The UK jobs market brightened in April and May, data showed, with unemployment falling, payroll numbers rising and pay increasing.
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Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the UK GDP figures were "a promising sign that our economy is beginning to recover."
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It’s a date that’s stuck in our mind like never before: June 21, midsummer, the day when all remaining restrictions could be lifted. But is it actually going to happen? When will we find out? And why is there so much talk about a delay?Here are five questions you may have about the date, answered. When will we find out about June 21 easing?We won’t be waiting another two weeks to find out about the big ‘unlockdown’.  The government is expected to announce on June 14 whether or not all final restrictions will be lifted in England as of 21 June.They plan to announce this a week before to give businesses and venues who are yet to open the chance to prepare. On June 6, health secretary Matt Hancock said: “The roadmap has always been guided by the data and as before, we need four weeks between steps to see the latest data and a further week to guide our decision. So, we’ll assess the data and announce the outcome … on June 14”. What is meant to happen on June 21 anyway?June 21 is set to mark step four in England’s roadmap out of lockdown, which started in January 2021. It’s hoped that by June 21, all legal limits on social contact could be removed, according to UK government guidelines. This would mean you could meet up with as many people as you wanted to, indoors or outside, rather than abiding by the rule of six.Venues still closed, such as nightclubs, are also set to reopen and mass events, from concerts to sports games and larger weddings, will also be allowed to take place.Step four could also mean a lifting of measures like social distancing, wearing face coverings indoors in public places and on public transport, and no longer being urged to work from home. These measures were all put in place to reduce transmission. However, with a new and seemingly more transmissible variant doing the rounds, it’s not guaranteed that these will be lifted so soon.What’s all this talk of a two-week delay?There have been rumours about the June 21 date being delayed by two weeks, amid rising cases of the Delta variant in the UK – and you may be wondering what difference this will actually make. This delay would ensure that all those over 50 are fully vaccinated – with two doses of the jab – as well as giving enough time for the vaccine to take effect. This is because people are only considered fully vaccinated two to three weeks after their second dose, as it takes time for the jab to give protection. A cabinet source reportedly told The Times the delay in the lifting of lockdown could be between “two weeks and a month” – and they believed the impact of this delay would be limited “if restrictions are fully lifted in time for the start of the summer holidays” – this would be in late July. PA Media reported that chancellor Rishi Sunak would be “willing to accept” a short delay to step four of the roadmap to ending the lockdown amid a rise in cases, despite the possible economic impact.What will impact the government’s decision?On June 9, communities secretary Robert Jenrick said cases are “clearly rising” and that the prime minister is reviewing a “range of data” to make a decision on June 21. “We created this five-week period between the stages of the road map and that has actually proved invaluable on this occasion, because it’s a finely balanced decision,” he told Sky News. He said the government will look not just at whether cases are rising, but also the link to hospitalisations and ultimately to death. “So the prime minister is reviewing that ahead of the decision point, which is going to be June 14 – at that point of course he will let everybody know what the ultimate decision is.”Will England’s lockdown really end on June 21?Some scientists have called for urgent action to reduce the spread of the Delta variant and prevent a third wave.Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and government adviser, told Sky News that there’s a “significant chance” the June 21 target will change.  Deepti Gurdasani, a clinical epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London, said: “It’s clear that even if we move forward as we are, and don’t open up further on June 21, we’re still likely to face a wave exceeding Jan – so postponing June 21 isn’t sufficient.”While Matt Hancock acknowledged there had been a “very significant” impact from the Delta variant, on June 6, he said it was too early to make a final decision on the June 21 opening.Despite this, on June 8, Michael Gove told colleagues that if he were a “betting man” he would “bet on a relaxation” of England’s Covid rules on June 21. He made the comments during a ministerial meeting on June 7 as Boris Johnson prepared to make a decision on whether to proceed with so-called “freedom day” on the planned date.In short, it looks like we’ll be waiting until June 14 until we know for sure. Related...Should England’s Lockdown Really End In June?Revealed: All The Places With 100+ Cases Of The Delta Variant4 Signs You Have Intimacy Anxiety And How To Push Past ItYep, Ignoring Your Natural Body Clock Is Pretty Bad For You6 Things Physios Want You To Know After A Year Of WFH
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Silicon Valley companies on Saturday signaled approval of a G7 deal to back a 15% minimum global corporate tax. The deal has been described as 'historic'
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Education catch-up tsar Kevan Collins has dramatically quit his post and warned Gavin Williamson his £1.4bn catch-up fund is “failing” children who lost learning during lockdown. Collins, appointed to advise government just four months ago, said the deal announced by the education secretary on Wednesday “does not come close to meeting the scale of the challenge”.The former headteacher had called for some £15bn of funding and 100 extra hours of teaching per pupil. But Williamson – whose new fund represents just a tenth of Collins’ demand – is said to have lost a battle for more cash in talks with Rishi Sunak’s Treasury. Collins said in a statement the sum on offer “betrays an undervaluation of the importance of education”, adding: “After the hardest of years, a comprehensive recovery plan – adequately funded and sustained over multiple years – would rebuild a stronger and fairer system.“A half-hearted approach risks failing hundreds of thousands of pupils. The support announced by government so far does not come close to meeting the scale of the challenge and is why I have no option but to resign from my post.”He added that the package of support “falls far short of what is needed” as he warned that it is “too narrow, too small and will be delivered too slowly.”“The average primary school will directly receive just £6,000 per year, equivalent to £22 per child. Not enough is being done to help vulnerable pupils, children in the early years or 16- to 19-year-olds,” Collins said.Ministers say the total fund for lost learning is £3bn and the new money will support 100 million hours of extra tutoring for youngsters who lost out during the pandemic.The settlement has been roundly rejected branded “paltry” and  “disappointing” by unions and school leaders. Williamson sidestepped questions on Wednesday about a clash with the Treasury, but did admit that “there will be more that is required”.Prime minister Boris Johnson promised that there would be “more coming through” to support children in England who had missed lessons during the pandemic following criticism from education leaders.A No 10 spokesperson said: “The prime minister is hugely grateful to Sir Kevan for his work in helping pupils catch up and recover from the effects of the pandemic.“The government will continue to focus on education recovery and making sure no child is left behind with their learning, with over £3bn committed for catch up so far.”The education recovery tsar had recommended that schools and colleges should be funded for a flexible extension to school time – the equivalent to 30 minutes extra every day.  But the DfE’s announcement did not include plans to lengthen the school day.Collins said: “One conservative estimate puts the long-term economic cost of lost learning in England due to the pandemic at £100bn, with the average pupil having missed 115 days in school.“In parts of the country where schools were closed for longer, such as the north, the impact of low skills on productivity is likely to be particularly severe.“The pandemic has affected all pupils but hit disadvantaged children hardest. A decade’s progress to narrow the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers is estimated to have been reversed.“As part of the plan I proposed to government, I recommended a landmark investment in our teachers, whose dedication throughout the pandemic has been inspiring. It is also right to extend access to tutoring, in particular to support disadvantaged children.“Tutoring can provide valuable support that complements classroom teaching. But it is not a panacea and must be high-quality to make a difference.