Newslinks for Thursday 16th July 2020


Johnson ‘to urge country to return to work’ tomorrow

“Boris Johnson will on Friday tell the nation it is time to get back to work after the Governor of the Bank of England said people’s “fear” of commuting was “holding back the recovery”. The Prime Minister is concerned that the economy is recovering more slowly than had been hoped after most lockdown restrictions were lifted and wants people to return to their workplaces wherever it is safe to do so. His worries were echoed by Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey, who told Tory MPs on Wednesday that he was shocked by deserted city centres such as London’s. Mr Bailey set out a three-point plan for saving city centre economies, saying ministers must restore confidence in using public transport, lift all remaining restrictions and get people back to work.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister ‘rips up stay-at-home guidance’ – The Sun

Confusion over face masks as Downing Street ‘contradicts Hancock’

“New rules on face coverings descended into chaos on Wednesday as Downing Street suggested they would not be mandatory in food shops just hours after the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said they would be. MPs urged the Government to clarify exactly where people would be required to wear masks following a series of conflicting statements and Cabinet ministers adopting different approaches in-store. It came as Luke Johnson, the former chairman of Pizza Express, suggested that forcing people to wear masks in shops was an attempt by ministers to reassure those “scared witless” by what he referred to as “project fear.” Speaking to The Telegraph’s Planet Normal podcast, he said the measures seemed more “about reassurance” than any “compelling evidence” they had a “significant benefit” in limiting the spread of Covid-19.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Brits will not have to wear face masks in coffee shops – The Sun
  • Khan accuses Johnson of ‘risking the health of the public’ – Daily Mail

More:

  • Johnson promises independent inquiry into Covid-19 response – The Times
  • Inside Westminster’s coronavirus blame game – FT

>Yesterday:

  • ToryDiary: Face mask policies abroad. How do they compare to the UK’s rules?
  • Dr Luke Evans’ column: We must protect our shop workers from violent crime. Not ask them to police the wearing of face masks.

Johnson ‘rules out sugar taxes’ as part of his battle against obesity

“Boris Johnson has ruled out sugar taxes as part of his post-coronavirus battle against obesity, The Sun can reveal. He sparked fears of new levies on sugary food and drink last month after admitting he had ditched his “libertarian” views on nanny state interventions on “sin taxes”. The PM said his own brush with death during the coronavirus crisis had convinced him that urgent action was needed to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis. He has ordered health officials to draw up a fresh action plan but has made it very clear that sugar taxes must not be part of the solution. Boris told aides that “people shouldn’t be bullied”… The move is a victory for The Sun’s Hands Off Our Grub campaign to prevent nanny state interventions hiking food prices for hard-pressed families.” – The Sun

Sunak tells struggling businesses ‘not to expect help with debts’

“Rishi Sunak has dismissed the prospect of state bailouts of companies struggling with debts incurred because of coronavirus, saying it was not something “governments should get into the business or habit of doing”. But the chancellor immediately faced calls from the City of London to ease some of the debt burden taken on by businesses during the pandemic in order to avoid millions of job losses. Up to 3m UK jobs are at risk unless the government steps in to help support as much as £35bn of unsustainable debt, according to an influential group of City executives. The group, led by TheCityUK, which represents the financial sector, said that about 780,000 small and medium-sized businesses were at risk.” – FT

  • Chancellor hints at tax hikes as he warns of ‘tough choices ahead’ – The Sun
  • UK sheds 650,000 jobs during coronavirus lockdown – FT

More:

  • ‘One in three’ firms are preparing to lay off staff before furlough ends in October – Daily Mail
  • Treasury mulls plan to set up toxic debt body to save small businesses – The Guardian
  • UK ministers plan ‘Green Investment Bank 2.0’ – FT

Tories kick out Lewis after intelligence committee ‘coup’

“Boris Johnson has stripped the whip from an MP who denied his handpicked selection to lead parliament’s intelligence and security committee. Downing Street now risks losing control of the committee, which could bring forward the controversial report into alleged Russian interference in British politics to as early as next week. No 10’s attempt to install Chris Grayling, the former transport secretary, failed when Julian Lewis snatched the position. Mr Lewis took over the chairmanship of the committee, which oversees MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, with backing from four non-Tory members. Mr Johnson had picked Mr Grayling and, given the Conservative majority on the committee, his election had appeared to be a formality.” – The Times

  • Johnson ‘ambushed’ by Tory MP – Daily Telegraph

>Today:

  • ToryDiary: Lewis becomes the first Conservative MP to lose the whip during this Parliament. But he may not be the last.
  • Profiles: Grayling, scorned defender of the unglamorous middle class

Patel bullying report being ‘held back’ by Downing Street

“An investigation into allegations of bullying by Priti Patel contains “robust criticisms” of the home secretary’s behaviour but its findings are being held back by Downing Street over fears they could be embarrassing, Whitehall officials said. The Cabinet Office launched the investigation into Ms Patel’s conduct in March following the resignation of Philip Rutnam as the Home Office’s most senior civil servant. He accused her of being involved in a “vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign” against him. Other civil servants have accused Ms Patel of bullying during her time as a minister at the Department for International Development and the Department for Work and Pensions.” – FT

  • Civil servant in charge of inquiry to leave post – The Guardian

More:

  • Home Secretary criticises French for failing to stop migrant boats crossing Channel – The Times

Tory China hawks to meet Pompeo for Huawei talks

“The US secretary of state is to meet Tory China hawks in London next Tuesday, after Washington announced sanctions against employees of tech companies accused of facilitating abuses in Xinjiang. Mike Pompeo will also have talks with Boris Johnson at Downing Street and host a meeting and press conference with Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, next week. China, Hong Kong, Huawei, the South China Sea and Beijing’s general reliability as an international partner are all on the agenda, it is understood, alongside a UK-US trade deal. Mr Pompeo’s private roundtable event with senior Conservative rebels on Huawei, including Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Bob Seely, will heap pressure on No 10 to be tougher on the Chinese telecoms giant.” – The Times

  • Prepare for ‘public and painful’ retaliation to Huawei decision, Beijing warns – Daily Telegraph
  • We must be prepared for satellite war, says minister – The Times
  • Britain is ‘Europe’s No 1 target’ for infiltration by CCP, expert warns – Daily Mail
  • Vodafone wants 5G auction to be scrapped after Huawei move – FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Conservatives risk obsession with China to the exclusion of other threats, including Russia and Islamist extremism

Mateusz Morawiecki: All of Europe must stand with America on 5G

“Our alliance with the United States brought prosperity and peace to post-war Western Europe, and to this day brings security to almost all of our continent. My government believes that Europe needs to continue this alliance in a technological dimension, especially when it comes to the construction of our 5G network. This network will soon be omnipresent, and we must keep it secure at all costs. To do so, all European entrepreneurs must maintain clean production lines, free from potential industrial espionage – and safe from attacks that could interrupt their operations and harm the entire economy. Realism in national security is fundamental to building a fair model of globalisation that our citizens will trust. Without this trust, the foundations of the global economy might not only falter, but also collapse.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Huawei and the hard facts facing global Britain – Philip Stephens, FT

Constitution 1) Johnson ‘sparks dust up with Sturgeon’ with plans to retrieve 160 powers from Brussels

“Boris Johnson will today set out plans to bring home up to 160 powers from Brussels, sparking a major dust up with Nicola Sturgeon. The PM will hand control over all policies previously set by the EU to Westminster in the UK’s biggest internal shake up for decades. But the move has sparked fury from the SNP which wanted to seize ownership of key laws for the Scottish parliament. No 10 insisted the devolved administrations will keep all their current powers under the reform and gain new ones in many areas… Britain will regain control over at least 70 policy areas like state aid spending, air quality rules, and animal welfare standards from January 1. Officials say the number of powers repatriated could end up being as high as 160.” – The Sun

  • Gove defends post-Brexit plan for UK internal market – FT
  • Ross mocks SNP’s ‘power grab’ claim – Daily Express

Comment:

  • Why it’s time to stop talking about English identity – Alex Niven, The Guardian

Constitution 2) House of Commons ‘could move to York’

“Boris Johnson has proposed moving both Houses of parliament to York while the Palace of Westminster is refurbished. In a letter seen by The Times the prime minister casts doubt on the £4 billion renovation project that was agreed in 2018 and would entail MPs moving out in the coming five years. The independent body overseeing the project has begun a review. It is unclear why Mr Johnson wrote the letter, addressed to Sarah Johnson and David Goldstone, chief executives of the restoration and renewal programme. In it he welcomes the review and says that it should examine “the full range of options”. He adds: “Cost should be kept to a minimum (ie no ‘gold plating’). We should also move as quickly as possible.”” – The Times

  • Johnson confirms plans for ‘government hub’ – The Guardian

More:

  • Council mergers will be price for elected mayors, minister says – FT

Labour set to apologise to antisemitism whistleblowers

“Labour is poised to make a formal apology to antisemitism whistleblowers as part of a settlement designed to draw a line under allegations made during the Jeremy Corbyn era, the Guardian has learned. The whistleblowers sued the party for defamation in the wake of a BBC Panorama investigation last year. No final settlement has been reached but sources said an agreement was imminent, prompting anger from Corbyn allies who accused the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, of capitulating. Seven of the eight whistleblowers – all former Labour staffers – who featured in the documentary instructed the prominent media lawyer Mark Lewis to take action against the party.” – The Guardian

Dozens of powerful Twitter users targeted by Bitcoin scammers

“Twitter has revealed that its own administrative tools were used to take over the accounts of dozens of celebrities, politicians and billionaires in a reported ‘inside job’ that is among the largest social media breaches in history. ‘Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened,’ Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted, promising to share information about the breach as it became available. The attack unfolded on Wednesday evening, with the affected accounts including presidential candidate Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West. Former President Barack Obama, the most popular account on Twitter with more than 120 million followers, was also targeted, as were the corporate accounts of Apple and Uber.” – Daily Mail

News in Brief:

  • Sturgeon is set to crank up the grievance machine – Ruth Davidson, Evening Standard
  • Independence would leave Scots £2,000 a year worse off – Kevin Hague, Reaction
  • Covid vaccine front-runner is months ahead of her competition – Stephanie Baker, Bloomberg
  • Mask fiasco shows the dangers of a ‘noble lie’ – Matthew Lesh, CapX
  • The ugly truth about the BLM protests – Michael Tracey, UnHerd



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