UK Tax Increases
In the first story of the briefing today, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the huge spending programs that have been implemented by government will be paid for by taxpayers – not by increased borrowing. He claimed that it was a “sacred responsibility” of him and his party to balance the books.
While this is unlikely to be popular among the electorate, Mr. Sunak admitted that there were “hard choices everywhere” – suggesting that he has not taken this decision lightly.
The other notable comment from Mr. Sunak was that the Prime Minister had made the right calls on the big decisions, in a move The Telegraph claim was designed to kill off any speculation that he was gunning for the Prime Minister’s job. This comes as 47% of those asked who should succeed Mr. Johnson as Conservative leader chose Mr. Sunak.
Later on, Mr. Sunak even suggested that his job as Chancellor was “hard enough”. It looks, therefore, like a Prime Minister Sunak may be further away than some hoped.
In other UK news today, it has been revealed to The Guardian that the Cabinet Office has been accused of favouritism due to its awarding of a £580,000 contract.
This contract went to Hanbury, which is a PR and lobbying firm. The controversy, though, comes in the fact that the co-founder of the firm is Paul Stephenson – who worked with Dominic Cummings in the 2016 Leave campaign.
The Conservative Party has already been accused multiple times during the pandemic of awarding contracts to firms that are linked with them. This time, though, The Good Law Project, has made the decision to take the Cabinet Office (headed by Michael Gove) to court.
We will let you know how this goes.
Government Data Loss
In yet more UK news today, it seems that life has yet again imitated art. Years ago, in the satirical BBC comedy The Thick of It, a government department loses a huge amount of data – with the phrase “massive irretrievable data loss” being one of the more memorable lines of the episode.
Today, it has been revealed that the UK health authorities have lost information about 15,841 of those who have tested positive. This has two real world implications. First, the spread of coronavirus across England may be higher than originally predicted and secondly, many people who should have been told to self-isolate have not been told to do so, despite coming into contact with someone who tested positive.
The government has now said that contacting these nearly 16,000 people has become a top priority.
For those of you who think the news is too long, be sure to check out tomorrow’s daily briefing.