Published:

Hopes rise for end to lockdown next month

“Boris Johnson is increasingly optimistic that coronavirus restrictions can end as planned on June 21 after early data suggested that the Indian variant was not spreading as fast as previously feared. Hospital admissions are “fairly flat” in variant hotspots while initial estimates suggest a smaller increase in transmissibility that would not risk overwhelming the NHS if restrictions end next month. The prime minister said last night that he was “even more cautiously optimistic than I was last Thursday”, telling the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs: “I know there are anxieties about new variants. But we can see nothing to suggest that we have to deviate from the road map.” The mood has improved as scientists see signs that the variant may not be 50 per cent more transmissible than the Kent variant, as had been feared.” – The Times

  • Indian variant may not be as dangerous as we thought, admit scientists – Daily Telegraph
  • Ministers consider diluting plan to relax Covid rules as India variant surges – The Guardian
  • Third coronavirus vaccine dose for thousands in autumn booster trial – The Times
  • Downing Street’s plan to promote jabs on dating apps – Daily Telegraph

Johnson told he should rip up ‘shambolic’ red and green list holiday system

“Boris Johnson was today told to rip up the confusing and “shambolic” traffic light travel system. The PM faced off with Sir Keir Starmer in the Commons today, just hours after his own ministers sparked more confusion for Brits about whether they could go abroad or not. The Labour boss took advantage of the confusion around holiday destinations to grill the PM this lunchtime, saying ministers had “confused and contradictory” messaging. He called on him to rip up the current confusing traffic light system, which labels countries as green, amber or red depending on the level of restrictions people face… Foreign breaks are now legal again after the laws around lockdowns were finally lifted on May 17.” – The Sun

  • Fears chaos over Covid holiday rules could leave thousands out of pocket – The Times
  • Hancock tries to insist holiday advice is ‘crystal clear’… – The Sun
  • …as he dashes Britons’ hopes of an overseas summer holiday – The Guardian
  • Contradictory messages left holidaymakers and travel chiefs begging for clarity – Daily Mail
  • Almost 300,000 will fly to ‘amber list’ countries by Sunday – Daily Telegraph
  • EU delays decision on quarantine for Britons – The Times

>Yesterday: Video: Red light, amber light. The two leaders clash over holiday rules and advice.

Claire Coutinho and David Johnston: Covid has thrown the disparity of opportunities into even sharper relief

“Covid has thrown the disparity of opportunities into sharper relief. Young people have lost crucial time at schools, colleges, universities and in the workplace. They are entering a labour market that is shedding jobs in the sectors – from hospitality to retail – in which they often get their first foot on the ladder. More people working from home means young people starting their first jobs are missing out on learning vital soft skills from more senior colleagues. But in many ways, Covid has not created new problems for young people. The well-publicised gaps in teaching time received or in access to digital devices during the pandemic reflect existing gaps between young people from low-income families and the rest that governments have worked to tackle for decades.” – Daily Telegraph

  • There’s a vacuum of ideas in our politics – Iain Martin, The Times

Johnson: Australian trade deal a ‘massive opportunity’ for British farmers

“Boris Johnson has signalled his support for a trade deal with Australia that scraps all tariffs on meat imports, saying it would offer British farmers a “massive opportunity” to export their beef and lamb. On Wednesday, the Prime Minister weighed in on the row engulfing his Cabinet, which is bitterly split over how much access to offer Australian farmers in a bilateral free trade agreement. He will chair a meeting of Cabinet colleagues on Thursday morning to thrash out the Government’s red lines on the issue ahead of the final round of negotiations with Canberra. Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, backed by the Brexit minister Lord Frost and Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, are inclined to agree to zero tariffs and zero quotas on agricultural goods in order to secure a deal.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister rejects claims deal will ruin Scottish farming – FT
  • He hails tariff-free agreement amidst backlash – The Times
  • Truss handed ultimatum on Australia trade deal – Daily Express
  • Tory rift over Brexit trade deal for cheap Aussie burgers and steak – The Sun

More:

