Newslinks for Thursday 28th April 2022

Rees-Mogg set to delay post-Brexit fresh food checks for fourth time

“The UK government is set to announce a fourth delay to physical checks on fresh food imported from the EU amid industry reports that neither technology nor infrastructure resources were ready for the July start of the next phase of Brexit. The Brexit opportunities minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, is expected to frame the move as use of the UK’s newfound independent powers to control the trade border since the departure from the EU and the single market. He is also expected to say it is a response to supply chain fears in a trading environment already hit by the Ukraine war and cost of living crisis.” – The Guardian

  • Plans for Northern Ireland stoke Treasury fears of EU trade war – FT


  • Frost blasts Truss for making ‘no more progress’ in Protocol talks – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Daniel Hannan’s column: No, the Government has not abandoned the rule of law

Truss fears Russia’s war on Ukraine will last years

“The foreign secretary believes that the war in Ukraine could last for years and fears President Putin could deploy weapons of mass destruction in a desperate attempt to break the deadlock. Liz Truss, in a speech at Mansion House in London, said that Putin was a “rogue operator” and warned that he could invade other countries, including Georgia and Moldova. She is understood to believe that the war could realistically last up to five years, or even as long as a decade. She called on western countries to help push Russian troops out of Ukraine altogether and said that if Putin succeeded in making territorial gains he could inflict “untold further misery across Europe”.” – The Times

  • She says the UK must increase defence spending – The Sun
  • Johnson ‘tempting evil’ by revealing Ukrainian soldiers trained in Poland – The Guardian


  • Foreign Secretary warns China to ‘play by the rules’ or face consequences – FT

Sunak threatens oil and gas giants with windfall tax on profits…

“Rishi Sunak on Wednesday night threatened energy companies with a windfall tax on their profits unless they “support the economy” by increasing investment in UK energy supply. The Chancellor said that, unless big firms do more to protect energy security, levying a windfall tax was “something I’d look at”. The comments came in a question and answer session with users of the Mumsnet website in which Mr Sunak… urged them not to “judge him” by his bank account. His comments suggest a split at the top of the Government – hours earlier, Boris Johnson had described the idea as a “tax on business” at Prime Ministers Questions, while Dominic Raab called a windfall tax “disastrous” and “damaging”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Chancellor warns of more pain with mortgage bills to rise by £1,000 – The Times


…as he’s cleared of breaches over wife’s tax status

“Rishi Sunak has been cleared of breaching the ministerial code over the disclosure of his wife’s tax affairs. Lord Geidt, the prime minister’s adviser on ministerial interests, investigated whether the chancellor had broken the ministerial code or faced a conflict of interest because his wife, Akshata Murty, was a non-dom. The probe also looked at whether Sunak’s green card, granting him permanent residency status in the US, caused any conflicts of interest. Sunak held the green card until last year. Sunak referred himself for investigation amid a burst of revelations over his family’s tax affairs earlier this month.” – The Times

Government launches fraud squad to hunt down lost Covid billions

“UK ministers will create a counter fraud task force to recover money stolen from state-backed Covid support schemes following sharp criticism of government efforts to claw back the billions lost to fraudsters. The Treasury is to spend £25mn on recruiting a team of data analytics experts and economic crime investigators to find criminals who stole billions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash during the pandemic. The team will be operational by the summer, Rishi Sunak, chancellor, revealed on Wednesday. However, fraud experts have said efforts to recover the money may be too little and too late given that much of the lost money will have been spent or moved out of the country.” – FT

  • Officials allowed Covid loans to turn into ‘fraud bonanza’, MP says – Daily Mail
  • Taxpayers have right to know who got them, MPs demand – The Times


  • £1bn Future Fund pumps cash into over 30 failures – The Times

>Yesterday: Ryan Shorthouse and Sam Robinson in Think Tanks: Tax reforms, not just tax cuts, are what the Government needs to deliver

Johnson 1) Prime Minister denies wrongdoing over ‘Abba party’

“Boris Johnson has claimed that he did not break the law at the “Abba party” that was held in his flat because he was interviewing a close friend of his wife about a potential job at No 10. It is said that the prime minister invited Henry Newman, then an adviser to Michael Gove, to join him in the No 11 flat where he lives with his wife, Carrie Johnson, and two children. Scotland Yard is investigating claims that a party was held in the flat on the night of November 13, 2020, to mark the departure of Johnson’s former advisers Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain. A government source said Johnson has claimed that he did not break the law because he was conducting a work-related interview with Newman in another part of the flat.” – The Times

  • Starmer in fresh row over ‘breaking lockdown rules’ for a ‘quiz and social’ – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Johnson was treated unfairly over the cake ambush. But that doesn’t invalidate the Met’s wider investigation.

>Yesterday: James Johnson in Comment: Good news for the Conservatives. The Prime Minister’s brand is trashed – but theirs isn’t.

Johnson 2) He defends the rights of journalists in Rayner sexism row

“Boris Johnson has criticised the Commons Speaker for trying to summon journalists from The Mail on Sunday over their coverage of Angela Rayner. The prime minister’s official spokesman said that he was “uncomfortable” with journalists being asked to answer to politicians. Sir Lindsay Hoyle had requested a meeting with David Dillon, the editor of The Mail on Sunday, after the newspaper published claims that Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, had crossed and uncrossed her legs during prime minister’s questions to distract Johnson. The comparison made by an unnamed Conservative MP between Rayner and Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct was criticised by MPs across the political spectrum, including Johnson.” – The Times

  • Newspaper editor rejects parliament summons over article – The Sun
  • Rayner joined in with joke about flashing her legs, claim Tories – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Toby Young in Comment: Free speech includes the right to be offensive, Mr Speaker

Tory MP under investigation for watching pornography in the Commons

“A Conservative MP is being investigated for watching pornography in the House of Commons after female colleagues blew the whistle on misogyny in the party. The male politician, yet to be named, is accused of looking at sex scenes on his smartphone while sitting on the Commons benches. The Telegraph understands the MP in question is not a minister and has already been contacted by the Tory whips conducting the investigation. The extraordinary allegations were made by two female MPs at a meeting with senior party figures on Tuesday evening at which a string of sexism claims were voiced.” – Daily Telegraph

Dorries signals BBC shake-up as she vows to ensure broadcaster is ‘held to account’

“Nadine Dorries has signalled the death knell for the licence fee by saying the Government is ‘ready to implement a new way of funding the BBC’. The Culture Secretary said the current model is ‘completely outdated’ and that in the coming months ministers would be ‘looking very seriously about how we fund the BBC’. Mrs Dorries said she was also considering how media regulator Ofcom could ‘hold the BBC to account’. In January she had appeared to indicate the end of the licence fee when she said the latest funding deal would be its last, before subsequently toning down her remarks.” – Daily Mail

  • Channel 4 privatisation to begin amid criticism from MPs and industry – The Guardian

Shapps promises to digitise DVLA and clear backlog

“The transport secretary has pledged to digitise the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in an attempt to clear the backlog of applications. Grant Shapps said that he would do “whatever it takes” to ease the huge delays drivers have faced since the start of the pandemic. Millions of drivers have been affected by delays at the government agency, leaving some without their licences for more than a year and unable to work. Motorists with medical conditions have been the worst affected because so much of the process for obtaining a licence is paper-based.” – The Times

Prisoners aren’t ‘residents’ in ‘rooms’, says Raab

“Prisoners must no longer be called “clients” or “residents”, Dominic Raab said as part of a plan to get tough on “woke” jails. The Justice Secretary has issued guidance to prison governors and their staff that they should stop using “politically correct” terms for offenders because it undermines public confidence that they are being punished for their crimes. Instead, he has told them that inmates should be called “prisoners” or “offenders” rather than “residents”, “clients” or “service users”. In addition, cells should not be labelled “rooms”, as they are known in two of the newest and largest jails in England and Wales.” – Daily Telegraph

  • New style guide for all staff in the prison and probation service – The Times

NHS compensation payout scheme needs radical overhaul, MPs say

“The NHS compensation system — which costs the taxpayer around £2billion each year — is ‘not fit for purpose’, MPs have warned. A drastic overhaul is urgently needed of the current scheme, which reimburses patients who suffer harm in the health service. That is the view of the Health and Social Care Committee, led by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Payments need to be given out faster and less should be spent on legal fees, they said. The current system for families is often ‘slow, adversarial, stressful, and often bitter’, the committee added.” – Daily Mail

  • Hancock blames Public Health England for sending patients to care homes without Covid tests – Daily Telegraph

SNP abandons census deadline after a quarter of Scots fail to respond

“Ministers in Nicola Sturgeon’s government are set to dramatically abandon their deadline for the Scottish census after low response rates left the £138 million survey on the brink of disaster. The Telegraph understands that Angus Robertson, the constitution secretary with ultimate responsibility for the census, will tell MSPs at Holyrood on Thursday that there will be a four-week extension to Sunday’s deadline for forms to be completed. The humiliating climbdown will add weight to claims that a decision by the SNP to delay the census by a year, which was blamed on Covid and cost taxpayers an extra £21.6 million, had been a major blunder. ” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Does anyone still seriously believe the NHS is the ‘envy of the world’? – John Ashmore, CapX
  • Fracking is just common sense – Pieter Cleppe, The Critic
  • How Blair broke Britain – Aaron Bastani, UnHerd
  • Fractured: can the West fix itself? – Douglas Murray, The Spectator

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