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Coronavirus 1) Pandemic is not over, Johnson warns as infections fall

“Covid cases have fallen by a third in a week but Boris Johnson warned they would rise again if people did not remain cautious. The prime minister braced the country for a further increase resulting from the end of restrictions as he cautioned against drawing “premature conclusions” that the threat of the pandemic had passed. The sustained reduction has taken ministers and scientists by surprise, with the government concluding that much of it is likely to be real, but they are concerned that it will reverse if people react to the good news by becoming less cautious. Cases have fallen most among those in their late teens and early twenties, according to analysis of internal government data.” – The Times

  • Covid cases fall for seventh day in a row as top minister says Britain has reached herd immunity – The Sun
  • Why wait three more weeks to end hell of pingdemic? Calls to scrap scheme grow as even Government health chiefs say daily Covid testing is as good as isolation – Daily Mail
  • Sturgeon accused of ‘Donald Trump-style meltdown’ over vaccine figures – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Trying to predict patterns and outcomes relating to a new, unknown disease is challenging… but what else have ‘the experts’ got wrong? Sarah Vine – Daily Mail
  • Politically motivated ‘experts’ predicting catastrophe have done far more harm than good during the pandemic – The Sun
  • Indolent Britain has given up on working, Madeline Grant – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 2) England to drop quarantine for EU and US tourists

“England is poised to reopen its borders as soon as next week by allowing fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and US to enter without quarantining, The Times has been told. Ministers are expected to approve the plans today after Boris Johnson is said to have become concerned that the EU is ahead of Britain in enabling international travel. He is said to believe that Britain risks “squandering its vaccine bonus”, a reference to the advanced state of the domestic coronavirus jabs programme. Research from the World Travel and Tourism Council suggests the economy is losing £639 million a day because of the squeeze on inbound tourism. Countries beyond the EU and US could be allowed quarantine-free inbound travel at a later date.” – The Times

  • Spain is poised to go on the Amber-plus list – Daily Mail

Coronavirus 3) Gove – vaccine refuseniks are selfish

“Michael Gove has described those who refuse vaccines as “selfish” amid hints that the government’s threats to young people may be paying off. The Cabinet Office minister insisted that it was right that those who turned down jabs be denied access to “certain venues and certain events”. Ministers are striking a harder line on vaccine passports to encourage young people to come forward. After months of positive messaging on the benefits of vaccination, Boris Johnson has warned the young that they will be refused entry into nightclubs if they do not get jabs. He has also floated the idea of requiring immunisation for university students. However, the settings where vaccination will be required are yet to be finalised.” – The Times

  • Long Covid sufferers report discrimination and lost jobs – The Times
  • No Covid jab? You’re not so smart, says Biden, as Delta spreads – The Times

Coronavirus 4) Britain’s economic recovery set to outstrip the G7

“Britain will be the world’s fastest-growing advanced economy this year after the rapid vaccine rollout and support for households and businesses persuaded the International Monetary Fund to upgrade UK GDP more than any other country. In its latest forecasts, the institution said the UK will grow 7 per cent this year, revised up from 5.3 per cent in April, making it the equal fastest expanding G7 economy alongside the United States. Some of the upgrade is merely bringing forward growth to 2021 from 2022, but next year Britain, with 4.8 per cent, is expected to remain the second fastest growing G7 nation, behind the US. The UK had been expected to bounce back more quickly than G7 rivals simply because it suffered the deepest recession in 2020, contracting 9.8 per cent, and the IMF’s forecasts indicate that it will not return to pre-pandemic levels of GDP until early 2022, behind the US, Germany, Canada and Japan.” – The Times

James Kanagasooriam: Why conservatives win social progress gold

“I feel incredibly proud to say that I am a gay man and an Olympic champion,” Tom Daley proclaimed when picking up his first Gold at his fourth Olympics this week. His words felt like a moment for Britain to take stock. As recently as 2012, Daley’s second Olympics and the year before the Cameron-Clegg coalition’s Equal Marriage Act, 55 per cent of the UK supported same-sex unions. Nine years later, it has risen to 74 per cent. The transformation of attitudes towards same-sex relationships is a chapter in a larger story of how Britain has become significantly more accepting over the last 20 years of ideas that started on the left. On gender roles and equality, race relations, the environment and industrial relations, Britain has shifted decisively in a more liberal direction. The British Social Attitudes Survey records some 33 per cent believing in the traditional gender roles of men and women in 1991. This falls to 8 per cent by 2017. Similar precipitous falls occur in support for most socially conservative viewpoints.” – The Times

Johnson vows to bring back ‘chain gangs’

“Boris Johnson has promised to bring back “chain gangs” as a deterrent for antisocial behaviour. The prime minister said there was “no reason” why offenders should not be forced to wear high-vis jackets while carrying out unpaid work. It would ensure they were “visibly paying their debt to society,” he said. He referred to them as “fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs” in a move likely to cause controversy due to their historical use in the southern US states and the Transportation era in Australia. Johnson was speaking during a visit to Surrey police headquarters with Priti Patel, the home secretary, to mark the government’s new “Beating Crime Plan”. Among the plans is a pledge to give every victim of crime a named police officer that they can contact wherever they live in the country.” The Times

Comment:

New bill would prevent trafficked Britons returning to UK

“British women and children trafficked to terrorist organisations abroad would be legally excluded from returning to Britain under the government’s immigration bill, The Times can reveal. The Nationality and Borders Bill, which passed its second reading last week, gives the home secretary the power to deny victims protection under the Modern Slavery Act if they are trafficked by a terrorist organisation, by deeming them a threat to national security. Legal experts believe that the clause is aimed at preventing the return of dozens of British women and children trafficked to Syria by Islamic State and forced into marriage, sexual slavery and slave labour. It comes after the Home Office was forced to backtrack over the case of a child trafficked to Afghanistan by a terrorist gang, having tried to claim that his case “did not fall under the definition of modern slavery”.” – The Times

  • Police ‘buying small boats in attempt to curtail Channel migrant crossings’ – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

Britain must block sale of tech companies to China, says Abbott

“Tony Abbott, the Government’s trade adviser, has called for Britain to block the sale of technology companies to China in a significant intervention as Whitehall seeks to limit the influence of Beijing. Mr Abbott, a former Australian prime minister and an adviser to the Board of Trade, said that combatting the Communist regime was likely to be the “challenge of the century” and urged Boris Johnson against becoming “economically dependent” upon China. It comes as ministers oversee a national security investigation into the takeover of Britain’s biggest microchip factory by a Chinese-backed company, and consider shutting the country’s businesses out of nuclear power operations. Writing for The Telegraph (below), Mr Abbott said Beijing viewed trade as a tap that can be turned on and off “to reward friends and to punish foes”.” – Daily Telegraph

Drivers who don’t wear a seatbelt may face penalty points and ban

“Drivers face having penalty points added to their licence for failing to wear a seatbelt amid growing concern over the number of people who go without. Motorists could receive at least three points and a possible driving ban under reforms to stop them and their passengers flouting road safety laws. The penalty may apply even if the driver has a seat belt on but a passenger does not. The change will be considered as part of a road safety plan to be published this year. At present drivers can be given only a £100 fine — rising to £500 in the courts — for the offence. Many can opt to take an online seatbelt awareness course instead, which costs £53. Almost a quarter of car drivers and passengers killed in road accidents in 2019 (23 per cent) were not wearing seatbelts. This had increased from 19 per cent six years earlier.” – The Times

Comment:

Clarke objects to ‘pointless’ questions over infected blood scandal

“The chance to save “thousands of lives” was missed when health officials failed to act on “startling” warnings sent to the government about the risk posed by infected blood products, the former health minister Ken Clarke has told an inquiry. Lord Clarke of Nottingham was in office between 1982 and 1985, during which period it began to emerge that many NHS patients, particularly haemophiliacs, had been infected with HIV from contaminated treatments. Almost 3,000 died. Clarke became yesterday the first minister from the time to appear before the Infected Blood Inquiry. He said that he bore no responsibility for the use of infected drugs in a session that grew heated as he objected to “pointless” questions.” – The Times

Higher gas bills to pay for hydrogen market growth

“Households face higher gas bills under plans being brought forward by ministers to subsidise the growth of the hydrogen market. The government will shortly publish its “hydrogen strategy”, which will, according to reports, include plans to guarantee green businesses a reliable price for the energy they sell. It would amount to a levy on household gas bills. Boris Johnson announced targets to increase the size of the hydrogen industry last year as part of his ten-point plan to reach “net zero” by 2050. The hydrogen sector aims to have a production capacity of 1GW by 2025 and 5GW by 2030, creating about 8,000 jobs. In order to reach this target, ministers want to ensure hydrogen firms can sell their products at a more predictable price.” – The Times

>Yesterday:

Abuse inquiry: Lambeth council care staff put children in path of sex offenders

“Council staff failed to stop predators infiltrating children’s homes and treated children in care “as if they were worthless”, a damning report into decades of abuse has found. Employees in the south London borough of Lambeth appeared to demonstrate “a callous disregard for the vulnerable children they were paid to look after”, according to the findings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). It heard evidence of children being raped, indecently assaulted and sexually abused, but said that of the 705 complaints made by former residents across three such facilities, only one member of senior staff was ever disciplined.” – The Times

Labour MP Rosie Duffield is investigated by her party for liking tweet that said trans people were ‘mostly heterosexuals cosplaying’

“A Labour MP is being investigated by party officials after she liked a tweet saying trans people are ‘mostly heterosexuals cosplaying as the opposite sex and as gay’.  Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield, 50, is now facing a backlash from activists after liking the post by American rapper Kurtis Tripp, accusing trans people of ‘colonising gay culture’ and appropriating the word ‘queer’.  The affiliated group LGBT+ Labour has pressured party leader Sir Keir Starmer to remove the whip from Ms Duffield, The Times reports. The group’s chairwoman, Alex Beverley, urged the party to prove it does not ‘tolerate transphobia’, telling the Labour List website: ‘This recent endorsement of extremely homophobic and transphobic comments by Rosie Duffield is yet another example in a consistent pattern of behaviour.” – Daily Mail

>Today:

More drug addicts to be offered treatment instead of punishment

“More addicts found in possession of Class A and B drugs will be targeted with treatment and recovery services as decriminalisation moves closer. Drug users will benefit from extra investment in treatment as a trial to shift away from repeatedly punishing addicts is expanded. The programmes will be offered in five city centres to ensure more black and ethnic minority people benefit. Priti Patel, the home secretary, said that the move was designed to help people escape the “poisonous cycle” of drug addiction and reoffending, which costs society £19 billion a year. It will be combined with a tougher approach to policing against suppliers of drugs. Police forces will be given more resources to target drug supply chains as part of a “whole system approach to rid communities of the harm drug misuse causes”.” – The Times

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