Prime minister says new measures will focus on rail links and pub closures. Boris Johnson has announced another election package costing hundreds of millions of pounds for neglected towns, some of which will be spent in marginal constituencies. Concentrating on rundown high streets, the closures of pubs and post offices and the restoration of rail links, the prime minister has claimed that the measures will build upon the £3.6bn towns fund first announced in July. Towns that have been singled out in the new measures include Cleveleys, near Blackpool, where the Conservatives are defending a majority of 2,023, and Willenhall in Walsall North, where they hope to improve on a 2,601 majority. Labour said last night the Conservatives were responsible for the destruction of the high streets they are now claiming they will help. Andrew Gwynne, the shadow communities secretary, said: “The Tories are destroying our high streets and towns. A decade of vicious cuts to the services that people in our communities rely on has taken 60p in every £1 from council budgets.” Johnson said a future Conservative government would extend the retail discount on business rates to 50% next year. For businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000, this will mean an increase on the current retail discount of 33% in 2020-21. This would amount to “an effective £280m tax cut” for small businesses, the party claimed. A new £1,000 business rates relief for pubs would also be introduced under a Johnson majority government – an £18m tax cut for next year, it is claimed. The Conservatives said they would also introduce a £150m fund that will help groups trying to take over and run pubs and post offices threatened with closure. Following on from previous pledges to reverse rail cuts recommended by Dr Richard Beeching in the 1960s, Johnson has also pledged to set up a £500m Beeching Reversal fund. Towns such as Ashington, Seaton Delaval and Blyth, with a combined population of 100,000, will receive cash following a request from Northumberland council for £99m to reinstate stations, the Tories claimed. Willenhall and Darlaston in the West Midlands will receive £18m to reopen stations – a further £10m has already been provided by the government, the party said. Investment will also be provided to connect Skelmersdale to Liverpool and Manchester. A disused railway line will be funded to improve transport connections for Thornton-Cleveleys and Fleetwood. In a statement last night, Johnson said: “For too long, too many towns and villages across Britain have been overlooked and left behind. When the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, many communities felt their voices had been heard for the first time in decades and that their lives would improve. “We will invest in these communities and help people put the heart back into the places they call home.” One organisation representing retailers said Johnson’s plans did not go far enough to revive the UK’s troubled shopping districts. Tom Ironside, director of business and regulation at the British Retail Consortium, said the majority of the UK’s 3 million retail workers were employed in businesses that would not benefit from today’s announcement. “It is essential that the next government scraps ‘downwards transition’, which costs retailers £1.3bn, freezes next year’s rates increase, and introduces an improvement relief to encourage investment in our high streets. “To ensure the long-term vitality of our town and city centres, the next government should follow the recommendations of the treasury select committee and commit to wholesale reform of our broken business rates system,” he said. The Conservatives have been accused of using public money to boost their election prospects after it emerged that funding from the towns fund was going to wealthier Tory marginals. An analysis by the Times found this week that a third of the 100 towns due to receive some of the £3.6bn pot were not among the 300 most deprived towns. These included Loughborough, which was won by Nicky Morgan, the culture secretary, at the last election, with a majority of around 4,000. Kirby was not on the list.
Nicola Sturgeon spent much of July telling anyone who would listen that the prevalence of coronavirus in England was “five times” higher than in Scotland. The figure was deployed to justify her refusal to rule out effectively closing the border by imposing quarantine on travellers from England, and her highly controversial move to set her a Scotland-only policy on air bridges, which airports warned put livelihoods at risk. The day after she first made the claim, masked nationalists in hazmat suits descended on the border near Berwick-upon-Tweed, shouting abuse at English “plague carriers”.
Boris Johnson has called on the Premier League to issue a statement explaining why the collapsed Newcastle United takeover was not either confirmed or rejected.Nearly 100,000 fans have signed a petition calling on an independent investigation into the Premier League and its chief executive Richard Masters following the withdrawal of a £300m takeover offer for Newcastle, which collapsed at the end of last week due to the process being dragged out for more than four months.
An inquiry into racism in the Conservative party has yet to begin eight months after it was launched by Boris Johnson, prompting protests that it has been “kicked into the long grass”.The investigation has still not issued a call for evidence – three months after that was promised – amid criticism of the academic chosen to lead it and doubts over the resources made available.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused party staff of costing them the 2017 election through deliberate sabotage, reports say.It is believed that Mr Corbyn, former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and seven other former shadow ministers and aides have made a submission saying there is “overwhelming evidence” of sabotage from certain staff members in Labour’s headquarters.
Jeremy Corbyn has accused Labour officials of trying to sabotage the party’s 2017 general election campaign out of factional hostility to his leadership.A submission from Mr Corbyn and his top allies prepared for a Labour internal inquiry says “there is clear evidence of factional activity by senior paid employees of the party against the elected leadership of the time” as well as “apparent sabotage” during the election period.
Jeremy Corbyn accuses Labour officials of sabotaging election campaignExclusive: Former leader and allies say alleged diversion of funds in 2017 could be fraud
The Guardian view on Boris Johnson and Covid: get a grip or get goingAugust is when plans and priorities for the winter are needed. Instead the prime minister has little to offer except slovenly thinking and silly photocalls
It's taken just 12 months for Boris Johnson to create a government of sleazeFrom Dominic Cummings to dodgy business deals, the prime minister’s circle behave as if the rules simply don’t apply to them
Former Labour MP Eric Joyce has been given a suspended sentence for making an indecent image of a child. Joyce, who represented Falkirk in parliament from 2000 to 2015, has been sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years. Joyce had on a device a 51-second film depicting what appeared to be seven different children, aged between 12-months-old and seven-years-old.
