Johnson and Sunak split over reform of pensions

“Rishi Sunak’s plans to shelve pension protections to stop big rises are being resisted by Boris Johnson who fears that they would lead to a backlash from older voters. The chancellor has publicly raised concerns about the “anomaly” caused by the “triple lock”, which is used to calculate rises in state pensions, and wants to tackle the issue in his autumn budget. He is considering temporarily suspending the mechanism to help to bolster the public finances, in breach of the Conservative manifesto. Mr Johnson has pushed back. “The prime minister hates it [pausing the triple lock] because it was a manifesto pledge,” a government source said. “He really doesn’t want to do it. The optics are terrible for older voters.” Tory strategists are concerned that Labour could accuse them of betraying pensioners. A YouGov poll published this week found that the Conservatives retained a 24-point lead over Labour among people aged above 65.” – The Times

  • Chancellor wants to abandon the ‘triple lock’ – The Sun
  • Row over whether tax rises needed to plug hole in public finances – Daily Telegraph
  • Ministers must do more to get workers back into the office – Daily Mail


  • Cancer care backlog may cost 30,000 lives, Prime Minister told – The Times
  • ‘Chairman’ Johnson urged to adopt more hands-on approach – FT


  • Here’s £2 trillion of debt Rishi can’t magic away – Ruth Sunderland, Daily Mail

Prime Minister cuts holiday short ‘because location was leaked’

“Boris Johnson had to pack up his tent and come home after his Scottish holiday location was leaked, The Sun can reveal. The PM had taken fiancée Carrie Symonds and new baby Wilfred for a break after a traumatic six months. It was his first getaway since the start of the coronavirus pandemic which saw him fall seriously ill with Covid-19 shortly before his son’s birth at the end of April. But the windswept location was leaked when photos of his secluded Highland cottage and tent were published. Bodyguards said it wasn’t safe for the family to stay on and it is understood they flew home on Thursday after just three days.” – The Sun

Voters ‘blast Johnson’ for his silence on exams fiasco

“Voters today send a message to Boris Johnson that his Government must not let down children again by failing to reopen schools next month. A Daily Mail poll reveals the depth of feeling about getting pupils back into class full time. A huge majority believe it should be the top priority for ministers. Most are even willing to see pubs close, shops shut or even social gatherings banned if that is what is needed for proper schooling to resume. The survey also lays bare the scale of anger over the exams fiasco. Four in five voters believe A-level and GCSE results were mishandled and more than half want Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to go. A majority fear he is unfit to lead work to get schools back. Six in ten say Mr Johnson should have cut short his holiday to deal with the exams chaos that left thousands of students facing days of anguish.” – Daily Mail

  • Back Ofqual or I quit, chair of regulator told Secretary of State – The Guardian
  • Fears about shuffling pack ‘saved Williamson from axe’ – The Times
  • Now left-wing union threatens school reopenings – Daily Mail


  • BTEC students are promised their results by the end of next week – Daily Mail


Paul Goodman: Johnson the loner will carry on governing as he pleases

“His experience of journalism as theatre, yoked to Dominic Cummings’s conviction that the media is a spent force, is part of the reason why Mr Williamson is still in place. The prime minister doesn’t take the press entirely seriously because his journalism was never entirely serious itself. His distance from his fellow Conservative MPs, lessened but not eliminated by his frontbench experience, is another part. Again, Mr Cummings’s take is significant. The legend is that he hates all Tory MPs. The truth is more prosaic: he has never had much to do with most of them and is a stranger to their habits and culture.  So the instinct of both men will be to shrug off the collapse of the government’s position on GCSEs and A-levels. Once you start yielding to pressure you’ll never stop. That’s their take, and it’s understandable.” – The Times

>Yesterday: Clare Ambrosino in Comment: Why One Nation conservatism can unite the country and win the Millennial vote

Donelan tells universities to prioritise poorer applicants

“Universities  should give priority to poorer students if courses are full, vice-chancellors have been told. Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, has said that kids from disadvantaged backgrounds should be given spots after a record number of kids were given higher A-levels. The Government has scrapped caps on student numbers but many universities are still grappling with finding enough space for the number of kids who met the terms of their offers. Universities admissions body UCAS found that an extra 15,000 students now have the grades to get into their first choice uni. Ms Donelan said in a letter to vice-chancellors: “Where possible, try to prioritise those from disadvantaged backgrounds for admission this year.”” – The Sun

  • Ban on evictions in England and Wales extended until September 20 – FT

>Yesterday: Nicky Morgan in Comment: Ministers must act swiftly to avoid a disaster – bailiffs abusing vulnerable people over council tax arrears

Barnier accuses UK of wasting time in Brexit trade talks

“The EU’s Brexit negotiator has warned that valuable time is being wasted in trade talks with the UK as he accused his British counterparts of failing to offer solutions on topics of key interest to Europe during the latest round of trade negotiations.  Michel Barnier said he was disappointed, concerned and surprised by the lack of progress displayed in discussions that took place in Brussels this week, reiterating that at this stage an agreement between the two sides still looked unlikely.  “Too often this week it felt as if we were going backwards more than forwards,” Mr Barnier said at a press conference following the conclusion of the latest negotiations. “I simply do not understand why we are wasting valuable time.”” – FT

  • Brussels making Brexit negotiations ‘unnecessarily difficult’, UK’s chief negotiator says – Daily Telegraph
  • Brussels using trade talks to ‘make it harder’ for member states to quit bloc – Daily Express

Shapps rejects idea of quarantining arrivals from parts of countries

“The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has rejected the idea of imposing quarantine rules on people arriving from regions of other countries, as opposed to entire countries. It would be “too difficult”, he said, despite other countries, such as Germany, adopting a more targeted approach. “A week ago Croatia was seeing cases that were at about UK levels. One week later their levels have gone up from just 10.5 cases per 100,000 to 27.5 cases per 100,000,” Shapps told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. There were about 11 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 of the population in the UK, Shapps said. The UK could not follow Germany’s lead, he insisted, saying experts at the joint biosecurity centre had told him it was impossible to understand infection patterns overseas “at a completely granular level”, unlike at home.” – The Guardian