UK Covid live news: minister suggests ‘totally hopeless’ text does not represent Johnson’s considered view of Hancock

Good morning. Last night the government comfortably won the vote on delaying the lifting of remaining Covid restrictions in England very comfortably. But 49 Conservative MPs voted against the government, with another two acting as tellers. Six Labour MPs and five DUP MPs voted against the government too. It was the second biggest rebellion Boris Johnson has suffered on Covid, beaten only by the 55 Tory MPs voting against the government on the tiering system (remember that?) in December last year.

This morning Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has said that a new report suggesting that Covid cases are doubling in England every 11 days justifies the government’s decision. He said:

These findings highlight the stark context in which we took the difficult decision to delay Step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown.

Cases are now rising, but thanks to our incredible vaccination programme and enhanced response package including surge testing, we have the tools to curb the spread of this virus.

We all must hold our nerve that little bit longer as our vaccine rollout continues.

The research is from Imperial College London’s REACT study. You can read an Imperial College summary here, the full report here (pdf) and a story about it here.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: The ONS publishes a report on Covid positivity after vaccination, and a report on the impact of Covid on students.

10.30am: Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, makes a Commons statement on the free trade deal with Australia

12pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, takes questions in the Scottish parliament.

12pm: Downing Street lobby briefing.

Lunchtime: Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, and Anneliese Dodds, the party chair, launch the party’s policy review.

1.30pm: Matt Hancock, the health secretary, gives a speech to the NHS Confederation conference; at 2pm Prof Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, will speak.

2pm: Public Health England publishes its weekly Covid surveillance report.

Politics Live has been a mix of Covid and non-Covid news recently, and that is likely to be the case today. For global coronavirus developments, do read our global live blog. It’s here.

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