It’s that time of the week again - Best for Britain is back with our Weekend Wire!
We’re sending you away from this hectic week with a tip-top round-up so that you’re fully informed about what went on for your Saturday and Sunday, as well as a quick look at the week ahead. It’s been busy, so buckle up as we take you on a whistle-stop tour of this week’s political happenings.
A win for democracy
Let’s start with some good news for once. We’ve had a stellar week at Best for Britain with a huge win on the anti-democratic Elections Bill. After countless meetings with MPs and Peers alongside partner organisations, unions and campaign groups, the Government caved on some troubling aspects of the Bill. These concessions mean that the Bill will no longer enable the Government to unilaterally ban campaigners at elections time, and restrictions on different civil society groups and political parties working together have also been removed.
This is a huge victory for us, for you and for democracy in the UK. You’ve written countless emails to MPs, signed tons of petitions, supported us in rallying together.
However, several egregious parts of the Bill still remain, not least the provisions that will allow ministers to change election rules on a whim and interfere with the independent elections regulator. Our work isn’t done - so watch this space! Read more here <[link removed]>.
Ain’t no party like a Downing Street party
Oh yes, he’s definitely been at it. This week, the Met Police confirmed it had issued 20 fixed penalty notices to revellers who were party to the Downing Street lockdown debauchery.
Nevertheless, Boris Johnson is STILL refusing to admit that he did anything wrong. Unsurprisingly, this just isn’t washing with the public.
On Wednesday’s Today programme, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab came out with the fantastic claim that Johnson’s explanations for the lockdown parties were not lies but his version of the truth ‘to the best of his ability’. God help us all.
Hostile Environment 2.0
The latest data <[link removed]> on the Homes for Ukraine scheme was released by the Home Office, showing that fewer than 1 in 10 visa applications have so far been granted. Reports that needless bureaucracy <[link removed]> are putting refugees at risk <[link removed]> underline the importance of waiving visas - you can write to your MP on this issue here <[link removed]>.
There’s also a stark contrast between the number of Visas granted and the number of Brits who want to offer their homes to refugees. Our graphic below shows the disparity:
You might have seen our CEO Naomi Smith on your screens on Wednesday. On Newsnight <[link removed]> Naomi discussed how, after the invasion of Ukraine, the UK needs to prioritise values-based trade and that the Government should therefore focus on reducing trade barriers with our closest and most like-minded neighbours rather than chasing deals with despots.
Our Chair Kim Darroch also appeared on BBC Radio Four’s World at One to discuss THAT Biden gaffe - and whether Biden’s insinuations about regime change in Russia have caused significant damage. You can listen here <[link removed]>.
How’s Brexit going for you?
More news this week that Brexit is proving a disaster. Import checks on goods from the EU were due to come into force in July, but now it seems that in the wake of the cost of living crisis, Boris Johnson is considering delaying these further <[link removed]>. A tacit admission that Brexit is hitting people in the pocket - Read Naomi’s response here <[link removed]>.
Traders have already expended vast sums preparing for the checks so this move is going down rather badly. It all begs the question: why are we doing this again!?
Also this week, the UK Trade and Business Commission held a session on just this issue to gather evidence on how import checks will impact the cost of living crisis. You can watch the session in full here <[link removed]>. Read the write up here <[link removed]>.
Rishi ‘four-cars’ Sunak
There has been little reprieve for Sunak as news regarding the cost of living crisis abounds. Earlier this week the Chancellor received a grilling from MPs over last week’s budget. Labour’s Siobhan McDonagh cross-examined him on his measly 1% tax cut timed conveniently before the next election that will do nothing to help people struggling today.
Sunak was also taken to task for his now infamous photo-op last week featuring a Kia borrowed off a Sainsbury’s worker. Sunak then admitted to driving a Volkswagen Golf <[link removed]> failing to mention it was only one of FOUR cars. He also owns: a high-spec Range Rover which he keeps in his Yorkshire constituency (expect to pay north of £90,000 for a new one of those if you buy today), and a high end Lexus and BMW which he keeps at his California home. Credit to journalist detective extraordinaire Pippa Crerar for the scoop <[link removed]>.
Oh yes, in case you were wondering, in addition to their four cars, Sunak and his wife are also reported to own at least four homes <[link removed]>. It’s comforting that we have a man who’s in touch with normal life leading on an unprecedented cost of living crisis.
Tensions for Truss
In an attempt to further post-Brexit cooperation with the wider world, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has jetted off to India this week, where she will sign a joint strategic cyber partnership. She’s also going to urge Indian PM Narendra Modi to reduce his dependence on Russia in the wake of its war on Ukraine.
There’s just one hitch: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in India almost at the same time to encourage India to ramp up its purchases of discounted Russian oil.
It’s about as awkward as going on a date only to find that it’s not really a date and they’ve brought their mate along with them, their mate who blamed you for increasing the likelihood of thermonuclear war <[link removed]>. And all this at a time when Britain is attempting to promote just how fantastic our ties and cooperation with India will be from now on.
Backbench Business Debate on Long Covid
This week, we saw a Backbench Business Debate on Long Covid take place at which members of the APPG on Coronavirus spoke.
The debate highlighted the urgent need for the Government to address the impact of Long Covid and take its ongoing effects seriously. You can watch the full debate here <[link removed]> by moving to the timestamp 13.21.
Testing, testing…none, two, three
Free lateral flow tests will no longer be available in England from today. Many experts think this will put vulnerable people at risk, increase the divide between high income and low income households and will lead to more people spreading coronavirus.
Understandably, many care homes will continue to require testing in order for people to visit their elderly relatives - but with the cost of living crisis hitting hard, this may mean people are forced to ration visits instead of shelling out for lateral flow devices. With a crisis of loneliness affecting elderly care home residents, how is this a fair or, indeed, sensible policy?
On the move
After 7 years as the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg is moving on. She will be staying with the Beeb however, and moving into Andrew Marr’s former role presenting the Sunday Politics show.
She’ll be taking over from Sophie Raworth, who has been presenting the show in a temporary capacity since January. We wish her the best of luck in her new role.
Sit back and listen
We’re coming to you with a podcast recommendation! This week, the New Statesman explored the concept of Britishness and what it means. Very interesting listening and a great way to get the weekend off to a thoughtful start. Listen here <[link removed]>.
We nicked this from Private Eye because it made us chuckle, dryly, and then contemplate the misery ahead…
Have a great weekend!
Senior Campaigns and Policy Officer, Best for Britain
P.S. It's really easy to support Best for Britain's campaigns and be first to know what's going on. £5 per month will make you a Best for Britain Citizen of the World. Join now <[link removed]>.
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