Scientists demand rethink on June 21 ‘Freedom Day’

“Boris Johnson is today facing mounting pressure over June 21 ‘freedom day’ as scientists compared local outbreaks driven by the Indian variant to ‘volcanoes’ that could engulf the country. The PM is being assailed by a rising clamour of experts warning against the unlocking – with Prof Adam Finn saying going ahead with the schedule could be a ‘bad decision’ and politicians will have to ‘carry the can’ for the decision. The British Medical Association insisted the UK is at a ‘pivotal moment’ and Mr Johnson must stick to his promise of being guided by ‘data not dates’. Amid growing signs of alarm over the direction of the pandemic, even though deaths are still low, ministers have admitted that a vaccine surge is the only way to ‘keep us on the roadmap’.” – Daily Mail

  • Final decision on June 14, says Eustice – FT
  • Scientists call on UK to speed up second jabs – The Guardian
  • More countries to be added to red list amid concerns over Covid variant spread – Daily Telegraph
  • Business warns against end of free workplace Covid testing – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Our survey. Over 50 per cent of respondents think Cummings’ critique of the Government was wrong.

School day to be extended under £15bn Covid rescue plan to help children catch up

“The school day will be extended by half an hour under a £15 billion Covid rescue plan to help Britain’s children to catch up after months of disrupted education, The Times has learnt. A leaked presentation of a report by Sir Kevan Collins, the government’s education recovery commissioner, calls for all children to receive an extra 100 hours of schooling each year from 2022, with a minimum 35-hour week. The ambitious plan for England proposes extra tutoring for five million pupils and additional training for 500,000 teachers. It also hints that an extra year of sixth-form should be considered if teenagers cannot complete A-level courses in time. The report warns that the cost to the country of inaction could be £1.5 trillion, 100 times the cost of the three-year package…” – The Times

Environment Sec ‘threatens to slap carbon tax on burgers from Australia’

“George Eustice sparked a Cabinet war today by threatening to slap a carbon tax on foreign meat. The Environment Secretary’s move could mean a levy being put on burgers from polluting mega-farms in Australia. Mr Eustice has been locked in a bitter battle with International Trade Secretary Liz Truss over the phasing out of meat tariffs on imports from Oz in the looming major trade deal. But he said the meat tax could help protect British farmers from cheap imports. His comments sparked fears he is plotting to sneak tariffs in by the back door and caused a backlash from some of his colleagues. One government source warned it will hit consumers while doing absolutely nothing to protect the planet.” – The Sun

  • His comments will worry free traders – The Times
  • Carrie to host world’s most powerful spouses at G7 summit in first job as Britain’s First Lady – The Sun


  • UK must keep its international promises or COP26 will fail – Gordon Brown, Times Red Box

>Yesterday: Eamonn Butler in Think Tanks: The Government wants to build back better. It might want to sort out its enormous tax burden first.

Raab to criticise Russia’s ‘aggressive behaviour’ at Nato summit

“Dominic Raab will on Tuesday present a “rap sheet” of Russia’s bad behaviour to Nato allies, as Moscow said it would increase its military presence in the west of the country. The Foreign Secretary will list a series of UK objections to Russia’s recent actions, including military build-up near Ukraine’s border, as Vladimir Putin’s top security officials announced 20 new “units and formations” would be deployed in western Russia and that the armoury of existing forces would be boosted. Mr Raab will also draw attention to the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk by the Putin-backed Lukashenko regime in Belarus on May 23. The Foreign Secretary has already threatened Belarus with fresh UK sanctions over the seizure of the Ryanair flight, but was urged to go further by colleagues in Parliament.” – Daily Telegraph

  • We must stop barbaric crimes against women – William Hague, The Times

Afghans who worked for British military to be fast-tracked entry into UK

“A relocation scheme for thousands of Afghans who worked for the British military is being accelerated amid fears of chaos when foreign forces leave the country. The Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy was launched this year to help the Afghans, who mostly worked for Britain as interpreters, come to Britain. More than 1,400 Afghans and their families have already arrived, with about 3,000 expected to follow. Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, said it was “only right” to accelerate the programme, because Afghans planning to relocate might be “at risk of reprisals” from the Taliban. Priti Patel, the home secretary, said Britain was meeting a “moral obligation”. Under criteria announced on Monday, interpreters who served with British forces will be allowed into the UK as a default position, regardless of their length of service or where in Afghanistan they served.” – The Times

  • Ministers considering indefinite jail terms for extremists – Daily Telegraph
  • Crackdown urged as criminals exploit 3,000 children a year – The Times

France, Italy and Germany vie for post-Brexit deals with UK

“France, Italy and Germany, the three leading European powers, are each trying to reach bilateral post-Brexit agreements with the UK, after Britain said it was not interested in closer security and foreign policy cooperation with the EU. The behind-the-scenes discussion at ambassadorial and ministerial levels runs in contrast to some of the negative rhetoric from Downing Street about its approach to its EU partners. The discussions have focused on defence cooperation but go far wider, and would be the first signs that the UK was capable of forging positive bilateral relations with its European partners. Boris Johnson’s willingness last week to host the Hungarian prime minister as the first mainland European leader in Downing Street was regarded as a setback to a gradual normalisation of British-European relations.” – The Guardian

  • Brexit shrank UK services exports by £110bn, academics find – FT
  • Thousands of expats in EU could miss deadline on residency rights – The Times


  • UK has golden opportunity for an era of responsible capitalism – Danny Kruger MP, Times Red Box

Burnham backs Labour to retake red wall

“Andy Burnham, the frontrunner to succeed Sir Keir Starmer as UK Labour leader, says he and other elected mayors have shown how the party can retake its former heartlands. Voting figures from his re-election as mayor of Greater Manchester last month, analysed constituency by constituency, showed that Burnham triumphed by a large margin in seats Labour lost in 2019. Burnham, dubbed ‘king of the north’, told the Financial Times that delivering improvements to people’s lives could win back white working class people who deserted the party in the so-called red wall across England’s north and Midlands, helping to deliver the Conservative party its general election triumph.” – FT

>Yesterday: Ben Bradley MP in Comment: My constituents aren’t interested in slanging matches in SW1. Potholes and parking, though…

SNP independence taskforce chief quits in same week as treasurer ‘worst job ever’

“Nicola Sturgeon is facing a party crisis after the independence taskforce chief quit the “worst job ever” in the same week as the SNP’s treasurer. Former Scottish Government minister Marco Biagi was brought in last year to head the SNP’s independence taskforce force as a consultant. But last week, Mr Biagi announced he would be leaving the post. Mr Biagi said the job had gone from being one of the best to one of the worst. In a Facebook post, he said he had “the best job offer I’ve ever had turn out to be the worst job I’ve ever had and publicly quit it”. He also made a subtle dig at Angus Robertson, who was selected as the Holywood candidate for the Edinburgh Central constituency ahead of the elections earlier this month.” – Daily Express

  • Salmond tells royals to stay out of Scottish independence debate – The Times
  • Cherry becomes latest to quit over ‘no transparency’ – Daily Express

>Today: Andrew Bowie MP in Comment: Expanding regional airport capacity can help strengthen the Union, and support left behind communities

News in Brief:

  • What pandemic planners can learn from the world’s best predictors – Gabriel Recchia, CapX
  • The DUP has been broken by Brexit – Andrew McQuillan, The Spectator
  • Is Johnson really a Catholic? – Peter Franklin, UnHerd
  • The death of western cosmopolitanism – Sam Olsen, The Critic