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NI tax rise to be branded a Health and Social Care levy – with Johnson ‘pledging it will be ring-fenced’

“Up to a million more procedures will be carried out by the NHS next year, Boris Johnson will say today, as he announces the biggest reform of England’s health and social care system for a generation. The taxpayer will fund the cost of increasing NHS capacity by 10 per cent over the next three years to deal with the waiting list backlog due to Covid-19, the prime minister is to tell MPs. The multibillion-pound package will be paid for by a rise in national insurance contributions, probably of about one percentage point, that will go on to fund reform of the social care system. It comes on top of an immediate £5.4 billion cash injection for the NHS to tackle Covid-19 over the winter. Johnson is already facing warnings from NHS leaders that the backlog could take seven years to clear, even with £10 billion a year extra, and could take 14 years if only half as much is available.” – The Times

  • Ministers have agreed the levy will be ‘legally ringfenced’ – Daily Mail
  • Sunak agrees to add extra £1bn to NHS budget increase – The Guardian
  • Rebels suggest Johnson has the numbers to get his plan through Parliament – FT
  • Working pensioners will also pay the new levy – Daily Mail
  • Johnson to warn NHS will never recover from Covid without tax rises – The Sun
  • Promise of cut to care home fees for the better-off – The Times

More:

  • Government faces growing red wall rebellion over social care tax hike – The Guardian
  • Fringe parties will prosper if Boris Johnson breaks tax pledge, warns Hague – The Times
  • ‘Lots of concern’, warns Fysh – Daily Express
  • Zahawi ‘not comfortable’ with breaking manifesto promises’ – The Guardian
  • The dispute has crystallised a contradiction at the heart of the 2019 manifesto – Daily Telegraph
  • Burnham demands ten per cent death tax – Daily Express

>Today: Audio: The Moggcast: “It is odd that if you’ve got Alzheimer’s it’s not paid for, but if you’ve got cancer it is paid for”.

William Hague: Johnson risks being defined by a broken promise

“The political downsides of being seen to go back on such a promise are very great: loss of credibility when making future election commitments, a blurring of the distinction between Tory and Labour philosophies, a recruiting cry for fringe parties on the right, and an impression given to the world that the UK is heading for higher taxes still. That adds up to an extremely high price, and if I was still around in the cabinet I would be on the very reluctant end of the argument about funding social care through a tax rise seen as breaking an election promise.” – The Times

  • What hope do we have when the Government can’t understand its own tax rules? – Mike Warburton, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Andrew Haldenby in Comment: Health and Social Care. Central planning and targets didn’t work for Blair – and won’t do so for Johnson, either.

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Social care reform – and why we can’t simply tax our way to better public services

No 10 intent on keeping Covid powers amid expected rise in cases

“Coronavirus rules are set to be renewed for another six months as No 10 admitted cases are likely to increase sharply in England because children are returning to school. Downing Street signalled its intention to renew the Coronavirus Act later this autumn, although some temporary powers may be allowed to expire. “It would obviously be irresponsible to allow all temporary provisions to expire. These are provisions that would, if removed, take away the government’s ability to protect renters from eviction, for example, or to give sick pay to those self-isolating from day one,” Boris Johnson’s spokesman said. “So it’s important that we take a proportionate approach to the Coronavirus Act because there are elements that do still provide protections for the public.” No 10 said some provisions in the wide-ranging legislation may be allowed to expire.” – The Guardian

  • Britain may face ‘firebreak’ lockdown at October half-term if Covid cases surge, minister admits – The Sun
  • Tory MPs need ‘Covid passport’ to meet Johnson at No 10 – Daily Telegraph

Stop more migrants crossing Channel or pay the price, France warned

“Priti Patel has told MPs that she is ready to withhold millions of pounds promised to the French to block migrant crossings after a record number of people were estimated to have landed yesterday. The home secretary is said to be furious at the low numbers of migrants being intercepted before they reach British waters since she agreed to pay France £54 million to double its patrols. She met Conservative MPs last night to try to quell their anger. Patel blamed the French and said she was prepared to pull the funding promised less than two months ago if they failed to stop three in four crossings by the end of this month, The Times has learnt… The Home Office has yet to confirm the final number of migrants who crossed the Channel yesterday. But government sources said it was likely to be close to 1,000, breaking the daily record of 828, as people smugglers took advantage of the fair weather.” – The Times

Johnson ‘snaps back’ at claims Gov is failing to rescue Afghans

Afghanistan flag“Fiery Boris Johnson today snapped back at claims the Government is failing to rescue stranded Afghans. The PM revealed there are 311 Afghans eligible under the ARAP scheme still stuck in the country – and officials were working tirelessly to bring them to Britain. Speaking in a packed Commons this afternoon, he vowed to honour the UK’s “obligation” to those who helped the Western campaign during the 20-year conflict… But he was accused of leading a chaotic government bungling the response to desperate Afghans on the ground. Sir Keir Starmer branded the Government’s handling a “national disgrace” and claimed “the Government doesn’t have a plan to get everybody out”.” – The Sun

