Boris Johnson pledges 'simple' foreign travel system amid criticism of amber watchlist

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Life on Mars: Boris Johnson tries one of three prototype system testbed Mars Rovers at the Airbus Defence and Space plant in Stevenage - AP
Life on Mars: Boris Johnson tries one of three prototype system testbed Mars Rovers at the Airbus Defence and Space plant in Stevenage - AP

Boris Johnson has pledged to create a "simple and user-friendly" system for overseas travel, amid backlash over plans to create a new amber watchlist category.

The Government is expected to confirm the new category, which will warn would-be holidaymakers about countries likely to be moved onto a red list, later this week. However the plans have already met with outrage from Tory MPs and industry figures, complaining it makes the process too complex and risks hampering the sector's recovery.

Asked about the proposals this afternoon, the Prime Minister said: "I obviously understand that people care very much about the holidays people want to go abroad. I understand how much people plan, prepare for the summer holidays, but we've also got to remember that it's still a dangerous virus, and that we must try and stop variants coming in,

"We have to have a balanced approach and what I want to see is something that is as simple and as user friendly for people as possible," he added.

Mr Johnson noted that he and others had "anxiety" about importing new variants back into the UK, but added: "We need to get people to get the travel industry moving again, to get our city centres open again. And so we wanted approach that is as simple as we can possibly make it."

​​Follow the latest updates below.

03:06 PM

And that's it for another day....

With businesses struggling to keep their doors open, and the food supply chain struggling, the Government's decision to tweak the NHS Covid app (see below) was inevitable - if a little tardy.

In fact, doing it with two weeks to go before the rules change does suggest that this summer might not be the last time the app is used. But will it be enough to breathe life back into the high streets - and keep political pressure off the PM?

It's certainly one of the key issues that MPs believe is behind Boris Johnson's drop in popularity, although the list on that score is long.

Travel is the other thorny issue, and here too, the Prime Minister appeared to hold out an olive branch, insisting he wants a "simple" system, after a barrage of criticism about the confusing addition of an amber watchlist.

If the Government does perform an about-turn on this policy, that will please our readers: some 85 per cent of you said plans were complicated and harmful to the travel industry.

For more on that, and the rest of the day's news, carry on reading below.

02:53 PM

Government tweaks NHS Covid app in bid to end pingdemic

The NHS Covid app, which has been at the centre of the nation's pingdemic, has been tweaked to "result in fewer contacts being advised to self-isolate", the Government has announced.

Currently, for people who input a positive test but are asymptomatic, the app looks for close contacts five days prior to a positive test. This will be updated to alert contacts over the two days prior to a positive test.

This update does not impact the sensitivity of the app, or change the risk threshold, and will result in the same number of high-risk contacts being advised to self-isolate.

Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said: "We want to reduce the disruption that self-isolation can cause for people and businesses, while ensuring we’re protecting those most at risk from this virus. This update to the app will help ensure that we are striking the right balance.

“It’s so important that people isolate when asked to do so in order to stop the spread of the virus and protect their communities."

02:51 PM

Have your say: Should the Government create an amber watchlist?

The Government is poised to announce a new category to its travel traffic lights system, with plans to create an amber watchlist, to warn travellers about countries that could join the red list.

Ministers insist this will help would-be holidaymakers to decide whether to take the leap and go abroad, knowing you may have to pay for a quarantine hotel, or whether to play it safe and stay local.

But Tory MPs and industry figures warn it will add confusion to the system, which will have expanded from three colour categories to six. There is particular concern that it will hamper the industry's tentative recovery at a critical juncture.

So is it helpful guidance or confusing and risky? Have your say in the poll below.

02:42 PM

Nicola Sturgeon ambushes Boris Johnson with invitation for talks during Scotland trip

Nicola Sturgeon has invited Boris Johnson to Bute House, her official residence, as part of the Prime Minister's trip to Scotland this week.

The First Minister said that the visit would be "our first opportunity to meet in person for a while" and the two leaders could use the meeting to discuss Covid and the recovery from the pandemic.

"We differ politically, but our governments must work together where we can," she added.

In the letter, she said the visit "might offer us an opportunity to meet in person in Edinburgh for a discussion on the current Covid situation and our respective plans for recovery - focussing, obviously, on the areas where it is important that our governments work together".

Her invitation stands in marked contrast to comments Ms Sturgeon made earlier this year, when the Prime Minister announced plans to travel to Scotland during the January peak.

During a regular Covid update, the First Minister said she was "not ecstatic" about the idea of him travelling up from London, adding it was "not essential".

02:26 PM

Iran attack 'outrageous and unacceptable', says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has said that Iran's drone attack on a tanker was "clearly an unacceptable and outrageous attack on a commercial shipping vessel".

He pointed to the fact that the Foreign Office had summoned Iran's ambassador in to discuss the attack, in which a UK national died.

"I think that Iran should face up to the consequences of what they have done, accept the attribution that the Foreign Secretary has made," he added.

"It is absolutely vital that Iran and every other country respects the freedoms of navigation around the world, and the UK will continue to insist on that."

02:24 PM

Boris Johnson pledges 'simple' travel system amid criticism over amber watchlist

Boris Johnson has hailed the end of quarantine for US and EU travellers who have been double jabbed, and acknowledged the challenges faced by other would-be holidaymakers.

"We have to have a balanced approach," he said, adding that he wanted a system that was "as simple and as user friendly for people as possible".

The Prime Minister highlighted the UK's vaccine success rate, saying that meant the UK was "just about the most open society in Europe", which was spurring economic growth.

"On travel, we have had to balance it because of anxiety that lots of people have - I have - about importing variants,"

02:09 PM

Life on Mars: Boris Johnson visits Mars Rover test site

Boris Johnson is shown one of three prototype system testbed Mars Rovers at the Airbus Defence and Space plant in Stevenage -  /AP
Boris Johnson is shown one of three prototype system testbed Mars Rovers at the Airbus Defence and Space plant in Stevenage - /AP
Intelligent life: Prime Minister visits the Airbus Defence and Space plant in Stevenage - AP
Intelligent life: Prime Minister visits the Airbus Defence and Space plant in Stevenage - AP
Boris Johnson tries out one of the prototype Mars Rovers - AP
Boris Johnson tries out one of the prototype Mars Rovers - AP

02:06 PM

Donations 'entirely separate' from policy, says Conservative Party co-chairman

The co-chairman of the Conservative Party has said Government policy "is in no way influenced by the donations the party receives", amid fresh sleaze allegations.

Labour has written to Amanda Milling demanding the party "come clean" about the level of access afforded to financial backers as part of the so-called "advisory group".

Responding, Ms Milling noted "all political parties raise money and accept donations in order to pay their staff and campaign in elections", including Labour, which was "seeking donations from billionaire businessmen, such as Lord Sainsbury and Sir Trevor Chinn," because of a collapse in union donations.

Labour also allows members to "pay a fee to get access to Sir Keir Starmer, yourself, and other senior Labour Party shadow cabinet members", she wrote.

She added: "Government policy is in no way influenced by the donations the Party receives - they are entirely separate. Any donation made to the Conservative Party is properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission and published by them."

01:44 PM

Government must do more to save travel jobs, says Unite

The Government must take further action to support jobs in the travel industry, one of the country's largest unions has said.

Diana Holland, the Unite union's assistant general secretary for civil air transport, said: "The current traffic light system is not working and there is disagreement within Government about how to move forward.

"While the situation remains uncertain and complex, the Government must provide job-saving support to our aviation and travel industry. "

While France and Germany had put in place sector-specific support for the aviation industry, "the UK civil air transport sector has haemorrhaged jobs", she said.

"With the summer season all but scuppered and travel not expected to return to sustainable levels for the immediate future, the Government must follow the lead of our competitor nations and take action to secure jobs, and make sure aviation can rebuild safely and sustainably for all our futures."

01:27 PM

Tim Stanley: The culture warriors have captured GB News

With viewing figures yo-yoing, GB News has brought in Nigel Farage who has a Trumpite ability to figure out early what is grinding people’s gears, writes Tim Stanley.

When last week he accused the Royal National Lifeboat Association of having become a taxi service for people-smugglers, Andrew Neil tweeted that the lifeboats are the “epitome of courage and self-sacrifice”.

It was an implicit rebuke reminiscent of the anxiety moderate Brexiters felt about Farage’s immigration “breaking point” poster during the EU referendum – a reminder of how divided Eurosceptics were in philosophy and strategy. Those disagreements have never been resolved.

Thing is, Farage has done for GBN exactly what its founders wanted: he has embarrassed the rivals by setting the news agenda and beating their ratings. But a culture war strategy can take you down strange roads.

Read more from Tim here.

01:18 PM

Scottish police chiefs ditched Operation Bunter label for Boris Johnson

They were worried the Prime Minister would think they were comparing him to the fat English public schoolboy  - AFP
They were worried the Prime Minister would think they were comparing him to the fat English public schoolboy - AFP

Police chiefs changed the name of their security plan for the Prime Minister's next visit to Scotland from "Operation Bunter" in case he thought they were comparing him to Billy Bunter, it has emerged.

Force insiders confirmed that they replaced the randomly-selected codeword for the security operation over concerns that it would "cause some sort of diplomatic incident" by offending Boris Johnson.

The codename 'Operation Bunter' was said to have been plucked from a list of approved words, in line with police procedure. However, it is understood that Police Scotland chiefs did not spot the potential offence the name could cause until some experienced officers pointed it out.

An insider told the Scottish Sun: "Several people pointed out the foolishness of calling it after a fat, posh, English public schoolboy not least given the PM is known for being a bit portly."

01:07 PM

Nicola Sturgeon's invitation to Boris Johnson

Will the Prime Minister take up the First Minister on her offer of an in-person meeting at Bute House?

01:04 PM

'The vaccine bounce is over': Former minister savages Boris Johnson's poll slide

Boris Johnson's fall in the polls shows "the vaccine bounce is over", a former minister has said.

The Prime Minister's "lack of direction is starting to hurt", the senior backbencher added.

"It was inevitable. There were such high hopes for him and he could never deliver what he promised," the MP added.

It was also an indication of the Blue Wall rejection growing, the Tory said. "Traditional One Nation Conservatives do not like him at all. He got their votes in 2019 because of Corbyn and Brexit. They voted through gritted teeth."

12:52 PM

Boris Johnson's poll drop of his own making, says senior Tory MP

Boris Johnson's 36 point slide in the polls has been brought about by a combination of over-promising and under-delivering, Tory MPs have said.

A new Cabinet league table by Conservative Home found that the Prime Minister had again lost popularity points and was only just in positive territory for net satisfaction (see 9:53am).

One senior backbencher told The Telegraph it was a combination of "confusing messaging on a daily basis regarding Covid recovery, Rishi manoeuverings, vaccine passports, green cost on lower income families".

It's "almost like Government are stuck in a swamp of their own making - as Trump almost said, Boris needs to drain the swamp", he added.

12:33 PM

Iran hits back over 'contradictory' tanker claims

Iran has vowed to respond to any "adventurism" after the US and Britain joined Israel in blaming Tehran for a deadly tanker attack.

Iran "will not hesitate to protect its security and national interests, and will immediately and decisively respond to any possible adventurism," Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement.

He dismissed US and Britain's statements as "contradictory", and said "if they have any evidence to support their baseless claims they should provide them".

Khatibzadeh also accused them of effectively supporting "terrorist attacks against and sabotage of Iran's commercial ships" through their "silence".

12:31 PM

Iran must 'immediately cease' actions that undermine peace and security, minister tells ambassador

Iran must "immediately cease" any action that risks "international peace and security", a minister has told the country's ambassador.

Mohsen Baharvand, was summoned today to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office by James Cleverly, the Middle East minister, in response to the unlawful attack committed on MV Mercer Street on 29 July.

Two people were killed in the attack, including one Briton.

"Minister Cleverly reiterated that Iran must immediately cease actions that risk international peace and security, and reinforced that vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law," a Foreign Office spokesman said.

12:00 PM

Creating amber watchlist will be 'massive red flag' for travel, warns Tory MP

Creating a further category in the travel traffic lights system is a "massive red flag", a senior Tory backbencher has said.

Huw Merriman, the Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle, and chairman of the Commons' transport committee, told the BBC it was "a massive red flag which is likely to cause bookings to those countries on that watchlist to collapse".

He added: "We don't need any more uncertainty, complexity, or anxiety for passengers, for this beleaguered sector. It just needs clarity. I would urge the Government not to do anything with it."

11:59 AM

Amber watchlist will allow holidaymakers to make 'informed decisions' when travelling abroad, says minister

The creation of an amber watchlist will allow holidaymakers to make "informed decisions" when travelling abroad, a minister has said today.

Matt Warman, the digital minister, insisted he would not pre-empt an anticipated announcement by Grant Shapps later this week, in which the Transport Secretary is expected to confirm the new travel category, joining the green watchlist and amber-plus as well as the traditional traffic lights trio.

The latest change has sparked concern among Tory backbenchers and industry figures who fear it will put more would-be holidaymakers off travelling abroad.

But Mr Warman insisted it was not "complicated" if people "apply their common sense" and that the watchlist would help them to make "informed decisions" before they travel.

He told Sky News: "The point of the watchlist is to try and give people a sense of the direction of travel that a country is going in, to provide people with as much information as possible. People do have to make common sense judgments, that may involve taking into consideration the fact that a country’s rates may be getting worse."

11:48 AM

UK Government summons Iranian ambassador over tanker attack

The UK Government has summoned the Iranian ambassador to the Foreign Office, after the regime was blamed for a drone attack on a tanker last week.

James Cleverly, the Foreign Office minister, is said to be chairing the meeting with Mohsen Baharvand

Two crew members - an unnamed Briton and an unnamed Romanian - were killed when a wave of self-detonating “suicide drones” hit the Israeli-linked oil tanker at around 3am on Thursday night.

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, yesterday directly blamed Iran and said the UK is working on a "concerted response" as a result.

11:38 AM

Pandemic did not undermine hospital care standards, study finds

Standards of care for hospital patients admitted with Covid-19 did not slip during the pandemic, a new study suggests.

More than three-quarters of people admitted to hospital with coronavirus received "good" or "excellent" care, according to a new review from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP). Just 3.5 per cent of patients experienced bad care.

The reviewers said the "very few instances of poor care" was "exceptional given the enormous pressures that were very rapidly placed upon the NHS at the start of the pandemic".

It was usually linked to end-of-life care, patients who had acquired Covid-19 while in hospital, or delays in assessment or escalation of care.

11:33 AM

Matt Hancock resurfaces as he battles to save career

“It was the first time he had popped up on the WhatsApp group since he resigned,”  - AFP
“It was the first time he had popped up on the WhatsApp group since he resigned,” - AFP

It is a measure of the brutal nature of politics that scarcely a month has passed since Matt Hancock’s resignation, yet he already has the air of a figure from history.

The former Health Secretary, who risked everything to pursue an affair with his aide Gina Coladangelo, has not given up hope of rescuing his ministerial career, and in recent days has begun to re-engage with fellow MPs via a backbenchers’ WhatsApp group in what colleagues interpreted as an attempt to test the water.

“It was the first time he had popped up on the WhatsApp group since he resigned,” said one Tory MP. “He was thanking people for their support after he quit, and everyone was very nice to him, saying well done on the vaccine programme.”

Read more about Matt Hancock's life out of the limelight.

11:18 AM

Scottish Tories leader backs SNP minister in call to investigate nursery discrimination

They may be political rivals, but Douglas Ross has thrown his weight behind Humza Yousaf's search for answers as to why his two-year-old daughter has been rejected from a local nursery (see 9:27am for more).

The leader of the Scottish Tories said "no family or child should suffer discrimination", after the SNP minister called on the Care Inspectorate to investigate, and said he was considering legal action.

11:04 AM

Have your say: Should the Government create an amber watchlist?

The Government is poised to announce a new category to its travel traffic lights system, with plans to create an amber watchlist, to warn travellers about countries that could join the red list.

Ministers insist this will help would-be holidaymakers to decide whether to take the leap and go abroad, knowing you may have to pay for a quarantine hotel, or whether to play it safe and stay local.

But Tory MPs and industry figures warn it will add confusion to the system, which will have expanded from three colour categories to six. There is particular concern that it will hamper the industry's tentative recovery at a critical juncture.

So is it helpful guidance or confusing and risky? Have your say in the poll below.

10:53 AM

Could dormant viruses be causing long Covid?

In March 2020, as the first wave of Covid was sweeping its way inexorably through Europe, Aliss Henneton began to develop a now tell-tale constellation of flu-like symptoms, breathlessness and fatigue.

Nearly 18 months later, Henneton is still unwell. She is one of a generation of people hit by long Covid – with one recent study suggesting two million adults in England alone have had symptoms lasting more than 12 weeks.

She began to research post-viral syndromes from her bed. “I searched for every other illness, from Sars to Lyme disease, malaria and HIV,” she says. “One thing they all had in common was the possibility for opportunistic infections to reactivate, due to the weakened immune system, and in many cases drive a big part of the illness.”

Henneton is convinced that they are responsible for her symptoms, and in recent months, the idea that reactivated viruses are responsible for at least a proportion of long Covid cases has gained increasing traction – opening new possibilities for much-needed treatments.

Read more about her search for answers here.

10:44 AM

Travel should be getting easier, says trade body

The international travel situation is "moving in the right direction", a spokesman for the association of travel agents and tour operators has said.

Sean Tipton of ABTA told Sky News the industry felt that speculation was unhelpful ahead of Grant Shapps' anticipated announcement on the amber watchlist this week, but they were hopeful more countries would be added to the green list.

"We should see a situation whereby we should be able to travel with less restrictions, not more," he said. Noting the changes to travel from the EU and US, he said there was an "element of reciprocity" which made him hopeful the US would respond.

He urged the Government to cut the cost of tests, noting that equivalent tests on the Continent were just E30.

