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Virus 1) Javid says July 19 is end of the line for lockdown restrictions

“Sajid Javid told MPs yesterday that he views July 19 as the “end of the line” for lockdown restrictions as he said the nation must learn to live with coronavirus. The new health secretary told the Commons that he was “very confident” that lockdown restrictions would be lifted next month and described July 19 as the start of “an exciting new journey for our country”. He said that while the number of cases is “ticking up”, the number of deaths remains “mercifully low”. The number of hospital admissions, he said, has doubled since the start of May… Senior science advisers have argued that any delay to lifting restrictions would offer only marginal benefit, which could be outweighed by pushing a third peak into the start of the new school term in September.” – The Times

  • UK must ‘learn to live’ with Covid, says new health secretary – FT

More:

  • Harding unlikely to ‘get the nod’ to run NHS England – FT
  • Baker condemns yobs who harassed Whitty – Daily Express
  • Jobs hang on speed of reopening as furlough winds down – FT

>Yesterday:

Virus 2) Ministers to consider ending isolation rules for schoolchildren

“Ministers are to review the controversial Covid-19 school “bubble” rule that has seen tens of thousands of students being forced to self-isolate for 10 days if one pupil in their group tests positive for the virus. Sajid Javid, new health secretary, told MPs on Monday he had asked for “fresh advice” on the issue and that the policy was drawn up “with the data that was available at the time”. Javid wants England to return to economic and cultural normality on July 19 and to learn to “live with” Covid. He told MPs that it was not possible to eliminate all risk… The rise in coronavirus cases is causing major disruption in schools in England, as they send home increasing numbers of pupils to self-isolate after some children test positive for Covid.” – FT

  • Daily Covid tests for schoolchildren hold key – The Times
  • Children’s Commissioner calls for urgent action to prevent a lost generation – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • We won’t force all football fans at Wembley to self-isolate, so why do it in schools? – David Blunkett, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Harry Fone in Local Government: Social distancing rules have pushed up the cost of council meetings

Virus 3) Hopes fade for early easing of curbs on travel to America

“A ban on UK citizens entering the US is unlikely to be lifted before the end of the summer. It was reported last night that talks over a transatlantic travel corridor are unlikely to reach a positive conclusion before the end of next month despite intense lobbying from airlines. Anxiety over the spread of the Delta variant in the UK combined with uncertainty over the status of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the US has led to deadlock between the two countries, it emerged. Spain, Portugal, Malta and Hong Kong have all announced new restrictions on British travellers. Most UK citizens have been banned from entering the US since March last year. At the same time, the US is on the UK’s amber list, forcing all travellers to quarantine for up to ten days on arrival.” – The Times

  • Officials play down chances of any breakthrough on transatlantic restrictions before September – FT

More:

  • Morrison vows to keep Australian border shut as Delta Covid variant takes hold – The Times

>Yesterday: Selaine Saxby in Comment: If we’re to make the most of holidaying in Britain, Ministers must help us gear up to meet demand

Ministers face probe over private emails…

“The data protection watchdog was poised last night to launch an investigation into the use of personal email accounts by ministers including Matt Hancock. Elizabeth Denham, the UK Information Commissioner, said she was ‘looking carefully’ at claims they were being used to conduct government business. Labour called for health minister Lord Bethell to be sacked over claims he had used a personal email address to discuss government contracts. Downing Street insisted yesterday that both Mr Hancock and Lord Bethell ‘only ever conducted government business through their departmental email addresses’.” – Daily Mail

  • Health minister Whately used private email for government work – The Guardian
  • Hancock reported to police over affair by Labour MP but cops refuse to investigate – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Row over Hancock’s emails highlights the trade-offs involved in ‘Freedom of Information’

…and security sweeps of Whitehall offices ordered after Hancock CCTV leak…

“Ministers have ordered an urgent search of their offices and the speaker of the House of Commons has opened a security review of parliament after last week’s leak of CCTV footage of former health secretary Matt Hancock. Hancock resigned on Saturday night after the release of a video of him kissing Gina Coladangelo, who was his adviser in the health department. Colleagues of Hancock said they had been shocked to realise their activities had been filmed in his private office, although ministers insisted on Monday that the ceiling-mounted camera was not “covert”. “I feel quite sick,” said one.” – FT

  • Offices are free from cameras, Speaker tells MPs and ministers – The Times
  • Camera that caught Hancock ‘should have been pointing in opposite direction’ – Daily Telegraph

…as Johnson suggests he sacked Hancock

“Boris Johnson on Monday appeared to claim he forced out Matt Hancock, despite his press team briefing that the former health secretary quit of his own accord. Downing Street told reporters Mr Hancock had not been pressured to go after he resigned following revelations that he was having an affair with an aide. But with broadcasters questioning ministers about why the Prime Minister had not acted over the scandal, Mr Johnson suggested in an interview that he had intervened. He said: “I read the story on Friday and we’ve got a new Health Secretary in post on Saturday, and I think that’s about the right pace to proceed in a pandemic.” The comment triggered accusations that he was rewriting history, given that he had initially stood by Mr Hancock when the news broke.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Cummings mocks claim – The Times
  • Labour urges overhaul of Whitehall oversight rules after Hancock row – The Guardian

