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A Levels: A-grades awarded in almost half of exams…

“Almost half of Tuesday’s A-level results are expected to be at A* or A in a second year of rampant grade inflation. The Times has learnt that about 19 per cent of the qualifications are likely to be graded A* this year and a further 30 per cent are expected to be given A grades. The results come after last year’s exams fiasco when 38.6 per cent of A-levels were graded A or A*, up from 25.5 per cent in 2019. Pupils will achieve roughly a grade higher, on average, than they would have in 2019, the last year that exams were taken, a source said. Grade inflation has also been seen in GCSEs, the results of which are being awarded on Thursday, but not by as much as A-levels, the source added. The gap between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates is thought to have remained stable.” – The Times

  • Teacher-assessments could be back next year… – Daily Mail
  • …as Covid-19 threatens 2022 exams – The Sun
  • Williamson: students ‘deserve’ top A-level grades – Daily Telegraph
  • Sturgeon urged to apologise after ‘failing Scottish pupils for second year’ – Daily Express

…as Williamson urges lecturers back to the classroom

“Work-shy university tutors have been ordered back to class as students face yet more online learning. Professors at a string of universities will keep giving lectures and some classes via the internet over fears of spiralling Covid cases. Some will ask students to wear masks on campus or to have been double-jabbed. Of the leading 24 Russell Group universities, 20 say they will still hold some classes online. Now they face calls to get back to normal or suffer a student backlash. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and his team are keen to get students back on campus and official guidance says any social distancing measures should not be a barrier to in-person teaching… A spokesman for UK universities said they plan to “maximise face-to-face opportunities for students”.” – The Sun

  • Almost 150,000 students in scramble for university places – The Guardian
  • Russell Group universities cut clearing courses – The Times
  • Universities ‘will give poorer pupils priority’, peer warns – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Christian Wakeford MP in Comment: The number of pupils doing A-Level maths is fantastic – but higher education is not doing enough to support them

More cash for green boilers as humanity faces ‘code red’ warning on climate change

“Carbon taxes and more money to help homeowners switch to green boilers are under consideration by ministers, as a landmark UN report heaped fresh pressure on the Government by warning human activity is leading to irreversible climate change. The Government is examining proposals to extend both the cash amount and the eligibility of a £4,000 “clean heat grant” due to launch next April to help households with the upfront cost of replacing a gas boiler, The Telegraph can reveal. Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, confirmed on Monday that his department’s long-delayed blueprint for cutting carbon that was emitted in the process of heating homes would be published next month. The “heat and buildings strategy” will set out options for phasing out the sale of new gas boilers, with a ban on new installations from 2035 expected to be formally announced.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Kwarteng hits out at Government dithering on how to pay for gas boiler removal – The Sun
  • Johnson accused of climate crisis complacency after IPCC report – The Guardian
  • Vallance calls for urgent road map out of climate crisis – The Times
  • Unvaccinated visitors allowed to take part in COP26 climate summit in Glasgow – The Sun

Comment:

  • The need for action on climate change is urgent but it is not too late – Stephen Belcher and Sir Patrick Vallance, The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: COP26. Have you gone vegan yet, Minister?

Business Secretary ‘vows to put free market approach at heart of UK’s post-Covid recovery’

“UK business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has vowed to put a free market approach at the heart of the post-Covid-19 recovery, as the economy is weaned off the massive state support it received during the pandemic. A national enterprise strategy is being drawn up by officials to encourage small businesses and entrepreneurs, and will be unveiled later this year, Kwarteng told the Financial Times in an interview. He said his challenge would be “to reassert what we strongly believe in as a centre-right government: in the free markets, enterprise, entrepreneurship”. He added: “These are all things we want to celebrate. And it’s been very difficult to get that message out when we’re spending huge amounts of money [on state intervention].”” – FT

  • UK launches £4m fund to run fibre optic cables through water pipes – The Guardian

Alpaca:

  • Kwarteng dismisses Geronimo campaign as ‘August story’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Alpaca must be put down, minister insists – The Times

>Yesterday: Rocio Concha: If the Government wants to build back better, it must put the consumer at the centre

Plans to convince workers to go back to office in chaos after ‘docked wages’ confusion

“Plans to convince workers to go back to the office were in chaos last night after a day of confusion. Efforts to persuade Whitehall staff to return were abandoned. And threats to dock their wages for staying at home were ditched too. Ministers had been said to be planning a drive to get officials back at their desks in the autumn. An unnamed senior Cabinet figure claimed they should even have their pay reduced for continuing to work from home. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman insisted yesterday: “We have no plans for that approach.” And within hours of the plans to get them back to offices being made public, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng insisted there would be no “Government diktats” on 400,000 civil servants returning.” – The Sun

  • Kwarteng hints office returnees ‘more likely to be promoted’ – FT
  • No 10 denies plans to penalise civil servants working from home – The Times
  • Civil servants could lose up to £4,000 ‘London weighting’ salary boost – Daily Mail

Cameron denies claims he made $10m from Greensill before lender’s collapse

“David Cameron on Monday night strongly denied claims that he made around $10 million (£7.2 million) from Greensill Capital before the controversial lender collapsed. BBC Panorama reported that the former Prime Minister pocketed $4.5 million post-tax from cashing in Greensill shares in 2019, while also earning a $1 million annual salary for working as a part-time adviser to the finance firm for two and a half years, and receiving a one-off bonus of $700,000. His spokesman hit back at the claims, saying: “David Cameron did not receive anything like the figures quoted by Panorama.”  The representative had initially refused to comment on Mr Cameron’s financial package, saying it was a “private matter”, and declined to give any further details of the correct figures.” – Daily Telegraph

  • It ‘paid him £7m to lobby the Government’ – The Times

More:

  • Tories set to resume in-person fundraisers with £5,000-a-ticket Blenheim Palace dinner – Daily Telegraph

Tory MPs back Sunak after Johnson’s ‘threat to sack him’

“Tory MPs have lined up to back Rishi Sunak as the defender of fiscal conservativism after Boris Johnson’s threat to sack him, as Treasury sources pushed back against the idea of a carbon tax. No 10 insisted the prime minister had full confidence in Sunak but his spokesman did not deny Johnson had threatened to demote the chancellor to health secretary amid a row about a leaked letter pushing Johnson to ease Covid restrictions. Johnson was rumoured to be considering a reshuffle in the autumn although his spokesman would only say there were no imminent plans for a shake-up. Sunak is backed by the fiscally conservative wing of the Conservatives and is popular with party members, who view him as committed to keeping tight control of day-to-day spending.” – The Guardian

  • Tory leader ‘furious’ after comments leaked – The Times
  • Johnson has ‘full confidence’ in Sunak, insists Downing Street – The Sun
  • Spokesman says there are no reshuffle plans – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Rishi Thorneycroft? Or Rishi Selwyn Lloyd? (Or neither?)

Controversial ex-Test and Trace boss quits NHS Improvement role

“The controversial ex-Test and Trace boss will step down from her NHS role in October after failing to secure the health service’s top job. Baroness Dido Harding, who became chair of NHS Improvement in October 2017, had applied to become the new chief executive of NHS England. But the role recently went to Amanda Pritchard, who had worked as chief operating officer of the health service for the past two years. Baroness Harding was also executive chair of the Government’s coronavirus Test and Trace programme until April this year. The scheme has come under criticism over the course of the pandemic, with a report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in March saying there was ‘no clear evidence’ the £22billion venture contributed to a reduction in coronavirus infection levels.” – Daily Mail

Johnson preparing to water down vaccine passport plans to avoid mass rebellion of Tory MPs

“Boris Johnson is preparing to water down his plans for vaccine passports to head off a mutiny of Tory MPs, it has been reported. The PM is said to be looking at proposals to introduce Covid papers on a voluntary basis if there are future spikes of the virus. Under the plan nightclubs and concern venues would be able to avoid social distancing by asking people to produce the NHS app. The scheme would mark a significant softening of No 10’s stance on vaccine passports which has drawn fire from MPs. Boris previously announced nightclubs would only be allowed to admit party-goers who are fully jabbed from September. And ministers had said that policy could be extended to other crowded indoor settings like concerts and even theatres.” – The Sun

  • Government refuses to reveal how many times contact tracing turned off on Covid app – The Guardian

Scotland:

  • Face masks will be mandatory in Scotland until next spring, SNP warns – Daily Telegraph
  • Sturgeon’s SNP savaged for ‘Covid confusion’ – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Bowie – “We are very much on a road to normality” in Scotland

Wallace slams Biden’s ‘rotten deal’ with Taliban

“Defence Secretary Ben Wallace condemned US President Joe Biden’s “rotten deal” with the Taliban as Afghan cities continued to fall to the insurgents. He also revealed Britain tried but failed to get allies to remain after Mr Biden’s decision to cut and run blindsided UK officials. The minister also considered letting British troops go it alone in a bid to stop the carnage but said it would have meant pulling out of too many other missions. Mr Wallace said: “The deal was a rotten deal, it is flawed. It saddens me that the deal picked apart a lot of what was achieved in Afghanistan over 20 years.” Taliban militants scoffed at calls for a ceasefire last night as stronghold after stronghold crumbled. The northern town of Aibak was the latest to fall to the Taliban, bringing their tally to six since Friday.” – The Sun

  • Insurgents take key Afghan cities as Britons and Americans flee – Daily Express

William Hague: Decriminalising drugs is the only way forward

“More recently, as public attitudes have changed, popular leaders have been able to breeze through the issue with a quick confession, from Boris Johnson’s admission that he tried cocaine at university — but “it achieved no pharmacological, psychotropical or any other effect on me whatsoever” — to Barack Obama’s “I inhaled: that was the point”. Recreational drug use is no longer unmentionable but in most governments the issue of drug addiction remains unresolvable. Ministers face conflicting advice, bureaucratic inertia and a fear of doing the wrong thing. Amidst low public expectations of any change, it is safer to try more of the same. Labour fear being depicted as “soft” if they deviate from established policies. Lib Dems have always differed but been seen as sandal-wearing potheads as a result. Many Tories are reluctant, as I was two decades ago, to abandon a “tough” law and order approach.” – The Times

Tory MPs join Labour mayors in bid to save HS2 eastern route

“Conservative MPs representing constituencies in northern England have joined local Labour leaders in a last-ditch campaign to save the eastern route of the planned HS2 railway line to Leeds, which they fear Boris Johnson is set to cancel. Several Tory MPs in so-called red wall seats seized from the Labour party at the 2019 election have told the UK prime minister he would break his pledge to “level up” former industrial areas of the north and midlands if he did not build the project in full. Last December, the National Infrastructure Commission, a government advisory body, recommended delaying the eastern leg in favour of improved regional rail links, which it said would be quicker to build and would increase economic growth by 20 per cent more than long-distance rail services.” – FT

  • Business chief calls on Prime Minister to save north-east from Brexit damage – The Guardian
  • Bailey: ‘Tories can win London!’ – Daily Express

Ban cruel deportation flights, say Labour MPs

“Labour MPs have called for a ban on “unfair” deportation flights on the eve of the removal of dozens of Jamaican criminals. Among the convicted offenders set to be deported tomorrow are individuals who arrived in the UK as children. One came to the UK aged two but is being deported at the age of 23 after serving a two-year sentence for drug offences. Up to 50 criminals were due to be on the flight, including murderers, rapists and sex offenders. Campaigners have accused the government of breaching a pledge to stop deporting criminals who came to the UK before the age of 12. Diane Abbott, Labour’s former shadow home secretary, called for a ban on mass deportation flights and claimed they were being used as a populist strategy by Boris Johnson to show that he is tough on immigration.” – The Times

  • The Home Office is attempting to fly out up to 50 Jamaican nationals tomorrow – Daily Mail

More Labour:

  • Starmer ‘side-tracked’ by party split as leadership reset ‘stalls’ – Daily Express

Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre sues Prince Andrew

“Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an alleged victim of the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, on Monday filed a lawsuit against Prince Andrew in federal court in New York. She accused the British royal of sexually abusing her at Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan and at other locations in 2001 when she was under the age of 18, according to court records. Prince Andrew has denied having sex with her. “If she doesn’t do it now, she would be allowing him to escape any accountability for his actions,” Giuffre’s attorney, David Boies, told ABC News, the US news network reported. He added: “And Virginia is committed to trying to avoid situations where rich and powerful people escape any accountability for their actions.” The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. Giuffre accuses Andrew of sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.” – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • Sinn Fein’s troubling veneration of terrorists – Henry Hill, The Spectator
  • Remember the victims, not the IRA’s ‘martyrs’ – Ian Acheson, CapX
  • Who set Greece on fire? – Aris Roussinos, UnHerd
  • Why did Sarah Hussein’s death not attract anything like the interest in Sarah Everard? – Ben Sixsmith, The Critic
  • Johnson’s coal miners quip was pure calculation – Chris Blackhurst, Reaction
  • Rural policy must not be set by the mawkish urban mob – Henry Hill, CapX