Secondary school pupils will wear facemasks after U‑turn

“Boris Johnson will make masks mandatory for all secondary school children in areas with high levels of coronavirus amid a backlash from Tory MPs over another policy reversal. Pupils over the age of 11 will have to wear face coverings while moving around schools when they reopen next week, it was announced last night, a day after Downing Street said that students would be safe without them. Face coverings will be mandatory for secondary schools in areas that are subject to additional lockdown measures. Schools in other areas will be able to choose whether pupils wear them. The move represents another reversal on education policy after the decision last week to use teachers’ predicted grades for A-level and GCSE exams fiasco and the provision of free school meals during the summer holidays.” – The Times

  • U-turn will give secondary heads option – FT
  • Change risks a major backlash from Conservative MPs – The Guardian
  • Masks in schools won’t become mandatory outside lockdowns, Williamson insists – Daily Telegraph
  • Teachers warn that children will ‘bully each other’ – Daily Mail


  • Greening says exams crisis could be Johnson’s Black Wednesday – The Guardian
  • Poor pupils stop catching up with rich ones for the first time in a decade – The Sun
  • Scrap fines for school non-attendance in England, say psychiatrists – The Guardian

Head of England’s exams regulator quits after A-level and GCSE turmoil

“The head of England’s exams regulator has stood down after the watchdog was strongly criticised for its handling of the secondary school results fiasco involving both A-levels and GCSEs. Sally Collier, Ofqual’s chief regulator, oversaw the use of a computer algorithm used to set this year’s grades, which downgraded almost 40 per cent of them, with disadvantaged students more likely to have had their marks lowered. Ministers performed a dramatic U-turn last week and students received teacher-assessed grades for both A-levels and GCSEs. However, Downing Street has resisted calls from shadow ministers and the Liberal Democrats to fire education secretary Gavin Williamson.” – FT

  • Shamed Ofqual boss ‘could keep job at Cabinet Office’ – The Sun


  • This exams fiasco gives the lie to Johnson’s ‘levelling up’ agenda – Justine Greening, The Guardian
  • It’s adults who are the real school snowflakes – Alice Thomson, The Times

Johnson criticises BBC ‘embarrassment’ at British traditions

“Boris Johnson has accused the BBC of displaying “cringeing embarrassment” about Britain’s history and traditions as the corporation faced widespread condemnation over its handling of Last Night of the Proms. The prime minister said he “cannot believe” the corporation’s decision to play, but not sing, Land of Hope and Glory and Rule, Britannia! at this year’s concert. The BBC announced its decision on Monday after the Proms conductor Dalia Stasevska, who is from Finland, pushed for the songs to be dropped because of their associations with slavery and Britain’s colonial past. Tim Davie, the incoming director-general, intervened to ensure that they will be performed in some form even though he does not take over until next week, The Times understands. Mr Johnson expressed incredulity at the plan.” – The Times

  • Prime Minister demands end to ‘culture of wetness’ – The Sun


  • Fox urges BBC viewers to cancel licence fee after lyrics ditched – The Sun


  • If the BBC knew its history, it would understand Rule, Britannia isn’t racist – Robert Hardman, Daily Mail
  • Rule, Britannia! The origins of a patriotic song – Oliver Kamm, The Times
  • Why should I pay the licence fee when the BBC despises everything I believe in? – Rod Liddle, The Sun
  • The woke war against British history must not be allowed to succeed – Andrew Roberts, Daily Telegraph




Daniel Finkelstein: No 10 needs a message more than a messenger

“McCurry became a star, the reporters became stars, and the briefing became an event. “The dynamic changed” as McCurry put it. And it has never changed back. How can it? Once you’ve opened the door to the cameras, which press secretary is going to be the one who shuts it? The experiment we are about to embark on, then, is likely to be permanent, have significant implications for political debate and prove a distinctly mixed blessing. The government’s motivation, I think, is this. They fancy their chances when up against the press. What bothered McCurry doesn’t bother them. Their view is that the Westminster political press is self-obsessed and hares off after trivial stories that don’t interest most voters… This might work at times. Sometimes the media do indeed determine that something is important when most voters think it is not. But there will be other times. Times, perhaps, when the government thinks something is merely a Westminster obsession but in fact resonates far beyond SW1.” – The Times

Up to 30,000 firms could have committed ‘furlough fraud’

“Up to 30,000 firms could have committed “furlough fraud” and wrongly claimed Government cash when they weren’t entitled to it, HMRC fears. The tax man is probing a whopping 8,000 complaints from its tips line and sending out 3,000 letters a week to companies who may have broken the rules. The furlough scheme, which launched in March to help firms cope through the lockdown, paid 80 per cent of people’s wages up to £2,500 a month. Yet many businesses have been claiming money and forcing their employees to work anyway – effectively pocketing the extra cash while continuing to run as normal. Other firms have inflated the number of their employees on the books or how many hours they’ve worked to get their hands on extra cash.” – The Sun

  • Civil servants wary of office return amid continuing outbreaks – FT
  • Offices could offer coronavirus testing to get Britain back to work – The Sun


  • Covid ‘cowardice’ is killing a nation of shopkeepers – Daily Mail
  • Cummings scandal blamed for making the British public more divided – Daily Telegraph

Wallace slams Labour calls to pause legislation to protect veterans from prosecution…

“The Defence Secretary has slammed Labour calls for a pause to legislation designed to protect our boys from prosecution. Ben Wallace branded it a “slap in the face to veterans” after his opposition shadow said new measures to protect troops breached human rights laws. The planned Overseas Operations Bill due before MPs next month enshrines a “statutory presumption against prosecution” after five years to all forces, including those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has been drawn up to protect troops from vexatious complaints drummed up by tank chasing lawyers… But Mr Wallace told The Sun: “Labour’s new found facade of supporting our armed forces has been exposed for what it is – fake.”” – The Sun

…and Britain ‘may halve fighter jet purchases’

“Britain could buy only half its target of 138 F-35 Lightning II fighter jets, according to sources close to the government’s defence review. The UK has agreed to buy 48 of the stealth multirole jets by the end of 2025 for £9.1 billion. It is the most expensive weapons system in military history. Britain has ordered the short take-off and vertical landing variant of the jet, which is designed to fly from aircraft carriers. The Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class carriers are expected to deploy with between 12 and 36 F-35s on board, depending on the operation. A wider British aspiration to buy 138 of the aircraft over the lifespan of the US-led programme is seen as unlikely to be fulfilled, defence sources said. The 138 figure was confirmed as an ambition in the UK defence review in 2015, but the Commons defence committee noted later that this decision was taken “following some hesitation”. Britain is not contractually obliged to buy any more than 48.” – The Times

  • Ellwood aims fire at No 10 over tank plan: ‘I see no defence strategy’ – The Guardian
  • Former army chief warns scrapping tanks is ‘dangerous thinking’ – Daily Telegraph


  • Humbling of a colossus – Nigel Jones, Daily Mail

Sturgeon ‘left no doubt’ about complaints policy later used against Salmond

“Nicola Sturgeon left civil servants drawing up the complaints policy used against Alex Salmond with no doubt that it should cover the conduct of former ministers, an inquiry has heard. James Hynd, the Scottish Government mandarin tasked with creating the policy, said she was “keen” to make the change and her views were made known in a draft letter that was circulated to officials. In the letter to Leslie Evans, her most senior mandarin, Ms Sturgeon said she “wanted to make clear that the arrangements you are putting in place to address any complaints from staff should include any complaint received about the conduct of current or former Ministers in the Scottish Government.” Mr Hynd told a specially-convened Holyrood committee that he responded with assurances that he had already decided that the policy should cover retrospective complaints against former ministers.” – Daily Telegraph

  • SNP plot to create Scottish army by charging UK for Trident exposed – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Andrew Potts in Comment: After twenty years, it’s time Welsh devolution grew up

Melania Trump pleads for an end to ‘looting and violence in the name of justice’

“Melania Trump painted her husband’s weaknesses as strengths when she argued for President Donald Trump’s bid for a second term in a speech designed to appeal to female voters on Tuesday night – but also spoke at length on race and coronavirus, setting a strikingly different tone from her husband. She painted herself as a wife and a mother during her 26-minute remarks, which outlined the reasons women should vote for President Trump in November and addressed the areas where female voters rate him as weak, the coronavirus pandemic and race relations. And unusually she intervened directly in unfolding events, as violence flared for a second night in Kenosha, WI, in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, left paralyzed after being shot seven times in the back. ‘I urge people to come together in a civil manner so we can work and live up to our standard American ideals. I also ask people to stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice,’ she said.” – Daily Mail

  • America’s toxic choice – Tom Leonard, Daily Mail

Former Australian leader Abbott tipped for post-Brexit UK trade advisory role

“Ex-Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is to be unveiled as Britain’s new trade deal supremo, The Sun can reveal. The forthright Aussie has been appointed joint President of Britain’s relaunched Board of Trade, tasked with drumming up deals for Britain around the world. It’s role is to “champion exports and inward and outward investment to deliver economic growth and prosperity” and has traditionally been made up of British political and business figures. But The Sun understands Boris Johnson has asked Mr Abbott to join as part of a drive to get a number of global “friends” to bang the drum from Brexit Britain. Mr Abbott led Australia from 2013 to 2015 and was a close ally to the UK during his premiership. He has been a vocal supporter of Brexit.” – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • Why an ‘attack on local democracy’ is no bad thing – Tim Worstall, CapX
  • Will the Conservatives start conserving? – Tom Holland, UnHerd
  • Is this the end for the National Trust? – Alexander Larman, The Critic
  • What is the point of Johnson’s Tory party? – Patrick O’Flynn, The Spectator
  • Accommodation deposits harm students – Alastair Thompson, 1828