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Lack of skilled staff hindering preparations for no-deal Brexit

“Planning for a no-deal Brexit is being hampered by a shortage of skilled civil servants, senior government figures have admitted. Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, claimed last week that he had funding to increase the number of staff working on preparations by 9,000. At present 7,000 officials are working on the plans being co-ordinated by the Brexit department. Senior government figures say that the number of staff, not money, is the limiting factor. Philip Hammond has set aside £3 billion to fund efforts to mitigate the disruption caused by a no-deal Brexit. With fewer than seven months before Britain is due to leave the EU just under a third of this has been allocated. “This isn’t about the money it’s about people. You can’t take the sort of numbers you need out of the government’s current operations without them falling over,” a senior figure told The Times.” – The Times

  • May calls for crisis summit to prepare for ‘no deal’ – Daily Mail
  • Davis condemns Chancellor’s ‘Project Fear’ tactics – Daily Express

More:

  • EU officials predict UK will be in chaos within a week of no-deal departure – The Sun
  • Bad Brexit could break up Britain, Van Rompuy warns – The Scotsman
  • May set for first visit to sub-Saharan Africa to boost Brexit trade links – Daily Telegraph
  • UK flights ‘could be grounded’ unless new arrangements reached – The Sun
  • SNP insists EU will let independent Scotland join – The Scotsman

Editorial:

  • We must continue to prepare for a clean break – The Sun

Rees-Mogg criticised over Irish border comments

“Jacob Rees-Mogg has been branded “ill-informed” by the Irish deputy prime minister after suggesting people crossing the Northern Ireland border could be “inspected” after Brexit in the same way as “we had during the Troubles”. Tanaiste Simon Coveney said the Tory MP and senior Brexiteer, the chairman of the hardline European Research Group, was “ill-informed” after the comments surfaced in a video posted on Twitter. In the clip, Mr Rees-Mogg is shown at a town hall-style discussion on Brexit, talking about the border, which has proved one of the most difficult parts of the Brexit negotiations with Brussels to solve. Both sides have ruled out a hard border – which would contravene the Good Friday Agreement that ended decades of fighting in Northern Ireland. In the clip, Mr Rees-Mogg says that the UK could continue with “historic arrangements” to avoid a loophole that would allow people to get into the UK.” – News Letter

Surge in membership sparks fears of ‘blue Momentum’ takeover

Conservative party associations are reporting a surge in members who have joined in the wake of Theresa May’s Chequers deal which has proved unpopular with the grassroots. The increase in membership will raise concerns that the party is at risk from a ‘blue Momentum-style’ takeover among supporters furious with the deal which keeps Britain closely tied to the European Union after Brexit. John Strafford, a Tory grassroots campaigner, said the rise came from former UK Independence Party members who were rejoining because they do not like the deal and want to vote in a leadership contest to replace Mrs May. Conservative Party rules mean anyone who has been a member for more than three months can vote in a leadership contest. The news came as Boris Johnson, the Cabinet minister who quit over the deal, reinforces his opposition to the deal on Monday, writing in The Daily Telegraph that it is time to “chuck Chequers”.” – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • State of Greece shows why we need to chuck Chequers – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph
  • Britons seem relatively relaxed despite apocalyptic predictions – Larry Elliott, The Guardian
  • Tough, brave Northerners could teach timid South about Brexit – Jake Berry, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Simon Clarke MP in Comment: Let’s make Brexit bold, inspiring and green – not timid and apologetic

Ministers 1) Atkins ‘cautious’ over number of teenagers undergoing gender reassignment

The women’s minister has said she is “cautious” about the number of teenagers undergoing gender reassignment treatment and warned the country needs to be “particularly alert” to the issue. Victoria Atkins expressed concern that a rising number of teenagers were seeking “life-changing” medical interventions. Young people were undergoing treatment to change their gender because they regard it as “an answer to questions they are not asking themselves”, the minister said. In an interview with The Telegraph, Mrs Atkins, who has responsibility for the Government’s gender equality policy, said: “I read in the paper recently that there has been a large increase in the number of teenagers who are identifying as such, and I think we need to get down to the reasons why this is happening.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Atkins’ careful and considered words on trans issues must not be howled down

Ministers 2) Mordaunt fights to keep suffragette statue

“Women’s Minister Penny Mordaunt last night joined the campaign to stop the statue of suffragette hero Emmeline Pankhurst being removed from outside the Houses of Parliament. The figure of the women’s votes pioneer has stood in Victoria Tower Gardens since 1930, but plans emerged earlier this month to move it to a private collection at Regent’s University three miles away. On Monday Ms Mordaunt became the first Cabinet minister to intervene in the row in a bid to keep the statue facing Parliament… The plans to relocate the statue, which was funded by suffragettes in the 1920s and unveiled by then Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin in 1930, have been led by the Emmeline Pankhurst Trust. They initially wanted to move the statue to Parliament Square.” – The Sun

Ministers 3) Gove proposes ban on electric shock collars

Electronic dog collars which shock animals into obedience are to be banned under proposals unveiled by Michael Gove. The Environment Secretary announced on Monday the Government will introduce new legislation to outlaw cruel training collars which are used on dogs and cats. The remote controlled collars use an electronic shock which can vary in strength or a noxious chemical in order to modify a pet’s behaviour. But there are widespread concerns about the use of the so-called e-collars because they can be misused to inflict unnecessary suffering. Meanwhile, animal rights campaigners cite evidence the collars can cause pets to develop anxiety problems which can result in challenging behaviour and cause health problems to worsen. Mr Gove, who has made animal welfare and protecting the environment key planks of the Government’s domestic agenda, said the ban would help protect animals as he urged pet owners to adopt less harmful training techniques.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Chancellor attacks Environment Secretary’s fondness for green taxes – The Sun

Bottomley joins chorus of criticism over Holocaust memorial location

“Plans for a large memorial to the Holocaust next to the Houses of Parliament are proceeding despite criticism of the likely environmental impact, concerns over geology and opposition from residents and politicians. The scheme chosen for the site is by the architect Sir David Adjaye. Westminster council has begun the planning process and permission for the £50 million monument and learning centre is expected later this year, with work finished by 2021… Sir Peter Bottomley, the Tory MP, said there should be an explanation as to how the government’s UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation had settled on the site, urging Downing Street to “come clean”.” – The Times

Tim Montgomerie: The Tories should be wary of cosying up to big donors

“The anti-business mood is a dangerous one for Theresa May’s Conservative Party. Its closeness to business and, indeed, its dependence upon business was made clear in the Electoral Commission report last week on party political funding. A surge in revenue from Labour’s half a million or so members means that the party is getting almost as much money from individuals as it receives from the big unions. The Tories enjoy no such diverse spread of funding. While Corbyn’s coffers were filled with £16 million of funds from individual supporters, the 124,000 Tory members contributed less than £1 million to their party’s treasury. The Tory machine is overwhelmingly dependent upon big gifts from high-net-worth donors… Chasing high rollers has at times led the party to become entangled with former associates of Vladimir Putin. That is not a good look.” – The Times

Labour’s internal antisemitism inquiry ‘on the brink of collapse’…

“Hundreds of complaints alleging antisemitism in Labour are going unaddressed by party officials, it is claimed. Insiders say the party’s internal investigations unit has collapsed as leader Jeremy Corbyn has promised to speed up the party’s disciplinary process. The party’s former head of the compliance unit and at least two others have left, leaving only one staff member to investigate the mounting number of cases of alleged antisemitism, the Times reported. A spokesman told the paper: ‘We have robust processes for dealing with complaints we receive. We don’t comment on staffing matters.’ It comes as Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger attacked Mr Corbyn for accusing British Zionists of having ‘no sense of irony’ despite having ‘lived in Britain all of their lives’.” – Daily Mail

  • Jewish MPs in talks with security advisers over need for conference bodyguards – Daily Telegraph
  • Labour Against Anti-Semitism lodge official complaint against Corbyn – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Corbyn is to irony what Trump is to feminism – Matthew d’Ancona, The Guardian

…as Mandelson hosts anti-Corbyn MPs

“Lord Mandelson hosted former enemy Tom Watson at a barbecue where Labour moderates discussed how to save the party from Mr Corbyn, it emerged yesterday. The peer invited Labour’s deputy leader and ten centrist MPs to his London home last month. They discussed topics including the post-Corbyn succession and possibilities of a new party being set up. The secret meeting between Lord Mandelson – a supporter of Tony Blair – and Gordon Brown’s acolyte Mr Watson comes amid calls from some on the Labour Right to start another party. Mr Watson helped force Mr Blair from power after leading the Curry House Plot, a scheme hatched in an Indian restaurant. A source said: ‘Peter Mandelson and Tom Watson buried the hatchet … The purpose of the barbecue was to plot the post-Corbyn succession and discuss the prospect of a new party, how to ramp up pressure on Corbyn over the summer and the issue of anti-Semitism.’” – Daily Mail

  • Starmer warns that ‘no deal’ will put the UK in a legal vacuum – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Labour Remainers plan to skewer us all by wrecking Brexit – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun

Miller ‘could be next Lib Dem leader’

“Anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller could become the next leader of the Liberal Democrats, it has emerged. The current Lib Dem boss Sir Vince Cable plans to make it easier for non-MPs to become party leader, he will be revealed next week. And now insiders have reportedly said Mrs Miller, 53, who successfully led the campaign to allow Parliament a vote on Brexit nearly two years ago, is looking to make the most of the proposal. The businesswoman and mother-of-three is already set to make a major Brexit speech at the Liberal Democrat conference next month. But one party source told the Sun: ‘Only Gina Miller would think it was a good idea for her to be leader of the Lib Dems.’ In a bid to turn his anti-Brexit party into more of a movement, Sir Vince will declare plans for a huge remodel of party membership rules on September 7. It would mean non-MPs could run in leadership elections.” – Daily Mail

  • Labour support crucial for vote on Brexit, says Cable – FT

Sturgeon says there is ‘no legal basis’ for suspending Salmond from the SNP

“First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said there is ‘no legal basis’ to suspend Alex Salmond from the SNP, following accusations of sexual harassment. She said her party had not received any complaints about her predecessor’s conduct – nor had it carried out the investigation – but the matter would be reconsidered if the situation changes. It comes after opposition parties called for the SNP to suspend Mr Salmond over the allegations, which he denies. At the end of last week, the Scottish government announced that the former leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party was under investigation over two  claims that have been passed to the police. One alleged incident is said to have happened at the First Minister’s official residence in Edinburgh, Bute House, in December 2013.” – Daily Mail

  • First Minister urged to reveal details of meeting with predecessor – Daily Telegraph
  • Labour repeats call for Nationalists to suspend former leader – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Paranoid activists blame the British state for the Salmond inquiry – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • Sturgeon is making the right call on Salmond – The Scotsman

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