“Britain will give greater visa rights to the people of Hong Kong unless China suspends new security laws in the territory, the foreign secretary has said. The National People’s Congress of China yesterday formally announced its decision to impose the legislation, which makes it a crime to undermine Chinese authority in Hong Kong. Britain reiterated its “deep concern” over the plan in a joint statement with Australia, Canada and the US. The allies said the contentious law would erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and undermine the “one country, two systems” principle that has protected the territory’s status since the handover in 1997. The law would also violate the 1984 UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration that guarantees the rights and freedoms of the people, the states said.” – The Times
>Today: Tom Tugendhat in Comment: With the world distracted by the virus, China moves to curb freedom in Hong Kong. Here’s how we must respond.
“Families and friends who have been kept apart for months can reunite from Monday after Boris Johnson eased lockdown rules to allow groups of up to six people to meet outdoors. For the first time since March, people will be able to invite parents, grandparents and friends to their homes, as long as they stay in the garden. The Prime Minister said the Government’s five tests for easing the lockdown had all now been met, meaning families could look forward to “a long-awaited and joyful moment”. However, hugging remains banned, as people from different households must remain two metres apart, and vulnerable people who are “shielding” must stay in isolation for now. Mr Johnson warned that the move could be reversed if the coronavirus infection rate began to rise again.” – Daily Telegraph
>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Johnson – socially distant six person barbecues are on their way
“Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, is to announce that employers will have to pay a fifth of the wages of furloughed staff, and national insurance and pension contributions, as the state subsidy scheme is wound down. Today Mr Sunak will say that employers will have to contribute from August as the lockdown is eased under plans to restart the economy. He will allow employers to take furloughed staff back on a part-time basis for as many hours a week as they need. The announcement follows warnings from him that the scheme was unsustainable. A total of 8.4 million people are furloughed at an estimated cost of £10 billion a month. The scheme has already been extended until October and the Office for Budget Responsibility says that it could cost £80 billion.” – The Times
“Senior ministers are pushing to kill off Priti Patel’s plans to indefinitely impose a two-week quarantine on anyone arriving from abroad. Ministers from departments including the Treasury and the business and transport departments are demanding a swift end to the restrictions, warning that they will hamper Britain’s economic recovery from the pandemic. Whitehall sources suggested that while the travel restrictions would be launched as planned on June 8, they could be suspended weeks later in favour of a more nuanced approach. Tory MPs and business leaders have warned Downing Street that blanket travel restrictions will damage sectors important to Britain’s recovery. The Treasury is understood to be concerned that it will be harder to gradually withdraw support to business while hampering their ability to operate.” – The Times
“A government programme to trace people at risk of infection from Covid-19 got under way in England on Thursday — overshadowed by technical glitches and an admission from its chair that it would not be fully operational at local level for another month. In an acknowledgment of the problems in the build-up to the launch, Rupert Soames, chief executive of Serco which, together with its subcontractors, recruited 10,000 of the new 25,000 contact tracers, told staff in a video, that the idea that “all the strands of this would come together at precisely the right time belongs only to the fantasies of those people who have never organised anything more than a tea party”. Directors of public health… warned that necessary links between the central “test and trace” operation and local councils were still not fully established.” – FT
>Today: ToryDiary: Why the Cabinet Office will be in the dock for Covid failures when the inquiry comes. As will Sedwill.
>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The tragedy of Coronavirus death rates. And the problem of statistically selective narratives.
“Boris Johnson has again tried to draw a line under the controversy surrounding Dominic Cummings after Durham Police said it would not be taking any further action over a “minor breach” of the lockdown rules. Speaking at his daily coronavirus briefing, the Prime Minister said it was a “fundamentally political argument” and he intervened to prevent his scientific advisers, Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance being drawn into the row. Earlier Durham Police said it had concluded that Mr Cummings might have committed a minor breach of lockdown rules when he travelled from Durham to Barnard Castle on April 12. The force said if Mr Cummings had been stopped by an officer he may have been told to return home with words of advice, but that in line with its policy throughout the pandemic, it did not intend to take retrospective action.” – Daily Telegraph
“The prime minister has clearly decided that it is a passing storm. He refuses to countenance that Mr Cummings might have done anything wrong, even when the Durham constabulary politely disagrees. A rare insight into Boris Johnson’s thinking was supplied by Danny Kruger, MP for Devizes and, until the 2019 election, Mr Johnson’s political secretary, in a letter to new Conservative MPs. Mr Kruger’s case was that the combination of Mr Johnson and Mr Cummings is the only way the Tory party can complete Brexit, the reason they won the general election and their route to winning the next one. Mr Cummings is, he was in effect saying, indispensable to Tory fortunes. It cannot be done without the consigliere. The fallacy in this analysis is the vast, awestruck over-statement of Mr Cummings’s powers as if he won the 2016 referendum by himself and as if election victories were won in a few weeks of campaigning at the end. ” – The Times
>Today: Iain Dale’s column: The arrogance of Cummings, the failures of the Guardian – and why we all need to keep a sense of proportion.
“The Commons “simply cannot conduct divisions safely”, the Speaker warned today as he gave the government until Monday to come up with a plan for how MPs will vote. In a strongly worded letter Sir Lindsay Hoyle vowed to follow public health guidelines and said it was “not good enough” for parliament to return without a safe way to vote. The government has insisted that MPs must return to Westminster in person after their two-week recess ends on Tuesday. Sir Lindsay stressed that while the temporary orders that have allowed MPs to vote remotely have lapsed, the traditional method of voting – which involves MPs crowding into “yes” and “no” lobbies – would breach health guidelines. And could you get the Nissan consolidates at Sunderland story into the links as an extract?” – The Times
“Nissan’s Sunderland manufacruring is to stay open, but the carmaker is instead shutting a factory in Barcelona as the Japanese auto firm seeks to cut £2.3bn in costs worldwide. The decision will mean the loss of 2,800 jobs in Spain but removed a short-term threat to most of the 6,700 jobs at Nissan Sunderland, Britain’s biggest car plant. However, the carmaker said it would seek to “improve efficiency” at the factory in the north-east of England as it revealed a plan to reduce annual spending by ¥300bn (£2.3bn) worldwide. “In western Europe we will maintain production of our core models in Sunderland and improve efficiency,” said Makoto Uchida, Nissan’s chief executive, through a translator… The cost-cutting programme came as the coronavirus pandemic pushed Nissan to its first annual loss in 11 years.” – The Guardian
“The BBC has appointed a former executive to review how it maintains impartiality on social media, amid concerns that journalists are discrediting the corporation by revealing their opinions. Richard Sambrook, a former director of global news, will assess whether official BBC accounts are doing damage by posting clips of provocative moments from shows such as Question Time. BBC bosses censured Emily Maitlis, the host of Newsnight, after she delivered a monologue attacking Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson at the start of Tuesday night’ s show… Many BBC presenters and managers fear that a desire to create “shareable” content that goes viral online is warping the judgment of some colleagues and undermining the corporation’s reputation for balance.” – The Times
“More than half of Scots want a second independence referendum in the next five years putting pressure on Boris Johnson to grant a second vote, polls have revealed. A IPSOS MORI survey for BBC Scotland found that 63 per cent of people want another referendum, 34 percent within the next two years, 19 per cent in two to five years, and 10 percent after the next five years. But more than a third (34 percent) were against a fresh vote whilst young people were more likely to support a second referendum in the next two years, with 46 per cent backing a vote soon compared to 36 percent of those aged 35-54 and 22 per cent of those aged 55 and over. However, the survey comes amid chaos of Nicola Sturgeon deciding to lift lockdown two weeks later than the rest of the UK.” – Daily Express
>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Why the Scottish Conservatives are leading the charge against Cummings