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The Breakfast Briefing: Rashford 1-0 Johnson, fresh pressure on Jenrick, row brewing over MP complaint system

Marcus Rashford led a national campaign to extend free schools meals through the summer holidays. (PA)

6 min read

Good morning and welcome to the PoliticsHome Breakfast Briefing for Wednesday, June 17.

The big stories kicking off the political day

Exclusive: MPs are being urged to rethink “dangerous” proposals to tackle bullying and harassment in Westminster ahead of a looming vote on a new independent complaints panel. The House Live understands that Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg will on Thursday outline the timetable for debating the changes to the complaints system at Westminster. But unions have hit out at proposals which would grant MPs a debate over the proposed suspension or expulsion of members, a move they claim gives politicians the final say and the "ultimate right of appeal”.
Boris Johnson called Marcus Rashford to “congratulate” him on his campaign after the footballer forced the Government to u-turn on funding for free school meals. It comes after the England football star penned an open letter to all MPs on Monday urging them to extend the programme over the summer holidays. Downing Street initially rejected the call, but following pressure from Tories announced on Tuesday a new £120million scheme for all 1.3 million pupils in England currently eligible for free school meals. Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, the PM said: “I talked to Marcus Rashford today and congratulated him on his campaign in which, to be honest, I only became aware of very recently, today.”
Boris Johnson has hailed the “biggest breakthrough yet” in tackling coronavirus by authorising the world’s first treatment proven to reduce the risk of death from the disease. The Prime Minister said a Government-funded UK trial showed dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug, saved lives and has been immediately approved for the NHS to treat all hospitalised Covid-19 patients who require oxygen from today. Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing he said the announcement was a “genuine cause to celebrate a remarkable British scientific achievement”.
Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick is facing fresh pressure to release papers on his controversial decision to grant planning permission on a site owned by a Conservative donor. Clive Betts, who chairs the Commons communities committee, has written to the Housing Secretary demanding “the publication of correspondence and documentation” relating to the decision over the Westferry Printworks site in Tower Hamlets. The committee has given Mr Jenrick until Friday to hand over any correspondence relating to the deal as well as any interactions between the department and businessman Richard Desmond or his companies.
The Government is being urged to stop a wave of redundancies in the aviation sector with a “robust” rescue package for firms hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said “thousands of jobs are now on the line” as he called for a plan “to protect this vital part of the economy”. A report published last week by the New Economics Foundation said up to 124,000 jobs in the aviation industry and its supply chains were at risk of being lost in the next three months as firms continue to ground their fleets.
Six in ten families claiming Universal Credit have been forced to borrow money since the beginning of the crisis, a new survey has found. The latest study from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Save The Children found families have been increasingly forced to rely on payday loans or credit cards to ensure they can afford food and pay bills during the pandemic. It came as the latest official figures released on Monday showed the UK's "claimant count" - including both those on Jobseeker's Allowance and Universal Credit - had soared to 2.8 million in May.
Liz Truss has praised “old friends” Australia and New Zealand as the two countries start post-Brexit trade talks with the UK. The international trade secretary said “pivoting towards the Asia-Pacific” would help “ensure the UK is less vulnerable to political and economic shocks in certain parts of the world”.  It marks the Cabinet minister's latest set of major trade talks, having already held discussions with Japan and the United States in recent days.

09:00: The Macpherson Report: 21 years on - Home Affairs select committee session
09:30: New Decade, New Approach Agreement - Northern Ireland Affairs committee questions Northern Ireland Office director Mark Lamour and Minister of State Robin Walker
12.00: Prime Minister’s Questions
12.30: Urgent Commons Question to the Department of Health on Coronavirus
THEN: Commons Ministerial statement from Trade Secretary Liz Truss on the UK’s ‘accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership’
14:30: COVID-19 track and trace and commercial genomics - Innovation Minister at Science and Technology Committee session
17:00: UK government - daily coronavirus briefing


"It is not usually a good sign when governments decide to tinker with the Whitehall architecture- especially in the middle of the worst crisis for a generation. It also looks as if the cart is being put before the horse since the security and defense review which is so important to developing Britain’s future within the world post-Brexit, has barely begun.”
Andrew Mitchell, the first Conservative to head up the Department for International Development, laments its closure.

The latest insight and opinion from parliamentarians and PoliticsHome members
Supporting children at risk of hunger over the holidays should not be a one-off intervention
Christian Wakeford MP
Merging the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office is a retrograde step which we will come to regret
Andrew Mitchell MP
Explained: The latest ‘Covid-secure’ Commons voting system as MPs seek to avoid snaking queues around Parliament

Explained: Labour’s Stella Creasy and Nadia Whittome on why treating misogyny as a hate crime could aid the battle against domestic abuse

The wrongful detention of young people with learning disabilities must end now
Harriet Harman MP

Making headlines elsewhere...
BBC: Rashford seeks more change after food voucher win
FT: Pensions triple lock at risk from Covid-19 fallout
Health Service Journal: Shielding programme for two million high risk patients to be dropped
The Telegraph: Private schools set to ignore Government and open in September 'come what may'
Sky News: Home Office does not know how many people are in UK illegally, National Audit Office report finds our pick of the comment pages
Rory Stewart, Prospect: Boris Johnson tinkers with Whitehall while Britain is adrift
Marina Hyde, The Guardian: Marcus Rashford is showing our failing politicians how to do their jobs
Laura Kuennssberg, BBC: Food vouchers: Why government u-turns matter
Tom Whipple, The Times: Dexamethasone coronavirus trial is a ‘world beating’ British success story
Matthew D’Ancona, Tortoise: The Government Is Unwell (audio essay)

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