Wednesday, August 10

Conservative leadership race live: Rishi Sunak says he will ‘scrap or reform all EU law, red tape and bureaucracy’ | Politics

Sunak pledges to review 2,400 transferred EU laws before next election

Rishi Sunak is touting on social media a piece he has written for the Sunday Telegraph, promising: “If I am elected, by the time of the next election, I will have scrapped or reformed all of the EU law, red tape and bureaucracy that is still on our statute book and slowing economic growth.”

The paper describes Sunak as “brandishing his Brexiteer credentials”. Edward Malnick writes:

The former chancellor pledged that he will have “scrapped or reformed all of the EU law, red tape and bureaucracy that is still on our statute book and slowing economic growth” by the time of the next election if he succeeds Boris Johnson as prime minister.

Sunak said he would task a Brexit minister and a new Brexit Delivery Department with reviewing all 2,400 EU laws transferred over to the UK statute book after the UK’s exit from the bloc. He would demand the first set of recommendations as to whether each law should be scrapped or reformed “within my first 100 days in the job”.

Specific pledges included overhauling retained EU regulations “to trigger a Big Bang 2.0” for the City, with his team saying he would set a target “to make London once again the world’s leading financial centre by 2027”.

He also said he would replace the EU-derived GDPR data laws with “the most dynamic data protection regime in the world” and cut red tape slowing down clinical trials.

  • This post was amended on 17 July 2022 to remove a reference to Sunak supporting remain in 2016. He supported leave.

Key events:

John Harris

John Harris writes for us today, arguing that what is missing from the Conservative leadership contest is a Tory candidate with the faintest idea of what modern Britain is actually like:

A huge amount of energy has been expended on talk of tax cuts, and a debate only about whether they should come sooner – or, as per the view of Rishi Sunak, later. There is across-the-board backing – even from Tom Tugendhat, the supposed representative of a more compassionate Conservatism – for sending refugees to Rwanda, surely the single most monstrous Tory policy of the past 12 years. Amid baking temperatures, there has been almost no serious discussion of the climate emergency. To the delight of her backers in the rightwing media, Kemi Badenoch, the only serious contender who has appeared to offer anything radical, seems to want post-Thatcher Toryism to be taken to its logical conclusion, whereby government does no more than the “essentials”; although the politicians in charge of it must also guard against anything in the culture deemed “unsound” (remarkably, one of her chosen targets is Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream, as if she speaks for an imaginary constituency of diehards who walk past the freezer cabinets in Waitrose and spit feathers).

In response to any suggestions that fundamental change is needed, any staunch Tory would presumably cite their party’s winning of an 80-seat majority in the Commons. But its aura of strength is partly down to an equally weak and confused Labour party – and in any case, the Conservatives are now faced with an unarguable and increasingly uncomfortable set of political facts. If Badenoch, Suella Braverman and that zealous Brexit convert Liz Truss often sound like politicians frantically trying to change the country before it is too late, it may be because somewhere in their political subconscious, they well know that their time is running out.

Read more here: John Harris – Wanted: a Tory candidate with the faintest idea of what modern Britain is actually like

The Economist has updated its odds tracker for the Conservative leadership race, with Rishi Sunak sneaking back in front of Penny Mordaunt as the politician people think will most likely be the next prime minister. The graph isn’t based on polling data of the people who will actually make the decision, it is showing a % chance of becoming next Conservative leader implied from Betfair Exchange.

Most importantly, as head of data journalism at the Economist, Alex Selby-Boothroyd, points out, it is making a pleasing infinity symbol for those of you, who like me, enjoy seeing patterns in things that probably aren’t there.

Rob Davies

Rob Davies

Loot boxes in video games will not be banned in the UK, despite a government consultation finding evidence of a “consistent” association between the features and problem gambling.

Loot boxes have attracted comparison with gambling because they allow players to spend money to unlock in-game rewards, such as special characters, weapons or outfits, without knowing what they will get.

The features, popular in games such as Call of Duty and the Fifa football series, were effectively banned in Belgium in 2018, but the culture minister, Nadine Dorries, said the UK would not follow suit.

Instead, after a 22-month consultation, she said the government would discuss tougher “industry-led” protections with the UK’s £7bn gaming sector, drawing allegations from one expert that “foxes are guarding the hen house”.

Legislating to impose curbs or a prohibition on loot boxes as part of an expected overhaul of the UK’s gambling laws could have “unintended consequences”, Dorries said.

