Published:

Sixty MPs, including 49 Tory rebels, vote against extending lockdown to July 19

“MPs have approved the extension of coronavirus restrictions in England until July 19 – but 49 Tories rebelled amid demands that Boris Johnson must not ‘shift the goalposts’ and delay Freedom Day yet again. The Prime Minister was spared a defeat as Labour backed plans for a four-week delay to the end of lockdown measures, with MPs voting 461 to 60, a majority of 401, to approve regulations delaying the easing of the measures. There were 49 Tory rebels voting against the bill, including Conservative heavyweights David Davis, Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling and Esther McVey. Five no votes came from the Democratic Unionist Party, and six from Labour. For now, limits on numbers for sports events, theatres and cinemas will remain in place, nightclubs will stay shuttered and people will be asked to continue working from home where possible.” – Daily Mail

  • Backbenchers attacked the government for prolonging the restrictions – The Times
  • Size of the rebellion is likely to unnerve ministers – Daily Telegraph
  • Freedom Day will not be delayed beyond July 19 and face mask laws will be scrapped, Hancock tells MPs – The Sun
  • Sturgeon suggests delay in Scottish Covid lockdown easing – The Guardian

>Today: MPs Etc.: The 49 Conservative MPs who voted against the Coronavirus Regulations

>Yesterday: Emily Carver’s column: Many scoffed at the claim it will be hard to regain our freedoms. Yet Ministers show no sign of handing them back.

Return of holidays abroad for people who are fully vaccinated

“Summer holidays abroad will be opened up for vaccinated Britons under plans being considered by the Government, The Telegraph understands. Officials are drawing up proposals that could allow people who have had both Covid jabs to avoid having to quarantine on their return from amber list countries, although they will still have to be tested. The change would effectively turn amber countries green for the vaccinated, opening up the possibility of quarantine-free travel to most major holiday destinations in Europe and the US. The proposals to ease the restrictions for vaccinated people are said to be at an early stage. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, who has fought for tough border restrictions, is said to be “open” to the change.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Ryanair to sue Government over border policy – FT

More:

  • Ministers to be advised against mass Covid vaccination of children – The Times
  • Covid jabs to be made compulsory for care home staff in England – FT

>Yesterday:

‘Hopeless’ Health Secretary to be cleared in lying row

“Matt Hancock is set to be exonerated over claims that he lied to the prime minister, despite new disclosures from Dominic Cummings showing that Boris Johnson regarded his health secretary as “hopeless”. Johnson’s former chief adviser published images yesterday of text messages sent by the prime minister showing dissatisfaction with the health secretary’s handling of the pandemic. They also revealed that Johnson considered stripping Hancock of responsibility for procuring PPE supplies for the NHS and giving the job to Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister. Cummings has hinted that the messages are the start of a prolonged campaign to damage the government, saying he has “further evidence” that he will make “freely available to the public” to “force the system to face reality and change”.” – The Times

  • Cummings embarrasses Johnson by revealing text tirade… – Daily Telegraph
  • …and says he will release anothe batch of revelations about Hancock – Daily Mail

More:

  • Johnson ‘compared being PM to pulling a jumbo jet down a runway every day’ – The Sun
  • He could step down as Prime Minister in four years, it was claimed – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Andrew Gimson’s PMQs sketch: Cummings has lived, or at least blogged, in vain

Robert Shrimsley: Why today’s Johnson is the biggest risk to his future self

“The Conservatives, like many major parties, are a coalition. There are splits between authoritarians and libertarians, interventionists and Thatcherites, nativists and globalists.  Yet perhaps the most consequential fissure is the gulf between the prime minister’s lofty visions and his short-term gambits to escape a pressing problem or please a target audience. Or to put it another way, the split between Today Johnson and Future Johnson. This faultline has been obvious in the current row with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol, which Boris Johnson signed but does not wish to enforce. Much of this comes down to temperament.” – FT

  • Is this the best Cummings can do? – Chris Smyth, The Times

Sunak ‘ducks pledge to raise pensions in line with wages’

“Rishi Sunak repeatedly refused to confirm that state pensions would rise as quickly as wages this year, but insisted that the so-called triple lock was “still government policy”. With pay expected to increase by as much as 8pc as battered earnings recover from the Covid crisis, the triple lock rule would commit the Government to increasing pensions by the same amount, adding £5bn to the national deficit. The uprating would happen even though pensions did not fall alongside wages last year. The Chancellor claimed he could not pre-empt a decision on pensions and insisted that forecasts of a surge were “speculation”. He said the final decision would be taken as part of a statutory review in autumn.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Chancellor ‘squirms’ as he’s grilled by on GB News about ‘eye-watering’ spending, green projects that will cost ‘trillions’ – Daily Mail
  • He backs pension triple lock but insists: I’m conservative with money – The Times

More:

  • Treasury lands £1bn windfall as companies repay furlough cash – FT
  • Bosses won’t be able to force workers back to office after July 19 – The Sun
  • Move is likely to spark a backlash amid fears it could damage productivity – Daily Mail
  • More than half of Brits say they can’t afford pricy heat pumps to replace boilers – The Sun
  • Treasury to extend ban on commercial evictions until March 2022 – FT
  • Industry-funded Chewing Gum Taskforce will be unveiled this summer – The Sun

