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Pay Approved | Parliamentary Ping-Pong | Ukraine Support

A NATO Summit, the long-awaited announcement on public sector pay, and numerous pieces of legislation going through Parliament. It might only be one week until MPs go on Summer Recess (someone tell the weather), but that hasn’t stopped the World of Westminster and beyond staying on overdrive. With three by-elections next Thursday and a reshuffle (or two) on the horizon, it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down just yet…

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 🚨

Public sector workers, including teachers, police and junior doctors were offered a pay increase on Thursday, as the Government has accepted the recommendations of all the independent pay review bodies. The new proposals offer (deep breath): police officers a 7% rise; consultants, dentists and GPs a 6% rise; junior doctors a 6% rise (with a £1250 consolidated increase); prison officers a 7% rise; the armed forces a 5% rise (with a £1000 consolidated increase); and teachers a 6.5% rise. In announcements to media and the Commons, both Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chief Secretary to the Treasury John Glen respectively assured that such increases will not be made by cuts to frontline spending, rather through “greater efficiency and reprioritisation” of departments alongside measures to increase revenue such as increasing charges for migrants coming to the UK applying for visas and decreasing the intake of Ministry of Defence civil servants to pay for military personnel. Speaking of the offerings, Sunak addressed Union bosses stating: “I implore you, do the right thing, know when to say yes”, adding that they were absolutely final, and would not change with any further strikes. Following the announcement, the four major teachers unions have stated they will put the new deal to members, with the recommendation to accept the new pay offer, giving the opportunity for teachers to vote to call off planned strike action. However, not all unions seem happy with the new offers, as Unite’s leader Sharon Graham, the UK’s second largest union with both private and public sector worker members, has warned that a new wave of strikes may still be possible, accusing the new pay deal of being a “rob Peter to pay Paul situation”, suggesting that proposed cuts to spending via reprioritisation will lead to increased hours and harder shifts for workers, and cuts to community services.

Ping Pong between the Houses returned with the Government’s flagship Illegal Migration Bill this week, as the Commons on Tuesday voted to reject revisions made by the Lords, despite criticism from some senior Tory MP’s, including former PM Theresa May, who indicated she will have to “persist in disagreeing with the Government” as the Bill “will consign more people to slavery”. With the Bill back in the Lords on Wednesday to discuss the MP’s decision, peers voted to reinsert these revisions, including protections that are more in line with current regulations, such as for people claiming to be victims of people trafficking. With the Bill heading back to the Commons on Monday, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, stating that no new compromises would be made by the Government, criticising the Lords as being “not serious or grown-up” by rejecting parts of the Bill without offering a viable alternative. It’s going to be a long week before next Thursday…

US President Joe Biden made a fleeting visit to the UK on Monday, before heading to Lithuania for the NATO Summit. In his 24 hour visit, Biden spoke with Sunak on progress made since they announced the Atlantic Declaration, including the Critical Minerals Agreement; the UK’s AI Summit due to take place in the Autumn and support for Ukraine, including the US’s decision to give cluster bombs to Ukraine, as the two leaders repeated again that the two countries continue to be ‘firm allies’ and ‘close friends.’ Biden also met with the King to discuss continued efforts to fight against climate change, in the pair’s first meeting since before the coronation, where the two leaders, alongside Energy Secretary Grant Shapps and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, addressed ‘executives and philanthropists’ on the need for climate finance for the world’s poorest countries at the Climate Finance Mobilisation Forum.

The Week in Stats 📉

6.66% - the average rate on a two-year fixed mortgage deal reached, the highest level for 15 years.

3 – the number of by-elections to take place next week, on 20 July.

11 – the number of interviews Education Secretary Gillian Keegan did after she and teaching unions agreed on a new pay deal.

£1.9bn – the amount the Guardian reported the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities had returned to the Treasury this week after ‘struggling to find projects to spend it on’.

15% - the increase in the cost of visit and work visas, while the cost a number of other visa-related processes will rise 20% to compensate for the increase in public sector pay.

Other Political News 📰

The Chancellor launched his ‘Mansion House Reforms’ which ‘could increase pensions by over £1,000 a year in retirement for an average earner who saves over the course of a career.’ In his speech, Jeremy Hunt said the reforms will unlock up to £75bn of additional investment from defined contribution and local government pensions, supporting the Prime Minister’s priority of growing the economy. The Chancellor and Lord Mayor of London have also backed an agreement between nine of the UK’s largest defined contribution pension schemes, committing them to the objective of allocating 5% of assets in their default funds to unlisted equities by 2030. Hunt added that this could unlock up to £50bn of investment into high growth companies by that time. Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury Tulip Siddiq slammed the reforms, arguing it was “too little, too late” as many high-tech firms had already been bought by foreign competitors or have chosen to list in the US in order to scale-up and grow.

New legislation to scrap the cap on civil penalties for environmental polluters was announced by Environment Secretary Therese Coffey, who argued that “polluters must always pay.” The current limit of £250,000 on variable monetary penalties that the Environment Agency and Natural England can impose directly on operators will be lifted, following a Government consultation which received widespread public support. Defra stated that ‘this will offer regulators a quicker method of enforcement than lengthy and costly criminal prosecutions – although the most serious cases will continue to be taken through criminal proceedings’. The amendments to legislation will be approved by both Houses of Parliament in due course before coming into force.

South Yorkshire has been named as the first UK Investment Zone, with communities in Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley set to benefit from thousands of new jobs and £1.2bn of investment by 2030. Twelve Investment Zones will be established across the UK based around a university and clusters of high growth industries, with South Yorkshire focused on Advanced Manufacturing. The news follows a joint announcement by the UK and Scottish Governments that there will be two Investment Zones in Scotland, with Glasgow City Region and North East of Scotland offering the most potential to host these.

A major Government-commissioned review into the future of women’s football was published. Led by Former England footballer turned pundit Karen Carney, the report recommends raising minimum standards across the game, a new dedicated broadcast slot for women’s football and for the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship to become fully professional environments. With just 6 days until the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, Carney has called for the recommendations to be acted upon with urgency, and said it was “clear that the women’s game in this country can become a world leading sport that not only generates immense economic and social value, but sets the standards for women’s professional sport globally.”

Around the World 🌍

World leaders gathered in Lithuania for the latest NATO Summit. The most pressing question was that of Ukraine’s potential membership of the alliance, but it was instead forced to settle for a G7 security commitment. Feathers were also ruffled when Defence Secretary Ben Wallace warned that the UK was not an “Amazon delivery service” for weapons to Ukraine and that it would be wise to show “gratitude”. Not that he’s bitter about being passed over for NATO leader…

In more successful news for NATO, Sweden will officially become a member after Turkey gave its permission. Turkey had previously blocked its application over Sweden’s historical provision of asylum to Turkish political dissidents, but declared that Sweden had made enough progress on its objections to lift its veto. Hungary had also opposed its membership, but declared its accession was now only a “technical” issue.

The Dutch Government collapsed after coalition parties failed to agree an immigration policy. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s leading VVD party had pushed for tough immigration policies to limit the flow of asylum seekers, but the policy was opposed by junior parties. New elections are expected to be held in November, with Rutte already confirming he will not stand. He is one of Europe’s longest-serving leaders, having been in the role since 2010.

The reformist winner of Thailand’s election was blocked from becoming prime minister after he failed to win enough votes in parliament. Despite having a majority in the lower house, ‘Move Forward’ leader Pita Limjaroenrat failed to persuade a majority in the unelected upper house, all of whom were appointed by the previous military government. Limjaroenrat also faces potential disqualification from last-minute legal challenges. Separately, Thailand’s incumbent prime minster, who seized power in a military coup in 2014, announced his resignation from politics.

The party of Guatemalan presidential candidate Bernardo Arévalo has been suspended after its chief prosecutor found ‘irregularities’ in the collection of signatures allowing the party’s formation. Arévalo, an anti-corruption candidate, stunned the political establishment when he came second during the first round of voting. His upcoming opponent has suspended her campaign in solidarity.

In Parliament 🏛

The House of Commons approved the Privileges Committee special report criticising the conduct of Boris Johnson’s Parliamentary allies towards the Committee. During the debate, Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt said she hoped it would signal “the end of this sorry affair”.

The Illegal Migration Bill passed its third reading in the House of Lords and has begun ping-pong, between the House of Commons and Lords. The Commons swiftly voted down every single Lords amendment before the Lords reinstated several relating to the detention of children and modern slavery protections.

The Online Safety Bill continued its report stage in the Lords, with the Government being defeated on amendments that could hold tech firms responsible for using algorithms that push hateful content, with one Peer using the example of algorithms that "deliberately push 13-year-old boys towards Andrew Tate”, the self-proclaimed misogynist influencer.

The Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill begun its report stage in the Lords, with the Government being defeated on amendments relating to levelling up missions statements, child poverty and health disparities.

