Labour is shoring up a narrative that might, post-Covid, culminate in a bid for another general election.
President Emmanuel Macron came to London to mark the 80th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle’s inspiring broadcast “Appel”, in which de Gaulle urged Nazi-occupied France to resist Hitler. After meeting with Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, they discussed illegal migration over the Channel and geopolitical issues, including Libya, Hong Kong and bringing about a two-state solution in the Middle East peace process.
Freddie Sayers, editor of Unherd, quipped on social media: “Macron was elected as a technocrat, but is governing as a nationalist, and Boris was elected as a nationalist and is governing as a technocrat.”
Labour is shoring up a narrative that might, post-Covid, culminate in a bid for another general election. Labour leader Keir Starmer is a relentless opponent at the despatch box. Currently, Labour is querying how Conservatives will pay back local authorities for the cost of Covid. Labour savours every misstep of Tory MPs and is building a catalogue of examples of incompetence, with the goal of politicising the management of the corona crisis.
Examples of mismanagement and incompetence are there. First Minister and UK’s Designated Survivor Dominic Raab admitting to not having read the detail in the still elusive Russia Report on alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election and the Brexit referendum, and Raab saying taking a knee was a symbol of subordination and then apologising, both added grist to the opposition mill. As Foreign Secretary, Raab is in the unique position of having the ability to offend the world.
Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, is accused of wrongly granting planning permission for a £1billion property deal in East London, the plan for 1,500 homes was approved by Jenrick against the recommendation of the planning inspector.
It allowed the developer, a Conservative donor, to avoid paying up to £50million to the Tower Hamlets Council.
Tory U-turns are gaining in number and notoriety with two this week, free school meal vouchers for low income families were to be rescinded over the summer, until Marcus Rashford, Manchester United and England striker helped to raise £20 for the charity FareShare to feed schoolchildren during the pandemic.
Rashford’s appeal to the government encouraged them to reverse their decision and continue funding over the summer break.
The much lauded NHSX and so-called world beating Track and Trace App has failed and has been postponed/abandoned in favour of a decentralised version with in-built capabilities from Google and Apple i-Phone. The calculations are done on the device and not in a centralised authority. This is still dependent on the goodwill of society and requires participation to register—for it to be effective, 80% population participation is required. Mid-crisis, why the government chose to be different in the design of their app from other countries who were successfully using the Google technology , is a mystery. The NHSX app used Bluetooth Low Energy and in tests only reached 4% of contacts on i-Phones as it was not compatible with the technology, there were also issues around the genuine confidentiality of the data retrieved and held, and would it be used for other purposes at a later date. Some Tory MPs are unwilling to go out and defend the Government lines as they fear rapid U-turns, as they have experienced this before. Many commentators have questioned how this government, with an 80 seat majority, is behaving like a government with a majority of 8 two months before an election.
Boris Johnson’s meeting with EU top brass was lacklustre although all agreed to put new energy into the negotiations to accomplish something by 31 December. Internally, the German Foreign Ministry is arguing that the EU and Germany should be preparing for a failure in agreeing the future relationship with the UK, and the Ministry proposes contingency planning for a No Deal. On 1 July, Germany is to assume the rotating presidency of the EU. Angela Merkel said the corona crisis has brought the remaining 27 member states closer together and called for a Recovery Fund to help the hardest hit economies; Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark and Austria prefer this to be loan, not grant-based. It turns out that Germany will be responsible for 42% of UK’s missing contribution to the EU budget.
A joint letter from Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the Finance Ministers of France, Italy and Spain to Robert Lighthizer, the US Trade Representative, urging the US to back OECD talks on a tech tax that would be imposed on Google Facebook and Amazon. The pandemic has made fair taxing of multinationals a priority, as the pandemic has accelerated digital services and increased revenues at the expense of local businesses. Lighthizer has said an FTA with UK would be unlikely before the US election in November.