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Prime Minister steps in to ‘save holidays on the Continent’

“Summer holiday plans have received a major boost after Boris Johnson blocked the creation of a controversial new “amber watchlist” for foreign countries. The extra category in the Government’s travel traffic light system would have left popular holiday destinations under threat of imminently turning red, forcing travellers into hotel quarantine on their return even if fully vaccinated. Mr Johnson’s decision – which came as he pledged to keep travel rules “as simple as possible” – allows millions of people planning to get away to Europe to avoid new complications. Spain, Greece and France had been rumoured to have faced being added to the watchlist, but now travellers heading to those destinations can now do so without the threat of being recategorised as red hanging over them.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister scraps plan for amber Covid watchlist after cabinet revolt – The Times
  • Tory MP squirms in grilling over ‘chaotic’ travel advice – Daily Express
  • Europe’s distrust of the traffic light system threatens UK holidays – The Guardian
  • Tory MPs and 300 travel firm bosses demand entire traffic light system is torn up – Daily Mail

More:

  • Quarter-mile queues at Heathrow as Border Force hit by Covid – The Times

Stephen Glover: The amber list shambles has marked out the border between Johnson and Sunak

“But when, a few days ago, Rishi Sunak had something to say to the Prime Minister about the need to ease travel restrictions, he sent a letter instead of popping round. Somehow the media found out about Mr Sunak’s reproving missive, though his people deny it was leaked. The UK’s obstructive travel policy, so he wrote entirely correctly, is ‘out of step with our international competitors’. Whether or not it was leaked, the letter suggests that Rishi is exasperated with Boris. We may reasonably infer that he believes that if he had made his point verbally to the PM, it would have passed through one ear and out of the other. Is this disagreement a portent of further ructions? I expect so. It would be hard to find two more dissimilar politicians. Mr Sunak is a details man averse to splashing taxpayers’ money on grand projects. Mr Johnson is a non-details man who is seldom happier than when spending other people’s cash.” – Daily Mail

NHS app tweaked to ping fewer Covid contacts and appease business

“Ministers bowed to pressure from business yesterday and moved to ease the “pingdemic” by tweaking the NHS Covid-19 app. Now someone who has been in contact with an asymptomatic coronavirus case will be notified only if the exposure was within two days of their positive test. Previously it was five. The change brings the algorithm in line with symptomatic cases when contact tracing done by NHS Test and Trace is carried out two days before symptoms. Ministers faced questions as to why it took so long. Figures show almost 700,000 alerts were sent in England and Wales for the week to July 21, a record that has caused staffing issues across industries. Scientists have defended the app by saying it was “behaving as it should” and that notifications had risen “in line with case numbers and increasing contact rates”.” – The Times

  • Only those who have been in contact with an asymptomatic case in past 48 hours will be pinged – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • EU vaccine rollout row flares after French official brags about Ireland ‘surpassing’ UK – Daily Telegraph
  • Night nurses offered £10,000 signing-on bonus aims to plug critical skills shortage – The Times

Conservative MP calls on Government to maintain Universal Credit uplift

“The Government has reportedly decided the £20 per-week increase in Universal Credit payments will be “phased out” in the autumn. But in an appearance on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, one Conservative MP called on Number 10 to rethink the move. Speaking to Kirsty Wark, Nigel Mills, the MP for Amber Valley and member of the Commons’ Work and Pensions Committee, said he wanted to maintain the increase in weekly Universal Credit payments until the end of the financial year… Mills warned that the full economic effect of the pandemic has not yet hit the pockets of many Britons and claimed many people could be made redundant after the furlough scheme comes to an end. “This pandemic isn’t over yet, the economic impacts aren’t finished, the job market is not back to normal,” he said.” – Daily Express

Chancellor tells young that working from home could harm their career

“Rishi Sunak has told young people that going into the office can be “really beneficial” to their careers and warned that video conferencing was no substitute. The chancellor said that working from home would not have enabled him to build strong relationships that had stood the test of time and he cautioned against allowing remote working to become the norm. Ministers have dropped formal advice to work from home and instead “expect and recommend a gradual return over the summer”. Businesses are taking a cautious approach, with millions of workers expected to spend more days at home than in the office after the pandemic triggered a revolution in working patterns. Some ministers believe that the shift may be permanent.” – The Times

  • Sunak has said being in an office was ‘beneficial’ at start of his working life – Daily Mail

More:

