Football 1) Johnson vows to block European Super League

“Boris Johnson has said he will work with the football authorities to block plans for a controversial breakaway European Super League involving some of England’s biggest football teams. The Prime Minister said he will work with the game’s administrators “to make sure that this doesn’t go ahead in the way that it’s currently being proposed”. Six Premier League sides – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – are part of an initial group of 12 clubs seeking to establish a new 20-team continental competition “as soon as practicable”. If the plans succeed it would devastate existing European club competitions and in particular the Champions League. A joint statement including UEFA and the English, Italian and Spanish leagues published on Sunday said it would consider “all measures, both judicial and sporting” to prevent the competition going ahead.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prince William joins the backlash – The Times
  • UEFA boss savages breakaway clubs – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: In their pocket?

Football 2) Dowden says Government will do ‘whatever it takes’

“The UK government and football’s authorities launched a furious counter-offensive on Monday against plans for a European Super League that threaten the entire structure of the club game. The culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, supported by Downing Street, vowed to do “whatever it takes” to thwart the plans which feature 12 “founding members” including six leading clubs from England. European football’s governing body, Uefa, also threatened to ban any players involved from next year’s World Cup… Addressing parliament, Dowden said the government would consider using competition laws and changes to club ownership structures to stop the Super League, which would see 15 founding members – with three more expected to join – share a £200-£300m “golden hello”, with five other clubs invited to take part every year.” – The Guardian

  • Ministers hint at bigger role for fans in club ownership – Daily Express
  • We’re not bluffing, say insiders as clubs sign 23-year contracts – The Times

Football 3) Boris Johnson: Ludicrous… I’ll give it a red card

“You only need a pulse to know that football is not a brand or a product. In fact, it’s so much more than even a sport. Football clubs in every town and city and at every tier of the pyramid have a unique place at the heart of their communities, and are an unrivalled source of passionate local pride… A year of empty stadiums has reminded us all that football without fans is an altogether more anaemic spectacle. It is your game — and you can rest assured that I’m going to do everything I can to give this ludicrous plan a straight red.” – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: A letter from Screwtape to the Chairman of one of the Big Six football clubs

UK prepares to set out steeper climate targets

“The UK will this week commit to steeper cuts in carbon emissions as it prepares to host the UN’s COP26 climate summit later this year, according to people briefed on the plan. Prime minister Boris Johnson will in coming days announce a new pledge to reduce emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. The new UK target will be announced ahead of a major US climate summit on Thursday, where President Joe Biden is due to outline a new national goal for US carbon reduction. The UK’s new target is a step forward from its previous aim of a 68 per cent emissions reduction by 2030, which was already one of the most ambitious plans among developed economies.” – FT

  • We will go further in cutting carbon, Prime Minister pledges – The Times

Johnson ‘should not rule on sleaze’ in shake-up after Greensill lobbying scandal

“The head of the government’s ethics watchdog has called on Boris Johnson to give up the power to decide whether ministers should be investigated for breaching Whitehall’s sleaze rules. In a letter to the prime minister, Lord Evans of Weardale, the head of the committee on standards in public life, said that the government’s new adviser on ministerial interests should be free from political interference to decide which cases needed to be investigated. In a move that will put further pressure on Johnson after the Greensill scandal, he also urged the prime minister to give up his power to decide whether a minister had breached the code and hand that responsibility to the new adviser. The letter from Evans, a former head of MI5, preceded a wider report on standards in public life that is due to be published by his committee in the autumn.” – The Times

>Today: Audio: The Moggcast: Greensill. “I’m still surprised the Government thought it would be cheaper to use the private sector”

>Yesterday: Richard Ritchie in Comment: In-house, employee lobbyists are different

Give every young person £500 as they’ve been hardest hit by Covid, top Tories demand

“Boris Johnson should give every member of Generation Covid £500 because they have been worst hit by the pandemic, a group of Tories demands today. They are urging the PM to hand out cheques to every 18 to 24 year-old in a move which would cost a whopping £2.8billion. The One Nation group of Tories point out that young adults are the most likely to have lost out on jobs or been laid off in the pandemic. The cash bung would put cash in their pocket and help the high street, they said. The idea is inspired by US President Joe Biden, who has promised a third round of $1,400 stimulus cheques to millions of struggling Americans. Theresa May’s former deputy Damian Green, author of the report, said the cash would help the hardest hit.” – The Sun

  • Starmer challenged by furious landlord over lockdown support – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Robert Palmer in Comment: To support the levelling up agenda, the Government should follow Biden’s plan to tackle corporate tax avoidance

Vaccine booster shots in months, says Hancock

“Plans for a third round of coronavirus vaccinations are being ramped up to combat the rise of “concerning” variants of the disease. Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the Government was already looking at how to deliver new jabs and the rollout of booster shots would begin in a matter of months. It comes after fears mutations first identified in South Africa and Brazil could be resistant to the current antidotes being administered. There are also fears of a new Indian variant of the virus which has now been imported to the UK. While the latest strain is yet to be labelled a “variant of concern” by scientists, India has been added to Britain’s travel “red list” and the Prime Minister has cancelled a planned visit to the country next week.” – Daily Express

  • India added to Covid travel ‘red list’ from Friday – The Times
  • Campaign demands a stop to ‘inhumane’ funeral restrictions – Daily Mail
  • Festivals are forced to cancel again over Covid threat – The Times

More medicine:

  • Brexit red tape threatens drugs supplies in Northern Ireland – FT

Elections: Johnson launches Strava style keep-fit competition to lure activists into pounding the streets…

“Boris Johnson hopes to put rocket boosters under the Tory local election campaign by getting activists to compete to carry out the most steps. The PM hopes the Strava-style competition will get Tories to knock more doors in the heated election battle, while getting his army of supporters fit. Mr Johnson, 56, is on his own health kick after his Covid brush with death – regularly running with his pet Dilyn the dog. A whopping 145 English town halls are holding council elections on May 6. While a parliamentary by-election is being held in the Red Wall seat of Hartlepool on the same day. The Tories have sent an army of supporters to drum up support in an all-out bid to steal the usually rock-solid Labour seat. Losing the seat, which has been Labour since its creation in 1974, would be a devastating blow to Sir Keir Starmer.” – The Sun

…as he drops plan for pre-election visit to Scotland

“Boris Johnson has dropped plans to visit Scotland to campaign for the Conservatives before the May elections, heightening suspicions the party fears he will damage efforts to lure anti-independence voters away from Scottish Labour. Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Tories, admitted that the prime minister would not be going to Scotland despite Johnson’s assertion in January that “wild horses” would not keep him from campaigning to save the union. In a clear indication that the party fears Johnson’s poor ratings in Scotland would prove toxic to that strategy, Ross told reporters after his Holyrood manifesto launch on Monday that the pair had spoken the night before, agreeing Johnson would not come to Scotland.” – The Guardian

  • SNP’s plan to scrap NHS dental charges could see services cut – Daily Telegraph
  • Interactive calculator: Will Alba help or hinder pro-independence parties in Scotland? – FT

Sinn Fein’s apology over Lord Mountbatten murder is ‘attempt to rewrite history’, says ex-Army chief

“The former head of the Army has dismissed Sinn Fein’s apology over Lord Mountbatten’s murder as an “attempt to rewrite history”. General Lord Richard Dannatt made his comments after Mary Lou McDonald, the president of Sinn Fein, apologised for the killing of the Duke of Edinburgh’s uncle, who was murdered by the IRA in 1979. However, Lord Dannatt, who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, said: “We all want to see continuing more peaceful times in Northern Ireland, and we want to see people increasingly being able to live side by side, but I think we also have to be aware that Sinn Fein is quietly trying to rewrite history.” … On Monday, Ms McDonald sought to clarify her comments, insisting it was not a specific apology for Lord Mountbatten’s killing by the IRA.” – Daily Telegraph

  • ‘Apology’ is mealy-mouthed and self-serving – Oliver Kamm, The Times
  • The IRA says ‘sorry’ but where is the apology? – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

UK considers creating central bank digital currency

“The Treasury and Bank of England announced on Monday a joint task force to evaluate the creation of a central bank digital currency to future proof sterling against cryptocurrencies and improve the payments system. Joining a worldwide fashion for investigating new central bank currencies, chancellor Rishi Sunak said that Britain “need[ed] to go further” to stay at the forefront of financial innovation. A central bank digital currency has many definitions. The unifying features would be that it was a digital payment system, separate from commercial banks and large payments companies, which use national currencies, such as Visa and Mastercard. Different versions either envisage individuals having digital accounts at the central bank or a more limited digital token, serving the same purpose as notes and coins in the financial system.” – FT

  • Smart motorways to stay after ministers shunned calls to bring back permanent hard shoulders – The Sun

News in Brief:

  • Anyone who values competition should oppose the European Super League – John Ashmore, CapX
  • Why a ‘Unionist alliance’ will never work in Scotland – Henry Hill, The Spectator
  • Having what it takes to secede – John Kampfner, The Critic
  • The Blue Wall won’t save Labour – Matthew Goodwin, UnHerd