THREATENING EU IS POMPOUS BOMBASTIC AND SARCASTIC
The Express reports: the EU has been accused of pompous, bombastic, sarcastic, patronising and threatening behaviour and using Ireland as a stick to beat the UK forever, following sight of a letter from European Commission vice president Maroš Šefčovič to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove. Mr Šefčovič triggered Brexiteer fury by raising a series of complaints about how the UK has implemented the Northern Ireland protocol which regulates trade between the province and Great Britain. He stated that border control posts are not fully operational and claimed consignments are entering Northern Ireland without being declared. Concern that the full implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol will put obstacles in the way of trade with Great Britain has spurred the UK Government to ask for a grace period on checks to continue until 2023. In his letter, Mr Šefčovič claimed that the protocol is the “only way to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement, preserving peace and stability and avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland”, before listing “shortcomings” and “teething problems”.The letter deepened anger among leading Brexiteers.
THREAT TO BRING DOWN NI POWER SHARING GOVERNMENT
The Independent meanwhile reports that Democratic Unionist Party members of the Northern Ireland assembly have threatened to bring down the province’s government if Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal is not overturned. Assembly member Jonathan Buckley said collapsing the Stormont power-sharing administration was on the table as an option and that the protocol had been an unmitigated disaster. It comes after former first minister and ex-DUP leader Peter Robinson suggested that collapsing the government was the only alternative to accepting the current situation. But the DUP’s current leadership under the first minister, Arlene Foster, has rejected the route, stating: ‘We need to make Stormont work’. Ms Foster argued that Mr Johnson should instead trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland agreement, effectively overriding parts of it. The treaty article allows either party to suspend parts of the deal in the case of prolonged social or economic disruption.
FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP ACQUITTED
The Telegraph reports that in the shortest impeachment trial in U.S history Former President Donald Trump has been acquitted of inciting a mob to break into the Capitol Building at his impeachment trial in the US Congress. The Democrats failed to gain the required two-thirds majority of senators needed to convict the former president of incitement of insurrection. The final vote of 57 to 43 meant the Senate fell short by 10 votes. Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting to convict Mr Trump.
NO COVER UP AT THE YARD
The Daily Mail reports that Scotland Yard launched an extraordinary spin operation to ensure the Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick was not pulled into the scandal over its VIP abuse probe. The Mail revealed bombshell emails detailing how Dame Cressida was shielded by her colleagues. The messages also reveal that Britain’s top police officer reacted with fury after Home Secretary Pritti Pate ordered an independent review of the Met, following criticism over the disastrous Operation Midland. Miss Patel repeatedly refused to publicly back Dame Cressida yesterday. Today’s revelations will pile further pressure on the beleaguered Commissioner. Earlier this week, Lady Brittan – whose homes were raided during Operation Midland as she grieved for her late husband – condemned a culture of cover-up at the country’s largest force. Last night Dame Cressida’s deputy Sir Stephen House issued a statement claiming there was ‘no cover-up and nor has there been one’.
WORDS HAVE CONSEQUENCES
From the Daily Mail: Hampshire’s Chief Special Constabulary Officer Tom Haye was taken to a misconduct hearing and sacked for gross misconduct after he used the term pikeys which is derogatory for members of the Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers community. The senior Hampshire Special Constabulary officer with 30 years experience – who disputed that it amounted to gross misconduct – had been in a conversation with a colleague who was house-sitting for him he said ‘it keeps the pikeys out’. Mr Haye is a Dutch national and claims pikeys is similar to an inoffensive word in his native tongue. Following the hearing, Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney, his line manager, sacked him and placed him on the police barred list but Mr Haye plans to appeal the disproportionate dismissal. Hampshire Constabulary sacked five officers last month after a whistleblower revealed details of the racist, sexist and homophobic language that was rife at one of its units.
ALARMING RATE OF PRISON STAFF SACKINGS
The Daily Mail reports that prison staff are being sacked at the rate of three a week for offences including corruption,fraud and bedding inmates, shocking official figures reveal. According to the Ministry of Justice, 1,121 officers and other employees were dismissed for transgressions of 40 separate categories of misconduct between 2014 and 2020. Forty-three lost their jobs after embarking on ‘inappropriate’ relationships with convicts and more than 500 were let go for issues relating to ‘breach of security’, ‘performance of duties’, ‘bringing discredit on Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service’ or other unspecified ‘professional misconduct’. Three staff were fired in 2015-16 for negligence on prisoner escapes with four others sacked the following year for being ‘unfit for duty through drink or drugs’. Other reasons for staff being given the boot included the use of ‘unnecessary force’ on prisoners, sexual harassment or assault and being ‘asleep on duty’.
NEW MILITARY ALLIANCE PROPOSED
From the Express: Britain could form a new alliance with Canada, Australia and New Zealand to create the third largest military in the world under a new proposal. Advocates of CANZUK, an acronym for the four countries it would contain, believe the association would boost Britain’s economy and national defence. Under the proposal Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand would agree to free trade and reciprocal migration. The four powers would also agree to cooperate more closely foreign policy and defence. Toronto based James Skinner is the founder and chief executive of CANZUK International, a group launched under a different name in 2015. Speaking to the Express he argued the new association would immediately become the third most powerful military force in the world, behind only the United States and China. Britain is already a close ally of Australia, Canada and New Zealand and their militaries regularly cooperate. In recent months the UK has worked closely with Australia and Canada over the situation in Hong Kong with the three powers issuing joint statements.
LICENSE FEE ROW BOILS
The Express reports: BBC chiefs have been holding talks with Government ministers after free TV licences were withdrawn for most over-75s. Government officials and the BBC are in talks about how to “further support older people” just weeks before the annual licence fee increases by £1.50. The Government this week said the annual fee would increase from £157.50 to £159 from April 1, 2021, with black and white licences rising from £53.00 to £53.50. But the BBC said the new cost equates to 43p per day and is value for money.
ALL WORK AND NO PLAY NOT GOOD FOR TEACHERS OR PUPILS
The Independent reports: young people should be allowed to play with friends this summer for their mental health instead of doing extra lessons, child psychologists have said. Both teachers and pupils need time to recover from the stress of the last year.It comes amid speculation about catch-up plans for pupils who have missed out on learning due to coronavirus and could include summer schools, extended school days or shorter summer holidays. A group of experts in child development have written to Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, calling for measures prioritising the emotional wellbeing of children when England’s lockdown eases.
HEALTH PASSPORTS ARE ALREADY READY TO GO
According to the Daily Mail major City firms will start using digital health passports from next month as part of an ambitious plan to get staff back to offices. Covid-19 testing firm Prenetics has signed deals with around 100 companies – including investment banks based at Canary Wharf in London – to help get staff back to work safely. Employees using its Digital Health Passport will download an app onto their mobile phone, which will store results of their Covid tests and vaccine certificates when they have had their jabs. On arrival at the office, staff will scan their phone on a machine at the entry turnstile. They gain access if the green light gives them the all-clear. The health passport technology can also be integrated into some entry swipe cards and corporate ID badges currently used to access buildings.
WOKE WARDENS TO DEFEND FREE SPEECH
From the Daily Mail: Universities and colleges will be fined for suffocating free speech on campuses, ministers have warned. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will this week unveil a ‘free speech champion’ who will have the power to defend students and academics. Institutions which try to cancel people due to their views will be penalised as part of the government’s ‘war on woke’. Ministers have also told heritage groups ‘public funds must never be used for political purposes’ as they try to defend the attempted rewriting of Britain’s history.
The Daily Mail reports: Even by the standards of the Royal Family it has been a loyal servant, supporting first the Queen Mother and then Prince Charles for 67 years. Indeed, the Frigidaire fridge, still going strong at the Castle of Mey in Scotland, may be the oldest in the realm. Edmund Garrod, of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, was thought to be the owner of Britain’s oldest fridge – a 1954 General Electric Company DE30 – but it appears that the Royal model is a few months older. The 5ft 8in tall Frigidaire has been in service at the castle in Caithness for nearly all of the Queen’s reign – it was made the year after her 1953 Coronation – and it is even a feature of interest for tours. The fridge was bought by the late Queen Mother in 1954, two years after she purchased the Castle of Mey. It is put to most use when her grandson Prince Charles (left) visits every August.