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Newslinks for Tuesday 18th May 2021

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Johnson forced to rethink his plan to end social distancing


“Boris Johnson has shelved a planned announcement of an end to social distancing rules as the faster-spreading Indian variant forces a rethink. The prime minister will no longer announce next week that fines for not wearing face masks will end next month, or that businesses will no longer be compelled to keep people at least a metre apart. His spokesman said that there was no “set time” for any announcement as scientists attempt to assess the danger posed by the variant. Public Health England expects to conclude tests on the effectiveness of vaccines against the variant by the end of this month. Other scientific advisers believe that by early next month it will be evident how much more transmissible the Indian variant is than the Kent variant.” – The Times

  • Prime Minister warned not to let vaccine refuseniks threaten our freedom – The Sun
  • Tiers may return if Indian coronavirus variant takes hold – The Times
  • India variant will be dominant UK Covid strain ‘in next few days’ – The Guardian
  • Strain dominates in areas of Bolton where patients rejected Covid vaccine – The Times
  • Hancock renews push to vaccinate vulnerable… – FT
  • …but local MP says he’s wrong to blame jab hesitancy – Daily Express


  • Border policy is a joke, says Cummings – The Times
  • U set to agree this week to allow in British tourists who can prove they’ve had Covid jabs – Daily Mail
  • Government has already U-turned on ending face masks in classrooms – Daily Telegraph

Government split over Australia trade deal

“The British government is locked in a “ferocious” internal battle over whether to sign off a trade deal with Australia after a split between the department of agriculture and the department of international trade over the terms of the agreement. Two people with knowledge of internal discussions said ministers were divided over whether to grant tariff-free access to Australian farmers, which would risk a backlash from the UK farming industry — and potentially spark domestic political fallout. Clinching a deal with Australia — the first big post-Brexit trade deal that is not a ‘rollover’ of existing agreements the UK enjoyed as an EU member — would be a symbolic moment for Brexiters arguing for the benefits of free trade.” – FT

  • Eustice all but confirms minister ‘fracturing’ over Australia deal – Daily Express

Britain’s planning system is ‘not fit for purpose’, says Jenrick…

ConHome Tshirts Robert Jenrick

“The coronavirus pandemic has shown that Britain’s planning system is “not fit for purpose” and more affordable homes must be built to “transform the quality of life” for young people, the Housing Secretary has said. In a riposte to Tory rebels threatening to vote down the Government’s planning reforms, Robert Jenrick warns that while Britain is a “property-owning democracy”, there is now a whole generation that “feels priced out of the dream of home ownership”. Writing for The Telegraph, Mr Jenrick also seeks to quell growing unrest among MPs by confirming for the first time that he is looking at imposing new taxes on developers who sit on land for years in order to increase their profits. The issue of “land banking” is a long-standing complaint among MPs and campaigners, who say it is helping to inflate house prices and keep first time buyers off the housing ladder.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Why Tory MPs must back Boris on planning – Simon Clarke MP, Times Red Box

…as he says government will take ‘robust action’ on antisemitism

“Robert Jenrick has condemned a “deeply disturbing upsurge in antisemitism” in recent years and said the government will name and shame local authorities that have failed to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of the problem. The communities secretary criticised incidents over the weekend in which a rabbi was beaten up outside his synagogue in Chigwell, Essex, and occupants of a convoy of cars in north London allegedly shouted antisemitic abuse. Jenrick said the government would take “robust action” to root out antisemitism, pointing out that it had been an early adopter of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. He said he would be writing to other authorities to do the same.” – The Guardian

Frost warns of summer ‘turbulence’ over Northern Ireland Brexit deal…

Northern Ireland

“Northern Ireland could face a fresh period of “turbulence” this July if the EU and UK governments cannot resolve fundamental differences on post-Brexit arrangements for the region, a UK minister warned on Monday. Lord David Frost, the Cabinet minister responsible for implementing the Brexit deal, told a committee of MPs that current discussions between London and Brussels were hung up on “superficialities” and warned that time was running out to fix the fundamentals of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol and avoid fresh trouble. Alluding to the so-called ‘Marching Season’, where the region’s Protestant Orange Order holds traditional parades which culminate on July 12, Frost said progress needed to be made “sooner rather than later” to avoid the risk of deterioration in the region.” – FT

  • Taoiseach launches Brexit attack after showdown with Boris – Daily Express
  • UUP warns that Ulster faces ‘huge’ rise in generic medicine prices – FT

…as he tells ‘indoctrinated’ officials to ‘stop thinking like the EU’

“British officials remain indoctrinated with “EU ways of thinking” that must be eradicated to make Brexit Britain more competitive, Lord Frost said on Monday as he called for a bonfire of Brussels red tape. He told MPs on the European Scrutiny Committee that a revolution was needed to “normalise” EU law still on Britain’s rulebook and return them to UK common law traditions, which are “lighter touch” and less risk averse. Lord Frost said: “Lots of our bureaucracy and our regulatory systems have had to operate within a prescriptive EU law framework.” “We have internalised principles of EU law and EU ways of thinking about things for the last 50 years, which is harder to eradicate because it’s quite subtle,” the Cabinet minister and former Brexit negotiator said.” – Daily Telegraph

William Hague: Johnson must trigger a schools revolution


“Two weeks ago, Rotherham went overnight from having no Conservative councillors to boasting twenty. Expectations that Boris Johnson’s government will be different from all the others are high. But my own route out of Rotherham is an illustration of how immense the challenge of levelling up is going to be. It was indeed a route out: once I passed through Oxford, any job I wanted was in London. I was levelled up but my hometown wasn’t. I was also very lucky, having excellent teachers and coming from a home full of books: most of my contemporaries had no more chance of a place at Oxford than of flying to Mars. With vocational and technical education then in decline, many of them would be treated as failures. Above all, while it would have been nice to have a faster train ride that day, it was being taught well that made all the difference. Investment in infrastructure is wasted without also investing in human capital.” – The Times

  • Starmer’s pitiful pitch to England’s north-east is a recipe for more disasters – Alex Niven, The Guardian


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