Newslinks for Sunday 10th October 2021

New clash with EU over European Court of Justice oversight of Northern Ireland Protocol

“Boris Johnson is gearing up for a second explosive confrontation with Parliament and the courts over Brexit as he demands a new deal with the EU which would free Northern Ireland from the oversight of European judges. Downing Street is preparing for a major clash with the House of Lords and Supreme Court as soon as next month, with senior officials drawing up plans to unilaterally suspend swathes of the Northern Ireland Protocol if Brussels refuses to make “significant changes” to the current deal. The Telegraph understands that Lord Frost, the Cabinet Office minister, will make it clear to his EU counterpart that removing European Court of Justice (ECJ) oversight of the Protocol is a “red line” for Britain.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Trade war looms as UK set to spurn EU offer on Northern Ireland – Observer
  • Frost is right to reform the Northern Ireland Protocol – Leader, Sunday Telegraph
  • We must restore Northern Ireland’s place within UK internal market – Jeffrey Donaldson, Sunday Telegraph
  • Undemocratic and unsustainable, the NI Protocol needs fundamental revision – Vernon Bogdanor, Sunday Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Northern Irish Protocol. Will Macron turn off Britain’s French nuclear supplies?

Kwarteng: The energy price cap will stay

“I want to stress that the Energy Price Cap ‑ which sets a cap on the level an energy company can charge a customer ‑ is holding back a wave of instant bill increases for millions of customers. Despite some pushing me to lift the cap, I am absolutely clear it is here to stay and will remain at the same level throughout winter. The Price Cap is working ‑ at the moment, wholesale gas prices are around 250 pence a therm, while the Price Cap is holding down prices at 65 pence. Keeping this protection in place is non-negotiable for me. And it’s important to say this is a UK specific policy ‑ energy customers in other countries like France and Germany don’t enjoy those same protections.” – Kwasi Kwarteng, Sunday Express

  • Shale was banned thanks to a few barely-detectable minor tremors – Ross Clark, Sunday Telegraph
  • Cabinet “bitterly divided” over cost of living pressures – The Sun on Sunday
  • Sunak faces bailout plea to stop winter factory shutdown – Sunday Times
  • UK’s reliance on European electricity leaves it vulnerable to French threats – Sunday Telegraph
  • Lebanon left without power as grid shuts down – BBC
  • More energy firms may go out of business – BBC
  • Suspend £150 green taxes to slash soaring fuel bills – Mail on Sunday
  • As a long winter looms, jokes will not keep us warm – Leader, Sunday Times

>Today: Eamonn Ives on Comment: Markets, price signals, and supply-side reforms can hasten decarbonisation. Ministers take note.

Zahawi vows to tackle pupil absences “head on”

“The education secretary has vowed to tackle persistent pupil absences “head on”, describing it as a “key priority”. In a speech to head teachers on Saturday, Nadhim Zahawi said disadvantaged children lose out most from not being in school. Ahead of the spending review later this month, he pledged to invest “record sums” in children’s education. It comes after the number of pupils in England absent for Covid-related reasons rose two-thirds in a fortnight.” – BBC

  • Schools urged to keep sports courts open to help drive down obesity rates – The Sun on Sunday
  • Education Secretary calls on schools to employ more black headteachers – Sunday Telegraph

>Yesterday: Nick Maughan on Comment: Ministers must do more to encourage vocational alternatives to university

Cabinet on a “collision course” over allowing asylum seekers the right to work

“Priti Patel, the home secretary, is on a collision course with senior cabinet colleagues after ruling out plans to allow asylum seekers to work to help tackle the UK’s labour shortages. Dominic Raab, the justice secretary, and at least three other members of the cabinet, including the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, are understood to be supportive of the idea. But Patel has blocked the move despite plans by Raab to allow prisoners to be hired by companies suffering from severe staff shortages…New research suggests that allowing asylum seekers to work could save the public purse £181 million. The savings would come from increased income tax and national insurance contributions as well as fewer asylum support payments. People seeking asylum cannot work while waiting for a decision on their claim, which can take years.” – Sunday Times

  • France accuses Britain of failing to pay £50m promised for border control efforts – Sunday Telegraph
  • Thousands who fled Taliban are living in hotels with inadequate healthcare in Operation Warm Welcome – Observer
  • Johnson has “infuriated” the home secretary by overruling attempts to make public sexual harassment a crime – Observer

Birbalsingh to be the new social mobility tsar

“Whitehall and private firms have been too focused on using targets and quotas to boost the fortunes of people from poorer backgrounds rather than promoting “equality of opportunity”, according to Liz Truss. Ms Truss, the Foreign Secretary and equalities minister has tasked a Conservative headteacher with tackling “the soft bigotry of low expectations” in Britain. On Saturday night, she told The Telegraph she had chosen Katharine Birbalsingh, who has been described as the country’s toughest head teacher, as the Government’s new social mobility tsar. Ms Birbalsingh, 48, who leads the Michaela Community School in north London, has been asked to focus on “education, enterprise and employment” when she takes over the running of the Social Mobility Commission, charged with helping to “level up opportunity across Britain.” – Sunday Telegraph

Manifesto pledge to build 300,000 houses a year now ‘almost impossible’

“Boris Johnson’s election pledge to build 300,000 new houses a year is in serious jeopardy in the face of labour and material shortages that are causing major disruption across the economy, industry figures have warned. A commitment to reaching the target by “the mid-2020s” was included in the last Tory manifesto as a key part of the party’s offer to increase home ownership to relieve the housing crisis. However, analysts already believe it is “almost impossible” to meet the manifesto pledge under the current conditions. Construction firms have complained of unavailable transport, a severe lack of materials and continued staff shortages among bricklayers, drivers, ground workers, joiners and plumbers…New official data also shows that UK brick sales, a sign of the state of housebuilding, were 9.3% lower in August than July and 3.3% lower than the 2019 average.” – Observer

Defence chiefs publish “woke” language guide for soldiers

“Defence chiefs were last night accused of ‘woke nonsense’ after declaring that ‘not all women are biologically female’. A new Inclusive Language Guide published by the Ministry of Defence warns members of the Armed Forces that using the words ‘woman’ and ‘female’ interchangeably ‘erases’ members of the trans community…Soldiers and other members of the Armed Forces are also advised to ask which personal pronouns their comrades use. ‘Try asking: ‘May I ask how you prefer me to address you, for example what pronoun do you use?’,’ the guide states.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Calls for public inquiry into ‘bullying’ of people who speak out about gender issues – Sunday Telegraph

Taiwan’s President declares she will not bow to China

“President Tsai Ing-wen says Taiwan will not bow to pressure from China and will continue its democratic way of life, as tensions over the island continue. “The more we achieve, the greater the pressure we face from China,” Ms Tsai said. Her speech on Taiwan’s National Day came after China’s President Xi Jinping vowed to “fulfil reunification”. Taiwan considers itself a sovereign state, while China views it as a breakaway province. Beijing has not ruled out the possible use of force to achieve unification.” – BBC

  • Biden’s wavering over what to do about China’s ambitions are fuelling its president’s dangerous swaggering – Leader, Observer
  • China tortures, and we can say nothing – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times

Daley: The PM is right to back a switch to a high wage, high productivity economy

“The problem of poor productivity has been endemic in British industry for decades…What the Thatcher revolution did – which broke the power of the old trade union mentality – was alter working people. Sullen class resignation became unfashionable, and this was as much a result of Thatcherite rhetoric as policy. So when Boris Johnson speaks of creating a “high wage” society, he may, as his critics allege, just be talking optimistic talk. Yes, higher wages bring higher business costs and possibly higher prices. But they also mean the creation of more disposable income and an invigorated market capitalism. Everything will depend on whether this new set of positive words can shift the political mood. If it does, that could alter all the economic prognostications.” – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph

Colvile: The Conservative Conference was suspiciously calm

“After several years of ructions and rambunctiousness, it was startling to see how calm the Tory conference was, and how hegemonic its leader. Journalists vainly tried to stir up revolt over tax rises — “I too am a low-tax Conservative” became something of a cabinet catchphrase — but there was no genuine unrest, even on the fringe of the fringe. The PM actually joked privately about how disappointed he was by the lack of noises off, pleading for a few eggs to be thrown to liven things up. Of course, he used to be the one throwing many of them, and much of the rest of the drama came from rows over Europe, a subject that has now been resolved very much in the egg-throwers’ favour.” – Robert Colvile, Sunday Times

  • Like all cults, Borisology is detached from reality and destined to end badly – Andrew Rawnsley, Observer
  • Prime Minister “on holiday with his wife in Spain” – Sunday Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Our survey. Eight in ten Party members expect the Conservatives to hold office after the next election.

Hannan: Free marketeers should stick with the Conservatives

“Do we truly not understand where prices and incomes policies will lead? Some of us are old enough to remember the 1970s, but we seem relaxed about going through it all again – rising inflation, an energy crisis, nationalisations, even Abba. Perhaps we need, as before, to hit rock bottom before we reach for the right remedies. Understandably, in the circumstances, some free-marketeers are wondering whether they should step aside and stop pretending to have anything in common with big government conservatives. Why implicate themselves in a crisis being caused by policies they fundamentally oppose? The answer is that the logic of fusionism has not gone away. In the middle years of the twentieth century, conservatives and liberals were alike menaced by revolutionary socialism; today, they are alike menaced by the fanaticism of identity politics.” – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph

  • Johnson new Tory vision is as bold as anything Thatcher ever tried – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday

News in brief

  • A global corporation tax is a terrible mistake – Kate Andrews, The Spectator
  • Johnson is right about Putin’s gas-powered games. But is the EU listening? – Daniel Johnson, The Article
  • Unfair, expensive and anti-enterprise. Scrapping IR35 is long overdue – Harry Phibbs, CapX
  • The EU is alienating Polish conservatives – David Engels, Unherd
  • We are all lost. And found – Peter Mullen, Conservative Woman

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