Sadiq Khan’s fury over ‘plans to quarantine London inside the M25’

No10 today refused to rule out effectively sealing off London if coronavirus cases spike as Sadiq Khan accused Boris Johnson of ‘riding roughshod’ over the city’s best interests.

The Mayor of London has written to the PM to voice ‘great surprise’ at suggestions a quarantine zone could be created within the M25, complaining that it has been 12 weeks since he was invited to a Cobra meeting and the lack of consultation is ‘unacceptable’.

Mr Johnson held a ‘war game’ session with Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week to run through possible options as fears mount over a second peak in the disease.

Measures considered included lockdown-like conditions for London, with the M25 acting as a barrier around the capital, according to the Times.

Downing Street said the government’s ‘Contain’ strategy set out that restrictions can be imposed on transport links ‘if there is an area that is particularly badly affected’. But the PM’s spokesman said that was not only a possibility for London – as any location could be subject to similar curbs.

In other developments today:

  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock has dismissed ‘inaccurate’ claims that all over-50s could be ordered to shield if the situation deteriorates; 
  • The government has launched its ‘eat out to help out’ scheme with 50 per cent discounts to encourage people to support restaurants; 
  • A top scientist has condemned the ‘shroud of secrecy’ around government decision-making on coronavirus; 
  • Civil servants are rebelling against Mr Johnson’s call for them to return to offices amid concerns about the risk of infection; 
  • New 90-minute saliva tests have been unveiled and hailed as a ‘game-changer’ by ministers. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (pictured last month) has written to the PM to voice ‘great surprise’ at suggestions the capital could be effectively sealed off if there is a spike in coronavirus infections

Mr Khan said it was 'totally unacceptable' that contingency plans were being discussed without his knowledge

Mr Khan said it was ‘totally unacceptable’ that contingency plans were being discussed without his knowledge

A letter sent to Mr Johnson from Mr Khan and chair of London Councils, Peter John, said: ‘It is with great surprise that we read in the Sunday papers that Government held a critical exercise last week in which a major resurgence in Covid-19 infections in London was a central scenario.

‘According to media reports, the plans included using the M25 as a quarantine ring – effectively sealing off the city.

‘Our surprise is that such far-reaching contingency plans have been discussed and tested without the involvement or awareness of London’s government.

‘This is clearly totally unacceptable and an affront to London and Londoners.’

The letter also said the Government has been slow to take decisions or has taken the wrong decisions ‘time and again throughout this crisis’, adding: ‘This must stop.

‘Riding roughshod over democratically elected representatives who understand their communities better than central Government will lead to worse outcomes for Londoners, and the country as a whole.’

In a tweet, Mr Khan said: ‘Excluding local leaders in this way won’t help us control the virus and must stop now.’

Downing Street said the ability to impose travel restrictions had been set out in its strategy for preventing the spread of coronavirus but denied it was a plan specifically drawn up for the capital. 

Top scientist slams ‘shroud of secrecy’ over Covid decisions 

A top scientist has slammed the ‘shroud of secrecy’ around the government’s coronavirus decisions – as civil servants rebel over Boris Johnson’s call for people to return to offices.

Sir Paul Nurse, chief of the Francis Crick Institute, raised concerns that crucial choices seemed to be made by a ‘black box’ in Whitehall with the results sometimes ‘shambolic’. 

He insisted more transparency and scrutiny was needed to get the ‘best results’.

The intervention came as the government faces a fresh backlash about mixed messaging. Treasury subsidies for eating out at restaurants are launched today, and advice that everyone should work from home is being downgraded.

However, there are also mounting rumours about tightening coronavirus rules in some areas, with fears of a looming second wave.

Civil servants have complained they are being used as guinea pigs for the return to offices, with claims of more cases at the heart of government over the past fortnight.

The ‘Contain’ strategy sets out ‘the possibility of putting in place restrictions on travel if there is an area that is particularly badly affected’. 

‘One of the steps within that potentially includes closing down local transport networks,’ the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said. 

‘It’s there, it’s contained in the document, it’s not a new thing – we have informed the public and politicians of that being a potential action that we could take. 

‘But, to be clear, it’s not something that is specific to London or anywhere else.’ 

Meanwhile, a top scientist has slammed the ‘shroud of secrecy’ around the government’s coronavirus decisions.

Sir Paul Nurse, chief of the Francis Crick Institute, raised concerns that crucial choices seemed to be made by a ‘black box’ in Whitehall with the results sometimes ‘shambolic’. 

He insisted more transparency and scrutiny was needed to get the ‘best results’.

The intervention came as the government faces a fresh backlash about mixed messaging. Treasury subsidies for eating out at restaurants are launched today, and advice that everyone should work from home is being downgraded.

However, there are also mounting rumours about tightening coronavirus rules in some areas, with fears of a looming second wave.

Civil servants have complained they are being used as guinea pigs for the return to offices, with claims of more cases at the heart of government over the past fortnight.

A leading expert today hit out at the ‘rash’ move to put 4.5million people in the North West under tough new lockdown measures because of a spike in coronavirus cases.

Ministers last week announced people from different homes in Greater Manchester, parts of Lancashire and West Yorkshire would be banned from meeting each other inside their homes or in gardens following a spike in cases.

But Professor Carl Heneghan, director of Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, claimed Covid-19 cases aren’t actually rising — despite government figures showing an upwards trend. 

He said the rising infection rates are down to more people being tested and warned of inaccuracies in the data, telling the Daily Telegraph: ‘The northern lockdown was a rash decision.

‘Where’s the rise? By date of test through July there’s no change if you factor in all the increased testing that’s going on.’

He warned there was a rise in detected cases because of more targeted testing in areas such as Oldham, the second-worst hit borough in the country with 55.2 cases for every 100,000 people in the past week.

Boris Johnson (pictured today) held a 'war game' session with Chancellor Rishi Sunak to run through possible options if there is a second coronavirus peak

Boris Johnson (pictured today) held a ‘war game’ session with Chancellor Rishi Sunak to run through possible options if there is a second coronavirus peak

Tube journeys are 75% down on the day Boris urges Britons to return to work: Trains are far from full as workers ignore pleas to get back to their desks 

London Underground journeys are still down by 75 per cent on last year as workers ignored the government’s drive to get back to work today.

Just 240,000 trips were made on the Tube during this morning’s rush hour to 10am, which marks a six per cent increase on last week.

Passengers, some still not wearing face coverings, had plenty of space for social distancing as a few took the Jubilee Line into the city centre.

Boris Johnson had heralded today – the first Monday in August – as the day ‘work from home’ guidance ends and Britain should return to the office.

But almost five in six office employees will continue to stay at home despite the desperate drive to reignite the economy.