  • Chancellor vows furlough will end in September – The Sun
  • Ministers are thought to be considering tearing up EU bureaucracy on banking rules – Daily Express
  • Sunak resists pressure to remove cap on bankers’ bonuses – FT
  • He is in pole position to replace Johnson as Tory boss, say party members – The Sun

>Today: Richard Holden MP’s column: Presence matters

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Sunak leads our first Next Tory Leader survey in two years

Backbench Tory rebels ready to fight over planning ‘free for all’

“Tory backbenchers have warned Boris Johnson that proposals to scale down his controversial planning reforms will not be enough to avert a big rebellion. The MPs have vowed to keep fighting the Planning Bill and dismissed potential concessions as “window dressing”. Nearly 100 of them are set to oppose it in the autumn. Labour has already said that it will vote against what it calls a “developers’ charter”, raising the prospect of a government defeat. Under the reforms residents will no longer be able to object to individual planning applications. Councils will divide land into “growth sites”, where homes will be automatically approved, and “protection sites” where developers will face more obstacles. A “renewal site” category is being considered for brownfield land in urban areas.” – The Times

Defence 1) Johnson warns Iran of ‘consequences’ for killing Brit at sea in drone strike

“Angry Boris Johnson tonight warned Iran it would face “consequences” for killing a Brit at sea in a drone strike – as the UK and allies mulled a cyber strike retaliation. The PM blamed the hostile state for the hit on oil tanker Mercer Street that left the security guard and a Romanian sailor dead – and is working with the US and Israel on how to respond. Government sources said a “range of options” was being drawn up for retaliation after Thursday’s attack off Oman. A senior defence source said the most likely would be in cyberspace, warning “nobody will see it here but they will be left in no doubt you cannot kill a Brit unchecked”. A Foreign Office insider added: “A British national was killed and we have to make clear there are certain lines that can’t be crossed.”” – The Sun

  • Britain considers cyber attack on Tehran and special forces assault on drone command centre – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Sir David Amess MP in Comment: Britain must act now to show global leadership and investigate Iran’s leaders

Defence 2) Wallace to ‘personally review’ claims for asylum by Afghan interpreters

“The Defence Secretary told his Twitter followers he will “personally review” asylum applications made by Afghan interpreters. Ben Wallace, who was appointed Defence Secretary in July 2019, made the announcement on social media after claims were made that the UK had denied Afghan interpreters asylum. In a three-part Twitter thread, Wallace said: “I will personally review contentious claims as Defence Secretary.” “As operations in Afghanistan draw to a close”, he claimed, “our work to bring locally-employed civilians in Afghanistan to the UK to keep them safe continues.” The 51-year-old added the UK will accept “contractors”, “those who resigned”, “people in third countries”, and “staff dismissed for minor offences” onto the scheme.” – Daily Express

  • The injustice that may cost Cameron’s translator his life – Daily Mail

Defence 3) Kwarteng goes into battle over £6bn defence raid

“Ministers stepped in yesterday to protect jobs and expertise after a major defence firm became the latest UK company to fall prey to a foreign takeover. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is seeking guarantees from the American would-be buyer of Meggitt that it will keep the firm’s operations in Britain under the proposed £6.3billion deal. Coventry-based Meggitt traces its history to the 1850s and the invention of the world’s first altitude meter for hot air balloons. It makes vital components for planes and military jets with a 2,000-strong UK workforce and is listed on London’s FTSE 250 index. The US firm behind the take-over, Parker-Hannifin, has put forward a range of pledges in an effort to get the Government’s support, saying they would be legally binding. These include taking on apprentices, keeping Meggitt’s UK headquarters open and promising to invest more in the company’s research arm.” – Daily Mail

  • Are we finally fighting off the foreign sharks? – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail

>Today: David Green in Comment: Britain’s investment in China, not China’s in Britain, is the bigger threat to our national security

Hancock ‘grovelling’ to MPs on WhatsApp as he fights for career

“Matt Hancock has re-emerged in the Tory MP WhatsApp chats as he fights for his political career. The former Health Secretary, 42, has been lying low since he left his wife to pursue a relationship with his former aide, Gina Coladangelo. He quit his job in Government after The Sun published photographs of the pair together in his ministerial office. But has stayed on as an MP, and is now trying to test the water with old colleagues… MPs also suggested he had debated attending the annual Spectator magazine summer party, but was advised it was still “too soon” after the affair. Mr Hancock has been staying in his Suffolk constituency, and is said to still be regularly seeing his kids. Yesterday he was snapped picking up more belongings from the home he used to share with his wife and kids – including a coffee machine and clothes.” – The Sun

Diesel car suits me better than electric, says PM’s climate spokesperson

“Boris Johnson’s climate spokesperson has criticised the infrastructure that she says is putting people like her off switching to an electric car. Allegra Stratton, the prime minister’s former press secretary, revealed she drove a “third-hand” diesel Volkswagen Golf. The reason for this, Stratton explained in an interview with Times Radio, was that she needed to visit elderly relatives “200, 250 miles away”, and that having to stop the vehicle to charge it would slow the journey down, particularly with two young children who might otherwise remain asleep for the duration of the ride. “I don’t fancy it just yet,” said Stratton, who lives in north London, because of the length of time it took to make trips to visit her father in south Scotland, her mother in Gloucestershire, her grandmother in north Wales, and her in-laws in the Lake District.” – The Guardian

  • Stratton accused of promoting myths about electric cars – The Times

More:

  • Hydrogen boilers will cost no more than gas ones, saving Brits hundreds, industry vow – The Sun

Tories defend fundraising amid controversy over secret donors’ club

“The UK’s Conservative party on Monday hit back at accusations it has offered privileged access to senior ministers in return for large donations, claiming that the Labour party has its own arrangements for offering special access. The Financial Times revealed last week the existence of the Tory party’s “Advisory Board”, a secretive club for major donors that holds regular meetings with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor. The group does not feature in any party records or official paperwork. On Sunday, Labour called on the Conservatives to publish membership of the Advisory Board and to explain its purpose and how it interacts with government. Anneliese Dodds, the Labour party chair, said there were “serious questions” for the Johnson government to answer. Amanda Milling, co-chair of the Tory party, responded that “all political parties raise money and accept donations in order to pay their staff and campaigns in elections”.” – FT

  • I’m sorry that Prince of Wales was dragged into ‘cash for access’ row, says Tory donor – Daily Telegraph
  • Access capitalism whistleblower tried to recruit No 10 aides – The Times
  • New claims raise questions over Tory donor’s Russian business links – FT

Comment:

  • The ‘cash for access’ revelations mean a veil of secrecy around Prince Charles must be lifted – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: The Conservatives, money – and how the ghost of James Goldsmith triumphantly stalks Number Ten

MPs who sit on parliamentary groups face scrutiny over lobbying

“MPs serving on informal parliamentary groups while working in second jobs are facing scrutiny from a powerful parliamentary committee over concerns that they could exploit a lobbying loophole. An inquiry by the Commons standards committee will examine whether MPs who sit on All-Party Parliamentary Groups that lobby for certain industries should no longer be paid by organisations in those same industries. The move comes days after the committee launched an inquiry into APPGs, which have long been suspected as a way of vested interests furthering their commercial agendas. The former Welsh minister Alun Cairns is vice-chair of the APPG on taxis, which has agreed to “continue pressuring the government to provide urgent financial support for taxi drivers”. At the same time, the MP for the Vale of Glamorgan is also paid as a senior adviser to Veezu, the private hire and taxi firm based in Newport.” – The Guardian

Sturgeon invites Johnson for ‘showdown talks’

“Nicola Sturgeon has invited Boris Johnson for showdown talks in Edinburgh after it emerged that she is preparing to relaunch her push for Scottish independence. The First Minister wrote to Mr Johnson on Monday suggesting a summit, hours after The Telegraph revealed that he was planning to visit Scotland this week as part of efforts to strengthen the Union. In a letter released publicly on her Twitter account, Ms Sturgeon asked him to her Bute House residence, where he was met with loud boos from nationalist crowds the last time he visited and left by a back door. While Mr Johnson’s itinerary has not yet been released, Ms Sturgeon said his trip north would be “their first opportunity to meet in person for a while” and “might offer us an opportunity to meet in person in Edinburgh for a discussion on the current Covid situation and our respective plans for recovery”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Scottish officers worried that the randomly selected codeword could have caused ‘some sort of diplomatic incident’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Most of Scotland’s remaining Covid restrictions on social distancing and WFH rule will be lifted – Daily Mail

More:

  • Welsh government plans polling stations in schools for teenagers – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Conservative MSP attacks SNP over provisions for ‘long Covid’ sufferers

News in Brief:

  • The truth about the Blue Wall – Tim Bale, UnHerd
  • A volte face over what caused the pandemic needs explaining – Matt Ridley, The Spectator
  • Why is Labour under Starmer not doing much better? – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • In SNP fantasyland, a hard border with England is now an argument for independence – Tom Harris, CapX
  • It would have been better for  Biles if we’d just accepted her defeat – Raquel Rosario Sánchez, The Critic