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Kwarteng suspends competition law to get fuel to petrol stations after panic buying

“Britain’s petrol crisis has deepened, forcing ministers to suspend competition law to help oil companies to target petrol stations running dry, after days of panic buying. After a meeting with oil companies and retailers on Sunday, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng agreed to temporarily exempt the industry from the Competition Act 1998. This rare move announced last night will allow companies across the oil industry to work together to keep petrol stations topped up, sharing information and optimising supply without risking breaching competition rules. Called the Downstream Oil Protocol, it should help fuel producers, suppliers, hauliers and retailers to prioritise the delivery of fuel to the parts of the country and strategic locations that are most in need.” – The Guardian

  • Punch-ups at the petrol pumps as drivers clash over last drops – The Times
  • Shapps hits out at ‘manufactured’ crisis as drivers panic-buy fuel – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: “There’s plenty of fuel”. Shapps urges public not to panic buy at petrol stations.

Army will be sent in to tackle fuel crisis

“Soldiers are likely to be put on notice to drive petrol tankers to forecourts within days as motorists continue to panic buy, The Times has been told. The government is expected to order the military to prepare hundreds of personnel to man tankers. The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents the majority of petrol stations in Britain, estimated that between 50 and 90 per cent of them had run dry. Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, suspended competition laws last night to allow fuel suppliers to co-operate and ensure that petrol stations running empty were restocked. The move comes after Boris Johnson announced that 5,000 foreign lorry drivers would be allowed into the country in an attempt to ease the delays in supplying filling stations.” – The Times

  • Military drivers being ‘trained in the background’, amid fears they don’t have niche skills needed to load fuel – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Chris Skidmore MP in Comment: Nuclear power. More small reactors in the future? Fine. But we need more big ones soon if the lights are to stay on.

Haulage body with anti-Brexit drive was behind fuel crisis leak, claim No 10 sources

“Sometimes, when sensitive details of a government meeting are leaked to the media, it can take months and a full-scale inquiry to identify the mole. No such inquiry has been launched into the leak that prompted the fuel crisis on Thursday, because the shortlist of suspects, according to Whitehall insiders, has only ever consisted of one name. The Road Haulage Association (RHA), which attended a Zoom call hosted by the Cabinet Office to discuss driver shortages, has been accused of prompting the weekend’s panic-buying in order to further its own political agenda. The RHA has been campaigning for months for cheap foreign labour to be allowed back into the country to make up a shortfall of lorry drivers which it has “massively exaggerated”, sources say.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson slammed by unions for turning to foreign HGV drivers… – Daily Telegraph
  • …as he ‘insists on a pay rise for truckers’ and will send a million of them morale-booster letters – Daily Mail
  • Visa schemes to ease lorry driver shortages dubbed ‘not enough’ – FT

Zahawi: I will not stand back and see schools close

“The new Education Secretary has said he will not “stand back” and allow pupils to miss school as a result of Covid, as he encouraged children to get the vaccine. Setting out his priorities for the first time in his new role, Nadhim Zahawi said that as a parent he has seen how “damaging” it can be for children to be out of education and the “great strain” it can put on family life. Writing in The Telegraph, Mr Zahawi, who was appointed Education Secretary earlier this month after Gavin Williamson was sacked in a Cabinet re-shuffle, said that almost every state school is now open and operating normally. He cited the latest official attendance figures, which showed that 122,500 pupils were off school last week compared to a peak of more than a million in July when entire “bubbles” were sent home when a child tested positive.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Stranded teachers may return to online classroom – The Times

Comment:

  • Vaccines are vital for getting our children’s education back on track – Nadhim Zahawi MP, Daily Telegraph

Top Tories want universities to register China connections

“Senior Conservatives have called on ministers to set up a “Domesday book” tracking Chinese influence on Britain’s universities and research institutions. Amid increasing concern about the reliance of leading academic institutions on Chinese money, the new report calls for a review of all research partnerships and funding arrangements and a register of all connections. It also says that the government should work to reduce universities’ reliance on the record number of Chinese students studying in the UK. Money from Chinese students makes up a fifth of universities’ fee income. The report has been written by the China Research Group of Tory MPs and is backed by the former foreign secretaries Jeremy Hunt and Lord Hague of Richmond.” – The Times

No 10 plans to lower salary level at which graduates start repaying loans

“The government is planning to cut the earnings threshold at which graduates begin repaying student loans in a bid to save the Treasury money and push more young people towards cheaper vocational education. Chancellor Rishi Sunak wants to overhaul student financing in his spending review ahead of next month’s Budget, reflecting Treasury concerns that the taxpayer is footing too great a burden of funding university courses. Currently graduates start to pay back student loans when their salary hits £27,295, but ministers are looking to reduce that figure. “That’s the plan,” said one minister. The Augar review of post-18 education in 2019 recommended the threshold be lowered to £23,000, median non-graduate earnings at the time, and the Higher Education Policy Institute think-tank this year modelled a cut to less than £20,000.” – FT

  • Overhaul would force students to pay back their loans earlier – The Times
  • Sunak eyes plan to boost Treasury coffers – Daily Mail

More:

  • Young people driving jobs bounce-back by moving off furlough – The Sun
  • New graduates and class of 2020 fight over the same jobs – The Times
  • Pension funds balk at No 10 appeal to fuel UK investment boom – FT
  • Ministers scrap plans to force airlines to refund passengers – The Times

>Today:

Johnson’s bid to mend Franco-British relations met with cool response

“Boris Johnson has told Emmanuel Macron he wants to “re-establish cooperation” in the wake of the Aukus defence pact row, during a frosty-sounding call between the leaders of Britain and France. A description of the conversation from Macron’s office said the prime minister sought the call on Friday, and expressed the hope that the countries could resume cooperation “in line with our values and our common interests”. In response, the French president told Johnson “he is awaiting his proposals” on how to do this, the brief statement from the Élysée said. A more lengthy Downing Street readout of the call omitted this last detail, instead saying the pair “reaffirmed the importance of the UK-France relationship and agreed to continue working closely together around the world on our shared agenda, through Nato and bilaterally”.” – The Guardian

  • France loses patience on fishing: ‘violent’ protest threat as deadline looms – Daily Express

Take Scots independence off agenda, ministers told

“Downing Street has told ministers to stop talking about Scottish independence for fear it makes Westminster sound needy and plays into the hands of nationalists. In a private edict, government ministers have been told not to engage with the SNP or proactively make the case for the Union. They were advised to take a show-not-tell approach of prioritising policies that will benefit the UK and ensuring that civil servants and ministers think about the impact of decisions north of the border. The change of approach follows the appointment of Lord McInnes of Kilwinning, former director of the Scottish Conservatives, as Boris Johnson’s adviser on the Union. He is said to want to shut down debate with the SNP over independence, as it is “counterproductive” after the party failed to win an outright majority in Holyrood in May.” – The Times

-Javid accuses Starmer of denying ‘scientific fact’ in trans rights row

“Labour and the Conservatives have clashed on the issue of trans rights, as Sir Keir Starmer said it was wrong to say “only women have a cervix” and the health secretary, Sajid Javid, said this was a “total denial of scientific fact”. The Labour leader called for laws to go further to protect trans rights after he was asked about one of his MPs, Rosie Duffield, who said “only women have a cervix”. She is not attending the party conference in Brighton after receiving threats and being called transphobic. Starmer called for a “mature and respectful debate” about trans rights, as he warned that trans individuals are among the “most marginalised and abused communities”.” – The Guardian

  • He blasts Labour MP who claimed ‘only women have a cervix’ – The Sun

Labour leader wins backing for rule book changes…

“Labour leader Keir Starmer has won approval for a package of reforms to the party’s rule book which could lock the “hard left” out of power. On Sunday, at the party conference in Brighton — after a heated debate at the podium — he gained support for measures that would make it harder for grassroots members to deselect sitting MPs and for leftwingers to stand in future leadership contests. “This is a crucial step forward for the party I lead and am determined to see in government. And in the coming days you’ll hear us set out ideas on how we win the next election,” said Starmer, who called it a “decisive and important day” in the history of Labour… Although Starmer was forced to water down his original plans for reforms, which would have scrapped “one member, one vote” in party leadership elections, one ally said he had still passed “a major package of changes in a very short period”.” – FT

  • Labour chief had to settle for watered-down election reforms – The Sun
  • Narrow victory after last-minute Unison backing – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: McDonnell – “There might be some people around Keir who have a pathological fear of democracy”

…and rebukes Rayner for calling Tories ‘scum’…

“Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner was rebuked by Sir Keir Starmer on Sunday after she described senior Tories as “scum”. She made the controversial remarks during a fringe event at around 9.15pm on Saturday, the opening day of the party’s five-day conference in Brighton. “We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, mysoginistic, absolute pile … of banana republic… Etonian… piece of scum,” she told activists, according to the Daily Mirror. Sir Keir Starmer sought to distance himself from her intervention, which appeared to refer to Boris Johnson and his Conservative Government… He said he would speak to her about the episode, but insisted it was a matter for her whether she apologised.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Leader refuses to back deputy – The Times
  • They put on ‘awkward show of unity’ – Daily Mail

More:

  • Corbyn says Rayner was ‘absolutely right’ to go after Tories – Daily Express
  • Labour spends £2m a year on legal fees since Corbyn era, party official says – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: “It’s not language that I would have used”. Starmer distances himself from Rayner’s comments.

…as Burnham accuses him of sidelining Labour’s metro mayors at party conference

“Andy Burnham today accused Sir Keir Starmer of sidelining Labour’s metro mayors at the party’s annual conference. Mr Burnham questioned if the party is ‘serious about winning back the north of England’ after he claimed senior elected politicians had not been given the chance to deliver major televised speeches in the conference hall. The Mayor of Greater Manchester said it is ‘regrettable that no Labour metro mayor outside of London is being asked to address this conference properly from the platform’. The comments from Mr Burnham, who has been widely tipped as a potential successor to Sir Keir, risk igniting a major internal Labour row. Speaking at a fringe event in Brighton this afternoon, Mr Burnham claimed Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, will be the only regional mayor who will address the main conference hall from the platform.” – Daily Mail

Labour to scrap business rates if elected, says shadow chancellor

“Labour will scrap business rates and undertake the “biggest overhaul of business taxation in a generation,” the Labour shadow chancellor will say at her speech on Monday, saying the current system punishes entrepreneurs and business investment. Rachel Reeves will also announce that the party will undertake a major review of existing tax reliefs, suggesting it would target reliefs on wealth such as income from buy-to-let properties. She said the reliefs “create extra layers of complexity to navigate, and added together they cost more than our entire NHS budget… The shadow chancellor said a Labour government would freeze business rates and eventually replace them with a new, as yet undefined system that she said would reward investment, with a particular focus on businesses investing in decarbonisation and green technology.” – The Guardian

  • Opposition to slash tax reliefs and hit wealthy in pursuit of balanced budget – FT
  • Fears of a 50p top tax rate as Starmer opens the door to a raid on incomes – Daily Mail
  • He tells voters Labour cannot rule out tax rises – The Times

More:

Just one protester in court over M25 chaos

“Most protesters arrested for blocking the M25 are yet to be charged and fears are rising that environmental activists will try to blockade transport links to the Tory party conference. The police and prosecutors face questions about their handling of the protest movement amid claims that only one activist from Insulate Britain has faced court. More than 200 people were arrested during blockades that brought chaos to the M25 but many have been released under investigation only to turn up at other protests. Activists from Insulate Britain blocked traffic on the M25 and brought traffic to a halt on Friday on the two main roads to the Port of Dover. The High Court granted an interim injunction banning Insulate Britain activists from protesting on the A20 and other strategic routes into the port, one of the busiest in Europe. Ministers had already obtained an injunction to ban protests on the M25.” – The Times

  • Graduate was ‘never interviewed by police’ despite being arrested and released four times – Daily Mail

German conservatives suffer their worst general election result in history

“Angela Merkel’s conservatives have suffered the worst general election result in their history as they were defeated by the left-leaning Social Democrats last night. The chancellor’s centre-right alliance, which has been in power for 16 years, was beaten by a margin of 1.6 per cent, according to provisional results released this morning. The Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU) losses included Merkel’s constituency on the Baltic coast, which fell to the Social Democrats (SPD) with a swing of more than 25 points after she had held it for all 31 years, since German reunification. At the other end of the country, the CDU also lost Aachen, the home city of its leader, Armin Laschet, 60, to the Green party.” – The Times