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Coronavirus 1) Bells toll for 126,000 lives lost to Covid-19

“It was a day to reflect and remember, a time for the nation to mourn its losses and contemplate a future that remains worryingly uncertain. For the prime minister, it was a moment to admit that the consequences of the pandemic, and the decisions his government took, will stay with him for ever. “This is something that we will all remember and be dealing with in different ways,” Boris Johnson said in a Downing Street press conference to mark the anniversary of Britain first being put into lockdown.” – The Times

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Coronavirus 2) ‘Inevitable’ third Covid-19 wave will not change the plan, vows Johnson…

“Boris Johnson and Chris Whitty have both said that Britain will suffer another surge of coronavirus as restrictions are eased. The prime minister last night told Conservative MPs that a third wave coming from Europe was “inevitable”. However, he insisted that “we are prepared” and there was “no reason to deviate” from the unlocking road map he set out last month. He hailed the success of the vaccine rollout as a reason to persist with the existing timetable even if cases rise again.” – The Times

  • ‘Certainty over haste’: PM’s curt response to Covid lockdown rebels – The Times
  • Border curbs demanded to stop Covid strains from France – The Times
  • Covid ‘vaccine hesitancy’ in England and Wales is being overcome, study finds – The Guardian

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Coronavirus 3) … As he says ‘greed’ and ‘capitalism’ was behind vaccine success

“BORIS Johnson risked inflaming the EU vaccines war last night by saying “it was greed my friends” behind “our vaccine success”. The PM made the controversial comments in a private address to Tory MPs over Zoom earlier in the evening. He was hailing the efforts of “big pharma” in manufacturing the life-saving jab in lightning-quick time. Boris has spent days trying to dial down the rhetoric and pleading with European leaders to abandon their threat to slap an export ban on vaccines. But he risked reigniting tensions with the continent last night as he boasted about how Britain stole the march. He told MPs at the 1922 Committee: “The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed my friends.” He later added: “Actually I regret saying it.” And he asked MPs repeatedly to “forget I said that”.” – The Sun

  • Merkel steers EU from brink of vaccine war – The Times
  • EU to widen criteria for possible Covid vaccine export bans – The Guardian

Coronavirus 4) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard – Scapegoating Britain will not save Europe from a self-made disaster

“Language matters. The Commission’s Ursula von der Leyen states that the EU has shipped 10 million vaccines to the UK – and another 30 million to the rest of the world – but has yet to receive a single vaccine in exchange. The EU has done no such thing. The American pharmaceutical company Pfizer produces the Turkish-German BioNTech vaccine at a plant in Belgium, relying on critical supplies of lipid nanoparticles made in Yorkshire (the complex part) and on a long list of inputs from dozens of countries.” – Daily Telegraph

Patel vows illegal immigrants landing on UK beaches face deportation in as little as 24 hours

“ILLEGAL immigrants landing on England’s beaches face “boomerang” deportation in as little as 24 hours and will be sent to the back of the asylum queue, Priti Patel will announce today. And “asylum shoppers” will be blocked from travelling through safe countries to settle in their preferred destination of the UK. Taking aim at immoral lawyers and lefty armchair critics, the Home Secretary declared “no one can defend the current system” as she launches the biggest reforms in a generation to Britain’s “broken” asylum process.” – The Sun

  • Migrants who enter UK illegally to lose benefits – The Times

Defence review that cuts size of army leaves Britain at risk, says former forces chief

“Troop cuts announced today will encourage an attack from Russia and leave Britain unable to retake the Falklands, a former defence chief has warned. After weeks of speculation, Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, has confirmed that his reforms will involve a reduction in the overall number of armed forces personnel. Wallace also admitted the cuts would break a Tory election promise issued by Boris Johnson 16 months ago. The army’s strength is expected to be reduced by 10,000 soldiers, to leave it at its smallest in 200 years.” – The Times

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Police release images of Bristol riot suspects as violence breaks out again

“Detectives have released the first images of suspects they are seeking over the riots in Bristol in which 21 police officers were injured on Sunday. In the city’s worst unrest for almost a decade, officers were attacked by a mob with glass bottles and scaffolding, their vehicles were set on fire and a police station had its windows smashed after a peaceful protest against the police and crime bill turned violent at nightfall. Seven men aged between 20 and 44 have been arrested and released under investigation for violent disorder.” – The Times

Ministers look at ways to extend flexible working

“Ministers are preparing to make flexible working a permanent feature of British life after coronavirus, with plans to strengthen employees’ rights to work from home or ask for different hours. The government will start a public consultation later this year on how to extend flexible working, potentially ensuring that people who have transitioned to a hybrid of home and office working during the pandemic will be able to maintain that pattern. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is likely to look at ways to strengthen the existing legal right to request flexible working.” – The Times

Cameron lobbying ‘breached his own law’

“David Cameron could face an investigation for allegedly breaching the anti-lobbying sleaze rules that he brought in as prime minister. Cameron has refused to comment on his involvement in trying to secure coronavirus loans from the government for the finance company Greensill Capital, which collapsed into administration this month. However, senior government figures have confirmed that he texted the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on behalf of the company, to which he was an adviser, and helped to arrange meetings with Treasury officials.” – The Times

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Taxman targets second-home owners over holiday let dodge

“Tens of thousands of second-home owners who falsely register their properties as holiday lets in order to claim tax breaks tax face a clampdown by the taxman. Ministers have also announced plans to increase taxes on ultra-long-haul flights to discourage greenhouse gas emissions. HMRC will tighten rules to force holiday landlords to prove they have made a realistic effort to rent properties out for at least 140 days per year. There are suspicions that many simply declare that they will do this but leave the properties empty.” – The Times

‘Festival of Brexit’: first events for divisive £120m project announced

“A celebration of the British weather and the largest grow-your-own food project of modern times will be among the events being staged for a nationwide festival of creativity aimed at bringing the UK together in 2022. Organisers of the £120m festival, commissioned by Theresa May’s government and supported by Boris Johnson, announced 10 teams who had successfully pitched ideas. The festival remains a divisive one. In some eyes it is a politically motivated “festival of Brexit”, but its supporters say that is the last thing it will be. Its chief creative officer, Martin Green, said it was about bringing people together and celebrating creativity in events that are “open, original and optimistic”.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday:

UK government to allow new North Sea oil and gas exploration

“Ministers will allow oil drillers to keep exploring the North Sea for new reserves, despite the government’s pledge to tackle carbon emissions, as long as they pass a “climate compatibility” test. The government has offered to help the North Sea oil and gas industry cut its carbon emissions through a joint investment of up to £16bn to help support 40,000 North Sea jobs. In return, the industry has promised to cut its carbon emissions by 50% by the end of the decade. The government said its “landmark deal” would help support the oil and gas industry’s transition to a clean energy future.” – The Guardian

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