Sunak told to cut stamp duty now or wreck housing market

“Rishi Sunak was under growing pressure to make an immediate cut in stamp duty last night after warnings that a delay could wreck the housing market for months. The Chancellor is considering a six-month stamp-duty ‘holiday’ on most homes later this year to kick start Britain’s dormant market. Reports suggest he may signpost the plan in his mini-Budget tomorrow but delay the start until the full autumn Budget. Treasury officials have been looking at a temporary six-month increase in the stamp duty threshold from the current level of £125,000 to an amount between £300,000 and £500,000 to stimulate demand. But economists and property experts last night warned that dithering over stamp duty changes could put the housing market into the deep freeze.” – Daily Mail

  • Buyers caught mid-transaction by stamp duty change – The Times
  • £2bn green fund to help homeowners – The Times
  • Homeowner vouchers in Chancellor’s giveaway – Daily Telegraph
  • Vouchers for homeowners to insulate homes – The Sun
  • Homeowners to get up to £5,000 – Daily Mail
  • Stage set for £3bn giveaway – Daily Telegraph
  • Chancellor set to announce £3bn green package – FT
  • Johnson stands by VAT and income tax freeze promise – Yorkshire Post

China 1) Ditch Huawei and trade will suffer, warns China

“Britain will “have to bear the consequences” of making an enemy of China, the country’s ambassador has said, warning that trade would suffer if the government removed Huawei from the 5G network. Liu Xiaoming ramped up the pressure on Boris Johnson yesterday as the prime minister prepared to announce that new equipment supplied by the Chinese telecoms company would be barred from next year as a result of US sanctions. Mr Liu said that Chinese companies, which invested $8.3 billion in Britain last year, were “all watching”. Mr Liu was speaking shortly after Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, warned that American sanctions on Huawei might make it impossible for the company to play a role in Britain’s 5G network.” – The Times

  • Fake radio shows were created to boost Huawei, China report claims – The Times
  • Huawei accused of orchestrating ‘covert campaign to manipulate MPs’ – Daily Telegraph
  • China envoy warns of ‘consequences if Britain rejects Huawei – FT
  • UK faces calls to impose sanctions on China – FT
  • How Chinese and UK interests overlap – The Times
  • Ambassador who links the UK with China – The Times

China 2) Hague: Hong Kong is warning to world that democracy is in great peril

“The first response we should always make to the banning of authors by an authoritarian system is to read their works. As it happened, I was reading the latest book by the young Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, Unfree Speech: The Threat to Global Democracy and Why We Must Act, Now, when news emerged that his previous works were being seized from booksellers under the new security law imposed from Beijing.” – Daily Telegraph

Johnson blames virus deaths on failures in care homes

“Boris Johnson has sought to shift blame to care home operators and staff for the scale of coronavirus deaths, while pledging to help improve the sector. The prime minister accused them of failing to “follow procedures” as he said one of the lessons from the pandemic was that vulnerable residents in care homes needed to be better looked after. His comments were met with anger among care providers who said they had had to grapple with 100 pieces of government guidance during the pandemic.” – The Times

  • Johnson lambasted for ‘outrageous’ care home deaths comment – FT
  • Lords warn ministers beer takeaway plan recipe for violence – Daily Telegraph

Former MP accused of sexual assault

“A former MP chased a woman around his kitchen singing “I’m a naughty Tory” in the manner of a “Benny Hill sketch” after sexually assaulting her, a court has heard. Charlie Elphicke, 49, is alleged to have invited the woman to his home for a drink before groping and trying to kiss her on his sofa. The incident allegedly happened in 2007. Mr Elphicke, the former MP for Dover and a party whip under David Cameron, is on trial at Southwark crown court accused of sexually assaulting the woman and of two further sex assaults against a parliamentary worker in Westminster in 2016. He denies the charges.” – The Times

Starmer volunteers for bias training

“Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to undergo controversial training on unconscious racial bias after criticism of his response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The Labour leader said yesterday he would “lead from the top” and enrol as soon as possible on a three-hour course aimed at eliminating discriminatory behaviour in the workplace. Sir Keir has weathered criticism from black party members and the Corbynite left since appearing to dismiss the Black Lives Matter protests as a “moment” in a BBC interview last week. The leader of the opposition went on to describe the organisation’s central demand of defunding the police as “nonsense” and was subsequently dismissed as a “cop in an expensive suit” by the movement’s Twitter account.” – The Times

  • Antisemitic’ tweet from Starmer ally – The Times
News in Brief