Newslinks for Tuesday 30th June 2020

30 Jun

‘New Deal’ spending spree to boost Britain’s recovery

“Boris Johnson will promise today to lead Britain out of the coronavirus crisis with an economic recovery plan as bold as Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal. The prime minister is announcing a £5 billion programme of accelerated capital spending on hospitals, roads, rail, prisons, courts, schools and high streets to help to sustain a job market ravaged by the pandemic. Mr Johnson will invite comparisons with the reforming 32nd US president, who used the full power of the state to restore American fortunes after the Great Depression, as he sets out a programme that includes a pledge to retrain those who have lost their jobs.” – The Times


First UK city to go back under lockdown

“Matt Hancock shut non-essential shops and closed schools in Leicester as he forced the city back into lockdown following a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases. The Health Secretary confirmed lockdown measures will be extended in the East Midlands city for at least two weeks, with non-essential shops which opened on June 15 closed again from tomorrow and schools shut from Thursday. The nationwide easing of restrictions this Saturday – including the reopening of pubs, hair salons and restaurants – will also not extend to the city. Residents were advised to stay at home as much as possible and were warned against all but essential travel. The drastic move follows a spike in Covid-19 cases in Leicester, which accounted for around 10 per cent of all positive cases in Britain over the past week.” – Daily Mail

  • Leicester is hit by first local lockdown – The Times
  • City plunged back into lockdown – Daily Telegraph
  • Law will be changed to enforce local lockdown – The Sun
  • The 36 cities and counties where cases are rising – Daily Telegraph
  • Police, Mayor and businesses hit out at lockdown decision – Daily Telegraph
  • Sunak expands £500m fund for start-ups – The Guardian
  • Greece bars British tourists – The Times
  • German lockdown extended – The Times
  • Flu virus with ‘pandemic potential’ found in China – BBC News
  • Schools may focus on English and maths – Daily Telegraph
  • Sharpest fall in UK economy since 1979 – The Sun

Cummings and Gove join forces in battle against Whitehall ‘blob’

“The first strike against “the blob”, the Johnson government sees as its enemy, was made on Sunday evening, when Mark Sedwill, head of the civil service and national security adviser, abruptly quit. Tensions had been rising between Mr Johnson and Sir Mark for months, but the announcement of his exit in September marks the start of an effort to overhaul the Whitehall establishment. While Mr Johnson is supportive of the plan to reform the UK civil service, he is not spearheading the efforts. Instead it is his powerful adviser Dominic Cummings and the Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove who are leading the charge in tackling what they see as ineffective, pro-EU bureaucrats.” – FT

  • Sedwill ‘promised shot at Nato job’ – The Times
  • Mandarins in revolt over Sedwill sacking – Daily Mail
  • Runners and riders to become cabinet secretary – The Times
  • Senior female civil servant among candidates – Daily Telegraph
  • Cabinet office could be next – Daily Telegraph
  • PM’s pick for national security post condemned as ‘party political’ – The Guardian
  • Desmond in spotlight over bid to run Lottery – Daily Mail

Hague: The Civil Service needs reform, but this wasn’t the right way to start

“Michael Gove’s speech on Saturday on reforming the civil service was a vintage performance from one of the most effective ministers of recent years: passionate, well-informed and clear in its proposals. In calling for our public servants to be more diverse, more expert and more open to experimentation he was absolutely right, and both my own experience in government and observation of the current crisis bear that out. Sadly, the rushed announcement a few hours later of the departure of Sir Mark Sedwill as Cabinet Secretary was not a good example of how to lead the government machine towards positive change.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Trump ‘bullied and humiliated May’ – The Times

Starmer under fire from BLM activists

“The UK’s Black Lives Matter movement has told Sir Keir Starmer he has no right ‘to tell us what our demands should be’ after he claimed the campaign’s message was getting ‘tangled up’. BLM has been behind a number of high-profile protests which have taken part across the country following the death of George Floyd in police custody in the US last month. It has also played a key role in the removal of statues which glorify historical figures who profited from slavery. However, calls to ‘defund the police’ have been rubbished as ‘nonsense’ by the Labour leader, who in turn was branded ‘a cop in an expensive suit’ by activists, referencing his previous job as head of the Crown Prosecution Service.” – Daily Mail

  • BLM calls Starmer ‘cop in suit’ – The Sun
  • Long-Bailey accuses Starmer of plunging Labour into an ‘avoidable mess’ – Daily Mail

Clegg attacked by campaigners over ‘hate and racism’ on Facebook

“Organisers of an advertising boycott against Facebook have criticised Sir Nick Clegg after the former deputy prime minister said the social media giant would “redouble” its efforts to remove hate speech from the platform. The Stop Hate for Profit campaign has been urging large corporations to remove advertising from Facebook, accusing the social media giant of allowing “racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform.” Coca-Cola, Levi’s, Honda and Unilever are among those who have pulled advertising. Sir Nick, Facebook’s head of global affairs and communication, told CNN that the company had made “meaningful change” but Facebook will not be able to “get rid of everything that people react negatively to”. – The Times

And finally, Raab needs a clock watcher

“Time flies in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Quite literally: nine antique clocks have gone missing from its Whitehall HQ, according to an annual release of data on its counter-fraud investigations. Civil Service World reports that the FCO suffered losses of about £133,650 in the past year, of which £53,000 was the value of the nine missing timepieces, none of which has been traced. Dominic Raab must be ticked off. According to James Landale, the BBC’s diplomatic editor, the joke doing the rounds is that Downing Street is to blame. Boris Johnson needs a supply of clocks to give to all the permanent secretaries he’s about to retire.” – The Times

News in Brief

Newslinks for Monday 29th June 2020

29 Jun

UK’s top civil servant Sir Mark Sedwill resigns…

“The UK’s top civil servant Sir Mark Sedwill has resigned from his three-pronged role as cabinet secretary, national security adviser and head of the civil service. Sedwill announced his resignation today and will step down from his role in September, after 30 years in the civil service. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has nominated Sedwill for a life peerage and he will also lead a lead a new G7 panel on Global Economic Security. Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost will take up the role as national security adviser, while the soon-to-be vacant positions of cabinet secretary and head of the civil service will be recruited for.” City AM

  • Johnson “intends to reform Whitehall by recruiting more Brexiteers” – Daily Telegraph
  • Sedwill “privately described” cabinet ministers who opposed May’s Chequers deal as “children” – The Times
  • PM offered Sedwill “a plum peerage and pay-off at private lunch before he quit” – Daily Mail
  • Sir Richard Heaton, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, will not be kept on either – The Times
From earlier this month:
  • Foreign Office boss Sir Simon McDonald to step down – Sky News

… as David Frost is named as the new national security adviser

“Replacing Sir Mark Sedwill as national security adviser with Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator in Europe effectively sets a hard deadline on Brexit trade talks, Downing Street said last night. David Frost, a career diplomat, will move to his new role by the beginning of September. This means that talks with Brussels over a free trade deal will have to be completed by the end of August at the latest. If no agreement is reached by then, the UK will leave without a deal when the transition period ends on December 31. The Government hopes the deadline will increase pressure on EU leaders to make concessions which would make it easier to seal a free trade deal.” – Daily Mail

  • Defence officials are “going apesh*t”, says one senior Tory – FT
  • Frost’s dual role sends signal to the EU – The Times

PM to announce £1 billion school-building programme today…

“Boris Johnson will announce a £1 billion school-building programme today as he tries to reset the political agenda after the coronavirus crisis. The cash will pay for the first 50 projects of a ten-year investment, with a further £560 million for repairs and upgrades to schools next year. The spending will be aimed at schools in the worst condition. “Substantial” sums will be promised for those in the north and Midlands, Downing Street said last night. The first projects will start in September next year. Further education colleges will be able to access £200 million brought forward from an existing fund to refurbish their buildings.” – The Times

  • 50 building projects will start in September 2021 – BBC
  • Heads caution against fines for parents who keep children at home – The Times

… as he’s urged to curb TV junk food adverts

“Boris Johnson faces a test of his commitment to action against obesity after officials told him to consider plans to ban junk food advertising before 9pm and “buy one get one free” deals. Mr Johnson was converted to the need to deal with Britain’s national weight problem by his own brush with death and is planning to use people’s fear of coronavirus to encourage them to eat better and exercise more. Exercise and cookery classes for millions of the overweight are among proposals being considered as Mr Johnson widens the focus from preventing child obesity to treating it in adults, with officials actively drawing up policy options.” – The Times

Hancock: We’ve overcome huge supply challenges to deliver two billion items of PPE

“Protecting those who protect us has been one of our most important goals in our fight against coronavirus. We have strained every sinew to get NHS and care staff the PPE they need so they can do their important jobs safely and with confidence. Like every country across the world, we have faced unprecedented challenges in getting this PPE to the front line, partly because there is huge international demand for PPE and a global squeeze on supply, and also because we have understandably seen huge demand within the UK.” – The Times

> Today:

Sage adviser: Britain is on a “knife edge”

“Britain is on a “knife edge” and likely to see an increase in coronavirus cases by July, a Government adviser has warned. Sir Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said he was concerned that there will soon be a surge of new infections caused by lockdown restrictions being eased towards the end of May. “I would predict, I would guess, that we will start to see a few increases in cases towards the end of June or the first week of July, and the continued lifting of restrictions and people deciding to take things into their own hands and go about life as normal,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Private hospitals expect surge in cancer patients – The Times
  • Britons fall behind bills as pandemic squeezes household finances – The Times
  • Councils yet to make wedding venues “Covid secure” – Daily Telegraph
  • Thousands risk blindness as coronavirus delays treatment – The Times
  • Leicester could be the first city to suffer second lockdown, according to Patel – Daily Mail

UK needs “biggest-ever peacetime job creation plan” to stop mass unemployment

“The biggest job creation package in peacetime is needed to prevent the worst unemployment crisis in Britain for a generation, a leading thinktank has warned. Sounding the alarm as job losses mount, the Resolution Foundation called on the government to continue subsidising the wages of workers in the sectors of the economy hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis until at least the end of next year. It said the coronavirus job retention scheme – which is supporting the wages of more than 9 million workers at a cost to the taxpayer of more than £22bn so far – should be turned into a job protection scheme that would be kept in place throughout 2021.” – The Guardian

Patel puts brakes on foreign holidays…

“Holidaymakers have been warned that it will take time to agree “air bridges” with other countries after travel sites were inundated with demand for summer breaks abroad over the weekend. Priti Patel said that more detailed negotiations were required before countries allowed Britons to travel. Agreements to allow holidaymakers to visit selected destinations without having to quarantine for 14 days on their return were expected to come into force on July 6. However, the home secretary told Sky News: “These measures won’t come in overnight. They will take time because some of this will be down to negotiation [and] discussion with certain countries.”” – The Times

  • Portugal fights back against UK threat to quarantine holidaymakers – Daily Telegraph

… as she accuses 33 Labour MPs of racism

“Priti Patel has said Labour MPs who accused her of attempting to “gaslight” black people in her response to Black Lives Matter protests were “racist” in their views of her. Ms Patel clashed with a group of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) Labour MPs after they accused the Tory politician of using her Indian heritage to cast doubt on black communities’ experience of racism in the UK. The Cabinet minister had previously told the 33 MPs who wrote to her that she would “not be silenced” by those suggesting she had used her own experiences of prejudice to “gaslight” the “very real racism” faced by black people.” – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

Web shoppers face levy on deliveries to tackle pollution

“Internet shoppers could be hit by a compulsory delivery charge as part of a campaign to cut congestion and toxic emissions, The Times has learnt. The government is considering a range of measures to reduce the damaging impact of the e-commerce boom, which has led to a rise in delivery vans on British roads. A report from the Department for Transport’s scientific advisers recommended a “mandatory charge”, similar to that imposed for plastic bags, on all Amazon-style consumer deliveries. It said that the introduction of free and next-day delivery deals had led to “unnecessary over-ordering”, with some people immediately sending back clothes they no longer wanted free of charge.” – The Times

Polls 1) More people want tax rises over austerity

“Britain has turned emphatically against austerity, with more people demanding tax rises to repair the public finances a decade after the coalition cut spending to balance the books. A YouGov poll for Times Radio shows a sharp reversal in public support for cutting back services to deal with ballooning levels of national borrowing. Asked how best to reduce the deficit — the gap between government spending and what it raises in tax — 47 per cent now back tax rises, up from 30 per cent in December 2009. Support for tackling the deficit mainly through spending cuts has almost halved from 52 per cent to 27 per cent. Borrowing this year could top £300 billion, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned.” – The Times

Polls 2) Statue activists “lack public support”

“Two thirds of the public believe that a minority of political activists are being given too much say over how Britain treats its monuments, a report says. Only one in ten people said that they would support the removal of the bronze statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square. Black Lives Matter campaigners in the UK have drawn up a list of statues, including Churchill’s, that they want to see removed over the commemorated individuals’ views on race. The polling was published by Policy Exchange, a centre-right think tank, to mark the launch of its History Matters Project, which is chaired by Trevor Phillips, the former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.” – The Times

  • Black Lives Matter accused of “spreading hate” in Tweet on West Bank – The Times

Desmond told Johnson of his housing scheme plans during lunch in 2020

“Boris Johnson has been drawn into the planning row that has embroiled his Housing Secretary after it emerged that Richard Desmond discussed the property scheme with the Prime Minister over lunch, when he was London mayor. Mr Desmond, a Conservative Party donor, hosted the lunch on 25 May 2010 in the boardroom of his firm Northern & Shell’s headquarters in London. He took the opportunity to raise his initial £500m plans for the Westferry printworks in East London with Mr Johnson while he was mayor and had oversight of major planning decisions in the capital.” – The i Paper

  • Patel “probably would not” have acted as Housing Secretary did – Daily Mail
  • Desmond hired PR firm owned by Tory chief – The Times

Labour frontbencher apologises to JK Rowling

“Labour frontbencher Lloyd Russell-Moyle has apologised to Harry Potter author JK Rowling after accusing her of using her own sexual assault as “justification” for discriminating against trans people. Russell-Moyle, a shadow environment minister, made a public apology to Rowling after he wrote a piece in the Tribune saying he felt she had used her past experience to pass comment on a group of people who were not responsible for it. Rowling has been accused of transphobia after saying that only women menstruate, and later, in a blog post, for saying she is deeply protective of women-only spaces as a result of being sexually assaulted.” – The Guardian

… as she responds – and criticises the party’s view on sex-based rights

“JK Rowling has hit out at a Labour frontbencher who accused her of ‘using her own sexual assault as justification for discriminating,’ against the transgender community. This morning Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a shadow environment minister, wrote a grovelling apology for comments he made in The Tribune about the Harry Potter author. JK Rowling has hit back, warning people are ‘concerned’ about Labour’s position on women’s rights after saying: ‘When so-called leftists like (Lloyd Russell-Moyle) demand that we give up our hard won sex-based rights, they align themselves squarely with men’s rights activists.” – Daily Mail

Boost NHS mental health youth services to stop radicalisation, warn psychiatrists

“Leading psychiatrists have urged the government to boost public resources for youth mental health to tackle an association between depression or anxiety and sympathies with violent protest and terrorism. Edgar Jones and Kamaldeep Bhui, professors of psychiatry at King’s College London and the University of Oxford, warned that the underfunding of mental health services has left young people with PTSD, anxiety and depression susceptible to a range of poor outcomes, including radicalisation, which can culminate in violent extremism. Their call for greater focus on psychological and psychiatric services comes after last Saturday’s killing of James Furlong, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails in a Reading park.” – The Guardian

UK must reveal state-aid plan to unblock Brexit talks, EU warns

“Brussels is calling on the UK to reveal its post-Brexit policy on state aid, saying that Britain’s lack of a public plan for a domestic subsidy regime risks hampering the two sides’ future relationship talks. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has recently indicated his willingness to explore new solutions for ensuring that neither side can use subsidies to undermine the other’s economies — a core part of the EU’s “level playing field” demands in trade talks.” – FT

Covid-19 worldwide) US warned to “get a grip”

“The number of worldwide confirmed coronavirus infections passed ten million yesterday and deaths from the virus exceeded half a million. Less than six months after the health authorities in Wuhan, China, reported patients falling ill because of a mysterious new virus, Covid-19 has spread to more than 170 countries, the most disruptive global pandemic in modern history and one of the deadliest. Although the rate of new infections has receded in east Asia and Europe, the first regions to be affected, cases are multiplying rapidly in south Asia, Africa and particularly in Latin America where Brazil, the second most affected country, reported 38,693 new cases on Saturday.” – The Times

  • California closes all bars in Los Angeles – Daily Mail
  • Zurich quarantines 300 clubbers after reveller tests positive – The Times
  • Murder of three Chinese bosses in Africa linked to coronavirus lockdown – The Times
  • Drones patrol Spanish coast to make tourists keep their distance – The Times
  • Italians crowd on trains in rush for beaches – The Times
  • Germany tightens coronavirus measures amid regional outbreaks – Daily Telegraph
  • China puts half a million into strict Wuhan-style lockdown – Daily Mail

News in brief

Newslinks for Sunday 28th June 2020

28 Jun

Johnson 1) Build, build, build. He trails his big domestic policy speech.

“In an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, the Prime Minister promises a building blitz of hospitals, schools, housing developments and ‘shovel-ready’ road and rail infrastructure projects, while an ‘opportunity guarantee’ will aim to save the jobs of workers who have lost out in the employment market…He says: ‘This has been a huge, huge shock to the country but we’re going to bounce back very well. We want to build our way back to health.  If Covid was a lightning flash, we’re about to have the thunderclap of the economic consequences. We’re going to be ready.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Labour wants more state spending – Observer
  • Councils set to make sweeping cuts to local services to fill £6bn Covid hole – Sunday Telegraph
  • The Prime Minister needs to recover his Mojo – Michael Portillo, Sun on Sunday

Robert Colvile: The harsh reality is that Britain is going broke

“This understated document tends to talk drily of “fiscal challenges” and “unsustainable upward trajectories”. But its essential message is always clear, and in the wake of the coronavirus crisis it will become clearer still: Britain is slowly, inexorably, going bankrupt. It isn’t an inevitable process. But it’s an outcome our political system is conspiring to deliver. In the years since the financial crisis, Britain’s annual growth rate has topped 2.5% only once — the worst performance since the Second World War. Even before the pandemic hit, the OBR’s projections had us bumping along at 1.5% for the next few years. You don’t have to be Mr Micawber to compare income and expenditure: mediocre growth (driven by abysmal productivity) versus soaring NHS demand.” – Sunday Times

  • Slice through the red tape and get Britain booming – Patrick O’Flynn, Sunday Express
  • Spend more on supporting employment – Gordon Brown, Observer
  • Attenborough and the Malthusians are as wrong as ever about growth – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
  • Quantitative easing has created a monetary hall of mirrors – Liam Halligan, Sunday Telegraph
  • We need to level up – Sajid Javid, Sun on Sunday
  • A lot of people are about to find their jobs don’t exist any more – Matthew Lynn, Sunday Telegraph
  • Britain must get building again – Sun on Sunday Editorial

Johnson 2) Children must return to school in September

“The Prime Minister – stung by criticism of the slow and partial resumption of teaching – admitted that the closure of schools had been ‘a massive problem’. ‘We need to get the kids back into school,’ Mr Johnson told The Mail on Sunday. ‘I want all pupils back in school in September.’ Asked whether it would be compulsory, Mr Johnson replied: ‘Yes. It’s the law.’ He added that the teaching unions which had opposed the wider reopening of schools – on the grounds that it posed a risk to the safety of their members – should ‘take their responsibilities seriously’.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Parents and Teachers for Excellence want schools back in August – Mail on Sunday
  • Private schools offer summer catch-up courses – Sunday Telegraph
  • Blair’s think-tank says: test all pupils for the virus – Mail on Sunday

Ian Blair says violence against the police is unacceptable – and we need a national conversation about how to stop it

“A former Met Police chief said there needs to be a ‘public conversation’ about the violence officers have faced in recent weeks…He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It cannot be right that this level of injury to officers is seen as acceptable.’ He added: ‘This is not a normal situation where an occupation carries this sort of risk of injury every day.’ He added: ‘That seen as the policewoman riding her horse and being smashed against the road sign because people were so angry is just not appropriate…Obviously this is a matter for courts and sentencing but I also think it is actually a matter for public conversation. This should not be like this.’” – Mail on Sunday

  • Police struggle to disperse ravers at two London events – Mail on Sunday
  • Libyan refugee charged with Reading stabbings – Sunday Times
  • Man shot in Glasgow named – Scotsman
  • Liverpool: arson arrest after Liver building blaze – Observer
  • Churchill’s statue under police guard as Black Lives Matter protesters march – Mail on Sunday
  • LGBT marchers take up BLM cause – Observer
  • Local lockdown in Leicester looms – Sunday Express
  • Dick says that the Met isn’t racist – Mail on Sunday
  • Extremism Commissioner warns that far right is exploiting protests – Sunday Telegraph
  • Lockdown rules drive this disorder – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph
  • Toppling statues won’t transform inner cities – Matthew Syed, Sunday Times
  • How we will grow nostalgic for lockdown – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph
  • Britain is suffering a mental breakdown – Douglas Murray, Mail on Sunday
  • Justify this loss of our liberties – Sunday Telegraph Editorial

Patel to shake up Prevent

“In the biggest shake-up of the Prevent strategy since its launch in 2003, Priti Patel has proposed dividing England and Wales into nine regional hubs. Dedicated teams would operate from extremist ‘hot spots’ within each. The review was ordered after intelligence highlighted the changing nature of extremism in Britain, with an increasing number of Islamic terrorist offenders living in neighbourhoods outside traditional Muslim areas, and most far-Right extremists based in areas with little or no previous extremist activity. There has also been a significant rise in the number of far-Left, animal rights and environmental extremists and those with ‘no fixed ideologies’.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Home Secretary uses EU loophole to deport three foreign criminals – Sun on Sunday

Jenrick under siege

“Senior officials “begged” Robert Jenrick to block a £1bn property deal backed by the Tory donor Richard Desmond, it emerged last night. But the housing secretary overruled the objections from civil servants and lawyers to push it through. A Whitehall whistleblower said Jenrick dismissed their advice over the luxury housing plan in London’s Docklands via text messages to a junior aide. He also failed to inform his most senior planning officials that he had met and texted Desmond, the former Daily Express owner, when he overruled them.” – Sunday Times

  • Local planning row, Israeli billionaire links: more claims about the CLG Secretary – Mail on Sunday
  • Desmond claims Johnson let him down over gambling rules changes – Sunday Times

Gove’s vision of Whitehall reform

“Mr Gove spoke of how ‘distant’ government was from many people and indicated that civil servants should move out of the capital into the regions. In a speech to the Ditchley Foundation, he asked: ‘How can we be less anywhere and more somewhere – closer to the 52 per cent who voted to Leave, and more understanding of why? Almost every arm of Government, and those with powerful voices within it, seemed estranged from the majority in 2016.’ Referring to the great 1930s US President Franklin D Roosevelt (FDR), he warned that the views of that majority were ‘rarely heard within Government’. ‘FDR asked his Government to remember the Forgotten Man. In the 2016 referendum those who had been too often forgotten asked to be remembered,’ he said.” – Mail on Sunday

Prime Minister tells Poles than Britain is prepared to trade with the EU on a no deal basis

“During a conversation on Saturday with Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Downing Street confirmed Mr Johnson reiterated that the UK was prepared to leave on ‘Australia terms’ if no agreement was forthcoming. Australia has no bespoke trade deal with the European Union, leading Brexit critics to describe the proposals as akin to leaving on no-deal terms, albeit with a number of mini-deals put in place to allow vital sectors, such as air travel, to continue. A Number 10 spokeswoman, issuing a readout of a phone discussion with Mr Morawiecki, said: ‘On the UK’s future relationship with the EU, the Prime Minister welcomed the agreement on both sides to an intensified process of negotiations in July.” – Mail on Sunday

  • UK and EU can reach a broad outline of agreement over the summer – Sunday Telegraph
  • Frost warns that Britain may walk out of talks – Sunday Express
  • Why I rebelled against the Government over animal welfare – Neil Hudson

Since peers have been paid to vote, there’s been a surge in them doing so

“The surge in peers taking part in votes on legislation since then has been startling. Research by The Sunday Telegraph found that an average of 497 peers have voted at an average division since the changes came into effect. This is 137 more than the average number voting over the last five-years. In 12 divisions in the House of Lords – held between June 15 and June 24 – an average of 497 peers took part. The first division under the new scheme – on the Extradition (Provisional Arrest Bill) on June 15 – saw 544 peers vote.” – Sunday Telegraph

Vote Leave says: abolish the Electoral Commission

“The electoral watchdog should be abolished and its powers handed back to local councils, the three remaining board members of the Vote Leave campaign group have said. The call came as Alan Halsall, one of the directors, spoke out for the first time to lay bare the toll taken by the Electoral Commission’s pursuit of him in the years following the 2016 referendum. MPs on the public administration and constitutional affairs committee are due to grill senior officials from the Commission about its work on Thursday. Vote Leave is currently being wound up by its directors Mr Halsall, Jon Moynihan and Daniel Hodson, a legal process that can take months. In a statement to The Telegraph, the trio said: “The Board of Vote Leave is firmly of the belief that the Electoral Commission should be abolished, and its functions returned to the various institutions that have traditionally occupied those roles.” – Sunday Telegraph

Starmer woos the armed forces

“The new Labour leader chose Armed Forces Day to reach out to the military and distance himself from his predecessor, who famously said he would never use the Trident nuclear deterrent. Sir Keir said: ‘People need to know that under my leadership, Labour will always prioritise the first duty of any government – to keep its people safe.’..n a dig at Mr Corbyn, he said he no longer wanted to hear voters say they ‘don’t think the Labour Party values the Armed Forces’. The bid to reset the party’s links came with a video highlighting key Labour figures’ former military service – including darling of the Left, the late Tony Benn, who was in the RAF during the Second World War.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Russell-Moyle accuses JK Rowling of exploiting her sexual assault ordeal to score political points – Mail on Sunday
  • Kate Green is the new Shadow Education Secretary – Mail on Sunday
  • Corbyn leads call for Long-Bailey to be reinstated – Sun on Sunday
  • Layla Moran’s battle with obesity and depression – Sunday Times
  • Long Bailey sacking should spook Johnson – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday
  • Labour doesn’t care for the working class – Tony Parsons, Sun on Sunday

Ireland: Civil war rivals lead grand coalition

“The office of taoiseach is to rotate between the two centrist parties — Fine Gael and Fianna Fail — after they agreed ambitious climate targets to seal a power-sharing deal with the Green Party. The pact sees Fine Gael’s 41-year-old leader, Leo Varadkar, step down as prime minister in favour of Micheal Martin, 59, the Fianna Fail leader and Varadkar’s erstwhile political rival. Varadkar will return to lead the government in December 2022 under the rotating prime minister pact. The election of Martin, a former teacher, as prime minister sees Fianna Fail join in coalition with Fine Gael for the first time.” – Sunday Times

  • Russians urged to vote for constitutional change that would allow Putin to stay in power until he is 83 – Sunday Times

Newslinks for Saturday 27th June 2020

27 Jun

Sunak signals he’s ‘not about to cut VAT’ as incomes are in ‘good shape’

“The Chancellor has played down reports he is set to cut VAT, saying the economic challenge posed by coronavirus is a matter of “psychology” rather than “income”. Rishi Sunak insisted household finances were in “reasonably good shape” thanks to the Government’s furlough scheme, suggesting there would be little need to slash taxes. Instead, he said that his “number one” priority was boosting public confidence to return to hairdressers, restaurants and pubs when they reopen on July 4. It follows reports that Mr Sunak had instructed Treasury officials to explore a temporary cut in VAT. One option believed to be under consideration includes introducing a lower rate for the tourism sector, which has come under particular strain during the pandemic.” – Daily Telegraph

  • No austerity for workers as we recover, says Prime Minister – The Times
  • Johnson and Sunak try out smartphone ordering and ‘one-metre plus’ social distancing – Daily Mail


  • Government considers ending drivers’ MOT holiday early – Daily Telegraph
  • Sturgeon ‘could raise taxes to avoid financial ruin’ – Daily Express


  • Chancellor and Prime Minister insist they are ‘in lockstep’ over the economy – Steven Swinford, The Times
  • Johnson learned how to weather a storm as London mayor – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph


  • The Government’s plans for stimulus make sense – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Don’t rule out a second lockdown

Police ‘plan for July 4 violence’ as bars reopen

“Weekend patrols will be doubled and police leave could be cancelled to cope with feared violence and disorder next weekend, senior officers have said. Concerns about unrest have intensified after two nights of violence in London when police trying to break-up illegal parties were pelted with objects by aggressive youths. Dame Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, spoke yesterday of the potential for future disorder and described attacks on police as “utterly unacceptable”. Chief constables believe it is inevitable that more illegal raves and parties will erupt.” – The Times

  • Patel demands police take tougher stance against illegal rioters – The Sun
  • Riot police struggle to clear another London block party – Daily Mail
  • Brits’ ‘party-time’ attitude has halted fall in coronavirus cases – The Sun


  • Consequences will follow for those involved in thuggery – Cressida Dick, The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: The ‘Peelian Principles’ do not prohibit much tougher public order policing. They mandate it.

Ministers agree to open air corridors for dozens of countries

“A traffic light system showing the safest holiday destinations is set to be introduced so families can book summer getaways – as ministers agree to open air corridors for dozens of countries. The partial dismantling of Priti Patel’s quarantine scheme means UK holidaymakers will be able to return home without having to self-isolate for 14 days. The Foreign Office will also lift its advice against ‘all but essential travel’ to low or medium-risk destinations, making it possible to obtain travel insurance. Tour operators were yesterday offering record discounts of up to 70 per cent for trips to France, Spain, Italy and Greece.” – Daily Mail

  • Holiday season back on with travel ‘traffic light’ plan – The Times
  • Britain close to revealing ‘air corridor’ destinations – FT
  • EU risks angering Trump with plan to ban American travellers – Daily Mail

Coronavirus app fiasco takes ‘another humiliating turn’ as UK asks Germany for help

“Britain’s coronavirus app fiasco took another humiliating turn as it emerged we’ve now had to turn to Germany for help. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has already ditched plans to build the mobile contact tracing system from scratch after his efforts flopped. Instead the Government announced it will rely on technology from Apple and Google – something most European nations decided to do weeks ago. And now Berlin’s ambassador to the UK has revealed he’s in discussions with Mr Hancock about us adopting their model… The revelation is a particular humiliation for the PM, who claimed on Wednesday that no other country had a working app.” – The Sun

  • Johnson’s second wave warning: ‘Stop taking liberties!’ – Daily Express
  • The rise and fall of Hancock’s homegrown tracing app – FT


Charles Moore: Only nuts-and-bolts reform will make us better governed

“During Covid, it has become more obvious that the nuts of British administration have worked loose. There have been some under-reported triumphs – the quicker than expected payments of Universal Credit, Rishi Sunak’s successful underwriting of furlough via HMRC – but on the whole, our civil and public service leaderships have tended to exhibit the confusion and self-protectiveness typical of big bureaucracy. Compare, for instance, the openness of the much less centralised German health services to business and university cooperation with the jealousy with which the NHS and Public Health England have tried to guard their own fiefdoms.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Combining diplomacy and development will make UK aid’s work even better – Anne-Marie Trevelyan, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Robert Tyler in Comment: We need a Margaret Thatcher Foundation for Democracy

Cabinet secretary’s future in doubt after rival’s star rises

“The future of Britain’s most senior civil servant was called further into question yesterday as Downing Street refused to say that Sir Mark Sedwill would serve as cabinet secretary into next year. Sir Mark has been the target of increasingly hostile briefing as Boris Johnson draws up plans for an overhaul of the Cabinet Office and Number 10 before what is regarded as an inevitable public inquiry into how the government has handled the pandemic. Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s senior adviser, told a meeting of political aides this week that a “hard rain is going to fall” after detailing Whitehall’s “fundamental” shortcomings displayed during the coronavirus crisis.” – The Times

Williamson brands National Education Union the ‘No Education Union’

“Gavin Williamson has vowed to end the ‘softly, softly’ approach for dealing with teaching unions and get all children back in school by September. The Education Secretary said he plans for all children to go back to school at the start of the next school year ‘come what may’. It was said Mr Williamson ‘got the knuckle dusters out’ while addressing backbench Tory MPs at a meeting this week… Mr Williamson has previously come under criticism for his handling of reopening schools amid the coronavirus pandemic. He argued on plans for primary school children to return to school before summer, but later changed his mind, saying this would be encouraged.” – Daily Mail

  • Education Secretary “got the knuckle dusters out” for unions – Daily Telegraph


  • Head suspended after saying some teachers ‘did nothing’ in lockdown… – The Times
  • …but doubles down on claim and vows to fight for her career – Daily Mail

Jenrick reported to Parliamentary standards watchdog over planning row

“Robert Jenrick has been reported to the Commons standards watchdog over his decision to approve Richard Desmond’s £1bn property scheme. Labour has asked Kathryn Stone, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, to investigate whether the Housing Secretary breached the MPs’ code of conduct in rubber-stamping the Westferry development. On Friday shadow housing secretary Steve Reed accused Boris Johnson of attempting to sweep the issue “under the carpet” after he expressed “full confidence” in the minister and decided the matter was closed. In his letter to Ms Stone, Mr Reed said he believed the minister had failed to “live up” to the transparency required of MPs and that he appeared to have “wanted to do favours for Mr Desmond without being seen to do so.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Khan ‘offered to fast track development’ – The Times
  • Desmond ‘had drinks with Boris Johnson at Number 10’ – Daily Mail


  • Jenrick affair taints the Conservative Party – Matthew Parris, The Times
  • Too close to home: Johnson’s ‘expert’ housing minister – Henry Mance, FT

>Yesterday: Iain Dale’s column: The Jenrick row. What grudge could the Daily Mail possibly have against the former owner of the Daily Express?

Johnson ‘gives nod to African gas pipeline’

“Boris Johnson will give the go-ahead next week to a £1 billion loan guarantee for an African gas pipeline despite warnings that it will damage Britain’s environmental credentials before the international climate change summit in Glasgow next year. The Mozambique LNG Project to pump off-shore gas to a liquefying plant for domestic use and export is Africa’s largest private investment. The French firm Total and partners are seeking $15.5 billion for the project and have been in discussions with UK Export Finance for months. Mr Johnson has approved the deal, under which the taxpayer will underwrite £1 billion of the debt despite fierce opposition from allies including Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park.” – The Times

  • Prime Minister ‘aims to raise Britain’s game in science’ – FT
  • UK tech gamble ‘baffles experts’ – The Guardian

Rift at the top of Labour over sacking of Long-Bailey

“Cracks have appeared in the unity at the top of the Labour Party after its deputy leader was said to be unhappy with Sir Keir Starmer’s decision to sack Rebecca Long Bailey. Angela Rayner, who was backed for the deputy leadership by the Corbynite campaign group Momentum, is a close friend of Ms Long Bailey and shares a flat with her in Westminster. Sir Keir sacked Ms Long Bailey as shadow education secretary on Thursday after she shared an article containing what he said was an “antisemitic conspiracy theory”. A close ally of Ms Rayner said yesterday: “It’s not what we would have wanted to happen. It could have been dealt with differently.”” – The Times


  • Sacking shows that, at last, Labour is serious about antisemitism – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Johnson, Starmer – and their strategies in firing people

Church of England statues will have to come down, says Archbishop of Canterbury

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that statues and memorials in churches and cathedrals will “have to come down” over links with slavery, dividing clergy and historians. In a move that experts said recalled the “iconoclasm of Reformation” in the 16th century, many dioceses are conducting audits to document who is memorialised in the Church of England’s 16,000 churches and 42 cathedrals after leaders backed the “alteration or removal of monuments” in some cases. Britain is examining its links with the slave trade after Black Lives Matter protests. There are several examples on church land of memorials to those who either participated in or profited from it or who were known to have murdered or tortured slaves under their control.” – The Times

  • Mandela’s widow says statues are part of our history – Daily Mail


  • Statues and monuments in English churches must be left alone – The Times

Newslinks for Friday 26th June 2020

26 Jun

Sunseekers risk new coronavirus spike as beaches crammed

“Britain’s most senior doctor has said that coronavirus will flare up again if people do not enjoy summer more responsibly after official figures suggested that cases had stopped falling. The warning came as huge crowds gathered on beaches, largely ignoring social distancing, with police declaring a major incident in Bournemouth. Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said: “If we do not follow social-distancing guidance then cases will rise again. Naturally people will want to enjoy the sun but we need to do so in a way that is safe for all.”” – The Times

  • Crowds spark fears over UK’s ‘staycation summer’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Beaches will be closed if crowds ignore social distancing, Hancock warns – The Sun
  • Public order incidents increase in England as lockdown eases – FT

More travel:

  • Air bridges backlash: Pressure on Johnson to extend plan to all EU countries – Daily Telegraph


  • Lockdown was so much easier when it was harder – Jemima Lewis, Daily Telegraph


  • Bournemouth beach mayhem should trouble Johnson – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Don’t rule out a second lockdown

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Sturgeon sets out plan to ‘unlock’ Scotland… one day before England

Sunak to weigh consumers’ response to easing before completing stimulus plan

“Chancellor Rishi Sunak will wait to see how the public responds to the “independence day” reopening of the hospitality industry in England on July 4 before deciding whether a fiscal stimulus – such as a temporary cut in value added tax – is needed to boost consumer confidence. Mr Sunak’s fiscal statement, originally scheduled for July 9, could slip back to the following week as the Treasury assesses the state of mind of the British consumer, including data from recently reopened high streets in England. No date for the House of Commons statement has been fixed. The more that UK consumers respond to easing of lockdown by spending rather than saving – including going to pubs – the less ministers will be inclined to cut taxes further given the £300bn plus deficit the UK is likely to run this year.” – FT

  • Britain’s biggest shopping centres including Lakeside and the Trafford Centre could close – Daily Mail


  • UK puts $500m into satellite race – The Times


  • The British government is about to sleepwalk into an unemployment crisis – Larry Elliott, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Local Government: Victory for ConservativeHome! Al fresco dining restrictions lifted.

Planning reforms which would have given Jenrick more power are halted

“Radical planning reforms that would have put extra powers in the hands of Robert Jenrick have been put on hold amid the lobbying controversy surrounding the Housing Secretary. The Telegraph understands that the Government was studying plans to take responsibility for some major developments away from councils and put Mr Jenrick in charge instead. Ministers believed the Prime Minister would include the proposals in a white paper on planning expected later this year, and had expected him to reference them in a major speech next week on rebuilding Britain after the coronavirus recession.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Minister sparks fury after backing Housing Secretary over decision to green-light £1bn project – The Sun
  • Zahawi hits back at Jenrick criticism – Daily Express
  • Tories accuse party HQ of ‘tacky fundraising operation’ – The Times
  • Jenrick faces questions over meeting with Israeli mining heir – The Guardian


  • Conservatives are desperate to shut down the Robert Jenrick saga – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph
  • Row lays bare the rotten heart of the UK planning system – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian


>Yesterday: Paul Carter in Local Government: We could see a housing recovery – if we give builders the incentives they need

‘Face the front and pay attention when schools reopen’, Williamson orders children

“Gavin Williamson has said that he wants all children to face the front of the classroom when schools reopen in September. The education secretary told Tory MPs that he was concerned that in many classrooms children were sitting at round or square tables facing one another. He said the approach was “wrong” and that he wanted to “get the class to pay attention to the teacher” when lessons resumed. Mr Williamson is preparing to double the size of teaching “bubbles” to 30 to get every child back to full-time education by September. Under the plans social distancing could be scrapped in schools.” – The Times

  • Pandemic promises to be unlikely saviour of ailing private schools – The Times


  • Johnson is going to take a serious hit if he fails to get all schools to reopen in September – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The big speech Johnson makes next week should be about education

Patel demands to see Met Police chief after force was ‘reduced to a laughing stock’

“Priti Patel will demand a ‘full explanation’ from Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick today after police officers were overpowered and forced to flee a ‘mini riot’ after a block party in Brixton. The Home Secretary is due to meet the UK’s top cop following a second night of unrest as the scenes at an illegal party in south London on Wednesday were repeated when police were pelted with objects further illegal gatherings in Notting Hill, Streatham and Tottenham overnight. Dame Cressida has been accused of turning the Met into a ‘laughing stock’ and abandoning ‘law abiding residents’ to ‘mob rule’ after a video showed revellers chasing away police officers in Brixton while screaming ‘run them out’ as 22 officers were injured – including two who needed a full body scan.” – Daily Mail

  • Home Secretary outraged at hate-filled louts as 32 police injured by mob – Daily Express
  • Brixton: Downing St condemns attacks on police – The Times
  • Police officers targeted in Notting Hill by violent mob for second night running – The Sun#
  • ‘Nightingale’ courts will tackle backlog of half a million cases – The Times

Civil service chief’s future in doubt as Johnson eyes Whitehall shake-up

“Mark Sedwill’s future at the centre of Boris Johnson’s administration is under threat according to cabinet ministers and senior Whitehall officials, who predict the influential head of the civil service could leave his job later this year. Sir Mark, who has held the post of cabinet secretary since 2018, has been “unhappy” during the past few months, according to senior civil servants, amid growing tensions inside Downing Street over its handling of the coronavirus crisis. Despite facing calls to resign over his trip to Durham during the UK’s Covid-19 lockdown, Mr Johnson’s chief of staff, Dominic Cummings, remains determined to shake up the civil service.” – FT

  • Cummings is right about civil service failings – Philip Collins, The Times
  • Chief of Staff must give ministers more latitude for the battle ahead – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Hunt says ‘groupthink’ slowed coronavirus response

“The U.K.’s former health secretary claimed the country’s slow response to coronavirus is partly down to “groupthink” among top scientists and civil servants that led to a focus on preparing for pandemic flu rather than learning from previous outbreaks of SARS and MERS in Asia. Jeremy Hunt, who now chairs the House of Commons health committee, told POLITICO that if scientific advice presented to ministers was more “transparent,” the U.K. may have taken different decisions in the earlier stages of the coronavirus crisis. The U.K. currently has the third highest death toll in the world, behind the U.S. and Brazil. Neil Ferguson, a former top scientific adviser to the U.K. government, told a Commons committee on June 10 that the death toll could have been halved if the U.K. had locked down earlier.” – Politico

  • Hancock introduces ‘walk-through’ test centres following fierce criticism – The Guardian
  • Covid-19 antibody tests raise doubts over accuracy and utility, study finds – FT
  • Europe has seen a surge in coronavirus cases since easing lockdown, WHO warns – Daily Mail


  • Testing failures leave Britain shrouded in fear – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Maria Higson in Comment: The Coronavirus has already changed the NHS. Now it can be transformed for the better. Here’s how.

Tory ‘revolt grows’ over end to child migrant deals

“Boris Johnson is facing a mounting rebellion from Tory MPs who want to guarantee the rights of lone migrant children to seek refuge in the UK. Six Tory MPs, including two former ministers, have put their names to a Labour amendment seeking to provide legal routes for unaccompanied children. Two schemes enabling them to claim asylum are coming to an end. One route known as the “Dubs scheme”, named after the former child refugee and campaigner Lord Dubs, was created in 2016 and allows lone minors with no family in the UK to resettle. However, it reached its 480-place capacity last month.” – The Times

Frost warns Barnier to ‘get real’ ahead of face-to-face showdown

“Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost has warned Michel Barnier to get real ahead of the pair’s first face-to-face meeting in months. David Frost hit back at the Frenchman’s claims No 10 is trying to cherry-pick a deal that would keep current access to the EU’s market. EU parliament leader: Johnson ‘seems unwilling to find compromise’ in Brexit talks. Both men will kick off an intensified round of talks at the Commission headquarters on Monday in a bid to strike a breakthrough… Mr Barnier has said a deal is within reach and he is ready to compromise if the UK follows suit.” – The Sun

  • EU parliament leader: Johnson ‘seems unwilling to find compromise’ in Brexit talks – The Guardian
  • Brussels plan to tie UK to EU car parts market – Daily Telegraph
  • Sturgeon warned: Extending Brexit transition period would HARM post-pandemic recovery – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Stephen Booth’s column: While UK-EU talks gather momentum, Britain should continue to diversify its trading relationships.

Starmer battles with Labour left after sacking Long Bailey

“Sir Keir Starmer was in a stand-off with the Labour left last night after he sacked his former leadership rival Rebecca Long Bailey. Moderates hailed the leader’s boldness after he dismissed Ms Long Bailey as shadow education secretary for sharing an article that contained an “antisemitic conspiracy theory”. But Corbynite shadow ministers saw the move as a declaration of war against the Labour left and were threatening to walk out.More than a dozen members of the Socialist Campaign Group, the hard left caucus in the parliamentary party, are on the front bench. Sir Keir initially refused to meet them last night to repair relations, but is expected to do so today.” – The Times


  • Starmer is showing he is serious about reforming Labour – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph


  • Starmer has shown leadership in cracking down on antisemitism – The Times

>Yesterday: Left Watch: Starmer sends a double message by dismissing Long-Bailey

Newslinks for Thursday 25th June 2020

25 Jun

‘Blue Wall’ MPs put on standby for major speech on ‘rebuilding Britain’

Tory MPs have been put on standby for a major launch of Boris Johnson’s ambitious plan for rebuilding Britain in the coming weeks. Party whips have told backbenchers to prepare for a big push highlighting the Prime Minister’s blueprint for modernising the country’s infrastructure and helping previously neglected communities catch up with the rest of the country. Mr Johnson will make a major policy speech promising to “build, build, build” within the next fortnight, setting out proposals for boosting growth and help the economy recover from the coronavirus lockdown within the next fortnight. And his party troops have been instructed to go on the offensive in the so-called “Blue Wall” swathe of constituencies in the Midlands and North of England captured from Labour at the last general election to trumpet the Government’s ambitions for transforming their areas.” – Daily Express

  • Tata Steel closes in on funding deal for UK business – FT


  • Poor lives matter whatever their colour – David Aaronovitch, The Times

Keeping gyms shut could ‘set back public health for a generation’, Prime Minister is warned

“Baroness Grey-Thompson has written to Boris Johnson expressing her “disappointment and frustration”, after the Prime Minister confirmed pubs will be allowed to reopen while sports facilities remain shut. The paralympian warned that 2,800 gym and leisure facilities are at risk of closure, with more than 100,000 jobs at risk. To lose such facilities in the midst of the coronavirus crisis could “set back public health for a generation”, she said. Baroness Grey-Thompson wrote: “Prime Minister, this is a personal plea to you. I fear further delays could see us lose these facilities forever.” Writing in her role as chair of the health body ukactive, the peer urged Mr Johnson to publish the guidance that led to his decision making.”  – Daily Telegraph

  • Hope for gyms and pools as owners insist they are safe – The Times

Labour warns against reopening until track-and-trace more effective

“Boris Johnson has been cautioned against reopening England’s economy on July 4 without a successful test and trace system in place, as UK health leaders warned of the risk of a “second wave” of coronavirus infections. A day after the prime minister announced measures to ease the lockdown next month, Labour leader Keir Starmer on Wednesday warned it was a “big problem” that two-thirds of those estimated to have the virus were not being reached. “If we don’t get track, trace and isolate properly running we can’t open the economy, we can’t prevent infection spreading,” he told Mr Johnson during prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons.” – FT

  • Johnson accused of ‘dodgy’ answer at PMQs over contact tracing apps – The Times
  • Opposition hits out at Rishi Sunak’s approach to ending wage subsidies – The Guardian


  • Government ‘to make boozing in streets and carparks the norm’ – Daily Express
  • Pub owners could face two years in jail if customers unsafe – The Sun
  • Bars and restaurants blast ‘unworkable’ rules – Daily Mail
  • Vacant shops to be used as walk-in coronavirus test centres – The Times

Madeline Grant: It really is our patriotic duty to save the pubs

“I miss the pub so much, I don’t even care. When they are finally liberated, I’m half-tempted to pack a deckchair and thermos, and queue up overnight, swathed in a Union Jack, like those starry-eyed monarchists at the Lindo Wing whenever a new royal baby arrives. The PM insists supporting pubs is a “patriotic duty”, and so it is – not because this timid Government says so, but because, through no fault of its own, a great British institution is in mortal peril. Pandemic, lockdown and excessive caution have conspired to create a situation so dire that we should assume many of our favourite watering holes will never resurface from this economic maelstrom, and spend as if their – and our – lives depended on it.” – Daily Telegraph

Hard Rain Cummings: the Times picks up ConHome’s story of yesterday

““Anybody who has read what I’ve said about management over the years will know that it’s ludicrous to suggest the solution to Whitehall’s problems is a bigger centre and more centralisation,” he said, according to an account on the Conservative Home website. “It’s already far too big, incoherent and adds to the problems with departments.” He added that the intention was to create a “smaller, more focused and more elite centre”. The account of the call was not disputed by friends of Mr Cummings, who confirmed that an overhaul of the Cabinet Office and No 10 was planned. Michael Gove, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, recently moved to strengthen his grip over the sprawling department at the centre of Whitehall.” – The Times

  • Chief of Staff could face inquiry over special advisers – The Guardian

Jenrick ‘under pressure’ over £1bn Isle of Dogs housing scheme

“The housing secretary was under mounting pressure last night after text messages and emails revealed his close relationship with a Tory donor whose £1 billion housing scheme he approved against the advice of his own officials. Robert Jenrick backed Richard Desmond’s plans to build 1,500 flats on the site of Westferry printworks on the Isle of Dogs, east London, in mid-January, over-ruling the objections of planning officers and the local council. The decision was made early, to ensure that Mr Desmond did not have to pay a £40 million community charge, which came into effect a few days later. Newly disclosed documents reveal that Mr Jenrick gave the former owner of the Daily Express his private mobile number after he was seated next to Mr Desmond at a Tory fundraising dinner in November last year.” – The Times

  • Housing Secretary ‘rushed approval’ of Tory donor’s development after texts – Daily Telegraph
  • Government releases documents on Jenrick approval of Desmond project – FT


  • Jenrick has failed to dispel concerns – The Times

Shapps set to centralise control of Britain’s railways

“The Government will use emergency coronavirus controls of the UK’s railways to centralise control of Britain’s railways, in a move comparable to nationalisation. The Transport Secretary said the crisis had provided opportunities to establish a “different type of railway”, in a move that would mean the end of the franchise system established by John Major. Train operators would receive a fixed fee from the Government which would essentially own all routes and collect fares. Under the current system franchise holders collect fares and pay a percentage to the Exchequer, which encourages them to maximise income. The entire system would be overseen by a board, which would likely be chaired by the Transport Secretary, giving the Government more control over pricing and timetabling.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Plans will be revealed in a report of an independent review into UK railways – Daily Mail

Javid calls for tax cuts to boost economy recovery after lockdown

“Former chancellor Sajid Javid has called for radical tax cuts to boost post-lockdown economic recovery. He urged slashing VAT and National Insurance to encourage households to spend and firms to hang on to their staff. Mr Javid and the Centre for Policy Studies suggested more than 50 recommendations in their After The Virus report. The ex-chancellor, who quit the Government earlier this year after a clash with Boris Johnson, praised his successor Rishi Sunak, for acting decisively with measures such as the furlough scheme. But he said: “Soon, the focus must shift from safeguarding the economy to rebuilding it.” … A rapid bounce back was “optimistic”, Mr Javid wrote in a newspaper yesterday, predicting up to 2.5 million jobless due to the virus.” – Daily Express

  • Quarter of furloughed workers ‘likely to lose their jobs when Government cuts payouts’ – The Sun
  • Liverpool asks for government help to avoid 1980s recession rerun – FT


  • This generation of Tories is complacent about the blight of unemployment – Rafael Behr, The Guardian

Mitchell and over 70 MPs attack decision to scrap DfID

“Anger is growing over the government’s decision to merge the overseas aid department with the Foreign Office, with senior Tories and ex-ministers demanding Boris Johnson install a development minister in the cabinet. The Conservative former secretary of state for the Department for International Development (DfID) Andrew Mitchell is among the signatories to a cross-party letter sent to the prime minister that also calls for the retention of the Commons international development committee (IDC) and the scrutiny body, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI). More than 70 parliamentarians have signed the letter led by a former IDC chair, Lord Malcolm Bruce, to say scrutiny on aid following the sudden merger is vital and the UK must show it is “not turning its back on the world’s poorest”.” – The Guardian

Trade 1) Truss attacks ‘unfair’ US trade practices as markets slide

“Liz Truss hit out at America for “unfair” trade practices as almost £50bn was wiped from the FTSE 100 amid fears of new transatlantic tariffs. In her most critical comments of Washington’s approach to negotiations over a new deal, the Trade Secretary said that the US is failing to live up to its high-minded ideals and must open up its markets for British exports. It came as the White House threatened to impose new duties on $3.1bn of European goods including biscuits and gin as part of a long-running dispute over subsidies for aircraft maker Airbus. Markets dropped around the world as jitters over a new trade war combined with fears of a second wave of Covid-19 after infections jumped in the US. The FTSE 100 dropped 3.1pc while the Dow Jones was down 2.9pc in early trade.” – Daily Telegraph

  • She insists a ban on controversial US farm produce is ‘already in law’ – Daily Mail


  • Trade deal with US could lower standards, manufacturers warn – FT
  • Waitrose boss joins calls for post-Brexit food standards protection – The Guardian

Trade 2) Brussels signals compromise possible in ‘level playing field’ talks

“Brussels has said it is willing to hammer out a compromise with Britain on the sensitive issue of “level playing field” rules for business, in a sign of how positions are shifting ahead of intensive EU-UK future-relationship talks, which start next week. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said his team was willing to work with Britain on a “credible and operational” framework for so-called level playing field commitments. These aim to ensure close alignment between the two sides’ state-aid, environmental and employment regulations.  However, he insisted the EU would not allow anything to jeopardise the integrity of the single market.” – FT

  • UK angles for Falklands squid in post-Brexit trade talks – FT

Rose Paterson obituary

“For 18 years Rose Paterson was the backbone of her husband’s office as North Shropshire MP, before moving out from behind the scenes to take on one of the most high profile positions in British sport. Mrs Paterson, 63, the daughter of the fourth Viscount Ridley, had been married to Owen, MP for North Shropshire, for 40 years. For nearly two decades she was a central part of her husband’s political life. Following his election in 1997, Mrs Paterson was her husband’s Shropshire-based personal assistant and office manager, including during his time at the sharp end of government as Northern Ireland Secretary, and then Minister for the Environment.” – Shropshire Star

Newslinks for Wednesday 24th June 2020

24 Jun

Coronavirus 1) Johnson announces that lockdown will be lifted on July 4th

“Boris Johnson hailed the beginning of the end of Britain’s “national hibernation” on Tuesday as he announced the biggest return of freedoms since lockdown began. The Prime Minister said families and friends will be able to mingle indoors and even go on holiday together from July 4, when pubs and restaurants will also reopen and the two metre rule will be reduced to one metre. But Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, warned that many of new social distancing measures will have to remain in place “until this time next year” because a coronavirus vaccine is still a long way off. Mr Johnson announced that domestic tourism will be up and running again with hotels, guest houses and campsites allowed to open on July 4, along with hairdressers, cinemas and almost every type of tourist attraction. However gyms, swimming pools, nightclubs, indoor sports facilities and concert venues were among the losers which still have no date for reopening.” – Daily Telegraph



Coronavirus 2) Warnings of a second wave

“Health leaders are calling for an urgent review to determine whether the UK is properly prepared for the “real risk” of a second wave of coronavirus. In an open letter published in the British Medical Journal, ministers were warned that urgent action would be needed to prevent further loss of life. The presidents of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons, Nursing, Physicians, and GPs all signed the letter….Both the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and the chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty stressed Mr Johnson’s plan was not “risk-free”.” – BBC

Coronavirus 3) Pledge to fully reopen schools in September faces union resistance

“All children returning to school in September is “pure fantasy”, headteachers have said, warning that there will not be enough space in classrooms even with the new “one metre plus” rule. Unions told ministers that reducing social distancing from two metres to “one-metre plus” is not a “magic bullet”, urging them to come up with a strategy to reopen schools that is “based in reality”. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, on Tuesday announced that the public will be expected to observe “one-metre plus” from July 4. Mr Johnson told the Commons that formal childcare will restart over the summer, and that primary and secondary schools will reopen in September with “full attendance”. He added: “And those children who can already go to school should do so because it is safe.” However, he offered no new guidance on schools, which remain closed to most pupils despite the change from the two-metre rule.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Opening the pubs but not schools just doesn’t add up – David Blunkett, The Sun
  • SAGE has “concerns” – The Times
  • Welsh schools reopening – BBC

>Today: Ed McGuinness on Local Government: We need more innovation to reopen schools

Coronavirus 4) Swimmers and cricketers object to continued ban

“Ministers were challenged to explain last night why pubs were safer than chlorinated swimming pools as sporting bodies left out of the lockdown-easing lashed out at the government. Many sporting activities, such as recreational cricket, football and rugby remain banned. Swimming pools, gyms and sports centres will not reopen on July 4. Leaders of those sports questioned the rationale behind the continuing restrictions when many other indoor leisure activities were allowed to restart. Michael Vaughan, the former England cricket captain, said the decision to maintain the restrictions was “utter nonsense” and suggested amateur cricket should defy the lockdown.” – The Times

  • The shops that won’t be reopening – BBC

Coronavirus 5) Daily press conference scrapped

“The daily Downing Street press conference on coronavirus has been stopped, the government has announced. Boris Johnson led the final regular briefing, flanked by chief advisers Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance. From now on televised briefings will be given on an “ad hoc” basis to “coincide with significant announcements,” Downing Street said. It comes as the PM announced an easing of the lockdown in England. There have been 92 briefings, and two national addresses by the prime minister. Leading the final briefing, Mr Johnson thanked Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick for their “heroic work in presenting information to the public so clearly and so powerfully”.” – BBC

>Yesterday: WATCH: The Prime Minister fronts the last of the daily series of press conferences

Coronavirus 6): “Disturbing surge” in US cases

“America’s top infectious disease expert has told lawmakers that the US is seeing a “disturbing surge” in coronavirus infections in some states. A panel of health officials, including Dr Anthony Fauci, said the next few days will be crucial to stem the new outbreaks. Cases are climbing rapidly across a number of US states. The four top experts also testified they were never told by President Donald Trump to “slow down” testing. Their comments come after Mr Trump told a weekend rally in Oklahoma that he had asked his team to do less testing to help keep official case counts down. “To my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing,” Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified to a congressional committee investigating the US response to the pandemic.” – BBC

Coronavirus 7) Funding to rehouse rough sleepers when hotels reopen

“An extra £85m has been announced by the Treasury to provide emergency accommodation for 5,400 rough sleepers who have been placed in hotels in England for the duration of the pandemic, avoiding them having to return to the streets when the hotels reopen to the public this summer. The extra money will allow councils to rehouse rough sleepers in student accommodation and to find alternative spaces elsewhere until more permanent housing is found. Dame Louise Casey, the chair of the Covid-19 rough sleeping taskforce, said she was extremely relieved the extra money had been allocated, allowing charities and councils longer to work to find long-term housing for those rough sleepers who have been staying in Ibis, Holiday Inn and Travelodge hotels at the government’s expense since the end of March.” – The Guardian

  • Finding a long-term solution is harder – Robert Wright, Financial Times

Coronavirus 8) Call for Scotland to ditch the two metre rule too

“One third of hotels in Scotland say they will not reopen in mid-July when the country’s tourism and hospitality sector is earmarked to resume trading as a result of the two metre distancing rule. Many hospitality firms even warn they will be economically unsustainable if the restriction remains in place in Scotland, according to a survey conducted by industry bosses north of the border.” – The Scotsman

Coronavirus 9) Cameron: A new international body is needed

“You don’t know what is coming; you need to constantly scan the horizon. That’s why after the Ebola crisis I also established a specialist unit in the Cabinet Office to survey the world continuously for viruses heading our way. I believe our energy should now go into forming something at an international level that can do a similar job, and do it fast. In this interconnected, digital world we don’t need some massive new agency. But, given the gaps we can see in the current provision, we know that such an organisation needs to be open, global, science-led, independent, non-political and totally focused on the job in hand: working out where and when and how the next dangerous virus could hit us.” – David Cameron, The Times

Other coronavirus comment:

  • Liberation is at hand – Leader, The Sun
  • The return of hospitality may yet save the summer – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Who wants to live in this new normal? – Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph
  • Whatever lies ahead, a national lockdown cannot be repeated – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Give me back the ‘old normal’ before lockdown took away our freedoms – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
  • Business didn’t get us into this mess, but with the right reforms it can get us out of it – Sajid Javid, City AM

Patel promises to implement Windrush recommendations in full…

“The recommendations of a review into the Windrush scandal will be implemented in full, Home Secretary Priti Patel has said. The report criticised the Home Office after those who came to the UK from Commonwealth countries were wrongly told they were in Britain illegally. Mrs Patel also acknowledged that compensation payments to those who had suffered had been “far too slow”. Labour accused the government of being ‘too slow to right the wrongs’.” – BBC

…and vows to end deportation delays

“Priti Patel is planning to crack down on abuses in the asylum system as part of an overhaul of immigration rules intended to make it easier to remove illegal migrants and offenders who have completed their prison sentences. The home secretary wants to stop asylum applicants stringing out claims with last-minute appeals. She also wants to see prompt removal of criminals sentenced to 12 months or more, but has admitted that this will be a big challenge.” – The Times

MPs reject debates on harassment cases

“MPs have voted down controversial proposals introduced by the leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, that would have allowed them to debate complaints about serious bullying and harassment. In an open letter seen by the Guardian, past and present parliamentary staff, union leaders, MPs and women’s groups had accused Rees-Mogg of undermining a new independent system designed to prevent bullying and sexual harassment in parliament, by allowing MPs to debate serious sanctions made by a new independent expert panel (IEP). But on Tuesday evening, an amendment tabled by Labour MP Chris Bryant, which ruled out debating complaints against MPs in the chamber, passed by five votes – to the delight of parliamentary staffers and campaigners.” – The Guardian

Jenrick had house extension approved despite objections

“The housing secretary had an extension to his £2.6 million Westminster townhouse approved by Conservative councillors despite officials objecting to the scheme three times, The Times can reveal. Robert Jenrick, 38, and his wife, 47, purchased the five-bedroom house in October 2013, a few weeks before he was selected as the Conservative candidate in Newark. The couple submitted plans to turn a first-floor roof terrace into an extra room as part of renovations costing £830,000, but the scheme was twice rejected by a planning officer who concluded it would damage the character and appearance of the building and conservation area.” – The Times

  • Commons bid to force him to release documents about his decision to green-light Tory donor’s £1billion property development – Daily Mail

>Today: Profile: Robert Jenrick, who rose without trace until he hit two bumps in the road

Those on low incomes more likely to vote Conservative than Labour

“More poorer Brits voted Tory than Labour for the first time to help deliver Boris Johnson’s 2019 election landslide. A study of the December poll has shown the Conservatives established a 15-point lead over the Opposition among those on low incomes. It even revealed the Tories were more popular with those struggling to make ends meet than they were among wealthier voters. A report for the anti-poverty Joseph Rowntree Foundation says:  “The Tories are no longer the party of the rich, while Labour is no longer the party of the poor”. It examined the British Election Study and found 45.4 per cent of low-income voters backed the Tories, with 30.6 per cent backing Labour.” – The Sun

Shrimsley: Tories should not be distracted by culture wars

“Against a serious opposition, it is competence not cultural clashes that will decide the government’s fate. Identity politics might take you to power, but competence keeps you there. In the weeks since he fell ill with Covid-19, Mr Johnson has squandered the public’s goodwill. Since the furore over his chief aide Dominic Cummings’s lockdown breach, he has alienated his own MPs with all-too visible contempt. A bunker mentality infuses his operation and his cabinet comprises too many ciphers.” – Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times

  • “Racist” plane banner isn’t a crime – Daily Mail
  • MP’s assistant who tried to save Reading victims – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Columnist Daniel Hannan: The police. Not institutionally racist, but institutionally woke.

News in brief

  • The limits of Covid death statistics – Ross Clark, The Spectator
  • Was the two-metre rule one big lie? – Timandra Harkness, Unherd
  • Would a second term for Trump endanger the United States? – Daniel Johnson, The Article
  • Getting people back to work – John Redwood
  • White Saviour Syndrome won’t save black lives – John Lloyd, CapX