“For example, legislation to introduce an outright ban on children purchasing loot boxes could have the unintended effect of more children using adult accounts, and thus having more limited parental oversight of their play and spending,” the government said, in a response to the consultation published in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The government also concluded that while there was “a stable and consistent” association between loot boxes and problem gambling – identified across 15 peer reviewed studies – it could not be sure that there was a causative link.

While the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) stopped short of proposing legislation, Dorries said: “Children and young people should not be able to purchase loot boxes without parental approval. In addition, all players should have access to spending controls and transparent information to support their gaming.”

Read more of Rob Davies’ report here: UK will not ban video games loot boxes despite problem gambling findings

Stephen Bush has just published a piece at the FT in which he argues that Rishi Sunak needs to up his game in tonight’s debate – not because he wasn’t good on Friday, but because he is struggling to convince the party membership that he is for them. Bush says:

The former chancellor’s performance in Friday’s debate was brilliant. He was clear, concise and demonstrated exactly what his supporters see in him. But he doesn’t have enough support to win: every survey suggests he will lose to whoever faces him in the final round. His biggest problem, I think, is that he is seen as a tax-raising moderate by members.

Sunak’s strategy has all too often resembled that of Ken Clarke: telling Conservative members that, yes, they may disagree with him, but he is their best chance of winning an election. That tactic ended in failure for Clarke in 1997, 2001 and 2005 and there is no reason to believe it will work better for Sunak.

Bush also identified what he sees at the core of the struggle for the support of the right of the party between Kemi Badenoch and Liz Truss, writing:

Badenoch’s hopes rest on appearing to be a more straight-talking and articulate alternative for the party’s right than Truss, and it helps that she is free and able to criticise the departing government.

Truss needs to retain the support of Boris Johnson’s remaining allies in the media and the parliamentary party if she is to remain in pole position to unite the Conservative right. On TV, she managed to stick to that position by staying loyal to Johnson. Her reward is the continued loyalty and support of much of the rightwing press, but it comes at a cost because the departing prime minister is now incredibly unpopular.

You can read more here: FT – Stephen Bush – In the second debate, it’s Rishi Sunak who needs to change gear

Dr Philippa Whitford, the SNP’s health spokesperson in Westminster, appears to have laughed off the suggestion coming out of Scottish Conservative MP John Lamont and Penny Mordaunt’s campaign that Mordaunt would be the candidate that the SNP fear winning the most.

Andrew Rawnsley

Andrew Rawnsley

Chief political commentator at the Observer, Andrew Rawnsley, writes today suggesting that the march of Mordaunt could take an unknown quantity all the way to Number 10:

The most unanticipated development in the race to be the next Tory leader is Ms Mordaunt’s leap from outsider to the bookies’ favourite to win. A senior figure on a rival campaign describes the rapidity of her ascent as “jaw-breaking”. Even supporters have been taken aback by “the march of Mordaunt”, as they have started calling it.

No one predicted that she would be runner-up in the first ballot of Tory MPs and then improve her vote by more than any other contender in the second. If she makes it into the run-off, which will be decided by Conservative members, the current polling has her winning. That would mean someone unknown to the vast majority of the country a week ago becoming Britain’s next prime minister.

One shrewd senior Tory puts her surge down to “the rejection of the establishments”. The “Treasury establishment”, otherwise known as Rishi Sunak, is unpopular with many Tories because he has put up taxes. The “Boris establishment”, which is largely falling in behind Liz Truss, is loathed by those Tory MPs who received no preferment from the Johnson regime and those who were repelled by its scandals.

That adds up to a large constituency yearning for an insurgent to snatch the crown. The revolt against the more established names has also helped Kemi Badenoch to use this contest to put her name in lights, but the biggest windfall of support has fallen into the lap of Ms Mordaunt.

Read more here: Andrew Rawnsley – The march of Mordaunt could take an unknown quantity all the way to Number 10

Chesterfield’s Labour MP Toby Perkins has issued a swingeing attack on Tom Tugendhat, saying: “An intelligent man says stupid things to try to appeal to people with whom he fundamentally disagrees.”

An intelligent man says stupid things to try to appeal to people with whom he fundamentally disagrees.

A tragic and pathetic spectacle that at least disproves the idea that @TomTugendhat would be much better than the rest of the freak show. https://t.co/cCyplJ6ywt

— Toby Perkins MP (@tobyperkinsmp) July 17, 2022

It follows Tugendhat tweeting this morning that “No matter who you’re supporting in this leadership contest, all of us can agree: Keir Starmer and Labour would weaken our defence and take this country backwards.”

No matter who you’re supporting in this leadership contest, all of us can agree:

Keir Starmer and Labour would weaken our defence and take this country backwards. #ACleanStart has to be for the better.

— Tom Tugendhat (@TomTugendhat) July 17, 2022

Perkins points out that after 12 years of Conservative government, the British army is severely depleted.

The government he has supported has stripped our Army down to the lowest levels since Napoleonic wars.

— Toby Perkins MP (@tobyperkinsmp) July 17, 2022

There have been some eyebrows raised after Penny Mordaunt tweeted out this morning that she wanted to get Brexit “re-done”, which comes from the headline of a piece she has written for the Sun, which is titled “I’ll get Brexit re-done and put more pounds in people’s pockets if made prime minister, vows Penny Mordaunt”.

PoliticsHome editor Alan White has gone so far as to suggest we need a tracker to work out where all five candidates stand on the precise status of Brexit.

We really could do with a tracker to say if the candidates feel Brexit is done, yet to be done, or needs to be done again https://t.co/yhkZhC6Raa

— Alan White (@aljwhite) July 17, 2022

However, it does look a little as if Mordaunt has fallen into the classic “but I didn’t write the headline” trap, because the only time that piece suggests Brexit needs to be “re-done” is in the headline. Here is what Mordaunt actually says:

Labour know most of all that I would fatally expose how weak their position is on Brexit and how little faith they have in our country now that it has been delivered.

Keir Starmer has desperately tried to convince us he wants to “make Brexit work”. But what he really means is that he wants to slowly chip away at it and even, subtly, to reverse it.

That is what making Brexit work is to the Labour Party. It’s about slowly but surely undermining what has been achieved so far. Keir Starmer can’t be trusted to deliver our Brexit dividend because he didn’t reach this position out of principle.

He didn’t come to his latest conclusions because of a deeply held belief in Britain’s potential outside of the European Union, as I did. Or, as was the case for many of my colleagues, Labour didn’t arrive at their position out of a firm and sincere desire to respect the democratic wish of the people.

Big challenges lie ahead to make sure that we keep Labour out of power and deliver the promised Brexit dividend.

Dan Bloom at the Mirror has picked up on what was most likely a slip of the tongue by Tom Tugendhat during his TV interview this morning – or what could have been a potentially expensive commitment to massively expand HS2. Bloom writes:

A Tory leadership candidate today pledged a massive expansion of the HS2 rail line that could cost tens of billions of pounds.

The controversial Y-shaped line is meant to reach Manchester and the East Midlands by the 2040s, with trains continuing further north on existing track.

But Tugendhat told the BBC : “I would make sure the HS2 tracks went all the way to Scotland.”

That would be a major reworking of the railway, after Tory ministers axed plans for the eastern leg to continue to Leeds just months ago.

Tugendhat’s campaign team later told the Mirror that their candidate was simply reiterating his commitment to the union, and that “as part of his 10-year plan for growth he will explore all infrastructure options for better connecting all parts of the UK”.

Heather Stewart

Heather Stewart

Tax and spending has been the key battleground in the Conservative leadership contest so far, with most candidates promising tax cuts, while former Chancellor Rishi Sunak positions himself as the guardian of fiscal responsibility. He has said repeatedly he will not tell his colleagues “fairytales” about what is achievable.

Dominic Raab, the deputy prime minister, hammered that message home on Sunday. “Sensible Conservative economics means you get inflation down. If not, any money that is delivered to people in their bank accounts through tax cuts will be robbed again, by inflation or interest rates and mortgage payments going up. That can’t be right,” he said.

Penny Mordaunt, who came second in the first two rounds of voting among Tory MPs, appeared to suggest she would loosen Sunak’s fiscal rules in order to afford the tax cuts she is promising – a halving of fuel duty and an increase in personal tax thresholds.

Asked about the two current rules – that debt should be falling as a proportion of GDP in three years’ time, and that the government should only borrow to invest – Mordaunt said: “I’ve said I’d do the first.”

She added: “This is not about rewriting an entire manifesto. All of us stood on a manifesto which we have yet to deliver. And we’ve also not yet delivered on the 2016 referendum.”

Read more of Heather Stewart’s report here: Raab attacks Truss’s record as Tory leadership race enters critical 72 hours

Back to Penny Mordaunt’s BBC interview again for a moment. Another awkward exchange with Sophie Raworth was when Mordaunt was asked about her assertion in 2016 that the UK did not have a veto over Turkey joining the European Union.

Mordaunt said of her now much-analysed interview, “That’s a classic example of the campaign we [Leave] were up against.”

She maintains that because David Cameron had promised Turkey that the UK would support its membership bid, in effect the veto was off the table.

She told Raworth this morning “Just because there’s a provision in a treaty does not mean that the UK could ever have used that. To go back on those undertakings he had given to Turkey – a key Nato ally – would have been crazy. We didn’t have a veto because we couldn’t use the provision in the treaty.”

The European Commission website has this to say about the process of admitting Turkey into the EU:

Turkey was declared a candidate country in December 1999. Negotiation talks were opened on 3 October 2005 and Chapter 27 was open for negotiations on 21 December 2009. Technical discussions are on-going in areas such as water, waste, nature protection or horizontal legislation.

Amid all the noise of the Conservative leadership contest, there is still some actual government to be done, and the Department for Transport has today issued an “Aviation Passenger Charter”.

Robert Courts, who is minister for aviation and maritime, tweets: “Air travel is back – but the scenes we’ve seen at airports recently are unacceptable. That’s why today we’re launching a new charter which will inform UK passengers of their rights, giving peace of mind as they get back to travel without restrictions.”

Air travel is back – but the scenes we’ve seen at airports recently are unacceptable. That’s why today we’re launching a new charter which will inform UK passengers of their rights, giving peace of mind as they get back to travel without restrictions 👇
https://t.co/F9aS0dQdF0

— Robert Courts MP (@robertcourts) July 17, 2022

Sunak pledges to review 2,400 transferred EU laws before next election

Rishi Sunak is touting on social media a piece he has written for the Sunday Telegraph, promising: “If I am elected, by the time of the next election, I will have scrapped or reformed all of the EU law, red tape and bureaucracy that is still on our statute book and slowing economic growth.”

The paper describes Sunak as “brandishing his Brexiteer credentials”. Edward Malnick writes:

The former chancellor pledged that he will have “scrapped or reformed all of the EU law, red tape and bureaucracy that is still on our statute book and slowing economic growth” by the time of the next election if he succeeds Boris Johnson as prime minister.

Sunak said he would task a Brexit minister and a new Brexit Delivery Department with reviewing all 2,400 EU laws transferred over to the UK statute book after the UK’s exit from the bloc. He would demand the first set of recommendations as to whether each law should be scrapped or reformed “within my first 100 days in the job”.

Specific pledges included overhauling retained EU regulations “to trigger a Big Bang 2.0” for the City, with his team saying he would set a target “to make London once again the world’s leading financial centre by 2027”.

He also said he would replace the EU-derived GDPR data laws with “the most dynamic data protection regime in the world” and cut red tape slowing down clinical trials.

  • This post was amended on 17 July 2022 to remove a reference to Sunak supporting remain in 2016. He supported leave.

Nicola Davis

Nicola Davis

Opportunities have been missed to prepare the UK for future pandemics, the former vaccines tsar has said.

Dame Kate Bingham, the managing partner at life sciences venture capital firm SV Health Investors, played a crucial role in the UK’s efforts to vaccinate the population against Covid. As head of the UK vaccine taskforce between May and December 2020 she led a team that persuaded the government to back a wide portfolio of potential jabs, securing millions of doses.

Speaking to the Guardian on the anniversary of legal Covid restrictions being lifted, Bingham praised quick government decision-making during her time leading the taskforce, as well as Boris Johnson’s willingness to put money into the vaccines upfront.

But she said there had since been missed opportunities – including failing to bring scientific and commercial expertise into the government, and not pursuing the creation of bulk antibody-manufacturing capabilities in the UK.

Read more of science correspondent Nicola Davis’ report here: UK has missed chances to prepare for future pandemics, says ex-vaccines tsar

Observer columnist Kenan Malik writes for us today that he would rather see a pale male PM with great policies over a ‘diverse’ one reinforcing inequality:

The possibility that Britain might have a non-white prime minister by the autumn, and the breadth of diversity among the Tory leadership candidates, has provoked much discussion.

Much of the Tory change rests on a concerted effort made by David Cameron to alter the image of the party. In 2005, he launched his “A-list”, a scheme that encouraged Conservative associations to choose from a list of preferred candidates, half of whom were women and a significant proportion ethnic minorities.

What is striking about the Tory change is that it has turned the normal diversity pyramid on its head. In most organisations, minorities are concentrated at the bottom, and get increasingly rarer the further up the organisational ladder we look, until at the very top diversity is almost nonexistent.

Not so with the Tories. The top echelon of the party – the cabinet – contains a far higher proportion of minorities than the lower rungs. Tory voters are disproportionately white – just 20% of minorities voted Conservative in 2019 and 97% of its membership is white, as are 94% of its MPs. Yet until the recent mass resignations, seven out of 32 cabinet posts were held by ethnic minorities.

Read more here: Kenan Malik – Give me a pale male PM with great policies over a ‘diverse’ one reinforcing inequality





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