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Johnson says scrapping self-isolation is proud moment for nation

“Boris Johnson will hail a “moment of pride” for the nation today as he announces the end of all remaining coronavirus restrictions in England. The prime minister will emphasise the importance of “personal responsibility” instead of government intervention as he unveils his plan for the country to “live with Covid”. It includes a drive to end mass working from home. Vaccines will be used for the foreseeable future to maintain a high rate of immunity in the population. Speaking before publication of the government’s plan, Johnson said: “[It] will mark a moment of pride after one of the most difficult periods in our country’s history as we begin to learn to live with Covid.” – The Times

  • Over-80s set to get free Covid tests as they are scrapped for majority of public – Daily Telegraph
  • Minister in push to axe tourist forms in time for Easter holidays – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Labour to oppose end to Covid rules – Streeting

Universities must ditch online lectures when all remaining Covid restrictions are lifted, minister says

“Universities must ditch online learning, the universities minister has warned as it emerged leading institutions have amassed a staggering surplus of £2.2billion. Michelle Donelan said there is ‘no excuse’ for keeping lectures online when all remaining legal Covid restrictions are lifted across England this Thursday. Miss Donelan’s caution came as several elite Russell Group universities admitted they planned to continue some remote learning. Universities were yesterday accused of ‘profiting from students’ misery’ as the pandemic saw the majority of teaching move online. The 24 Russell Group members have collectively amassed a surplus of more than £2.2billion, an analysis of their accounts by The Sunday Telegraph found.” – Daily Mail

  • National Tutoring Programme ‘risks failing pupils who need it most’ – The Times

Prime Minister should quit if he is fined over Downing Street parties, say two ministers

“At least two cabinet ministers will withdraw their support for Boris Johnson if he is handed a fixed penalty notice for breaching his own coronavirus laws, The Times has been told. Yesterday the prime minister stonewalled questions over whether he would quit if the police fined him. He dodged 17 questions in ten minutes in a BBC interview on alleged parties in Downing Street that broke the rules, saying there was “literally not a bean I can tell you”. The prime minister’s allies have said he will not resign if police fine him for attending Downing Street parties. James Cleverly, the Europe minister, who is close to Johnson, told Times Radio yesterday that the prime minister should not have to step down even if he were to be given a fixed penalty notice (FPN).” – The Times

  • Johnson refuses to say whether he’ll resign – The Sun

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: PM refuses to say whether he will resign if he broke the law

Home Secretary warns UK interests could be targeted by Russian hackers

“British firms and public services should brace themselves for cyber attacks as tensions with Russia escalate over a potential invasion of Ukraine. In a stark warning, Home Secretary Priti Patel urged organisations to take ‘pre-emptive measures’ against ‘cyber attacks aimed at the West’… The threat comes as Britain takes a central role in criticising President Vladimir Putin’s positioning of 190,000 troops on the border of Ukraine, with a warning of severe consequences – including raising finance in the City – if an invasion were to go ahead. The heads of food, utility and communications companies have been briefed by GCHQ director Jeremy Fleming and told to strengthen their cyber defences.” – Daily Mail

  • UK ‘weakening threat to Kremlin by failing to close property loophole’ – The Guardian
  • Biden agrees ‘in principle’ to Putin summit on Ukraine – The Times
  • Crisis could cause more energy firms to go bust – Daily Mail

>Today: Ranj Alaadin in Comment: The Ukraine crisis. Brexit Britain is proving itself an international force. Here’s what we should do next.

