Newslinks for Thursday 9th July 2020


Mini-Budget 1) Sunak announces £30 billion of tax cuts and spending rises aimed at saving jobs

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

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

>Today: ToryDiary: Sunak whistles in the dark

>Yesterday:

  • MPsETC: Stamp duty cut welcome, but concerns about “tomorrow’s taxpayers”. Centre-right think tanks react to Sunak statement.
  • ToryDiary: Andrew Gimson’s Commons sketch: There is a place not just for smiles but for Samuel Smiles in the Chancellor’s vision
  • ToryDiary: “Our plan has a clear goal: to protect, support and create jobs.” The Chancellor’s statement. Full text.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Mini-Budget comment

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

Fox nominated to head the World Trade Organisation

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

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

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

Cummings tours top security sites

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

Sedwill to be paid £250,000 compensation

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

Labour drops Wealth Tax policy

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

Australia suspends Hong Kong extradition treaty

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

Aaronovitch: Unconscious bias training is bunk

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

News in brief

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



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