Published:

Education 1) Covid schools tsar quits after £15bn plan rejected

“The prime minister has been accused of failing hundreds of thousands of children by the man he appointed to lead the government’s coronavirus recovery task force for schools. Writing in The Times today, Sir Kevan Collins says that he had “no option” but to resign after Boris Johnson rejected his proposals for a £15 billion package to provide pupils with extra time and teaching to catch up on lost education over the next three years. Collins accuses Johnson of taking a “half-hearted approach” that risks failing pupils and damaging Britain’s long-term economy after ministers announced they would only guarantee a tenth of the funding he recommended… Labour said his resignation was a “damning indictment” of the government’s catch-up plan while the Conservative chairman of the education select committee said it was a “blow” to lose someone of Collins’s “stature”.” – The Times

  • Funding allocated ‘does not come close to meeting scale of challenge’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Downing St must take the blame, say critics as Collins quits – The Times
  • Treasury’s £1.4bn school catch-up fund falls short, say educators – FT
  • No 10 advisers who have quit Johnson’s government – The Guardian

Education 2) Sir Kevan Collins: Our children deserve better than this half-hearted plan

“The recovery approach we take will reveal our commitment to a generation of children. After the hardest of years, a comprehensive recovery plan — adequately funded and sustained over multiple years — would rebuild a stronger and fairer system. A half-hearted approach risks failing hundreds of thousands of pupils. The support announced by government so far does not come close to meeting the scale of the challenge and is why I have no option but to resign from my post. I do so thinking about my meetings with over a thousand parents and school leaders over the past four months. Phrases like “lost learning” can feel intangible, but from their testimony and close analysis of assessment data, it is clear that the challenges facing our children are real.” – The Times

>Yesterday: Robert Halfon MP’s column: Beware the bear traps. The Conservatives’ biggest threat is complacency.

Education 3) Pupils in England to be offered 100m hours of tuition in Covid catch-up plan

“Pupils will be offered an extra 100m hours of tuition under post-pandemic catch-up plans unveiled today – but the government faced immediate criticism of the £1.4bn programme, with its own tsar warning “more will be needed”. After months of unprecedented school closures, £1.4bn will be spent on up to 6m sets of 15-hour tutoring courses for disadvantaged pupils as well as an expansion of an existing fund for helping 16- to 19-year-olds with subjects such as English and maths, the Department for Education (DfE) said. There is also provision for extra training and support for teachers, and funding to allow some year-13 students to repeat their final year if it was badly affected by the pandemic. It gave no immediate verdict on mooted plans to extend schools days by 30 minutes. This idea, criticised as misplaced by some teaching unions, will be the subject of a separate review due to report later in the year.” – The Guardian

  • School day should be extended permanently, says Williamson – The Sun
  • Government announced schools will be given funding Year 13 repeats – Daily Mail
  • Schools should not send exam-year pupils home early, says Ofsted head – The Guardian

Al fresco dining revolution could be made permanent in bid to save high streets

“Ministers are pushing for Britain’s al fresco dining revolution to be made permanent after Covid. The transformation of Britain’s pavements into bustling piazzas is one of the only upsides of the hated lockdown, government insiders reckon. They think that keeping the Mediterranean cafe culture going could be the key to saving the country’s struggling high streets… As lockdown made it illegal to sink a pint or tuck into a steak indoors, Downing Street tore up red tape to allow pubs and restaurants to serve customers outside instead. They ordered jobsworth town hall bosses to slash costs and have a presumption in favour of approving applications for outdoor seating. High streets saw an explosion in outside eateries and boozers as cash-starved bosses rushed to make the most of the new rules.” – The Sun

Johnson warns green list could be culled as Portugal faces axe

“Boris Johnson has warned that the Government “will not hesitate” to axe countries from the green list for travel amid growing concern that Portugal could be removed. Ministers and their medical advisers will meet on Thursday to decide whether Portugal should be dropped from the green list and instead rated amber, requiring holidaymakers to quarantine for 10 days on their return and pay for two PCR tests. Scientists from the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) are concerned about rising infection rates and the emergence of variants in Portugal, which was the first of 12 countries and territories to be rated green just three weeks ago. JBC experts were crunching the data before a final decision on Thursday, but a switch to amber or a precursor “watch list” was thought likely on Wednesday night.” – Daily Telegraph

  • ‘Nepal variant’ threat to our holidays – Daily Mail
  • We must be so cautious about June 21 freedom, says the Prime Minister – The Times

Hancock ‘fights for his job’ with big vaccine victory speech

“Matt Hancock today mounted a desperate bid to avoid the sack with a gushing victory speech trumpeting Britain’s vaccine rollout. The Health Secretary put himself at the heart of the jab mission as he fought to save his job following Dominic Cummings’ blistering attacks last week. Boris Johnson’s former adviser branded Mr Hancock a serial liar and said he should have been fired for “at least 15-20 things” during the crisis. This afternoon the beleaguered minister used a speech at Oxford University to stage a fightback ahead of his own grilling by MPs next Wednesday… Britain has streaked ahead in its immunisation drive and today marked a milestone of 75 per cent of all adults jabbed.” – The Sun

  • Booster Covid vaccine tailored to beat South African variant – The Times
  • Health Secretary orders officials to draw-up detailed timeline of decisions made around care homes – Daily Mail

Sturgeon issues ‘outrageous list of demands’ ahead of crunch summit with Johnson

“Nicola Sturgeon has issued an outrageous list of demands ahead of a crunch Covid summit with Boris Johnson today. Today’s online meeting will bring together the Prime Minister, Ms Sturgeon, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford and Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill. But ahead of the crunch meeting, Ms Sturgeon has listed a number of demands. The Scottish First Minister demanded the Government extends the furlough scheme, rule out a return to austerity and prioritise a just recovery from the pandemic. She also called for the Government to ensure pre-existing inequalities are not further exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis… The First Minister went on to say how the Scottish Government “requires certainty over funding”.” – Daily Express

  • Pressure mounts on Prime Minister as First Minister delays unlocking – The Sun
  • Scottish Government faces backlash over restrictions – Daily Telegraph
  • Ross is self-isolating, a day after he was in the Scottish Parliament to discuss Scotland’s road out of lockdown – Daily Mail

>Today: Steve Baker MP in Comment: The UK almost certainly needs an Electoral Integrity Bill. The question is whether it goes far enough.

