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Coronavirus 1) Merkel and Macron ‘are set to back illegal EU plan to block exports of AstraZeneca vaccine to Britain’

“Britain was last night on the brink of a vaccine war with the EU – as the UK smashed its record for the number of daily inoculations. In a dramatic move, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threatened to join forces with the French and German governments to hold hostage more than 19 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to be shipped to the UK over the coming weeks. The extraordinary development came as the EU faced criticism over the glacial speed of its vaccination programme and many of its members were plunged into fresh lockdowns as Covid-19 cases soared. Meanwhile, the UK delivered 711,156 jabs in 24 hours – a new record that means more than half of all adults have had at least one vaccine dose.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Bid to make more coronavirus jabs in Britain as EU ramps up pressure – Daily Telegraph
  • “You fulfil your contract with Europe before you start delivering to other countries” – Von der Leyen’s message to AstraZeneca – Sunday Times
  • Anti-lockdown protests break out in Germany and Switzerland – Daily Mail
  • Summer holidays abroad for Brits ‘highly unlikely’ as Europe faces third Covid wave – The Sun

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Coronavirus 2) ‘Tory anger’ as Johnson to extend ‘draconian’ laws for six months

“Plans to give police “the most draconian detention powers in modern British legal history” for another six months have been condemned by Conservative MPs. Boris Johnson is expected on Thursday to push through extensions to coronavirus legislation that give far-reaching lockdown powers to close ports, ban protests and detain citizens to late September, despite being “hopeful” there will be a lifting coronavirus restrictions on June 21. Dozens of his own MPs are set to rebel. Cabinet ministers are understood to be divided over which lockdown measures need to be extended over concerns that needlessly extending powers will just inflame tensions among backbenchers. The votes will come 24 hours after Mr Johnson is expected on Tuesday to be grilled by MPs on the Liaison committee, a grouping of senior MPs, and an ‘end of term’ meeting with his backbenchers organised by the 1922 committee.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Police minister Kit Malthouse ‘brought Covid into Home Office’ – Sunday Times
  • Cheats posing as care workers jump Covid vaccine queue – Sunday Times

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Coronavirus 3) Steve Baker – Why are lockdown restrictions still tough, even though we have a Covid vaccine?

“THANKS to the NHS, over 25 million people in the UK have now had their first dose of a Covid vaccine. But with so many of us having had the jab, and with Easter approaching, you might be surprised to learn that if you stay overnight with a family member outside your household before May 17, you will be committing an offence. Why are restrictions tougher than they were last Summer – before we had the Covid vaccine? The scientists tell us that the vaccines save lives, yet our success at rolling it out is not translating into a return to normal life. If the Government wants the law to force us to stay at home this Easter, it must state – loud and clear – that it wants the police to enforce these rules. Politicians must not pass laws and then blame the police for doing their job.” – The Sun

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Coronavirus 4) Dozens of arrests as thousands march in London against Covid lockdown

“Thousands of people have marched through central London under a heavy police presence to protest against lockdown measures, and more than 30 were arrested. Demonstrators gathered at Speakers’ Corner by Hyde Park at about midday where anti-lockdown figurehead Piers Corbyn gave a speech saying he would “never take a vaccine” and falsely claiming that the scale of deaths from Covid was not dissimilar to those from flu each year. As police surrounded him and detained a handful people as they ordered demonstrators to disperse, the crowd then marched out of the park and through London from Marble Arch. On Friday 62 MPs and peers wrote to the home secretary saying that allowing the police to criminalise people for protesting was “not acceptable and is arguably not lawful”, in a letter coordinated by Liberty and Big Brother Watch.” – The Guardian

  • UK Covid vaccine milestone as more than half of adults have had first dose – The Guardian
  • Police hand out hundreds of £10k Covid fines – but only six paid – Daily Telegraph

Fox warns against ‘intolerance of woke culture’

“In a major speech on Monday for the Adam Smith Institute entitled ‘the Perpetual Battle for Free Speech, Dr Fox will take on the woke cancel culture of the left which has led many academics and prominent figures no platformed while others particularly in the public sector have lost their jobs. It comes as the Sunday Express today launches a campaign for the Government to “preserve our freedoms”. Meanwhile, in the latest outrage, more than 100 leading academics have signed a letter demanding why Glasgow University’s Adam Smith Business School cancelled a seminar by Professor Gregory Clark because vocal leftwing students objected to his thesis that “genetics determines most social outcomes” without listening to his arguments.” – Daily Express

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Scots cool on independence after Sturgeon-Salmond slugging match

“Support for Scottish independence has dropped sharply since Nicola Sturgeon appeared before a parliamentary inquiry into the handling of harassment complaints against Alex Salmond, her predecessor as first minister. A poll of more than 4,000 voters shows a 12-point swing away from independence since Sturgeon gave evidence to the cross-party committee on March 3. In a survey by Hanbury Strategy, for the thinktank Onward, between February 12 and March 1, 56 per cent of Scots backed independence, giving a 12-point lead. In a second poll between March 5 and 7, 50 per cent said they would support independence. The yes lead fell by 17 points among those aged 16 to 17, 34 points among those aged 18 to 24 and 21 points among those aged 25 to 34. Among working-class voters, it fell by 12 points.” – The Times

  • SNP finance secretary Derek Mackay quits – Daily Mail
  • Sturgeon political future in balance as she awaits judgment on inquiries – Mail on Sunday

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Cameron’s ‘multiple texts to Sunak to bail out Greensill’

“David Cameron sent multiple texts to Rishi Sunak lobbying him to grant hundreds of millions of pounds in loans to a controversial company that later went bust. In April last year the former prime minister sent several text messages to Sunak’s private phone urging him to lend to Lex Greensill’s eponymous finance firm. Most went unanswered. At the time Cameron was an adviser to Greensill and had share options potentially worth up to tens of millions. Cameron, 54, tried to secure loans for the company from the government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), a pandemic fund for big, blue chip firms to borrow at low rates.” – Sunday Times

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Middle class families to benefit from inheritance tax reforms

“Hundreds of thousands of middle class families will benefit from cuts in inheritance tax red tape under reforms to be set out on ‘tax day’ this week. The move to be unveiled by the Treasury is expected to reduce dramatically the amount of paperwork many grieving families are required to fill out. It will be announced as part of a Tax Policies and Consultations Update, or tax day, on Tuesday, a series of long-term measures held over from the Budget. The Treasury will also publish updates on its consultation for an online sales tax. Summaries of the ideas from respondents including a so-called delivery tax will be made public. Other measures will include a clampdown on promoters of tax avoidance schemes and a proposal to force tax advisers to hold professional indemnity insurance.” – Sunday Telegraph

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