Financial hit from Covid ‘far less drastic than feared’

“Unemployment, debt and earnings have not worsened significantly as a result of the pandemic, Britain’s leading economic think tank has concluded, hailing the findings as “astonishing”. The Institute of Fiscal Studies expressed surprise, given the scale of economic disruption and loss of national income over the past 15 months. It said the figures highlighted the impact of the government’s interventions to support household income during the Covid crisis, including furlough and the £20-a-week increase to universal credit, which ends in the autumn. The IFS report found that although a large number of people were not working because of the pandemic, thanks to the furlough policy only 300,000 more people were unemployed in the UK this spring than before the pandemic.” – The Times

  • Millions could be self-isolating between now and 16 August – BBC News
  • Quarantine-free travel to start for double-jabbed residents of England – FT
  • Vaccination rates plummet as the young hesitate over Covid jabs – The Times
  • Hospitals forced to cancel operations again by third wave – The Guardian
  • NHS staff ‘deleting Covid app’ as calls grow for doctors to be exempt from self-isolation – Daily Telegraph
  • Extending school day is ‘right thing to do’, says PM – Daily Telegraph
Freedom Day
  • ‘Premature’ Freedom Day is a dangerous experiment, doctors warn – Daily Telegraph
  • WHO warns of ‘epidemiological stupidity’ of early Covid reopening – The Guardian
  • Starmer warns of summer of Covid ‘chaos and confusion’ – FT

PM admits concern for Afghanistan as UK withdraws

“Boris Johnson has admitted he is “apprehensive” about the future of Afghanistan as he confirmed that the UK government would mark the end of a 20-year deployment in the country when he gives a statement to MPs on Thursday. The prime minister said he thought the current situation in the country was “fraught with risks” as the Taliban make rapid advances, expressing reservations for the first time in public as the final withdrawal comes to an end. “If you ask me whether I feel happy about the current situation in Afghanistan, of course I don’t. I’m apprehensive,” Johnson said as he gave evidence to select committee chairs on parliament’s liaison committee.” – The Guardian

Iain Martin: When Johnson needs friends, he’ll be alone

“All prime ministers face criticism, some of it rough. This is as it should be, since they wield a lot of power and spend a lot of other people’s money. But what is being done to Boris Johnson by Dominic Cummings, one post at a time in his addictive pay-to-read online newsletter, is in a different category entirely. Few prime ministers have had their character, psychological profile and core personality so comprehensively trashed while they are still in office. It’s brutal and disturbing, like watching a psychiatrist set about a patient with a baseball bat. The assault is merciless, the lampooning Hogarthian and the detail and judgments devastating. The prime minister is presented as someone who is operationally useless: an out-of-control trolley who cannot be trusted with the country.” – The Times

  • Cummings is sounding increasingly like a bitter ex-boyfriend, Michael Deacon – Daily Telegraph

Keir Starmer: Johnson is putting Northern Ireland’s peace at risk over Brexit

“In the decade after the Good Friday agreement, I spent some of the most rewarding time of my career in Northern Ireland. Returning now for two days, those vivid memories are tinged with sadness at the loss of progress and the failure of this government in its duty of care. After nearly three decades of steadily moving forwards, this prime minister has put his own narrow interest above the interests of the people of Northern Ireland. The Good Friday agreement was the sum total of the courage of the communities of the people of Northern Ireland. And it is heart-rending to see it come under threat because a new generation of Conservative politicians lacks the courage to push things forward.” – The Times


Increase in universal credit to end in autumn

“The £20-a-week boost to universal credit will be removed in the autumn, the government has confirmed, despite calls from six former Tory work and pensions secretaries for it to be kept. Thérèse Coffey, the present work and pensions secretary, said that the increase, introduced in April last year as an emergency measure, would be “phased out”. Boris Johnson said that the government’s emphasis was on “getting people into work” as part of a “jobs-led” recovery from the pandemic. Amber Rudd, Esther McVey, Damian Green, Stephen Crabb, Sir Iain Duncan Smith and David Gauke had called for the increase to be continued”. – The Times


Russian tycoon “lobbied Lord Frost over energy deal”

“Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator was lobbied by a former Russian arms company executive at a key point in trade talks, newly disclosed letters reveal. Alexander Temerko was trying to promote his £1.2 billion energy project and win assurances that the UK’s departure from the EU would not hinder the viability of the plan. The Ukrainian-born Conservative donor is the co-owner of Aquind, which proposes to connect the British and French power grids using an undersea cable. The letters, released under freedom of information laws, reveal the extent of Temerko’s lobbying, targeting three other ministers as well as Lord Frost, the chief Brexit negotiator.”” – The Times

England reach first major final in 55 years

“A mighty roar bellowed around Wembley stadium. It cascaded out of pubs and bars, and along streets across the nation. It was a roar of euphoria that was 55 years in the making. The England football team is back in the final of a major tournament for the first time since 1966 and if this could feel so wonderful once it had stopped feeling so agonising, imagine the delirium if England actually go on to win Euro 2020 on Sunday. From the ecstatic scenes at Wembley, as the victorious England players joined the crowd in a raucous rendition of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline, which has become the stadium’s new celebratory anthem, it was easy to forget that there is still the small matter of beating Italy on Sunday evening.” – The Times

  • Hope for a nation after year of tested faith – The Times
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