Comment:

  • These plans for ‘work from home for ever’ will drag UK back to the 1970s – Digby Jones, Daily Mail
  • Will the real Sunak please stand up – Iain Martin, The Times

GB News boycott ‘attacks our free media’, Culture Secretary warns big brands

“Big brands must not ‘succumb to pressure groups’ by pulling adverts from GB News, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden warned last night. He defended the UK’s ‘free and diverse media’ after major companies withdrew commercials following pressure from Left-wing campaigners. The firms have been branded ‘gutless’ by critics after appearing to pander to woke groups who want to boycott the channel. GB News, which launched on Sunday night, is aiming to provide an alternative to Left-leaning broadcast news rivals like the BBC… Last Tory MP Julian Knight, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, told the Mail: ‘This is the worst type of cancel culture.'” – Daily Mail

>Today:

UK asks EU to suspend Northern Ireland sausage ban

“The UK has asked the EU to suspend an imminent ban on the sale of British sausages in Northern Ireland to give both sides “breathing space” to negotiate an agreement on the Brexit protocol and avert a trade war. Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, was speaking days after Boris Johnson warned he would do “whatever it takes” to protect Northern Ireland’s position as part of the UK. From the end of this month, a grace period on an EU prohibition on the sale of chilled meats from Great Britain in Northern Ireland shops is due to expire as part of the Northern Ireland protocol, designed to prevent the restoration of a hard border on the island of Ireland. Frost confirmed the UK had proposed an arrangement with the EU in which most of the controversial border checks on meat and dairy products would be abolished but admitted the proposal has had “very little traction” from Brussels.” – The Guardian

  • Varadkar accused of stoking tensions with ‘united Ireland’ comments – Daily Telegraph
  • Sinn Féin designates deputy first minister to avert Stormont crisis – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Ministers need to rediscover the meaning of the word Britain – Henry Hill, Times Red Box

>Yesterday:

Truss closes in on New Zealand trade deal

“Liz Truss will hold talks with New Zealand negotiators on Thursday as she seeks to pave the way for a trade deal with the country in a matter of weeks. The Trade Secretary’s Kiwi counterpart, Damien O’Connor, flew to Britain on Wednesday and the pair had dinner, ahead of direct talks due to be held in the Locarno Room of the Foreign Office. It is the first time they have met in person. A deal with New Zealand is seen as a clear next step after Britain and Australia announced the outline of an agreement on Tuesday. The tie-up with Wellington is expected to follow similar broad strokes to the Australian deal – prising open the country for UK goods and services, but opening up British markets to exports sent by New Zealand farmers.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Ed Jones in Comment: A Five Eyes partner and a bulwark to China. Our relationship with Australia is about even more than trade.

Starmer missed open goal at PMQs, say his own backbenchers

“Sir Keir Starmer was accused of missing an open goal by his MPs after he failed to press the prime minister over Dominic Cummings’s latest claims. The Labour leader faced Boris Johnson at the dispatch box half an hour after the prime minister’s former adviser published his excoriating blog post. However, Starmer chose to focus on the government’s borders policy instead. In WhatsApp messages from March and April last year, revealed by Cummings, Johnson described Matt Hancock, the health secretary, as “totally f***ing hopeless”. The prime minister also referred to the failure to procure enough PPE as a disaster. Several Labour MPs who asked why Starmer did not mention the messages were told that it was because they were published 23 minutes before prime minister’s questions began.” – The Times

  • Labour picks ‘Stronger Together’ slogan used by Hillary Clinton to rebrand – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Labour needs more than leaflets to rebuild trust in Batley and Spen – Zesha Saleem, Times Red Box
  • Whether or not Labour wins the by-election, the party is in deep trouble – Owen Jones, The Guardian

Liberal Democrats hope HS2 will derail Tories in Chesham and Amersham by-election

“When voters in Chesham and Amersham go to the polls today, deep beneath their feet an HS2 boring machine called Florence will be tunnelling its way through the Chilterns. The high-speed rail line will run under the Buckinghamshire seat, where a by-election is taking place after Dame Cheryl Gillan, the constituency’s Conservative MP, died in April aged 68. Gillan represented Chesham and Amersham for 29 years and at the 2019 election held on with a majority of 16,223. The constituency was created 47 years ago and has had only Tory MPs. The Liberal Democrats, however, are hoping to win by exploiting opposition to HS2. The party’s internal polling, seen by The Times, suggests that the Tory lead has been narrowing, with the Lib Dems expecting 41 per cent of the vote compared with their 45 per cent.” – The Times

News in Brief:

  • The Government should help private schools to help themselves – Henry Hill, CapX
  • Why Remain lost – Fintan O’Toole, UnHerd
  • The new leviathan: the big state is back – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • 20 years since Dr Richard Taylor won in the Wyre Forest – Harry Taylor, The Critic