The Breakfast Briefing: Lockdown Britain sees economy plummet PLUS Brexit u-turn imminent
The Office for National Statistics revealed the stark new economic data on Friday. (PA)
Your essential morning guide to what’s moving in Westminster.
Good morning and welcome to the PoliticsHome Breakfast Briefing for Friday, June 12.
▸ THE NEWSLIST
The big stories kicking off the political day
- Britain’s economy has suffered the largest monthly contraction on record as the coronavirus sent vast swathes of the country into shutdown, new figures show. Official data released by the Office for National Statistics on Friday show that gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 20.4% in April compared to March. That marked the largest monthly fall since records began in 1997, with the ONS saying it reflected “record widespread falls in services, production and construction output”.
- The UK is set to abandon plans for full border checks with the European Union on January 1 in favour of a “flexible” approach. According to the Financial Times, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has accepted that businesses will be unable to cope with both the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit-related disruption at the border once the UK’s transition period with the bloc comes to an end. The Government had previously said that goods coming in from the EU would face the same customs checks as those from other countries.
- Twenty-five thousand people were discharged from hospital into care homes without being tested for the coronavirus before the Government changed its policy. A new report by the National Audit Office confirms that 25,000 people went untested from hospitals into care homes between mid-March and mid-April. Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative former health secretary who now chairs the Commons Health Committee, said the findings were “extraordinary” and came “despite widespread knowledge that the virus could be carried asymptomatically”. But a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “This is an unprecedented global pandemic and we have taken the right decisions at the right time based on the latest scientific and medical advice.”
- Ministers have been urged to explain a “lack of transparency” after it emerged that a second report into the impact of Covid-19 on people from black and minority ethnic communities has not been published. Labour’s Shadow Equalities Secretary Marsha De Cordova said it was a “scandal” that the further document, reportedly containing proposals to tackle the disproportionate impact of the virus on BAME people, had yet to be made public. A senior academic asked to peer-review a late-stage draft of the work for the Government told the BBC that it had contained recommendations as well as evidence from 4,000 individuals and organisations on the impact of the virus.
- The UK’s equalities watchdog will investigate the Home Office’s “hostile environment” immigration policy in the wake of the Windrush scandal. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission announced it would launch legal action to review whether the department complied with equality law when implementing the immigration clampdown, and will look at “how the department engaged with affected individuals and communities to understand the relevant historical and contextual factors when developing immigration policy from 2012-18“. It will also consider whether the Home Office “understood, monitored and reviewed the impact of placing increasingly onerous documentation requirements” on those swept up in the scandal.
- Priti Patel has accused a group of Labour MPs of trying to “dismiss” her own experiences of racism amid a bitter row over the Black Lives Matter movement. The Home Secretary said she would “not be silenced” after more than thirty Labour members signed a joint letter accusing her of using her heritage to “gaslight the very real racism faced by black people and communities across the UK”. The letter comes after Ms Patel — who has hit out at “mobs” responsible for “unlawful and reckless acts” under the banner of the largely-peaceful BLM movement — dismissed claims the Government “doesn’t understand racial inequality” and said she had been racially abused in the streets because of her own background.
- Young adults with learning difficulties being kept in detention are "highly vulnerable" to abuse during the pandemic, a group of MPs and peers have warned. The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has urged NHS England to allow the families of young people with autism or learning difficulties to visit their loved ones during the crisis amid fears their human rights are being abused. It comes after parents of children in mental health hospitals or Assessment and Treatment Units told the group they faced blanket bans on visits, while routine inspections have been suspended due to the lockdown.
- The UK is on the brink of a youth unemployment crisis thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, union chiefs have warned. Analysis by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) shows younger workers are three times more likely to work in sectors most vulnerable to job cuts, including hospitality and the arts. And women under 25 are most at risk of finding themselves out of a job as the UK emerges from lockdown.
▸ THE DAY AHEAD
800: European Parliament's Committee on International Trade and Committee on Foreign Affairs hold joint session to adopt draft report on post-Brexit negotiations
900: Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy and former Foreign Secretary David Miliband among speakers at New Statesman event on ‘remaking the world after coronavirus’
930: Office for National Statistics figures on all UK deaths between March 1 and April 30
1700: Number 10's daily coronavirus briefing - Transport Secretary Grant Shapps expected to lead
“We recognise the impact that coronavirus has had on UK businesses, and as we take back control of our laws and our borders at the end of this year, we will take a pragmatic and flexible approach to help business adjust to the changes and opportunities of being outside the single market and the customs union."
A UK Government source prepares the ground for a u-turn on border checks.
▸ FROM THE HOUSE LIVE
The latest insight and opinion from parliamentarians and PoliticsHome members
What might a green recovery from Covid-19 look like?
Alexandra Goodwin, Dods Monitoring
Explained: Which workers have been worst hit by coronavirus?
House of Commons library
▸ THE MORNING MUST READS
Making headlines elsewhere...
The Times: Violent protesters to be jailed within 24 hours
The Independent: Boris Johnson risking new spike in coronavirus cases by easing lockdown when test and trace system underperforming, scientists warn
The Sun: Pubs, restaurants and hotels must get furlough scheme extended for another YEAR to save millions of jobs, MPs warn
The Daily Mail: Sadiq Khan BOARDS UP the Cenotaph, Winston Churchill's statue and other 'at risk' monuments to protect them ahead of planned protests in the capital amid campaign to topple 'racist' statues
The Guardian: Bereaved relatives call for immediate inquiry into Covid-19 crisis
...plus our pick of the comment pages
Fraser Nelson, The Telegraph: We're asking the wrong questions about racial inequality in the UK
Eric Pickles, ConservativeHome: Flexibility is needed for those falling behind in paying Council Tax
Katy Balls, The Guardian: The latest Tory party split? It's Waitrose Conservatives versus Lidl free marketeers
Ian Murray, LabourList: Let’s dispel the myths around the Scottish government’s handling of coronavirus
Ann Treneman, The Times: Some day these plinths will come to haunt us
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