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Coronavirus 1) Britain set to give vaccines to all adults by early June

“Britain is on course to immunise all adults against the coronavirus about two months before the European Union, an achievement forecast to be worth tens of billions of pounds, according to an analysis for The Times. Every adult will be offered at least one jab by about June 10, beating the government target of the end of July, the research company Airfinity estimates. The EU as a whole is forecast to reach the same milestone by the first week of August. The research is the first to quantify the advantage secured by Britain after the government chose not to join the EU’s vaccine procurement scheme. Britain made its own deals while investing in domestic manufacturing and the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.” – The Times

  • Vaccines for all over-40s by Easter after ‘bumper boost’ to supplies – Daily Telegraph
  • British-made Novavax vaccine promises to help knock out Kent variant – The Times
  • Italy heads back into lockdown as third wave advances across Europe – The Times
  • Long Covid more likely in working-age women than in men – study – The Guardian
  • Day of reflection to be held a year after UK’s Covid lockdown began – The Guardian

Analysis:

  • How the Covid vaccination schemes are faring around the world – The Times
  • Test and Trace: ‘The money spent could fund all GPs twice over’ – The Times
  • Forgotten children living with long Covid – The Times

Coronavirus 2) Better sick pay will make Britain a healthier place, insists Hancock

“Matt Hancock is pushing for an increase in statutory sick pay as Britain emerges from the lockdown in an effort to create a healthier nation, The Times has been told. The health secretary wants to raise the level of statutory sick pay from £95.85 a week to help people to take time off work if they are ill. During a meeting of the government’s Covid-operations committee this week he argued that the move would benefit the economy because it would reduce levels of sickness. But The Times has been told that the move is being resisted by the Treasury amid concerns about the cost to employers.” – The Times

  • Education Secretary faces legal challenge over face masks in the classroom – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 3) Charles Moore – After a year of Covid, we have seen the worst but also celebrated the very best

“‘Many more families are going to lose loved ones”. That was this paper’s front-page headline a year ago today. The speaker was Boris Johnson, promising lockdown. The strap across the top said: “MARKETS MELTDOWN: WORST DAY SINCE 1987”. Matt’s cartoon depicted a man opening an office door in British Airways to tell a colleague: “Good news. We could be a zero carbon business by next week.” This was almost sober fact. (There was some light relief on page three. A hoaxer pretending to be Greta Thunberg had reached Prince Harry on his mobile and duped him into “offering to help rescue imaginary penguins from landlocked Belarus”.) At that moment, I was in the West Indies, making a speech. When we left Britain three days earlier, the mood had been humorous, with gags about elbow-bumping.” – Daily Telegraph

Policeman charged with kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard

“A police constable was charged with the kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard last night, hours after he was taken to hospital for a second time. Wayne Couzens, 48, a diplomatic protection officer with the Metropolitan Police, needed treatment for the second time in 48 hours. In both incidents he suffered head injuries. The Met said that the first incident happened when he was alone in his cell. It said last night: “The suspect was taken to a hospital for treatment to a head injury sustained while in custody in a cell on Friday, March 12. He was being monitored by officers and received immediate first aid. He was discharged the same day and returned to custody.”” – The Times

  • Victims will shape harassment policy, insists Patel – The Times

Comment:

Home Office facing backlash after teaming-up with UK internet providers to test ways to track people’s browsing history.

“Home Office chiefs are facing a furious backlash from MPs and civil liberties campaigners after teaming-up with UK internet providers to test ways to track people’s browsing history. In a move described by one MP as a ‘spectacular invasion of privacy’, the Home Office and the National Crime Agency (NCA) have conducted a secretive trial which allows them to obtain information on what internet sites people have visited. If the ‘small scale’ scheme is a success, it could be rolled-out nationwide. The trial, said to have involved two unnamed internet providers, uses powers from the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 – dubbed the ‘Snooper’s Charter’.” – Daily Mail

Military chief warns ‘algorithms will be our armour in high-tech wars of the future’

