Johnson: Give tax breaks to employers who look after staff welfare

‘There are all sorts of reasons why the UK still lags behind some competitors in productivity: skills, infrastructure, broadband, housing – you name it. We will tackle them all. But we will get nowhere unless we also deliver that fundamental requirement – a workforce that is happy and motivated. So it seems quite incredible that we do so little, as a society, to help companies to help their employees: to keep their time off work to a minimum, to prevent them becoming a cost to the NHS, and to help them to be as productive as possible. As things stand, mental health and occupational health services are taxable as benefits in kind. That means they incur both income tax and national insurance. At most, employers can get a modest reimbursement of £500, but only if an employee is off for more than 28 days – a hopeless incentive, since the whole objective should be to keep the employee in the workplace, or to ensure that time off is as brief as possible. So let me make a suggestion. I believe it is time to offer preferential tax treatment to companies that look after employees in work – giving them the counselling and the help they need to do their jobs.’ – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

  • If elected he will make an early visit to Washington – Daily Mail
  • His chairman, not chief executive, leadership style was developed in City Hall – FT
  • Might his battle to be elected to run the Oxford Union have played a part? – The Guardian
  • Team Barnier dislikes plan to ditch the backstop – The Sun
  • Johnson prepares for tonight’s Sun debate – The Sun
  • Millions of working class voters are up for grabs – The Sun Says
  • Guppygate reporter demands apology – The Guardian


>Today: ToryDiary: Johnson’s August 1) He must spend time in Scotland

Hunt battles to save the Iran nuclear deal

‘Tensions in the Middle East could pose an existential threat to mankind unless the Iran nuclear deal is maintained, Jeremy Hunt will say on Monday in his starkest warning since the regional crisis escalated two months ago. Speaking ahead of an EU meeting in Brussels, the UK foreign secretary will try to underline the importance of the deal, which was abandoned unilaterally by the US a year ago, leading to an accelerating reciprocal withdrawal by Iran. Hunt has tried to de-escalate the situation by saying an Iranian-owned oil tanker seized by the British off Gibraltar 10 days ago might be released if Tehran promised the ship’s owners would abandon plans to unload its oil in Syria. The EU has imposed a ban on oil sales to Syria. Hunt made the offer in a phone call with the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, on Saturday. But Zarif said afterwards Iran should be entitled to sell oil to any country it wished, and claimed the UK seizure of the ship, Grace 1, was an act of piracy.’ – The Guardian

  • He’s in Brussels for talks with fellow foreign ministers – The Sun
  • Foreign Secretary says he would be Brexit Secretary and Prime Minister if victorious – Daily Telegraph
  • Why does the establishment love this deal so? – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • Tehran’s hostility and aggresison is pushing Europe towards the US – FT Leader
  • They should de-escalate while they still can – The Times Leader
  • CCHQ membership hotline ‘working round the clock’ to handle concerns about missing votes – Daily Telegraph

Hammond ‘admission’ that he ‘acted against government policy’ on No Deal planning

‘Philip Hammond has admitted publicly for the first time that the Treasury did not want companies to prepare for a No Deal Brexit. He told a BBC Panorama documentary to be aired on Thursday that advising them to prepare for leaving the EU without a deal “might have damaged our economy”. Brexiteers said his comments vindicated their long-held belief that the Chancellor had deliberately prevented No Deal planning in order to frustrate Brexit. They have blamed him for the lack of No Deal preparations, which led to Theresa May’s decision to seek a Brexit delay. A senior Tory source told The Sun: “This is a shameful admission that he acted against government policy as Chancellor and in so doing undermined the Prime Minister at a critical time. “I can’t think of any other time when the Chancellor so deliberately undermined government policy. His historical record will go down in infamy.”’ – The Sun

  • His group of Remain hardliners has expelled Amber Rudd – The Sun
  • She’ll be ‘excommunicated’, one source says – FT
  • Miller says she’ll go to court to try to prevent No Deal – The Sun
  • Northern Ireland ‘set for direct rule’ – The Times
  • Wanted: trainee trade negotiators – George Hollingbery, The Times
  • von der Leyen might not be accepted by MEPs – Wolfgang Munchau, FT
  • Latvia warns of hardening attitudes on Brexit – Daily Telegraph
  • Macron parades his desire for an EU army – The Times

>Today: Nicky Morgan’s column: Our report on Alternative Arrangements holds the key to leaving the EU at last – and avoiding a general election

>Yesterday: WATCH: Rudd fights to keep her job – or get a better one – by accepting No Deal if necessary

Gove moves towards a ban on imports from trophy hunting

‘Michael Gove will take the first steps towards banning imports from trophy hunting, he tells the Mail today. The Environment Secretary will issue a call for evidence to decide whether to outlaw hunters bringing the souvenirs into the country. He will also consult on what the UK can do to end its role in the rearing of animals in fenced reserves where they are shot by trophy hunters. Trophy hunting is the shooting of certain animals – usually big game such as rhinos, elephants, lions, pumas and bears – for pleasure… Mr Gove said there was an important debate about whether trophy hunting in poorer countries could be used to enhance their economies. But he added that it was important to explore whether these countries would not benefit more from wildlife tourism. He also criticised the practice of ‘lion canning’ which involves thousands of lions in South Africa being bred and kept in fenced areas to be shot by wealthy travellers.’ – Daily Mail

Collins and Tugendhat hit back against police threats to press freedom

‘The powerful boss of Parliament’s media committee has demanded the Met formally withdraws the chilling threat to prosecute journalists for reporting the contest of secret memos. Speaking to The Sun, Damian Collins also called for Scotland Yard to issue a fresh statement to reassure newspapers that they are free to report leaked documents. And the chairman of the influential Commons Foreign Affairs committee Tom Tugendhat declared: “Police threats to media freedom have no place in the UK.” It follows the furious backlash against the Met’s Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, who warned editors may face court if they failed to hand over official papers. His extraordinary warning to the media came as he launched the Met’s hunt for the mole who leaked comments by Britain’s US ambassador Sir Kim Darroch about Donald Trump.’ – The Sun

  • Davis says Basu should ‘step aside’ – Daily Mail
  • Target leakers, not editors – Edward Lucas, The Times
  • The comments were a clear threat to liberty – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Suspect in Darroch leak ‘identified’ – The Guardian
  • New public health liability on knife crime is ‘a step in the right direction’ – The Guardian
  • MP suggests schoolboys would not have been acquitted of stabbing if they were poor and black – Daily Mail
  • Serious criminals will be allowed to wipe convictions in time – Daily Telegraph
  • Is there any evidence for such a change? – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Murderers are set to face stricter monitoring after release – Daily Mail
  • The government has not fulfilled its pledge of life sentences for drivers who kill – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Is the Official Secrets Act fit for purpose?

Gill: May’s legacy is as a feminist champion

‘Amber Rudd has described May as “an inspiration … she made a personal effort to meet candidates, advise them and then quite often call us on the day of selection to give us a motivating pep talk and push”. Chloe Smith, who won a seat in Norwich North in 2009, has said May was an invaluable mentor, “supportive and warm”, an “instinctive listener”. Has May’s feminism gone beyond helping women in her party? In her first few years as an MP she lobbied the then Tory leader, Michael Howard, to make maternity leave better paid and more flexible, and fought supposed modernisers such as David Cameron to get them to take the issue seriously. As home secretary she helped survivors of FGM and cracked down on the practice. She stood up for victims of domestic abuse, introducing a law against coercive control, and launched a national inquiry into how the police dealt with it. She supported shared parental leave and fought for equal pay. And as prime minister, she has introduced laws to tackle modern slavery, doubling the UK’s spending on the issue.’ – Martha Gill, The Guardian

Schools should have been given more support against ‘mob’ protesters, Sara Khan argues

‘Headteachers dealing with protests over LGBT lessons should have been given more support, the government’s chief adviser on countering extremism has said. Campaigners held banners saying “Don’t confuse our children” and “Let kids be kids” outside Parkfield community school in Birmingham after books featuring same-sex couples were used in a diversity programme. The school decided to suspend the No Outsiders lessons in March until an agreement could be reached with parents. But Sara Khan, who became a government adviser in January 2018, likened the protesters to a “mob”. Speaking about the Department for Education’s response to the issue, she told BBC’s Panorama: “I think they were too slow to respond. There’s a lot of confusion about what’s actually being taught and I think [the] DfE could have played a very important role in clarifying to parents this is what’s actually being taught, not the misinformation that we’re seeing out there. It’s a mob chanting and shouting and engaging in intimidating and threatening behaviour. And I think we have to recognise that and call it out for what it is.”‘ – The Guardian

  • Hinds launches guidance for teachers to educate pupils about fake news – The Sun
  • Social media accounts masquerading as government outlets are taken down – The Guardian
  • We must invest in social mobility – Justine Greening, The Guardian
  • School leavers know ‘little or nothing’ about degree apprenticeships – FT
  • Private schooling allows the rich to secede from society – The Guardian Leader

Labour tries to make the BBC remove anti-semitism documentary from iPlayer

‘Labour has launched an extraordinary bid to get the BBC’s bombshell Panorama expose of anti-Semitism removed from iPlayer. The party said it wanted the documentary, which was broadcast last Wednesday, taken offline until ‘basic facts’ were corrected and the corporation issued an apology. The strongarm tactics from Jeremy Corbyn’s team came as Labour’s civil war over anti-Semitism escalated dramatically. Two whistleblowers who spoke to Panorama have threatened to sue the party for suggesting they were motivated by damaging Mr Corbyn. Meanwhile, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has condemned Tom Watson for raising the conduct of general secretary Jennie Formby while she is undergoing cancer treatment. In stark contrast to the party’s official response, Mr Watson described the documentary as ‘chilling’.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: Mohammed Amin on Comment: I don’t like the term “Islamophobia”. But since we’re stuck with it, here’s my own definition.

UK ‘scarily’ exposed to new downturn

‘The UK’s recession-fighting tools are already almost exhausted leaving the economy ill-prepared to battle the next slump if and when it arrives, economists have warned. Interest rates are too low to be cut significantly, while the Government is already heavily indebted from heavy borrowing in the financial crisis and the years since. This means urgent work is needed to find tools which could be used to stimulate the economy in another crunch, said the Resolution Foundation. Its analysts are not predicting an imminent recession, but risks including a global economic slowdown, the US-China trade war an uncertainty over the future of Brexit all mean it is time to prepare for the worst.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • If Britain were an emerging market, the vultures would be circling – Daily Telegraph
  • New nuclear energy funding model could leave taxpayers liable. – The Guardian
  • McDonnell threatens to ‘find a mechanism’ to seize investors’ assets held abroad – Daily Mail
  • Northern Rail boss gets pay rise despite disruption – Daily Mail
  • Tax law ‘grenade’ under the self-employed – Daily Telegraph
  • High Street takes a hit – Daily Telegraph
  • Can the jobs boom continue despite troubling economic clouds? – Ruth Sunderland, Daily Mail
  • The scandal of Britain’s shoddy new-build homes – Liam Halligan, Daily Telegraph
  • Chinese economy grows at the slowest rate in almost 30 years – FT
  • Gauke’s new accident compensation calculation is bad news for insurers – FT
  • Competition is the best way to raise standards – Mark Littlewood, The Times

Further clashes between police and protesters in Hong Kong

‘Journalists in Hong Kong have marched through the city today, as thousands of others rallied in an area popular with shoppers from mainland China following heavy clashes on the streets yesterday. Hundreds of reporters marched from the Admiralty district near government offices through to the police headquarters, while many more descended on the Sha Tin shopping district. Sha Tin, a town between Hong Kong island and the Chinese border, has previously been a battleground by those angered by the flood of Chinese day-trippers. Yesterday there were violent scenes in another border town – Sheung Shui – as demonstrators fought police wielding riot shields, batons and pepper spray.’ – Daily Mail

  • Lam ‘offered to resign’ but Beijing will not allow her to do so – FT
  • British-born police commander becomes focus of protesters’ anger – The Times
  • Smart Cities can be a force for good, but beware China’s dystopian approach – FT Leader
  • The state is abolishing privacy – Tom Welsh, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief