England facing weeks of ‘pingdemic’ disruption to services and food supply

“England is facing weeks of disruption to bin collection, transport and food supply due to staff self-isolating, companies and councils have warned, amid concerns the 16 August date to lift quarantine for the double-vaccinated could be delayed. No 10 was on Friday scrambling to set up a system to let more key workers take daily tests rather than isolate for 10-days, over fears that large parts of the economy could grind to a halt over the so-called “pingdemic”. Ministers initially said that there would only be a narrow definition of critical workers allowed to be routinely excused from quarantine, with about 10,000 workers at 500 food distribution sites and some NHS and social care workers permitted to take daily tests instead of isolation.” – The Guardian

Latest wave of Channel migrants to hit 22,000

“Border Force is braced for 22,000 migrants to cross the Channel in small boats this year with thousands more expected to be smuggled over in lorries. More than 8,900 migrants have already reached Britain after making the 21-mile journey across from France, exceeding last year’s record total. Analysis by The Times using data from the past 18 months suggests the numbers could double by October. By the end of the year, a further 12,900 are forecast to cross, according to a formula that has accurately predicted this year’s figures so far. It would take the total for this year to about 22,000. That is almost triple the 8,420 that made it across in 2020, which was itself four times higher than the previous year’s figure.” – The Sun

  • Pregnant migrants risk Channel dash – The Times

Not enough cash to finish HS2 in the north, ministers warned

“Huge upgrades to the transport system such as HS2 are being threatened by delays and mounting costs, according to a government audit. A report published by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority warned that plans for some major rail improvements may require significant changes before they can be completed. The annual study gave the lowest “red” rating to the northern section of HS2 – phase 2b – which means that successful delivery of the scheme “appears to be unachievable”. The conclusions were made as it emerged that a Department for Transport decision on the future of the line and other rail projects in the north and Midlands was being delayed until the autumn.” – The Sun

Interview – Allegra Stratton: ‘Cop26 is our moment of truth, when we say how we’re getting to net zero’

“Like many of us Allegra Stratton has a diesel car that she frets about replacing and a gas boiler that she worries about in winter with a house full of children. However, unlike the rest of us she is also the face and the voice of Boris Johnson’s climate change ambitions. And sitting in her north London garden on a sweltering day she is well aware of the potential irony. “If what you’re driving at is people are nervous of being told they can’t drive certain cars or have certain boilers then I am that person,” she says. “I don’t want anybody to be telling me tomorrow that I need to spend thousands on a new car or thousands on a new boiler. But that’s not what we’re doing.” – The Times

Families could get rewards for healthy living in new war on obesity

“Boris Johnson is to launch a government-backed rewards programme for families switching to healthier food and exercising under radical plans to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis. The scheme will monitor family supermarket spending, rewarding those who reduce their calorie intake and buy more fruit and vegetables. People increasing their exercise by taking part in organised events or walking to school will also accumulate extra “points” in a new app. On Friday night, Lord Stevens, the outgoing head of the NHS, warned that the health service would struggle struggle to cope in future if there were not radical moves to tackle obesity.” – Daily Telegraph

Tory poll lead over Labour collapses to just four percent – the lowest in six months – amid fury over national insurance tax hike to fund social care reforms

“The Tory party’s lead has collapsed to just four percent – the lowest in six months – amid fury over a national insurance tax hike to fund social care reforms. It is the Conservative’s smallest lead since mid-February, when the UK was in the midst of its third lockdown, according to a YouGov poll conducted for The Times. The data gave Johnson’s government only 38 per cent support, down from 44 per cent the previous week. By comparison, Labour had gained three points for 34 per cent support. It comes as Johnson faces a Cabinet revolt over social care after Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng publicly dismissed the idea of funding social care reforms by hiking national insurance.” – Daily Mail


Grand ambitions: Johnson’s two years as prime minister

“It was the week that was supposed to be a turning point — as well as the second anniversary — for Boris Johnson’s premiership. On Monday the prime minister had hoped to mark “Freedom Day” with a high-profile cultural visit as he released the nation from lockdown, before finally unveiling his plans to overhaul social care on Tuesday. A cabinet away day in a northern red wall seat to emphasise his commitment to levelling up was pencilled in for Thursday. Yesterday he was expected to celebrate the anniversary in Downing Street. Instead, his ambitions were again thwarted by Covid. Both Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, had to self-isolate after Sajid Javid, the health secretary, tested positive after their meeting on social care on Friday last week.” – The Times

Tokyo Olympics – Opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics showcases elegance, simplicity and precision

“Once it was under way, it was possible to forget at times what a uniquely bizarre occasion the opening of the Tokyo Olympics has become. There is a well-established formula for such occasions: fireworks, a parade of athletes, the lighting of the torch, and an elaborate musical performance, a pageant expressing a combination of national pride and cosy Olympic togetherness. In Tokyo, we had been promised a subdued, rather than a triumphalist show, and in its way it was delicate and rather beautiful. There was a video montage of striving athletes, a sequence of petals and blood vessels projected in light upon the stadium floor, and a performance of butoh avant-garde dance.” – The Times

News in brief: