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Johnson reshuffle: Rees-Mogg becomes Minister for Brexit Opportunities, Heaton-Harris moved to Chief Whip and Spencer is new Leader of the Commons

“Boris Johnson has made Jacob Rees-Mogg the new minister for “Brexit opportunities” and installed a key loyalist as his chief whip in a reshuffle intended to shore up his position after weeks of terrible headlines. Rees-Mogg, who was Commons leader, is moved to the Cabinet Office to take on a newly created role as Brexit opportunities minister, a cabinet-level job that also includes “government efficiency”. Chris Heaton-Harris, formerly Europe minister in the Foreign Office, takes over as chief whip from Mark Spencer. Heaton-Harris was a key member of a parallel parliamentary organisation advising the prime minister amid his recent woes. Spencer, a trusted ally of Johnson, was widely criticised by Conservative MPs over a series of missteps, including whipping them to support the disgraced MP Owen Paterson. He has been made leader of the Commons in place of Rees-Mogg, overseeing the passage of government legislation.” – The Guardian

  • PM criticised for making Spencer leader of the Commons – The Guardian
  • Johnson accused of dodging the big question in his ‘menshuffle’ – The Times
  • Savile attack on Starmer is a grim sign for Tories, warns Harper – The Times
  • ‘John Major set to accuse Johnson of harming trust in politics over ‘partygate’’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson gives new jobs to male pals and Brexiteers in Cabinet rejig as he looks to save his premiership – The Sun
  • Bring back fracking, says Rees-Mogg – The Times
  • No-confidence vote in Johnson could happen within days despite MPs being on recess – despite under-fire Tory leader planning a full reshuffle to fend off coup attempts – Daily Mail

Analysis:

  • Johnsons’ Cabinet reshuffle elevates loyalists and resets relations between whips and angry MPs – The Times
  • When it comes to whataboutism, Johnson has learnt from the master — Trump – The Times

Political sketch:

  • Crafty Welby delivers sharp ankle tap on Johnson – The Times

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>Yesterday:

Daniel Finkelstein: If the PM’s magic has gone, it won’t come back

“In November last year, Disney Plus released a three-part documentary about the Beatles that lasted almost eight hours. Substantial portions of Get Back show the band discussing whether or not they should play a concert, and if so, where. There is a scene in which everyone waits around to see if John Lennon will turn up, or if, as eventually is the case, he is merely late. Yet many people, including me, found it riveting. And its culmination — a concert on the rooftop of their own headquarters — thrilling. There is a petition for an extended edition. More than 50 years after they split up, the Beatles remain commercially potent and artistically influential. So it was brave of Cass Sunstein, the legal scholar and co-author of the social psychology classic Nudge, to post a paper this week in which he asks whether the Beatles were really so much better than every other group.” – The Times

Ukraine under pressure to bow to Russian demands after meeting with Macron

“Ukraine was on Tuesday under pressure to bow to Russian demands to change its constitution after Emmanuel Macron signalled the West would back the move as a path to avert war. Mr Macron said on Tuesday that he had secured agreement from both Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to implement the Minsk II peace agreement, which is deeply unpopular in Ukraine, following meetings in Moscow and Kyiv. It came after Mr Putin demanded Ukraine implement the agreement, saying: “Like it or not, my beauty, you have to put up with it.” The president was using a Russian idiom for telling children to do something they do not want to. The Kremlin dismissed speculation Mr Putin was quoting an obscene rock song that also uses the phrase.” – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

Starmer mob linked to hardline antivaxers

“Protesters who ambushed Sir Keir Starmer included a member of a hard-line antivax group that ran military-style training sessions in preparation for a “war” on the government, an anti-lockdown rapper and a man arrested for raiding a vaccination centre alongside Piers Corbyn. At least one member of the group that descended on Starmer outside Scotland Yard on Monday had previously taken part in Alpha Men Assemble’s training sessions, The Times understands. The group is drilled by former members of the armed forces and previously threatened to target vaccination centres, schools and the police. This newspaper has uncovered a series of messages on the encrypted social media network app Telegram where users co-ordinated the ambush. A UK wing of the Freedom Convoy group in Canada was involved in the protest and is planning to bring London to a “gridlock” next week with vehicles.” – The Times

Comment:

NHS waiting lists to keep rising despite Covid recovery plan

“The prime minister has been warned by MPs that his plan to clear the NHS backlog is “not ambitious enough” after conceding that waiting lists would rise for another two years. His health secretary, Sajid Javid, yesterday promised “strong action to reduce waiting times” with a plan that will allow the NHS to pay for taxis and hotels to send thousands of patients around the country for quicker treatment. Treasury attempts to push through more ambitious targets failed as the NHS was allowed to retain a March 2025 deadline for dealing with the 300,000 patients waiting more than a year for treatment. The department had wanted the target to be met in 2024. Conservative MPs warned Boris Johnson that voters would not tolerate paying higher taxes to fund the NHS if waiting lists and times did not come down before the next election.” – The Times

  • Greece, Portugal and Morocco cut Covid travel restrictions – The Times

Political sketch:

Comment:

Foreign Office was hit by ‘serious’ hacking attempt, it reveals in document seemingly published on Government website by mistake

“The Foreign Office has been a ‘target of a serious cyber security incident’, according to a document published apparently by mistake. The public tender document, which was put on the Foreign Office’s website on Friday, did not outline what happened or who carried it out but stated there was ‘urgent support’ required to ‘support remediation and investigation’. It added that cyber-security firm BAE Systems Applied Intelligence was called to deal with the hacking attack and received more than £467,000 for its work. The document said the work required involved ‘business analyst and technical architect support to analyse an authority cyber security incident’. The firm’s contract was concluded on January 12 this year, although it has not been confirmed when the incident took place or how much damage was caused.” – Daily Mail

Education 1) Tutoring for children is here to stay after Covid-19, says Zahawi

“Tutoring may become a permanent part of state schooling, the education secretary has suggested in a letter to head teachers. Nadhim Zahawi has urged head teachers to enrol their pupils in the national tutoring programme, in another sign that schools are shunning the scheme. In a letter he called on schools to sign children up for one-to-one or small-group tutoring to help them catch up on lessons missed during the pandemic. The national tutoring programme is a £1 billion project that seeks to give tuition to children worst affected by lost learning. It has three pillars: funding for schools to find and appoint their own tutors; money for schools with high numbers of disadvantaged pupils to appoint full-time “academic mentors”; and a £25 million tutoring programme organised and run by Randstad, a Dutch multinational.” – The Times

Education 2) Gove criticises ‘anti-rigour’ in the system

“Michael Gove has criticised the resurgence of “anti-rigour” in education and admitted that he oversaw a “fiasco” in scrapping Labour’s schools rebuilding programme. Gove, a former education secretary, criticised those seeking to reform or scrap GCSEs and expressed concern about the legacy of his reforms. His comments came in a report by Edpol published by Public First, a policy and research agency, based on interviews with former education secretaries. He suggested that there was a move away from the standards his department had set. “My worry is that some of the anti-rigour arguments that had been in abundance have come back as a result of the pandemic,” he said. “Some of the arguments being put forward, such as suggesting an inadequacy of GCSEs, reflect a misunderstanding of the value of independent assessment.”” – The Times

News in brief: