Exams crisis 1) Williamson “was on holiday as exams fiasco unfolded…”

“Gavin Williamson cancelled a crucial meeting to go on holiday the week before the A-level exams fiasco, raising fresh questions about the future of the embattled education secretary. Three officials say Williamson was away in the week beginning August 3 in the seaside town of Scarborough, where he has family — when the exams chaos was beginning to unfold in Scotland. During that time he did not schedule a regular get-together with school leaders to discuss the return of children to school in September, which Boris Johnson has described as a “national priority”. Williamson’s holiday ended days before thousands of teenagers missed out on university places because they were given the wrong A-level results on August 13.” – Sunday Times

  • Top Tories turn on Williamson over exams fiasco – Observer
  • Johnson: failure to reopen schools is not an option – Sunday Telegraph
  • School reopening drive is ‘last chance’ for ‘useful idiot’ Gavin Williamson – Sunday Telegraph
  • Experts say schools can reopen next month – Sun on Sunday

Exams crisis 2) …as Education Minister shared snaps from her Alpine break

“An education minister was under fire last night for enjoying a holiday in the French Alps while teenagers in Britain went ‘through hell’ over their exam grades. The Mail on Sunday can reveal that as students worried over their futures, Gillian Keegan enjoyed hiking trips, mountain biking and dips in a mountain lake – and boasted about them on Instagram. Astonishingly, beleaguered Education Secretary Gavin Williamson found time to ‘like’ several of her posts. Mrs Keegan is Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills at the Department for Education and, crucially, is jointly responsible for post-16 education strategy.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Williamson’s key minister takes holiday during exams chaos – Sun on Sunday
  • Symonds shares pictures of holiday in Scotland – Mail on Sunday

Exams crisis 3) Duncan Smith: After exams fiasco, we need bonfire of quangos

“The way government works is at best a mystery to many of the public, who believe they go to the polls every few years and elect a government who will be judged on whether they deliver on promises. After all, it should be simple — ministers are in charge and if something goes wrong, they must carry the can. Yet over the last few weeks, finger-pointing and a blame game by ministers seems to suggest they believe someone else should carry the can for failure. Whatever happened to “advisers advise and ministers decide”? Recently, two public bodies have become household words and not, it seems, for positive reasons. Public Health England (PHE) and The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual).” – Sun on Sunday

  • PM urged to oversee value for money test of quangos – Sun on Sunday

Gove ‘spends most of his time preparing for no deal’

“The EU is trying to impose “Brexit in name only” on the UK, raising the prospect of a departure with no trade deal in December. A senior Whitehall source rounded on Brussels last night, accusing the EU of treating Boris Johnson’s government like Theresa May’s by seeking to impose a deal that would tie Britain to EU rules for ever. Officials say Michael Gove, the cabinet office minister, spends the bulk of his time preparing for a no-deal departure. The latest talks between Lord Frost, the UK’s lead negotiator, and Michel Barnier, his EU counterpart, made no progress last week.” – Sunday Times

  • Johnson fights Cummings’ plans for a ‘West Wing’-style No 10 – Mail on Sunday
  • UK anti-obesity fight ‘at risk’ after Hancock closes health agency – Observer

Sunday Times: Mutterings of lockdown 2 must stop. We can’t afford it

“It is five months today since Boris Johnson imposed the national lockdown that changed all our lives. The prime minister went on the nation’s television screens to “give the British people a very simple instruction — you must stay at home”. In the intervening period there has been a significant easing of the lockdown, although many people are still heeding the March 23 advice. Now there is talk emanating from government of the one thing nobody wants to hear: another national lockdown. An unnamed senior government official is quoted this weekend as warning that further nationwide measures could be needed, including a second lockdown, if cases continue to rise.” – Sunday Times

Sunak to launch war on waste as public finances are hammered

“Rishi Sunak has threatened to withhold funding for poorly thought out infrastructure projects as part of a new Whitehall war on waste, amid mounting concern over the state of public finances. The Telegraph can reveal the Chancellor has moved to bolster the Treasury’s grip over the building of schools, hospitals, rail and roads by handing more power to experts who report directly to it and the Cabinet Office. Treasury sources warned there will be “much more digging into the detail” of major projects proposed by Government departments, with Mr Sunak acutely aware there is growing pessimism over the prospect of a V-shaped economic recovery.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Treasury casts doubt on plans for new health body’s £350m HQ – Sunday Telegraph

Patel tells fashion chain to end ‘slavery’

“The home secretary, Priti Patel, has told the fast fashion giant Boohoo to “step up and take responsibility” for its suppliers, which have been accused of exploiting workers paid as little as £3.50 an hour. In a letter to Boohoo chief executive John Lyttle, Patel criticised the company’s response to an investigation by The Sunday Times, which found workers being treated like modern-day slaves. Last month an undercover reporter spent two days packing boxes at a garment factory in Leicester, where he was told to expect a wage of £3.50 an hour, despite the minimum wage for those aged 25 and over being £8.72.” – Sunday Times

Labour poll predicted election disaster

“Team Corbyn learnt that Labour would lose the 2019 general election three months before a voter had gone to the polls. On September 22, the Sunday morning of the party’s annual conference in Brighton, John McDonnell walked with his wife, Cynthia, to a meeting room in the bowels of the Metropole hotel. What the shadow chancellor was about to find out would prove difficult to stomach. In the last days of August, Niall Sookoo, Labour’s director of elections, and Tim Waters, its head of data, had commissioned a poll from YouGov that turned the optimism of Jeremy Corbyn’s inner circle on its head. According to a poll of 20,000 voters, it would end the campaign with just 138 MPs — its worst result since 1918.” – Sunday Times

  • Starmer tells Johnson: your ‘chaos’ puts schools return at risk – Observer

And finally, transparency at last: Foster unveils plan for pop-up parliament

“A transparent pop-up parliament designed by one of Britain’s most eminent architects has emerged as a potential home for MPs when the House of Commons is closed for repairs. The £300m purpose-built temporary building, which has been designed by the architect Lord Foster and is the brainchild of the property magnate Sir John Ritblat, would be erected on Horse Guards Parade, a few hundred yards from the Commons. Horse Guards Parade is a ceremonial site in St James’s Park, at the back of Downing Street, where the Queen usually watches the trooping the colour ceremony on her official birthday in June.” – Sunday Times