Covid passports proving vaccine status will be available for summer holidays

“Covid passports will be made available to prove people have been vaccinated as early as next month, in time for summer holidays, the travel industry has been told. The Department for Transport wants an official certification scheme that gives British travellers a document they can show at borders overseas in place by May 17. In a separate development, a European medical agency recommended that fully vaccinated travellers should be able to sidestep tests and quarantine. It potentially smooths the path for holidays to more than 20 countries that have indicated they could ask travellers for proof of vaccination, such as Israel, Croatia, Turkey, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus.” – Daily Telegraph

  • They’ll be ‘ready from May 17’ – The Times
  • Countries make plans to throw open borders to vaccinated Britons – Daily Mail


  • Government must come clean on vaccine passports – Alistair Carmichael MP, The Times

>Yesterday: Video: Shapps hails “light at the end of the tunnel” for reopening international travel

Countries must ‘get serious’ about climate change this year, Johnson will tell virtual summit

“Boris Johnson will tell a summit of world leaders today that 2021 must be the year countries ‘get serious’ about climate change. The virtual talks have been called by President Joe Biden, who is expected to pledge to at least halve America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The Prime Minister yesterday announced a ‘world-leading’ target for the UK to cut emissions by 78 per cent by 2035. It comes ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November. Mr Johnson will urge leaders to come to Glasgow armed with ambitious targets and the plans needed to hit them… The summit comes as the International Energy Agency warns global carbon emissions are set for their second biggest rise on record after a sharp fall in 2020 due to the pandemic.” – Daily Mail

  • Government urged to fund trial of sail-powered cargo ship – The Times


  • Britain needs to go green but not at any price – Iain Martin, The Times

>Today: Ed Birkett in Comment: Biden will spend big to help slow climate change. Johnson won’t. He doesn’t need to. Here’s why.

>Yesterday: Ben Roback’s column: While Biden focuses on Earth Day, Putin moves troops and tanks on the border

Johnson ‘refused to change phone number despite lobbying fears’

“Boris Johnson rejected the cabinet secretary’s advice to change his phone number amid concerns about him being contacted by people who could potentially influence policy decisions, The Times has learnt. Simon Case, the top civil servant, is said to have recommended the move last year because of the ease with which MPs, lobbyists and others from the business world were able to contact the prime minister. Johnson, who has had the same phone number for more than a decade, was reluctant to change it and rejected the advice. A Whitehall source said the extent of the contact was a consistent cause for concern among officials. The prime minister also signed up to the encrypted Signal messaging service last year. This enables users to erase messages automatically after a set period of time.” – The

  • Concerns he is constantly petitioned for help – Daily Telegraph
  • Loophole in ministerial code means messages need not be disclosed – The Guardian
  • Labour calls for ‘transparent’ lobbying inquiry after Dyson texts revealed… – FT
  • …as Johnson blasts ‘sleaze’ claims – The Sun


  • Nearly £4billion worth of Covid PPE contracts appear to be corrupt, bombshell report reveals – The Sun
  • Company with minister as shareholder handed over £1m in contracts during pandemic – Daily Mail
  • Tory donation ‘set aside for Number 10 flat’ – The Times


Robert Shrimsley: The Prime Minister will do no more than is necessary to make the Greensill saga go away

“So much for cometh the hour, cometh the man. In the quest for a leader to restore standards in British public life, Boris Johnson would not be anyone’s first choice. The prime minister radiates contempt for rules and conventions. It is not that he does not see the need for them, it is simply that he has made a career out of proving they do not apply to him. From adherence to the ministerial code to obeisance to international treaties and respect for parliamentary conventions, he prefers bold action to due process. Yet amid the furore over the Greensill saga, Johnson, ever one to drop a classical allusion, talks of cleansing the stables. He recognises the political need to head off a new narrative of Tory sleaze.” – FT

  • Why Boris can’t afford to Major on sleaze… – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Stratton’s departure as Press Secretary. Vote Leave is blamed – and hits back.

Ulster 1) Mercer claims ‘cowards’ have ‘betrayed’ Northern Ireland veterans

“Johnny Mercer, the sacked Defence Minister, has accused Boris Johnson of surrounding himself with “cowards” and “desperately weak” advisers who had “betrayed” veterans of the Northern Ireland conflict. In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Mr Mercer launched an excoriating attack on Mr Johnson’s administration, claiming his experience during two years as Veterans’ Minister had been “horrific”. He said he had been treated “like s*** throughout”. He also described the Government as “the most distrustful, awful environment” in which he had worked and added: “Almost nobody tells the truth.” Mr Mercer, 39, a former captain in the Army, had told Downing Street out of courtesy of his intention to resign over his frustration at the Government’s failure to offer legal protection to ex-soldiers facing prosecution over killings during the Troubles.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Politics is a ‘cesspit’, says former veterans minister – The Times


