Published:

Johnson backs new tax to transform social care…

“Boris Johnson is backing proposals for a new tax to pay for reforms to Britain’s social care system under plans that could be agreed within weeks. A government source said Downing Street was “comfortable with some sort of tax” to fund universal social care and reduce the burden on families. The plan is also likely to include a cap on the amount people have to pay towards their own care, as well as additional funding to ensure more people get help and staff are better paid. Plans put forward by Sir Andrew Dilnot, who carried out a review of social care ten years ago, suggested a cap of about £50,000. It is understood that the Treasury wants a higher limit, however, to minimise costs to the taxpayer.” – The Times

  • Number 10 puts last touches to deal to finally ‘fix’ crisis – Daily Mail

More tax:

  • Prime Minister rejects proposal to tax sugar and salt in food – FT

…as tweak to triple lock could see pensioners lose out on £200 a year…

“Rishi Sunak has been urged to tweak a key metric used for the pensions triple lock under a proposal that could see pensioners lose out on £200 a year. The Chancellor faces a difficult decision over uprating the state pension this autumn, with concerns that the Covid pandemic has skewed economic data in a way that could force an “artificial” pension spike under the terms of the triple lock. The mechanism, a 2019 Tory party manifesto pledge, means the state pension must rise each year by whichever is the highest of 2.5 per cent, inflation or average earnings growth. The latest wage growth data, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Thursday, suggested earnings have increased by 6.6 per cent. However, the ONS also published a new metric for “underlying” earnings data, which stripped out the abnormal effects of the pandemic.”- Daily Telegraph

  • Sunak says UK is bouncing back as payrolls soar in June – The Guardian
  • Five tax threats to your pension – FT

…and benefit fraud hits record high as relaxation of Universal Credit checks costs £8.3bn

“Benefit fraud and overpayments hit a record high last year, after the Government relaxed checks on new Universal Credit claimants, an official report has found. The Department for Work and Pensions estimates it overpaid by £8.3 billion of a total benefits bill of £111.4 billion in 2020/21, an increase of £3.8 billion on the previous year. The 7.5 per cent proportion of fraud and erroneous payments is the highest since records started in 2005, according to the National Audit Office. The body, which scrutinises government spending, said the coronavirus pandemic was the main cause of the increase after checks were relaxed to ensure a record number of new Universal Credit claims could be processed and paid promptly.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Bank of England urged to spell out plans to curb inflation – FT

Comment:

  • Online fraud will turn toxic for the Tories – James Forsyth, The Times
  • Britain’s ticking debt bomb is now the Government’s greatest threat – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Whitty warns we could go back into lockdown in just five weeks

“England could be plunged back into lockdown within five weeks as Covid cases surge during the third wave, Chris Whitty has warned. The chief medical officer says coronavirus hospitalisations are doubling about every three weeks and could hit “quite scary numbers”. His stark warning comes days before July 19’s ‘Freedom Day’ and the final step in Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of Covid curbs. But top doc Prof Whitty said the country is “not out of the woods yet” as cases rocketed to the highest level in six months… Boris Johnson has told Brits we must “learn to live with Covid” as he announced a bonfire of regulations from July 19. Rules in England on social distancing, mandatory masks and orders to work from home will be swept away from Monday.” – The Sun

  • Vaccinated people ‘now make up almost 47% of all new Covid cases’ – Daily Mail
  • Major UK retailers to urge customers to wear masks after July 19 – FT

More:

  • 500,000 pinged by Covid-19 app as NHS staff shortages hit patient care – The Times
  • Up to 900,000 Brits languish in pingdemic lockdown-by-stealth – Daily Mail
  • Neighbours ‘pinged’ through walls by NHS Covid app – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • A Covid poll with some very different findings to *that* viral Ipsos one – Jemima Kelly, FT

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Jenrick says people need to ‘use their judgment’ after freedom day

Johnson wants to create county ‘sheriffs’ with the same powers as big city mayors…

“Boris Johnson wants to create county “sheriffs” with the same powers as big city mayors. The PM suggested these local leaders could have control over policing, travel and planning as part of his “Levelling Up” agenda. The former Mayor of London offered scant detail yesterday of how his plan would work in unveiling proposals that would take powers from Westminster. He even asked in his speech in Coventry for punters to email him with a name for the new politicians — with social media quick to brand them sheriffs. But the PM told the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre it was time to “rewrite the rule book” and to take a “more flexible approach to devolution” in England.” – The Sun

  • An English parliament would create a devolutionary circus – Henry Hill, Times Red Box

…but speech on ‘levelling up’ decried for lack of substance

“Boris Johnson’s flagship “levelling up” speech has been criticised by experts for containing scant new policy as concern grows among Conservative MPs that the guiding principle of his premiership risks becoming little more than a soundbite. Two years after first committing to levelling up, the prime minister travelled to Coventry to deliver a freewheeling speech heavy on rhetorical flourishes but light on detail, and urged local leaders to send in their own suggestions. Thinktanks including the Institute for Fiscal Studies and IPPR North said it contained nothing new and that it was time for “deeds not words”. Despite Johnson’s levelling up adviser, the Harborough MP Neil O’Brien, being well liked, some MPs are beginning to worry about whether the plans have any substance.” – The Guardian

  • Prime Minister struggles to define ‘ambiguous’ agenda – FT
  • He promises ‘win-win’ for post-pandemic life – Daily Express
  • Labour concerned over management of flagship levelling up scheme – The Guardian

>Today: Craig Mackinlay in Comment: The Government is fooling itself if it thinks it can go down the Net Zero path without electoral damage

Ulster 1) Plan for Troubles amnesty breaches international obligations, says Irish minister

“Ireland’s foreign minister has warned that a British government plan to bring prosecutions for killings during the Troubles to an end would breach its international obligations. The proposals would also undoubtedly be tested in the courts and add “years of uncertainty and misery for families with no benefit”, Simon Coveney said. Anger has continued to grow among victims’ groups and across the political spectrum after plans for a statute of limitations on prosecutions and for an end to inquests and civil cases relating to the Troubles were unveiled in parliament. As the SDLP sought a recall of the Northern Ireland assembly, Coveney wrote in the Guardian of the broader consequences of Britain’s “unilateral approach” after he and the Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, agreed last month to begin a process of engagement with the Stormont parties on legacy issues.” – The Guardian

  • Six weeks to find alternative to Troubles prosecutions ban – The Times

Comment:

  • Proposal would add to years of uncertainty and misery for victims and their families – Simon Coveney, The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: The new amnesty on Troubles prosecutions is not really about Northern Ireland at all

Ulster 2) Protocol is ‘greatest ever threat to economic integrity of the UK’, says new DUP leader

“Sir Jeffrey Donaldson told the House of Commons the “stakes could not be higher” as he set out the DUP’s seven-stage test for Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit arrangement with the rest of the United Kingdom. The new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) warned MPs in yesterday’s debate on the Northern Ireland Protocol the UK-EU agreement would be “socially disruptive, economically ruinous and politically disastrous” for the province of Ulster. Donaldson, who replaced Edwin Poots in the DUP’s second leadership contest of 2021 on June 30, said the first requirement for Ulster was to ensure there are no checks on any goods traded between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” – Daily Express

  • Britain and EU £3bn apart on Brexit divorce estimate – The Times

Comment:

  • You cannot make Brexit a success while trampling over the rule of law – Ben Wright, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Scrapping EVEL makes muscular unionism more important than ever

Police chiefs want criminal inquiry into Hancock leak

“Officials investigating the leak of CCTV that led to Matt Hancock’s resignation raided two homes and seized computer equipment yesterday. Elected police chiefs said the investigation should become a criminal inquiry. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which is looking into a data breach after footage of Hancock kissing an aide was leaked, said that two raids were carried out in the south of England. Elected police and crime commissioners said the investigation should be referred to the police because it was a serious security breach. Hancock resigned as health secretary the day after a still from the video of him embracing Gina Coladangelo, which was a breach of coronavirus rules, appeared on the front page of The Sun on June 25.” – The Times

  • Electronic devices seized from two homes – Daily Telegraph
  • Fury as homes raided in hunt for affair whistle-blowers – The Sun

Comment:

  • Whistleblower probe is an astounding state attack on our democracy – Gavin Millar QC, The Sun

Editorial:

  • It’s monstrous that ICO goons have raided homes – The Sun

Government and Tory party initially paid for Prime Minister’s flat refurbishment, accounts reveal

“Boris Johnson’s flat refurbishment was paid for by the Government and the Conservative Party before he met the costs himself, accounts reveal. No 10 has always maintained that an estimated £58,000 refurbishment of the flat above 11 Downing Street that Mr Johnson shares with his wife, Carrie, was paid for personally by the Prime Minister. But Cabinet Office accounts published on Thursday show that it initially met the costs of painting and the sanding of floorboards, plus additional expenses that are thought to include the purchase of gold wallpaper. The Cabinet Office charged any costs that exceeded Mr Johnson’s £30,000 annual allowance for repairs to the Conservative Party in July last year.” – Daily Telegraph

  •  The £58,000 paper trail for Wallpapergate – Daily Mail

More:

  • Seven Tories and two Labour MPs accepted free Euro 2020 tickets from gambling companies – Daily Mail

Boothroyd says Johnson ‘shirks duties’ at PMQs

“Boris Johnson is destroying the institution of prime minister’s questions by refusing to give any answers, Baroness Boothroyd has warned. The former Speaker, who presided over the Commons for eight years, said that Johnson’s obfuscation amounted to contempt of parliament. She also took aim at toadying backbenchers asking “fluff” questions about do-gooders in their constituency instead of holding the government to account. This weekend marks the 60th anniversary of the first formal session of prime minister’s questions (PMQs) in July 1961, when Harold Macmillan agreed to a dedicated session where he would be held to account by MPs… In an interview with Times Radio to be broadcast today, Boothroyd, 91, warns that PMQs has “deteriorated a great deal in the last few years . . . it’s not the quality that it used to be”.” – The Times

  • Expanding the No 10 machine won’t give us better PMs – Sir Anthony Seldon, The Times

News in Brief:

  • A hundred years on, Parliament should recognise murdered Unionist MP – Henry Hill, The Critic
  • ‘Truth and reconciliation’ cannot replace justice in Northern Ireland – Ian Acheson, CapX
  • The Runnymede Trusts’ deeply flawed race report – David Goodhart, UnHerd
  • The rule of law is breaking down in the EU – Steven Barrett, The Spectator