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Government already mooting plans to loosen new immigration system…

“Talented younger migrants could be permitted to enter Britain without a job offer under plans being considered by the Government to expand the country’s new points-based immigration system. Young applicants would score extra points over older migrants as part of a move to increase entry routes for highly skilled foreign workers who would otherwise be excluded by not having a job offer. Applicants could also gain points for past work experience, previous earnings and educational qualifications under the changes, expected to be introduced in 2022, a year after the launch of the points system on January 1, 2021. Moves to introduce greater flexibility were cited by Government sources to counter a barrage of criticism from opposition parties and some business leaders…” – Daily Telegraph

  • Picking winners and losers under new UK points-based approach – FT
  • Doubt cast on Patel’s workless army of millions ‘waiting to retrain’… – The Times
  • …as she dismisses concerns over immigration reforms – FT
  • Britons overwhelmingly support the plan – Daily Express

Comment:

  • If Johnson isn’t careful his reforms could lead to more immigration – Andrew Green, Daily Mail
  • Immigration reforms may not reduce the numbers as much as hoped – Richard Ford, The Times
  • Weaning Britain off low-skilled immigration will change the economy for the better – Matthew Lynn, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • Reforms should make Britain think more deeply about training its young generation – The Times
  • Brexit Britain gambles on a new migration policy – FT

…as ministers brace for fresh asylum battle…

“The Home Office is planning to deport vulnerable asylum seekers and suspected victims of trafficking on a new charter flight on Thursday, the Guardian has learned. The flight will be going to Switzerland, Germany and Austria under Dublin convention legislation, EU rules that require asylum seekers to claim asylum in the first safe EU country they arrive in and not move from one to another. EU countries can send people who have already made an asylum claim in one EU country back to that country, a right the UK retains during the Brexit transition period. But lawyers for those scheduled for Thursday’s flight say they are exempt from this rule until they are properly assessed…” – The Guardian

  • Macron demands new UK-EU asylum pact – The Sun

…and Patel ‘tried to oust senior civil servant’ after clash

“Priti Patel has attempted to oust her most senior civil servant after a toxic clash at the top of the Home Office. Multiple sources inside the department have accused the home secretary of bullying, belittling officials in meetings, making unreasonable demands and creating an “atmosphere of fear”.Sir Mark Sedwill, the cabinet secretary, has been dragged into the row after Ms Patel demanded the removal of her permanent secretary, Sir Philip Rutnam. Sir Philip is understood to have raised concerns about Ms Patel’s behaviour within the Cabinet Office. A senior Whitehall source said that the situation had become “completely unsustainable and was going to blow up”. A Home Office spokesman said there had been no “formal” complaints against Ms Patel.” – The Times

  • She stands accused of creating ‘an atmosphere of fear’ – Daily Mail

More:

  • Home Secretary defends the Prime Minister from racism allegations – The Times

Prime Minister faces backlash over pensions reform

“Boris Johnson was last night facing a furious backlash over a proposed tax grab on pensions that would leave workers £10billion a year worse off. The Prime Minister and new Chancellor Rishi Sunak were urged not to raid the retirement pots of prudent savers in next month’s Budget. The Treasury is thought to be planning to cut pensions tax relief to 20 per cent for all workers. The £10billion a year bill would fall on four million workers who pay into a pension and currently receive relief of 40 per cent or 45 per cent depending on their income tax bracket. These savers would effectively face being taxed twice on their retirement income – once during their working life and again as pensioners.” – Daily Mail

  • Cummings ‘pushing for fuel duty hike’ to fund Johnson’s promised spending – The Sun

>Yesterday:

Downing Street accuses EU of u-turn on Canada deal

“The EU has been accused of exaggerating the scale of trade with Britain as it pushed back against Boris Johnson’s demands for a Canada-style trade deal. In a clash described as the war of the slides, No 10 published a graphic produced by the EU in 2017 which suggested that a Canada-style trade deal was the only one available. “What’s changed,” Downing Street tweeted. The EU argues that Britain is too big a trading partner and too close for the bloc to agree such a deal without guarantees that the UK will not undercut European standards. A bubble representing trade volume with the UK on an EU graphic was 16 times bigger than that relating to Japan. The official figures suggest it should be four times bigger.” – The Times

  • Brussels ‘posturing’ over Canada-style arrangement, claims minister – Daily Telegraph
  • EU trade chief backs Britain on Canada deal – The Times
  • Macron ally vows to fight Boris all the way as Brexit trade tensions surge – Daily Express
  • Brussels threatens to refuse deal unless they get full access to UK waters – The Sun
  • EU and UK trade accusations ahead of Brexit talks – FT
  • Britons furious as EU demands Elgin Marbles – Daily Express
  • China ‘open and ready’ to deliver post-Brexit trade deal, top diplomat says – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Johnson adviser with the most power

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Britain should stop trying to negotiate with the EU

“Mr Barnier has put forward an extraordinary doctrine, that the UK cannot have a sovereign trade relationship because it is too big and because it sits on the EU doorstep. What this really means is that Britain will be subject to special punitive terms as an ex- EU member if it opts to be a self-governing state under its own laws. We are getting to the nub of the matter. Downing Street’s negotiator, David Frost, told a Brussels audience this week, that to accede to these demands not only defeats the purpose of Brexit but is also unworkable and would surely end in a final volcanic rupture. Indeed. How could such a disenfranchised relationship possibly end otherwise?” – Daily Telegraph

  • UK needs a foreign policy as ruthless and changeable as Bismarck’s – Oliver Moody, The Times
  • The starting gun has fired,  and we’re already running out of time – Mujtaba Rahman, The Guardian
  • EU can’t bully us into surrendering museum treasures – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

Cox urges the Government to ‘protect’ judges

“Ministers must not “clip the wings” of judges and should protect them from political attacks, the former attorney-general sacked in the reshuffle has said. In his first interview since leaving the government last week Geoffrey Cox, QC, said that “all responsible politicians should ensure [judges] are protected from such language,” because they cannot speak for themselves. Mr Cox’s defence of the judiciary comes amid concern the prime minister is aiming to rein in so-called judicial overreach. Boris Johnson is understood to be frustrated by what he sees as judicial activism that results in judges making effectively political decisions. Last month Mr Johnson said he wanted to speed up moves to limit the powers of campaign groups and individuals to challenge ministers in the courts through judicial reviews.” – The Times

Cummings being briefed by ‘network of Whitehall spies’

“Dominic Cummings has a “network of spies across Whitehall” who are charged with sending him a weekly report about what is going on in their department. In the latest sign of Downing Street’s power grab, Boris Johnson’s chief aide has been asking advisers to keep him updated by email. Departments including the Home Office and CCHQ have people who are “spying on ministers” in this way, The Telegraph has learned. “The aim is to install discipline and recognise who their master is,” a source said, pointing out that the situation risks creating a culture of distrust. Meanwhile, Cabinet ministers have seen advisers they are close to moved to other departments as part of a wider reshuffle. The move is intended to weaken ministers by separating them from close aides, sources told The Telegraph.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tensions erupt as cabinet urge Boris to curb Cummings’ power – Daily Express
  • Aide criticised over ‘designer babies’ post – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Unlike bamboozled pundits, the public completely gets the Cummings Project – Sherelle Jacobs, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday:

Zahawi hits back at Corbyn over flood visits

“Nadim Zahawi hit out at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for criticising the Prime Minister for not visiting communities affected by flooding. Nadhim Zahawi explained Prime Minister Boris Johnson is focused on getting compensation to the people and businesses affected following the devastating floods from Storm Dennis. The Business Minister noted it’s more important to help than have a “media photo-op” as Jeremy Coryn has questioned why he isn’t there. Mr Zahawi has faced questions from Sky News host Kay Burley asking why Mr Johnson wasn’t with flood victims “with his mop”… The Labour leader previously said Mr Johnson’s response to the flooding was “wholly inadequate” and accused him of showing his “true colours”.” – Daily Express

