Published:

Russia report: MI5 to get more powers

“Boris Johnson is preparing to give the security services more powers to stop foreign interference in Britain after a cross-party report said that the government “took its eye off the ball” over Russia. The intelligence and security committee published yesterday the long-awaited Russia report, which accused ministers of failing to protect the EU referendum in 2016 against outside influences. It criticised the intelligence agencies for adopting an approach of “extreme caution” and said that the government had “directly avoided” an investigation into allegations that agents of President Putin meddled in the Brexit vote.” – The Times

  • UK ministers accused of turning blind eye to any Russian interference – FT
  • How Moscow’s malign influence became the ‘new normal’ – Daily Telegraph
  • ‘Tighten up rules on Lords business links’ – The Times
  • Sturgeon ‘squirms’ as reporter grills her on Russia claims – Daily Express

Comment:

  • After this row over the Russia report, no one will be happy… except Putin – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • The Russian threat to the UK’s democratic system – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Russians in the bed?

Pompeo says WHO chief ‘killed British coronavirus victims’

“The US secretary of state claimed yesterday that the director-general of the World Health Organisation had been “bought” by China’s government and his election resulted in “dead Britons”. Mike Pompeo made the allegation against Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a closed-door meeting with cross-party MPs during a visit to London. He said that it was based on a “firm intelligence foundation” but did not disclose more information, according to multiple sources present at the event hosted by the Henry Jackson Society, a foreign policy think tank that takes a hardline stance on Beijing. Mr Pompeo also said that Britain has been handed intelligence by the US about whom to target with sanctions over Chinese human rights abuses against the Uighur Muslims.” – The Times

  • US secretary of state alleges that China ‘bought’ health official – Daily Telegraph
  • Pompeo urges UK to join alliance against Beijing – FT

More:

  • Johnson ‘at odds with Raab over fears more sanctions will spark economic war’ – The Sun
  • ‘Hackers run by China tried to steal vaccine data’ – The Times
  • China warns Britain will ‘bear the consequences’ after Johnson scraps treaty – The Sun

Iain Duncan Smith: China is our greatest threat, not Putin’s Russia

“In any case, staring us in the face is a far greater threat: China. Too often in past weeks, the issues around Huawei, human rights abuses of the Uighurs, and potential Magnitsky sanctions on China have been treated as a Tory psycho-drama, yet nothing could be further from the truth. The serious concerns about Beijing are shared across the political divide, and the Pompeo meeting showed that. The issue of China and its totalitarian government has over the past few months also become more stark and more urgent. Across a range of issues, Beijing’s behaviour has broken all international norms. Its imposition of a new security law on Hong Kong, contrary to the Sino-UK agreement, allows the Chinese security services to seize people they disapprove of and try them, very unfavourably, in China.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The UK cannot afford to self-isolate from China – Carolyn Fairbairn, FT
  • Britain doesn’t need a Cold War with Beijing – Roger Boyes, The Times

UK ‘abandons hope’ of US trade deal by end of year…

“The British government has abandoned hopes of reaching a US-UK trade deal ahead of this autumn’s American presidential election, with British officials blaming the Covid-19 pandemic for slow progress. Prime minister Boris Johnson and international trade secretary Liz Truss had hoped to conclude a fast-track agreement by late summer, which would be hailed as an early win from leaving the European Union. For the last 40 years the UK has not had any bilateral trade deals because all trade policy for EU member states is conducted through Brussels. But senior government figures have concluded no comprehensive deal is possible before the November poll as the two sides grapple over contentious issues such as whether to allow US agricultural products into the UK market.” – FT

  • Raab vows UK will strike ‘win win’ post-Brexit trade deal with US – Daily Express

…and Government’s ‘working assumption’ is that Britain will trade with Europe on WTO terms

“Ministers now believe that Britain and the EU will fail to sign a post-Brexit trade deal, with just days to go until Boris Johnson’s July deadline for an outline agreement passes. The Telegraph has learnt that the Government’s central working assumption is that Britain will trade with Europe on World Trade Organisation terms when the transition period ends on December 31. UK and EU negotiators began the latest round of negotiations in London on Monday, but remain deadlocked on the stumbling blocks of fishing rights, so-called level playing field guarantees, governance of the deal, and the role of the European Court of Justice. Senior sources said there was now an assumption that “there won’t be a deal”, though it remains possible that a “basic” agreement could be reached if the EU gives ground in the autumn.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson runs down the clock to his July deadline – Daily Mail

More:

  • Brussels hails €750bn rescue after night of squabbling – The Times
  • European leaders make ‘biggest leap towards superstate in 20 years’ – The Sun

Comment:

  • EU summit fiasco is the final proof that we need a clean-break Brexit – Liam Halligan, Daily Telegraph
  • I was Remain… but what a relief we’re out! – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Emily Barley in Comment: The Government’s Brexit plan puts us at risk of substandard and corrupt justice systems in EU member states

Hancock ‘confirms plans to downgrade SAGE’

“Matt Hancock today confirmed Number 10’s scientific advisory panel SAGE has been downgraded and the secretive Joint Biosecurity Centre is going to take over the UK’s coronavirus response. The independent body has taken a backseat now that Covid-19 is a ‘semi-permanent’ problem and not an emergency like it was during the darkest days of the crisis back in April, the Health Secretary said. And he revealed there are now Covid-19 committees set up inside Whitehall to make decisions without COBRA meetings, which are usually hosted by the Prime Minister in response to pressing issues. The Health Secretary said that the new Joint Biosecurity Centre (BC) is now taking charge of decisions on Covid-19 after ministers were accused of acting too late in implementing the lockdown.” – Daily Mail

  • Older people first in line for a vaccine ‘this side of Christmas’ – The Times

>Today:

Public sector must expect pay restraint in future, says Sunak

“Rishi Sunak signalled a return to public sector austerity yesterday as he ripped up government spending plans in the wake of the pandemic. A day after the government announced an above-inflation pay rise for 900,000 teachers, doctors and policemen, the chancellor warned that public sector workers would have to accept far greater pay “restraint” in future. This could mean that nurses and junior doctors who missed out on this year’s rises because they were already in multi-year pay deals could face tighter pay settlements next year. Even this year’s pay rises must come from departments’ existing budgets. Mr Sunak said that private sector pay in May compared with last year was down 1.2 per cent while the public sector got an average 3.7 per cent increase.” – The Times

  • Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) will be unveiled in the autumn – Daily Mail
  • Teachers’ pay increase ‘a kick in the teeth’ for senior staff, union says – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Cabinet ministers ordered to find savings by September – The Sun
  • Cost of lockdown ‘big’ and Government have got balance wrong, says civil servant – Daily Telegraph
  • Treasury to require digital tax returns every quarter – FT

Comment:

  • Rewarding workers who sailed through lockdown is sheer folly – Ross Clark, Daily Telegraph

>Today:

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Tory MPs, Downing Street and the Treasury are poised to clash over plans to cut the army to 60,000. Who will win out?

All 35,000 Home Office civil servants to be taught history of migration

“All 30,000 civil servants in the Home Office are to undergo training to understand and appreciate the history of migration and race in Britain after the Windrush scandal, Priti Patel has announced. The Home Secretary said every existing and new member of staff would be required to undertake the learning as part of a strategy to prevent a repeat of the Windrush scandal. It follows a highly critical report by Wendy Williams, an HM inspector of constabulary, which found the Home Office displayed aspects of “institutional racism” in the “ignorant and thoughtless” way it dealt with immigrants in the Windrush scandal. Speaking in the Commons, Ms Patel also promised a “full evaluation” of the hostile environment policy in the wake of the Windrush scandal.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Migrants intercepted in Channel bring year’s total close to record 3,000 – The Times

Interview:

  • Rudd: ‘The Prime Minister is clearly more comfortable with men’ – FT

>Yesterday: Raghib Ali in Comment: Systemic classism, not racism. Why the main factor in health and educational inequalities is deprivation, not race.

Elphicke accused of ‘identical assaults’

“A Conservative politician sexually assaulted two women nearly a decade apart in an “almost identical” way while his wife was away, a court was told. Charlie Elphicke, 49, who was the MP for Dover from 2010 until last December, is alleged to have sexually assaulted one woman at his home in 2007 and another, a parliamentary worker, twice in 2016. He denies the charges. Southwark crown court has been told that in the first case Mr Elphicke invited the woman to his home for a drink while his wife was away. He is alleged to have kissed her and groped her breast. The woman said that she pushed him off her as he lay on top of her on the sofa, and then he chased her around his home singing “I’m a naughty Tory”.” – The Times

  • Calls for inquiry into Tory MP accused of asking intern to ‘fool around’ – The Guardian

Civil servants fear press office centralisation could ‘undermine democracy’

“Civil servants have questioned whether sweeping plans to centralise government communications could serve to “undermine democracy”, an internal document shared with the Guardian has revealed. In a dramatic overhaul of civil service press offices, social media teams, designers and campaigners, the UK government’s 4,500 communications staff will be reduced to about 30 per department – and have each of them working for a central employer instead of the department they work with. Many of the civil servants affected by the proposals, which the leaked document states have been signed off by Boris Johnson himself, first learned of them from media reports earlier this month. In the wake of discontent following that, the Government Communication Service (GCS) prepared a 14-page report of frequently asked questions responding to concerns.” – The Guardian

TfL launches review into funding of transport in UK capital

“Transport for London has launched an independent review into its funding options, as it works to recover after the pandemic shredded its finances and for”ced it to accept increased government scrutiny. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said on Wednesday that an independent panel of experts had begun to examine long-term funding options that could support the continuation, modernisation and development of London’s public transport. It will be conducted alongside the government’s own review of TfL’s finances, now taking place as a condition of the £1.6bn rescue package it gave the provider just hours before it ran out of money in May. Mr Khan said the review had been announced because the network’s current funding structure was “not fit for purpose”.” – FT

  • HS2 chief’s £660,000 pay package causes ‘deep disquiet’ in Whitehall – The Times

>Yesterday: Nicholas Rogers in Local Government: Over a decade, acid attacks in London have quadrupled

News in Brief:

  • Europe’s coronavirus rescue fund is dead on arrival – Matthew Lynn, The Spectator
  • On trade, Trumpism will outlast Trump – Oliver Wiseman, CapX
  • No one wants to own Boris’s Northern Ireland Protocol – Andrew McKinley, The Critic
  • A cautionary tale for today’s ‘woke’ movement – John Gray, UnHerd
  • How post-Brexit free trade can help fight climate change – Alexander Stafford MP, 1828

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