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Don’t shift goalposts over June 21 unlocking, Johnson told

“Boris Johnson has been warned not to “move the goalposts” over freedom day on June 21 after MPs became concerned that the criteria for unlocking have changed. Ministers and government advisers have bombarded the public with data about increasing cases of Covid in most parts of the country in what is seen by some Tory backbenchers as an exercise in softening up the public for bad news. But while virus case numbers are slowly increasing, hospitalisations and deaths remain stable thanks to the success of the vaccination programme – and it is this that critics say should determine policy on easing restrictions… Carl Heneghan, Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, said the Government’s entire approach to data needed to change if it was to avoid falling into the trap of an unattainable “zero Covid” strategy.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Covid infections surge by three quarters in a week – The Times
  • Second vaccinations stepped up in bid to end Covid restrictions – Daily Telegraph
  • What can the UK government do to stave off a third Covid wave? – The Guardian

Comment:

  • When we lose our liberties, it takes years to win them back – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Hancock’s score falls by over 20 points in our latest Cabinet League Table

Gove accused of bending isolation rules

“Michael Gove is accused of bending isolation rules after watching the Champions League final in Portugal. The Cabinet minister is under fire after he was pinged by Test and Trace on his way back from Porto — but turned up for work at Downing Street the next day. Aides insist he is taking part in a pilot scheme that means he can stay at his desk provided he regularly tests negative. But shadow sports minister Alison McGovern said it was unfair Mr Gove would not have to self-isolate in the same way as ordinary fans who might also have received an alert.” – The Sun

  • Sturgeon forced to reassure parents over misleading Covid claims – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday:

Major joins push to overturn cut to UK overseas aid budget

“John Major has thrown his weight behind efforts to overturn government cuts to the UK’s overseas aid. Ahead of a possible Commons vote on the issue next week, the former prime minister said the UK needed to remain “a nation that keeps its word”. In a brief but strongly worded statement, Major said he had made his views known to ministers in private some weeks ago. “Even at this late hour I hope they will honour their better instincts and let compassion prevail to aid those in dire need,” he said. His intervention comes a day after another Conservative former PM, Theresa May, joined a revolt which is seeking to reverse a cut in the overseas aid budget from 0.7% of GDP to 0.5%, justified by Boris Johnson’s government on economic grounds.” – The Guardian

  • Slashing aid to the world’s poorest is wrong – Matthew Parris, The Times
  • The Tory rebellion on aid shows Johnson’s support is a mile wide and an inch deep – Katy Balls, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Derek Thomas MP in Comment: With the eyes of the world on Cornwall, the Government must think again on aid cuts

Frontbench backing for Brady’s 1922 rival

“Government figures are involved in an attempt to oust Sir Graham Brady from the chairmanship of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers. Brady, who has led the committee for more than a decade, is facing a challenge from Robert Goodwill, a former minister, in elections later this month. Several junior frontbenchers, including Jacob Young, the parliamentary private secretary for Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, and Angela Richardson, who fulfils the same role for Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, have been engaged in corralling support for Goodwill among MPs. Boris Johnson is believed to want a less combative figure than Brady, who was instrumental in deposing Theresa May as prime minister, to take over the chairmanship this year.” – The Times

>Yesterday: Jonny Thomson in Comment: Good manners aren’t a nice-to-have, but are central to democratic life

G7 set to strike deal on global corporate taxation

“The leading advanced economies are set to agree a common position on taxing multinational companies on Saturday in an attempt to end a three-decade race to the bottom in corporate taxation which would raise extra revenue for governments around the world. Finance ministers from the G7 group of nations were still haggling over details of the deal late on Friday, at a meeting in London hosted by UK chancellor Rishi Sunak. Delegates at the meeting said the G7 would agree in principle to change the basis of international corporate tax law for the first time in a century. The historic plan aims to force the world’s biggest companies to pay more tax in countries where they do business, not only where they are headquartered.” – FT

  • Sunak on brink of historic agreement that will see tech giants pay their fair share of tax – The Sun

More:

  • Tech deal with China for a £50million lab in Manchester will be axed within weeks – Daily Mail
  • Move end of tax year to March 31, says Government adviser – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Chancellor has a fight on his hands forcing the digital giants to pay their way – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail

Johnson is taking us for fools, EU says in tariff threat

“European leaders are drawing up plans to impose trade sanctions on Britain, accusing Boris Johnson of “taking them for fools” over the Northern Ireland protocol. Amid growing anger in Brussels, senior EU diplomats claimed that Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, had “completely failed to engage” with the commission on implementing the controversial agreement that came into force in January. The first meeting of the UK/EU partnership council next week will discuss issues relating to the protocol. One EU diplomatic source accused the UK of attempting to dismantle the agreement and warned that Brussels was prepared to take unilateral action… Under the terms of the trade and co-operation agreement either side can impose retaliatory tariffs on the other’s exports for breaching the agreement, pending independent arbitration. This also covers the Northern Ireland protocol.” – The Times

  • Brexit row erupts as UK gears up to pull out of €100bn EU scheme – Daily Express

New trade deal with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein ‘slashes tariffs on UK exports’

“Britain has reached a trade deal with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein that will cut tariffs on a range of exports, it was announced yesterday. The department of trade said that duties of up to 277 per cent on certain types of cheese would be eliminated under the deal. There are also reductions in tariffs and quotas on pork, poultry and as well as shrimps, prawns and haddock. Exports between Britain and the three countries — that are outside the EU’s customs union — can be done using digital documents, contracts and signatures, the Department for International Trade said. Liz Truss, the trade secretary, said the deal was good for all countries and was the first to include dedicated chapters on digital trade and small businesses.” – The Times

  • Agreement not as thorough as their accord with EU – FT
  • Opposition politicians in Oslo said the deal risks throwing Norway “under the bus” – Daily Express

Senior civil servant accused of trying to thwart Government’s anti-woke agenda

“One of the country’s most senior civil servants has been accused of attempting to “frustrate” the Government’s anti-woke agenda by telling colleagues there is no need to “slavishly” follow official policy. Matthew Rycroft, the Home Office permanent secretary, said civil servants should accept government policy “on some issues” but on others “it’s for us … to be stewards”. Mr Rycroft, who has been Priti Patel’s most senior civil servant since last year, surprised participants in a video conference call when he suggested that “our democratically-elected leaders” did not always have to be obeyed. One senior government source called his comments “unprofessional” and “dumb”. Mr Rycroft made the remarks during a Zoom call for civil servants last week entitled “Lunch with Civil Service Race Networks and Matthew Rycroft, race champion”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Channel 4 quits Stonewall scheme amid legal advice scandal – The Times
  • Report + Support tool for students ‘stifling free speech’ – The Times

Labour MP is mocked for claiming kids are ‘breaking in’ to schools

“A key ally of Keir Starmer was ridiculed after claiming kids were so keen to spend more time in school they were “breaking in” after hours. Labour frontbencher Peter Kyle said children have been jumping the fences at one Secondary in a desperate bid to spend more time in school. He told BBC’s Question Time: “We’ve got students who are breaking into school because they want to be in school so much.” Twitter users mocked the Hove MP, saying the kids were more likely to be going for a kick-about or about to graffiti the walls… But Mr Kyle defended his comments.” – The Sun

  • Lost learning time in English schools widens attainment gap – FT
  • Pupils’ post-lockdown progress was ‘wiped out when schools shut again’ – Daily Telegraph
  • How Johnson backed away from promises made to schools tsar – The Times

Comment:

  • Gutting the education plan fails our children – David Laws, FT

>Yesterday: Iain Dale’s column: The Education Recovery Plan. Williamson has very little capital to expend. Will it be Marcus Rashford to the rescue?