Published:

Johnson ‘backs Truss and tariff-free deal with Australia’

“Boris Johnson is willing to provide Australia tariff-free access to UK food markets despite fears it could ‘decimate’ the rural economy. Farmers launched a furious backlash yesterday against the proposal to grant Australian produce privileged access, fearing it would mean British farmers with high welfare standards will struggle to compete. The plan to give Australian food exporters the same terms as the European Union could potentially ‘wipe out’ agriculture if the terms are replicated in other agreements, the PM has been warned. The Cabinet is also divided, with International Trade Secretary Liz Truss facing stiff opposition to the plans from Environment Secretary George Eustice.” – Daily Mail

  • PM supports Australia deal – The Times
  • Tory rift over Brexit trade deal for cheap Aussie burgers and steak – The Sun
  • Truss handed ultimatum on trade deal – Daily Express
>Today:

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

Wish you were clear – ministers contradict each other on foreign travel…

“The traffic light policy for foreign holidays descended into farce tonight with ministers accused of sowing ‘mass confusion’. On a chaotic day, George Eustice first suggested trips to ‘amber’ countries to see friends and family were acceptable. Yet hours later Boris Johnson over-ruled his Environment Secretary by insisting such travel was off limits. That was followed by health minister Lord Bethell claiming holidays anywhere abroad were ‘dangerous’ with foreign trips ‘not for this year’. The peer even failed to rebuff the idea that returning holidaymakers should be electronically tagged in quarantine.” – Daily Mail

  • Confusion over holidays as minister says travel is dangerous – The Times
  • Public told to abandon summer holidays abroad – Daily Telegraph
  • Plans to ease social distancing in ‘disarray’ – The Times
  • Chaos as minister says hols are dangerous – The Sun
  • Popular support for vaccination hides pockets of resistance – The Times
  • PM could delay June 21 unlocking – The Sun
  • Indian variant now reached 40% of local authority areas – Daily Mail
NAO report
  • Watchdog says Covid crisis highlighted underfunding of social care and local government – Daily Mail
  • Covid laid bare existing weaknesses in UK government, says NAO – The Guardian
Comment

…as Cummings threatens to reveal ‘crucial’ Covid document…

“Dominic Cummings today set the stage for an explosive appearance in front of MPs next week, claiming an obsession with secrecy at the heart of Government ‘contributed greatly to the catastrophe’ of the Covid pandemic in the UK. Boris Johnson’s former top aide also threatened to reveal a ‘crucial historical document’ when he is grilled on No10’s handling of coronavirus at a joint session of the health and science committees on May 26. He took to Twitter today in a typically lengthy diatribe about the pandemic, saying ‘openness to scrutiny would have exposed Government errors weeks earlier than happened’. – Daily Mail

  • Former adviser warns he may expose Covid failings – The Times
  • Government secrecy contributed to the Covid catastrophe, says Cummings – Daily Telegraph
  • Cummings’ plan to discredit PM should not be taken lightly – Daily Telegraph
  • Downing St flat wallpaper coming off – Daily Mail

…the nurse who cared for Johnson when he had Covid, quits…

“A nurse who looked after Boris Johnson when he was seriously ill with the coronavirus has quit the NHS, citing the government’s 1 per cent pay offer and its lack of respect for the profession. Jenny McGee said that she became disillusioned after being asked to take part in a Clap for Carers event at Downing Street after looking after Johnson in intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London last year. In The Year Britain Stopped, a Channel 4 documentary, she said: “It would have been a really good photo opportunity. You know, kind of like ‘Boris and his NHS friends’, but I wanted to stay out of it.” – The Times

…and MP tells Hancock ‘don’t insult the people of Bolton’

“A Bolton MP has criticised the health secretary’s “unhelpful” comments about vaccine hesitancy among residents who had been admitted to hospital with coronavirus as she blamed issues with the initial rollout. Yasmin Qureshi, the Labour MP for Bolton South East, objected after Matt Hancock said that “the majority” of people admitted to hospital in the town, an Indian variant hotspot, had been eligible for the vaccination and chose not to have it. Qureshi said that Hancock should be focusing on earlier problems relating to the rollout of the vaccine in some parts of Bolton, as well as why infection rates had increased.” – The Times

Comment

Sebastian Payne: The Conservatives fear green growth in leafy England

“In the garden of England, a green revolution has begun. Amid the victories for Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in local elections earlier this month, there were shoots of growth for the Green party. Mark Hood, a 52-year-old gardener, is one of two Greens to oust Tory councillors in the Kentish market town of Tonbridge, ending an unbroken blue streak harking back to 1977. He attributes the success to old-fashioned campaigning. “We were visible, we litter-picked, we set up Covid support groups. We worked in the community,” he says. The Greens papered the town with flyers and found favour as middle class insurgents.” – FT

Comment

Former mail bosses could be hauled to give evidence to inquiry

“The probe into the postmasters scandal is to be upgraded to a ‘statutory’ footing, meaning witnesses face imprisonment if they fail to appear. It could mean Post Office chiefs who presided over the UK’s biggest miscarriage of justice finally being compelled to take the witness stand. Innocent postmasters, often the pillars of their village communities, were sacked, jailed or made bankrupt over mysterious shortfalls in their branch accounts – when in fact a computer glitch in the Horizon IT system was to blame. During a cynical 15-year cover-up by the Post Office, hundreds of lives were ruined. So far, 45 have had their convictions overturned after being wrongly accused of stealing from their own branches.” – Daily Mail

Patel should let us get on with the job, says chief constable

“Priti Patel and the Home Office need to step back from the policing agenda and senior officers must reassert their independence, a chief constable has told The Times. Gareth Morgan said that he was concerned that the home secretary had interfered in some operational issues and that the police should not be closely aligned to any political party. “Ultimately I think that’s the risk, that policing is seen as the extension of government,” he said.“ – The Times

Hundreds of civil servant jobs moved to Stoke

“Home Office civil servants will be moved to Stoke-on-Trent as part of a “levelling up” drive under which areas with poor schools will be prioritised for help. Government departments are announcing initiatives worth up to £860 million as part of Boris Johnson’s aim to achieve tangible results for parts of the country that backed the Conservatives for the first time in the last general election. A new tranche of civil service jobs will move away from London in line with the government’s commitment to move 22,000 civil service roles out of the southeast by 2030.” – The Times

David Blunkett: Social care must be Johnson’s post-Covid priority

“By 2025, there will be a million people living with dementia. Undoubtedly, working out how we will care for each and every one is the most pressing issue of our time. We do not have a cure for dementia yet, so it is social care, not the NHS, that people with dementia largely rely on daily. At present, families across the UK are facing battles to access care and support, to engage care workers who have had some kind of basic dementia training, with astronomical care bills and dementia itself.” – The Times

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