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Fri, 26 February 2021

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The Breakfast Briefing: Labour’s comeback ‘mountain’, Defence Secretary on Black Lives Matter PLUS fresh anger at Commons bullying plan

The Breakfast Briefing: Labour’s comeback ‘mountain’, Defence Secretary on Black Lives Matter PLUS fresh anger at Commons bullying plan

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has a fight on his hands to revive his party’s fortunes. (PA)

7 min read

Good morning and welcome to the PoliticsHome Breakfast Briefing for Friday, June 19.

▸    THE NEWSLIST
The big stories kicking off the political day
 

Ditching Jeremy Corbyn as leader or shifting the party’s position on Brexit will not be enough to recover from Labour’s worst election defeat since 1935, a detailed post-mortem has concluded. A review of the 2019 result by the Labour Together group, which includes MPs, unions, advisers and journalists, found that a “failure to properly analyse and resolve historic problems” — as well as an over-confidence sparked by the surprise 2017 result — left Labour to shed seats across the country. And it warned that the party has a “mountain to climb” under new leader Sir Keir Starmer to get back into power at the next election. | Read the full review here
 
Boris Johnson is promising a £1bn coronavirus “catch-up” fund in a bid to tackle the impact of lost teaching time on England’s young people. Vowing “extra support to children who have fallen behind”, the Prime Minister and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson outlined extra cash for state primary and secondary schools alongside a new ‘National Tutoring Programme’ . The new catch-up plan will see £650 million shared across state primary and secondary schools over the 2020/21 academic year, with head teachers able to decide how best to spend the money. Meanwhile the separate £350m tutoring programme aims to help up to two million disadvantaged children get back on track, and the Government is also promising guidance to providers running summer holiday clubs and activities to help them open during the break “if the science allows”. But Labour said the plans represented a “tiny fraction of the support our pupils need”.
 
Exclusive: The Ministry of Defence must “reset” its “woeful” record on discrimination against black and minority ethnic personnel, Cabinet minister Ben Wallace has declared. The Defence Secretary said his department had historically “not done well enough” in either recruiting or welcoming people from a black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background, amid global protests at racial injustice sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement. The comments come in a wide-ranging interview with The House — in which Mr Wallace, a former Scots guards captain, also warned against making statue vandals “martyrs” amid a row over how to punish those who desecrate war memorials. | Read the full interview here.
 
Exclusive: The Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Layla Moran has set out a series of radical economic proposals — including scrapping the Treasury altogether. The Oxford West MP told PoliticsHome she wants to break up the department and replace it with two new ones — a Department for Sustainability and a Department for Public Finances. The plans are contained in the 37-year-old’s policy book, published on Friday, as she vies for her party’s top job with acting boss Sir Ed Davey and energy spokesperson Wera Hobhouse.
 
The coronavirus pandemic has delayed already slow progress in removing deadly Grenfell-style cladding from other residential high-rise buildings, a watchdog has warned. A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) shows up to 60% of projects to replace flammable cladding across the country had been paused as of April, after the UK was put under lockdown. But progress was already slower than ministers expected before the pandemic took hold, particularly in the private rented sector, where just 13.5% of buildings have been made safe.
 
Boris Johnson and the EU need to demonstrate “political leadership” and a “willingness to compromise” if a deal on a future relationship is to be reached before this year, MPs have warned. A new report by Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union urged ministers to undertake “intensified face-to-face negotiations” as soon as coronavirus restrictions allow if they hope to achieve a breakthrough. Talks between Britain and the bloc remain at an impasse over issues such as access to the UK's fishing waters, cross-border law enforcement, and the EU’s demand for a host of “level-playing field” commitments on rights and standards.
 
The NHS contact tracing app will be ditched after trials found it detected only 4% of contacts on iPhones. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced the contact tracing app will be scrapped in favour of technology developed by Apple and Google. The decision was taken after field tests found the NHS app detected contacts on just 4% of iPhones and 75% of Android devices, while the alternative technology was able to identify 99% of contacts. Announcing the move, NHS test and trace boss Dido Harding, and Matthew Gould, who leads the NHSX team, said the decision had been made after they identified "specific technical challenges". "Our response to this virus has and will continue to be as part of an international effort," they said.


▸    THE DAY AHEAD
     
Just-published: The latest Office for National Statistics figures show Government borrowing hit a record high of £55.2bn in May. Retail sales increased by 12% in the same month — but sales were still down 13.1% overall on February, separate ONS data show.

Boris Johnson is due to visit a school in England to launch the new catch-up education plans.
09:00: European Council leaders hold a virtual summit — with Covid-19 and Brexit on the agenda.
10:30: Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke appears at Southwark Crown Court charged with three counts of sexual assault against two women. He has denied the allegations.
12.30: Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford details plans for non-tial retail from to reopen from June 22 as he unveils the outcome of the latest three-weekly lockdown review.
12.30: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gives her own press conference at the same time
17.00: The daily Number 10 Covid-19 briefing takes place.


▸    QUOTABLE
     
"It could mean a person who has been bullied or sexually assaulted (for example) having their distressing experience debated by politicians, who might split along party political lines, in the public glare. This would not only cause further distress and humiliation, but would likely increase the media interest and risk of identification of the complainant.” — Parliament’s own Cultural Transformation Group warns against plans to let MPs debate bullying and harassment sanctions against them. The response is among those laid bare in an exclusive Freedom of Information request by The House’s Seb Whale.


▸    FROM THE HOUSE LIVE
     
The latest insight and opinion from parliamentarians and PoliticsHome members
 
To ensure the future supply of essential mineral products, the planning system must be reformed
Mineral Products Association
 
50 years on - Lord Speaker Norman Fowler on his half century in Parliament
Lord Fowler
 
The welfare of 400,000 stranded sailors must not be forgotten
Lord West


▸    THE MORNING MUST READS

Making headlines elsewhere...
 
FT: Johnson and Macron back renewed effort to strike UK-EU trade deal
 
Telegraph: Air bridge plan boosts hopes of holidays from July
 
HuffPost: No.10 Must Stop Treating Tory MPs Like 'Hobbits' To Be Ignored, Ex-Minister Says
 
MailOnline: 'I'm very sorry': Protester who threw himself in front of Boris's car says he never meant to hurt anyone as it's revealed he's a father-of-one Kurdish freedom fighter who fled Iraq after Saddam Hussein gas attack
 
...plus our pick of the comment pages

 
Ed Miliband, The Guardian: Britain rejected Labour in 2019. Let’s learn the right lessons
 
Iain Watson, BBC: Labour's electoral mountain
 
Jacob Rees-Mogg, The Times: Parliament is at full steam and delivering on promises
 
Nels Abbey, The Independent: Dominic Raab’s obliviousness to taking a knee feels eerily like a government ploy to enrage black people
 
Ana Oppenheim, LabourList: Let’s have the courage to make the case for migrants’ rights


▸    GET IN TOUCH
     
Got a story, tip or comment for the news team? Contact news@politicshome.com
 
Want to get your organisation's message heard by key political decision-makers? Contact jeremy.hughes@dodsgroup.com
 
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