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May will stay for two more years, predict Clarke and Heseltine…

“Theresa May has at least two years left in Downing Street, two Tory grandees predicted after weeks of speculation about her ability to survive in office. Lord Heseltine, the former deputy prime minister, said the next election would probably be held in 2019, which would suit “the self-interest of all the opposition parties”. Kenneth Clarke, the former chancellor, warned the prime minister’s critics within the Tory party that they were “doomed” to be led by her for at least two more years.” – The Times(£)

  • Escape this Brexit bearpit and start governing – Michael Heseltine, The Times(£)
  • While May’s away Spreadsheet Phil will play – The Times(£)

…while Davis is the bookies favourite to take over

“According to Paddy Power, Davis Davis is the favourite to take over from Mrs May at 3/1. Jacob Rees-Mogg and Philip Hammond are both given odds on 6/1 to take the keys to Number 10. Boris Johnson is floundering on 8/1 while Home Secretary Amber Rudd has odds of 10/1.” – The Sun

>Today: Nadhim Zahawi on Comment: Silence or sack these squabbling, leadership election-fixated, selfish Ministers

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Next Tory leader. A YouGov poll echoes ConHome’s survey result: Davis first, Johnson second, and none of the above beating both.

Most new buildings should be knocked down because they are ugly, says Hayes

“A Government minister has taken up the Prince of Wales’ battle against modern architecture by saying “most of what’s been built in my lifetime could be demolished without aesthetic cost”. John Hayes, a transport minister, said vandals daub graffiti on modern buildings rather than older constructions, because people do not like them. Mr Hayes, who has held ministerial posts in the Home Office, education and energy departments pledged that he will force new roads and railways to be designed in a “harmonious way”. The comments were deliberately meant to chime with repeated criticism of modern architecture by the Prince of Wales which he set out in his 1989 book A Vision of Britain.” – Daily Telegraph

Johnson visits New Zealand – and tells a joke

“British foreign secretary Boris Johnson joked on his visit to New Zealand on Monday that a traditional Māori greeting could be misinterpreted as a head butt in other countries. Johnson is visiting the South Pacific nation for two days as Britain looks to strengthen its ties with its former colony amid a broader reshaping of Britain’s global relationships as it prepares to leave the European Union. Topics on the agenda include trade, foreign policy and international security.” – The Guardian

The Church should allow same sex marriage, argues Greening…

“The church must “keep up” with the modern world by allowing same sex couples to marry in church, Justine Greening has said. The Equalities Secretary said the church should reflect “modern attitudes” and  public opinion as they consider whether to change their stance. Church of England priests are legally not allowed to marry gay couples in church or bless same-sex marriages.” – Daily Telegraph

….as she is challenged over gender change

“People who want to change their gender are suffering from a mental illness and encouraging them to do so is akin to affirming the belief of someone suffering from anorexia that they are fat, a conservative campaign group has claimed. A spokesperson for Grassroots Conservatives, which is independent of the party but primarily draws its membership from its supporters, said activists were concerned about the government’s plans to streamline the process of changing gender. “In my view, it should not be easy to do something as massive as change your gender and the law is there to protect us, normally from other people, but also sometimes from ourselves,” said Mary Douglas.” – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: Catholic schools, transgendered people – and a missing Conservative equalities policy

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The questions behind the new transgender rights proposals

Fox starts UK and US trade talks…

“The UK is to hold its first talks with the US to try to sketch out the details of a potential post-Brexit trade deal. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox will spend two days in Washington with US counterpart Robert Lighthizer. EU rules mean the UK cannot sign a trade deal until it has left the bloc. Mr Fox said it was too early to say exactly what would be covered in a potential deal. Firms and trade unions have both warned of the risks of trying to secure an agreement too quickly. The Department for International Trade said discussions were expected to focus on “providing certainty, continuity and increasing confidence for UK and US businesses as the UK leaves the EU”.” – BBC

…as he challenges the BBC over anti Brexit bias

“The International Trade Secretary has written to the corporation’s Director General, Lord Tony Hall, to seek a meeting to discuss what he alleged was the BBC “wilfully” ignoring positive stories about Britain’s exit from the EU. “I cannot recall a single time in recent times when I have seen good economic news that the BBC did not describe as ‘despite Brexit’,” he wrote. There is a “clear pattern of unbalanced reporting of the EU economy” and the work of the Department for International Trade, Dr Fox added in the letter. The cabinet minister, a vocal Brexit supporter, highlighted the BBC’s decision not to cover statistics on annual foreign direct investment released by his department and said the corporation had declined to interview him about a recent trade visit to Paris.” – Independent

 Clark to boost battery technology

“A £246m investment in developing battery technology in Britain is to be launched by the government as part of its drive towards what it says is a modern industrial strategy. The business and energy secretary, Greg Clark, will announce the funding, including a £45m competition to make batteries more accessible and affordable, in a speech on Monday that should spell out further the government’s plans to increase productivity and growth. The £246m, to be spent over four years on research and innovation in battery technology, is likely to have particular benefits in the automotive sector and renewable energy.” – The Guardian

New rules could mean lower electricity bills

“Consumers in the UK could save billions of pounds thanks to major changes in the way electricity is made, used and stored, the government has said. New rules will make it easier for people to generate their own power with solar panels, store it in batteries and sell it to the National Grid. If they work, consumers will save £17bn to £40bn by 2050, according to the government and energy regulator Ofgem. The rules are due to come into effect over the next year.” – BBC

 Don’t punish diesel drivers, says Knight

“Ministers face a growing rebellion from Tory MPs over moves to ‘punish’ diesel drivers, it emerged last night. Environment Secretary Michael Gove will this week publish an air quality plan to deal with air pollution in towns and cities across the UK. An early version of the proposals, published in the run-up to the election, suggested diesel drivers would be hit with pollution charges in some areas. But the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Fuel said today the new policy must not involve ‘punitive’ taxes. The group’s chairman, Tory MP Julian Knight said: ‘Drivers were told for years that diesel was the environmentally-conscious choice.’ ” –Daily Mail

IMF downgrades growth forecast

“The UK and US economies will expand more slowly in 2017 than previously predicted, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It said “weaker-than-expected activity” in the first three months of the year meant the UK would grow by 1.7%, compared with an earlier 2% forecast. And the IMF revised down its US outlook from 2.3% to 2.1%. However, its overall global economic predictions – of 3.5% growth in 2017 and 3.6% in 2018 – remain unchanged.” – BBC

Labour 1) Corbyn admits he didn’t know student loan promise would cost £100 billion

“Jeremy Corbyn has admitted he had no idea how much it would cost when he told students he would ‘deal with’ their existing debts.  The Labour leader told students on the eve of the election he would find a way to slash their debt burden. But after the June 8 poll Labour admitted wiping out the student loan book would cost £100billion. Mr Corbyn today insisted he never intended to make a ‘commitment’ on clearing debts as he scrambled to defuse Tory claims he had betrayed his core supporters.” – Daily Mail

Labour 2) Gauke says Labour capping rise at state pension age at 66 would cost £250 billion

“Labour’s plan to cap the rise in the State pension age will leave taxpayers’ with a bill of £250 billion, a minister claimed last night. Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke said the opposition were being ‘disingenuous’ with their policy to cap increases in the retirement age. He said the cost of the policy would be £250 billion by 2045, but Labour had not said how it would be paid for. This week Mr Gauke announced that the retirement age would rise earlier than expected, leaving six million people in their forties having to work an extra year. He said the pension age will rise from 67 to 68 between 2037 and 2039, not starting in 2044 as expected. It affects anyone born between April 6, 1970 and April 5, 1978 – a group aged 39 to 47. Labour opposed the move.”

Labour 3) Party in “chaos” over Brexit

“Labour’s Brexit plans have descended into chaos again after Barry Gardiner claimed it would be a “disaster” to seek a customs union agreement with the EU after Brexit.  The shadow international trade secretary warned that the implications of agreeing a separate arrangement with the EU could leave the UK’s market accessed on “prejudicial” terms.  His comments differ from those of Sir Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, who has been arguing for the Government to keep continued customs union membership “on the table”.” – Daily Telegraph

The BBC should close gender pay gap by cutting pay for men says Lawson…

“I don’t mean to assert that the BBC’s star female presenters have no justice at all in their protest. The fact that Huw Edwards is on more than £550,000 — or that Alan Shearer is on a similar amount (working out at about £250,000 per interesting comment on Match Of The Day) — is enough to make anyone wonder. But the appropriate response from the BBC would be to cut the excessive pay of such men: then the female presenters could be happy with what they already get. Failing that, my wife is available for lessons in negotiating.” – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail

…as Ridley says it has no right to levy a licence fee

“The revelation that disc jockeys and football presenters are paid millions for topping and tailing segments of rehashed music or rebroadcast football, especially if they are male, will almost certainly lead to more pay inflation at the BBC — to correct the gender imbalance. Here’s another gender imbalance: television licence fee evasion accounted for 36 per cent of all prosecutions of women in 2015 and 6 per cent of men. Are there any arguments left for funding one broadcaster through a compulsory and regressive poll tax? The original argument was that broadcasting was a natural monopoly and the airwaves a limited space. Well, that’s long gone. In the digital world, I can watch or listen to one of many thousands of channels through cable, satellite or the internet.” – Matt Ridley, The Times(£)

19 comments for: Newslinks for Monday 24th July 2017

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