Newslinks for Wednesday 1st July 2020

China condemned for new Hong Kong security law

“China has passed a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong, increasing its power over the territory in a move that drew swift condemnation from the US, Europe and Australia. The legislation was introduced after the territory was rocked by anti-government protests Beijing said were inspired by foreign forces. It was enacted without discussion by Hong Kong’s own legislature, in an unprecedented show of China’s control over the city’s legal system. The new law will increase Beijing’s grip on the territory, which is meant to have a high level of autonomy under the conditions of its handover from British rule back to China in 1997. Crimes such as terrorism, subversion, secession and collusion with foreign elements will attract penalties of up to life imprisonment.” – Financial Times

  • Raab urges China to heed warnings – The Guardian
  • Nervous locals deleting posts on social media – BBC
  • Hong Kong is being silenced – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Don’t write off the protestors – Richard Lloyd Parry, The Times 
  • It’s another Tiananmen Square moment for the free world – Iain Duncan Smith, Daily Telegraph

After Leicester, more local lockdowns could follow

“Parts of Kent, London, north Wales and Scotland are still battling significant Covid-19 outbreaks, sparking fears from scientists and public health directors that Leicester’s return to lockdown is set to be repeated. Bars and restaurants are preparing to reopen on Saturday in what the prime minister, Boris Johnson, has dubbed “Independence Day”. But infections have risen in the Medway, the boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham and Ealing in London and Lanarkshire and Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, according to publicly available figures relating to tests by NHS and Public Health England laboratories. All areas have seen increases of 10 or more weekly infections between 18 and 25 June.” – The Guardian

  • Police will turn back drivers fleeing Leicester – The Times
  • Black Lives Matter protests could have spread virus – Daily Telegraph
  • Anger and despair of residents – Robert Hardman, Daily Mail
  • Leicester lockdown – Leader, The Times
  • Police given “minimal” guidance – BBC
  • Pieces of the puzzle are missing – The Times
  • It is a self-made disaster – Ben Habib and Jonathan Saxty, Daily Telegraph
  • Mad rules that defy science – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
  • Bradford and Oldham on “watch list” – Daily Telegraph
  • Havering and Wiltshire have had bigger increases – Daily Mail

>Today: Columnist Luke Evans: My Coronavirus report from near the Leicester lockdown front line

New Deal 1) Johnson declares it’s time to be “ambitious”

“Boris Johnson has said now is the time to be “ambitious” about the UK’s future, as he set out a post-coronavirus recovery plan. The PM vowed to “use this moment” to fix longstanding economic problems and promised a £5bn “new deal” to build homes and infrastructure. Plans set out in the Tory election manifesto would be speeded up and “intensified,” he added. Labour and the CBI said he was not focusing enough on saving jobs. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said there was “not much of a deal and not much that’s new”. The BBC’s economic editor, Faisal Islam, said there was “nothing really new” in the plans, but a pledge from the Treasury to “speed up capital investment that has already been announced and tolerate higher levels of debt”. Chancellor Rishi Sunak later confirmed he would deliver an economic update on 8 July “setting out the next stage in our plan to secure the recovery”… In a wide-ranging speech in Dudley, in the West Midlands, Mr Johnson vowed to “build, build, build” to soften the “economic aftershock” of coronavirus.” – BBC

  • Refusal to rule out tax rises – The Guardian
  • PM pledges to bring the world’s ‘top digital and tech talent’ to the UK to transform public services – Daily Mail
  • New office set up to attract scientists – BBC

Yesterday:

New Deal 2) Radical overhaul of the planning system

“Boris Johnson has proposed to revive high streets by making it easier to turn vacant shops into houses and offices as part of the “most radical reforms to our planning system” since the Second World War. The prime minister announced that developers would be able to switch shops to homes without needing to submit a planning application in an attempt to “build faster” and encourage development on brownfield sites. Builders will also be able to demolish vacant shops and build homes in their place without planning permission under new legislation that the government wants in place by September.” – The Times

  • This is the only way to save the high street – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail

New Deal 3) Finkelstein: What kind of FDR does Johnson want to be?

“It has been argued that it is absurd for a Conservative government to describe itself as Rooseveltian, but this may simply underestimate the extent of the departure this government represents (or, perhaps better put, wishes to represent) from traditional Toryism, certainly from Thatcherism. Many of the people surrounding Mr Johnson would say openly that they aren’t Conservatives. Whether their actions will match their ambition is an open question but it might be a mistake to think that they don’t mean it. One of the most fascinating lines delivered yesterday by Mr Johnson was this: “My friends, I am not a communist.” FDR was always being accused of being that too and, correctly, denied it. But it’s quite a moment when a Conservative leader feels he needs to issue a similar denial.” – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

Other New Deal comment

  • That the Tory leadership should cite Roosevelt as an inspiration shows just how far Left it has now drifted – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph
  • The PM has got his bounce back – Simon Walters, Daily Mail
  • Building won’t solve the service sector crisis – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Build, Build, Build – Leader, The Times
  • We welcome the housing revolution – Leader, The Sun
  • Neglected Britons to get the attention they need – Dan Wootton, The Sun
  • We need a Reagan, not a Roosevelt – Matthew Lynn, Daily Telegraph

Haldane predicts a V-shaped recovery

“Britain is on track for a V-shaped recovery as the economy rebounds from the lockdown far faster than expected, the Bank of England’s chief economist has said. Andy Haldane said the country was already two months into the recovery and that the depth of the coronavirus recession was likely to be less than half as bad as the Bank had feared in May. Real-time data on payments, traffic flow, energy use and business surveys suggested that “the recovery has come somewhat sooner, and has been materially faster, than in the [Bank’s] May scenario — indeed than any other mainstream macroeconomic forecaster”, Mr Haldane said…Mr Haldane emphasised that the economy was still facing an unprecedented collapse and that a steep rise in unemployment posed a threat to a swift rebound, but he remained optimistic. “Both the UK and the global economies are already well into the recovery phase. The UK’s recovery is more than two months old,” he said on a Bank webinar.” – The Times

  • Airbus job losses “utterly devastating” – BBC

Only the paranoid survive, warns Cummings

“When Dominic Cummings held his weekly briefing with government advisers last night, he gave them a little light reading before an away day — and said that they should prepare for questions. He instructed them to read Philip Tetlock’s Superforecasting, a 350-page book about how historical patterns can be used to make accurate predictions about the future. He also told them to read High Output Management by Andrew Grove, the former chief executive of the computer chip maker Intel, which warns that success breeds complacency. “Only the paranoid survive,” Grove writes. Mr Cummings told advisers that the books would help to inform them about how to make decisions under pressure in complex organisations. He said the advisers should make sure they had read the books so that they could discuss them at an away day next month, which will be held on a Saturday.” – The Times

Brexit 1) State aid rules stumbling block to EU trade agreement

“How the UK will run its state-aid regime after the end of the Brexit transition period remains one of the hardest issues to settle in the continuing UK-EU negotiations. With less than six months to go to the end of the transition, EU negotiators are growing increasingly impatient at Boris Johnson’s failure to set out his plans for a domestic subsidy regime and provide concrete reassurance that the UK does not intend to unfairly undercut EU economies. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, signalled last week that the EU was prepared to shift some of its red lines, a change of tack noted by his British counterpart David Frost. With the latest round of intensified talks under way in Brussels this week, the question now is whether a compromise can be reached.” – Financial Times

Brexit 2) Merkel proposes extending talks into November

“Angela Merkel is prepared to take Brexit talks to the wire in November to clinch a last gasp trade deal with Boris Johnson. The German Chancellor believes negotiations can go as late as Bonfire Night and still leave enough time to have the FTA in place for the end of the year. But she will warn the PM she can’t broker a deal between him and other EU leaders unless he takes a “less ideological and more pragmatic” approach. A senior German diplomat said: “So far negotiations have been treading water. There’s the possibility to extend until the end of October, maybe go into the beginning of November, but this is really it.” No 10 has insisted talks must be done by the end of September to give businesses enough time to prepare.” – The Sun

Public Health Engand challenged for being “sluggish”