The Supply and Appropriation (Main Estimates) (No. 2) Bill gained Royal Assent. The Bill authorises Government spending.

The Electronic Trade Documents Bill completed its third reading in the Commons. The Bill enables businesses to choose electronic trade document systems in transacting international trade.

The Northern Ireland Budget (No. 2) Bill completed its second reading in the Commons. The Bill ensures a budget for Northern Ireland in the absence of an Executive.

Support for the automotive industry and vaping among children were the topics of Opposition Day debates this week.

Debates on the Foreign Affairs Committee report ‘The cost of complacency: illicit finance and the war in Ukraine’ and the Health and Social Care Committee report ‘Workforce: recruitment, training and retention in health and social care’ also took place in the Commons.

Love Island 💘🏝

Lights, camera, cringe. With whole reels worth of antics to be replayed from Casa Amor, this year’s Movie Night did not leave us disappointed… but did leave us with an opportunity to pepper this week’s roundup with poorly inserted movie references #yourewelcome

In the blue corner: Mitch’s hopeless moves to woo every islander at Speed and trashtalk the boys since day one left the Goodfellas questioning his understanding of the bro code; the full extent of Montel’s Dangerous Liaisons with Tink left Leah wondering if he was actually Superbad; a reminder of Sammy’s Fatal Attraction to every other girl in Majorca bar Jess left their relationship feeling pretty Rocky; and Tyrique’s act leading the Bad Boys as ring master of chaos left some pretty shocked faces on the girls’ sofa. In the pink corner: snippets of Ella’s Boogie Nights in Casa with Ouzy were Lost in Translation and left the boys questioning her story; Cat’s decision to ditch Scott for Elom saw a Raging Bull tear through the villa as the girls rounded on the Welshman; and footage of Clueless Leah missing Montel left the lad regretting his non-PG behaviour with Tink.

Despite the premiere from hell; a recoupling saw normality resume with Ty & Ella, Sammy & Jess and Leah & Montel back together and all well in the villa, and in exciting scenes of growth, maturity and culinary wizardry, the boys even managed to cut some fruit and pour some juice into beakers to make the girls a lovely breakfast. “Cute”.

But just as boredom calm descended on paradise, Scott shattered Mitch’s peace by cracking on with Abi, leaving Mitch to demonstrate How to lose a(nother) girl in 10 days. In a shock sudden dumping, Catherine & Elom and Leah & Montel were voted least compatible couples by the public and Spirited Away on an Airplane back to the UK, only for new bombshells Ella and Josh to arrive…

Committee Corridor 📜

The House of Commons Business and Trade Committee published their report on the Scrutiny of Free Trade Agreements. The Committee intends to take a targeted, thematic approach to scrutiny of FTAs, and in most cases, will call for a debate on the Government’s negotiating objectives. This approach continues the method recently used by the former International Trade Committee.

The advisory local housing targets are unlikely to deliver on the Government’s 300,000 new homes objective by the mid-2020s found a recent Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee report. The report examined the Government’s planning reform proposals, and found that the Government had not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate how the policy of scrapping mandatory local housing targets will directly lead to more housebuilding.

Don't bring back beavers without a full management plan stated an Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Report. Alongside the beaver-based proposals, the Committee called for a Government compensation scheme for farmers and other land managers to mitigate potential adverse effects on livelihoods that result from reintroducing some species. The report said a compensation scheme and urgent clarity from Government via a national strategy for reintroductions is the only way to alleviate the concerns of farmers.

'Wales lacks a distinct brand with efforts to market the nation to international visitors failing', the Welsh Affairs Committee argued in its report on ‘Wales as a global tourist destination’. The Committee heard that Wales’s lack of profile was a barrier to growing the international market, and was surprised to hear that of those surveyed, 57% of overseas visitors to Wales had not seen any marketing beforehand. They argued that VisitBritain lacks the knowledge and expertise to successfully promote Wales.

Time is ‘running out’ for UK Government to translate space launch ambitions into reality suggested the Commons’ Science, Innovation, and Technology Committee report. The Committee concluded that there was no evidence that the regulatory system contributed to the failure of the Virgin Orbit launch and accepted that the Civil Aviation Authority had made progress in its application of the regulations.

There was significant costs to emergency services caused by Home Office failures on communications network suggested a Public Accounts Committee report this week. They found that, with the delivery of the Emergency Services Network (ESN) facing continued delays, emergency services are facing financial pressures as a result with no specific mechanism put in place by Government to help them bear these extra costs.

Key Movements 🔁

SNP MP John McNally confirmed he would not be seeking re-election at the next General Election. He has been the MP for Falkirk since 2015.

Angus Brendan MacNeil MP has had his SNP Membership suspended, after he attacked the Party’s “clueless” leadership. He had already had the Whip suspended.

Brian Holliday has been appointed by the Government to support the Advanced Manufacturing Regulation Review.

Harris Bokhari has been named as the Chair of the National Citizens Service Trust.

Ele Brown and Jorge Martin-Almagro were appointed as Deputy Chief Veterinary Officers.

Nine new members have been appointed to the Lawtech UK Panel, which is an industry-led, Government-supported initiative to develop the use of technology in the legal sector.

This Week’s Polls 📊

The Conservatives have somewhat shortened Labour’s poll lead this week, according to the latest YouGov polling. Labour are on 43%, a drop of 4 percentage points, while the Conservatives have climbed 3 percentage points to 25%. Only a 18 point difference now…

… which is making Conservative MPs confident, with over half of Tory MPs expecting the next election to end with a Conservative Government, according to YouGov’s poll of MPs. 29% predict a Conservative majority, with a further 24% expecting a hung Parliament that results in a Conservative Government. 1-in-3 say Labour will form a Government.

But, they have a job to do to convince the electorate, as 57% of people don’t think the Conservatives can run the country ‘competently’, according to the latest Ipsos Political Pulse. It’s not too much better for the Labour Party, with 35% thinking they would be able to run the country competently, compared to 45% who don’t.

British peoples’ opinions of the neighbours across the Channel are becoming increasingly favourable, finds research from Redfield and Wilton. Since November 2021, there has been an increase from 37% to 47% in the number of Britons who hold a favourable view of France, while unfavourable views have fallen from 28% to 15%.

Although the French should be doing more to stop small boat crossings, according to research from Deltapoll, with 24% of people believing the UK Government should demand the French do more to stop the crossings at the start. 32% stated that there should be patrols on the channel with the small boats sent back to France, while the latest figures on support for the Rwanda Policy are 45% in favour and 35% opposed.

Think-Tanking 💭

Policy Exchange published a report on small boat crossings, arguing that the ‘dysfunctional asylum system’ in the UK had been left ‘overburdened’, which caused vulnerable people to be left ‘by the wayside’ and the most deprived local authorities ‘disproportionately’ bearing the impact of accommodating arrivals.

The Centre for Policy Studies published a report that argued the British tax system was ‘increasingly unfair towards families’ as it found that couples with the ‘same overall income can end up paying dramatically different amounts of tax depending on how earnings are divided between them’. It recommended that, when it was affordable, the Government should turn the marriage allowance into a fully transferable personal allowance for parents’.

The Institute for Government published a report on Arms-Length Bodies, which recommended the rewriting of the ‘outdated tests’ with a renewed focus on effectiveness, independence, and cost efficiency.

The IFG also released a report on electoral systems in the UK, arguing that the impact of changing the electoral system for General Elections would ‘go far beyond the outcomes elections themselves’ and recommends that those seeking a change should ‘fully explore the important knock-on implications for Government, Parliament and the Union’.

The Centre for European Reform published a briefing on EU and UK policies towards China, warning that both the EU and the UK are ‘struggling to exploit the opportunities that China offers while managing the risks that it creates’.

The Fabian Society published a paper on poverty, finding that there were two major regional economy challenges in the UK – low growth outside of the South East, with a lack of good jobs, and ‘overheating’ in London, where living costs are too high.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies published four reports this week, looking at the topics of Poverty, Living Standards and Inequality, the Costs of Obesity, and Tax, Private School Fees, and State School Spending.

You’ve Got to Laugh 😂

It’s Champagne Reception Season in the world of Westminster right now, and a bit further out as Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Lucy Frazer found to her expense while trying to award the trophy to the Dutch winner Max Verstappen after the Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone. Frazer was forced to run for cover after the runner-up Lando Norris’ champagne celebrations started getting aimed in her direction. Not often you see an MP trying to avoid the champagne…

It's a well known fact that Westminster is in desperate need of repairs, and this week showed that even the more recent parts of the estate aren’t quite up to the standards you’d want, or expect, from your place of work. A part of the glass ceiling in Portcullis House cracked, with a stream of water pouring in, much to the shock of those sitting below. The Labour MP for Huddersfield Barry Sheerman has said it was down to a Chinook ‘hovering’ above… All par for the course in another week in British politics.

We hope you have a lovely weekend


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