Newslinks

Fears over Covid health risk from US and UK travellers

“Ministers approved plans to reopen the border to foreign travellers yesterday in defiance of official warnings that the move posed a “clear public health risk”. From Monday, millions of fully vaccinated passengers from the US and EU — which includes countries on the amber list — will be able to enter England, Scotland and Wales without spending up to ten days in quarantine. The change is widely expected to be expanded to other countries in the coming months. However, senior officials warned the cabinet that allowing fully vaccinated Europeans to enter freely could raise the risk of lower quality vaccines undermining Britain’s immunity against the coronavirus. Ministers on the Covid-19 operations (Covid-O) committee were told the move posed a “clear public health risk”.” – The Times

  • Shapps expects move to be reciprocated – Daily Telegraph
  • Lack of quarantine at England’s borders ‘risks havoc of Covid variants’ – The Guardian
  • Why Biden is in no rush to let Britons back in to the US – Daily Telegraph
  • Staycation boom benefits UK more than other countries – FT

Britain has reached herd immunity, minister says

“Britain has reached herd immunity, a minister has claimed – as Covid cases fell for the seventh day in a row. Hopes the Covid pandemic is finally beginning to end in the UK have emerged as the infection rate appears to have slowed, with deaths remaining comparatively low. And a top expert whose grim predictions on deaths led to the first lockdown believes the country will be past the pandemic by the autumn. Herd immunity refers to where enough people in a population have immunity to infection to be able to effectively stop that disease from spreading. Despite Boris Johnson warning against “running away” with “premature conclusions”, one senior minister said the jabs roll-out – along with 5.72million positive tests in Britain – means the virus will struggle to spread.” – The Sun

  • Vaccine passports needed for festivals, sport and air travel, suggests Johnson – The Times
  • Jabs for jobs is a ‘smart policy’, says Raab – Daily Telegraph
  • No10 gives green light for cruises to restart – Daily Mail
  • Government unwilling to tell people to stop working from home – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday:

Developers to be banned from building on land in danger of flooding

“Developers are to be blocked from building on land at risk of flooding, with the Environment Secretary warning that climate change is heightening the threat of deluges destroying homes. On Thursday, the Government will set out plans to channel £860 million into 1,000 flood defence schemes this year as part of a package of measures to better protect households, business premises and infrastructure. Improvements to flood insurance will also be announced in an effort to encourage the installation of flood doors, air brick covers and flood-resistant paint in homes previously hit by water damage. The move comes amid growing fears in Whitehall about climate change and the need for the nation to adapt urgently to the challenges it poses.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Bills set to rise by £400 a year to cover cost of net-zero target – The Times
  • Johnson’s spokesperson for Cop26 suggests joining Greens to solve climate crisis – The Guardian

Cost of Britain’s ‘national flagship’ jumps by up to £100m in a week

“The price tag on Boris Johnson’s controversial “trade yacht” has already jumped by as much as £100m before the contract to build it has even been awarded, the UK defence secretary admitted on Wednesday. Ben Wallace said in a speech to launch the project that the vessel was likely to cost “between £200m and £250m on a firm price”. His comments come just over a week after the Ministry of Defence issued its formal invitation to tender that stated the “total available budget” was £150m. The prime minister announced plans for the new “national flagship” in May as a way to promote British business around the world, with the aim of getting it in service by late 2025.” – FT

  • Johnson: Britannia replacement will pay for itself ‘many, many times over’ – Daily Telegraph

Johnson shoots down Home Office plans that could see journalists and whistleblowers jailed for 14 years over leaks

“Boris Johnson has shot down planned changes to the Official Secrets Act that could jail journalists for 14 years for exposing public interest stories. After a massive backlash to a suggested Home Office clampdown that would treat newspapers like spies, the PM mounted a passionate defence of Britain’s free Press. And he vowed to protect it as “​​a search light that will continue to shine on every crevice.” In the wake of the Matt Hancock scandal the PM offered his full throated defence of whistleblowing that has produced “the best and most important stories.” Mr Johnson’s comments came amid alarm that a review of the Official Secrets Act could curtail reporting like The Sun’s expose of the Health Secretary’s lockdown breaking affair.” – The Sun

