Newslinks for Saturday 22nd February 2020

Home Office 1) Patel gets ‘storm warning’ over civil service clashes

“A former chief civil servant at the Home Office has warned that the department is in the grip of a number of “tropical storms” amid reports of clashes between Priti Patel and her chief mandarin. Sir David Normington, a former permanent secretary who served under five ministers at the Home Office, also warned that the government’s timetable for a new immigration system would be “tight”. He urged Patel, the home secretary, to work closely with the department’s permanent secretary amid suggestions that she is trying to oust him… Asked about current tensions at the top of the department, he told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that it could sometimes come as “very unwelcome news” when civil servants presented ministers with facts, evidence and sometimes advice to slow down proposals.” – The Guardian

  • Patel row: top civil servants call for complaints system – Daily Telegraph
  • Home Secretary ‘accused of bullying civil servants for at least five years’ – The Sun

Comment:

  • Patel’s ‘bullying’ stems from her inadequacy – Mathew Parris, The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Is the Home Office still unfit for purpose?

Home Office 2) Department could absorb elements of Justice in Whitehall shakeup

“A Whitehall shakeup could see the Ministry of Justice scrapped and some of its powers moved to the Home Office, the Daily Telegraph understands Kit Malthouse, the policing minister, is expected to be given responsibility for sentencing in the Ministry of Justice, a government source told the Telegraph. The move would be seen as a first step in a Whitehall shakeup to take sentencing and possibly probation out of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) altogether and given to the Home Office. Mr Malthouse was described as a “lynchpin” of the plans by a source close to the discussions. “The long term aim is to merge the Home Office with elements of the MoJ.”” – Daily Telegraph

Home Office 3) May warned to ‘expect criticism’ in Windrush report

“Theresa May has been formally told she will be criticised in an independent review over the “hostile environment” policy for Windrush migrants, The Times can disclose. The former prime minister has been written to as part of the “Maxwellisation” process, which gives those who are criticised in the report an opportunity to respond. Mrs May was home secretary between 2010 and 2016, when Caribbean migrants were detained or deported despite having the right to live in Britain… Previous leaked extracts found that the department was “reckless” and had developed a “defensive culture” over immigration policy.” – The Times

  • Labour MPs warn ministers not to water down Windrush review – The Guardian

Editorial:

  • It is long past time for the Home Office to stop interfering – The Times

Home Office 4) Carlaw under pressure to pick a fight on immigration

“Jackson Carlaw must demonstrate he has “clout” with the Prime Minister by getting the UK Government’s immigration proposals changed, senior Scottish Tories have warned. In what was framed as an early test of Mr Carlaw’s leadership of the party, insiders argued that he must win concessions over the blueprint to drastically cut back on “unskilled” migration. Mr Carlaw was said to be “spitting tacks” about the the points-based plan, which farmers, the tourism industry and seafood processors have warned poses a major threat to their sectors. He and other senior Scottish Tory MSPs were understood to be extremely frustrated that no one in the Scotland Office was available to publicly explain the policy when it was unveiled on Wednesday, giving the Nationalists a free run to attack it unchallenged.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Immigration rules post-Brexit could fuel modern slavery, say charities – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Inflexibility on immigration could hurt the UK’s prospects – Bronwen Maddox, FT
  • Racist narratives flourish when liberals ignore anxiety about change – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph

Johnson’s foreign policy, defence and security review ‘in turmoil’, say insiders

“Boris Johnson’s sweeping foreign policy, defence and security review is at risk of unravelling before it has begun, sources have said. The prime minister announced plans during the election to conduct the most comprehensive review of the UK’s defence capabilities since the Cold War. Disagreements have broken out over appointments to key panels and timetables, however… A government source said that there was consternation about a series of “has-beens” who had been appointed to the review. Insiders believe Dominic Cummings was behind the departure of Christopher Brannigan, the defence lead in the No 10 policy unit, last week.” – The Times

  • Tory MPs warn Government not to force through Huawei law ‘on the sly’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Spads should ‘toughen up’, says Cummings – The Times

>Yesterday: Martin Parsons in Comment: A US deal with the Taliban would be worse than Obama’s nuclear deal

Sunak mulling ‘radical tax overhaul’

“The Conservatives will consider radical plans to scrap business rates and replace them with a land value tax in a bid to save struggling high streets. In his first budget Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, will announce a “fundamental” review of the business rates system amid concerns that it is penalising high street retailers. The current system of business rates is based on shop rental values and is calculated every five years. The levy is paid by tenants, rather than landowners. It is viewed as outdated because companies that need a presence in town centres pay higher rates than online and out-of-town rivals.” – The Times

  • ‘Red Wall’ MPs plot revolt against fuel duty hike – The Sun
  • Pre-budget boost for new chancellor despite borrowing rise – The Guardian
  • Secretive UK tax unit homes in on rich families – FT
  • Councils call for ‘tourist tax’ on AirBnB – Daily Mail

Downing Street says level playing field red lines ‘doom’ talks

“Downing Street expects talks with the EU to blow up almost immediately — even before official negotiations begin. With talks set to start in around two weeks, and the European Union still to set out its stall, the two opening positions will be miles apart on any deal. As Brussels insists on strict rules and a “level playing field” as well as EU court deciding regulations, Boris Johnson is set to stand firm, according to The Sun’s columnist James Forsyth. The EU has failed to take on board Boris’s massive election landslide and how serious they are to walking away with no deal. They are still hoping that they can bully the UK into a deal, believing their larger size, population and market value will give them the advantage.” – The Sun

  • Johnson warned he could break up Britain if he sells fishermen out – Daily Express
  • Stay cool over war of words, says EU envoy – The Times
  • UK manufacturers feel heat as trade battles loom – FT
  • EU leaders fail to agree budget after 28 hours of talks – Daily Express
  • Government starts rolling out blue passports – FT

>Yesterday: Iain Dale’s column: Frost’s address on Brexit is just as important as were Thatcher’s words at Bruges

Kate Fall: Inside David Cameron’s doomed bunker where the war for Remain was lost

“Now the two politicians who won the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union have devoured each other in political acrimony, just at the time when they should have risen to the occasion to do their best for the 17.4 million voters who put their trust in them. It saddens me that Michael, whose political credibility was built up around intellect, loyalty, and decency, became an arch-assassin. It was a role that never suited him, and still doesn’t. His head was turned by petty political games. Not just blowing up a few good men, but himself in the process. At least for a while. Theresa is declared leader of the Conservatives and Prime Minister in waiting. David offers fulsome congratulations. Only weeks ago, we’d been imagining three more years in Downing Street; now we have three days.” – Daily Mail

  • UK and EU are miles apart on Brexit talks and deal is about to blow up – James Forsyth, The Sun

Dimbleby accuses Johnson of ‘lying’ over the BBC

“BBC veteran David Dimbleby has reportedly launched a scathing attack on “lying” Boris Johnson’s “pernicious” attempt to curb the BBC licence fee. The broadcaster accused the Prime Minister of using the issue to undermine the corporation and avoid having his policies scrutinised. The 82-year-old said Mr Johnson “doesn’t give a damn” about fairness because his landslide election victory had made him “arrogant with power”. He added that the Prime Minister’s conduct towards the BBC was “childish, peevish and unpleasant”, the Daily Mail reported. Dimbleby reportedly said that the PM was “apeing Donald Trump” by using the same “political rulebook” to try to control the media.” – The Sun

  • Dorries to look at measures on how TV stations can protect reality stars – Daily Mail

Ministers ‘expected to drop’ reforms to the Gender Recognition Act

“Ministers are expected to drop plans to make it easier for people to change their gender amid concerns about the impact on children… The consultation, which was launched in 2018 by Theresa May, proposed to change the law so that people would be able to officialy transition simply by making a declaration of their gender… The proposals to change the Gender Recognition Act have met with criticism from some feminist groups, whose members are concerned about the prospect of trans people being able to use single-sex spaces. Ministers are also concerned about the impact the proposals could have on children, who are being helped to transition while still developing their “decision-making capabilities”.” – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Labour will ignore Blair’s speech yesterday. But Tories should take note.

…whilst Labour are ‘at war’ over debate on trans rights

“Now the party, for whom the equalities agenda has always been a unifying and galvanising force, is at odds with itself over an issue – a person’s right to self-identify their gender – about which many of its members, let alone voters, have little knowledge and less understanding. It has dragged the candidates to succeed Jeremy Corbyn into a culture war and led Tony Blair, the former prime minister who is seen as having done more than most to advance the cause of equality, to decry the “finger-jabbing, sectarian” battle over transgender rights. Unless the issue is contained, Mr Blair warned, Labour would be perceived as little more than a pressure group. The issue exploded over the otherwise reasonably civil Labour leadership race this month when all the candidates were asked to sign a 12-point trans “pledge card”. Many of the points were uncontroversial, but one called on Labour to expel “transphobic” members.” – The Times

  • Long-Bailey challenges rivals on housing as Labour race gets personal – The Guardian

Opposition accused of allowing anti-Semitism to ‘fall through the gap’

“Labour has been accused of allowing anti-Semitism to fall through the gap as its protracted leadership campaign has prevented a new leader from tackling the issue. It comes as Mehmood Mirza, the frontrunner to become the next BAME representative on Labour’s ruling body, was reported for posting an allegedly anti-Semitic cartoon on Facebook. The member of public who reported Mr Mirza, the vice chair of the West Ham Labour party, has not heard back from the party despite the complaints being initially made in October last year… Margaret Hodge, the veteran Labour MP for Barking who confronted Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism within the party, said that until a new Labour leader is elected in two months time, trying to fix the anti-Semitism crisis engulfing the party was futile. ” – Daily Telegraph

  • Come back, Ed Miliband, all is forgiven – Charlotte Lytton, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • The campaign has disappeared down an ideological rabbit hole – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Johnson’s main opposition is his party’s ageing demographics – Nick Cohen, The Spectator
  • Blown fusionism: is a common enemy enough? – Christopher Snowdon, The Critic
  • Over-cautious Labour leadership candidates should be listening to Blair – Joseph Rachman, Reaction
  • Populism isn’t about class – Matthew Goodwin, UnHerd
  • How cyber criminals really thrive – Richard Walker, CapX

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