UK looks to seal Australia trade deal after G7…

“The UK is aiming to sign its first significant post-Brexit trade deal with Australia soon after the upcoming G7 summit, as a major Pacific trade bloc formally approved Britain’s application to begin accession talks. Senior Whitehall officials said that talks between the UK and Australia were nearing their conclusion, with a tentative agreement “pencilled in” for the week commencing June 14 following the G7 summit in Cornwall. Scott Morrison, Australian prime minister, will join the gathering of western leaders from June 12 as a guest of his UK counterpart Boris Johnson. The approval on Wednesday by Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, for the UK to start accession talks is a further sign that a trade deal with Australia is close to being sealed.” – FT

  • Post-Brexit Australian trade deal to be signed ‘in weeks’ – The Times
  • Scotch whisky set to become tariff-free in Australia – Daily Telegraph
  • Rees-Mogg celebrates free trade Brexit victory – Daily Express
  • Britain to start negotiations to join Asia-Pacific CPTPP trade treaty – The Guardian

Comment:

  • How the Brexit dividend can become reality – Iain Martin, The Times

…as Frost demands EU shows more ‘common sense’ over Northern Ireland

“Lord Frost has demanded more ‘common sense’ from the EU as he warned the Northern Ireland Protocol is ‘not sustainable’ unless checks are toned down. The Brexit minister ramped up pressure on Brussels as he visited the province to meet business and community representatives angry about the rules. Sectarian tensions have been fuelled by a raft of checks on goods at the ports of Belfast and Larne, with unionists protesting about obstacles to trade with the British mainland. New DUP leader Edwin Poots has accused the EU of using Northern Ireland as a ‘plaything’ to punish the UK for leaving the bloc.” – Daily Mail

  • Lewis backs him up – Daily Express
  • Brussels pins hopes on Biden to calm Ulster tensions – FT

More:

  • Britain and EU sign fishing deal – but it ‘won’t please everyone’ – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Only if implemented in a pragmatic and proportionate way by EU can protocol support the peace process – Lord Frost and Brandon Lewis, Belfast Telegraph

>Today: Stephen Booth’s column: Switzerland’s painstaking negotiations with the EU tell us a lot about our future relationship with Brussels

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Northern Ireland’s place in the UK must be affirmed by deed, as well as by word

Tories ready to rebel and hijack bill to stop international aid cut

“Rebel Tory MPs are preparing to hijack government legislation to force Boris Johnson to restore Britain’s aid budget. In the biggest Tory revolt since the election, more than 30 Conservative MPs will publicly back an amendment next week that would oblige ministers to reverse the 0.7 per cent aid cut next year. Those behind the plan include four former cabinet ministers and the chairmen of eight parliamentary select committees. The rebels believe that they have the numbers to overturn the government’s 85-seat working majority and inflict the first defeat of this parliament on the prime minister. The Times understands that the rebels intend to use a parliamentary debate on the government’s Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill that is due to return to the Commons on Monday.” – The Times

  • Plans to restrict judicial review weaken the rule of law, MPs warn – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: Maybe the world is not going to hell in a handcart after all

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Our survey. On the environment, Tory members support action but not hysterics about an ’emergency’.

‘Dirty secret’ gives lobbyists access to heart of Westminster

“An investigation has been launched into the growing number of parliamentary groups that can give lobbyists access to Westminster without having to declare who their clients are. The Times has been told it is a “dirty secret” that vested interests use all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs) to further their agendas. These groups of MPs produce official reports and hold discussions on issues ranging from energy and obesity to gambling. They can also hold Westminster receptions. However, more than 20 lobbying companies, which are hired to promote the interests of businesses and influence policy, are providing services and funding to these groups. The companies, which can charge their clients tens of thousands of pounds a year, are not obliged to declare in whose interests they are acting.” – The Times

  • MPs’ groups paid for by benefactors in the background – The Times

Army’s new Ajax tanks make crew ill and can’t fire shells on the move

“A £5.5 billion programme to deliver 589 light tanks to the army appears to be “unachievable”, a leaked government report discloses. The project is facing “major issues” that limit the amount of time the crew can spend in the vehicle, the paper says. The document, by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, which reports to the Cabinet Office, says that the problems with the Ajax vehicle do not seem to be manageable or resolvable within the agreed costs and timescale. As it stands, the crew testing the vehicle is operating under “stringent limitations of use”, which means that members’ time inside is limited to 90 minutes and the tanks cannot exceed 20mph. The report, published internally in April, says that there is a “real risk” that members of the Household Cavalry involved in the trials could have their confidence in Ajax “undermined”.” – The Times

  • Vehicles costing £3.5bn cannot be driven safely over 20mph – Daily Telegraph
  • Troops must adapt to new types of warfare, general warns – The Times

News in Brief:

  • This is Britain’s 9/11 moment – Ayaan Hirsi Ali, UnHerd
  • Broken Trust: the crisis at the heart of the National Trust – Charles Moore, The Spectator
  • The Tory MPs keeping the free market flame alive – Harry Phibbs, CapX
  • Who are the CEDAW People’s Tribunal? – Andrew Tettenborn, The Critic