Tory MPs ‘revolt’ over ‘shambolic’ A levels

“Ministers are facing a backlash from head teachers and Conservative MPs over the “shambolic” handling of A-level results. Schools across the country scrambled to appeal against results that left some of their top pupils missing out on places at the best universities. Candidates were distraught after two fifths of assessments by teachers were downgraded by a computer algorithm created by Ofqual, the exam regulator. Private schools, academy chains and sixth-form colleges turned on Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, urging him to address the unfairness urgently. Backbench Tories were also up in arms over his handling of the exams, with one calling it shambolic.” – The Times

  • Johnson defends ‘robust’ exam results – The Sun
  • Growing backlash at how almost 40 per cent of grades in England were cut by regulator… – FT
  • …which claims teachers submitted ‘implausibly high’ predicted grades – Daily Mail
  • Gove’s reforms fail to prevent rise in top grades – The Times
  • Record numbers expected to appeal A-level results – The Sun
  • Starmer urges students be given marks predicted by teachers – FT
  • No appetite for autumn resits, say heads – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Williamson’s fight against grade inflation will be long and painful

>Yesterday: Nick Gibb MP in Comment: Fair grades for A Levels and GCSEs, and congratulations to the students

Swinney survives no confidence vote after exams shambles, following ‘pact’ with Greens

“John Swinney clung onto his job on Thursday but was warned his credibility had been irreversibly wounded after he presided over “the biggest exams failure in the history of devolution”. The Education Secretary survived a no confidence motion – only the fourth in Holyrood history – after he agreed to scrap a system that last week saw 75,000 teenagers have crucial National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher grades arbitrarily downgraded. The reversal was enough to win the backing of the Scottish Greens, whose votes along with SNP MSPs saw the no confidence motion defeated by a margin of 67 votes to 58. Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader, said that the principle of parliamentary responsibility had been “forever damaged” by the “last minute pact” between the SNP and the parliament’s other pro-independence party.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Nationalists forced into u-turn on exam results as party divisions deepen

Fraser Nelson: Fiasco is just the start of lockdown’s betrayal of the young

“The young are the least likely to be affected by Covid but usually the first to be hit by the reaction to it. Schools were closed before lockdown was implemented and kept closed after pubs reopened. Exams could easily have been carried out under social distancing, had anyone thought it important enough to give students the chance. A study by the Brookings Institute in America has calculated that, even adjusting for online learning, four months out of the classroom cuts future earning power by 2.5 per cent every year. The World Bank reckons that this “lost generation” will, collectively, earn $10 trillion less because of the schooling denied to them. Students who do move on to university will find classes cancelled, with online tuition taking its place. It’s hard to find strong justification for this, given how the under-30s are at such low risk from Covid.” – Daily Telegraph

  • A-level fiasco is yet more government failure – Philip Collins, The Times
  • On grades, openings, and the unions, Williamson gets three Fs – Simon Walters, Daily Mail
  • Holyrood oozed hypocrisy and humbug as it let Swinney off the hook – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph


  • The ‘Covid generation’ risk seeing their future prospects tarnished – FT

>Today: John Bald in Local Government: The lack of merit in A-level grading shows a misplaced belief in the power of statistical modelling

Johnson ‘to stamp major Scottish projects’ funded by UK Government with Union flag

“Boris Johnson will stamp major schemes in Scotland that are paid for directly by the UK Government with a Union flag from next year, The Telegraph can reveal. The flag will replace the European Union symbol, which has been used to denote when a bridge or road has been directly funded by Brussels. The idea has been backed by the new Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, who said Tories north of the border needed to be “unashamed of our investment in Scotland”. But it was greeted with dismay by senior SNP politicians, with one accusing Mr Johnson’s Government of “posturing of the worst order” and “trying to force the union flag down people’s throats”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tories in Scotland need to be “unashamed of our investment in Scotland” – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Virginia Crosbie MP in Comment: The UK is a beacon of hope across the world. We cannot let Coronavirus divide our family of nations.

Prime Minister ‘accelerates easing of lockdown from this weekend’

“Boris Johnson has taken the brakes off the easing of lockdown as he announced that plans for wedding receptions, sporting events and indoor performances will resume. The Prime Minister said the changes will allow people to “get back to more of the things they have missed” since the health crisis began after rising infection rates appeared to have “levelled off”. However Mr Johnson also introduced tougher penalties for repeatedly failing to wear face masks in public places. Fines will double each time someone is found in breach of the rules, up until a maximum of £3,200. Hairdressers will also now be required to wear surgical face masks. Mr Johnson also announced that people hosting an illegal rave or gathering of more than 30 people will now be issued spot fines. Government sources on Wednesday night said this could be up to £10,000.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Wear facemask or you could be fined £3,200, public warned – The Times
  • France placed on UK travel quarantine list – Daily Telegraph
  • Khan admits for first time that staff working from home is a ‘big problem’ for London – Daily Mail
  • Sturgeon could hand police more powers to break up house parties – Daily Telegraph


  • This is not recession, it’s something far worse – Ed Conway, The Times
  • A simple reason why Labour isn’t landing blows against Tory chaos – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • City centres need government support to recover – Sadiq Khan, FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: “Relight the economy, return to work and reopen schools”. The message from Sunak that the nation needed to hear.

Britain does want post-Brexit deal, says Martin

“Boris Johnson has a “genuine desire” to agree an EU trade deal to prevent worsening the economic shock of Covid-19, the prime minister of Ireland said. Speaking after meeting Mr Johnson for the first time in Belfast, Micheál Martin said he believed there was a “shared understanding” between London and Brussels over the importance of securing an agreement. Brexit negotiators have confirmed a fresh round of talks in Brussels next week that will grapple with the two most difficult outstanding issues — fishing rights and the EU’s demand for a so-called “level playing field” on state aid and environmental protection. It is hoped to get an agreement in principle next month that can be signed off by EU leaders… Speaking after a meeting with the prime minister at Hillsborough Castle yesterday, Mr Martin said there was a “landing zone” in view.” – The Times

  • It can be done by September, says UK chief negotiator – Daily Telegraph


  • Brexiteers hail ‘big win’ in UK-US trade relationship – Daily Express

MoD accused of using RAF as ‘quick fix’ to deal with migrants

“The Ministry of Defence has been accused of using the RAF as a “quick fix” to the migrant crisis, as new research revealed the majority of the British public backed the Royal Navy being stationed in the English Channel. In an exclusive YouGov poll for The Daily Telegraph 71 per cent of British adults said they were in support of deploying naval vessels and sailors to patrol the border to prevent illegal crossings, while 69 per cent said that it was acceptable that RAF aircrafts and personnel were conducting surveillance to assist Border Force. Of the 1,600 people surveyed earlier this week, during a period that has seen a record number of migrant crossings, three quarters said they felt that illegal entry to the UK via the channel was a serious issue.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tories accused of losing control over illegal Channel migration – The Times
  • Labour-backing law firm is blocking Channel migrants from being returned to France – The Sun

>Yesterday: Andrew Selous MP in Comment: This pandemic has left more people exploited by ruthless traffickers

‘Hierarchy of racism’ fears threaten Starmer’s hopes of Labour unity

“When Keir Starmer approved apologies and six-figure damages last month for former Labour officials who had accused the party of antisemitism, he probably hoped to draw a line under a damaging issue that had dogged the party under its former leader Jeremy Corbyn. But rather than solving Labour’s problems, the settlements – regarded by some on the party’s left as principally about repudiating Corbyn’s leadership – could transform one racism row into another. On the eve of the settlement, the Guardian has learned, Labour’s BAME staff network wrote to Starmer to warn he risked undermining an inquiry into yet another issue that has divided the party. This involved an 860-page leaked report on the party’s legal and governance unit, which claimed to show instances of factionalism and hostility to Corbyn’s leadership, racism and sexism.” – The Guardian

  • Butler should allow the police to release footage of an alleged racist incident – The Times

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Butler and the police, and why Williamson will be feeling anxious this week

Turkey ‘threatens Greece’ as tensions rise in the Mediterranean

“Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to retaliate after suggesting a Turkish ship had been attacked in waters contested by Greece. The claim came hours after France sent two warships supported by fighter jets to the region experiencing mounting tensions, in an effort to back Greece. Speaking at an event to celebrate the 19th anniversary of the president’s AK Party, Erogan said Greek forces had ‘received their first answer’ to an earlier warning he made not to attack a Turkish vessel. The vessel – the Oruc Reis – is searching for oil and gas between Cyprus and Greek island of Kastellorizo. In his first warning, Erdogan said that attackers ‘would pay a heavy price’ but did not elaborate further what that might entail.” – Daily Mail

  • France sends jets and ships amidst tense stand-off – BBC

News in Brief:

  • Grade moderation was the right thing to do… until the SNP triggered chaos across the UK – Ben Gadsby, CapX
  • Why exams pass the test of time – John Gaston, UnHerd
  • The mood in Lebanon is for revolution – Paul Wood, The Spectator
  • Why a new electoral pact is needed to defeat the SNP – Robert Salisbury, Reaction
  • The UK should ban TikTok – Zineb Riboua, 1828