Passports plan will ‘let pubs ditch distancing’

“Pubs and restaurants may be allowed to scrap social-distancing rules in exchange for asking their customers to present Covid passports. The requirement to keep people at least one metre apart may be lifted for venues that check people’s Covid status before admitting them, according to government documents. The paper was published as part of an official review into how using so-called vaccination passports domestically may help to reopen the economy. Ministers said that Covid-status certification “could play a role in reducing social-distancing requirements” in hospitality venues, and that the two issues were linked. Venues will be allowed to decide for themselves whether to request proof of people’s Covid status, but critics say they will be left with little choice if they hope to be profitable.” – The Times

  • Opposition to ‘discriminatory’ vaccine passports grows as Labour hints it will vote against – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson ‘set for showdown with MPs’ over policy… – FT
  • …and he could sidestep Parliament and force them into law without a vote – Daily Mail
  • Free twice-weekly rapid Covid tests to be offered to everyone in England – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: What is the question to which vaccine passports are the answer?

Don’t book foreign summer holidays yet, warns Johnson

“Britons should not book summer holidays yet as the ban on foreign travel may not be lifted on May 17 because of the risk of importing Covid variants, Boris Johnson has warned. His review of global travel, published on Monday, said it was hoped it would be possible for people to take a summer holiday overseas this year but warned that it was “still too soon to know what is possible” and that the reopening of foreign travel could be delayed beyond the middle of May. The review confirmed that the ban, when lifted, will be replaced by a traffic light system in which quarantine at home will be scrapped for “green” countries and replaced by tests that holidaymakers will have to pay for pre-departure and on arrival back in the UK. Quarantine remains for “amber” and “red” countries.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Or is he ‘hopeful of foreign holidays by next month’? – The Times


Government faces backlash over ‘hellish demi-lockdown’

“England’s third wave of coronavirus when restrictions are lifted in June is likely to be a small fraction of the size of previous peaks and daily deaths will remains in double figures, according to the best projections from Government scientists. Modelling by Imperial College London academics – involving ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson – shows that coronavirus patients will take up around 5,000 beds during any future spike, far lower than the 30,000 occupied in January. And thanks to the effects of vaccines far fewer of those patients will die, with daily deaths remaining below 100 even with cases above 50,000, according to the scenario that the scientists regard as most likely. Government advisers assessing the models admit there is a high degree of uncertainty in the assumptions – but the central forecast for the year ahead shows hospitalisations and deaths far lower than the previous peaks of last spring and winter.” – Daily Mail

  • Covid measures to continue even after full vaccination rollout… – Daily Telegraph
  • …but pubs, shops, and hairdressers will open on Monday – The Sun
  • Medicines watchdog ‘considers limiting use of Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in young’ – The Times

>Today: Andrew Haldenby in Comment: To clear the post-pandemic backlog, the NHS will need not yet more spending, but improved productivity

Kids must carry on wearing masks in classroom or risk third wave of Covid in schools, warn unions

“Kids must carry on wearing masks in the classroom to stop a third wave of Coronavirus ripping through schools, teachers have demanded. The NASUWT union called on Boris Johnson not to “remove or water down the current guidance” on social distancing measures in schools after Easter. It warned a third wave could grip schools if rules on face coverings are relaxed despite the successful vaccination programme. A survey of the union’s 4,000 school staff members showed that more than three quarters of them support keeping masks in the classroom. Ministers have repeatedly said the rules should only be temporary and that they hope to remove them after the Easter break. Some parents have been angered by the measures, with one group threatening to take the Department for Education to court to get them scrapped.” – The Sun

  • NASUWT teaching union urges schools to ‘decolonise all subjects’ – The Times

>Today: John Bald in Local Government: How many pupils start secondary school unable to read properly? The truth is we don’t know.

Conservatives on course for ‘decisive victory over Labour’ in Hartlepool by-election…

“Boris Johnson is on course for a decisive victory over Labour in the Hartlepool by-election, according to a new poll that raises more questions about Sir Keir Starmer’s electoral strategy. The first poll in what had been an impregnable Labour stronghold, which elects a new MP a month from today, suggests that the Conservatives have already opened up a seven-point lead over the opposition and are set to win with nearly half of the vote. It has renewed tension between Starmer and the big unions, one of whose leaders calls the Labour leader “an irrelevance” to working-class voters in seats such as Hartlepool. A phone survey by Survation, commissioned by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) puts Jill Mortimer, the Tory candidate, on 49 per cent, up 20 percentage points on the party’s showing at the general election.” – The Times

  • Starmer apologises and takes down video of church visit after being slammed by his own party – Daily Mail

…as Johnson set to join the battle for the Union in Scotland after Tories ‘flatline’

“Boris Johnson will join the Holyrood election battle for the Union, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has said. The Scottish Tory leader confirmed the Prime Minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are among senior UK Government figures being lined up to enter the fray. It came as Mr Ross defended former leader Ruth Davidson’s role in spearheading a drive to persuade Unionist voters to rally behind her party. The Moray MP also insisted he was in charge of the Conservative campaign and rejected suggestions support was “flatlining” ahead of the May 6 ballot. It comes after a bombshell poll revealed the SNP is on track to win a majority with 65 seats – while Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party is on course to win six seats and the pro-independence Greens could return eight MSPs.” – Daily Express

  • Further violence breaks out in Northern Ireland despite appeals for calm – The Guardian


  • Davidson remains Scottish Tory election Top Gun despite not wanting to be leader – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Scottish Conservative supporters should not vote for ‘All for Unity’

Government takes tough line on bailout requests for Eurostar

“The government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is resisting requests for a UK bailout of struggling train operator Eurostar, with ministers insisting that the company should look to its shareholders to ease its plight. Eurostar is at risk of bankruptcy following a collapse in revenue after passenger numbers plunged during the pandemic. UK ministers are said to be taking a tough line. One UK official briefed on the situation said: “The tunnel and the rolling stock are there. Someone would take them on, even if the company went to the wall. There’s no appetite for bailing them out at all.” Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in May 2020 a scheme called Project Birch to help strategically important companies but only where “viable companies have exhausted all options”.” – FT

  • Covid-hit businesses can get up to £10m in government-backed loans from today – The Sun

Dominic Grieve: I’ve seen how the justice system is crumbling. Why doesn’t the government take action?

“There were many more courts; rooms for consultations with clients; and a bar mess, where, apart from being able to buy hot food, there was the privacy to get advice from colleagues and to resolve issues with one’s opponent. A couple of years after it opened, visiting officials of the Lord Chancellor’s Department were holding it up as an exemplar for the future, noting that it had a reputation for efficiency and high professional standards of delivery. When I was attorney general from 2010 to 2014, I returned there on a visit to the Crown Prosecution Service and to see the judges. The contrast could not have been greater. The building looked tired and poorly maintained. There were water leaks. The facilities for advocates were largely gone, and with them much of the sense of purpose and camaraderie I remembered.” – The Guardian

Cameron ‘blames Boris Johnson for his downfall’, claims Duncan

“A furious David Cameron accused Boris Johnson of ‘ruining my bloody career’, according to the explosive diaries of a former minister. The ex-prime minister’s frustration burst out on the eve of Mr Johnson’s successful campaign to replace Theresa May in Downing Street. Mr Cameron gave vent to his pent-up feelings at his fellow Old Etonian’s rise to power over breakfast with Sir Alan Duncan. The incident on May 1, 2019 is revealed in the former Foreign Office minister’s memoirs In The Thick Of It. The entry reads: ‘Breakfast with David Cameron. He is so glad not to be in the middle of everything that is going on at the moment. ‘He has a very straightforward opinion about Boris – ‘He ruined my bloody career’.’ The breakfast took place three weeks before Mrs May was forced to resign after Mr Johnson plotted to bring her down.” – Daily Mail

  • Williamson is called ‘sly schemer’ by former Tory minister – The Guardian


  • May ‘like a flaking old pit prop everyone knows will collapse… we are in meltdown…’ – Alan Duncan MP, Daily Mail

Cheryl Gillan, former Welsh Secretary, dies after long illness

“The prime minister was among several prominent figures to pay tribute to the Conservative MP for Chesham and Amersham, Cheryl Gillan, who has died at the age of 68 after a long illness. The former secretary of state for Wales – the first woman to hold the role – had been a parliamentarian since 1992 and was made a dame in 2017. News of her death was confirmed by the Conservative party on Monday. “I’m very sad to hear the news of the death of Dame Cheryl Gillan,” said Boris Johnson. “She was a great servant to the people of Chesham and Amersham, to the Conservative party and to the country as secretary of state for Wales. Always full of wise advice and good humour, she was much loved on all sides of the House of Commons and will be sorely missed. My sincere condolences to her family and friends.”” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: In memory of my formidable, kind and imposing former constituency neighbour, Cheryl Gillan

Khan will set up review to consider decriminalising cannabis if he is re-elected

“Sadiq Khan will launch a review to examine the possibility of decriminalising cannabis if he is re-elected as Mayor of London on May 6. The former Tooting MP is planning to set up an independent London Drugs Commission which will investigate the potential health, economic and criminal justice benefits of decriminalising the Class B drug. Although he has ruled out decriminalising Class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine, Mr Khan is said to be willing to consider supporting changes to the legal status of cannabis if that is what the commission concludes. The Labour Mayor, who is fighting off competition for City Hall from 19 candidates including Tory Shaun Bailey and actor Laurence Fox, believes there is huge public support for a more relaxed approach to decriminalisation.” – Daily Mail

  • If we want to fight the climate crisis, he is the only choice for London mayor – Ed Miliband MP, The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • Whatever Galloway’s appeal, All for Unity is a case of how not to do a new pro-Union party – Henry Hill, CapX
  • Johnson is in trouble over vaccine passports, and it’s showing – Fraser Nelson, The Spectator
  • Why Starmer is doomed – Matthew Goodwin, UnHerd
  • Jordan: The coup that wasn’t – James Snell, The Critic