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It’s now or never for freedom from Covid restrictions, says Johnson…

“Boris Johnson on Monday night announced the end of Covid restrictions and said that if Britain did not seize freedom now then a return to normality could be a long way away. The Prime Minister announced that laws enforcing face masks and social distancing would be scrapped on July 19, meaning pubs and theatres can operate without restrictions. He also said the work from home mandate would end and school bubbles would be axed later this month. Later this week, the Government is also expected to announce the end of self-isolation for fully vaccinated arrivals from amber list countries. Mr Johnson announced his intention for a full reopening on July 19 despite acknowledging that there could be 50,000 new cases detected daily by then, saying we must “learn to live with this virus”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • He warns against being ‘demob happy’ – The Times
  • Javid vows to give green light to quarantine-free holidays for double-jabbed travellers ‘very soon’ – Daily Mail
  • Freedom day will dawn thanks to Covid vaccine ‘wall of immunity’ – The Times
  • What the lifting of England’s Covid restrictions means for the workplace – FT
  • SNP’s Covid ‘failures’ must not delay lockdown easing, says Scottish Tory leader – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Covid and flu. The NHS was made for the people, not the people for the NHS.

…but Sage ‘doom-mongers’ say freedoms could last just weeks

“Lockdown freedoms could last just weeks – with harsher restrictions needed for autumn and winter, Sage doom-mongers have warned. After months of Covid rules, Boris Johnson confirmed last night that he will strip back lockdown to the bare bones from July 19. He announced a bonfire of Covid restrictions – sweeping away social distancing, mandatory masks and orders to work from home. All other legal limits will be ripped up on Freedom Day for a summer of fun after a gruelling year and a half of draconian measures. However, the PM pointedly could not rule out a return to some measures in future… Now, experts have warned that another autumn lockdown could be on the cards – and that some restrictions could be permanent.” – The Sun

  • Whitty warns winter will be ‘very difficult’ for the NHS – Daily Mail
  • Government angers doctors, Labour and unions by making mask wearing voluntary – The Sun
  • Self isolation for double-jabbed workers ‘must stay for now’ – Daily Mail
  • Vaccine passports are not ruled out – The Times
  • Are we heading for another Covid u-turn? – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: After three by-elections and before tomorrow’s Covid announcement, here are five big challenges for Johnson

Charles Moore: The NHS hasn’t earned the George Cross

“It is certainly important to find ways of recognising the immense efforts of hundreds of thousands of NHS staff – and similar numbers of other workers in many walks of life – during the pandemic. I hope, for example, that there will be a campaign medal for all those who volunteered to help administer vaccinations. I hope particular recognition will be given to all those who died serving. But I do not think the NHS, as an institution, has an unblemished record in the history of the coronavirus. It is not, as a whole, a suitable recipient of a medal invented to recognise “acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger”. For an outstanding nurse, doctor or paramedic, yes. For an entire, gigantic bureaucracy, no.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Sentimentalising the health service blinds us to its shortcomings and obscures better models – Melanie Phillips, The Times

>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft in Comment: Let’s rejoice at the news that the NHS has been awarded the George Cross

Home Office 1) Policing Bill ‘soars through Commons’

“Relentless Rejoiner Steve Bray’s nuisance protests outside Parliament could soon be banned after the Policing Bill sailed through the Commons. Home Secretary Priti Patel’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was backed by MPs at its final stage in the Commons by 365 votes to 265. It will now be considered by the House of Lords. The legislation looks to make a range of sweeping changes to existing legislation including introducing longer sentences for child killers and those who cause death on the road, stricter jail terms for serious violent and sexual offenders, and an expansion of child sex abuse laws. If it comes into law the Bill will also allow time and noise limits to be imposed on protests.” – Daily Express

  • Europe’s rights tsar urges MPs and peers to oppose protest curbs – The Guardian

Home Office 2) Border Force to get new powers in fight against people smuggling

“The Border Force will be given new powers to seize people smugglers at sea and send migrants back to France under laws to be published today. Priti Patel, the home secretary, will bring forward a Nationality and Borders Bill that will hand a range of new powers to the Border Force to tackle the growing Channel migrant crisis. However, the Refugee Council said that “inadmissibility” rules to bar asylum seekers who arrive illegally would leave 9,000 genuine refugees shut out of Britain. Critics also warned that plans in the bill to create a new offence to lock up asylum seekers arriving illegally could add thousands of people to Britain’s overcrowded prison system.” – The Times

  • Migrants who try to reach Britain by boat face being locked up then deported – The Sun
  • Plan will slash asylum rights for migrants who arrive in Britain illegally – Daily Mail
  • Patel to reveal proposals for offshore centres for asylum seekers – The Guardian

Comment:

  • This sickening trade in humans by vile gangs must end – Priti Patel MP, Daily Mail

Ministers attacked for ‘wrecking ball’ plans to overhaul teacher training

“The government has come under fire over plans for a radical overhaul of teacher training, described by critics as “a wrecking ball” which could jeopardise the supply of teachers for years to come. Ministers say they want to strengthen standards for initial teacher training courses, introducing a robust new accreditation process, new intensive school placements and high-quality mentoring for trainees. However, critics said that the sweeping changes could put at risk 10,000 training places across 30 providers, warning that a number of universities which train teachers could pull out altogether. Under the government’s plans, published on Monday as part of a seven-week consultation, all teacher training providers would have to seek reaccreditation as part of the shake-up, beginning as early as next spring.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Laura Round in Comment: The Conservative case for investment in girls’ education

Johnson would like to ‘reverse devolution’, claims Cummings

“Boris Johnson is an “unthinking unionist” who would like to reverse devolution, Dominic Cummings has claimed. The Prime Minister’s former chief adviser said the Prime Minister sees devolution and the Scottish Parliament as a “disaster” he would like to roll back but that he “won’t dare try”. Mr Cummings, who has launched a string of scathing attacks on his former boss since leaving Downing Street in November, was taking part in an online question and answer session when he made the comments… Mr Cummings’s claims echo comments Mr Johnson was said to have made to Tory MPs last year, when he was also said to have described devolution as a “disaster”. At the time he claimed his words had been reported “not entirely accurately” and he had meant he was opposed to the way the SNP had handled devolution.” – Daily Telegraph

  • He also claims the Prime Minister once admitted he was ‘unfit’ to lead – The Guardian

More Scotland:

  • Ferry fiasco could spell end for SNP Government – Daily Express

Battle to be head of 1922 Committee

“Sir Graham Brady is facing a challenge to be re-elected as chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers amid accusations that he has not been loyal enough to the government during the pandemic. Heather Wheeler, the MP for South Derbyshire and a former whip, is the government’s preferred candidate. She has said she wants to resolve disputes between ministers and backbenchers behind closed doors. The result of this week’s election will be announced tomorrow. Only Conservative MPs not on the government’s payroll are allowed to vote. Brady, 54, has been chairman of the 1922 Committee since 2010. He has been an outspoken critic of lockdown restrictions over the past year, regularly rebelling on votes to extend them.” – The Times

Charity fronted by Carrie will transport herd of 13 elephants from Kent to Kenya

“Carrie Johnson’s charity will fly a herd of elephants from a Kent wildlife park to Kenya in a ‘world first’ rewilding project. The Aspinall Foundation announced it will transport a total of thirteen elephants – weighing 25 tonnes – more than 4,000 miles on a Boeing 747 to a secret location in Kenya in a ‘ground-breaking step for this country and the conservation movement’. The herd of elephants, which includes three calves and a 34-year-old matriarch, currently live on an eight-acre enclosure at Howletts Wild Animal Park, near Canterbury, in Kent. But after months of organising, including purchasing purpose-made crates to transport the animals, the elephants will fly to Kenya where they will be part of a conservation project.” – Daily Mail

>Today: Sam Hall in Comment: How to help poorer people meet the costs of net zero

News in Brief:

  • The Protocol mess stems from years of neglecting Northern Ireland – Henry Hill, CapX
  • Why has the NHS been awarded the George Cross? – Stephen Daisley, The Spectator
  • Who loses when trans women win? – Sarah Ditum, UnHerd
  • The death of the English literature degree – Alexander Larman, The Critic