MINISTER RECOGNISES ASYLUM SYSTEM IS BROKEN
The Express reports that the English Channel has been inundated with illegal immigration crossings as 1,406 asylum seekers in 30 boats have reached Britain since the start of the year. Between January and March 2021, 434 more migrants arrived than during the same period last year. With March seeing the single highest number of the total this year at 831 according to reporting by think tank Migration Watch UK and Home Office figures, only one in every 40 migrants who made the channel crossing have been returned since 2019. Minister for Immigration, Compliance and Justice Chris Philp said that he recognised the asylum system was broken, but did not comment on the large rise in numbers. Mr Philp pointed to the 2,000 more people which French authorities have prevented from crossing the channel.
HELP FOR EXPATS IN SPAIN WELCOMED
The Express reports that Boris Johnson’s Government has paid an extra £1million into a fund offering help and support for UK expats who are struggling to cope with rule changes that have come into force after Brexit. Hugh Elliott, the UK’s ambassador to Spain, has said he is delighted by the news, which he predicted would come as a huge boost for the hundreds of thousands of Britons who live in the country. More than one million UK nationals live in EU and EFTA countries, with the figure for Spain standing at 381,448, according to figures published by Spain’s Permanent Immigration Observatory at the end of last year.The extra cash – which comes on top of £3 million already allocated by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) earlier this year – will go towards providing practical support for UK nationals living in the EU.
HERD IMMUNITY FROM COVID BY APRIL 12 SAY MODELLERS
The SUN reports that Britain will achieve herd immunity from Covid next week through the vaccine rollout and the number of people who’ve recovered from Covid. Modelling by University College London (UCL) shows 73.4 per cent of Brits will have protection from the virus by April 12, Prof Karl Friston, of UCL, said: The herd immunity estimates surprised me. However, they are unremarkable when one considers that over 50 per cent of adults have been vaccinated, around 42 per cent of people have now been exposed to the virus and about 10 percent have pre-existing immunity. When factoring in the estimated efficacy of vaccination in terms of sterilising immunity, this – according to the model – means about 70 per cent of the population are immune.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF ASTRAZENECA JAB SENT TO AUSTRALIA
The Mirror reports: Hundreds of thousands of coronavirus vaccines made in Britain have been shipped to Australia. Some 717,000 AstraZeneca doses delivered Down Under were manufactured in the UK, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The first 300,000 British-made doses landed at Sydney Airport on February 28, and another batch arrived on an Emirates passenger plane last month. Matt Hancock the Health Secretary has insisted the Government did not send the doses. In March, the European Commission blocked the shipment of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia, and PM Scott Morrison has blamed the EU for delays to his country’s vaccination programme.
LEICESTER UNI THREATENS TO RESCIND EMERITUS TITLE
The Guardian reports that the University of Leicester has threatened to strip an 81-year-old professor emeritus of his title after he posted comments on social media criticising the institution, which is currently facing a strike ballot over redundancies. Peter Armstrong, who accepted the offer of emeritus status when he retired from the university in 2010, told followers on Twitter that management had threatened to rescind the honorary title because his comments breached the university’s “dignity at work” policy. Armstrong, a leading scholar in the field of critical accounting, is one of multiple academics to publicly criticise developments at Leicester University, where staff are holding a ballot for strike action over plans for up to 145 redundancies across five academic departments and three professional services units.
NO TO EXTENDED SCHOOL DAY SAY TEACHERS
The Mirror reports that the vast majority of teachers do not want to extend the school day to make up for lost time during the coronavirus lockdown, a survey has found. Educators were overwhelmingly not in favour of lengthening the school term either, according to the poll. Teachers did not believe such drastic changes would be vital for helping pupils catch up on missed learning due to the pandemic, the survey suggested. Around two in three teachers believe pupils should instead be supported through sport and exercise (68%) and increased creative and practical learning (66%), the poll found. The Education Secretary has confirmed that a change to the summer holidays and longer school days are being considered as part of long-term recovery plans for pupils who have missed out on lessons.
PEOPLE UNDER 30 OFFERED ALTERNATIVE COVID JAB
The Telegraph reports that the NHS has started cancelling vaccine appointments booked for people under 30, with those due to have jabs told they may now have to wait longer. On Wednesday, regulators ruled that those under 30 should be offered the Pfizer or Moderna jabs instead of the AstraZeneca vaccine after the latter was linked to blood clots. Health chiefs have said all first dose appointments for this group will now be cancelled on the national system, with GPs told to take the same action Those whose slots are cancelled should be rebooked within the next month using the Pfizer jab, NHS guidance says. However, all those who received a first jab with AstraZeneca will continue to be offered a second dose irrespective of age. Regulators have found no reports of blood clots among those given a second jab, with any possible reaction seeming to be triggered by first exposure to the vaccine. The overall risk of clots amounts to one in 250,000 across all age groups, but rises to one in 100,000 for the under-30s.
RIOTS IN NORTHERN IRELAND DOWN TO BORIS SAYS LABOUR
The Times reports that riots in Northern Ireland have grown out of a vacuum created by Boris Johnson’s leadership and the tensions caused by his Brexit deal, Labour said today. Northern Ireland’s power-sharing executive was holding an emergency meeting this morning after another night of chaos in which police were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown, a bus and two cars were hijacked and set on fire, and a photographer was assaulted.
MINISTER FLIES INTO NORTHERN IRELAND AS VIOLENCE CONTINUES
The Independent reports that Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis has arrived in Belfast for talks with political leaders to discuss the violence that has gripped parts of the region over the past week. He gave a statement on landing to praise the joint condemnation of violence from first minister Arlene Foster and deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill, from Sinn Fein, through the Northern Ireland Executive. The unrest has been attributed to tension in loyalist communities over the Northern Ireland protocol on Brexit – which has created economic barriers between the region and the rest of the UK – and the police’s handling of alleged coronavirus regulation breaches by Sinn Fein at the funeral of republican Bobby Storey.
SEVENTH NIGHT OF SERIOUS RIOTING JOE BIDEN CALLS FOR CALM
The Daily Mail reports: President Biden, who is of Irish heritage, stressed the need to protect the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement, which the United States helped to broker in 1998. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: ‘We remain steadfast supporters of a secure and prosperous Northern Ireland in which all communities have a voice and enjoy the gains of the hard-won peace. We welcome the provisions in both the EU-UK trade cooperation agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol, which helped protect the gains of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.’
OLD BILL CORRUPTION IN 1970s MET
The Guardian reports that one of London’s most senior police officers, described by a colleague as “the greatest villain unhung”, was believed to be involved in major corruption in the 1970s but never prosecuted, according to a new documentary on police malpractice. Former officers who exposed corruption at the time described how they were threatened that they would end up in a cement raincoat if they informed on fellow officers and were shunned by colleagues when they did. The fresh revelations come from half a dozen former officers from both the Metropolitan and City of London police forces, including one who has admitted receiving payments. The claims are made in a three-part documentary series about the widespread acceptance of bribes that led to the setting up of the anti-corruption unit A10, on which Line of Duty’s fictional AC-12 is based.
FORMER ETHICS TSAR BROUGHT IN TO SAVE UK UNION
The Times reports that Boris Johnson has brought back Whitehall’s former sleaze-buster to lead a government team tackling the threat to the Union. Sue Gray, whose investigations effectively ended the careers of at least two cabinet ministers, left her job as the Cabinet Office’s ethics tsar in 2018 to take up a role for the Northern Ireland executive. She will now return to London as the second permanent secretary in the Cabinet Office, in charge of policy on the Union and the constitution. In her new role Gray, 63, will report to Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, who was given responsibility for all Union policy after the resignation of the former Brexit negotiator Oliver Lewis in February.
From the Evening Standard: Police are hunting a mystery lumberjack who has chopped down dozens of trees along a picturesque stretch of the Thames. The culprit has struck up to 30 times in the past ten days prompting locals in Walton, Surrey, to call in the law. The lumberjack has no authorisation to chop down the trees and has not been spotted carrying out the secret missions and has been operating in the dead of night to avoid detection.