MPs have had a “well deserved” half term this week and return to the school playground on Monday for an action-packed week debating the Environment Bill, policing and tax avoidance/evasion. This week’s “Brexit 5” covers the proposed new immigration system, the Labour leadership contest and more…
Priti, Priti bad
On Wednesday, Home Secretary Priti Patel set out her plans for a new post-Brexit immigration points-based system. The document spells out in black and white that there will be no specific route for low-skilled migrants to come to Britain once free movement ends at the end of the transition period. As expected, Patel’s Labour counterpart, Diane Abbott, was not impressed, describing it as not really a points-based system but a salary-threshold system, whilst the Lib Dems have described it as “xenophobia”.
It appears that whilst firms that rely on cheap labour are fearful of these proposals, the tech industry see huge potential in the Government calling upon businesses to look into investing in “technology and automation” as an alternative to cheap labour. In other words, the UK Government, which has a pretty poor record on understanding tech in general, is planning to replace many workers with…robots…or software…or something. Honestly, it’s not really clear. There isn’t much detail on how it will work, just ‘no lower-skilled immigrant workers for you anymore, deal with it.’
New hire under fire
Dominic Cummings’ new hire, a self-described misfit or weirdo, was the subject of multiple stories this week, after he advocated for children to be given mind-altering drugs — even if it results in “a dead kid once a year” and called for long-term contraception programs to stop the creation of a “permanent underclass”. In another post circulated on Twitter, Sabisky claimed black Americans had a lower average IQ than white people and were more likely to have an “intellectual disability.” Unsurprisingly, Sabisky resigned soon after, and number 10 have been urged to “look at” its vetting processes.
War on the BBC continues
Last weekend, Downing Street threatened to scrap the TV license fee, which would result in the national broadcaster being forced to downsize and sell off most of its radio stations. Plenty of Tory MPs are concerned, with one MP, Huw Merriman, saying that Johnson is “picking such a potentially unpopular fight” is “unlikely to end well.” There is little doubt that these proposals are driven by Dominic Cummings, and Johnson may have to, and not for the first time, choose between the instincts of his party and those of his most senior adviser.
Meanwhile, in Labour land
The race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as the next leader of the Labour Party has narrowed to three after Emily Thornberry was eliminated from the leadership contest, leaving just Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy. This weekend will see a final frantic spasm of campaigning before voting kicks off on Monday. Corbyn declined to rule out the possibility of staying in the next shadow Cabinet during his visit to flood-hit Wales on Thursday, but it is unlikely that any of them would offer him a job.
On Thursday, former Prime Minister Tony Blair called on the candidates to offer radical, fundamental change in order to get back into power, saying that the party must face a “make-or-break moment” after losing four general elections in a row and required “head-to-toe renewal”. Blair did not formally endorse any of the candidates (which they are all very happy about) but did endorse Ian Murray’s bid to become Labour’s deputy leader.
Over at Number 11
New chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed, amid speculation of a delay, that the budget will take place on 11th March. Sunak is likely to rewrite some of Javid’s rules, relaxing budget constraints across a broader number of Whitehall departments. However, he is under pressure from No 10 to consider taxes on wealthy Britons, including a possible mansion tax, to pay for some of the extra spending.
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