Newslink for Tuesday 7 February 2023

Reshuffle: Prime Minister to appoint new Tory chairman

“Rishi Sunak is preparing for a mini reshuffle today and is considering significant changes to Whitehall departments as he refocuses the government on his priorities. Prime Minister Nadeem Zahavi is expected to confirm a successor as chairman of the Conservative Party after the former chairman was fired over his tax affairs, triggering a series of ministerial moves. Last night he was also asked to consider changes to the structure of Whitehall. Sunak is said to be considering breaking up the business, energy and industrial strategy divisions. Energy will become a separate category while business and commerce may be integrated. He is considering a separate department for culture and sports and creating a new science and digital department.” – The Times


  • The business segment can be divided into three parts – Surya
  • Raab should stay in cabinet, says minister – Daily Telegraph

Sunak ‘threw red meat to Brexiteers’ by threatening to leave Human Rights Convention…

“Downing Street has raised the prospect of pulling out of the European Convention on Human Rights in a bid to win over right-wing Tory MPs as it seeks to finalize a deal on Northern Ireland,” The Times said. No 10 said it would “rule nothing out” when asked if the Prime Minister was willing to take Britain out of the conference as part of plans to stop migrants crossing the Channel in small boats. Hundreds of people came on Monday. Rishi Sunak plans to unveil legislation later this month that would prevent illegally arriving migrants from claiming asylum, which critics warn would breach the UK’s obligations under the UN Refugee Convention and the European Convention (ECHR).” – The Times

  • Braverman’s Rwanda flight ‘dream’ could happen this year, sources say – The Guardian
  • Johnson blasts Labor for having no plan to tackle crossings – Daily Express
  • Raab ‘tried to fire Buckland’ over human rights row, sources claim – Daily Mail


  • If Euro judges block new plans to ban small boats, it must – Daniel Hannan, Daily Mail

Ministers and unions deadlocked in NHS pay dispute in England

“Health unions and the government were deadlocked in their dispute over higher pay demands for NHS staff after ministers made it clear they would not restart wage settlement in England for 2022-23. Up to 40,000 nurses and ambulance workers in England and Wales walked out in the biggest day of strike action in the history of the health service, with Health Minister Maria Caulfield saying “above-inflationary pay rises” would exacerbate the problem of rising prices. Rishi Sunak, the prime minister, is battling the biggest wave of public and private sector strikes in decades, with workers pushing for higher wages amid a crisis in living standards.” -FT

  • Stop punishing us or strike will last months, nurses say – The Times
  • Union leader calls Sunak ‘confused’ – The Guardian
  • Throwing money at the NHS is not the solution, review author says – Daily Mail

Falling gas prices could leave billions extra in Hunt’s budget

“Jeremy Hunt could have billions extra in his budget thanks to falling gas prices — putting pressure on him to cut taxes this year. Tory MPs will urge the Chancellor to reduce the burden as a scaled-back energy support package will cost 90 per cent less next year. A report by the Resolution Foundation think-tank said the Treasury would be in line for a “major crash” with a “slightly less bleak” outlook… Falling electricity prices mean the estimated cost of the energy support package has fallen by around £11bn over the next 12 months. But the drop means tax receipts from power producers and generators will fall, potentially costing them around £7 billion.” – the sun

  • HS2 faces further delays and cuts as government seeks to rein in costs – FT
  • Ministers quietly scrap Whitehall spending cap on consultants – The Guardian
  • Judge adjourns all hearings to force fitment of prepayment meters – The Times


  • UK to design ‘digital pound’ that could prevent future private tech rival… – FT
  • …accessed through digital wallets and exchangeable for cash – Daily Mail

Holidaymakers must allow ten weeks for new passports, Braverman warns

“Despite dramatic improvements in passport office performance, holidaymakers will still have to allow 10 weeks for new passports this summer, the Home Secretary has warned. Suella Braverman told MPs that the 10-week deadline, introduced because of Covid, is expected to continue “improved” throughout the year and ” must remain due to unsteady” demand. Despite 97.2 per cent of all applications last week being completed within three weeks, compared with 75 per cent last year, and 99.5 per cent of UK applications being completed within the 10-week timeframe… Ms Braverman admitted there were serious concerns last year. Regarding the functioning of the passport office, a Home Affairs Committee inquiry has been requested.” – The Daily Telegraph

  • Crime hotspots ‘block progress on leveling off’ – The Times


  • Headteachers to be warned not to keep parents in the dark about trans lessons – Daily Mail

Ellwood accused Sunak of blocking a significant increase in Britain’s defense spending

“Rishi Sunak has been accused of obstructing Britain’s increase in defense spending. The chairman of the Commons Defense Committee has called on the Prime Minister to change course ahead of next month’s Budget. Tory Tobias Ellwood said: “The Treasury’s pitch to suggest any major changes to the peacetime defense budget is being rolled out.” It comes amid concerns in Whitehall that a promised review of Britain’s security threat levels could now go beyond the March Budget. Last autumn the government promised to update the national threat level and reflect it in the MoD’s budget. No10 insisted that the case remains and the integrated review will be published before March 15.” – Sun

  • Labor to promise swift action to replenish UK arms stockpile – The Guardian
  • Opposition plans to overhaul armed forces – The Times


  • We have never been more vulnerable to attack in my lifetime – General Sir Richard Shirreff, Daily Mail

Brexit 1) Negotiators make progress on Northern Irish Protocol dispute

“EU and UK negotiators have made a breakthrough in reducing checks on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as part of efforts to resolve a long-running dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol. A senior EU official confirmed to the Guardian that an agreement on food and animal health checks” “close to completion” as part of a deal that will create red and green lanes at Northern Irish ports to distinguish between goods in the region. The EU’s single market is moving south. Goods destined for Northern Ireland from Great Britain are a green with light checks. will pass through the lane, although the precise nature of customs paperwork and food and animal health checks remain unclear.” – Guardian

Brexit 2) Frost accuses peers of trying to ‘block the spirit of Brexit’ to repeal EU law

“Europhile peers were yesterday accused of trying to thwart the spirit of Brexit by opposing a bill to scrap EU-derived laws by the end of the year. Lord Frost, who was Boris Johnson’s Brexit negotiator, said the legislation was crucial to ‘extracting ourselves properly and completely from the EU legal framework’. But anti-Brexit peers said the ‘reckless’ bill would threaten workers’ rights and make Britain a ‘barbaric’ place. Rishi Sunak has pledged to repeal, amend or retain all EU-derived legislation by January 2024. As many as 4,000 laws derive from Brussels in the statute books. Opponents say they are concerned the laws will be scrapped without scrutiny because the bill would allow ministers to bypass parliament.” – Daily Letter

Kruger has called on the government to change laws that allow pubs to police speech

“Kemi Badenoch has been called on to call time on new laws that risk stifling pub chats. No. 10 insisted that freedom of speech would be upheld on the buzzer and that people would not be “silenced”. But campaigners and MPs have warned that the law needs to be toughened to stop claims by over-sensitive employees. As it stands, the update to the Equality Act means employers can be held liable if workers hear something they don’t like… Tory MP Danny Kruger said the move was needed so “freedom is upheld and our much-loved pubs are marked by more red No tape and curbs”. A minister added: “Has the world gone mad? It feels like Cromwellian times. “” – The Sun

Truss admits 45p tax rate cut was ‘probably a bridge too far’

“Liz Truss admits the 45p tax rate cut is “probably a bridge too far” but says it’s not fair to blame her mini-budget for rising mortgage rates. The former prime minister says she doesn’t regret her time in No 10 and she wants lower taxes And hoped to remain in the political arena for growth within the Conservative Party. In an interview with the Spectator, Truss said he did not believe the rise in mortgage rates was a result of the actions he took as prime minister. Fair,” he said. “I think it’s unfair. In terms of the UK factors, I believe there were other factors besides the mini-budget.” Truss said he decided to make multiple interventions because he didn’t see anyone high-profile in the party making the same argument.” – The Guardian

  • He insisted it was ‘unfair’ to blame him for the rise in interest rates – Daily Telegraph
  • Truss says he will fight for lower taxes – The Times


  • Regulators fail to spot threat from pension scheme lending, colleagues say – FT


  • Truss wrong: Thatcher’s free market spirit long dead – Sheryl Jacobs, The Daily Telegraph

William Hague: Former leaders should admit failure

“It’s easier to start over in life if you learn from your setbacks, rather than living in denial about what caused them. If you are a resigning team leader, your team can move on more easily if you leave without complaint. And voters have more faith in democracy when leaders take responsibility for their failures. Confessions of guilt as an outgoing leader usually have the added merit of closely fitting the truth. Politics is fraught with a daily diet of difficult colleagues, obstructive adversaries, unfortunate media coverage and disappointment or betrayal, but it’s futile to bother. If you set out to conquer the jungle, you cannot complain that the animals are aggressive.” – The Times

  • Fisking on the Truss – Louis Ashworth, FT Alphaville
  • There is no limit to their entitlements – Suzanne Moore, The Daily Telegraph
  • Truss’s Tory Party has a ready and willing audience – Stephen Bush, Ft