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The adviser who first quit and then stayed reveals in a resignation note that Ministers believe the over-50s will be vaccinated by the end of April

“The great majority of adults will have received a coronavirus jab by the end of May, a senior government adviser has revealed, after an official announcement that all the over-50s will be inoculated by the end of April. Samuel Kasumu, a senior adviser to Boris Johnson on the vaccination programme, revealed the timeline in a leaked resignation letter that he later retracted. A senior government source told The Times that the end of June was a more likely expectation for all adults to be vaccinated.” – The Times

  • Adviser unhappy with Badenoch tweets, talked out of resigning by Zahawi… – The Times
  • …As critics of the Government’s race policy seek the Equalities Minister’s scalp – The Guardian
  • “Pubs to re-open in May, takeaway pints available in April” – The Sun
  • Hancock to take back control of the NHS and reverse the Lansley reforms – The Times
  • Johnson’s fear of opening up too early with a fourth lockdown following later – The Times
  • Rosenfeld and Stratton steady the ship in Downing Street – Daily Telegraph
  • AstraZeneca nearly as effective against the Kent variant as against the main virus – The Guardian
  • Vaccine success based on small outsiders’ group – The Times
  • New NHS hospital to be named after Captain Tom Moore – The Sun
  • Carrie Symonds is the new Head of Communications for the Aspinall Foundation – Daily Mail
  • Claims of Covid inter-generational war are overblown – Camilla Cavendish, Financial Times
  • Healthy debate – Times Editorial

When will the quarantine plan be ready to go and will it work?

“Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government was ‘keeping people safe’ and did not rule out expanding the scope of the policy, which has still not come into effect three weeks after it was announced. Retired Royal Marine general Sir Gordon Messenger, a former vice chief of defence staff who led a mass community testing operation in Liverpool last year, has been drafted in to oversee the project.  The Government is racing to reserve 28,000 hotel rooms across the UK in a bid to launch the scheme after it was accused of ‘dithering’ on the issue. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government was ‘keeping people safe’ and did not rule out expanding the scope of the policy, which has still not come into effect three weeks after it was announced. Retired Royal Marine general Sir Gordon Messenger, a former vice chief of defence staff who led a mass community testing operation in Liverpool last year, has been drafted in to oversee the project.” – Daily Mail

  • Police will play a role in enforcement – The Guardian
  • SAGE angles for complete closure of borders – Daily Mail
  • Passengers must take two Covid tests – Daily Mail
  • Cleverly equivocal on vaccine passports – Daily Telegraph
  • Hard questions about the lawfulness of the quarantine policy – Adam Wagner, Daily Telegraph
  • School day could be extended and holidays changed… – The Sun
  • (…Unions oppose the plan – Daily Mail
  • Older students will return to school part time in Wales – Wales Online
  • Williamson plans universities’ return in March – The Guardian
  • Sunak 1) He will offer loans relief to small firms on Monday – Financial Times
  • Sunak 2) Is he the most dangerous man in government? – Sam Bowman, The Guardian
  • Freeport for South Yorkshire could create 29,000 new jobs – Yorkshire Post

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Von Der Leyen says the UK is a speedboat, the EU an oil tanker

“Britain is a speedboat racing ahead on vaccines compared to the cumbersome EU oil tanker, Brussels boss Ursula von der Leyen has admitted. The chief eurocrat even acknowledged Brexit had helped the UK outpace the rest of Europe with its jabs rollout. She accepted the bloc had made big mistakes in its shambolic scheme that would have held the UK back. And she finally took personal responsibility for the blunder that saw Brussels almost trigger a vaccine border in Northern Ireland.” – The Sun

  • EU chief diplomat accused of how-towing to Russia – Daily Telegraph
  • 71 pages of paperwork for every load of fish bound for the EU – The Sun
  • Brexit au pairs under threat from new migration rules – Financial Times
  • There should be a harder border on the island of Ireland – Vernon Bogdanor, Daily Telegraph

The Telegraph interviews Truss, “an unsung hero of post-Brexit deals

“The Trade Secretary – 45, blonde, clipped, smilingly efficient – has only been in her post 18 months, but has already clocked up more trade agreements than most other ministers sign in a lifetime. Mark Wallace of blog Conservative Home even went so far as dubbing her ‘an unsung hero of post-Brexit deals’. For her, it was a chance to put into practice decades of fervent belief in free trade, inspired by the political figure she once reviled…Asked to name her all-time favourite Tory now, there is only the briefest pause before she answers: ‘Always Thatcher, of course.’ That isn’t so much because of any specific policies but more of the Iron Lady’s ‘huge confidence in what Britain could be’.” – Daily Telegraph

Ellwood follows Biden in calling for arms sales to Saudi Arabia to be restricted

“Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative chair of the defence select committee, called on the government to “follow suit and rethink military sales”, seven months after the British government restarted them following a high-profile court defeat. Ellwood, a former defence minister, said the UK needed to work with the new US administration in developing “a fresh strategy” to help end the six-year conflict, which has killed more than 100,000 Yemenis and displaced a further 8 million. The world’s biggest arms importer, Saudi Arabia has been supplied principally by the US, accounting for 73% of sales, and the UK, accounting for 13% between 2015 and 2019, according to the Stockholm Peace Research Institute.” – The Guardian

  • We are at the mercy of China – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph
  • The new president opens up opportunities for UK foreign policy – The Guardian

Matthew Parris: The problem isn’t Starmer. It’s Labour.

“Coming from a Labour leader, some of this would shock; draw fire from Starmer’s left; frighten the trade union horses. But if only he could see this, the surprise would help his wider purpose of making friends with 21st-century Britain. In a party leader struggling to be noticed, surprise is good. Alas, you could have coded a StarmerBot based on his first weeks as leader and it would have pretty much mapped the path Sir Keir has followed. And I’m afraid there’s a reason beyond this particular man’s innate timidity and instinct to niggle and juggle rather than trumpet. The reason lies in what the Labour Party, in its very essence, to its very core, actually is.” – The Times

A Scottish court throws out the first bid for a second independence referendum without the UK Government’s permission

“The case was brought before the court with Mr Keatings claiming that voters needed clarity on the issue ahead of the Holyrood elections in May. The SNP has said that a pro-independence majority will be a mandate for a second vote on leaving the UK. But judge Lady Carmichael states in today’s ruling that there is “no limit” to the number of issues about which politicians might make proposals in the lead up to elections. “It does not follow that advice from the court is needed about them to permit voters to exercise their democratic rights,” she states. “The action is for these reasons, hypothetical, academic, and premature, and the pursuer lacks standing to bring it.” – Scotsman

  • DUP petition against Northern Ireland Protocol hits 100,000 signatories – Belfast Telegraph

England’s local elections will go ahead in May after all

“Local and mayoral elections in England are to go ahead in May as planned, the government has confirmed, but with potential restrictions on campaigning, prompting Labour to warn that this must not disadvantage poorer parties. Under a plan published on Friday by the Cabinet Office, polling stations will be fitted with screens and hand sanitiser, with councils allocated extra money to help make voting and the counting process safe amid coronavirus.” – The Guardian

Charles Moore: No to the plan for a Holocaust Memorial near Parliament

“At bottom, the problem is political. The stuff from the Commission quoted above is somehow false, as is talk from the plan’s supporters about upholding “British values”. The relation of Britain to the Holocaust is a side issue. On the one hand, we won the war against the killers of the Jews and helped liberate the camps. Many British people (including my father’s parents) took in Jewish refugees. On the other, we discouraged Jewish immigration both here and to Palestine, and declined to bomb the railway lines to the concentration camps. As a nation, we are not centre-stage, nor do we have special “values” here that differ from those of decent people everywhere.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • Europe shows its true colours – Peter Franklin, UnHerd
  • Tories are embracing the state – Harry Lambert, New Statesman
  • Symonds and the cult of rewilding – Benedict Spence, Spectator
  • Long road to net zero – John Redwood’s Diary
  • The unbearable whiteness of the classics – Andrew Sullivan, Daily Dish