  • Northern Ireland will leave UK within 25 years, say majority of people on both sides of border – Daily Telegraph


Ulster 2) UK ‘throwing kitchen sink’ at making Brexit deal work

“Boris Johnson called some of its requirements “absurd” and “ludicrous” this week. But even as Britain’s prime minister talks up “further steps” to unilaterally mitigate the effects of his post-Brexit deal with the EU on Northern Ireland, the UK government machine is “throwing the kitchen sink” at making it work. Trade groups have told the FT that, despite Johnson’s rhetoric, UK government officials are stepping up their efforts to implement the NI protocol — part of the 2019 Brexit divorce deal which requires all goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain to comply with EU customs rules. “Whitehall is throwing the kitchen sink at this thing,” said Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing Northern Ireland. “I cannot remember ever seeing this level of engagement from right across the UK government. Officials are working their rear ends off to try and make it work.”” – FT

  • People across the Province fear that the Protocol will damage political stability – Katy Hayward and David Phinnemore, The Guardian

Police league tables planned as serious crime crackdown starts

“Priti Patel is drawing up league tables ranking police forces on their success in cutting serious crime in a move that chief constables warned was a return to targets. Police chiefs have been told they will be measured on six crime types including homicide, serious violence and cybercrime. The Home Office will compare their performance against national benchmarks in what it said was a “relentless focus on cutting crime”. The scheme will add to concerns that the home secretary is encroaching on operational independence. Some chiefs have complained she went too far when she demanded forces increase enforcement of protests and coronavirus restrictions. The new system of “national crime and policing measures” was described by senior officers as a return to the culture of targets and a quid pro quo for the government’s investment in 20,000 police officers.” – The Times

  • Senior officers warn proposals risk a return to ‘target culture’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Richard Gibbs in Comment: The headline criticisms thrown at the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill are simply wrong

Government review of English football will look at treatment of fans

“A government-led review of English football in the wake of the European Super League debacle will examine the ways fans are treated by clubs as well as wider issues of ownership and governance, it has emerged. Among possible areas to be examined by Tracey Crouch, the Tory MP and former sports minister, could be matches which are scheduled so late in the evening that away fans are unable to catch a train home afterwards, with supporters’ views seen as key. The formal terms of reference for the process could be published as early as next week, and it is hoped it will be completed within a few months. While the government had already promised a review into the English game – and had already earmarked Crouch to lead it – the timetable has been hastened and intensified by government fury over the move by six English clubs to sign up to a pan-Europe league in which they would be exempt from relegation.” – The Guardian

  • ‘British Super League’ secretly planned with Celtic and Rangers joining Premier League – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Dowden, a David for our times, sees off the footballing Goliath. By whispering “boo!” At which the giant bursts into tears.

>Yesterday: Emily Carver’s column: So the European Super League has collapsed. But either way, it’s none of the Government’s business.

Britain slashes aid to China by 95 per cent under ‘draconian’ cuts

“The UK is to reduce aid to China by 95 per cent as part of £4 billion in cuts to the international aid budget. In a statement to parliament yesterday, Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, revealed that spending on humanitarian disaster relief and prevention would be cut from £1.5 billion in 2019 to £906 million this year. Spending on education will fall from nearly £800 million to £400 million and there will be cuts to health, economic development and work to promote civil society. The most draconian cuts will fall on the UK’s £18 million bilateral aid to China, which will be reduced to £900,000. Raab said that the remaining money would only be available to fund human rights work.” – The Times

  • Cuts ‘tragic blow’ as opaque numbers signal big reductions – The Guardian

Salmond’s Alba party manifesto queries SNP independence commitment

“Alex Salmond on Wednesday unveiled an election manifesto for his new Alba party that suggests the Scottish National party he used to lead is not serious about achieving independence from the UK and is failing on issues ranging from the economy to trans rights. The implicit criticism running through the Alba manifesto highlighted a bitter rift between Salmond and his successor as SNP leader and first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, which some in the governing party fear could undermine the governing party’s push for a second independence referendum. Salmond argues that by backing Alba with their second, regional list, vote in Scotland’s two-vote electoral system, SNP supporters can maximise the number of pro-independence candidates elected to the parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh on May 6.” – FT

  • Ex-First Minister ‘vows to be thorn in side of Sturgeon’ – Daily Express

News in Brief:

  • Pollster consistently overstated Scottish independence support – Steerpike, The Spectator
  • Labour’s embrace of racialised politics is a betrayal of its own traditions – Rakhib Ehsan, CapX
  • The Lefties at the heart of government – Peter Franklin, UnHerd
  • Laschet’s win reveals the fractures in Germany’s conservative alliance – Steffen Grimberg, Reaction