Johnson’s top team takes shape

‘In a move designed to show that he wants to unify the Brexit and remain wings of his party, Johnson has handed power to Matt Hancock, the health secretary, and Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden, both prominent remain voters. They will work with Sir Edward Lister, who was Johnson’s chief of staff when he was mayor of London. Lister began work on Thursday sounding out Johnson’s key aides and MP backers to put together a comprehensive plan for government…Johnson’s plans for Brexit are being drawn up by Geoffrey Cox, the attorney-general, Steve Barclay, the Brexit secretary, and Jacob Rees-Mogg — a clear sign that he would take a hard line with Brussels. ..Liz Truss, the chief secretary to the Treasury, fellow Treasury minister Robert Jenrick and rising star Rishi Sunak are all helping with the policy development team… Others moan that Johnson is under pressure from “literally hundreds” of MPs and advisers who want a job in his government. “It is an orgy of ego,” said one prominent supporter. “The danger is that he ends up surrounded by the pushiest people rather than the most able.”’ – Sunday Times

Opinion and editorial

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Fifteen years after I started writing about Johnson, one might almost think his time has come

Hunt announces that Canada’s Harper has agreed to lead his Brexit negotiators

‘Jeremy Hunt has recruited a former prime minister of Canada to lead his Brexit negotiating team and secure a Canadian-style free-trade deal with Brussels if he wins the keys to Downing Street. The foreign secretary’s allies revealed in an interview with The Sunday Times that, after wooing Stephen Harper for several weeks, he is set to join. Harper led Canada for nine years, six of which included negotiations with the EU for a free-trade deal that was signed in 2016, the year after he left office. Hunt further revealed that Oliver Robbins, Theresa May’s chief negotiator, will soon leave and that he would replace him with Crawford Falconer, the Scottish-born New Zealander who is the chief negotiator at the Department for International Trade. Also lined up by Hunt is Rona Ambrose, whom he got to know when she was Canadian health minister, but who more recently was one of Canada’s team negotiating changes to the North American Free Trade deal after Donald Trump became US president. In a dig at Johnson, Hunt said: “To break the impasse with the European Union we need a tough and skilled negotiator, not empty rhetoric. In Crawford Falconer you have someone who is respected as the toughest trade negotiator in the world. I’m good personal friends with Rona Ambrose. These are people who know how to get a tough deal.”’ – Sunday Times

>Today: David Hare on Comment: Why both Johnson and Hunt should be worried about worsening NHS waiting times

In Osaka, May urges her successor to pursue continuity of Conservative values

‘Mrs May offered her advice on how the Tories should combat the twin threats of the Brexit Party and the resurgent Liberal Democrats. “I think what’s important for the Conservative Party is that we continue as a party and as a Government in delivering on the values that have always underpinned what we as Conservatives believe in,” she said. “That’s about security, as much about economic security through a balanced approach to the economy, that’s enabling us to end austerity. We are seeing employment levels at a record high and it’s enabled us to bring our debt down, and our deficit down. We also provide opportunity for people…”’ – The Sun on Sunday

  • Her Tussaud’s waxwork has already been put in storage – Sunday Times
  • She urges Putin to choose ‘a different path’ – Mail on Sunday
  • Trump rejects May’s overtures on climate change and green energy – Sunday Times
  • Her remarks in Japan are interpreted as a rebuke to Hammond over spending splurge – Sunday Times
  • New fund will help bereaved parents with funeral costs – The Sun on Sunday
  • The outgoing Prime Minister intends to push through a Domestic Abuse Act – Sunday Times
  • Her crackdown on executive pay has not reduced the number of shareholder revolts – Mail on Sunday
  • Cannabis legalisation is not one of those values – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday

>Today: ToryDiary: Conservatism is better than liberalism – and Putin much, much worse than either

ConHome survey finds Tory support for pact with Farage

‘Half of Conservative Party members want an electoral pact with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party according to a shock new survey. The poll, carried out by the Conservative Home website, found just 40 percent were opposed to the idea whilst the rest were unsure. Since its creation earlier this year the Brexit Party has enjoyed major electoral success. It secured the most votes at May’s European Parliament elections and has topped several opinion polls…Conservative Home editor Paul Goodman commented: “The two party electoral contest of 2017 is now a four party one in 2019, at least for the moment. Half of Conservative Party members now want a pact. To say that this is an extraordinary development is an understatement.”’ – Sunday Express

Wallace raises Russian influence concerns about campaign involving fellow Tory MP

‘Ben Wallace, the security minister, has passed evidence to the intelligence services of an influence operation involving Sir Henry Bellingham, one of the prime minister’s official trade envoys. The lobbyists, whose ultimate source of funding is unclear, have been urging British authorities to take action against Alexander Shchukin, a Russian oligarch. He is under house arrest in Siberia over corruption charges, but a large part of his wealth is thought to remain in the UK. The Sunday Times has learnt that Bellingham gave his backing to the campaign, which was run by a Russian lawyer banned from practising in the UK, a film maker with links to the Kremlin and a millionaire based in America… Leaked emails reveal that he went on to help the Russians secure a dinner in parliament and advised them how to “paint” the campaign in a “positive light”. Bellingham touted his links to the Russian ambassador and told lobbyists he was “more than happy to assist”. But he said he could not be publicly involved because the operation could “end up as a full-blown press story”. Last night Bellingham denied any wrongdoing and said he had not been paid for his involvement.’ – Sunday Times

Furious Corbyn demands inquiry into civil service leaks about supposed health concerns

‘Jeremy Corbyn launched an astonishing attack on the Civil Service last night over claims he has suffered a mini-stroke and is physically unfit to be Labour leader. Mr Corbyn demanded an investigation into Whitehall leaks which described him as ‘frail’ and ‘losing his memory’, accusing the mandarins of being anti-democratic and politically motivated. Rumours have been swirling around Westminster for several months about Mr Corbyn’s health, including the claim that the 70-year-old had a mini-stroke three months ago – something which Labour insisted yesterday was ‘categorically untrue’.’ – Mail on Sunday

  • Leading Labour figure says the leader is ‘like a puppet’ for the clique around him – The Sun on Sunday
  • Frail or not, he has always been unfit for power – The Sun on Sunday Says
  • He’s got to go – because of his views, not his age or condition – Ian Austin, The Sun on Sunday
  • Corbynites invest their hopes in Long-Bailey – Mail on Sunday
  • Williamson is the least of Labour’s faults – Rod Liddle, Sunday Times
  • He faces possible deselection – The Observer
  • Rayner says frontbenchers are ‘exasperated’ by failure to get a grip on antisemitism – The Observer
  • Jewish novelist blames ‘climate of fear’ for cancelled UK talks – The Observer
  • Speculation intensifies about Merkel’s health – Mail on Sunday
  • Wollaston says she’d stand aside to help a Remain alliance candidate – The Observer
  • An ex-Change UK MP has been meeting the Lib Dems – Sunday Times
  • Collins urges fines for people who refuse to appear before Commons committees – The Observer

Civil liberties watchdogs warn that police are covertly building a surveillance state

‘The police are abusing their powers to spy on the public, watchdogs say, as it emerged that forces have amassed 10m images that are searchable using face- recognition software. Paul Wiles, the biometrics commissioner, and Tony Porter, the surveillance camera commissioner, said ministers were failing to legislate over “enormous” advances in technology that have given the government, police and councils a new ability to spy on citizens. In interviews with The Sunday Times, the regulators warned that the state was unlawfully sharing sensitive personal details across the public and private sectors, and called for the practice to be debated by MPs and regulated.’ – Sunday Times

  • Chinese hackers stole vast amounts of data from UK phones for years – Mail on Sunday
  • Baby delivered after pregnant mother stabbed to death in Croydon – Sunday Times
  • Teenager shot in East London – Mail on Sunday
  • Home Office backs drug-testing charity – Mail on Sunday

The SNP’s plans for gender law reform are put on hold amid backlash

‘Controversial reform of gender law in Scotland is unlikely to take effect for at least two years, The Sunday Times has learnt. Several SNP figures, including a minister, are understood to be deeply worried that plans to make it easier for individuals to switch gender could damage the party’s performance at the Holyrood elections in May 2021. Their preference is for a draft bill to be published towards the end of this year or early 2020, which would almost certainly delay the new law until after the next election. The disclosure will dismay equality campaigners who expect the draft bill to be drawn up swiftly when MSPs return to parliament after the summer. First minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to make Scotland “fairer for transgender people”, but reform is on hold amid a backlash from SNP politicians and women’s rights groups.’ – Sunday Times

Goodwin: Mob rule is crushing academic freedom of expression

‘Last December, a promising young academic named Noah Carl had his world turned upside down. In an open letter signed by more than 1,400 academics and students, Carl stood accused of having conducted “racist pseudoscience”… Amid campus protests and vandalism, the critics of this self-described moderate conservative demanded that his employer, St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, investigate. The college duly complied. Carl was instructed not to talk to media or enter the college, even as activists worked to trash his reputation. In April, the college buckled. His fellowship, one of the most prestigious in the country, was terminated. His career has been destroyed. Last week, he launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring a legal challenge against St Edmund’s. Carl’s is a depressingly familiar story…Such is the state of affairs that in recent weeks, conservative-leaning academics and others like me who share their concern about the direction of travel organised a workshop in secret so as to avoid the likely tsunami of student protests, open letters and condemnation. Others have started an academic journal for scholars who want to publish challenging research anonymously, so as to avoid retribution from colleagues and students. When academics start to feel that they cannot write under their own names or hold a discussion in the open, then something, somewhere, has gone terribly wrong.’ – Mathew Goodwin, Sunday Times