The Times suggests that the lifting of the final lockdown restrictions in England, scheduled for 21 June, could be delayed for a fortnight after a “downbeat” briefing about the latest coronavirus data given to ministers by the chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, and the chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.
The data is described as having been “fairly grim”, says the Times.
The paper reckons that a two-week delay would enable everyone over 50 to be fully vaccinated and leave sufficient time for their jabs to take effect.
A cabinet source is quoted as saying the political fallout is likely to be limited as long as the full reopening of the country takes place before the start of the school holidays in late July.
Away from coronavirus, the Guardian says Boris Johnson has put himself on a collision course with scores of his MPs, after Downing Street suggested it will defy an order by the Commons Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, to bring forward a vote on cuts in foreign aid.
In an emergency debate today, the paper says senior Conservatives including Theresa May will line up to condemn the cuts, as world leaders prepare to head to Britain for the G7 summit.
The online Independent says this will represent “humiliation” for Mr Johnson, while the Financial Times says it is already threatening to jeopardise the UK’s international standing. But there will not be a binding vote.
The Daily Mail praises Sir Lindsay for a “no-nonsense approach” yesterday, when he refused to allow the Tory rebels to “hijack” an unrelated bill.
After John Bercow, says the Mail, it is reassuring to have a speaker who respects Parliamentary rules.
“Europe threatens sausage trade war” is not a plot line from Yes Minister – though fans of the satirical sitcom may remember that Jim Hacker became prime minister by speaking out against the “Euro Sausage”.
In fact, it is the main headline in the Daily Telegraph. It interprets an article for the paper by the European Commission vice-president, Maros Sefcovic, as a clear warning that Brussels will start a trade war with Britain if Boris Johnson overrides the Brexit treaty to allow shops in Northern Ireland to carry on selling British sausages – without checks being carried out – beyond the end of this month.
The Telegraph notes that the UK has previously unilaterally extended grace periods in the Northern Ireland Protocol on parcels and supermarket goods, prompting legal action by the EU.
The Guardian reports that the EU has warned the Brexit minister, Lord Frost, that its “patience is wearing thin”.
The EU has accused the UK of failing to fulfil its obligations on tracing systems to stop British goods entering the Irish Republic, and on the construction of border control posts at Northern Irish ports.
However, the paper says Brussels is ready to make concessions – by offering to ensure the undisrupted supply to Northern Ireland of British-approved medicines, and by permitting people with guide dogs to travel unencumbered by paperwork to the rest of the UK.
As MPs digest the proposals of the Boundary Commission for a major shake-up of constituencies, the Daily Telegraph suggests that Defence Secretary Ben Wallace could lose his seat of Wyre and Preston North in Lancashire.
It reports that he’s among a small group of MPs whose entire constituencies are at risk of being absorbed in order to rebalance population sizes.
Senior Conservatives are said to have told the Telegraph they expect widespread calls for Boris Johnson to call the next general election before the changes are finalised in July 2023.
The i reports that the Holborn and St Pancras seat of the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, would be abolished under the proposals and redrawn, taking in part of his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn’s seat of Islington North.
But the Guardian observes that the process has a long way to run: there will be a series of consultations during which local parties and councils will lobby for changes – and the last two reviews collapsed in disarray in 2013 and 2018.
The decision of the Parole Board to approve the release of Colin Pitchfork, who raped and strangled two 15-year-old girls in Leicestershire in the 1980s is the main story for the Daily Mail.
It quotes the mother of one of the victims, Dawn Ashworth, as saying Pitchfork “will always present a danger”.
The sister of his first victim, Lynda Mann, says she does not believe he is capable of rehabilitation. The paper’s headline: “Monster Who Killed Our Girls Must Never Be Freed”.
With the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland taking legal advice, the Daily Express speaks of “outrage” at the Parole Board’s decision.
There is plenty more comment on the decision of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to name their daughter, Lilibet, after the Queen.
The Daily Mirror says Prince Harry told his grandmother of his wish to use part of her name, years before he met his wife, Meghan.
According to the Mirror, the Queen considers it a “lovely idea”.
Less sympathetic to Harry is the Sun, which reports that he’s going to take five months’ paternity leave – or, as it puts it, “more than a Lilibet of time off”.
And a number of papers report that a tiny creature buried in permafrost in Siberia for 24,000 years has been brought back to life.
The worm-like rotifer – less than a millimetre long, but with a brain and a digestive tract – has even reproduced, says the Daily Mirror… at a “ripe cold age”.