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Union ‘vital to recovery’, Johnson tells Scots

“The Union is more than a “marriage of convenience” and will prove vital in protecting its four nations from the “alarmingly choppy” economic waters caused by coronavirus, Boris Johnson argues today. In a trip to the north of Scotland the prime minister will highlight the Treasury’s financial assistance during the pandemic as he tries to stem the tide of support for Scottish independence. He will make a case for the Union that focuses on investment and infrastructure projects. This will include £50 million as part of a growth deal for Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, which will be topped up by £50 million from the Scottish government. The UK is expected to have huge job losses in October when the furlough scheme, which has supported 900,000 Scottish workers, comes to an end.” – The Times

  • Prime Minister says ‘sheer might of the Union’ has saved it 900,000 jobs – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson stresses measures for north of border – FT
  • He will use Scotland visit ‘to talk up plan for bridge to Northern Ireland’… – Daily Record
  • …as he ‘confirms funds for a study’ – The Sun
  • Data suggests SNP are on course for a Holyrood majority – Daily Express

One year on: Tories reflect on the Prime Minister’s leadership

“When Boris Johnson sailed into a meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers on the wave of a seismic election victory, he joked that he was looking forward to seeing how long it would take for letters of no confidence to start pouring in from his parliamentary colleagues. A year after he became leader, the Conservative backbenches are already restless. One former cabinet minister said they thought the “clouds had gathered” – and not just because of the pandemic, but owing to a feeling that a “good-time” prime minister was not what was needed for the massive economic challenges ahead. Even Johnson’s critics concede he has had, as one put it, “a hell of a year”.” – The Guardian

  • Britons could have to wear facemasks in sandwich shops under new legislation – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: The Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission pledged in the Conservative Manifesto is being quietly shelved

Chancellor ‘turns his back’ on millions excluded from coronavirus support

“The Chancellor has turned his back on millions of struggling workers excluded from coronavirus support schemes, despite his pledge that no one would be left behind, an influential group of MPs has said. The Treasury Select Committee, which scrutinises the Chancellor, made a series of recommendations in a recent report aimed at bringing those still suffering financial hardship within the scope of the protection measures. More than a million people have been unfairly left without help, the report found, including those moving between jobs who missed the cut-off for furlough, the newly self-employed, directors who pay themselves in dividends and PAYE freelancers. Campaigners have said as many as three million people have fallen through the cracks, left without an income now for four months.” – Daily Telegraph

  • MPs ‘astonished’ at Government’s failure to plan for economic impact of pandemic – The Sun
  • We’ll get economy back on an ‘even keel’ before 2024 election, says Johnson… – Daily Telegraph
  • …as he tells army to prepare for ‘quadruple winter whammy’ – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • This is the final proof HMRC hates Britain’s self-employed – Janet Daley, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Neil Shastri-Hurst in Comment: Trump is right to criticise the WHO. But it needs reform, not abandonment.

>Yesterday: Ryan Bourne’s column: The Right’s glory was its mastery of economic policy. Why has it given up even thinking about it?

Conservative Party ministers ‘bankrolled by donors linked to Russia’

“The Conservative Party’s finances came under renewed scrutiny last night as it emerged that two of its MPs on the intelligence watchdog committee and 14 ministers had accepted donations linked to Russia. Electoral Commission records show that six members of the cabinet and eight junior ministers received tens of thousands of pounds from individuals or businesses with links to Russia. The donations were made either to them or their constituency parties. The disclosures came 24 hours after the intelligence and security committee (ISC) published its long-delayed Russia report and questioned whether the government “took its eye off the ball” by allowing oligarchs to invest billions of pounds in Britain and make high-level political connections.” – The Times

  • Big spenders who made friends of Prime Minister and his MPs – The Times
  • Calls for overhaul of ‘largely ineffective’ Official Secrets Act – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Starmer calls for Kremlin network Russia Today to lose licence… – The Times
  • …as Johnson blasts him for trying to blame Brexit on Russia… – The Sun
  • …and rules out inquiry into referendum interference – Daily Express
  • Royal Navy ships shepherd Russian sub through English Channel – The Times

>Yesterday:

David Aaronovitch: Complacent Britain is a soft touch for Moscow

“Then let’s consider what is not in the report. US intelligence helped Mueller to uncover a network of Russian agents, directed from Moscow and often using social media to intervene against Hillary Clinton in 2016. When the original ISC requested to understand from British intelligence whether anything similar had happened in British votes, such as the referendums of 2014 and 2016, they were essentially told that these services hadn’t looked and therefore didn’t know. MI5 supplied six lines of text on the subject, most of it from academic sources. This absence was parlayed by the prime minister in PMQs into the fraudulent suggestion that British intelligence had looked and had found nothing. Well, it worked for his backbenchers.” – The Times

  • Report points to wilful negligence by the British government – Dominic Grieve, The Guardian
  • Idea that Moscow had a decisive effect in our Brexit referendum is an insult – Rod Liddle, The Sun
  • First an intimate relationship with China, now Russia… – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • See off the bad guys to save the good ones – Roger Boyes, The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Russians in the bed?

Lewis: ‘Keep Dominic Cummings away from security committee’

“Dominic Cummings and other special advisers must be blocked from politicising the intelligence and security committee, its new chairman has warned. Julian Lewis called yesterday for a commitment from the government that no party political aide would be allowed “anywhere near” the ISC. He said he had been warned by a source that people within government had tried to sack the committee’s civil service secretariat and replace it with “political appointments” instead. James Brokenshire, the security minister, refused three times to give a firm assurance on the matter in the Commons… The debate follows a row over the government’s failed attempt to parachute in its preferred candidate as chairman of the committee.” – The Times

  • Downing Street takes back control of all government data – The Times

Comment:

  • Are Cummings’ visions anything more than just policy tourism? – Glen O’Hara, The Guardian

UK to offer emergency Brexit talks with ‘EU to blame’ if trade deal collapses

“Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator will offer to hold an emergency round of talks next week as the UK tries to avoid blame for any failure to agree a trade deal. Formal talks between David Frost and the EU’s Michel Barnier in London will end on Thursday with neither side believing the current deadlock will be broken this week. The Telegraph has revealed that the Government’s working assumption is now that Britain will have no trade deal in place when the transition period ends on December 31, but Downing Street said on Wednesday that the talks were not yet at “breakdown”. Boris Johnson had set a deadline of the end of July for an outline agreement to be reached, and Mr Frost is expected to make himself available to continue one-to-one talks with Mr Barnier next week to ensure everything has been done to meet the target.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Brussels to warn time is running out for Brexit deal – FT
  • Johnson ‘refuses negotiation on fishing’ – Daily Express

America:

  • US senators warn UK digital services tax could derail trade talks – FT
  • UK trade department to tackle ‘fake news’ with new rebuttal role – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Trade bill means the NHS is now unquestionably up for sale – Emily Thornberry, The Guardian

Ministers 1) Foreign aid budget ‘slashed by £2.9 billion’ by Raab

“Britain is to slash its international aid budget by £2.9billion, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has confirmed. The cut to the foreign aid budget comes in response to the coronavirus pandemic, as the UK’s economy is expected to contract. Despite the revision to the budget, the Government will retain its commitment to spending at least 0.7 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) on international aid. At present, the UK is the only G7 country to meet the spending target which was set as a goal by the United Nations in the 1970s. The announcement of the cut comes after the Government committed last month to merging the Department for International Development with the Foreign Office.” – Daily Express

  • Patel: crime commissioners ‘too cosy’ with police chiefs they oversee – The Times

Ministers 2) ISIS remains the ‘most significant’ threat to the UK, warns Defence Secretary

“ISIS remains the ‘most significant’ threat to the UK, the Defence Secretary has warned today. Ben Wallace said an estimated 360 people from the UK who travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for the terror group, also referred to as Daesh, remain in the region either at large or in detention. RAF aircraft have struck 40 terrorist targets as part of operations against ISIS in the last 12 months. But he said the ‘hard fight’ is ‘by no means done’ despite the group having lost control of territory it once held in Syria and Iraq… Mr Wallace also said the UK remains ‘determined’ to ensure those who have fought for or supported IS should ‘pay for their crimes’, adding it should occur under the ‘most appropriate jurisdiction, often in the region where the crimes were committed’.” – Daily Mail

Ministers 3) Sharma ‘ignored official’ who feared OneWeb satellite deal was a waste of £400m

“The business secretary forced through the £400 million purchase of a bankrupt satellite company even though his top civil servant said that all the money could be lost. Alok Sharma pointed to “wider, less quantifiable benefits of signalling UK ambition and influence on the global stage” as he told officials to go ahead. The business committee has now opened an inquiry into the “troubling and concerning” deal. Britain agreed to buy 45 per cent of OneWeb for $500 million to rescue a company that aims to provide ultra-fast broadband from low-orbit satellites. The deal was pushed through with little scrutiny earlier this month and Mr Sharma said that it would boost space and manufacturing industries.” – The Times

  • Jenrick ‘regrets’ close contact with tycoon whose £1bn development he approved – The Sun

Labour to pay antisemitism whistleblowers in libel case

“The Labour Party has apologised to antisemitism whistleblowers and agreed to pay damages to settle a libel case in a decision that is expected to cost it nearly £1 million. The move has caused a row with Jeremy Corbyn, the former party leader, and Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, its biggest donor. Labour announced yesterday that it would pay hundreds of thousands of pounds and apologise to former staff and a journalist it defamed after a BBC Panorama investigation into its handling of antisemitism complaints last year. The party issued “unreserved” apologies to seven former party officials and John Ware, 72, the broadcaster who led the documentary, at the High Court.” – The Times

  • Starmer ‘locked in row with Corbyn’ over £370k payout – Daily Telegraph
  • McCluskey hits out at anti-Semitism damages – Daily Express
  • Settlement plunges Labour Party ‘into civil war’ – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Why I had to go to war with Labour’s vile attack dogs – John Ware, Daily Mail

Young Hong Kongers ‘will need to prove dependency on parents’

“Young Hong Kongers born after 1997 will have to prove they are dependent on migrating parents or risk losing out on the Government’s fast-track  immigration lifeboat. Children of British National (Overseas) (BNO) citizens who are aged between 18 and 23 will only be granted a UK visa if they are still dependent on their parents and the Government decides they have compelling and compassionate grounds. There are concerns that this could leave young people who have been most active in the protests against China vulnerable to the draconian security laws introduced by Beijing. The new law gives Beijing powers to crack down on dissent with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for a range of crimes, in effect outlawing public protest.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Hong Kongers eye UK property as they weigh escape routes – FT

Comment:

  • Brexit Britain is more welcoming than feared – Jemima Kelly, FT

News in Brief:

  • Britain’s response to Covid-19 has been world class – Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg
  • The Kremlin interfered with our democracy because we let them – Dr Andrew Foxall, CapX
  • Putin plans to make the West destroy itself – Owen Matthews, The Spectator
  • The unaccountable “independent” state is our future – Bruce Newsome, The Critic
  • What if Leave and Remain switched sides? – Ed West, UnHerd
  • Beijing’s play for the South China Sea is just the beginning – Ron Shine, Reaction

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