“Public Health England’s (PHE) future has been thrown into doubt after the Prime Minister suggested that parts of the Government’s response to the coronavirus crisis had been “sluggish”. In a speech ahead of the country’s 100th day in lockdown, Boris Johnson described his frustration at failing to quickly confront elements of the pandemic as being “like a recurring bad dream”. He did not name PHE, but Whitehall sources indicated on Tuesday night that they believed the Prime Minister was referring to the agency, after he had privately criticised its response in meetings with Conservative MPs. The quango is responsible for testing, and the decision to abandon widespread tracking of the virus as it began to spread is regarded by most scientists as the key mistake in Britain’s handling of the pandemic, which has led to the country recording the highest number of deaths in Europe.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Death rate falls below normal level for June – The Times
  • Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill defends funeral attendance – BBC
  • Data needed to be quicker, say doctors – BBC
  • The Church of England was all too swift to lock its churches – Rev George Pitcher, Daily Express

>Yesterday: Paul Bristow on Comment: The biggest challenge for our NHS may still lie ahead, but it’s also an opportunity

May attacks Frost appointment

“Theresa May, the former UK prime minister, has launched a blistering attack on her successor, Boris Johnson, for selecting a political appointee as his new national security adviser. Mr Johnson announced last weekend that David Frost, currently his Brexit adviser, would succeed Mark Sedwill as his key aide on security matters. Although he previously served as a diplomat, Mr Frost is currently working as a political appointee in Downing Street. Previous holders of the NSA role have come from the diplomatic and security community within Whitehall. In her most critical intervention since leaving office last summer, Mrs May told MPs that her experience suggested Mr Frost was ill-equipped for the role, and contrasted his appointment with some of the sentiments expressed by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove in a recent lecture on civil service reform.” – Financial Times

  • The National Security Council must get tough in this dangerous new global climate – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: There’s no good reason why Frost shouldn’t serve as National Security Adviser

Heaton-Harris to see where Beeching cuts could be reversed

“The reopening of up to 50 disused railway lines or stations will be considered as part of a reversal of the infamous Beeching cuts, it was announced yesterday. At present many of the disused lines are used as cycle or walking tracks while some remain as heritage lines staffed by volunteers, or as dedicated freight routes….A panel led by Chris Heaton-Harris, the rail minister, will consider the bids. It also contains Sir Peter Hendy, the chairman of Network Rail, which maintains and operates Britain’s rail infrastructure. Successful schemes will be awarded up to £50,000 from the £500 million fund to develop economic studies and business cases. They will be named by the end of the summer, the DfT said.” – The Times

Starmer wins change to NEC election rules

“Keir Starmer has faced down objections from Labour leftwingers to secure a change in the way members of the party’s ruling national executive committee are elected. At an explosive meeting on Tuesday, Starmer was also confronted directly about a BBC Breakfast interview in which he described Black Lives Matter as a “moment”, and dismissed calls to “defund the police” as “nonsense”, the Guardian understands. The national executive committee (NEC) agreed by 19 votes to 12 to introduce a single transferable vote (STV) system for its CLP section, which represents grassroots members.” – The Guardian

  • Bickering Labour still look hopelessly out of touch

>Today: Columnist Robert Halfon: Johnson delivers for the workers but Starmer could win back their votes

Rudd: The Women and Equalities brief is too important to be a second job

“When Boris Johnson put together his first Cabinet in July 2019, I was a little surprised to be invited to join. As each Cabinet role was assigned, I noticed one had yet to be appointed – Minister for Women and Equalities. After being given the DWP brief I decided to push my luck a little further: “One other thing, PM.” He looked at me beadily. “I know how important the welfare of women is to you; could I also have the Women and Equalities brief?” There was a long pause, a look of confusion, and then “Yes!” he replied, “You’re getting it!” It had always been the plan, and he had forgotten.” – Amber Rudd, Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • The unusual channels: how to whip MPs in the age of coronavirus – Sebastian Whale, The House
  • Why Ireland’s new PM could be good news for the Union – Owen Polley, CapX
  • Is the New Deal the real deal? – Graham Stewart, The Critic
  • The Prime Minister’s building plans – John Redwood
  • Is the New Deal new? – Kate Andrew, The Spectator
  • Cultural appropriation is progressive and anti-racist – Ralph Leonard, Unherd
  • Racial division is being sown in the name of anti-racism – Claire Fox, Andrew Doyle and Inaya Folarin Iman, The Spectator

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