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BoJo Gongs | Special Relationship | AI Summit

A jet-set lifestyle, daily U-turns and decisions made after too much champagne and far too long in the sun… no, were not talking about the week in Westminster, Love Island is back (didn’t we make that same joke last year…)

Welcome to the weekly roundup from Navigate Politics, bringing you all the top news, publications and movements from UK politics over the past seven days, ensuring you’re fully briefed on the top stories ahead of the weekend. If you know somebody who would find this briefing useful, please do forward it on so they can subscribe and get it direct to their inbox each Friday.

Driving the Week 🚨

Rishi Sunak headed to Washington DC for meetings with President Biden, roundtables with US business leaders and a special baseball game celebrating ties between the UK and US, where he donned a Washington Nationals jacket. At the White House yesterday, Sunak and Biden agreed on the ‘Atlantic Declaration’ which will see both countries work closer together across the full spectrum of economic, technological, commercial and trade relations. Measures under the partnership include: a new UK-US Data Bridge which would make it easier for around 55,000 UK businesses to transfer data freely to certified US organisations; a civil nuclear partnership to support the clean energy industry; research collaboration to entrench UK and US leadership in key future technologies such as AI, future telecoms and quantum; and plans to ask the US Congress to designate the UK as a ‘domestic source’ within the Defense Production Act, meaning British companies can benefit from US Government investment on the same basis as American firms. Negotiations will begin immediately on many aspects of the partnership, including on a Critical Minerals Agreement, which will give buyers of vehicles made using critical minerals processed or mined by UK companies access to tax credits in line with the US Inflation Reduction Act.

The UK will host the first global summit on AI safety this Autumn, bringing together key countries, leading tech companies and researchers to agree safety measures to evaluate and monitor the most significant risks from AI. It comes after dozens of tech experts warned about the potential for AI to endanger humanity in similar ways to pandemics or nuclear weapons. In Washington this week, Sunak and Biden agreed that accelerating international cooperation on safe and responsible AI development is one of the ‘pressing issues of our age’ which was echoed by all members of the G7 at the recent Hiroshima Summit. Sunak underlined that ‘no country can do this alone… but with our expertise and commitment to an open, democratic international system, the UK will stand together with our allies to lead the way.’ The Foreign Secretary will also convene the first ever briefing of the UN Security Council in July on the opportunities and risks of AI for international peace and security.

Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list has just been published with knighthoods going to a whole bunch of his supporters including Conor Burns, Simon Clarke, Michael Fabricant and Jacob Rees-Mogg, whilst Andrea Jenkyns, Amanda Milling and Priti Patel all get damehoods. A further seven people get peerages, including former Tory London Mayor candidate Shaun Bailey, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, Boris’ former Downing Street Chief of Staff Dan Rosenfield, and the youngest member of the House of Lords, Charlotte Owen – a former staffer to Boris, believed to be in her late twenties. Notable in their absence are gongs or peerages for Nadine Dorries, Alok Sharma and Nigel Adams, who were all strongly rumoured to be heading to the Lords.

The Week in Stats 📉

£39.3bn – Government spending on supporting households and businesses against rising energy bills between October 2022 and March 2023.

£20m – Funding announced by the UK and Canada for a joint biomanufacturing programme.

2,800 – Additional teachers in England compared to last year, with 48,000 full time equivalent teachers joining the workforce in the 2022/23 academic year.

£28bn – The amount Labour had said they would invest each year as part of their Green Prosperity Plan. Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said it was now a target not an allocated figure.

30C – The forecast temperature in parts of the UK over the weekend.

82,592Diagnoses of Gonorrhoea in the UK in 2022, a 50.3% increase on 2021 and the highest number since records began in 1918.

1 – West Ham fan arrested before their victorious Europa League Conference Final against Fiorentina, with 22 Fiorentina fans arrested.

£5m – Donation to the Conservatives from businessman Mohamed Mansour, the biggest single donation to the Conservatives since 2001.

Other Political News 📰

Rishi Sunak met with President Zelenskyy and other European leaders at the European Political Community Summit in Moldova at the end of last week, in which they considered the situation on the ground in Ukraine and how the international community could support Ukraine's counter-offensive. According to the Downing Street readout, the Prime Minister gave an update on plans for the UK to begin Ukrainian pilot training 'in the coming weeks' and 'agreed to work with international partners to do even more to protect Ukrainian cities and civilians from Russia’s barbaric missile and drone attacks'. In a further show of UK support for Ukraine this week, the Defence Academy announced it had played host to a ‘first of its kind’ course, training ten Ukrainian military chaplains preparing to serve on the front line.

