year on, we’re more scared of Covid than ever – Sunday Times
  • Send surplus jabs to the Irish Republic urges Foster – Mail on Sunday
  • Union snubs jabs for teachers – Mail on Sunday
  • A GP surgery in St Austell vaccinated more patients in 24 hours than Latvia, Lithuania and Ecuador put together – Sunday Times
  • When will lockdown end? Three scenarios for the next few months – Sunday Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Our survey. Johnson’s vaccine bounce. Over three in five party members believe he’s handling Covid well.

Vaccines 2) Gove declares that relations will be “reset”

“The UK and European Union will “reset” relations after Brussels triggered a provision in the Brexit deal to control vaccine exports, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove has said. The government is confident that the EU will not block vaccines entering the UK. It comes after Brussels reversed its widely-condemned decision which could have seen checks at the Irish border. Mr Gove added the European Commission recognised its “mistake”. He said he had spoken with European Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič and the pair had agreed to put the people of Northern Ireland first.” – BBC

  • Calls for ‘vindictive’ von der Leyen to resign over Irish border debacle – Sunday Telegraph
  • Vaccines to be recorded in Dublin in compromise deal – Observer
  • Swayne may face disciplinary action – Observer

Vaccines 3) Johnson’s “double victory” forcing von der Leyen to withdraw threats

“Boris Johnson forced the EU into an extraordinary double climbdown during a dramatic late-night intervention to protect the UK’s record-breaking vaccine rollout. During two phone calls just 30 minutes apart, the Prime Minister made European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen ditch plans to stop 3.5 million doses of the Pfizer jab from reaching the UK from a factory in Belgium and abandon the ‘nuclear option’ of imposing a hard border on Northern Ireland to prevent them reaching the UK. Following his diplomatic victory, Britain yesterday recorded a daily record for first-dose jabs – 487,756 – to bring the total to almost 8.4 million. In his phone calls, Mr Johnson warned Ms von der Leyen that her actions risked denying millions of British pensioners their second Pfizer injections.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Second dose for millions is at risk, PM told EU chief – Sunday Times
  • Vaccine supply assault backfired spectacularly – Sunday Telegraph

Vaccines 4) European Commission’s allies hit back at critics

“Allies of von der Leyen have hit back against such criticism, however, saying the commission’s task was complicated by the need to square differences between member states with varying views of how much they were ready to pay. Some were also reportedly wary of the more experimental mRNA — messenger RNA — vaccines of Pfizer or Moderna, preferring Astrazeneca’s more conventional one. Either way, the results have been demonstrably disastrous: EU countries did not start vaccinating until a good three weeks after Britain and then, far from closing the gap with the UK, they have slipped further behind. The European Medicines Agency — which moved from London to Amsterdam in 2019 — delayed giving its approval to the Astrazeneca vaccine, a mainstay of its immunisation campaign and at the centre of last week’s vaccine war. It was finally granted on Friday.” – Sunday Times

  • WHO criticises EU over vaccine export controls – BBC

Vaccines 5) Hannan: For some remainers this has been a “Kronstadt moment”

“The European Commission elbowed aside its member states, which had begun their own procurement programmes, and insisted on negotiating en bloc for the 27. It moved slowly and bureaucratically, reportedly because it was holding out for vaccines produced by Continental firms. In the end, three months after Britain, it signed a contract with AstraZeneca similar to that which some of its nations had tried to sign earlier. As criticism mounted, it panicked and lashed out – smashing the principles of due process, private property and free trade in the process…For at least some British Remainers, the events of this week have served as what Western Communists used to call a “Kronstadt moment”. Kronstadt, the site of a naval mutiny against the Bolsheviks in 1921, became a shorthand for the moment when a previously loyal party member suddenly grasped the true nature of the Soviet regime.” – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph

Other comment

  • The EU’s failure to secure life-saving jabs for its citizens is abject – Leader, The Sun on Sunday
  • So, Lord Adonis et al, what price Remain now? – Mark Francois, Sunday Telegraph
  • Brexit is done. We don’t need to bait Brussels – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
  • Making a scapegoat of Britain can’t disguise the EU’s shambolic response to Covid-19 vaccine acquisition – Leader, The Observer
  • As a dyed-in-the-wool Remainer, I now wish I’d been a Brexiteer – Alan Cochrane, Sunday Telegraph
  • The lumbering EU monster panicked and showed its true nature – Leader, Mail on Sunday
  • This has been a sad and revelatory crisis for the EU – Leader, Sunday Telegraph
  • It’s time to look ahead – Leader, Sunday Times
  • We must not pin all our hopes on Covid vaccines alone – Paul Nuki, Sunday Telegraph

IDS to chair new review of EU regulation

“Boris Johnson has set up two task forces to kickstart the economy after lockdown. The PM will chair the National Economic Recovery Team alongside Chancellor Rishi Sunak and other Cabinet ministers. NERT’s job will be to devise an action plan to be launched as soon as the main phase of vaccinations is complete. The plan will be unveiled by Mr Johnson in the summer or early autumn. A second task force, TIGER, will explore ways of taking advantage of our new-found regulatory freedoms on the first anniversary of Brexit. The Taskforce for Innovation and Growth through Regulatory Reform will be chaired by ex-Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith alongside MPs George Freeman and Theresa Villiers.” – The Sun on Sunday

  • Sport faces crisis with the “end of gambling cash” – Sunday Times
  • Sunak may be trapped between the wings of his own party – Phillip Inman, Observer

UK applying to join Asia-Pacific free trade pact

“Britain is set to cash in on one of the world’s biggest trade deals as it formally opens its application to join the massive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Writing for the Sunday Express today, international trade secretary Liz Truss said that the massive opportunity for British businesses to join a £9 trillion free trade area is only possible because “we are no longer held back by the EU.” The 11 country bloc is one of the fastest growing free trade areas in the world set to overtake the EU in the next few years. The announcement comes as the UK celebrates one year since leaving the EU and becoming an independent trading nation. Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the move which will be the biggest Brexit bonus yet. ” – Sunday Express

  • Dynamic Pacific nations will unleash our potential – Liz Truss, Sunday Express
  • What is the CPTPP? – BBC
  • US trade deal ‘blown by Kim Darroch’ – Sunday Times
  • Tariffs on steel would be “very damaging” – BBC

Heywood warned Cameron against EU referendum

“The UK’s top civil servant during Brexit privately warned David Cameron that he would “open up a Pandora’s box of problems he couldn’t solve” by offering a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Jeremy Heywood, who was Cabinet Secretary from 2012 to 2018, penned a personal memo alerting the then Prime Minister to the pitfalls of holding the vote. In her biography of him, entitled “What Does Jeremy Think?” and serialised in The Telegraph, his widow Suzanne describes the “almost unheard-of trip” he made to the office on December 30, 2012, to compose the note.” – Sunday Telegraph

Conservatives regain poll lead

“The Conservatives have regained the lead against Labour in the latest Opinium poll for the Observer after a week in which the total number of deaths from Covid-19 passed 100,000. The figures – showing the Tories on 41%, up four percentage points compared with two weeks ago, and Labour down three points on 38% – are a blow to Labour and will raise questions about whether the party’s progress has stalled under Keir Starmer. With the country in its third lockdown and the death toll passing such a grim milestone, Labour MPs and activists would have hoped to be surging ahead of Boris Johnson and the Conservatives.” – The Observer

Shadow Cabinet claimed first-class flights on expenses

“Labour’s Shadow Cabinet pocketed thousands in expenses during lockdown, billing taxpayers for first-class travel, TV licences — and hand gel. A Sun on Sunday probe reveals a dozen of Keir Starmer’s top team travelled in style since March totting up £14,061. Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, who boasts of “standing up for working people”, spent £1,600 on 23 first-class tickets between London and her Manchester constituency since March. Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy blew £1,800 on 13 first-class journeys since May. The Wigan MP billed taxpayers for thousands in rent for a London flat, an office TV licence and £20 for hand-sanitiser. Shadow Business Minister Lucy Powell billed £390 for first-class trips.” – The Sun on Sunday

Russian Government faces Navalny protests

“Russian authorities have closed metro stations and are restricting movement in Moscow ahead of planned rallies in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Many restaurants and shops in the city centre will be closed and overground transport will be diverted. More than 4,000 people were arrested across Russia during rallies last week. Mr Navalny was jailed on his return to Russia after recovering from an attempt to kill him with a nerve agent.” – BBC

  • Putin misjudges his greatest threat, the people – Sunday Times

Church of England memo warns “20 per cent of worshippers may never return”

“The damage inflicted on the Church of England by the pandemic is revealed in a leaked internal document which warns up to 20 per cent of its regular worshippers may never return. It calls into question “the sustainability of many local churches” and the continued financial subsidy given to 5,000 loss-making parishes out of a total of 12,000. The document also warns that most dioceses intend to “prune [the] number of clergy and diocesan staff”. One bishop and another senior source said the number of paid priests could be cut by 10 to 20 per cent, as the church cuts costs by recruiting more unpaid clergy.” – Sunday Times

>Today: John Redwood on Comment: Let’s hear more debate about how the Church of England enjoys its privileges

Hodges: Give the Scots another referendum

“How is it that Boris, Michael Gove and their lieutenants – still proudly sporting the battle-scars of Brexit – have not learned the lessons of their own successful campaign? Why can’t they see they are replicating, with almost perfect symmetry, all the mistakes made by the Remainers? The first of these is the most basic. Like it or not, the referendum is going to happen. And the longer it’s delayed, and the longer politicians in Westminster are seen to be trying to delay it, the more certain it is it will be lost.” – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday

  • Sturgeon may seek vote on Scottish independence before Christmas – Sunday Times
  • If the referendum in 2016 had been pushed back significantly then history might have been different – Robert Colville, Sunday Times
  • “We can give the SNP and Labour a fright” claims  Scottish Greens co-leader – Scotsman

News in brief

  • Johnson has to go big on education – Isabel Hardman, The Spectator
  • The Archbishop’s flawed understanding of Christianity – John Redwood
  • Does the Confederate flag symbolise identity or slavery? – Derek Gadd, The Article
  • Our children’s care system is failing – Stephen Skeet, Independent
  • The quiet collapse of Scottish unionism – Scott Hames, New Statesman