10:37 AM

Labour hits out as 'foul, bullying trolls' target midwives

Labour's Jon Ashworth has hit out at "abusive, foul, bullying trolls spreading harmful poison", after the Royal College of Midwives revealed some of the abuse its staff have received in recent days.

Posts comparing senior midwives to serial killer Myra Hindley and calling them "Covid Nazis" have been published following the RCM's campaign for pregnant women to take the vaccine.

10:22 AM

Senior Tory calls for Government to do more on poverty

He is already facing an uphill struggle with plans to make vaccine passports a legal requirement for certain venues but could Boris Johnson be facing yet another Tory rebellion this autumn?

The Guardian is reporting that Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister, is leading a challenge against plans to end the £20 uplift to Universal Credit warning about the "intolerable" levels of hunger and poverty in his constituency.

The MP for Wycombe in Buckinghamshire said retaining the £20 uplift - which ministers have already said will come to an end this autumn - "wasn’t enough" and that the system should be reformed to ensure people get the cash immediately.

"It should highlight to everyone that even a place like Wycombe knows that we have just got to do more to break these cycles of poverty, " Mr Baker told the paper.

10:11 AM

Nick Timothy: Net-zero zealots take no notice of the hardship their haste will cause

Earlier this year Ed Miliband launched Labour’s push for an “electric car revolution”, writes Nick Timothy.

There was, he realised on live television, just one problem. While telling the country to buy electric cars, he had not bought one himself.

“We were on our way to buying one before lockdown,” Miliband squirmed. “It is going to happen, I promise you.” And then with comedic timing: “I have bought an electric bike, but it’s on its way.” It had not occurred to Miliband that the alternative to an electric bike is a simple bicycle, which after manufacture emits no carbon at all. Neither had he thought to pay to cut his own emissions before instructing the public to do the same.

The point of the story is not the hypocrisy, which is nothing new. The real point is how little thought goes into the politics of climate change.

Read more from Nick here.

10:02 AM

Nicola Sturgeon says hard border with England would benefit Scotland

Ms Sturgeon has largely remained silent on independence since the Holyrood elections in May - PA
Ms Sturgeon has largely remained silent on independence since the Holyrood elections in May - PA

Nicola Sturgeon is to kickstart her campaign for a second independence referendum next month, as Michael Gove said the UK Government would not stand in the way of a future vote on Scottish independence if it is the “settled will” of voters.

A draft agenda for the SNP’s conference in September, seen by The Telegraph, shows party members will be asked to endorse proposals for a new independence push in which Scots will be told independence is “essential” to the country’s recovery from Covid-19.

Ms Sturgeon has largely remained silent on independence since the Holyrood elections in May.

However, the leaked draft agenda is heavily focused on independence, and policies a sovereign Scottish state would pursue, sending a clear signal that the First Minister intends to end the constitutional ceasefire and force the issue back to the top of the political agenda.

Read more here

09:47 AM

Booster programme to get green light in weeks

A decision on whether the over-50s will need a third Covid-19 jab is to be set out by vaccination experts in the next few weeks.

If the programme is given the green light, it is expected that all those over the age of 50 or clinically vulnerable in England will be offered a booster jab before Christmas.

NHS officials have set plans in motion to deliver a joint coronavirus and flu jab campaign in the autumn, but it is still not known whether a booster jab will be needed. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will deliver guidance before the programme is due to commence on September 6.

Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, has briefed MPs on the plans, which include the aim of delivering an average of almost 2.5 million third doses a week and carving out an increased role for pharmacies.

09:34 AM

Seventeen countries could join the green list this week

Seventeen countries could join the green list for quarantine-free travel this week, according to an analysis of the latest Covid-19 infection and vaccination rates.

The research by The PC Agency, a travel consultancy, suggests 12 destinations, including Germany, Poland, Canada, Austria and Romania could go fully green, allowing even unvaccinated holidaymakers to visit them without having to quarantine on their return to the UK.

All 12 countries have infection rates below 30 cases per 100,000 of the population, compared with the UK’s 286 per 100,000, and most have also fully jabbed more than half their adult populations.

Read the full list here.

09:25 AM

Families reunited as vaccinated EU and US travellers arrive in UK

Karen Tyler runs to hug her son Jonathan, who she's not seen for over a year and a half  - AP
Karen Tyler runs to hug her son Jonathan, who she's not seen for over a year and a half - AP

The early-morning alarms were always going to be worth it. For the families gathering at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 as dawn broke on Monday, it was the first time seeing their loved ones in as many as three years.

As of 4am on Monday morning, fully-vaccinated arrivals from the United States and the 27 EU countries were no longer required to quarantine, opening the door to leisure travel and long-awaited reunions.

Karen Tyler, 57, last saw Jonathan, 27, in autumn 2019 when he was back in the UK on a brief visit from Houston.

“He's here to see family and his grandma who's not so well, so hopefully he'll get to see her and spend time with her,” she said. “Aunties, cousins... everybody he's not been able to see in so long. I just can't wait.”

Read more from our correspondent on the ground here.

09:08 AM

No traces of Covid in train stations or carriages, study finds

No traces of Covid-19 have been found in train stations or carriages, a new study has found, as MPs say the back to work push can go ahead safely.

As part of a study by Imperial College London, places passengers regularly touch at train stations such as escalator handles, ticket machines and benches were swabbed at London Euston, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly station, in January and June, while tests were repeated on trains running between the stations.

Examination of the results by the university found no Covid-19 contamination of any surface, or airborne particles of the virus.

Former Rail Minister, Theresa Villiers, said: “This is encouraging news for commuters, as the return to the office gets underway. This could be another sign that day-to-day activities like mass train travel can safely start to get back to normal.”

Ms Villiers added that she hoped “this study will give people more confidence about using public transport again.”

09:03 AM

Consistent messaging required to overturn vaccine hesitancy, says Spi-B scientist

The Government must be more "consistent" in its messaging if young people are to be persuaded to get the vaccine, a Government scientist has said.

Stephen Reicher, professor of psychology at University of St Andrews and Spi-B adviser, told Times Radio: "In many ways the implication has been there that infections don't matter. If the Health Secretary can say 'We're going to have 100,000 cases a day, that doesn't matter, we're still going ahead with our policy', and when you see reopening everywhere, it does begin to send the message that infections don't matter."

That was having a knock-on effect on younger people getting the jab, he noted, as he called for ministers to reinforce "not only the fact that the pandemic is still there and it's necessary to do something, but this is a matter not only of personal responsibility, but a social responsibility - of doing things for others, doing things for the community so the community as a whole can reopen safely".

08:53 AM

Boris Johnson plunges by 36 points in poll of grassroots Tory party members

It comes after an Ipsos MORI survey recently showed that public satisfaction had fallen to a nine-month low. - PA
It comes after an Ipsos MORI survey recently showed that public satisfaction had fallen to a nine-month low. - PA

Boris Johnson has fallen nearly 40 points in a survey after what has proved another trying month for the Government.

A new Cabinet league table by Conservative Home found that the Prime Minister had again lost popularity points and was only just in positive territory for net satisfaction.

The survey, which the website aims to be one of Tory party members, for July 2021 found that Mr Johnson’s recent U-turn over self-isolating cost him 36 points, whereas Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, who also tried to avoid self-isolating, was not hugely affected after coming into contact with the Health Secretary who had tested positive for Covid-19.

Read more here.

08:41 AM

Labour attacks Government for 'attention-grabbing' attempts to boost vaccine uptake

The Government should not be threatening vaccine passports, or offering incentives like vouchers, in order to overcome hesitancy among younger people, Labour has said.

Anneliese Dodds, the party chairman, told Times Radio: "I don't think it makes sense for there to be vaccine passports for day-to-day activities. Really we need to make sure that there isn't transmission taking place - for example, at mass events - that's why testing and getting that sorted out is so important."

She added: "This isn't rocket science. Government shouldn't be focused on these kinds of, frankly, attention-grabbing headlines here.

"They should be listening to the public health services who are already managing to drive up vaccination on the basis of their local knowledge and particularly their local knowledge of where young people are, who they listen to and where they go for the information that they act on the basis of."

08:31 AM

The Telegraph view: Iranian terrorism cannot go unpunished

Iran seems determined to test the resolve of the new Israeli government to respond to attacks against its assets. Drones carrying explosives have been used in the Arabian Sea to strike an oil tanker operated by an Israeli-owned company. The assault last Thursday killed two crew members, one of them a British national.

Tehran has denied the atrocity but Israeli and American military intelligence are sure of the identity of the culprit. It was apparently conducted in retaliation for an Israeli air strike in Syria.

This is not just state-sponsored murder on the high seas but also a patent threat to the safe passage of merchant shipping and therefore a direct challenge to the international community. Tehran cannot be allowed to undermine world trade by carrying out terrorist activity in supposedly open shipping lanes as part of a proxy war in Syria.

Read more here.

08:27 AM

Scotland's health secretary demands probe into nursery discrimination claims

Scotland's health secretary has called on the Care Inspectorate to investigate whether a nursery discriminated against his two-year-old daughter.

Humza Yousaf said it was "not a step my wife and I have taken lightly", but turned to the watchdog after their application was rejected a second time, while a friend's was waved through.

His wife then created a fake account using a "white Scot" name, which was accepted.

08:16 AM

Have your say: Should the Government create an amber watchlist?

The Government is poised to announce a new category to its travel traffic lights system, with plans to create an amber watchlist, to warn travellers about countries that could join the red list.

Ministers insist this will help would-be holidaymakers to decide whether to take the leap and go abroad, knowing you may have to pay for a quarantine hotel, or whether to play it safe and stay local.

But Tory MPs and industry figures warn it will add confusion to the system, which will have expanded from three colour categories to six. There is particular concern that it will hamper the industry's tentative recovery at a critical juncture.

So is it helpful guidance or confusing and risky? Have your say in the poll below.

08:08 AM

Amber watchlist will cause 'additional confusion and chaos', says Labour

The Government must be "open and transparent" over the data that informs its travel rules, Labour has said.

Anneliese Dodds, the Labour Party chairwoman, told Times Radio creating an amber watchlist would cause "additional confusion and chaos", saying it was "just more of the same, more confusion, more extra categories".

She added: "The Conservative Government need to be open and transparent, they need to be actually publishing the data that they're taking their decisions on. They need to be also seeking that agreement around vaccine passports internationally that they've said they're trying to do, but we've seen no evidence of progress there.

"If there's more openness, I think that's going to build trust in the system.

"The problem is, right now holidaymakers just don't know who to believe and we've got... seem to have the Chancellor briefing against the Prime Minister in the Sunday papers. That's not building confidence, ultimately, in the system."

08:06 AM

Vaccine hesitancy could result in 170,000 doses expiring within days

Up to 170,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine risk expiring within the next fortnight amid the lower-than-expected take-up among younger people, according to reports.

The NHS is now facing calls to redistribute the tens of thousands of vaccines, The Guardian reports having seen an internal email

The newspaper understands the NHS has reallocated around 40,000 spare doses of Moderna.

07:51 AM

'Tens of thousands of jobs' at risk over Government travel action, industry body warns

Tens of thousands of jobs are at risk in the aviation sector due to the pandemic and following the Government's changes to travel rules in recent weeks, including the "total disaster" of placing France on the 'amber-plus' list, the head of an industry body has said.

Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade told Times Radio the Government should "find a way of using the vaccine dividend that we built up... to try to get more countries on that green list".

He added: "Because of the way the Government has looked at things over the past couple of weeks with the France decision, which was a total disaster in terms of consumer confidence because people now think with amber, there's a good chance that whether there's a watchlist or not, that they will be stranded, and that is a real dampener in terms of bookings.

"We've now only got six to eight weeks until the end of the summer, and tens of thousands of jobs are under threat in the travel and aviation sector."

07:48 AM

Government's travel system in 'disarray', claims Labour

The Government has created a "chaotic" situation for holidaymakers attempting to travel overseas, Labour has said.

Anneliese Dodds, chair of the party, said those looking to travel should be provided with data used by the Government to set the traffic lights system.

She told Sky News: "When people have that information they can try and take an informed decision.. "We should just be open and provide country by country data as Labour has been calling for for months."

Plans to create an amber watchlist suggested the Government was in "disarray", she added.

07:44 AM

European Commissioner boasts about Ireland 'surpassing' UK in vaccine rate

A European Commissioner has posted a tweet pointedly celebrating the fact that more people in Ireland are fully vaccinated than in the UK.

Thierry Breton boasted that the EU member state's vaccine rate was now "surpassing the UK".

A number of EU countries, including Belgium, also surpassed Britain's at the weekend as the Continent overcomes vaccine hesitancy.

07:29 AM

'Mr Access All Areas' has left series of scandals in his wake

Ben Elliot, the ultimate networker who is close friends with the prime minister - Philip Hollis
Ben Elliot, the ultimate networker who is close friends with the prime minister - Philip Hollis

He is the nephew of the Duchess of Cornwall and, by marriage, of the Prince of Wales; an Old Etonian who founded Quintessentially, a concierge service for the super-rich.

And for the past two years Ben Elliot has also been the Conservative Party’s chairman, raising stupendous sums for Boris Johnson in the run up to the 2019 General Election. No wonder professional colleagues refer to Mr Elliot as “Mr Access All Areas”.

Asked by the Telegraph in 2011 what he was most ashamed of, his response was typically insouciant. “I don’t have much shame. I don’t really regret anything,” he replied.

Last night, the Tories’ financial fixer-in-chief was thrust into the spotlight after it emerged he had arranged for one of his clients, Mohamed Amersi, a telecoms millionaire, to meet Prince Charles over an intimate dinner at Dumfries House in Scotland in 2013.

Read more about the man who has been dogged by controversy here.

07:18 AM

UK seeking multilateral response to Iran tanker attack, says minister

The UK is expecting to announce a multilateral response to Iran's drone attack on a tanker, in which a British citizen was killed, a minister has said.

Two crew members - an unnamed Briton and an unnamed Romanian - were killed when a wave of self-detonating “suicide drones” hit the Israeli-linked oil tanker at around 3am on Thursday night.

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, yesterday directly blamed Iran and said the UK is working on a "concerted response" as a result.

This morning Matt Warman said the attack was "clearly totally unacceptable" and that the UK was working with partners on the next steps.

He added: "We are working with those international partners on the right multilateral response. There isn’t an announcement today but attributing the attack to Iran is part of a step on the road which will involve a multilateral response."

07:10 AM

IOC must resolve situation with Belarusian athlete, says minister

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) must resolve the situation with a Belarusian athlete who claimed she was being forced to return home after criticising her coaches, a minister has said.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, 24, spent the night in a hotel at Tokyo's Haneda airport after being forcefully taken to the airport on Sunday. She refused her team's order and is seeking protection from Japanese police. Belarus says her "emotional condition" was the reason for the move.

Matt Warman, the digital minister, said it was a "clearly very concerning situation".

He told Sky News: "It’s clearly a worrying situation, and it's one that the IOC need to be resolving."

07:07 AM

Pingdemic forces tenth of hospitality firms to shut sites

The pingdemic has significantly dampened hospitality's ability to recover since restrictions were lifted, with a tenth of firms having to shut premises because of staff absences, the chief executive of UKHospitality has said.

Kate Nicholls told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "In the last month one in 10 of our businesses have had to close their sites and more importantly one in five have had to significantly adjust their offer or services in order to cope with the pandemic."

She added: "The pingdemic has hit at the same time as the reopening, they haven't had time to rebuild cash reserves and so they are in quite a fragile state and the hit to revenues as a result of the pingdemic is running at about 15 to 20 per cent of revenues for those businesses that are affected, so it is a significant suppression just at the point in time when these businesses needed to start recovering from about 16 months worth of closure and restrictions."

She called on the Government to "develop a more workable, pragmatic self-isolation policy for those workers that continue to be affected", including replacing isolation with daily testing.

07:04 AM

Amber watchlist is not 'complicated', minister insists

The creation of an amber watchlist will not make things more "complicated" for holidaymakers, a minister has insisted.

Challenged about the outcry plans have sparked among Tory backbenchers and industry figures, Matt Warman, the digital minister, told Sky News: "Well I don't accept that it's complicated in a way that is not something that people can apply their common sense to.

"What we are trying to do, as I say, is saying here is a list, for instance the amber list, where now if you're coming back from Europe you don't need to be quarantining, that is a testament to the strength of our own vaccination programme.

"But saying to people if a country is on a watch list there is a risk that it could, for instance, move from green to amber or amber to red seems to me to be providing people with really important information when they're making significant financial decisions, because people are of course really keen to get away for a holiday if they can."

06:49 AM

Vaccine booster shots for 32m to begin next month

Booster vaccines are to be offered to 32million Britons starting early next month with up to 2,000 pharmacies set to deliver the programme, The Telegraph can disclose.

Amid fears that the efficacy of the vaccines may begin to decline, ministers are planning to deliver an average of almost 2.5million third doses a week starting in the first week of September.

Pharmacies will be at the forefront of the vaccine programme so that GPs and other NHS staff can focus on the growing backlog of patients waiting for other treatments.

All adults aged 50 and over, as well as the immuno-suppressed, will be offered the booster jabs.

11:12 PM

Good Morning

There is plenty to get your teeth into today - here are some of the top stories so far:

  • Booster vaccines are to be offered to 32million Britons starting early next month.

  • Boris Johnson has been warned he faces a Tory backbench backlash if the Government goes ahead with the introduction of “amber watch lists” for holidaymakers travelling to France, Spain or Italy.

  • It is a measure of the brutal nature of politics that scarcely a month has passed since Matt Hancock’s resignation, yet he already has the air of a figure from history.

  • The Prince of Wales believes he has become "collateral damage" in a bitter dispute engulfing the Conservative Party.

  • Boris Johnson has fallen nearly 40 points in a survey after what has proved another trying month for the Government.

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