The Breakfast Briefing: MP staff blast plan to tackle bullying, Macron in town PLUS fresh social care warning
Good morning and welcome to the PoliticsHome Breakfast Briefing for Thursday, June 18.
▸ THE NEWSLIST
The big stories kicking off the political day
Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron will mark the 80th anniversary of the French Resistance when they meet in London today amid the coronavirus pandemic. The French President is in the UK to commemorate eight decades since wartime leader Charles de Gaulle broadcast his ‘Appel’ message to Nazi-occupied France from London. The meeting is also expected to see the pair discuss the handling of the coronavirus outbreak, with Mr Johnson this week confirming safe travel between the two countries would be raised amid French objections to the UK’s quarantine of all arrivals. The talks also come amid deadlocked negotiations on Britain’s bid to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union, although French officials have told The Guardian that the issue can only be discussed at EU-level.
Exclusive: Current and former parliamentary staff have lashed out at plans that would allow MPs to debate the suspension or expulsion of another member for bullying and harassment. Several clerks who served in the House of Commons Service, including those who have accused MPs of bullying, have attacked an “11th hour proposal” that they claim will "give a platform to bullies", while their victims are "silenced". And they argue that it “runs roughshod” over a landmark inquiry by Dame Laura Cox into bullying and sexual harassment at Westminster, which called for an independent system for dealing with complaints.
Social care providers will go under unless “significant” extra funding is given to local authorities struggling to cope with the coronavirus crisis, a new report has warned. A survey of 154 local authorities carried out by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) found that just one in 25 providers of adult social care services believe they now have enough money to meet their basic statutory duties. Adass has already warned that the sector is now facing £6.6bn in additional costs as a result of the pandemic.
Exclusive: The former head of the Royal Navy has urged ministers to create “safe corridors” to end the "humanitarian disaster" facing seafarers stranded across the globe. Lord West, who served as the UK's First Sea Lord, has warned 1.8m sailors are being pushed to "breaking point" due to limits imposed on maritime vessels as a result of coronavirus travel restrictions. The former admiral said over 400,000 sailors have been left "stranded" because they are blocked from disembarking in their home countries or travelling to other ports to allow crew changes, with many stuck at sea for months beyond limits set under maritime law.
Labour has called on the Government to introduce routine testing for all NHS and social care staff to help minimise the transmission of the disease. Currently, the majority of frontline staff can only get a Covid-19 test if they are exhibiting symptoms, with only 11 NHS trusts trialling routine testing, according to NHS Providers. But Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said rolling the checks out to all frontline health workers was now an “urgent priority”. He added: “Weekly testing of all healthcare workers reduces the spread of the virus and helps protect NHS staff and patients.”
A much-heralded app to trace the contacts of people with coronavirus may not be ready until the winter and is no longer a government “priority”, a health minister has confirmed. Lord Bethell, who is leading the Department of Health’s work on the NHS app, said the slow rollout of the software was partly motivated by a fear of “freaking out” the public. Health Secretary Matt Hancock had initially earmarked a late-May launch for the Government-backed app, which was intended to play a key role in the national “test and trace” strategy to combat Covid-19. But Lord Bethell told the Commons Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday: “We are seeking to get something going for the winter, but it isn't a priority for us at the moment."
The Government is spending almost £1million to re-paint Boris Johnson’s official plane red, white and blue. Number 10 said the renovation work is so the RAF Voyager used by the Prime Minister and the Royal Family “can better represent the UK around the world”. And his official spokesman said the Union Jack-style branding will be “similar to many other leader's planes”. But he denied the work being done to the aircraft, which currently has plain grey fuselage, was because Mr Johnson was jealous of the ones used by global figures like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
Number 10 has claimed it has "no plans" to end the pension triple lock following reports Rishi Sunak was considering scrapping the Conservative manifesto guarantee. Downing Street has batted away suggestions the manifesto promise could be ditched over fears the increases could become unaffordable in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. It comes after reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering severing the lock, which links annual increases in the state pension to whichever is higher out of wages, inflation or 2.5%.
▸ THE DAY AHEAD
09:30: House of Commons agenda: Trade Questions, before an Urgent Question on the merger of DfID and the Foreign Office Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg then sets out Government business, and MPs will later debate the impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities
09:30: Environment Secretary George Eustice at Environmental Audit Committee
11:00: House of Lords: oral questions on track and trace, nursing recruitment, the Post Office’s Horizon system and more, before minister Lord True gives an update on UK-EU negotiations
14:00: Weekly all-cause mortality surveillance - ONS statistics
14:30: Cabinet ministers Michael Gove and Brandon Lewis face questions from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on the NI protocol
16:15: Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron hold bilateral talks at Downing Street
17:00: UK government - daily coronavirus briefing
“All staff have ever wanted and campaigned for is an independent complaints process and this is an 11th hour proposal that is actively trying to prevent that from happening. There is nothing fair about MPs debating the findings of an independent judgement on one of their colleagues while protected by privilege, while staff have no equivalent platform” — a member of parliamentary staff who has previously accused an MP of bullying speaks out.
▸ FROM THE HOUSE LIVE
The latest insight and opinion from parliamentarians and PoliticsHome members
The Scottish Government is wrong to include glass bottles in its proposed Deposit Return Scheme. Here's why
Dave Dalton, CEO, British Glass
Those who disrespect our war dead should face tougher sentences
Jonathan Gullis MP
How Westminster can address racism more explicitly in its standards system
The UK can lead the world in the fight to end poverty. But does this government still care?
Sarah Champion MP
▸ THE MORNING MUST READS
Making headlines elsewhere...
The Times: John Bolton: ‘Uninformed Trump asked PM if Britain was nuclear power’
The Telegraph: Spend the aid budget on a successor to HMY Britannia, Penny Mordaunt tells Boris Johnson
The Guardian: Oxford college backs removal of Cecil Rhodes statue
The I: DfiD merger: Boris Johnson hit by backlash as ‘heartbroken’ civil servants heard on Twitter and EU nationals ‘may not keep jobs’
Politico: UK government preparing ‘shock and awe’ Brexit media campaign
...plus our pick of the comment pages
Allister Heath, The Telegraph: This is meant to be a Conservative government. It’s finally acting like one
Tom Peck, The Independent: Boris Johnson is back to his worst – and he has found a way to drag Keir Starmer down to his level
Eva Simpson, The Mirror: Rashford has scored winning diversity goal after free school meals u-turn
Joanna Williams, The Times: Oxford is tying itself in knots over racism
Lloyd Russell Moyle, LabourList: We are creating and destroying at an alarming rate. We must move to a circular economy
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