Coronavirus 1) Exclusive: ‘UK vaccine passport plans to be scrapped’

“Plans to make Covid-19 passports a legal requirement for large events are set to be dropped, The Telegraph understands. Officials working on the review into Covid-19 status certification believe there is no chance the law will be changed to mandate their use within the UK. “It’s not a case of ‘it’s finely balanced’. It’s not going to happen,” said one well-placed government source close to the review. “Everyone says it’s dead.” It comes as ministers examine data to determine whether the lifting of restrictions can continue as planned from June 21 in England, when it was hoped that the public would be able to return in greater numbers to mass events such as football matches and concerts. The Government first expressed interest in Covid passports in February, when a review into their use domestically was launched as part of Boris Johnson’s reopening roadmap for England.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Over-50s to have second vaccine in race to save June 21 – The Times
  • Struggling hospitals warn of a ‘perfect storm’ on June 21 – The Times
  • France locks the doors: British travellers must show ‘compelling reason’ to enter the country from today as Macron battles to keep Indian variant at bay – Daily Mail



Coronavirus 2) Health workers may have compulsory Covid jabs to protect patients…

“The government is considering making coronavirus jabs compulsory for NHS staff, the vaccines minister said yesterday, and would be prepared to give them to children once approved. Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News that it was considering compulsory vaccination for healthcare workers. The government has opened a consultation on making vaccinations a condition of employment for social care workers. He said: “It would be incumbent on any responsible government to have the debate, to do the thinking as to how we go about protecting the most vulnerable by making sure that those who look after them are vaccinated.” He said there was a precedent because surgeons get vaccinated for hepatitis B. The Times understands that NHS bosses favour persuasion over compulsion. Statistics suggest that across England 88 per cent of hospital staff have had at least one dose of vaccine.” – The Times

Coronavirus 3) …But ministers are urged not to ‘threaten’ NHS staff over mandatory jab

“Ministers have been urged not to “threaten” NHS staff by forcing them to get vaccinated against coronavirus under plans being considered by the government. The shadow Commons leader, Thangam Debbonaire, said it was not a “good idea” after the vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said the proposal was being investigated alongside the existing consultation on making jabs mandatory for social care workers. There is nervousness in Whitehall about doing anything to destabilise the vaccine rollout by requiring that people get the jab instead of keeping it voluntary – something that several behavioural scientists have warned could dampen take-up among already vaccine-hesitant groups. But after concerns that a sizeable number of health and social care staff, who were among the first to be offered the vaccine, are reluctant to get jabbed, the government has been consulting on making vaccines mandatory for care workers, and is now expanding that to include all those working in the NHS.” – The Guardian

Boris and his barefoot bride: inside the bohemian wedding party that no one saw coming

“Standing barefoot in a floral headband and staring into the eyes of her new husband, Carrie Symonds defied the traditional trappings one might associate with the wife of a Prime Minister. Surrounded by hay bales, colourful bunting and with lanterns hanging in the garden of Number 10 Downing Street, the couple opted for a bohemian, festival-style celebration after tying the knot in secret on Saturday. But as the first unmarried couple to live together in Downing Street, and the first prime minister to wed whilst in office in almost 200 years, the Johnsons are not shy of breaking with tradition. After much speculation about their nuptials, and a save-the-date for July 30, 2022 card sent just six days before they married, people were expecting an elaborate affair. But in the end Mr Johnson’s third marriage was a low-key celebration which saw guests dancing to Don McLean’s American Pie played by a wandering acoustic fiddle band.” – Daily Telegraph



Sunak 1) Restaurant and pub bosses blame furlough for lack of staff as they struggle to fill 190,000 vacancies amid fears many people will lose the will to work

“Pub and restaurant bosses have called for an end to the furlough scheme as they desperately struggle to fill 190,000 job vacancies. Several businesses say they cannot get the staff needed to kickstart their recovery while millions remain on furlough. There are fears that workers languishing on the job retention scheme, which runs until September, will lose the will to work. The Office for National Statistics reported that a tenth of businesses’ workforce was on furlough in mid-April, or 2.7 million people. Across the UK there are 700,000 job vacancies, including 188,000 in hospitality, where a million remained on furlough before the May 17 reopening. Bosses say some staff would rather stay at home on 80 per cent of their full salary than get a new job. But the industry said the scheme is needed to protect jobs because many businesses will operate below full capacity until restrictions are lifted.” – Daily Mail

  • End of eviction ban leaves tenants in Britain at risk – FT

Sunak 2) Chancellor urges Biden to strike deal on tech giant taxes

“Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, has urged Joe Biden to do a deal on the taxation of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon as part of a global shake-up of business levies. Finance ministers from the G7 group of leading industrialised nations, including the UK and US, will meet in London on Friday, a week before Biden flies in for the leaders’ summit in Cornwall. The US president has called for a minimum global corporation tax level, with 15 per cent proposed as a base rate, to stop companies using offshore strategies. Following years of criticism of the way that Silicon Valley giants handle their tax affairs, the UK wants to ensure that US tech firms pay their fair share of tax for their activities in Britain. Sunak told The Mail on Sunday: “I want to make sure we get the right deal for British taxpayers, that we level the playing field for British high streets and that’s what I’m doing.”” – The Times

Nick Timothy: We’re not drifting into segregation, we’re hurtling perilously towards it

“After the 7/7 terror attacks, Trevor Phillips, then the head of the Commission for Racial Equality, issued a stark warning. “We are sleepwalking our way to segregation,” he declared. “We’ve emphasised what divides us over what unites us. We have allowed tolerance of diversity to harden into effective isolation of communities, in which some people think special separate values ought to apply.” Sixteen years later, optimists will point to the minorities reaching the top of UK business and government. The Business Secretary is black, the Chancellor and Home Secretary have Indian heritage, the Foreign Secretary is the son of a Jewish refugee, and the recent London election saw a black Tory challenge a Muslim Labour mayor. Many minorities are thriving at school, building successful careers, and raising confident and happy families, secure in their identities.” – Daily Telegraph

More comment:

Truss urges official withdrawal from Stonewall diversity scheme

“Liz Truss, the equalities minister, is pushing for all government departments to withdraw from Stonewall’s employment scheme following a row over transgender rights. Truss, also the international trade secretary, has told officials that she believes that government bodies should withdraw from the diversity champions scheme run by the equality group. Several organisations and bodies, including the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the employment dispute service Acas, have both withdrawn “for cost reasons”. A source close to Truss said she shared the concerns raised by the EHRC over the scheme’s value for money, particularly as the civil service has its own in-house workplace diversity programme. The Times understands that responsibility for co-ordinating participation in the scheme rests with the Cabinet Office. The scheme counts 250 government departments and public bodies among its 850 members, which pay for guidance on issues such as pronouns and gender-neutral spaces.” – The Times

Criminal case warning for Post Office scandal bosses

“Post Office executives “should be very worried” about possible criminal prosecutions after the accounting scandal that triggered the UK’s biggest miscarriage of justice, one of its former lawyers has said. Speaking to a Radio 4 documentary that will be broadcast this evening, an unnamed former lawyer at the government-owned company said that several senior figures could be charged with perverting the course of justice over the Horizon computer system scandal. The lawyer’s comments in the last instalment of the radio series The Great Post Office Trial: The Reckoning came after the Court of Appeal last month quashed 39 convictions of subpostmasters for fraud after it was found that the system, made by the Japanese company Fujitsu, had been faulty.” – The Times

  • Six Post Office bosses ‘could face charges for possible criminal offences’ in handling of IT scandal that saw postmasters hounded, bullied and wrongly prosecuted for fraud, lawyer says – Daily Mail

Child abusers in Rotherham ‘still avoiding justice’ as few crimes end in charges

“The police force at the centre of the Rotherham abuse scandal secured a charge for just one in 34 crimes linked to child sexual exploitation last year. South Yorkshire police made 16 charges from 540 crimes that its officers had flagged as related to children being exploited for sex, according to records disclosed in freedom of information act requests. The findings come after an investigation by The Times a decade ago revealed hundreds of young girls had been exploited in northern towns by predominantly Asian criminal gangs. In 2014 a subsequent independent inquiry found that between 1997 and 2013 more than 1,400 children in Rotherham were exposed to severe levels of violence and sexual abuse by groups of men. Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham who has campaigned for grooming victims, said she feared child abusers in the area were getting away with offences.” – The Times

UK government to ask citizens if it should ban fur trade

“The public is being asked to weigh in on the fur trade, as the government considers a potential ban on sales across the UK. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched a call for evidence amid plans for tighter animal welfare standards following Brexit. The consultation will consider the social and economic impacts of fur sales, both in the UK and overseas. It is understood that the UK could introduce an outright ban depending on the feedback it receives. The UK was the first country in Europe to ban fur farming in 2000, and has introduced strict rules prohibiting the import of skin and fur products from commercial seal hunting and domestic cats and dogs. However, the sale of other furs are still legal in the UK. Carrie Symonds, Boris Johnson’s wife, has described anyone who buys fur as “really sick”. The government has been been mulling tougher rules after Brexit, given the UK is no longer bound by the EU’s single market rules that blocked any individual country from taking a unilateral stance on fur trading.” – The Guardian

Schools are still allowed to use cladding banned after Grenfell

“An estimated 70 schools may have been built with combustible insulation since it was banned on tall buildings to prevent a repeat of the Grenfell Tower fire. Plastic foam insulation was outlawed on towers more than 18m tall in December 2018 but can still be used on low buildings. The Construction Industry Council, firefighters and the mayor of London want the ban extended to schools. Rockwool, which makes non-flammable insulation, used construction industry data to find out how many buildings were built with rain-screen cladding since the ban. It applied its estimate that combustible insulation has a 75 per cent share of the market to produce its totals. The tally was published by The Guardian last night. About 25 new hospitals, care homes and sheltered housing complexes were also thought likely to have been constructed using flammable insulation.” – The Times

EU Commission calls on UK to ditch ideology over Northern Ireland protocol

“A senior European Commission figure has defended the Northern Ireland protocol, calling on the UK government to ditch ideology in favour of pragmatism in order to transform problems arising from the Brexit deal. Maroš Šefčovič said he was looking at “solutions” to iron out disruption to businesses caused by the protocol, a key part of the Brexit agreement designed to protect the bloc’s single market at its frontier with the UK on the island of Ireland, without a return to a hard border. It means Northern Ireland has in effect stayed within the EU’s single market for goods, and a customs border was enforced on goods crossing the Irish sea. The resulting checks at the ports of Belfast and Larne have angered unionists and loyalists, who feel the region is being separated from the rest of the UK, and this anger has escalated into threats, violence and rioting.” – The Guardian

Have we got cheese for you, Johnson tells Canada

“Britain is eager to clinch a deal that will send more “affordable, high-quality British cheese” to Canada, Boris Johnson has said. The prime minister urged the Canadians to commit themselves to dropping their reservations about the import of British dairy products, which he said had delayed progress on an agreement. Speaking to the Canadian broadcaster CBC, he said that progress had been “slightly held up by the Canadian reluctance to allow too much British cheese to tempt the palates of Canadians”. He added: “I think what’s really needed now is more affordable, high-quality British cheese in Canada and I hope that we can do a deal to allow that. We’re very hopeful that we can do a great deal. There are big opportunities for Canadian business here in the UK: we’re a giant market.”” – The Times

Netanyahu on cusp of being replaced by far-Right leader Naftali Bennett

“Benjamin Netanyahu’s rivals were on the brink of removing him from power on Sunday after Naftali Bennett, a right-wing firebrand, threw his support behind a coalition government with centrist leader Yair Lapid. In a major step towards unseating Israel’s longest serving prime minister, Mr Bennett said his Yamina party would back a “unity” coalition that would draw support from across the Israeli political spectrum. “It’s either a fifth election, or a unity government,” Mr Bennett said in a televised speech.  He vowed to end the “madness” of Israel’s worst political crisis in its history, which has seen four inconclusive election results since 2019. According to Israeli media reports, Mr Bennett is finalising a power-sharing deal where he will serve as prime minister for two years before handing the reins to Mr Lapid.”- Daily Telegraph

News in brief: