Newslinks for Monday 1st March 2021

The Budget 1) Sunak makes case for tax increases

“Rishi Sunak has laid the groundwork for tax rises after he said it was time to “level with people” about the problems facing the economy. The chancellor confirmed yesterday that he would extend coronavirus support in the budget on Wednesday but warned that the pandemic had an “enormous hold” on the economy. He repeatedly declined to deny telling Conservative MPs that he was planning to raise taxes in the short to medium term in order to be able to cut them again before the next election. Sunak is expected to announce a pathway to increase the rate of corporation tax from 19 per cent to 25 per cent over this parliament. He is likely to announce a “stealth tax” by freezing the lifetime allowance on pensions, the amount people can build up in their pension pot before incurring punitive charges.” – The Times

  • Chancellor paves way for tax rises with warning of ‘enormous’ Covid impact on economy – Daily Telegraph
  • The Treasury select committee says expert testimony it had received indicated that now was not the right time to increase taxes – FT
  • Hunt and Green demand Johnson use the Budget to produce long-awaited plan to pay for social care – Daily Mail
  • Rapid vaccine rollout promises faster economic revival and fewer tax rises – FT

Comment:

>Today:

The Budget 2) Government considers pubs plan that would see alcohol duty frozen

“The Government has discussed a giveaway for pubs which would see the business rates holiday extended and all alcohol duty frozen. Treasury officials have been in talks with the hospitality industry to continue business rates relief and a VAT cut for pubs, restaurants and clubs beyond June 21 – when lockdown restrictions could be fully lifted – and potentially into the New Year, sources have told The Telegraph. Beer and other alcohol duty could also be frozen in the Budget on Wednesday, although a proposed plan to cut tax on alcohol served in pubs while maintaining it on shop-bought drinks will not be included. It came as 45 Conservative MPs Northern “Red Wall” seats urged Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, to make “a bold move to reduce business rates” on retail as soon as possible.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Hospitality sector faces £9bn bill for reopening delay – Daily Telegraph

People smugglers will be jailed for life, vows Patel

“People smugglers will face life sentences under Priti Patel’s plans to crack down on Channel crossings, The Times has learnt. The home secretary is expected to announce the move in an attempt to increase from three years the average length of sentences for gangsters convicted of assisting illegal immigration. The longer jail terms are part of a series of deterrent measures due to take effect next year. Ministers fear a rise in crossings this year as migrants try to reach Britain before the law is tightened. Eighty-seven migrants crossed the Channel in warmer weather on Saturday, pushing this year’s total to 531 — 40 per cent higher than at the same time last year. A further 51 attempts to cross the Channel on the same day were intercepted by the French authorities.” – The Times

‘Symonds briefing war: Is no 10 a pit of vipers or a nest of singing birds?’

“The civil service is becoming “collateral damage” in an internal briefing war in No 10, a senior Whitehall source said last night. The warning came after reports of clashes between the prime minister’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds, and senior female civil servants. Some liken it to the warring court of Henry VIII while for others it is a “nest of singing birds”. There can be little doubt, though, that the atmosphere at No 10 has been poisoned by vicious anonymous briefings, many of them aimed at Symonds. Last night her allies hit back after a story appeared at the weekend accusing her of moving to thwart the careers of two senior women in the civil service.” – The Times

Analysis:

  • Does Johnson stir up team conflict to help make up his mind? – The Guardian

>Today:

Coronavirus 1) Hancock hails 20 million vaccinations

“More than 20 million people in Britain have been given their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Boris Johnson hailed the “huge national achievement” as the figure was announced yesterday, with almost 800,000 also having had a second jab. The news came as health officials said that they had identified the first British cases of the Manaus variant that may spread more rapidly and respond less well to existing vaccines. Public Health England said it had identified six cases of the variant, which was first detected in the Brazilian city of Manaus, three of which were in England and three in Scotland.” – The Times

  • Single Covid vaccine reduces risk of going to hospital by 90 per cent – The Times
  • Germany urged to follow Britain’s vaccine strategy as regulators look set to approve AstraZeneca for over 65s – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Surge in cancer cases after Covid caused dental care delays – The Times
  • Long waits for the treatment of eating disorders in the pandemic are putting lives at risk, a senior doctor has warned – The Times
  • More than 34,000 people with dementia have died from Covid, say campaigners – Daily Telegraph

>Today:

Analysis:

  • Green pass: how are Covid vaccine passports working for Israel? – The Guardian

Coronavirus 2) Clare Foges – Vaccine certificates are vital step to freedom

“Her Majesty the Queen is a master of understatement. When asked what she thought of Niagara Falls, she replied “it looks very damp”. When asked why she carried her purse around Buckingham Palace, she explained “this house is very big”. And when asked about the Covid vaccination programme, she quietly suggested citizens should “think about other people rather than themselves”. Though every utterance from the royal lips is diplomatic, one senses a twinge of frustration at the vaccine refuseniks who plan to free-ride their way out of this pandemic on the back of the jab-taking majority. The Queen is right to express herself in a reasonable, polite way, and this must be our reasonable, polite approach: ask all to be vaccinated;”. – The Times

More comment:

Coronavirus 3) Hunt for mystery person who tested positive for Brazilian Covid-19 variant then vanished

“Six people in Britain have tested positive for a Covid-19 mutation that is potentially more infectious and resistant to vaccines as a nationwide search is launched for one unidentified case. Health officials are hunting an unknown person who has been infected with the variant after the mutation first identified in Manaus, Brazil, was confirmed in the UK at the weekend. The P.1 variant is similar to the South African mutations, is highly contagious and is linked to greater risk of reinfection. There has been little research into vaccine efficacy against this strain. Two of the cases in England are from one household in South Gloucestershire. The third is an individual who took a test on February 12 or 13 but did not complete their test registration card so officials cannot contact them.” – The Times

Coronavirus 4) Families and support bubbles will get two free Covid tests a week

“Prince Charles has praised the “dogged determination” of teachers as schools prepare to reopen with regular testing of pupils and their families for Covid-19. Families with children in school or college will be able to test themselves twice a week at home under plans for classes to safely resume in England from March 8. Free tests will be provided to pupils’ households and people in their childcare or support bubbles, regardless of whether anyone has symptoms. The rapid tests will be ordered and collected from local sites or administered through workplace testing programmes, the Department of Health and Social Care said.” – The Times

  • Britain’s biggest teaching union has been urged to show its ‘collective strength’ by threatening to strike over schools reopening next week – Daily Mail

Britain’s enemies ‘learning how to make chemical weapons online’

“Britain is in danger of more chemical attacks because terrorists can learn how to make the weapons they need online, the defence secretary has said in a warning three years after the Salisbury poisoning. Ben Wallace said that Russia remained an “adversary” and that the threat was more uncertain even than during the Cold War because of the unpredictability of the Kremlin. The Salisbury attacks in March 2018, when Vladimir Putin’s agents used novichok in an attempt to kill Sergei Skripal, brought home to parliament the reality of the threat from Russia, he said. Dawn Sturgess, 44, died four months later after touching a discarded bottle containing the nerve agent.” – The Times

Sturgeon faces triple threat as MSPs demand evidence to corroborate Salmond allegations

“Nicola Sturgeon is facing a triple threat to her political career as a Holyrood inquiry and opposition MSPs demanded the evidence that would corroborate Alex Salmond’s claim she had repeatedly breached the ministerial code. Ahead of the First Minister’s appearance on Wednesday, the committee conducting the inquiry is on Monday expected to formally request a cache of documents from Mr Salmond’s solicitors that he claimed proved there was a “malicious” plot against him. It is understood a majority of the committee supports the move, which was suggested by Mr Salmond in his closing remarks of his six-hour evidence session on Friday as a means of circumventing the Scottish Government and Crown Office.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Swinney faces a no confidence vote in Scottish Parliament for refusing to publish Salmond legal advice – Daily Mail

Comment:

Polls:

  • Support for Scottish independence plummets to less than half of all Scots – Daily Mail
  • More people think benefits are too low – The Times
  • Brenda from Bristol was right, we hate elections – The Times

Trump teases 2024 run and denounces Biden at rightwing summit

“Donald Trump on Sunday launched his attempted political comeback, teasing a possible run for the presidency in 2024 and denouncing Joe Biden for “the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history”. The former president made his first speech since leaving the White House at the rightwing Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, to an effusive reception. Trump claims, entirely falsely, that he actually won the 2020 election but was fraudulently denied his victory. He told CPAC the Democrats “just lost” the White House, despite the fact that Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the US on 20 January, sworn in by the supreme court chief justice, John Roberts. And officials at all levels called the election the most secure in US history.” – The Guardian 

News in brief:

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Author: Conservative Home


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