Strikes 1) Shapps to get power to decide minimum service levels during strikes

“The business secretary, Grant Shapps, will be able to decide statutory minimum service levels for a string of public services under the terms of a new anti-strike bill condemned by Labour as likely to increase stoppages. Unveiling details of the proposed law, Shapps said ministers would consult during the progress of the bill on what minimum services levels would be required for fire, ambulance and transport services, including rail. The measures, which could lead to striking staff being sacked, will also affect health, education, border security and nuclear decommissioning. In these areas, Shapps said, the hope was to reach agreed minimum service levels “that mean that we don’t have to use that power in the bill”. Again, these were not set out.” – The Guardian

  • Union leaders criticise strikes bill as ‘reprehensible’ – FT
  • Ten per cent pay hike could be offered in a bid to reach deal with the RMT – The Sun
  • Public sector strikes row escalates as unions plan coordinated ‘day of action’ – The Guardian


  • Rein in the wreckers to keep the public safe – Daily Mail
  • Proposed law to limit the upheaval from industrial action is right in principle – The Times

Strikes 2) Biggest ambulance strike in history puts ‘lives at risk’, warn ministers

“Striking paramedics will put “lives at risk”, ministers said as 999 call handlers prepare to walk out alongside ambulance workers for the first time on Wednesday. Up to 25,000 workers will take part in the biggest ambulance strikes yet, with NHS leaders fearing the latest industrial action could be the most damaging for the public. The escalating action – involving 10 of 11 ambulance trusts in England and Wales – comes despite unions saying they hoped a pay deal would soon be agreed. At a Cobra meeting on the strikes, ministers expressed fears about the lack of cover for critical calls because unions have refused to agree national standards.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Sunak urged to ‘get a grip and do a deal for Britain’ to finally end nurses’ strikes – Daily Express
  • 1,000 excess deaths each week as the NHS buckles – The Times


  • Why doctors will boycott the pay review process – Philip Banfield, Times Red Box

UK and Japan to sign defence pact to counter Chinese threat

“Rishi Sunak, the UK prime minister, and his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, will on Wednesday sign a defence agreement, enabling the UK and Japan to deploy forces in each other’s countries. The move comes as the UK government seeks to strengthen its engagement in the Asia-Pacific region to counter the influence of China, although the war in Ukraine has forced London to reassess its global strategy. The talks in London will also see the two leaders discuss Britain’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade bloc that includes Japan, Canada, Mexico and Chile, in spite of reservations from some Conservative MPs.” – FT

  • New military agreement carries death sentence risk – The Times

>Today: Bob Seely MP in Comment: Why arming Ukraine to win is the least bad option for the West

Shapps says Government investigating failure of Virgin Orbit launch

“Virgin Orbit is working with the government to find out why the attempt to launch a rocket into orbit from UK soil ended in failure last night, Business Secretary Grant Shapps has said. After taking off from Spaceport Cornwall at 22:02 on Monday night, Virgin Orbit’s modified Boeing 747 plane flew to 35,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. Once there, the plane successfully jettisoned the LauncherOne rocket containing nine small satellites for various paying customers.  However, an ‘anomaly’ prevented the rocket from reaching its orbit, according to Sir Richard Branson’s space firm, meaning all the satellites were lost. Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said the government would work closely with Virgin Orbit to investigate the failure and the cause of the ‘anomaly’.” – Daily Mail

  • Johnson edited out of space launch photo – The Times

Johnson tells Conservatives to fight for a low tax Britain in challenge to Sunak

“The Conservatives must make the case “for a low tax global Britain” and fight the next election on a pledge to cut taxes, Boris Johnson said on Tuesday night, as he forecast a Tory recovery in the polls. Mr Johnson also urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to press ahead with a new law to override the Northern Ireland Protocol and resolve the Brexit impasse in Northern Ireland. The former Prime Minister was speaking at the Carlton Club, the Conservative party’s spiritual headquarters in Mayfair, where he unveiled a portrait of himself… They will be seen as putting pressure on Mr Sunak and his Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to start to cut the tax burden which is at a 70-year high.” – Daily Telegraph

  • He calls on Tories to unite to beat ‘snoozefest’ Starmer – The Sun
  • Johnson allies set summer deadline for Sunak to turn polls around – The Sun


>Yesterday: Dr Gerard Lyons’ column: The economy in 2023: the good, the bad and the uncertain

Daniel Finkelstein: Tory MPs risk being usurped by their party

“Now a new Conservative organisation, headed by the Tory peer and donor Lord Cruddas, has been established which claims the Primrose League as its inspiration. Called the Conservative Democratic Organisation, it features the “historic, patriotic and democratic Primrose League” on its website, alongside a call for greater control of the parliamentary party by members who “feel ignored, steamrollered and held in utter contempt by party leaders”. But the real inspiration of the Conservative Democratic Organisation isn’t Disraeli, or even Randolph Churchill (whom they also cite). It is Tony Benn.” – The Times

  • How worried should Sunak be? – Stephen Bush, FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Focusing on MPs’ extra earnings obscures more about political power than it reveals

Talk of breakthrough after EU ‘shift in approach’ on Protocol

“The UK is braced for a major Brexit breakthrough in the coming weeks, as the EU appears to have undergone a shift in approach when it comes to the Northern Ireland Protocol. Meanwhile, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is gearing up for crunch talks in Northern Ireland on Wednesday to discuss the hated Brexit deal. Mr Cleverly will be joined by Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris to meet with political leaders and key businesses. The UK has been locked in talks with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol – which was agreed as part of the withdrawal agreement to avoid a hard border in Ireland post-Brexit – since October 2021. But there appears to have been a softening in the EU’s approach to the protocol in recent weeks.” – Daily Express

  • Freeport scheme expands as two more announced – The Times
  • Sunak’s Brexit freedoms could trigger £80bn science funding boom – Daily Telegraph

Thousands of small companies ‘at risk’ due to cut in energy subsidies

“Almost one in four of the UK’s small companies could be forced to close, downsize or restructure their operations after the government slashed subsidies for companies’ energy bills, a business lobby group warned on Tuesday. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) estimated many small companies will get as little as £50 in future government support, which it said would leave businesses without essential financial help should energy prices rise further or remain high. The government on Monday sharply cut the subsidies available to businesses from April, after introducing support last October in response to surging energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” – FT

  • Sunak’s RAF jet flight to Leeds ‘mocks climate pledges’, MPs say – The Guardian


  • Sturgeon’s North Sea plans ‘would leave millions of oil barrels in the ground’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Scottish government lays out ‘fastest possible’ move away from oil and gas – FT
  • Just Stop Oil backer’s firm donated £360,000 to Labour – The Times

Labour could scrap two-child benefit cap under welfare reforms

“Labour could scrap the limit which means families can only claim benefits for two children under its plans to overhaul the welfare system. Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow work and pensions secretary, is reviewing rules which are “punishing” larger families with a view to ditching them. He accused the Government of putting forward “inadequate levels” of funding and said handouts would be more generous under Labour. But in a speech on Tuesday, he also confirmed that Sir Keir Starmer had dropped his leadership pledge to abolish Universal Credit altogether. Labour is looking to remove the restriction which means that parents do not receive any extra benefits if they have more than two children.” – Daily Telegraph

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