Published:

All over-70s must have Covid vaccine, says Johnson

“Boris Johnson has appealed for the final two million people who are over 70 or work in healthcare and who have not yet been vaccinated to come forward, warning that leaving large numbers unprotected could delay the easing of lockdown. GPs are being urged to make personal calls to all their older patients who have not had the jab, while roving teams will seek out care home staff who have been missed. The prime minister made a plea directly to social care workers to arrange an appointment amid fears they were more reluctant or had been missed because of shift patterns. More than 13 million people across the UK have been vaccinated, including 90 per cent of the over-70s and care home residents, after another 411,812 first doses were given yesterday.” – The Times

  • Follow Britain’s lead on second dose of Covid vaccine, says WHO – The Times
  • Patel urges social media to remove antivax posts – The Times

EU:

  • Britain has now vaccinated more people than the whole of the EU put together – The Sun
  • EU risked disintegrating in face of coronavirus threat, says Von der Leyen – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Covid lockdown would last until late May if UK followed Israel’s new rules – Daily Telegraph
  • Israel offers a peek into the post-vaccine world – Daily Mail
  • Johnson sees Covid vaccine passport app as route to freedom – The Times
  • Covid tests to become future of wedding ceremonies and business meetings, Johnson suggests – The Sun

Editorial:

  • We will not swallow new excuses for curtailing our liberties once over-50s have been jabbed – The Sun

>Yesterday:

Reforms will cure the NHS of red tape, claims Health Secretary

“Health bosses will be able to cast aside bureaucratic rules under a reorganisation of the NHS to be announced today, Matt Hancock has promised. The health secretary insisted that a structural overhaul would allow the “blistering pace” at which the NHS set up Nightingale hospitals and moved appointments online to be maintained after the pandemic. Writing for The Times Red Box, Hancock defended his proposal, to be published today in a white paper, to take more power over the running of the health service in England. He argued that it would ensure that NHS England was “accountable to taxpayers that use it, while maintaining its clinical and day-to-day operational independence”.” – The Times

  • Hancock to publish plans to give ministers more power over NHS – The Guardian
  • Government to give itself powers to bail out social care companies – FT

Comment:

  • Our NHS reform builds on innovations of the Covid pandemic – Matt Hancock, Times Red Box
  • Labour’s shameful lies about the NHS are silencing debate about its failings – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph
  • Poor support for self-isolation undermines the UK’s Covid vaccination effort – Anthony Costello, The Guardian

Cabinet confusion over when it’s safe to book a summer holiday

“Ministers were at odds over summer holidays yesterday after the prime minister warned it was “too early” to book and the health secretary confirmed that he was taking a break in Cornwall. Boris Johnson said people had to be a “little more patient” because of the continuing threat posed by the pandemic. He reiterated comments by Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, who said it was too soon for people to consider holidays domestically or overseas. Shapps had warned that the lifting of travel restrictions would be dependent on “everybody having their vaccinations”, both here and abroad, raising the prospect of holidays remaining off limits until the end of the year. However, the comments appeared to be contradicted by Matt Hancock, the health secretary, who is understood to have told the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers on Tuesday that he had booked a holiday in Cornwall.” – The Times

  • Travel bosses fear summer season at risk after UK warns on holidays – FT
  • Ministers plunge summer holiday plans into chaos – The Sun

More:

  • Health Secretary ‘may pay high price’ for safety at all costs attitude – Daily Telegraph
  • Law chief and Tories take aim at Hancock’s ten-year jail threat – The Times
  • Former justice secretaries hit out at proposed sentences – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • A decade in prison for lying about where you travelled? It’s laughable – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Bordering on impossible

EU poised to lock Britain out of its banking market, Bailey warns

“Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey has warned that the European Union is poised to lock Britain out of its vast banking market, in a move that would push up the cost of finance for millions of consumers on both sides of the Channel. Mr Bailey said that Brussels would be making a mistake if it refuses to grant access for the City – with serious repercussions for ordinary people. The decision could drive mortgage interest rates higher, land businesses which trade internationally with more expensive currency deals, and hit households with steeper insurance premiums as everyday financial products depend on activity in big international markets… The remarks are a significant escalation in the row over UK regulators’ determination to set their own finance rules after Brexit.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Amsterdam ousts London as Europe’s top share trading hub – FT

More:

  • More than five million EU citizens apply to remain in Britain – The Sun
  • Half of UK exporters to EU are having Brexit difficulties, survey finds – The Guardian
  • Brussels sinks UK hopes of overturning shellfish ban – FT

>Today: Stephen Booth’s column: The main benefits of joining this Pacific trade partnership would be strategic

Brussels fires warning shot at UK over Northern Ireland protocol

“Brussels has sent a warning shot to the UK to address “shortcomings” in its application of post-Brexit customs rules for Northern Ireland and rejected key demands for flexibility from the British government on the eve of a crunch meeting tomorrow. Maros Sefcovic, EU vice-president in charge of relations with the UK, on Wednesday night wrote to his counterpart Michael Gove laying out a series of complaints over the UK’s compliance with border arrangements in Northern Ireland, escalating tensions over a protocol signed by the two sides as part of the Brexit agreement.  Sefcovic and Gove meet in London on Thursday to address mounting concerns over the implementation of the protocol, which requires all goods flowing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland to comply with onerous regulations under the EU customs code.” – FT

  • Comply with Northern Ireland protocol before expecting changes, EU tells UK – The Guardian
  • Ulster ports to resume checks after security fears – FT
  • We got it wrong over Ireland Covid vaccine border controls, admits Von der Leyen – The Times
  • She ‘snubs’  Irish MEPs and leaves chamber before NI questions – Daily Express

Loans to fix cladding are a betrayal, say Tory MPs

“Tory MPs have accused ministers of “shocking incompetence” despite the government’s agreement to pay £3.5 billion to remove cladding from hundreds of thousands of unsafe high-rise flats. Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, said flammable cladding would be stripped from all tower blocks taller than 18 metres and announced taxes on developers to claw back some of the costs. One Conservative backbencher, however, described the announcement as a “betrayal” after it emerged that the 80,000 medium-rise blocks between 11 metres and 18 metres high would be offered only loans to remove cladding. Flat owners will have to make repayments, capped at £50 a month. Costs will be inherited by anyone buying the flat.” – The Times

  • Government pledges extra £3.5bn to tackle cladding crisis – FT

More:

  • Green home scheme stripped of £1.1bn – The Times
  • Labour attacks cuts – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: The Great Reset (of property)

Teaching unions torpedo Prime Minister’s plan for extra classes to help kids catch up

“Teaching unions have thrown plans to help school kids catch up on Covid disrupted classes into doubt with demands for extra pay. They are insisting that teachers are given new contracts to compensate them if school days are lengthened or term dates extended for extra lessons. The demands, which are being backed by two of the country’s biggest teaching unions, will deal a major blow to the PM’s plans. Boris Johnson has vowed to go “flat out” to help pupils catch up on learning they’ve lost due to the lockdown, and has floated extending the school year. But Kevin Courtney, joint secretary of the National Education Union, said that will require a new pay deal for teachers.” – The Sun

  • School catch-up in England could take five years, says education recovery tsar – FT

>Yesterday: Robert Halfon MP’s column: Let’s extend the school day to help children catch up after Covid – and civil society can step in

Former Tory MP in row over appointment as head of Office for Students

“The head of the civil service has been urged to investigate the appointment of a former Conservative MP and campaign manager for Boris Johnson as head of the Office for Students, with Labour calling the move “another example of cronyism”. James Wharton, who was an MP from 2010 to 2017 and is now a Conservative peer, was appointed to head the independent regulator of higher education in England despite having no experience of the sector. A solicitor who later worked in the lobbying industry, Wharton represented Stockton South and held junior ministerial roles under David Cameron and Theresa May. Once out of parliament, in 2019, he was campaign manager for Johnson when he became Tory leader. He is also close to Gavin Williamson, the education secretary.” – The Guardian

Sturgeon calls for Holyrood to invoke legal powers to force Salmond to give evidence under oath

“Nicola Sturgeon has called for legal powers to be invoked that would force Alex Salmond to give evidence under oath at Holyrood, after she was forced to deny that her husband had committed perjury. In extraordinary exchanges at Holyrood, the First Minister refused three times to say whether she would resign if she is found to have broken the ministerial code through her handling of sexual harassment complaints against her predecessor. As hostilities between Ms Sturgeon and her former mentor and closest political ally intensified, she took a series of thinly-veiled swipes at Mr Salmond for pulling out giving testimony this week, due to a row over the publication of his dossier of accusations against her.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tories claim SNP government ‘stinks to high heaven’ – Daily Express
  • Spectator asks judge to allow fuller release of Salmond claims – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Sturgeon and Johnson have made Scottish independence seem inevitable: it isn’t – Rafael Behr, The Guardian
  • Do the Tories want to govern Wales? – Theo Davies-Lewis, Times Red Box

News in Brief:

  • Sturgeon’s account of the Salmond affair is distinctly fishy – Henry Hill, CapX
  • Papers, please: immunity IDs are on the way – Lara Prendergast, The Spectator
  • If the Labour Party didn’t already exist, who would invent it today? – Nigel Jones, The Critic
  • Anger and bafflement at 10-year jail term for fibbing travellers – Caitlin Allen, Reaction
  • The collapse of California – Joel Kotkin, UnHerd
  • If you’re an ethnic minority Conservative, you just can’t win – Neil O’Brien MP, CapX