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Coronavirus 1) Today – PM to announce what lockdown restrictions will end on July 19…

“Boris Johnson will announce his intention today to lift remaining lockdown restrictions on July 19 while warning that the public must “exercise judgment when going about our lives”. At a press conference, the prime minister will push ahead with plans to return to normality and “restore people’s freedoms” in two weeks’ time, with social distancing rules scrapped, a return to large events and an end to compulsory masks in shops and on public transport. A cabinet minister said yesterday that the government would now “move away from the state telling you what to do” and confirmed face coverings would become voluntary.” – The Times

  • Use your judgment on masks, Boris Johnson urges public – Daily Telegraph
  • SAGE psychologist criticises Javid’s ‘frightening’ plan to scrap lockdown by July 19 – Daily Mail
  • Today’s pupils must not be ‘damned’ by Covid forever, NSPCC chief says – Daily Telegraph

Analysis:

  • Delta variant and the third wave: Covid keeps changing but we can deal with it – The Times

Coronavirus 2) …but there will be no announcement on bubbles – and travel rules for the double jabbed will be updated later in the week

“But plans for double jabbed Brits to no longer have to isolate after coming into contact with a Covid victim and mass-testing to replace bubbles that sees thousands of school kids sent home every week will not be announced today. A final decision on replacing both of those measures could come within days subject to Cabinet sign off. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has previously said he wanted the bubble system dropped “as quickly as possible”. A minister told the Mail: “It is not right to see people rubbing shoulder-to-shoulder in football stadiums while hundreds of thousands of children have to self-isolate even when testing negative for Covid.”” – The Sun

Coronavirus 3) Tim Stanley: The British must reject fear and dump their masks

“Hope, at last! The Government has indicated that all legal lockdown restrictions will end in England on July 19 and that even masks will become a question of choice, in which case I choose to burn mine. I’ve only worn the wretched thing “to make others feel comfortable”, and my heroes are the religious cranks and anti-social yobs who refused to play along. A few days ago, a girl in a thong and her topless boyfriend strolled into Waitrose without masks on and the security guard asked them why. “We’ve got anxieties,” said the girl, who looked like the least anxious person alive. My other hero is Sajid Javid, who proves that changing horse mid-stream can be a good idea.” – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 4) Fee waiver for hotel quarantine will leave taxpayer with the bill

“Taxpayers are facing a multimillion-pound bill to prop up the hotel quarantine scheme after the government was forced into a U-turn over costs. Ministers are considering allowing quarantine-free travel from amber countries from July 19. However, the Department of Health and Social Care is being forced to draw up a new subsidy scheme that will cut the quarantine bill for travellers from red list countries suffering financial hardship. It raises the possibility of costs being reduced or waived for tens of thousands of arrivals into the UK. It could also lead to a rise in travellers from high-risk countries who were previously deterred because of the cost.” – The Times

NHS gets George Cross: Queen awards medal to all staff and praises Covid heroes for frontline efforts during pandemic battle

“The Queen has awarded the George Cross to the NHS for seven decades of public service including battling coronavirus as she praised the ‘courage, compassion and dedication’ shown by staff and said the organisation had the ‘enduring thanks’ of a ‘grateful nation’. In a personal handwritten message on Windsor Castle-headed paper, Her Majesty highlighted the bravery exhibited by frontline workers during the pandemic and said Britain’s highest civilian gallantry medal would recognise ‘all NHS staff, past and present’. She wrote: ‘It is with great pleasure, on behalf of a grateful nation, that I award the George Cross to the National Health Services of the United Kingdom. This award recognises all NHS staff, past and present, across all disciplines and all four nations.” – Daily Mail

>Today:

‘Woke’ culture war is biggest dividing line among voters

““Wokeism” and the culture wars are on course to becoming the biggest dividing line in British politics, a prominent pollster has concluded following a major study into voter attitudes. Frank Luntz, who spent nearly three decades carrying out work for the Republican Party in the US and advised presidents including George W Bush on political language, said that within six to 12 months cultural divisions in Britain would catch up with those in the United States. “The problem with woke and with cancel culture is that it is never done. The conflict and divisions never end,” he said. “This is not what the people of the UK want — but it’s coming anyway.”” – The Times

  • ‘I think there’s a matter of biology, of course, what is a woman’: Jenrick says he ‘absolutely agrees’ with Truss who said ‘women have vaginas’ – Daily Mail

Comment:

>Today:

Sunak ‘must keep extra £20 on universal credit’

“The chancellor must extend the “vital” weekly £20 increase in universal credit, six former Tory welfare secretaries have said. Rishi Sunak is under growing pressure to make permanent the increase, which was introduced as an emergency measure. A letter to Sunak was signed by Amber Rudd, Esther McVey, Damian Green, Stephen Crabb, Sir Iain Duncan Smith and David Gauke. The former welfare secretaries said that the increase had been “vital for protecting the incomes of many families and providing support to the economy”. They wrote: “As former secretaries of state for work and pensions, we are writing with one voice to support those individuals and families that are struggling most in the wake of the pandemic”.” – The Times

>Today:

Patel 1) Migrants who cross the English Channel in small boats could be arrested on arrival under new laws brought forward by the Home Secretary

“Migrants who cross the English Channel in small boats could be arrested on arrival under new laws brought forward by Priti Patel. The Home Office has announced migrants who make the perilous crossing and the people smugglers who enable the journeys to happen will face tougher punishments to prevent ‘asylum shopping’. The Government will present its new Nationality and Borders Bill to the House of Commons on Tuesday as part of Ms Patel’s pledge to ‘fix’ the UK’s ‘broken asylum system’. The proposed legislation will make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission, with the maximum sentence for those entering the country unlawfully rising from six months imprisonment to four years.” – Daily Mail

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Patel 2) Policing bill ‘is harmful to democracy’

“Priti Patel’s plans to curb protest have “dangerous and harmful implications” for democracy, former senior police officers have said. They claim that the proposed legislation, which sparked widespread demonstrations including a riot in Bristol in March, will subject officers to “even greater political pressure” and potentially lead to more violence. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which returns for debate in the Commons today, introduces new powers for police to restrict protests and increases sanctions on those who breach such conditions. It will bring static protests in line with marches by allowing the police to impose time limits and maximum noise levels.” – The Times

More time to sue over shoddy homes

“Homeowners will be given twice as long to claim compensation for dangerous cladding and poor workmanship on their homes as part of legislation to improve building safety after the Grenfell tragedy. Under the Building Safety Bill, to be published today, the government will create a regulator to oversee buildings higher than 18m. Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, said last night that the legislation would ensure “high standards of safety for people’s homes”. Ministers have been under pressure for the lack of progress in resolving the cladding scandal. In 2017 the Grenfell Tower fire killed 72 people and exposed the fact that hundreds of thousands of leaseholders were living in high-rise homes that were potentially dangerous, making them unsellable.” – The Times

  • Housing Secretary said he wants a more ‘sensible and proportionate approach’ – Daily Mail

‘Completely hopeless’: Lewis delays law protecting Troubles veterans

“A new law to protect former British troops from prosecution over killings in Northern Ireland has been delayed again, prompting a furious backlash against the “completely hopeless” Cabinet minister in charge. Conservative MPs were privately told that the new Legacy Bill would be brought forward before the summer break. However, a letter sent by Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland Secretary, to party leaders in the province reveals that legislation will not be introduced until the end of autumn at the earliest.” – Daily Telegraph

We will pay the price for abandoning Afghanistan, warns ex-MI6 chief

“The UK will face a greater threat from terrorist groups like al-Qaeda if the allies neglect Afghanistan after troops withdraw, the former head of MI6 has warned. Sir Alex Younger said that western forces had placed Islamic State and al-Qaeda on the back foot during years of operations in the region but warned that the terror groups had the capacity to regenerate. He told Sky News it would be an “enormous mistake” for the allies to turn their back on Afghanistan because the growth of terror groups in the region would lead to “more threat” in the UK. Younger, who retired in September, also told the broadcaster he was “very worried” Russia could exploit the crisis in Afghanistan to harm the UK and its allies.” – The Times

Labour wants to force public bodies to ‘buy British’ in patriotic plan to take on the Tories

“A Labour government would force public sector organisations to ‘buy British’ under new patriotic plans designed to create more high-skilled jobs. Sir Keir Starmer’s post-Brexit economic vision includes a promise to ‘make, sell and buy more in Britain’. The policy announcement will be seen as an attempt to counter Boris Johnson’s ‘Global Britain’ drive as Sir Keir tries to rejuvenate his leadership after the party’s narrow victory in the Batley and Spen by-election. Public sector bodies would also face a legal requirement to disclose how many contracts they have awarded to domestic firms.” – Daily Mail

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