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Coronavirus 1) Johnson’s five-point plan to end schools chaos

“A five-point rescue package to ease the impact of the Covid pandemic on children is being worked up by Boris Johnson’s officials after mounting pressure from Tory MPs. The Telegraph has been passed details of a paper submitted to the Covid Operations Cabinet committee, with announcements due later this month. One proposed change is for the requirement for schools to send home “bubbles” of students to be ditched from July 19, the earliest date for the final step of reopening in England. Another is to end pupils self-isolating if they are flagged for coming into contact with someone with Covid from the autumn term, replaced by a system of daily tests. A third is to continue the twice-weekly testing of all secondary pupils during term time until the end of September but then hold a review, meaning the arrangement could be scrapped by October.”  Daily Telegraph

  • Parents angry at shifting government Covid messages, say school leaders – The Guardian
  • Face masks may still be needed in classrooms, says teaching union – Daily Telegraph
  • NHS staff savage the Covid app – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Georgia L Gilholy in Comment: Eton’s new sixth-form colleges will do little to promote social mobility

Coronavirus 2) Brits who got India-made AZ jabs mustn’t be banned from EU, Prime Minister demands

“Brits shouldn’t be banned from Europe because they’ve been jabbed with AstraZeneca doses made in India, Boris Johnson declared today. The PM said he sees “no reason at all” why people in the UK who received the Covishield version of the vaccine would be discriminated against. And after talks on reopening travel with Angela Merkel at Chequers, he declared: “I am confident that will not prove to be a problem.” His remarks came as the boss of the factory where the shots were made said travel warnings over its jabs have been “blown out of proportion”. Serum Institute chief Adar Poonawalla said he expects its vaccines to be green-lighted for use in Europe this month. Almost five million Brits have been given AZ shots that were manufactured at the massive plant in India.” – The Sun

  • Merkel paves way for holidays in the EU without quarantine – The Times

Coronavirus 3) Quarantine ‘to end for people who have been double vaccinated’

“Fully vaccinated people who have been in contact with a coronavirus sufferer will be free within weeks to carry on life as normal with no need to take daily tests, The Times has learnt. In the clearest sign yet of ministers’ plans to replace virus restrictions with a focus on personal responsibility, they intend to drop all legal requirements on those who have had both jabs if they encounter a confirmed case. Despite acknowledging that unvaccinated people may also start ignoring quarantine rules and could “game” the system, ministers want to introduce the proposals next month. Official estimates suggest that infections will increase by as much as 26 per cent under the plans but the government is likely to accept the risk to avoid further disruption to businesses, schools and public services. The change would bring England into line with other countries such as the US and Germany.” – The Times

  • Government will not push for mass return of workers to offices – Daily Telegraph
  • Voters back July 19 freedoms but are wary Covid cases will surge – The Times
  • Ministers urged to keep some Covid restrictions after 19 July due to ‘alarming’ rise in cases – The Guardian
  • Doctors call for ‘targeted Covid measures’ to stay – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Our survey. Party members overwhelmingly back scrapping ‘all lockdown restrictions’ on July 19.

Coronavirus 4) No plans to reduce gap between Covid jabs as cases soar

“The UK has ruled out reducing the gap between doses of Covid-19 vaccines in a bid to speed up getting two jabs into more people, even as the latest data showed infections soaring again. NHS leaders and scientists have raised concerns about Boris Johnson’s plan to lift all the remaining restrictions on July 19 when millions will not be fully immunised as the latest data showed cases jumped by 74 per cent week-on-week. The UK prime minister is expected next week to give the green light to lifting remaining curbs as he seeks to return England to normality after almost 18 months in which the pandemic has constrained daily life. A series of announcements, on everything from mask-wearing to foreign travel, is expected in the coming days.” – FT

  • Children being given vaccine as councils ‘go rogue’ – Daily Telegraph

Javid open to tax rise to pay for social care reform, allies say

“Sajid Javid is open to supporting a tax rise to pay for major social care reform, according to allies, as he joined the Treasury in a push to find a “sustainable” funding solution. The new Health Secretary will play a critical role in brokering an end to the stand-off between Number 10 and Number 11 over funding to tackle the adult social care crisis. Mr Javid is a “problem-solver” without an “ego” who has the experience in both the Treasury and other government departments to craft a compromise, according to former colleagues. He once helped drive through the social care precept when Communities Secretary, which allowed a two per cent rise to council tax bills to cover care costs, showing an openness to such moves.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Health Secretary ‘poised to unveil tax hike bombshell’ – Daily Express
  • Rich care providers took furlough cash – The Times

Comment:

  • Javid must act to save an NHS on its last legs – Camilla Cavendish, FT

The anti-lockdown Telegraph targets lockdown-supportive Gove over Covid rules…

“Michael Gove on Friday night became the second senior Cabinet minister in a week to split with his wife as Downing Street refused to say whether any social distancing rules had been broken. The Cabinet Office minister is one of four people who have been making unprecedented decisions about people’s private lives during the pandemic, sparking questions about their own domestic arrangements. On Friday afternoon, after months of intense speculation and rumour, Mr Gove and his wife Sarah Vine, a prominent journalist, said in a statement that they had “agreed to separate” and were finalising their divorce after almost 20 years of marriage. The announcement came within hours of the polls closing in the Batley and Spen by-election – a seat the Conservatives had been expected to win but lost, with blame falling on the Government’s handling of revelations about Matt Hancock’s affair with aide Gina Coladangelo.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Friends said that ‘there was no one else involved in the split’ – The Sun

…as Johnson’s refusal to sack Hancock after exposé is said to have ‘cost him Batley and Spen by-election’

“Boris Johnson’s refusal to sack Matt Hancock after The Sun’s bombshell expose cost the Tories the the Batley and Spen by-election, a Cabinet minister said today. Sir Keir Starmer scraped a victory with Jo Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater in West Yorkshire last night – by just 300 votes. But top Tories admitted the handling of the Health Sec’s breaking of social distancing rules and affair with his aide was an issue in their loss. Tory party chairman Amanda Milling admitted the former health sec’s steamy affair was a doorstep talker… Another Tory activist on the ground in Batley said Mr Hancock has been a “huge issue” and the team “breathed a massive sigh of relief” after he finally quit.” – The Sun

  • Recriminations begin – Daily Telegraph
  • Milling refuses to say if there will be a probe – The Sun
  • Johnson is calm but Tories wonder where next win is coming from – The Times

More:

  • Probe into Hancock footage leak focuses on use of Whitehall CCTV – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Two by-elections and one Health Secretary – losses see Johnson fall by 16 points in our Cabinet League Table

Starmer hails Leadbeater as the future of Labour…

“Keir Starmer has hailed Labour’s new MP in Batley and Spen as the future of the party and contrasted her decency and spirit with a prime minister “who basks in his own dishonesty”. Lauding a narrow victory in the West Yorkshire byelection as “a turning point” in the fight against divisive politics, the Labour leader said Kim Leadbeater was an exemplar of the more community-based approach he wants the party to pursue. Writing for the Guardian, Starmer praised Leadbeater – a political novice whose 323-vote victory means she takes over the seat formerly represented by her sister, Jo Cox – for having fought a campaign based on “unity and decency”. Visiting Batley earlier, Starmer claimed “Labour is coming home”, a slogan first used by Tony Blair at the party’s 1996 conference, coinciding with the Euro 96 song.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Batley and Spen by-election. A grim legacy. An alarming campaign. A gnomic result.

…as his allies suggest Rayner ‘should be sacked’

“Angela Rayner should face the sack from Sir Keir Starmer, according to a shadow cabinet insider. Ms Rayner’s allies had reportedly been canvassing support for a potential leadership challenge should Labour have lost in the Batley and Spen by-election on Thursday. Experts saw the by-election in the West Yorkshire constituency as an acid test for Sir Keir’s leadership. However, the party won a narrow majority, in what has to be viewed as a big win for Sir Keir as leader of the party. A Starmer-supporting shadow cabinet minister told The Times: “She’s spent the last eight weeks promoting [herself] as the next Labour leader. A total embarrassment.” The Minister added: “They actively helped [the effort] to defeat Labour. “I think he should sack her and let her be deputy from the backbenches.”” – Daily Express

  • Decision to sack her ‘key to by-election victory’ – The Times
  • ‘A period of silence on their part would now be welcome’, says Mandelson – Daily Mail
  • Labour NEC chair hits out at ‘silly’ people claiming Starmer is ‘on probation’ – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Bradley – Labour have ‘gone backwards’ in Batley and Spen

Sir Keir Starmer: Victory was a strike against the politics of division

“But I was also struck by the toxic atmosphere that hung over the byelection. The intimidation, hatred and lies that seeped into the contest and threatened to dominate it. A few days later we would see all too clearly the consequences of this, with violence and aggression against Kim, our activists and our members. That this should happen in Batley and Spen, of all places, and to Kim, of all candidates, was disgraceful. And it’s why Batley and Spen wasn’t just another byelection. It was so much more. It was a victory for hope over hate. Decency over division. Truth over lies… This byelection is a turning point, a sign that the politics of division and dishonesty won’t win out, that unity and decency can.” – The Guardian

  • Leader has a second chance to save Labour – Henry Mance, FT

More:

  • Moderate voters yearn for new leadership – Matthew Parris, The Times
  • By-election loss proves Boris Johnson needs a shot in the arm all over again – Simon Walters, Daily Mail
  • Flailing PM has lost touch with the British public – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph

Private donors called on to keep new national flagship project afloat

“Private companies will be asked to pay for the running of Boris Johnson’s new national flagship to bring down the costs to the taxpayer, The Telegraph can disclose. Lance Batchelor, a former naval officer and an ex-chief executive of Saga, has been brought into the Government as the chairman of the project. The flagship will replace the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was decommissioned by Labour in 1997. Ministers had envisaged that the ship would be run by a charitable trust, with companies sponsoring the construction to bring the cost down. However, these plans have had to be scaled back due to the impact of the Covid pandemic on companies’ balance sheets.” – Daily Telegraph

  • London reclaims top trading status from Amsterdam – FT
  • Mineral water from EU hit with import curbs after Brussels banned UK shellfish – The Sun

>Today: Sanjoy Sen in Comment: Lessons for the car industry – and government – from Nissan success and Honda failure.

New DUP leader says sorry for party members’ past homophobia

“The late Ian Paisley famously waged a campaign in the 1970s to “save Ulster from sodomy”, a homophobia that seemed etched in the DNA of the Democratic Unionist party (DUP). Iris Robinson, an MP and wife of the party’s then leader and first minister, Peter Robinson, in 2008 called homosexuality a sin and an abomination. On Friday, the party’s new leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, attempted to draw a line under that history when he apologised to Northern Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community for the hurt caused by party members’ remarks. Donaldson, 58, the MP for Lagan Valley who was ratified as party leader earlier this week, spoke a day after its deputy leader, Paula Bradley, made a forceful denunciation of the party’s record on gay rights.” – The Guardian

  • Prosecution of only soldier charged over Bloody Sunday killings dropped… – FT
  • …as PPS The PPS says there is ‘no longer any reasonable prospect of conviction’ – The Times

News in Brief:

  • By-election result wasn’t a victory, it was a humiliation – Paul Embery, UnHerd
  • The court judgement that confirms women pay for trans rights – James Kirkup, The Spectator
  • We still have no idea how much Net Zero will cost – Karl Williams, CapX
  • The long arm of the Chekists – Nick Cohen, The Critic