More:

  • Gove insists he ‘just gets on with the job’ after wife’s article about how politics wrecks marriages – The Sun

>Today: Audio: The Moggcast: “I think one of the Prime Minister’s many attractive qualities is loyalty to people who work for him”

William Hague: Prime Minister shouldn’t duck a proper reshuffle

“Boris Johnson’s instinct to protect ministers in trouble is a healthy one, although it proved insufficient to save Matt Hancock from the charge that he could no longer ask others to maintain social distancing. So too is Johnson’s apparent preference to let ministers have long enough in a post to master it. In my own experience, it is six months before you can be sure of your brief as a minister and it is two years before you start to know more than your officials, who themselves often move jobs too quickly. Excessive reshuffling undermines such expertise and the accountability that comes from answering for one’s own mistakes: the flow of seven housing ministers in the past six years has not exactly eased the political problems in this crucial area of policy.” – The Times

  • Johnson was right to wait until Hancock resigned – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Major overhaul of Border Force after failure to stem flow of Channel migrants

“The Home Office has ordered a major overhaul of the Border Force amid growing frustration over the failure to stem the flow of illegal Channel migrants. The two directors general of Border Force and Immigration Enforcement are to quit their posts and will be replaced by a single supremo tasked with curbing the crossings and overhauling Britain’s “broken” asylum system. Consultants are also said to have been recruited to investigate a merger of the two Home Office directorates as the Government seeks to regain the initiative after a doubling in illegal migrant crossings this year and the failure to deport any to “safe” third countries.” – Daily Telegraph

  • A new supremo is expected to be appointed to stop illegal Channel crossings – Daily Mail
  • Patel’s offshore immigration hubs face legal challenges – FT
  • UN condemns Home Secretary’s offshore asylum plan – The Times

More:

  • Danes back hardline stance on immigration – The Times

Pupils face total ban on mobile phone use

“Schools will become mobile phone-free zones, Gavin Williamson announced yesterday as he set out plans for a nationwide classroom ban. Under a new regime backed by the education secretary, heads would be told to stop pupils using their phones at any point during the school day. Williamson said that the ban would end the “damaging effect” that overuse of mobile phones could have on children’s mental health and wellbeing. The move pits him against teachers’ leaders who have criticised it as a “distraction” from the pressing problems of helping pupils to catch up on learning lost during the pandemic.” – The Times

  • Unions say it is an attempt to distract from Government’s Covid failures – The Guardian

EU ‘confident of further delay’ to Northern Ireland meat import curbs

“The EU has said it is confident that a further delay can be agreed to looming restrictions on shipments of meat products across the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland, as Brussels vowed to consider “bold steps” to address some of the problems caused by Brexit in the region. Maros Sefcovic, the EU commissioner in charge of relations with the UK, said he believed a three-month extension could be granted to a grace period before restrictions come into force on exports of chilled meat products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.  Addressing members of the Stormont legislative assembly in Belfast, Sefcovic said the EU wanted to help address barriers to access to medicines in Northern Ireland, signalling the European Commission could introduce legislation to address the matter if necessary.” – FT

  • Brussels offers Brexit olive branch on trade with Ulster – The Times
  • Johnson warned not to be fooled by Brussels’ ‘false promises’ – Daily Express

More:

  • Welsh leader attacks ‘aggressively unilateral’ UK government – The Guardian
  • Scottish courts could have ‘unparalleled’ powers to reject Westminster legislation – Daily Telegraph

>Today:

‘Dirty tricks’ in Batley and Spen

“The Batley and Spen byelection race has descended into allegations of dirty tricks as Labour’s campaign was accused by one of its own MPs of using “dog-whistle racism” to win votes. One party leaflet distributed to Muslim voters showed Boris Johnson with India’s nationalist prime minister, Narendra Modi, and the message “Don’t risk a Tory MP who is not on your side”. The Labour MP Navendu Mishra said the “divisive” leaflet sought to turn communities against each other. Separately, Labour has alerted the police to fake leaflets that said the party believed “the biggest threat to our precious multicultural society is whiteness”. The TUC is reportedly taking legal advice over the leaflets, which also show Sir Keir Starmer taking the knee, and say the Labour leader “believes that it is high time that white people acknowledge their privilege”.” – The Guardian

  • Labour accused of stoking racial divisions with Batley and Spen by-election leaflet – Daily Telegraph
  • It shows Johnson with Indian PM with note: ‘Don’t risk a Tory MP who is not on your side’ – The Sun
  • Fear and loathing on left leaves Tories in pole position – The Times

More Labour:

  • Starmer appoints new political director in Labour backroom shake-up – The Guardian
  • Creasy will sue Parliament after her request for maternity cover is turned down – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Electoral Commission has a new chairman – but do we really need it?

News in Brief:

  • Hancock ‘dead cat’ theory is a new low in political analysis – John Ashmore, CapX
  • Badenoch: Britian is the best country in the world to be black – UnHerd
  • How should the clergy best engage in politics and public disputes? – Marcus Walker, The Critic
  • Will Javid scrap Hancock’s NHS reforms? – Isabel Hardman, The Spectator
  • End of the line for lockdown – Mattie Brignal, Reaction