Wednesday briefing: Growing Tory clamour for No 10 shake-up

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<span>Photograph: Dan Kitwood/PA</span>
Photograph: Dan Kitwood/PA

PM’s spokesman forced to insist he is well … just 5% of Windrush victims have received compensation … and should chicken be so cheap?

Top story: Johnson’s judgment ‘irredeemably flawed’

Hello, Warren Murray with you again. Together let’s stick our noses in where they absolutely belong …

Frustrations with No 10’s leadership are growing in the Treasury, with Rishi Sunak’s department understood to be concerned about the prime minister’s fumbled timing of decisions. Delayed announcements of the £96bn integrated rail plan and the social care cap have brought scorn and negative coverage for the government, while votes for government policies have been shunned by Tory MPs in parliament. Some have privately voiced growing concerns about Johnson’s competence – on Tuesday the PM’s spokesperson was forced to insist “the prime minister is well” after his speech to the CBI in which he lost his place and started talking about Peppa Pig World.

Johnson’s recent woes began when he birthed the Tory sleaze affair by backing attempts to prevent Owen Paterson being punished for lobbying the government on behalf of two companies that paid him more than £100,000 a year. One Tory observer said Johnson’s judgment was looking “irredeemably flawed” and there are calls for him to overhaul his Downing Street team. But many Conservative MPs blame Sunak for forcing the government to pare back its plans to save money. Asked about a potential shake-up in the No 10 team, a source insisted: “Downing Street is focused on delivering for the public and the team is united around that goal.”

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Windrush compensation languishes – Just 5% of Windrush victims have received compensation four years after the scandal emerged. Twenty-three eligible applicants have died before getting a payment. Up to 15,000 people were expected to qualify for compensation but some applicants say the process has become a source of further trauma rather than redress. The home affairs select committee say the scheme should be taken out of Home Office control and given to an independent organisation to run. In 2017 the Guardian uncovered the Windrush scandal, under which the UK government erroneously classified thousands of legal residents as illegal immigrants after they arrived from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971.

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Midweek catch-up

> Offenders whose crimes lead to the death of an on-duty emergency service worker will receive mandatory life sentences under Harper’s law, brought in after PC Andrew Harper, 28, was dragged to death behind the car of escaping thieves in Berkshire.

> The Labour MP Stella Creasy has asked for urgent clarification from Commons authorities after being reprimanded for having her infant son in a sling as she spoke in parliament on Tuesday.

Stella Creasy sits with her newborn son in the chamber of the House of Commons in September
Stella Creasy sits with her newborn son in the chamber of the House of Commons in September. Photograph: House of Commons/PA

While Commons rules state that MPs should not have children or infants with them in the chamber, Creasy has taken both her children into the Commons before, without any complaints being made.

> Well-known universities including Exeter, Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge have done the least to help those from the lowest-income households, according to a ranking of higher education institutions based on their contribution to social mobility.

> A British government should remain neutral on the question of a united Ireland in the event of a poll, Labour’s shadow Northern Ireland secretary, Louise Haigh, has said. A poll is not considered imminent but has become a topic of discussion on both sides of the border since Brexit.

> AstraZeneca is to let more people take part in clinical trials from home in an attempt to increase the diversity of participants. The drugmaker has opened a £1bn R&D centre on the outskirts of Cambridge housing 16 labs and 2,200 scientists.

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Killings after parking dispute – A husband and wife were stabbed to death at their Somerset home as their children slept upstairs, police have said. Stephen Chapple, 36, a teacher, and Jennifer Chapple, 33, who worked in a coffee shop, died in their house in the village of Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton, as paramedics tried to save them. Police found the Chapples’ children, aged five and six, still asleep – they have been put in the care of relatives. Neighbours said there had been disputes about parking in the street and police had visited at least three times to speak to those involved. Two men, aged 34 and 67, were arrested on suspicion of murder after the attack on Sunday night. Magistrates on Tuesday granted an extension to custody time for the 34-year-old, while a man aged 67 was released under investigation. A murder investigation is being led by the major crime investigation team.

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Home schooling on rise – Councils in England have identified a 34% jump in pupils being home-schooled by choice compared with last year. The Covid pandemic appears to have accelerated the trend towards elective home education (EHE). The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ACDS) has warned, though, that it is not appropriate for children who are, for example, in vulnerable circumstances. Gail Tolley from the ADCS said local authorities lacked the powers to ensure children were safe and receiving a good education at home. The ADCS is awaiting the outcome of a Department for Education (DfE) consultation in 2019 that proposed a national register of all EHE children and young people and a duty for local authorities to support parents who educated their child at home.

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Nobel no-thanks – A post-Brexit scheme to draw Nobel laureates and other prestigious global prize winners to the UK has failed to attract a single applicant in the six months since it opened, it has been reported. “Chances that a single Nobel or Turing laureate would move to the UK to work are zero for the next decade or so,” the physics Nobel winner Andre Geim told New Scientist magazine. The magazine quoted Jessica Wade, a leading scientist at Imperial College London, as saying it “doesn’t surprise me at all. UK scientists’ access to European funding is uncertain, we’re not very attractive to European students as they have to pay international fees, our pensions are being cut and scientific positions in the UK are both rare and precarious.” Ministers have admitted its failure to garner any interest.

Today in Focus podcast: Autistic but only recently found out

When the television presenter Melanie Sykes and the model Christine McGuinness revealed they had been diagnosed with autism as adults, it brought new attention to the challenges for others like them whose symptoms have been missed. This is the story of one autistic woman – and how diagnosis in her 30s changed her life.

Lunchtime read: Chicken fees

How much should we actually be paying for the nation’s favourite meat? Britons eat 17,000 chickens every nine minutes. Fifty years ago a medium broiler cost £11 in today’s money. Now it is less than a latte or a pint of beer – raising serious ethical and environmental questions. Some of those in the industry are speaking up.


Manchester United have spoken to Ernesto Valverde regarding becoming their interim manager while Mauricio Pochettino, the current favourite for the permanent job, failed to confirm he would see out his Paris Saint-Germain contract. Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and a first for Jadon Sancho gave United a 2-0 win at Villarreal and put the smiles back on supporters’ faces after what caretaker boss Michael Carrick called “an emotional few days”. Two goals in three minutes helped Chelsea to beat Juventus 4-0 but the gloss of securing a place in the Champions League last 16 was taken off after N’Golo Kanté and Ben Chilwell went off injured at Stamford Bridge. Millie Bright has said she is “humbled and honoured” to have been asked to captain England for the World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Latvia.

The England and Wales Cricket Board’s plan to improve inclusivity within the sport in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal has been held up as counties dispute the timescale for making their boards and leadership teams more diverse. Anthony Watson has been reprimanded by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel for conduct prejudicial to the interest of the game after comments made on social media criticising a match official. Ben Stokes’s return to action was delayed when rain halted play early in the second session of England’s first Ashes warm-up match in Australia. And the former Leeds rugby league player Kevin Sinfield has raised more than £1.1m for charity after running from Leicester to Leeds in under 24 hours.


Mervyn King, the former governor of the Bank of England, has said central bankers have been caught unawares by rising prices that have exposed their “King Canute” theory of inflation. King accused authorities across the world of relying too heavily on models that may no longer reflect the changes wrought in the financial system by “unsustainable” quantitative easing. Hours after King’s comments, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand raised rates for the second time this year in another warning signal that borrowing costs could be about to rise across the world. The FTSE100 is tracking to open flat this morning while the pound will buy you $1.337 and €1.190.

The papers

The government’s woes are the lead again in the Guardian with “Treasury frustration as key plans mishandled by No 10”, and the i concurs: “Trouble at the top”. The Telegraph leads with “AstraZeneca vaccine may give longer protection” and the Times also has a health splash: “Patients to travel for treatment”.

The Daily Mail splashes on the change in the law inspired by the Andrew Harper murder case: “Life for killing police & nurses”. The Express leads on the same story – “Police killers to be jailed for life”, while the Mirror splashes on the other big crime story of the day: “Loving couple killed in ‘parking row’”.

The FT has “Biden’s bid to tame oil prices with 50m barrels from reserves falls flat” and the Sun claims “Wills & Kate bin BBC”. Finally, the Scotsman says “Relief for business as passports extension plan stopped”.

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