Lords 2) Hammond, Stuart, Davidson, Hoey. Johnson, Fox… but no Bercow. The new peerages.

1 Aug

Dissolution Peerages

Conservative:

  • Sir Henry Bellingham
  • Kenneth Clarke
  • Ruth Davidson
  • Philip Hammond
  • Nick Herbert
  • Jo Johnson
  • Mark Lancaster
  • Sir Patrick McLoughlin
  • Aamer Sarfraz
  • Ed Vaizey

Labour:

  • Kathryn Clark
  • Brinley Davies

Democratic Unionist:

  • Nigel Dodds

Non-affiliated:

  • Frank Field
  • Kate Hoey
  • Ian Austen
  • Gisela Stuart
  • John Woodcock

Political Peerages

Conservative:

  • Lorraine Fullbrook
  • Ed Udny-Lister
  • Daniel Moylan
  • Andrew Sharpe
  • Michael Spencer
  • Veronica Wadley
  • James Wharton
  • Dame Helena Morrissey
  • Neil Mendoza

Labour:

  • Susan Hayman
  • Prem Sikka
  • Anthony Woodley

Non-affiliated:

  • Claire Fox
  • Charles Moore

David Gauke: Without a proper state aid regime, the UK is unlikely to make a deal with Brussels

1 Aug

David Gauke is a former Justice Secretary, and was an independent candidate in South-West Hertfordshire at the recent general election.

Within the next three months, Boris Johnson is going to have to make the decision that will define his premiership and determine the future of British politics – especially the Conservative Party – for a generation. And the subject matter of this momentous decision? The previously obscure issue of the regulatory regime constraining the ability of the Government to provide taxpayer support for private sector companies. In other words, state aid.

Before turning to the issue in hand, let me set out a little context. My last two columns (here and here) have made the case that there is an electoral logic that points towards the Conservative Party moving in a leftwards direction economically but in a rightwards direction when it comes to social issues or, to put it more precisely, issues of national identity. Politics appears to be realigning as the biggest dividing line ceases to be about economic class or ideology but in relation to cultural issues.

The consequences of such a dividing line – and the Conservative Party unambiguously placing itself on one side or the other – is an uncomfortable one for those Conservatives with a desire for intellectual consistency.

At least since Margaret Thatcher’s premiership, the Conservative orthodoxy has been in favour of sound money and free trade. That is not to say that the State had been banished from making any kind of intervention in the economy – no recent government could accurately be described as laissez faire – but that any such intervention would be made carefully, recognising that the market was, by and large, a rather good way of allocating resources.

As for cultural issues, the Conservative Party has been a broad church consisting of social conservatives and social liberals, tub-thumping patriots and committed internationalists. Generally, we rubbed along alright.

These Conservative traditions were abandoned in 2019, resulting in the Prime Minister’s electoral triumph in December when he won previously safe Labour seats. He did so by promising an economic policy that involved more spending and greater government intervention. He also promised to deliver Brexit at whatever cost. It was an uncompromisingly Leave prospectus that appealed to patriotic/English nationalist working class voters.

This brings us to the UK/EU negotiations over a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. Contrary to promises of an oven-ready deal, discussions have not yet made a lot of progress. There are two sticking points. The first is fish. This is a matter of economic irrelevance (our fishing industry contributes less to GDP than Harrods) but of disproportionate political importance. As one can make a similar point about the EU, it would be an extraordinary failure for this matter to prevent a wider deal being reached.

The more substantive issue relates to the level playing field provisions. These are the EU’s requirements that the UK will not engage in “unfair competition” by undercutting the EU’s social and environmental legislation, nor provide anti-competitive subsidies.

The UK Government’s response to these demands has been to argue that this is an outrageous attempt to fetter the actions of a newly-independent nation. Given that (1) free trade agreements inevitably involve accepting some restrictions on a country’s ability to determine its own rules and (2) the UK accepted the principle of level playing field provisions in October’s Political Declaration, the EU is less than impressed by the argument.

The particular focus of the dispute has been state aid. At one level, this is surprising. The UK has traditionally eschewed state aid spending, seeing it as market-distorting and a wasteful use of taxpayers’ money. We spend less of it than the French and Germans and, as EU members, consistently argued against its use.

Nor has it traditionally been a touchstone issue for Eurosceptics. From my days in the ERG, I recall plenty of conversations about how the EU imposed regulatory burdens on businesses, prevented trade deals with rising economies like China and resulted in too much power in the hands of the unelected (oh, happy innocent days). Restrictions on bailing out private sector companies were not so much of problem for us Thatcherites.

This issue could have easily been de-escalated if we had put in place our own, independent and robust state aid regime, perhaps enforced by the Competition and Markets Authority. Such a regime is probably necessary (albeit not sufficient) in order to reach a compromise with the EU on this topic.

Instead, we have refused to set out our own domestic regime and there is much talk of how we can use our new freedoms as ex-members of the EU to support our own companies, like the rather odd acquisition earlier this month of a £400 million shareholding in a failed satellite company.

According to the Financial Times, Dominic Cummings is digging in against anything other than a “minimal, light-touch” state aid regime, believing that once you have left the EU “you should just do whatever you want”.

This brings me back to the nature of the Conservative victory last year and, in particular, the new supporters. If the Government’s focus is appealing to nationalists who favour an interventionist state, it would want the ability to back national champions or other businesses in favoured locations.

And if you are temperamentally inclined to think that any constraint on your ability to “do whatever you want” (whether by the EU, Parliament or the legal system) is an affront to democracy, then you will be all the more the likely to resist a robust and independent regime.

There are, however, consequences. First, it is very hard to see how the EU will agree to a deal if the UK does not have a proper state aid regime. I wrote in February how there may be a political case for not getting a deal (any deal will be very thin in any event, some parts of the economy will suffer as a consequence of leaving the Single Market, better to collapse the talks and blame the EU for the consequences) and that argument still applies.

But, as a consequence of the handling of Covid-19, the Government is more vulnerable to the charge of incompetence. In addition, a no deal Brexit would be a gift to the SNP, thus weakening the Union yet further.

Second, even putting aside the EU dimension, there are very good arguments for having in place a robust state aid regime. The Treasury will be arguing the case. Both as a finance ministry (ensuring that taxpayers’ money is spent wisely) and as an economics ministry (wanting resources to be allocated productively in order to maximise economic growth), it institutionally hates state aid. Presumably, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, well-regarded by his officials, will have similar views and will be making the case forcefully. At least, he should be.

It will be for the Prime Minister to decide. Go for the purist view of Brexit (“you do whatever you want”), embrace the new political alignment and splash the cash in order to play to the Red Wall voters. Or keep open the possibility of a deal, look after the interests of taxpayers and maintain some kind of consistency with economic orthodoxy. Whichever way he goes, it will be a hugely consequential and revealing decision.

“We must be focused and we cannot be complacent.” The Prime Minister’s statement – full text

31 Jul

“Good afternoon,

Two weeks ago, I updated you from this podium on the progress we had made as a country against coronavirus.
And in many ways that progress continues.

The number of patients admitted to hospitals is still falling, and now stands at just over 100 each day.

In April there were more than 3,000 coronavirus patients in mechanical ventilation beds, but now the latest figure is 87.
The number of deaths continues to fall. That is obviously encouraging.

But I have also consistently warned that this virus could come back and that we would not hesitate to take swift and decisive action as required.

I am afraid that in parts of Asia and Latin America the virus is now gathering pace. And our European friends are also struggling to keep the virus under control.

As we see these rises around the world, we cannot fool ourselves that we are exempt. We must be willing to react to the first signs of trouble.

Today, the weekly survey by the Office for National Statistics reports that the prevalence of the virus in the community in England is likely to be rising for the first time since May.

Around 1 in 1,500 now have the virus, compared to 1 in 1,800 on 15 July and 1 in 2,000 on 2 July. The ONS also estimate there are now 4,900 new infections every day, up from around 3,000 per day on 14 July and 2,000 per day at the end of June.

We can’t afford to ignore this evidence.

It’s vital to stress that we are in a far better position to keep the virus under control now than we were at the start of the pandemic – because we know so much more about the virus and have so many more tools at our disposal to deal with it.

Our testing capacity has increased 100-fold.

We have a contact tracing system up and running which has led to over 184,000 people isolating who may otherwise have spread the virus and is capable of tracing thousands of contacts every day.

We have secured supplies of billions of items of PPE to withstand new demands on hospitals and care homes.

And of course we have new treatments, like dexamethasone and remdesivir, to shorten recovery times and reduce mortality rates.

But as I say, we cannot be complacent. I cannot – I won’t stand by and allow the virus to cause more pain and heartache in this country.

Last night the Health Secretary announced new restrictions on household contact in the North West – specifically Greater Manchester, and parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

These are targeted measures on social contact between households, which the data tells us is driving the current increase in cases. Businesses and workplaces should continue as before in those areas.

I know how it is hard to have restrictions like this imposed on seeing your family and your friends. But we have to act rapidly in order to protect those we love.

And we know this sort of intervention works – measures taken in Leicester and Luton have suppressed the virus, allowing us to relax measures.

Even as we act locally, it is also my responsibility to look again at the measures we have in place nationally in light of the data we are seeing about incidence.

At every point I have said our plan to reopen society and the economy is conditional – that it relies on continued progress against the virus, and that we would not hesitate to put on the brakes if required.

With those numbers creeping up, our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control.

On Saturday 1 August, you’ll remember, we had hoped to reopen in England a number of higher risk settings that had remained closed. Today, I am afraid we are postponing these changes for at least a fortnight.

That means that, until 15 August at the earliest: 

  • Casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and remaining close contact services must remain closed.
  • Indoor performances will not resume.
  • Pilots of larger crowds in sports venues and conference centres will not take place.
  • Wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted, but ceremonies can continue to take place, in line with COVID-Secure guidelines.

I know that the steps we are taking will be a heavy blow to many people – to everyone whose wedding plans have been disrupted, or who now cannot celebrate Eid in the way they would wish, I am really, really sorry about that. But we simply cannot take the risk.

We will of course study the data carefully and move forward with our intention to open up as soon as we possibly can.

Two weeks ago, I also said that from tomorrow the government would give employers more discretion over how employees can work safely – whether by continuing to work from home or attending a Covid Secure workplace. We know that employers have gone to huge lengths to make workplaces safe, so that guidance remains unchanged.

We also said we would pause shielding nationally from 1 August – based on clinical advice, that national pause will proceed as planned, and our medical experts will be explaining more about that decision later and about shielding later today.

Most people in this country are following the rules and doing their bit to control the virus. But we must keep our discipline, we must be focused and we cannot be complacent.

I have asked the Home Secretary to work with the police and others to ensure the rules which are already in place are properly enforced.

That means local authorities acting to close down premises and cancel events which are not following Covid Secure guidance.
And it means a greater police presence to ensure face coverings are being worn where this is required by law.

We will also extend the requirement to wear a face covering to other indoor settings where you are likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet, such as museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship.

We now recommend face coverings are worn in these settings, and this will become enforceable in law from 8 August. 

At this stage, we are not changing the rules on social contact nationally. I don’t want to tell people to spend less time with their friends. But unless people follow the rules and behave safely, we may need to go further.

Two weeks ago, I said we would hope for the best but plan for the worst.

And of course we continue to hope for the best. The way to get there and to achieve that optimum outcome is if we all follow the rules, wash our hands, cover our faces, keep our distance – and get a test if we have symptoms, so that NHS Test and Trace can keep the virus under control.

This is how we will avoid a return to full national lockdown.

We’ve made huge progress together.

I know we are going succeed and I know we are going to beat this – if each and every one of us plays our part.”

“We must be focused and we cannot be complacent.” The Prime Minister’s statement – full text

31 Jul

“Good afternoon,

Two weeks ago, I updated you from this podium on the progress we had made as a country against coronavirus.
And in many ways that progress continues.

The number of patients admitted to hospitals is still falling, and now stands at just over 100 each day.

In April there were more than 3,000 coronavirus patients in mechanical ventilation beds, but now the latest figure is 87.
The number of deaths continues to fall. That is obviously encouraging.

But I have also consistently warned that this virus could come back and that we would not hesitate to take swift and decisive action as required.

I am afraid that in parts of Asia and Latin America the virus is now gathering pace. And our European friends are also struggling to keep the virus under control.

As we see these rises around the world, we cannot fool ourselves that we are exempt. We must be willing to react to the first signs of trouble.

Today, the weekly survey by the Office for National Statistics reports that the prevalence of the virus in the community in England is likely to be rising for the first time since May.

Around 1 in 1,500 now have the virus, compared to 1 in 1,800 on 15 July and 1 in 2,000 on 2 July. The ONS also estimate there are now 4,900 new infections every day, up from around 3,000 per day on 14 July and 2,000 per day at the end of June.

We can’t afford to ignore this evidence.

It’s vital to stress that we are in a far better position to keep the virus under control now than we were at the start of the pandemic – because we know so much more about the virus and have so many more tools at our disposal to deal with it.

Our testing capacity has increased 100-fold.

We have a contact tracing system up and running which has led to over 184,000 people isolating who may otherwise have spread the virus and is capable of tracing thousands of contacts every day.

We have secured supplies of billions of items of PPE to withstand new demands on hospitals and care homes.

And of course we have new treatments, like dexamethasone and remdesivir, to shorten recovery times and reduce mortality rates.

But as I say, we cannot be complacent. I cannot – I won’t stand by and allow the virus to cause more pain and heartache in this country.

Last night the Health Secretary announced new restrictions on household contact in the North West – specifically Greater Manchester, and parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

These are targeted measures on social contact between households, which the data tells us is driving the current increase in cases. Businesses and workplaces should continue as before in those areas.

I know how it is hard to have restrictions like this imposed on seeing your family and your friends. But we have to act rapidly in order to protect those we love.

And we know this sort of intervention works – measures taken in Leicester and Luton have suppressed the virus, allowing us to relax measures.

Even as we act locally, it is also my responsibility to look again at the measures we have in place nationally in light of the data we are seeing about incidence.

At every point I have said our plan to reopen society and the economy is conditional – that it relies on continued progress against the virus, and that we would not hesitate to put on the brakes if required.

With those numbers creeping up, our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control.

On Saturday 1 August, you’ll remember, we had hoped to reopen in England a number of higher risk settings that had remained closed. Today, I am afraid we are postponing these changes for at least a fortnight.

That means that, until 15 August at the earliest: 

  • Casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and remaining close contact services must remain closed.
  • Indoor performances will not resume.
  • Pilots of larger crowds in sports venues and conference centres will not take place.
  • Wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted, but ceremonies can continue to take place, in line with COVID-Secure guidelines.

I know that the steps we are taking will be a heavy blow to many people – to everyone whose wedding plans have been disrupted, or who now cannot celebrate Eid in the way they would wish, I am really, really sorry about that. But we simply cannot take the risk.

We will of course study the data carefully and move forward with our intention to open up as soon as we possibly can.

Two weeks ago, I also said that from tomorrow the government would give employers more discretion over how employees can work safely – whether by continuing to work from home or attending a Covid Secure workplace. We know that employers have gone to huge lengths to make workplaces safe, so that guidance remains unchanged.

We also said we would pause shielding nationally from 1 August – based on clinical advice, that national pause will proceed as planned, and our medical experts will be explaining more about that decision later and about shielding later today.

Most people in this country are following the rules and doing their bit to control the virus. But we must keep our discipline, we must be focused and we cannot be complacent.

I have asked the Home Secretary to work with the police and others to ensure the rules which are already in place are properly enforced.

That means local authorities acting to close down premises and cancel events which are not following Covid Secure guidance.
And it means a greater police presence to ensure face coverings are being worn where this is required by law.

We will also extend the requirement to wear a face covering to other indoor settings where you are likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet, such as museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship.

We now recommend face coverings are worn in these settings, and this will become enforceable in law from 8 August. 

At this stage, we are not changing the rules on social contact nationally. I don’t want to tell people to spend less time with their friends. But unless people follow the rules and behave safely, we may need to go further.

Two weeks ago, I said we would hope for the best but plan for the worst.

And of course we continue to hope for the best. The way to get there and to achieve that optimum outcome is if we all follow the rules, wash our hands, cover our faces, keep our distance – and get a test if we have symptoms, so that NHS Test and Trace can keep the virus under control.

This is how we will avoid a return to full national lockdown.

We’ve made huge progress together.

I know we are going succeed and I know we are going to beat this – if each and every one of us plays our part.”

Kanwal Gill and Patrick O’Connor: Why we’re launching the Conservative Diversity Project

31 Jul

Kanwal Gill is founder and Chairman, and Patrick O’Conner a Director, of the Conservative Diversity Project.

This week, the Government announced the membership of its Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED). This was an important step in the process of shining a light on inequality in the UK.

The Commission will focus on areas including poverty, education, employment, health, and the criminal justice system.

It is timely that the Government is seeking to shed a light on ethnic disparities in our country. The expert membership for the CRED means they will make evidence-based recommendations to change lives for the better, and will be crucial in informing and improving the national conversation on race.

As Conservatives, notions of aspiration, opportunity and freedom are often discussed in the political arena. These are values which we inherently believe in. We as a Party understand that your success in life should not be defined by who you love, the colour of your skin, your gender, or whether you have a disability or not.

Yet, for too many people in this country, this is not their reality.  When Theresa May first stood on the steps of Downing Street in July 2016 as Prime Minister, she recognised this. The burning injustices she acknowledged remain today. We have seen it in the disproportionate impact that COVID has had on BAME communities.

One of the ways in which we ensure that the challenges facing ethnic minorities and diverse communities in this country is through the formation of a politics that is truly accessible for all.

The Conservative Party has already done much to do this. The only two female Prime Ministers which this country has had have been Conservatives. Three members of the current Cabinet are from ethnic minority backgrounds, holding two of the great offices of state. We have had the first British Asian to hold the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer.

These are undoubtedly indicative of the progress we have seen in regards to diversity and inclusion – but we can do so much more.  Only six percent of Conservative MPs are BAME, and less than one per cent have a visible disability. Moreover, the House of Commons contains just 65 MPs from non-White ethnic backgrounds. This is the highest number in its history, but if the House truly reflected the ethnic make-up of the population, there would be around 90.

We as a party should be championing diversity. We should be encouraging more diverse initiatives. We must constantly be asking ourselves: who is not in the room? The emphasis and value that is now placed on diversity and inclusion did not come quickly or easily. It is now our responsibility to ensure that these values are practised and upheld.

Labour have for too long believed that they have a monopoly on compassion and diversity. It’s time we tackled this head on. To say with confidence that this Conservative Party has, and will continue to, stand up for our diverse communities, to champion their voices, and welcome them.

Our Party is at its best when it is a broad church, not only on the political spectrum but when we have voices from all walks of life. As a party we should reach out and embrace the rich tapestry which is the diversity within our society. To champion the diverse voices around us, learn from their experiences and grow together.

It will signal to people of different genders, from the LGBTQ community, BAME communities, or the disabled that this party is here for them, that it welcomes them, and will champion them.

The challenges we have faced as a country and a global community over the course of the last twenty years has done much to change the face of our politics. The next twenty will undoubtedly change our society. Our party should be at the vanguard of these changes; embracing further diverse representation and tackling the issues which face our communities in this country, and abroad.

Our party has always stood up in the face of adversity, and led our country to new beginnings. As we re-emerge from COVID, and recalibrate our country for the future, let diversity and inclusion be the new frontier of progress. If we can do this, we can realise the vision of a country which works for everyone, built on the values of compassionate conservatism, with freedom and opportunity for all.

There is a clear appetite for change. The question now is how we foster greater diversity and inclusion in our party, and how can we translate this into greater representation at both local, and national levels? It will require a bottom-up approach, and the Conservative Diversity Project has been founded with this in mind.

The CDP will seek to understand the issues which are affecting our diverse members. By sharing the experiences and knowledge of diverse candidates who have stood before, we aim to break the barriers to such candidates standing for election. This is our attempt at building politics that is truly accessible for all.

