Boris Johnson will finally unveil his plan to keep Covid under wraps this winter during a press conference tomorrow, confirming booster vaccines for the over-50s – but no national lockdowns.
The Prime Minister will tear up draconian Covid legislation, relying on the extra jabs – starting with the elderly and most-vulnerable – to steer the country clear of any further shutdowns.
Travel restrictions will also be overhauled – with hated and costly PCR tests being ditched along with much of the traffic light system.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said yesterday that vaccine passports would not be introduced this month, after a revolt by Tory MPs and business leaders.
They do however remain in the Government’s arsenal for dealing with spikes in the Covid case rate that would put the NHS under pressure as winter unfolds – along with potential returns of working from home and mandatory mask wearing.
Ministers are said to think the evidence means these plans are sufficient to all-but rule out any national lockdowns – which Mr Johnson is said to be ‘dead set’ against.
Mr Javid said yesterday that he was ‘not anticipating’ any more lockdowns, saying ‘I just don’t see how we get to another one (lockdown).’
But he left the door open for the toughest of restrictions, saying it would be ‘irresponsible to take everything off the table’.
Downing Street has insisted that vaccine passports are still a “first-line defence” against a winter wave of Covid-19 after the health secretary said plans to introduce them had been scrapped.
No 10 said checks on the vaccine status of people going to nightclubs and other crowded events remained a crucial part of the government’s winter Covid plan due to be unveiled by the prime minister tomorrow.
They will no longer be introduced automatically at the end of this month, however, after pressure from Tory MPs and the hospitality sector.
When he outlines options to deal with a potential third wave this winter Boris Johnson is expected to warn that mandatory facemasks could be reintroduced and work from home guidance reinstated.
New border checks on European Union goods entering the UK are on the brink of being delayed for the second time amid concerns they could fuel further disruption for supermarkets and shops in the run-up to Christmas.
Whitehall officials are currently locked in talks over further postponing the rollout of the post-Brexit border regime, just weeks before additional controls are due to start being implemented.
As part of its border arrangements, the UK is preparing to introduce new paperwork requirements for EU imports of animal origin and high-risk foods from October, before more stringent physical border checks take effect in January.
The UK chose to delay these new sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls by six months in March, with ministers blaming Covid disruption, despite the EU imposing full checks on British exporters from day one of Brexit.
Britain is meant to introduce the new controls from next month under its revised timetable, but business leaders are warning that it will fuel further disruption to goods flowing across the Channel and hammer consumers with higher prices.
They added that new red tape would increase the cost of transportation, at a time when UK supermarkets and restaurants are already experiencing supply chain disruption because of a lorry driver shortage.
The Times also has the story.
A ‘Holy grail’ blood test that can diagnose 50 types of cancer before symptoms appear begins trials with 140,000 Britons today.
The Galleri test, which is currently available in the US, can detect cancers that are not routinely screened for and can pinpoint where in the body the disease is coming from with a high degree of accuracy.
Catching cancer early is vital to people receiving prompt treatment and the test has the potential to save thousands of lives in the UK every year.
It works by looking for chemical changes in fragments of genetic code – cell-free DNA (cfDNA) – that leak from tumours into the bloodstream.
Some cancer tumours are known to shed DNA into the blood a long time before a person would start experiencing symptoms.
The Galleri test does not detect all cancers and does not replace NHS screening programmes, such as those for breast, cervical and bowel cancer.
In the US, it has been recommended for people at higher risk of cancer, including the over-50s.
Huawei has been accused of “infiltrating” a Cambridge University research centre after most of its academics were found to have ties with the Chinese company.
Three out of four of the directors at the Cambridge Centre for Chinese Management (CCCM) have ties to the company, and its so-called chief representative is a former senior Huawei vice-president who has been paid by the Chinese government.
Critics said that the centre, a stone’s throw from Peterhouse, showed that Cambridge had allowed itself to be compromised by Huawei, the telecoms company with alleged links to the Chinese state.
Sajid Javid said on Sunday there should be no new tax rises before the next election after a grassroots backlash over last week’s tax raid.
The Health Secretary said that cuts to public spending should be considered before any new tax increases if more money had to be found in the coming years.
The move will be seen as a shot across the bows of Number 10 after Boris Johnson pushed through a manifesto-breaking National Insurance rise despite Cabinet disquiet.
The Telegraph has learned that backbench Conservative MPs still fuming at the Government’s decision will launch a fresh attempt this week to change the policy.
Marcus Fysh, the Tory MP for Yeovil, who is critical of the way the NHS and social care package was funded, wants people who get insurance for social care to get a “rebate” from the new tax.
He is tabling an amendment to the tax increase law to push the idea and is due to discuss it directly with Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, in a meeting on Monday.
NICOLA STURGEON will ask the UK Government to agree to another Scottish independence referendum “in the spirit of co-operation”.
Scotland’s First Minister will tell SNP members today that “democracy must – and will – prevail” to allow another vote on Scottish independence. Ms Sturgeon, who is due to deliver the closing speech of the SNP conference shortly before midday, is expected to say that she hopes to adopt an approach of “co-operation not confrontation” in her attempts to secure a second referendum.
The SNP leader has called for another referendum by the end of 2023 when the coronavirus pandemic is over, although the UK Government remains opposed to another vote with Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove making the message clear today.
She will say: “My approach to government and to politics will be, as far as possible, co-operation not confrontation.
“The experience of the pandemic and the challenges we face as a result reinforces my view that this is the right approach.
“So it is in that spirit of co-operation that I hope the Scottish and UK governments can reach agreement – as we did in 2014 – to allow the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland to be heard and respected.
BREXITEERS reacted with fury after activists waved EU flags during the Last Night of the Proms. The patriotic celebration took place on Saturday night at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Rule Britannia was sung by Stuart Skelton, an Australian opera star, wearing cricket gear.
However anti-Brexit campaigners targeted the event, handing EU flags from balconies and waving them in the hall. Many also wore blue and gold EU berets, which were popular on anti-Brexit protests after the 2016 referendum.
One Europhile group, the EU Flag Mafia, said that it handed out 10,000 EU flags outside the Proms “in support of Gigging British Musicians in trouble due to a failed Brexit”.
Some artists also demonstrated outside the Royal Albert Hall before the event, claiming Brexit had made it harder for them to tour the EU.
The Proms has been targeted by anti-Brexit activists before, with Nigel Farage condemning EU flag wavers in 2017 for “trying to make it all about them”.
However, EU flag-wavers came in for stringent criticism on social media.
BBC News also covered the Proms.
Universities were yesterday branded a ‘mega rip-off’ after announcing a third academic year of remote lectures despite charging annual fees of £9,250.
Nineteen of the 24 Russell Group of leading universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, said a portion of learning would remain online in the new term.
Covid restrictions have been scrapped but some lectures will still be delivered remotely, depriving youngsters of face-to-face contact with lecturers and fellow students.
Some Freshers are also having to live more than an hour from campus or are under pressure to defer places because of accommodation shortages.
Last night, campaigners called for tuition fee refunds and urged teenagers to boycott online-heavy courses.
It comes after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson warned last week there is ‘no excuse’ to use online learning as a cost-cutting measure.
A Mail survey has found most of the Russell Group are bringing back face-to-face learning, but offering a ‘blended’ model where some tuition stays online.
For some institutions, it means large lectures – a staple of campus life – are being delivered remotely.
Equality laws could be amended to protect controversial speakers from no-platforming under proposals drawn up by an influential Conservative think tank.
Ministers are considering changes that would require public bodies such as universities to promote “diversity of political opinion” and protect people with views that might be “incompatible” with those of the majority.
It follows controversies where universities and student unions have used equality legislation to ban controversial speakers by citing the need to protect others from being offended or feeling alienated.
An analysis of equality laws published on Monday by think tank Policy Exchange said such bans stemmed from the public sector equality duty which placed an onus on institutions to eliminate discrimination and advance equality.
Cases included Christian unions being banned from university fresher fairs or applicants denied jobs because they held “gender critical” views where they did not accept that people could change their biological sex.
THE DVSA has issued a critical warning to all petrol owners just a week after E10 fuel changes were introduced in the UK.
In a social media Tweet, they have urged drivers to check whether their vehicle is compatible with the new petrol before topping up. They warned drivers could do this using the Government’s online E10 checker which can deliver a result within minutes.
However, they also warned drivers who are still unsure must check their vehicle handbook or straight with their manufacturer.
The Tweet said: “E10 fuel has been in the news recently.
“But do you know if you can use it in your car?
“Use this handy checker to see.
“If you’re still not sure, take a look in your car’s handbook or on the manufacturer’s website.
VLADIMIR Putin unleashed Russia’s latest deadly combat weapons during joint military exercises with Belarus.
Russian and Belarusian troops are currently engaged in massive war games close to European borders, which are scheduled to end on Thursday. The “Zapad-2021” military drills involve up to 200,000 military personnel, some 80 aircraft and helicopters, up to 15 ships and nearly 300 tanks, according to the Russian Defence Ministry. Moscow showcased its Platform-M combat robots and new Sarmat-2 tactical vehicles for the very first time, according to the Russian media.
The Platform-M combat robots, in particular, are fearsome weapons, which are armed with grenade launchers and a machine gun, as well as being remotely controlled.
Belarus dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, was an observer of the war games on Sunday and was photographed looking as though he was ready for combat.
An image published by the state news agency Belta showed the President wearing a green military uniform and watching the drills attentively at the Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground.
Later he said: “This is one of the most important training events for the armed forces, which takes place against the backdrop of ongoing hybrid aggression by the West against Belarus and Russia.”