  • Countryside not ‘a museum to be preserved in aspic’, Johnson told in planning row – Daily Telegraph
  • English farmers to be paid up to £100,000 to retire – FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: It would be self-defeating to dangle trade gains from Brexit only then to drop them

Government sets out ‘bold new vision’ for Great British Railways

“The rail industry will be simplified but still substantially privatised as a rebranded Great British Railways, the government will pledge when it publishes long-awaited overhaul on Thursday. A white paper will place control of rail infrastructure and services under the new arm’s-length public body, with franchises replaced by contracts that will incentivise private firms on punctuality and efficiency rather than raising revenue. Great British Railways will run and plan the network, as well as providing online tickets, information and compensation for passengers nationwide. It will streamline and simplify fares, including extending contactless and pay-as-you-go systems to more parts of the country.” – The Guardian

  • It looks to private sector in biggest shake-up since 1990s – FT
  • Rail commuters to get flexible season tickets – The Times

Home Office takes hard line over Glasgow deportations

“The Home Office is pressing ahead with efforts to deport two Indian men after an aborted immigration raid in Glasgow last week. Border Force officials attempted to get a Scottish Sikh group to help with efforts to deport Lakhvir Singh and Sumit Sehdev, who were detained last week after overstaying their visas for several years. The group, Sikhs in Scotland, snubbed the Home Office, however, accusing it of pursuing a “heavy-handed and targeted approach” to deporting members of its community. There are also fears among the UK’s Indian community that a recent immigration deal signed with India is behind a renewed push for deportations. Under the Migration and Mobility Partnership, India has agreed to the deportation of thousands of nationals believed to be in Britain illegally, in return for more visas for students and skilled workers.” – The Times

  • Family’s anger as Patel delays report into murder of private detective – Daily Telegraph

Starmer ‘told off’ for wrongly claiming crime is rising in heated PMQs

“Sir Keir Starmer has had his knuckles rapped for wrongly claiming crime is rising to launch attacks on Boris Johnson. Stats boffins ticked off the Labour leader for twice throwing out the charge in the Commons – and said dodgy data risks denting public confidence. Watchdog boss Sir David Norgrove slapped down Sir Keir in a terse letter pointing out offences have actually been falling. The Sun revealed earlier this month that exasperated Tory policing minister Kit Malthouse lodged an official complaint lashing out at fishy figures. It came after Sir Keir claimed during PMQs in April that “crime is going up” – before doubling down at last week’s Queen’s Speech that “violent crime has doubled since 2015″.” – The Sun

  • Losing byelection would be ‘curtains’ for leader, says Abbott – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Starmer should do Labour a favour and stand down – Sir Anthony Seldon, The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Labour voters make Kim Leadbeater, sister of Jo Cox, early favourite in the Batley and Spen by-election

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: PMQs sketch: The time has come for Starmer to crack the odd joke at Johnson’s expense

Senior loyalist says NI post-Brexit tensions ‘most dangerous for years’

“The head of a loyalist group in Northern Ireland with links to former paramilitaries has warned of the prospect of more violence in the region, describing tensions over Brexit as “probably the most dangerous for many years”. David Campbell, the chair of the Loyalist Communities Council, called for the Northern Ireland protocol to be replaced, echoing the words of new leader of the Democratic Unionist party, Edwin Poots, who said on Tuesday that it should be “dismantled”. “We definitely could creep over into violence, I describe this as probably the most dangerous situation for many years, but I do hope common sense will prevail,” Campbell told MPs on the Northern Ireland affairs committee on Wednesday.” – The Guardian

  • Frost fears a period of uneasy relations with the EU following leak – Daily Express

>Today: Stephen Booth’s column: Is the Government drawing nearer to suspending the Northern Ireland Protocol?

News in Brief:

  • Conservatives choose candidate for Batley & Spen by-election – Yorkshire Post
  • Loyalists canvassing to oust Brady as 1922 chair – Tom Harwood, Twitter
  • Whatever his faults, Johnson is no English nationalist – Henry Hill, News Letter
  • Seven practical ways to level up schools – Tim Clark, CapX
  • Woke communes are doomed to fail – Mary Harrington, UnHerd