General Election Update
General Election Update

GRENFELL TOWER FIRE

PM orders public inquiry into Grenfell fire

Theresa May has ordered a full public inquiry into the fire that engulfed a west London block of flats, killing at least 17 people. That figure is expected to rise, as fire chiefs do not expect to find any more survivors in the burnt-out Grenfell Tower in North Kensington. The PM said people “deserve answers” as to why the fire spread so rapidly. She spoke after visiting the scene and meeting with firefighters, although she did face some criticism for not speaking directly with survivors of the blaze. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also visited the site, meeting residents affected by the fire. He told community leaders “the truth has to come out”. Meanwhile, housing minister Alok Sharma said the government is working with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to ensure that “every single family will be re-housed in the local area”. Fire minister Nick Hurd called the fire a “national tragedy” and said there was “no room for plodding bureaucracy.” Elsewhere, the Guardian reports that building safety experts warned last year that the drive for greater energy efficiency meant more and more buildings are being wrapped in materials that could go up in flames. Elsewhere, the Times reveals that the U.S. banned the type of cladding which allegedly encased Grenfell Tower.

BBC News    The Guardian    The Daily Telegraph    Financial Times   The Times    The Times    Daily Mirror   Evening Standard   Daily Express   The Independent   Daily Mail

Corbyn: Seize homes of the rich for Grenfell homeless

Jeremy Corbyn has called for the requisitioning of empty luxury properties to house survivors left homeless by the Grenfell Tower blaze. He said the disaster had exposed a “tale of two cities”, and said: “It cannot be acceptable that in London you have luxury buildings and flats kept as land banking for the future while the homeless and the poor look for somewhere to live.” Meanwhile, the new MP for Kensington, Emma Dent Coad, said Grenfell Tower was "prettified" at the expense of safety in order to make the area look nicer for wealthier residents. Ms Dent Coad, who sat on the board of the local council's tenant management organisation for several years, said that there had been concerns that "the development of the estates is part of a social cleansing programme". The Telegraph’s Fraser Nelson says that Grenfell is a metaphor for inequality in Britain. He says the Tories need to act fast to show they are on the side of the poor.

The Times    The Independent    The Times    Daily Mail   The Daily Telegraph

GOVERNMENT

Queen’s Speech to take place next week

The Commons leader Andrea Leadsom has said that the State Opening of Parliament and Queen’s Speech will take place next Wednesday. It had been due to take place on Monday, but was delayed by Theresa May's efforts to strike a deal with the DUP to back her minority government. The speech is expected to be a slimmed down programme of legislation after the PM lost her majority in last week’s general election.

Financial Times    The Guardian   The Independent    The Times    The Scotsman

No deadline for DUP-Tory deal

Nigel Dodds, the deputy leader of the DUP, has said there is no deadline for a deal between his party and the Conservatives despite a date being set for the Queen’s Speech. A deal is not expected to be confirmed before next week, although Mr Dodds said that he was not going to “get into timetables and deadlines”. “They can be somewhat counter-productive,” he added. Mr Dodds also said that the Queen’s Speech was an “entirely separate matter for the government”.

BBC News    The Times

Sinn Fein accuses May of not honouring Good Friday agreement

Sinn Fein has warned Theresa May that a deal with the DUP would be in breach of the Good Friday agreement. Gerry Adams, the party’s president, said: “We have just finished a meeting with the British prime minister and her secretary of state. And we told her very directly that she was in breach of the Good Friday agreement and we itemised those matters in which she was dilatory or in default in relation to that agreement.” Michelle O’Neill, the Sinn Fein leader in Northern Ireland, added that the government must continue in its role as co-guarantor of the Good Friday agreement.

The Guardian   The Daily Telegraph    

Voters take dim view of pact

A YouGov poll for the Times has found that almost half the electorate have an unfavourable view of the DUP which is negotiating an electoral pact with the Tories. Some 44% of voters, including 31% who voted Conservative in the election, said that doing a deal would result in a worse government than if the Tories tried to govern alone.

The Times

CONSERVATIVES

May overtaken by Corbyn in approval

Theresa May has been overtaken in the popularity stakes by Jeremy Corbyn after a dramatic fall in her stock in the wake of the General Election. According to YouGov, the PM’s favourability rating of minus 34 now matches Mr Corbyn's position last November, while the Labour leader's popularity has soared.

Yorkshire Post   Daily Mail

Boris becoming divisive

The Guardian reveals that internal Conservative research that was used to road-test cabinet ministers to decide how to deploy them in the general election campaign found that Boris Johnson was a deeply divisive figure. The suggestion was that Mr Johnson - who has previously been seen as a strong asset by many Tory MPs because of his popularity and success in twice winning the mayoralty in London - had had a "polarising" effect since the EU referendum.

The Guardian

LABOUR

McDonnell calls for protest

The shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has urged Britons to “get out on the streets” to pressurise Theresa May into calling another election. Mr McDonnell told the annual conference of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union: “We need people doing everything they can to ensure the election comes as early as possible. What we need now is the TUC mobilised, every union mobilised, get out on the streets. Just think if the TUC put out that call — that we want a million on the streets of London in two weeks’ time.” A senior Labour insider criticised the leadership for focusing on protests, saying: “Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are more interested in movement politics than actual policy. They don’t care about parliament, their obsession is extra-parliamentary rallies.” An editorial in the Telegraph says Britain’s democracy has no place for Mr McDonnell’s mob politics.

The Times    Daily Express   The Daily Telegraph

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Will Lib Dems seek coalition?

The Mail reveals that the Lib Dems and Conservatives have held talks, opening up the prospect of another coalition government. Talks opened after Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, who had ruled out pacts, deals and coalitions, stepped down on Wednesday. There is a feeling that the new party leader may agree to a deal, and would be able to secure the backing of the party. Meanwhile, an editorial in the Independent says that for the sake of democracy, the Lib Dems need to regain their confidence under a new leader.

Daily Mail    The Independent

Former ministers in running for Lib Dem role

Former ministers Sir Ed Davey and Norman Lamb are expected to contest the Liberal Democrat leadership following the resignation of Tim Farron. Ex-business secretary Sir Vince Cable might take over on a temporary basis, according to the BBC. While the bookmakers make Jo Swinson, another former minister, the favourite. Allies of Ms Swinson have reportedly claimed that Sir Vince is too old to become leader.

BBC News    The Independent    Financial Times    The Daily Telegraph

Laws: Farron was prejudiced and illiberal

David Laws, a senior Lib Dem who is gay, has criticised Tim Farron for holding “illiberal and prejudiced views” which he believes were incompatible with leading the party. Meanwhile, Oliver Kamm writes in the Times that Mr Farron was a political failure, not a martyr.  Peter Oborne in the Mail takes a different view and says it is outrageous Mr Farron felt forced to step down because of his devout Christian beliefs.

The Times    The Times    Daily Mail

SNP

Pressure mounts on Sturgeon over independence

Ruth Davidson has stepped up her calls for Nicola Sturgeon to dump her second referendum proposal at First Minister's Questions. Ms Davidson quoted a Survation Poll which said 60% of Scots did not want another independence referendum and said: "This has got nothing to do with listening to the people. It is all about how she can find a way to refloat or rebrand her sinking dream of independence.” Ms Sturgeon described Ms Davidson as a "one trick pony", who was unable to confront any issue other than opposing another referendum.

The Scotsman  

Sturgeon under fire over subsidies

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of being complacent as Scotland's farmers face "another year of chaos" over subsidies. Conservative Peter Chapman called on Ms Sturgeon to take responsibility for the "catastrophe" in the IT system set up to distribute the Scottish Government's Common Agricultural Payment (Cap) in recent years.

The Herald   The Scotsman

SNP fears cash cut after DUP deal

The new SNP Westminster deputy leader, Kirsty Blackman, has warned Scotland must not be short-changed if a financial package is offered to Northern Ireland in return for DUP votes. She insisted the Barnett formula could not be "ripped up" to "dish out large chunks of cash".

The Press & Journal   The Scotsman

EUROPE

Brexit negotiations to start Monday

Formal Brexit negotiations will start on Monday, the UK and EU have said. The announcement by Brexit Secretary David Davis and EU negotiator Michel Barnier follows preliminary talks in Brussels between officials. Mr Davis is expected to meet Mr Barnier at the Commission’s headquarters in Brussels on Monday but it is not known how long the initial round of talks will last. Mr Barnier is due to report back to leaders of the 27 other EU states on Thursday to review progress ahead of a two-day summit of the European Council attended by Theresa May which starts later that day. The Independent reveals that the British Government has yet to send papers outlining its opening position for Brexit talks to the EU. One source in Europe said it was “unbelievable” that the UK had not sent the papers for the start of negotiations. “The talks are beginning on Monday. There are no positioning papers yet. It’s a basic thing that should happen beforehand. It doesn't bode well,” the source said.