Newslinks for Friday 31st July 2020

31 Jul

Home visits banned for millions in north of England

“Lockdown restrictions were tightened last night for four million people across large parts of northern England after a rise in the number of coronavirus cases. The government announced that people from different households would be barred from meeting indoors in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire. The move comes after a rise in cases in northern England, which ministers believe has been caused by people failing to observe social-distancing rules. The restrictions apply to all indoor gatherings, including pubs and restaurants, with immediate effect. However there was confusion about whether people could still meet indoors within their support bubbles.” – The Times

  • Hancock says ‘we are prepared to take action’ after Manchester – Daily Express
  • Leicester mayor condemns Government over lockdown confusion – The Times
  • ‘New low for the Government’s communications’ – Daily Mail

More:

  • Self-isolation for Covid-19 symptoms extended to ten days across UK – FT
  • How concerned should we be about a coronavirus resurgence? – Daily Telegraph
  • Fewer than half now know what the rules are – Daily Mail
  • Anti-lockdown campaign raises £230,000 – The Times

Comment:

  • When did easing pressure on the NHS change to stopping anyone catching it? – Janet Street-Porter, Daily Mail
  • Quarantine sledgehammer is crushing far more than just Covid – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • Targeted lockdown is the right approach – The Sun

Scotland 1) Carlaw ‘ousted to make way for Cummings critic’ Ross

“Ruth Davidson is poised to take centre stage for the Scottish Conservatives again after Jackson Carlaw was forced out as party leader. Less than six months since he took charge Mr Carlaw, 61, said in a statement that he had reached the “simple if painful conclusion” that he was not the best person to guide the Tories through the coronavirus crisis and into the Holyrood election next May. It is understood that he was pressured to quit by senior figures in the Scottish party who are backing Douglas Ross, 37, the former Scotland Office minister, to be his replacement. Mr Ross left the government in May over Dominic Cummings’s 260-mile drive to Durham during the lockdown.” – The Times

Comment:

  • Carlaw is a good man, but comparisons with Davidson did him no favours – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

Scotland 2) Sturgeon rebuked by statistics watchdog over ‘dodgy’ claims about UK virus rate differences

“Scotland’s First Minister repeatedly claimed earlier this month that the prevalence of the virus was “five times” higher in England, and opponents said she had deployed the figure “to suggest her policy was working better than elsewhere in the UK”. She also used the statistic to justify her controversial refusal to rule out imposing quarantine on visitors crossing the border into Scotland and taking a different approach to Boris Johnson on air bridges. But in an intervention described by her critics as “damning”, Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation at the Office for Statistics Regulation, said that the “uncaveated” comparison should never have been made as it was not backed up by sound data.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson reprimanded for child poverty statistics misuse – FT

More SNP:

  • Nationalist split as Cherry attacks ‘obsession’ with Brexit – Daily Express

Hancock ‘hails Zoom medicine’ as GPs go online

“Matt Hancock has hailed a new era of “Zoom medicine” in which patients consult their doctor by video-link or phone rather than face to face. The health secretary said there must be “a compelling reason” to see a doctor in person as he called for the NHS to learn lessons from the pandemic. In a speech to the Royal College of Physicians yesterday Mr Hancock said the health service must keep some of the operational changes that were introduced to cope with the pandemic. There must be a drive for “bureaucracy-busting” in the NHS, he said. Ministers believe that remote consultations will lead to a better service for those who need face-to-face care by freeing up doctors’ time.” – The Times

  • Philp is latest minister to isolate – The Sun

Johnson ‘threatens Lords reform’ after peerages for Tory party donors blocked…

“Boris Johnson is understood to be furious after he was blocked from giving peerages to some of the Conservative Party’s financial backers, and is threatening to reform the House of Lords in retaliation. The Prime Minister is said to be “very frustrated, angry and upset” after a Lords watchdog refused to sign off peerages for some of his business supporters this summer. Instead, the list – which has been ready to publish for a number of days – will largely consist of political backers, with a second list of financial supporters, including businessmen Johnny Leavesley and Peter Cruddas, due to be published in the autumn. The House of Lords Appointments Commission is said to have raised objections after the Lords Speaker, Lord Fowler, expressed concerns about the size of the Second Chamber, which is set to surge above 800 after the appointments.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Peers urge cut to Universal Credit wait – The Sun

…as he praises new police numbers

“Boris Johnson hailed the highest increase in police officer numbers in almost two decades after figures revealed more than 4,000 have already been recruited this year. Police forces have signed up almost a quarter of the 20,000 the PM promised to deliver in his flagship election pledge. Some 4,336 officers were hired in the first eight months of the Government’s recruitment drive from a whopping 89,950 applications to join the police. It takes the overall headcount of officers in England and Wales to 133,131, according to Home Office figures released yesterday.” – The Sun

  • Officer strength highest since 2012 – The Times

Conservatives ‘face questions’ over handling of allegations against Elphicke

“The Conservative Party is facing serious questions over its handling of allegations against Charlie Elphicke after his conviction yesterday for three sex attacks. The then MP for Dover had the party whip suspended – meaning he was effectively kicked out of the party – in November 2017 following claims of sexual assault, almost a year after he was first reported to his party. But Elphicke controversially had the whip restored in December 2018, ahead of a crucial confidence vote in the then Prime Minister Theresa May, while he was being investigated by police. Mrs May was facing what was expected to be a knife-edge vote tabled by hardline Brexit Conservatives angry at her withdrawal policy. The move to bring him back into the fold during Mrs May’s tenure has been described as ‘appalling’ by Anna Soubry, who was a Tory MP at the time.” – Daily Mail

  • Ex-MP ‘faces prison and divorce’ after sex assaults conviction – The Times
  • Wife and Dover MP dumps him on Twitter – Daily Mail

More:

  • ‘Evasive’ ex-minister loses bid to keep £20 million divorce battle secret – Daily Telegraph

Ian Dale: Downing Street’s new spokesperson job is the ultimate poisoned chalice

“No one in their right mind, and certainly no one at the top of their game, would apply for this job given the conditions they would have to operate under. It is the ultimate poisoned chalice – and I say that as someone who’s being quoted as one of the favourites to land it. If you’re of a betting persuasion I’d advise you to save your money. The advantage of being 58 years old is that I have enough self-knowledge to know that I’d both hate it and, perhaps more importantly, be useless at it. So why is No 10 breaking decades of parliamentary lobby tradition and insisting on these briefings being on the record? Simples. It fits into their narrative of going over the heads of political journalists and straight into people’s living rooms.” – Daily Telegraph

China fires warning shot to UK over ‘cold war’

“China has warned the UK not to allow “cold war warriors” to “kidnap” cordial relations between Beijing and Britain, firing a new salvo in the ongoing diplomatic row between the two countries. Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador in London, said disagreements over Beijing’s imposition of a new security law in Hong Kong, as well as the UK’s ban on using Huawei in its 5G mobile networks, had “seriously poisoned the atmosphere” in Sino-British relations. “China and the UK should have enough wisdom and capability to manage and deal with these differences, rather than allowing anti-China forces and cold war warriors to kidnap China-UK relations,” he told reporters on Thursday, urging Britain to exercise its independence and avoid being coerced by the US into taking a “hostile” stance against Beijing.” – FT

  • Passport veto as Beijing says UK has poisoned relations – The Times

Labour Party in ‘humiliating data breach’

“The Labour Party is the latest in a number of organisation to have their data breached following a cyber-attack on cloud computing provider Blackbaud. Hackers are believed to have accessed information about thousands of party donors over a period of several years. The Party are understood to have been first informed of the breach on July 16 and will be informing all of those impacted by the attack later this week. Inside sources told ITV News they believe personal and confidential information about donors, including analysis that was run by the party about their personal views, is likely to have been accessed. They also said that all donors, including those who donated less than £7,500 and therefore did not have to declare their donation to the Electoral Commission, are likely to have had their data breached.” – Daily Express

  • Opposition ‘slaps down union demands’ to put kids in face masks – The Sun