  • Prime Minister avoids question on Dick’s second term – The Times

>Today: Adrian Crossley in Comment: The Government should be commended for its preventative measures to clamp down on crime

Climbdown on Afghan heroes who helped our troops on the battlefield after salvo from 40 top brass

“Shamed ministers are set to offer sanctuary to more interpreters living under a Taliban death sentence in Afghanistan following unprecedented criticism by military chiefs. They are considering flying some translators to the UK so their applications can be decided here – and they are ready to widen the definition of who is deemed vulnerable. In an open letter to the Prime Minister, more than 40 senior officers warned Britain faced ‘dishonour’ if translators who served with UK troops are left to be murdered. In a broadside which shocked the Ministry of Defence, furious former top brass demanded an overhaul of the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Programme, or ARAP, after it rejected 500 cases in three months, including applications by 130 interpreters.” – Daily Mail

  • Rape victims serving in the military fail to defeat Ministry of Defence ban on meeting MPs – The Times

>Yesterday: Enver Solomon and Sunder Katwala in Comment: Refugees mark 70 years of UK sanctuary

Tory MPs warn ministers against ending triple lock

“Conservative MPs have been asked whether or not they would support a suspension to the pensions triple lock in the clearest indication yet that a key manifesto pledge will be dropped. Figures in the Department of Work and Pensions are reported to be canvassing Tory backbenchers’ opinions on a temporary abandonment of the guaranteed annual increase in pensions. Under the triple lock, pensions rise by whatever is highest out of 2.5 per cent, inflation or average wages. Earnings figures have been distorted this year because furloughed employees returning to work have seen their salaries dramatically increase, meaning that pensions could grow by as much as 8 per cent.” – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Build back better. Does this phrase run the risk of alienating Conservative voters?

Sheffield Forgemasters to be nationalised to secure its future

“Sheffield Forgemasters, one of Britain’s oldest steelmakers, is to be acquired by the UK’s Ministry of Defence for £2.5m as the government firms up its control of vital aspects of the country’s nuclear industry supply chain.  The deal paves the way for up to £400m of investment over the next 10 years by the MoD to replace equipment and infrastructure at the steelmaker, which has been struggling financially for years. The transaction values Forgemasters at £2.56m plus debt. The company, whose existing shareholders are made up of former chief executive Graham Honeyman and its employees through a trust, said they had agreed to sell their holdings to the MoD for 121p a share. While some would be making a modest profit from the sale of their holdings, others would be crystallising a loss, the company said.” – FT

Sunak talks up Union ahead of Scottish visit

“Rishi Sunak will today reaffirm the “Strength of the Union” through the UK’s generosity to the Scottish Government in a bid to tone down the calls for separation from the SNP. Ahead of a visit to Scotland, the Chancellor hailed Scotland’s “innovation and ingenuity” as part of the United Kingdom. During the visit to Glasgow and Edinburgh, the Chancellor will highlight the “plan for jobs” scheme, which he said has supported one in three jobs in Scotland and tens of thousands of Scottish businesses. But the SNP claim the Chancellor should apologise for plunging Scotland into economic uncertainty… It comes after SNP ministers demanded further financial flexibility in its funding arrangement with the UK Government and an extension of the furlough scheme which finishes in September.” – Daily Express

  • The SNP no longer has the momentum to push for another independence referendum – Iain Martin, The Times

>Today: Stephen Booth’s column: Both sides must accept that substantive change is necessary for the Northern Ireland Protocol

Hancock told to quit by local councillors who blast ‘hypocrisy and hubris’ of lockdown affair

“Shamed Matt Hancock has been told to quit politics by his local councillors amid fury at his lockdown breaking affair. Raging councillors in the former Health Secretary’s local town of Newmarket tore into his “hypocrisy” and accused him of “neglecting” his voters. Throwing down the gauntlet, they passed a vote of no confidence in the disgraced former Cabinet minister. It comes after Mar Hancock was forced to quit as Health Secretary after The Sun revealed he was having a secret affair with his close aide Gina Coladangelo. Mr Hancock, 42, was caught breaking Covid social distancing rules by having a steamy kiss with Ms Coladangelo in his government office. He had used taxpayers money to hire Gina, 43, a millionaire lobbyist.” – The Sun

Pritchard named new head of NHS England

“Amanda Pritchard, a health service insider for almost 25 years, has been appointed the next chief executive of England’s NHS. She is the first woman to hold the role, assuming it at a time of daunting challenges for the taxpayer-funded system. The organisation’s current chief operating officer, she succeeds Lord Simon Stevens, immediately after he steps down at the weekend after seven years. Pritchard said she was “honoured to lead the NHS, particularly as the first woman chief executive of an organisation whose staff are more than three quarters female”. Pritchard, whose appointment was approved by Boris Johnson, the prime minister, had always been seen as a leading contender for the top job after impressing the NHS England board during her two years as Stevens’ de facto deputy.” – FT

  • Lord Stevens of Birmingham steps down after seven years in job – The Times

More:

  • West Suffolk hospital chief resigns prior to bullying claims review – The Guardian

Labour MP ‘acted dishonestly’ to ‘jump the queue’ on the social housing register, court hears

“A Labour MP accused of conning a local council out of £64,000 in housing benefits ‘acted dishonestly’ to make personal gain and ‘jump the queue’ on the social housing register, a court heard today. Apsana Begum, 31, the MP for Poplar and Limehouse in east London, claimed she was living in ‘overcrowded conditions’ with her family when she was in a four-bedroomed house with three other people, jurors were told. She successfully gained a social housing tenancy in under four months, rather than the average three-year wait, due to her claims, a court heard. Begum, who is on trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court, later blamed her partner, local councillor Ehtashamul Haque, for making an application to Tower Hamlets Council in her name, it is claimed.” – Daily Mail

Exodus from Starmer’s top team goes on as deputy chief of staff resigns

“An exodus from Sir Keir Starmer’s top team continued on Wednesday night as one of his closest aides resigned. Chris Ward, the Labour leader’s speechwriter and deputy chief of staff, told officials he was leaving after seven years at Sir Keir’s side. Only one of the “gang of five” of the leader’s closest aides now remains after Labour’s loss in the Hartlepool by-election in May prompted an exodus of the party’s top officials. Ben Nunn, Sir Keir’s spokesman, Baroness Chapman, his political secretary, and top aide Morgan McSweeney have already left the posts they held before the by-election earlier this year. Labour’s drubbing at the polls in Hartlepool and Chesham and Amersham has provoked unease within the party about its chances at the next election.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Latest departure from ‘gang of five’ of close advisers – The Guardian

More Labour:

  • Summer school catch-up classes insufficient, say heads and Labour – The Guardian

Duffield is investigated by her party for liking tweet that said trans people were ‘mostly heterosexuals cosplaying’

“A Labour MP is being investigated by party officials after she liked a tweet saying trans people are ‘mostly heterosexuals cosplaying as the opposite sex and as gay’. Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield, 50, is now facing a backlash from activists after liking the post by American rapper Kurtis Tripp, accusing trans people of ‘colonising gay culture’ and appropriating the word ‘queer’. The affiliated group LGBT+ Labour has pressured party leader Sir Keir Starmer to remove the whip from Ms Duffield… The group’s chairwoman, Alex Beverley, urged the party to prove it does not ‘tolerate transphobia’, telling the Labour List website: ‘This recent endorsement of extremely homophobic and transphobic comments by Rosie Duffield is yet another example in a consistent pattern of behaviour.'” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Calvin Robinson in Comment: The Left and Right are both wrong on pronouns – and it’s distracting us from the real battle that’s going on

News in Brief:

  • Why the SNP fraud allegations matter – Henry Hill, The Spectator
  • Not everything is racist – Rakin Ehsan, The Critic
  • Rusbridger always wins – Douglas Murray, UnHerd
  • What we get wrong about going green – Sam Dumitriu, CapX