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Wed, 25 November 2020

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The Breakfast Briefing: Sharma tests negative, Labour sets out welfare stall PLUS Ben Wallace in schools row with Tory council

The Breakfast Briefing: Sharma tests negative, Labour sets out welfare stall PLUS Ben Wallace in schools row with Tory council
7 min read

Your comprehensive morning guide to what’s happening in Westminster

▸ THE NEWSLIST
The big stories kicking off the political day

Business Secretary Alok Sharma has tested negative for coronavirus. The Cabinet minister went into self-isolation following a faltering appearance at the Commons despatch box this week. Sharma’s decision to self-isolate had raised fears that other ministers and MPs returning to the Commons could have fallen ill. But, in a message posted to Twitter on Thursday night, the MP for Reading West confirmed he had tested negative, and thanked the "parliamentary authorities and Speaker for their support.”
 
Exclusive: Britain’s welfare system needs a stronger link between “what you put in and what you get out” to tackle cynicism among working people, Labour’s new Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary has said. In a wide-ranging interview with The House, Jonathan Reynolds said those who have made “greater contributions to the system” should receive more out of it. And he said that a lack of “connection” between contributions and support was now a “big problem” for Britain’s social security system.
 
British Airways has reportedly refused to join a call with Home Secretary Priti Patel amid an escalating row over the Government’s plan to quarantine all UK arrivals from next week . Industry sources told the BBC and The Telegraph that BA believed the meeting was a “waste of time”, amid anger over the “unworkable” decision to press ahead with asking all travellers to the UK to isolate for 14 days or face a fine. The firm, which is planning up to 12,000 redundancies amid a sharp downturn in global tourism, is also said to have been unhappy that it was singled out for ministerial criticism in the Commons this week.
 
Exclusive: Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has become embroiled in a row with his local Conservative-run council after it refused to reopen schools. In an email seen by PoliticsHome, Wallace, MP for Wyre and Preston North, said he was “disappointed to say the least” by Lancashire Council’s conduct and requested a raft of information, including the county’s coronavirus infection rate and level of care home infections. The council said local public health directors were “not confident that all five of the Government's tests for easing restrictions are being met in Lancashire”.
 
Face coverings will become mandatory for all people using public transport in England from 15 June. Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing, the Transport Secretary said the plans were being brought in to prevent the spread of the illness as more shops and workplaces begin to open later this month. But he insisted this did not mean they should use surgical masks, which were being saved for frontline medical workers.

Less than half of care home residents have been tested for coronavirus, charities have warned ahead of a looming Saturday deadline for testing everyone in an over-65 setting . Age UK, which represents elderly people, said just under half of residents and around a third of residents and care workers combined have been tested for Covid-19 and warned it did not see how the Government’s pledge “can possibly be met”. Liz Kendall, Labour’s shadow social care minister, told PoliticsHome: “The widespread testing of care home residents and staff has already come too late and the Government must do all they can to meet their deadline.”
 
Britain’s equalities watchdog has launched an inquiry into the “entrenched“ UK racial disparities highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The move by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) comes after a Government-backed report by Public Health England revealed that ethnic minority communities are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.
 
A Lib Dem MP who has been his disabled wife's carer for 21 years has warned the Government is silencing the voices of his constituents by refusing to extend the proxy voting system to those with caring responsibilities. Jamie Stone has spent lockdown simultaenously caring for his wife, Flora, and participating in the 'virtual Parliament' set up to allow MPs to debate and vote. Writing for The House, Mr Stone said he was "furious" when the Government confirmed it was ending the hybrid Commons with no exemptions for carers. The proxy system was approved on Thursday, with no stipulation that members with caring responsibilities will be able to take part at a distance.



▸    THE DAY AHEAD
What we're keeping an eye on

  • 001: Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband and Shadow Chancellor Annelise Dodds launch consultation on Labour’s plans for ‘green and just recovery’ from the coronavirus
  • 930: Children’s minister Vicky Ford addresses the NSPCC's ‘Speak Out, Stay Safe’ summit
  • 1030: High Court hands down judgment in challenge to the Cabinet Office’s voter ID plans
  • 1230: Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford and Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon give latest daily press conferences on Covid-19
  • 1230: Latest round of negotiations between the UK and EU concludes - with a press conference from chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier expected at close
  • 1430: Treasury chief scientific adviser Philip Duffy among witnesses at Science and Technology hearing on Covid-19 economic impact
  • 1700: Daily government press conference

▸    QUOTABLE
     

"Ultimately, it’s much easier to let go of your solidarity with communities if it feels like they are being oppressed somewhere far away. That’s why solidarity is stronger when it comes from a place of proximity; we all need to acknowledge the fact that what’s happening across the pond is a lot closer to home than many would like to admit.” Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy on the UK's place in the global Black Lives Matter movement.


▸    FROM THE HOUSE LIVE
The latest insight and opinion from parliamentarians and PoliticsHome members
 
As we condemn racist violence abroad, we must also commit to eradicating racial prejudice in our own backyard
David Lammy MP
 
If we truly value the special relationship, we must not be a party to Donald Trump's violence against the American people
Emily Thornberry MP
 
Lockdown is easing and live sport returning, but the commitment to safer gambling must continue
Michael Dugher, Betting and Gaming Council
 
I’m a carer and an MP - the Government still wants to silence me and my constituents
Jamie Stone MP
 
Automated borders: Supporting security and commerce
Leidos
 
Schools and colleges need robust involvement from the HSE
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT
 
Beyond Covid - why funding homeless prevention makes sense
Veterans Aid


▸    THE MORNING MUST READS
Making headlines elsewhere...

The Guardian: NHS test-and-trace system 'not fully operational until September'
The Mail: Tory Lord says there are 'too may fat NHS medics and teachers' setting a 'very bad example' in the fight against obesity
LabourList: Over 2,000 Labour members send open letter on leaked report to inquiry chair
The Independent: Boris Johnson facing backlash after scrapping pledge to keep chlorinated chicken out of British supermarkets

 
...plus our pick of the comment pages

Gabby Hinsliff, The Guardian: As Britain lifts its lockdown, it's vital our leaders admit their mistakes
Charlotte Gill, ConservativeHome: Sweden backtracks on herd immunity. Or does it?
Trevor Phillips, The Times: Black Britons feel superglued to the bottom rung of society
Freddy Gray, The Spectator: America is burning – and it could cost Trump the presidency
Will Dunn - New Statesman: HSBC is banking on its customers’ apathy towards Hong Kong


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