Published:

UK to admit 20,000 Afghan refugees…

“Boris Johnson will vow today to bring in 20,000 Afghan refugees in recognition of the “debt of gratitude” Britain owes the country now under Taliban rule. The prime minister is setting up a dedicated scheme for those fleeing their homes, which will give them a safe and legal route to Britain. The Afghanistan citizens’ resettlement scheme will bring 5,000 refugees to Britain in its first year and ministers are determined to get it operating as quickly as possible. It will give priority to those who are “most at risk of human rights abuses and dehumanising treatment by the Taliban”: women, girls and religious and other minorities. Johnson spoke to President Biden last night, stressing the importance of “not losing the gains made in Afghanistan” over the past 20 years.” – The Times

  • British troops may have to abandon rescue, warns defence chief – The Times
  • Raab: Fall of Kabul took whole world by surprise – The Times

>Today:

… as Johnson phones Biden to say we mustn’t lose the gains we’ve made in Afghanistan…

“Boris Johnson last night urged Joe Biden not to throw away the gains of the last 20 years following the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan. In a thinly veiled warning over the consequences of the US military retreat from Kabul, the Prime Minister reminded the President of the need to protect the West against terrorism. It follows a wave of criticism from US media and British and European politicians following the Taliban’s dramatic takeover. A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘The leaders welcomed US and UK cooperation in recent days to help evacuate our nationals, current and former staff, and others from Afghanistan. ‘They resolved to continue working closely together on this in the days and weeks ahead to allow as many people as possible to leave the country.’ The discussion between the pair is thought to be one of the first calls from an international leader the President has taken since the insurgents’ power grab.” – Daily Mail

  • US C-17 pilot flew out of Kabul with 640 passengers – The Times
  • Trump criticises US withdrawal from Afghanistan – The Times

Analysis:

  • Biden banking on American public’s desire to end forever war in Afghanistan – The Times

… and Patel calls on Europe to help take refugees in

“Priti Patel has urged European countries to give sanctuary to Afghans fleeing the Taliban as she announced that Britain would grant asylum to 20,000 refugees. The Home Secretary’s call, in an exclusive article for The Telegraph, comes amid fears in Europe that the number of Afghans seeking to flee the Taliban could lead to a new migrant crisis across the Continent. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, warned of “irregular migratory flows” from Afghanistan as he said France, Germany and other EU countries were working on a coordinated response. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, backed proposals for refugees fleeing Afghanistan to be cared for in neighbouring countries, adding: “Then we can think about, as a second step, whether especially affected people can be brought to Europe in a controlled way.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • EU fears new wave of migration as Afghans flee Taliban takeover – Daily Telegraph
  • Taliban press conference: ‘Women will be safe with us and we won’t seek revenge’ – The Times

Comment:

Analysis:

  • No one really believes Taliban have changed – The Times

Andrew Neil: The speech that shamed America: Its contemptible dishonesty would have made Trump blush. How can Biden ever recover?

“It was the most contemptible speech by a U.S. president in modern times — a speech that shames America and leaves its global reputation in the dirt. And given that, until last January, the White House was occupied for four years by a certain Donald J. Trump, there couldn’t be a more damning criticism of President Joe Biden. Much of his address to the U.S. on Monday was Orwellian. In his classic novel 1984, set in a totalitarian dystopia, George Orwell created a Ministry of Peace which waged war, a Ministry of Truth which peddled lies, a Ministry of Love which tortured dissidents and a Ministry of Plenty which oversaw starvation. Biden matched all of that and more with his own defiant doublethink, involving distortions, the rewriting of history, and nonsense and untruths that even Trump would struggle to rival. His abject surrender to the Taliban was dressed up as political reality and common sense. His scuttle from Kabul, still ongoing, was depicted as geopolitical wisdom and a refocusing of U.S. priorities.” – Daily Mail

Scottish Government wants to make emergency Covid powers permanent

“Nicola Sturgeon’s ministers have been accused of being unwilling to give up their control over Scots’ lives after unveiling “dangerous” plans to make their emergency Covid powers permanent and more wide-ranging. John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, unveiled a public consultation on removing the March 2022 expiry date for a host of extraordinary powers, including the ability to impose lockdowns, close schools and require people to wear face coverings. Controversial rules allowing more prisoners to be released early could also be extended, along with the wider use of fines as an alternative to prosecution. Mr Swinney insisted measures that were no longer needed would be removed, but argued those with “demonstrable benefit to the people of Scotland” should be retained for use against Covid or anything else deemed a public health threat.” – Daily Telegraph

Pension triple lock ‘to be watered down’ by Government

“The pension “triple lock” guarantee long championed by the Conservative Government is set to be watered down next year in a move that will save the Treasury billions of pounds. The Telegraph can reveal that Boris Johnson has been advised by Cabinet ministers to temporarily alter the long-held promise on how to increase state pensions, due to a freak earnings rise. The triple lock, which has been Tory policy for a decade, promises to raise the state pension by either the inflation rate, average earnings or 2.5 per cent, whichever is higher. However, figures released on Tuesday by the Office of National Statistics found that average earnings rose by 7.4 per cent in the three months to June due to the peculiarities of the Covid pandemic.” – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 1) Experts will delay Covid vaccine boosters decision

“Government vaccine advisers are waiting for trial results before making a final decision on whether to recommend a Covid booster programme. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will look for signs of whether immunity is waning nine months after the first Covid jabs were administered in the UK. Data from laboratory experiments and hospitals will be weighed to gauge whether particular groups are at risk. Health chiefs are prepared for the booster campaign to be given the go-ahead in England next month, with plans for the jabs to be administered alongside seasonal flu vaccinations. The flu programme will begin in September regardless.” – The Times

  • No need to hand over all your data to buy a pizza – The Times

Coronavirus 2) MPs can reclaim Covid PCR test costs after return from holiday

“MPs returning to Westminster from abroad to attend today’s debate on Afghanistan will be able to claim the cost of coronavirus tests for themselves and their families on expenses. Under rules set by the Commons’ spending watchdog, MPs can be reimbursed for the cost of returning to parliament for an emergency sitting during recess. In an email circulated on Monday the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) said that this included the cost of modifying or rebooking PCR tests needed to make it to the UK in time for the debate. MPs can claim the cost for their partners and children who travelled with them to return if necessary.” – The Times

Gas-only boilers could be banned in the UK by 2026 as ministers race ahead with Net Zero climate drive

“The sale of gas-only boilers in the UK could be banned by 2026, with all new systems to run on hydrogen instead as Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushes ahead with his radical Net Zero climate change agenda. The Government is consulting on plans to make sure new boilers run on hydrogen, which does not produce carbon dioxide when burned and which ministers hope will supply a third of UK energy by 2050. Tests are ongoing to determine if hydrogen can be used safely and effectively to replace natural gas, which supplies about 74pc of the energy for heating and hot water in UK buildings and homes. A ban on sales of new natural gas-only boilers would add to plans to stop the boilers from being installed in new-build homes by 2025. Around 1.5 million boilers are replaced in the UK each year. However, hydrogen-ready boilers are expensive and are not yet commercially available and work still needs to be done to set standards.” – Daily Mail

Johnson calls time on lifelong lateness

“Poor time-keeping is no obstacle to becoming prime minister. Theresa May confessed that being constantly late was the trait she most disliked in herself. Winston Churchill was half an hour late to a rendezvous at Blenheim Palace with his fiancée Clementine on the day he proposed to her. Boris Johnson, too, is notorious for his tardiness — but this week it emerged that he appears to have devised a way to change that. On Monday Downing Street published a photograph of Johnson marking a minute’s silence for the victims of the Plymouth shootings. While the clock on the mantelpiece marked a minute past 11, the time on his wristwatch was 11.14am. Had the picture been staged? Or digitally manipulated?” – The Times

The police 1) Cressida Dick to stay on as Met commissioner during search for an outsider

“Priti Patel is planning to offer Dame Cressida Dick a contract extension while searching for an outsider to ultimately take the helm at Britain’s biggest police force, The Times has learnt. The home secretary wants a figure who has not spent the bulk of their career at the Metropolitan Police but has significant experience at other forces. Dick’s successor will be tasked with transforming the capital’s force after a series of controversies. Home Office sources said there was no clear candidate and so an extension for Dick was looking likely, although no final decision has been made. Dick’s current five-year term as Metropolitan Police commissioner expires in April. The Times reported last month that she would like to continue in the role despite being under pressure after a string of controversies.” – The Times

The police 2) Plymouth shooting: Police too busy to check shotgun applicants

“The firearms licensing unit that gave the Plymouth killer a shotgun certificate is manned by civilians, it was claimed yesterday, raising fresh questions about the process. Police officers are largely not involved in vetting and interviewing applicants to assess whether they pose a threat, it is understood. The team, which covers Dorset as well as Devon and Cornwall, includes retired officers. There has been increased scrutiny of how licences are handed out after Jake Davison, 22, used a legally held shotgun to murder five people last week before turning the weapon on himself. Policing sources said that operational officers with extensive firearms knowledge would ideally be involved in the licence process. However, they said that a lack of resources meant that officers were deployed to other tasks such as investigating crime.” – The Times

UK faces ‘dystopian’ future with facial-recognition AI cameras turning public spaces into ‘open air prisons’, warn privacy campaigners over new CCTV guidance given to police and councils

“Britain faces a ‘dystopian’ future with facial-recognition AI cameras turning public spaces into ‘open air prisons’, privacy campaigners have warned. They slammed proposed new CCTV guidance given to police and councils in England and Wales to compare camera footage with a watch-list. Former CCTV watchdog Tony Porter branded the changes to the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice ‘bare bones’ and said they offered unclear guidance. Two campaign groups also blasted the tweak – the first in eight years – and called for the practice to be scrapped. But the Home Office hit back, saying it empowered police and maintained public trust. The new code would be used by the local council and police and says it would take into account any impact on protected groups.” – Daily Mail

News in brief: