Three giant steps back to normal life: Boris Johnson tries to mount a political ...

Boris Johnson today tries to mount a political fightback following weeks of turmoil by appealing directly to voters with a package of 'real issue' policies on lifting the lockdown and tackling crime.

The Prime Minister – who has been battered by criticism over his Downing Street flat renovations – promises to remove the limit on mourners at funerals from May 17, scrap the 'metre plus' social distancing rule from June 21, and, within days, issue the first list of 'green' countries that holidaymakers can visit without quarantine.

In addition, he uses an article for today's Mail on Sunday to promise a crackdown on crime, including tougher measures to deal with drug gangs and street violence, and a new task force to counter a surge in dognapping. Mr Johnson also writes that given the 'freedoms' made possible by the vaccine rollout, 'I have absolutely no doubt that our economy will bounce back strongly'.

He adds: 'What I do know is that safety and security on our streets is absolutely critical for sustained investment and economic growth. That is why we must continue to use this moment to drive home our advantage – take out the gangsters and the misery they cause – and make our streets safe from Covid, and safe from crime.'

The Prime Minister is set to issue the first list of 'green' countries that holidaymakers can visit without quarantine within days (Greece pictured)

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The Prime Minister is set to issue the first list of 'green' countries that holidaymakers can visit without quarantine within days (Greece pictured)

His comments come after weeks of rows over 'Flatgate', stories about lobbying sleaze and claims – which he denies – that he made insensitive remarks about the Covid death toll. Tory strategists hope that the headlines will be dismissed by voters in this week's local elections as 'Westminster bubble' issues that do not affect their daily lives.

One of the most welcome moves in Mr Johnson's fightback package will be scrapping the legal limit of 30 mourners at funerals from May 17.

Venues will instead be able to set their own capacity limits consistent with the 'metre plus' social distancing rule. It will apply to both indoor and outdoor services. The distancing rule will itself be dropped from June 21, heralding the advent of a near-normal summer.

A source said: 'We will be able to go pretty far on abolishing social distancing.' However, businesses will be encouraged to keep in place some measures, such as glass screens.

Boris Johnson - who has been battered by criticism over his Downing Street flat renovations – promises to remove the limit on mourners at funerals from May 17

Boris Johnson - who has been battered by criticism over his Downing Street flat renovations – promises to remove the limit on mourners at funerals from May 17

It has not yet been decided whether masks will be retained in certain settings, while some restrictions might be kept 'in reserve' in case there is a serious third wave of infections next winter, despite the success of the vaccination programme.

The list of 'green' countries which British citizens can fly to and from after May 17 is expected to be announced as early as Friday, and will be reviewed every three weeks.

According to one source, Portugal is 'on the cusp' of being included. A new Government slogan will tell potential holidaymakers: 'Travel safely, plan ahead.'

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Meanwhile, Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland will set up the pet theft task force to tackle the surge in the number of dogs being stolen since last year's lockdown.

Mr Johnson is also launching a drive to stem what he describes as the 'contagion' of drug gangs using so-called county lines networks to spread 'misery'.

The Prime Minister is trying to regain the political initiative after three separate investigations were launched into the No 10 refurbishments by the Electoral Commission, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case and Lord Geidt, the new adviser on ministerial interests.

It is also hoped that the PM will scrap the 'metre plus' social distancing rule from June 21 as he mounts a political fightback following weeks of turmoil

It is also hoped that the PM will scrap the 'metre plus' social distancing rule from June 21 as he mounts a political fightback following weeks of turmoil

Last night, the Prime Minister faced fresh questions over his financial affairs after The Mail on Sunday was told that Tory donors had been asked if they would help the Prime Minister to cover the cost of his childcare. A senior Conservative source told this newspaper that one donor had reacted by saying: 'Why should I have to pay for his baby's a*** to be wiped?'

There were similar claims that Tory bankrollers were asked to cover the cost of a personal trainer for Mr Johnson. No 10 did not deny yesterday that

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