Newslinks for Wednesday 15th September 2021

Coronavirus 1) ‘Go hard and go early’ to avoid winter Covid surge, Johnson is told

“Boris Johnson should “go hard and go early” with coronavirus restrictions this winter if there is a surge in cases, the chief scientific adviser has said. Sir Patrick Vallance said that the UK was at a “pivot” and warned that ministers would need to change course rapidly if cases rose quickly this winter. The prime minister has published his coronavirus plan for autumn and winter setting out his “Plan B” to protect the NHS. It includes mandatory vaccine passports, compulsory facemasks and advice that people should work from home. Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Vallance said: “Things are flattish at the moment — if they go up quickly then you’ve got to go early in terms of getting on top of it.” – The Times

  • Spectre of a winter lockdown returns – Daily Telegraph
  • England to reintroduce Covid restrictions if NHS overwhelmed – FT
  • Bring in measures soon or risk 7,000 hospitalisations per day, Sage warns – The Guardian
  • Javid hints PCR tests for double-vaccinated travellers will be scrapped – The Times
  • PM clings to Plan A – The Guardian
  • Doomster advisers warn of another lockdown – Daily Mail
  • Teachers fear being “caught in cross-fire” over jabs for teenagers – The Times
  • Vaccine passports imposed with week’s notice under crisis plan – The Times
  • What is the Covid winter plan to keep us out of lockdown? – The Times
  • Vaccine myth spreaders should be ashamed, says Whitty – The Guardian

Coronavirus 2) Dan Wootton: Why are we jabbing millions of kids to keep teachers at work?

“Something extraordinary happened yesterday but we’re now so numbed by the consequences of this pandemic that many have shrugged it off. A government which has been slavishly imploring us to ‘follow the science’ for months overruled one of the bodies it says we should trust to deliver the science in order to vaccinate en masse healthy children aged 12 to 15-year-olds from next week who have a miniscule chance of succumbing to Covid-19. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation had said the vaccine should only be offered to teens if they are extremely vulnerable or live with someone at risk because the benefits didn’t outweigh the risks and the chances of long Covid among the age group are low. One of the main reasons behind such a worrying move, with real world health risks for our innocent youngsters, was a fear that the continued spread of Covid could see them miss out on even more education.” – Daily Mail

PM wins Commons backing for health and social care levy

“Boris Johnson has won a comfortable 61-vote House of Commons majority for his manifesto-breaking plan to raise taxes to fund health and social care, but sceptical Tory MPs demanded proof the policy would yield results. Many Conservatives remain doubtful that the decision to raise £12bn a year in extra taxes will result in big reductions in hospital waiting lists and better social care, rather than disappear into an NHS “black hole”. Andrew Mitchell, former cabinet minister, said a representative from the Treasury should come to the House of Commons every six months to explain what had been accomplished with the new “health and social care levy”. – FT


Chinese ambassador banned from parliament

“The Chinese ambassador to Britain has been banned from parliament in an unprecedented intervention that led to a diplomatic row with Beijing. Its embassy accused parliamentarians of “despicable and cowardly action” after an invitation for Zheng Zeguang to speak at an event on the Commons terrace was withdrawn. Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons speaker, said that it would not be “appropriate” to allow the ambassador on to the parliamentary estate when MPs were the subject of sanctions from China after they spoke out against Uighur human rights abuses. The Chinese embassy accused MPs of undermining Beijing’s attempts to improve Sino-British relations.” – The Times

  • Speakers move to ban Chinese ambassador – FT

Gove given job of ‘saving Christmas’

“The prime minister has put Michael Gove in charge of “fixing” Britain’s food supply chains, quipping that he “doesn’t want to have to cancel Christmas again”. Industry leaders have warned that consumers should prepare for permanent shortages in supermarkets because of a lack of lorry drivers and food-processing workers, which disrupts “just-in-time” supply chains. Archie Norman, the chairman of Marks and Spencer, told LBC this week that supermarkets were facing a “perfect storm”, adding it was going to be a “bumpy ride” before Christmas. Boris Johnson has appointed Gove, Cabinet Office minister, to lead a cross-governmental group to rapidly increase the number of HGV drivers and work with food suppliers.” – The Times

  • Job vacancies rise above 1m for first time – FT

Patel skips conference . . . and row over police pay

“Priti Patel faces a deepening rift with police officers over a pay freeze after she avoided a public appearance and defended the decision in a video. The head of the Police Superintendents’ Association (PSA) said it was “disappointing” that the home secretary had not attended their conference and accused ministers of failing officers. Dame Cressida Dick, Britain’s most senior officer, also criticised the pay freeze for the first time in her speech. Paul Griffiths, the president of the PSA, condemned what he called a “disgraceful pay offer”. – The Times

Keep taxes low for the Lidl Tories, urges Truss

“The Tories must embrace free enterprise instead of “inexorably growing the size of the state”, a cabinet minister said yesterday in a call to keep consumer prices low and appeal to “Lidl Tories”. Liz Truss, the secretary for international trade, warned about tax rises and higher spending, which “ultimately leads to worse outcomes for everyone”. Truss made the comments in a speech to the Policy Exchange think tank, in which she set out the government’s trade strategy. “The path to revival doesn’t lie in retreating and retrenching from the global marketplace, or inexorably growing the state. That would leave us poorer, less free and consigned to decline,” she said.” – The Times

Corbyn ally quits Starmer’s top team

“One of the last remaining Corbynistas on Sir Keir Starmer’s frontbench has quit, just weeks before hard-Left MPs are expected to challenge the party’s shift to the centre at Labour’s annual conference. Marsha de Cordova, the shadow women and equalities secretary, on Tuesday announced she was resigning to spend more time working on constituency matters. The Battersea MP, who was elected in 2017, said that she wanted to “focus more of my time and efforts” on her constituency, which she said was a “historically marginal” seat. Responding to her resignation, Sir Keir praised Ms Cordova for highlighting the impact of Covid-19 on ethnic minority groups, and for drawing up Labour’s plans for a new Race Equality Act to tackle “the structural inequalities which have existed in our society for too long”. – Daily Telegraph


Cummings urges curbs on students’ dark web prescription drugs

“Dominic Cummings has criticised the Home Office for failing to tackle the problem of students ordering prescription drugs on the dark web. Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser said that students at Oxford and Cambridge had told him they have drugs delivered to their pigeonholes. He was responding to a tweet by Andrew D Huberman, a professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford University, who warned about the number of students using prescription drugs to stay awake and focused during their studies. Students also revealed on Twitter that buying drugs online was “as easy as ordering something on Amazon these days”. – The Times

News in Brief

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