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£750m fund for festivals as ministers declare that the show must go on

“Festivals like Glastonbury will be able to go ahead next summer under the insurance cover of the Treasury after the Government stepped in to protect live events from Covid uncertainty. After months of lobbying from industry, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, and Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, have agreed to help limit the financial risk for such events posed by coronavirus. Scores of festivals have had to cancel because they could not get insurance on the private market to cover their costs if the pandemic forced a last-minute cancellation. But now the Treasury will jointly cover such events, backed up with up to £750 million, so planners can organise them in the knowledge they have better protection. There is no lower limit to how many attendees need to be at the events to qualify, meaning everything from high-profile festivals and big-name concerts to village fetes and fairs could potentially benefit.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Government unveils insurance scheme to support live events – FT
  • Get jabbed or miss the fun, adverts tell young – The Times

More:

  • Health bosses want £600m to free up hospital beds – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Party members believe Johnson is performing poorly. But they expect the Tories to win the next election – a source of strength for him.

Minister warns of vaccines ‘for evermore’ for international travel

“People will need to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus in order to travel between countries “for evermore”, the UK transport secretary has warned. The comments from Grant Shapps suggest the pandemic will permanently alter the way people travel, and that the airline and tourism industries will have to adapt to extra bureaucracy and checks when people cross borders indefinitely. He said the pandemic had created a “new world” and that he expected countries to require passengers to be fully vaccinated before travel. “I think double vaccination or full vaccination is going to be a feature for evermore, and most countries, probably all countries, will require full vaccination for you to enter,” he told BBC radio on Thursday. Shapps also urged more young adults to come forward to be vaccinated, warning they would not be able to travel without it.” – FT

  • The Government has announced a raft of changes to the travel traffic light rules – Daily Mail
  • Ministers accused of destroying trust in England’s Covid travel rules – The Guardian
  • Government urged to scrap VAT on holiday tests – The Sun
  • Shapps says he is undecided on taking a holiday abroad or opting for a staycation – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: ‘Our firm intention is to leave the traffic lights as they are for three weeks’, says Shapps

Sharma repeatedly uses Crown exemption to dodge isolation rules other travellers have to follow

“Britain’s climate tsar was accused of hypocrisy last night for flying to at least 30 countries – and not isolating afterwards. Alok Sharma has travelled tens of thousands of miles over the past seven months to prepare the ground for the COP26 global environment summit this autumn. But despite visiting at least six countries on the travel ‘red list’, he has been given a ministerial exemption from hotel quarantine each time. He has also been able to avoid having to isolate at home following ‘amber list’ trips. Ordinary travellers face fines of up to £10,000 for breaking travel quarantine rules. Days after returning from red-list Bangladesh, the Cabinet minister met Prince Charles indoors without a mask – then visited a primary school.” – Daily Mail

  • Minister flew to 30 countries in 7 months – The Guardian

More:

  • Johnson blasted for claiming Thatcher’s coal mine closures gave UK ‘early start’ in net zero emissions race – The Sun
  • Starmer skewers SNP as Glasgow ‘in crisis’ ahead of COP26 – Daily Express

>Today: Siobhan Baillie MP in Comment: We face a green skills emergency – and here’s how to rise to the challenge

Inflated A-level grades may force universities to set entrance tests

“A-levels had a 100 per cent pass rate last year and leading universities will have to set their own entrance tests if grade inflation continues, an education expert will warn today. Almost two-fifths of A-levels were graded A or A* last year and even more pupils are expected to achieve the top grades this summer, according to analysis by Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham. He said “inflated grades” would become the new norm, making it more difficult for universities to select accurately and fairly. The study comes as the cap was lifted on medical school admissions in England after applications rose by more than 20 per cent, potentially allowing hundreds more students to become doctors or dentists.” – The Times

  • University bosses say a ‘tsunami’ of top grades makes it ‘extraordinarily messy’ – Daily Mail
  • Grade inflation forces ministers to pay for extra medical school places – The Guardian
  • Chancellors say they cannot rely on grades handed out by teachers during the pandemic as objective – Daily Telegraph
  • School exam grades in England: how the system will work this year – The Guardian
  • Private schools are set to take the lion’s share of top A-Level grades – Daily Mail

Johnson ‘slams door shut on Sturgeon’s independence demands’