Daily Mirror    Daily Mail    Sky News    The Independent

Support emerges for PM to change direction over Brexit

A YouGov poll has revealed that Britons want Theresa May to change course away from her plan for a hard Brexit. Fewer than half of people quizzed think she should continue trying to leave the EU on the negotiating terms she set out before the general election. Some 43% say Mrs May should continue with the negotiating strategy she set out before the election. However, a greater proportion think there should be a change of direction, including 23% who want to look for a “softer” Brexit during the talks, due to start next week. This includes keeping access to the European single market of 500m customers. Some 7% think that the Government should cancel Brexit following its election setback.

Evening Standard

Memo to Theresa May: your new Brexit options

The FT’s Robert Shrimsley lists six options for Theresa May on Brexit. These include the nothing-has-changed Brexit, a Boris Brexit, a soft Brexit, an Ultrasoft Brexit, No Brexit and let Labour take over. Meanwhile, Philip Stephens writes in the same paper that Mrs May’s government has to put national interest before party loyalty. Elsewhere, Jeremy Warner comments in the Telegraph that a renewed Conservative Party civil war over Brexit helps no one but Labour. An editorial in the Times says that Mrs May’s government needs to change its tone. The paper says Brexit must work for businesses. In order for the PM to survive, her government must make that clear.

Financial Times    Financial Times   The Daily Telegraph    The Times

European support for EU surges

A study by the Pew Research Center has found that the majority of EU citizens are supportive of the EU. Countries including France, Germany and the UK all reported a rise in the number of people who had a favourable view of the EU. Only in Greece do a majority of people have a negative opinion of the EU. The report, however, did raise concerns about the EU’s handling of migration, of which a median of 66% disapproved.

Financial Times   The Daily Telegraph  Reuters   The Times

BUSINESS

Small businesses’ confidence in May collapses

The Daily Telegraph Business Tracker reveals that small businesses are increasingly disillusioned with Theresa May’s government. The Tracker, which follows companies and businesspeople online to monitor their social media postings, showed SMEs had a positive view of the future in February. Some 42% of businesses appeared to feel positive while just 7% were downbeat, leaving a net balance of 35%. However, the latest analysis shows just 9% are upbeat while 35% are negative, dragging the overall sentiment indicator to minus 26%.

The Daily Telegraph

Government to step up business funding

The Government is to increase the level of financial support it provides to business ahead of the UK leaving the EU. Ministers are in discussion with the European Investment Bank to ensure UK projects can access its funds during the remaining period of Britain's EU membership. And the British Business Bank is set to extend the limits of its venture capital investment programme to enable it to provide greater levels of investment into individual funds.

The Independent   Evening Standard

ECONOMY

Retail sales fall in May as prices rise

Retail sales fell in May as stores increased their prices, according to the ONS, which said the quantity of goods bought between April and May fell by 1.2%, worse than economists had expected. Compared with a year earlier, sales volumes were up by 0.9% - the weakest annual growth rate since April 2013, and Ole Black, senior statistician at the ONS, said: “Increased retail prices across all sectors seem to be a significant factor in slowing growth.”

City AM   BBC News 

PUBLIC SECTOR

Hunt: Public sector deserve more pay

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has indicated he will press the Chancellor to give public sector staff more pay. In the strongest indication so far that the government is prepared to rethink its approach, he said he had “a great deal of sympathy” for the case made by nurses for an end to the pay cap in particular. Mr Hunt also said that allowing NHS workers from the EU to stay in the UK after Brexit is the top priority in Government negotiations. Separately, Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb has said teachers, nurses and council workers should be given a pay rise. Mr Crabb said that anger over several years of modest or non-existent public sector pay rises contributed to the Tories’ failure to win a majority at the general election.

The Daily Telegraph    The Guardian   The Independent   BBC News   BBC News   

MIGRATION

Illegal migrant tally reaches 250,000 a year

According to secret Home Office estimates, the level of illegal immigration in the UK is up to 250,000 people. David Wood, who was head of immigration enforcement at the Home Office until 2015 and co-authored the report, said more than 1.2m illegal immigrants were living in Britain, predominantly after overstaying their visas.

The Times    The Daily Telegraph   Daily Mail

EDUCATION

“Sweeping” new powers for Scottish head teachers

The Scottish government has set out "sweeping new powers" for schools. The reforms will see head teachers take responsibility for closing the attainment gap, choosing school staff and management structure, and deciding curriculum content. They also aim to give schools more direct control over funding, with a consultation on fair funding launched.

BBC News   The Daily Telegraph   Financial Times   The Scotsman