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Newslinks for Saturday 27th February 2021


Salmond denounces Sturgeon: ‘Scotland’s leadership has failed’

“Downing Street has been urged to intervene in the escalating Salmond-Sturgeon feud as the former Scottish First Minister accused his successor of leadership “failure”. Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, told The Telegraph that the Cabinet Office should investigate whether Scottish civil servants broke the code of conduct in their handling of complaints against Alex Salmond. On Friday, Mr Salmond used an extraordinary six-hour evidence session to detail claims that there was a conspiracy against him involving his one-time protege Nicola Sturgeon. She denies the allegation. Appearing before a Scottish parliamentary committee, Mr Salmond took aim at the top of the Scottish political establishment with the cameras rolling, saying: “Scotland hasn’t failed, its leadership has failed.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Successor is unfit to lead Scotland, ex-First Minister tells inquiry – The Times
  • He says she flouted ministerial code over handling of harassment claims – Daily Mail
  • Salmond’s evidence: His key claims – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • BBC accused of giving Sturgeon ‘free rein’ to attack political rivals – Daily Express
  • First Minister could be gone in weeks, says Scottish Tory leader – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Salmond’s evidence to the Holyrood inquiry in full

Johnson ‘eyes move for Gove’, who he ‘needs but does not trust’

“Suggestions that Gove was being cut adrift were amplified by Johnson’s decision to appoint Frost’s number two in Brexit negotiations to lead a unit in Downing Street charged with drawing up a strategy to see off the Scottish National Party threat and protect the Union. Rumours circulated in the ever feverish Downing Street hothouse that Oliver Lewis’s appointment was designed to denude Gove’s influence in another key area of his brief: managing the relationship with the devolved administrations. To take one job away could be seen as carelessness on the part of the prime minister; to undermine a second seemed deliberate. Yet nearly two weeks on a more complex picture emerges. Johnson, it seemed, had not deliberately set out to marginalise Gove and was slightly horrified that it had been perceived that way.” – The Times

  • Symonds ‘tried to sack’ a Whitehall official who refused to sign off a bill – Daily Mail

DUP Minister halts work on post-Brexit checkpoints ‘in defiance of EU’

“Construction work on controversial post-Brexit checkpoints in Northern Ireland has been halted in defiance of Brussels, in a clear signal of rising frustration with rules governing the transport of goods to and from the British mainland. Agricultural Minister Gordon Lyons has been warmly praised by former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib, a staunch critic of the Northern Ireland Protocol, for recognising that, where the bloc was concerned, actions spoke louder than words. Mr Lyons, a member of the DUP, today confirmed that he had pulled the plug on work to build permanent inspection facilities for post-Brexit checks on agri-food goods arriving from Great Britain. He has also stopped further recruitment of inspection staff for the port facilities and ordered an end to charges levied at the ports on traders bringing goods from GB into Northern Ireland.” – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Hussein Kassim in Think Tanks: Britain faces limited opportunites to diverge from the EU after Brexit

Charles Moore: Unionists cannot escape their share of the blame for this Scottish ‘fish fight’

“The broad situation is the fault of Unionists too, however. Their attitude to devolutionists has mostly been “Let them have what they want”. Their idea of “them” in relation to Scotland lazily equates the SNP with the Scottish people. When complaints grow louder, more money and powers are shoved the Scottish government’s way. There has been little consecutive thinking about how best Union and devolved authorities can cooperate, politically or administratively. Whitehall’s links are weak. “Better together” was the good slogan for the “No” campaign in the 2014 referendum, but that thought is not much put into practice. It is noticeable that ministers like praising the Union, but also that they do so as a substitute for action rather than a prelude to it.” – Daily Telegraph

  • SNP feud reveals the lack of accountability in UK politics – Henry Mance, FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The red white and blue archipelago: how localism can sustain the Union.

First-time buyers get boost for new loans in Budget

“Tens of thousands of young people will get their first step on the housing ladder under a mortgage guarantee scheme due to be announced in the budget next week. Buyers will be able to obtain a mortgage with a deposit of only 5 per cent of the value of a property under the plan to turn “generation rent” into “generation buy”. The Treasury will guarantee part of the loan to encourage banks to offer riskier mortgages on properties worth up to £600,000. Banks stopped offering 95 per cent loan-to-value mortgages at the onset of the pandemic last year. Some 90 per cent loan-to-value mortgages are back on the market, but there are strict eligibility criteria and availability is limited.” – The Times

  • Sunak warns of bill to be paid to tackle UK’s ‘exposed’ finances – FT
  • Chancellor will announce a huge expansion of workplace training – Daily Express
  • Bosses will get £3,000 for every new apprentice they take on – The Sun
  • Most Tory voters support an increase in corporation tax – Daily Telegraph
  • State-backed Covid insurance may be lined up for festivals – The Times
  • Sunak will launch £100million taskforce to catch the Covid fraudsters – Daily Mail

>Today: David Gauke’s column: My Budget advice to the Chancellor. Raise income tax, not corporation tax.

>Yesterday: Ben Houchen in Comment: The Budget. On Wednesday, Sunak must hear the voice of the North – and kickstart a new era of job creation.

Johnson hints North is set for major rail boost

“Boris Johnson hinted the north is set for a major infrastructure boost to railroad the nation to build back from the pandemic. The PM, speaking to railway chiefs yesterday, outlined plans to speed up major projects saying he wants the Department for Transport (DfT) and Network Rail ‘to halve the time and slash the cost’ of projects. He said: “We know that it is by infrastructure, innovation and skills, we will spread opportunity around the country. “We know the good efficient mass transit systems are the great social and economic levers and bringers of hope. It’s thanks to your efforts that post-coved, post-Brexit Britain will be propelled by a new generation of electric or even hydrogen trains whizzing down the ringing grooves of change as I think [the poet] Tennyson puts it. Reopening Beeching lines, renewing the very musculoskeletal system of the country.”” – The Sun

  • Prime Minister ‘promised gambling review after a party with lottery boss’ – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Will the Government meet its commitment to end rough sleeping during this Parliament?

Compulsory jabs for care staff ‘supported by Buckland’

“A senior cabinet minister has backed “no jab, no job” proposals from care homes as figures showed nearly one in three staff have not been vaccinated. Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, said there was an “obvious rationale” for social care groups to introduce the policy in light of fears about vaccine hesitancy among care home workers. Only 6 per cent of residents are yet to have received a jab. There are signs of particularly low uptake among carers in London, where 45 per cent of staff have not yet been vaccinated. Almost half of domiciliary care workers who look after people in their homes have not received the vaccine either. All carers have been offered a vaccine.” – The Times

  • Johnson is keen to ban firms from having a ‘no jabs, no jobs’ policy – The Sun
  • Unions criticise UK’s age-based vaccine approach – The Guardian
  • Workers will be flocking back to their offices ‘in a few short months’, predicts Johnson – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • If we don’t reform social care now, when will we? – Damian Green MP and Jeremy Hunt MP, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: William Prescott in International: Australia is starting to reach the limits of what its coronavirus strategy can do

Facebook warned UK ‘won’t shy away’ from cracking down

“Furious ministers warned Facebook they “won’t shy away” from cracking down on the tech giant in the wake of their Australian newsfeed ban. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said “nothing is off the table” – including billion pound fines – after he vowed to raise the “tech titans’” behaviour at this summer’s G7. The social media giant was blasted for blocking news content in Australia after they introduced a law forcing tech giants to pay for news content on their platforms. Yesterday, Mr Dowden spoke with former Deputy PM Nick Clegg who now works for Facebook to warn them over their behaviour… He also revealed he is planning to use the G7 Carbis Bay, Cornwall in June to address competition concerns in digital markets.” – The Sun

Begum cannot return to UK for citizenship battle, Supreme Court rules

“A woman who left the UK to join Isis in Syria on Friday lost her legal battle to return to contest the removal of her citizenship when the Supreme Court ruled against her in three related legal cases. The ruling overturns a decision by the Court of Appeal in July last year that would have allowed Shamima Begum to return to the UK from the Syrian refugee camp where she is living. It is a victory for home secretary Priti Patel whose department revoked Begum’s British citizenship and has fought strenuously to prevent the “jihadi bride” returning to the UK, saying she is a national security risk. Begum, now 21, left her home in east London in 2015 with two school friends for what she called the “good life” in Syria under Isis control.” – FT

  • Britain risks creating new Guantánamo in Syria, says rights group – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • Salmond’s hairsplitting on devolution sounds almost Conservative – Henry Hill, The Spectator
  • European Research Group demand NI Protocol is scrapped – David Scullion, The Critic
  • BBC Alba’s hagiographical documentary on the late Charles Kennedy – Iain Dale, Reaction
  • Ulster court case spotlights the need to take back control of judicial appointments – Henry Hill, CapX





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