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Coronavirus 1) Fourth jabs “won’t be needed”, scientists advise

“Fourth Covid vaccines are not currently needed, government scientific advisers have said, amid increasing evidence that the omicron strain is much milder than previous variants. On Friday night, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) announced that booster jabs continue to provide high levels of protection against severe disease from omicron in older adults, including the most vulnerable. The committee’s analysis found that, three months after receiving a third jab, protection against hospitalisation among those aged 65 and over remains at around 90 per cent.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Forcing children to wear masks is dystopian, says Gruffalo author – The Times
  • Teaching union calls for more restrictions – The Sun
  • Johnson should seize his Thatcher moment to take on the selfish unions ruining our schools – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph
  • Omicron may kill 100 times fewer people than Delta – Daily Mail
  • Don’t force me to be vaccinated, intensive care doctor tells Javid – The Times
  • Scotland must ‘plan for the worst’ as Omicron spreads to older population – The Scotsman
  • Sturgeon’s opponents must force her to make a Damascene conversion on Covid rules – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph
  • Welsh MP asks if devolution could be ‘suspended’ to prevent confusion over rules – Wales Online
  • First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland at odds over face masks – Belfast Telegraph
  • We cannot afford to postpone a return to normality – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 2) Cummings claims No 10 drinks may have broken rules

“Former Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings has alleged a social event which took place in No 10 on 20 May 2020 may have broken Covid rules. In his blog, he said a “senior No 10 official” invited people to “socially distanced drinks” in the garden. Mr Cummings said he and another adviser had warned that this could be against the rules but were told the event had gone ahead.” – BBC

  • Geidt wants power to launch own investigations – The Times
  • PM’s private secretary accused of hosting another ‘lockdown breaking’ garden party – Daily Telegraph

Gove “to announce” developers must pay for removal of dangerous cladding on all flats

“Hundreds of thousands of flat owners will no longer have to pay to remove dangerous cladding from their buildings, Michael Gove will announce next week. The levelling up, housing and communities secretary is to declare on Monday that developers will be liable for making buildings safe. He plans to establish a team to pursue those who fail to do so, and will threaten to introduce new laws to compel developers to act.” – The Times

Patel “puts Border Force on standby” to turnback Channel migrants

“Priti Patel risks a further dispute with France over the Channel migrant crisis after it emerged that Border Force is on standby to deploy “turnback” tactics against the next wave of crossings. Senior Home Office sources said the force had been operationally ready to deploy the tactics, which involve three jet skis surrounding a migrant boat and directing it back to France, on at least two days last month when the right weather and maritime conditions were met. However, as there were no crossings on those particular days, the tactics were not used.” – The Times

  • £125-a-night hotel rooms for those who make the crossing – The Sun

Sunak pressed to boost UK state pensions

“Rishi Sunak, UK chancellor, is facing calls to revisit his decision last year to suspend the “triple lock” on annual state pension increases, adding to pressure on the government over big cost of living increases. Two former pensions ministers have urged the government to offer help to the most vulnerable, as they struggle to cope with rising energy bills and with inflation expected to rise above 6 per cent. Senior Conservatives admit the issue is of increasing concern to Tory MPs…Baroness Ros Altmann, Conservative pension minister in 2015-2016, this week called on the government to take emergency action to ease inflation pressures on the poorest pensioners.” – Financial Times

  • Rees-Mogg’s rebellion on social care levy “is sign of battle to come” – The Times
  • No easy fixes for the Chancellor to tackle cost-of-living crunch – Financial Times
  • Inflation “could hit seven per cent” – The Times
  • Rudd joins board of British Gas owner – Daily Telegraph
  • MPs are set for a £2,000 pay rise on April 1st, the day the public will be hit by rising bills – The Sun
  • The Treasury is set to receive a £1 billion VAT windfall from the expected rise in energy bills – Daily Express
  • Conservatives are punishing the hard-working and aspirational while giving a free ride to the public sector unions and the lazy – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph

Dorries joins row over BBC reporting on antisemitic attack

“Nadine Dorries has questioned whether the BBC’s complaints process is fit for purpose in a growing row over the corporation’s reporting on an antisemitic attack in London. The culture secretary has written to Tim Davie, the director-general, demanding that he explain how the BBC plans to address outrage from Jewish leaders over its coverage of an incident on Oxford Street. Dorries, 64, suggested that the BBC’s handling of the matter had called into question whether it dealt with audience concerns in a “fair and effective” manner.” – The Times

  • A week in the life of Today that has made me despair of BBC bias – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

“Colston Four” 1) Labour accuse Braverman of “politically driven meddling” over statue verdict

“Senior lawyers have accused the attorney general for England and Wales of politically-driven meddling after she announced that she could refer the acquittal of the Colston Four to the court of appeal. Suella Braverman said she was contemplating the highly unusual move after an outcry from Conservative MPs following the jury’s verdict on four Black Lives Matter protesters who toppled a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol. A former director of public prosecutions and senior criminal lawyers were among those who warned that Braverman appeared to be acting out of political motivation. When someone has been acquitted of a crime, the attorney general has the power to seek the opinion of the court of appeal on a point of law, under section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) 1972.” – The Guardian

  • The jury that acquitted four protesters who toppled the slave trader from his plinth was right – Leader, The Guardian

“Colston Four” 2) Moore: Official permission for vandalism must end

“I do have one smidgeon of sympathy with the accused, however. Jake Skuse, the fourth of them, noted in court that the police stood by during Colston’s deposition and did nothing. “How can I think it’s a crime?” he asked. He appeared to mean not only that he thought it the right thing to do, but also that the authorities were letting him do it. I fear Mr Skuse is right that there is now an element of official permission in attitudes to such protests, which is why the Government is tightening the legislation in reaction.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

One million people sign petition to get Tony Blair’s knighthood rescinded

“One million people have signed an online petition to get ex-PM Tony Blair’s knighthood rescinded. He was appointed by the Queen a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry.” – The Sun

  • Blairs claimed almost £80,000 from the British furlough scheme – Daily Mail
  • Was Prince Philip to thank for blocking Blair’s knighthood for so long? – Daily Telegraph
  • The people have spoken: Labour should cut its ties with Blair – Owen Jones, The Guardian

Jack Dromey dies aged 73

“Veteran Labour politician Jack Dromey has died aged 73, his family has confirmed. The shadow minister, who had held the seat of Birmingham Erdington since 2010, is understood to have passed away in his constituency on Friday morning. He is survived by his wife, fellow Labour MP Harriet Harman, and his three children.” – BBC

Parris: Johnson lacks a sense of purpose

“Many who reach the top (think of Benjamin Disraeli, and to some degree David Lloyd George) were confidence tricksters and more, but Downing Street is now occupied by someone who is only a confidence trickster. Disraeli and Lloyd George had some kind of personal vision of the country Britain could be, and — often flying by the seat of their pants — used their wiles as persuaders, charmers and sometimes deceivers. But it was for a purpose. Even the Pied Piper had a purpose. What will baffle future historians will be the essential purposelessness of this present and most persuasive of prime ministers.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

News in brief

  • How road charging can be made to work fairly and avoid ‘poll tax’ on wheels – Sir Robert Goodwill, Yorkshire Post
  • Record numbers of NHS staff quit – The i
  • Johnson’s bending of the rules won’t bring him down – Patrick O’Flynn, The Spectator
  • Djokovic is Covid’s ritual sacrifice – Paul MacDougald, Unherd
  • Western policy has failed towards Ukraine – John Redwood