Homes target places Prime Minister on collision course with Tory shires

“Boris Johnson is facing discontent from Tory-controlled local authorities by ordering England’s more affluent areas to release the most land for housing. Under a reform of planning laws, local control over the rate of building will effectively be removed. Instead, central government will “distribute” an annual target, at present 300,000 homes, among local authorities, which will be required to designate enough land to meet it. The consultation document proposes a new “standard model” to replace the existing system under which each council negotiates its own targets with the housing department. It also proposes a new test to see how a development will affect its surroundings and abolishes the duty to co-operate with public bodies, such as English Heritage and the Environment Agency, on cross-boundary matters, which could dismay campaigners.” – The Times

  • Councils face sanctions if they fail to hit proposed new house-building targets – Daily Telegraph
  • Government could face long battle with Tory councils – FT
  • Labour slammed by businesses for not backing planning revolution – The Sun
  • Affordable housing ‘will diminish due to UK planning changes’ – The Guardian


  • Beautiful surroundings matter – Nicholas Boys Smith, The Times
  • Attack on planning laws reveals a government that doesn’t play by the rules – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
  • We need more than homes to level up Britain – Philip Collins, The Times


  • Better foundations are needed for a new Bath, Belgravia and Bournville – FT

>Today: Nicholas Boys Smith in Local Government: Quantity and quality – why the Planning White Paper is getting the big questions right


Contenders to lead civil service tell No 10: ‘thanks but no thanks’

“Cabinet secretary should be the most esteemed job in public service, the pinnacle of a career, with a guaranteed peerage at the end. Boris Johnson is facing something akin to a Hobson’s choice, however, over whom to appoint to succeed Sir Mark Sedwill as head of the civil service. All the leading candidates have ruled themselves out of contention. Senior Whitehall sources say that a “dysfunctional” Downing Street and the power wielded by Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s chief adviser, have put off almost all the contenders. “Most people have come to the conclusion that the job is a hiding to nothing,” one said. “You’re head of the civil service dealing with an administration who are not keen on the civil service. Sensible people are giving it a pass.”” – The Times

  • Fury as only a handful of civil servants turn up for work at the DoE – The Sun


  • Whitehall needs a fundamental overhaul – Nick Herbert MP, Times Red Box

Have the ‘confidence’ to go back to work, Johnson urges Britain

“Boris Johnson has urged people to have the “confidence” to return to work and send their children back to school to boost the country’s economic recovery. The Prime Minister said it was “very, very important” for all schoolchildren to return on September 1 after unions suggested they could tell heads to keep schools shut if they did not consider them to be Covid-secure. The latest data on the economy suggests a V-shaped recovery is still possible, with the services sector growing at its fastest pace for five years and Britons spending money on cars, consumer goods and eating out. But the Government fears the recovery will stall unless people start going back to their workplaces in greater numbers.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister begs Brits to get back to the office on Monday or ‘jobs will be lost’ – The Sun
  • Pressure grows on Sunak to extend UK furlough scheme – FT
  • How the Chancellor has splashed cash to protect businesses around the UK – Daily Express


  • UK business presses for more support on local lockdowns – FT
  • Johnson’s freeport plan could hand invaluable boost to Sunderland – Daily Express
  • Help people self-isolate with jury-style payments, say mayors – The Times


  • It’s far too soon to end furlough support – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph
  • If it’s all about the economy, why are the Tories still polling better than Labour? – Larry Elliott, The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: Our latest Cabinet Survey. Sunak stable at the top, but Hancock’s ratings are in poor health.

Government plans to end automatic one-third reduction for guilty pleas if the suspect is ‘bang to rights’

“The government is considering a plan to scrap reduced jail sentences for ‘bang to rights’ criminals who plead guilty to their crimes. It follows backlash after one of the killers of PC Andrew Harper had his sentence slashed by a third. Justice Secretary Robert Buckland is reportedly studying proposals to end the current practice of reducing jail sentences by one third. Under current UK law, if an offender does admit to their crime it usually means they get a reduced sentence with a maximum of a third off when they admit their crime at the very earliest opportunity. The later the plea, the smaller the prison sentence reduction… On Tuesday, the Attorney General’s Office confirmed that it has been asked to consider if the jail terms handed down are too lenient.” – Daily Mail

  • Life must mean life – Craig O’Leary, The Sun

Gove to unveil ‘groundbreaking’ £355million post-Brexit trade system

“Michael Gove is set to unveil a new groundbreaking digital declaration system to maintain smooth trade and avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. The Cabinet Minister will travel to Northern Ireland today where he will announce the new digital system in order to stop the creation of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the south. In order to maintain smooth trade, Mr Gove will announce funding of up to £200million for the operation of a Trade Support Service system. This system will become operational in September and is expected to help stop any new administrative burdens for many companies. Mr Gove will also announce a new £155million package designed to fund the development of new technology to implement the process online.” – Daily Express

  • Government to spend £200m on helping mainland goods flow to Northern Ireland – FT

>Yesterday: Stephen Booth’s column: The UK’s parallel trade negotiations are of unprecedented ambition

‘Furious’ Patel backs sending the Royal Navy to tackle migrant crisis

“A ‘furious’ Priti Patel last night backed sending Royal Navy patrols into the English Channel after a record number of migrants reached Britain. Officials have been ordered to draw up plans in which, for the first time, the Navy could turn back boats. Yesterday 235 migrants in 17 vessels made the perilous crossing – the highest daily total since the crisis began, surpassing the previous record of 202 set on Thursday last week. The number who have reached Britain so far this year is now already double the total who arrived in the whole of 2019. Nearly 3,950 migrants made the crossing in small boats in the first 219 days of 2020 – compared with 1,850 last year. The crisis is a personal blow for the Home Secretary, who made a pledge last October that crossings would be virtually eliminated by now.” – Daily Mail

  • MPs urge Home Office to grant refugee status to all Uighurs arriving in UK – The Guardian

>Today: Ed West in Comment: So far, 2020 has proved my most pessimistic expectations to be horribly true. How very satisfying.

Teaching unions slammed after saying reopening schools fully in September would be ‘impossible’

“Teaching unions were accused of “taking on the nation’s parents” last night after claiming reopening schools fully in September would be “impossible”. Dr Mary Bousted, head of the left-wing National Education Union (NEU), threatened to force some schools to stay shut because of the rise in Covid cases. Boris Johnson has pledged to reopen all schools for all ages at the start of the autumn term following six months out of the classroom due to the Covid-19 lockdown. But Dr Bousted, speaking in a Zoom meeting, declared: “The Government’s making threatening noises about that. But in the end, they won’t be able to carry out their threats.” Last night the Government hit back, accusing the unions of working against the interests of parents, with a survey showing nine in ten think it’s safe to send their children back to school.” – The Sun

  • Disadvantaged pupils to lose out under Prime Minister’s ‘levelling up’ crusade – The Times


  • Ofqual allows thousands more appeals against A-level grades… – The Times
  • …but individual pupils will not be allowed to challenge grades themselves – Daily Mail
  • SNP could face legal challenge following ‘ludicrous’ exam results process – Daily Express


  • Tories need Thatcher-like strength to crush unions stopping schools’ return – Patrick O’Flynn, Daily Express
  • Selection in state schools needn’t be divisive – Iain Martin, The Times


  • Johnson has to win monumental showdown with the unions – The Sun

Starmer ‘overtakes Johnson’ as voters’ choice of prime minister

“Sir Keir Starmer has pulled ahead of Boris Johnson on the question of who would make the best prime minister. A YouGov poll for The Times suggests that 34 per cent of people believe that the Labour leader would do a better job, with 32 per cent preferring Mr Johnson. Last week the prime minister was narrowly ahead on 33 to 31. It is the first time a Labour leader has been preferred as a potential prime minister to the Conservative incumbent since after the 2017 snap election. A single YouGov poll in June that year put Jeremy Corbyn ahead of Theresa May but he failed to consolidate his fleeting lead. While the omens for the present Labour leader look better — he is markedly more popular than his two predecessors — his party lags behind when it comes to voting intentions.” – The Times

  • Labour calls for inquiry into purchase of 50m unusable face masks – The Guardian

MSPs in new row with officials over release of Salmond documents

“MSPs investigating how complaints of sexual misconduct against Alex Salmond were investigated by civil servants have become embroiled in a new row with officials after they refused to hand over key documents. The Scottish Government cited legal privilege in withholding advice it received regarding Mr Salmond’s successful court challenge to the internal government probe against him, which resulted in him being awarded more than £500,000 in legal costs. A Holyrood committee is investigating the botched investigation, after the Scottish Government’s actions were found by a judge to have been “unlawful in respect that they were procedurally unfair” and had been “tainted with apparent bias”. Mr Salmond was subsequently charged by prosecutors with 14 counts of sexual assault, but was cleared of all charges.” – Daily Telegraph

  • SNP blasted for ‘failing’ Scotland with timid coronavirus plan – Daily Express


  • Failure to speak for England imperils the Union – Mark Wallace, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: With less than a year to go, Ross sets out his vision for the Scottish Tories

Henry Mance: How the People’s Vote fell apart

“The stakes were high, and the odds seemed even. That’s why Britain wasn’t just Remainers against Leavers; it was also Remainers against Remainers, and Leavers against Leavers. Anyone with an ego and a passing knowledge of politics thought they could shape the future. Between the general elections of 2017 and 2019, Britain was suspended in mid-air. There seemed to be no Brexit deal that could win the support of a majority of the House of Commons. Theresa May, the prime minister, was repeatedly humiliated. Defiant MPs such as Dominic Grieve, John Bercow and Mark Francois became household names. Westminster, normally so good at delivering powerful executives, made global headlines for its paralysis. It was unclear whether Britain’s political system and its main parties could survive intact.” – FT

News in Brief:

  • Can the new Scottish Tory leader thwart Sturgeon? – Alex Massie, The Spectator
  • Solving the Chinese puzzle – Syed Kamall, CapX
  • Anti-colonialists must face some difficult truths about empire – Remi Adekoya, UnHerd
  • The disastrous stealth federalisation of the EU – Tuomas Malinen and Peter Nyberg, Reaction
  • A war on meat won’t save the planet – Matteo Baccaglini, 1828