Newslinks for Wednesday 30th June 2021

30 Jun

Coronavirus 1) Bid to end school chaos

“The number of pupils self-isolating at home quadrupled in a fortnight to 375,000, it has been revealed, piling pressure on the government to relax Covid-19 rules. One in 20 children at schools in England were self-isolating last week. Most did not have the virus but when a pupil tests positive all those in their bubble, which could be an entire year group, have to go home. Last night Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, said he was preparing to scrap bubbles in line with the easing of other restrictions. However, this will not be until September and absences are expected to continue to rise in the last weeks of the summer term. About 200 schools have been involved in a trial that avoids bubbles, instead allowing classmates of those who test positive to stay at school and take a lateral flow test each morning.” – The Times

  • School self-isolation hitting poor pupils hardest – Daily Telegraph
  • Lockdowns leave half of teenagers battling anxiety and trauma – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

Coronavirus 2) Double-jabbed Brits won’t have to isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with Covid victim from July 19

“BRITS who have had both jabs will no longer have to isolate for ten days if they come into contact with a Covid victim from July 19, The Sun can reveal. Currently, anyone alerted by Test and Trace that they have been near someone who has tested positive must — by law — isolate at home. But after a successful pilot scheme running since April, ministers are set to replace that rule for the fully vaccinated with 20-minute lateral flow tests taken each day for the same amount of time. If you are negative, you would be free to leave the house that day — in a major boost for workplaces. Our revelation comes as travel bosses, publicans and punters demand clarity from the Government about exactly what next month’s Freedom Day will mean.” – The Sun

  • Foreign bosses exempt from Covid quarantine ‘to boost business’ – The Times
  • Not enough Pfizer and Moderna doses to vaccinate against Covid faster – The Times

Coronavirus 3) Javid opens way for EU travel to resume with NHS app

“Sajid Javid is set to pave the way for reopening travel to EU countries with a new NHS app that is ready to bypass Angela Merkel’s quarantine demands. The app has been updated to serve as a Covid passport that will enable British travellers to prove they are fully vaccinated, show a negative pre-departure test or show that they have had the virus in the past 180 days. It is now ready to be integrated into the EU’s identical green pass system, which will allow people to travel freely throughout the bloc by revealing their vaccination or test status at borders. “We are technically ready to be integrated into the EU database that will recognise your digital NHS signature and allow you to demonstrate your Covid status,” said a senior industry source.” – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

Coronavirus 4) Hospitals can cope, so let’s end restrictions soon, Whitty tells cabinet

“The chief medical adviser has warned ministers of a challenging winter but said that England is on course to ease restrictions on July 19. Professor Chris Whitty said at a cabinet briefing on Monday that the increase in coronavirus cases was not leading to a sharp rise in people needing hospital treatment. The chief medical officer for England said that summer was the time to ease as many restrictions as possible, provided there was not a rise in Covid-19 patients in hospitals, and that winter would be harder because the virus spread more when people were indoors. Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, has previously said that face coverings may be needed if there is a resurgence of infections in winter.” – The Times

  • Protection for Whitty after more harassment – The Times

Comment:

Coronavirus 5) Cabinet agrees it’s time to ‘live with Covid’… and you won’t have to show proof of vaccination to attend mass gatherings

“Covid passports will not be compulsory at music festivals, sports events and other mass gatherings when lockdown restrictions are lifted next month. Ministers are set to shelve plans for the mandatory use of ‘Covid certification’ after Freedom Day on July 19. Plans for pubs and restaurants had already been put on the backburner following a backlash from MPs and the hospitality sector. The Mail can now reveal that ministers have also dropped the idea of imposing them on mass events. Organisers will, however, be permitted to run their own schemes, with the Premier League among those expected to introduce some form of certification to prove those attending football grounds do not pose a Covid risk.” – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • There is no case for Covid restrictions beyond July 5 – let alone the official ­freedom date of July 19 – The Sun

Hancock CCTV inquiry ‘should take 10 minutes’

“The investigation into who released CCTV video of Matt Hancock kissing his aide will be “the easiest leak inquiry in history”, security sources have said. The company contracted to manage security at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is called Emcor UK, according to documents obtained by The Times. Sources said that all staff with access to the CCTV network were being interviewed about the video, which was leaked to The Sun. Its publication last Friday led to Hancock’s resignation as health secretary the following day. A source in another facilities management company in charge of security at other government departments said it would be easy to find the whistleblower because all members of staff who accessed the video on the internal systems would have left a digital trail.” – The Times

  • Lord Bethell admits using account for work but insists he has done nothing wrong – Daily Mail

Sunak prepares £15bn green savings scheme for public

“Plans for £15 billion of green savings bonds are expected to be announced by the chancellor this week, allowing people to invest in renewable energy projects such as wind and solar power. Rishi Sunak will use a speech at Mansion House in the City of London to reveal details of the scheme, which is expected to be one of the biggest issues of green bonds in the world. They will be available through NS&I, the Treasury-backed savings organisation that also offers Premium Bonds. Germany and Sweden have similar bonds for retail investors. Sunak’s announcement will be part of the government’s efforts to enhance its green credentials before the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow in November. Britain has committed to hitting net-zero emissions by 2050.” – The Times

Post-Brexit handouts won’t be like 1970s, says Kwarteng

“The government will set out today its “agile and flexible” post-Brexit state aid system, which ministers will be able to use to support selected industries. Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, said that the rules would “empower public authorities across the UK to deliver financial support, without facing burdensome red tape”. State aid rules were the source of key rows during the Brexit negotiations. The EU wanted Britain to stay aligned to its rules to ensure a level playing field on rules for public subsidies to business but Boris Johnson resisted. Kwarteng said that the new system would be more “agile and flexible” but added: “I have been clear that we will not return to the failed 1970s approach of the government trying to run the economy, picking winners or bailing out unsustainable companies.” – The Times

  • UK unveils post-Brexit state aid scheme to support industry – FT

Starmer faces hard-left leadership coup if Labour lose Batley & Spen by-election

“EMBATTLED Sir Keir Starmer could face a leadership coup by the hard-left if he loses tomorrow’s Batley & Spen by-election. Gloomy Labour activists fear the party could end up coming third in the contest – losing the Red Wall seat to the Tories and coming behind George Galloway and his Workers Party. Corbynista darling Dawn Butler has been forced to deny she would trigger a contest if they lose after growing rumours that she is eyeing a tilt at the top job. While the Unite trade union – Labour’s biggest union paymaster – is said to be “casting around” for a left-wing candidate they can get behind. One Labour insider told The Sun said activists knocking doors in Batley have warned the party could come third. They added: “If that happens that’s obviously a huge pressure moment for Keir.” Sir Keir has faced mounting questions over his leadership after losing the once rock-solid Labour seat of Hartlepool last month.” – The Sun

Comment:

The Union hasn’t faced such peril in my lifetime – but it can be saved, Gordon Brown

“One of my most vivid recollections as a teenager was the funeral service of Sir Winston Churchill in the winter of 1965, when his coffin was carried in a gunboat that sailed down the Thames. Our wartime leader had planned the commemoration himself with military precision under the title ‘Operation Hope Not’. Like thousands of others joining a series of events across the United Kingdom, I, and my school, attended a service marking his passing. The Boys’ Brigade, the Girl Guides, the Scouts and the Royal British Legion in my home town of Kirkcaldy paid their respects. The Union Flag was unfurled. The National Anthem sung, and Land Of Hope And Glory came later. It was a high moment of Britishness: the UK coming together, under one flag, to mark the death of a leader who had led our country to its finest hour.” – Daily Mail

>Today:

New £3.2bn Ajax tanks withdrawn again after troops suffer hearing loss

“New light tanks that have so far cost the army £3.2 billion have been withdrawn for a second time after more troops reported suffering hearing loss during trials, The Times has learnt. All trials involving the Ajax armoured vehicle were paused in mid-June on “health and safety grounds” amid concerns that mitigation measures put in place to protect soldiers — including ear defenders — were not sufficient. Ministers believe senior officers in the army may have hidden the extent of the problem with Ajax over recent months to prevent it being axed as part of this year’s “integrated review” of Britain’s defence and foreign policy. Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, is said to be “distinctly unhappy” with the handling of the programme and has appointed a team to review it and find out what the army has kept “hidden” from politicians because of concerns about cuts.” – The Times

Woke brigade ‘could tear the UK apart despite being just a noisy minority’

“WOKE culture warriors are a noisy minority but they risk tearing the UK apart, researchers say. Throwing around baseless allegations of racism and white privilege will lead to deep US-style social divisions, they warn. And social media platforms need to be held to account better for fuelling divisive movements, the Kings College London team insisted. The experts found that cancel culture had exploded in the last year — with 82 per cent of people having first encountered it in the past 12 months. Liberal or left-leaning sides of the culture war were less likely to engage in debate than those on the traditional or right-leaning side, they found. More than half of Brits believe that people are too easily offended, they discovered. Meanwhile, 26 per cent see woke as a compliment, 24 per cent reckon it’s an insult and the rest don’t know what it means.” – The Sun

Comment:

  • Indoctrination of a generation: Racially segregated clubs, white pupils told they’re ‘oppressors’, and teachers banned from saying ‘boys and girls’. A dangerous and divisive dogma has gripped the classroom – but, writes Guy Adams, parents are fighting back – Daily Mail

>Today:

Workers face paying £55 more each day with flexi rail tickets

“Commuters face spending up to £55 more each day to travel using the government’s new “flexi-fares” rather than relying on traditional rail season tickets, according to analysis. Research by Labour shows that passengers can pay almost 150 per cent more a day when using the much-anticipated tickets from this week. The party said the tickets — aimed at passengers who travel two or three days a week — could discourage people from getting back on to the rail network when lockdown restrictions end. However, the government insisted yesterday that the tickets were never intended to provide savings for all passengers. It pointed out that an online fares calculator had been introduced to find the cheapest option, including conventional day tickets, full-time season tickets or the new flexible fares.” – The Times

Life expectancy key to success of levelling up in UK’s poorer areas

“Boris Johnson’s post-Covid levelling-up agenda will fail unless it addresses declining life expectancy and deteriorating social conditions in England’s poorest areas, a leading authority on public health has warned as he published figures showing the impact of the pandemic on Greater Manchester. Sir Michael Marmot revealed the coronavirus death rate in Greater Manchester was 25% higher than the England average during the year to March, leading to “jawdropping” falls in life expectancy and widening social and health inequalities across the region over the past year. The deteriorating health equalities picture in the region and across similarly deprived areas of the country was a result of longstanding, avoidable socioeconomic inequities and ethnic disadvantage, exacerbated by a decade of spending cuts and amplified by Covid and the effect of prolonged lockdowns, he said.” – The Guardian

England beat Germany as Sterling and Kane send them to Euro 2020 last eight

“For England, it was always going to be about finding the moment, the one to blow apart a tight game, to cut through so much negative tournament history – particularly at the hands of Germany. And for long spells, as the tension rose to near unbearable levels at a raucous and emotional Wembley, the home crowd wondered whether it would come. Gareth Southgate had reverted to a 3-4-3, ignoring the clamour for greater fantasy and more creative players. It was the England manager sticking bravely to his principles, seeking security, the platform for the moment, and a part of the equation was patience, which was not in abundant supply inside the stadium. Germany had shown their quality in the first half, particularly early on, yet England came to match them physically and tactically.” – The Guardian

News in brief:

Newslinks for Tuesday 29th June 2021

29 Jun

Virus 1) Javid says July 19 is end of the line for lockdown restrictions

“Sajid Javid told MPs yesterday that he views July 19 as the “end of the line” for lockdown restrictions as he said the nation must learn to live with coronavirus. The new health secretary told the Commons that he was “very confident” that lockdown restrictions would be lifted next month and described July 19 as the start of “an exciting new journey for our country”. He said that while the number of cases is “ticking up”, the number of deaths remains “mercifully low”. The number of hospital admissions, he said, has doubled since the start of May… Senior science advisers have argued that any delay to lifting restrictions would offer only marginal benefit, which could be outweighed by pushing a third peak into the start of the new school term in September.” – The Times

  • UK must ‘learn to live’ with Covid, says new health secretary – FT

More:

  • Harding unlikely to ‘get the nod’ to run NHS England – FT
  • Baker condemns yobs who harassed Whitty – Daily Express
  • Jobs hang on speed of reopening as furlough winds down – FT

>Yesterday:

Virus 2) Ministers to consider ending isolation rules for schoolchildren

“Ministers are to review the controversial Covid-19 school “bubble” rule that has seen tens of thousands of students being forced to self-isolate for 10 days if one pupil in their group tests positive for the virus. Sajid Javid, new health secretary, told MPs on Monday he had asked for “fresh advice” on the issue and that the policy was drawn up “with the data that was available at the time”. Javid wants England to return to economic and cultural normality on July 19 and to learn to “live with” Covid. He told MPs that it was not possible to eliminate all risk… The rise in coronavirus cases is causing major disruption in schools in England, as they send home increasing numbers of pupils to self-isolate after some children test positive for Covid.” – FT

  • Daily Covid tests for schoolchildren hold key – The Times
  • Children’s Commissioner calls for urgent action to prevent a lost generation – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • We won’t force all football fans at Wembley to self-isolate, so why do it in schools? – David Blunkett, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Harry Fone in Local Government: Social distancing rules have pushed up the cost of council meetings

Virus 3) Hopes fade for early easing of curbs on travel to America

“A ban on UK citizens entering the US is unlikely to be lifted before the end of the summer. It was reported last night that talks over a transatlantic travel corridor are unlikely to reach a positive conclusion before the end of next month despite intense lobbying from airlines. Anxiety over the spread of the Delta variant in the UK combined with uncertainty over the status of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the US has led to deadlock between the two countries, it emerged. Spain, Portugal, Malta and Hong Kong have all announced new restrictions on British travellers. Most UK citizens have been banned from entering the US since March last year. At the same time, the US is on the UK’s amber list, forcing all travellers to quarantine for up to ten days on arrival.” – The Times

  • Officials play down chances of any breakthrough on transatlantic restrictions before September – FT

More:

  • Morrison vows to keep Australian border shut as Delta Covid variant takes hold – The Times

>Yesterday: Selaine Saxby in Comment: If we’re to make the most of holidaying in Britain, Ministers must help us gear up to meet demand

Ministers face probe over private emails…

“The data protection watchdog was poised last night to launch an investigation into the use of personal email accounts by ministers including Matt Hancock. Elizabeth Denham, the UK Information Commissioner, said she was ‘looking carefully’ at claims they were being used to conduct government business. Labour called for health minister Lord Bethell to be sacked over claims he had used a personal email address to discuss government contracts. Downing Street insisted yesterday that both Mr Hancock and Lord Bethell ‘only ever conducted government business through their departmental email addresses’.” – Daily Mail

  • Health minister Whately used private email for government work – The Guardian
  • Hancock reported to police over affair by Labour MP but cops refuse to investigate – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Row over Hancock’s emails highlights the trade-offs involved in ‘Freedom of Information’

…and security sweeps of Whitehall offices ordered after Hancock CCTV leak…

“Ministers have ordered an urgent search of their offices and the speaker of the House of Commons has opened a security review of parliament after last week’s leak of CCTV footage of former health secretary Matt Hancock. Hancock resigned on Saturday night after the release of a video of him kissing Gina Coladangelo, who was his adviser in the health department. Colleagues of Hancock said they had been shocked to realise their activities had been filmed in his private office, although ministers insisted on Monday that the ceiling-mounted camera was not “covert”. “I feel quite sick,” said one.” – FT

  • Offices are free from cameras, Speaker tells MPs and ministers – The Times
  • Camera that caught Hancock ‘should have been pointing in opposite direction’ – Daily Telegraph

…as Johnson suggests he sacked Hancock

“Boris Johnson on Monday appeared to claim he forced out Matt Hancock, despite his press team briefing that the former health secretary quit of his own accord. Downing Street told reporters Mr Hancock had not been pressured to go after he resigned following revelations that he was having an affair with an aide. But with broadcasters questioning ministers about why the Prime Minister had not acted over the scandal, Mr Johnson suggested in an interview that he had intervened. He said: “I read the story on Friday and we’ve got a new Health Secretary in post on Saturday, and I think that’s about the right pace to proceed in a pandemic.” The comment triggered accusations that he was rewriting history, given that he had initially stood by Mr Hancock when the news broke.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Cummings mocks claim – The Times
  • Labour urges overhaul of Whitehall oversight rules after Hancock row – The Guardian

More:

  • Gove insists he ‘just gets on with the job’ after wife’s article about how politics wrecks marriages – The Sun

>Today: Audio: The Moggcast: “I think one of the Prime Minister’s many attractive qualities is loyalty to people who work for him”

William Hague: Prime Minister shouldn’t duck a proper reshuffle

“Boris Johnson’s instinct to protect ministers in trouble is a healthy one, although it proved insufficient to save Matt Hancock from the charge that he could no longer ask others to maintain social distancing. So too is Johnson’s apparent preference to let ministers have long enough in a post to master it. In my own experience, it is six months before you can be sure of your brief as a minister and it is two years before you start to know more than your officials, who themselves often move jobs too quickly. Excessive reshuffling undermines such expertise and the accountability that comes from answering for one’s own mistakes: the flow of seven housing ministers in the past six years has not exactly eased the political problems in this crucial area of policy.” – The Times

  • Johnson was right to wait until Hancock resigned – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Major overhaul of Border Force after failure to stem flow of Channel migrants

“The Home Office has ordered a major overhaul of the Border Force amid growing frustration over the failure to stem the flow of illegal Channel migrants. The two directors general of Border Force and Immigration Enforcement are to quit their posts and will be replaced by a single supremo tasked with curbing the crossings and overhauling Britain’s “broken” asylum system. Consultants are also said to have been recruited to investigate a merger of the two Home Office directorates as the Government seeks to regain the initiative after a doubling in illegal migrant crossings this year and the failure to deport any to “safe” third countries.” – Daily Telegraph

  • A new supremo is expected to be appointed to stop illegal Channel crossings – Daily Mail
  • Patel’s offshore immigration hubs face legal challenges – FT
  • UN condemns Home Secretary’s offshore asylum plan – The Times

More:

  • Danes back hardline stance on immigration – The Times

Pupils face total ban on mobile phone use

“Schools will become mobile phone-free zones, Gavin Williamson announced yesterday as he set out plans for a nationwide classroom ban. Under a new regime backed by the education secretary, heads would be told to stop pupils using their phones at any point during the school day. Williamson said that the ban would end the “damaging effect” that overuse of mobile phones could have on children’s mental health and wellbeing. The move pits him against teachers’ leaders who have criticised it as a “distraction” from the pressing problems of helping pupils to catch up on learning lost during the pandemic.” – The Times

  • Unions say it is an attempt to distract from Government’s Covid failures – The Guardian

EU ‘confident of further delay’ to Northern Ireland meat import curbs

“The EU has said it is confident that a further delay can be agreed to looming restrictions on shipments of meat products across the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland, as Brussels vowed to consider “bold steps” to address some of the problems caused by Brexit in the region. Maros Sefcovic, the EU commissioner in charge of relations with the UK, said he believed a three-month extension could be granted to a grace period before restrictions come into force on exports of chilled meat products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.  Addressing members of the Stormont legislative assembly in Belfast, Sefcovic said the EU wanted to help address barriers to access to medicines in Northern Ireland, signalling the European Commission could introduce legislation to address the matter if necessary.” – FT

  • Brussels offers Brexit olive branch on trade with Ulster – The Times
  • Johnson warned not to be fooled by Brussels’ ‘false promises’ – Daily Express

More:

  • Welsh leader attacks ‘aggressively unilateral’ UK government – The Guardian
  • Scottish courts could have ‘unparalleled’ powers to reject Westminster legislation – Daily Telegraph

>Today:

‘Dirty tricks’ in Batley and Spen

“The Batley and Spen byelection race has descended into allegations of dirty tricks as Labour’s campaign was accused by one of its own MPs of using “dog-whistle racism” to win votes. One party leaflet distributed to Muslim voters showed Boris Johnson with India’s nationalist prime minister, Narendra Modi, and the message “Don’t risk a Tory MP who is not on your side”. The Labour MP Navendu Mishra said the “divisive” leaflet sought to turn communities against each other. Separately, Labour has alerted the police to fake leaflets that said the party believed “the biggest threat to our precious multicultural society is whiteness”. The TUC is reportedly taking legal advice over the leaflets, which also show Sir Keir Starmer taking the knee, and say the Labour leader “believes that it is high time that white people acknowledge their privilege”.” – The Guardian

  • Labour accused of stoking racial divisions with Batley and Spen by-election leaflet – Daily Telegraph
  • It shows Johnson with Indian PM with note: ‘Don’t risk a Tory MP who is not on your side’ – The Sun
  • Fear and loathing on left leaves Tories in pole position – The Times

More Labour:

  • Starmer appoints new political director in Labour backroom shake-up – The Guardian
  • Creasy will sue Parliament after her request for maternity cover is turned down – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Electoral Commission has a new chairman – but do we really need it?

News in Brief:

  • Hancock ‘dead cat’ theory is a new low in political analysis – John Ashmore, CapX
  • Badenoch: Britian is the best country in the world to be black – UnHerd
  • How should the clergy best engage in politics and public disputes? – Marcus Walker, The Critic
  • Will Javid scrap Hancock’s NHS reforms? – Isabel Hardman, The Spectator
  • End of the line for lockdown – Mattie Brignal, Reaction

Newslinks for Monday 28th June 2021

28 Jun

Javid to push for an end to lockdown ‘as soon as possible’

“The newly appointed Health Secretary, who replaced Matt Hancock after he was forced to resign for breaking lockdown rules to conduct an affair with an aide, said on Sunday it was his “most immediate priority to see that we can return to normal as soon and as quickly as possible”. A source close to Mr Javid added that “he’ll be extremely reluctant to support an extension… He’ll be looking and seeking to justify ending it as soon as possible”. The insider added that while Mr Javid has never criticised lockdown principles or timings, he had in the past year highlighted “concerns about the costs of it and the effects of it. Not just economically, but socially. Not just other types of health effects but things like domestic abuse and child abuse, and even extremism”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • He announces that restrictions cannot ease on July 5 – Daily Express
  • Where the new Health Secretary stands on the key issues – Daily Telegraph
  • Merkel launches bid to ban all British travellers from EU – The Times

More:

  • MPs criticise Government plan for economic recovery – FT
  • Firms beg for more Covid support before Freedom Day – Daily Mail
  • Tax body opens almost 13,000 probes into use of Covid schemes – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Never mind CCTV. A sign should greet Javid in his new office. Saying “Welcome to Hell”.

>Yesterday:

MI5 to hold talks with officials over video leak

“MI5 officials are expected this week to discuss with the Cabinet Office the leak of Matt Hancock’s office CCTV footage amid mounting fears in government over other security breaches. The Department of Health and Social Care yesterday disabled the camera that filmed the former health secretary kissing and fondling his aide, Gina Coladangelo. The camera has also been blocked out with black masking tape as a precautionary measure by officials of Sajid Javid, the new health secretary, The Times has learnt. The department has launched an internal investigation into how the footage appeared in the media. It will also investigate why a CCTV camera was installed in the office. It emerged that it had been there since at least 2017.” – The Times

More:

  • Hancock won’t take £16,000 severance pay out after quitting in disgrace – The Sun
  • Westminster can change a man, writes Gove’s wife – The Times
  • He took mistress to a G7 health conference three weeks ago – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday:

Prime Minister ‘hints Hancock could return to Cabinet’

“Boris Johnson appears to have hinted Matt Hancock could return to the Government because his “contribution is far from over” — despite slamming him as “useless” in a text. The embattled Health Secretary quit his role on Saturday, a day after humiliating footage of his romantic clinch with a senior aide was published by The Sun. Mr Hancock’s three-year tenure as Health Secretary came to an end after The Sun published footage of the MP kissing Gina Coladangelo. In a resignation letter to the PM, Mr Hancock said the government “owed it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down”. In a reply, Mr Johnson said he was sorry to receive his resignation and paid tribute to him and his work battling Covid.” – The Sun

  • Why Tories worry about Johnson’s loyalty to Hancock – The Times
  • How appeal from 80 Tory MPs sealed hiss fate – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Hancock “should be proud” of what he has done with the health service, says Lewis

Ex-Health Secretary faces scrutiny for using private email for official business

“Matt Hancock’s use of private emails that bypassed disclosure rules when doing government business came under scrutiny this weekend, as exchanges emerged showing the former health secretary had personally referred an old neighbour wanting an NHS contract on to an official. Hancock has repeatedly denied that he had any involvement with £50m worth of contracts for NHS test-and-trace supplies secured by Alex Bourne, who used to run the Cock Inn, near Hancock’s old constituency home in Thurlow, Suffolk. The Guardian revealed last year that the former publican had won the work after sending Hancock a personal WhatsApp message last March, despite having no experience producing medical supplies. Bourne’s company, Hinpack, was at that time producing plastic cups and takeaway boxes for the catering industry.” – The Guardian

  • The other awkward questions Hancock must answer – Daily Mail
  • ‘Tens of thousands defy Covid rules’ after affair – Daily Express

Paul Goodman: Why Johnson fought so hard to save Hancock

“Pressure would be piling up on the prime minister. No 10’s focus groups would doubtless show rising public wrath, at least as much as was detonated by Dominic Cummings’s drive to Barnard Castle. In public, more Conservative MPs would be calling for Hancock to go. Still more would be doing so in private. The fracas would be set to run all the way to the Batley & Spen by-election on Thursday, undermining the possibility of the Tories winning it. All this being so, why did the prime minister stick by his health secretary? After all, it’s not as though they’re political soulmates. Hancock is a former leadership rival, once condemned by Johnson, in that famous WhatsApp message to Cummings, as “f***ing useless”. On inspection, there turn out to be at least four reasons. None is persuasive but all carry some weight. Taken together they offer insight into the prime minister himself, his world view and his future.” – The Times

  • Johnson should have sacked Hancock… but he has a habit of letting pals off the hook – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • This adultery is not a private matter – Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph
  • Hancock’s fall catapults Javid back into the heart of Conservative politics – Martin Kettle, The Guardian

Patel plans for migrants to be held in offshore hub

“Priti Patel will introduce laws next week to enable the government to send asylum seekers abroad for processing as she opens talks with Denmark over sharing a centre in Africa. The Nationality and Borders Bill will include a provision to create an offshore immigration processing centre for asylum seekers for the first time. Boris Johnson is said to be keen on the plan after the arrival in Britain this year of more than 5,600 migrants who have crossed the Channel in small boats. The Times has learnt that Home Office ministers and officials have discussed their proposals with their counterparts in Denmark, which passed its own law this month to process asylum seekers outside Europe. A government source said that representatives of both countries discussed how the Danish government managed the laws domestically, their negotiations with third countries and the “potential” to share a processing centre abroad.” – The Times

  • Plans form part of effort by the Home Office to curb soaring migrant numbers – Daily Mail
  • People smugglers packing more migrants on military-style inflatable boats – The Sun

More:

  • Focus on white privilege stokes division, says equalities minister – The Times

Nationalising probation service not enough to fix flaws, warns watchdog

“Renationalising the management of offenders in the community will not be enough to put right the flaws of disastrous privatisation reforms introduced by the former Conservative minister Chris Grayling, the probation watchdog has warned. As the reunified service launches on Monday, the chief inspector of probation, Justin Russell, said the move to renationalise the service was welcome but will not be without its challenges. Under Grayling’s widely derided shake-up in 2014, the probation sector was separated into a public sector organisation, the National Probation Service (NPS) managing high-risk criminals, and 21 private companies responsible for the supervision of 150,000 low to medium-risk offenders.” – The Guardian

  • Call for more cash as Grayling reforms reversed – The Times

Tory MP wants bill to put tips back into hands of waiters

“Restaurants would lose the power to deduct money received by staff in tips if a new bill is passed by parliament. A Conservative MP has brought forward the Tips Bill as a way of enshrining the rights of waiters and other staff to receive all of the money left by customers. At present, restaurants and other businesses can make deductions from tips, but that would be forbidden under the bill, with staff either pocketing the money directly or agreeing on a pooling system with colleagues. Dean Russell, the Watford MP who proposed the bill, said he saw it as a way of correcting an injustice… The idea of protecting tips has proven consistently popular with the general public, but previous promises to legislate for it have failed to materialise.” – The Times

  • Helping the red wall doesn’t mean harming the south – John Stevenson MP, Times Red Box

>Today: Bim Afolami MP in Comment: What southern MPs in traditionally Tory seats should learn from Northern ones in the former Red Wall

Labour activists ‘sabotaging by-election campaign’ in bid to topple Starmer

“Left-wing Labour activists are sabotaging their party’s by-election campaign in a bid to topple leader Sir Keir Starmer. They have been out in force urging voters to stay at home or back another candidate. Ahead of Thursday’s Batley and Spen poll, MPs fear Sir Keir is doomed if he cannot defend the 3,525 majority in the Yorkshire seat his party has held since 1997. His chances have already been eroded by ex-Labour rabble-rouser George Galloway, who is standing for his self-styled Workers’ Party of Britain. He is appealing to Muslim voters by campaigning on the Middle East and Palestine — and has reached out to Lefties by proclaiming that if they want rid of Starmer “I’m your man”. Ex-leader Jeremy Corbyn and his henchman John McDonnell have been absent from the hustings, as have other seasoned Labour campaigners.” – The Sun

  • Campaigners ‘egged and kicked’ on Batley and Spen campaign trail – The Guardian

Support for Scottish independence at lowest in two years

“Support for Scottish independence has dropped in recent months and stands at its lowest level for two years, according to a poll. The Panelbase survey for the Sunday Times found 48 per cent support for separation and 52 per cent backing for the Union when undecided voters were excluded. This represented a four-point swing since a poll conducted in April produced the opposite result. It also showed the lowest support for independence in a Panelbase poll since 2019. Prof Sir John Curtice, Britain’s most eminent psephologist, said the results indicated “a cooling of the independence ardour” since the Holyrood elections last month. Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP won a fourth term in power but fell one seat short of a majority.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Sturgeon’s bluff unveiled as SNP had to rely on UK Treasury for funding – Daily Express

Comment:

  • Chaotic Unionists must buck up their act – David Burnside, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Lewis – My tweet about there being no Irish Sea Border “has not aged well”

Macron’s party is wiped out in French local elections that also see National Rally fail to break through

“French President Emmanuel Macron saw his party experience wipe-out in local elections today as it failed to win a single one of the country’s key mainland regions. Sunday’s nationwide poll was also a disaster for Marine Le Pen’s far-Right National Rally, which also failed to make any breakthroughs. Despite an appalling turn out of around a third of the country in the second round of the regional elections – the first took place a week ago – it will be seen as key indicator of how both Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen might do in presidential elections next year. Exit polls showed the principal winners on Sunday were the mainstream conservative right, in the form of the opposition Republicans party.” – Daily Mail

News in Brief:

  • Society’s growing acceptance of adultery ignores the pain of its victims – Sarah Ditum, UnHerd
  • At least Hancock apologised, unlike Cummings – Tim Montgomerie, Reaction
  • The electoral humiliation of Macron and Le Pen – Jonathan Miller, The Spectator
  • Anatomy of a miserable deal – Peter Lilley, The Critic
  • Eton’s state sixth forms will change lives for the better – David James, CapX

Newslinks for Sunday 27th June 2021

27 Jun

Hancock quits over affair with Gina Coladangelo…

“Matt Hancock resigned from the cabinet last night after damaging details of his conduct in the affair with his aide Gina Coladangelo were revealed. The health secretary fell on his sword after fellow cabinet ministers and MPs said his position was untenable and friends told him it was the only way to save his political career. Hancock told Boris Johnson he was resigning last night after the Metropolitan Police faced fresh demands to launch an investigation into whether he broke the law by kissing and fondling his adviser while the public were banned from hugging their loved ones. Both Hancock and Coladangelo are married and each has three children.” – Sunday Times

  • Inside the plot to expose Matt Hancock’s affair: Friends talk of secret camera hidden by Chinese… or No10. In fact it was footage from his office CCTV and a whistleblower in his own department – Mail on Sunday
  • Camera that caught Hancock kiss was hidden in smoke detector – Sunday Times
  • Lord Bethell faces inquiry over sponsorship of parliamentary pass for Matt Hancock’s lover – Sunday Times
  • Gina Coladangelo’s job… and how the Tories broke a promise – Mail on Sunday

Analysis/ comment:

>Yesterday:

… as it’s revealed he used private email account for government business…

“Matt Hancock faces an investigation after using a personal email account instead of an official address during the pandemic in a breach of government guidelines. Since March last year the former health secretary has routinely used a private account to conduct government business, concealing information from his own officials and potentially the public, according to documents obtained by The Sunday Times. It means that the government does not hold records of much of Hancock’s decision-making, including negotiating multimillion-pound PPE contracts, setting up the £37 billion test and trace programme and overseeing the government’s care homes strategy.” – Sunday Times

… and Javid replaces him as new Health Secretary

“Sajid Javid was appointed as Health Secretary on Saturday night after Matt Hancock quit his role having breached social distancing rules. Mr Javid, 51, will return to lead the Covid-19 response and oversee social care reform having resigned as chancellor last year over a power struggle with No 10. Bringing Mr Javid back into government means that Boris Johnson can avoid a wider shake-up of his ministerial team following Mr Hancock’s departure. He becomes Mr Johnson’s most experienced cabinet minister, having previously run five other departments, including the Treasury and Home Office.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Cummings claims the appointment is all down to PM’s wife Carrie – Mail on Sunday

>Yesterday:

Tens of thousands of anti-lockdown protesters march on London in biggest demo yet

“Tens of thousands of anti-lockdown protesters marched through central London and towards No10 today demanding the ‘arrest’ of Matt Hancock after he was caught breaching Covid rules by kissing his married aide while preaching the restrictions to the rest of the UK. Anti-lockdown protesters were seen marching along through the capital before descending on Downing Street on Saturday as they called for ‘freedom’ and the end to all Covid lockdown regulations after Freedom Day was delayed from June 21. As well as demanding the end to lockdown, protesters brandished placards that demanded police ‘arrest Matt Hancock’ after he was caught breaching Covid safety regulations by kissing his married aide – despite asking the rest of the country to follow the strict restrictions.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Under-40s fall victim to Covid holiday ‘apartheid’ – Sunday Times
  • Covid-hit hospitals in north postpone 40 per cent of operations – Sunday Times
  • School chaos as Coronavirus cases up 70 per cent in week – Sunday Times

Analysis:

  • If we win freedom on July 19, how will our lives look? – Sunday Times

Interview:

  • Why we don’t believe any Covid variant will be able to defeat our jab completely: Creators of the Oxford vaccine Sarah Gilbert and Cath Green give a very reassuring answer to the question that haunts us all – Mail on Sunday

Comment:

Johnson ‘will urge Angela Merkel to drop demands for an EU-wide quarantine for UK tourists’

“Boris Johnson will this week face down Angela Merkel in a bid to save summer holidays, as the German Chancellor stands accused of trying to punish the UK. Germany has been pushing to impose a European Union-wide quarantine on British tourists, including those who have been double-jabbed, arguing it would protect the bloc against Covid variants. Government sources told The Mail on Sunday they fear British tourists are being unfairly punished by the EU because of the UK’s advanced ability to identify new mutations of the virus. The ‘genomic sequencing’ capability in Britain is recognised as world-leading, which means it is better at spotting new variants. Sources stressed that other countries also have variants of concern, but are not as good as identifying them.” – Mail on Sunday

Badenoch: The term ‘white privilege’ is careless and divisive

“Over the last year, terms such as “white privilege” have become part of our vocabulary. We hear celebrities talk about it, it is the subject of best-selling books and last week it was discussed in the news following the publication of a report from the Education Select Committee. But what exactly does the term mean? White privilege, as defined in the recent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED), refers to the idea that “there is societal privilege that benefits white people over other ethnic groups in some societies, particularly if they are otherwise under the same social, political, or economic circumstances”. The independent report, whose authors were (with one exception) all ethnic minorities, recognised that racism is still something many ethnic minorities experience, but that the term “white privilege”, far from helping to combat racism, is actually stoking divisions and marginalising the most disadvantaged.” – Sunday Telegraph

More comment:

Hard left and Blairites circle Starmer ahead of Batley and Spen by-election

“Sir Keir Starmer’s team is braced for a leadership challenge as soon as this week if he loses the Batley and Spen by-election, as leading figures on the left and Blairite wings of the party lose patience. On Thursday Labour faces the prospect of a third successive defeat in a vacated seat, after Hartlepool last month and the party’s worst ever result in Chesham and Amersham ten days ago. Its candidate in the West Yorkshire seat, Kim Leadbeater, is the sister of Jo Cox, who represented the seat before her murder by a neo-Nazi in 2016. MPs believe the contest will be seen as a referendum on Starmer. To trigger a contest that could see him removed, a challenger requires signatures from 20 per cent of the party’s MPs. With 198 MPs at present, the threshold is 40.” – Sunday Times

  • Butler denies plan for hard-Left leadership challenge against Starmer – Daily Telegraph
  • Starmer’s powerful new aide Deborah Mattinson is accused of being ‘sleeper agent’ who used government contracts to get sensitive information about the Tories – Mail on Sunday

Comment:

  • Why won’t either the Labour or Tory candidates in Batley stand up for the teacher robbed of his home, his career and his identity? Dan Hodges – Mail on Sunday

Exclusive: Britain’s election watchdog stands ‘ready’ to organise indyref2, says new chairman

