Newslinks for Wednesday 15th July 2020

15 Jul

China threatens to make British companies pay for Huawei ban

“Beijing has threatened retaliation against British companies in China, hinting that Boris Johnson had failed the “litmus test” for future trade deals after blocking Huawei from 5G networks. Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, announced yesterday that telecoms companies would be barred from buying Huawei equipment from January next year. The Chinese company’s technology will be stripped out of the 5G network entirely by 2027. The announcement, which threatens Mr Johnson’s manifesto promise to supply superfast broadband to every home and business across the country by 2025, prompted a warning from Beijing that Britain should expect retaliation.” – The Times

Sunak orders urgent review of capital gains tax…

“The chancellor has ordered a review of capital gains tax that could result in the Treasury clawing back billions of pounds from homeowners and investors to help to pay for the coronavirus outbreak. Rishi Sunak turned his attention to the levy as the independent budget watchdog warned that he would need to raise taxes to bring the public finances back under control. Mr Sunak said last week that he was prepared to take difficult decisions after spending £188 billion on tackling the virus and mitigating its economic damage since March.” – The Times

… as unemployment is predicted to rise by 1.3 million when furlough ends

“About 15 per cent of furloughed workers will lose their jobs when the scheme ends, the Office for Budget Responsibility predicted yesterday, backing up an earlier gloomy forecast from the Bank of England that 1.3 million people would be added to the dole queues. The OBR has said that higher taxes or spending cuts totalling as much as £60 billion will be needed to fix the budget deficit deal with the legacy of debt from the coronavirus crisis.” – The Times

Boris Johnson fails to stave off Huawei rebellion

“Boris Johnson has failed to head off a Tory rebellion over Huawei despite banning the buying of new equipment from the Chinese telecoms firm from January and pledging to strip it from Britain’s 5G network by 2027. A group of Conservative MPs who have been putting pressure on the Government to ban Huawei will table a series of amendments when legislation comes to Parliament in the autumn to try and win further concessions. Concerns have been raised that telecoms companies will buy cheap Huawei equipment by January and continue to install it for years, as well as fears about the exclusion of 3G and 4G from the ban.” Daily Telegraph

  • Downing Street believed it had split the Tory rebel group – FT
  • “This is about US trade policy”, says Huawei’s UK spokesman – Daily Telegraph
  • BT to keep Huawei parts in grid for 999 services – The Times
  • Trump signs Hong Kong act clearing the way for China sanctions – FT

Con Coughlin: We must stand with the free world again China

“In the end, the Government did not have any other realistic option than to cancel the continued involvement of the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei in developing Britain’s 5G network. A combination of the Trump administration’s decision in May to deny Huawei access to vital electronic components, together with the mounting unease among Conservative backbench MPs over Beijing’s increasingly autocratic conduct, meant that Huawei’s fate had been sealed long before Oliver Dowden, the Digital Secretary, made his Commons statement today. Boris Johnson’s decision, in January, to allow Huawei limited access to Britain’s 5G system was always going to be a risky call”. – Daily Telegraph

Face masks in all public places under consideration…

“Face coverings could soon be recommended in all public places including offices and other workplaces after ministers introduced new laws forcing people to wear them in shops, the Telegraph has learnt. Officials have begun private talks with groups representing major employers amid growing fears within Government over the prospect of a second wave of covid infections in the autumn. The talks came as a council in Lancashire became the first to order face coverings to be worn in all workplaces and enclosed public spaces following a rise in coronavirus infections.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Truss and Gove “cannot hide disagreement on facemasks” – The Times
  • Brits could be made to wear face masks in shops until 2021 unless Covid-19 vaccine is found – The Sun
  • There’s no guarantee a vaccine will last a lifetime – antibodies are only part of the story – Daily Telegraph
Comment:

… as Johnson expected to unveil “road map” for Britain on Friday

“Face masks may soon have to be worn in all public places including offices and other workplaces as the government prepares to unveil its road map for getting millions back to their desks. Officials are reported to have begun private talks with major employers as ministers plan on getting people to return to work without risking a second wave of coronavirus infections in the autumn. On Friday Boris Johnson will set out his plans to get Britain back to work as he wants to provide a welcome boost to the struggling shops, bars and restaurants in town and city centres that would be far more frequently used if millions of people weren’t still working from home.” – Daily Mail

  • Continued Leicester lockdown “cannot be justified”, says Mayor – Leicestershire Live
  • New measures introduced in Blackburn with Darwen… – BBC
  • … and its Council is looking at the “smart way of locking down” – Sky News

Covid-19 outbreaks up to 20 times more likely in large care homes, according to study

“Coronavirus outbreaks are up to 20 times more likely in large care homes, according to a major study seen by the Guardian, prompting calls to divide them into “bubbles” before any second wave hits. In research that will increase scrutiny of private care chains, which often operate the largest facilities, NHS Lothian and Edinburgh University found the likelihood of infection getting into a home tripled with every additional 20 beds. It comes amid pressure on ministers to draw up stricter guidelines to prevent further outbreaks in care homes.” – The Guardian

UK ministers prepare for civil servants to return to offices

“UK ministers are preparing the ground for thousands of civil servants to return to their offices in the coming weeks as part of a broader attempt to protect England’s city centres from economic collapse. Boris Johnson has in recent days urged people to “go back to work” so long as it is safe — even though the official government advice is for people to work from home if possible. The prime minister has grown increasingly concerned about the damage to cafés, shops and other businesses in urban centres with so many people staying away. New economic data on Tuesday showed a weaker than expected rebound from the coronavirus lockdown.” – FT

Braverman criticised for shunning probe into SFO head

“Lawyers, opposition politicians and anti-corruption groups have criticised Suella Braverman, the UK attorney-general, for staying out of an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into the conduct of its own director despite overseeing the agency. The SFO announced it would review the behaviour of Lisa Osofsky after it emerged on Monday that a judge had strongly criticised her links to an agent acting for potential suspects in an investigation of alleged corruption in Iraq by employees of Monaco-based oil and gas consultancy Unaoil.” – FT

Whittingdale calls the Facebook-Google duopoly an “existential threat”

“The media minister warned yesterday of “profound consequences to democracy” if newspapers and broadcasters are no longer viable because Facebook and Google have scooped up their advertising revenues. John Whittingdale said that the digital platforms “do not employ a single journalist” yet receive a growing share of online advertising revenues that publishers need to survive. The Facebook-Google duopoly poses an “existential threat” to newspapers and the government must ensure there is no “abuse of the dominant position”.” – The Times

Underfunded social care is a stain on Britain, MPs told

“The architect of David Cameron’s social care reforms has told MPs that the sector’s lack of funding is a “stain on the nation”. Sir Andrew Dilnot said bills for personal care should be capped at £45,000, beyond which a local authority would pay all the costs of looking after someone in residential care or in their own home. This is well below the £72,000 limit that Mr Cameron had proposed, although his planned reforms were never implemented.” – The Times

Government car park sale could free land for 110,000 new homes

“Selling 15 per cent of parking space owned by the government could raise £6 billion and free land for 110,000 new homes, a study has found. The first detailed mapping of all surface car parks in England — those that are not multi-storey — shows that there are 103,000 in total, 35,000 of which are owned by the public sector. Some of that is freehold and some is sub-let for peppercorn rents. Many of the car parks close to town centres, shops and railway stations could be developed into desirable places to live”. – The Times

BBC journalists are addicted to “toxic” Twitter, bosses say

“BBC journalists are becoming addicted to Twitter amid fears their desire to ‘go viral’ is undermining impartiality rules, the corporations head of standards said yesterday. David Jordan said journalists have sometimes failed to uphold BBC guidelines on social media which has become ‘toxic’. Some journalists have been disciplined by senior staff over their use of social media amid complaints they have ‘overstepped the mark’. A review commissioned by the BBC on how reporters and media organisations use online websites is expected within months.” – Daily Mail

News in brief:

Newslinks for Tuesday 14th July 2020

14 Jul

Wear mask in shops or face a £100 fine

“Facemasks will become compulsory in shops from a week on Friday, with £100 fines for those who do not cover up. Boris Johnson brought an end to days of confusion last night by announcing that police would get “tools of enforcement” as scientific evidence on the potential benefits of masks increased. Shops will not be expected to enforce the measures themselves. Ministers will make wearing masks compulsory under public health powers already used on public transport. Children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt. Earlier Mr Johnson said that masks “have a great deal of value in confined spaces where you’re coming into contact with people you don’t normally meet.” – The Times

  • Shoppers must wear face masks – Daily Telegraph
  • Public must mask-up – Daily Mail
  • Public told to wear masks in shops – FT
  • Public split on wearing face cover – The Times
  • Queen and Attenborough may be asked to set face mask example – The Times
  • Shoppers are coming back to the high street – The Times
More virus news
  • Police hunt for infected picker who fled farm – The Times
  • Most too scared to fly for fear of infection – The Times
  • Where the latest cases have spread – The Times
  • Second Covid wave ‘could see twice as many deaths’ – Daily Telegraph
  • UK experts fear up to 120,000 Covid-19 deaths this winter – The Guardian
  • Hancock promises ‘biggest flu vaccination programme in history’ this winter – The Independent
  • California back in lockdown – The Times
Comment
>Today:

China dispute 1) Tory backlash at seven-year wait to scrap Huawei 5G

“The prime minister will hold a meeting of the National Security Council, which is expected to agree that telecoms companies will be barred from buying new Huawei equipment from January next year. However, under plans that will be considered by ministers today, the Chinese company’s technology will not be entirely removed from the 5G network until 2027. Sir Iain Duncan Smith described the delay as “unacceptable” and has called for Huawei to be removed from the network by 2025. In a letter to Mr Johnson, ten Tory MPs warned against “unreasonable delay”. – The Times

  • Johnson to bow to pressure with Huawei 5G ban next year – Daily Telegraph
  • BT sounds alarm over prospect of UK ban on Huawei – FT
  • U-turn fails to satisfy rebels – The Guardian
  • Britain to confront China with new carrier – The Times
  • Inflation rise warning in trade war with China – The Times
Comment

China dispute 2) Hong Kong migration to UK could hit 200,000

“About 200,000 Hong Kong citizens with British passports could come to live in the UK over the next five years, according to internal Foreign Office estimates, one of the biggest non-European migrations into Britain in recent times. Dominic Raab, foreign secretary, this month confirmed that Britain would give a “route to citizenship” to around 3m Hong Kong citizens with rights to “British National Overseas” passports, in response to China’s security crackdown on the territory. The offer infuriated Beijing but was warmly welcomed by MPs from all parties at Westminster, despite the recent heated debate in Britain about immigration. The issue of “border control” was one of the key factors in the 2016 Brexit referendum.” – FT

Brexit 1) Patel outlines post-Brexit immigration rules

“Persistent pickpockets and shoplifters will be deported under a post-Brexit immigration policy that will make it easier to get rid of EU criminals. From January, ministers will have the power to exclude or remove foreign offenders who are repeatedly convicted of low-level crimes such as theft as well as those receiving a sentence of 12 months or more. The policy will also apply to migrants from the EU who have been given settled status to stay after Brexit. The rules, announced yesterday, are part of a new immigration system that will treat EU citizens in broadly the same way as those who come from outside the bloc.” – The Times

  • Row erupts over exclusion of social care workers from health visa – Daily Telegraph
  • Post-Brexit visa rules exclude low-paid foreigners – Daily Mail
  • Post-Brexit border checks to cost businesses £13 billion – The Times
Comment
>Yesterday:

Brexit 2) Sturgeon accuses Johnson of power grab with new trade bill

“Boris Johnson is facing a clash with Nicola Sturgeon over plans to force the devolved administrations to accept Westminster’s standards on food, the environment and animal welfare. The government will publish legislation on Thursday to underpin an “internal market” in the UK when the Brexit transition period ends on December 31. It includes a “mutual recognition” regime designed to ensure that goods flow freely within the UK even if Scotland or Wales choose to impose their own standards. The white paper means that the devolved nations must continue to accept goods and services from England.” – The Times

  • Johnson risks a disunited UK over state aid clash – FT
Comment

Sylvester: Failing Grayling is the wrong man for the job

“It’s like replacing James Bond with Johnny English. The prime minister’s decision to make Chris Grayling chairman of the powerful intelligence and security committee (ISC) has been greeted with ridicule in parliament and raised eyebrows in Whitehall. As a cabinet minister Mr Grayling was constantly doing the political equivalent of getting his tie stuck in the sushi conveyor belt or accidentally blowing up his fellow agents. There was the ferry company with no ferries that was given a contract in the event of a no-deal Brexit and the disastrous privatisation of the probation service that had to be reversed.” – The Times

Comment
  • Sunak’s ascent not assured, Robert Shrimsley – FT

Labour MPs ‘silenced’ over antisemitism report

“Opposition MPs were told not to speak out and “prejudice” the investigation into antisemitism in the party last night as Sir Keir Starmer confirmed that he had received the Equalities and Human Rights Commission’s draft report. The watchdog has sent its findings after a year-long inquiry. The Times understands that Labour received the report last week and that it is expected to become public in the first week of August. In an internal email David Evans, the party’s general secretary, warned MPs not to comment because they could prejudice party interests and the final outcome.” – The Times

Moore: Time for a white-haired revolt against the BBC

“With due apologies to readers whom this may annoy, I have always been against free TV licences for the over-75s. They began life as a transparent electoral bribe by Gordon Brown. There was never a good reason why all old people (as opposed to poor old people) should get special treatment. My main objection, however, is that the period of free licences let the BBC feel even freer than usual to ignore the voice of the old. If they’re not paying, it said to itself, what does it matter if they complain? Now that it desperately needs the money of the over-75s, it will have to listen a bit harder.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

Newslinks for Monday 13th July 2020

13 Jul

Hertfordshire farm locks down after 73 workers test positive for Coronavirus

“The entire workforce of a farm in Herefordshire has been quarantined after 73 employees tested positive for coronavirus, leading to concern that a resurgence of cases is imminent. Local authorities told all 200 vegetable pickers and packers at the family-run farm AS Green and Co that they could not leave while widespread testing for staff is arranged. Herefordshire is said to be the first place in the UK to experience an outbreak of this kind, but health officials claim it was “not unexpected” given the close quarters working conditions and “global trend” of large food producers experiencing outbreaks.” – The Times

  • Police guard the exits of vegetable farm – Daily Mail
  • Local lockdowns are being dealt with “swiftly and silently”, says Hancock – Daily Telegraph
  • Over 100 flare-ups are being handled per week – Daily Mail

Hancock: By acting collectively to test and trace, we will keep Covid cornered

“It has been a real thrill to see so many of the experiences that brighten our lives returning to the UK over the past few weeks. First shops, then pubs, haircuts and restaurants, and now we’ve been able to announce that gyms, swimming pools, sports facilities and outdoor theatres will soon be able to open. This careful restoration of our national life has only been possible due to our shared success in slowing the spread of this virus. We protected the NHS in the peak. And now we can take more targeted local action and less national lockdown, to restore the freedom of the majority while controlling the virus wherever we can find it.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today:

Gove: Wearing a face mask shouldn’t be compulsory

“Michael Gove has spoken out against rules that would make wearing facemasks in shops mandatory, apparently putting himself at odds with government policy. Ministers are considering changes in England within weeks but Mr Gove said “it’s always better to trust people’s common sense”. When asked if face coverings should be compulsory to help to slow the spread of Covid-19, the Cabinet Office minister told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One: “I don’t think mandatory, no.” But he did say that wearing them in enclosed public spaces was “basic good manners, courtesy, consideration” and urged people to do so.” – The Times

  • State-owned factories have capacity to deliver five million face coverings a week – Daily Mail
  • Immunity to Covid-19 may be lost in just a few months – Daily Mail
  • UK has “second-worst record” for healthcare worker deaths – FT
  • Theatres must embrace tech, warns Government cultural commissioner – The Times
  • “Sexist” beauty salon rules mean reopening might not be worth it – Daily Telegraph
>Yesterday

Increase in end-of-life cases at care homes

“Almost 8,000 more people than usual have died at home since the start of May, amid warnings that patients are too scared to go to hospital and struggling to get the support they need. Between May 2 and June 26, 18,263 deaths were recorded in private homes, 42 per cent higher than the average over the past five years. Of these deaths, 690 were due to Covid-19. Deaths in hospitals were 2,192 lower than the five-year average, despite almost 9,000 hospital Covid deaths. GPs have written more than double the usual amount of prescriptions for some drugs used in end-of-life care, according to analysis by The Times“. – The Times

  • Coronavirus antibody treatment could protect elderly – The Times
  • Coronavirus survives in the air for more than an hour, says SAGE expert – Daily Telegraph

Government to launch £93 million information campaign today for post-Brexit travel

“Millions of Britons whose passports are due to expire in the next year are being urged to apply for a new one now, as part of a stepping up of efforts to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period. Holidaymakers travelling to popular European destinations from Jan 1 will be required to have six months validity on their travel documents, which is likely to cause a stampede of renewals at UK passport offices. It’s estimated that some five million UK citizens have passports which are valid for less than a year, meaning they should act now in order to travel in the new year. Those who do not renew in time will “not be able to travel to most EU countries” as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Britain risks losing over £731 million of state aid, caution councils – FT

Patel 1) Thugs who assault police or emergency service workers should face longer jail time

“Thugs who assault police or other emergency service workers should face longer in jail, Priti Patel says today. Writing exclusively for the Daily Mail, the Home Secretary reveals details of plans to double the maximum sentence for criminals convicted of attacking 999 staff. She will today launch a review that recommends increasing the maximum jail term to two years, fulfilling a commitment in last year’s Conservative election manifesto. Miss Patel highlights recent shocking cases of disorder in which anarchists hijacked a Black Lives Matter protest in Westminster last month and far-Right thugs went on the rampage. ‘A minority of despicable individuals still seem to think they can treat emergency services workers as punchbags,’ the Home Secretary writes.” – Daily Mail

Patel 2) Home Secretary to detail post-Brexit immigration plans today

“The home secretary is to unveil further detail on the future of immigration in the UK on Monday in an attempt to prepare businesses and organisations for the biggest overhaul of the system in decades. The Home Office has previously revealed the core principles behind the forthcoming points-based system, which is meant to be introduced when the transition period from leaving the European Union ends on 1 January. Under the system, UK borders will be closed to so-called non-skilled workers and applicants will be have to show a greater understanding of English. Applicants must also have a job offer with a minimum salary of £25,600 a year, with a few exceptions. But the most significant change is the end of freedom of movement for EU nationals, who will be treated equally to arrivals from outside the bloc.” – The Guardian

Patel 3) Britain and France join forces to stop Channel illegal migrant crossings

“Priti Patel and her French counterpart have signed an agreement to create a “joint intelligence cell” to tackle migrants crossing the Channel. The home secretary met Gérald Darmanin, the French interior minister, to discuss intelligence sharing. Yesterday the authorities in France prevented about 200 migrants from crossing the Dover Strait and the Home Office said that Britain intercepted almost as many. A search and rescue operation was launched as Border Force and agencies including the Coastguard and Kent police responded to several incidents off the British coast.” – The Times

  • Foreign crime gang boss wins deportation battle with Home Secretary – Daily Telegraph
  • Closed borders leave 200,000 merchant sailors stuck at sea – The Times

Hunt: We Tories must keep our word – and fix the social care crisis now

“Ending the crisis in social care has been a long-held ambition of those who enter Downing Street from whichever party – and was certainly one of mine as health secretary. But coronavirus has removed any possible excuse for the delay, as it has brutally exposed the fragility of the sector – alongside the bravery and service of those who work in it. As we grasp the nettle of social care reform and prepare for a second wave, we must learn the lessons of recent months. When the peak of the pandemic approached and NHS beds were desperately needed, vulnerable people were discharged from hospitals into care homes without proper testing.” – The Guardian

Johnson “sets up clash with Scotland and Wales over control of state aid”

“Boris Johnson’s government is planning to withhold power to control state aid from the UK’s devolved nations when the Brexit transition ends, in a move that will outrage Scotland and Wales. The state aid proposal, which would give Westminster statutory powers to control policies for the entire UK, is expected to appear in a bill this autumn laying the legal foundations of a new internal market, according to two people familiar with the plans. The legislation would further fuel accusations in Edinburgh and Cardiff — which insist that industrial subsidies are a local matter — of a post-Brexit “power grab” by London.” – FT

Trump aide flies to Europe for Huawei crisis talks

“President Trump’s national security adviser flies into Paris today for talks on China, heaping more pressure on Boris Johnson to strip Huawei from Britain’s 5G network. Robert O’Brien will be in France for three days, during which Sir Mark Sedwill, Britain’s most senior security official, will travel to meet him. The visit comes as the prime minister prepares to chair the National Security Council (NSC) tomorrow where he is expected to finalise a U-turn on Huawei’s participation in the network.” – The Times 

  • UK turns to “Five Eyes” to find Huawei alternative – FT

Karl McCartney, the Tory MP, threatens legal action against Clive Betts of Labour

“It’s a chance for a kickabout to fundraise and let off some steam for those in the Westminster pressure cooker. But now an extraordinary row has erupted over the parliamentary football team after a Tory MP threatened to take legal action against a Labour MP. It comes after Conservative Karl McCartney seized the chairmanship – and with it became captain of the team – when he took over from veteran boss Labour’s Clive Betts in February. He launched a surprise bid for the job and brought several colleagues along and Mr Betts chose not to challenge him. But Labour politicians have cried foul. They are now withholding their support from the team – which needs one Labour MP to survive.” – Daily Mail

Students at British universities should not expect automatic tuition fee refunds

“Students at British universities should not expect automatic tuition fee refunds for disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, according to MPs, despite complaints from thousands of those affected. The MPs on parliament’s petitions committee said while many students had lost out as a result of campus closures and the switch to remote learning, at least some universities had made “enormous efforts” to provide effective teaching. In a report, the committee concluded: “While students do have a right to seek a refund or to repeat part of their course if the service provided by their university is substandard, we do not believe that there should be a universal refund or reimbursement of tuition fees to all university students.”” – The Guardian

Newslinks for Sunday 12th July 2020

12 Jul

Sunak ‘plans Brexit tax cuts’ to save the economy

“Taxes and red tape will be slashed in towns and cities across the country next year, under government plans for a post-Brexit and post-coronavirus ­economic revolution. Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, is preparing to introduce sweeping tax cuts and an overhaul of planning laws in up to 10 new “freeports” within a year of the UK becoming fully independent from the European Union in December, The Telegraph can reveal. The disclosure comes as Michael Gove declares the reasons for Brexit are “stronger than ever”, in a rebuke to Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, who last week said he saw no “added value” from leaving the bloc… Ministers are dramatically stepping up plans for the end of the transition period, with less than six months until the UK leaves the EU’s customs union and the single market.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • ‘Bonfire of red tape’ expected – Mail on Sunday
  • White‑collar staff face silent cull as firms cut back – Sunday Times
  • Gauke: tax rises and cuts only way to pay for Covid-19 – The Observer
  • Primark won’t take Chancellor’s £30m – Sunday Times

Transport:

Analysis:

  • Sunak swoops to save Boris Johnson from a holy mess – Tim Shipman, Sunday Times

Comment:

  • Sunak is borrowing his way out of this crisis, but we’ll all have to pay it back – David Gauke, The Observer
  • It’s our patriotic duty to eat, drink, and shop – Theresa Villiers MP, Sun on Sunday
  • Workers’ rights will count for little when there’s no work – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph
  • The liberal Left now view white British workers as their enemy – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday

>Today: ToryDiary: Polling snapshot. How Johnson reinvented the Conservatives after they had recently formed governments three times

BBC facing £1bn crisis as ministers ‘set to push ahead with decriminalising licence fee’

“The BBC is facing a black hole in its finances after government sources suggested that it will push ahead with decriminalisation of the licence fee. The move comes as the results of a consultation into whether the licence fee should remain as an enforceable tax on every household with a television licence are due to be published shortly. The Corporation estimates that it will lose £1 billion in five years as a result of not being able to threaten non-payers with criminal action for the £157.50 annual charge. However, with thousands joining a Defund the BBC campaign over allegations that its political coverage is biassed, critics suggest the cost could be even greater. A Downing Street source confirmed decriminalisation “is still on the agenda” and a minister has told the Sunday Express “this will happen.”” – Sunday Express

No-deal Brexit border force ‘to cost £700m’

“Ministers are to spend more than £700m beefing up border security, and will launch a public information campaign tomorrow to get people ready for new Brexit rules from January. Michael Gove is spending the money on new border guards, IT systems and other infrastructure at Dover and other ports of entry, as the UK prepares for the possibility of a no-deal departure. A source said: “It’s a big package of infrastructure, technology and personnel.” The government is planning an ad campaign to ensure businesses and tourists are ready for regulations that will kick in after the Brexit transition phase ends on December 31. Brexit talks are deadlocked, despite face-to-face meetings of both sides’ chief negotiators last week.” – Sunday Times

  • Vast Brexit customs clearance centre to be built in Kent – The Observer
  • ‘Senior Brexiteers’ warn that Withdrawal Agreement amount to ‘poison pill’… – Sunday Telegraph
  • …which ‘could undermine sovereignty and cost £165bn’ – Sunday Express
  • Brits to stump up for £16m revamp of EU Parliament – Sun on Sunday

Michael Gove: Outside the EU, a bright future awaits Britain

“Taking back control of the money we send to Brussels means we can spend it on our priorities: investing in the NHS, spreading opportunity more equally across the UK and strengthening our Union. We can build a trading relationship with our European neighbours that serves all our interests and develop new economic partnerships across the world. The deal the Prime Minister struck last year, and which the country backed in the general election, ensured we left the EU in January and means we can look forward with confidence to the end of the transition period on December 31. But, just like a house move, we need to make sure all the practical arrangements for our new future are in place.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • We must declare to the world that Britain is open for business – Priti Patel, Sun on Sunday

Johnson warned to remove Huawei components from UK’s 5G network ‘without delay’

“Boris Johnson was warned to remove Chinese tech giant Huawei’s components from the UK 5G network “without delay”. The Government, which agreed in January the firm could supply non-“core” elements, will outline its U-turn after a National Security Council meeting this week. Tory rebels, who include Iain Duncan Smith, have indicated they could live with a 2025 exit date, but want a timetable. The move, which comes amid continuing fears that Huawei is a potential national security danger, could begin this year. US sanctions mean Huawei cannot use American components, which will mean the firm would have to use untrusted technology. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said the US action will hamper Huawei’s ability to act as a 5G network provider.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Firm urges Britain: Don’t drop us till after next election – Sunday Times
  • Ministers fear China will blitz UK with a devastating ‘cyber 9/11’ – Mail on Sunday
  • UK would take ‘golden shares’ in Chinese-owned nuclear companies – Sunday Telegraph

Comment:

  • Nobody should be surprised about China’s bullying tactics – David Davis, Sun on Sunday

Thousands of British Troops to be ‘compensated’ by Johnson for Sturgeon tax hikes

“Whitehall is having to step in to protect Scottish Armed Forces personnel from “SNP tax hikes”. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has agreed to permanently reimburse 7,000 armed forces personnel who have been subject to higher tax rates in Scotland after an initial two year pilot. An annual payment will now be permanently provided to serving personnel earning £28,443 or more a year with an average annual payment of £850. Mitigation of between £12 and £2,200 will be paid, with payments grossed up to take account of income tax and national insurance. This would be provided regardless of where the soldiers are deployed or where their families are based, the MoD said. It comes after concerns were raised by the department that the Scottish Government tax rates, which are higher than in England, could create low morale.” – Sunday Express

Patel ‘believes fear of being called racist’ stopped police from tackling ‘slave’ sweatshops

“The Home Secretary is understood to think that ‘cultural sensitivities’ prevented the police from tackling Leicester’s ‘slave’ sweatshops. Priti Patel is said to have raised concerns behind closed doors that government agencies turned a blind eye to the factories where staff were paid less than the minimum wage and worked in poor conditions, as reported by The Sunday Times. Ms Patel is thought to now be considering new laws on modern slavery after fears the current legislation is no ‘fit for purpose’. A source close to the Home Secretary told the newspaper: ‘This scandal has been hiding in plain sight and there are concerns cultural sensitivities could be in part to blame for why these appalling working practices haven’t been investigated.'” – Mail on Sunday

  • Home secretary believes police and council turned a blind eye – Sunday Times

More:

  • Deportation promise ‘thrown into doubt’ by new failures – Mail on Sunday

Electoral Commission can’t be allowed to ‘mark its own homework’, says Tory chairman

“Conservatives have raised “serious concerns” about the leadership and accountability of the elections watchdog after its chief executive confirmed plans to hand itself powers to prosecute parties and campaign groups. In a highly unusual intervention, Amanda Milling, co-chairman of the Conservative Party and Cabinet minister, warned that the Electoral Commission should drop the proposals, as she hit out at the body’s “botched handling” of recent cases. The move puts Boris Johnson’s Government on a major collision course with the watchdog, as it attempts to hand itself new powers. Senior Tories insist that the body is “not trusted to be impartial” based on previous investigations and past comments by board members and Louise Edwards, its director of regulation, who is leading the work.” – Sunday Telegraph

Prime Minister ‘plans radical shake-up of NHS’ in bid to regain more direct control

“Boris Johnson is planning a radical and politically risky reorganisation of the NHS amid government frustration at the health service’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, the Guardian has learned. The prime minister has set up a taskforce to devise plans for how ministers can regain much of the direct control over the NHS they lost in 2012 under a controversial shake-up masterminded by Andrew Lansley, the then coalition government health secretary. The prime minister’s health and social care taskforce – made up of senior civil servants and advisers from Downing Street, the Treasury and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) – is drawing up proposals that would restrict NHS England’s operational independence and the freedom Stevens has to run the service.” – The Observer

  • Johnson’s obesity blitz ‘thrown into chaos’ by Sunak’s half-price meal deal – Sun on Sunday
  • Hancock ‘sued over care home deaths’ – Sunday Times
  • Crisis leaves patients facing two‑year wait for new knees and hips – Sunday Times

Comment:

  • There’s no such thing as a free social care system – Robert Colvile, Sunday Times

>Today: Richard Walton in Comment: The Government must act to prevent Coronavirus fraud

Rumour that Cummings will ‘wield axe’ over Cabinet ‘leakers’ Truss, Wallace, and Buckland

“Cabinet Ministers suspected of leaking to the media are at the top of Boris Johnson’s hit-list in his next reshuffle, as adviser Dominic Cummings increasingly flexes his political muscles. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland are all nervous about their chances of staying in the Cabinet after the reshuffle, which is expected in the autumn. The rumoured appearance in No 10 of a whiteboard used to write out the names of those on the move has not helped to calm nerves. Friends of Ms Truss are feeling particularly pessimistic about her career prospects after she was called in to No 10 on Thursday morning for what one source described as ‘a total b******ing’ by Mr Cummings.” – Mail on Sunday

Labour boycotts Facebook ‘to back Black Lives Matter’…

“Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, has launched a “complete boycott” of party advertising on Facebook in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Labour spent more than £1.2m on advertisements on the social media giant during last year’s general election. However, the firm has been accused of failing to do enough to remove hate speech and racist conspiracy theories following the death of George Floyd, the black man killed by police in Minnesota in May. According to Stop Hate for Profit, the American campaign behind the boycott, 98% of Facebook’s $70bn (£55bn) in revenue last year came from advertising. Labour made the decision to join the likes of Coca-Cola, Lego and Adidas in suspending all adverts on the site last week, although it has not been announced publicly.” – Sunday Times

  • Competent, likeable, decisive: Starmer beating Johnson ‘on all counts’ – The Observer

More:

  • Labour tax raid ‘would cost hard-working Brits around £2,500 a year’ – Sun on Sunday
  • Brown advised Labour to stop comeback of ‘useless’ Ed Miliband – Sunday Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The “equalities” industry has entrenched division. It must be swept away.

…and calls for immediate publication of inquiry into Patel bullying claims

“An inquiry into allegations that the home secretary, Priti Patel, bullied staff must be published immediately amid claims the inquiry’s chief is resisting pressure from Downing Street to exonerate her, Labour has said. The shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, wrote to the Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, on Saturday, saying the delay in publishing the findings is unacceptable. A Cabinet Office investigation was launched in March following claims that Patel, who denies all the allegations, mistreated staff and clashed with senior officials in three departments, including in her current role as home secretary. It is understood that the report has been completed.” – The Observer

  • Starmer urged to discipline 16 MPs for ‘consistently failing’ pro-Israel constituents – Sunday Express
  • Labour frontbencher forced to apologise for second time in a month – Sunday Times

>Yesterday: Book Reviews: Bevin, the working-class John Bull who stood up to Stalin and has no successors in today’s Labour Party

Tory MPs join campaign to halt the £300m sale of Newcastle United to Saudis

“Football-loving MPs have mounted a campaign to halt the £300million sale of Newcastle United to oil-rich Saudis. They want the Premier League to block it over human rights abuses, and what they see as “blatant piracy” of our national game. Footie chiefs are considering whether to let the Saudi Arabia ­Public Investment Fund, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, buy an 80 per cent stake in the Toon. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has listed 20 Saudis who committed “the gravest human rights violations”… Tory Mike Wood, vice chair of the all-party group for football, said: “It’s hard to see how the Investment Fund meets any fit and proper person test.”” – Sun on Sunday

Newslinks for Saturday 11th July 2020

11 Jul

Coronavirus 1) Face masks “to be made compulsory in shops”

“Face masks will become mandatory in shops and enclosed spaces, Boris Johnson has indicated, as he said it was time for the country to “go back to work”. The Prime Minister, who posed in a face covering for the first time on Friday, said the Government needed to be “stricter” on enforcing guidelines for wearing them indoors. He said: “We increasingly think we have to insist in confined spaces–transport, shops – wear a face covering.” Government sources confirmed that making it mandatory in shops and other enclosed spaces was under discussion following a hardening of the scientific advice on their effectiveness in preventing the spread of coronavirus. Mr Johnson’s shift in tone on face coverings came in conjunction with a marked change in his advice to workers.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Labour calls for clarity – BBC
  • They are already compulsory in Scotland – The Scotsman
  • Lowest Friday death toll since before lockdown – The Sun
  • Conservative councillor PPE contracts questioned – BBC
  • Lower congestion has reduced air pollution – The Times
  • Fears of a second wave – Daily Express
  • What Britain really needs to fight Covid-19 – Leader, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Research suggests lockdown came after the peak. But that doesn’t make the armchair epidemiologists right.

Coronavirus 2) PM gives message of hope to school leavers

“This is a final year like no other,” said Boris Johnson, in a video message to those who left school during the lockdown. In a rallying cry to those stepping out of school, without any of the usual leavers’ rites of passage, the prime minister told them to “rugby tackle that opportunity to the floor”. And whether it was reflecting on their lives or his own, he warned school leavers: “There are always going to be people who want to pour a bucket of cold water on your ideas.” Teenagers had missed out on much fun this summer, but their “sacrifice” had saved lives, he said, in a recorded YouTube and Facebook video, framed by Downing Street chandeliers and flags.” – BBC

  • MPs warn about bias in predicted results for pupils in England – The Guardian

Coronavirus 3) UK shuns EU vaccine scheme

“The UK on Friday turned down the chance to join a multibillion-euro EU plan to secure supplies of potential coronavirus vaccines, after concluding its conditions were unfavourable. Boris Johnson’s government made the decision after talks with the European Commission suggested London would be unable to take part in the plan’s governance or negotiating team, according to a letter published late on Friday. The UK’s potential entry to the scheme was a test of the possibilities for emergency co-operation with the EU at a time when talks over their wider post-Brexit relationship are tense. The negotiations came as an international battle escalates among rich countries to buy up coronavirus remedies, often long before their effectiveness has been confirmed. The UK government decided “on this occasion” not to join the EU plan because London would not have had any say in which vaccines to procure, at what price or in what quantity and to what delivery schedule.” – Financial Times

  • Taxpayers to lose billions to virus fraud – BBC
  • UK to contribute £16 millon for upgrade of EU Parliament building – The Sun

Coronavirus 4) Cavendish: Sunak offers a chance to deal with long terms failings

“The kickstart project offers an opportunity to get to grips with the long tail of poorly skilled and poorly paid workers which has been a persistent stain on UK society. Successive governments have paid more attention to higher education than to the vocational alternatives. More than half of young people do not take a degree. Across the nation, about 15 per cent of adults are functionally illiterate and 20 per cent are functionally innumerate. Before the crisis, many hopped bleakly between low-paid, insecure jobs in retail and hospitality. But Covid-19 has left nowhere to hide. If some good is to come of this, it will be in forcing us to think more creatively about what we mean by “skills” and “training”.”- Camilla Cavendish, Financial Times

Johnson planning NHS reform to boost Ministerial power

“Boris Johnson is planning a radical and politically risky reorganisation of the NHS amid government frustration at the health service’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, the Guardian has learned. The prime minister has set up a taskforce to devise plans for how ministers can regain much of the direct control over the NHS they lost in 2012 under a controversial shake-up masterminded by Andrew Lansley, the then coalition government health secretary. The prime minister’s health and social care taskforce – made up of senior civil servants and advisers from Downing Street, the Treasury and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) – is drawing up proposals that would restrict NHS England’s operational independence and the freedom Stevens has to run the service…“The options put forward to the prime minister will be about how the government can curb the powers of NHS England and increase the health secretary’s ‘powers of direction’ over it, so that he doesn’t have to try to persuade Simon Stevens to do something,” said a source with knowledge of the plans.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Steve Brine on Comment: Making the most of vaping to deliver a smoke-free Britain

Hunt: Civil servants and cabinet ministers must have the confidence to challenge “group think”

“There are clearly aspects of the prime minister’s style of government that trouble him…“We have to make sure group-think is challenged. We need to give outsiders the space to challenge orthodoxy…When I was a minister the biggest risk was not civil servants trying to undermine the cabinet but it was them not telling you when you were about to screw it up. They had a huge institutional memory and you need to give them the confidence to speak out.”..One Tory MP describes the cabinet as “nodding dogs” appointed on the basis of their obedience to No 10. “New cabinet ministers always look less experienced in the early days but that doesn’t mean to say that they don’t turn into great statesmen and women in due course,” he replies, tactfully.” – Interview with Jeremy Hunt, The Times

  • Civil Service reform? Yes, Prime Minister – Frederick Forsyth, Daily Express

Reshuffle speculation after claims of tension between Truss and Gove

“Leading on Brexit certainly places Mr Gove in a formidable position as he molds and chairs “operations” committees in each policy area, tasked with holding Whitehall departments to account and ensuring the Prime Minister’s priorities don’t get bogged down in bureaucracy. Yet the all encompassing-role has already rubbed a number of Cabinet ministers up the wrong way. The first to take aim last week was International Trade Secretary Liz Truss who wrote a letter to Mr Gove and Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday questioning the “credibility” of Mr Gove’s new border Brexit regime…According to one well-placed source: “Liz is going for Gove because she knows she’s going to be sacked and has got nothing to lose. She’s angry with Gove because he doesn’t think a US trade deal is possible.” It is unlikely a reshuffle will take place until the Autumn…Defence Secretary Ben Wallace could be replaced by Anne-Marie Trevelyan after her Department for International Development was merged with the Foreign Office.” – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph

Confusion over Labour’s Wealth Tax stance

“Sir Keir Starmer faced the prospect of a new rift with the Labour left yesterday after a Corbynite shadow minister insisted that the party had not dropped plans for a wealth tax. In a sign of continuing tension within Labour over its response to Rishi Sunak’s summer statement on Wednesday, Dan Carden, the shadow financial secretary, broke ranks to dismiss as “false” reports that Sir Keir had abandoned plans for a new tax on wealth. Mr Carden, one of the few close allies of Jeremy Corbyn retained on Sir Keir’s frontbench, instead insisted that Anneliese Dodds, the shadow chancellor, and her team believed that “the cost of the crisis should be borne by those with the broadest shoulders” and were studying the detail of the policy.” – The Times

Trump spares ex-adviser from prison

“US President Donald Trump has commuted the prison sentence of his longtime ally and former adviser Roger Stone. The move – sparing Stone from jail but not a pardon – came just after a court denied Stone’s request to delay the start date of his 40-month prison term. He was convicted of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering. Stone was the sixth Trump aide found guilty on charges linked to a justice department probe that alleged Russia tried to boost the Trump 2016 campaign.” – BBC

  • Russia report committee ‘must be non-partisan’ – BBC

China 1) Moore: Now our China illusion is ending, can the West revive its love of freedom?

“There they were on Thursday, the three Huawei senior executives in a Zoom-talk with MPs. Greg Clark, chairman of the Commons Science and Technology Committee, asked them whether, in their positions, they were free to express their views. “Very much so,” replied Jeremy Thompson, vice-chairman of Huawei UK, brightly. So what did he think of the new Hong Kong security law imposed by Beijing, asked Mr Clark, sweetly. Mr Thompson coloured slightly: “I don’t think [saying anything] would be consistent with my role with Huawei in this forum,” he answered. His two colleagues claimed the same freedom, but, like him, declined to exercise it. It was a comical encapsulation of the problem of British engagement with all organisations ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – which is to say, all important organisations in China. What can those who are thus engaged say in public? If they admit the truth, they will wreck their standing with an audience which believes in liberal democratic values.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

  • How China seduced its useful idiots: Chinese communists infiltrated Britain to push their party line – Daily Mail
  • Labour MP given £200,000 – Daily Mail
  • Is Xi Jinping overplaying his hand? – Financial Times
  • Trump is a bigot and a hypocrite, but he’s right to condemn China – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
  • Jesus College, Cambridge, urged to cut ties with China – The Times
  • Security law leaves British judges with Hong Kong court dilemma – The Times
  • Tough Justice – Leader, The Times

China 2) Parris: We should be tough in private, diplomatic in public

“It’s personal now with Xi Jinping, and a fear of losing face can only reinforce his angry but essentially defensive response. Quite contrary to an impression common among commentators, Beijing is having a disastrous 2020. A century that began with China advancing vigorously economically but cautiously, almost stealthily, politically, now finds China’s leadership facing a slowing economy, diplomatic isolation, deep embarrassment over coronavirus, horrific images of Xi’s Hong Kong crackdown circulating internationally and growing concerns over the treatment of the Uighurs. Events conspire to unite the global community and knit together the hitherto fragmented world response to Xi’s government. But, counterintuitively perhaps, I don’t think this is a moment to rub it in. Trump doesn’t help. It’s a time for firm but courteous diplomatic language in public and, in private, a quiet, steely, relentless national and international resolve to show the Chinese leadership what they risk by straying from norms of civilised behaviour.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

News in brief

  • Boris Johnson changes ‘work from home’ advice – Kate Andrews, The Spectator
  • Devolution is dragging the UK’s economic recovery down – Matt Smith, CapX
  • T-cell immunity and the truth about Covid-19 in Sweden – Freddie Sayers, Unherd
  • What are the Lib Dems for? – Graham Stewart, The Critic
  • Universities, free thought and peer reviewed research – John Redwood

Newslinks for Friday 10th July 2020

10 Jul

Lockdown exit 1) Work out to help out – Gyms get go-ahead…

“Gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres will reopen from July 25 and nail bars and beauty salons from Monday, the government has announced. “Normal life is slowly returning,” Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, said as he disclosed that outdoor swimming pools would be allowed to reopen from tomorrow and indoor gyms, pools and leisure facilities a fortnight later. The government has also published guidance that will allow for the return of team sports at local level, starting with cricket this weekend. The government is giving the go-ahead to outdoor arts performances, including theatre, opera, dance and music, from tomorrow, although audience numbers will be restricted.” – The Times

  • Pressure from Tory MPs to accelerate wider revival of economy – FT
  • UK opts out of EU vaccine scheme – Daily Mail
  • From indoor theatres to nightclubs, list of businesses not opening – The Sun
  • ‘Care homes to reopen for visitors’ – announcement within days – Daily Express
Comment
>Yesterday:

Lockdown exit 2) …but pandemic accelerating says WHO

“Coronavirus outbreaks are not under control in most countries and the pandemic is still accelerating globally, with infections doubling in the past six weeks, the head of the World Health Organization has warned. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s bleak assessment of the trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic – which he said had yet to reach its peak – came as he announced that the UN body was setting up an independent panel to review its response and that of governments, and as confirmed cases worldwide approached 12m. Appearing to brush a tear away at one point as he spoke, Tedros underlined the shortcomings that have occurred in the responses of many countries.” – The Guardian

  • The 43 local authorities where virus rate is rising – Daily Mail
  • Foreign Office tells tourists to avoid cruise liners – Daily Mail
  • Thousands of jobs lost in more coronavirus pain for high street – The Times
  • John Lewis, Boots and Burger King put 7,000 jobs at risk – Daily Telegraph
  • IFS warns pf reckoning to come – FT
  • Day of reckoning means tax or cut, warn economists – The Times
  • Britain ‘faces decades of tax rises’ – The Sun
Comment
>Today:
>Yesterday:

Civil servants ‘told to read up on Cummings’

“Senior officials are asking colleagues who may come into contact with Boris Johnson’s combative henchman to read the musings of Mr Cummings. The Times understands that, after Mr Cummings’s arrival in Downing Street, the Cabinet Office drew up a synopsis, about 20 pages long, of all his blogs, as a guide to the thinking of the prime minister’s right-hand man. Now, as Mr Cummings embarks on a radical plan for restructuring Whitehall, the Cabinet Office is encouraging senior officials to read it again.” – The Times

Junk food deals ‘will be banned in assault on obesity’

“Boris Johnson is expected to take the first steps of a promised anti-obesity drive with a ban this month on supermarket promotions of unhealthy food. The prime minister is likely to hold off on introducing a 9pm watershed on the advertising of unhealthy food, however, disappointing campaigners. Mr Johnson, who had declared himself “very libertarian” on food choices, has said the coronavirus had convinced him that urgent action was needed. In what allies insisted was only a first set of interventions, shops will be prevented from offering buy one, get one free deals on targeted products. A ban is also expected on sweets and chocolates promoted at the end of supermarket aisles and entrances.” – The Times

Grayling ‘lined up’ to chair intelligence committee

“Chris Grayling is being lined up by Boris Johnson to become the next chairman of parliament’s influential intelligence and security committee. The prime minister has nominated the former transport secretary to run the committee that will decide when and if to release the delayed report into alleged Russian interference in British politics. The government held up its publication after calling a general election for December, leading to claims that it contained embarrassing details of Moscow’s attempts to influence Brexit. The appointment of Mr Grayling, a Brexiteer who is seen as a Downing Street loyalist, will raise concerns over the committee’s independence.” – The Times

  • Brexit talks end early for second week running – Daily Telegraph
  • Barnier tells Francois that Brexit is pointless – Daily Telegraph
  • Mystery of Channel cable boss and the Tory donor – The Times

Martin: Sunak’s road to No 10 gets bumpy from here

“The chancellor is the Conservatives’ new poster boy but if he hopes to succeed Johnson he will have to watch his back. Once in a while a new politician comes along on whom rivals find it difficult to land a blow. This last happened when Tony Blair took over Labour in 1994 and the Tories could not decide whether to present the newcomer as a man of straw or a mortal menace to the country. So it is, for now, with Rishi Sunak, the 40-year-old chancellor of the exchequer, whose popularity ratings may soon approach those of Mr Blair crossed with Princess Diana in late 1997.” – The Times

BBC confirms move to axe free licences for over-75s

“The BBC has said the free television licence for all over-75s will end from next month, arguing the alternative would mean big cuts to the broadcaster’s programming. Retirees not on pension credit will have to pay the full £154.50 annual fee from August 1. The levy, which raised £3.7bn for the BBC in 2018-19, accounts for about three-quarters of the corporation’s revenues. The BBC announced last year it would scrap the free TV licence following a review triggered by the Conservative government’s decision in 2015 to hand responsibility to the public service broadcaster for the subsidy, which is estimated to cost £745m a year.” – FT

Comment

And finally, Beeb asks staff to say if they want to be called he, she or they

“The BBC is encouraging its employees to include their gender pronouns in their email signatures in a drive to create a more ‘inclusive workplace’. The broadcaster, which announced its new guidance on its official intranet, hopes the move, will allow transgender and non-binary colleagues to feel more welcome at the organisation. According to the proposal, it is hoped that including pronouns in messages will be a ‘small, proactive step that we can all take to help create a more inclusive workplace’. The move is also aimed at ensuring that members of staff who are trans or non-binary and often have to introduce themselves with their chosen pronoun, such as he/him, she/her and they, do not feel marginalised in the workplace.” – Daily Mail

News in Brief

Newslinks for Thursday 9th July 2020

9 Jul

Mini-Budget 1) Sunak announces £30 billion of tax cuts and spending rises aiming to save jobs

“Rishi Sunak pumped another £30 billion into the economy yesterday as it was revealed that the bill for government support since the pandemic now dwarfs last year’s health spending. The job-saving package of tax breaks, consumer discounts and wage subsidies means that the chancellor has announced plans to spend up to £188.7 billion on tackling the immediate crisis and nursing the economy through its effects. That equates to 9.4 per cent of GDP and far exceeds other Whitehall budgets. Health and social care spending in 2019-20 was £140 billion, for example, of which NHS day-to-day spending in England was £120 billion. A further £122 billion in the form of loans and deferred taxes has been injected into the economy since the start of the crisis, according to Treasury figures released yesterday. Mr Sunak was unapologetic, warning MPs that more would be needed to address “profound economic challenges” caused by the virus and lockdown.” – The Times

  • Tory WhatsApp groups light up with praise – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph
  • SNP’s ‘disappointment’ despite Rishi Sunak’s £800m Scots giveaway – The Scotsman
  • Labour don’t know how to respond – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Sunak whistles in the dark

>Yesterday:

Mini-Budget 2) Diners given 50 per cent discounts off restaurant bills

“Diners will get a 50% discount off their restaurant bill during August under government plans to bolster the embattled hospitality sector. Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the “eat out to help out” discount as part of a series of measures to restart the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. The deal means people can get up to £10 off per head if they eat out from Monday to Wednesday. Mr Sunak also said VAT on hospitality and tourism would drop to 5%. The reduction, from 20%, will be in place for the next six months. As he announced the discount, the chancellor said the UK was facing a “unique moment” because of Covid-19, adding: “We need to be creative.” – BBC

  • It’s a lifeline – William Sitwell, Daily Telegraph
  • There is no such thing as a free lunch. But now there is such thing as a half-price one – Paul Baldwin, Daily Express

>Yesterday: WATCH: “We need to be creative”, says Sunak – as he reveals the “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme

Mini-Budget 3) Public borrowing “to exceed £350 billion”

“Britain’s public borrowing will rise to more than £350bn this financial year after Rishi Sunak gambled on borrowing vast sums to minimise the long-term economic damage wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic. With the chancellor using his summer statement to outline a new package of job support worth up to £30bn, the deficit is likely to reach 18 per cent of national income, according to Financial Times calculations. This is almost twice the size of the deficit at its peak in the 2008-09 global financial crisis…His new package took the total cost of the Treasury’s economic support measures since March to about £189bn, but with tax revenues hit hard by the crisis, the deficit is likely to reach £361.5bn.” – Financial Times

Mini-Budget 4) Firms get £1,000 per worker brought back from furlough

“Employers will receive a £1,000 bonus for every furloughed worker they bring back to work when the job retention scheme expires in the autumn, the chancellor announced. In an effort to avoid a huge increase in unemployment when the support is withdrawn, Rishi Sunak said that all businesses would qualify for the reward as long as they paid their staff a minimum of £520 a month and kept them employed until January. The scheme is expected to cost the government £9 billion on top of the £54 billion spent on the original job retention scheme.” – The Times