Commuters sat on the Tube on their phones and read the newspaper this morning, with plenty of spare seats and only a few travellers forced to stand.

It is a world away from the usual jostle for a position at rush hour, when thousands of weary Londoners cram into all available spaces in the carriages.

On a typical morning before the coronavirus struck, about 1,124,825 would take the London Underground between 4am and 10am.

But during the pandemic this plummeted by up to 90 per cent, with just 109,306 taking the network on the morning of May 29. MailOnline has contacted Transport for London for today’s figures. 

Liverpool Street Station in central London looks bare today as few passengers take to public transport to get back to the office

Liverpool Street Station in central London looks bare today as few passengers take to public transport to get back to the office

A woman scratches her head as she walks down a gangway from a train as she gets into Liverpool Street Station in central London

A woman scratches her head as she walks down a gangway from a train as she gets into Liverpool Street Station in central London

The Tube today
The Tube last week

Left: Today. Right: Last week. The London Underground remained quiet at rush hour this morning despite the PM saying ‘work from home’ is over

Passengers, some still not wearing face coverings (pictured), had plenty of space for social distancing as a few took the Jubilee Line into the city centre

A few passengers leave the train at Liverpool Street Station this morning as they head to work in the city centre

A few passengers leave the train at Liverpool Street Station this morning as they head to work in the city centre 

Desolate trains are parked at Liverpool Street Station in London which was devoid of commuters at rush hour today

Desolate trains are parked at Liverpool Street Station in London which was devoid of commuters at rush hour today

Boris Johnson had heralded today – the first Monday in August – as the day 'work from home' guidance ends and Britain should return to the office. But rush hour was quiet

Boris Johnson had heralded today – the first Monday in August – as the day ‘work from home’ guidance ends and Britain should return to the office. But rush hour was quiet

London traffic data from TomTom shows congestion at rush hour this morning stood at just 22 per cent, down from 26 per cent last week and 52 per cent last year.

But Apple mobility trends, which is only available up to Saturday, suggests there are more people driving in London – up 10 per cent – while walking and transit are down 11 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.

A Mail audit of 30 of Britain’s biggest firms, representing 320,000 employees, found just 17 per cent of office-based staff would travel to work this week.

The PM said Britons could go back to the workplace at the ‘discretion’ of their employers and would no longer be advised to stay away from public transport.

But many businesses are not planning for most workers to return to offices until at least towards the end of the year, while the likes of Facebook and bank RBS said staff will not go back until 2021.

Sadiq Khan’s fury over ‘plans to quarantine London inside the M25’

London COULD be locked down: No 10 refuses to rule out sealing off capital to control coronavirus outbreak amid fury from Sadiq Khan’s fury at Boris’s ‘unacceptable’ unilateral M25 quarantine plan

  • Sadiq Khan has condemned the idea of sealing off the M25 around London if coronavirus cases rise again
  • The London Mayor complained that he has not been consulted by Boris Johnson on the dramatic prospect 
  • An M25 lockdown was among the options mooted at ‘war gaming’ session conducted by the PM last week 
  • Downing Street refuses to rule out the move but says the quarantine concept is not only applicable to London 

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No10 today refused to rule out effectively sealing off London if coronavirus cases spike as Sadiq Khan accused Boris Johnson of ‘riding roughshod’ over the city’s best interests.

The Mayor of London has written to the PM to voice ‘great surprise’ at suggestions a quarantine zone could be created within the M25, complaining that it has been 12 weeks since he was invited to a Cobra meeting and the lack of consultation is ‘unacceptable’.

Mr Johnson held a ‘war game’ session with Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week to run through possible options as fears mount over a second peak in the disease.

Measures considered included lockdown-like conditions for London, with the M25 acting as a barrier around the capital, according to the Times.

Downing Street said the government’s ‘Contain’ strategy set out that restrictions can be imposed on transport links ‘if there is an area that is particularly badly affected’. But the PM’s spokesman said that was not only a possibility for London – as any location could be subject to similar curbs.

In other developments today:

  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock has dismissed ‘inaccurate’ claims that all over-50s could be ordered to shield if the situation deteriorates; 
  • The government has launched its ‘eat out to help out’ scheme with 50 per cent discounts to encourage people to support restaurants; 
  • A top scientist has condemned the ‘shroud of secrecy’ around government decision-making on coronavirus; 
  • Civil servants are rebelling against Mr Johnson’s call for them to return to offices amid concerns about the risk of infection; 
  • New 90-minute saliva tests have been unveiled and hailed as a ‘game-changer’ by ministers. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (pictured last month) has written to the PM to voice ‘great surprise’ at suggestions the capital could be effectively sealed off if there is a spike in coronavirus infections

Mr Khan said it was 'totally unacceptable' that contingency plans were being discussed without his knowledge

Mr Khan said it was ‘totally unacceptable’ that contingency plans were being discussed without his knowledge

A letter sent to Mr Johnson from Mr Khan and chair of London Councils, Peter John, said: ‘It is with great surprise that we read in the Sunday papers that Government held a critical exercise last week in which a major resurgence in Covid-19 infections in London was a central scenario.

‘According to media reports, the plans included using the M25 as a quarantine ring – effectively sealing off the city.

‘Our surprise is that such far-reaching contingency plans have been discussed and tested without the involvement or awareness of London’s government.

‘This is clearly totally unacceptable and an affront to London and Londoners.’

The letter also said the Government has been slow to take decisions or has taken the wrong decisions ‘time and again throughout this crisis’, adding: ‘This must stop.

‘Riding roughshod over democratically elected representatives who understand their communities better than central Government will lead to worse outcomes for Londoners, and the country as a whole.’

In a tweet, Mr Khan said: ‘Excluding local leaders in this way won’t help us control the virus and must stop now.’

Downing Street said the ability to impose travel restrictions had been set out in its strategy for preventing the spread of coronavirus but denied it was a plan specifically drawn up for the capital. 

The ‘Contain’ strategy sets out ‘the possibility of putting in place restrictions on travel if there is an area that is particularly badly affected’. 

‘One of the steps within that potentially includes closing down local transport networks,’ the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said. 

‘It’s there, it’s contained in the document, it’s not a new thing – we have informed the public and politicians of that being a potential action that we could take. 

‘But, to be clear, it’s not something that is specific to London or anywhere else.’ 

Meanwhile, a top scientist has slammed the ‘shroud of secrecy’ around the government’s coronavirus decisions.

Sir Paul Nurse, chief of the Francis Crick Institute, raised concerns that crucial choices seemed to be made by a ‘black box’ in Whitehall with the results sometimes ‘shambolic’. 

He insisted more transparency and scrutiny was needed to get the ‘best results’.

The intervention came as the government faces a fresh backlash about mixed messaging. Treasury subsidies for eating out at restaurants are launched today, and advice that everyone should work from home is being downgraded.

However, there are also mounting rumours about tightening coronavirus rules in some areas, with fears of a looming second wave.

Civil servants have complained they are being used as guinea pigs for the return to offices, with claims of more cases at the heart of government over the past fortnight.

Boris Johnson (pictured last week) held a ‘war game’ session with Chancellor Rishi Sunak to run through possible options if there is a second coronavirus peak

Violent crime climbs back to pre coronavirus lockdown levels

Violent crime rates have soared back to pre-lockdown levels amid fears that numbers could rise even further as lockdown measures are lifted and the economic impact of the coronavirus is felt.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan told The Guardian that there is a ‘real risk of violent crime spiking as lockdown is eased’ in the capital after the pandemic sent crime rates plummeting by a quarter in England and Wales.

And it appears Khan’s warning should be heeded after Friday night brought carnage in London as at least three shootings took place – one reportedly involving a sub-machine gun. 

Last month saw 17 killings in the city – two more than July 2019. January this year saw 11 homicides in the capital, and February just seven.

There were 19,104 violent crimes in June – compared to 17,264 in February and 18,569 in January. 

Mr Khan said he is concerned that ‘the last decade of government austerity, where ministers decimated police and youth services – causing violent crime to rise in London and across the UK’ could be repeated all over again.

Last month saw 17 killings in London – two more than July 2019. January this year saw 11 homicides in the capital, and February just seven. Violent crime rates (pictured) are also soaring

Violent crime monthly figures for June across the West Midlands - which includes Britain's second-most populated city, Birmingham - was the highest seen in the last year

Violent crime monthly figures for June across the West Midlands – which includes Britain’s second-most populated city, Birmingham – was the highest seen in the last year

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said there is a 'real risk of violent crime spiking as lockdown is eased' in the capital

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said there is a ‘real risk of violent crime spiking as lockdown is eased’ in the capital

West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson said crime had ‘bounced back’ since restricting lockdown measures were relaxed. 

Violent crime monthly figures for June across the West Midlands – which includes Britain’s second-most populated city, Birmingham – was the highest seen in the last year.

A total of 8,818 violent crimes were reported in May – edging nearer to the 9,131 figure seen in January and  9,193 figure in February.

Mr Jamieson fears young people – who are not working – could get involved in criminal activity due to an abundance of time or missed schooling.

On Tuesday night, a man in his 50s was stabbed to death in on Camden High street. Pictured: Forensics at the scene on Wednesday

On Tuesday night, a man in his 50s was stabbed to death in on Camden High street. Pictured: Forensics at the scene on Wednesday 

Scientific advisers last week warned that serious public disorder in the coming months could ‘overwhelm all attempts’ to control coronavirus and ‘catastrophically’ undermine recovery plans.

The current ‘volatile and highly complex situation’ means the UK will face ‘grave challenges’ in maintaining public order, according to a paper considered by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) in July.

The academics warn that tensions resulting from the pandemic have become ‘inextricably bound’ with structural inequalities and international events, adding that the military should be on standby to quash a potential break down in law and order.

The police are not prepared to manage a large-scale break down of public order, and the military should be on standby, the Times reported, citing the SAGE document.

The report also discussed the Black Lives Matter movement that gained traction in May and early June after the death of George Floyd in the United States.

On Friday, two people were reportedly shot in Hackney, London, while another two men were shot in Brixton and a third shooting took place in Croydon just yards from West Croydon station. 

The first shooting reportedly took place on the Angell Town estate in Brixton at about 7pm.

Forensic officers were pictured collecting evidence after a reported stabbing in Harlesden in the early hours of Saturday morning

Forensic officers were pictured collecting evidence after a reported stabbing in Harlesden in the early hours of Saturday morning

Armed Police, Paramedic and Response officers rushed to the scene after reports that 17 shots were fired.

The men were treated at the scene by paramedics before being taken to hospital for further treatment. 

Two other people were shot at a silent party – an unlicensed music event – that was being held in Mandeville street in Hackney in East London. 

Three men were reportedly detained by officers at Homerton hospital after they transported the victims in a blue BMW to get live saving treatment after being shot in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The detained men had all been at the gathering that was held in Willington court in E5. 

Armed officers were scrambled to both Homerton Hospital and Mandeville Street and the hospital was put on lockdown. 

Police on scene after reports of a sub-machine gun shooting in Brixton on Friday night

Police on scene after reports of a sub-machine gun shooting in Brixton on Friday night

Witnesses reported seeing specialist blood and explosives detection dogs being used to search the area.

Reports suggest a bullet casing and a machete were found on a bridge near the scene of the shootings. 

Armed officers were also called to London Road in Croydon in the early hours of Saturday morning as London saw at least its third shooting in one night. 

A man believed to be in his 20s was shot at close range near West Croydon station.

The road was cordoned off after reports of the shooting, and a forensic examination has taken place.

Police said no arrests have been made but enquiries into the shooting continue.

Meanwhile, forensic officers were pictured collecting evidence after a reported stabbing in Harlesden in the early hours of Saturday morning.

On Tuesday night, a man in his 50s was stabbed to death in on Camden High street.

London cabbies slam ‘lunatic’ Sadiq Khan after pop-up cycle lanes spark traffic chaos


Struggling London cabbies slam ‘lunatic’ Sadiq Khan after pop-up cycle lanes and wider ‘social-distancing’ pavements spark traffic chaos

  •  Sadiq Khan has introduced 11 miles of new, pop-up cycle lanes in the capital 
  •  Cab drivers claim roads are gridlocked and it has caused havoc for their trade 
  •  A further 12 miles of cycle lanes and wider pavements are under construction
  •  Cab drivers say demand for services is yet to recover to pre-lockdown levels

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been criticised by cab drivers for his Streetspace for London programme, which has introduced new cycle lanes in the capital

Sadiq Khan is like ‘a lunatic taking over the asylum’ in his campaign to prioritise cyclists and buses on London’s roads, according to cab drivers who continue to see demand for their services fall well below pre-lockdown levels.

In a bid to encourage social distancing on public transport and help reduce pollution, the Mayor of London recently unveiled his Streetspace for London programme, which is creating extra pedestrian and cycling space on roads.

Some 11 miles of new, pop-up cycle lanes have been established in the capital through the project, with a further 12 miles under construction.

Khan also plans to introduce bus-only zones in parts of central London. 

But cab drivers are not happy with the changes, because drivers have to travel further to find drop-off points and are charging more for the journey as a result, meaning commuters are finding alternative options for travel.

They also claim that traffic has become gridlocked in certain areas, due to the additional cycling lanes created. 

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Darryl Cox, secretary of the London Cab Drivers Club said: ‘It is now harder for us to drop and pick up passengers – especially disabled ones – at some stations as there are fewer spaces to pull over. 

‘The lunatic has taken over the asylum.’  

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, added: ‘Any policy which deters people from coming into central London and safely resuming their old routines, especially those who do not feel safe using public transport and for whom walking and cycling is simply not an option, will undermine London’s recovery and do further economic harm.’  

Cab drivers have accused Sadiq Khan of prioritising buses and cyclists in London (file pic)

Cab drivers have accused Sadiq Khan of prioritising buses and cyclists in London (file pic)

As part of his Streetspace for London programme, Khan visited Pimlico in central London on Thursday to try out a new segregated cycle route between Chelsea Bridge and Lambeth Bridge. 

Speaking about the initiative, he said: ‘I’m determined to do all I can to ensure a green recovery for our city by building on Londoners’ record-breaking demand for cycling over the past few months.

‘I am proud that we are rapidly rolling out more space for walking and cycling and upgrading cycle routes to make them safer.’ 

Sophie Edmondson, principal sponsor for cycling at TfL, said: ‘Walking and cycling will be absolutely central to London’s recovery from coronavirus and our Streetspace programme is making sure everybody who wants to cycle can do so easily and safely.’

London taxi drivers say the new pop-up cycle lanes mean they have to travel further to find drop-off points, while fewer people are using their services (file pic)

London taxi drivers say the new pop-up cycle lanes mean they have to travel further to find drop-off points, while fewer people are using their services (file pic)

Sadiq Khan slams appeal to stop Shamima Begum’s return to UK


Sadiq Khan today declared that the Government should not stand in the way of Shamima Begum returning to Britain to fight for her UK passport accusing them of trying to ‘sub-contract justice to another country’. 

The Mayor of London does not agree with the Home Office’s decision to challenge the Court of Appeal ruling allowing Begum to challenge the decision to revoke British citizenship in person on UK soil.

But counter-terror experts have warned that the decision to let Begum back into the UK could have dire implications for national security – including opening the door to other jihadis and their brides coming back from Syria and Iraq.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said Shamima Begum should return to the UK to face justice in the criminal courts.

London mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured today) said Shamima Begum (right) should return to the UK to face justice in the criminal courts.

Mr Khan said today: ‘I think people who commit criminal offences must face the music.

‘While we’ve got courts in this country and judges who are some of the fairest in the world, I think if a British citizen commits an offence here or overseas they should face justice in the criminal courts.

‘And if she (Begum) has committed a criminal offence I’m sure the jury will find her guilty, and justice will be served. What I’m not in favour of is us sub-contracting justice to another country.’

On Thursday, senior judges said Begum – one of three east London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group – should be allowed to return to the UK to fight the decision to remove her British citizenship.

It came as the lawyer representing the family of jihadi bride Shamima Begum today made the extraordinary admission that ‘nobody can be sure’ if she is still a terror threat to Britain – but insisted that she should be allowed to return to the UK anyway.

Tasnime Akunjee also declared that a ‘lack of technology’ in the Syrian camp where Begum is living means she cannot fairly fight for her British passport to be returned.

It came as Begum was pictured wearing jeans, a shirt and a blue hat while walking through a Syrian refugee camp after winning a bombshell Court of Appeal victory that could see her back in the country within weeks. When she does return to the UK, Begum is likely to be arrested and questioned before being charged with terror-related offences.

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain Mr Akunjee was asked if she could be a terror threat or groom others following her extremist past and said: ‘No one can be sure including her family that that won’t happen – but that is pure speculation’. 

Macer Gifford, British former currency trader who travelled to Syria to fight with the Kurdish YPG militia against the Islamic State, also appeared on the show and said Begum must face trial in Syria or Iraq.

He said: ‘I do not trust the British legal system to get this right. just 1 in 10 jihadis who have come back to Britain find themselves in court. ‘My fear is that Shamima Begum will come back to the UK and get a slap on the wrist and she’ll be out within 2 years. Why can’t they [ISIS members] stand trial in Syria and Iraq where they committed these crimes?’  

Tasnime Akunjee, a lawyer representing the family of Shamima Begum. admits they cannot be sure if she is a threat to Britain but insists she should return to the UK to win back her passport

Tasnime Akunjee, a lawyer representing the family of Shamima Begum. admits they cannot be sure if she is a threat to Britain but insists she should return to the UK to win back her passport

Tasnime Akunjee, a lawyer representing the family of Shamima Begum. admits they cannot be sure if she is a threat to Britain but insists she should return to the UK to win back her passport

Macer Gifford, British former currency trader who travelled to Syria to fight with the Kurdish YPG militia against the Islamic State said he fears Begum will come back to the UK and only 'get a slap on the wrist'

Macer Gifford, British former currency trader who travelled to Syria to fight with the Kurdish YPG militia against the Islamic State said he fears Begum will come back to the UK and only ‘get a slap on the wrist’

Begum, who left to join IS five years ago when she was 15, had been stripped of her British citizenship after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February last year, and was previously pictured wearing a black burka.

But yesterday she won a legal challenge after judges ruled she had not been granted a ‘fair and effective’ appeal. They said she should be allowed to return for a fresh hearing in a bid to overturn the Home Office’s decision.   

Yesterday, Downing Street said it was ‘bitterly disappointed’ by the ruling and Sajid Javid, the former home secretary who oversaw the removal of her citizenship, said he was ‘deeply concerned’.

MPs and victims of Islamic State atrocities reacted furiously after three Court of Appeal judges said she could return here from a refugee camp in Syria. 

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen was left furious by yesterday’s ruling saying it risked a flood of jihadis returning. He told MailOnline: ‘It opens the door for all her fellow jihadi brides to return to Britain – and potentially their terrorist partners too. 

‘Most Brits will rightly think that when you swear allegiance to another country that declares war on Britain, that you have given up all the rights and protections and privileges of your British citizenship. After today’s ruling it appears you have not’.

Appeal: Begum challenged the decision made by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid saying she now feared for her life. Her third child Jarrah, pictured in her arms, died at three weeks old

Appeal: Begum challenged the decision made by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid saying she now feared for her life. Her third child Jarrah, pictured in her arms, died at three weeks old

Tooba Gondal, a former AK-47-wielding ISIS bride who groomed others online and bragged online about her 'real freedom' in Syria before caliphate collapsed. She is also in the Al Hol camp with Begum.

Jihadi bride Amira Abase from Bethnal Green is rumoured to have been killed in an air strike but there are rumours that she is alive

Tooba Gonda (left), a former AK-47-wielding ISIS bride who groomed others online and bragged online about her ‘real freedom’ in Syria before caliphate collapsed. Jihadi bride Amira Abase (right) from Bethnal Green is rumoured to have been killed in an air strike but there are reports that Begum’s schoolfriend could still alive

Former bouncy castle salesman Siddhartha Dhar, 36, known as jihadi Sid, could be among the male jihadis looking to get back to Britain following today's ruling

Former bouncy castle salesman Siddhartha Dhar, 36, known as jihadi Sid, could be among the male jihadis looking to get back to Britain following today’s ruling

Jihadi bride Shamima Begum has been pictured today wearing jeans, a shirt and a blue hat as she walked through a Syrian refugee camp

Jihadi bride Shamima Begum has been pictured today wearing jeans, a shirt and a blue hat as she walked through a Syrian refugee camp

Begum’s brother-in-law says he is stuck ‘between a rock and a hard place’

The brother-in-law of Shamima Begum said today that he is stuck ‘between a rock and a hard place’.

Mohammed Rahman, an electrician, said he does not want to cause rifts between him and his brother’s family by airing his views on his sister-in-law’s bid to return to Britain.

He said: ‘She’s part of my extended family. I am not going to try and cause any rifts between me and my brother. I’m very uncomfortable with the whole situation. I’m in between a rock and a hard place. I have my own opinions. I don’t want to offend anyone.’

He said he was not very ‘close’ to Ms Begum’s family, saying he found out she went to Syria on the news and about the Court of Appeal’s decision via Twitter.

Mr Rahman said: ‘I’m not very close with my brother’s wife – I’ve met Shamima, but only at family functions. There’s a big age difference between me and her anyway. That’s it. I have sympathy for her family. It’s a tough thing for a family to lose a child, but that’s as far as I’ll go. I only found out she went to Syria on the news. I didn’t even know. They didn’t broach it with me. You take the hint.’

Mr Rahman said he could see both sides of the argument over whether Ms Begum should be allowed to return to the UK. He said: ‘If that’s what she can do, that’s what she can do. I can’t see what other option she has. I can understand her point of view, equally I see how people can say ‘you’ve made your bed and now lie in it.”

These include Tooba Gondal, a former AK-47-wielding ISIS bride who groomed others online and bragged online about her ‘real freedom’ in Syria before the caliphate collapsed. 

She is also in the Al Hol camp with Begum and has begged to come back to the UK because of ‘dire conditions’ there.   

Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director of the counter-terror think-tank the Henry Jackson Society, said: ‘The deeply troubling implication of this judgment is that up to 150 terrorists are now legally entitled to enter the UK in order to appeal the decision in their case.

‘This decision could have dramatic repercussions for our entire counter-terror strategy.’ 

British jihadi fighters believed to be alive including former bouncy castle salesman turned alleged executioner Siddhartha Dhar, 36, ‘Jihadi Jack’ Letts, ISIS grave digger Shahan Choudhury, fast food addict ‘Hungry’ Hamza Parvez and Cardiff ice cream salesman Aseel Muthana may also try to seize on Begum’s legal victory.  

UK civil rights groups including Liberty helped launch Begum’s legal battle in Britain and the Court of Appeal found she could not have an ‘effective’ appeal against the decision by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in February while she is out of the country – and said letting her back into the UK ‘outweighed national security concerns’. 

The three judges, led by Lord Justice Flaux, said: ‘The Court concludes that Ms Begum’s appeal to the Court of Appeal should be allowed, so that she can have leave to enter the UK in order for there to be a fair and effective appeal before SIAC’. 

However, sympathisers of the jihadi bride could risk up to 14 years in jail if they attempt to help her come back. A government source revealed a ‘simulation’ was carried out last year by intelligence experts at the Home Office, shortly after Begum was found in a Syrian refugee camp.

It concluded that anyone who assisted her return could be arrested under Section 17 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

The law sets out how it is a crime to ‘fund’ terrorism and carries a jail term of up to 14 years. Funding could involve money or property –for example, a plane ticket.

Lord Carlile, the leading QC and former terror tsar, confirmed it had potential to be a viable tactic. ‘That is quite possible. I don’t think the Government is under any obligation to take extraordinary steps to bring her back.’

Richard Walton, former head of Scotland Yard’s Counter-Terrorism Command, warned it may not be easy to hold Begum behind bars. He said: ‘She would likely be arrested and charged with terrorism offences but the evidence against her could be weak.

‘If released, she would present an on-going threat and would need to be subject to rigorous monitoring costing the state hundreds of thousands of pounds over months and years.’

Mother-of-three Begum, 20, whose children with Dutch jihadi husband Yago Riedijk all died, is still in the Al Hol camp in northern Syria but could be heading back to Britain within weeks after today’s landmark ruling. 

Her first two children, a one-year-old girl and a three-month-old boy, died in the caliphate after becoming sick and malnourished, while her third child Jarrah died shortly after he was born in the camp where his mother still lives. 

Police have stopped 18,500 passengers for not wearing masks but only handed out 59 fines so far


Police and transport officers have fined just 59 people after speaking to 18,500 for not wearing masks on public transport, Sadiq Khan has revealed as he claimed he hasn’t spoken to the Prime Minister since May.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, the Mayor of London claimed he hadn’t spoken to Boris Johnson since a Cobra meeting on May 10.

The two figures met several times at Cobra meetings in the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, but there has been no contact since lockdown measures were first eased in England.

City Hall explained the pair usually only meet at Cobra meetings, but a spokesman for the mayor said: ‘In times of crisis you would expect to have a closer working relationship.’ 

The revelation came a day after the government announced it would be compulsory to wear face masks in shops and supermarkets from next week.

Boris Johnson met with London Ambulance Service paramedics on Monday, but has not seen the Mayor of London for more than two months

Mr Khan said: ‘One of my concerns is that it’s led to some poor decision-making some of the decisions and policy that PM has can’t be properly tested in a private space where there can be candor.

‘That leads to group thinking which I think has led to some poor decision making.’

Mr Khan said he had lobbied the PM on occasions since they last met, more than two months ago. 

He added: ‘My concern isn’t because of vanity, it’s because I’m the mayor of a city with more than 9million people.

‘It’s for the Prime Minister to explain why that is, I hope its’s not because he’s playing petty party politics.  

Commuters on the Central Line this morning were wearing face coverings as they travelled through London

Commuters on the Central Line this morning were wearing face coverings as they travelled through London

‘Our population is greater than Scotland and Wales put together and some, but also we’ve got four airports serving our city, we’ve got the Eurostar serving our city, we contribute between a quarter and a third of our country’s wealth. 

‘If the government is keen for a recovery to be successful they’ve really got to be working with us because it’s got to be a team effort.’

It’s understood the PM has not spoken with Wales First Minister since May 28.

He told LBC last week: ‘We’ve had contact through the Cabinet Ofice with the UK government and when it happens it’s helpful. Downing Street itself? No I have not had a meeting with the Prime Minister since the 28th of May.’ 

Mr Khan’s comments came ahead of new rules, starting from next Friday, that will make it mandatory to wear face masks in shops and supermarkets – but Mr Khan revealed that just 59 people had been fined for not following similar rules on board public transport in the capital. 

Sadiq Khan said around 90 per cent of passengers are wearing some kind of covering on their face, but some are still choosing not to. Exemptions are in place for children and people with certain physical or mental health conditions

Sadiq Khan said around 90 per cent of passengers are wearing some kind of covering on their face, but some are still choosing not to. Exemptions are in place for children and people with certain physical or mental health conditions

Mr Khan told presenters Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway: ‘On public transport we’ve had to issue very few fines, only 59, but a combination of British Transport Police and Transport for London enforce officers have encouraged people to wear face coverings.

‘The good news is during rush hour more than 90 per cent of commuters are wearing face coverings. 

‘I’m hoping that police won’t be required to issue lots of fines I hope customers will realise “me wearing a face mask makes you safe, you wearing a face mask makes me safe”.’

Sadiq Khan revealed just 59 people had been fined on London's public transport for failing to wear face coverings, while also revealing he hadn't spoken to the Prime Minister since May 10

Sadiq Khan revealed just 59 people had been fined on London’s public transport for failing to wear face coverings, while also revealing he hadn’t spoken to the Prime Minister since May 10

The government made it mandatory to wear face coverings on public transport from June 15. 

Most commuters on the Central Line were wearing some kind of covering this morning, but there are still passengers travelling with their mouths and noses exposed. 

Police appeared to step up patrols on face masks, with a large presence near Westminster station being reported by commuters. 

Shoppers who fail to comply with new rules from July 24 risk fines of £100 under the plans to stop a second wave of coronavirus.

Some people are still not wearing face masks on London's public transport, ahead of new rules that will make it compulsory to wear coverings in shops and indoor spaces from next Friday

Some people are still not wearing face masks on London’s public transport, ahead of new rules that will make it compulsory to wear coverings in shops and indoor spaces from next Friday

Retailers will be asked to advise customers to wear masks but their staff will not be expected to enforce the law. Instead, police will be given powers to dish out fines.

Only young children or those with certain disabilities will be exempt from the new regulations.

Mr Khan said he didn’t want to see members of the public ‘taking the law into their own hands’.

He said: ‘What we don’t want is unfair peer pressure where its unjustified for example; children under 11, people with breathing problems people who may have some mental health issues so its really important that we are respectful of the reason why not 100 per cent of people are wearing face coverings. 

‘Don’t be alarmed at this new rule, I wish it was being brought in today rather than next Friday, this will help all of is be safer and could prevent a second wave that could have led to a second lockdown, which none of us want.’  

London Mayor Sadiq Khan spent £30k on boarding up statues


London Mayor Sadiq Khan spent £30,000 on boarding up statues in Westminster – including £10,000 to protect Winston Churchill monument which was vandalised during BLM protests

  • Figures released show it cost £10,147 to put a hoarding around Churchill’s statue
  • £21,115 was spent on protecting statues of Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi
  • It cost was £3,050 to remove graffiti in Parliament Square and Trafalgar Squares

London mayor Sadiq Khan spent more than £30,000 on boarding up statues in Westminster including one of Winston Churchill, it can be revealed.

The monument to the wartime leader was boxed up by Mr Khan after it was daubed with graffiti during Black Lives Matter demonstrations last month.

Underneath Churchill’s name, protesters had daubed ‘is a racist’.

The monument to the wartime leader was boxed up (pictured) by Mr Khan after it was daubed with graffiti during Black Lives Matter demonstrations last month

The Greater London Authority, run by the mayor, put hoardings around three statues in Parliament Square ahead of further protests

The Greater London Authority, run by the mayor, put hoardings around three statues in Parliament Square ahead of further protests

The Greater London Authority, run by the mayor, put hoardings around three statues in Parliament Square ahead of further protests.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show it cost £10,147 to put a hoarding around the statue of Churchill. 

A further £21,115 was spent on protecting statues of Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. 

The GLA said it cost £3,050 to remove graffiti in Parliament and Trafalgar squares.

Churchill’s statue was boxed up on June 12 but the boarding was removed six days later ahead of a visit by French president Emmanuel Macron. 

Boris Johnson said it was ‘absurd and shameful’ that the monument was at risk of attack, saying Churchill remained a hero for saving the country from ‘fascist and racist tyranny’.  

Mr Khan last month defended his actions after Home Secretary Priti Patel accused him of failing to stand up to ‘thuggery’ and demanded the statue be set free.

He said the decision to protect the statue in Parliament Square – and the monuments to Mandela and Gandhi – was a ‘wise’ precaution.

He said there were fears the London monuments could become a ‘flashpoint for violence’ involving far-Right protesters, after the toppling of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.

Mr Khan has previously pointed out that the statues had been boarded up before, including while Mr Johnson was mayor.

Prince Charles thanks underground workers for keeping tube services running


The Prince of Wales arrived at a Transport for London (TfL) training centre to thank London Underground staff for working during the coronavirus pandemic today.

Charles, 71, met contract cleaners and station staff at Ashfield House, near West Kensington station in west London during the visit, which was hosted by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, chairman of TfL.

Ashfield House is TfL’s main training centre and has been in operation throughout the pandemic, providing training to station staff.

The Tube network has maintained 50% of services at the height of the outbreak when a third of staff were ill, shielding or self-isolating.

Prince Charles, 71, smiles as he arrives at a Transport for London (TfL) training centre to thank London Underground staff for working during the coronavirus pandemic today

The Prince of Wales is greeted by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan- before meeting key workers from Transport for London, who have worked throughout the Covid-19 pandemic on July 2 in London

The Prince of Wales is greeted by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan- before meeting key workers from Transport for London, who have worked throughout the Covid-19 pandemic on July 2 in London

The royal met contract cleaners and station staff at Ashfield House, near West Kensington station in west London during the visit

The royal met contract cleaners and station staff at Ashfield House, near West Kensington station in west London during the visit

Many of the drivers, station staff and other workers have since returned to the front line and now more than 90% of the timetable is operating.

The outbreak took its toll and 44 London transport workers have died due to coronavirus. 

The royal family have been slowly returning to public duties as lockdown restrictions have been relaxed, and Charles has already attended a ceremony welcoming France’s President Macron to the UK and met health and care workers at a hospital in Gloucester last month.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have also been meeting the public, visiting local businesses close to their Norfolk home.

The royal and Sadiq Khan were sure to keep their distance in a bid to adhere to social guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The royal and Sadiq Khan were sure to keep their distance in a bid to adhere to social guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic

A smiling Prince Charles learned that the Tube network has maintained 50% of services at the height of the outbreak when a third of staff were ill, shielding or self-isolating

A smiling Prince Charles learned that the Tube network has maintained 50% of services at the height of the outbreak when a third of staff were ill, shielding or self-isolating

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan showed Charles around Ashfield House - which is TfL’s main training centre

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan showed Charles around Ashfield House – which is TfL’s main training centre

The royal looks in high spirits as he continues to slowly return to royal engagements as the lockdown restrictions begin to ease. Pictured, with Sadiq Khan

The royal looks in high spirits as he continues to slowly return to royal engagements as the lockdown restrictions begin to ease. Pictured, with Sadiq Khan

Prince Charles uses his signature socially-distant greeting (pictured) as he visits the TFL training centre

Prince Charles uses his signature socially-distant greeting (pictured) as he visits the TFL training centre 

Prince Charles donned a navy blue striped suit for his visit - as he slowly returns to royal duties amid the coronavirus pandemic

Prince Charles donned a navy blue striped suit for his visit – as he slowly returns to royal duties amid the coronavirus pandemic

Yesterday, Charles championed Britain’s rural tourism when he visited celebrity farmer Adam Henson’s farm attraction – and found himself surrounded by piglets.

Charles toured Cotsworld Farm Park in Guiting Power near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire – a rare breed centre visited by 150,000 people a year which opens its doors to the public on Saturday after months of closure due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The heir to the throne was keen to learn how the attraction and a 1,600-acre holding both run by Henson, who co-presents the BBC’s Countryfile programme, were coping during the pandemic which has seen businesses suffering financially.

In a lighter moment the prince was taken into a small field and shown an inquisitive Gloucestershire old spot sow and her energetic piglets, after Henson tempted them over by pouring feed into a trough.

The 71-year-old has been slowly returning to public duties as lockdown restrictions have been relaxed

The 71-year-old has been slowly returning to public duties as lockdown restrictions have been relaxed

Prince Charles was all smiles during his visit to Ashfield House -which has been in operation throughout the pandemic, providing training to station staff

Prince Charles was all smiles during his visit to Ashfield House -which has been in operation throughout the pandemic, providing training to station staff

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan arrives to meet key workers from Transport for London, who have worked throughout the Covid-19 pandemic along with Prince Charles

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan arrives to meet key workers from Transport for London, who have worked throughout the Covid-19 pandemic along with Prince Charles

The Prince of Wales and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan met with key workers - before thanking them for their tireless hard work amid COVID-19

The Prince of Wales and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan met with key workers – before thanking them for their tireless hard work amid COVID-19

Prince of Wales with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (L) meets Dane, Customer Service Supervisor (second right) and other key workers from Transport for London, who have worked throughout the Covid-19 pandemic

Prince of Wales with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (L) meets Dane, Customer Service Supervisor (second right) and other key workers from Transport for London, who have worked throughout the Covid-19 pandemic

The Prince of Wales is greeted by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan as he arrives - but the duo ensure to maintain a 2 metre distance between them

The Prince of Wales is greeted by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan as he arrives – but the duo ensure to maintain a 2 metre distance between them

Sadiq Khan ‘promised to fast track controversial development’


 Richard Desmond today dragged Sadiq Khan into the Westferry planning row, claiming the London Mayor had offered to ‘fast track’ the controversial £1bn development.

The publisher and property developer said he had discussed plans to build 1,500 homes in East London with Mr Khan during a celebration for the Queen’s Birthday at the Albert Hall in April 2018.

Approval for the scheme was given in January this year by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, who is now facing a parliamentary probe over the decision, despite receiving backing from Boris Johnson.

London mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured) reportedly offered to ‘fast track’ the development of the controversial Westferry development in the London Docklands, according to tycoon Richard Desmond 

Mr Desmond (pictured left) claims to have been given this offer by the London mayor during a 2018 meeting for the Queen's birthday celebrations at the the Royal Albert Hall

Mr Desmond (pictured left) claims to have been given this offer by the London mayor during a 2018 meeting for the Queen’s birthday celebrations at the the Royal Albert Hall

Attention has focused on Mr Jenrick’s relationship with Mr Desmond, but now the latter has embroiled Mr Khan in the affair, claiming the idea was discussed in several meetings and via text messages.

Mr Desmond, 68, said: ‘Sadiq told me that if I wanted to look at a denser scheme, as long as I gave him 35% affordable housing he would support it and would fast track it, with no review mechanisms. This is where it all started!’

When approached by MailOnline, Mr Khan said he had no recollection of meeting Mr Desmond at the Queen’s event.

Such is the political fallout over the scheme, that Mr Jenrick is facing calls to resign and a potential investigation to see if he breached the code of conduct for MPs.

He took the decision to approve the development the day before new infrastructure charges came into force which allowed Mr Desmond’s Northern and Shell firm to avoid paying between £30-£50m extra to the local council.

The planning approval for the Westferry development by the Tories is believed to have saved Mr Desmond between £30-£50m in tax payments

The planning approval for the Westferry development by the Tories is believed to have saved Mr Desmond between £30-£50m in tax payments 

Labour has accused the minister of taking the decision following a “glitzy fundraising dinner” with Mr Desmond in November 2019.

However, Mr Desmond said today the project had been started at an earlier social meeting with London’s Mayor.

‘It was Sadiq who approached me when I was with my wife Joy at The Queen’s birthday party at the Royal Albert Hall in April 2018 and said he didn’t think I was fully utilising the Westferry site,’ he declared.

Sources close to the former proprietor of the Daily Express went on to explain that the businessman already had planning permission for his originally planned development at that stage

This approval was given in 2016 by Sir Eddie Lister, now the prime minister’s chief strategic adviser, when he was Mr Johnson’s deputy mayor at City Hall.

Sources said it was Mr Khan’s intervention in 2018 which prompted Mr Desmond to revise his plan and he had numerous meetings with the new mayor’s team, texts between Mr Khan and Mr Desmond and confirmation that the scheme would be approved.

This revised plan was subsequently rejected.

‘Richard had met Sadiq a number of times, including at his office, and he was also Richard’s guest at a table at Buckingham Palace in March 2017 to support the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme’, said the source.

Mr Desmond (pictured) is believed to have met Sadiq Khan a number of times, including at a Buckingham Palace event in 2017

The London mayor (pictured) has also met the tycoon in his office

Mr Desmond (pictured left) claims to have met the London mayor several times, including at a 2017 Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme event in Buckingham Palace

‘The site would have delivered affordable homes, much needed housing, over 1,500 jobs over 10 years and put over £800million into the economy.’

Today the Mayor of London distanced himself from the claims.

His spokesman said: ‘The Mayor has no recollection of meeting Richard Desmond at the Albert Hall.

‘The Westferry application went through the early stage of the GLA planning process following all appropriate rules and guidelines, before being taken over by the Secretary of State.

‘The GLA’s public stage one report makes it clear that the application was unacceptable, particularly its lack of affordable housing.’

Mr Desmond met Mr Jenrick in 2019 at a £900-a-plate Tory fundraising dinner where the pair exchanged numbers and kept in touch.

Under pressure from Labour to explain contact with Mr Desmond, the MP this week released a series of documents and text messages related to the planning application.

In a text to Mr Desmond on November 18 after spending time with him at the fund raising event, Mr Jenrick said: ‘Good to spend time with you tonight Richard. See you again soon I hope.’

Mr Desmond replied: ‘Thanks Robert I really appreciate your text Will call your office tomorrow to arrange Very best.’

Mr Desmond (pictured) met Mr Jenrick in 2019 at a £900-a-plate Tory fundraising dinner where the pair exchanged numbers and kept in touch

Mr Desmond (pictured) met Mr Jenrick in 2019 at a £900-a-plate Tory fundraising dinner where the pair exchanged numbers and kept in touch

In a text two days later regarding the development, Mr Desmond said: ‘We appreciate the speed as we don’t want to give Marxists loads of doe for nothing!

‘We all want to go with the scheme and the social housing we have proposed and spent a month at the Marxist town hall debating, thanks again, all my best Richard.’

Mr Jenrick replied: ‘As Secretary of State it is important not to give any appearance of being influenced by applicants of cases that I may have a role in or to have predetermined them and so I think it is best that we don’t meet until after the matter has been decided, one way of [sic] another – and I can’t provide any advice to you on that, other than to say that I will receive advice from my officials after the general election assuming I remain in office and will consider it carefully in accordance with the rules and guidance.

‘I hope that is okay and we can meet to discuss other matters soon, hopefully on the 19th. Robert.’

Two weeks after the scheme was approved, records from the Electoral Commission show that Mr Desmond personally gave £12,000 to the Conservatives.

The decision has since been reversed after legal action by Tower Hamlets Council, with the local authority saying the “timing of the decision appeared to show bias” by Mr Jenrick.

Labour have now called for all documents involved in the planning row to be made public.   

Coronavirus UK: TfL bosses are NOT issuing fines over masks


The Prime Minister has announced a series of changes to the lockdown in England from July 4.

Here is how the alterations will affect people’s lives:

Do we have to keep to being two metres apart?

No. For people not from the same household it is now ‘one metre-plus’. The ‘plus’ element is what the PM called mitigation – wearing a mask, regularly washing hands, sitting side-by-side rather than face-to-face – if a two-metre distance cannot be kept to.

What other big changes were announced?

As well as reducing the social distancing requirement, Mr Johnson said two households would be able to start meeting indoors so long as the ‘one metre-plus’ rule is observed.

The household you choose to meet up with does not have to be exclusive, unlike in the ‘social bubbles’ announced recently to help ease loneliness.

It means a family could see one set of grandparents on one weekend and see the other on the following weekend, said the PM.

Can we finally hug our relatives?

If you do not live in the same household, the answer to that is still no.

Two households meeting for dinner can sit at the same table but still must not touch and should attempt to uphold the ‘one metre-plus’ rules.

Can we go anywhere else with another household?

It is a resounding ‘yes’ on this front.

Mr Johnson told MPs that restaurants, pubs and ‘self-contained accommodation’ including hotels, B&Bs and campsites can soon reopen, as long as Government guidelines on how to lower the risk of coronavirus transmission are followed.

So can we go on a trip or to the pub with friends in England?

As long as those friends are from only one other household, then you can take a ‘staycation’ trip together or go for a pint.

What will post-lockdown pubs and restaurants be like?

There will be no hanging out at the bar, first of all, with table service being encouraged to reduce the amount of interaction on shared surfaces.

Restaurant, pub and bar managers will also be asked to take customers’ contact details so that, in the event of a local Covid-19 outbreak, they can be traced by the NHS and advised to self-isolate.

While a trip to the pub is back on the cards, clinking glasses with a large group of friends inside is not.

While there is no limit on the size of the two households visiting the watering hole together, more people cannot join in the socialising in a bid to limit the chain of virus transmission.

What else can reopen from July 4?

The PM read out a lengthy list in the Commons of venues and attractions that can now benefit from the lockdown easing.

They include cinemas, museums, art galleries, bingo halls, community centres, hair salons, work canteens, outdoor playgrounds and gyms, as well as indoor attractions at zoos and aquariums.

Places of worship will be able to hold services once again, with weddings back on but numbers capped at 30.

Theatres and concert halls will be allowed to open but will be banned from playing live performances.

Hairdressers and barbers can operate while using use face visors.

And what will remain shut?

Venues where there is ‘close proximity’ interaction will not be permitted to open their doors yet, the PM said.

That includes nightclubs, indoor gyms, soft-play areas, swimming pools, spas, bowling alleys and water parks.

Instead taskforces will work to ensure such businesses can ‘reopen as soon as possible’.

 

Are there any changes to meeting up outside?

Outside restrictions remain largely the same, except that the two households now permitted to meet inside are welcome to do the same at the park, with no limit on the size of their gathering.

Groups not from the same household meeting up outside continue to be restricted to a maximum of six.

Should we continue to work from home?

While the Government has not talked up ending the working from home routine that thousands of office staff have adopted since March, the list of steps that could be taken to reduce virus transmission risk might encourage employers to start calling workers back in.

Mr Johnson said ‘reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces, improving ventilation, using protective screens and face coverings’ could all be deployed, on top of keeping a metre away from each other. He also suggested shift patterns could be changed so staff work in set teams.

Is this the end of lockdown, then?

Not fully. There are still restrictions in place but it is a significant easing and the new measures will allow people to socialise more than they have in months.

But the PM warned that local lockdowns, and even a clampdown affecting the whole country, could still be required if major Covid outbreaks occur.

Are these changes being brought in for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

The devolved administrations ‘hold responsibility for their own lockdown restrictions’, Mr Johnson said on Tuesday, and would proceed ‘on their own judgment’.

Following the PM’s announcement, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told reporters the two-metre rule on social distancing would remain in place but that the Scottish Government had asked its scientific advisory group to review the measure.

In Northern Ireland, up to six people as of Tuesday are able to meet indoors in what the executive called a ‘milestone’ for the region’s recovery.

Wales allowed shops and places of worship to open this week, along with the housing market, but First Minister Mark Drakeford has said his administration will not end its five-mile restriction on travel and allow holidaymakers to return until next month.