“Britain’s elections regulator could agree to a future demand by the SNP to hold a non-binding referendum on Scottish independence, even if the move is opposed by Boris Johnson, the body’s new chairman has indicated. In his first interview since taking up the role, John Pullinger told The Telegraph that the Electoral Commission is not just “a body of the UK Parliament”, and would have an “independent discussion” with the Scottish Parliament if it wanted “something to be done that helps them with their democracy”. His remarks put the Commission on a collision course with Mr Johnson, who has said he would reject a request for an “irresponsible and reckless” second referendum.” – Sunday Telegraph

May’s bid for Nato secretary general job sparks fears of by-election in Maidenhead

“Maidenhead could be the next big battleground as Tory insiders say they are ‘very worried’ about a by-election in Theresa May’s seat. Talk of the former PM going for the job of Nato secretary general has prompted concerns that voters in her constituency could replicate the party’s painful loss in Chesham and Amersham. The Maidenhead seat is ‘incredibly similar’ to Chesham and Amersham, sources said, with strong views over planning reforms, and the Lib Dems trailing the Tories in second. In 2019 Mrs May won the seat with an 18,000 majority – down from 26,457 in 2017 – while the Lib Dems’ share grew by 13 percentage points. But the swing in Chesham and Amersham – from a 16,223 Conservative majority to an 8,028 Lib Dem one – has led to concerns at Tory HQ.” – Mail on Sunday

Bercow is accused of threatening the House of Commons with court action to thwart probe into his alleged bullying

“Former Speaker John Bercow was last night accused of threatening the Commons with court action to thwart an investigation into alleged bullying. Mr Bercow is said to have warned he will seek a judicial review to block a probe into claims against his conduct when he was in charge of the House. MPs said it would raise the extraordinary prospect of the former Speaker being pitted against his successor, Sir Lindsay Hoyle. But Commons sources say Mr Bercow’s action would be against Kathryn Stone, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. The Mail on Sunday revealed last week that Mr Bercow had now joined the Labour Party, a move that came as a surprise to many Labour MPs.” – Mail on Sunday

News in brief:

Newslinks for Saturday 26th June 2021

26 Jun

Hancock fights for job after breaking Covid rules in affair with aide

“Boris Johnson stood by Matt Hancock, his health secretary, last night amid mounting political and public pressure for him to resign after breaching social distancing rules during an affair with a senior aide. The prime minister said he retained full confidence in Hancock as footage emerged of him kissing Gina Coladangelo, a non-executive director at the Department for Health, in his office. A YouGov survey found that 49 per cent of voters believed Hancock should resign, with 25 per cent saying he should stay. One government source said he should do “the decent thing” and resign, describing Johnson’s decision to stand by him as a “failure of leadership”. Hancock apologised for his actions and Downing Street said that it “considers the matter closed” but declined to say whether Hancock had broken the law or breached the ministerial code.” – The Times

  • CCTV images suggest possible breaches of Covid guidance and ministerial code – FT
  • He’s backed by Johnson but as the questions pile up, will he survive? – The Sun
  • Bereaved Covid families have expressed their disgust at the scandal – Daily Mail
  • He faces sack if affair becomes ‘Barnard Castle moment’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Hancock scraps public visit – The Sun
  • Whistleblower claims relationship was talk of Department of Health – Daily Mail

Urgent investigation into who placed CCTV camera in Health Secretary’s office without his knowledge

“Matt Hancock was caught in a clinch with his aide by a CCTV camera installed in his office without his knowledge, it emerged on Friday night, as an urgent investigation was launched into the unprecedented security breach. The Telegraph understands Mr Hancock had no idea the camera existed when it captured him kissing adviser Gina Coladangelo, and government sources said it was “unheard of” for cameras to be installed in ministers’ offices. It raises the possibility that the camera was deliberately placed by someone with access to his office with the intention of catching the pair cheating on their spouses and breaking Covid rules. It is the first time a Cabinet minister has been filmed in their own office without their knowledge.” – Daily Telegraph

  • No 10 won’t launch inquiry into leaking of CCTV photo – The Guardian
  • Johnson faces growing pressure to launch a ‘cronyism’ probe into Hancock’s hiring of his close aide – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Hancock’s sin is hypocrisy not infidelity – Janice Turner, The Times
  • He voted to invade our privacy, yet now he asks that his be respected – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

>Today: ToryDiary: Hancock must explain in person why he should stay. Not vanish behind a statement made on paper.

Ministers hopeful for mass events after pilots are deemed ‘encouraging’

“Ministers are increasingly hopeful that mass events in England will be able to open without restrictions from July 19, after “encouraging” results from pilots across the country. The UK government’s Events Research Programme found that coronavirus transmission was no higher among attendees at nine large sports and entertainment gatherings in April and May than in the general population. But the music and theatre sectors hit out at plans for further pilots and urged the government to let them reopen after the eagerly awaited report showed that only 28 cases of Covid-19 were identified among the 58,000 participants in the gatherings either at the time of the event or in the following week.” – FT

  • Sunak says Freedom Day is ‘looking good’ for July 19 and he can’t wait to ditch masks – The Sun
  • Hunt: Freedom day will be a joyous moment – The Times

More:

  • Brits could get Covid boosters sent in the post, expert predicts – The Sun
  • Monday to Friday office culture won’t come back after Covid, says adviser – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Dr Sarah Ingham’s column: COIN against Covid. We have to live with the Taliban. And with the virus.

Prime Minister will finally put a cap on the cost of social care as he ‘orders Chancellor to find cash to help the elderly’

“Boris Johnson will place a cap on the cost of social care after facing down opposition from Rishi Sunak, the Mail can reveal today. Treasury sources said discussions about the solution to the social care crisis were now about ‘the details’ of how a cap would work, rather than the principle. The Chancellor is thought to have proposed a number of alternative, cheaper ideas for meeting the Conservative manifesto commitment to finding a long-term solution to the care crisis. But the Prime Minister has insisted on a version of the care cap first proposed by economist Andrew Dilnot a decade ago. The PM is said to refer to the proposals as ‘my plan’ for fixing a crisis he first pledged to tackle almost two years ago.” – Daily Mail

Paul Goodman: Johnson and Sunak are at odds on tax and spend

“The one that went most awry was Margaret Thatcher’s with Nigel Lawson in the 1980s, and it is perhaps this tortured partnership that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak’s most resembles. Unlike Sunak, Lawson was not the frontrunner to succeed the prime minister. Indeed, he seems never to have believed himself to be papabile. But like him, Lawson had a policy disagreement with his boss, to whom he had previously been indispensable. And Sunak’s difference with Johnson is even bigger. Lawson came to believe that the government’s economic policy should be steered by a new guiding star: not monetary policy, but sterling’s value — to which end he wanted Britain to join the Exchange Rate mechanism. That was central enough, but Johnson and Sunak are instinctively at odds on an even bigger fundamental: tax and spending.” – FT

Raab urged caution over British warship’s route through Black Sea

“The foreign secretary warned the Ministry of Defence that sailing a warship near Crimea risked antagonising Russia and argued for a “less confident” route. Dominic Raab said that HMS Defender’s passage across the Black Sea could lead to a reaction from Moscow even though he did not believe the act in itself was provocative. Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, is understood to have advocated a more confrontational approach and argued that the warship should sail straight through the contested waters off Crimea as a “challenge” to Russia’s annexation of the peninsula. Boris Johnson took the final decision to navigate the waters and instructions were passed to HMS Defender on Monday, defence sources said.” – The Times

  • The absolute problem with human rights – Matthew Parris, The Times

Spain rejects Merkel’s bid to impose EU-wide quarantine for UK visitors

“Spain has firmly rejected Angela Merkel’s attempt to secure an EU-wide quarantine policy for British tourists, as UK holidaymakers rushed to book flights to new “green list” destinations, including the Spanish islands of Mallorca and Ibiza. The German chancellor fears that the Delta variant, which is dominant in the UK, could be spread across Europe by British tourists, especially now that Boris Johnson’s government is starting to allow UK citizens to travel again. “In our country, if you come from Great Britain, you have to go into quarantine — and that’s not the case in every European country, and that’s what I would like to see,” Merkel said on Thursday. But Spain has insisted that each EU country makes its own sovereign decision about who to admit, as is their legal right, and is desperate to see tourism reopen…” – FT

  • Travel rules could change at short notice, warns minister – The Guardian
  • Johnson takes fight for summer holidays to EU – The Times
  • Leave campaigners ‘surprised’ by decay in relations with EU, says Frost – The Guardian

Editorial:

  • Britons deserve a summer holiday – FT

Johnson’s new housing pledge at risk from hostile Tories

“Ministers are considering dropping plans for mandatory housebuilding targets after fierce resistance from Tory MPs. Boris Johnson has promised to build 300,000 homes a year to make housing more affordable for young people struggling to get on the property ladder. Conservative backbenchers in southern seats have reacted furiously to the planning reforms, with criticism mounting since the party’s defeat in the Chesham & Amersham by-election, where housing dominated the campaign. The government announced last year that it would make housebuilding targets binding in an effort to force reluctant councils to build more homes. However, there is a recognition in Whitehall that some local authorities face constraints that make it harder for them to accommodate more houses, and the plans are being reconsidered.” – The Times

Labour candidate in Batley and Spen by-election left ‘intimidated’ by anti-LGBT protester

“Kim Leadbeater, who is running for Labour in the by-election on July 1, said she had faced “abuse” on Friday by Shakeel Afsar, an activist who led protests against LGBT teaching outside schools in Birmingham. Videos posted by Mr Afsar on Instagram show him pursuing Ms Leadbeater along Purlwell Lane in Batley, next to one of the town’s mosques. He can be heard shouting: “Muslim parents don’t want their children to learn about LGBT indoctrination. Are you supporting those, Kim?” Ms Leadbeater, who is the sister of the murdered MP Jo Cox, later said she felt “extremely intimidated” by the incident, while Caroline Nokes, chairman of the women and equalities select committee, said abuse of politicians had increased.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Video on Twitter showed Leadbeater being confronted in the street – Daily Mail
  • By-election row as Labour claims mosque ‘intimidation’ – The Times
  • ‘Curtains for Keir!’ Starmer set for ‘humiliating’ by-election, claims Galloway – Daily Express

>Today: Book Reviews: Husain warns in his new book that British Muslims lead increasingly separate lives

>Yesterday: Iain Dale’s column: Starmer is right to appoint one of Blair’s former advisers. But if other MPs can’t see that, Labour are doomed.

Salmond blasts Sturgeon for doing ‘nothing at all’ to deliver independence vote

“Cabinet Officer minister Michael Gove, who is responsible for countering the push for Scottish independence, said he “can’t see” the Prime Minister granting a new referendum before the next general election in 2024. Mr Gove added that Boris Johnson’s is completely focused on recovery from the pandemic “for the lifetime of this parliament”. But Mr Salmond, Alba Part leader, has said it is “time to force the Scottish issue now” to deliver a second referendum rather than “have Michael Gove or Westminster dictating how Scotland is governed”… Mr Salmond’s party won only 1.7 percent of the list vote at Scotland’s parliamentary election earlier this year and failed to gain any MSPs. But he said Alba’s autumn conference in Greenock will be a key moment for the pro-independence campaign.” – Daily Express

News in Brief:

  • One rule for the elite, another for us – Kate Andrews, The Spectator
  • Why Labour won’t win back Britain – Will Lloyd, UnHerd
  • The decline of the quality press – David Selbourne, The Critic
  • How Tel Aviv boosted new homes by half – John Myers, CapX
  • De Wahls victory over Royal Academy ban shows that the bullies can be defeated – Jenny Hjul, Reaction

Newslinks for Friday 25th June 2021

25 Jun

Coronavirus 1) Restrictions eased on foreign holidays – but EU threat leaves confusion

“Foreign holidays in the Balearic islands, Malta and Madeira were given the go-ahead last night despite threats from the European Union to close the door to British tourists. The government announced that its green list would be significantly expanded from Wednesday, permitting holidaymakers to travel to 16 countries and overseas territories without needing to quarantine on return. It will cover the Balearics, including Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca, which attract five million British tourists each year… The government confirmed that it would let fully vaccinated Britons travel to “amber” destinations without being forced to quarantine on their return, probably from August. The details will be announced in full next month. The announcement was thrown into chaos, however, when it emerged that the EU was planning to scrap quarantine-free holidays for British travellers.” – The Times

  • New ‘watchlist’ leaves foreign holidays in limbo – Daily Telegraph
  • Test and Trace “is still a shambles” – Daily Mail
  • Travel advice merely adds to the chaos – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • It’s a shambles – Leader, The Sun
  • Ministers fear rush for second doses could put strain on supplies – The Guardian

>Yesterday: WATCH: ‘People shouldn’t expect huge changes’ to green list today, Eustice tells GB News

Coronavirus 2) Nelson: We should be free to travel abroad

“We’re edging towards an Aussie-rules system of freedom at home but restrictions abroad – but, unlike the Australians, we have succeeded in vaccinating those at risk. The Prime Minister is steeling himself to press ahead with a July 19 reopening, even if cases are still surging. He’s ready to make the difficult argument that vaccines have broken the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths. But when it comes to travel, the drawbridge remains up – due to reasons that are not being properly explained. In meetings, Hancock argues – in effect – that we need to be careful about going abroad because you never know what you might pick up. There’s not much more to it than that.” – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

  • Britain’s obsession with an NHS ‘free at the point of delivery’ is fatuous and costly – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 3) Sunak and Eustice to cease wearing masks as soon as legal requirement ends

“Rishi Sunak has said he will stop wearing a face mask “as soon as possible”. The Chancellor was the second Cabinet minister to hail the end of the legal requirement to wear face coverings after George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, said he was looking forward to the moment. Laws requiring the wearing of masks in certain settings are set to be lifted on July 19, although guidance urging people to wear them is likely to remain.” – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 4) Judge calls for public inquiry to begin now

“A public inquiry into Covid should be launched immediately, a senior retired judge has said with a warning that if it does not report back for four or five years “it ceases to form a useful function”. Sir Robert Owen, who chaired the public inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko and was counsel to the inquiry into the Ladbroke Grove rail disaster, has urged Downing Street to move quickly to appoint a chair who can start establishing a panel and arrange the disclosure of documents. Boris Johnson has said the “right moment” for the inquiry to begin would be “in the spring of next year”, sparking anger from the bereaved.” – The Guardian

  • Lockdown “led to lower birth rate and increase in divorce” – Daily Mail

Johnson: Navy defending our values in Russia dispute

“A Royal Navy warship was “sticking up for our values” in an incident with Russian forces in disputed waters around Crimea, Boris Johnson has said. The prime minister said the UK does not recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea and was pursuing freedom of navigation in international waters. Mr Johnson denied UK relations with Russia were at an all-time low. He refused to be drawn on whether he had personally authorised the HMS Defender voyage.” – BBC

Bank of England keeps down interest rates and predicts inflations rise will be “transitory”

“The Bank of England has sought to calm fears about inflation, which is expected to exceed 3 per cent in coming months, saying the surge in prices was “transitory” and should not affect monetary policy. The central bank’s message came after data last week showed inflation rising much faster than it had previously forecast as the economy rebounded more strongly than expected. The BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee signalled that it would wait for inflation to subside rather than take action as it stuck with its exceptionally loose policy approach.” – Financial Times

  • The welfare state is a debt timebomb that threatens to sink Britain – Ryan Bourne, Daily Telegraph

Patel to tighten rules on political comments by police officers

“Police officers face having their ability to comment on government policy constrained under plans being drawn up by Priti Patel. The home secretary is concerned about officers, especially senior ones, commenting on politics, The Times has been told. She has instructed officials to work on ways to draw a “brighter line” between policing and policymaking. While Patel’s allies insist that she does not want to stop police officers voicing opinions, she is said to believe it is too often unclear that the government sets policy, not the police. The plans are set to be included in a consultation on updates to the Policing Protocol Order of 2011, which will be launched by ministers this year.” – The Times

Ofsted head warns against “militant” school activism

“The head of the schools watchdog in England has denounced a “militant” new brand of activism in school communities, which she warned was leading to confrontation within and outside the school gates and having a potentially limiting effect on education. Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, raised concerns not only about recent parent and community protests, which have led to children having to cross picket lines to get to school, but also a rise in pupil activism on issues such as racism, climate change and recent developments in the Middle East. In some cases, she said, children and teachers were being subjected to abuse and even violence for being the wrong religion, race or ethnicity, and she said pupils should not be forced to support their peers’ campaigns for fear of being ostracised if they do not.” – The Guardian

  • Scottish government ‘losing its way’ on education as it refuses to clarify exam plans – Daily Telegraph
  • More than half of us think people are too easily offended, poll shows – Daily Mail
  • Science schools and R&D spending at forefront of UK innovation plans – Financial Times

Osborne to become chairman of the British Museum

“George Osborne has been appointed the next chair of the trustees of the British Museum, placing the former Conservative chancellor in one of the most prominent roles in UK culture.  Osborne will take over in October from Sir Richard Lambert, former editor of the Financial Times and ex-director of the CBI business lobby group, at the head of the board of trustees, who include prominent cultural figures such as Mary Beard and Grayson Perry. His appointment to Britain’s best known museum comes amid a push by the Conservative government to influence opinion at the senior levels of Britain’s cultural institutions.” – Financial Times

Junk food ban “won’t stop big brands advertising due to loophole”

“A new junk food advertising ban was on Thursday dismissed as “absurd” as it emerged that brands such as Coca Cola and Cadbury will still be able to advertise. Large fast food and confectionary brands with 250 or more employees will be banned from advertising products that are high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) online and before the 9pm television watershed by the end of next year. However, under an exemption to the new rules, fast food giants will still be allowed to advertise online and before the watershed providing these products are “not identifiable” in their campaigns.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Morgan Schondelmeier on Comment: The Government’s ban on junk food adverts before 9pm is regressive and infantilising

EU immigration to the UK underestimated by 1.6 million

“EU immigration to the UK was underestimated by more than 1.6 million between 2012-2020, it has emerged, after the ONS revised its methodology to produce new figures that dwarf previous estimates. Previous immigration figures were based on surveys contributing to a model known as Long Term International Migration (LTIM), which now appears to have wildly missed the mark. The new technique, called Rapid, is based on actual tax and benefits data instead, and “has the benefit of removing uncertainty”, said the ONS. It reveals that in many years of the last decade the number of EU migrants was more than, or close to, double previous estimates.” – Daily Telegraph

Drone attack on suspected Iranian nuclear production plant

“A drone attack on a suspected nuclear facility in Iran has caused substantial damage, it was claimed today, despite reports from Tehran that the “sabotage” attempt had been foiled. Overnight reports from Israel and America suggested that the strike on a suspected production plant for nuclear centrifuges involved one or more small rotor-powered drones, which were flown into the building from a short distance away. The factory near the city of Karaj, 30 miles northwest of Tehran, is said to produce aluminium blades for use in the country’s two uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow.” – The Times

Forsyth: Five years on UK-EU relations could be much improved

“It is easy to be fatalistic about UK-EU relations. Brexiteers can point to the fact that the EU has even fallen out with Switzerland as proof that Brussels struggles to play nicely with its neighbours. Eurocrats can say that the prickliness of Brexit Britain means that things are always going to be fractious. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The two sides can choose to understand each other a bit better and find a way to be good neighbours. Five years on, there’s still time to make Brexit the beginning of a new alliance and not, just, the end of an old one.” – James Forsyth, The Times

  • Merkel and Macron “humiliated” as EU leaders reject plan for meeting with Putin – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Columnist Henry Hill: Frost secures a stay of execution for British trade with Northern Ireland, but no sign of a pardon yet

News in brief

  • A home counties rebellion is brewing – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • ‘Plant mums’, planning and how to really help millennials ‘grow up’ – Henry Hill, CapX
  • If you think trans ideology doesn’t matter, read Helen Joyce – Caroline ffiske, The Article
  • Mrs May: My part in her downfall – Christopher Howarth, The Critic
  • The future of Bitcoin will be determined by China, not the West – Hamish McRae, Independent

Newslinks for Thursday 24th June 2021

24 Jun

Coronavirus 1) Holidays to Europe in doubt after Merkel’s ‘quarantine the British’ demand

“Angela Merkel on Wednesday night threatened to scupper hopes of foreign holidays in Europe this summer by demanding that EU countries introduce mandatory quarantine for travelling Britons. The German chancellor urged countries to introduce the quarantine for vaccinated Britons just as the UK Government is finally preparing to relax its rules for returning holidaymakers. Her intervention came ahead of a key meeting on Thursday at which Boris Johnson is expected to approve plans for fully vaccinated people to be able to travel to amber list countries later this summer and not be subject to quarantine when they return home. The Balearic Islands, Malta and some Caribbean islands could also be added to the green list.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Open holiday isles before Merkel slams the door, ministers urged – The Times
  • Government ‘wants to support foreign holidays’, says minister – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 2) Foul called on plan to let Euro 2020 VIPs into UK for Wembley games

“Plans to ease quarantine requirements for thousands of VIP football delegates seeking to enter the UK for games in the Euro 2020 football tournament have sparked outrage among politicians and travel industry figures. Senior officials are holding talks with Uefa, European football’s governing body, to allow around 2,000 foreign fans and 2,000 VIPs to attend the July 6 and 7 semi-finals and July 11 final on of the competition at London’s Wembley Stadium, according to people close to ongoing discussions. The UK government said on Tuesday that it had agreed a deal with Uefa to keep the final and semi-final of the continent-wide competition in the British capital as planned after days of negotiation over the issue.” – FT

  • Minister insists UEFA bosses won’t be allowed on a ‘tour of Britain’ – The Sun
  • England fans warned over £10,000 tickets for Germany showdown – The Times

Coronavirus 3)  Indoor mixing ban ‘will be axed on July 19’

“The Rule of Six will be scrapped on July 19 along with other Covid lockdown restrictions, reports say. Limits on indoor mixing will reportedly be dumped so people in England can enjoy Freedom Day in mixed groups. Social distancing, face masks and work-from-home guidance are also expected to be ditched. Insiders say Boris Johnson is adamant he will relax the restrictions next month, which will put rocket boosters under the ravaged hospitality industry. It comes after internal government assessments warned keeping even limited rules for longer would spell disaster for hundreds of thousands of jobs. But it is understood there is almost no chance the date will be brought forward to July 5 despite immense pressure from Tory MPs.” – Daily Mail

  • Brits ‘will be able to shed masks’ on freedom day – The Sun
  • Covid passports ‘would boost mass event attendance by 20 per cent’ – The Times
  • Cinemas and nightclubs may shut for good – The Sun

More:

  • London leaders push for Covid vaccine uptake as capital lags – FT
  • More than 2m adults in England ‘have had long Covid for over 12 weeks’ – The Guardian
  • Alas, poor Hancock… Queen voices pity – The Times

Gove rules out ‘foolish’ Scottish independence vote before election

“Michael Gove has said he “can’t see” Boris Johnson granting a new referendum on Scottish independence before the next general election. The Cabinet Office minister – who is responsible for countering the push for independence – said the prime minister’s focus was completely focused on recovery from the pandemic “for the lifetime of this parliament”. His comments – which are likely to infuriate the SNP – appear to go further than other ministers who have said this is the wrong time for another referendum. Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the next general election is not due until May 2024 – although Johnson is committed to repealing the act, which could allow him to go to the country before then.” – The Guardian

  • Johnson ‘is UK’s secret weapon in keeping the Union together’ – Interview, Daily Telegraph
  • Refusal to hold independence vote is sneering condescension, says Sturgeon – FT
  • Blow to First Minister as independent Scotland faces £14bn black hole without UK cash – Daily Express

More:

  • Brown: Union facing most dangerous moment of my lifetime – Daily Telegraph

Henry Hill: To save the Union ministers must be wise, not clever, with Scotland

“The UK Internal Market Act (Ukima) gives ministers vast powers to authorise spending on genuinely nationwide projects, but these powers go underused. Michael Gove proposes to scrap English Votes for English Laws, David Cameron’s answer to the West Lothian Question, without coming up with a better one. It’s the same with this week’s reports that the government might seek to enfranchise Scots in other parts of the country in the event of a second referendum on independence. On the one hand, it is “muscular unionism” inasmuch as it shows a willingness to face down howls of outrage from the SNP to secure a supposed advantage for the pro-UK side. On the other hand, it shows weakness, because it suggests that Boris Johnson’s commitment to refusing to grant a referendum is less iron-clad than he would have us believe.” – Times Red Box

  • A glib, meaningless song isn’t the way to inspire British patriotism in kids – Henry Hill, Daily Telegraph

EU close to agreeing Northern Ireland truce with UK on chilled meats

“The EU and UK are close to reaching a truce over checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea, in a move that would leave unresolved longer-term questions over the implementation of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.  The European Commission is expected to grant a three-month extension to a grace period before restrictions come into force on exports of chilled meat products from Britain to Northern Ireland, diplomats said.  Maros Sefcovic, EU Brexit commissioner, gave a relatively upbeat assessment of the prospects for a temporary understanding to be reached with London when he spoke to diplomats on Wednesday, according to people familiar with the meeting. The EU offer of an extension would be subject to broad conditions, including UK commitments to work towards longer-term, more sustainable solutions for trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and steps ensuring there are no threats to the single market.” – FT

  • Grease in our time – The Sun
  • DUP’s new leader strives to stabilise Province’s biggest party – FT
  • ‘Great opportunities for NI’ claims EU ambassador – Daily Express

More EU:

  • EU citizens in UK face 28-day notice if they miss settled status deadline – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Did Brexit cause the dysfunction of the past five years – or merely expose deeper weaknesses?

Johnson apologises to rape victims for ‘inadequacies’ of justice…

“Boris Johnson has apologised to rape victims over “inadequacies” in the criminal justice system that led to a sharp drop in the prosecution of sexual offences. The prime minister was challenged by Sir Keir Starmer in the House of Commons today over what the Labour leader described as record low convictions. During prime minister’s questions, Starmer said that “on the prime minister’s watch, rape prosecution convictions are at a record low, court backlogs are at a record high, victims are waiting longer for justice and criminals are getting away with it”. He added: “This wasn’t inevitable, it’s the cost of a decade of Conservative cuts, and even now the government isn’t showing the urgency and ambition that’s needed.”” – The Times

  • He’s accused of insulting them after Commons remarks – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Video: PMQs: “They jabber, we jab. They dither, we deliver. They vacillate, we vaccinate”.

…and is failing to match climate rhetoric with action

“Ministers have failed to develop coherent strategies for cutting emissions from the most polluting sectors of the economy, and are not matching their climate rhetoric with action, the UK government’s environmental adviser warned on Thursday. In a highly critical report on the government’s progress on delivering economy-wide emissions cuts, the Climate Change Committee said decarbonisation plans for key sectors, such as housing, had been repeatedly delayed, and that it was “hard to discern any comprehensive strategy in the climate plans we have seen in the past 12 months”. John Gummer, also known as Lord Deben, chair of the CCC, said: “Almost all things that should have happened have either been delayed or . . . haven’t hit the mark.”” – FT

  • Government attacked over green failures before Cop26 climate summit – The Times

You won’t stop our ships, defiant Britain tells Putin

“Britain has vowed that it “will not be impeded” from sailing in waters off Crimea after a military confrontation in which Russia claimed to have fired warning shots at a Royal Navy warship. Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, told The Times that “the Royal Navy will always uphold the international law of the sea and will not be impeded on innocent passage” following Russia’s claims to have fired at a destroyer, HMS Defender, while it was sailing in the Black Sea off Crimea. The Russian ministry of defence accused the warship of entering Russia’s territorial waters and said it had opened fire from a coastguard patrol ship before dropping four bombs in its path from a warplane. Britain denied Moscow’s account of the incident. “No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path,” a spokeswoman said.” – The Times

  • Our relations with Moscow hit new low after clash with warship – Daily Mail
  • Read the dramatic Mail eyewitness report – Daily Mail

More:

  • MoD’s poor practices blamed for project cost overruns and delays – FT

Comment:

  • Putin’s provocations of Britain will backfire disastrously – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph
  • Western powers have failed as nation builders – Max Hastings, The Times

Exams in England to be adjusted next year to ‘ensure fairness’

“GCSEs and A-Levels next year will be adjusted to make up for the disruption to student learning in England during the pandemic, said the UK education secretary.  Gavin Williamson confirmed government officials were considering “mitigating measures” to grade exams in 2022, after they were cancelled this summer for the second year in a row owing to the coronavirus crisis. The adjustments, to ensure pupils whose learning has been interrupted by the continued lockdowns are fairly graded, will be “similar” to modifications planned for this year, Williamson told MPs at an education select committee on Wednesday. The education secretary said he “very much hoped and intended for exams to go ahead in 2022” and that action was needed “to ensure fairness” for pupils whose learning had been halted by the pandemic.” – FT

  • Sports days can go ahead this summer but only with class bubbles and caps on spectators – The Sun

More:

  • Williamson mocked over One Britain, One Nation song… – The Guardian
  • …but Johnson sings its praises – The Times

Comment:

  • Levelling up must start with our sinking schools – Will Tanner, The Times

Ministers will push to privatise Channel 4 in TV shake-up

“Channel 4’s four decades as a publicly owned broadcaster could be about to come to an end, with ministers pushing ahead with controversial plans to sell the channel as part of a shake-up that could transform the landscape of British television. The culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, confirmed that he would hold a swift consultation on proposed privatisation, in a move that would mark the end of an era in British broadcasting and would radically alter how one of the UK’s leading public service television networks operates. The broadcaster – home to shows such as the Great British Bake Off, It’s A Sin and Channel 4 News – is editorially independent but has been owned by the state since it was created by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1982.” – The Guardian

  • Streaming giants may be in the running to buy it – The Times

More media:

  • Junk food giants will be banned from advertising online… – The Times
  • …and before 9pm watershed – The Sun

Comment:

  • These new laws to police the internet are a censor’s charter – David Davis MP, Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: The Online Safety Bill – ‘It’s a good example of the best intentions leading to the worst outcomes’

Galloway: Burnham more electable than ‘catatonic’ Starmer

“Andy Burnham should replace Sir Keir Starmer if Labour is to have any chance of becoming electable again, George Galloway has said. Mr Galloway, a former MP who was expelled from Labour and is now running against the party in the forthcoming Batley and Spen by-election, said Sir Keir was a “catatonic, desiccated calculating machine” and Mr Burnham would be a better opposition leader. The latest research shows Mr Galloway has the support of just six per cent of the Batley and Spen constituency ahead of the vote on July 1, but he insists pollsters have underestimated his backing and points to better odds from bookmakers. His campaign has centred on the failings of Labour in Batley and Spen, with campaign organisers erecting posters that show Mr Galloway and the slogan “Starmer Out”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Batley free speech rally ‘banned by town’s Labour council’ – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Should Conservatives want Labour to win the Batley and Spen by-election?

News in Brief:

  • The latest Smiley myth: it’s not the jabs, it’s just ‘seasonality’ – Christopher Snowdon, CapX
  • The house mafia: the scandal of new builds – Liam Halligan, The Spectator
  • Older workers will harm younger colleagues by working from home forever – Andrew Carter, CityAM
  • Why Labour won’t win back Britain – Will Lloyd, UnHerd
  • Activism works – Rob Jessel, The Critic

Newslinks for Wednesday 23rd June 2021

23 Jun

Coronavirus 1) England set to drop facemasks and social distancing on July 19

“England is on track to lift all remaining lockdown restrictions including social distancing, facemasks and work-from-home guidance on July 19. Ministers have been encouraged by the “very, very” low number of deaths from coronavirus and the slowdown in infections, which has boosted confidence that a sizeable summer wave can be avoided. The government is expected to confirm on Monday that July 5 is too early to lift restrictions, despite the positive data, because ministers want to ensure that more people have received their second jabs. The prime minister is increasingly optimistic, though, that all remaining restrictions can be eased on July 19.” – The Times

Sketch:

Comment:

>Yesterday:

Coronavirus 2) Uefa VIP bubbles can skip quarantine for last Euro 2020 matches at Wembley

“VIPs for the final matches of Euro 2020 will agree not to leave football “bubbles” under government plans to allow thousands of officials and sponsors into the country. Ministers are approaching a deal under which Uefa and Fifa officials, politicians, sponsors and broadcasters would be exempt from self-isolation rules on arrival, despite concerns that this could lead to an increase in coronavirus cases and provoke a backlash from members of the public who are unable to go on foreign holidays. The Times revealed last week that Uefa was threatening to move the semi-finals and the final from Wembley to Hungary, which has no restrictions on intra-European travel and would host the fixtures with full stadiums.” – The Times

Coronavirus 3) Ministers are poised to end amber list curbs from July 19 and trips to the US, France, Spain, Greece and Italy could be on… as new hope on also rises for visits to the Balearic islands

“Fully vaccinated Britons could enjoy quarantine-free holidays from as early as July 19, the Mail can reveal today. Senior ministers are pressing Boris Johnson to sanction a ‘big bang’ reopening with travel curbs eased at the same time as restrictions are lifted at home. Formal advice against trips to amber list countries would be dropped under the plans – opening up summer breaks in Spain, France, Italy, Greece and the United States. Children would also be able to avoid quarantine if travelling with their parents. The Mail can also reveal that Government scientists have approved Spain’s Balearic Islands for green list status. This means quarantine restrictions for travellers there could be lifted even sooner, provided ministers agree the change when they meet tomorrow.” – Daily Mail

  • Malta and Balearics may join UK’s travel green list – The Times
  • US will miss July 4 target to give 70 per cent of adults a Covid vaccine – The Times
  • Delta-plus variant found across India – The Times
  • Estonian PM warns west of damage from Covid-induced authoritarianism – FT

Gove: Johnson will not grant new Scottish referendum before next election

“Boris Johnson will not grant a new Scottish independence referendum before the 2024 general election, Michael Gove has said. In an interview with The Telegraph, published below, Mr Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said the Prime Minister’s focus was on recovery from the Covid pandemic.The comments on timing go further than previous statements by ministers, which have said that a second referendum will not be granted for now. They set the UK and Scottish governments on a constitutional collision course given that Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister and SNP leader, wants to hold a referendum by autumn 2023.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Breaking up could become a British habit, says EU envoy – The Times

Fix for social care delayed again as Sunak tries to find £10bn

“Social care reforms are unlikely to be announced until the autumn at the earliest amid continued disputes within government over how to pay for them. This week Boris Johnson delayed a meeting with Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and Matt Hancock, the health secretary, to discuss the reforms. He has ruled out using rises in income tax, VAT and national insurance to pay for social care in England, making it “extremely difficult” for the chancellor to find the £10 billion needed. The Times has been told that a final solution is unlikely to be ready to announce until at least the autumn. The prime minister has committed himself only to coming forward with his plans by the end of the year.” – The Times

  • HMRC to go easy on struggling UK companies to help with Covid debt – FT
  • Hancock ‘believed initially to have advocated a national insurance increase to meet the costs, but that idea has been rejected’ – The Guardian

Sketch:

  • Johnson’s ambitious apprentice eyes the next rung of the career ladder, Michael Deacon – Daily Telegraph
  • Wagging Sunak bounds in like a Blue Peter labrador: Henry Deedes watches as the Chancellor revels in his tricky role – Daily Mail

Five years after the Brexit vote 1) Daniel Hannan – Project Fear? It’s more like Project Cheer with no recession, no currency collapse and no job losses

“SUN readers have been proved right. Five years ago today, they politely ignored the threats, the bullying and the official advice and voted to take back control of their country. The experts were outraged. In BBC editorial meetings, bank boardrooms, think tank conferences, embassy buildings and, most of all, university common rooms, there was horrified disbelief. The working classes had refused to listen to their betters! People without education had fallen for lies and populism! Now the whole country would suffer!” – The Sun

  • Sun readers made the right call on Brexit — our best days definitely lie ahead – The Sun

>Today:

Five years after the Brexit vote 2) The future’s bright: Johnson says leaving the EU will help us bounce back from Covid pandemic…

“Brexit will help us to bounce back from the pandemic, Boris Johnson has vowed in a statement to mark the five-year anniversary of our vote to leave the EU. The Prime Minister pledged to ‘seize the true potential of our regained sovereignty’ to ‘unite and level up’ the UK. The referendum saw 52 per cent vote to Leave, prompting the resignation of Remain-backing prime minister David Cameron. The wrangling that followed brought down his successor, Theresa May. But Mr Johnson’s offer of an ‘oven-ready’ deal helped him to secure an 80-seat majority in the 2019 election.” – Daily Mail

Five years after the Brexit vote 3) …As Patel warns that British citizens in EU are being denied work and healthcare

“British citizens living in the EU after Brexit are being denied work and healthcare, Priti Patel has warned. In an exclusive article for The Telegraph, published below, the Home Secretary urges EU nations to treat UK citizens as fairly as Britain was treating their citizens. It coincides with the fifth anniversary of the Brexit referendum vote, as Boris Johnson marked the moment by declaring the recovery from the pandemic offered the chance to “seize the true potential of our regained sovereignty to unite and level up our whole United Kingdom”.” – Daily Telegraph

Cummings tried to fast track £530,000 grant to external Covid data team with ‘no procurement, no lawyers, no meetings, no delay’, leaked e-mails say

“Dominic Cummings tried to fast track a £530,000 grant to an external data team – bypassing normal Whitehall procedures, leaked emails suggest. Boris Johnson’s former top adviser urged civil servants to issue the payment with ‘no procurement, no lawyers, no meetings, no delay’, according to the messages. The Government department involved – the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) – insisted that due diligence had been followed in issuing the grant. But Labour said it was another example of the Government’s ‘disdain’ for the rules governing the use of taxpayers’ money under Mr Johnson’s leadership.” – Daily Mail

UK exporters get more than £12bn in government financial aid

“UK exporters have been given more than £12bn in state financial support to keep Britain trading with the rest of the world through Brexit and the pandemic. UK Export Finance, the government’s export credit agency, provided British businesses with the highest level of financial support in 30 years in the 12 months to the end of March, according to its annual report published on Wednesday. This is almost treble the amount from the previous financial year, to help exports to 77 countries. The agency aims to support viable UK exports with loan guarantees, insurance and direct lending to help them win, fulfil and get paid for international business where there are gaps in private sector provision.” – FT

Robert Halfon: White privilege is just a MYTH to 1 million white, working-class kids

“WHITE working-class kids have been let down by schools for decades, and woke phrases such as “white privilege” are making it worse. There you go. I said it. The sky didn’t fall in. The world didn’t implode. It may make some people uncomfortable. Some may feel the need to reach for their Twitter account and have a go at me and the education committee that has made this finding. But they are in denial. Let me prove it. Here are just some of the facts. Nearly one million white, working- class pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds struggle with their education at all stages, from when they first pick up a book to when they leave school. Just 53 per cent of white British kids on free school meals hit their expected targets when they are four or five. This is one of the lowest figures for any ethnic group.” – The Sun

  • Today’s poor white children are NOT privileged: As MPs hit out over the damage done by the phrase ‘white privilege’, former Home Secretary David Blunkett says the term is ‘offensive, divisive and irrelevant’ – Daily Mail

More comment:

>Yesterday:

New fears over vow to protect Ulster veterans: Target for legislation to shield former troops from prosecution is in doubt

“A renewed Government pledge to introduce legislation protecting Northern Ireland soldiers within four weeks is unlikely to be fulfilled, senior sources have said. Veterans groups and MPs warned the Government against making any more ‘broken promises’ – claiming ministers are now in the ‘last chance saloon’. Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis yesterday told the Commons that the Government maintains its ‘ambition’ of bringing in laws to prevent the prosecution of soldiers during the Troubles before Parliament’s summer break next month – scheduled for July 22. He first made the pledge to the Northern Ireland affairs committee in January and his office confirmed it last month following the collapse of the landmark trial of two elderly paratroopers accused of killing an IRA man in 1972.” – Daily Mail

Ministers will push to privatise Channel 4 in TV shake-up

“Channel 4’s four decades as a publicly owned broadcaster could be about to come to an end, with ministers pushing ahead with controversial plans to sell the channel as part of a shake-up that could transform the landscape of British television. The culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, confirmed that he would hold a swift consultation on proposed privatisation, in a move that would mark the end of an era in British broadcasting and would radically alter how one of the UK’s leading public service television networks operates. The broadcaster – home to shows such as the Great British Bake Off, It’s A Sin and Channel 4 News – is editorially independent but has been owned by the state since it was created by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1982.” – The Guardian

Work starts on £1.7bn mega-station for HS2 in London

“Construction will start today on one of the UK’s biggest train stations in a key milestone for the £100 billion HS2 project. The new “superhub” at Old Oak Common in west London is the first of four new stations to be built along the initial leg of the line between the capital and Birmingham. The station, which will cost almost £1.7 billion, will be the biggest built from scratch in the UK. Others such as London Waterloo are bigger but were extended over the decades. When completed, it will cater for about 90 million passengers a year, second only to Waterloo, which accommodated between 94 million and 99 million passengers a year in the run-up to the pandemic.” – The Times

Funding row over £200m royal yacht replacement

“The Ministry of Defence is expected to pay the full cost of the government’s new trade promotion vessel, The Times has learnt, despite Downing Street’s suggestion that the department would cover only initial procurement costs. The new national flagship, a successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, could cost up to £200 million. On Monday Downing Street suggested that although the vessel was not a warship, the project would nevertheless be overseen by the Ministry of Defence. A spokesman said that this was because Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, had responsibility for UK shipbuilding. Yesterday the government insisted that the MoD would only “be responsible for that initial cost of taking it through the procurement process”.” – The Times

UK prepares to approve oilfield despite Cop26 climate conference

“Ministers are set to approve a new North Sea oil and gas project months before Britain hosts a global climate change conference in Glasgow. Under proposals submitted to the government, developers behind the Cambo heavy crude field off the coast of the Shetland Islands expect to extract 150 million barrels of oil — roughly equivalent to operating 16 coal-fired power stations for a year. Setting up and powering the oil rig will emit more than three million tonnes of carbon over the project’s lifetime. The oilfield is expected to operate until 2050, by which time Britain has pledged to be net carbon neutral. However, the project will not be covered by the government’s “climate checkpoint”, which will assess whether new oilfield developments are “compatible with the UK’s climate change objectives”, because it was licensed for exploration in 2001 and 2004.” – The Times

Labour won’t give Bercow a peerage

“John Bercow will not be nominated for a peerage by Sir Keir Starmer despite his defection to the Labour Party. Sources close to Starmer said that the former Speaker of the House of Commons, the first in two centuries not to be given a seat in the Lords upon retirement, would not be made a peer by the present Labour leadership. The opposition’s snub to Bercow, 58, effectively destroys any chance he once had of fulfilling his well-publicised ambition of joining other past Speakers in the upper chamber. While he has denied having struck a deal with Labour for a peerage, The Times reported yesterday that after Downing Street refused to nominate him he had lobbied Jeremy Corbyn and written his own reference and nomination forms.” – The Times

News in brief:

Newslinks for Tuesday 22nd June 2021

22 Jun

Policy Row 1) ‘Fury’ as Johnson axes key meeting to fix social care funding crisis

“Campaigners angrily accused Boris Johnson of cowardice last night after he again put off his promise to fix the broken care system. He was supposed to have held a crunch meeting with the Chancellor and the Health Secretary today to decide whether to finally bring in a cap on sky-high costs. But No 10 cancelled the meeting and it is not known when the trio will meet again. Charities warned that every week of ‘dithering’ means an extra 13,000 vulnerable pensioners being denied vital help. It is now almost two years since Mr Johnson stood in Downing Street on his first day as Prime Minister and promised he would sort social care ‘once and for all’. Yesterday he insisted his Government was still planning to bring forward ‘some good plans’ – but offered no timescale.” – Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister rules out slapping two pence in the pound on income tax to fix crumbling social care system – The Sun
  • His position is making it ‘extremely difficult’ for the Chancellor – The Times
  • Johnson slammed for delaying ‘do or die’ meeting – The Sun
  • Sunak was worried about Johnson’s handling of Covid, says Cummings – FT

Comment:

  • Long-overdue social care fix falls victim to Johnson’s empty rhetoric – Jon Ashworth, Times Red Box

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Reports of Johnson’s political demise are greatly exaggerated

Policy Row 2) We have a duty to build more homes, Jenrick tells Tory heartlands

“The Government has “a duty” to the next generation to build more homes, Robert Jenrick said on Monday as he faced down Conservative MPs who want him to water down controversial planning reforms. The Housing Secretary insisted that it was only fair that ministers should reform the current system so that young people could “aspire to own the keys to their own home”. The comments came after Tory MPs used a Commons debate to press the Government to water down planning reforms that were blamed for last week’s shock defeat in the Chesham and Amersham by-election… A new Planning Bill, due to be published in coming months, is likely to force local authorities to adopt new housing targets as part of the Government’s commitment to build 300,000 new homes a year.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Stop shoving more houses at voters, Prime Minister is warned by his own MPs – The Times
  • Conservative MPs put pressure on government to scrap planning reforms – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Planning reform could be Boris Johnson’s poll tax – William Hague, The Times
  • A Labour/Lib Dems alliance could defeat the Tories in seat after seat – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian

Editorial:

>Yesterday:

Policy Row 3) Treasury plots pension raid to balance the books

“The Treasury is drawing up plans for a tax raid on wealthy pensioners as it seeks to repair the nation’s finances after the pandemic. Officials are working on plans to cut the lifetime allowance, the amount people can build up in their pension pot before incurring punitive charges, from just over £1 million to £900,000. It would mean that more people face a 25 per cent levy on any additional income from their pension pot. The charge rises to 55 per cent if they choose to draw down a lump sum. The move is seen as more palatable than plans to cut tax relief for pension contributions by higher-rate taxpayers. Introducing a flat rate of relief — said to be 25 per cent — could raise an additional £4 billion a year but it is “very complex” and would take years to implement.” – The Times

  • MPs tell Chancellor a radical shake-up will fail to pass Parliament without cross-party support – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Downing St vows to stick with pension ‘triple lock’ – FT
  • Covid-hit industries will need extra £50m after furlough ends, says Labour – The Guardian
  • Economic rebound improves health of UK public finances – FT

Editorial:

  • The Tories must end their fixation with tax and spend policies – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Ryan Bourne’s column: The tax hikes that could fall in the south. And tear the Tory coalition apart

>Yesterday: Richard Holden MP’s column: Levelling up is for voters in the South as well as my constituents in Durham

Johnson won’t rule out more lockdowns after July 19

“Boris Johnson today grimly refused to rule out imposing future lockdowns as he braced Brits for a “rough winter”. The PM stressed July 19’s new Freedom Day was “looking good” – but opened the door to reviving draconian restrictions if “some new horror” emerges in the coming months. On a visit to a Hertsfordshire lab the PM hailed science as the “great liberator” paving a path back to freedom. He said ministers were pressing ahead with their “cautious but irreversible” roadmap. Yet grilled about the prospect of future lockdowns, the PM said: “You can never exclude that there will be some new disease, some new horror that we simply haven’t budgeted for, or accounted for… Last week the cautious PM delayed Freedom Day by four weeks so more Brits can be vaccinated before flinging off the restraints.” – The Sun

  • Covid quarantine rules will be dropped for double jabbed – The Times
  • Cummings: It’s the blind leading the blind in No 10 – The Times

More:

  • Flu could be bigger danger than Covid this winter, Britons told – The Times

Comment:

  • I can no longer support this irrational lockdown – Iain Dale, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: McVey, Walker and Wragg. The most rebellious Conservative MPs in our survey of major votes.

>Yesterday: Video: Fox – If the Government’s rule is data not dates, it should be ready to end lockdown before July 19

Truss targets free trade deal to open markets in Pacific

“Ministers will begin talks today to join one of the largest free trade blocs, claiming it is a “landmark moment for the UK as an independent trading nation”. The government said negotiations with the 11 members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership would open new markets for British goods and lower tariffs. Members of the CPTPP had a joint GDP of £9 trillion in 2019 with British exports to those countries set to increase by £37 billion in nine years. Trade experts said the economic advantages of joining the group would be limited as the UK has free trade deals with most members of the CPTPP. These include Canada, Japan, Mexico and Singapore, plus Australia, which agreed a deal in principle with the UK this month.” – The Times

  • Negotiations on £9trillion Oz trade pact begin today – Daily Express
  • It is a trade agreement between an area populated by half-a-billion people – Daily Mail

More:

  • Brexit poll shows ‘limited enthusiasm’ for UK-EU trade deal – FT
  • Tory MP calls for ‘key’ foreign investment to ‘level up’ the North of England – Daily Express
  • Britannia replacement will be paid for out of defence budget – Daily Telegraph

MPs blast ‘major social injustice’ that has seen generations of ‘forgotten’ children ‘neglected’ by teachers

“Schools that teach ‘white privilege’ could be breaking the law by contributing to the ‘systemic neglect’ of deprived children, MPs have found. White working-class pupils are one of the worst-achieving groups in the country, and ‘feel anything but privileged’, they said in a report. It found they are behind many of their similarly disadvantaged peers of other ethnicities at ages five, 16 and 18. The Commons education committee’s report, published last night, said ‘politically controversial’ phrases such as ‘white privilege’ may have contributed to poor white pupils being forgotten ‘for decades’. It also warned against ‘pitting different groups against each other’ and suggested schools which promote ideas of ‘white privilege’ could be in breach of the Equality Act 2010.” – Daily Mail

  • Halfon gives three reasons white privilege is ‘wrong’ – Daily Express
  • Tory MPs accused of adding fuel to ‘culture war’ in education report – The Guardian

Comment:

  • This Windrush Day, Tories must find their voice on racism – Siobham Aarons and Steve Baker MP, Times Red Box

>Today: Albie Amankona and Sally-Ann Hart MP: Levelling up must work for ethnic minorities – not just the white working class

