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Fox: I haven’t agreed a transition plan that involves continued free movement

‘The international trade secretary, Liam Fox, has caused a fresh cabinet rift over immigration by insisting that the continuation of free movement after 2019 would “not keep faith” with the referendum result. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Fox dismissed claims that the cabinet had reached a consensus that free movement of people for up to three years after Britain leaves the EU will be part of a Brexit transition deal. “If there have been discussions on that, I have not been party to them,” he said. “I have not been involved in any discussion on that, nor have I signified my agreement to anything like that.” Philip Hammond, the chancellor, confirmed on Friday that free movement would end in name only in 2019 with people from the EU able to enter the UK if they register. It followed claims 10 days ago that he had won the support of every cabinet minister for his transition plan.’ – Sunday Times (£)

>Yesterday: Henry Newman on Comment: There will be a Brexit transition period – but it is unlikely to be via the EEA or EFTA

150 jihadists and criminals stripped of British citizenship

‘More than 150 jihadists and other criminals have been stripped of their citizenship and banned from returning to Britain amid fears that the collapse of Isis will lead to an influx of militants from Syria. In a dramatic escalation of anti-terrorism activity, more than 40 suspects have had their right to a British passport removed this year, with about 30 targeted since March as the UK came under attack in London and Manchester. Ministers stepped up the “deprivation orders” after intelligence chiefs warned that more than 300 battle-hardened terrorists could return and wreak havoc.’ – Sunday Times (£)

  • Escapee reveals secret life of British ISIS runaways – Sunday Times (£)
  • Jails seek to emphasise ‘positive personal goals’ for extremists – Sunday Times (£)
  • We’re making progress militarily, but there’s more to do on the home front – Sunday Times Leader (£)

How Number 10 got its mojo back – by saying ‘yes’

‘The flurry of Government activity – combined with exploiting Labour’s splits on Brexit and apparent backtracking on writing off student debt – has cheered Tory colleagues. But it is indicative of something else – the major overhaul in Number 10 that has been credited with bringing Mrs May’s premiership back from the brink after a disastrous election. Gavin Barwell, the new chief of staff, lies at the heart of the shake-up. Appointed days after losing his seat at the election, the former Tory housing minister is often at his desk by 5am. Insiders have praised his “consensual” approach – the opposite of the “tyrannical” rule of his all powerful predecessors “Nick and Fi”. Another key new appointment is Robbie Gibb, who was head of the BBC’s political team at Westminster before becoming Mrs May’s new directors of communications. Last week the pair called in special advisers – political aides to cabinet ministers – and urged them to contribute ideas and help get the Government on the front foot. “They told us ‘we want to say yes’,” said one present.’ – Sunday Telegraph

Potential Tory rebels demand a full diesel scrappage scheme

‘Diesel drivers must be offered cash from the Government to exchange their cars before being hit by any new taxes, senior Tories have demanded in a backlash to new plans. Leading backbenchers have warned that the Government risks overseeing a “betrayal” of diesel owners if they fail to set up a comprehensive scrappage scheme. More than a dozen Tory MPs favour the move – more than Theresa May’s Commons majority – with some privately saying they could rebel in Parliament if the Government fails to act…Robert Halfon, a former Tory minister, said: “If you’re told to buy an electrical good for health and safety reasons and then you realise it doesn’t do what it says, you get a refund. What’s happening here is drivers are being told not only to take their product back, but that they will be charged because the advice was wrong.”’ – Sunday Telegraph

Early Budget discussions mull a mansion tax and higher fuel duty

‘Philip Hammond is eyeing taxes on fuel, homes, pensions, incomes and business as he tries to use November’s budget to plug a multibillion-pound hole in public finances. On Monday Treasury officials held their first meeting to thrash out budget details. The chancellor ordered a line-by-line examination of public spending to identify savings after the Tories ditched large swathes of their manifesto following the general election. An end to a freeze in fuel duty and a cut in higher-rate pension tax relief are on the table, as is postponing the 2020 target for letting people earn £12,500 before they pay income tax. Tory sources say there are also talks about increasing council tax on the biggest homes. Most councils have to cap rises at 2%, so this would need a new law. It would amount to a mansion tax, with hikes of up to 10%.’ – Sunday Times (£)

Refund consumers for slow broadband, say MPs

‘Nearly seven million households should be given refunds on their broadband bills because they are not getting the designated minimum speed, MPs said yesterday. Their cross-party committee said 6.7million of the country’s 22million broadband connections were slower than the proposed minimum download of 10 megabits per second. It also found that fewer than half of all connections were ‘superfast’ – above 24 megabits. MPs said this painted ‘a worrying picture for post-Brexit Britain’s competitiveness’. The findings cast further doubt on the Government’s pledge to have superfast broadband in 95 per cent of the country by the end of the year…Grant Shapps, the Conservative MP who is chairman of the British Infrastructure Group, said: ‘With the country leaving the European Union in 20 months’ time, being ready for the global fight means having the best internet in the world.’ – Mail on Sunday

>Today: James Palmer on Comment: The Land Value Cap offers the chance of more affordable infrastructure

Sugar: Lying to voters should be a criminal offence

‘Lord Sugar is calling for company-style audits for manifestos and wants to see politicians jailed if they break their election promises. In an interview with The Sunday Times, the former Labour peer demands a new criminal offence for politicians who fail to uphold promises made during an election campaign. Sugar also wants to see manifestos fact-checked by lawyers, accountants and economists to ensure pledges are truthful and deliverable. His demand comes just days after he called on the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to resign after accusing him of making “false promises” on scrapping student debt. “If you mislead people like that I think it should be a criminal offence,” the Apprentice host said.’ – Sunday Times (£)

  • Skinner refuses to even contemplate ‘cross-party stuff’ – The Observer

>Today: ToryDiary: The last thing we need is the police or the courts trying to define political truth

Police quietly step up stop and search

‘Two of Britain’s biggest police forces have quietly stepped up their use of controversial stop-and-search powers in the face of a surge in violent crime. Officers in Greater Manchester and Surrey detained more people in the first four months of this year on suspicion of carrying knives and drugs than in the same period last year. It is the first official sign of a reversal after a dramatic fall since 2014 prompted by Theresa May. As home secretary, May insisted all stop and search had to be intelligence-led and not random. She was concerned by data showing black people were seven times more likely than white people to be stopped. The number of searches fell to 387,448 last year, the lowest since 2002.’ – Sunday Times (£)

Greening: The retreat on student debt shows Labour up as snake oil salesmen

‘He wanted young people to propel him into No10 on the back of this promise — and it very nearly worked. But it seems like Labour never planned to come good on their pledge, because since the election it has been unravelling before our eyes. As each day goes by, more Labour politicians are now admitting that they weren’t being honest with young people about writing off their student debt. Even Jeremy Corbyn has denied the commitment…Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Rayner have misled and let down young people who deserved honesty from Labour politicians asking for their vote. They are snake oil salesmen of the worst kind and now, like all con artists, they’re running scared from scrutiny and refusing calls to apologise.’ – Justine Greening, The Sun on Sunday

  • Truss asks the Opposition how they’d fund their welfare promises – The Sun on Sunday
  • Corbyn thinks Labour voters are mugs – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday
  • Venezuelan army blocks the opposition from voting – Sunday Times (£)
  • Universities offer lower fees to fill spaces – Sunday Times (£)
  • But there are fears the higher education pension gap could force a fee rise – Sunday Times (£)
  • Kinnock presses Corbyn to soften his Brexit stance – The Observer

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Will Corbyn and his colleagues ever apologise for backing the Venezuelan regime?

Concern over British election aid in Kenya

‘Political activists in Kenya have demanded a halt to the ‘grotesque’ waste of ten of millions of pounds of British foreign aid which is funding a general election it is feared will result in a bloodbath. Britain is helping to pay for the election through a £28.5 million programme known as Deepening Democracy. In a project with 24 other countries, it will contribute a further £2.5 million. But even Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) admits there has been ‘no significant improvement in the fight against corruption’ in Kenya in recent years. Current President Uhuru Kenyatta – son of Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta – was accused by the International Criminal Court of inciting murderous riots between rival political supporters during 2007 elections, when he led the opposition. More than 1,000 people were killed. He protested his innocence but was never brought to trial due to the ‘disappearance’ of key witnesses…Respected political analyst Professor Barrack Muluka, of the University of Nairobi, called for Britain to ‘stop its grotesque waste of public money that is being thrown into a bottomless pit’. He told The Mail on Sunday: ‘What possible good can come of a country like Britain using its people’s money to add to the chaos already going on here?” – Mail on Sunday

Trump’s failures and his administration’s in-fighting start to look dangerous

‘Trump is less and less constrained by the ideology and aspirations of the party that he still nominally leads. He also spent much of last week publicly humiliating his attorney-general, Jeff Sessions, one of his earliest and most prominent Republican supporters, whom he described as “beleaguered” and “weak”. Trump should be cautious, though; it is the Republican Party that stands between him and impeachment proceedings. Yet as well as embarrassing party figures, he is also failing to help them with the one thing they really want: passing some meaningful legislation. For last week also saw the collapse of the party’s seven-year attempt to repeal Obamacare.’ – Sunday Times (£)

The Bank of England launches tighter scrutiny of lenders

‘The Bank of England is demanding detailed information from high street lenders on how they approve loans after sounding the alarm over the consumer borrowing binge. Within five weeks, banks must provide evidence of how they assess the financial position of their riskiest customers. The particular areas of concern are introductory 0% rates on credit cards, which some consumers are using to fund house deposits, and the maximum size of personal loans. Much of the data required has already been provided by high street lenders as part of the annual stress-testing process. The Bank has posed additional questions, however. Examination of the data on consumer credit is being fast-tracked so an analysis can be produced for the next meeting of the Bank’s financial policy committee on September 20. The findings will be revealed publicly on September 25 — two months before the main stress-test results are expected. Last week, Alex Brazier, the Bank’s director of financial stability, warned lenders against slipping into a “spiral of complacency” over consumer debt.’ – Sunday Times (£)

News in Brief

5 comments for: Newslinks for Sunday 30th July 2017

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