Vaccines 1) Covid vaccines are safe and save lives, insists Johnson

“Boris Johnson began a campaign to maintain public confidence in the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine last night after medical advisers said that the under-30s should be offered another jab because of concern over blood clots. Ministers and government scientists will embark on a media blitz to convince people to keep taking the vaccine. Regulators concluded that it was a “plausible” cause in 79 cases of unusual blood clots, including 19 deaths, among the 20 million people who have received it so far. Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, said that the type of blood clot involved was “vanishingly rare”. Ministers believe, though, that they need to make a renewed case for the Oxford vaccine.” – The Times

  • New guidance leaves UK facing challenge of supply and confidence – FT
  • Johnson and Starmer both back ‘safe’ AstraZeneca vaccine – Daily Mail
  • ‘Britain will achieve herd immunity on Monday’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Moderna’s UK vaccine rollout begins in Wales – FT
  • Government begins charm offensive on AstraZeneca amid vaccine confidence fears – Daily Telegraph
  • ‘Course correction’ must not slow jab rollout – The Times

Vaccines 2) Family says clot victim was ‘extraordinarily unlucky’

“The family of a solicitor who died from a blood clot on the brain after taking the AstraZeneca vaccine has urged the public to “keep saving lives” by continuing to take the jab. Neil Astles, 59, was given his first dose on March 17 but died in hospital on Easter Sunday after suffering from 10 days of worsening headaches and loss of vision. Mr Astles, a married solicitor at Warrington Borough Council, is the first named person in the UK suspected to have died from side-effects linked to the Oxford jab. On Wednesday night, his sister told The Telegraph that his family were “furious” but wanted the public to continue taking the AstraZeneca vaccine because “fewer people will die”. Dr Alison Astles said her brother had been “extraordinarily unlucky”, and urged people who had received the vaccine to seek medical help if they experienced lasting headaches or sickness.” – Daily Telegraph

  • ‘Aspirin is more dangerous!’ SAGE advisor’s damning verdict on fears – Daily Express
  • UK has enough Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to cover all under-30s, says Hancock – The Sun
  • ‘I’d snap someone’s hand off for the vaccine’: People waiting for first jab say they are not put off – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: We interrupt our usual morning editorial to make a public service announcement

Vaccines 3) While the UK changes its guidance, the EU does not – its carry on as normal

“The new guidance from the body that advises the UK government on vaccinations came as the European Medicines Agency said there was a link between rare blood clots in the brain and the AstraZeneca jab. The EMA did not change its guidance for who should take the vaccine, saying its benefits still outweighed the risks. But the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said people under the age of 30 should preferably be offered either the BioNTech/Pfizer or the Moderna jab as an alternative. It has not advised against use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for any other age groups… Authorities have for several weeks investigated links between the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has already been given to millions of people across Europe, and cases involving rare but serious blood clots in the brain.” – FT

  • EU vaccine shambles continues as health ministers fail to agree a joint response – Daily Mail
  • More than 700,000 AstraZeneca vaccines sent to Australia from UK despite shortage – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Stephen Booth’s column: Merkel’s departure is Macron’s opportunity – an opening for his dreams of an even closer Union

Covid passport laws ‘could be time-limited to avert Tory rebellion’

“Covid passport laws being considered could have “sunset” clauses to reassure Tory rebels that the measures will be temporary, The Telegraph understands. Michael Gove’s review into domestic Covid status certificates is looking at time-limiting any legal changes potentially needed to require the checks in certain settings. The move would underscore the Government’s insistence that the measures should not become a feature of life beyond the pandemic. A source familiar with the review’s work said consideration was being given to making clear that the changes would be “explicitly temporary”, possibly through the use of “sunset clauses”. The Government is still some way off proposing legal changes to ease the use of Covid status certificates in the UK. ” – Daily Telegraph

  • Jab passports warning over mothers-to-be – Daily Mail
  • Scrap costly tests for those returning from ‘green list’ countries, Prime Minister told – Daily Telegraph

Johnson is ‘deeply concerned’ at continued violence in Belfast and Londonderry

“Boris Johnson said he is “deeply concerned” after trouble continued to rage on the streets of Belfast last night. “The way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or criminality,” the prime minister said. Police were attacked, petrol bombs thrown, a bus hijacked and set on fire and a press photographer assaulted in another night of chaos. Violent scenes of rioting have repeatedly taken place on the streets of Belfast and Derry over the past week. Forty-one police officers were injured in violence scenes in parts of Northern Ireland over the Easter period, which involved children as young as 13. Last night, it was confirmed that the Northern Ireland Executive is to meet this morning to be briefed on the ongoing unrest. Leaders will meet for the briefing at 10am, an hour before the Stormont Assembly is to be recalled to discuss the recent scenes of violence.” – The Times

  • Northern Ireland Executive to meet after sixth night of unrest – The Guardian
  • Loyalists firebomb bus and send it blazing down Shankill Road – Daily Mail


  • Ulster backlash to Brexit fudge threatens the Union – Sherelle Jacobs, Daily Telegraph
  • Northern Ireland needs leadership – Sarah Creighton, The Guardian

Sewell: ‘When people are this desperate to silence you, you must be saying something true’

“One reason Left-wing campaigners are so angry about this report, Sewell argues, is that the commissioners, while non-white, are not race relations activists, coming instead from a variety of other fields. They include former police superintendent Keith Fraser, the economist Dambisa Moyo and TV executive Samir Shah. “This is part of the problem – and the response to our report has been extreme, unnecessary, over-the-top, ridiculous and absurd,” Sewell tells me during a recording of my podcast, Planet Normal, which you can listen to using the audio player above. Some of the most vocal critics “should be ashamed of themselves ­– they should read the report, not read what other people have said about it, then make a comment”. Much discussion of UK race relations is “driven by emotion or belief”, says Sewell.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Emily Carver’s column: Some believe that as a white person, I shouldn’t express a view on Black Lives Matter. But I should and will.

You can’t trust Google, says pensions minister

“The pensions minister has warned the public not to trust anything they find on Google because of the soaring numbers of fake investment scams being advertised on its platforms. Guy Opperman accused the search engine giant of dragging its feet over promises to vet its advertisers and profiting from fraudsters promoting investment scams. He hit out at Google for failing to introduce sufficient safeguards to prevent vulnerable pensioners losing thousands of pounds by being tricked into investing in fake investment schemes. The most common scam sees fraudsters clone the website of a well-known pension firm and then pay Google to display an advert to the fake site at the top of its search engine results when a user types in certain keywords such as “pension review” or “pension drawdown”.” – The Times

  • Williamson calls for classroom mobile phone ban – The Sun

Davidson pleads with Scots to vote Tory in bid to stop SNP

“Ex-Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson fronted a Facebook campaign video, warning voters of the division to come if the SNP win a majority on 6 May. The broadcast began with the slogans ‘End Division, No referendum and Rebuild Scotland’ and comes after a damning Ipsos Mori poll suggested an outright majority for the SNP is likely. In a nightmare result for the Scottish Conservatives who are predicted to drop to 25 MSPs, the election would see the SNP win 70 of the 129 seats in Holyrood, with 53 per cent of Scots forecast to vote for Nicola Sturgeon’s party. In a message which directly attacked the SNP government, Ruth Davidson… argued against voting for other opposition parties to reduce the prospect of splitting the Pro UK vote.” – Daily Express

  • Referendum resistance may ‘crumble’ after election, says Salmond – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Dr Dan Boucher in Comment: The future of the Union is at stake in the upcoming Senedd elections. Conservative voters cannot afford to bow out.

Labour pledge new ‘victims law’ for those subject to anti-social behaviour

“In the past year, seven per cent of people said they experienced high levels of anti-social behaviour, while a fifth highlighted concerns about using or dealing drugs. Rubbish and litter was a cause of complaint for 27 per cent, while 13 per cent were concerned about vandalism and graffiti. Some 14 per cent said they worried about teenagers hanging around on the streets. Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said: ‘The shocking rise in the number of people experiencing anti-social behaviour is a huge cause of concern for families and communities. People deserve to feel safe and secure in their neighbourhoods and town centres.’ He said Labour would introduce a new ‘Victims’ Law’ to give those who experience anti-social behaviour the same rights as victims of crimes.” – Daily Mail

  • Opposition faces Greensill pressure over shadow minister’s lobbying – FT
  • Row grows over Len McCluskey, his builder friend, and a £98m hotel bill – Daily Telegraph


  • Johnson broke rules by criticising Khan, says Labour – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • Keep an eye on the Abolish Holyrood party – Henry Hill, The Spectator
  • Make the Green Belt green again! – Harry Phibbs, CapX
  • Why did the police facilitate a sham funeral for a dead terrorist? – Paul Frew, The Critic
  • Khan’s cannabis posture will only help the privileged – Sadiq Khan, UnHerd

And finally… Fox’s disastrous manifesto costings

“Four hours after Guido was promised a full policy costing from Laurence Fox, it was finally sent through. A few minutes’ study made it clear the costings are built on less-than-solid ground. Far from a fully-costed manifesto, the details amounted to 350 words specifically on the “free tube and bus fares for six months” policy. On this, Fox puts the figure at an unbelievably low £500,000 in total.  This, he claims – both in the document and during Guido’s interview – is from TfL’s and the Mayor’s own figure, which he says put the total cost at £20 million per week. Two immediate problems: 1)Team fox has now confirmed that both references to £500,000 should read £500 million and 2) the TfL 2019/20 figures in fact put six months of revenue at around £2.05 billion – around four times what the costing document claims.” – Guido Fawkes

  • He’s also sued for libel over ‘paedophile’ comments – BBC