Newslinks for Monday 20th July 2020


Britain to suspend extradition treaty with Hong Kong…

“Britain will shelve its extradition treaty with Hong Kong today as the government faces mounting pressure to toughen its stance towards China. Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, will tell the Commons that the agreement will be suspended in response to a draconian security law imposed on the former British colony that jeopardises its judicial independence. Yesterday he accused China of “egregious” human rights violations. Canada and Australia have already scrapped their extradition treaties with Hong Kong and the United States is considering a similar move.” – The Times

  • Raab is likely to stop short of tearing up the agreement altogether, however – Daily Telegraph
  • Members of the western Five Eyes security alliance are in effect co-ordinating policy on the issue – FT
  • Hong Kong democratic activist welcomes the news – Daily Mail
  • Members of the Chinese Communist Party have “infiltrated societies affiliated to the Conservatives and Labour” – The Times
  • University campus prejudice is “driving support for China” – The Times
Comment:
  • The only moral option we have is to defend the Uighur people from the Chinese state – The Telegraph

> Yesterday:

  • WATCH: Raab on China. “Gross, egregious” human rights abuses are going on.
  • WATCH: China’s Ambassador is questioned about film of the mass handcuffing and blindfolding of prisoners
  • WATCH: We need to be very careful in our dealings, says Raab of China

… as Conservative MPs warn about the dangers of Tik Tok, the social media app

“The Chinese social media app Tik Tok is “as much of a threat” to Britain as Huawei, senior Conservative MPs have warned. Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, said he thought that the service should be banned because of its proximity to “Chinese intelligence services”. “There are real serious concerns, as big as with Huawei, over the role that they play,” he said. “Tik Tok is the product of a company called Byte Dance which has roots everywhere at the moment, a bit like Huawei. They’re growing like mad. Everybody is now reviewing the company.”” – The Times

  • Working a Tik Tok was like being in a “digital prison”, according to ex-employees – Daily Telegraph
  • Tik Tok scraps plans to build global HQ in Britain – Daily Mail

Clare Foges: Spare us the mess of a grand Covid inquiry

“In the lexicon of political cliché there are some phrases so irritating, so alien to everyday parlance that it is a wonder those in Westminster continue to wheel them out. “Let me be frank” (prior to fudge), “Let me be clear” (prior to obfuscation), “Hard-working families” (translation: those people who drive white vans and eat budget sausage rolls). The worst offender has to be “lessons will be learnt”, its ghastly glibness indicating that instead of reflecting or apologising, the speaker intends to kick the can well beyond the horizon. Now, we are told, “lessons will be learnt” from the pandemic, with an independent inquiry at some point down the line. At prime minister’s questions last week Boris Johnson said that although now is not the “right moment” to dig into what has happened over the past four months”. – The Times

  • Liberalism made the Western world, but now it is destroying it – Nick Timothy – Daily Telegraph
  • Health experts have derailed Britain’s post-Covid recovery and transformed us into faceless paranoid creatures, Trevor Kavanagh – The Sun
  • Now Britain stands at the crossroads. Will we choose dread or hope? John Harris, The Guardian
  • Johnson’s obesity strategy must tackle inequalities in order to “level up” Britain, Adam Briggs – Daily Telegraph
  • In valuing only how to argue, we are forgetting how to talk, Nesrine Malik – The Guardian
  • We must make TikTok and other social media giants pay more than lip service to child safety, Anne Longfield – Daily Telegraph
  • A sad day when free speech costs so much, Nick Ferrari – Daily Express
  • The Russia report won’t be a damp squib, Edward Lucas – The Times
  • A ‘British Darpa’ can’t solve the UK’s innovation woes on its own, Ian Campbell and David Bott – Daily Telegraph
  • Nimbys are putting the brakes on our cycling revolution, Jawad Iqbal – The Times
  • I can make a feminist beef out of anything. But eyebrow-threading is my limit, Zoe Williams – The Guardian
  • Saying I’ll never wear a mask has put me in a pickle, Tim Stanley – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 1) Outbreak at test and trace centre in North Lanarkshire

“A cluster of coronavirus infections has been confirmed at an NHS Test and Trace call centre in North Lanarkshire. Measures have been brought in by the region’s health board to try and suppress the outbreak, which flared up at the Sitel site in Motherwell. NHS Lanarkshire said it had been notified about “potentially linked cases” of Covid-19 infections in the area on Sunday. Meanwhile in London, the Government has signed new deals which will provide more than 90 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine. The Government has secured an agreement for 30 million doses of a vaccine being developed – and currently at phase two trials – by BioNTech and German firm Pfizer.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Worker “had been drinking at a pub when they received the result of their Covid-19 test” – The Times
  • Police struggle to close down overnight rave on Bath airfield – The Times
  • Barcelona faces swift return to lockdown as Covid-19 cases rise – The Times

Coronavirus 2) UK secures early access to 90 million coronavirus vaccine doses

“THE UK has secured early access to 90 million coronavirus vaccine doses currently undergoing Phase 2 trials with pharmaceutical companies. A third of the Covid-19 treatments are being jointly developed by BioNTech and Pfizer – which is the first deal the two firms have signed with any government. The second deal for 60 million vaccine doses is with French company Valneva and includes an option to acquire a further 40 million if the vaccine is proved to be safe and effective. The clinical trials carried out by Valneva, which has a factory in Livingston, Scotland, are expected to be partly funded by the UK government. It has been reported that the funding will also allow the firm’s Scottish facility to expand allowing production of up to 100 million doses – some of which could be sold around the world.” – The Sun

  • Johnson warned by scientists over talk of nuclear lockdown – The Times

Coronavirus 3) Lockdown may cost 200,000 lives, suggests Government report

“More than 200,000 people could die from the impact of lockdown and protecting the NHS, an official government report shows. As national restrictions were imposed, experts from the Department of Health, the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the government’s Actuary Department and the Home Office forecast the collateral damage from delays to healthcare and the effects of recession arising from the pandemic response. It estimated that in a reasonable worst case scenario, around 50,000 people would die from coronavirus in the first six months of the pandemic, with mitigation measures in place.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Senior doctors warn second wave could “devastate NHS” – The Guardian
  • Financial aid needed for localised lockdowns, says Anneliese Dodds – The Guardian
  • Millions in aid spent on cafés and luxury hotels – The Times
  • Protestors campaign against wearing face masks – Daily Mail
  • London landlords suffer fall in rents – Daily Telegraph
  • Britain’s housing market sees post-lockdown mini-boom – The Guardian

Johnson to unveil pupil funding plan during school visit…

“Boris Johnson will visit a school on Monday to boast about delivering a year-on-year increase in per-pupil funding – which Labour says will still leave schools worse off than a decade ago. The prime minister made boosting education funding a manifesto pledge last year, after school cuts were a significant issue in the 2017 general election. Confirming the second year of a three-year settlement, the government is to announce that each secondary school will attract a minimum of £5,150 per pupil and each primary a minimum of £4,000 under the national funding formula from 2021. In remarks released before his visit to a school in the south-east, Johnson said: “Every child deserves a superb education – regardless of which school they attend, or where they happened to grow up.” – The Guardian

  • … as he hands schools £2.2 billion to boost education – The Sun
  • Universities to cull thousands of academics on short contracts – FT

Cummings is “pressuring UK’s negotiators” to stick to their red lines

“DOMINIC Cummings is pressuring British negotiators to stick firmly to their red lines to get the best Brexit deal possible. The PM’s chief adviser is driving the UK’s tough approach to no compromise in the talks, according to EU insiders. Diplomats in Brussels fear he is sabotaging Boris Johnson’s hopes of wrapping up a trade agreement swiftly. Multiple EU sources told The Sun of growing concern Vote Leave veterans in the PM’s inner circle want a “pure” no deal break. They have pinpointed deputy negotiator Oliver Lewis, who is a close ally of Mr Cummings, as a key blockage in the talks. He has been accused of repeatedly moving to shut down progress whenever openings have looked possible.” – The Sun

  • Brussels blocks the UK from controls to protect oak trees – Daily Telegraph
  • European leaders struggle to save €750 billion coronavirus rescue – The Times

> Today:

  • Richard Holden’s column: Three opportunities that open for us in an Australian trade deal

Buckland strikes commercial deals with landlords for temporary courtrooms

“A medieval knights’ chamber will serve as one of ten makeshift “Nightingale courts” as ministers desperately try to clear the backlog of criminal cases. Emergency measures have been forced on the Ministry of Justice because the lockdown had made an existing logjam of cases in magistrates’ and crown courts worse. Court officials say that the backlog runs to 550,000 cases, including 41,000 in crown courts. Robert Buckland, QC, the justice secretary, has also been striking commercial deals with landlords for temporary courtrooms to hear civil, family and some non-custodial criminal cases. The aim is to free court buildings in England and Wales to hear jury trials.” – The Times

Critics of female civil servant tipped to become Cabinet Secretary accused of sexism

“Critics of a senior Whitehall mandarin tipped to become the first female Cabinet Secretary have been accused of sexism by the head of the senior civil servants union. Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA, claimed last night that allegations levelled at Antonia Romeo, who is in contention to replace Sir Mark Sedwill as head of the civil service, contained a “whiff of misogyny.” It comes after it was reported yesterday that Mrs Romeo, who is also thought to be under consideration to head up the newly enlarged Foreign Office, was previously investigated over allegations of bullying staff and misusing expenses, it was reported yesterday.” – Daily Telegraph

Cabinet ordered back into the office to set example

“The cabinet will meet in person next week for the first time since March after Boris Johnson ordered ministers back to Westminster to set an example. The 26 members of cabinet will meet in a large room in the Foreign Office tomorrow after months of meetings via video conference. Relations with China are likely to top the agenda, with Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, set to meet the prime minister and Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, that afternoon. There could be an increase in commuting next month as the government is revising its guidance from August 1 to remove advice to work from home. It is instead leaving it up to businesses to agree arrangements with employees.” – The Times

Top Tory donors set to miss out on peerages

“Some of the Conservative Party’s biggest financial backers look set to miss out on peerages in Boris Johnson’s first anniversary honours list. Downing Street is set to publish the list of 30 new peers, topped by former England cricket star Sir Ian Botham, ex-Tory MP Ken Clarke and ex-Labour MP Frank Field, as early as this week to mark the first anniversary of Mr Johnson’s arrival in 10 Downing Street. Three donors – City financiers Peter Cruddas and Michael Spencer and industrial conglomerate magnate Johnny Leavesley – were on the list of candidates submitted to the House of Lords Appointments Commission for vetting some months ago. However, The Telegraph understands that both the names of Mr Cruddas and Mr Leavesley have been removed”. – Daily Telegraph

Police may drop term ‘Islamist’ when describing terror attacks

“The police are looking at dropping the terms “Islamist terrorism” and “jihadis” when describing attacks by those who claim Islam as their motive. Proposed alternatives include “faith-claimed terrorism”, “terrorists abusing religious motivations” and “adherents of Osama bin Laden’s ideology”. The reform was requested by a Muslim police organisation that blamed the official use of “Islamist” and “jihadi” for negative perceptions and stereotypes, discrimination and Islamophobia. The problem was discussed at an online event last month addressed by Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the national head of counterterrorism policing, and attended by more than 70 attack survivors, victims’ relatives, academics, experts and advocacy groups.” – The Times

News in brief

  • China’s ambassador has no answer to the treatment of Uighur Muslims, Tali Fraser – The Spectator
  • What would Zionism’s founder think of Israel? Alexander Faludy-UnHerd
  • “Who are you to say that?” On free speech and wokeness, Jane O’Grady – The Article
  • The Trade Bill and trade deals, John Redwood – John Redwood’s Diary
  • Sunday shows: “We got it wrong on Russia,” says Nandy – Elliot Chappell – LabourList
  • 100 days and Sir Keir is still Corbyn-lite, Karen Harradine – The Conservative Woman



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