Hugh CAN this be? Viewers’ surprise at star of Downton Abbey’s slimline look

Hugh CAN this be? Viewers’ surprise at star of Downton Abbey’s slimline look as Bonneville, 56, reveals his dramatic weight loss and drastically shorter haircut on BBC’s The One Show

  • Hugh Bonneville is a shadow of well-padded Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey
  • The 56-year-old revealed weight loss on Thursday, wearing open-necked shirt 
  • Viewers expressed surprise, with one writing he has ‘lost a hell of a lot of weight’

Perhaps he’s been following Boris Johnson’s advice to get fit.

Hugh Bonneville is a shadow of the well-padded Earl of Grantham who feasted nightly on Mrs Patmore’s delicious dinners in Downton Abbey. 

The 56-year-old revealed his dramatic weight loss on BBC1’s The One Show on Thursday night, looking smart in a pink open-necked shirt with a drastically shorter haircut. 

Half the man he used to be: Bonneville on The One Show

Half the man he used to be: Bonneville on The One Show, right, and how he was: The actor in his more portly days, left

Viewers expressed surprise at the dramatic new look.

One Twitter user wrote: ‘Wow, I didn’t recognise Hugh Bonneville on The One Show to start with! What a transformation!’

Another said: ‘Blimey, Hugh Bonneville is half the man he used to be.’ 

And a third wrote: ‘Hugh Bonneville has lost a hell of a lot of weight!’ 

The actor engaged a personal trainer ten years ago after his wife Lulu Williams told him he was ‘fat as a pig’.

But it seems he has boosted his workout regime in lockdown.

Hugh CAN this be? Viewers’ surprise at star of Downton Abbey’s slimline look

Hugh CAN this be? Viewers’ surprise at star of Downton Abbey’s slimline look as Bonneville, 56, reveals his dramatic weight loss and drastically shorter haircut on BBC’s The One Show

  • Hugh Bonneville is a shadow of well-padded Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey
  • The 56-year-old revealed weight loss on Thursday, wearing open-necked shirt 
  • Viewers expressed surprise, with one writing he has ‘lost a hell of a lot of weight’

Perhaps he’s been following Boris Johnson’s advice to get fit.

Hugh Bonneville is a shadow of the well-padded Earl of Grantham who feasted nightly on Mrs Patmore’s delicious dinners in Downton Abbey. 

The 56-year-old revealed his dramatic weight loss on BBC1’s The One Show on Thursday night, looking smart in a pink open-necked shirt with a drastically shorter haircut. 

Half the man he used to be: Bonneville on The One Show

Half the man he used to be: Bonneville on The One Show, right, and how he was: The actor in his more portly days, left

Viewers expressed surprise at the dramatic new look.

One Twitter user wrote: ‘Wow, I didn’t recognise Hugh Bonneville on The One Show to start with! What a transformation!’

Another said: ‘Blimey, Hugh Bonneville is half the man he used to be.’ 

And a third wrote: ‘Hugh Bonneville has lost a hell of a lot of weight!’ 

The actor engaged a personal trainer ten years ago after his wife Lulu Williams told him he was ‘fat as a pig’.

But it seems he has boosted his workout regime in lockdown.

Labour wants evidence Dominic Cummings obeyed lockdown

Dominic Cummings faced the media on May 25 to give a day-by-day account of his battle against coronavirus and his controversial journey to his parents’ farm in Durham.

The Prime Minister’s top aide faced an hour-long television grilling at Downing Street after it emerged on Saturday he had travelled 260 miles north from London with his family amid the coronavirus lockdown in March.

He recounted his own battle with the virus, which his wife Mary Wakefield also caught, while insisting he had acted ‘reasonably and legally’ in a ‘very tricky, complicated situation’.

News of the trip sparked fury from NHS staff, bishops and Tory MPs, twenty of whom demanded Mr Cummings’ resignation as Boris Johnson maintained his adviser acted ‘responsibly and with integrity.’ 

Giving a timeline of events in his own words, Mr Cummings said:

March 26 

At around midnight on Thursday, March 26, I spoke to the prime minister. 

He told me that he tested positive for Covid. We discussed the national emergency arrangements for No 10, given his isolation and what I would do in No 10 the next day. 

March 27 

The next morning, I went to work as usual. I was in a succession of meetings about this emergency. I suddenly got a call from my wife who was at home looking after our four year old child. She told me she suddenly felt badly ill. 

She’d vomited and felt like she might pass out. And there’ll be nobody to look after our child. None of our usual childcare options were available. They were alone in the house. 

After very briefly telling some officials in No 10 what had happened, I immediately left the building, ran to a car and drove home. This was reported by the media at the time who saw me run out of No 10. 

After a couple of hours, my wife felt a bit better. There were many critical things at work and she urged me to return in the afternoon and I did. 

That evening, I returned home and discussed the situation with my wife. She was ill. She might have Covid, though she did not have a cough or a fever. 

March 27: Dominic Cummings is pictured running out of Downing Street on the day Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock test positive for coronavirus

At this point, most of those who I work with most closely, including the prime minister himself and others who sit within 15ft of me every day, either had had symptoms and had returned to work or were absent with symptoms. 

I thought there was a distinct probability that I had already caught the disease. I had a few conflicting thoughts in my mind. 

First, I was worried that if my wife and I were both seriously ill, possibly hospitalised, there was nobody in London that we could reasonably ask to look after our child and exposed themselves to Covid. 

My wife had felt on the edge of not being able to look after him safely a few hours earlier. I was thinking, what if the same or worse happens to me? 

There’s nobody here that I can reasonably ask to help. The regulations make clear, I believe the risks to the health of a small child were an exceptional situation, and I had a way of dealing with this that minimised risk to others.

Second, I thought that if I did not develop symptoms, then I might be able to return to work to help deal with the crisis. There were ongoing discussions about testing government staff in order to keep people like me working rather than isolating. 

At this point, on the Friday, advisers such as myself had not been included in the list of who were tested. But it was possible that this might change the following week. Therefore, I thought that after testing negative, I could continue working.

The Prime Minister's top aide faced an hour-long television grilling at Downing Street today after it emerged on Saturday he had travelled 260 miles north from London with his family

 The Prime Minister’s top aide faced an hour-long television grilling at Downing Street today after it emerged on Saturday he had travelled 260 miles north from London with his family

Third, there had been numerous false stories in the media about my actions and statements regarding Covid. In particular, there were stories suggesting that I had opposed lockdown and even then I did not care about many deaths.

These stories had created a very bad atmosphere around my home. I was subject to threats of violence. People came to my house shouting threats.  

I was also worried that given the severity of this emergency, this situation would get worse. And I was worried about the possibility of leaving my wife and child at home all day and off into the night while I worked in No 10. 

I thought the best thing to do in all the circumstances was to drive to an isolated cottage on my father’s farm. At this farm, my parents live in one house. 

My sister and her two children live in another house, and there was a separate cottage roughly 50 metres away from either of them. 

My tentative conclusion on the Friday evening was this: if we are both unable to look after our child, then my sister or nieces can look after him. My nieces are 17 and 20. They are old enough to look after him, but also young enough to be in the safest category. And they had extremely kindly volunteered to do so if needed.

But, I thought, if I do not develop symptoms and there is a testing regime in place at work, I could return to work if I tested negative. 

In that situation, I could leave my wife and child behind in a safe place, safe in the form of support from family for shopping in emergencies, safe in the sense of being away from home which had become a target and also safe for everybody else because they were completely isolated on a farm and could not infect anybody. 

Parents¿ home: The home of Cummings's parents in Durham, 260 miles away, which he visited during lockdown

Parents’ home: The home of Cummings’s parents in Durham, 260 miles away, which he visited during lockdown

There are no neighbours in the normal sense of the word. The nearest other homes are roughly half a mile away. So in this scenario, I thought that they could stay there for a few weeks. I could go back to work, help colleagues and everybody, including the general public, would be safe.

I did not ask the prime minister about this decision. He was ill himself and he had huge problems to deal with. Everyday, I have to exercise my judgment about things like this and decide what to discuss with him. I thought I would speak to him when the situation clarified over coming days, including whether I had symptoms and whether there were tests available. 

Arguably, this was a mistake, and I understand that some will say that I should’ve spoken to the prime minister before deciding what to do. 

So I drove the three of us up to Durham that night, arriving roughly at midnight. I did not stop on the way. 

March 28 

When I woke the next morning, Saturday, March 28, I was in pain and clearly had Covid symptoms, including a bad headache and a serious fever.

Clearly, I could not return to work any time soon. For a day or two, we were both ill. I was in bed. 

My wife was ill, but not ill enough that she needed emergency help. I got worse. She got better. 

April 2

During the night of Thursday, April 2, my child woke up. He threw up and had a bad fever. He was very distressed. We took medical advice which was to call 999. 

An ambulance was sent, they assessed my child and said he must go to hospital. 

I could barely stand up. My wife went with him in the ambulance. I stayed at home. He stayed the night in the hospital. 

April 3 

In the morning, my wife called to say that he had recovered, he seemed back to normal. Doctors had tested him for Covid and said that they should return home. 

There were no taxis. I drove to the hospital, picked them up, then returned home. I did not leave the car or have any contact with anybody at any point on this short trip. 

A few days later, the hospital said that he tested negative.  

After I started to recover, one day in the second week, I tried to walk outside the house. 

At one point the three of us walked into woods owned by my father, next to the cottage that I was staying in. Some people saw us in these woods from a distance, but we had no interaction with them.

We had not left the property. We were on private land.

April 11  

By Saturday, April 11, I was still feeling weak and exhausted. 

But other than that, I had no Covid symptoms. I thought that I’d be able to return to work the following week, possibly part time. 

I sought expert medical advice. I explained our family’s symptoms and all the timings, and I asked if it was safe to return to work on Monday, Tuesday, seek child care and so on. 

I was told that it was safe and I could return to work and seek childcare.

April 12  

On Sunday, April 12, 15 days after I had first displayed symptoms, I decided to return to work. 

My wife was very worried, particularly given my eyesight seemed to have been affected by the disease. 

She didn’t want to risk a nearly 300-mile drive with our child, given how ill I had been. 

We agreed that we should go for a short drive to see if I could drive safely. 

We drove for roughly half an hour and ended up on the outskirts of Barnard Castle town. We did not visit the castle. 

We did not walk around the town. We parked by a river. My wife and I discussed the situation. 

We agreed that I could drive safely, and we should turn around and go home. 

I felt a bit sick. We walked about 10 to 15 metres from the car to the river bank nearby. 

We sat there for about 15 minutes. We had no interactions with anybody. I felt better. We returned the car.

An elderly gentleman walking nearby appeared to recognise me. My wife wished him Happy Easter from a distance, but we had no other interaction.

We headed home. On the way home, our child needed the toilet. He was in the back seat of the car. 

We pulled over to the side of the road, my wife and child jumped out into the woods by the side of the road. 

They were briefly outside. I briefly joined them. They played for a little bit and then I got out of the car, went outside. 

We were briefly in the woods. We saw some people at a distance. But at no point did we break any social distancing rules. We then got back in the car and went home.

'We drove for roughly half an hour and ended up on the outskirts of Barnard Castle town,' he said

‘We drove for roughly half an hour and ended up on the outskirts of Barnard Castle town,’ he said

Robin Lees says he saw someone who 'looked like' Mr Cummings here in Barnard Castle on April 12, and the 'distinctive' number plate he took down corresponds to Mr Cummings' car

Robin Lees says he saw someone who ‘looked like’ Mr Cummings here in Barnard Castle on April 12, and the ‘distinctive’ number plate he took down corresponds to Mr Cummings’ car

April 13 

We returned to London on the evening of Monday, April 13, Easter Monday. I went back to work in No 10 the next morning. 

At no point between arriving and leaving Durham did any of the three of us enter my parents’ house or my sister’s house. Our only exchanges were shouted conversations at a distance. My sister shopped for us and left everything outside.

In the last few days, there have been many media reports that I returned to Durham after 13 April. All these stories are false.  

During this two-week period, my mother’s brother died with Covid. There are media reports that this had some influence on my behaviour. These reports false. 

This private matter did not affect my movements. None of us saw him. None of us attended his funeral. In this very complex situation, I tried to exercise my judgment the best I could.

Mr Cummings (pictured today)  recounted his own battle with the virus while insisting he had acted 'reasonably and legally' in a 'very tricky, complicated situation'

Mr Cummings (pictured today)  recounted his own battle with the virus while insisting he had acted ‘reasonably and legally’ in a ‘very tricky, complicated situation’

News of the trip sparked fury from NHS staff, bishops and Tory MPs, twenty of whom demanded Mr Cummings' resignation as Boris Johnson (pictured today) maintained his adviser acted 'responsibly and with integrity'

News of the trip sparked fury from NHS staff, bishops and Tory MPs, twenty of whom demanded Mr Cummings’ resignation as Boris Johnson (pictured today) maintained his adviser acted ‘responsibly and with integrity’

I believe that in all circumstances I behaved reasonably and legally, balancing the safety of my family and the extreme situation in No 10 and the public interest in effective government to which I could contribute.

I was involved in decisions affecting millions of people, and I thought that I should try to help as much as I could do. I can understand that some people will argue that I should have stayed at my home in London throughout.

I understand these views. I know the intense hardship and sacrifice that the entire country has had to go through. However, I respectfully disagree. The legal rules inevitably do not cover all circumstances, including those that I found myself in.  

I accept, of course, that there is room for reasonable disagreement about this. I could also understand some people think I should not have driven at all anywhere.

Rishi Sunak goes into battle for the union as he plays up UK government Covid support for Scotland

Rishi Sunak was sent in to battle for the union today as he made his first visit to Scotland as Chancellor. 

He was the latest minister to head north of the border in recent weeks as Boris Johnson attempts to cut off support for Nicola Sturgeon and independence in the wake of Brexit and coronavirus.

He played up the Treasury’s help for Scotland during the pandemic economic collapse as he visited Glasgow, just weeks after Mr Johnson and other Cabinet ministers headed to the country.

Recent polls have suggested a majority support for independence for Scotland, which overwhelmingly voted against Brexit in 2016.

And elections for the Scottish Parliament next year are set to give a major sign of the strength of feeling.

Mr Sunak today highlighted the amount of money paid out to Scottish firms as well as the furlough scheme for jobs in Scotland so far.

The Treasury said UK Government schemes to support businesses recovering from coronavirus have paid out £2 billion in Scotland. The loan schemes have assisted some 65,000 businesses across Scotland.

But Mr Sunak justified the winding down of the Job Retention Scheme (JRS).

Mr Sunak played up the Treasury’s help for Scotland during the coronavirus economic collapse as he visited Glasgow

Mr Sunak is by far the most popular senior Tory among Scots, a new poll suggested today, with a net positive rating that puts him well ahead of Boris Johnson

Mr Sunak is by far the most popular senior Tory among Scots, a new poll suggested today, with a net positive rating that puts him well ahead of Boris Johnson

Mr Sunak today highlighted the amount of money paid out to Scottish firms as well as the furlough scheme for jobs in Scotland so far

Mr Sunak today highlighted the amount of money paid out to Scottish firms as well as the furlough scheme for jobs in Scotland so far

The scheme that has so far cost £33.8 billion supporting the payrolls of 9.6 million workers during the coronavirus crisis has begun tapering off before ending completely in October.

But opposition parties are calling for the Government to extend it for the hardest-hit sectors and those plunged into local lockdown, warning the end to the scheme is a ‘grave mistake’.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme this morning, he said: ‘This has been a very difficult decision, but if you look at it from start to finish, we’ve got a situation where the Government will be helping to pay people’s wages for eight months, from start to finish, which I think is a very long period of time.

‘And I think most reasonable people would agree that’s not something we can carry on indefinitely. In common with most other countries around the world, their versions of these are coming to an end.’

He added there are other schemes in place to help support getting people back to work, such as the job retention bonus.

This gives companies a £1,000 bonus if they bring workers back from furlough and keep them employed until at least January.

Mr Sunak said: ‘That will make a really big difference, especially to the small and medium-sized companies.

‘But it’s also wrong to keep people trapped in a situation to pretend that there is a job to go back to.

‘That won’t always be the case, and in those situations it’s better that we look forward and provide those people with new opportunities, and that’s what our plan for jobs does, here in Scotland in our support for apprenticeships, new training or the hospitality industry.

‘All of that is designed to support new opportunities to provide them with hope at what is unquestionably going to be a very difficult time.’

Mr Sunak is by far the most popular senior Tory among Scots, a new poll suggested today.

Recent polls have suggested a majority support for independence for Scotland, which overwhelmingly voted against Brexit in 2016

Recent polls have suggested a majority support for independence for Scotland, which overwhelmingly voted against Brexit in 2016

And elections for the Scottish Parliament next year are set to give a major sign of the strength of feeling

And elections for the Scottish Parliament next year are set to give a major sign of the strength of feeling

The YouGov survey gave him a net favourability rating of just 7, but that put him miles ahead of Mr Johnson (-51) and Scots-born Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove (-57), among others.

Mr Johnson himself visited Scotland last month, as did Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay and Business Secretary Alok Sharma.    

His trip north of the border was greeted by the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford warning ‘thousands of people could lose their jobs unnecessarily’.

‘Cutting the furlough scheme prematurely is a grave mistake. By removing this crucial support in the middle of a global pandemic, and withholding the financial powers Scotland needs for a strong recovery, the Tories are increasing the risk of mass redundancies,’ he said.

With more than 6,500 jobs lost or put at risk just this week, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for a targeted extension to prevent a ‘jobs crisis on a scale not seen for generations’.

The jobs retention scheme, however, is not the only programme aimed at boosting employment amid grim predictions for the economy.

The Chancellor has set out a ‘plan for jobs’ which includes measures to boost apprenticeships, stimulate eating out and a job retention bonus of £1,000 for every furloughed employee retained in January.

Alarm over radical planning reforms that will place building burden on rich areas 

Affluent areas will be forced to build more new homes in a radical shake-up of the planning system that will see computers decide on applications.

Boris Johnson last night admitted the controversial reforms will be seen by some as ‘too much change too fast’ and ‘too much of a break from what has gone before’.

But the Prime Minister insisted it was important to ‘take big, bold steps’ so the country can ‘finally build the homes we all need’.

Under the proposals, ministers will dictate how many homes have to be built each year in local areas, with mandatory figures set by central Government for councils.

Mr Johnson said the overhaul of the ‘outdated and ineffective’ planning system was to give the ‘people of this country the homes we need in the places we want to live at prices we can afford’

A new system for dividing the nationwide annual target of 300,000 homes across the country will see the burden fall most heavily on desirable locations, such as well-to-do market towns. 

Local residents and councillors will get to have their say on which bits of land in their area should be designated. But once this is done, they will no longer get to decide on individual applications.

A drive to digitise the planning process will mean that computers are used to judge whether some applications should be approved.

National, local and neighbourhood planning specifications will be inputted so they can ‘automatically screen developments’ to identify if it meets requirements.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: ‘We are moving away from notices on lampposts to an interactive and accessible map-based online system – placing planning at the fingertips of people. The planning process will be brought into the 21st century'

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: ‘We are moving away from notices on lampposts to an interactive and accessible map-based online system – placing planning at the fingertips of people. The planning process will be brought into the 21st century’

Local residents and councillors will get to have their say on which bits of land in their area should be designated. But once this is done, they will no longer get to decide on individual applications

Local residents and councillors will get to have their say on which bits of land in their area should be designated. But once this is done, they will no longer get to decide on individual applications

‘This will significantly increase clarity for those wishing to bring forward development, enabling automation of more binary considerations and allowing for a greater focus on those areas where there is likely to be greater subjectivity,’ the Government said in a document setting out its reforms.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: ‘We are moving away from notices on lampposts to an interactive and accessible map-based online system – placing planning at the fingertips of people. The planning process will be brought into the 21st century.

‘Communities will be reconnected to a planning process that is supposed to serve them, with residents more engaged over what happens in their areas.’

The decision to publish the proposal during the summer recess will fuel suspicions that ministers fear a revolt from Tory backbenchers whose leafy constituencies are likely to bear the brunt.

Mr Johnson said the overhaul of the ‘outdated and ineffective’ planning system was to give the ‘people of this country the homes we need in the places we want to live at prices we can afford’.

One of the most contentious parts of the new system is likely to be the ‘new nationally determined, binding housing requirement’ for local authorities.

It would involve making sure a greater share of development was in the ‘least affordable places where historic under-supply has been most chronic’.

In what appeared to be a recognition of the battle that will lie ahead over the reforms, which will now be consulted on, Mr Johnson added: ‘Getting homes built is always a controversial business.

A new system for dividing the nationwide annual target of 300,000 homes across the country will see the burden fall most heavily on desirable locations, such as well-to-do market towns

A new system for dividing the nationwide annual target of 300,000 homes across the country will see the burden fall most heavily on desirable locations, such as well-to-do market towns 

‘Any planning application, however modest, almost inevitably attracts objections and I am sure there will be those who say this paper represents too much change too fast, too much of a break from what has gone before. But what we have now simply does not work.’

The reforms yesterday caused unease within Tory ranks, with fears local concerns will be ignored in order to build more quickly.

The Local Government Association’s Conservative chairman James Jamieson said: ‘Any loss of local control over developments would be a concern.’

Cotswolds MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the backbench 1922 committee, said: ‘Whilst I’m all in favour of building more houses, they need to be good quality houses. We have got to be really sure that we are not building slums of tomorrow by building today at low quality.’

GEOFFREY LEAN: Free-for-all plans that will build a revolt in the shires

By Geoffrey Lean for The Daily Mail

More than 200 summers have passed since William Blake extolled England’s ‘green and pleasant land’ and – as successive governments have found to their cost – there are few things that its people are more determined to protect.

Any attempt to promote the interests of development – and wealthy developers – above those of the countryside, its residents and visitors, has protesters reaching for their spears and ‘bows of burning gold’, or at least their placards.

That, I fear, is about to happen again, following yesterday’s announcement – which I predicted in these pages five weeks ago – that ministers will take an axe to the planning system, depriving residents of much of their say, to give ‘a major boost’ to construction firms.

Already opposition is rapidly mounting – and not just from the usual suspects, environmentalists and planners. 

Best laid plans: UK's building policy is being fully overhauled

Best laid plans: UK’s building policy is being fully overhauled

Leading developers may be predictably delighted, but many planning consultants and lawyers who advise them have voiced disquiet.

So too have architects (who have no great love for restrictive planners), homelessness campaigners (whose aim is normally to get more houses built) and even one of the most senior Conservative MPs.

The continued (and to date successful) preservation of the beauty of this small, crowded country since Blake – inspired by the Sussex countryside – wrote Jerusalem is certainly worth defending.

Not for us the sprawling concrete and heedless urban expansion that has so disfigured the United States and other countries. 

That is due to deliberate policy, stemming from how both Conservative and Labour governments set up and developed the planning system after the Second World War.

Yet, as it nears its 75th anniversary, the system is showing its age. It is often slow, at times downright sclerotic. 

At present, elected councils draw up ‘local plans’ and then decide whether or not to give planning permission. At each stage the public has a say. Now the Government wants to replace this with a US-style ‘zoning system’, where councils decide what areas can be developed, but have no say over what is built (file photo)

At present, elected councils draw up ‘local plans’ and then decide whether or not to give planning permission. At each stage the public has a say. Now the Government wants to replace this with a US-style ‘zoning system’, where councils decide what areas can be developed, but have no say over what is built (file photo)

Meanwhile, the country is sinking ever deeper into a housing crisis with millions of young adults unable to afford a home.

‘Boris the Builder’ Johnson is determined to construct hundreds of thousands of new homes and kickstart the economy in the process. 

They are both admirable aims and are desperately needed.

But I fear he’s launched a free-for-all for greedy developers – deeply alienating his core voters.

At present, elected councils draw up ‘local plans’ and then decide whether or not to give planning permission. At each stage the public has a say. 

Now the Government wants to replace this with a US-style ‘zoning system’, where councils decide what areas can be developed, but have no say over what is built.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick insists it will have local democracy ‘at its heart’. But, in fact, two opportunities for democratic participation will be cut to one.

Once the zones have been decided – often many years before specific proposals come forward – that will be the end of it. Indeed, so dehumanised will the process become that some decisions will be taken by computer.

In practice there will be three zones. The first – what Mr Jenrick calls ‘the places, views and landscapes we cherish most’ – will be protected against development.

In a second, ‘designated for growth’, developers will be ‘automatically’ allowed to build without any need to seek approval.

As a Green Belt resident myself, who has campaigned for these supposedly protected areas both before and while living in one, I should welcome the new plans

As a Green Belt resident myself, who has campaigned for these supposedly protected areas both before and while living in one, I should welcome the new plans

In the third, they will be given permission to build ‘in principle’ while checks, such as on the design, are carried out. 

The scheme broadly follows a report, published by the think-tank Policy Exchange earlier this year, which speaks of the ‘rights’ of developers and landowners, while condemning local resistance as ‘the noisy minority’.

Mr Jenrick says the proposals will reduce red tape, speed up planning, result in more and cheaper houses, improve quality and design, and place planning at local people’s ‘fingertips’.

Objectors retort that they are being shown the back of his hand, while developers – who, it is calculated, have given over £11million to the Tories since Boris Johnson took office – get everything they desire.

That’s not to say it is all bad news. By law, all new streets will have to be lined with trees. 

Mr Jenrick says Green Belts – which are under unprecedented threat – will be protected, and there will be more building on previously developed, ‘brownfield’ land.

As a Green Belt resident myself, who has campaigned for these supposedly protected areas both before and while living in one, I should welcome the new plans. 

Yes, the planning system needed improvement, but it is not the overarching problem ministers make it out to be. Nine out of ten applications for planning permission are granted

Yes, the planning system needed improvement, but it is not the overarching problem ministers make it out to be. Nine out of ten applications for planning permission are granted

But I fear that they come with a high risk of unattractive, unrestrained, unregulated developments elsewhere, and that they will not achieve their aims.

More to the point, I believe millions of people will come to the same conclusion, causing widespread revolt.

Yes, the planning system needed improvement, but it is not the overarching problem ministers make it out to be. Nine out of ten applications for planning permission are granted.

The real drag on development is not the planning system but the developers. 

They are sitting on sites, with planning permission, for a million homes – while they benefit from rising land values. When they do build, they do so slowly, so as not to bring prices down.

So if Boris really wants to build Jerusalem, he should focus on today’s equivalent of the mill owners – and let England’s ‘pleasant pastures’ remain just that.

Alarm over radical planning reforms that will place building burden on rich areas 

Affluent areas will be forced to build more new homes in a radical shake-up of the planning system that will see computers decide on applications.

Boris Johnson last night admitted the controversial reforms will be seen by some as ‘too much change too fast’ and ‘too much of a break from what has gone before’.

But the Prime Minister insisted it was important to ‘take big, bold steps’ so the country can ‘finally build the homes we all need’.

Under the proposals, ministers will dictate how many homes have to be built each year in local areas, with mandatory figures set by central Government for councils.

Mr Johnson said the overhaul of the ‘outdated and ineffective’ planning system was to give the ‘people of this country the homes we need in the places we want to live at prices we can afford’

A new system for dividing the nationwide annual target of 300,000 homes across the country will see the burden fall most heavily on desirable locations, such as well-to-do market towns. 

Local residents and councillors will get to have their say on which bits of land in their area should be designated. But once this is done, they will no longer get to decide on individual applications.

A drive to digitise the planning process will mean that computers are used to judge whether some applications should be approved.

National, local and neighbourhood planning specifications will be inputted so they can ‘automatically screen developments’ to identify if it meets requirements.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: ‘We are moving away from notices on lampposts to an interactive and accessible map-based online system – placing planning at the fingertips of people. The planning process will be brought into the 21st century'

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: ‘We are moving away from notices on lampposts to an interactive and accessible map-based online system – placing planning at the fingertips of people. The planning process will be brought into the 21st century’

Local residents and councillors will get to have their say on which bits of land in their area should be designated. But once this is done, they will no longer get to decide on individual applications

Local residents and councillors will get to have their say on which bits of land in their area should be designated. But once this is done, they will no longer get to decide on individual applications

‘This will significantly increase clarity for those wishing to bring forward development, enabling automation of more binary considerations and allowing for a greater focus on those areas where there is likely to be greater subjectivity,’ the Government said in a document setting out its reforms.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: ‘We are moving away from notices on lampposts to an interactive and accessible map-based online system – placing planning at the fingertips of people. The planning process will be brought into the 21st century.

‘Communities will be reconnected to a planning process that is supposed to serve them, with residents more engaged over what happens in their areas.’

The decision to publish the proposal during the summer recess will fuel suspicions that ministers fear a revolt from Tory backbenchers whose leafy constituencies are likely to bear the brunt.

Mr Johnson said the overhaul of the ‘outdated and ineffective’ planning system was to give the ‘people of this country the homes we need in the places we want to live at prices we can afford’.

One of the most contentious parts of the new system is likely to be the ‘new nationally determined, binding housing requirement’ for local authorities.

It would involve making sure a greater share of development was in the ‘least affordable places where historic under-supply has been most chronic’.

In what appeared to be a recognition of the battle that will lie ahead over the reforms, which will now be consulted on, Mr Johnson added: ‘Getting homes built is always a controversial business.

A new system for dividing the nationwide annual target of 300,000 homes across the country will see the burden fall most heavily on desirable locations, such as well-to-do market towns

A new system for dividing the nationwide annual target of 300,000 homes across the country will see the burden fall most heavily on desirable locations, such as well-to-do market towns 

‘Any planning application, however modest, almost inevitably attracts objections and I am sure there will be those who say this paper represents too much change too fast, too much of a break from what has gone before. But what we have now simply does not work.’

The reforms yesterday caused unease within Tory ranks, with fears local concerns will be ignored in order to build more quickly.

The Local Government Association’s Conservative chairman James Jamieson said: ‘Any loss of local control over developments would be a concern.’

Cotswolds MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the backbench 1922 committee, said: ‘Whilst I’m all in favour of building more houses, they need to be good quality houses. We have got to be really sure that we are not building slums of tomorrow by building today at low quality.’

GEOFFREY LEAN: Free-for-all plans that will build a revolt in the shires

By Geoffrey Lean for The Daily Mail

More than 200 summers have passed since William Blake extolled England’s ‘green and pleasant land’ and – as successive governments have found to their cost – there are few things that its people are more determined to protect.

Any attempt to promote the interests of development – and wealthy developers – above those of the countryside, its residents and visitors, has protesters reaching for their spears and ‘bows of burning gold’, or at least their placards.

That, I fear, is about to happen again, following yesterday’s announcement – which I predicted in these pages five weeks ago – that ministers will take an axe to the planning system, depriving residents of much of their say, to give ‘a major boost’ to construction firms.

Already opposition is rapidly mounting – and not just from the usual suspects, environmentalists and planners. 

Best laid plans: UK's building policy is being fully overhauled

Best laid plans: UK’s building policy is being fully overhauled

Leading developers may be predictably delighted, but many planning consultants and lawyers who advise them have voiced disquiet.

So too have architects (who have no great love for restrictive planners), homelessness campaigners (whose aim is normally to get more houses built) and even one of the most senior Conservative MPs.

The continued (and to date successful) preservation of the beauty of this small, crowded country since Blake – inspired by the Sussex countryside – wrote Jerusalem is certainly worth defending.

Not for us the sprawling concrete and heedless urban expansion that has so disfigured the United States and other countries. 

That is due to deliberate policy, stemming from how both Conservative and Labour governments set up and developed the planning system after the Second World War.

Yet, as it nears its 75th anniversary, the system is showing its age. It is often slow, at times downright sclerotic. 

At present, elected councils draw up ‘local plans’ and then decide whether or not to give planning permission. At each stage the public has a say. Now the Government wants to replace this with a US-style ‘zoning system’, where councils decide what areas can be developed, but have no say over what is built (file photo)

At present, elected councils draw up ‘local plans’ and then decide whether or not to give planning permission. At each stage the public has a say. Now the Government wants to replace this with a US-style ‘zoning system’, where councils decide what areas can be developed, but have no say over what is built (file photo)

Meanwhile, the country is sinking ever deeper into a housing crisis with millions of young adults unable to afford a home.

‘Boris the Builder’ Johnson is determined to construct hundreds of thousands of new homes and kickstart the economy in the process. 

They are both admirable aims and are desperately needed.

But I fear he’s launched a free-for-all for greedy developers – deeply alienating his core voters.

At present, elected councils draw up ‘local plans’ and then decide whether or not to give planning permission. At each stage the public has a say. 

Now the Government wants to replace this with a US-style ‘zoning system’, where councils decide what areas can be developed, but have no say over what is built.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick insists it will have local democracy ‘at its heart’. But, in fact, two opportunities for democratic participation will be cut to one.

Once the zones have been decided – often many years before specific proposals come forward – that will be the end of it. Indeed, so dehumanised will the process become that some decisions will be taken by computer.

In practice there will be three zones. The first – what Mr Jenrick calls ‘the places, views and landscapes we cherish most’ – will be protected against development.

In a second, ‘designated for growth’, developers will be ‘automatically’ allowed to build without any need to seek approval.

As a Green Belt resident myself, who has campaigned for these supposedly protected areas both before and while living in one, I should welcome the new plans

As a Green Belt resident myself, who has campaigned for these supposedly protected areas both before and while living in one, I should welcome the new plans

In the third, they will be given permission to build ‘in principle’ while checks, such as on the design, are carried out. 

The scheme broadly follows a report, published by the think-tank Policy Exchange earlier this year, which speaks of the ‘rights’ of developers and landowners, while condemning local resistance as ‘the noisy minority’.

Mr Jenrick says the proposals will reduce red tape, speed up planning, result in more and cheaper houses, improve quality and design, and place planning at local people’s ‘fingertips’.

Objectors retort that they are being shown the back of his hand, while developers – who, it is calculated, have given over £11million to the Tories since Boris Johnson took office – get everything they desire.

That’s not to say it is all bad news. By law, all new streets will have to be lined with trees. 

Mr Jenrick says Green Belts – which are under unprecedented threat – will be protected, and there will be more building on previously developed, ‘brownfield’ land.

As a Green Belt resident myself, who has campaigned for these supposedly protected areas both before and while living in one, I should welcome the new plans. 

Yes, the planning system needed improvement, but it is not the overarching problem ministers make it out to be. Nine out of ten applications for planning permission are granted

Yes, the planning system needed improvement, but it is not the overarching problem ministers make it out to be. Nine out of ten applications for planning permission are granted

But I fear that they come with a high risk of unattractive, unrestrained, unregulated developments elsewhere, and that they will not achieve their aims.