  • Affected families demand action from Johnson – Daily Mail

Miliband ‘lined up by allies of Starmer’ for return to Labour frontbench

“Senior allies of Sir Keir Starmer are lining up Ed Miliband for a return to frontline politics, The Telegraph has learnt. Now the runaway favourite to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, the shadow Brexit secretary has repeatedly stated that he will not begin making appointments until after the contest has ended. But on Wednesday sources close to Sir Keir claimed that Mr Miliband, one of his most high-profile endorsers, was a contender to replace John McDonnell as the party’s second most senior figure. Praising Mr Miliband as a “giant on strategy”, a prominent Labour figure claimed that he was seen as someone who could help shape the party’s future and was “highly rated” by Sir Keir’s campaign team.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Blair warns Johnson will rule for ten years without ‘head-to-toe’ Labour overhaul – The Sun

Long-Bailey vows to make it Labour policy to scrap Prevent

“Rebecca Long-Bailey has vowed to make it Labour policy to scrap the anti-extremism programme Prevent if she is elected to replace Jeremy Corbyn as party leader. The shadow business secretary said she wanted to ban the scheme and then conduct a review aimed at setting up a new government-funded system that involves Muslim leaders, in an effort to stop the “alienation” of Britain’s Muslim communities. Her suggestion goes significantly further than the 2019 Labour manifesto, which stated the party wanted to review Prevent. Long-Bailey held a roundtable event with Muslim community leaders at al-Manaar mosque in Kensington, London, on Tuesday. Labour members will be balloted in the party leadership contest from Friday.” – The Guardian

  • Anonymous Corbyn ally says Labour should back ‘united Ireland’ – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Interviews: Bailey commits to reopening all 38 police stations that have closed under Khan.

Bercow talks up chances of ‘wildcat’ Scottish referendum

“John Bercow has said that a ‘wildcat’ Scottish independence referendum without Westminster’s authority is “perfectly possible” as the SNP’s civil war over the radical move intensifies. The former Commons Speaker said if Nicola Sturgeon won an unofficial separation vote it would be “politically significant” and “change the facts on the ground”, despite admitting it would not be legally binding. Promoting his new book Unspeakable in Edinburgh, Mr Bercow also warned that Boris Johnson’s refusal to allow an official referendum would backfire and lead to support for Scottish independence to “exponentially rise”. He said the UK’s future “hasn’t looked more precarious” and argued that Brexit justified another separation referendum, despite Ms Sturgeon’s promise the 2014 vote would not be repeated for at least a generation.” – Daily Telegraph

Report suggests huge share of aid is skimmed off by corruption

“Billions of pounds of aid meant for the most dependent nations ends up in tax havens, a report by World Bank economists has concluded. The study, Elite Capture of Foreign Aid, tracked aid payments to 22 nations and found that as much as a sixth flowed into havens such as Switzerland. The “leakage” was worst in the most dependent countries, where aid accounts for as much as 3 per cent of GDP, according to the paper, published on Tuesday. The World Bank, the largest multilateral donor, issued a statement defending the research and its efforts to stamp out corruption. Nevertheless the study, which was repeatedly delayed, will reignite the debate on Britain’s commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on aid.” – The Times

  • Overseas aid fund is lining the pockets of the corrupt elite – Ian Birrell, The Times

>Today: Andrew Haldenby in Comment: Even after austerity, shocking amounts of money are wasted by underperforming state bodies

Lucas probed over ‘cash for access’ tours of Parliament

“Green Party MP Caroline Lucas is being probed for giving “cash for access” tours of Parliament. The politician allegedly charged a punter £150 quid to show them around the Palace of Westminster. The cash then went straight into her party’s general election war chest, it is claimed. Ms Lucas, the MP for Brighton Pavilion, plugged the 30-minute ‘personal guided tours’ on a crowdfunding website used to raise cash for her party. MPs have to stick to a strict code of conduct which stops them from auctioning off political access to the highest bidder. The Standards Commissioner has launched a formal investigation into Ms Lucas, the BBC reported.” – The Sun

News in Brief:

  • Is Sumption really the man to judge the judges? – Henry Hill, The Critic
  • Despite being sacked, it has been a weirdly good week – Julian Smith MP, The Spectator
  • Is the new points-based system a sleight of hand? – Joseph Rachman, Reaction
  • The ‘high wage, high skill’ economy fallacy – Kristian Niemietz, CapX
  • How free speech became hate crime – Mary Harrington, UnHerd

2 comments for: Newslinks for Thursday 20th February 2020

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