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May attempts to steady relations with China

CHINA flag‘The prime minister sent a private letter to President Xi of China yesterday in a bid to steady relations after her decision to delay the Hinkley Point power plant caused consternation in Beijing. A Chinese government-backed think tank said that China could refuse to sign a trade deal with Britain if it did not go ahead with Hinkley C power plant. Theresa May told Mr Xi and the prime minister, Li Keqiang, that she looked forward to visiting China for the G20 summit next month in the city of Hangzhou. In her letter, Mrs May said that Britain “looks forward to strengthening co-operation with China on trade and business and on global issues”. The letter, which No 10 refused to release in full, was “about reassuring the Chinese of our commitment to Anglo-Chinese relations”, according to a No 10 source. It was handed over by Alok Sharma, a foreign office minister.’ – The Times (£)

  • Her visit will be a crucial moment – FT
  • If we let them build Hinkley C, China could turn out our lights in a crisis – Malcolm Rifkind, Daily Telegraph
  • World’s biggest offshore windfarm gets the go-ahead – FT

EU 1) Germany considers offering the UK ‘special status’ (despite all the Remain warnings)

‘Michael Roth, the country’s European affairs minister, said the UK would be treated differently to other countries outside the EU because of its ‘size and significance’. Leave campaigners always argued that the rest of Europe would be forced to give concessions to Britain because those nations export more goods to us than we do them. The argument was dismissed by the Remain camp, which insisted Britain would be frozen out…But yesterday Mr Roth appeared to crack – saying that Britain could achieve ‘special status’ after all…‘Given Britain’s size, significance and its long membership of the European Union, there will probably be a special status which only bears limited comparison to that of countries that have never belonged to the European Union’.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: Richard Graham on Comment: Brexit poses a trade conundrum – but it can be solved

EU 2) Davis’s ‘Department X’ will have to share EU experts from across Whitehall

DAVIS David‘The secretary of state for Brexit will have fewer senior civil servants working for him than almost any other cabinet minister after Whitehall mandarins fought off his attempts to “land grab” people from other departments. When David Davis was appointed to the role last month he suggested that his new department would have 200 staff and that he would have the pick of “the most brilliant people” from across Whitehall. Official figures now show that the Department for Exiting the European Union will have 32 senior civil servants working full time under Mr Davis, with many EU experts remaining within their existing departments. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport employs 46 senior civil servants, while the Department for International Development has 88.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Johnson has more urgent business to hand than running the country

EU 3) Royal College of Surgeons calls for tougher English tests for doctors post-Brexit

‘Patients are put at risk by EU rules that prevent officials properly testing the language skills of doctors, dentists and nurses, experts warn. The Royal College of Surgeons last night called on ministers to use Brexit negotiations to close the loophole. More than a quarter of European doctors applying to work in Britain are turned away because their English is not good enough. But experts say many with poor English slip through the net as EU ‘equality’ rules mean regulators are not allowed to directly test understanding of medical terms.’ – Daily Mail

  • Further evidence voters got it right in the referendum – Daily Mail Leader
  • Hospitals claim doctors are already leaving for the Continent – The Times (£)
  • Why do pro-EU academics feel so entitled to other people’s money? – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • May blocks attempts to ban food adverts – The Sun (£)

Choudary found guilty of inciting support for ISIS

Police‘Britain’s most notorious hate preacher was in jail last night after two decades of taunting authorities and peddling extremism on the streets of Britain. For years, Anjem Choudary has been the smug public face of radical Islam, organising street protests against British troops and espousing his poisonous views in TV interviews. He is believed to have inspired at least 110 Britons into committing terrorist acts. Police also think he helped encourage up to 850 fanatics to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS…he was finally snared by police for inciting support for ISIS in a series of online lectures.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Choudary’s conviction – and why we don’t need an extremism offence

Gummer proposes that job applicants should be asked what jobs their parents had

‘Job applicants could be questioned on whether their parents owned their own home in a drive to get those from the poorest backgrounds into top positions, The Times has learnt. The Cabinet Office has prepared a list of 12 questions to assess candidates’ socio-economic status. The list includes whether applicants were in care as children, whether they had asylum or refugee status, their postcode when they were 14 and where they went to school…The 12 questions will be trimmed to about six for a questionnaire that will be used to assess the backgrounds of job applicants across the public sector. Private business will be encouraged to adopt the questionnaire in a bid to encourage employers to spot “potential not polish”…“I am committed to ensuring that anyone with the right talents and aptitude can serve in the civil service, no matter what their background,” Ben Gummer, the Cabinet Office minister, said.’ – The Times (£)

MPs press for long-suffering commuters to be exempted from fare increases

HERBERT Nick‘Transport Focus, the passenger watchdog, said that commuters on the worst-performing rail networks such as Southern — which has cancelled about 340 trains a day because of staff shortages — should be exempt from any increase. The calls were backed by Tory MPs, including Tim Loughton, Crispin Blunt and Nick Herbert, who represent commuter constituencies. Mr Herbert, MP for Arundel and South Downs, said: “Any fare increase at all in the current circumstances, even at just the rate of inflation, will add insult to injury. If anything, passengers feel they should be getting money back as proper compensation for the daily travel misery they’ve had to endure.”’ – The Times (£)

Foges: There is a way to satisfy both supporters and opponents of grammar schools

‘It’s black and white. You either want more grammars or you don’t. But if you break down what each side is arguing for, there could be something approaching a solution that both sides could sign up to. For grammar school die-hards, the core desire is for the state system to recognise and nurture the talents of the brightest children. For grammar-haters, the core desire is to avoid the physical separation of children that so sharply delineates success or failure. What if these desires were compatible? What if you could recognise and nurture the talent without the physical separation?’ – The Times (£)

Accountants to face fines if their clients illegally dodge tax

money‘Accountants and financial advisers who enable tax avoidance could be fined up to 100 per cent of the tax avoided, under proposals announced by the UK Treasury. The move continues government efforts to fight tax avoidance, which were loudly heralded by former chancellor George Osborne and have been taken up by Theresa May. The prime minister promised in her leadership campaign to crack down on tax avoidance, calling tax “the price we pay for living in a civilised society”. Critics have said that past government crackdowns are unwieldy and miss the real offenders. The Treasury’s measures, part of a consultation to be published on Tuesday morning, would apply to accountants, tax planners and advisers who are involved in schemes found to be illegally avoiding tax.’ – FT

UKIP leadership hopeful reports ex to police over viagra photo

‘A Ukip leadership candidate is embroiled in a sordid row with his former fiancée, who claims he had a Viagra-fuelled affair. Bill Etheridge was branded a ‘dirty, disgusting cheat’ by Lorraine Chew in an extraordinary Twitter outburst. She published a picture of a half-empty packet of Viagra which she said she found in the West Midlands MEP’s car. Claiming it proved infidelity, the 40-year-old wrote: ‘Somebody is going to be very sorry’…Mr Etheridge, 46, denies being unfaithful to Miss Chew. He released a statement last night saying he had reported her to the police for breach of privacy.’ – Daily Mail

Blunkett’s anti-Corbyn campaign group raises £250,000

LABOUR dead rose‘Labour donors are pumping thousands of pounds into a centrist fight-back group poised to strike if Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected. The new organisation, Labour Tomorrow, was set up by ex-home secretary Lord Blunkett in June as a counterbalance to Momentum, the far-left faction backing the current leader. Some suggest it is raising money to fund a split by most of the party’s MPs in the event of a Corbyn victory.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: Henry Hill’s Red, White and Blue column: Labour raise the prospect of a pact with the SNP

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Owen Smith isn’t a “moderate” – he just looks moderate compared to Corbyn

News in Brief

  • Irish boxer accuses Olympic judges of being ‘cheats’ – Daily Mail
  • British athletes set new medal record – The Guardian
  • North Korean diplomat defects – The Times (£)
  • BNP leader arrested on suspicion of electoral fraud – The Sun (£)
  • Karen Danczuk decides not to press charges – Daily Mail
  • Anti-terror police faked celebrity beach photo – The Times (£)
  • Osborne joins the US speaking circuit – Daily Mail
  • As does Oliver – The Sun (£)
  • Angry German dents car with giant sausage – The Times (£)

And finally…

Being tall makes you more likely to be a Conservative

‘If you want to guess what political party someone supports, just take a look at their height. A new study has found taller individuals are more likely to back Conservative political positions, identify with a Conservative party and vote for Conservative politicians. Researchers studying UK voters found that just a one-inch increase in height raises the person’s support for the Conservative Party by 0.6 percent and their likelihood of voting for that party by 0.5 percent.’ – Daily Mail

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