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‘Contrary to popular belief, Brexit has not eroded support for the UK despite a majority of Scots voting for Remain. If anything it has reminded folks that constitutional change brings insecurity and uncertainty. If leaving the EU is a bad thing, as the SNP insist, why is leaving a union four times more important in terms of trade to Scotland somehow a virtue? That said, we cannot be complacent. As long as our future relationship with the EU is in flux, it would be foolish to assume that the current trends on Scotland remaining in the UK will hold and that the threat of separation has gone away. The SNP is in power north of the border and will use that clout to drive a wedge between Scotland and the rest of the country. So we unionists must work hard to bolster our case for the union…While it is hard for Whitehall to build a relationship with Edinburgh, where one half wants to end that relationship, it must endeavour always to do so. We also need to spread the benefits of the union fairly and equally around the nation. The UK is still too London-centric.’ – Ruth Davidson, FT
‘Two separate polls have found no evidence that Brexit has yet caused a radical shift in public opinion which would make a referendum on a united Ireland remotely winnable. In findings which have added significance because of the Prime Minister’s reported suggestion to Tory MPs last week that she was not confident a border poll would definitely be won by unionism, an Ipsos MORI poll for academics found that just 21.1% of people in Northern Ireland would vote for Irish unity after the UK leaves the EU. The poll, commissioned by academics at Queen’s University Belfast for a major piece of research examining how Brexit is shaping political opinion in Northern Ireland, found that not even half of Catholics would vote for a united Ireland, with just 42.6% of Catholics favouring that option – although a large percentage, 26%, were undecided. And a second poll, commissioned by think tank Policy Exchange ahead of a major conference in London today examining the future of the Union, found that a clear majority of people across the UK are in favour of the Union in its current form – with 68% support in England, 52% in Scotland, 66% in Wales and 59% in Northern Ireland.’ – The i paper
‘Boris Johnson has delivered a thinly-veiled warning to Theresa May that he and his fellow Brexiters still expect her to deliver a deal that avoids triggering the “backstop” that would keep Britain aligned to the customs union beyond 2020. The foreign secretary lost the argument in last week’s Brexit inner cabinet, when senior ministers agreed the UK would retain key aspects of the customs union if a solution to the Irish border problem was not found. This backstop has been one of the sticking points in talks with the EU27 and some in Westminster believe it could become the post-Brexit norm if Brussels accepts the UK’s proposal. But Johnson insisted: “Brexiters fearing betrayal over the customs backstop must understand that the PM has been very clear that it is not an outcome we desire; we want a deal with the EU and she will deliver it.” In a message apparently aimed as much at the prime minister herself as at backbench colleagues, he said: “I’m convinced that the prime minister will be true to her promises of a Brexit deal – that sees Britain will come out of the customs union and single market, have borders as frictionless as possible, reject ECJ [European court of justice] interference, control immigration and be free to conduct unhindered free trade deals across the world. We must now give the prime minister time and space to negotiate this Brexit vision”.’ – The Guardian
>Today: ToryDiary: Let’s leave the EU first and get a better Brexit later. What some Leave supporters are saying.
>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Boiling the Brexiteer frog
‘The Conservative Party needs to be the party for both traditional Labour voters disillusioned with Jeremy Corbyn and younger, urban voters who want a party at ease with the modern world. To do so, we must speak to the everyday concerns of working people on the economy, housing, jobs and community and put forward a bold and optimistic pitch to those groups for whom it is countercultural to vote Conservative. We must find new ways to boost average wages, support entrepreneurship and small business and help workers retrain when their jobs are threatened by automation…We have to take action to give a younger generation the opportunities their parents had, especially by returning the dream of home ownership to a generation deprived of it. And we must seek to reach out to people of all backgrounds and ethnicities and show them that the Conservative Party is on their side. These are the key themes that Onward, the new think tank we are launching, will focus on and campaign for.’ – Neil O’Brien and Will Tanner, The Times
>Today: Nicky Morgan’s column: As Onward launches today, Number Ten needs to give us all something to hope for
‘Artificial intelligence will be used to study patient data and spot cancer or dementia before people know they have it, Theresa May says in a speech to be given today. The prime minister says that harnessing genetic information and medical records to create programs that diagnose disease at the earliest stage is crucial to the nation’s prosperity. Doing so will require much wider use of NHS data to generate the kind of machine-learning capable of detecting patterns that indicate disease and will prompt scrutiny of how records are used for such research. Officials insist that the NHS has learnt from the failure of a scheme to join up GP records into a national research database, which was scrapped two years ago after a revolt by doctors. They felt that patients had been left in the dark about how their data would be used. Mrs May says that new technology will save tens of thousands of lives a year within 15 years. Her speech in Macclesfield places the project at the centre of the government’s strategy for the “fourth industrial revolution”.’ – The Times
>Today: Sarah Stook on Comment: Mental health. More money alone won’t guarantee more quality care. Here’s how to help get it.
‘The Tories are considering offering discount cards to new party members in a drastic attempt to boost their membership. A proposal to offer cut-price deals on food, clothes and other purchases is under examination by party chiefs as part of a plan to bolster the appeal of the £25-a-year subscription. “The discount card is a very real possibility,” said a senior party source, who added that it could offer money off at restaurants such as Nando’s. “These are early discussions: we don’t know how many businesses would want to take part, but we’re keen to give members more in return for their membership.” At present a subscription entitles a Tory activist to a membership card, regular party updates and the option to buy a pass to attend the Conservatives’ annual conference, costing £110. It confers the right to vote in a leadership contest and for local candidates.’ – The Times
‘The days when Russian corruption was an acceptable part of business are over, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee has said. Speaking to City A.M ahead of the publication of a new report into corrupt Kremlin-connected money in the capital, Tom Tugendhat said the issue needed to be taken “very seriously”. The report, released today, said the government’s initial robust response to the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March had been undermined by the “business as usual sign hanging on its front door”. It cited a tweet by the Russian Embassy, in which it appears to boast about a €750m (£655m) bond sale by Gazprom. Some of these were bought by UK investors, just two days after it announced the expulsion of 23 diplomats from the capital. “The ease with which the Russian government was able to raise funds in London despite the strong measures that the government took in the wake of the Salisbury attack raises serious questions about the government’s commitment to combating Russian state aggression,” it said.’ – CityAM
‘Children could be limited to two hours of social media a day under Government online safety plans. Culture Secretary Matt Hancock is considering an online cap for under-18s. The cap could also cover popular online games, such as Fortnite, concerns about which were discussed at cabinet last week. Sources said yesterday that the length of any limit would be decided following a public consultation this month. But it is likely to be no more than three hours a day, and could be as little as two. Imposing it would be fraught with difficulty, however, ministers believe technology firms have the ability to limit access. One alternative would be to simply offer guidance to parents on daily usage. But Mr Hancock appears to favour a tougher line, saying: ‘My instinct is that parental controls don’t work unless they have a strong backstop behind them.’’ – Daily Mail
‘John McDonnell today restated his determination to ‘overthrow capitalism’ and create a socialist society. The shadow chancellor told how he wants workers to be able to take control of companies as part of a planned economy. He called for the transformation of society and insisted that his Marxist ideas would prevent a repeat of the 2007 / 2008 financial crash…Mr McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn have both been big supporters of Valenzuela and its late leader Hugo Chavez’s left-wing revolution…Under Mr Chavez’ anointed successor Nicolás Maduro the country’s economy has collapsed,inflation has spiralled and vast swathes of the population are unemployed. While the regime has rounded up and imprisoned many of its political opponents amid widespread rioting. But Mr McDonnell insisted the country was not an example of a ‘failed Socialist economic model’ because ‘I don’t think it was a Socialist country.” – Daily Mail
‘The newlywed Duchess of Sussex has been given the blessing of the palace to use her position to fight for feminism, as she plans her life as the newest member of the Royal family. The Duchess, known as Meghan Markle until her wedding to Prince Harry on Saturday, is expected to announce which charities and campaigns she will support when she returns from honeymoon in the coming weeks. Her official biography, posted on the official Royal Family website, suggested that she will use her role to champion feminist causes. The biography highlighted the Duchess’ belief that she is “proud to be a woman and a feminist”.’ – Daily Telegraph