There are ‘benefits’ to extending school day, says Gavin Williamson
Priti Patel is planning to hike visa fees for NHS and other workers from European countries, in what Labour has described as “a stealth tax on frontline heroes”.
The home secretary has been accused of partially going back on her promise to scrap the immigration surcharge paid by overseas health and care workers, conceded after huge protests.
The row has blown up because Ms Patel is exploring removing a £55 discount on application fees for citizens from 26 countries, most of which are EU members.
During the UK’s membership of the EU – because of free movement of worker rules within the bloc – the charter was irrelevant for the vast majority of the countries involved.
The Home Office has been asked to comment on the proposal, first reported by The Times. Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, attacked the plan, saying: “What does the home secretary have against NHS and care workers?
“Conservative plans to slap a stealth tax on frontline heroes, who have risked their own health to keep us safe through this pandemic, is shameful.
Elsewhere, Gavin Williamson has been criticised for his department’s ‘pitiful’ Covid recovery plan for schools. The proposals have been widely condemned by teaching unions, who say the £1.4bn put forward falls far short of what is required to help pupils get back on track following months of lockdown.
Priti Patel planning ‘stealth tax on frontline heroes’ with visa fee hike for NHS staff from EU
Priti Patel is planning to hike visa fees for NHS and other workers from EU countries, triggering criticism of “a stealth tax on frontline heroes”.
Labour is also accusing the home secretary of partially going back on her promise to scrap the immigration surcharge paid by overseas health and care workers, conceded after huge protests.
Our deputy politics editor Rob Merrick reports:
Matt Mathers2 June 2021 13:45
Still ‘nothing in the data’ meaning next step of lockdown lifting cannot go ahead, Johnson says
Boris Johnson has said there is still “nothing in the data at the moment that means we cannot go ahead with Step 4” of lifting coronavirus restrictions.
“But we’ve got to be so cautious,” the prime minister added, as he said infection rates were increasing.
“We always knew that was going to happen,” he said, adding: “What we need to work out is to what extent the vaccination programme has protected enough of us, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, against a new surge, and there I’m afraid the data is still ambiguous.
“The best the scientists can say at the moment is we just need to give it a little bit longer.”
Samuel Osborne2 June 2021 13:26
As pressure mounts to lift all restrictions, we’re about to find out if Dominic Cummings is right about Boris Johnson
Some scientists want to delay ending social distancing for at least two weeks because of the rising number of cases of the Indian variant. The prime minister therefore faces a familiar dilemma, writes Andrew Grice.
Read Andrew’s piece here:
Matt Mathers2 June 2021 13:15
Don’t make the school day longer – after the trauma of Covid, children need a break too
After a year of isolation, uncertainty and despair, what young people need is the time, space and opportunity to enjoy their freedom again, together, writes teacher and Green Party spokesperson,Vix Lowthian.
Read Vix’s full piece here:
Matt Mathers2 June 2021 12:50
Keir Starmer should set up Labour leaders’ forum, says Scottish party boss
Sir Keir Starmer should set up a forum for Labour leaders across the UK to give the party a better chance of winning power, the Scottish Labour leader has said.
Anas Sarwar suggested a new group be created, meeting four times a year and bringing together senior party figures from all over the country.
My colleague Adam Forrest reports:
Matt Mathers2 June 2021 12:30
Lizz Truss teased for touting benefits of accession to ‘dynamic free trade area’
First, she was a remainer, then she wasn’t.
Way back in February 2016, Lizz Truss was trumpeting the benefits of staying in the EU.
“I am backing remain as I believe it is in Britain’s economic interest,” she tweeted during the campaign.
Months later, the former chief secretary to the Treasury was touring broadcast studios telling interviewers she’d had a change of heart.
“The reason I’ve said [I would now back Brexit] is because I voted to Remain because I was concerned about the economy but what we’ve seen since the Brexit vote is our economy has done well,” she told one.
Two prime ministers later, and with the UK now out of the EU, the ambitious MP for South West Norfolk appears to be solely focused on her duties as international trade secretary.
Today she was promoting the “excellent news” that the CPTPP Commission has agreed to accept the UK to join “this dynamic free trade of 11 countries”.
The irony was not lost on many Twitter users.
“Bizarre. You want to celebrate this at the far side of the globe AND celebrate having extricated ourselves from the one next door? one wrote.
A second said: “Why do we want to join a free trade area? I thought we’d just left one because being in free trade areas was bad?”
Matt Mathers2 June 2021 12:16
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross self-isolating in hotel after Covid contact
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross is self-isolating after being in close contact with a person who has tested positive for coronavirus.
The politician was in the Scottish parliament on Wednesday morning when he was told that someone he had been close to on Monday was infected with Covid-19.
My colleague Adam Forrest has more details:
Matt Mathers2 June 2021 11:38
Watchdog urged to probe Tory donations from dissolved companies
Labour has called on the political party spending watchdog to investigate claims that the Tories accepted donations from companies that were defunct.
Anneliese Dodds, chairwoman of the Labour Party, has written to the Electoral Commission asking it to “urgently investigate” two donations made to the Conservatives that “do not appear to comply” with the law.
According to the Electoral Commission website, the Conservative Party accepted a donation of £10,000 from Stridewell Estates on November 20 2019.
Ms Dodds said the Companies House website states that Stridewell Estates was dissolved in November 2016 – more than three years before the donation.
The commission also noted a Tory donation of £6,000 from Unionist Buildings on 2 June 2017, which was accepted three days later despite the firm being dissolved in January that year.
A further donation of £4,000 from Unionist Buildings was registered by Conservative MP Wendy Morton on 9 January 2020, almost three years after the company was officially dissolved, Ms Dodds said.
The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 says company donors must be active in the UK, with party treasurers under obligation to check Companies House to see if the firm is in liquidation, dormant, about to be struck off, or if its accounts are overdue before deciding whether to accept a donation within 30 days of receiving it.
Matt Mathers2 June 2021 11:05
UK calls on EU to show more ‘common sense’ over Northern Ireland protocol
Boris Johnson’s Brexit minister David Frost has said trade arrangements for Northern Ireland previously agreed with the EU are not “sustainable” in their current form.
Lord Frost also called on Brussels chiefs to show more “common sense” to help find practical solutions to the problems arising from the Northern Ireland protocol.
My colleague Adam Forrest reports:
Matt Mathers2 June 2021 10:43
Pro-Brexit Wetherspoons boss calls for more EU migration to staff bars
The pro-Brexit boss of pub chain JD Wetherspoon has urged the government to increase migration from the EU to deal with a shortage of workers in the hospitality sector.
My colleague Tom Batchelor reports:
Matt Mathers2 June 2021 10:22