More to the point, I believe millions of people will come to the same conclusion, causing widespread revolt.

Yes, the planning system needed improvement, but it is not the overarching problem ministers make it out to be. Nine out of ten applications for planning permission are granted.

The real drag on development is not the planning system but the developers. 

They are sitting on sites, with planning permission, for a million homes – while they benefit from rising land values. When they do build, they do so slowly, so as not to bring prices down.

So if Boris really wants to build Jerusalem, he should focus on today’s equivalent of the mill owners – and let England’s ‘pleasant pastures’ remain just that.

JANET STREET-PORTER: We must shut down city pubs if selfish young drinkers can’t keep distance

Pubs are where you meet people and it’s well documented that at least 90% of all relationships start by getting drunk – usually where alcohol is readily available in unlimited amounts. 

Was it a smart move by Boris Johnson to reopen pubs and bars as the weather warmed up and the holiday season (at least what used to be the holiday season) kicked off? It was a sop to keep us happy – but at what cost?

This week, one of the government’s scientific advisors described the official testing and tracing system as ‘clunky and slow’. 

Latest figures show the scheme is only reaching 50% of those who have come into contact with an infected person. 

Was it a smart move by Boris Johnson to reopen pubs and bars as the weather warmed up and the holiday season (at least what used to be the holiday season) kicked off? It was a sop to keep us happy – but at what cost? Pictured, a waitress at a pub in Aberdeen

Hardly ‘world-beating’, more like ‘third rate’. The Mayor of Manchester called it ‘not fit for purpose’. 

And yet, Boris has pinned all his hopes on testing as the key way to allow us some fun, to return to work and get kids back into school.

A combination of inadequate testing and readily available booze is a toxic mix. But the government – perhaps because they are always under the thumbs of the liquor industry – seems to have abandoned joined-up thinking. 

Boris has pinned all his hopes on testing as the key way to allow us some fun. Pictured, Janet Street-Porter

Boris has pinned all his hopes on testing as the key way to allow us some fun. Pictured, Janet Street-Porter

Any secondary school teacher could have told them that placing teenagers and young people under house arrest with their families for months could only end one way: the moment restrictions were eased, the young would congregate in large numbers to celebrate. 

They are in parks, loafing on beaches and hanging around in clusters around every boozer in towns and cities all over the UK, cosying up without a care in the world. 

Last week’s lockdown in Manchester brought absolutely no difference to the numbers swanning about on Friday night, hoping to get hammered and maybe hook up.

Now, we’re seeing the results. In Scotland, there’s been a huge spike in new Covid cases – 64 and rising – the vast majority linked to patrons of 28 bars in the city of Aberdeen. 

Nicola Sturgeon swiftly imposed a local lockdown from 5pm last Wednesday, closing all bars, cafes, pub and restaurants in the city and told people not to travel there.

The same story has been happening in Melbourne and in the USA. So is this a pattern that will be repeated? 

Is Nicola Sturgeon guilty of over-reacting, given that Scotland has now gone 20 days without anyone dying who had tested positive?

Everything depends on sensible behaviour – there will always be people who manage to enter a pub on a Friday night, have a couple of drinks, and then call it a night. 

Matt Hancock (pictured yesterday) rudely posted the ban on entering other people's homes on Twitter just hours before Eid

Matt Hancock (pictured yesterday) rudely posted the ban on entering other people’s homes on Twitter just hours before Eid

Sadly, that is a small minority. Most of us only lose our inhibitions (and our virginity) and natural reserve as the amount of units consumed increases. 

After a few drinks, maintaining the correct distance from each other becomes harder, not to mention less desirable. 

We can hardly unlearn years of behaviour overnight. Even so, young people do seem utterly fearless. Or is it stupidity?

One Aberdeen city councillor said ‘there’s confusion about face masks and the correct distance to stand apart’. 

Honestly, it’s not exactly rocket science, people aren’t being asked to answer an algebraic equation, but have the months of confinement turned our brains into mush?

A lot of Muslims might agree there should be a blanket ban on pubs after Eid celebrations in Manchester and the surrounding areas were cancelled without warning. Pictured, worshippers at the Bradford Central Mosque on July 31

A lot of Muslims might agree there should be a blanket ban on pubs after Eid celebrations in Manchester and the surrounding areas were cancelled without warning. Pictured, worshippers at the Bradford Central Mosque on July 31

In one Glasgow bar, The Swinton, a single customer tested positive for the virus after he had returned from holiday abroad and refused to quarantine. 

It’s selfish behaviour like that which has brought about the current lockdown. 

Another theory is that customers went from bar to bar on pub crawls, taking the virus with them.

Now pubs have become a flashpoint as people fear being sent back into house arrest. 

As the restaurant business takes the first steps back towards profitability, will the loutish behaviour of drinkers wreck it for the entire hospitality industry? If the number of local outbreaks continues to rise, will it affect the re-opening of schools?

If young people in particular have little interest in social distancing, should there be a blanket closure of pubs? 

Another section of the city’s population was allowed to go out and get drunk and hang about outside bars and pubs. Pictured, revellers drinking in Soho, London

Another section of the city’s population was allowed to go out and get drunk and hang about outside bars and pubs. Pictured, revellers drinking in Soho, London

A lot of Muslims might agree after Eid celebrations in Manchester and the surrounding areas were cancelled without warning (rudely posted on Twitter by our hapless Health Secretary Matt Hancock), while another section of the city’s population was allowed to go out and get drunk and hang about outside bars and pubs.

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield is adamant that the re-opening of schools must be a priority. 

There are fears that as offices return to work and schools reopen at the start of September, there will be another rise in Covid cases. 

A study by University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says a ‘rebound’ affecting twice as many people as the first wave can only be avoided with an effective test track and trace system. If only we had one!

In fact, Scotland’s tracing system is better than that in England. Local tracing systems are proving more effective than the national scheme trumpeted by Mr Hancock. 

Manchester, Blackburn, Bradford and Calderdale are all going to implement local door-to-door tracing. 

Pubs cannot be closed in a blanket ban. That is punishing the sensible, the elderly and the lonely because kids are selfish

Pubs cannot be closed in a blanket ban. That is punishing the sensible, the elderly and the lonely because kids are selfish

Local GPs have been saying for months that neighbourhood health centres have better information where people socialise and are the best way to trace potential cases.

These local initiatives may be an improvement on the government scheme, but tracing all contacts will never be an exact science. 

When we return to work, how will we know who stood behind us on public transport? And who barged into us outside a pub when we were standing on a pavement? At the moment, there’s no way of finding out.

In spite of the risks, I would not close rural pubs. They are vital to small communities, so it seems sensible to create one set of rules for cities and another for rural areas. 

The damage to mental health caused by the extended lockdown (especially for the elderly and those who were shielding) is unknown, but pubs aren’t just places to get drunk. 

They are where you meet the neighbours and socialise. Pubs cannot be closed in a blanket ban. That is punishing the sensible, the elderly and the lonely because kids are selfish.

Shut down city pubs if there’s an outbreak. Outside rural areas, there must be strict rules governing admittance to a pub in a built-up area – tag all drinkers outside and in so you know who they are, and they must produce photo ID, as in the USA. 

Enforce compulsory testing on entry. Yes, the schools must re-open but rural pubs must not be closed – unless the NHS want to cope with a mental health crisis of epic proportions. 

JANET STREET-PORTER: We must shut down city pubs if selfish young drinkers can’t keep distance

Pubs are where you meet people and it’s well documented that at least 90% of all relationships start by getting drunk – usually where alcohol is readily available in unlimited amounts. 

Was it a smart move by Boris Johnson to reopen pubs and bars as the weather warmed up and the holiday season (at least what used to be the holiday season) kicked off? It was a sop to keep us happy – but at what cost?

This week, one of the government’s scientific advisors described the official testing and tracing system as ‘clunky and slow’. 

Latest figures show the scheme is only reaching 50% of those who have come into contact with an infected person. 

Was it a smart move by Boris Johnson to reopen pubs and bars as the weather warmed up and the holiday season (at least what used to be the holiday season) kicked off? It was a sop to keep us happy – but at what cost? Pictured, a waitress at a pub in Aberdeen

Hardly ‘world-beating’, more like ‘third rate’. The Mayor of Manchester called it ‘not fit for purpose’. 

And yet, Boris has pinned all his hopes on testing as the key way to allow us some fun, to return to work and get kids back into school.

A combination of inadequate testing and readily available booze is a toxic mix. But the government – perhaps because they are always under the thumbs of the liquor industry – seems to have abandoned joined-up thinking. 

Boris has pinned all his hopes on testing as the key way to allow us some fun. Pictured, Janet Street-Porter

Boris has pinned all his hopes on testing as the key way to allow us some fun. Pictured, Janet Street-Porter

Any secondary school teacher could have told them that placing teenagers and young people under house arrest with their families for months could only end one way: the moment restrictions were eased, the young would congregate in large numbers to celebrate. 

They are in parks, loafing on beaches and hanging around in clusters around every boozer in towns and cities all over the UK, cosying up without a care in the world. 

Last week’s lockdown in Manchester brought absolutely no difference to the numbers swanning about on Friday night, hoping to get hammered and maybe hook up.

Now, we’re seeing the results. In Scotland, there’s been a huge spike in new Covid cases – 64 and rising – the vast majority linked to patrons of 28 bars in the city of Aberdeen. 

Nicola Sturgeon swiftly imposed a local lockdown from 5pm last Wednesday, closing all bars, cafes, pub and restaurants in the city and told people not to travel there.

The same story has been happening in Melbourne and in the USA. So is this a pattern that will be repeated? 

Is Nicola Sturgeon guilty of over-reacting, given that Scotland has now gone 20 days without anyone dying who had tested positive?

Everything depends on sensible behaviour – there will always be people who manage to enter a pub on a Friday night, have a couple of drinks, and then call it a night. 

Matt Hancock (pictured yesterday) rudely posted the ban on entering other people's homes on Twitter just hours before Eid

Matt Hancock (pictured yesterday) rudely posted the ban on entering other people’s homes on Twitter just hours before Eid

Sadly, that is a small minority. Most of us only lose our inhibitions (and our virginity) and natural reserve as the amount of units consumed increases. 

After a few drinks, maintaining the correct distance from each other becomes harder, not to mention less desirable. 

We can hardly unlearn years of behaviour overnight. Even so, young people do seem utterly fearless. Or is it stupidity?

One Aberdeen city councillor said ‘there’s confusion about face masks and the correct distance to stand apart’. 

Honestly, it’s not exactly rocket science, people aren’t being asked to answer an algebraic equation, but have the months of confinement turned our brains into mush?

A lot of Muslims might agree there should be a blanket ban on pubs after Eid celebrations in Manchester and the surrounding areas were cancelled without warning. Pictured, worshippers at the Bradford Central Mosque on July 31

A lot of Muslims might agree there should be a blanket ban on pubs after Eid celebrations in Manchester and the surrounding areas were cancelled without warning. Pictured, worshippers at the Bradford Central Mosque on July 31

In one Glasgow bar, The Swinton, a single customer tested positive for the virus after he had returned from holiday abroad and refused to quarantine. 

It’s selfish behaviour like that which has brought about the current lockdown. 

Another theory is that customers went from bar to bar on pub crawls, taking the virus with them.

Now pubs have become a flashpoint as people fear being sent back into house arrest. 

As the restaurant business takes the first steps back towards profitability, will the loutish behaviour of drinkers wreck it for the entire hospitality industry? If the number of local outbreaks continues to rise, will it affect the re-opening of schools?

If young people in particular have little interest in social distancing, should there be a blanket closure of pubs? 

Another section of the city¿s population was allowed to go out and get drunk and hang about outside bars and pubs. Pictured, revellers drinking in Soho, London

Another section of the city’s population was allowed to go out and get drunk and hang about outside bars and pubs. Pictured, revellers drinking in Soho, London

A lot of Muslims might agree after Eid celebrations in Manchester and the surrounding areas were cancelled without warning (rudely posted on Twitter by our hapless Health Secretary Matt Hancock), while another section of the city’s population was allowed to go out and get drunk and hang about outside bars and pubs.

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield is adamant that the re-opening of schools must be a priority. 

There are fears that as offices return to work and schools reopen at the start of September, there will be another rise in Covid cases. 

A study by University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says a ‘rebound’ affecting twice as many people as the first wave can only be avoided with an effective test track and trace system. If only we had one!

In fact, Scotland’s tracing system is better than that in England. Local tracing systems are proving more effective than the national scheme trumpeted by Mr Hancock. 

Manchester, Blackburn, Bradford and Calderdale are all going to implement local door-to-door tracing. 

Pubs cannot be closed in a blanket ban. That is punishing the sensible, the elderly and the lonely because kids are selfish

Pubs cannot be closed in a blanket ban. That is punishing the sensible, the elderly and the lonely because kids are selfish

Local GPs have been saying for months that neighbourhood health centres have better information where people socialise and are the best way to trace potential cases.

These local initiatives may be an improvement on the government scheme, but tracing all contacts will never be an exact science. 

When we return to work, how will we know who stood behind us on public transport? And who barged into us outside a pub when we were standing on a pavement? At the moment, there’s no way of finding out.

In spite of the risks, I would not close rural pubs. They are vital to small communities, so it seems sensible to create one set of rules for cities and another for rural areas. 

The damage to mental health caused by the extended lockdown (especially for the elderly and those who were shielding) is unknown, but pubs aren’t just places to get drunk. 

They are where you meet the neighbours and socialise. Pubs cannot be closed in a blanket ban. That is punishing the sensible, the elderly and the lonely because kids are selfish.

Shut down city pubs if there’s an outbreak. Outside rural areas, there must be strict rules governing admittance to a pub in a built-up area – tag all drinkers outside and in so you know who they are, and they must produce photo ID, as in the USA. 

Enforce compulsory testing on entry. Yes, the schools must re-open but rural pubs must not be closed – unless the NHS want to cope with a mental health crisis of epic proportions. 

Boris Johnson pumps iron as he urges Britons to help the recovery

‘There are signs of strength in the economy!’ Boris Johnson pumps iron as he urges Britons to help the recovery by going back to work in a ‘Covid secure way’ – amid fears a million jobs will go within months

  • Boris Johnson visited a gym in his constituency to support local businesses
  • The PM pumped iron as he urged people to have confidence to go back to work
  • Mr Johnson said there are ‘signs of strength’ in the UK economy despite crisis 

Boris Johnson posed pumping iron today as he urged Britons to have the confidence to go back to workplaces.

The PM hailed ‘signs of strength’ in the UK economy as he said it was crucial for people to return to their normal duties.

Mr Johnson, who has been on a health kick since recovering from his own coronavirus scare, visited The Gym in his Uxbridge constituency encouraging the country to support businesses that are reopening. 

The Bank of England has offered a glimmer of hope for the economy by predicting the downturn caused by lockdown might not be as bad as initially feared.

However, governor Andrew Bailey warned that unemployment is still set to go up by more than a million by the end of the year.

And he cautioned that some sectors of UK plc – such as many parts of the hospitality industry – might not be ‘viable’ as the country’s way of life changes.  

Boris Johnson (pictured on a visit to a gym in his Uxbridge constituency today) hailed ‘signs of strength’ in the UK economy as he said it was crucial for people to return to their normal duties

Mr Johnson visited The Gym in his Uxbridge constituency as he encouraged the country to support businesses that are reopening

Mr Johnson visited The Gym in his Uxbridge constituency as he encouraged the country to support businesses that are reopening

During a visit to a housing development in Warrington this afternoon after his gym trip, the Prime Minister told reporters there were ‘real signs of strength in the UK economy’.

‘Unquestionably it will require people to have the confidence to go back to work in a Covid-secure way,’ he continued.

‘It’s also very, very important that we get all the schools back in September, on September 1 get all the pupils back into their schools.

‘That will be also very, very important for getting our economy overall moving again.’

The government has downgraded its advice for people to work from home where possible, amid concerns that town and city centres are being hollowed out by the lack of footfall.

Yesterday research by Morgan Stanley suggested that Britons are less likely to have been back in the office than European counterparts.

This morning Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick urged people to ‘get out’ and support local businesses in the cities if they want to prevent further job losses.

Asked whether he was concerned that London is being ‘hollowed out’ on LBC, he said: ‘Well I am very concerned about London and city centres more generally.

‘You are seeing people starting to go back into town centres and obviously using local shops in villages and rural areas, but many of our city centres are very quiet and we need to get back into them, using the Chancellor’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme, going to visit the shops safely, it can be done.

‘Shops and the hospitality industry are going to great lengths to make sure that they’re following social distancing guidelines and those of us that can do so need to get out and support them now or else we will see, I’m afraid, further job losses and a loss of some of those fantastic businesses that we see in our cities.’

The Bank expects the economy to shrink by 9.5 per cent in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic - less than the previous estimate of 14 per cent

The Bank expects the economy to shrink by 9.5 per cent in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic – less than the previous estimate of 14 per cent

The numbers unemployed could hit 2.6million by the end of the year, according to the Bank of England estimates

The numbers unemployed could hit 2.6million by the end of the year, according to the Bank of England estimates

Donald Trump claims he made Boris Johnson shift his stance on Huawei’s 5G access

Donald Trump claims he made Boris Johnson shift his stance on Huawei’s 5G access during a ‘big and tough talk’

  • US President claims he had ‘big and tough talk’ with Boris Johnson on Huawei
  • He threatened to stop doing business with Britain if 5G network plan went ahead
  • Last month Government announced Huawei would be banned from the network by 2027 

Donald Trump has claimed he forced Boris Johnson to change his stance on allowing Chinese telecoms firm Huawei access to Britain’s 5G network.

The US President said he had a ‘big and tough talk’ with the Prime Minister, and threatened to stop doing business with Britain if he went ahead with his plan.

He said this forced Mr Johnson to change his mind and ‘terminate’ the deal with the Chinese firm. The President, in an interview with Fox News yesterday, boasted: ‘The UK, they were set to buy the Huawei system.

‘I had a big talk and a tough talk with Boris and I said if you do that system you can forget about Scotland Yard, frankly, because we can’t do business with you. And they were all set to do it and they terminated it.’

Donald Trump has claimed he forced Boris Johnson to change his stance on allowing Chinese telecoms firm Huawei access to Britain’s 5G network

It is understood that by ‘Scotland Yard’, Mr Trump was actually referring to the intelligence agencies and threats to stop sharing intelligence with Britain.

He also said Italy was set to sign up the Huawei system and then terminated it, and added: ‘Australia has been great from the beginning, I’ll tell you what, they’ve been a great ally.’ Asked if there would be a summit, he said: ‘We’re very unified. These countries are almost as angry as I am at the plague being released into their country.

‘China stopped the plague from going into China but they didn’t stop the plague from going into Europe and all over the world.

‘Those countries have suffered more than we have in many ways, they’ve been decimated.’ Mr Trump’s comments came after his explosive row with the Prime Minister on the phone after he decided in January this year to allow Huawei to help build the UK’s 5G network.

The US President said he had a ¿big and tough talk¿ with the Prime Minister, and threatened to stop doing business with Britain if he went ahead with his plan

The US President said he had a ‘big and tough talk’ with the Prime Minister, and threatened to stop doing business with Britain if he went ahead with his plan

Following that decision, the US slapped sanctions on the firm which led to the UK carrying out a fresh review of their decision.

Then last month Mr Johnson did a U-turn and said Huawei – which the US has accused of spying for China – would be banned from the network by 2027. Mobile phone providers are also banned from buying new Huawei kit after the end of this year.

The decision followed growing security concerns about China and increased tensions over its decision to impose a new security law on Hong Kong, a former British territory.

It also followed a mounting rebellion by Tory MPs who claimed they would vote against any government plans to allow Huawei in to the network. The company has repeatedly denied claims it has been used by China as a back door for spying.

Last month Mr Johnson did a U-turn and said Huawei ¿ which the US has accused of spying for China ¿ would be banned from the network by 2027

Last month Mr Johnson did a U-turn and said Huawei – which the US has accused of spying for China – would be banned from the network by 2027

As speculation mounted that Britain could reverse its original decision on Huawei, China’s top diplomat in London warned such a move would damage Chinese trust in the UK. At a virtual press briefing in London, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming warned Mr Johnson ‘you cannot have a golden era if you treat China as an enemy’.

Liu also defended his country’s new national security law and slammed the UK’s offer to give up to 3million Hong Kong nationals a path to citizenship, describing the move as a gross interference in China’s affairs.

He said a ban on Huawei would have many consequences, including damaging the UK’s reputation as ‘a business-friendly, open, transparent environment’.

Telecoms experts have warned previously that any Government attempt to force them to remove Huawei kit from the networks too quickly could lead to mass UK phone signal blackouts.

Downing Street did not respond to a request for comment last night.