  • Prime Minister reveals 311 Afghans who worked with UK troops remain stranded – FT
  • I believe the Taliban have changed, Johnson tells MPs – The Times
  • Starmer calls for rules to be changed so Kabul airlift troops can be handed medals – Daily Mail

More:

  • More than 300 troops face medical checks after testing the MoD’s dud £3.5billion ‘tank’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday:

New top marks could be brought in for A-Levels and GCSEs to tackle lockdown grade inflation, minister hints

“New top marks could be introduced for A-Levels and GCSEs to tackle rampant grade inflation during lockdown, a minister hinted today. Education chiefs are looking at the radical reform after the number of kids getting the highest marks spiralled under teacher assessment. There are fears the huge growth in the number of top grades risks devaluing qualifications in the eyes of universities and employers. Leaked plans have separately emerged for an A** category at A-level and a new top mark of 10 at GCSE to uphold standards. Schools minister Nick Gibb was asked about leaked plans today… Exams watchdog Ofqual is set to carry out research into attitudes amongst students, parents, and teachers about possible changes to A-levels.” – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Ten questions for Johnson’s reshuffle

>Yesterday: Jesse Norman MP in Comment: Introducing NMITE – a revolution in education and the key to levelling up

UK and EU extend post-Brexit grace period over Northern Ireland indefinitely

“Plans for post-Brexit checks on some goods entering Northern Ireland have been suspended indefinitely by the UK after negotiations with the EU reached a stalemate. Grace periods designed to ease the transition into new trading arrangements and checks on the island of Ireland have twice been extended as part of diplomatic wrangling labelled “the sausage wars”. On Monday evening David Frost, who is leading negotiations with the EU about updating the contentious Northern Ireland protocol, revealed a fresh extension, with no new deadline set for the completion of talks. A government source said the UK wanted to “create space for talks to happen without deadlines looming” every three or six months. They added they had been transparent with the EU about their decision and the announcement was “coordinated, if not agreed upon”.” – The Guardian

More trade:

  • Fur ban would breach newly signed trade deals, Government warned – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: When it comes to the Northern Irish Protocol, ‘honour what you signed’ cuts both ways

Chinese takeover of British chip-maker blocked by Government over spying fears

“Ministers have blocked a Chinese takeover of a British chip-maker over spying fears. They demanded it be investigated “on public interest grounds relating to national security”. China’s Taurus International Ltd and others are seeking to take over Swansea-based Perpetuus Group, which makes semiconductors used in a wide variety of tech. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has ordered the competition watchdog to report back by February before a final call is made on whether the controversial merger can go ahead. Taurus already owns a huge chunk of the business and there are concerns that approving the deal will give China the upper hand in mobile and tech communications. Last year, PM Boris Johnson reversed the decision to allow Chinese company Huawei to play a role in building the UK’s 5G infrastructure.” – The Sun

Election bill could cut millions from Labour campaign spending, say unions

“Election spending by trade unions and other groups could potentially be cut by millions of pounds under the government’s elections bill, unions have said, calling the proposed legislation a seemingly deliberate attempt to undermine Labour’s finances. The claims are the latest controversy surrounding the bill, which will receive its first Commons scrutiny on Tuesday and has been condemned by critics for undermining electoral freedoms in a number of areas. Much of the focus so far has been on plans for mandatory election ID, attacked by opposition parties and others as not merited given that the problem it tackles, electoral fraud, is minimal, with some saying the proposal amounts to Republican-style voter suppression in the US. It has now emerged that implementing voter ID could cost up to £180m a decade, yet there have been only three convictions for voter impersonation in the last seven years.” – The Guardian

‘Liar’ ban in Commons will stay

“MPs should not call each other liars because ‘they would speak about nothing else’ if it was allowed, the Speaker has warned. Sir Lindsay Hoyle said there were other ways of ‘exposing’ those who don’t tell the truth. Labour MP Dawn Butler was suspended from the Commons in July for claiming Boris Johnson had ‘lied to the House and the country over and over again’. Using such language was ‘not a good way of debate’, Sir Lindsay told Radio 4’s Westminster Hour… Sir Lindsay also revealed he has received two death threats since becoming Commons Speaker. He said he and other MPs had to be ‘careful’, but politicians would not be deterred from doing their job. Measures are in place to deal with terrorists, stalkers and ‘individuals with mental health issues that turn up’ at Parliament, he added.” – Daily Mail