Newslinks for Friday 17th July 2020


Vallance ‘at odds with Johnson’ on getting Britain back to work

“Boris Johnson’s top scientific adviser has told him that there is “absolutely no reason” to change advice to work from home, challenging the prime minister’s desire to urge people back to offices. Sir Patrick Vallance said he could see no reason to abandon one of the social-distancing measures that has been most successful in slowing the spread of coronavirus, complicating Mr Johnson’s hopes of changing government guidance. The cabinet is due to hold a virtual meeting this morning to sign off a new message on working from home after a week in which ministers struggled to articulate a clear position.” – The Times

  • He insists government advice on homeworking should remain in place – FT
  • Johnson ‘at war with his Covid experts’ – Daily Mail
  • Prime Minister targets ‘near-normal’ in nine months with ‘lightning lockdowns’ – The Sun
  • Rifkind ‘orders Brits back to work’ – Daily Express

More:

  • Scientists: people may already be immune to Covid-19 ‘without ever having caught it’ – Daily Telegraph
  • UK builds up Covid-19 medicines stockpile in case of second wave – FT
  • Leicester mayor angry as rules ease in ‘Tory-voting’ villages – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Johnson will have to abandon his libertarian instincts to tackle the obesity crisis

Fraser Nelson: Britain will pay a high price for the Government’s lockdown confusion

“Contradiction and confusion has marked every stage of this crisis. Will all children be allowed to go back to school, or not? Will an NHS test-and-trace app be our route out of this, or not? It has been hard for Cabinet members, let alone the public, to work out what the government is likely to do next. The idea of face masks being made compulsory is a serious point. Last weekend, Michael Gove was sent out into television studios to dismiss it. Even he had not been told that the law was about to change. Part of this problem is structural. Far more power rests in 10 Downing Street nowadays, so much depends on its ability to translate ideas into action.” – Daily Telegraph

  • If this is the best Hancock’s got, the public inquiry will be a horrorshow – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

Third of Sunak’s £30bn alleged to be ‘old money passed off as new’

“Rishi Sunak has been accused of twisting the figures in his summer statement by repackaging £10 billion of previously committed spending as a new deal to save jobs. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the chancellor’s attempt to pass off old money as new spending was “corrosive to trust”. After analysing last week’s mini-budget, the public finance think-tank found that up to £10 billion of investment in public works and skills would be funded by savings as other projects were cancelled. The £5.5 billion announced by Boris Johnson for transport and infrastructure before the summer statement, which he presented as a new deal in the vein of the US president Franklin Roosevelt, is not new money at all, it said.” – The Times

  • Government is accused of ‘corrosive’ lack of transparency – Daily Mail

More:

  • Johnson gives £3 billion to Nightingale hospitals – Daily Telegraph
  • Unions warn school funding will be eaten up keeping classrooms safe – FT
  • Ex-HMRC chief: VAT, income and NI taxes will have to go up – The Sun
  • Bungled public sector pensions reform plan lands taxpayers with £17bn bill – The Times

Comment:

  • Let’s have a bonfire of every tax bar one – Ed Conway, The Times

>Yesterday: Jesse Norman in Comment: My revolutionary experiment with other Ministers today in delivering better value for taxpayers

Johnson urged not to oust Lewis from crucial security role

“Boris Johnson has backed off from trying to unseat Julian Lewis as head of the intelligence and security committee. Mr Lewis was elected to the position with the help of Labour and SNP MPs on Wednesday. The prime minister, who had wanted Chris Grayling to be made chairman, stripped Mr Lewis of the Conservative whip and has the option of tabling a Commons motion to remove him from the ISC. Mark Spencer, the chief whip, was said to be weighing up whether to put Mr Johnson’s authority to the test. Senior MPs, however, urged Mr Johnson not to risk the humiliation of losing the vote. “There are strong views on either side,” a cabinet source said.” – The Times

  • Lewis brands attempt to impose Grayling was ‘improper request’ – The Guardian

More:

  • Top armed forces officers ‘gagged by Wallace’ over aircraft carrier discussion – The Times

Comment:

  • From Bercow’s best man to the Prime Minister’s worst enemy – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail

>Yesterday:

  • 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

York parliament ‘fails to get the Tory vote’

“Conservative MPs pressed yesterday for an assurance that Westminster would remain parliament’s “national home” after Boris Johnson suggested that it could temporarily move to York. The prime minister floated the idea of relocating both Houses during the renovation of the Palace of Westminster in a letter seen by The Times. The outcome of a review into the £4 billion project agreed in 2018 is due this autumn and many expect the initial costing to go up. Mr Johnson said York should be included in options for parliament’s temporary home, along with a “government hub” there. Local MPs and civic leaders welcomed the idea but Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, was less enthusiastic.” – The Times

  • Suggestion ‘daft’ and ‘barmy’, say Tory MPs – Daily Telegraph

Conservative MPs speak out against Begum’s return to the UK

“Terror bride Shamima Begum has been given the green light to return to the UK — and experts now warn up to 150 jihadi killers could demand the same. A court ruled the IS fanatic, 20, can appeal her loss of UK citizenship. But sources feared “dramatic repercussions”. The Court of Appeal dismissed fears of a threat from Begum, who once claimed she was “not fazed” by seeing heads in bins. But Dr Alan Mendoza, director of the Henry Jackson Society think tank, warned that the ruling could usher in scores of killers… Ex-Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who took away Begum’s passport, said that if the 20-year-old returned it “will prove impossible to subsequently remove her”.” – The Sun

  • She will face arrest for terror offences when she returns – Daily Mail
  • ‘Up to 150 jihadists’ could attempt to come to Britain following ruling – Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • Vile fanatic has no place on our soil – The Sun

>Today:

  • ToryDiary: Where is the Conservatives’ Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission?
  • Tony Smith in Comment: In over 40 years of Home Office experience, I can’t recall a time when our borders have been under so much pressure

BBC ‘under fire again’ over news reporter’s anti-Tory social media posts

“The BBC has faced fresh criticism over its impartiality today as it emerged one of its news reporters posted incendiary tweets against Prime Minster Boris Johnson. Community Affairs Correspondent Rianna Croxford, who joined the BBC in 2018, shared the overtly political messages on Twitter the previous year. In recent months the corporation has faced scrutiny over some of its journalists’ apparent political bias displayed in their social media interactions. In 2017 posts, Ms Croxford, who was at the forefront of the BBC’s coverage of the coronavirus crisis, criticised Labour MPs for resigning and “slating the party in the process”. In a separate post, she seemed to celebrate “major Labour gains” in that year’s election calling them “unbelievable”.” – Daily Express

  • Hatred of Trump is warping news, warns Sopel – The Times

DfiD merger will ‘severely impact’ UK’s status, concludes cross-party inquiry

“A cross-party committee of MPs has said Boris Johnson’s “rushed and impulsive” merger of the Foreign Office and Department for International Development will “severely impact the UK’s superpower status”. Attacking the prime minister’s decision as “coming out of the blue”, a report published on Thursday from the Commons international development committee (IDC) said it was likely it would be disruptive and “incredibly costly”. Publishing its final report from its inquiry into the effectiveness of UK aid, the IDC raised concerns about the lack of consultation ahead of the merger and asked for a full explanation to be given to parliament, including why the decision had been taken amid a pandemic and when the UK aid budget was facing multi-billion-pound cuts.” – The Guardian

Russians ‘played Corbyn as a useful idiot’ to publicise classified documents

“Jeremy Corbyn was unwittingly used as a “useful idiot”, a leading international affairs think tank has claimed after the Government said it was “almost certain” Russians attempted to interfere in last year’s election. The former Labour leader was facing a fresh backlash on Thursday night over his decision to promote classified UK-US trade documents as evidence that the Conservatives were seeking to “sell off” the NHS. In a statement released on Thursday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab revealed that the Government had concluded that “Russian actors” had tried to “amplify” the papers after they were “illicitly acquired” and later posted on the website Reddit.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Ex-leader ‘doubles down on using dossier’ – The Sun
  • Gardiner defends using leaked trade papers – The Times

More:

  • Report on Russian interference in UK politics to be released – FT
  • Russian state-sponsored hackers target Covid-19 vaccine researchers – The Guardian
  • Moscow says any ‘unfriendly actions’ by UK will meet response – Daily Mail

Labour MP Russell-Moyle resigns after Israel apology

“A Labour MP forced to apologise for social media posts accusing Israel of fuelling terrorism abruptly quit Sir Keir Starmer’s front bench last night. Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a shadow environment minister, complained that newspaper coverage about his past comments had made him the victim of a “torrent of online hate”. The MP for Brighton Kemptown, a leading left-winger, was forced recently to apologise for his provocative comments about Israel. The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) had demanded that he leave his post after The Sunday Times unearthed Facebook messages in which he called Zionism a “dangerous nationalist idea”. Mr Russell-Moyle apologised and promised to work with Jewish activists.” – The Times

SNP attacks proposals on regulatory standards as ‘riding roughshod’ over devolved administrations

“The UK government has denied that plans for a new internal market would lead to a race to the bottom in regulatory standards as the Scottish National party said the proposals “ride roughshod” over devolved powers. Alok Sharma, business secretary, told the House of Commons that a white paper on the post-Brexit internal market published on Thursday would give business the “regulatory clarity and certainty” that companies needed. “It will ensure that the cost of doing business in the UK will remain as low as possible,” he said. “This is not about ideology, this is about pragmatism.” But Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said the UK government was seeking to “ride roughshod over the powers of the Scottish parliament”.” – FT

  • Covid-19 ‘shambles’ has left UK union ‘dead in the water’ – Daily Express
  • Johnson is on collision course with devolved administrations over internal market – FT
  • Post-Brexit UK market could clash with WHO-backed Scottish rules – Daily Express

Comment:

  • Our Union has never been in greater peril – Iain Martin, The Times

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Reserving control of ‘level playing field’ provisions to Westminster should be just the first step

Northern Ireland and Ireland to revive joint ministerial talks

“Northern Ireland and Ireland have agreed to revive joint ministerial meetings for the first time in more than three years, it was announced on Thursday, as Micheál Martin made his first official visit to Belfast since becoming Irish premier. The ministerial body, set up under the Good Friday peace agreement, has not met since late 2016, shortly before the Northern Ireland executive collapsed over the Democratic Unionist Party’s handling of a green energy scandal, triggering a three year stand-off… During wide-ranging talks with Mrs Foster, Mr Martin raised concerns over divergent travel policies and lockdown measures being implemented by the two governments.” – FT

News in Brief:

  • Ex-EU powers must be held at Westminster – Henry Hill, Free Market Conservatives
  • Johnson must say no to a new independence referendum – Gerald Warner, Reaction
  • Why Begum should not have been allowed to return – Richard Ekins, The Spectator
  • The tribe that disappeared – Michael Collins, The Critic
  • Who regulates the regulators? – Victoria Hewson, CapX
  • Is egg-freezing a scam? – Zoe Strimpel, UnHerd



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