Newslinks for Wednesday 23rd June 2021

Coronavirus 1) England set to drop facemasks and social distancing on July 19

“England is on track to lift all remaining lockdown restrictions including social distancing, facemasks and work-from-home guidance on July 19. Ministers have been encouraged by the “very, very” low number of deaths from coronavirus and the slowdown in infections, which has boosted confidence that a sizeable summer wave can be avoided. The government is expected to confirm on Monday that July 5 is too early to lift restrictions, despite the positive data, because ministers want to ensure that more people have received their second jabs. The prime minister is increasingly optimistic, though, that all remaining restrictions can be eased on July 19.” – The Times

Sketch:

Comment:

>Yesterday:

Coronavirus 2) Uefa VIP bubbles can skip quarantine for last Euro 2020 matches at Wembley

“VIPs for the final matches of Euro 2020 will agree not to leave football “bubbles” under government plans to allow thousands of officials and sponsors into the country. Ministers are approaching a deal under which Uefa and Fifa officials, politicians, sponsors and broadcasters would be exempt from self-isolation rules on arrival, despite concerns that this could lead to an increase in coronavirus cases and provoke a backlash from members of the public who are unable to go on foreign holidays. The Times revealed last week that Uefa was threatening to move the semi-finals and the final from Wembley to Hungary, which has no restrictions on intra-European travel and would host the fixtures with full stadiums.” – The Times

Coronavirus 3) Ministers are poised to end amber list curbs from July 19 and trips to the US, France, Spain, Greece and Italy could be on… as new hope on also rises for visits to the Balearic islands

“Fully vaccinated Britons could enjoy quarantine-free holidays from as early as July 19, the Mail can reveal today. Senior ministers are pressing Boris Johnson to sanction a ‘big bang’ reopening with travel curbs eased at the same time as restrictions are lifted at home. Formal advice against trips to amber list countries would be dropped under the plans – opening up summer breaks in Spain, France, Italy, Greece and the United States. Children would also be able to avoid quarantine if travelling with their parents. The Mail can also reveal that Government scientists have approved Spain’s Balearic Islands for green list status. This means quarantine restrictions for travellers there could be lifted even sooner, provided ministers agree the change when they meet tomorrow.” – Daily Mail

  • Malta and Balearics may join UK’s travel green list – The Times
  • US will miss July 4 target to give 70 per cent of adults a Covid vaccine – The Times
  • Delta-plus variant found across India – The Times
  • Estonian PM warns west of damage from Covid-induced authoritarianism – FT

Gove: Johnson will not grant new Scottish referendum before next election

“Boris Johnson will not grant a new Scottish independence referendum before the 2024 general election, Michael Gove has said. In an interview with The Telegraph, published below, Mr Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said the Prime Minister’s focus was on recovery from the Covid pandemic.The comments on timing go further than previous statements by ministers, which have said that a second referendum will not be granted for now. They set the UK and Scottish governments on a constitutional collision course given that Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister and SNP leader, wants to hold a referendum by autumn 2023.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Breaking up could become a British habit, says EU envoy – The Times

Fix for social care delayed again as Sunak tries to find £10bn

“Social care reforms are unlikely to be announced until the autumn at the earliest amid continued disputes within government over how to pay for them. This week Boris Johnson delayed a meeting with Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and Matt Hancock, the health secretary, to discuss the reforms. He has ruled out using rises in income tax, VAT and national insurance to pay for social care in England, making it “extremely difficult” for the chancellor to find the £10 billion needed. The Times has been told that a final solution is unlikely to be ready to announce until at least the autumn. The prime minister has committed himself only to coming forward with his plans by the end of the year.” – The Times

  • HMRC to go easy on struggling UK companies to help with Covid debt – FT
  • Hancock ‘believed initially to have advocated a national insurance increase to meet the costs, but that idea has been rejected’ – The Guardian

Sketch:

  • Johnson’s ambitious apprentice eyes the next rung of the career ladder, Michael Deacon – Daily Telegraph
  • Wagging Sunak bounds in like a Blue Peter labrador: Henry Deedes watches as the Chancellor revels in his tricky role – Daily Mail

Five years after the Brexit vote 1) Daniel Hannan – Project Fear? It’s more like Project Cheer with no recession, no currency collapse and no job losses

“SUN readers have been proved right. Five years ago today, they politely ignored the threats, the bullying and the official advice and voted to take back control of their country. The experts were outraged. In BBC editorial meetings, bank boardrooms, think tank conferences, embassy buildings and, most of all, university common rooms, there was horrified disbelief. The working classes had refused to listen to their betters! People without education had fallen for lies and populism! Now the whole country would suffer!” – The Sun

  • Sun readers made the right call on Brexit — our best days definitely lie ahead – The Sun

>Today:

Five years after the Brexit vote 2) The future’s bright: Johnson says leaving the EU will help us bounce back from Covid pandemic…

“Brexit will help us to bounce back from the pandemic, Boris Johnson has vowed in a statement to mark the five-year anniversary of our vote to leave the EU. The Prime Minister pledged to ‘seize the true potential of our regained sovereignty’ to ‘unite and level up’ the UK. The referendum saw 52 per cent vote to Leave, prompting the resignation of Remain-backing prime minister David Cameron. The wrangling that followed brought down his successor, Theresa May. But Mr Johnson’s offer of an ‘oven-ready’ deal helped him to secure an 80-seat majority in the 2019 election.” – Daily Mail

Five years after the Brexit vote 3) …As Patel warns that British citizens in EU are being denied work and healthcare

“British citizens living in the EU after Brexit are being denied work and healthcare, Priti Patel has warned. In an exclusive article for The Telegraph, published below, the Home Secretary urges EU nations to treat UK citizens as fairly as Britain was treating their citizens. It coincides with the fifth anniversary of the Brexit referendum vote, as Boris Johnson marked the moment by declaring the recovery from the pandemic offered the chance to “seize the true potential of our regained sovereignty to unite and level up our whole United Kingdom”.” – Daily Telegraph

Cummings tried to fast track £530,000 grant to external Covid data team with ‘no procurement, no lawyers, no meetings, no delay’, leaked e-mails say

“Dominic Cummings tried to fast track a £530,000 grant to an external data team – bypassing normal Whitehall procedures, leaked emails suggest. Boris Johnson’s former top adviser urged civil servants to issue the payment with ‘no procurement, no lawyers, no meetings, no delay’, according to the messages. The Government department involved – the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) – insisted that due diligence had been followed in issuing the grant. But Labour said it was another example of the Government’s ‘disdain’ for the rules governing the use of taxpayers’ money under Mr Johnson’s leadership.” – Daily Mail

UK exporters get more than £12bn in government financial aid

“UK exporters have been given more than £12bn in state financial support to keep Britain trading with the rest of the world through Brexit and the pandemic. UK Export Finance, the government’s export credit agency, provided British businesses with the highest level of financial support in 30 years in the 12 months to the end of March, according to its annual report published on Wednesday. This is almost treble the amount from the previous financial year, to help exports to 77 countries. The agency aims to support viable UK exports with loan guarantees, insurance and direct lending to help them win, fulfil and get paid for international business where there are gaps in private sector provision.” – FT

Robert Halfon: White privilege is just a MYTH to 1 million white, working-class kids

“WHITE working-class kids have been let down by schools for decades, and woke phrases such as “white privilege” are making it worse. There you go. I said it. The sky didn’t fall in. The world didn’t implode. It may make some people uncomfortable. Some may feel the need to reach for their Twitter account and have a go at me and the education committee that has made this finding. But they are in denial. Let me prove it. Here are just some of the facts. Nearly one million white, working- class pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds struggle with their education at all stages, from when they first pick up a book to when they leave school. Just 53 per cent of white British kids on free school meals hit their expected targets when they are four or five. This is one of the lowest figures for any ethnic group.” – The Sun

  • Today’s poor white children are NOT privileged: As MPs hit out over the damage done by the phrase ‘white privilege’, former Home Secretary David Blunkett says the term is ‘offensive, divisive and irrelevant’ – Daily Mail