“Britain risks losing battles of the future to tech-savvy China and Russia “without a shot being fired” unless it adapts, a senior military chief has warned. General Sir Patrick Sanders, 54, who oversees cyber, Special Forces and intelligence as head of Strategic Command, said that the UK faced a “moment of reckoning” now it had left the European Union. Britain needed to fight back in the so-called grey zone, an area between peace and war, he said, and focus more on algorithms and cyber rather than the size of the military and conventional weaponry.” – The Times

  • £80bn boost for military to arm it with new tanks, warships and ‘kamikaze drones’ – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

Analysis:

  • Defence review: Soft power and the march of the machines as radical redesign creates modern military force – The Times

Iain Duncan Smith – Frost is absolutely right to be getting tough with the bullying EU

“It didn’t take long before the usual suspects were out, attacking the appointment of Lord Frost and trying to lay the blame at his door for what they referred to as our deteriorating relations with the EU. Frost, the Remainers claim, is too abrasive, he needs to be more conciliatory, soften his tone. Yet we already know where such a hopeless negotiating stance leaves us, for it was that approach to the talks early on that left the UK with the mess of the Northern Ireland protocol in the first place. Compare Lord Frost’s performance in the Brexit negotiations with that of Olly Robbins (remember him?). Robins was the exact opposite of Lord Frost, always smiling at Monsieur Barnier and constantly showing, as one attendee of the meetings put it, as though he was desperate to be friends.” – Daily Telegraph

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Gove to work part-time in Glasgow … as Johnson seeks goodwill in Belfast

“Michael Gove is to work part-time from Glasgow as the government steps up its efforts to make the case for the Union to Scottish voters. More than 500 civil servants will be installed in a new headquarters for the Cabinet Office in the city next year in a move described as bringing the “engine room of the UK government” to Scotland. Gove’s arrival in Glasgow is likely to antagonise Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, who have accused the Cabinet Office minister and Boris Johnson of seeking to dismantle the devolution settlement. The prime minister is to renew his threat to reject any request for a second independence referendum in a speech to the Scottish Conservative spring conference tomorrow.” – The Times

Comment:

Interview:

  • Simon Coveney: I’m a friend of the UK. We need to fix this – The Times

Johnson will end ‘repulsive’ LGBT conversion therapy

“Boris Johnson has announced he will end “repulsive” conversion therapy, as he apologised to three LGBT advisers who quit over a lack of progress. The catalyst for the resignations was a debate in Parliament this week on gay conversion therapy, which drew attention to the Government’s failure to take action.  Mr Johnson said last year that he wanted to ban the controversial “therapy”, yet campaigners said that little action had been taken to do so. However, the Prime Minister and Equalities Minister, Liz Truss, announced on Friday that a ban on the practice is imminent. Conversion therapy attempts to change or suppress a person’s sexuality or gender identity.” – Daily Telegraph

Britain has underestimated the number of EU citizens in the country, according to Times analysis

“Parts of the country have more than six times as many EU citizens living there than previously thought, analysis by The Times has revealed. Home Office data shows that 12,000 people in Arun, in West Sussex, have been granted the right to remain in the UK under the EU settlement scheme, despite official figures previously estimating that only 2,000 EU citizens lived there. In nearby Worthing the number of EU citizens granted settled status is 5,200, more than five times the 1,000 EU citizens believed to have been resident there. There are three times as many Europeans given residency in South Kesteven in the East Midlands, Redditch in the West Midlands and Wolverhampton, where 27,000 EU citizens have been given settled status.” – The Times

Jenrick’s U-turn on Cumbrian mine stokes the anger of red wall Tories

“Ministers have been accused of “putting Britain at Putin’s mercy” by Conservative MPs after the communities secretary reversed on plans for the UK’s first deep coalmine in 30 years, making it the second to be denied approval in the space of a year. Ministers had previously refused to intervene on the issue but last night Robert Jenrick called in the application for the mine near Whitehaven in Cumbria. A public inquiry will now be held with the final decision made by the government rather than Cumbria county council. Conservative MPs in red wall seats were aghast by the sudden decision, with one accusing Jenrick of “bowing to climate terrorists” again.” – The Times

Analysis:

  • Approving Cumbrian mine would have global consequences – The Times

News in brief: