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Prime Minister marries Carrie Symonds in a “secret” ceremony at Westminster Cathedral

“Boris Johnson married girlfriend Carrie Symonds in a secret ceremony yesterday morning, the Mail on Sunday can reveal. Mr Johnson, 56, exchanged vows with Ms Symonds, 33, in Catholic Westminster Cathedral in front of a handful of close friends and family – becoming the first Prime Minister to marry in office since Lord Liverpool married Mary Chester in 1822. It comes just six days after the couple – who became engaged on the Caribbean island of Mustique in December 2019 and have baby Wilfred, aged one – sent out save-the-date cards to guests telling them to keep Saturday, July 30, 2022 free for a marriage celebration. Despite sending out the cards, the couple are understood to have been secretly planning the small ceremony for six months. ” – Mail on Sunday

  • A delightful small-scale ceremony for Downing Street’s happy couple – Tim Stanley, Sunday Telegraph
  • How did they marry in a Catholic church? – Sunday Telegraph

>Yesterday: MPsETC: Johnson and Symonds marry, newspapers report

Coronavirus 1) Wuhan lab leak is ‘feasible’, British agents believe

“British agents now believe it is “feasible” that the global pandemic began with a coronavirus leak from a Chinese research laboratory. In a significant sharpening of tension with Beijing, they are investigating a possible leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which Beijing angrily insists was not the source of the virus that has caused more than 3.5 million deaths and is still raging globally. They do so as controversy grows about the alleged silencing of scientists who wanted an investigation of the lab-leak theory. For the past 16 months — since China first confirmed that people were infecting one another with a new and deadly virus in the city of Wuhan — British, American and other western intelligence agencies have appeared to discount the possibility of the virology institute playing a role in the pandemic.” – Sunday Times

Coronavirus 2) Further questions for Hancock over care homes

“Matt Hancock was facing new questions over the spread of Covid to care homes on Saturday night as it emerged that guidance from his department ordered hospitals to discharge patients without any mention of a need to test them first. Instructions issued by the Department of Health and NHS on March 19 last year stated that “discharge home today should be the default pathway” in order to free up beds for the sickest Covid patients. The instructions were issued shortly after Mr Hancock told Boris Johnson that he would ensure that tests were undertaken on patients being discharged to care homes….the guidance fails even to recommend the use of tests in hospitals where they were available.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Email warning was sent to the Health Secretary – Sunday Times
  • Hancock’s a human shield. Must Cummings destroy him to finish off the PM? – Sunday Times
  • Johnson had F-word rant at Hancock over care home fiasco – The Sun on Sunday

Coronavirus 3) NHS staff “face compulsory vaccination”

“NHS staff would be legally required to have a Covid vaccine under plans to crack down on transmission of the virus within hospitals. As the Government also prepares to press ahead with plans to oblige care home workers to be vaccinated, ministers are understood to believe that changing the law to apply the requirement to doctors and nurses as well would “save lives”. Under the plans, having a Covid vaccine would become a condition of employment by the NHS, although the obligation could be targeted at staff deemed to be at the greatest risk of exposure to the virus.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • ‘Very few’ Covid hospital patients had two jabs, NHS boss says – BBC
  • Anti-lockdown protestors clash with police – Mail on Sunday

>Today: Bella Wallersteiner on Comment: I attended the Freedom March yesterday. I’m no anti-vaxxer, or Covid denier. I just want a return of common sense.

Coronavirus 4) Starmer warns “chaos” threatens plan to lift restrictions on June 21st

“Labour leader Keir Starmer today warns that plans to lift almost all Covid-19 restrictions on 21 June are at risk because of serial incompetence and “civil war” inside Boris Johnson’s government. In his strongest attack for months on the prime minister’s handling of the pandemic, Starmer says that the huge death toll in the second wave of cases from last autumn, in which more than 80,000 lives were lost, was “avoidable and unforgivable” …As scientists warn today about the dangers of easing locking too early, Starmer says the level of incompetence and infighting within government raises doubts about whether the 21 June “big bang” release from lockdown will happen.” – The Observer

  • We faced an unprecedented crisis, but tens of thousands of second wave Covid deaths were avoidable and unforgivable – Keir Starmer, The Observer
  • Deadly government incompetence – Leader, The Observer

“We’ve turned the tide against cancel culture,” claims Jenrick

“New safeguards to prevent statues and monuments from being torn down “on a whim” have resulted in a “turn of the tide”, according to the Cabinet minister who introduced the protections. In an interview with The Telegraph, Robert Jenrick said the recent changes had “made a huge difference already”, with councils, charities and heritage organisations now “much more careful” about “bowing to a small number of very vocal people”. “I think that we have seen a turn of the tide,” he said. “You’re finding organisations who were subject to abuse, often from a small but very vocal group of people, being able now to know that they’ve got the backing of the law… there is due process that has to be followed. And the Government now has a very, very clear position.” – Sunday Telegraph

Patel to announce tagging for foreign criminals

“Thousands of foreign criminals will be tagged to stop them fleeing, Priti Patel will announce today. More than 900 have been deported this year but many stay to mount legal challenges. The Home Secretary will make electronic ankle tags a condition of their release from jail. She has ordered enough GPS kit for 4,500 offenders by the end of next year. Britain can kick out foreign citizens who have been jailed, with 7,985 removed since January 2019. But they can be released from a detention centre if they challenge the grounds of their deportation, sometimes at the last minute. So far, more than 250 criminals have been issued with GPS devices.” – The Sun on Sunday

Royal Yacht Britannia replacement “to enter service in four years”

“The new national flagship to replace the Royal Yacht Britannia and give British businesses a new global platform will enter service in four years, Boris Johnson has announced. The Prime Minister said work on the new flagship, which will be crewed by the Royal Navy, will start next year. The Government hopes it will be constructed at a UK shipyard. Number 10 said the name of the new ship will be decided “in due course”, although sources have previously told The Telegraph that the intention is to call it “Prince Philip” after the late Duke of Edinburgh.” – Sunday Telegraph

Williamson plans to offer 15 hours of free tuition to help children catch up

“Schoolchildren in England will be offered 15 hours of free tuition to help them catch up after months of lost learning during the pandemic. The plans are expected to give teachers the chance to earn more money for working longer hours, but they will not be forced to do so, as ministers seek to avoid confrontation with unions. Under the £1.5 billion scheme, almost all pupils aged 5-16 will be offered extra lessons in groups of up to three…The extra teaching is part of the “recovery plan” led by Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, which is expected to be published next month. Private tutors will also be recruited.” – Sunday Times

Corbynistas “plot challenge” to Starmer if Labour lose Batley and Spen by-election

“Allies of Jeremy Corbyn were last night accused of preparing for a Labour leadership contest amid warnings that Sir Keir Starmer will be ‘finished’ if the party loses a crucial by-election this summer. Ian Lavery, the party chairman when Mr Corbyn was leader, faced claims of plotting to boost the hard Left’s grip on Labour’s grassroots membership, who will play a vital role in picking a new leader. In an email seen by The Mail on Sunday, Mr Lavery told fellow members of the giant Unite union – whose leaders has been fiercely critical of Sir Keir – that they could change the direction of the Labour Party if they became more active…It comes ahead of a parliamentary by-election on July 1 in the Labour-held seat of Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire, with predictions that Sir Keir will be a ‘dead man walking’ if his party fails to hold the seat.” – Mail on Sunday

  • The UK’s richest union is fighting in the courts, but not for the low paid – Nick Cohen, The Observer

Littlewood: Cummings has left us with a social democratic Government

“The much trumpeted ‘levelling up’ agenda is simply a return to old-fashioned regional development policy. The man in Whitehall knows best and will direct central funding to areas which fit the right criteria on a civil service spreadsheet…We may have returned to a social democratic consensus, where state intervention is the automatic response to any human ill…The best way of understanding this government’s overarching vision is to grasp the philosophy of the departed Mr Cummings. His analysis is less about the state’s role than the bureaucrats’ level of expertise. If only we had better data scientists and strategic managers in Whitefall, central planning would suddenly produce perfect results. But this doesn’t even amount to rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. It’s merely fretting about who sits in those deckchairs.” – Mark Littlewood, Sunday Telegraph

  • Cummings is the hero of the Left – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday
  • Chancellor “confident” of G7 agreement on “fair taxation of tech companies” – Interview with Rishi Sunak, Mail on Sunday
  • Cummings has no credibility as he rages against reality he helped create – Craig Oliver, The Sun on Sunday
  • Judas of Downing Street – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday
  • He has betrayed his comrades – Leo McKinstry, Sunday Express
  • A chess man in a gambler’s world – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
  • Houdini Johnson has dodged a bullet but the failures of state may come back to wound him – Robert Colvile, Sunday Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Hollywood’s erasure of Cruella de Vil’s smoking habit is pointless and dull. Companies, and the state, must stop telling people what to do.

Hannan: Switzerland is right to reject tighter EU controls

“The Swiss are no more likely than the British to give in to threats. If their current half-in- half-out deal status is no longer on offer, they will almost certainly move further out. And they will be right, for the best way to safeguard their prosperity is to retain the unusual political structures on which it rests…the reason the Swiss did not want to join the EU is that they could see that ever-closer union was incompatible with the principles that govern their confederation, namely the dispersal of power to the cantons and the regular use of referendums. Those precepts have served to make them the richest and freest people in Europe, and good luck to them.” – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph

Green: Clegg should have no say in who is Chairman of Ofcom

“The new Chair of Ofcom is a big role. Which is why we should be bothered that Nick Clegg has been lobbying the Government not to appoint Sir Paul Dacre….If Nick Clegg had interfered in the appointment of an independent regulator as Deputy PM it would have been improper. As the voice of Facebook it is outrageous. We need strong independent regulators to control the likes of Facebook. I don’t know if Paul Dacre is the right person for the job. But I do know that Facebook should have no say whatsoever in deciding who is.” – Damian Green MP, The Sun on Sunday

News in brief

  • The EU falls out over the pace and cost of net zero – John Redwood
  • Should conservatives offer sanctuary to dissidents of the Left? – Peter Franklin, Unherd
  • Has Hancock been straight with the public about deaths in care homes? – Daniel Johnson, The Article
  • Jewish pupils face a climate of fear – Julian Mann, Conservative Woman
  • Boris is getting off the BLM train – Alex Story, The Critic