>Yesterday:

UK and EU to project united front in Northern Ireland protocol talks

“Britain and the EU will on Monday agree at a key “stocktaking meeting” to keep talking on reforms to post-Brexit trade rules with Northern Ireland, as both sides try to avoid splits during the Ukraine crisis. Months of negotiations on the so-called Northern Ireland protocol have yielded little progress, prompting speculation that Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, could soon suspend parts of the accord to curry favour with Eurosceptic Tory MPs. But Liz Truss, UK foreign secretary, will tell a meeting in Brussels that she wants to settle the row to allow both sides “to focus on building a stronger relationship and focus on external issues, not least the situation in eastern Europe and standing up to Russian aggression”.” – FT

  • Wilson warns EU is ‘happy to see UK disintegrate’ – Daily Express
  • Tributes paid to DUP politician who has died at 39 – The Guardian

More:

  • London and Brussels race to rewrite key financial rules – FT

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: O’Neill – ‘We’re closer than ever’ to poll on united Ireland

Robert Jenrick: Place for debate on Israel is Westminster, not public sector pension funds

“Whilst the BDS campaign is a fringe movement that is now discredited by both major parties, it has managed to infiltrate virtually every element of our public bodies. Universities, local councils and public pension schemes all now pursue pseudo-foreign policies at odds with the UK government, and to the detriment of delivering high quality services for taxpayers. Throughout my time in politics I have sought to push back against the tide of antisemitism. I worked to secure a commitment in our 2019 manifesto to bring forward a full anti-BDS Bill which will outlaw this practice by public bodies, and I am now tabling an amendment to the forthcoming Pensions Bill to ensure that public sector pension schemes don’t make investment decisions which conflict with UK foreign policy.” – The Times

Patel approves ban on ‘harmful’ anti-vaxxer protests at schools

“Anti-vaxxers will be banned from “harmful and disruptive” protests outside schools and vaccination clinics after Priti Patel accepted an amendment to a bill due to be debated in parliament this week. An opposition motion to grant councils the power to take tougher action to dispel anti-vaxx campaigners was passed by peers in the House of Lords last month. On Monday, the home secretary signalled that she would not seek to strike out the amendment when the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill returns to the Commons this week. The bill is undergoing “ping-pong”, whereby changes to the proposed legislation are debated by each house until MPs and peers come to an agreement.” – The Guardian

  • She says misogyny will not be made a hate crime in new law – The Times
  • Home Office launches investigation into ‘racist’ messages sent by immigration contractors – Daily Telegraph

The Government must ‘save the BBC from itself’, says Dorries

“The Government must “save the BBC from itself” because the corporation is a “polar bear on a shrinking ice cap”, Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, has claimed. The minister, who recently announced the licence fee would be frozen for the next two years, has said the broadcaster in its current form “will not exist in the future”. Ms Dorries has suggested the BBC will struggle as fewer people pay the licence fee – non-payment of which may be decriminalised in future – and stated that funding reform is needed to save the national broadcaster. The Culture Secretary said: “Our responsibility is to save the BBC from itself, because it is that polar bear on a shrinking ice cap. It’s a global British brand, which must be protected.”” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Rhetoric from Ministers on a smaller state and curbing woke absurdities is welcome. When will policies match?

Labour accuses Boris Johnson of creating a ‘cash-for-access culture’

“Labour has accused Boris Johnson of creating a “cash-for-access culture” in the Conservative party after it emerged that a secret advisory board of wealthy donors were regularly invited to private briefings with the prime minister and his top team. Concerns were raised when the Sunday Times reported that members of the board, whose investments spanned property, construction and big tobacco, lobbied the government to provide more support for their businesses during the Covid crisis. A witness was quoted by the paper saying that the donors believed their advice and the concerns “would go straight up to the PM”. It was also claimed that board members were granted the contact details of ministers and advisers, which they used to discuss the pandemic strategy and procurement offers – as well as make requests for help and advice on applying for public appointments.” – The Guardian

  • Tory sources pointed out any lobbying against lockdown was not successful – Daily Mail

More:

  • Rayner’s call for police to ‘shoot terrorists and ask questions second’ was right, says Streeting – Daily Telegraph
  • Government pushed to ‘come clean’ as decision on bus funding looms – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: Elliot’s taste

News in Brief:

  • Why I stopped being a good girl – Hadley Freeman, UnHerd
  • Britain is trapped in a Boomerocracy – Sam Ashworth-Hayes, The Spectator
  • Why modern novels are so boring – The Secret Author, The Critic
  • To make the most of Brexit, we should embrace radical freeports – Phil Radford, CapX