Politics latest news: Covid vaccine 'will help you, not hinder you' for travel and mass events, says Boris Johnson

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Getting a Covid vaccine "will help you, not hinder you"when it comes to accessing events and travelling internationally, the Prime Minister has said.

Boris Johnson refused to go as far as Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who yesterday said refuseniks were "selfish" and warned they would be barred from certain premises.

Asked about his colleague's comments, Mr Johnson told LBC: "I think it’s a very positive thing to do to go and get a vaccine. People can obviously see, when you look at things like travel, like mass events, that it’s going to be one of those things that will help you, not hinder you."

The Prime Minister also confirmed that August 16 was "nailed on" as the date when isolation restrictions will end.

"There was never any question of a review date for August 16," he added.

This morning The Telegraph revealed that fully vaccinated adults will not be required to take a test if they come into contact with someone with Covid unless they have symptoms from this date. Mr Johnson has also decided to reopen the country to foreign tourists from the EU and North America who have been fully vaccinated.

It comes amid a fresh warning that the pingdemic is causing a "perfect storm" from Iceland boss Richard Walker.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

12:15 PM

Kathryn Flett: When Covid cases are coming down, doom-peddlers should cheer up

We’ve now had several consecutive days of reduced Covid ‘cases’ - precisely the kind of good news the extraordinarily patient and now largely vaxxed-up UK has surely been waiting for, writes Kathryn Flett.

Nonetheless, the nation’s Optimism-Deniers are still spinning even the most upbeat news into a narrative that could see us hurtling towards the seventh circle of Hell on a handcart with go-faster stripes... and they can’t all be behaviourial scientists on SAGE, surely?

What does it say about us, collectively, that so many people are busy hunting the 'Whatabout?' monster, facing down good news with bad?

Read more from Kathryn here.

12:07 PM

Welsh Secretary hails 'fantastic news' as slate landscape wins World Heritage status

11:56 AM

Boris Johnson praises 'magnificent memorial' to fallen police officers

"We're only able to walk the streets of this country without fear because police officers like you are prepared to stand between us, and those who would do us harm," Boris Johnson has said, marking the unveiling of a new memorial for all fallen police officers.

"It's something we must never take for granted and never forget, and it's why the Government didn't hesitate to support the creation of this national memorial," he added.

"No words can adequately do justice to the debt we as a nation owe your fallen colleagues, but I trust that this magnificent memorial in pride of place at the National Arboretum demonstrates the scale of our gratitude for their service, and that it will stand for centuries as a fitting tribute to the courage and sacrifice of the men and women who together form the finest police force in the world."

11:54 AM

Prime Minister praises police for 'running towards danger' to keep country safe

Boris Johnson has praised police officers for their "daily willingness to run towards danger", ahead of the unveilling of a new memorial honouring all fallen officers and staff.

Before he arrived, a pre-recorded video message from the Prime Minister was played at the open-air venue where he said: "It takes a very special kind of person to be a police officer. When you pull on that uniform, each day, you have little idea of what's going to be asked of you, what dangers, you might face. All you know for sure is that anything could happen, and that there's a chance, however small that you won't be going home to your loved ones at the end of your shift."

He added: "And that's why the names of officers, lost in the line of duty are so seared into our national collective consciousness. Because we know that if it were not for your dedication, your selflessness, your daily willingness to run towards danger, we would simply not be able to live our lives and safety and security and freedom." '

11:46 AM

In pictures: Boris Johnson and Priti Patel join the memorial ceremony

Priti Patel at The National Memorial Arboretum  - Getty
Priti Patel at The National Memorial Arboretum - Getty
Boris Johnson attends the dedication ceremony of the National Police Memorial - Getty
Boris Johnson attends the dedication ceremony of the National Police Memorial - Getty

11:42 AM

Majority of Britons back end of travel restrictions for EU and US travellers

Nearly two-thirds of Britons back the Government's plan to allow fully vaccinated travellers from Europe to enter the UK without quarantine.

According to a poll conducted by YouGov, 63-66 per cent of people agree with allowing fully-vaccinated visitors from key European countries into England. This includes those from Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Italy and France.

Meanwhile, 58 per cent of respondents support letting in fully-vaccinated visitors from the US.

11:25 AM

Awkward: Boris Johnson and Cressida Dick to meet after he failed to back her

Dame Cressida Dick: Formidable - but is she the right person for the job? - James Whatling Photography
Dame Cressida Dick: Formidable - but is she the right person for the job? - James Whatling Photography

Dame Cressida Dick is among the attendees at the opening ceremony for a new police memorial, where she is likely to meet the Prime Minister - who this morning twice failed to back her.

In an interview with LBC Boris Johnson was asked if the Metropolitan Police Commissioner should lead the battle against county lines criminal networks. He twice avoided answering the question, instead saying he regards her as a "formidable police officer".

Referring to efforts to stop the drugs gangs, host Nick Ferrari asked: "Is Dame Cressida Dick the woman to push this through?"

The Prime Minister replied: "You'll have known Cress for a very long time. I think she's a formidable police officer."

Mr Ferrari asked again: "Is she the woman to deliver on this?"

Mr Johnson replied: "All that is a matter for the Mayor of London and the Home Secretary."

11:17 AM

Australia stockpile: 'Crucially important' that people get vaccine, says Foreign Secretary

Dominic Raab has said it is "crucially important" that people get the Covid vaccine, with the key ally Australia forced into yet another lockdown, despite having three million stockpiled AstraZeneca jabs.

Only a third of the population has been vaccinated with around one in eight being doubled-jabbed - the lowest rate among OECD nations.

Asked what he made of the situation, the Foreign Secretary said: "We know that AstraZeneca is safe - it has been WHO approved, it has been approved by the European, the UK agencies...

"It is crucially important that people get the jab, whichever country they are, but also that we galvanise the international effort to get the world's poorest and more vulnerable countries vaccinated.

"The reason we are doing that is partly out of moral responsibility but also because we know that here in the UK, whether it is protecting ourselves from further waves of the virus or variants, whether it is opening up international travel for holidays or for trade, we need to make sure that we have a global solution to this terrible pandemic."

11:02 AM

Government 'pleased' that 'only two' Covid briefings were ruled unlawful

Government officials have insisted that "only two" out of 170 Covid briefings were found to be unlawful in a High Court judgement today.

Mr Justice Fordham said the absence of any British sign language interpretation for "data briefings" on September 21 2020 and October 12 2020 constituted "discrimination" against Katie Rowley, who took legal action against Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said after the ruling: "We are pleased that the court ruled our policy of using on-screen British Sign Language interpreters was lawful during the pandemic.

"Our priority has always been to reach the largest possible audience with important public information, and we will continue to ensure that British sign language interpretation is made available during Covid-19 briefings."

See 10:29am for more.

10:58 AM

Government must 'rebuild the trust it has lost' among disabled community, says senior MP

The Government's long-awaited national disability strategy is just "a first step in the right direction", the chairman of the Commons' work and pensions committee has said.

Stephen Timms, a former minister and Labour MP, welcomed the publication of the strategy, but noted criticism of the way people were consulted in the process.

HE said: "Its underlying principle—a cross-government strategy, renewed annually, against which the Government can be held to account for its performance—is a good one. But the Minister is right to acknowledge that today’s publication represents only a first step in the right direction.

"Disabled people have told the Government very clearly that the way in which it engaged with them to develop this strategy was not good enough. In particular, the survey it carried out was not accessible and caused offence.

"With planned annual reviews of the strategy, the Government has an immediate opportunity to put that right and to start to rebuild the trust it has lost."

10:52 AM

Dominic Raab: Get vaccinated out of 'self-interest'

People should get vaccinated out of "self-interest", Dominic Raab has said, after his Cabinet colleague Michael Gove said those who refuse are "selfish".

The Foreign Secretary told reporters: "Look, I think people should get vaccinated for their own self-interest because it is far safer to do so, and I would encourage everyone to do so.

"But it is true that it is also the best way to protect your family, your friends, your neighbourhood, your community and the country at large as we try and boost the rate beyond the 70 per cent of the adult population who have been vaccinated.

"So I certainly encourage and urge anyone who hasn't yet got vaccinated and is eligible to do so."

Selfish or understandable? Have your say in today's poll at 11:17am.

10:50 AM

Nicola Sturgeon shrugs off criticism of Trump-style meltdown

Nicola Sturgeon visits the Connect Community Trusts Connie Centre in Glasgow  - AFP
Nicola Sturgeon visits the Connect Community Trusts Connie Centre in Glasgow - AFP

Nicola Sturgeon has shrugged off criticism of her Donald Trump-style meltdown during a Covid briefing yesterday, to go on a visit in Glasgow.

Westminster Government ministers such as Michael Gove are making a series of trips to Scotland as they look to bolster the case for the union.

But the First Minister is being hammered after she attacked people for not using "common sense" when interpreting vaccine targets.

See 10:42am for more.

10:42 AM

The bizarre history of vaccine certificates

A plague doctor in protective clothing c 1656 - Hulton Archive
A plague doctor in protective clothing c 1656 - Hulton Archive

With Boris Johnson and his top team considering the use of domestic Covid passports this autumn, we look back at the bizarre history of vaccine certificates.

A 'fede di sanita' carried by shipmen in the early 18th century in and around Italy were some of the earliest examples of what we might now describe as a vaccine passport. However, the requirement of documents date back even further, with Londoners needing a certificate of wellness signed by the Lord Mayor if they wished to leave the city during the Great Plague in the 17th century

And of course, they were not the last.

Read more on that here.

10:26 AM

Pensions triple lock: MPs canvassed for opinions on dropping manifesto commitment

The suspension of the pensions triple lock appears to be moving closer after it emerged last night that Conservative MPs are privately being canvassed on their views on dropping the manifesto commitment.

The Telegraph can disclose that figures in the Department for Work and Pensions have started sounding out MPs as to whether they are supportive of ditching the Government guarantee on pensions increases.

MPs believe the decision to reach out to them is a clear sign that a temporary suspension now seems increasingly likely.

“It was very much an ‘if we do this, what’s your opinion,’” said one well-placed source, who suggested that the Government was now effectively conducting a “straw poll” of Conservative MPs.

Read more on that story here.

10:17 AM

Have your say: Are vaccine refuseniks 'selfish'?

Michael Gove's claim that people who refuse to get the vaccine are "selfish" has put the cat among the pigeons, with none of his Cabinet colleagues willing to back the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster this morning.

Boris Johnson said he would "put it the other way round" by insisting it was a good thing to do, while Therese Coffey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, insisted people were "scared" rather than selfish.

The Government is grappling with the possibility that the low take-up among younger groups - who are less likely to suffer serious illness - could result in Covid spreading and mutating - resulting in a potentially vaccine-beating variant.

So are refuseniks being selfish? Have your say in the poll below.

10:08 AM

Ross Clark: It's time for the unions to wake up and smell the coffee

Chairman of the Police Federation John Apter (left) and Ken Marsh, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation deliver a letter to 10 Downing Street, - PA
Chairman of the Police Federation John Apter (left) and Ken Marsh, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation deliver a letter to 10 Downing Street, - PA

I am sure that the Police Federation feels that its members deserve a pay rise. What with all those petty lockdown rules to enforce, it has been a tough year for them, writes Ross Clark.

But in its letter to Downing Street the police officers’ trade union failed to address a fundamental question: where does it think that all this extra national wealth might come from?

Of course, a zero percent pay rise at a time that the Consumer Prices Inflation is running at 2.4 percent is, in real terms, a pay cut. But it is nothing compared with the plunge in national wealth.

Read more from Ross here.

09:49 AM

Boris Johnson faces 'day of reckoning', claims Labour

Boris Johnson is facing a "day of reckoning", Labour's deputy leader has said.

Angela Rayner told Sky News that Dawn Butler was "correct" to call the Prime Minister a liar in the Commons, saying it was "absolutely ludicrous" that she had been censured as a result, calling Parliament's rules "archaic".

She insisted leader Sir Keir Starmer was becoming increasingly popular with the electorate, adding: "This Government is running out of track on their lies, their corruption and their bluster.

"There has to come a point where you actually do what you say and that's not what the Government has been doing, so I think there is going to be a day of reckoning for Boris Johnson."

09:45 AM

TfL to make 'temporary' congestion charge rise permanent

Transport for London (TfL) is planning to maintain the "temporary" 30 per cent rise in London's congestion charge to £15 a day, in a bid to shore up the network's finances.

It was introduced as a short-term measure in June 2020 under the terms of a Government bailout.

The transport body is also consulting on reducing the period where charges are enforced, which is currently 7am to 10pm every day.

Under the plan, the scheme would operate between 7am and 6pm on weekdays, and between noon and 6pm on weekends.

09:42 AM

Nicola Sturgeon accused of 'Donald Trump-style meltdown' over vaccine figures

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of having a “Donald Trump style meltdown” after she claimed critics who accused her of missing a key Covid vaccination target lacked intelligence.

Official figures show around a quarter of people in the age group were yet to receive a second dose, but Ms Sturgeon claimed it was a “fact” that she had met the target as they had been offered a jab, even if it had not been administered.

Annie Wells, the Scottish Tory health spokeswoman, said: “In a Trump-style meltdown for the ages, the First Minister claimed she was communicating at a more intelligent, higher level than the rest of us. Her defence for missing a key vaccine target seems to be that nobody understands Nicola except Nicola."

Read more here.

09:34 AM

Newmarket councillors pass vote of no confidence in Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock 'demonstrated hypocrisy and hubris in the pursuit of his own interests', the councillors said - AFP
Matt Hancock 'demonstrated hypocrisy and hubris in the pursuit of his own interests', the councillors said - AFP

Councillors in the racing town of Newmarket have narrowly passed a vote of no confidence in their local MP, former health secretary Matt Hancock.

Mayor of Newmarket Michael Jefferys, who is a member of the Labour Party, used his casting vote to pass the motion at a meeting of Newmarket Town Council this week, with five voting for, five against and four abstentions.

The passed resolution states that West Suffolk MP Mr Hancock has "neglected the best interests of his constituents" and, as health secretary, "demonstrated hypocrisy and hubris in the pursuit of his own interests".

However West Suffolk Conservative Association has formally backed him to continue representing the constituency.

09:29 AM

Deaf woman wins case against Government over sign language-free briefings

A deaf woman who took High Court action after complaining about a lack of British Sign Language interpreters at Government Covid briefings in England has won a compensation fight.

Katie Rowley, who is in her 30s and from Leeds, took legal action against the Cabinet Office, claiming it breached obligations to make broadcasts accessible to deaf people under equality legislation.

Mr Justice Fordham said the absence of any British sign language interpretation for "data briefings" on September 21 2020 and October 12 2020 constituted "discrimination" against Ms Rowley by "reason of breach" of the "reasonable adjustments duty".

He said damages would be assessed by a judge in a county court.

09:25 AM

Tom Harris: Pity the poor SNP, who can't cheer on their own Olympic team

Nicola Sturgeon has finally found the time to congratulate Duncan Scott for his silver in the 200m freestyle at the Tokyo games, writes Tom Harris.

Her reaction to the Scottish swimmer's success - complete with a grudging nod to the race’s winner, England’s Tom Dean – came a mere eight hours after their success and only after a Telegraph reporter had inquired about her silence.

This is what the term “through gritted teeth” was invented for. While the rest of the country celebrates, you have to pity the SNP die-hards whose monomania won’t allow them to enjoy cheering on their own team.

Read more from Tom here.

09:21 AM

UK to offer 817,000 vaccine doses to Kenya

The UK will offer 817,000 vaccine doses to Kenya to support efforts to combat the pandemic, with the first 400,000 doses going this week, Downing Street has announced.

This is part of a delivery of nine million Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to Covax and directly to individual countries, with a further statement due from the Foreign Secretary later today.

The announcement comes as Boris Johnson prepares to meet President Kenyatta at Chequers today for talks on strengthening the UK-Kenya relationship.

He said: "The UK and Kenya share a long and rich history, but this is a relationship that is focused on the future. As friends and allies, we are sharing UK vaccine doses to support Kenya’s fight against the pandemic... I look forward to welcoming President Kenyatta today to drive that agenda forward."

09:14 AM

Government 'waking up to crisis of its own making' as historic steel firm nationalised

Unions have welcomed moves to nationalise a historic steel company, saying it ends years of instability.

The Ministry of Defence will buy Sheffield Forgemasters, saying it intends to invest up to £400 million into the firm for defence-critical plant, equipment and infrastructure over the next decade.

The cost of the acquisition is £2.56 million for the entire share capital of the company plus debt assumed.

Steve Turner, the assistant general secretary for Unite, said: "Today's news will be welcomed with a huge sigh of relief right across our steel communities. It brings to an end years of instability for this historic 215-year-old company, but is also a sign that Government is maybe finally waking up to a crisis of its own making.

"Critical infrastructure industries like steel function better in public hands and advanced economies like our own need to have stable, secure domestic steel production capabilities to protect our national security interests as well as to compete in global markets."

09:11 AM

Reopening borders without 'robust strategy' could put country at risk, warns Labour

Boris Johnson's plans to reopen the borders to fully vaccinated travellers from the US and Europe risk importing new variants and undermining our sacrifices, Labour has warned.

Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, said: "Everyone wants to see international travel open up, but safety has to come first. The last thing our country needs is to be exposed to yet more dangerous variants - repeating the fiasco that allowed the Johnson variant to cause such damage.

"Throughout the pandemic the Government’s border policy has been reckless and dangerous. Labour have been consistently calling for progress on a globally recognised international passport scheme - working with the EU and US to get travel moving again - as well as proper quarantine measures, consistent testing at airports and an overhaul of the traffic light system.

"All too often changes have been chaotic, badly planned and dangerous, causing confusion for the industry and travellers. We need a robust strategy for opening our borders that is underpinned by data. This needs to be done correctly or all the sacrifices the public have made could be put at risk."

09:02 AM

Madeline Grant: The pingdemic has given workers an excuse to bunk off

To many of us, working from home proved a mixed blessing, writes Madeline Grant.

What began as sheer nirvana – an extra hour in bed, leisurely lunchtime walks, home-cooked meals – quickly soured into boredom and lethargy. Returning to the office means relearning long-dormant skills, like how to iron a shirt without ending up rocking Dominic Cummings’ “chaos chic”.

But despite the odd culture clash, the experience of returning to a full office brings immeasurable benefits. Nothing can replace the ideas and serendipity created by personal interaction.

Yet just as businesses reopen and public transport heaves once again, the national picture remains patchy thanks to the “pingdemic”.

The revelation that half our political leaders were self-isolating last week may have been good or bad depending on your politics. But when staff shortages cause empty shelves, you know you’ve got a disaster on your hands.

Read more from Madeline here.

08:52 AM

Labour MPs accusing Boris Johnson of lying are 'just trying to get clicks', says minister

Labour MPs accusing the Prime Minister of lying are "just trying to get clicks", a Cabinet minister has said.

Therese Coffey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, told Sky News it was "not at all" difficult to defend Boris Johnson, adding she was "quite saddened by what has happened".

"A lot of this has been done to drive small clicks on social media," she added. "The Prime Minister has led from the front in tackling Covid.... I have every confidence in him, and frankly so do the British people."

She suggested "Labour cannot get over" the election result.

Challenged over Mr Johnson's past form, she said: "The British people backed Boris to be prime minister, he is doing a great job... All this trivia that is generated by people just trying to get clicks doesn't work."

08:38 AM

Brussels pauses legal action against UK to consider protocol proposals

The European Commission has paused legal action against the UK for allegedly breaching the post-Brexit deal on Northern Ireland.

The pause to the action which was launched in March would be used to consider proposals put forward by the UK last week, after Lord Frost called for a "standstill" to allow the Northern Ireland protocol to be renegotiated.

A spokeswoman said: "While the EU will not renegotiate the protocol, we stand ready to address all the issues arising in the practical implementation of the protocol in a spirit of good faith and cooperation. It is essential that we continue constructive discussions in the weeks ahead.

"With regards to the request for a standstill, the Commission will carefully assess the new proposals made by the UK, in accordance with the necessary consultation procedures, both internally, and with the European Parliament.

"In order to provide the necessary space to reflect on these issues and find durable solutions to the implementation of the protocol, we have decided, at this stage, not to move to the next stage of the infringement procedure, started in March."

08:31 AM

'Better late than never': Labour MP gives grudging welcome to travel plans

The Government's plans to reopen the borders to vaccinated travellers from North American and Europe has been given a grudging welcome by senior Labour MP Ben Bradshaw.

The Exeter MP and member of the transport committee has been calling for borders to be reopened for many weeks, warning of the impact restrictions are having on the industry.

This morning he tweeted: "Good news on quarantine free travel and an expanded green list if true.

"[It's] only taken Johnson six weeks since Europe & America resumed travel to realise the UK has been 'left behind'.

"Better late than never... Must now address rip off tests."

08:25 AM

Boris Johnson refuses to comment on Dominic Cummings' claims

Asked about Dominic Cummings, his former boss said: "I'm all in favour of people having their views" - BBC/Reuters
Asked about Dominic Cummings, his former boss said: "I'm all in favour of people having their views" - BBC/Reuters

Boris Johnson has refused to comment on remarks made by Dominic Cummings.

The Prime Minister's former right hand man has made a series of claims in recent weeks, including that there was a plot to oust the man he dubbed "the trolley" and claiming that his wife, Carrie Johnson, "pulls the strings" in Downing Street.

Mr Johnson told LBC: "I don't wish to comment on any of the sayings of any of my former advisers, who are now many."

He added: "Number 10 Downing Street - I looked at this the other day - just in the last year I think we've had about 220 people arrive in Number 10.

"I don't know how many have left - quite a few, and I'm sure they've all got something interesting to say, but I have no intention of commenting on it. I'm all in favour of people having their views."

08:18 AM

Police ‘buying small boats in attempt to curtail Channel migrant crossings’

Police have bought up small boats in a bid to curtail Channel migrant crossings, The Telegraph understands.

Officers have used the tactic as part of a series of operations to disrupt the supply of boats, the biggest expense for the people-smuggling gangs behind the record number of migrants crossing the Channel this year.

It is understood officers have bought the boats not only to deny the gangs access to them but also to push up prices and reduce supply in an attempt to break the traffickers' commercial model.

Read more on that story here.

08:12 AM

Electric cars could cause blackouts unless charged off-peak, MPs warn

Electric cars could cause “blackouts” if drivers don’t charge them at night, MPs have warned as they recommended VAT cuts to help motorists switch over.

Ministers have been told the UK's power grid will come under increasing strain as more drivers buy electric, unless they are convinced to plug-in at off-peak times.

The Government has also been urged by MPs to prevent rural areas becoming electric vehicle “not spots” due to a lack of public charging points, and to make public charging as cheap as plugging in at home by reducing VAT.

Huw Merriman, chairman of the transport committee, said: “Unless the National Grid gains more capacity, consumer behaviour will have to alter so that charging takes place when supply can meet the additional demand. The alternative will be blackouts in parts of the country.”

07:54 AM

Boris Johnson: Official Secrets Act review will not affect investigative journalists

The Prime Minister said he does not "for one minute" think a review of the Official Secrets Act could prevent the press from carrying out investigations.

Fears have been raised that potential changes to the Act could see investigative journalists classed as spies and possibly jailed.

Boris Johnson told LBC: "I'm full of admiration for the way journalists generally conduct themselves. Whatever this thing is, I don't for one minute think it is going to interrupt the normal process."

07:47 AM

Test reluctance may explain drop in daily Covid cases, says Government scientist

The seven-day drop in daily Covid cases could have occurred because people are less willing to get a test ahead of summer holidays, a Government scientist has warned.

Mike Tildesley, professor of infectious disease modelling at the University of Warwick and member of Spi-M, told Times Radio that school holidays meant that pupils were not doing their regular lateral flow testing and "so we're not necessarily detecting as many cases in younger people".

He added: "It's also been suggested by some that, possibly, because of a high number of cases, because of the summer holidays approaching, people might be less willing to 'step up' to testing when they have symptoms."

Prof Tildesley said the focus must now be hospitalisations, which are still going up.

"If we start to see as we get into August, if we start to see hospital admissions going down as well then I think we would have much stronger evidence to suggest that this third wave is starting to turn around," he added.

07:44 AM

Senior Tory backs plan to reopen UK borders to fully vaccinated tourists

The chairman of the Commons' transport select committee has welcomed plans to reopen the borders to foreign tourists from the EU and North America who have been fully vaccinated.

The Telegraph this morning revealed plans to open the UK to the world from next month.

Huw Merriman told Talk Radio: "It's a good move, we really miss the dollar that used to come in for summer travel."

While the Bexhill MP said authorities must be "very careful" to ensure variants aren't imported, the current approach was leading to "snaking queues at Heathrow".

He added: "We need to take a sensible approach, less bureaucratic and look at [countries] on the whole - if they are mostly double vaccinated we need to let them in as a special class... Have they got high vaccination rates - if so, we treat them as safe as a whole."

Vaccination should be treated as "as a condition of carriage so it's all done before you get on the plane," he added.

"The whole thing is confusing, it's deterring people from travel."

07:35 AM

Vaccine refuseniks are scared, not selfish, says Cabinet minister

A Cabinet minister has insisted that people who do not get the Covid vaccine are "scared" rather than selfish, following Michael Gove's comments yesterday.

Asked whether those not getting a jab are "selfish", Therese Coffey told LBC radio: "I think there are still quite a lot of people who are still scared.

"We want to encourage people to recognise the vaccine is safe and actually will help them but also other people around them too," the Work and Pensions Secretary added.

"I just really want to encourage people to be positive about the benefits to them, but also to wider society. Taking the vaccine is a sensible, safe step forward."

07:25 AM

Boris Johnson rejects Michael Gove's suggestion that vaccine refuseniks are 'selfish'

Boris Johnson 'put it the other way round' to Michael Gove - Getty
Boris Johnson 'put it the other way round' to Michael Gove - Getty

Boris Johnson rejected Cabinet minister Michael Gove's claim that people who refuse to get a vaccine are "selfish".

Asked if they were "selfish", the Prime Minister told LBC Radio: "No, I think that I would put it the other way round and say that if you get one you are doing something massively positive for yourself, for your family."

Mr Johnson was challenged over his plan to require a vaccine certificate to visit nightclubs from the end of September.

"It's a very positive thing to do to get a vaccine," he said. "People can obviously see, when you look at things like travel, like mass events, it's going to be one of those things that will help you not hinder you."

07:19 AM

Pingdemic causing 'perfect storm', warns supermarket boss

The pingdemic and summer holidays are causing a "perfect storm" when it comes to keeping the country's supermarket shelves stocked, Iceland's managing director has said.

Richard Walker told Radio 4's Today programme that supermarket workers had been excluded from the exemption list, meaning the Government's plan "only fixes half the supply chain issue, and therefore it is a pointless solution".

He warned of a "perfect storm" as a result.

"The pingdemic is affecting stores, the pingdemic is affecting supplies, we are now in peak holiday season and there is this HGV driver shortage issue," he added. "Everything has started to come at once."

07:12 AM

Prime Minister will not 'weep any hot tears' over chain-gangs

Boris Johnson unveiled plans for 'chain-gangs' yesterday - Reuters
Boris Johnson unveiled plans for 'chain-gangs' yesterday - Reuters

Boris Johnson said he would not "weep any hot tears" for people guilty of anti-social behaviour being made to join "chain-gangs".

Offenders taking part in "community payback" schemes are already required to wear a hi-vis vest while carrying out the unpaid work, but Mr Johnson has called for wider use of the punishments.

The Prime Minister told LBC Radio: "What I want to see is those who are guilty of anti-social behaviour actually paying their debt to society.

"If that means that they are visibly part of some yellow fluorescent-jacketed chain gang then I am not going to weep any hot tears about that, I think that's a good thing."

07:10 AM

Boris Johnson defends Prof Ferguson as modelling is way out

Boris Johnson has defended Prof Neil Ferguson as a "very distinguished modeller", after the Imperial College scientist's estimate of at least 100,000 daily cases was found to be widely out.

"These things are very difficult to compute," the Prime Minister told LBC. "We've seen some encouraging recent data, there's no question about that, but it is far, far too early to draw any general conclusions."

He added: "The most important thing is for people to recognise that the current situation still calls for a lot of caution and for people just to remember that the virus is still out there, that a lot of people have got it, it still presents a significant risk."

07:07 AM

Prince of Wales to lead ceremony to honour fallen police officers

Prince Charles will join Boris Johnson at the official launch of the memorial - Reuters
Prince Charles will join Boris Johnson at the official launch of the memorial - Reuters

The Prince of Wales will lead the nation during a dedication ceremony for the new UK Police Memorial honouring all fallen officers and staff.

Charles will unveil a plaque dedicating the monument in Staffordshire, and after giving a brief speech will lay the first wreath at the memorial commemorating the courage and sacrifice of all those from across the police service.

The UK Police Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas commemorates all personnel who have lost their lives since the formation of the Bow Street Runners in 1749.

Since that time, almost 5,000 police officers and staff have died on duty, 1,500 from acts of violence.

Boris Johnson, who will also attend, told LBC Radio: "This is massively important to me, and I think to the country, because we need to remember our police officers - men and women - are people who run towards danger, who put their lives at risk to keep us safe, and that point cannot be repeated often enough."

07:05 AM

UK to see 'steady' recovery from Covid, says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson said the UK would see a "steady" economic recovery but warned there would be "bumps on the road" following the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it expects UK economic output to grow by seven per cent this year, a major upgrade from the 5.3 per cent growth that the body's economists had predicted in April.

The Prime Minister told LBC Radio: "You are seeing the job numbers increasing and I think that the rest of this year - there will still be bumps on the road - but I think you will see a story of steady economic recovery."

06:49 AM

Boris Johnson backs Priti Patel on police row

Boris Johnson backed Home Secretary Priti Patel in her row with the Police Federation over the pay freeze for all but the lowest-paid officers.

The Prime Minister said: "I have got absolutely every confidence in the Home Secretary."

Speaking to LBC radio, he urged people to recognise that "the Government is doing what it can to expand police numbers as fast as we can" as well as giving "them things that they need".

That meant "more body-worn cameras, greater ability to use Tasers, more powers for instance over stop and search, and protections against unreasonable behaviour by members of the public, assaults that all too often they face."

06:47 AM

Boris Johnson pledges to 'thicken blue line' despite ruling out police pay rise

Boris Johnson speaking to LBC 
Boris Johnson speaking to LBC

Boris Johnson has said he wants to "thicken the blue line", amid criticism of his refusal to boost officers' pay.

The Prime Minister told LBC: "The objective is to thicken the blue line with more officers and that is what we are doing. I take your point very sincerely about pay, no one would want to pay our fantastic police more than I would.

"We are just going through a tough time financially for the Government."

06:46 AM

Letting the side down: Boris Johnson hits out at Euro fans

Boris Johnson has said he was "disappointed" with the behaviour of fans at Wembley during the Euro 2020 final earlier this month, when England lost in the final on penalties to Italy.

He told LBC Radio that while the UK "looked great" as a host, the scenes could have cost the country its bid of hosting the World Cup in 2030.

"This was unquestionably letting the side down," he added.

Asked whether the police had questions to answer, Mr Johnson replied: "I know there is a full review and inquiry going on into what went wrong.

"What I might say perhaps in way of mitigation is this was the first time they'd had to mount something like that in lockdown conditions, Covid conditions, where you had to have quite long queues for people to observe social distancing, get tested and so on.

"But I don't want to make any excuses for it, we need to get to the bottom of what happened."

06:10 AM

Freedom for double jabbed as UK opens to world

Britain is to drop restrictions for fully vaccinated people and reopen its borders to European and American travellers from next month.

Boris Johnson has decided that, from August 16, those who have been fully vaccinated will not be required to take a test if they come into contact with someone with Covid unless they have symptoms.

It had previously been reported that workers would only be released from self-isolation after a negative test, and health officials had been planning for a major new system of compulsory testing to free people from isolating.

With Covid cases falling for a seventh successive day, Mr Johnson has also decided to reopen the country to foreign tourists from the EU and North America who have been fully vaccinated.

Read more here.

06:10 AM

Good Morning

Freedom beckons... again.

But this time, things could be quite different, with Boris Johnson expected to announce that, from August 16, those who have been fully vaccinated will not be required to take a test if they come into contact with someone with Covid unless they have symptoms. But with the pingdemic getting ever worse, can the country last until that long?

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