Ministers study Australian-style plan to intercept migrant boats in the Channel

“Ministers are considering blocking migrant boats in the Channel before they can enter British waters in an increasingly desperate effort to stem the rising number of crossings. The approach, modelled on Australian tactics used against migrants from Indonesia, could involve the Royal Navy and Border Force intercepting vessels as they leave French waters. “Australia does an operation they call ‘push back’ and it has been successful. It is one option we are looking at,” a Whitehall source said. Other government sources questioned the legality of such measures and said that the political consequences of an interception leading to drownings would be disastrous.” – The Times

  • Record number of unaccompanied children reach UK – BBC
  • ‘Migrant smuggling’ sting brings M25 to a standstill – Daily Mail
  • We intend to return as many illegal migrants who have arrived as possible – Chris Philp, Immigration Minister – Daily Telegraph

UK and Japan set to agree trade deal

“The UK and Japan hope to agree the details of a post-Brexit trade agreement by the end of the month. The two sides said they had made progress during two days of face-to-face talks in London. Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said there was “substantial” agreement in most areas. And the UK’s Liz Truss said there was a “consensus” on extending Japan’s current trade standards with the EU in financial and digital services. Earlier on Friday, there were reports that agriculture remained the last remaining obstacle to be overcome. After leaving the EU on 31 January, the UK is having to negotiate its own trade agreements with many of the world’s leading economic powers, including the US.” – BBC

Coronavirus 1) Tory MPs complain holidaymakers are being “left in the dark”

“Holidaymakers are being “left in the dark” by a “grossly unfair” lack of transparency on quarantine restrictions, MPs have warned as fears France will be placed on the Government’s red list led some to cancel their trips….Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, said: “We should move to a proper testing regime for air travellers as quickly as possible but in the meantime, it is essential that the Government is as transparent as possible about the criteria which are being used judging which countries require quarantine and which do not. “Leaving the travelling public in the dark is grossly unfair to them and is causing further damage to the holiday and leisure sector.” Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, the former Tory leader, said holidaymakers needed more, clearer information so they could make better informed decisions about where they could travel abroad.” – Daily Telegraph

  • We need a scalpel, but the Government only has a Covid sledgehammer – Matthew Lesh, Daily Telegraph
  • Restrictions tightened in Preston – The Guardian
  • 300,000 A-level pupils in England face lower marks than expected – Daily Mail
  • Lockdown “killed two people for every three that died of coronavirus” due to restrictions on hospital treatment – Daily Mail
  • Pressure on Cummings to prove he didn’t make a second trip to Durham – Daily Mail
  • British tourists need a clear travel policy that can be understood by all – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 2) Sunak defends ending the job retention scheme

“UK chancellor Rishi Sunak on Friday admitted many Britons faced “hardship” because of the coronavirus pandemic, but he defended plans to end the government’s job retention scheme in October and said some people needed to start looking for new employment. During a visit to Scotland, Mr Sunak did not categorically rule out an extension of the scheme, which has supported more than 9m jobs, but suggested that it was now turning into a trap for some workers…..He also pushed back against calls for more Treasury support for businesses hit by local lockdowns.” – Financial Times

>Today: John Penrose on Comment: Here’s how we can put ‘levelling up’ at the centre of a One Nation agenda

>Yesterday: Alexandra Marsanu on Comment: Rather than being paralysed by the doom and gloom, we need to seize the new opportunities

Coronavirus 3) Extra funding for bus services to help return to schools and work

“Ministers have handed councils and schools in England £256million for buses and trams to ensure kids return to classrooms in September. Bus services across the country will receive up to £218.4 million of support over the next eight weeks, with rolling funding at up to £27.3 million per week until a time when the funding is no longer needed. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Buses are a vital lifeline – from getting to work, seeing the doctor or doing the shopping. Today’s extra funding will keep services running as we continue to recover from the impact of Covid 19.” The government says the cash is “key to safely getting young people back in education settings and workers back to their offices”.” – The Sun

  • Britain is conquering coronavirus – Leader, The Sun
  • We’re drifting into economic ruin – Dame Helena Morrissey, Daily Mail

Coronavirus 4) House prices bounce back

“UK house prices hit their highest levels ever in July, according to mortgage lender Halifax. With the property mini-boom in full swing and the Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, providing a more positive than anticipated update about the general health of the economy, it would appear that consumer confidence is surging. As the ‘feel good factor’ has returned in many towns and cities across the country, there’s been a surge in activity following the Stamp Duty Holiday announcement last month.” – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Tom Harwood on Comment: Implementing the Planning White Paper will stem the tide of young people turning to Labour

Coronavirus 5) Parris: We must put a price on human life

“It is entirely possible that, with the benefit of hindsight, we will conclude that measures to control the virus shortened or stunted more lives in the long run than were saved in the short run. Intellectually, we may accept that we are harming more than we are helping but emotionally, morally, we bridle at the notion of putting a price on life….Writing this, however, the realisation grows that the more words I had, the more painful would be my failure to answer the question: “Is a human life beyond price?” So let’s cut to the chase. I cannot believe that. It may be crude, callous, arbitrary, tasteless, but we have to make choices and to make choices we have to weigh. What’s more, we do weigh — all the while protesting otherwise. We should be more honest.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

Corbyn accuses Labour officials of sabotaging 2017 election campaign

“Jeremy Corbyn and his former leadership team have openly accused disgruntled Labour officials of potentially costing the party the chance of victory by sabotaging the 2017 election campaign in a factional dispute. In a joint statement that shines a light on the scale of continued Labour splits, Corbyn, the former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and seven other former shadow ministers and aides have for the first time formally endorsed claims made in a party report leaked in April. In their submission to the party inquiry called to examine the leaked report, Corbyn and his former colleagues claimed the alleged diversion of some party funds during the 2017 election could even constitute fraud.” – The Guardian

Sturgeon warns SNP against “internal disputes”

“Nicola Sturgeon has said the SNP needs to “focus on what matters to people” ahead of next year’s election and put aside internal disputes. The first minister was speaking after a number of public rows about her party’s policies and strategies. The SNP leader said internal fighting would be a turn off for voters. There has been controversy over how the SNP selects candidates as well as the prospect of a rival pro-independence party in recent weeks.” – BBC

  • SNP MP Alyn Smith calls for black and disabled members to be axed from party body as they hinder independence push – The Sun
  • There’s something dark at the heart of Sturgeon’s SNP – Paul Baldwin, Daily Express

Trump introduces Hong Kong sanctions

“Donald Trump has dramatically ramped up his campaign against Beijing by sanctioning Chinese and Hong Kong officials and barring US companies from doing business with high-profile Chinese technology groups. The Trump administration imposed sanctions on 11 Chinese and Hong Kong officials, including Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, in response to China’s enactment of a draconian security law in the financial hub. The unprecedented sanctioning of Hong Kong officials came hours after Mr Trump issued two orders that banned US companies from dealing with WeChat, the messaging app owned by Tencent, and ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, a hugely popular video app that Microsoft is in talks to buy.” – Financial Times

  • Congress’ last-ditch talks on virus stimulus fail- BBC

Walters: Johnson’s troubles remind me of the John Major sleeze era

“After 18 years in power, it looked as though the Conservatives thought they could get away with anything: double standards, sleaze, cronyism and contempt for the electorate. Throw in Tory wrangling with Brussels and a resurgent Labour Party under Tony Blair, and the upshot was Mr Major was thrashed in the 1997 election. Fast forward to today, and changes in moral attitudes mean voters are less judgmental about politicians’ private lives…Johnson: he has had countless affairs, will not say how many children he has fathered, got divorced the year he won power, moved his girlfriend into Downing Street, had a baby with her and is yet to marry her…But at critical junctures over the past months, he seems to have taken that popularity for granted. There is a narrow boundary between Old Etonian charm and entitlement that Boris has crossed all too frequently.” – Simon Walters, Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Our survey. Almost 75 per cent of members predict a Conservative majority at the next General Election.

Moore: The Germans don’t worship their health service – that’s why it’s better than ours

“Why is Germany free of what Mr Hunt calls “the political poison” of our system? Not because Germans don’t care about health – they actually spend a higher proportion of their GDP on it than we do, and they have better health outcomes. It is because they have never bought the doctrine that a particular health care system is sacred. The origins of good health care for ordinary Germans lie in mutual funds in the 19th century, set up to help pay for funerals. These developed into much more sophisticated, competing systems of health insurance, underwritten by the state, but not run by it. Employer and employee both contribute. An unemployed person has his health care paid for in his unemployment insurance. Almost no German citizen falls through the net.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • What all parties can learn from the SNP – Nick Tyrone, The Spectator
  • The new Planning system – John Redwood
  • The House of Lords attendance payment has to go – Harry Phibbs, The Article
  • Time for a cull of sacred cows? – Clark Cross, Conservative Woman
  • Is it really time to panic about our overcrowded islands? – John Ashmore, CapX