Actions to ‘stop the boats’ continue to lead the news cycle, and this week Rishi Sunak delivered a statement to the assembled press in Dover on the Government's plan to deal with small boat crossings, in which he claimed it was “starting to work". He set out how "crossings are down 20%" since the launch of the Government's illegal migration strategy (fact-checked and passed by the BBC), the "first time...that arrivals between January and May have actually fallen compared to the year before", and added that "the number of Albanian small boat arrivals has fallen by almost 90%". He also announced that the Government had secured two more ships "that will accommodate another 1,000" migrants.

Keir Starmer addressed the GMB Union’s annual congress, making a number of pledges to strengthen workers’ rights. Specifically he pledged that a Labour Government will strengthen the role of trade unions in society, ban zero hour contracts, extend parental leave, strengthen flexible working, introduce better protections for pregnant women, close the ethnicity pay gaps, introduce fundamental rights from day one, provide statutory sick pay for all, and ban fire and rehire. He also announced that Labour would invest in “new nuclear, battery factories and offshore wind”, creating “strong supply chains that create jobs, skills and decent wages”.

The Scottish Government published its skills review, recommending the creation of a new single funding and delivery body, bringing together functions from Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council and the Student Awards Agency Scotland. The plan will involve giving the enterprise agencies a clear remit for supporting businesses, ensuring a clear remit for the new qualifications body in overseeing development and accreditation of all publicly funded post-school qualifications, moving responsibility for national skills planning to the Scottish Government, and the creation of a new body with a singular focus on careers advice and education.

Around the World 🌍

The competition for the Republican presidential candidate gained three competitors this week, as former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie both launched their campaigns, alongside North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. Both Pence and Christie delivered speeches to announce their campaign, in which they took the time to heavily criticise Trump, with Christie referring to him as “self-consumed” and “self-serving” and Pence suggesting that Trump’s involvement in the attack on the US Capitol should disqualify him from the race. Speaking of Trump, the former President and Republican candidate was charged this week over his handling of classified documents after he left the White House. Trump will face 7 charges including unauthorised retention of classified documents, and could potentially face a maximum 10-year prison term if convicted, though the exact charges have not yet been announced to the public.

An estimated half a million protestors gathered in Warsaw against the nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS). The march was called by opposition parties, including former Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who now leads the Civic Platform party, hoping to defeat PiS in the next election. The protestors rallied against a number of policy areas, including frustration over the cost-of-living and rights for women and the LGBT community, however, the recent passing of a law that allows the Government to ban people from public office if it believes they were agents of Russian influence, drew the most attention.

Ukraine’s Kherson region saw mass floods as a dam was destroyed in the Russia controlled region, causing thousands of evacuations and an area of 600 square km submerged under water. Whilst the cause of the destruction is still unknown, Ukraine’s military have accused Russia of deliberately blowing it up, a claim Russia has denied. The floods have come at a time when Ukraine has begun its counter-offence, launching attacks in Donetsk which were thwarted by the Russians, and sending tanks, artillery and drones towards Russian forces in the Zaporizhzhia region.

The Austrian Social Democrats announced the wrong candidate as the winner of its party election. On Saturday, Hans Peter Doskozil, a populist Governor of the Eastern Burgenland region was announced victorious, only to be denounced on Monday, as left-ist Southeastern Mayor Andreas Babler was announced as the winner. The mistake was unveiled after a journalist spotted a missing vote in the final result, prompting a recount.

The Chinese Government opened a public consultation on proposals to ban AirDrop and Bluetooth from phones, to prevent the spread of illegal and ‘undesirable’ information. The consultation comes after anti-government protestors have often used AirDrop to organise and share political demands. In a similar vein, this week TikTok’s owner ByteDance were accused of allowing Chinese Communist Party members to access data on Hong Kong civil rights activists and US TikTok user data. ByteTech has denied the allegations.

In Parliament 🏛

The Illegal Migration Bill began its committee stage in the Lords this week. After facing opposition in the Lords, one Labour peer described the proceedings as ‘disgraceful’. However, the comment came not due to any of the content of the Bill but for keeping Peers up until four in the morning. Aiming to stop people crossing the Channel in small boats, the Bill has already passed through the Commons.

The British Nationality (Regularisation of Past Practice) Bill finished its progression through the Commons on Tuesday and thus began its passage in the Lords by passing its first reading. The Bill will cover individuals born in the UK to parents from EU countries between 1983 and 2000 and codify their right to citizenship.

The Retained EU Law (Reform and Revocation) Bill continued its final stages as the House of Lords considered the Common’s rejected amendments this week. The Bill aims to enable the Government to more easily amend, repeal and replace EU-derived legislation.

The Strikes (Minimum Services Levels) Bill similarly had its Commons amendments considered in the Lords. While pushback had been expected, 182 Lords voted in favour of a new amendment to require a Government review to a single parliamentary Joint Committee comprising members of both Houses, and 180 Lords also voted in favour of a provision that would ensure an employee could not be dismissed for failing to comply with a work notice.

Opposition Day Debates on Wednesday focused on mental health treatment and support and accountability and scrutiny of Teeswork.

Love Island 💘🏝️

Love Island is back baby! Love it or loath it, it will be the talk of the town for the next eight weeks, and we’ll be here to guide you through it with your handy weekly explainer of life in the villa. If you love it, read on, if you loath it… well maybe still read on as the next 250 words or so is all you’ll need to get by in your next meeting with that colleague, boss or perhaps even MP who unexpectedly turns out to be a super fan…

With the islanders coupled up by the public, things were looking rosy for actress Molly and gas engineer Mitchel (this one is either going to last the course or implode in spectacular style), whilst aesthetics practitioner Jess and beautician Ruchee were less than impressed by salesman George and Frenchman (took us three episodes to find out that he’s also a railwayman) Mehdi. Excitable talk of Turkey teeth, Dean Gaffney and “dropping loose game” (which apparently does not mean a poorly tied brace of pheasant) filled the air, before the islanders’ peace was shattered by the arrival of not one, not two… ok you see where we’re going with this… but three bombshells in as many days. Zach recoupled with Catherine leaving Andre (“you can call me Dre or D Dre”) having just one of those days, with nothing left, saving all his love, and longing to dance with somebody… And if those hints weren’t enough, Dre looked like he’d found a million dollar bill when he was whisked out on a date by bombshell number two Whitney (if you’re neither a fan of Love Island or Whitney Houston, the last sentence will have meant absolutely nothing to you…).

With West Londoner Jess down in the dumps after being friend-zoned by footballer Tyrique, who should enter the villa but bombshell number three Sammy, who stole Ella, Molly and Jess away for hot tub and daiquiri dates in the hideaway. And if all of that’s not enough to get the blood pumping… get ready for a mega episode tonight as Molly and Mitch hit the rocks, and one islander is unceremoniously dumped from the island…

Now if that doesn’t float your boat, what will!?

Committee Corridor 📜

It may take a decade for the attainment gap of disadvantaged pupils to recover from the pandemic, warned a Public Accounts Committee report this week. ‘Years of progress since 2012 to narrow the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and others had been reversed by 2022’, with the failure of 13% of pupils in England to take up the National Tutoring Programme potentially leading to this gap becoming embedded once the Department for Education reduces its subsidisation of the programme. The Committee called on DfE to work on reducing pupil absenteeism and deliver results regarding special needs children.

The Government is not doing enough to encourage investment into areas of the UK outside of London and the South East, the second Public Accounts Committee report stated. It found that in 2021/22, 39% of projects supported by the Department for Business and Trade were in these regions, ‘more than across Scotland, Yorkshire and the Humber and NE & NW England combined’. It recommended that 'focused targets be developed to support investment across the UK’.

MPs could be banned from entering Parliament or undertaking taxpayer-funded trips if they are under police investigation for sexual or violent offences, the House of Commons Commission’s latest report on the exclusion of MPs proposed. Under the proposals, a risk-based assessment of the individual under investigation could lead to them being blocked from entering Parliament, as there is currently no way to stop an elected MP under police investigation from entering the parliamentary estate. The report will be considered and voted on by MPs on Monday.

The Committee on Standards published reports on the conduct of Matt Hancock MP and Jess Phillips MP. The former sent the Committee an ‘unsolicited letter’ in relation to an investigation into a separate MP (which technically broke rules on lobbying the Committee), and apologised in Parliament. The latter stemmed from Phillips’ failure to register an income from a television appearance as a financial interest, with the Committee deciding that no further action needed to be taken.

Key Movements 🔁

Shadow Foreign Office Minister Bambos Charalambous MP has been suspended as a Labour MP as the party investigates an allegation over his conduct.

Margaret Ferrier MP has been suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days after breaching COVID lockdown rules. Her lengthy suspension has automatically triggered a recall petition, which requires the signatures of just 10% of registered voters for a byelection to take place in her Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency.

Kevin Stewart MSP has resigned from his role as Transport Minister in the Scottish Government due to mental health reasons.

Gavin Robinson MP has been elected the new Deputy Leader of the DUP.

Dr Kay Swinburne, former Conservative MEP for Wales, and Darren Mott, former Chief Executive of the Conservative Party, have been appointed to the House of Lords and the Government as Whips.

Shaun Bailey, Conservative member of the London Assembly, Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, and five advisers to Boris Johnson are to join the House of Lords having been nominated in the former PM’s resignation honours list.

Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist resigned from the Government where she has served as a Whip since 2019.

Nadine Dorries MP announced she was standing down as an MP with immediate effect (not technically possible but there you go).

Ian Blackford MP, former Leader of the SNP in Westminster announced he will be standing down at the next General Election.

Caroline Lucas MP, the only Green Party Member of Parliament so far, also announced she will be standing down at the next General Election.

Will Quince MP, Health Minister and MP for Colchester, also announced he will be standing down at the next General Election.

Abda Sharif has been appointed HM Ambassador to the Republic of Yemen in succession to Richard Oppenheim. Ms Sharif was most recently Head of Iraq and Arabian Peninsula Department at the Foreign Office.

Dr Liane Saunders has been appointed HM Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman in succession to William Murray. Until recently she was Strategy Director and Strategic Programmes Coordinator and Staff Counsellor at the FCDO.

Dawn McKen has been appointed HM Ambassador to Montenegro. Her most recent role was as Chargé d’Affaires in Athens.

Robert Chatterton Dickson has been appointed Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the UK Mission to Afghanistan in succession to Hugo Shorter. Mr Chatterton Dickson has been British High Commissioner to Dhaka since 2019.

Ian Annett announced he is leaving his role as Deputy CEO at the UK Space Agency at the end of August.

Lord Hendy of Richmond Hill has been reappointed Chair of Network Rail for a further two years.

David Marshall has been appointed Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland.

This Week’s Polls 📊

There has been a 10pt increase in the number of people who see artificial intelligence as a top threat to human survival, according to YouGov’s latest poll. The highest perceived threat remains nuclear war, which jumped almost 20 points at the beginning of 2022 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. AI is now neck and neck with the threat of ‘the bees dying out’ and just below ‘a meteor / asteroid’.

53% of Britons think the impact of Brexit has been bad on Britain’s economy, jobs and living standards, compared to just 15% who think it has had a good impact and 27% who think it hasn’t made a difference either way, according to Deltapoll’s latest poll on the topic.

The No to Independence campaign in Scotland has a 7 point lead over the Independence movement according to Redfield & Wilton’s latest poll, who find that 50% of those surveyed support Scotland remaining in the UK, compared to 43% who support independence and 7% who don’t know.

US President Jo Biden has scored his lowest approval ratings since Redfield & Wilton started their tracker in 2021, with over 50% of Americans disapproving of his performance as President for the first time.

Think-Tanking 💭

Onward published a report calling for a cross-party independent commission to be set up to identify the guiding principles to unlock local growth in Scotland.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies published a working paper looking into the heterogeneous welfare effects of unemployment insurance and social assistance.

The Resolution Foundation published a briefing note exploring the prevalence of youth worklessness due to ill health in different parts of the UK, finding that economic inactivity due to ill health among 18-24 year-olds has nearly doubled over the past decade, and is heavily concentrated among those with low levels of skills.

The Institute of Economic Affairs published a report arguing that COVID-19 lockdowns were “a global policy failure of gigantic proportions”, and only prevented 1,700 deaths in England and Wales, 6,000 deaths across Europe, and 4,000 deaths in the United States.

The Fabian Society published a report setting out the principles which should underpin a National Care Service.

Policy Exchange published a report on the status of “interim measures” indicated by a single judge of the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that the Strasbourg Court has no authority to grant interim relief and member states have no obligation in international law to comply with them. They also published a report criticising the Met Police, Westminster City Council and Parliamentary Authorities for the erosion of disabled access to Parliament and Westminster.

The IPPR published a report arguing that the planning system needs to change to deliver net zero and restore nature in England, while also delivering the services people need, and a report calling for a long-term vision for the future of England’s health and care sector.

You’ve Got to Laugh 😂

Thanks to Nadine Dorries for providing us with a last minute entry to this worryingly empty section this afternoon… well, thanks to Times’ Radio’s Matt Chorley really, for clipping up the moment Nadine Dorries told Talk TV at 1041 this morning that “the last thing I would want to do would be to cause a byelection in my constituency”, only to announce she was standing down with immediate effect, a mere five hours and nine minutes later.

We hope you have a lovely weekend, and remember, wear sunscreen.


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