Government “plans to scrap the Licence Fee and scale back the BBC”

“Downing Street turned on the BBC last night — vowing to scrap the television licence fee and make viewers pay a subscription. The national broadcaster could also be compelled to downsize and sell off most of its radio stations. In a plan that would change the face of British broadcasting, senior aides to the prime minister insisted that they are “not bluffing” about changing the BBC’s funding model and “pruning” its reach into people’s homes. The blueprint being drawn up in government will: Scrap the licence fee and replace it with a subscription model. Force the BBC to sell off the vast majority of its 61 radio stations but safeguard Radio 3 and Radio 4. Reduce the number of the corporation’s national television channels from its current 10. Scale back the BBC website. Invest more in the World Service. Ban BBC stars from cashing in with lucrative second jobs. The plan marks a further escalation of hostilities between No 10 and the corporation following speeches last week by Sir David Clementi, the BBC chairman, who launched an outspoken defence of the licence fee.” – Sunday Times

  • The BBC has overreached for too long – Leader, Sunday Times
  • ITV faces scrutiny after TV presenter kills herself – Mail on Sunday
  • The BBC has 13 reporters covering the US election trail – Mail on Sunday

Brexit: Talks “stall before they even start”

“Boris Johnson has rejected out of hand the EU’s demands for a post-Brexit trade deal after Brussels negotiators insisted they should retain control over British tax rules and state subsidies. David Frost, the Prime Minister’s chief Brexit negotiator, is this weekend finalising the UK’s demands for the deal, which must be secured by the end of this year to avoid a No Deal Brexit. Tory sources say Mr Frost and his team have been infuriated by the EU’s demands in their draft mandate. Mr Frost plans to use a lecture to students and academics in Brussels tomorrow to say that the demands far outstrip terms the EU has struck with countries such as Canada, Japan and Korea.” – Mail on Sunday

  • UK’s withdrawal has left £62bn hole in EU budget – Observer
  • Johnson under pressure from US to scrap deal to allow Huawei access to the UK’s 5G network – The Sun on Sunday

PM “vetoes Mansion Tax”…

“Boris Johnson has shelved plans to impose a “mansion tax” on owners of expensive homes, following a major backlash among Conservative MPs and grassroots. The Prime Minister is understood to have “cooled” on the idea of including a new “high value property tax” in next month’s budget, having previously discussed the proposals with Sajid Javid, who quit as Chancellor last week. The Sunday Telegraph can disclose that the Treasury had also wanted to announce a nationwide revaluation of homes, which would have left millions of families with higher council tax bills. Both policies are now “highly unlikely” to feature in the budget due to be delivered by Rishi Sunak, Mr Javid’s successor, a Government source told this newspaper.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • This dreadful idea should be dropped – Leader, Sunday Telegraph
  • What the bust‑up between Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid means for tax and spending – David Smith, Sunday Times
  • The rise and rise of Sunak – Andrew Pierce, Mail on Sunday
  • Fear and loathing in Downing Street – The Sun on Sunday
  • New Downing Street adviser backed using brain enhancing drug – Mail on Sunday
  • The real battle for Cummings will be with the civil servants, not the Spads – Observer
  • Sajid was doomed from the day he said he would vote Remain – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday
  • It may not work – David Gauke, Observer


>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Our reshuffle predictions. What we got right and what we didn’t.

…though another report claims Javid had already killed off the original proposal, while new version “still lives”

“At a meeting early last week, after Tory MPs had gone public with their dismay at the mansion tax plans, Johnson told Javid: “What the hell! This hasn’t gone down well. We can’t do it.” Javid agreed to quietly “kill it”, privately briefing concerned MPs that the plan was dead, even as his aides were forced to say officially that the proposals were still on the table. Officially the scheme lives, featuring in the talks in Sunak’s office on Friday morning. They will again be discussed on Tuesday. “It is true that the Treasury has been looking at ways to make property tax fairer and get rich people in London paying more,” a source said.” – Sunday Times

  • “Mutiny at the court of King Boris” – Mail on Sunday
  • Johnson thought Javid was doing a great job – Salma Shah, The Sun on Sunday
  • Man who claims Cummings assaulted him is set to be interviewed by Emily Maitlis in BBC documentary – Mail on Sunday

Braverman “is a Buddhist”

“The new attorney general is a member of a controversial religious sect which continues to venerate its founder despite well-documented claims that he was a serial sexual predator, the Observer can reveal. Suella Braverman is a mitra – Sanskrit for “friend” – within the Triratna order, one of Buddhism’s largest sects, which has been rocked by claims of sexual misconduct, abuse and inappropriate behaviour. Her appointment to succeed Geoffrey Cox was one of the biggest surprises in a dramatic cabinet reshuffle on Thursday, in which Sajid Javid resigned as chancellor. Braverman declined to comment on her links with the order last night, but she is understood to attend the London Buddhist Centre, one of Triratna’s main hubs, once or twice a month.” – The Observer

  •  Meddling by judges is a problem only they can fix – Jonathan Sumption, Sunday Times
  • Our overtly political judges are long overdue a moment of reckoning – Simon Heffer, Sunday Telegraph

Government “to cancel rail franchising”

“Boris Johnson is on a collision course with the rail industry over plans to cap profits in the most radical shake-up of the country’s train network since privatisation. An eagerly-anticipated “root and branch” review of the railways is due to recommend scrapping the rail franchises in the coming weeks. It is set to be replaced with a system of outsourcing contracts over the coming years as ministers gradually regain control of mainline and local franchises. All that remains is for Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, to agree funding for the overhaul with newly appointed Chancellor Rishi Sunak, according to Whitehall sources.” – Sunday Telegraph

Patel will adjust immigration rules to avoid job shortages

“Priti Patel will ensure UK job shortages are regularly reviewed under new immigration plans. The Home Secretary will insist on vacancies being closely monitored to allow businesses and public services the staff they need.Flexibility in the new Australian-based points system means low-skilled foreign workers earning £23,000 can still be employed here. Filling gaps in the labour market will be aided by the independent Migration Advisory Committee monitoring different sectors. Visas may be awarded to migrants with the right skills in the right profession. The government estimates unskilled EU migrants arriving will fall by 90,000 a year.” – The Sun on Sunday

  • It is time to deliver promised points-based immigration system and take back control of who we let in – Priti Patel, The Sun on Sunday
  • Javid “secretly pushing for two year extension for unskilled EU migrants” – Mail on Sunday

Labour leadership 1) Long-Bailey backs a second vote on Scottish independence

“The final contenders for the Labour leadership have answered questions at a hustings in Glasgow, with all three backing more powers being devolved. Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy set out their views on topics including Scottish independence and the constitution. All three MPs agreed that the party had to win in Scotland to win back power. However, Ms Long-Bailey was the only one to explicitly state she would agree to a fresh ballot on independence. She insisted her party must not “fall into the trap” again of working with the Tories to try to keep Scotland in the UK.” – BBC

  • Scottish independence referendum “could happen this year” – Interview with Nicola Sturgeon, Sunday Times
  • Labour’s civil war over transgender rights erupts – Mail on Sunday

Labour leadership 2) Starmer refuses to offer jobs to his rivals

“Keir Starmer on Saturday refused to guarantee his two remaining rivals for the Labour leadership places in his shadow cabinet if he succeeds Jeremy Corbyn. Meanwhile, anxiety grew among MPs from different wings of the party over its future direction. At a leadership hustings in Glasgow, held the day after shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry was eliminated from the contest, Starmer said he “saluted” Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy. But the bookies’ clear favourite declined to invite either of them into his top team. “I don’t think any of us are going to get into jostling for positions on this,” Starmer said.” – Observer

  • Nandy under fire for ‘offensive’ article on gay rights – Sunday Times

Ashcroft: Corbyn’s failure offers a cautionary tale for US Democrats

“Voters in Britain did not believe Labour’s manifesto pledges would ever come to pass – or that if they did, the cost would be much more debt and much higher taxes. Similarly, Americans know that policies such as free college and free universal healthcare are not free at all, and they will be the ones to pay. Cautious, moderate voters will not easily be persuaded to vote for a big tax hike, even if it means tolerating four more years of Trumpian antics. The Democrats can avoid such a fate. They have still to choose their candidate and define their policy programme, and they may yet convince enough Americans that they are on their side and have their interests at heart. But if they choose the same path as Labour and suffer the same fate, they can’t say they didn’t see it coming.” – Lord Ashcroft, Mail on Sunday

  • Bloomberg: if the alternative is Trump, my party will learn to love me – Sunday Times
  • Could it be Sanders v Trump? – BBC

Lamont: The new Chancellor should keep the fiscal rules

“If there was any real policy issue between the PM and Mr Javid it was probably over the now famous “fiscal rules”. These have become an issue because of the Government’s intention to invest unprecedented sums into infrastructure. Since we are living through a period of astonishingly low interest rates worldwide, it is argued that infrastructure has no real cost and is something of a free lunch. There is some force in this argument. If you can borrow at rates below inflation for thirty years it makes sense to borrow more to invest in projects that have a genuine economic return. But low interest rates cannot be guaranteed to last forever, hence the need for rules to keep spending within limits and make sure we do not risk an unaffordable burden of debt.” – Norman Lamont, Sunday Telegraph

  • Javid threatened to put a brake on No 10’s spending – Adam Boulton, Sunday Times

Daley: Wasteful state spending won’t help the North – even if it is called “investment”

“This is not the first time that the Red Wall has collapsed within living memory. Those working class and lower middle class Northerners who rejected what was supposed to be their unbreakable historic tie with Labour, are the descendants (politically and sometimes literally) of those who supported Margaret Thatcher in the Eighties. And those who came over to Mr Johnson’s version this time did it for remarkably similar reasons to that earlier generation. They want the same sort of self-determination and opportunity to succeed as those in the booming, overwhelmingly middle class Southeast. They do not want to be patronised and treated like needy losers: they want a chance to get on and make a better life for themselves and their families. Labour lost them because it insisted on casting them as envious class warriors – which they are not.” – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph

Hannan: Sinn Fein’s success make the Union stronger

“A paradoxical result of the Irish election is that the Union is more secure. The squishy centre in Northern Ireland – those middle-class voters in both communities who see themselves as being above the sectarian divide – will be repelled by the idea of joining a country whose dominant party reveres armed struggle. If Sinn Féin implement their Corbynite policies, and the economy of the Republic suffers commensurately, Unionism will become stronger yet. That, though, is scant comfort. The United Kingdom profits from having a peaceful and prosperous Ireland. We want good neighbours; and we want them to be good customers. For all that Sinn Féin’s name translates as “Ourselves Alone”, the peoples of this archipelago are intermingled and interdependent. “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity” was the old nationalist rallying-cry. Not any more. Now Ireland’s difficulty is Britain’s burden.” – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph

  • A united Ireland is the secret Tory dream – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
  • Who let the IRA gangsters take over Ireland? We did – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday

House of Lords “could be moved to York”

“Downing Street is holding talks with developers about moving the House of Lords to York after the Prime Minister’s chief of staff identified the city as the “feasible choice” for the relocation of the chamber. Sir Eddie Lister is understood to have backed plans for the upper House to be relocated to a 111-acre site in York which is controlled by a partnership including Homes England, the government agency he chaired until joining Number 10 last year. Boris Johnson’s aides are now holding detailed discussions about constructing a chamber on the site, along with office space for staff and peers and a possible summit venue, when parliamentarians decamp from the Palace of Westminster in 2025, for long-planned restoration works.” – Sunday Telegraph

News in brief