The Daily Telegraph has today splashed on what seems like a remarkable story. It quotes research claiming that the lockdown measures imposed during the first wave of Covid in 2020 may have saved just 1,700 lives in England and Wales. The report says:
Lockdown saved as few as 1,700 lives in England and Wales in spring 2020, according to a landmark study which concludes the benefits of the policy were “a drop in the bucket compared to the staggering collateral costs” imposed.
Scientists from Johns Hopkins University and Lund University examined almost 20,000 studies on measures taken to protect populations against Covid across the world.
It is the reference to Johns Hopkins University that makes this sound particularly authoritative. The School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University is world-renowned, and during the pandemic its Coronavirus Resource Centre was one of the best sources of information about the pandemic.
But the report has not actually been produced by the School of Medicine. It has been published by the Institute of Economic Affairs, the libertarian thinktank best known in the UK for inspiring Liz Truss and some of the ideas in her disastrous mini-budget. The report has been written by three people, one of whom, Steve Hanke, is an academic at Johns Hopkins University. But he is an economics professor, not a public health specialist, and he described in the IEA report as well-known currency and commodity trader.
When Boris Johnson was prime minister, he regularly attacked Labour for its failure to build new nuclear power stations when it was in office. He claimed this was part of the reason for the country’s problem with energy security.
On his visit to Hinkley Point C in Somerset this morning, the new nuclear power station that is still not operational, Keir Starmer will claim that it is the Conservative government that is to blame. He will point out that Labour announced outline plans for 10 nuclear reactors in 2009, and that none of them are operational.
Here is a Labour list saying what happened to the 10 projects.
And here is Ben Quinn and Kiran Stacey’s story about Starmer’s visit.
Government WhatsApp groups were never used to make important decisions during Covid and instead relayed information and discussed coffee orders, James Bethell, a former health minister, has argued. Peter Walker has the story here.
Good morning. Rishi Sunak is giving a speech in Kent this morning and taking questions from journalists. According to No 10, he will be “deliver an update on his plan to stop the boats and the progress we have made over the last six months” (since he made his statement to MPs in December about his plans to “stop the boats”). But the reporters will have lots of other topics to ask him about, such as his government’s legal action against the Covid inquiry.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Sunak will this morning claim that a sharp fall in the number of Albanians coming to the UK to claim asylum shows his plans are working. In their story, Charles Hymas, Daniel Martin and Amy Gibbons report:
The prime minister will cite a sharp decline in the number of Albanians arriving as evidence that a tough stance on deportations will deter illegal migrants.
The numbers are down from around 30 per cent of Channel arrivals last year to one or two per cent in the first four months of this year.
It is understood that thousands of Albanians are being tracked down and targeted by Home Office immigration enforcement officers for deportation, although immigration minister Robert Jenrick admitted on Sunday that the Government had so far only returned hundreds of Albanians who arrived in small boats.
A 400-strong team of case workers have also been set up to fast-track a backlog of 16,683 asylum applications by Albanians, and immigration and enforcement officials are pursuing thousands more, many of whom have absconded.
But Sunak may find that even people who support what he is trying to do on illegal immigration are not impressed by his progress update. In its story the Daily Mail said the update is likely to be “underwhelming”, and it quotes Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, asking why so few Albanians (“hundreds”, the immigration minister Robert Jenrick said yesterday) have been removed. Duncan Smith said:
Is the civil service simply failing to do what it is supposed to have done? We need to have a real reason as to why with a full agreement that people are lauding we haven’t got into priority mode and literally kicked these people out.
There needs to be a full explanation from the Home Office as to why this hasn’t happened.
And in the Daily Express, which is the Tory paper normally most reluctant to criticise the government, Martyn Brown, the paper’s deputy political editor, says in an analysis that “none of the new measures [announced by Sunak to deal with illegal immigration] have seemingly made a real impact”.
Here is the agenda for the day.
Morning: Keir Starmer is visiting the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset.
11am: Rishi Sunak holds a press conference in Kent, where he will outline what he views as the progress made in the last six months on tackling illegal migration.
12.15pm: Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s first minister, gives a speech to business leaders.
2.30pm: Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, takes questions in the Commons.
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