Judge hints juries could be cut in size to tackle trial backlog

“Juries could be cut in size to help tackle the growing backlog of crown court trials, the most senior judge in England and Wales has indicated. Lord Burnett of Maldon, the lord chief justice, has hinted over the last year that jury numbers could be slashed as a result of the crisis in the court system that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. In April 2020 Burnett said that reducing the number of jurors in individual cases from twelve to seven was a possibility. He has now reiterated his backing for smaller juries as one measure of increasing the number of trials that could take place. He told The Daily Telegraph that “an opportunity was missed to introduce a temporary reduction in jury size” at the beginning of the pandemic.” – The Times

  • Lord Chief Justice: ‘Waiting years for trial, not knowing what’s going on, it’s deeply damaging’ – Daily Telegraph
  • In March 2020 the crown court backlog stood at around 40,000, but has risen – Daily Mail

Donaldson seeks leadership of DUP after Poots resignation

“Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has declared his candidacy to lead the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) and said he will seek to unite Northern Ireland’s unionists in a campaign against the Irish Sea border. The Lagan Valley MP made the announcement on Monday, confirming his status as the favourite to replace Edwin Poots, a short-lived leader who resigned last week after an internal revolt. Donaldson said he would work to restore confidence and faith in the DUP, which is reeling from infighting, and reach out to other unionists. “Now, more than ever, we need to unite in the face of the threats posed to Northern Ireland by the protocol. Make no mistake, this is the number one issue facing our country, our people and our place in the United Kingdom.”” – The Guardian

  • Failure to fix Northern Ireland Protocol will threaten power-sharing agreement, says MP – Daily Telegraph
  • His leadership bid is likely to be unopposed – FT

Bercow asked Corbyn for a peerage after No 10 snub

“John Bercow lobbied Jeremy Corbyn to secure a peerage and wrote his own reference for his nomination, leaked emails have revealed. The former Speaker secretly met the then Labour leader’s team in the week after the 2019 general election to discuss his nomination to the House of Lords after being snubbed by Downing Street. He then wrote to Corbyn’s office with a reference in which he boasted of his four honorary degrees, “no fewer than five shadow ministerial roles”, a stint as deputy leader of the Tory group on Lambeth council, and experience as a tennis coach. Bercow, who frequently clashed with Theresa May and Boris Johnson on Brexit, was the first Commons Speaker in living memory not to be nominated for a peerage by the government when he stepped down in 2019.” – The Times

Sturgeon slaps down Burnham for ‘cooking up spat about Scotland’s travel ban to boost leadership ambitions’

“Huffy Nicola Sturgeon today slapped down Andy Burnham for cooking up a lockdown spat to boost his Labour leadership bid. The First Minister told the Manchester mayor to “grow up” after he raged about her travel ban from Scotland to the Covid-struck city. Mr Burnham had kicked up a stink about Ms Sturgeon imposing tough restrictions “out of the blue” and demanded compensation cash for affected Mancs. But this afternoon she batted away his wish-list – and shrugged off his outrage as plain posturing ahead of a future leadership run… Emboldened Mr Burnham has thrown his hat into the ring to replace under-fire Sir Keir Starmer on the back of his reelection last month. His profile has ballooned during the pandemic after picking fights with Westminster over local lockdowns and rescue packages.” – The Sun

  • Travel ban tramples my constituents’ civil liberties, says Mayor – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Civil servants to stop investigating complaints against Scottish ministers – The Guardian

Stephen Kerr and Meghan Gallacher: Why we helped relaunch Conservative Friends of the Union

“Our elected officials at all levels must be robust in tackling the poisonous narrative of division that the nationalist peddle every time they have a platform. But we need to ensure that the message spreads well beyond the people watching BBC Parliament. We must mobilise and train our activists to be as effective as possible at spreading the positive Unionist argument to a wide audience. We must dominate both the conventional media channels and social media with the Union’s many success stories, both past and present. We must also mobilise resources across the UK to get Conservative’s elected across the Union. Conservative Friends of the Union has been set up to deliver exactly this. We will be at the forefront of the movement to champion the virtues of the Union, as well as supporting the election of more Conservatives everywhere in the UK.” – Times Red Box

News in Brief:

  • If there is another referendum, Scots throughout the UK must get a say – Robyn Stavely, CapX
  • In defence of political appointments – Henry Hill, UnHerd
  • Prepare for the EU’s ‘Hamilton moment’ – Andrew Tettenborn, The Spectator
  • Stay home, win elections – Myke Bartlett, The Critic

Newslinks for Monday 21st June 2021

21 Jun

Coronavirus 1) ‘Pensions raid to pay for Covid pandemic’

“Treasury officials are drawing up plans for a pensions tax raid in the autumn to help pay for heightened public spending during the Covid pandemic, The Telegraph understands. Three different reforms to the way in which pension contributions are taxed are being considered amid pressure on the public finances, according to well-placed Whitehall sources. One of the ideas being examined is reducing the pensions lifetime allowance from a little above £1 million to £800,000 or £900,000, lowering the point above which extra tax charges kick in. Another would see individuals contributing to pensions getting the same rate of tax relief, meaning higher-rate taxpayers lose out, while a third is new taxation on employer contributions.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Sunak’s push to slam brakes on Johnson’s spending spree: £200m for new Royal Yacht is last straw in fight over huge bills for Covid recovery and green pledges – Daily Mail
  • Johnson rules out slapping two pence in the pound on income tax to fix crumbling social care system – The Sun

Coronavirus 2) All kids aged 16 & 17 to be offered vaccine before school starts in September

“YOUNGSTERS aged 16 and 17 are to be offered a ­vaccine before they head back to school in September, The Sun can reveal. Ministers want to roll out jabs to children for the first time — subject to approval from top medics, which insiders say could come within weeks. The move emerged as the nation was today meant to be celebrating Freedom Day, when Covid restrictions were finally lifted. With that postponed, Downing Street is now desperate to meet the new Freedom Day target of July 19 — which coincides with the date when all adults are due to be jabbed. They also want to offer all A-Level and college students aged 16 and 17 a vaccine in August, before they head back to education in the autumn.” – The Sun

  • US offers Covid vaccine to millions of children – The Times

Comment:

Coronavirus 3) Just 1 in 200 amber list travellers have virus

“Fewer than one in 200 travellers from amber list countries are testing positive on their return, data has revealed, as pressure increases on ministers to relax rules on foreign holidays. An analysis of the latest figures from NHS Test and Trace, which are updated every three weeks, also shows no “variants of concern” were detected from any passenger returning from one of the 167 countries on the amber list. Only 89 of 23,465 passengers who travelled to the UK from these destinations between May 20 and June 9 tested positive for the coronavirus — a rate of 0.4 per cent. There were no positive cases from 151 of these countries.” – The Times

  • Hopes grow for family holidays to Europe by end of July – Daily Telegraph
  • Lockdown lifting ‘cannot be accelerated to July 5’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Lift Covid restrictions when 70 per cent are double-jabbed, Susan Hopkins says – The Times

Comment:

Coronavirus 4) Vallance to apply lessons to cancer and climate fight

“Sir Patrick Vallance has been put in charge of a government innovation body to apply lessons from the UK’s vaccine rollout to curing cancer and solving the climate crisis. Boris Johnson announced that Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, will run the Office for Science and Technology Strategy in addition to his existing role. Vallance, 61, a former president of research and development at GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical company, will also become the national technology adviser. In those roles he will support a National Science and Technology Council, a ministerial group that will be chaired by the prime minister.” – The Times

We are injecting funds to restore Britain’s status as a scientific superpower, writes Johnson…

“I cannot think of a time in the last 100 years when the entire population of this country has been so deeply and so obviously indebted to science – and to scientists. Had it not been for our scientists, we would not now be able to enjoy the most basic human freedoms: hugging relatives, meeting friends, playing football, going to the pub; or at least not without the risk of spreading a lethal disease. It is thanks to the vaccine rollout that literally every person and every family in this country has an immediate future that is happier, more prosperous, more full of hope and opportunity – and if you think I am belabouring this point, it is because it needs belabouring. We have spent too long in a state of semi-detachment from science, as though it was something intimidating and remote from our lives. Too many people in our country lack training in science and technology, too many children think STEM subjects are not for them.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today:

More comment:

… as ministers urge him to consult cabinet on key decisions

“Cabinet ministers including Rishi Sunak will this week urge Boris Johnson not to keep sidelining his ministers, as officials warn of a difficult autumn ahead with pressures over hospital waiting lists, social care reform and court backlogs. Johnson will face a tricky few days after the landslide loss in the byelection in Chesham and Amersham, a defeat that many of his own MPs put down to his controversial planning changes and which Labour will seek to exploit in a debate and vote on Monday. He also remains under persistent attack from his former aide Dominic Cummings, who has promised a new submission on the prime minister this week and a live Q&A on Monday. On Sunday John Bercow, the former House of Commons Speaker, revealed he had defected from the Conservatives to Labour, calling Johnson “someone who has only a nodding acquaintance with the truth in a leap year”.” – The Guardian

Scotland 1) Let Scots in whole of UK vote on independence, PM is urged

“Cabinet ministers are pushing Boris Johnson to toughen up the fight to save the Union by allowing Scots living anywhere in the UK to vote in a second independence referendum. The prime minister is also being urged to appoint Ruth Davidson, the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, to a newly created role of constitutional secretary, making her nominal head of the pro-Union campaign. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister and leader of the SNP, promised a referendum before the end of 2023 after securing a pro-independence majority in Holyrood in last month’s elections. She is expected to start pushing for one as soon as the autumn.” – The Times

Scotland 2) Sturgeon a hypocrite for Manchester travel ban, says Burnham

“Andy Burnham has accused Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, of “hypocrisy” for imposing a travel ban on Greater Manchester on Friday without contacting him in advance. The mayor of Greater Manchester said that residents should be compensated for any hotel and travel expenses for planned trips to Scotland that were cancelled without warning. Ivan McKee, Scotland’s tourism minister, said that he would keep Burnham and local authorities “better informed in future”. Burnham said that Sturgeon was “treating the north of England with contempt” while keeping Dundee, which has a similar rate of coronavirus cases, under light touch restrictions that permit travel in an out.” – The Times

Planning reform won’t brick over countryside, worried Tories told

“Boris Johnson does not want to “brick over the countryside”, a cabinet minister has said, as the government tries to fend off opposition to its planning reforms. Discomfort within the Conservative Party over proposals to make it much easier for new homes to be built was intensified by the party’s shock defeat in the Chesham & Amersham by-election last week. MPs, especially in similar southern seats, believe that opposition to plans for the biggest reorganisation of the planning system in more than 70 years was a key reason for the Liberal Democrats’ surge in support. While a planning bill has not yet been published, it is widely expected to follow the approach of a white paper published last year by Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary.” – The Times

  • Property market cools as soaring prices and lack of homes lock out buyers – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

>Today:

HS2 costs rise by a further £1.7bn during pandemic

“The cost of the HS2 high-speed railway line has increased by a further £1.7bn over the past year, as Covid-19 delays put further strain on the UK’s biggest infrastructure project. Work was temporarily suspended at most HS2 sites at the start of the pandemic, while social distancing measures have caused access delays and reduced productivity, increasing costs. Similar pressures have been reported by industry experts in projects ranging from Crossrail and the A303 Stonehenge tunnel to the Tideway tunnel and the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant. The costs associated with the first phase of the high-speed line between London and Birmingham have gone up by as much as £800m, according to people close the project.” – FT

Comment:

Judges not bound by European Court of Human Rights rulings, review told

“British courts could be encouraged to diverge more from European human rights provisions under plans being considered by a government review. A study of the Human Rights Act commissioned by the government last year is considering whether to update the law to remind judges that they are not “bound” by the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. The ECHR interprets the European Convention on Human Rights, which is intended to protect political and personal freedoms. At present the Human Rights Act, introduced in 1998, requires British courts to “take account” of decisions of the ECHR, which is separate from the European Union. They are not required to follow Strasbourg’s rulings.” – The Times

  • 130,000 Europeans to lose benefits in Brexit cut-off – The Times

Macron suffers disaster in French regional elections while conservatives say they have ‘broken the jaw’ of Marine Le Penn’s far right National Rally party

“French President Emmanuel Macron’s party made a disastrous showing at the country’s key regional elections on Sunday. Macron’s Republic on the Move (LREM) party failed to win more than 10 per cent of the vote in many regions, with the centrist Republicans outstripping it and Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (NR) party. Conservatives claimed to have ‘broken the jaw’ of National Rally, whose leader was hoping to make huge gains across the country before challenging Macron in next year’s presidential elections. Exit polls on Sunday night following the first round of the two-round vote showed NR had taken only 19 per cent of the national vote – a nine per cent drop from the last regional elections in 2015.” – Daily Mail

News in brief: