Published:

BBC reform may be needed after Bashir inquiry revealed ‘damning failings’, warns minister

“The “damning failings at the heart of the BBC” exposed by the landmark inquiry into Martin Bashir have called into question whether an overhaul at the top of the corporation is needed, the Culture Secretary has warned. On Thursday evening, Oliver Dowden said the Government would “reflect” on Lord Dyson’s 126-page report ahead of the BBC’s mid-term charter review next year. The Royal Charter forms the constitutional basis for the corporation and its remit, as well as outlining its governance and regulatory arrangements. In a statement released on Thursday evening, Mr Dowden said: “Lord Dyson’s report reveals damning failings at the heart of the BBC. We will now reflect on Lord Dyson’s thorough report and consider whether further governance reforms at the BBC are needed in the mid-term Charter review.” – Daily Telegraph

  • William’s anger at scandal of Diana interview – The Times
  • Harry’s frustration at public outcry at Diana’s death – Daily Express
  • Judge lays bare Bashir’s deceit in securing interview with Diana – The Times

Comment:

  • ‘Dyson’s report reveals damning failings at the heart of the BBC’ – Oliver Dowden MP, Twitter
  • I believe it was the cover-up that cost Princess Diana’s life – Andrew Neil, Daily Mail

Downing Street plays down reports of cabinet rift over post-Brexit Australia trade deal

“Downing Street has played down reports of a cabinet rift over the UK’s future trading relationship with Australia, as trade secretary Liz Truss pushes to secure a deal before the G7 summit next month. Truss is keen to throw open the UK market to Australian farmers, by slashing import tariffs on goods such as beef, lamb and sugar; while some of her cabinet colleagues, including Michael Gove, are anxious about the potential impact on British farmers. Boris Johnson had been expected to arbitrate between the two sides at a cabinet committee meeting on Thursday. Number 10 played down the significance of the meeting, insisting it was a routine update… But in what appeared to be a hint that Johnson had swung behind Truss, Downing Street said the prime minister was keen to “maximise the massive opportunities presented by post-Brexit trade deals”.” – The Guardian

  • Johnson aims for British zero-tariff agreement within a month – The Times
  • Australia’s top beef exporter predicts tenfold UK sales surge – FT
  • Prime Minister told to cut farmers’ red tape to offset ‘damage’ – Daily Telegraph

More trade:

  • Musk eyeing up UK move to build fleet of electric cars and batteries – The Sun
  • Steel industry hits out at British plans to remove tariff protections – FT

>Today: Mario Laghos in Comment: Covid reminds us of the dangers of depending on others. We would be mad to do so again – with food.

>Yesterday: Stephen Booth’s column: Is the Government drawing nearer to suspending the Northern Ireland Protocol?

Johnson ‘keen to help pubs’ by calling time on one-metre rule

“The “one-metre plus” social distancing rule is still on course to be scrapped next month, Boris Johnson has told Conservative MPs. He said it was the “single biggest difference” the government could make to help pubs get back on their feet and that he was determined to remove the restriction on June 21. Pubs, bars, restaurants, theatres and cinemas have warned that they will remain financially unviable until the rule is removed. They have been legally required to keep customers at least a metre apart since last July, forcing many hospitality businesses to remain shut throughout the pandemic. Plans to end social distancing measures next month were put in doubt this week after cases of the faster-spreading Indian variant rose. The prime minister shelved an announcement of an end to restrictions, which was due to be made next week.” – The Times

  • ‘Quite a few’ countries on cusp of green list, says Prime Minister – Daily Telegraph
  • Two doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine are up to 90 per cent effective at blocking symptoms – Daily Mail
  • Wedding plans face more upheaval with delay to easing of guest limits – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Boris is fighting a lonely battle against his own officials to reopen Britain – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Biden takes credit for Gaza ceasefire and promises to ‘replenish’ Israel’s defence systems

“President Joe Biden took credit for the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and promised to ‘replenish’ Israel’s Iron Dome defense system to help ensure ‘security in the future.’ Biden thanked his Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, National Security Advisor and other members of the team for their ‘incredible efforts to bring this outcome we’re about to see.’ ‘We’ve held intensive, high-level discussions, hour-by-hour, literally,’ he said in brief remarks Thursday evening from the White House’s Cross Hall. ‘With the aim of avoiding the sort of prolonged conflict we’ve seen in previous years when hostilities have broken out.’ Biden said he had just spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And said he had spoken to Netanyahu six times overall during the conflict.” – Daily Mail

  • World leaders hail ceasefire after 11 days of attacks – The Guardian

Comment:

  • America is no longer united behind Israel – Gerard Baker, The Times

Rail passengers warned of higher fares in network overhaul

“The UK transport secretary has admitted that train fares might rise as part of a huge overhaul of the railways that comes as operators prepare for an expected post-pandemic decline in commuting. Grant Shapps said there would be no immediate change to “regulated fares”, set according to an inflation-based formula, but added: “I’m not here to give guarantees for years to come.” The transport secretary told the BBC on Thursday there was not a “hidden agenda” involving secret price rises but pointed out that taxpayers had spent £12bn propping up the railways over the past 14 months after services were effectively nationalised at the start of the pandemic. “We might as well have a grown-up conversation about it,” he said.” – FT

  • Shapps says Great British Railways will be simpler and will ‘bring down overall costs’ – The Guardian
  • Comfier train seats promised – The Times

Comment:

  • Tories’ lurch to the left looks unstoppable – James Forsyth, The Times
  • The secret of Johnson’s success lies in his break with Treasury dominance – William Davies, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: ‘Great British Railways’ must be far more than an English franchise reorganisation

Goodwill vying to challenge Brady for 1922 leadership

“Covid lockdown-sceptic Sir Graham Brady is facing a potential challenge for the leadership of the influential backbench Conservative 1922 committee. Ex-minister Robert Goodwill has been sounding out MPs about replacing the backbench shop steward, who has repeatedly rebelled over Covid restrictions. Allies of Goodwill said the Scarborough and Whitby MP believes the 1922 chair should be loyal in public to earn the right to speak the truth to power in private. They reject suggestions that Goodwill, who voted Remain in the 2016 EU referendum despite being a “staunch Eurosceptic”, has the backing of the government. And they point out that he has clashed with the prime minister in the past.” – Huffington Post

>Today: ToryDiary: Brady v Goodwill. The 1922 Chairman election isn’t just about the contenders. At its heart will be Tory MPs’ view of Johnson.

Sunak ready to reap windfall from economic rebound

“Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to secure a public finances windfall in the autumn as the UK’s strong economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis rapidly improves the outlook for government borrowing, according to a Financial Times analysis. Sunak should have the opportunity to invest more in public services that have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, and might even be able to cut taxes in the run-up to the next general election. As recently as the chancellor’s March 3 Budget, Britain’s fiscal watchdog predicted the government would need to borrow £233.9bn in 2021-22 to deal with the pandemic, but the FT calculates the figure could now be as low as £150bn.” – FT

  • Chancellor rules out reviving Eat Out to Help Out – The Sun
  • Economic recovery shatters predictions – Daily Express

Rees-Mogg rejects call for temporary Commons

“Jacob Rees-Mogg has dismissed “fanciful” plans to vacate the Houses of Parliament as new figures show that it will cost almost £1.1 billion to convert sites near by into a temporary debating chamber for MPs. MPs approved a plan in 2018 to turn Richmond House on Whitehall into a replica House of Commons, with peers sitting in the nearby QEII Centre. Rees-Mogg, the leader of the House of Commons, cast doubt on the proposals for a “full decant”, saying yesterday that MPs were concerned by the spiralling costs. The Times has obtained an unredacted copy of a review published this year, which shows that the conversion of Richmond House would cost £572 million while work on the QEII centre could set the taxpayer back £600 million.” – The Times

  • Renovation of parliamentary flats cost nearly £700,000 of public money – The Guardian

More:

  • House of Lords faces “extinction” unless the upper chamber changes its ways, warns Forsyth – Daily Express

SNP face demand to ‘open the books’ over deals with steel magnate

“SNP ministers are facing demands to “open the books” over their dealings with steel magnate Sanjeev Gupta after they refused to say whether his company had broken a promise made in exchange for a huge taxpayer-backed funding guarantee. Mr Gupta’s GFG Alliance, which is in crisis following the collapse of its main financial backer Greensill Capital, had been due to make a substantial ‘milestone payment’ into a Scottish Government-controlled ‘project account’ by March. Cash in the account, which had a balance of £8 million as of February, is supposed to be used to invest in its Lochaber estate which Mr Gupta took over with taxpayer support in 2016. However, both the Scottish Government and GFG have refused to say whether the payment, due seven weeks ago, had been paid.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: New event: Scotland and the Future of the Union, with Douglas Ross MP MSP

Starmer faces ‘brutal leadership coup’ from Corbynista left if he loses crunch by-election battle

“Embattled Sir Keir Starmer is likely to face a brutal Corbynista leadership coup if he loses another crucial by-election. Lefties are already sharpening their knives ahead of the Batley and Spen showdown – with Diane Abbott last night warning that defeat would spell “curtains” for the Labour boss. Sir Keir is already on the ropes after suffering a historic defeat in the traditional stronghold of Hartlepool. Party insiders fear critics on the hard left will pounce if the Yorkshire heartland seat of Batley and Spen also falls to the Tories… Left-winger Rebecca Long Bailey told ITV’s Peston last night “there are going to have to be serious discussions” if he loses.” – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Labour voters make Kim Leadbeater, sister of Jo Cox, early favourite in the Batley and Spen by-election

News in Brief:

  • Why free marketeers shouldn’t be afraid of Great British Railways – Henry Hill, CapX
  • The problems with Labour mythology – Anthony Broxton, The Critic
  • Dunlop’s evidence highlighted the tension at the heart of Johnson’s Union strategy – Henry Hill, The Spectator
  • How scientists sacrificed scepticism – Matthew Crawford, UnHerd