More comment:

>Yesterday:

New fears over vow to protect Ulster veterans: Target for legislation to shield former troops from prosecution is in doubt

“A renewed Government pledge to introduce legislation protecting Northern Ireland soldiers within four weeks is unlikely to be fulfilled, senior sources have said. Veterans groups and MPs warned the Government against making any more ‘broken promises’ – claiming ministers are now in the ‘last chance saloon’. Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis yesterday told the Commons that the Government maintains its ‘ambition’ of bringing in laws to prevent the prosecution of soldiers during the Troubles before Parliament’s summer break next month – scheduled for July 22. He first made the pledge to the Northern Ireland affairs committee in January and his office confirmed it last month following the collapse of the landmark trial of two elderly paratroopers accused of killing an IRA man in 1972.” – Daily Mail

Ministers will push to privatise Channel 4 in TV shake-up

“Channel 4’s four decades as a publicly owned broadcaster could be about to come to an end, with ministers pushing ahead with controversial plans to sell the channel as part of a shake-up that could transform the landscape of British television. The culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, confirmed that he would hold a swift consultation on proposed privatisation, in a move that would mark the end of an era in British broadcasting and would radically alter how one of the UK’s leading public service television networks operates. The broadcaster – home to shows such as the Great British Bake Off, It’s A Sin and Channel 4 News – is editorially independent but has been owned by the state since it was created by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1982.” – The Guardian

Work starts on £1.7bn mega-station for HS2 in London

“Construction will start today on one of the UK’s biggest train stations in a key milestone for the £100 billion HS2 project. The new “superhub” at Old Oak Common in west London is the first of four new stations to be built along the initial leg of the line between the capital and Birmingham. The station, which will cost almost £1.7 billion, will be the biggest built from scratch in the UK. Others such as London Waterloo are bigger but were extended over the decades. When completed, it will cater for about 90 million passengers a year, second only to Waterloo, which accommodated between 94 million and 99 million passengers a year in the run-up to the pandemic.” – The Times

Funding row over £200m royal yacht replacement

“The Ministry of Defence is expected to pay the full cost of the government’s new trade promotion vessel, The Times has learnt, despite Downing Street’s suggestion that the department would cover only initial procurement costs. The new national flagship, a successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, could cost up to £200 million. On Monday Downing Street suggested that although the vessel was not a warship, the project would nevertheless be overseen by the Ministry of Defence. A spokesman said that this was because Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, had responsibility for UK shipbuilding. Yesterday the government insisted that the MoD would only “be responsible for that initial cost of taking it through the procurement process”.” – The Times

UK prepares to approve oilfield despite Cop26 climate conference

“Ministers are set to approve a new North Sea oil and gas project months before Britain hosts a global climate change conference in Glasgow. Under proposals submitted to the government, developers behind the Cambo heavy crude field off the coast of the Shetland Islands expect to extract 150 million barrels of oil — roughly equivalent to operating 16 coal-fired power stations for a year. Setting up and powering the oil rig will emit more than three million tonnes of carbon over the project’s lifetime. The oilfield is expected to operate until 2050, by which time Britain has pledged to be net carbon neutral. However, the project will not be covered by the government’s “climate checkpoint”, which will assess whether new oilfield developments are “compatible with the UK’s climate change objectives”, because it was licensed for exploration in 2001 and 2004.” – The Times

Labour won’t give Bercow a peerage

“John Bercow will not be nominated for a peerage by Sir Keir Starmer despite his defection to the Labour Party. Sources close to Starmer said that the former Speaker of the House of Commons, the first in two centuries not to be given a seat in the Lords upon retirement, would not be made a peer by the present Labour leadership. The opposition’s snub to Bercow, 58, effectively destroys any chance he once had of fulfilling his well-publicised ambition of joining other past Speakers in the upper chamber. While he has denied having struck a deal with Labour for a peerage, The Times reported yesterday that after Downing Street refused to nominate him he had lobbied Jeremy Corbyn and written his own reference and nomination forms.” – The Times

News in brief:

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Author: Conservative Home


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