Published:

June 21 easing of Covid lockdown rules delayed by four weeks…

“Boris Johnson will appeal to the nation to be patient today as he announces that the June 21 easing of lockdown restrictions will be delayed by up to four weeks. The prime minister will use a press conference in Downing Street this evening to set out the delay as the government attempts to hit its target of offering all adults at least one dose of a vaccination by the end of next month. A government source said that Johnson views it as the “final stretch” as he seeks to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before lockdown rules are eased. The prime minister has repeatedly argued that the end of restrictions must be “irreversible”. In an attempt to mitigate criticism he is expected to lift the 30-person limit on weddings and allow for more seated outdoor sporting and cultural events to take place with large crowds.” – The Times

  • Johnson to urge public to accept ‘one last heave’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Wait a little longer and we’ll free ourselves for good, Raab insists – The Times
  • Furious MPs demand certainty over ending of Covid restrictions – Daily Mail
  • Unlock and let us live with Covid, Johnson urged by adviser – Daily Telegraph
  • Delaying England’s Covid reopening ‘could keep thousands out of hospital’ – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: The real obstacle to freedom day is the NHS – or, rather, our habit of running it at full stretch

>Yesterday: Video: Raghib Ali, our regular contributor, now a Government adviser, on the future of lockdown

…but Sunak rejects pleas from businesses and says furlough scheme will begin to be phased out from July 1

“Demands from businesses to extend the furlough scheme were rejected by Rishi Sunak last night – despite the expected delay to ending lockdown. The hugely expensive wage support fund is due to start being wound down at the end of this month. As part of the Budget earlier this year, the Chancellor announced he would stop covering 80 per cent of the salaries of those not at work. From July 1, the Government’s share will fall to 70 per cent with employers contributing 10 per cent, as part of a staged withdrawal of the scheme due to finish completely at the end of September.” – Daily Mail

  • Company closures spark fears of surge in Covid loans fraud – Daily Mail
  • Furlough will continue to cover a portion of people’s salaries until September – Daily Express
  • Army ‘must help get food to shops’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday:

G7 1) Johnson at odds with Biden over whether Covid leaked from Wuhan lab

“Boris Johnson is at odds Joe Biden over whether Covid leaked from Chinese lab. Asked by The Sun about the fears the bug escaped from a Wuhan research facility, the PM said: “At the moment, the advice that we have had is that it doesn’t look as though this particular disease of zoonotic origin came from a lab.” … However the US president did not scotch the claim, saying it was not yet certain whether or not “a bat interfacing with animals and the environment caused this Covid-19, or whether it was an experiment gone awry in a laboratory”. G7 leaders yesterday renewed calls for a further investigation into the origin of the Covid pandemic amid questions over whether it leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” – The Sun

  • President  rallies western allies in global ‘contest’ against autocrats – FT
  • Downing Street defends G7 beach barbecue after backlash – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: Biden as the G7 ends. “We’re in a contest with autocratic governments around the world”

G7 2) Prime Minister hails ‘big step to vaccinating the world’ as he confirms G7 will donate a billion jabs to poorer countries

“Boris Johnson today hailed a ‘big step to vaccinating the world’ as he confirmed the G7 has agreed to donate a billion Covid vaccine doses to poorer countries. Wrapping up the summit in Cornwall, the PM said leaders at the summit in Cornwall have pledged a combination of jabs and money to pay for them by next year. The commitment includes 100million doses from the UK and 500million from the US, with Mr Johnson insisting they are going ‘flat out’ to protect populations. However, campaigners have warned that the numbers are far from enough to prevent the virus from running riot among some of the globe’s most vulnerable populations – and potentially sparking new problems in richer countries.” – Daily Mail

  • Leaders denounced by ex-Prime Minister for moral failure over vaccine donations – The Times
  • EU declines to shame China over using slave labour in Xinjiang – The Times

Comment:

  • Despite the grand words, this G7 falls devastatingly short on vaccines – Gordon Brown, The Guardian

>Today: Bim Afolami MP in Comment: The politics of Net Zero are more perilous than we think

>Yesterday:

G7 3) Northern Ireland: Government ‘will do whatever it takes to protect the territorial integrity of the UK’

“Boris Johnson spoke after the French leader, who had been accused of being “offensive”, dismissed ministers’ comments on Northern Ireland as “polemics”. The row overshadowed the final day of the G7 summit in Cornwall. At a press conference Johnson said: “What I am saying is that we will do whatever it takes to protect the territorial integrity of the UK. We are all part of one great indivisible United Kingdom and that is the job of the UK government to uphold.” … The prime minister complained that the EU’s interpretation of the Northern Ireland protocol would prevent processed meat, such as sausages, being sent to the province from Britain after the end of the month. “How would you like it if the French courts stopped you moving Toulouse sausages to Paris?” Johnson is understood to have said. The French president claimed that it was “not a good comparison because Paris and Toulouse are part of the same country”, a British government source claimed.” – The Times

  • Johnson reiterates threat to suspend Protocol – The Guardian
  • Raab lashes out at European leaders for ‘offensive’ attitudes about UK – Daily Telegraph
  • He accuses EU of infringing on ‘UK integrity’ over Ulster – FT
  • Johnson is well aware of ‘incoherences’ in Brexit deal, hits back Macron – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Brown warns that decades of conflict face the Union – The Times
  • Prime Minister tells President ‘with greatest respect’ to keep nose out of Brexit – Daily Express

Comment:

  • Macron’s beef with Johnson is about his own survival – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail

>Yesterday:

Nato urged by Johnson to recognise cyberthreat

“Boris Johnson will today urge Nato to modernise and invest in tackling cyberattacks as the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. The prime minister will travel to Brussels today for a summit of the Western alliance where he will highlight cyberattacks on the healthcare systems of some alliance members. He will also back the modernisation programme instituted by Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, saying the alliance must be prepared to face down the challenges of the future. “Nato is not just important to the UK’s security, it is our security,” Johnson said in a statement before the summit… He said there is a “pattern of Russian behaviour” from cyberattacks through to the willingness to use military force against neighbours such as Ukraine and Georgia.” – The Times

  • Covid recovery should focus on ‘peace and stability’ – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Defence plans risk being out of step with leading Nato allies – John Healey MP, Times Red Box

Ban ministers from lobbying for five years after office, recommends anti-corruption watchdog

“Ministers should be banned from political lobbying for up to five years after leaving office, the anti-corruption watchdog is set to recommend ministers in the wake of the Greensill scandal. Lord Evans, chairman of the committee on standards in public life, will air the proposal in an emergency review of lobbying guidelines to be published on Monday, following the saga involving David Cameron, the former prime minister. With the controversy sparking intense public scrutiny of the rules governing current and former ministers and other office-holders, Lord Evans’s report will demand an overhaul aimed at preventing ex-ministers using their contacts and expertise for personal gain, according to the Sunday Times. The report will “single out David Cameron”, under whom Lord Evans served as MI5 chief for three years, in concluding that the current rules are “inadequate”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Chair calls for greater lobbying transparency – FT

More:

  • Johnson faces legal action over peerage for billionaire Tory donor – The Guardian

Starmer could cost Labour by-election, activists fear

“Labour’s support among British Muslims has fallen by a tenth under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership, a poll reveals, amid party fears that it will lose next month’s by-election in Batley and Spen. Starmer’s popularity lags far behind that of his party among Muslim voters after criticisms of his stance on Kashmir, Palestine and a report on Islamophobia in the party, according to poll findings seen by The Times. The Labour leader has a favourability rating of minus 7 per cent among Muslim voters, compared with his party’s rating of 42 per cent. Labour is still far more popular with Muslims than the Conservatives but the findings suggest that this may be changing. The party’s support among Muslims fell by 11 per cent between 2019 and 2021.” – The Times

  • Galloway eviscerates lefties obsessed with EU – Daily Express

Comment:

  • Johnson’s riding high, Starmer’s in the ditch… but how much longer will it last? – Andrew Rawnsley, The Guardian

GB News: the UK’s first news network to launch in 24 years

“Britons today woke up to a new breakfast show, as GB News launched its first ever edition of ‘Great British Breakfast’. After last night’s big launch, the news network – the first to start up in Britain in 24 years – today began its foray into the busy breakfast market. Hosts Nana Akua, a former BBC presenter, Darren McCaffrey, from Sky News, and broadcaster Kirsty Gallacher, a familiar face to Sky Sports fans, today kicked-off the brand new morning show – which will look to take on the likes of BBC Breakfast and ITV’s Good Morning Britain… It comes as the channel’s chairman, veteran broadcaster Andrew Neil, pledged his new 24-hour news channel will tackle cancel culture and will not be ‘yet another echo chamber for the metropolitan mindset’ as it launched at 8pm last night.” – Daily Mail

  • Teething troubles, but Neil’s unwoke TV may yet bite – The Times
  • ‘Risk to the BBC’: fans tune in to watch – Daily Express
  • Network accuses the BBC of an eleventh-hour ‘ambush’ in bid to ‘damage’ its launch – Daily Mail

More:

  • UK to rein in online platforms’ power in effort to protect public broadcasters – FT

News in Brief:

  • Honours for innovators: the case for an Elizabethan Order – Anton Howes, CapX
  • Neediness has defined US-UK relations for 80 years – Oliver Wiseman, The Critic
  • Is Johnson right to delay the lockdown easing? – John Connolly, The Spectator
  • Why are teenagers stabbing each other? – Max Daly, UnHerd