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Get Britain back to work, senior Tories tell Johnson

“Boris Johnson is facing calls from senior Tory MPs to give a “clear and consistent message” that it is safe for people to go back to work, amid warnings of “devastating consequences” for town and city centres. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, opened a cabinet rift by saying that he cares more about how effectively officials in his department are working than whether they come into the office. His comments put him at odds with the prime minister, who has urged people to “go back to work if they can” and put pressure on employers to provide “Covid-secure” workplaces. The split emerged before it was announced that the sandwich chain Pret A Manger was cutting 2,890 jobs, equivalent to a third of its workforce, after a collapse in sales caused by the coronavirus pandemic.” – The Times

  • Ministers warn that continuing to work from home could make staff ‘vulnerable’ to being sacked – Daily Telegraph
  • Hancock opens Cabinet rift by saying he doesn’t care if his officials work from home – The Sun
  • Warnings from Tory MPs of the ‘devastating consequences’ of working from home for city centres – Daily Mail

Fraser Nelson: A dose of classic Boris boosterism is key to Britain’s national recovery

“The Butchers Arms in Farmborough, Somerset, has finally reopened and I popped in with my children last weekend to remind them what society looked like before lockdown. It was bliss. One of the regulars let my daughter feed a biscuit to his Labrador (both were thrilled) and we all chatted to the landlady. She had reopened after seeing that so many local restaurants were thriving due to the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. It has made her think differently about other things, she said: she’s avoiding supermarkets, spending locally, supporting the shops she values most. It’s not often, nowadays, that you come across a government policy that actually works. But this one really seems to have done. At the Hop Pole in Bath (where my research continued), staff said they have been barely able to catch their breath on Eat Out to Help Out days, with business back up to normal the rest of the week.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Don’t bet the house on working from home – Iain Martin, The Times

Lawyers scupper Patel’s bid to put Channel migrants in Spain

“Priti Patel was furious last night after legal challenges forced the Home Office to abort a planned charter flight carrying cross-Channel migrants to Spain. The ministry had aimed to remove 23 migrants yesterday morning after checks against EU databases found that they had passed through Spain on their route to Britain to claim asylum. Ms Patel’s department was thwarted on the same day that it became embroiled in a row over a Dad’s Army-style video it had promoted, attacking lawyers for taking such cases. It showed simplistic cartoons of aircraft flying out of Britain to the Continent. The image was similar to the opening credits of the BBC comedy in which arrows indicated British forces attacking Nazi-occupied Europe. Matthew Rycroft, the permanent secretary at the Home Office, admitted that officials should not have used the phrase “activist lawyers” in the video, which criticised legal efforts to halt the removal of migrants.” – The Times

  • Home Office outspoken in criticism of courts over cancelled migrant return flights – FT
  • Department wrong to refer to ‘activist lawyers’, top official admits – The Guardian

More:

  • ‘Total crash’ in visa applications reveals impact of pandemic on migration – Daily Telegraph

New Tory MPs demand reform to Gender Recognition Act

“Conservative MPs who won seats in Labour’s northern heartlands last year have broken ranks to urge Boris Johnson to press ahead with plans to make it easier for people to change their gender, warning of a “new Section 28 moment”. In an intervention that highlights unease among the new intake of Tories elected in December, nine of Mr Johnson’s MPs backed proposals to allow transgender people to be legally recognised in their new identity by self-declaring their transition. Under the terms of the Gender Recognition Act, trans people have to receive a medical diagnosis, submit a paper application and wait for two years for legal recognition of their new gender at a cost of £140… In an article for the Conservative Home website, Alicia Kearns and Nicola Richards, MPs for West Bromwich East and Rutland and Melton, said it was the prime minister’s “duty to follow through” on the reforms. “As Conservatives, we have made it a central tenet that individuals should be free to live their lives as they choose,” they wrote.” – The Times

>Yesterday: Nicola Richards MP and Alicia Kearns MP in Comment: Conservatives believe in freedom and choice. That’s why we should reform the Gender Recognition Act.

White Van Men and Deliveroo drivers urged to form army of pothole spotters

“Ministers want White Van Men and Deliveroo drivers to form an army of pothole spotters. Firms including Uber, Tesco, and Ocado will be able to report the worst stretches of tarmac for fast-track repairs before schools return. Whitehall will use their reports to create a “first of its kind audit” of potholes in England. They have already taken advantage of the drop in traffic during the lockdown to resurface 319 miles of road. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has vowed to “relentlessly” target the worst remaining “hotspots” with cash from a £2.5bn repair fund. He said: “I want to go further by identifying critical potholes and ensuring these are fixed as quickly as possible. “Better road surfaces benefit motorists and cyclists alike ensuring the back to school and work environment is safer for everyone.”” – The Sun

  • There is no good tax rise for the Conservatives – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

No 10’s hopes for daily TV slot dashed by channels

“Sky News and the BBC News channel may not carry Downing Street’s new televised press conference in full every day, it has emerged. Britain’s two leading rolling news channels plan to screen the White House-style briefings “on merit” and may cut away if they are insufficiently newsworthy. No 10 is replacing the off-camera afternoon lobby briefings for journalists with broadcast daily question-and-answer sessions in an attempt to communicate directly with the public. The briefings, due to start in October from a room in 9 Downing Street, are modelled on media conferences held by the White House press secretary which have been televised since 1985. The Conservatives are recruiting a spokesman to be paid £100,000 a year to front the briefings and are expected imminently to announce the appointment of an experienced broadcaster.” – The Times

Up to 97 per cent of primary schools set to reopen for new term

“Up to 97% of primary schools expect to fully reopen to all pupils at the start of the new term in England and Wales, though a third have no extra handwashing provision and no PPE for staff, according to a survey. The vast majority of school leaders who took part in the poll said they expected to be open full-time for all children, most of whom will have been out of school for five months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Of those unable to fully reopen, some are planning transition periods for new pupils or a phased return to reduce anxiety for children. Others said they were dealing with staff absences, local lockdowns or difficulties implementing control measures. The survey was conducted by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and drew responses from 4,000 members, overwhelmingly in the primary sector, including 140 responses from school leaders in Wales where ministers have allowed more flexibility for reopenings.” – The Guardian

  • Shamed Ofqual boss quits with £1 million pension despite disastrous time in the job – The Sun

Barnier urges EU leaders to call on Johnson to step in to ­rescue Brexit talks

“Desperate Michel Barnier is urging EU leaders to personally lobby Boris Johnson to step in and save the Brexit talks from failure. The Brussels dealmaker fears the PM is unaware how badly the negotiations are going and wants capitals to spell out the situation to him directly. He has concluded talks with David Frost have now gone as far as they can and only an intervention by top politicians on both sides can unblock them. EU negotiators believe Mr Johnson is committed to a deal but others in No 10, including chief adviser Dominic Cummings, would prefer to leave without one… The revelations come after it emerged Angela Merkel is becoming increasingly dismayed by the lack of progress in the talks. A planned update on Brexit has been removed from a meeting of EU ambassadors next week with the say-so of Germany’s representative.” – The Sun

  • Two weeks to save Brexit deal, No 10 told – The Times
  • ‘Panicking’ EU chief launches last-ditch bid to stop no deal Brexit – Daily Express
  • Tory MPs believe Brussels is posturing and warned bloc UK will not cave in – Daily Mail

Labour official denies ‘grand plan’ to sabotage Corbyn’s 2017 election bid

“A senior Labour official accused of being one of a Corbyn-sceptic group who sabotaged the 2017 election has defended his colleagues’ actions, saying the party would not have lost so badly two years later if a similar strategy had been followed. Patrick Heneghan, the then executive director for elections, said “electoral oblivion” had been the direct result of the departure of experienced staff because they were not loyal to Jeremy Corbyn. “The stab-in-the-back myth is their deflection from reality,” he said. “The endless debate of this fantasy needs to be put to bed. Grand conspiracy theories offer nothing for a party that has been out of office for a decade so far.” He said Corbyn staff had demanded the party defund the campaigns of some prominent critics of the leadership and give extra resources to some key supporters who had bigger majorities.” – The Guardian

Lib Dems get wake-up call from new leader Davey

“Sir Ed Davey told the Liberal Democrats they needed to “wake up and smell the coffee” as he was elected leader. Sir Ed, who had been acting leader since December, beat Layla Moran with 63.5 per cent of the vote and quickly vowed to regain the trust of voters. He had been the bookmakers’ favourite for the contest, which began after Jo Swinson lost her seat in last year’s general election. The former cabinet minister now faces a struggle to improve his party’s fortunes after it returned 11 MPs in December, well below expectations. The contest had a low turnout of 57.6 per cent of members. In a victory speech in London yesterday Sir Ed, 54, promised to begin a “national listening project”… Sir Ed, who represents Kingston & Surbiton in Greater London, served as energy and climate change secretary in the coalition government.” – The Times

  • He calls on Lib Dems to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ after becoming leader – FT

Comment:

  • After abandoning liberalism and democracy, what is the point of the Party? – Tom Harwood, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • He faces a formidable challenge to restore Liberal Democrat fortunes – The Times

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Davey is the new LibDem leader. But only 57 per cent of his party’s members could be bothered to vote.

Salmond and Sturgeon’s top mandarin dealt with ‘a number’ of ministerial bullying claims

“Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon’s former chief mandarin has said he dealt informally with bullying allegations against SNP ministers “in a number of settings” as the “expectation” was that official procedures would not be used. Sir Peter Housden told a Holyrood inquiry that “informal resolution was generally considered by all parties to (be) the most appropriate and effective solution” within the Scottish Government. Where the behaviour of ministers caused concern, the former permanent secretary said it was expected he would “manage these situations without recourse to formal procedures.” He said he “took actions on these lines in a number of settings” but refused to provide any details because of “confidentiality.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • SNP accuses No 10 of ‘endangering Acts of Union’ with judicial review inquiry – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Nationalists riding high, but they’re divided over independence – Rory Scothorne, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue: SNP abandon ‘economic case for independence’ as GERS reveals that they don’t have one

Rajan tells Hall about his colleagues’ fears the corporation is becoming ‘the broadcasting wing of the BLM movement’

“BBC media editor Amol Rajan has questioned director general Lord Hall about fears among colleagues that the corporation is becoming ‘the broadcasting wing of the Black Lives Matter movement’. Outgoing director general Tony Hall appeared on The Media Show yesterday to discuss the crises and successes of his time in charge of the outlet, covering topics including the public anger over the censoring of the Proms, diversity, TV licenses and controversies over the use of the n-word. Turning to the subject of race and equality, Mr Rajan told Lord Hall there were worries over the broadcasting giant’s stance on certain issues. He said: ‘Several Radio 4 listeners and some senior BBC News colleagues have been in touch with me to raise deep concern that in their view the BBC has in effect become the broadcasting wing of the Black Lives Matter movement.” – Daily Mail

Truss ‘set to announce Tokyo trade deal’

“Liz Truss is on the verge of handing Boris Johnson a massive Brexit boost by unveiling a bumper UK-Japan trade deal today. International Trade secretary Ms Truss has scheduled a joint press conference today with Japanese foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi, which will focus on progress made in bilateral trade talks, the Daily Telegraph reported. The two sides had hit a snag over earlier this month after it was claimed they had divided on the subject of tariffs on exports of blue cheese to Japan. However, the Nikkei Asian Review has reported a compromise has been reached whereby tariffs will stay at the same level as they are in the current EU-Japan agreement, but with suppliers to be refunded later if the total import amount at the end of the year falls below an agreed level.” – Daily Express

  • Abe to step down as Japanese prime minister – FT

>Today:

News in Brief:

  • ‘Boris the builder’ mustn’t buckle over planning reform – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • How Trump went from YIMBY to NIMBY – Oliver Wiseman, CapX
  • Our leaders must do what is right, not what puts them ‘on the right side of history’ – Niall Gooch, UnHerd
  • Free Gen-Z from the Generation Zoom nightmare – Alice Crossley, Reaction
  • British self-interested aid – James Longland, The Critic

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