The Guardian

Monday briefing: MPs sound alarm on holidays abroad |

Top story: ‘Reduce risk of third wave’

Good morning and welcome to this Monday briefing with me, Alison Rourke.

Don’t holiday abroad even when it’s legal to do so is the recommendation of the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus. In a report out today, the group says the government “should discourage all international leisure travel to prevent the importation of new variants into the UK, in order to reduce the risk of a third wave and further lockdowns”. Ministers have confirmed that a traffic light system is to be put in place listing different rules regarding quarantine of returning travellers, the details of which are “coming shortly”, according to the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab. The group’s vice-chair, SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitford, said MPs had heard the UK’s border management was “acting more like a sieve than a shield” against Covid, and that the government must recognise that the premature reopening of international travel contributed to the second wave.

In other coronavirus news, the NHS will face an exodus of doctors after the pandemic, according to a new British Medical Association survey, which blamed exhaustion and concerns over mental health. The 30-person limit on those who can attend funerals in England is to be lifted later this month, after which capacity will be determined by how many people can be accommodated while safely maintaining social distancing. Thousands turned out in Liverpool yesterday for the first “near-normal” concert since Covid began. All had agreed to act as guinea pigs for scientists studying the safety of mass events as part of the government’s event research programme. You can read a review of the gig, including Blossoms, the Lathums and Zuzu, here. And stay up to date with all our coronavirus news with the live blog here.

PM under pressure – Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, has broken ranks and called for Boris Johnson to resign if he is found to have breached ministerial rules over the refurbishment of a Downing Street flat. It comes amid new claims that undeclared donations have been sought to fund the prime minister’s lifestyle. Ross said the PM should “of course” quit if he is found to have breached the code by failing to be honest about cash payments from a Conservative donor sought to redecorate his official residence. It won’t help efforts by the party to try to move on from the controversy ahead of local elections across the UK on Thursday.

Israel festival crush – A British man has been named as one of the victims of Friday’s deadly tragedy at the Lag Ba’Omer festival in northern Israel. Moshe Bergman, 24, from Salford, Manchester, had been in the country to train to be a rabbi in Jerusalem. He had been living in the city for two years and had married 18 months ago.

For sale – The prime location of Topshop’s Oxford Street store has gone on sale for as much as £420m in the latest step in the dismantling of Sir Philip Green’s retail empire. A US property investment bank, Eastdil Secured, is seeking buyers for the site after Green’s company, Arcadia, collapsed into administration in November.

‘It’s everywhere’ – Singer Billie Eilish has spoken about the prevalence of sexual exploitation of minors in an interview about her new single, Your Power, which addresses an abusive relationship between a minor and an older person. Eilish, 19, told Vogue “it’s everywhere” and that all her peers had experienced some sort of sexual impropriety. “I don’t know one girl or woman who hasn’t had a weird experience or a really bad experience,” she said. “And men too – young boys are taken advantage of constantly.”

Billie Eilish on Vogue magazine’s June 2021 cover
Billie Eilish on Vogue’s June 2021 magazine cover. Sexual exploitation of minors is ‘everywhere’, she says. Photograph: Craig McDean/Vogue/Conde Nast

Out on a limb – Adrian Edmonson, star of The Young Ones and Bottom, found himself trapped on his window ledge yesterday, having shut himself out while cleaning. The comedian said he had to ask people passing by to find help and that despite the precarious position, the fire brigade “didn’t snigger too much”. It prompted some of his 320,00-plus social media followers to share their own Bank Holiday weekend mishaps.

Today in Focus podcast: Why have sperm counts more than halved in the past 40 years?

Shanna Swan, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at Mount Sinai school of medicine in New York City, talks to Rachel Humphreys about declining fertility in men. Over the past 40 years, average sperm counts among western men have more than halved.

Today in Focus

why have sperm counts more than halved in the past 40 years

Lunchtime read: Jean Dubuffet’s war against good taste

He was the inventor of “art brut” who rebelled against his parents, his teachers and then art itself with the crude, obscene and extraordinary. In 1944, newly liberated Paris was sorely provoked by the antics of Jean Dubuffet. Even as the last shots of war were fired, he was creating newspaper collages bearing the fragmentary graffiti messages he saw in the streets. In the next couple of years, he unveiled shapeless, childlike paintings that abandoned all pretence at skill … and unleashed something strikingly new. As Jonathan Jones writes ahead of Dubuffet’s Brutal Beauty exhibition (at the Barbican from 17 May), the impact of his provocative paintings – often culled from graffiti – can still be seen today.

Jean Dubuffet’s artwork Vicissitudes, from 1977
Graffiti power: Jean Dubuffet’s Vicissitudes, from 1977. Photograph: Jean Dubuffet/© 2021 ADAGP, Paris/DACS, London © Tate


Gary Neville has urged the Glazer family to sell Manchester United after fans invaded Old Trafford and their protest caused the postponement of Sunday’s Premier League game against Liverpool. Gareth Bale scored three and Son Heung-min one excellent goal from 18 yards as Tottenham cruised to a 4-0 win against Sheffield United, while goals from Mohamed Elneny and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw Arsenal ease to a 2-0 win at Newcastle. Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix will surely silence anyone who was entertaining even fleeting doubts as to his motivation to take another Formula One world title. An emotional Emma Hayes said her Chelsea team simply “don’t want to lose” after they became the third club in 20 years to reach the Women’s Champions League final, having lost the first leg of the semi-final.

Mark Selby threatened to squeeze the life out of Shaun Murphy as he seized the advantage in the second session of their World Snooker Championship final at the Crucible. Frankie Dettori, on Mother Earth, rode his 20th British Classic winner in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket and then celebrated as if it were the first. Geraint Thomas claimed overall victory at the Tour de Romandie as Remi Cavagna won the closing time trial in Fribourg. And boxer Félix Verdejo has turned himself in to federal agents in the US to face charges just hours after authorities identified the body of a dead woman as a 27-year-old believed to be pregnant with his child.


Wealthy individuals went on an unprecedented buying spree last year, snapping up trophy UK assets – including the Ritz hotel, Charlton Athletic football club and the 170-year-old suit maker Moss Bros – worth almost £1bn. High net worth individuals – those with assets of more than £22m ($30m) – led 27 private buyout deals worth a combined £958m, according to research by the private wealth law firm Boodle Hatfield. The value of UK buyout deals by these multimillionaires increased by 626%, compared with 2019, as “depressed valuations at the start of the Covid crisis proved to be a once-in-a-decade opportunity”, Kyra Motley, a partner at Boodle Hatfield, said.

The pound is buying $1.38 and €1.15.

The papers

The Guardian’s front page, Monday 3 May 2021

The Guardian splashes with “Senior Tory says Johnson should quit if he broke donation rules” and also features a prominent picture of the pitch invasion at Old Trafford. The Telegraph also carries a large picture of the pitch invasion, but leads with “Hopes for Nazanin release deal raised”, reporting the family of the jailed British-Iranian “hail reports of £400m accord to free her as ‘good sign’”. You can read our story here of the foreign secretary saying it’s “difficult to argue against” the suggestion Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held as a state hostage.

The Times features flares on the pitch at Old Trafford as about 200 people invaded the ground (“Big match called off as protesters invade pitch”), but saves its splash for “social distancing to be scrapped”, reporting that pubs, restaurants and theatres can fully reopen from 21 June. The Express says “We’re on the ‘last lap’ in the Covid battle”. The i splashes with “Fans’ revolt throws game into disarray”. The Mail leads with its campaign to help create a memorial fund for Britain’s Covid victims, saying it is off to a good start with £65,000 donated in two days. Its headline is: “A triumph for decency”. The Mirror splashes with “Fever pitch” and the investigation launched by Manchester police into the incident.

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