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Jab blockade would damage you for years, Johnson warns Europe

“Boris Johnson warned the EU last night that a vaccine trade war would result in “considerable” long-term damage to the bloc as efforts to resolve the dispute over AstraZeneca exports continued. EU leaders are due today to discuss new rules that could ban coronavirus vaccine shipments to “countries which have a large production capacity” but “restrict their own exports to the EU”. It was also reported yesterday that India was preparing to implement a worldwide vaccine export ban amid concerns about its domestic supply. The UK is relying on doses from both the EU and India to keep up the pace of its vaccine rollout. Britain and Brussels have been engaged in talks to agree a compromise that would avoid a formal export ban in return for the UK relinquishing some supplies of its ordered Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, which are being made in the EU.” – The Times

  • UK and EU move to calm tensions over access to jabs – FT

More:

  • EU’s ‘most embarrassing’ day: How the story behind the vaccine factory raid unravelled – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Greed can have good consequences, generosity bad ones. What counts isn’t the motive. It’s the result.

New pandemic-fighting unit will stop next health crisis in its track, says Hancock

“A pandemic-fighting unit is being set up to stop the next health crisis in its tracks, Matt Hancock announced. The Health Secretary said the new agency will be a “protective shield” around the UK by being on permanent alert to respond quickly to dangerous outbreaks. UKHSA, the UK Health Security Agency, will be led by deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries. Its “sole job” will be to protect the nation by working with “zeal” in good times and bad. Mr Hancock said: “I want everybody at UKHSA, at all levels, to wake up every day with a zeal to plan for the next pandemic… The Health Secretary UKHSA will be the country’s permanent standing capacity to plan, prevent and respond to external threats to health.” – Daily Express

  • Health Secretary says he can ‘see an end’ to coronavirus crisis – FT

>Yesterday: Dr Raghib Ali in Comment: Why it’s now time to unite behind the roadmap

Prime Minister’s warning a ‘huge summer holiday blow’

“Brits were last night dealt a huge summer holiday blow as Boris Johnson issued a warning about the third wave ripping through Europe. It comes as France could be slapped on the UK’s travel red-list – forcing a ten-day isolation for when travellers return. Ministers are concerned about France, where up to 40 per cent of cases are said to be worrying variants like the South African strain. The PM told MPs: “I’m afraid we cant rule out tougher measures and we will put them in if necessary”. On April 5 he will reveal more details of what experts will recommend for after lockdown is lifted – as no final decisions have been made. But Mr Johnson warned: “It’s looking difficult on the continent”.” – The Sun

  • France could be added to travel red list – Daily Mail

More:

  • Johnson backs compulsory vaccinations for care staff – The Times
  • Pubs ‘may demand Covid passport’ before they will pull your pint – Daily Telegraph
  • Book a jab while still you can – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Sir Graham Brady MP in Comment: The UK must not squander its vaccine success through an excess of caution on air travel

Social care reform to be announced in Queen’s speech, hints Johnson

“Ministers hope to bring forward plans to reform social care as early as May, Boris Johnson suggested yesterday. The prime minister pledged on his first day in Downing Street in July 2019 to “fix” the social care crisis and has come under sustained pressure to reveal the government’s solution. Giving evidence to the Commons liaison committee, Johnson offered the closest indication yet of when reforms might be announced, saying it was “highly likely” social care would be featured in the Queen’s speech on May 11… The prime minister’s comments come as a new critical report from government auditors warned that the sector was facing a fresh cash squeeze. The National Audit Office (NAO) found most local authorities were paying care providers below a “sustainable rate” for the residents in their care, while occupancy rates had also fallen significantly.” – The Times

  • Support for veterans under threat as Treasury considers 40pc budget cut – Daily Telegraph
  • Sturgeon trolls Boris by rushing in a promise for a 4 per cent pay rise for NHS staff – Daily Mail

Countries that refuse to take back migrants lose visas under Patel plan

“Britain could block visas from countries that refuse to take back failed asylum seekers and criminals in a tit-for-tat plan laid out yesterday by Priti Patel. The proposal is among a “range of levers” the government is considering to increase the number of illegal migrants sent back. It was included in a document published by the home secretary that outlined an overhaul of asylum rules. Patel said the changes were needed to fix a system that was “collapsing under the pressure of illegal routes”. Fresh figures revealed that the cost of the asylum system to taxpayers had risen to more than £1.3 billion because of backlogs caused by legal challenges. Ministers want to imitate a US law that withdraws visa routes from countries that refuse to take back illegal immigrants.” – The Times

  • Home Secretary insists UK’s new asylum system will comply with international law – FT
  • She reveals sick people smugglers will face life in jail – The Sun
  • Border Force will get powers to stop and redirect boats carrying migrants across Channel – Daily Telegraph
  • Asylum shake-up lacks clarity and compassion, say critics – FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Global Britain? The ‘New Plan for Immigration’ looks like slow progress in the right direction

Whitehall seizes control of Liverpool council functions

“The UK government is seizing control of some functions of Liverpool city council to end what a cabinet minister dubbed the “pervasive and rotten culture” in the local authority. Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, said commissioners would spend three years in the Labour-run city where they would take responsibility for highways, property management and regeneration. The move came after the publication of an independent report by Max Caller, a professional council inspector, into whether taxpayers were getting “best value” from those running the borough. That report contained a “deeply concerning picture of mismanagement, a breakdown of scrutiny and accountability . . . putting spending of public funds at risk and undermining the city’s economic development,” Jenrick told the House of Commons on Wednesday.” – FT

  • Government taskforce to run failed council for three years – The Times

More:

  • Ex-Johnson aide running ‘smear campaign’ against Khan, says Labour – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: What the Red Wall really is. But why it’s also a mindset – not just geography

Union Jack to fly on all government buildings

“Ministers have ordered government departments to fly the Union Jack every day “as a proud reminder of our history and the ties that bind us”. Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, said this would apply all year round except on days when another flag was being flown, such as the Saltire on St Andrew’s Day or the Cornish flag on St Piran’s Day. At present the Union Jack flies from government buildings only on designated days. Dowden said that the public expected to see it and promised that the new guidance would ensure “that happens every day”. Regulations will be introduced to make it more difficult for public buildings to fly the European Union flag and rules will be relaxed to enable flags associated with the NHS to be flown more often. Labour indicated its support for the plan.” – The Times

  • Johnson preys on Labour’s self-doubt in flag row – Robert Shrimsley, FT

>Today: ToryDiary: New and old reasons for flying the flag

UK stuck with BBC licence fee until 2038 after broadband rollout failure, say MPs

“Britain is stuck with the licence fee until 2038 because the Government’s failure to roll out super-fast broadband has left no viable alternative, MPs have concluded. The Government’s pledge to deliver full-fibre broadband to every home by 2025 was downgraded to a target of just 85 per cent in November. A subscription-based, universal alternative to the licence fee would require all households to be online before the next BBC Charter is negotiated for 2028-38. That now appears all but impossible, according to a report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee. “It’s clear that the BBC TV licence fee has a limited shelf life in a digital media landscape. However, the Government has missed the boat to reform it,” said Julian Knight, the committee’s chairman.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Leadsom review proposes ‘Start for Life’ package for new parents – The Guardian

Cameron investigated over ‘breach’ of his own lobbying laws

“David Cameron is being formally investigated over a possible breach of lobbying sleaze laws that he brought in when he was prime minister. Treasury figures allege that he directly lobbied the chancellor to secure multimillion-pound Covid loans for Greensill, a finance firm he was advising. Cameron also approached the Bank of England in an attempt to secure Greensill’s participation in the loans programme. Such interventions may fall foul of legislation that forbids third parties to directly lobby ministers or senior officials without declaring themselves on the government’s official register of lobbyists. Failure to register can lead to a £7,500 civil penalty or, in severe cases, criminal prosecution… A spokesman for Harry Rich, the registrar who polices the lobbying rules, confirmed he was launching an official investigation.” – The Times

  • Labour seeks disclosure on Covid loans to Greensill for Liberty Steel – FT

Labour to outline plan to spark electric car ‘revolution’ across UK

“Interest-free government loans should be made available to help up to a million households buy electric cars over the next two years, the shadow business secretary, Ed Miliband, is to argue. In a speech on Thursday, Miliband will set out Labour’s plans for an “electric vehicle revolution” to promote a rapid increase in the take-up of electric cars as the UK moves towards net zero carbon. With Boris Johnson already promising a “green industrial revolution” to bring new jobs to former industrial areas, Labour is keen to underline the fact that its own plans would be more radical… The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, recently announced £20m to help fund new charging points, as the government works towards its target of ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 – but Labour believes the government is not acting fast enough.” – The Guardian

Salmond to take legal action over ‘conduct’ of Sturgeon’s most senior civil servant

“Alex Salmond is to take legal action over “the conduct” of Nicola Sturgeon’s most senior mandarin after she refused to resign for the Scottish Government’s unlawful sexual misconduct investigation into him. The former First Minister announced he will shortly instruct his lawyers to bring proceedings in the Court of Session, Scotland’s highest civil court, arising from the conduct of permanent secretary Leslie Evans. In his first statement since the publication of two major reports this week into the affair, he said Ms Evans’ refusal to quit in light of their findings “cannot stand” and predicted that the action would allow his lawyers to “properly interrogate those individuals responsible.” He also disclosed he is to make a complaint to the police over a leak to a tabloid newspaper in Aug 2018 disclosing that the Scottish Government was investigating sexual misconduct allegations against him by two civil servants.” – Daily Telegraph

  • First Minister told off for personal comments on Davidson’s departure to House of Lords – Daily Express
  • Scottish judge rules Sturgeon’s church ban is unlawful – Daily Mail
  • Fish quotas have been “rigged” in favour of Scotland, as UK industry chief has warned – Daily Express

Comment:

  • With Sturgeon safe, the battle for the union is back on – Katy Balls, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Interviews: Douglas Ross: Sturgeon is not in the clear, and is part of a “conspiracy against getting out the truth”

News in Brief:

  • The EU’s threats to seize vaccines are on shaky legal ground – Dr Lee Rotherham, CapX
  • Sturgeon fights on ­– but at what cost? – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • Libertarians have lost their way over vaccine passports – Freddie Sayers, UnHerd
  • How the big banks tried to stop us setting up the Reclaim Party – Jeremy Hosking, The Critic