I would like to thank Nigel Farage for with all my heart for giving me a much-needed laugh yesterday.When our live entertainment industry is on its knees, seasoned performers like Farage step up, diversify and make excellent online content. He posted the picture of a dinghy carrying a few adults and two or three children being rescued by the border force with the caption, “Shocking invasion on the Kent coast”, stirring up the frothing, resentful, discontented racists who blame all their ills on a smattering of desperate souls who have been so battered down by their life circumstances that they risk life and limb to come to a place where they have been assured they will be treated as human beings. Bravo Nigel. In one little tweet you managed to ridicule every “patriot” who twists themselves into a tight knot of hate whenever they see the instinctive human trait of helping out those in need. In this case, fishing some children out of the ocean.
Saturday’s Scottish Premiership game between Aberdeen and St Johnstone has been called off after two Aberdeen players tested positive for coronavirus following what First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon called “completely unacceptable” behaviour.The match, which was due to take place at St Johnstone’s McDiarmid Park, will no longer go ahead as eight Aberdeen players self-isolate – six of them having been in close contact with their two infected team-mates.
Nicola Sturgeon has said it is “clear” there is a common link between coronavirus outbreaks across the world and hospitality, as she said the Scottish government would make it mandatory for pubs and other social venues to collect customers’ details.The Scottish first minister also used the daily coronavirus briefing to outline that face coverings will become mandatory in libraries, museums and places of worship from Saturday said if individuals choose to wear visors they must also do so with another type of face covering.
Former Labour MP Eric Joyce has been sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court to eight months in prison suspended for two years and ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work for making an indecent image of a child.Joyce, who served as Labour MP for Falkirk between 2000 and 2012, had on a device a 51-second film depicting a number of children, one of whom was said to be 12 months old.
Former Labour MP Eric Joyce has been sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court to eight months in prison suspended for two years and ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work for making an indecent image of a child. The 59-year-old, who was MP for Falkirk between 2000 and 2012, had on a device a 51-second film depicting a number of children, one of which was said to be 12 months old. Joyce, of Worlingworth, Suffolk, pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court to the offence, which took place between August 2013 and November 2018. Judge Mr Justice Edis, sentencing the former shadow minister told him, said: "You have pleaded guilty to an offence which involves the possession of a category A film of a little less than a minute's duration. "That film showed the penetrative sexual abuse of very young children. "That these acts of abuse happened is because there are people like you who want to watch these films. "If there was no market, those children wouldn't be subjected to these very serious offences." But the judge added: "You have sought help from people well able to provide it and there's evidence before the court that that has had an effect on helping you reduce, perhaps completely, your impulsive behaviour, and that's happened over a significant period due to the delay in these proceedings." Mr Justice Edis also sentenced Joyce to a sexual harm prevention order, which will last until further order of the court. He was also given an 18-day rehabilitation activity requirement and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,800. An NSPCC spokesperson said: “By accessing this appalling material, Joyce was helping to fuel a foul industry that thrives on inflicting pain and suffering on children. “This problem cannot be solved by law enforcement alone - it is imperative that tech companies commit extra resources to prevent this material being shared, and to ensure it is removed as soon it appears online.” Joyce left Labour to serve as independent MP for Falkirk in 2012, stepping down before the 2015 general election. He spent 21 years in the Army, rising to the rank of major.
Former Labour MP Eric Joyce has been handed an eight-month suspended prison sentence for downloading a video of child sexual abuse.The 60-year-old, who was MP for Falkirk between 2000 and 2012, admitted having the 51-second clip on his computer, which was said to include the abuse of a 12-month-old child.
Brexit: UK government pledges £355m to cushion Northern Ireland businessesSupport package unveiled to help firms with bureaucracy of moving goods across Irish Sea
Sir Keir Starmer is the public’s first choice to be prime minister, a new poll has suggested.The Labour leader would do a better job at running the country than Boris Johnson, according to a survey by YouGov for The Times.
Asset management giant Standard Life Aberdeen today warned the economy could be scarred and that Brexit remains a deep uncertainty.The City stalwart said that coronavirus could cause a long term loss of output, labour market scarring and lower real interest rates.
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Boris Johnson defends refusal to suspend Tory MP accused of rapeCharities and unions call on Commons authorities to bar unnamed former minister from parliament
Boris Johnson has urged people to have the "confidence" to return to work and send their children back to school to boost the country's economic recovery. The Prime Minister said it was "very, very important" for all schoolchildren to return on September 1 after unions suggested they could tell heads to keep schools shut if they did not consider them to be Covid-secure. The latest data on the economy suggests a V-shaped recovery is still possible, with the services sector growing at its fastest pace for five years and Britons spending money on cars, consumer goods and eating out. But the Government fears the recovery will stall unless people start going back to their workplaces in greater numbers. Only one third of office workers have returned to their desks, according to a survey by Morgan Stanley, with huge implications for businesses such as cafes, shops and transport firms that rely on office workers for their trade. Speaking during a visit to Cheshire, Mr Johnson said there were "real signs of strength in the UK economy". He added: "Unquestionably, it will require people to have the confidence to go back to work in a Covid-secure way. "It's also very, very important that we get all the schools back in September, on September 1, get all the pupils back into their schools. That will also be very, very important for getting our economy overall moving again."
Nigel Farage has been accused of trying to inflame anti-migrant tensions after claiming a small group of people on a beach amounted to a "shocking invasion on the Kent Coast".The Brexit Party leader made the comments as he posted an unverified video on social media of half a dozen people, some children, getting out of a dingy on a beach.