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Freedom Day 1) Tory rebels slam ‘stealth lockdown’

“Brits are facing a new “stealth lockdown” as the Pingdemic condemns millions to self-isolation despite remaining Covid restrictions being lifted today. Furious Tory MPs have warned Boris Johnson his long-awaited Freedom Day risks turning into a damp squib because of the huge numbers being forced to quarantine. They have dubbed the new normal “FINO” – Freedom in Name Only – and argue many families are now worse off than before curbs were ditched. A senior lockdown sceptic warned the PM the rank and file will hold his feet to the fire to make sure he sticks to his promise of a return to normal. Covid Research Group chair Mark Harper said: “I had hoped that we’d sort of be able to go ‘job done’, we can all focus on other things. “However, I fear that isn’t the case. We’ll have to keep a watching brief on it.”” – The Sun

  • Minister defends self-isolation rules as England’s ‘freedom day’ dawns – FT
  • No more groups will be spared isolation, says Zahawi – The Sun
  • Quarantine is crucial to beat Covid, says Johnson – The Times
  • Lloyd Webber begs Government for help after Cinderella is suspended – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Dr Raghib Ali in Comment: Freedom Day – why not unlocking now means delaying indefinitely

Freedom Day 2) Vaccine passports ‘to push young into getting Covid jabs’

“Vaccine passports will be required by law in England for the first time, Boris Johnson said on Monday, in a bid to increase Covid vaccination uptake among the young. The Prime Minister announced that everyone who wants to go to a nightclub from the end of September will have to show proof of having received two doses of a Covid vaccine. He also said “other venues where large crowds gather” could also be made to adopt the checks, opening the door to their potential use at concerts, theatres and sports matches. Mr Johnson did not even rule out requiring them in pubs, stressing that was not his desired outcome but making it clear that it remained an option the Government could adopt.” – Daily Telegraph

  • New rules to apply once all adults have had the chance to double jab – The Times
  • Nightclub bosses blast Boris over plan for compulsory vaccine passports – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Fox – ‘They need to take responsibility – it can’t just be about what the government does’

Prime Minister and Chancellor eye National Insurance hike to pay for Social Care

“Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are close to agreeing to hike National Insurance Contributions by at least one per cent to raise billions to pay for social care, The Sun can reveal. The planned new Health Tax is modelled on Gordon Brown’s 2002 NICs raid – that the Tories dubbed at the time a “tax on ordinary people”. The then Labour Chancellor broke his manifesto pledge and put up National Insurance to boost NHS spending, with a similar move under live discussion in Downing Street for social care. Senior sources say the PM and Chancellor were “almost there” at crunch talks on Friday aimed at filling a £7 Billion funding shortfall. But plans to announce the package later this week were plunged into chaos after the pair were forced into isolation when Health Secretary Sajid Javid got Covid.” – The Sun

  • Manifesto promised there would be no increase to the rates of NI, income tax, or VAT – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Government sets up £375m fund for ‘gamechanging’ UK tech firms – The Guardian
  • Families ‘will see shopping bills rocket by £160 a year because of government eco and anti obesity schemes’ – The Sun

Comment:

  • Johnson’s task to revamp social care policy that puts finance first – Julian McCrae, Times Red Box

>Yesterday:

Unions poised to dismiss offer of three per cent pay rise for NHS workers

“NHS staff will be given a 3 per cent pay rise by the government in coming days but the increase is still likely to be opposed by unions. In March the government announced plans for a 1 per cent pay rise which was heavily criticised, including by some Conservative MPs. Boris Johnson defended the proposal after ministers said it was made “on the basis of affordability”, but added that no decision would be made until an independent pay review body had given its final recommendations. The NHS Pay Review Body is said to have recommended the 3 per cent rise, which has been accepted by ministers. But the Royal College of Nursing has previously demanded a 12.5 per cent pay rise, branding the plans for a 1 per cent pay rise “pitiful”.” – The Times

Comment:

  • The real danger is insurgency on the right – William Hague, The Times

Frost ‘readies new battle plan’ to rip up ‘contradictory’ deal with EU

“David Frost has readied a new battle plan for the UK to rip up the “contradictory” post-Brexit deal with the EU. Britain’s Brexit chief, who was in charge of the team that negotiated the agreements with the European Commission, warned yesterday that the Northern Ireland Protocol part was a “matter for debate”. Now he is preparing to announce the Government’s new proposals for the Protocol tomorrow by releasing a new policy paper and giving a statement to Parliament. Ahead of the announcement, Lord Frost told a session of the European Scrutiny Committee: “One of the difficulties with the Protocol is that it’s quite a purposive document, and a lot of its provisions have to be read with other provisions to sort of work out precisely what they mean.” – Daily Express

Raab blames Chinese-linked groups for Microsoft Exchange ‘sabotage’ attacks

“Dominic Raab accused China of ‘systematic cyber sabotage’ today as Western allies took aim at Beijing over a string of attacks on Microsoft Exchange servers. The Foreign Secretary said the UK and allies including the United States had identified state-backed groups responsible for hacks on computer networks around the world. The onslaught took place in early 2021, affecting more than a quarter of a million servers worldwide. Joe Biden’s White House directly accused China of being behind it today, accusing  it of acting for financial gain… The EU Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and NATO also  joined in the condemnation of Beijing as cyber hacks surge around the world… Warnings were issued by authorities in the US and Europe in March about weaknesses found in Microsoft’s Exchange software, and the tech giant issued a patch to close the vulnerability.” – Daily Mail

  • Northern Trains ticket systems hit by suspected ransomware attack – FT

Jenrick ‘wants beautiful new housing on leafy streets’

“All new homes should be built in traditional architectural styles on tree-lined streets with access to green space, the government will announce today. Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, is set to outline a new national model design code, stipulating the types of façade and materials local authorities should demand of new buildings. Councils will be asked to have local design codes that fit the history of their area. Traditional stonework will be encouraged in southern cities such as Bristol and Oxford, while developments in northern towns will be asked to reflect their red brick heritage. The Prince of Wales, who has advocated traditional architecture with his neo-Georgian developments at Poundbury, Dorset, and Nansledan, Cornwall, is a key inspiration for the reforms.” – The Times

  • Vision of planning policy that puts communities in the driving seat – Robert Jenrick MP, Times Red Box

Patel ‘could shelve plans to protect women against public sexual harassment’

“Proposals for a new law to protect women against public sexual harassment could be shelved as the Government unveils its long-awaited strategy to combat violence against women and girls. The plans for new legislation were backed by leading women MPs including former Tory ministers Caroline Nokes and Maria Miller as well as femininst author Nimco Ali, who was appointed by Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, as an independent adviser to help draw up the strategy. Earlier this year, Ms Ali told The Telegraph new laws were needed because they set the “template for society” through which people understood what types of behaviour were unacceptable… Ministers are coming under pressure to leave open the possibility of a new offence outlawing explicit sexual and abusive comments against women when they unveil the strategy on Wednesday.” – Daily Telegraph

  • No 10 blamed for delays in finding new information commissioner – The Times

Comment:

  • Help and protection for modern slavery victims will beat gang bosses – Iain Duncan Smith, Times Red Box

MPs criticise David Cameron for lack of judgment on Greensill lobbying

“David Cameron showed a “significant lack of judgment” when he launched an intensive lobbying campaign on behalf of the now-collapsed finance firm Greensill, a committee of MPs has concluded. In a critical report, the Treasury select committee said the former prime minister had not broken lobbying rules but only because the rules were of “insufficient strength”. The committee accused Cameron of failing to show sufficient interest in the “financial health” of Greensill before trying to win government support for the firm during the Covid crisis. The report cleared ministers and officials of wrongdoing but suggested the Treasury needed to have clearer rules in place to deal with lobbying by former senior government figures.” – The Times

Labour could cut at least a quarter of its staff in cost-saving push

“Labour’s ruling national executive committee is to discuss plans for large-scale redundancies among staff, with at least 90 jobs at risk, as Keir Starmer seeks to repair the party’s shattered finances. The Guardian understands NEC members will receive the findings of a report called Organise to Win, which has examined how best to restructure the party to approach future general elections. Labour’s general secretary David Evans hopes to achieve the planned cuts through a voluntary severance scheme – but 90 redundancies would amount to around a quarter of Labour staff… Labour’s finances have been hit hard by fighting three general elections in the past six years, as well as a string of costly legal cases, and hopes of a membership bounce after Starmer took over failed to materialise.” – The Guardian

  • Lammy pockets £2,870 from Facebook for corporate speech three weeks after blasting social media giant – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Antony Mullen in Local Government: As the Tories make gains in Sunderland, Labour are divided and in denial

SNP launch ‘referendum for recovery’ campaign as party investigated for fraud

“The SNP is pressing ahead with a campaign for a second independence referendum based on the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it has emerged tonight. SNP chiefs have launched their early arguments for a second separate vote as a “Referendum for Recovery” whilst marred in the middle of a fraud investigation by police. Police Scotland last week launched an investigation following allegations that £600,000 donated to the SNP for Scottish independence campaigning was diverted elsewhere. The SNP deny the allegations but a spokesman said they would cooperate with the fraud investigation. A new dossier written by the director of the party’s new independence unit claims another referendum on independence is “an issue of basic democracy” after a pro-independence majority was voted in at the Holyrood election.” – Daily Express

News in Brief:

  • Covid policy is being driven by PR, not public health – Henry Hill, CapX
  • Public discourse over the pandemic has turned ugly – Tim Montgomerie, Reaction
  • Politicians do deserve special privileges – Henry Hill, UnHerd
  • Great British Railways should take us back to the future – Jonathan Glancey, The Critic
  • Flooding is going to dominate the German elections – Wolfgang Münchau, The Spectator