May: We can build more houses and still preserve the beauty of the nation

‘England needs more homes. For many decades and under successive governments, we simply haven’t built enough to meet steadily rising demand, and it is our children and grandchildren who are paying the price…At last year’s party conference, I set out my personal commitment to fixing our broken housing market. Today sees the latest step in that process, as the government rewrites the planning rulebook, overhauling it to make the system fairer, more transparent, and get more of the right homes built in the right places more quickly. The new rules will speed up the planning process, ensure that permissions are turned into homes more quickly, and see to it that new developments are supported by appropriate infrastructure. But building the homes our children and grandchildren need doesn’t have to mean destroying the open countryside we all treasure. Across England, Green Belts continue to serve a valuable purpose.’ – Theresa May, Daily Telegraph

  • She promises to ‘rewrite the rule book’… – The Sun
  • …and is trying to ensure she takes Middle England with her – Daily Telegraph
  • Five new garden towns could be built between Oxford and Cambridge – Daily Mail
  • Build, build, and build some more – The Sun Says
  • The flawed planning system, that mixes cronyism with socialism, has been decades in the making – Matt Ridley, The Times
  • First Help to Buy borrowers face the start of fees – FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: May the builder?

Willetts: Tax baby boomers to cover health and social care costs of ageing society

‘The ‘baby boomer’ generation must pay higher wealth taxes to fund health and welfare spending as costs spiral as a result of an ageing population, a Tory former minister has said. Lord Willetts said higher wealth taxes are needed unless the burden of paying for an ageing population is to be placed entirely on the shoulders of young people who are already struggling to match the living standards of their parents. He will cite Resolution Foundation research showing that by 2030 spending on health, education and social security will rise by £20 billion in today’s money, and by £60 billion by 2040. The extra spending, almost entirely driven by health costs, would need to be covered by a massive 15p hike in the basic rate of income tax to cover the funding gap until 2040, unless reforms are made elsewhere. In a speech at the Resolution Foundation’s Westminster headquarters, its chair Lord Willetts will say: ‘The time has come when we boomers are going to have reach into our own pockets. The alternative could be an extra 15p on the basic rate of tax, paid largely by our kids. Is that kind of tax really the legacy we – a generation who own half the nation’s wealth – want to bequeath our children and grandchildren?” – Daily Mail

  • This is the moment when the chickens come home to roost – David Willetts, The Times
  • He proposes reform of inheritance tax and council tax – The Times
  • Bricklayers earn more than graduates – The Sun
  • Middle income workers miss out on the benefits of growth – The Times
  • ‘Feel-good treats’ on the NHS – The Sun
  • Oliver: I’m not a patronising nanny, I just think the poor lack logic and willpower – The Times
  • Scaremongering about the HPV vaccine risks lives – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Willetts revives our question. What should Tories tax?

Anti-establishment and Eurosceptic parties make big gains in Italy

‘Italian voters have delivered a bruising rebuke to the country’s political establishment, as both the populist Five Star Movement and the anti-immigrant, Eurosceptic Northern League were poised to make sweeping gains in the general election. Although ballots were still being counted on Monday, early results according to official data from the interior ministry suggested a hung parliament and a period of protracted and tense negotiations shepherded by Sergio Mattarella, Italy’s president, for the formation of a new government. Five Star was one of the big winners from the election, as it appeared on course to be Italy’s strongest single party with 32 per cent of the vote. Although it cannot form a government unless it strikes an alliance with other parties, it has positioned itself as the dominant force in Italian politics. “If these figures are confirmed it would be historic and extraordinary, Five Star will be the pillar of the next legislature,” said Alfonso Bonafede, a Five Star lawmaker.’ – FT

The Prime Minister cautions Trump against sparking a trade war…

‘Theresa May protested to President Trump over his plans for tariffs on steel and aluminium imports yesterday amid warnings about the prospects for a UK-US trade deal. Ministers rebuked the president for threatening a trade war after he announced that the US would impose duties of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminium in an attempt to save its domestic industry. Mr Trump also said that, if Brussels retaliated, the US would put a tax on cars made in the European Union. Mrs May relayed her fears to him by telephone yesterday afternoon. “The prime minister raised our deep concern at the president’s forthcoming announcement on steel and aluminium tariffs, noting that multilateral action was the only way to resolve the problem of global overcapacity in all parties’ interests,” a spokeswoman said. David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister and Mrs May’s deputy, warned Washington against using failed methods to protect domestic industry. He said that the US was “not taking an advisable course in threatening trade” and that “trade wars don’t do anybody any good”.’ – The Times

  • The White House says there will be no exceptions – Daily Mail
  • Britain should not be treated like China – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Trump ally sold shares days before tariff announcement – The Times
  • Can the President’s advisers persuade him to champion innovation instead of protectionism? – The Times Leader
  • Will regional food brands still be guarded by protectionism? – The Sun
  • The SNP claims a deal on devolved powers is close – The Scotsman

…and raises the prospect our new immigration system will be subject to negotiation with Brussels

‘Some cabinet ministers are uneasy that the system will feel little different to present arrangements under EU free movement rules. Yesterday Mrs May suggested that the EU would get a say in the UK’s new system, in discussions likely to take place before the MAC issues its final report in September. She told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “What we’re saying is that we’re going to want to ensure that people from the UK can still go abroad to the other 27 members of the EU, and vice versa.” Asked how she would achieve this, she replied: “We’ll be setting out our immigration rules, we’ll negotiate with the EU. Because obviously we want to look at what happens to UK citizens as well as what happens to EU citizens.”…Conservative Home, the grassroots website, pointed out at the weekend that there were no senior government figures arguing for the need to alter policy to reduce substantially the numbers of EU nationals entering the country. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that EU net migration was 90,000, alongside non-EU net migration of 205,000.’ – The Times

>Today: David Jones on Comment: Brexit. Why we must all now ready ourselves for no deal – and WTO terms


Project Fear was based on ‘unconscious bias’, ‘political expectations’ and ‘group think’, Cambridge academics find

‘Gloomy Treasury forecasts that predict Brexit will be an economic disaster are ‘flawed’, Cambridge researchers warn today. A study by the university’s Centre for Business Research raises serious questions over predictions by government officials, academic bodies, the IMF and the OECD. They say most estimates of the economic impact of the Leave vote are based on modelling that exaggerates the negative effects. The study, published today, is titled How the Economics Profession Got it Wrong on Brexit and says Treasury forecasts before and after the referendum were too pessimistic. Researchers say the assumption about the degree of uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote was arbitrary and wrong. Conclusions were likely to be the result of ‘unconscious bias’, ‘political expectations’ and ‘group think’ among the authors, they claim. And they say the Treasury’s failure to discuss its work – and subject it to outside scrutiny – is ‘unacceptable’.’ – Daily Mail


Mordaunt demands action from aid charities

‘British aid agencies must set new standards of good conduct for the rest of the world to follow, the international development secretary will demand today. At a meeting called after The Times exposed sexual misconduct by Oxfam aid workers, Penny Mordaunt will tell senior officials from scores of charities that they face a turning point. “Now is the time for action,” Ms Mordaunt said before the meeting in London. “The aid sector needs to ensure it is meeting its duty of care to the world’s most vulnerable people. It needs to be honest about past mistakes. It must do all it can to win back the trust of the British public.” There are concerns, however, at how far the Department for International Development (Dfid) and the sector itself are prepared to go in implementing policy commitments. The invited audience will be dominated by senior executives, with little input from child protection or safeguarding experts.’ – The Times

  • Hundreds of allegations against charity shop staff and volunteers – Daily Mail
  • Keep on giving – The Guardian Leader
  • Penning says the Navy should note be used as a ‘cash cow’ for aid ventures – Daily Mail

Carillion directors passed up a way to retrieve some money for pension funds

‘The government knew of a plan that could have retrieved more than £360m from Carillion, limiting the cost of its collapse to taxpayers and sparing pension scheme members from cuts to their retirement payouts, but did not encourage directors to pursue it. Multiple sources told the Guardian that the Cabinet Office, responsible for oversight of government contractors, did not apply any pressure on Carillion’s directors to adopt the proposals, presented by accounting firm EY in mid-December last year. EY’s plan would have involved breaking up the company, selling the profitable parts and placing the rest into liquidation, avoiding an involuntary collapse. The accounting firm believed this would generate £364m, of which £218m could be injected into the firm’s 13 pension schemes, estimated to have a deficit of close to £1bn. One source familiar with the company’s final weeks said this could have prevented some of the schemes entering the Pension Protection Fund.’ – The Guardian

Moore: How strange that Watson, scourge even of fake iniquity, should be so forgiving of Mosley

‘Opinions could legitimately differ about Max Mosley in his youth. Some say that his active support for his father Oswald’s fascist party when he was 20 or so damns him forever. Others point out that many young people adopt extreme positions and that it is forgivable, when very young, to be in thrall to your parents’ strong views.I lean to the latter view…What is odder, though, is that the deputy leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson, should be so forgiving. No one is more zealous than Mr Watson in hunting down iniquity. Indeed, he hunts it down even where it does not exist…Yet Mr Watson, whose office has received £540,000 from Mr Mosley, does not feel that he should return the money. His stated reason – though obviously he has 540,000 other ones – is that Mr Mosley has used his money to “help the weak [Mr Watson?] against the strong”.’ – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

  • McDonnell suggests he should consider returning the cash – Daily Mail
  • Give the money to charity – The Sun Says
  • The threat of nationalisation is harming energy investment, says National Grid – FT
  • Shadow Chancellor might reconsider the appointment of toxic equalities advisor – The Times
  • IPPR supports a single income tax – The Sun

Burst pipes cause water shortages across London and the South East

‘Households across London and south east England have been told to use as little water as possible – after extreme weather caused burst pipes. Thames Water said around 12,000 homes were left with no running water following the recent deep freeze and thaw, while several water companies said they were also tackling multiple bursts on their networks. Four companies – Thames Water, South East Water, Southern Water and Affinity Water – urged customers who do have running water only to use it where essential. In a joint statement, they said: “Where possible, take short showers rather than baths, do not leave taps running unnecessarily and only run washing machines and dish washers when you have a full load.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • Energy companies will be made to write off bills after 12 months – The Times

Home Office loses track of 500 foreign criminals before deportation

‘The Home Office has lost track of hundreds of dangerous foreign criminals awaiting deportation from Britain. Instead of being locked up until they are thrown out of the UK, the offenders, including rapists, robbers and paedophiles, vanished after being let out of prison. Immigration chiefs lost track of the foreign national offenders (FNOs) after they completed their sentences and were released into the community – meaning they could still pose a threat. Figures obtained using freedom of information laws revealed that 494 criminals absconded between January 2014 and March 2016.’ – Daily Mail

  • Home Office spends £36,000 on all-gender toilets – The Sun
  • Campaigners write to Rudd over immigration exemption to data protection – The Guardian
  • Senior police officers repeatedly warned about false allegations against Iraq troops – Daily Telegraph
  • The MoD is losing its moral compass – Johnny Mercer, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief