Newslinks for Sunday 20th June 2021

Sunak plans spending squeeze which could derail Johnson’s ‘levelling up’ drive…

“Rishi Sunak plans a spending squeeze which could derail the PM’s “levelling up” drive. The Chancellor wants ministers to tighten their belts to help recoup the £400billion cost of surviving the pandemic. But it puts him on collision course with Boris Johnson who wants to “love bomb” former Red Wall Labour seats which swept him to power. Turning off the spending taps will mean big investment projects such as new northern rail links may have to be scrapped. And there are fears urgent action such as overhauling the social care system, a house-building boom and tackling climate change will also go on hold. Mr Sunak will put off any big spending commitments until his autumn spending review.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Chancellor v the PM who only wants to spend, spend, spend – Sunday Times
  • Social care plan ‘set to cost £5billion a year’ amid fears over UK debt mountain – Mail on Sunday
  • Leadsom criticised after saying furlough has been ‘great’ for some – The Observer

…as Johnson could ‘scrap High Speed 3’ as HS2 fiasco bleeds Tory support…

“A major project designed to help deliver Boris Johnson’s “levelling up” agenda in the north of England could be scrapped at a secret Whitehall meeting this week, a civil service source has claimed. The £43 billion Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), sometimes known as High Speed 3, was promised to MPs in the red wall seats to provide prosperity across the north of England. Well placed sources have told the Sunday Express that available funds have been swallowed up by the controversial High Speed 2 project which it is claimed has now reached £158 billion without a track being laid. The Department for Transport denies this figure, saying it is “unsubstantiated and incorrect”.” – Sunday Express

  • Labour urges Tory backbench rebellion in planning reform vote – The Observer

…and he’s warned ‘flirting’ with Red Wall fans risks him losing traditional Tory voters

“Boris Johnson was last night told to stop “flirting” with his new Red Wall fans – or risk losing his true blue Tory voters. Senior MPs warned that traditional Tories are fed-up with him splurging cash on ex-Labour supporters in the North. And they fear Thursday’s by-election defeat to Lib Dems in leafy Chesham and Amersham is the start of a simmering rebellion among the party’s core backers… MPs are also unhappy at what they see as the Government’s “tin ear” when it comes to concerns over HS2 and relaxing planning laws. Tension has been mounting for months between the Westminster old guard and the young Northern MPs who delivered the 80-seat majority.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Defeated Chesham candidate says Tory voters want return to fiscal discipline – Sunday Telegraph
  • Senior Tories warn Boris Johnson ‘blue wall’ is at risk after byelection defeat – The Observer
  • ‘Progressive alliance’? We can smash blue wall without it, say Lib Dems – Sunday Times

Robert Colvile: It was the anti-Tories wot won Chesham and Amersham

“The result on Thursday was not about Brexit per se. The Lib Dem victory was built on opposition to HS2 and housebuilding, both of which, in classic Lib Dem fashion, the party actually supports in Westminster. But while the vote wasn’t about Brexit, it is impossible to imagine it happening without it. The overarching story of the past five years is that Brexit has refashioned British politics around tribe and culture rather than class and income. The Tories turned themselves into the party of Leave. Labour, by contrast, was torn asunder, just as it had been a few years earlier in Scotland. Were they still in the Commons, Blair, Brown, Mandelson, Cook and Darling would have all lost their seats. Now, however, we are seeing the other side of the coin.” – Sunday Times

  • Want to know what Tory MPs think of their leader? Check out the Love Bombers – Isabel Hardman, The Observer
  • The Tories don’t need to abandon their working class pivot, just to stop talking about ‘levelling up’ – James Frayne, Sunday Telegraph

Editorial:

Hancock ‘kept Johnson in dark’ over Covid vaccines success

“Matt Hancock failed to tell Boris Johnson about a major Public Health England (PHE) study showing the effectiveness of vaccines against the Indian or delta variant during a key meeting to decide whether to extend Covid restrictions, The Telegraph can disclose. The Telegraph understands that the Health Secretary had known about the PHE data three days before the “quad” of four senior ministers, led by the Prime Minister, met last Sunday to decide whether to postpone the planned June 21 reopening until July 19. However, multiple sources familiar with the meeting said it was not raised by Mr Hancock or discussed at all during the course of the talks. The data was also not included in briefing papers given to Mr Johnson, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor and Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, in advance of the meeting.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Revelation suggests Prime Minister may have gone ahead with the unlocking if informed – Mail on Sunday
  • MPs fight to block lockdowns with ‘pandemic law’ – Sunday Express

More:

Patel axes unconscious bias training for Border Force officers

“All Border Force officers have been offered “unconscious bias” training despite controversy over whether it has any positive effect, The Telegraph can disclose. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has ordered the Home Office to scrap the courses for staff after it emerged that Border Force and UK Visas and Immigration, two of the department’s agencies, offered training intended to alert people to hidden prejudices they may harbour. Spending records show Border Force paid £32,510 last year to Challenge Consultancy, a diversity firm that previously said Peter Pan character Captain Hook represented a “sinister” message on disability. The Telegraph has previously reported that Challenge has used the slogan “if you have a brain, you have a bias” in its resources, and its founder Femi Otitoju said in a 2019 interview that she “only worked in order to be an activist”.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Ministers face pressure to allow more overseas troops to remain in Britain for free – Sun on Sunday

Buckland steps in to ‘challenge’ release of child murderer

“Justice Secretary Robert Buckland is preparing to intervene to try to prevent the release of ‘psychopath’ child-killer Colin Pitchfork after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the paedophile ‘has to be released’. Mr Buckland is said to be ‘minded’ to question the ruling of the Parole Board after it ruled that Pitchfork, 61, should be freed after 33 years behind bars for murdering and raping two 15-year-old girls in the 1980s. Pitchfork raped and strangled Lynda Mann in November 1983 and Dawn Ashworth in July 1986. He roamed free until 1987 when he became the first killer to be convicted in Britain on the strength of DNA evidence. He was jailed for life in 1988 for a minimum of 30 years, reduced on appeal to 28 years. During sentencing, the lord chief justice said Pitchfork should not be released ‘from the point of view of the safety of the public’.” – Mail on Sunday

Firebomb thugs torch Scots Tory councillor’s cars and home in third attack

“An attack on a Scottish Tory councillor’s property by firebomb thugs for a third has been condemned by cops and MSPs as “willful”. Cllr Graeme Campbell was targeted at his property in Strathaven, Lanarkshire for a third time this morning. During the incident, two cars and part of his property were left burnt out after thugs struck after midnight today. Police have cordoned off his property and forensic officers are at the scene. Police Scotland, who are investigating the incident, were also president at a set of bushes nearby where a container, believed to have been a petrol can, lay melted… The Scottish Conservative councillor, who was elected in 2007 to represent the ward of Avondale and Stonehouse, has been targeted on two previous occasions, most recently in May and August 2019.” – Sunday Express

GB News boycott shows we can’t take democratic values for granted, says Dowden

“The advertising boycott of GB News shows Britain can no longer take basic democratic values for granted, the Culture Secretary has warned. Writing for The Telegraph, Oliver Dowden said a “vocal Twitter minority” was targeting the “free and diverse media” and the “right to dissent”. The Cabinet minister pledged: “We will not stand by and allow that to happen.” In an escalation of the Government’s so-called “war on woke”, Mr Dowden insisted the fledgling centre-Right broadcaster is right to seek to “empower” viewers who feel that their “concerns have been unheard”. His intervention came after several companies withdrew advertising from GB News in its first week on air in the face of a “stop funding hate” campaign.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Plans to curb the power of Netflix and Amazon to give BBC and ITV a chance to compete – Mail on Sunday

Comment:

  • We need outlets and commentators who cover the range of the political spectrum – Oliver Dowden MP, Sunday Telegraph

‘Muslim backlash’ leaves Starmer facing new Red Wall humiliation

“Sir Keir Starmer is heading for a by-election defeat that could end his leadership amid claims his tough stance on antisemitism has cost him the trust of Muslim voters. He faces a bitter backlash from Muslim communities in Labour-held Batley and Spen, with even his wife Victoria’s Jewish heritage apparently being cited as one reason not to vote Labour. Starmer loyalists last night hit back at what they said were ‘repellent and repugnant’ attempts to draw Mrs Starmer into the West Yorkshire by-election battle, where polls have put the Tories on course to snatch the Red Wall seat. But campaigners for pro-Palestinian campaigner and Workers Party candidate George Galloway, who claims that ‘I’m in the lead here’, insist the issue is coming up ‘on the doorstep and on the street’.” – Mail on Sunday

Bercow joins Labour

“John Bercow, the former Tory MP and Speaker of the House of Commons, has switched his political allegiances to join the Labour Party. Mr Bercow, who stepped down as Speaker in 2019 after 10 years, said he regards today’s Conservative Party as “reactionary, populist, nationalistic and sometimes even xenophobic”. He said he joined the Labour Party a few weeks ago because he now shares its values and sees it is as the only means to removing the current Tory government from office. “I am motivated by support for equality, social justice and internationalism. That is the Labour brand,” he said… Mr Bercow described Prime Minister Boris Johnson as “a successful campaigner but a lousy governor”.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • He wants the Government removed from office – Sunday Times

Burnham confronts Sturgeon and demands compensation after Manchester travel ban

“Andy Burnham has demanded the Scottish Government provide compensation after introducing a travel ban for Scots travelling to Manchester and Salford due to high cases of the delta variant of Covid-19. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the two cities would be added to a restrictive travel list that already includes Bolton and Blackburn. New health laws will come into force on Monday fining Scots if they travel to the two locations “due to high levels of covid”. SNP led Scottish Government ministers said Scots could be fined £60 up to a maximum of £960 if they repeatedly break the rules. But the Mayor of Greater Manchester yesterday called for funding from SNP led Scottish Government ministers to help local businesses affected by lost bookings from Scots expecting to travel to the region.” – Sunday Express

Givan told he must resign as First Minister of Northern Ireland

“Newly appointed Stormont first minister Paul Givan has been told he will be expected to resign as part of the DUP leadership transition. Party officers do not want to see Givan leave his post as joint head of the devolved executive before the next leader is in place and ready to appoint a successor. A departure prior to that would add further instability to the already fragile power-sharing institutions as it would set the clock ticking on a seven-day deadline to nominate a new first minister and renominate Michelle O’Neill as Sinn Féin’s deputy first minister. If that deadline is missed, the UK government would be under a legal obligation to call a snap election at the assembly. The current frontrunner for the DUP leadership is Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.” – The Observer

  • Brexit ‘sausage war’ brings an all-Ireland trade boom – Sunday Times
  • Tensions erupt as EU accused of creating ‘sustained disruption’ in Northern Ireland – Daily Express

More:

  • Brexit ‘madness’ will wreck UK steel industry, Tories warned – The Observer

Comment:

  • DUP’s implosion is an opportunity for Unionists to unite against Sinn Fein and the Protocol – Ruth Dudley Edwards, Sunday Telegraph

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Author: Conservative Home


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