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The Breakfast Briefing: Care homes crisis, Boris could miss PMQs - and a Priti big deal

The Breakfast Briefing: Care homes crisis, Boris could miss PMQs - and a Priti big deal
3 min read

Your morning guide to what’s moving in Westminster, from PolHome acting editor Matt Honeycombe-Foster

Boris Johnson may be back at it, but it seems the Prime Minister is keen to let Dominic Raab sweat it out one more time.
Despite saying he’s “fine”, Downing Street is being rather coy about whether the PM will face off against Labour’s Keir Starmer at the dispatch box later, in the first PMQs clash since Johnson returned from his own fight with coronavirus.
The pair will, however, find time for a phone call at 1.30pm, and you can expect Sir Keir to hammer home the point that Britain’s care homes are now in crisis.
The true extent of that crisis will, of course, become much clearer when the Government begins publishing daily figures on deaths in care homes and other non-hospital settings, as promised by Matt Hancock at last night’s Number 10 briefing.
The Office for National Statistics numbers published yesterday were devastating enough, with 4,343 people losing their lives in care homes because of Covid-19 in just two weeks. Hancock last night significantly increased eligibility for coronavirus testing in care homes, with  asymptomatic residents and staff now able to be checked.

An ominous chart accompanying last night’s Downing Street briefing, including all fatalities from the disease and not just those in hopsitals, showed Britain is now on track for one of Europe’s worst coronavirus death tolls, significantly raising the stakes as ministers weigh up whether to ease lockdown measures.
On that front, Number 10 was yesterday guiding hacks away from any big decision at Thursday’s Cabinet meeting - although there appeared to be some gentle loosening with shops now told they can run click and collect services if social distancing guidance is being followed.
Some things never change, of course. No matter how grave the national crisis, you can always rely on political types for a bit of internal drama - and there are two non-coronavirus stories to watch out for today.
First, Priti Patel is up before the Home Affairs Committee at 10.30am and, with impeccable timing, The Telegraph reports that the Home Secretary has been cleared by an internal Whitehall probe that looked into bullying allegations against her. The findings haven’t yet been made public (Labour has been demanding just that and union the FDA is not impressed with the leak) but the headlines alone will give Patel a spring in her step as she faces off against committee chair Yvette Cooper.
Meanwhile, there’s big news in Labour land as GMB general secretary Tim Roache abruptly quit just a year into his second term. The union, which boasts 620,000 members and is a power player in Labour internal politics, said Roache had stepped down on Wednesday after “suffering with ill health for some time”. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

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