Mini-Budget 5) Lamont: No choice but to turn on the spending taps

“My present-day equivalent has no choice but to turn on the spending taps. Fortunately the money markets are aligned with the demands of this crisis. Interest rates are sometimes actually negative, with the result that it is possible to be paid to borrow money. My only word of caution is that interest rates cannot be guaranteed to stay low for ever and the principal will have to be paid off at some point in any case. But, in the meantime, Mr Sunak is right to stand everyone a drink. Only a week ago the Government was ordering the public not to go to pubs and restaurants; now it is practically begging us to do so for the sake of economic recovery, and sending us on our way with a tenner to ensure there are no slackers.” – Norman Lamont, Daily Mail

Mini-Budget 6) Heath: Sunak’s mission is to unleash an entrepreneurial revolution with real jobs

“Sunak’s biggest decision was to end furlough in October, rather than delaying it endlessly, as the likes of Spain have done. While he believes in the “nobility of work”, there is no point in giving people “false hope” by propping up doomed jobs forever. Encouragingly, he is no supporter of Franklin D Roosevelt’s economics. Instead of replacing furlough with massive public sector make-work schemes – the apocryphal example involves paying people to uselessly dig holes before filling them up again – he is trying to support the private sector by cutting the cost of employing staff, helping workers retrain and turbocharging the housing market.” – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

Other Mini-Budget comment

  • It will go down a treat with Sun readers – Leader, The Sun
  • Sunak has seized his moment. No 10? Yes, I do believe that his time will come – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • We cannot live on giveaways forever – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • Pandemic Payment – Leader, The Times
  • Everything hinges on restoring confidence – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Sunak will not be able to play Santa Claus forever – Chris Giles, Financial Times
  • Right words, wrong policies – Leader, The Guardian
  • More of stopgap than a kick-start – Leader, Financial Times
  • Bribes are not enough – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph

Fox nominated to head the World Trade Organisation

“Liam Fox, Britain’s former international trade secretary, will be nominated by the UK to be the next head of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the government’s Department for International Trade has confirmed. Fox was a cabinet minister in Theresa May’s government between July 2016 and July 2019, and has been a Conservative MP since 1992. He is known as a prominent supporter of Brexit, and said in a 2017 interview that the UK’s free trade deal with the EU after leaving should be the “easiest in human history”. The government described Fox as “the ideal candidate” to lead the WTO and listed his attributes including his advocacy for multilateralism, his “decades of experience in global politics, as well as first-hand experience of running a trade ministry” and his belief that global prosperity and security are underpinned by rules-based free trade.” – The Guardian

  • Warning not to be “fooled” by Barnier’s fishing offer – Daily Express

>Today: Columnist Stephen Booth: Joining the CPTPP is how this country can show it’s serious about being “Global Britain”

Cummings tours top security sites

“Dominic Cummings will tour five of Britain’s most highly classified national security sites as part of plans to reform the military. The prime minister’s chief adviser has already visited MI6 and MI5 in London, and within weeks is expected to visit the Special Air Service headquarters in Hereford and the Special Boat Service command post in Poole, Dorset. According to “internal correspondence” seen by The Sydney Morning Herald, the tour will also include Defence Intelligence, the military intelligence agency stationed at RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down near Salisbury, which develops measures to counter chemical and biological weapons.” – The Times

Sedwill to be paid £250,000 compensation

“The UK’s top civil servant will receive a payout of almost £250,000 when he steps down in September. Sir Mark Sedwill confirmed he was leaving Whitehall last month as Boris Johnson announced plans to split his role as cabinet secretary and national security adviser into two posts. His exit follows reports of tensions between him and senior members of Mr Johnson’s team in Downing Street. On Wednesday, the PM signed off the £248,189 pension contribution. The amount was recommended by Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary Alex Chisholm, with advice from Civil Service Human Resources and legal advisers, before being agreed by Mr Johnson.” – BBC

Labour drops Wealth Tax policy

“Labour has abandoned its call for a wealth tax days after it urged the government to consider one. Anneliese Dodds, the shadow chancellor, said that the party was “not calling for tax rises” and warned that if combined with public service cuts they would “damage demand and inhibit our recovery”. Labour backtracked after saying at the start of the week that it supported a wealth tax in principle…At prime minister’s questions, Boris Johnson said he was “amazed” to hear that Labour was considering the policy and accused Sir Keir of flip-flopping.” – The Times

Australia suspends Hong Kong extradition treaty

“Australia has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in response to fears over a new national security law imposed by China. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new law undermined “Hong Kong’s own basic law” and the territory’s current level of autonomy from Beijing. Canada and the UK have also recently suspended extradition agreements. Australia also offered to extend visas to five years for Hong Kong residents currently in the country.” – BBC

Aaronovitch: Unconscious bias training is bunk

“I have always worried how easily we let people loose on our unconscious. From “repressed memory” therapists to multiple personality diagnoses, we can be suckers for the idea that there is a hidden reality within us, waiting for someone else to discover. They take our money but we also receive a massive “get out of jail free card” to make us feel better. “Don’t blame me, blame my unconscious” can be a very attractive proposition. And, apart from your hidden bias being discerned, you are committed to absolutely nothing. At a corporate level you’ve done your training and ticked that box. And if your attitude to, say, company recruitment hardly shifts at all, well, you’ve done your best.” – David Aaronovitch, The Times

News in brief

  • Rishi Sunak’s two big fears for the future – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • A job creation scheme is a sticking plaster at best – Len Shackleton, CapX
  • By cutting “Politics Live” the BBC is making a serious mistake – John McTernan, The Article
  • The ‘equalities’ agenda has backfired – Harry Phibbs, The Critic
  • Rhodes showed consistent sympathy for individual black Africans throughout his life – Nigel Biggar, Unherd

Newslinks for Wednesday 8th July 2020

8 Jul

Sunak 1) Chancellor will announce £2 billion jobs fund for the young

“Rishi Sunak will announce plans today to pay the wages of hundreds of thousands of young people on work placements for six months as he warns that they must not “bear the brunt” of the coronavirus crisis. The chancellor will use his summer economic update to publicise a £2 billion “kickstart” work placement scheme in which the state will cover the minimum wage for young workers, with employers able to top up pay packets. Each person will receive about £5,500 from the government over half a year, while businesses will receive £1,000 for taking them on.” – The Times

  • Tomorrow Sunak will phone to Britain’s big employers urging them to take young people on – FT
  • Chancellor will drop plan to make employees pay for Coronavirus tests – Daily Telegraph
  • Poor foreign language skills are costing the economy billions, warn academics – The Times
>Today:
>Yesterday:

Sunak 2) Stamp duty holiday to start

“Home buyers will  on Wednesday be offered an emergency stamp duty holiday as the centrepiece of the government’s coronavirus recovery plan to be unveiled by Rishi Sunak. The Chancellor is expected to raise the threshold for the tax and temporarily exempt the first £500,000 of any property price to boost the economy and save buyers up to £15,000 The move, which is part of a multi-billion pound package to revive the post-Covid economy and create thousands of jobs, will benefit seven out of ten house buyers in England and Northern Ireland. It will come into effect immediately.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Revelation about Chancellor’s plans has “sparked anger” and “a leak inquiry is underway” – Daily Mail
  • Government infrastructure adviser calls for huge council house expansion  – The Times
  • Ministers to press ahead with liberal licensing laws to boost economy – Daily Telegraph

Sunak 3) Plans to relocate civil servants to the north

“Lord Agnew of Oulton, the Cabinet Office minister charged with overseeing the relocation of civil servants, said that decisions should be made “in the places that the people are affected”. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, is expected to announce further plans to relocate civil servants to the north of England in his budget today. Lord Agnew told the public administration and constitutional affairs committee yesterday: “One of my jobs is to get civil servants out of London over the next five years. I want to see decision-making made in the places that the people are affected.” – The Times

Daniel Finkelstein: There’s a flaw at the heart of Johnson’s big idea

“In 1998 Richard Florida met Gary Gates in an encounter he later described as a “real stunner”. And the results of that meeting lead me, as Rishi Sunak gets ready to deliver his statement on jobs today, to ask: is the idea that underpins the government’s entire economic policy tenable? By the late 1990s Florida, an American urban theorist, believed that the conventional wisdom about cities was wrong. Planners thought that cities needed to attract companies “because companies create jobs and people go where the jobs go”. This led to the construction of high-tech office parks, offering deals to companies to relocate and building vast convention centres.” – The Times

Johnson under pressure to apologise to care homes…

f”Boris Johnson is under growing pressure to apologise for accusing care homes of failing to follow proper coronavirus procedures, with unions calling it “an insult” and Labour accusing the prime minister of “trying to shift the blame” for his own failures. After Johnson’s remarks prompted outrage from the care sector, both Downing Street and the health secretary, Matt Hancock, brushed aside calls for an apology, insisting that the prime minister had been misunderstood. During a visit on Monday, Johnson said coronavirus had highlighted issues with the care sector, adding: “We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have, but we’re learning lessons the whole time.”” – The Guardian

Coronavirus 1) … as dozens of them are investigated over Covid safety fears

“Dozens of care homes have been urgently investigated over “serious concerns” that staff and residents were left dangerously exposed to coronavirus, The Telegraph can disclose. During lockdown, urgent inspections were carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on around 50 homes where managers allegedly failed to follow safety procedures around coronavirus. Meanwhile, providers are now facing scores of compensation claims from families who blame negligence for the deaths of loved ones, it can be revealed. It comes after Boris Johnson provoked a major backlash when he suggested “too many” care homes did not properly follow procedures during the coronavirus pandemic.” – Daily Telegraph

  • 16 care homes given £1,000 to take Covid-positive hospital patients – Birmingham Live

Coronavirus 2) Hunt – SAGE gave “wrong” advice at start of pandemic

“Jeremy Hunt, the UK’s longest-serving health secretary, has accused the government’s scientific advisers of giving ministers the “wrong” advice in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking to the FT’s Payne’s Politics podcast, Mr Hunt — who now chairs the House of Commons health select committee — said that the scientific advisory group on emergencies (Sage) had failed to propose a test and trace strategy for combating the spread of disease. Such strategies have now been adopted in many countries, including the UK. The prime minister put the country into lockdown on March 23 and restrictions have been eased gradually over the past month as the NHS introduced a test and trace scheme. Mr Hunt, who oversaw the health service from 2012 to 2018, said this strategy should have been pursued from the start.” – FT

Coronavirus 3) Brain inflammation sparks fear among specialists

“A rare form of brain inflammation is one of several neurological disorders that appear to be tied to coronavirus, researchers have said. Specialists in London said they had seen a “concerning increase” in cases of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (Adem), which involves a swelling of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include weakness in the arms or legs, unsteadiness and drowsiness. Nine cases were identified in Greater London in five weeks, all in adult patients with confirmed or suspected coronavirus. The condition usually affects children the most; that number of adult cases would usually be expected over five months.” – The Times

  • One in four parents to keep children at home despite September fines – The Times
  • Free parking ends for NHS staff – Daily Mail

Coronavirus 4) Leicester’s coronavirus infection rate drops to early June level

“Leicester’s rate of new Covid-19 cases has dropped to a level last seen nearly a month ago, new figures suggest. The equivalent of 106.4 cases per 100,000 people were detected in the city in the seven days to July 4, according to the latest data published by NHS Digital. This is the lowest level since 101.1 cases per 100,000 were recorded in the seven days to June 11. The rate peaked in the seven days to June 25, when 159.1 cases per 100,000 were recorded. Some parts of the country currently have no new cases per 100,000 population, including Bath and North East Somerset, the City of London and Portsmouth.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Three pubs in England close doors againFT
>Today:

Coronavirus 5) Hancock – Another review underway for face masks

“Matt Hancock today revealed the government will look again at whether people in England should wear face coverings or masks while out in public. Speaking in the House of Commons, the Health Secretary replied ‘yes’ when asked whether officials would reconsider the existing advice in England. Current rules say people must wear a covering over their nose and mouth when they are on public transport — but they aren’t mandatory anywhere else. In many countries, and increasingly so in Europe, people must wear them all the time when out in public. But Britain has resisted bringing in a wider policy. Scotland has its own rules and coverings are compulsory in shops there, while Wales and Northern Ireland have the same rule as England but Welsh ministers are ‘actively considering’ changing it.” – Daily Mail

Coronavirus worldwide:
  • Over 100 “red listed” countries have lower Covid rates than destinations approved by Government – Daily Telegraph
  • 725,000 downloads of Ireland’s new contact-tracing app – The Irish Times
  • Australia reveals plans to limit arrivals into the country – FT
  • Bangladesh flight to Italy with 36 cases was “viral bomb” – The Times
  • Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus after dismissing it as a “little flu” – The Times
  • Virus on retreat in Spain despite flare-ups, says health chief – FT
  • Israel in dangerous place as virus infections surge – FT

Tories will not back “anti-Brexit” Mandelson for WTO leader, as Fox remains “in the frame”

“The British government has told Peter Mandelson it will not back him as a potential candidate to lead the World Trade Organization because of his anti-Brexit views, but Liam Fox, the Eurosceptic former Tory trade secretary, remained in the frame on Tuesday night. Lord Mandelson, a former EU trade commissioner and UK business secretary in the Labour government of Gordon Brown, might conceivably have secured some support from EU governments for the WTO’s top job given his previous role in Brussels. But the peer was abruptly told by Liz Truss, international trade secretary, on Monday that the British government would not back him because he was “not a Brexiter”.” – FT

Cummings to “drop in on Britain’s most secret defence installations”

Boris Johnson’s controversial adviser Dominic Cummings will tour some of Britain’s most highly classified national security sites as part of his plan to radically shake up the military amid a major turf war in Westminster over how Britain will defend itself in the future. According to internal correspondence obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age the Prime Minister’s top adviser requested visits to five classified sites including facilities that specialise in defence intelligence. Such are the high-stakes of the review, due for publication from September, that Defence Minister Ben Wallace expressly forbade ministry officials from talking to Number 10 or Cummings directly about the itinerary for his planned trip.” – The Sydney Morning Herald

Home Office will urge police to prosecute shoplifters who steal items less than £200

“The Home Office will write to police chiefs urging them to prosecute shoplifters who steal less than £200 of goods, in a bid to tackle violence against shopkeepers. The news comes as it was suggested supermarkets and convenience stores may be resorting to private prosecutions to pursue thefts after complaints they are being ignored by police. The move is the result of information provided by nearly 3,500 retailers, trade associations and unions which suggested abuse towards shop staff had increased, with a ‘significant number’ saying they did not report incidents to the police.” – Daily Mail

Government asked to apologise after health scandals report

“The government should offer an immediate and fulsome apology to victims of three separate healthcare scandals, a damning report says today. Parents had raised concerns about two drugs leaving children with lifelong disabilities, and women complained about mesh implants that caused debilitating pain. But their concerns were “dismissed, overlooked and ignored”, according to a review. The healthcare system moved at a “glacial” pace and was defensive when challenged over the implants, the epilepsy drug sodium valproate and hormonal pregnancy tests such as Primodos.” – The Times

China 1) China asks if British people would welcome three million HK immigrants

“China has demanded Downing Street ask the British people if they would welcome three million Hong Kong immigrants before allowing some citizens from the former colony to work and settle in the UK. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on No. 10 to ‘think twice’ before making a final call on an offer to help British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders relocate from the Far East. Boris Johnson last week unveiled firm plans for the country to take in up to three million Hong Kong residents in defiance of China’s draconian new clampdown on Hong Kong protesters. Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson from the Chinese foreign ministry, said at a press briefing today that the UK had better think twice and seek opinions from the British people.” – Daily Mail

  • Beijing’s role in nuclear power plants is “under review” – Daily Mail

China 2) Former diplomat “worked on China’s dirty tricks dossier”

“A former diplomat has revealed that he was a contributor to a controversial dossier on China’s alleged attempts to influence Britain’s elite. Charles Parton spent more than two decades of his diplomatic career in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, or in roles covering them. He is now a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), and yesterday revealed his role in part of the 86-page report China’s Elite Capture. The dossier claims that Beijing uses influence tactics in the UK and has developed extensive links with politicians, businesspeople and academics to build a presence in Britain’s critical infrastructure.” – The Times

  • Osborne “linked to pro-China 48 Group Club” – The Times

Brexit 1) Barnier hints at access for City firms as Brexit talks resume

“Michel Barnier opened the door for City companies to access EU markets after Brexit as one-to-one negotiations with David Frost got under way in London. The prime minister’s chief Brexit negotiator invited Mr Barnier for dinner in Downing Street last night where he was served halibut — the largest flat fish caught in British waters. Today the two teams will meet in Whitehall for further rounds of informal talks designed to bridge the differences that stand in the way of a deal. Boris Johnson has said he wants to conclude an outline agreement by the end of the month but so far neither the UK nor the EU has moved substantially on the key areas of disagreement.” – The Times

Brexit 2) Edinburgh threatens to defy London on post-Brexit legislation

“The Scottish government has threatened to defy proposed UK legislation allowing Westminster unilaterally to set food and environmental standards, setting the stage for the biggest constitutional stand-off between London and Edinburgh since the 2016 Brexit referendum. Michael Russell, cabinet secretary for constitutional affairs, told the Financial Times that the Scottish National party government was prepared to fight in the courts over legislation that would give London unilateral control over the UK “internal market”. The bitter dispute over the Conservative UK government’s efforts to ensure it has a free hand in post-Brexit trade negotiations with other countries highlights the far-reaching constitutional implications of leaving the EU.” – FT

Britain will resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia

“Britain will resume its arms sales to Saudi Arabia despite fears that UK-made weapons could be used by Riyadh against civilians in Yemen. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said a fresh analysis of alleged violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) involving Saudi air strikes in Yemen had concluded any breaches were ‘isolated incidents’. In a Commons written statement, she said the Saudis had a ‘genuine intent’ to comply with IHL and that military exports could resume. The decision – coming the day after the UK imposed sanctions on 20 Saudi nationals linked to the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi – has been condemned as ‘morally bankrupt’ by campaigners whose legal action forced the Government to halt arms sales to the Saudis in June 2019.” – Daily Mail

Armed forces must stamp out “laddish” culture, warns Chief of Defence Staff

“‘Laddish culture’ is driving out talented female and minority ethnic personnel from the Armed Forces, Britain’s most senior military officer has warned today. General Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said such culture needed stamping out and it was ‘simply unacceptable’ that they had so far failed to ‘move the dial’ on the issue. The comments come after a review last year concluded that the forces were led by a ‘pack of middle-aged white men’ resulting in unacceptable levels of bullying, sexism and racist behaviour. But Gen Carter has today promised a series of ‘really tough commitments’ to deliver change within the Armed Forces.” – Daily Mail

Umunna joins Edelman as head of ESG

“Former MP Chuka Umunna is to join communications company Edelman as executive director and head of environmental, social and governance consultancy, drawing a line under his turbulent political career.  The former frontbencher, once touted as a future Labour party leader, will be advising the capital markets and financial services arm of Edelman on topics such as audit, embedding ESG factors into decision-making and managing corporate transactions. “Whereas in politics you do the theoretical side, I wanted to roll my sleeves up and get involved at the coalface,” Mr Umunna told the FT. “I’m a capitalist but we need a different model for capitalism.”” – FT

Charlie Elphicke trial continues

“A former Conservative MP accused of sexually assaulting a woman while singing “I’m a naughty Tory” texted her a few days later to say that he had enjoyed himself and wanted to meet again, a court was told. The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, claimed Charlie Elphicke had chased her around his home while his children were in bed and that she had run to another room and locked herself in. Days later, she told Southwark crown court, he texted her to say “something like, ‘I enjoyed the other night, we should do it again’. I was like ‘my God, no’. I was like 100 per cent no.”” – The Times

Ex-Labour MP faces prison over child abuse footage of baby

“A former MP and army officer is facing a jail sentence after he admitted making an indecent image of children as young as one. Eric Joyce, 59, of Worlingworth, Suffolk, pleaded guilty yesterday to possessing a film on an electronic device that depicted several children. He was the Labour MP for Falkirk between 2000 and 2012 and then sat as an independent until 2015. Joyce had spent 21 years in the army, rising to the rank of major. He was arrested in November 2018. Judge Emma Peters at Ipswich crown court said the single 51-second film “depicts a number of children”.” – The Times

News in brief:

Newslinks for Tuesday 7th July 2020

7 Jul

Sunak told to cut stamp duty now or wreck housing market

“Rishi Sunak was under growing pressure to make an immediate cut in stamp duty last night after warnings that a delay could wreck the housing market for months. The Chancellor is considering a six-month stamp-duty ‘holiday’ on most homes later this year to kick start Britain’s dormant market. Reports suggest he may signpost the plan in his mini-Budget tomorrow but delay the start until the full autumn Budget. Treasury officials have been looking at a temporary six-month increase in the stamp duty threshold from the current level of £125,000 to an amount between £300,000 and £500,000 to stimulate demand. But economists and property experts last night warned that dithering over stamp duty changes could put the housing market into the deep freeze.” – Daily Mail

  • Buyers caught mid-transaction by stamp duty change – The Times
  • £2bn green fund to help homeowners – The Times
  • Homeowner vouchers in Chancellor’s giveaway – Daily Telegraph
  • Vouchers for homeowners to insulate homes – The Sun
  • Homeowners to get up to £5,000 – Daily Mail
  • Stage set for £3bn giveaway – Daily Telegraph
  • Chancellor set to announce £3bn green package – FT
  • Johnson stands by VAT and income tax freeze promise – Yorkshire Post
Comment
>Today:

China 1) Ditch Huawei and trade will suffer, warns China

“Britain will “have to bear the consequences” of making an enemy of China, the country’s ambassador has said, warning that trade would suffer if the government removed Huawei from the 5G network. Liu Xiaoming ramped up the pressure on Boris Johnson yesterday as the prime minister prepared to announce that new equipment supplied by the Chinese telecoms company would be barred from next year as a result of US sanctions. Mr Liu said that Chinese companies, which invested $8.3 billion in Britain last year, were “all watching”. Mr Liu was speaking shortly after Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, warned that American sanctions on Huawei might make it impossible for the company to play a role in Britain’s 5G network.” – The Times

  • Fake radio shows were created to boost Huawei, China report claims – The Times
  • Huawei accused of orchestrating ‘covert campaign to manipulate MPs’ – Daily Telegraph
  • China envoy warns of ‘consequences if Britain rejects Huawei – FT
  • UK faces calls to impose sanctions on China – FT
  • How Chinese and UK interests overlap – The Times
  • Ambassador who links the UK with China – The Times

China 2) Hague: Hong Kong is warning to world that democracy is in great peril

“The first response we should always make to the banning of authors by an authoritarian system is to read their works. As it happened, I was reading the latest book by the young Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, Unfree Speech: The Threat to Global Democracy and Why We Must Act, Now, when news emerged that his previous works were being seized from booksellers under the new security law imposed from Beijing.” – Daily Telegraph

Johnson blames virus deaths on failures in care homes

“Boris Johnson has sought to shift blame to care home operators and staff for the scale of coronavirus deaths, while pledging to help improve the sector. The prime minister accused them of failing to “follow procedures” as he said one of the lessons from the pandemic was that vulnerable residents in care homes needed to be better looked after. His comments were met with anger among care providers who said they had had to grapple with 100 pieces of government guidance during the pandemic.” – The Times

  • Johnson lambasted for ‘outrageous’ care home deaths comment – FT
  • Lords warn ministers beer takeaway plan recipe for violence – Daily Telegraph
Comment
>Yesterday:

Former MP accused of sexual assault

“A former MP chased a woman around his kitchen singing “I’m a naughty Tory” in the manner of a “Benny Hill sketch” after sexually assaulting her, a court has heard. Charlie Elphicke, 49, is alleged to have invited the woman to his home for a drink before groping and trying to kiss her on his sofa. The incident allegedly happened in 2007. Mr Elphicke, the former MP for Dover and a party whip under David Cameron, is on trial at Southwark crown court accused of sexually assaulting the woman and of two further sex assaults against a parliamentary worker in Westminster in 2016. He denies the charges.” – The Times

Starmer volunteers for bias training

“Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to undergo controversial training on unconscious racial bias after criticism of his response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The Labour leader said yesterday he would “lead from the top” and enrol as soon as possible on a three-hour course aimed at eliminating discriminatory behaviour in the workplace. Sir Keir has weathered criticism from black party members and the Corbynite left since appearing to dismiss the Black Lives Matter protests as a “moment” in a BBC interview last week. The leader of the opposition went on to describe the organisation’s central demand of defunding the police as “nonsense” and was subsequently dismissed as a “cop in an expensive suit” by the movement’s Twitter account.” – The Times

  • Antisemitic’ tweet from Starmer ally – The Times
Comment
News in Brief

Newslinks for Sunday 5th July 2020

5 Jul

‘Super Saturday Fever’ spreads across nation

“Jubilant Britons last night blew off some steam after three months of lockdown measures as pubs lifted their shutters for the first time in 104 days on ‘Super Saturday’ – but large crowds gathered in some areas and many drinkers appeared to ignore social distancing rules in their excitement. Experts said Britons sank up to 15million pints yesterday, as revellers poured out of their homes and into pubs and bars to enjoy their first taste of a draught pint. But while much of the revelry passed peacefully, some large crowds gathered particularly in London’s Soho district and there were cases of disorder in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire that forced bars to close early.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Social distancing ignored as venues reopen – Sunday Telegraph
  • English pubs pour first pints for customers since lockdown began – Observer
  • But Super Saturday proves to be more like a damp squib – Sunday Telegraph
  • Ministers ‘missed warnings’ that staff could spread virus between care homes – Sunday Telegraph
  • Destination list causes ‘utter confusion’ – Sunday Times
  • Johnson senior denies breaking rules in Greece trip – Sunday Express
  • UK records 67 new virus deaths – Mail on Sunday
Comment
>Today:

NHS chiefs in standoff with Treasury over emergency £10bn

“NHS bosses have accused the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, of breaking a pledge to give the health service “whatever it needs” after he refused to provide a £10bn cash injection needed to avoid it being crippled by a second wave of the coronavirus. They have warned ministers that without the money the NHS will be left perilously unprepared for next winter and the second spike in infections which doctors believe is inevitable. Nor will they be able to restart non-Covid services or treat the growing backlog in patients needing surgery. The row piles pressure on Sunak to find more money for the NHS ahead of his summer statement on Wednesday.” – Observer

Comment
>Today:
>Yesterday:

Hannan: Our public health institutions are failing

“The machinery of state is malfunctioning. Its pistons are rusty, its tubes and chambers leaky. Nannying, priggish and woke in normal times, government agencies turn out to be hopeless in a crisis. Last week, at Ditchley, Michael Gove made a beautifully crafted and intelligent speech about how to improve the performance of our bureaucracies. Although few took issue with his recommendations – better training, wider intellectual diversity, more transparency – many questioned why he was even talking about administrative overhauls during an epidemic. For an answer, consider how our executive bodies have acquitted themselves over the past three months. Look, for example, at the way they responded to the mass protests.” – Sunday Telegraph

Farage accused of flouting quarantine rules in trip to pub

“Nigel Farage has been reported to police amid claims he flouted quarantine rules by going to the pub while still meant to be self-isolating having returned recently from a President Trump rally in America. The Brexit Party leader boasted of being the first customer to buy a pint in his Kent local pub in a picture he posted on social media on July 4, so-called Super Saturday because the pubs opened for the first time in three months. Wearing his trademark wax jacket and checked shirt, he grinned as he was photographed holding a pint with the caption: “12 o’clock, first customer in. Love it.” However, Mr Farage was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Donald Trump’s rally on June 20 and was required to self-isolate for 14 days to help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Brexit Party leader ‘broke quarantine rules’ – Observer
  • But Farage denies breaking rules – Mail on Sunday

Huawei ’faces 5G ban within months’

“Boris Johnson is poised to begin phasing out the use of Huawei technology in Britain’s 5G network as soon as this year, in a major about-turn, The Telegraph can disclose. GCHQ is understood to have revised its previous assurance that the risks posed by the Chinese technology giant can be safely managed. A report due to be presented to the Prime Minister this week is expected to conclude that new US sanctions on Huawei will force the company to use untrusted technology that could make the risk impossible to control. The report, by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre, has concluded that the sanctions, which bar Huawei from using technology relying on American intellectual property, has had a “severe” impact on the firm that significantly changes their calculations.” – Sunday Telegraph

Liddle: Liberals are painting Dickens as a bigot. But if he is, then so is Luther King

“Thank God — at last they have come for Dickens. What took them so long? A former Green councillor has been daubing graffiti on buildings in Kent that commemorate the author, calling him a racist. Give it a few weeks and he’ll be off every English syllabus in the country, and there will be no 90-minute all-star version of A Christmas Carol as the BBC’s lone concession to traditional yuletide programming. Dickens was opposed to black suffrage, it seems, and the axe is about to fall. Can it also fall, please, on the Regency period’s Barbara Cartland, Jane Austen? Mimsy, mannered chicklit. At least one writer, the Palestinian Edward Said, has reported that Austen was a supporter of colonialism and slavery.” – Sunday Times

Starmer accused of ‘spoiling for a fight’ with Labour’s Left

“The Labour party leader was told he had ‘no chance’ of becoming Prime Minister if he did not keep faith with Jeremy Corbyn’s legacy. Unite boss Len McCluskey last week warned that the Labour membership remained ‘wholeheartedly behind the radical nature of the policies’ developed under Sir Keir’s predecessor. And the union firebrand, who is understood to be furious at the party leader’s sacking of Left-wing frontbencher Rebecca Long Bailey, warned that Sir Keir ‘needs the Left’. ‘Without the Left of the party, he has no chance of becoming Prime Minister,’ he said. In an interview with Times Radio yesterday, Sir Keir said he agreed with the call for unity but then aimed a thinly-veiled swipe at the state of the party under Mr Corbyn.” – Mail on Sunday
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8490633/Keir-Starmer-accused-spoiling-fight-Labours-Left.html
Corbyn ‘made last-ditch bid’ for Bercow and Watson peerages – Mail on Sunday

>Yesterday:

Leicester mayor ‘ignored warnings about clothing factories’

“Leicester’s mayor and Labour councillors were warned three months ago that factories were operating in breach of Covid-19 rules but failed to act, a former minister has claimed. Conservative politicians wrote to members of the council in April warning that some manufacturing premises appeared to be operating in “shuttered premises”, risking the health of workers, as well as their families and the local population at large. Baroness Verma, who was a development minister under David Cameron and chairs the city’s Conservative federation, said she had been concerned that the factories were operating in breach of strict social distancing rules, which required workers to stay two metres apart and regularly wash their hands.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Fashion firm faces ‘slavery’ investigation – Sunday Times

Lawson: Oh, Vienna: will you ever face up to your sins?

“A disgrace for Germany: that is how the collapse of the financial services company Wirecard has been portrayed. This was the firm which supposedly demonstrated that Germany could produce its own tech giant (a field dominated by the Americans) — and in the financial sphere hitherto led by London. Wirecard, an electronic payments processor, began its meteoric ascent acting for pornography and online gambling sites shunned by more established companies, and by 2018 had reached a market worth of €24bn. This was even more than Deutsche Bank, and it replaced the venerable Commerzbank on the benchmark German stock index (DAX).” – Sunday Times