“Rishi Sunak is hoping that a split among health unions will allow the government to settle a long-running NHS pay dispute next month, as new figures on Monday revealed the vast disruption caused by strikes. About 195,000 NHS appointments, including hospital operations and scans, had to be cancelled last week in England because of four days of industrial action by junior doctors. The prime minister admitted the strikes could make it “more challenging” to meet his promise to cut waiting lists for NHS treatment. Ending the NHS pay dispute is critical for Sunak, with opinion polls showing the public continue to support striking nurses and with the state of the health service set to be a key issue at the next general election.” – FT
“The UK parliament’s standards watchdog has opened a probe into Rishi Sunak over allegations he failed to declare that his wife had a financial interest in a company that could profit from policy changes by his government. The investigation, which became public on Monday, comes after complaints that the prime minister did not disclose that his wife, Akshata Murty, held shares in Koru Kids, which registers childminders. The company, one of six agencies named by the government for childminders to use, was set to benefit from a pilot of incentive payments announced in the Budget last month.” – FT
>Today: Dr Gerard Lyons’ column: Avoiding recession as the world grapples with high debt
>Yesterday: Gideon Salutin and James Kirkup in Comment: How Ministers can help smaller charities during this time of economic hardship.
“Rishi Sunak has acknowledged that the country does not have enough maths teachers to implement his plan for all children to study the subject until 18. He insisted, however, that there were “significant” financial incentives for people to teach maths, saying that he was disappointed that the unions had rejected a pay deal put forward by the government. Teachers will strike again next week after having turned down an offer of a 4.5 per cent average pay rise plus a £1,000 one-off bonus. Sunak said this was “a fair and reasonable settlement” adding: “I don’t want our kids’ education to be disrupted.”” – The Times
“Yes, I thought to myself. Rishi Sunak is right. We should all be better at maths. How else can Britain compete in the modern world? But just as I was about to utter unqualified support for the Prime Minister’s initiative, I focussed on a phrase from his speech on the subject yesterday, and the words died on my lips. Mr Sunak complained there is “a cultural sense that it’s OK to be bad at maths”. He wants to put a stop to this. Help! If the PM wins this culture war, where will that leave me?” – Daily Telegraph
“The Education Secretary has backed Ofsted’s one-word assessments despite calls from teachers for the system to be changed. Gillian Keegan said the ratings, ranging from ‘outstanding’ to ‘inadequate’, are ‘easy for parents to navigate’. Headteacher Ruth Perry killed herself in January while awaiting an Ofsted report downgrading her school from the highest rating to the lowest. Her heartbroken family have said her death was a ‘direct result’ of the inspection. The tragedy sparked calls for the schools watchdog to be abolished.” – Daily Mail
“Machetes will be outlawed under plans to be announced by ministers today. Sales of the long bladed weapons will be banned except for legitimate use, such as gardening and outdoor pursuits. A consultation paper, published by Home Secretary Suella Braverman, suggests the maximum punishment for selling, importing or manufacturing prohibited blades should be increased from six months’ imprisonment to two years. It also sets out proposals to increase the penalties for possessing the weapons.” – Daily Mail
“More than £1.3million of taxpayers’ money has been spent defending 121 different legal challenges against the Rwanda asylum deal, the Mail can disclose. The astonishing sum covers the Government’s legal costs since the first attempted charter flight last June. It includes the cost of fighting judicial reviews brought by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) trade union, which represents Border Force staff, and pro-migrant charities, plus a host of cases brought by individual foreign nationals. The sum would pay for 35 NHS nurses for a year on the average salary of £37,000 a year.” – Daily Mail
“The police’s use of stop-and-search measures is essential despite them overly affecting ethnic minorities, the equalities minister has insisted. Kemi Badenoch said the tactic was a ‘vital tool’ in tackling violence and said progress has been made on reducing the race disparity. However, policing bodies are also implementing new safety training for officers so they can use ‘de-escalation and communication skills’ when searching suspects. Last month’s scathing Baroness Casey report into Scotland Yard called for a ‘fundamental reset’ of the use of stop-and-search while the Children’s Commissioner found that those as young as eight are being strip-searched.” – Daily Mail
“Conservative Party Chairman Greg Hands today announced a significant ramping up of the Tories’ election preparation, with an ambition to select 100 candidates for vacant seats ahead of the autumn party conference. The news comes as multiple outlets speculated PM Rishi Sunak could call an election sooner than expected. Writing for the ConservativeHome website today, Mr Hands announced the first “tranche” of constituencies will begin being advertised today. He also confirmed at the Spring Conference in Birmingham – at which journalists were not invited – a target of 100 candidates in place by the Autumn conference.” – Daily Express
>Today: ToryDiary: The local elections: National planning requirements clash in rural Essex with what voters want
“The energy secretary, Grant Shapps, has urged Ofgem to turn words “into action” to ensure new industry rules designed to protect vulnerable people from being forced on to prepayment meters are properly enforced. The Guardian revealed on Monday that all energy suppliers in Great Britain had signed up to a code of conduct banning them from putting the meters in the homes of people aged 85 and over as well as those with severe health conditions. Suppliers have agreed to new guidelines for installing the devices when households have run up energy debt after an outcry over agents using court-approved entry warrants to break in to install them.” – The Guardian
“Dominic Raab is set to learn his fate within days as ministers expect to receive a report into alleged bullying this week. Rishi Sunak faces the prospect of having to find a new justice secretary and deputy prime minister as a months-long inquiry nears a conclusion. Adam Tolley KC is expected in Whitehall to hand his findings to the government this week after taking evidence from dozens of officials involved in eight formal complaints about Raab. However, the prime minister has not yet been told formally that the report is imminent, with Downing Street expecting “at least a couple” of days’ notice, suggesting that the end of this week is more likely.” – The Times
“James Cleverly hailed Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with Japan which Remainers claimed would be destroyed by leaving the EU but has now become pivotal for international security and trade. Express.co.uk has been given exclusive access to the Foreign Secretary’s visit to the G7 in Karuizawa and briefings on the post-Brexit success story of the UK’s relations with Japan. Mr Cleverly’s visit has come hot on the heels of the UK being accepted as the 12th country in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade group on the back of the strengthening relationship with Japan.” – Daily Express
“Sir Keir Starmer sat on the Sentencing Council when it said a child rapist could swerve jail, it was claimed earlier today. The body that sets guidelines for judges sending down criminals suggested in December 2012 “there is a necessity for flexibility within the sentencing regime” for rape of a child under 13. As Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Keir was a member of the council from 2008 to 2013 – attending more than 20 of its meetings. Their 2012 review stated “a sentencer may decide that a non-custodial sentence is more appropriate”. And their guidelines recommended “there may be exceptional cases where a lengthy community order … may be the best way” of dealing with an offender.” – The Sun
>Today: Alexander Stafford MP in Comment: No office holder who turns a blind eye to child abuse should stay in place. Not in my home town – or anywhere else.
>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Was the Labour attack on Sunak a racist dog whistle?
“Nicola Sturgeon’s “arch-loyalists” in the SNP are starting to turn against her over her “unforgivable” secrecy about the party’s financial crisis, it has been alleged, as she avoided Holyrood on Monday. Party insiders said members felt furious that they may have been “misled” by the former first minister, after a leaked video showed her trying to shut down scrutiny of the SNP’s finances at a March 2021 meeting of its ruling national executive committee (NEC). They said even some of her most loyal supporters were now questioning “what is going on”, amid growing speculation that she could quit her Holyrood seat following the arrest of her husband Peter Murrell, the party’s former chief executive.” – Daily Telegraph
“Three of the key players behind the landmark peace deal for Northern Ireland 25 years ago have urged the region’s biggest unionist party to do the “right thing” and end its boycott of the power-sharing executive in Belfast. Bertie Ahern, the Irish taoiseach when the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998, said he would “really plead” with the Democratic Unionist Party to heed the advice of George Mitchell, the former US senator who chaired the peace talks, and “just move forward and try to make this work”. Sir Tony Blair, the UK prime minister at the time, issued a similar call for the DUP to end its boycott of Northern Ireland’s political institutions.” – FT