Time coming for ‘common sense’ approach to Covid restrictions

“Boris Johnson last night signalled an end to “government edicts” on Covid and told people to start using their common sense after England recorded no deaths from the virus for the first time since last summer. The prime minister confirmed that the biggest easing of restrictions would go ahead as planned on Monday with people allowed to hug friends and family for the first time in more than a year. Pubs and restaurants will be able to serve inside, pupils can ditch masks in schools, theatres and cinemas can open again and hotels welcome overnight guests back. Care home residents will be able to have five visitors instead of two. Johnson also confirmed that compulsory social distancing was likely to end next month, as reported by The Times, promising an announcement within three weeks.” – The Times

  • Prime Minister says people can soon make their own choices – Daily Telegraph
  • Working from home to continue after May 17… – The Sun
  • …and fury as weddings still capped at 30 despite lockdown lifting – The Sun
  • Britain will suffer small wave, SAGE says – Daily Mail
  • Vaccine passport for holidays will be on NHS app next week – The Times


  • Johnson can no longer avoid confronting the care cost crisis – Sir Andrew Dilnot, Daily Mail

Queen’s Speech to pave the way for re-election bid by Johnson

“The Queen will on Tuesday set out the legislation that Boris Johnson hopes will pave the way for him to win a second full term as prime minister, but a number of bills will be highly contentious. Johnson is under fire over a bill in the Queen’s Speech requiring voters to provide proof of identity, a move which Labour labelled “cynical and ugly” and likely to disenfranchise marginal groups. The UK prime minister will also reclaim the power to set the date of the next general election, with the repeal of David Cameron’s fixed-term parliament act, which decrees the next election will be in 2024. Senior Labour figures believe Johnson wants to clear the way for a snap general election in 2023, pushing through key bills now and capitalising on his current popularity.” – FT

  • Insiders ‘slap down’ talk of early poll – The Sun
  • Government aiming to bring forward around 25 Bills in next year – Daily Telegraph
  • ‘Rocket fuel’ Queen’s Speech will pledge to level up education – The Times
  • It will focus on adult learning and easing planning rules – The Guardian
  • Struggle to save Queen’s Speech Troubles veterans pledge – The Times
  • Planning laws are not a ‘blocker to new homes’, National Trust warns Government – Daily Telegraph
  •  Johnson’s manifesto pledges ‘off course’ after pandemic, experts say – The i



Gove rejects case for UK constitutional reform

“A senior UK minister on Monday dismissed as “abstract debate” calls for the Conservative government to proceed with constitutional reform to counter growing pressure for Scottish independence. Michael Gove, Cabinet Office minister, said the British government would focus on recovery from the coronavirus crisis and spending funds directly in Scotland so as to show the benefits of the country being part of the UK, rather than constitutional reform. Gove’s remarks came after the Scottish National party secured a fourth term in government following parliamentary elections in which it promised to seek a referendum on Scottish independence before the end of 2023. The UK government has set itself against authorising another referendum for the time being, even though the SNP and the pro-independence Scottish Greens will have a majority in the Edinburgh parliament.” – FT

  • He says spending plan ‘adds value’ to Scotland – The Times
  • Government ‘has to show why Scotland should stay in Union’ – The Guardian
  • Sturgeon sparks fury over ‘unfair’ plans to exclude Scots abroad from independence vote – Daily Express

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Police and Crime Commissioner results. Conservatives dominate. But why are so many past PCCs stepping down?

Henry Hill: The London commentariat is still giving the SNP an easy ride

“As for mandates, even as far back as 2015 one can find people saying that the SNP’s sweeping Scotland at the general election gave them a mandate to overturn the “once in a generation” referendum that had been won by the unionists less than a year previously. But this has grown even more common since the EU referendum. Suddenly, pro-Remain commentators who previously argued that staying in was vital to protect our precious Union seem ambivalent, if not sometimes spitefully enthusiastic, about the prospect of Scottish independence. Having been defeated at the ballot box and in Parliament, they would not compound the indignity by being proven wrong. And so, they ride out for the absurd proposition that the future of our centuries-old country should turn on each and any devolved election.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Scots need to know what independence means – William Hague, The Times
  • Elections reflected Britain’s deep divisions over Brexit and Scotland’s future – John Curtice, The Guardian

Johnson’s Mustique holiday probed by standards watchdog

“Boris Johnson is under investigation by the parliamentary standards watchdog over claims he may have broken rules in the way he declared a new-year holiday in the Caribbean. Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary standards commissioner, is looking at the UK prime minister’s declaration of a luxury break on the island of Mustique in early 2020, which he took with his partner Carrie Symonds. Downing Street has insisted that Johnson had complied with “all relevant transparency requirements” for the holiday — which he took after his election victory in December 2019 — in the register of MPs’ interests. In the entry Johnson said he accepted “accommodation for a private holiday for my partner and me, value £15,000”, and said it had been provided by the Conservative party donor David Ross.” – FT

  • Tory MPs who wrote to judges during Elphicke sexual assault trial under investigation – Daily Telegraph

Rayner could oust you from the top job, Starmer told…

“Sir Keir Starmer was warned that Angela Rayner could topple him as Labour leader at the height of a row over his reshuffle. The prospect of a leadership challenge was relayed to Starmer and his team on Sunday by supporters of the deputy leader, sources familiar with the discussions have told The Times. Divisions at the top of the Labour Party emerged over the weekend after Starmer moved to sack Rayner from her role as party chairwoman after disappointing election results. She resisted the sacking, which led to hours of negotiations between her and Starmer over her role on Sunday. The talks prevented a planned shadow cabinet reshuffle from happening until late into the evening. “There were a lot of people encouraging her to run and saying they would back her,” a friend of hers said.” – The Times

  • Labour leader urged to disavow ‘prince of darkness’ Lord Mandelson – Daily Telegraph
  • Reeves promotion underlines Labour shift to centre ground – FT
  • Starmer’s leadership in chaos after botched reshuffle with his top team at war already – The Sun

…as she ‘vows to reconnect Labour with working class voters’

“Labour has talked down to voters for too long Angela Rayner has said, in her first bid to assert her newfound authority as the party’s voice of the working class. In an article for the Guardian, the deputy leader said Labour would invest tens of billions of pounds in green industries to boost jobs in areas where manufacturing has declined. The proposal, in her new brief on the future of work, is designed to be an answer to Labour’s critics who say the party has offered few bold new policies. After a bruising weekend where she battled the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, over a planned reshuffle and emerged with a new shadow cabinet brief and licence to set out her own stall, Rayner said the party must speak to the people on minimum-wage jobs who she grew up with.” – The Guardian

  • Backlash as deputy says Labour must ‘deal with’ anti-immigrant voters in Hartlepool – Daily Express
  • Are Starmer and Rayner back on track? Far from it, say Labour insiders – The Times


  • Burnham pleads for an end to party’s civil war after election humiliation… – The Sun
  • …as he hints at third Labour leadership bid – The Times


  • We need to show voters what we stand for – and that Labour is on their side – Angela Rayner, The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • Where it all went wrong for Labour – Dominic Sandbrook, UnHerd
  • Can Labour learn the lessons of 1992 all over again? – Stephen Pollard, CapX
  • Khan’s victory is good news for the Tories – Nick Tyrone, The Spectator
  • The Scottish Conservatives self-congratulation is delusional – Graham Stewart, The Critic