Today’s daily politics briefing
Trust in Boris Johnson’s government to “do the right thing” has tumbled from 60 per cent at the height of the first coronavirus lockdown to just 44 per cent now, according to a new survey.
Analysis by Edelman’s found “the integrity of the United Kingdom may now be under threat”, with voters expressing more trust in the leaders of devolved administrations than in Downing Street.
It come as an influential cross-party committee of MPs warned chancellor Rishi Sunak that his upcoming Budget is not the time for tax increases. Labour has called on Mr Sunak not to bring in a “triple hammer blow” of tax rises, welfare cuts or freezes on public sector pay.
British manufacturing still struggling with Brexit disruption
UK factory output last month grew at its lowest level since May as manufacturing firms were weighed down by supply chain disruption.
Experts behind the IHS Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) report said further delays within supply chains have impacted upon trade.
Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit, said: “The UK manufacturing sector was again hit by supply chain issues, Covid-19 restrictions, stalling exports, input shortages and rising cost pressures in February.”
Adam Forrest1 March 2021 11:13
DUP defends ‘right’ move to halt Brexit border posts
The DUP’s agriculture minister Gordon Lyons – who stunned Northern Ireland at the end of last week with his controversial decision to halt work on permanent inspection posts for Brexit port checks – has defended the move.
“We’re facing practical barriers and legal uncertainty about what comes next,” Lyons told BBC Radio Ulster on Monday morning. “It’s right that we stop, and that we get that clarity from the EU and the UK.”
Asked about the latest remarks by the DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson – saying the party would “fight guerrilla warfare” against the protocol – Lyons said the protocol was “at the root of so many problems we are facing”.
But Sinn Fein has accused Lyons and his party of recklessness over their opposition to the protocol.
MP Chris Hazzard said: “The DUP are leading their supporters up to the top of the hill, and they’re going to leave them stranded. They haven’t been honest throughout this [Brexit] process.”
Adam Forrest1 March 2021 11:00
SNP support ‘on the slide’, says poll guru
The great Sir John Curtice – the country’s top polling analyst – says SNP support has been “gradually on the slide” for a while now.
Support for Scottish independence has dropped down to 50 per cent for the fisrt time since June, a weekend Survation poll found – ending a run of almost two dozen polls in favour of a breakaway.
Sir John has pointed out that SNP poll support peaked at 54 per cent for the Holyrood election constituency vote (and 43 per cent on the regional ballot) in November and has slipped since then.
“If over the next two months support continues to fall at this rate, the SNP could fall short of the 65 seats it needs for a majority,” writes Sir John in Scotland’s Daily Record.
Adam Forrest1 March 2021 10:37
Gordon Brown: ‘I don’t think UK has economic plan’
Former Labour PM Gordon Brown offered his thoughts on GMB this morning – saying Rishi Sunak should focus on making sure one million young people are not “lost” to unemployment.
“You have to be two steps ahead. You can’t be behind the curve. We’ve got a plan for getting out of lockdown but I don’t think we have an economic plan.”
Brown revealed he has had his vaccine, and his wife Sarah is getting her first jab today.
Adam Forrest1 March 2021 10:18
Vaccines minister promises variant will be picked up ‘rapidly’
Nadhim Zahawi said community transmission of the new P1 variant first identified in Brazil will be identified “very, very quickly” through testing.
“One of the strengths of the UK’s system is obviously our genome sequencing capability,” the vaccines minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“We would pick up, as we have done obviously in these cases, pick up rapidly, both in terms of PCR testing capability – 800,000 capacity per day – and millions of lateral flow tests.
“We would pick up community transmission of this variant very, very rapidly, because we are able to genome sequence so quickly.”
He also insisted on Sky News that the system for testing travellers from abroad is “robust” despite criticism from Labour about “weaknesses” in the system.
Adam Forrest1 March 2021 10:04
Save our high streets, Tory MPs tell chancellor
A group of 45 Tory MPs from Northern Research Group (NRG) have called for an extension of the business rates holiday to help save the high street. “We need to make sure that once people can go shopping again, they have high streets to go back to.”
On Sunday chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that pubs, restaurants, shops and other businesses hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic will be boosted by a £5bn grant scheme to help them reopen as the lockdown is eased.
Will there be a new retail tax at the Budget? The Sunday Telegraph claimed Sunak was considering a tax on online deliveries, but government sources have “played down” the idea in some reports this morning.
Adam Forrest1 March 2021 09:52
Less than one-third of Britons think Brexit deal ‘good’
More details now from the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, which also took the temperature on Brexit.
Almost half (44 per cent) of Britons feel that Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal was bad for the UK, against less than one-third (31 per cent) who think it was good.
On climate change, two thirds of people say that tackling the emergency is more important than ever before (66 per cent), but just one third believe the crisis will improve in their lifetime (33 per cent).
Brits think that both government and business are currently falling short on climate change. Only 30 per cent think that government is doing enough to tackle it, and just 27 per cent think business is doing enough.
Adam Forrest1 March 2021 09:25
Priti Patel ‘wants people smugglers jailed for life’
Home secretary Priti Patel reportedly wants to upgrade the maximum term for people smugglers in a new bid to crack down on English Channel crossings.
The minister is keen to increase the average length of sentences for those found guilty from three years by upgrading the maximum sentences to life imprisonment, according to The Times.
“If you put it up at the top end, the hope is those currently getting three or four years now will be significantly increased,” one source told the paper.
Another Home Office source told the paper that the crime is “practically equivalent to firing rifles into a crowded room, in terms of the risk they are taking with other people’s lives.”
Adam Forrest1 March 2021 09:16
New variant reveals ‘holes’ in border plan, says Labour
The week begins with a slight sense of panic over the new Covid “variant of concern” – first detected in Brazil and known as P1 – found in the UK.
There are three cases in England and three in Scotland. Officials are following up with passengers on a Swiss Air flight from Sao Paulo, while testing has been ramped up in South Gloucestershire, where the first two cases were detected.
But one of those who tested positive for P1 in England has still to be tracked. Labour says it shows the “holes” in the government’s border measures. “This is further proof that the delay in introducing hotel quarantine was reckless,” said shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds.
Meanwhile the vaccine programme is set to get an extra £1.65bn in the Budget, with Rishi Sunak saying it was “essential we maintain this momentum”.
Adam Forrest1 March 2021 09:04
Alex Salmond to give new evidence ‘in private’
After his six hours of testimony at Holyrood of Friday, Alex Salmond is expected to give yet more evidence in private to a separate inquiry set up to establish whether Nicola Sturgeon broke the ministerial code.
Salmond is set to provide the evidence to James Hamilton QC’s inquiry either today or Tuesday – details he was “hampered” in providing to the Holyrood committee last week because of warnings from the Crown Office.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Tories are set to lodge a motion of no confidence in the SNP’s deputy first minister John Swinney over the refusal to publish the Scottish government’s legal advice during the Salmond saga.
The Tories will lodge the motion on Tuesday if the advice isn’t released by the end of today. The Scottish Lib Dems have said they will back the motion.
New Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said his party would also back the vote. “John Swinney has to give the advice and if he doesn’t, then we will have no choice but to support the no confidence vote,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday.
Sturgeon should quit if she’s found to have breached the code, Sarwar told Sky News on Sunday. “It’s a point of principle.”
Adam Forrest1 March 2021 08:59