Newslinks for Friday 22nd May 2020

MPs to be asked to back quarantine for new arrivals

“MPs will be asked to support new quarantine measures for all international arrivals which will give police the power to carry out spot checks at homes and impose £1,000 fines. The Government is on Friday expected to unveil its long-awaited quarantine plans which will require all arrivals, including returning Britons, to provide an accommodation address where they will self-isolate for 14 days. Border Force, police and Public Health England (PHE) officers will run and enforce the quarantine where travellers will face spot checks at the addresses they submit on forms on arrival at airports or ports. It is expected there will be about 100 spot checks a day. Those found to have breached the quarantine face charges of at least £1,000 while it is believed magistrates have the power to issue unlimited fines for persistent breaches or refusal to pay.” – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Coronavirus tracers will ask close contacts to isolate for a fortnight – The Times
  • Schools, office blocks, and streets could be locked down – The Sun
  • Britain’s tracing army sits idle as lockdown deadline looms – FT

More:

  • Sea patrols needed to return migrants to France, says former Border Force chief – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The Government’s democracy commission, “legal tools” – and boats of illegal migrants

U-turn as health and care workers exempted from NHS charge

“Boris Johnson has agreed to exempt health and care workers from the NHS surcharge after retreating in the face of a Conservative rebellion. The climbdown came after Tory backbenchers said they would support Labour’s effort to force the government’s hand. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said: “The prime minister has asked the home secretary and I to work on how we can remove NHS and care workers from the NHS surcharge as soon as possible.” All workers from outside the European Economic Area have to pay the annual £400 fee even if they do not use the NHS. The cost is set to rise to £624 per year in October. Health and care workers, including care home staff, NHS cleaners and porters will all now be exempt.” – The Times

  • Tory MPs call for end to ‘immoral’ surcharge for migrant health workers – The Guardian
  • Fruit pickers to be exempt from coronavirus quarantines – The Times

Comment:

>Today: David Goodhart in Comment: The virus. It’s almost certain that ethnic minorities are at greater risk. But we can’t yet know the full explanation.

Hancock unveils 20-minute tests and rolls out antibody checks

“On-the-spot coronavirus tests which give results in only 20 minutes will begin public trials on Friday as part of efforts to get the UK out of lockdown. On Thursday night, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, announced the launch of a major trial aiming to give people instant information about whether they are carrying the virus. If successful, the scheme will be rolled out nationally in six weeks, with pop-up facilities and drive-through facilities planned. Mr Hancock said the testing regime was the “guiding star” to “restore freedom in this country” as he launched the new measures to try to track the spread of the virus. He also announced that the Government has signed contracts for 10 million antibody tests, which will first be offered to NHS and care workers.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Government drops ‘track’ part of ‘test, track and trace’ – Daily Mail
  • Free NHS antibody tests on way after Roche and Abbott Labs deals – FT
  • Ten million tests ordered – Daily Mail

More:

  • Almost one in five Londoners has had Covid-19, Health Secretary confirms – The Sun
  • Immunity forms planned for coronavirus survivors – The Times

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Hancock’s claim that care homes were wrapped in “a bubble of care” has a hollow ring to it

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Hancock says he has signed contracts that will deliver ten million antibody tests

Sunak and Johnson ‘split’ on support for self-employed

“The Treasury and No10 are said to be divided over whether to extend state aid for the self-employed. Their disagreements have been blamed for the delay in announcing whether the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be continued in line with the five-month extension for furloughed workers. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has so far refused mounting calls to extend the scheme, which currently offers grants to self-employed workers of up to £7,500 to cover three months of lost income – covering March, April and May. In contrast, the furlough scheme for employees has already been extended and covers eight months – ending in October. This is despite Boris Johnson hailing the SEISS as giving “parity of support” to the self-employed compared with employees.” – The Sun

  • Business chiefs and MPs call for quick exit from lockdown – Daily Mail
  • Tories will push for green coronavirus recovery, says MP – The Guardian

More:

  • Government borrowed £62 billion in April – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Sunak squares up to the SNP over the future of furlough

Majority of Cabinet ‘want to ease coronavirus restrictions’

“Boris Johnson is under pressure to ease the lockdown restrictions causing “massive damage” to the economy, with the majority of the Cabinet understood to support a major “back to work” drive next month. Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, is among ministers who have expressed concerns about the long-term “scarring” to the economy being caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Provided there is no unexpected increase in the rate of virus infections over the next 10 days, they want the Prime Minister to allow as many businesses as possible to reopen in order to get the country moving again. However, there is no hope yet in sight for pubs and restaurants, with Downing Street sources saying there has been no discussion about easing the two-metre social distancing rule – which makes it commercially unviable for pubs and indoor eating places to reopen.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson faces ‘uprising’ over strategy – Daily Express
  • Pressure grows as restrictions eased in Scotland and Ulster – The Sun

More:

  • Pubs and restaurants could reopen now ‘without risking public health’ – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Imran Ahmad Khan MP in Comment: We mustn’t and won’t let this rolling forward of the state become permanent

Fraser Nelson: How will the Prime Minister explain to the public inquiry why we left lockdown too late?

“Officials are already writing memos designed to be “discovered” when the inquisition starts. This may explain why things are moving so slowly: no one wants to take any risk. But what if the inquiry asks a different question? By the time it reports, we’ll know the full picture: not just how many died of the virus but how many died due to the lockdown. Britain’s lack of pandemic preparedness and its eventual panic may come to be seen as inevitable, given that we saw the same story throughout the Western world. The harder question might be: why did we let lockdown drag on for so long, when we knew it was doing so much harm?” – Daily Telegraph

  • Is Britain falling in love with big state again? – Ed Conway, The Times
  • Sturgeon is not the ‘star politician’ of this crisis – Dan Wootton, The Sun

Johnson wants self-sufficiency to end reliance on Chinese imports

“Boris Johnson has ordered civil servants to draw up plans codenamed Project Defend to end Britain’s reliance on China for vital medical supplies and other strategic imports in light of the coronavirus crisis. Officials across Whitehall have been asked to identify the country’s key economic vulnerabilities to potentially hostile foreign governments as part of a new approach to national security. The initiative, led by Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, could lead to the government intervening to support the “repatriation” of key manufacturing capabilities such as pharmaceuticals as part of a new national resilience framework. It is also looking at supply chain issues where critical UK businesses rely on components from abroad to make finished products.” – The Times

  • There’s a way to escape China’s tightening grip – Iain Martin, The Times

>Yesterday:

Naval admiral brought in to help turn tide on UK PPE supplies

“One of the UK’s most senior naval officers has been brought in to help lead the government’s efforts to address shortages of personal protective equipment for health workers. Jim Higham, assistant chief of the naval staff, is working with Paul Deighton, chief executive of the London 2012 Olympics organising committee, who was asked last month to oversee Britain’s production of PPE for NHS and care workers. Health and social care staff have repeatedly complained they have insufficient PPE to do their jobs safely, with families of some who lost their lives blaming shortages for their deaths. Separately, members of the British army’s 101 Logistics Brigade, responsible for delivering ammunition and supplies to front line troops, have developed a new online platform with web auction site eBay which will enable community, primary and social care providers to order PPE from the central NHS stockpile.” – FT

  • No 10 sends for duke’s aide to lead Whitehall response – The Times

Johnson faces ethics inquiry over ‘intimacy’ with Arcuri

“Boris Johnson may have breached anti-corruption guidelines as mayor of London by failing to declare his relationship with a US businesswoman who joined him on official trade missions, the police watchdog has found. His relationship with Jennifer Arcuri, 35, influenced officials at the Great London Authority (GLA), which provided almost £24,000 of grants and allowed her to join him on three trips. Mr Johnson, 55, faces a summons by the GLA to answer questions in public and could be asked to apologise if found to have broken its code of conduct. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said yesterday that there was insufficient evidence for a full criminal investigation into Mr Johnson for misconduct in public office but found he may have breached the ethical standards expected of public officials.” – The Times

  • Prime Minister cleared by police watchdog – FT

Government delays creation of Tory peers

“Boris Johnson has quietly shelved plans to create up to twenty new Tory peers including a string of party donors until after the coronavirus crisis has passed. The prime minister’s allies last night confirmed that the political peerages had been delayed until the autumn at the earliest and only after honours have been bestowed on those who have done most to tackle the pandemic. Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, announced moves on Wednesday to push back the traditional Queen’s birthday honours due to be published next month. That list is being overhauled to ensure that it can be used to reward outstanding efforts in the fight against the virus, he said. “We’re not about to hand peerages to a bunch of politicians and business people before we’ve done right by those on the frontline,” said one well-placed source.” – The Times

Corbyn to join union bosses who have planned a day of protests against schools reopening

“Hardline union bosses are planning a day of protests to prevent schools from reopening – and Jeremy Corbyn has backed them. They will ramp up their war by descending on town halls to furiously demand council chiefs and headteachers cave to their demands. Activists in the Healthworker Coronavirus Activists Group – backed by a string of unions – vowed to “resist” the plan to get kids back to class. In a fiery online rally held on Wednesday night, they accused Boris Johnson of putting lives at risk. And their special guest speaker, Mr Corbyn, 70, vowed to join the fight againt schools reopening… New Corbynista MP Nadia Whittome and PCS union leader Mark Serwotka also railed against the government at the rally.” – The Sun

  • School reopening could take place on different dates across UK, MP hints – Daily Express
  • Mixed messaging leaves Government battling to persuade people back to work – Daily Telegraph

More Labour:

  • Khan could force Londoners to wear masks on the tube – The Sun

>Today: John Bald in Comment: This week has seen the cynicism of teaching union leaders exposed

Irish MEPs lash out at Government’s Brexit plan

“Irish MEPs have launched a scathing attack on Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans after official Government documents said there would be some light customs checks on the island of Ireland. On Wednesday, the Westminster Government published its Northern Ireland protocol, which confirmed there would be checks on some goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. The papers also revealed Northern Ireland would have to follow some EU rules on agriculture and manufactured goods, in order to ensure access to European markets and keep the border with the Republic open. Fianna Fáil MEPs Barry Andrews and Billy Kelleher have insisted the Prime Minister’s plans are “worrying”.” – Daily Express

  • A no-deal Brexit amid the pandemic would be disgraceful – Martin Wolf, FT
  • We can’t afford to extend the Brexit transition period – Patrick Minford, The Times

News in Brief:

  • For free traders, it’s two cheers for the Government’s tariff plan – Syed Kamall, CapX
  • Lockdowns are as contagious as Covid – Professor Paul Dolan, The Spectator
  • Generation corona has been handed a life sentence – Will Tanner, UnHerd
  • Welsh ministers don’t even know their own rules – Marcus Stead, Spiked!
  • Scotland’s dreaming – Rory Scothorne, London Review of Books

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