“Boris Johnson has insisted “constitutional change” is not “top of my agenda” as he urged the SNP to work with him on the UK’s Covid recovery. The Prime Minister made his remarks while on a visit to Scotland to make preparations for the UN’s COP26 climate change conference which is being hosted in Glasgow later this year. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made clear her determination to hold a second referendum on independence once the pandemic is over. This week the SNP appeared to make a fresh push for a new vote after a draft version of a motion planned to be voted on at the party’s annual conference in September was leaked. The motion called on the Scottish Government to bring in legislation for IndyRef2 at the “earliest moment”. But the Prime Minister appeared to pour cold water on the referendum demands when speaking this afternoon.” – Daily Express

  • Wedding guests must wear masks for the vows but not the reception under SNP’s ‘nonsensical’ rules – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: The UK Internal Market Act empowers Johnson to take the fight to Sturgeon on drugs policy

UK offers haven to Afghan journalists

“Afghans who worked with British journalists during the war and whose lives are threatened by the resurgence of the Taliban will be eligible to come to the UK under a government scheme. Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, said that he recognised the bravery of Afghan journalists and they would be allowed to apply for sanctuary under the Afghan relocations and assistance policy. The scheme will consider “exceptional cases” where people’s lives are under threat because of their involvement with the UK. Although the term “UK” has previously been used to mean only British forces, diplomats and officials, it will be widened to include British media organisations. The move is a victory for The Times and other media organisations that wrote to Downing Street requesting urgent sanctuary for Afghans…” – The Times

  • More than 10,000 migrants reach UK this year as Channel crossings hit daily record – Daily Telegraph
  • Outcry over plan to deport Jamaican nationals who came to UK as children – The Guardian
  • Abbott rages against Patel and demands deportation flight for criminals be cancelled – Daily Express

Comment:

  • I saw Afghan interpreters translate so much more than words, but now they live in terror – Clive Lewis MP, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Garvan Walshe’s column: Just as in Hong Kong and Belarus, the UK has a duty to stand up for freedom in Tunisia

Bank of England chief attacks peers for calling quantitative easing an ‘addiction’

“The Governor of the Bank of England has lashed out at his predecessor and other peers for describing his institution’s approach to monetary policy as an “addiction”. Andrew Bailey took aim at the Lords economic affairs committee after it suggested the Bank was hooked on printing money in a damning report published last month. The Bank governor took umbrage with the title of the report, “Quantitative easing [QE]: a dangerous addiction?”, insisting it was inappropriate language for parliamentarians to adopt in this context. He argued that using the word “addiction” in such a way undermined the pain of real addicts… Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, the Tory chairman of the committee, expressed incredulity at the complaint, branding it “extraordinary”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Pandemic unemployment rate has peaked already, says Bank – The Times

More:

  • UK starts hunt for new chair and directors of accounting watchdog – FT
  • Deprived towns face bigger council tax burden than rich London boroughs – The Times

>Yesterday: Andrea Leadsom MP in Comment: Flexible work will benefit both businesses and their employees

Starmer urges Labour to embrace Blair’s legacy as he vows to win the next election

“Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to “turn the Labour party inside out” as he prepares for an autumn relaunch of his leadership, urging activists to embrace Tony Blair’s political legacy to help the UK’s main opposition party win the next election. He said it was vital to demonstrate that Labour was not a party of protest but was serious about winning power — and that meant being “very proud” of what it achieved under Blair and his successor as prime minister Gordon Brown when it was last in office. Since 2010, the party has lost four general elections in a row. In 2019 under Jeremy Corbyn, the hero of the party’s hard left, Labour slumped to its worst result since 1935 as Boris Johnson’s Conservatives won by a landslide.” – FT

  • Khan demands new law so passengers can be fined for failing to wear masks on London Underground – The Sun

Comment:

  • Labour shouldn’t lurch to the right: it must get out the vote – Andrew Fisher, The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • Why dodgy statistics are much more of a worry than exploding boilers – Robert Colvile, CapX
  • The NHS has never been the ‘envy of the world’ – Kate Andrews, The Spectator
  • Frum is wrong, the Salazar regime’s “biggest project” was a success – Henry Hill, The Critic
  • Sturgeon’s drugs shame – Ruth Davidson, UnHerd