“This is one reason why I recommended schools and colleges be funded to extend school time for a fixed, three-year period and providing significant funding for a flexible extension to school time, equivalent to 30 minutes extra every day.“From the perspective of teachers, extra time would have been optional and paid, with schools also able to use the time to offer enrichment activities that children have missed out on.”The DfE’s programme includes £1bn to support up to six million, 15-hour tutoring courses for disadvantaged pupils, as well as an expansion of the 16-19 tuition fund which will target subjects such as maths and English.A further £400 million will go towards providing high-quality training for early years practitioners and school teachers to ensure children progress.But the announcement, made during half-term, does not include plans to lengthen the school day or shorten the summer break.Collins, the former chief executive of the Education Endowment Fund (EEF), has more than 30 years of experience working in the education sector. He was appointed in February to advise government on how to help children recover months of lost learning during lockdown. Related...Force Universities To Collect Data On Sex Harassment, Labour Tells GovernmentBoris Johnson Plans 'Catastrophic' 50% Cut To Music And Arts Education GrantNo.10 Clears Up Confusion On School Covid Tests After Minister's Mistake
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A £1.4bn catch-up tuition plan to help children recover lost learning after Covid has been branded “hugely disappointing”. The Department for Education (DfE) announced the cash for schools and colleges in England and have underlined it comes on top of £1.7bn already pledged for lost education. The cash will see pupils offered up to 100 million hours of extra teaching, with Year 13 students given the option to repeat their final year if particularly hard-hit by lockdown. But unions have said package “lets down the nation’s children”, and falls short of the £15bn school leaders hoped for, with some accusing Rishi Sunak’s Treasury of blocking further spending.  The DfE scheme includes £1bn to support up to six million, 15-hour tutoring courses for disadvantaged pupils, as well as an expansion of the 16-19 tuition fund which will target subjects such as maths and English.A further £400 million will go towards providing high-quality training to early years practitioners and school teachers boost progress.But the announcement – made during the half-term – does not include plans to lengthen the school day, or shorten the summer break.The government’s education recovery commissioner, Kevan Collins, is still considering long-term proposals to address the impact of Covid on children.Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), suggested that there had been a battle behind the scenes over funding for education recovery between the Treasury and the DfE as the “settlement is less than a tenth of the £15bn that was being mooted”.He said: “This is a hugely disappointing announcement which lets down the nation’s children and schools at a time when the government needed to step up and demonstrate its commitment to education.“The amount of money that the government plans to put into education recovery is insufficient and shows a failure to recognise the scale of learning loss experienced by many pupils during the pandemic – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.” Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union the NAHT, said: “It’s a damp squib – some focus in a couple of the right areas is simply not enough.“The funding announced to back these plans is paltry compared to the amounts other countries have invested, or even compared to government spending on business recovery measures during the pandemic.“Education recovery cannot be done on the cheap.”But Whiteman added that the union was relieved to see that extending the school day had been “shelved for now” as he warned the policy could reduce family time and leave less time for extracurricular activities.Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “The government’s plans for education recovery for the nation’s pupils are inadequate and incomplete. Rarely has so much been promised and so little delivered.”“The Treasury has shown, in this paltry offer, that it does not understand, nor does it appreciate, the essential foundation laid by education for the nation’s economic recovery.“Its failure, on this scale, to fund what is needed for education recovery, is a scar which will take generations of children and young people to heal.”Prime minister Boris Johnson has defended the fund, however, adding a review of longer school days would form part of the next stage of the review. He said: “Young people have sacrificed so much over the last year and as we build back from the pandemic, we must make sure that no child is left behind.“This next step in our long-term catch-up plan should give parents confidence that we will do everything we can to support children who have fallen behind and that every child will have the skills and knowledge they need to fulfil their potential.”It was announced as Labour published its two-year £14.7 billion education recovery plan, which called for extracurricular activities to be expanded and mental health support in schools to be improved.Related...Should England’s Lockdown Really End In June?Boris Johnson Accused Of ‘Utter Shambles’ Over New Travel Curbs For Covid Hotspots
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More than a third of girls have struggled to afford or access period products during the coronavirus pandemic. That’s over a million 14-21 year-olds. Half of those teenagers didn’t have enough money to buy period products at all at some point over the past year, and three quarters of them (73%) had to use toilet paper as an alternative. Just let those numbers sink in. The figures, released by Plan International UK to mark World Menstrual Hygiene Day, suggest between five and six pupils in a mixed class of 30 are impacted by period poverty. Among those, at least three children have been forced to stuff their underwear with loo roll before school. That’s three kids, who are scared to laugh at break time, or run in PE, in case their makeshift pad slips. Of the girls who found it difficult to afford period products but were able to buy them, some girls said they had to cut back on other essential items like food (26%), hygiene products like soap or toothpaste (22%) and clothing (36%).  And of course, it’s not just children in this position – it’s their parents, too, and the thousands of other adults across the UK who can’t afford to buy a tampon, towel or menstrual cup. Are you angry yet? Try reading some of the comments people make about period poverty online: “All these girls pleading poverty will have phones in their pockets.”“If you can’t find 23p for your daughter to bleed in, maybe you need to look at your life and make change.”“Period poverty is insulting nonsense stealing again from hard working taxpayers.” These comments were all made by real people – and they’re being shared by social enterprise Hey Girls, as part of #SeeingRed, a campaign designed to get the nation angry about period inequality.As the initiative’s founder, Celia Hodson, points out, we’ve all been caught short at some point, experiencing the fear of leaking and desperation to locate a tampon. Now imagine that being your reality for one week of every month. And then, imagine a bunch of strangers on the internet telling you you deserve it. You shouldn’t be angry, you should be furious. It has a huge impact on physical and mental health Before founding Hey Girls in 2018, Hodson experienced period poverty herself as a young mum raising three children on benefits. She recalls padding her underwear with any fabric she could find. “You use loo roll, but then you’re very aware of using the family’s loo roll, so you’re forced to think about what else you’ve got,” she says. “Socks were my preferred method, because you can put one sock inside of another and if you have a really heavy period, you can put two socks inside another sock, and then wash them out. And that’s incredibly common, for people to do that.”Hodson was constantly worried about leaking, or that her sock or loo roll would slip out of position. It had an enormous impact on her sense of self-worth. “It still makes my heart race thinking about how you had to cope and how you worried about not going out in case you were to bleed on the way to pick your kids up,” she tells HuffPost. “It sort of compounds the stigma around menstruation, really.”The CEO is now a grandmother with grown-up children, but she hears similar experiences from people impacted by period poverty today. “I’ve spoken to girls in schools who have left a tampon in for more than a day and have been to bed with the same one in,” she says. “A lot of girls overuse products and again, that impacts self-worth. If you’ve got a very heavily used pad in your pants, it’s not a great way to be.”Using period products for longer than they’re designed is also putting lives at risk, says Dr Lynae Brayboy, reproductive health specialist and chief medical officer at the period tracking app, Clue.“For menstrual pads, this can cause irritation of the vulva, which can be both uncomfortable and distressing to experience,” she tells HuffPost UK. “Leaving a tampon in longer than recommended can also be extremely dangerous, as it has the potential to cause menstrual Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). A study published in The Lancet found women who had been diagnosed with TSS were more likely to use a tampon for over six hours or to leave a tampon in the vagina overnight. TSS is a life threatening condition.”  I’ve spoken to girls in schools who have left a tampon in for more than a day.Celia Hodson, founder of Hey GirlsTurning to alternative materials to absorb menstrual blood also poses a health risk. Dr Brayboy highlights a study into menstrual hygiene practices conducted in 2015, which found women using reusable cloths not designed for periods had a higher risk of infection than those using pads. She also points to a 2021 study published in BMC Women’s Health, which found those experiencing period poverty were more likely to suffer moderate to severe depression than those who haven’t experience period poverty.‘Progress’ has barely scratched the surface There has been some progress made in tackling period poverty – you may have seen headlines about free period products in schools, or the abolition of tampon tax – but people who need these products still aren’t able to access them. As Hodson puts it, “it’s a good start, but there’s a lot more to do”.She recalls meeting Boris Johnson to talk about period poverty in January 2020. He “proudly declared” the government would be removing the ‘tampon tax’ on period products, she said. “I said: ‘You’re absolutely missing the point, because if you can’t afford a pound, you can’t afford 95p,’” she recalls. “Yes, we don’t want to pay VAT – because it’s not a luxury product and we’ve all had those conversations about how you don’t pay VAT on a kangaroo burger or caviar – but that’s not the point. This is about affordability and about access. It’s a much bigger problem than the VAT that’s just been done away with. That’s throwaway.”The commitment to offering free period products in schools has also been positive, she says, but the rollout of the system has been flawed. Statistics from January 2021 show less than half of schools in England had signed up to use the government scheme since it launched in January 2020, with widespread confusion about how to access the free products. Even among the schools and colleges offering products, there are distribution problems. Some institutions are putting period products in baskets in toilets that can be picked up as easily as a paper towel, says Hodson. But others are hiding products away, contributing towards access issues and stigma. “If you’re a little person at school and you’re struggling, and then you have to find someone who’s got the keys to a cupboard, and then they march you off and you chose your product, and then that cupboard is locked behind you – what’s that about?” she asks. What can you do about it? Get angry. And once you’re angry, get productive.Donating period products to your local food bank or choosing ‘buy one give one’ period products, like those sold by Hey Girls, is a positive first step. But, says Hodson, in order to eradicate period poverty, we’ve got to eradicate poverty – so write to your MP and demand change. You could start by asking them to make sure the temporary £20 increase to Universal Credit during the pandemic is made permanent, for example, or asking for all schools in England to be automatically enrolled in the free period product scheme (like they are in Scotland), so institutions don’t fall through the cracks during the sign-up process. We can all make a difference. As Dr Brayboy says: “Society is only able to continue as long as periods do.“Menstruation is a biological function – not a choice – and it should be treated as such, with fair access to proper products and resources made accessible for everyone.” Related...Davina McCall: Menopausal Women Are Facing A ‘Pandemic Of Injustice’Why You Need To Stop Saying 'Sanitary Products' When Talking About PeriodsPeriod Poverty Is Real. How Do I Know? Because I Still Feel Dirty Decades LaterHow Coronavirus Has Made Period Poverty Worse7 Things We Learned From Jen Gunter's Brilliant Menopause Manifesto'A Womb Full Of Nails': These Pictures Show The True Pain Of Endometriosis
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You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.Whenever journalists hear a politician sidestep a direct question from MPs, our antennae twitch. When that politician repeatedly body swerves the same question from reporters, we smell a rat. Yet time and again, ministers seem unaware of the old newsroom motto: you can’t bullshit a bullshitter.Despite Matt Hancock breezing confidently through Commons questions on Thursday morning, largely due to strong support from Tory backbenchers, there was one answer that just didn’t feel right. Asked about the claim that he told Dominic Cummings and others that people would be tested before being transferred into care homes, Hancock didn’t deny it. “So many of the allegations yesterday were unsubstantiated,” was all he could muster.At his latest Downing Street press conference, the health secretary looked much more uncomfortable as he was asked multiple times about the issue. ”My recollection of events,” he said, “is that I committed to delivering that testing for people going from hospital into care homes when we could do it.” The word “recollection” is often a red flag, but the phrase “committed” felt rather elastic too.Now, it’s worth recalling Cummings’ exact charge here. “Hancock told us in the cabinet room that people were going to be tested before they went back to care homes. What the hell happened?” he said. It was only in April that No.10 realised that “many, many people who should have been tested were not tested, and then went to care homes and then infected people, and then it’s spread like wildfire inside the care homes”.Firstly, it’s perfectly possible that Hancock made a promise but, crucially, without a timeframe. With the lack of testing capacity at the time, it would be frankly ludicrous to make a commitment that he could test all hospital discharges within days or weeks. However, one can imagine him saying, ‘I’m going to make it my mission to get this testing sorted so people are tested before going into homes’. That’s not the same as saying he would stop all discharges which lacked testing, which was Cummings’ implication.Second, UK Health Security Agency boss Jenny Harries suggested claims of seeding the virus from hospitals into care homes was overstated. These made up a “very, very tiny proportion” of cases, she said. Fortuitously for Hancock, a new Public Health England report out today confirmed that just 1.6% of outbreaks were seeded from hospital, causing 286 deaths. That’s not the “many, many people” of Cummings’ hyperbole. Care homes did suffer cruelly, but it seems the seeding came from care staff not hospitals.Still, Hancock would do well to simply disown one other highly dubious claim he made last year: “Right from the start we’ve tried to throw a protective ring around our care homes.” PHE’s official advice as late as February 28 stated: “there is no need to do anything differently in any care setting at present”. It wasn’t until April 15 that was changed to requiring all hospital discharges to be tested.What was most curious about Cummings’ onslaught on Hancock, however, was his admission that he actively tried to stop Hancock from hitting his target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of April. The chief adviser said he was “in No.10 calling round, frantically saying, ‘Do not do what Hancock says’.” Cummings’ desire to “build things properly for the medium term” (aka doing things his way, not Hancock’s) seemed to fuel the lack of urgency he himself had criticised over care homes testing.What was also notable on Thursday was the way Hancock at least opened himself up to hours of scrutiny, in parliament and live on TV. Contrast that to Boris Johnson’s five-minute “clip”, a “hi, bye!” media strategy he uses when on a photocall (usually in a key seat) to avoid a proper interview. Schools, hospitals, laboratories, all providing visual wallpaper for the evening news, and often nothing more.When Johnson was asked about key Cummings allegations, he sounded shiftier than Hancock. Asked about the damning claim that tens of thousands of people died who need not have died because of his action or inaction, the PM replied: “No, I don’t think so.” He doesn’t think so? Asked if he’d said he was prepared to let “the bodies pile high”, he just said: “I’ve already made my position very clear on that point.”With new figures confirming the Indian variant makes upto 75% of new Covid cases and is becoming the dominant strain across the country, Johnson’s judgment is once again facing a huge test. Even though a rise in cases was expected after the May 17 relaxation or rules, and in Bolton the variant cases are flattening, the “spillover” into other areas is worrying.Given the race between the vaccine and the virus, why not just extend the unlockdown finishing line by a couple more weeks to give the jabs more of a chance? After all, June 21 was an arbitrary date plucked out of the air, why blow it all for the sake of waiting a fortnight to allow more data collection and more jabs in arms? Especially when over-18s could perhaps all get a first dose by the end of June.Well, today for the first time there was a hint from the PM he could delay, saying “we may need to wait”. In case we missed the new mood, he added: ”Our job now to deliver the roadmap - if we possibly can”. The ‘probable’ June 21 final unlock of a few days ago is now just a ‘possible’. If Dominic Cummings has done nothing else, maybe he’s forced a pause on the PM that could benefit us all.Related...Rishi Sunak Says He ‘Doesn’t Know David Cameron Well’ Despite Lobbying TextsMP Rob Roberts Suspended From Parliament For Six WeeksJohnson Urged To Introduce ‘Carbon Border Tax’ To Protect UK Firms From Polluting Rivals
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Rishi Sunak has said he did not know David Cameron “very well at all” when the former prime minister texted him to controversially lobby on behalf of Greensill Capital.Cameron’s intensive lobbying of ministers and officials was laid bare earlier this month as MPs seek to understand the role the ex-PM played in securing Whitehall access for the company.Greensill is now being investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority, which received allegations relating to the firm’s collapse that were “potentially criminal in nature”.The firm’s demise has rendered Cameron’s reported tens of millions of share options worthless, and there has been criticism of how a former prime minister was able to exploit his personal contacts with ex-colleagues and officials in the pursuit of commercial gain.Sunak and the Treasury were at the centre of Cameron’s lobbying efforts.IN DEPTH David Cameron’s Most Cringeworthy Greensill Lobbying Texts Laid BareThe PM texted Sunak last April after being rebuffed by Treasury officials as he tried to gain access for Greensill to the government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF).After being told “no”, Cameron told Treasury permanent secretary Tom Scholar on April 3 that the refusal was “bonkers” and that he was now going to call “[the chancellor], [Michael] Gove, everyone”.Just eight minutes later, Cameron texted Sunak: “Rishi, David Cameron here. Can I have a quick word at some point?”, before going on to explain Greensill’s request.Several messages and phone calls between the pair followed.But Sunak suggested that if Cameron was trying to exploit personal contacts, the pair had not actually spoken since summer 2016 or before.“I don’t know David Cameron very well at all and I don’t think I’ve spoken to him since I was a backbench MP and he was prime minister,” Sunak told the Commons Treasury committee.“It was a surprise to receive the message.” Following a barrage of texts, calls, messages and emails across the government, Cameron’s lobbying efforts ultimately failed.Sunak insisted that he would not have done anything differently in his approach to Greensill and that Cameron’s role was not important to how much time officials in the Treasury spent on the firm’s request.“I looked at the issue on the merits of it, so the identity of the person talking about it was not relevant to the amount of attention and proper due diligence that the issue got and required,” Sunak said.“This was one of many strands of work, and in fact probably the one we spent the least time on during this period.”Earlier this month, Cameron stressed that he was unaware of any financial difficulty at Greensill until December 2020, when he was told that an attempt to raise funds had not gone as well as hoped.According to founder Lex Greensill, the rug was finally pulled out from underneath the company when its biggest insurer, Tokio Marine, refused to renew its policies with Greensill.Treasury official Charles Roxburgh said on Thursday that the firm’s collapse would directly cost around £8m to the taxpayer, including taxes that Greensill owed.But he did not accept the cost of up to £5bn that former City minister Lord Myners estimated the taxpayer could indirectly be on the hook for.Greensill provided so-called supply chain finance to businesses, which meant the firm would pay a company’s invoice immediately after it was sent, therefore cutting out the usual delay which can restrict companies’ cash flows.Top lawyer Nigel Boardman has been tasked by prime minister Boris Johnson to look into the Greensill scandal.Related...David Cameron Proves He’s His Own Worst Lobbyist'Is Nothing Sacred?' David Cameron Grilled By MPs Over Greensill LobbyingDavid Cameron Refuses To Tell MPs How Much Money He Expected To Make From Greensill
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Boris Johnson should introduce a “carbon border tax” to protect British firms from polluting competitors like China, former international trade secretary Liam Fox has urged.The intervention by right-winger Fox has boosted hopes among environmentalists that a growing Tory consensus will persuade the prime minister to push the plan ahead of the UK’s chairing of the COP26 climate talks this year.The Treasury is currently working on the detail of the border tax, which would slap an extra tariff on imports produced in countries with high greenhouse gas emissions, and insiders have told HuffPost UK the PM is “very open” to the idea.Fox, a traditional Thatcherite, will be joined by Johnson’s father Stanley, a long-time green campaigner, as he makes a speech calling for the new move at the Centre for Policy Studies think tank on Thursday.US climate envoy John Kerry has recently said that Joe Biden is “interested in evaluating the border adjustment mechanism” and the EU is already planning a carbon tax of its own on imports.With the UK set to chair the G7 summit of leading industrial nations this summer as well as the climate talks in Glasgow in November, Fox said this was an “opportunity not simply to chair but to lead”.“There is no point in damaging the competitiveness of economies such as the UK while other countries maintain their competitive edge at a cost to the global climate,” he said.Britain has a statutory target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and last week launched a domestic emissions trading system charging power plants, factories, and airlines for each tonne of carbon dioxide they emit.But both the UK’s and the EU’s strong commitment to cutting greenhouse gases have led to a spike in the ‘carbon price’ of their respective emissions trading schemes, leaving their firms paying more than in other states.Countries like China and India fear a border tax would simply be a way for richer nations to try to keep out their goods.But Fox said that the UK could ally with America and Europe to devise a system that would help the planet while protecting poorer nations.The impact on developing countries could be offset by Britain using its aid budget to invest in green energy projects, he said.“As a passionate free-trader, I have wrestled with the wider consequences of following a carbon border tax policy. But, as I often repeated as International Trade Secretary, free trade does not mean a free-for-all,” Fox said.He added: “China is likely to comply with a carbon border tax, however unwillingly, especially if there is close cooperation and coordination among those western nations applying it.”Related...Does Rishi Sunak Want To Save The Planet?Labour Plans Vote On Joe Biden's Global Corporation Tax Rate PlanWhite House Throws Subtlest Of Shade At Donald Trump
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You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening. 1 No.10 was a Covid chaos zoneThe whole point of Dominic Cummings’ evidence was to provide the first draft of the history of the government’s handling of the pandemic. While his personal opinions on what went wrong can be dismissed, his eye-witness testimony cannot be easily shrugged off. And on that score, he didn’t disappoint, giving vivid accounts of the chaos in Downing Street as Covid hit landfall in March 2020.His description of the events of over two key days allowed the public a glimpse of just how Boris Johnson runs, or doesn’t run, his government. On the “insane day” of March 12, while the PM clearly had no choice but to deal with Trump’s plea to join a bombing raid on Iraq, Cummings implied that his boss allowed partner Carrie Symonds’ to waste valuable press office time with complaints about a story about their dog Dilyn.But it was the following day that was more telling and more worrying. First, a senior department of health official confided there was no plan for a pandemic. Then deputy cabinet secretary Helen McNamara allegedly said “I think we are absolutely fucked, I think this country is heading for a disaster. I think we are going to kill thousands of people.” Those words are sure to be pored over in any public inquiry.Just as concerning was the picture painted by Cummings of the lack of data available, with him having to scribble on a whiteboard and an iPad a rough model of how many hospitalisations were happening, based on snippets of early info from NHS chief Simon Stevens. So too was the revelation that the Cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill so misunderstood Covid that he suggested the PM go on TV to tell people to have ‘chickenpox parties’. 2 Hancock was to blame for virtually everythingIn what felt like a Whitehall version of the Assassin’s Creed video game, Cummings spent a lot of his time trying to eviscerate Matt Hancock’s reputation. The allegations were hugely serious, from lying about PPE stocks and testing in care homes to his decision to announce a 100,000 daily test target while the PM was “on his deathbed”. Yet the relentless nature of the onslaught (who cares how many times Cummings called for him to be sacked?) tipped from public interest to private vendetta.What also furthered the impression that this was about personalities was his huge praise for Rishi Sunak and Dominic Raab (who both happened to be Brexiteers, while Hancock was a Remainer). Cummings’ curious memory loss about discussions of the EatOutToHelpOut scheme, plus his failure to criticise any decisions by old boss Michael Gove, suggested chairman Greg Clark was right when he asked if this was about ‘settling scores’.Cummings also failed to fully credit Hancock for his strong push for a second lockdown in the autumn, while at the same time playing down the chancellor’s concerns about the idea. The lens was so skewed that he even said Sunak’s real worry was that the department of health could impose a circuit breaker but had no plan for what happened next. Most curiously, for a man who blogged at length about systems and processes, his real focus was on the central role of “brilliant” individuals, be they officials or ministers. 3 Boris Johnson was off his trolleyThe vituperative attacks on Hancock felt like a sideshow compared to Cummings’ cold, matter of fact descriptions of Boris Johnson as being “unfit” to be prime minister. This was the PM’s former chief adviser saying he was never really upto the job, but he was at least better than Jeremy Corbyn. Johnson changed his mind so much, on everything from Covid to free school meals, that he looked “just like a shopping trolley smashing from one side of the aisle to the other.” Sunak was at his wits end about the trolley too, we learned.Funnily enough the trolley analogy was first used by former Cameron spinner Craig Oliver to describe how Johnson wrote two different Telegraph columns for and against Brexit. But Cummings’s more damning charge was that the PM was fundamentally unserious about Covid policy. Perhaps his most telling line was this: “There is a great misunderstanding people have, that because it [Covid] nearly killed him, therefore he must have taken it seriously.” Narrator: he didn’t.We heard of Johnson’s talk of injecting himself with Covid on live TV, his regret that he didn’t behave like the Mayor in Jaws and keep the beaches/shops/pubs open, his glib lines about letting ‘the bodies pile high’ and that the virus was “only killing 80-year-olds” (a charge pointedly not denied in PMQs). All felt like jokes that curdled quickly into a cold contempt for the very public he was meant to serve.Add the claim Johnson “changes his mind 10 times a day” and disappears on holiday at key moments, and that’s a withering verdict on any politician, let alone a PM in a pandemic. No Wonder Johnson looked distinctly rattled when Keir Starmer quoted Cummings central admission: “When the public needed us most, the government failed”. 4 Cummings sounded as unserious as JohnsonHaving learned from his Rose Garden press conference disaster, Cummings at least tried to open with an apology for his failures, including not hitting the “panic button” for lockdown earlier. Yet it felt like a strange humblebrag, that somehow he was a genius who spotted the problem but failed to convey that genius. It reminded me of the job interviewees who say their only flaw is that they are a perfectionist.In a similar vein, his line that it was ”completely crazy that I should have been in such a senior position...I’m not smart” was a laughable attempt at self-effacement. In the next breath he expressed frustration that he wasn’t running the country instead of the elected PM, saying he tried to “create a structure around him..to push things through against his wishes”. Yet this was a man who stuck to his ludicrous specsavers defence for his trip to Barnard Castle.Cummings’ line that Covid needed a “kind of dictator”, a scientist with “kingly authority”, just also proved how unserious he really is. So too were his references to Spider-Man memes and the film Independence Day (which the bereaved families group felt belittled the gravity of their loss). When he kept saying he felt like he was in a movie, he came across someone as woefully out of his depth as the boss he ridiculed. Asked if he too was unfit for No.10, he just sidestepped the question like a politician. And his charge that it was “crackers” that Johnson was in power suffered from the slight problem of his enthusiastic work to keep him there. 5 Governing properly is really hard, isn’t it?The lessons learned about Cummings’ own character were possibly just as telling as lessons learned about the pandemic. His own credibility as a witness may already be fatally undermined by his Durham drive. But his testimony had some clear contradictions too. Criticising Carrie Symonds’ “unethical” interference in No.10 appointments may have provoked a hollow laugh from Sonia Khan, whom he had frogmarched by a policeman out of Downing Street without due process.Most of all, when the crunch came, this would-be iconoclast, the arch-disrupter also revealed a telling lack of nerve in the real world: he revealed he didn’t push for lockdown earlier because he was “frightened” he would get it wrong. That in itself was a rare admission that running a government really is very different from running a referendum campaign. The stakes are all too real.Cummings’ most serious charge was left for the latter part of his nearly seven hours testimony: “Tens of thousands of people died, who didn’t need to die.” The irony is that Johnson seems to have finally learned the lesson of hard lockdowns and slow releases only since January – after his chief adviser left office. Cummings today got his blame game retaliation in first ahead of the public inquiry. As the PM copes with the new Indian variant, his best answer to the criticism would be to get the current unlockdown right.Related...8 News Stories You May Have Missed Because Of Dominic CummingsThe 14 Most Explosive Claims From Dominic Cummings’ Covid EvidenceBoris Johnson Does Not Deny Saying Covid Was 'Only Killing 80-Year-Olds'
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Health secretary Matt Hancock “lied”, lost the confidence of top civil servants and should have been sacked over his handling of Covid, Dominic Cummings has said. Boris Johnson’s ex-senior adviser has been giving evidence to MPs on how the prime minister’s top team dealt with the pandemic in 2020. Cummings said Hancock should have been fired for multiple offences and claimed the then cabinet secretary, Mark Sedwill, agreed with him.He went on to accuse the health secretary of “criminal, disgraceful behaviour” by interfering with the test and trace system to hit his “stupid” 100,000 daily target while the PM was in hospital with coronavirus.Giving evidence to the Commons’ science and health committees, Cummings said: “In my opinion, disastrously, the secretary of state had made, while the prime minister was on his near death bed, his pledge to do 100,000 by the end of April.“This was an incredibly stupid thing to do because we already had that goal internally.” He added: “We had half the government with me in No 10 calling around frantically saying do not do what Hancock says, build the thing properly for the medium term.“And we had Hancock calling them all saying down tools on this, do this, hold tests back so I can hit my target.“In my opinion he should’ve been fired for that thing alone, and that itself meant the whole of April was hugely disrupted by different parts of Whitehall fundamentally trying to operate in different ways completely because Hancock wanted to be able to go on TV and say ‘look at me and my 100k target’.“It was criminal, disgraceful behaviour that caused serious harm.”Cummings also said one of Hancock’s lies was that everybody got the treatment they deserved in the first peak when “many people were left to die in horrific circumstances”.Asked to provide evidence of the Hancock’s lying, Cummings said: “There are numerous examples. I mean in the summer he said that everybody who needed treatment got the treatment that they required.“He knew that that was a lie because he had been briefed by the chief scientific adviser [Patrick Vallance] and the chief medical officer [Chris Whitty] himself about the first peak, and we were told explicitly people did not get the treatment they deserved, many people were left to die in horrific circumstances.”Cummings left his job in Downing Street in November and remains a controversial figure after his own trip to Durham during lockdown last year. The PM’s former aide also took aim at leadership across government and Whitehall and repeatedly apologised for his own failings during the pandemic, telling MPs that collectively government “fell disastrously short of the standards the public has a right to expect”.He said: “Like in much of the government system, there were many brilliant people at relatively junior and middle levels who were terribly let down by senior leadership.“I think the secretary of state for health should’ve been fired for at least 15, 20 things, including lying to everybody on multiple occasions in meeting after meeting in the Cabinet room and publicly.“There’s no doubt at all that many senior people performed far, far disastrously below the standards which the country has a right to expect. I think the secretary of state for health is certainly one of those people.“I said repeatedly to the prime minister that he should be fired, so did the cabinet secretary, so did many other senior people.”Hancock has been repeatedly criticised during the pandemic, including for PPE shortages and a failure to lockdown. Cummings also lambasted a “lack of urgency” in Whitehall early in the pandemic, saying it was fuelled by the “absolutely critical disaster” of a lack of testing data.Discussing early March, Cummings said: “There was a fundamental misunderstanding about how far this already was in the country, how fast it was spreading in the country.“The lack of testing data was an absolutely critical disaster because we didn’t realise early enough how far it had already spread.“The testing data was wrong, the graphs we were shown and the models were all wrong because they were all pushed out to the right, and that massively contributed to the whole lack of urgency.”The former chief aide to the PM described chaos in No. 10 in March 2020, saying that the second most powerful official in the country believed the UK would be “absolutely fucked” by Covid.Helen MacNamara, the deputy cabinet secretary, had told him there was “no plan”.“I think we are absolutely fucked,” Cummings said MacNamara told him on March 13. “I think this country is heading for a disaster. I think we are going to kill thousands of people.”Cummings also alleged Johnson was more worried about the economy at the beginning of the pandemic than coronavirus itself. “The prime minister’s view, throughout January, February, March, was – as he said in many meetings – the real danger here is not the disease, the real danger here is the measures that we take to deal with a disease and the economic destruction that that will cause,” Cummings told MPs.“He had that view all the way through.“In fact, one of the reasons why it was so rocky getting from the 14th, when we suggested plan B to him, to actual lockdown was because he kept basically bouncing back to ‘we don’t really know how dangerous it is, we’re going to completely destroy the economy by having lockdown, maybe we shouldn’t do it’.”He added that it was wrong to suggest that chancellor Rishi Sunak had been against locking down – something which was reported at the time. Related...What To Look Out For In Dominic Cummings' Covid Evidence To MPsNo.10 Believed UK Was 'Absolutely F***ed' By Covid, Reveals Dominic CummingsBoris Johnson 'Dismissed Covid As Swine Flu And Joked He Would Be Injected Live On TV'
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Like the rain this May, rumours about a Cabinet reshuffle never really go away, but they do at times intensify.This appears to be one of those times, as HuffPost UK understands that officials are on alert for Boris Johnson changing his top team as early as next week.The BBC and Sky News heard similar on Friday morning, prompting No.10 to strongly play down suggestions of a reshuffle to distract from Dominic Cummings’ appearance before a committee of MPs next Wednesday.Johnson’s former top aide is threatening to steal the headlines with some bombshell revelations on the government’s handling of the pandemic.But the prime minister’s press secretary has stressed: “There are no plans for a reshuffle”.However, like outdoor drinkers caught out without a brolly, Westminster hacks cannot avoid the sudden storm of speculation.So at the risk of looking like a pedestrian drenched by a car speeding through a puddle, i.e. silly, here’s what might happen when Johnson does decide to rejig his team.While there may be “no plans” for a reshuffle next week, Times Radio’s Tom Newton Dunn reported this week that environment secretary George Eustice was digging in so hard against tariff-free meat imports from Australia that it risked becoming a resignation matter for him.That said, the PM appears to be leaning towards Eustice’s opponent in the Cabinet row, trade secretary Liz Truss, and Eustice has not yet quit.However, if he does, that could be the catalyst for a wider shake-up of Johnson’s team.And even if Eustice does not resign, he is seen as “quite an easy person to get rid of” and “not on the green agenda” the government is now pushing, according to one source.If the reshuffle does go ahead, it appears that the great offices of state will not change with chancellor Rishi Sunak, foreign secretary Dominic Raab and home secretary Priti Patel all widely seen as safe in their positions.Patel seems likely to keep her job despite becoming embroiled in a scandal over her alleged bullying of officials, as she is a useful figure to shore up the Tories’ right wing.As one insider puts it: “That woman has staying power and she knows what her brand is, and do you want to piss off Iain Duncan Smith and all that crowd?“Who else is Boris going to put there, if it’s all about the red wall?”That is likely to make the central figures of any upcoming reshuffle Michael Gove and Matt Hancock.Not the most popular in No.10 or among Tory lockdown-sceptics, Hancock has long been seen as under threat, although backbench MPs tell me they appreciate how much he makes himself available to answer their questions, or record video messages for their constituents.But if the health secretary is moved, many insiders are tipping Gove to take over, believing his problem-solving policy brain is perfectly suited to finally tackling the thorny issue of social care reform.One Tory source also insists that Gove has moved on from the education secretary who battled “the blob” alongside Cummings to become a more consensual figure who got onside with lawyers as justice secretary and farmers as environment secretary - a skill that will be vital if he is given the task of driving through huge changes to social care.Gavin Williamson meanwhile is almost certain to be moved from his education secretary job following the exams fiasco and other mis-steps.But Johnson is still said to be “pretty loyal to Gavin” due to the key role he played in his Tory leadership campaign and has been telling people inside No.10 that “Gavin is not leaving Cabinet”.“This implication of that is: even the PM seems to be saying he’s probably leaving his post,” a source said.“I just don’t know how you do a reshuffle that seems to anyone fair unless Gavin is gone.”He could go back to chief whip, a role he performed successfully in the past, replacing Mark Spencer who could be in line for a promotion.Controversial communities secretary Robert Jenrick could be saved by virtue of being an ally of Sunak.But Scotland secretary Alister Jack is thought to be at risk, with Andrew Bowie potentially in line for the job as a younger, more dynamic figure to take the independence fight to the SNP.Sajid Javid is meanwhile tipped for a comeback, although Johnson may struggle to find a role senior enough for the former chancellor, who quit the government last year in a row with Downing Street over sharing a team of special advisers.Kit Malthouse, a long-time ally of Johnson who worked under him at London City Hall, is also being widely tipped for a promotion.And Anne-Marie Trevelyan could return to the Cabinet after she was effectively made redundant when her department for international development was subsumed by the Foreign Office, with Johnson thought to be keen to boost the number of women in Cabinet.The reshuffle could be most interesting in the junior roles where Johnson will be looking to improve and diversify the pipeline of talent to the Cabinet.Tory figures mention new MPs Laura Trott, Clare Coutinho and Saqib Bhatti as “the shining stars” of the 2019 intake who could be brought on the payroll.But several sources question the wisdom of carrying out a reshuffle next week, with July seen as a more likely date, while the traditional wargaming whiteboard has not yet been erected on the walls inside Downing Street.“If you do it at the beginning of holidays then you send everyone away and they’ve got the chance to feel better in Tuscany don’t they?’ one MP says.“I don’t get why you’d do it before the end of July, I can’t see an incentive.” Whatever happens next week, at some point sooner rather than later Johnson is going to have to decide which of his ministers to leave high and dry.Related...Nothing Like BBC's Diana Interview Must 'Ever Happen Again', Says Boris JohnsonHere's What The Coronavirus R Rate Is Near YouBBC Faces 'Reforms' After Diana Report, Says Culture Secretary
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The unemployment rate was flattered by people that stopped job-hunting during lockdown, but separate data showed vacancies continued to rise.
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Debt claims like the one issued against Boris Johnson by political opponents to damage their reputations, a security expert warned.
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David Cameron has refused to say how much money he would have made from Greensill Capital had it not collapsed. The former prime minister admitted on Thursday he was being paid a “significant” amount, but said the precise number was “private”.Cameron is reported to have told friends he stood to make £60 million from the company, a figure he dismissed as “absurd”.He was appearing before the Commons Treasury committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the ex-PM’s ultimately unsuccessful lobbying on behalf of Greensill.On Tuesday, the committee released dozens of texts and emails Cameron sent to ministers and senior officials appealing for their help in gaining access for the firm to government Covid loan support programmesThey included messages to Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove, senior officials at the Treasury and the Bank of England, as well as a call to Matt Hancock.The government has said Greensill’s applications were dealt with properly and were ultimately rejected. The company filed for insolvency in March.But there has been criticism of how a former prime minister was able to exploit his personal contacts with former colleagues and officials in the pursuit of commercial gain.Mel Stride, the Tory chair of the Treasury committee, asked how much money Cameron expected to earn from Greensill.He told Cameron it was important for MPs to know if it was “multiple millions of pounds” rather than “tens of thousands” of pounds.Stride told Cameron “many people” would conclude he was lobbying government because hiis “opportunity to make a large amount of money was under threat”.Cameron said: “I was paid an annual amount, a generous annual amount, far more than what I earned as prime minister. And I had shares.“I was absolutely had a big economic investment in the future of Greensill. I haven’t put a number on those things.“I don’t think the amount is particularly germane,” he added. “As far as I’m concerned it’s a private matter.”Cameron earned £150,402 while he served as prime minister.The City watchdog is also launching a formal investigation into the collapse of Greensill. The Financial Conduct Authority said some of the allegations made about the firm were “potentially criminal in nature”.Greensill was the biggest backer of GFG – the owner the UK’s third largest steelmaker, Liberty Steel – and its failure has put thousands of jobs at risk as GFG seeks to refinance.Appearing before the Treasury committee on Tuesday, the firm’s founder, Australian financier Lex Greensill, said he was “truly sorry” and took full responsibility for what happened.Related...David Cameron’s Most Cringeworthy Greensill Lobbying Texts Laid BareIs Boris Johnson’s Thin Queen's Speech A Hint Of An Early Election?
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You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.Ok, so she didn’t use the word Brexit. But when Rachel Reeves made her debut as shadow chancellor in the Queen’s Speech debate, she did something few Labour politicians have dared attempt in the Starmer era: point out the downsides of the way Boris Johnson “got Brexit done”.Reeves risked the third rail of British politics as she sketched out how the pandemic had exposed structural weaknesses in both the British economy and in Tory policy over the past 11 years. Attacking Boris Johnson’s lack of vision for UK manufacturing outside the EU, she said our factories, as well as our cultural industries, farmers and our fishermen, “are suffering because of the huge gaps in this government’s deal with our European neighbours”. Yes, she mentioned the war!And Reeves went further with, wait for it, actual facts. “In the last quarter, exports to the EU were down 18.1%, and exports to countries outside the EU were up by only 0.4%.” In other words, it wasn’t the Covid third wave that hit our exports, it was new Brexit trade barriers. Ministers were “in denial about what businesses need to thrive in this new environment”.What went unsaid, as the OBR has pointed out, was that the impact of Covid on our long term output pales into insignificance compared with the permanent scarring caused by Brexit. Not even Reeves will go that far, as it risks lecturing former Labour voters that they got it wrong in 2016. But her decision to highlight Johnson’s failures was telling nevertheless.For obvious reasons, Starmer’s team don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of promising to renegotiate the PM’s skinny trade deal. A new customs union, even if on offer, looks politically impossible as it would let Brussels write our rules without any British vote at the EU table. The party’s next manifesto also cannot afford to be painted by Tory Blue Wall MPs as a “despite Brexit” blueprint.Yet Reeves pointed to other answers, such as a joint state-private sector investment in three new electric battery factories to boost our green car industry, that seemed designed to appeal to all kinds of voters. Declaring that “‘Made in Britain’ is a sign of quality, a stamp that marks British manufacturing as among the very best in the world”, her other charge was that the government had not done enough to protect steelworkers or shipbuilders.Reeves’ punchy performance showed that for all the focus on Angela Rayner’s status, the bigger story of Starmer’s reshuffle was him trying afresh to convince the voters that Labour was on their side on the economy. And without credibility on that, there is no path back to power for the Opposition.As a former Bank of England economist, it’s plausible to see Reeves as Chancellor running a Labour Treasury. However, she made plain right at the start of her speech that she and her party had to “be trusted by the public with their money” and that was “a test that I intend to meet”. It was a reminder that her previous months of work on Tory Covid “cronyism” (like shadow health minister Justin Madders’ relentless work on Test and Trace) was always as much about waste as it was about sleaze.Starmer’s aim is that under Reeves, Labour can slowly recover the prudence that Gordon Brown made his own. Handled correctly, it could even use the weight of that famous Margaret Thatcher line about the economy – that national budgets are like household budgets – in a judo throw against the Johnson administration. Shadow chief secretary Bridget Phillipson told me recently that it was precisely because she had grown up in a poorer household that she understood better than most the need to spend every penny wisely.  That kind of framing is one way to reconnect with lost voters in all parts of Britain.Match that with growing business frustration at new trade barriers with Europe (which has the simple consumer impact of long delays ordering anything on Amazon from the EU), plus calls for an industrial strategy and investment in jobs of the future, and Labour may be feeling its way back into the conversation.There’s a long way to go, not least as Rishi Sunak underlined again his message that the government had done more than any Western government to directly subsidise jobs through the crisis. But Reeves’ ‘Made in Britain’ moment, plus a reality check on the PM’s exit deal, was at least a start.Related...Starmer Warned Ducking Brexit 'Not Viable Strategy' As Pro-EU Campaign LaunchedCorbyn Calls Starmer 'Weak' For Blaming Labour's Election Woes On HimKeir Starmer's Reshuffle Chaos Continues As Commons Aide Forced To Quit
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Labour Party leader Keir Starmer " src="https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/609bbbe21e0000766e10180d.jpeg?ops=scalefit_630_noupscale" />Keir Starmer has been warned Labour cannot duck challenging Boris Johnson over Brexit as pro-EU campaigners launched a new platform to monitor damage to the economy. Brexit Spotlight will track how withdrawal from the EU hits the UK, from the loss of workers’ rights and free movement, to science funding, jobs and new regulations. The initiative by Another Europe Is Possible is aimed at pressuring politicians on the left into backing closer ties with Europe in future. After Leave voters in seats across the midlands and north backed Boris Johnson at the 2019 general election, Labour MPs voted for the Conservatives’ trade deal with Brussels in December. Starmer has since said rejoining the EU was “not realistic” and there was no scope for “major renegotiation” of the government’s deal. But pro-EU Labour members, most of whom backed Starmer in the Labour leadership election, are thought to be increasingly frustrated at the party’s approach and want to see Johnson’s deal scrutinised. The new site will monitor Brexit’s impact “in real time” and also focus on the environment, exports and human rights, as well as feature exclusive investigations and research. Laura Parker, a member of Another Europe is Possible’s national committee and a former national coordinator of Momentum, told HuffPost UK: “The fallout from Brexit is going to dominate our politics for decades to come, and if last week’s elections demonstrated anything, it was that refusing to talk about the issue is not a viable strategy – for Labour or for anyone else.“Places like Hartlepool voted Tory because they have been neglected for decades and then sold a lie about immigration being to blame rather than this deliberate, chronic under-investment.“English nationalism is the force which Boris Johnson will use to mobilise his new voter base; Labour and the wider progressive left must learn to put forward a positive alternative.”The Office for Budget Responsibility said in March that Brexit was likely to shrink the UK economy by 4% over the next 15 years. Labour MP Nadia Whittome said the party should respond to Johnson’s “levelling up” agenda by referencing Brexit’s impact.She said: “The real effects of leaving the EU have only just begun to be felt. The government wants to use Brexit to create a race to the bottom on rights and living standards, destroying decades of progress to benefit the super-rich and giant corporations. “Attacks on workers’ rights and environmental standards will hurt all of us, regardless of whether we voted Leave or Remain, as will job losses and toxic trade deals which bring down our food standards.” Michael Chessum, Another Europe is Possible’s national organiser, added: “Those who campaigned for Brexit promised a healthier democracy and widespread prosperity, but for many of them the real agenda was the opposite: economic deregulation, and a driving down of wages and standards.“Brexit is already an unfolding disaster - and not just for the people who opposed it. Farmers, fishers and exporters are already facing ruin, and as the process continues so will many of the people who voted Leave. “This project is about exposing that reality in real time, so that the effects of Brexit are not just a series of disconnected shocks, and building a case for a much closer relationship with Europe in the future with regulatory alignment and free movement at its heart.”Related...Keir Starmer U-Turns On Free Movement And Says Rejoining EU 'Not Realistic'Labour MPs 'Desperate To Rejoin' The EU 'At Heart', Says Ex-Frontbencher Rosie DuffieldStrict Immigration Rules Would Have Robbed Britain Of These Incredible People
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March's growth was considerably stronger than expected, and sets the stage for a rapid rebound for the UK economy in 2021.
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If you’re feeling a little on edge about the prospect of dining out come May 17, you’re not alone.Earlier in 2021, a survey by Lifesum of more than 10,000 people revealed two in five (40%) felt “nervous or apprehensive” about going out for dinner – and this was back when restrictions allowed for outdoor eating only. From May 17, pubs, restaurants and cafes in England will once again be allowed to serve customers indoors.Dubbed fear of dining out, or FODO, it’s pretty normal to feel worried about returning to restaurants. After all, we’ve spent the last year mostly being told staying home is safe, going out is bad. Except during Eat Out To Help Out, when we were actively encouraged to take up chancellor Rishi Sunak’s dinner discounts – only to find out that the scheme had increased infection rates.Which is all the say, if your brain isn’t quite on board with the concept of going for brunch in a public place where there’ll be ~ gasps ~ complete strangers, that’s to be expected.Equally, if you’re practically bouncing off the walls with excitement about meeting your mates for a Sunday roast indoors at your favourite local, that’s normal too – 79% of those surveyed said they were “looking forward” to dining in a restaurant again and embracing JODO (the joy of dining out).Why do we get FODO?Therapist and Counselling Directory member Shelley Treacher says FODO is a “completely normal response to the abnormal situation of coming out of isolation caused by a killer virus”. One reason we may feel this way, she suggests, is because our physiological systems have got used to being on guard. “It may take us a while to come out of the body’s threat cycle response, to calm down, and to get back to normal,” she tells HuffPost UK. “We have been vigilant for so long.”On top of that, it’s also possible that some of us have developed social anxiety (link) after being isolated from others for so long. As such, we may have a natural inclination to stay indoors.If this rings true, it’s important to be kind to yourself. It’s ok to take your time when returning to socialising, says Treacher. Saying ‘no’ to a dinner invite doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you, just that you are being cautious. “This is a good survival skill,” she adds.If you’re on the fence about eating out, it might help to check the latest facts about safety and the virus: what are the cases like in your area? How can you stay safe while out and about? Could you dip your toes in with a first meal out that’s with people you trust at a restaurant or pub you’re familiar with?“Allow yourself to return when you are ready,” says Treacher. “This is another exceptional circumstance, so it will help to take it with care.”How to dine out safely Throughout the pandemic, Professor Paul Hunter, from the Norwich School of Medicine at the University of East Anglia, has been sharing advice on Covid safety.He tells HuffPost UK data suggests going out to eat in a restaurant is not one of the riskier activities when it comes to the transmission of coronavirus, although he notes it is obviously more risky than staying at home.Here are his tips for minimising your risk if and when you do go out to eat:1. Dine ‘out’ out. If the weather is good and the restaurant has outside seating, still think about eating outdoors. This is because the risk of outdoor transmission is far lower than from indoors. 2. It’s okay to be picky. Try to choose a restaurant that’s clearly committed to making your visit as low risk as possible. Are there signs up about its Covid safety measures? Are there one-way systems in place? Does the place look clean and are the tables wiped down properly between meals? Are the staff wearing face coverings?3. Eat at quieter times. Try and choose times to go when the restaurant may not be that busy. Prof Hunter notes one of the problems with last August’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme was that some days were really busy and others not so busy. “If the place is packed, consider going elsewhere,” he advises.4. Stay hygienic. Wash your hands or use sanitiser on entry, after visiting the loos and when leaving.5. Cover up. Continue to wear your face mask or covering whilst moving around the venue, including when you go to the toilet. 6. Seating plans are ok. Even if you’re eating with people from another bubble,  try and sit opposite someone you live with so you’re not facing someone else. Related...All The Things You Can Do From May 17The 10-Minute Mental Health Workout To Boost Self-EsteemMen Journal, Too – And They’re Starting To Talk About ItHow To Get Your Confidence Back If It's Shattered Right Now
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