MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph).
I’m away today. Today’s email was edited by Donata Huggins.
David Cameron might find himself wishing he could fire staff at will today. The fallout from the long postponed Beecroft Report, released yesterday, that recommends “no fault dismissal” of employees, has created fault lines between the Lib Dems and the Tories – and Cameron and his Right wing.
We’ve splashed on leaked documents that show that No 1o doctored the Beecroft Report, removing three proposals that were submitted to No 10 before it was sent to the Business Department.
The report recommended that the Government delay its plans to introduce flexible working for parents, to abandon proposals to allow all workers to request flexible working, and to remove regulations surrounding the employment of children. It states:
“The proposal [flexible parental leave] is very expensive for the Exchequer and will impose significant operational problems on business. The proposal should (preferably) be scrapped or alternatively be deferred until the deficit has been eliminated.”
Vince Cable, who was conveniently unable to attend an Urgent Question on the issue yesterday, has called the plans “bonkers” and said they were developed without any evidence, adding:
“I don’t see the role for that. Britain has already got a very flexible, co-operative labour force…We don’t need to scare the wits out of workers with threats to dismiss them. It’s completely the wrong approach.”
Dave must be fuming – the project is another Steve Hilton’s bombshell. One that No 1o is now saying was a “bit dodgy” and they “wish it had never happened.”
I suspect Dave now agrees with Danny Alexander who joked at the press lunch last week that it’d have been nicer if Steve could have marked his departure by “bringing a cake”.
And worse still for Mr Cameron – the timing is terrible. The row comes just a day after he promised ‘shake up’ government and push through radical reforms.
Dividing lines were plain to see in the Urgent Question debate yesterday. Chuka Umunna called the situation “a shambles,” Lorely Burt, a Lib Dem, said it’d create “a climate of fear” and Conor Burns, a Conservative PPS, said it would lead “to a new focus on deregulation” that could kick start growth. For more information Hansard is available here.
The calm the waters the government is now running a “call for evidence” on a watered-down version of the report.
The FT (£) reports that the Institute of Directors and the CBI have thrown their weight behind the report, while smaller business groups have been more cautious.
In our leader column, we say the report proposes “commonsense measures”, which “go a long way towards lifting the burden of unnecessary regulation…”
“This report deserves to generate a grown-up debate on how best to make it easier for firms to hire and fire employees, while still ensuring that workers have adequate protection. Only tough choices will bring Britain back to economic growth, and Mr Cameron must demonstrate that he is willing to act and not just speak.”
And our sketch writer, Michael Deacon points out that it might be easier to sack people who spend a crazy, scary amount of time playing Fruit Ninja on their iPads.
And all this happens as Nick Clegg spends another day highlighting social mobility – at least today he’s giving a speech on it at 9am at the Royal Society. On Daybreak this morning he said:
“we’re lifting the lid, if you like, on an absolute scandal, which is that in our country – more than many other countries – where you’re born and what your background is seems to determine your subsequent life.”
“It’s a really deep-seated problem. If you go into the average classroom, one in five children are on free school meals; if you go into the average Oxbridge lecture theatre, one in a hundred will have been on free school meals.”
He will announce a sweeping social mobility strategy intended to break the grip of middle-class families on the best-paid jobs and university places, telling them to recruit people “on the basis of an ability to excel, not purely on previous attainment”.
He will also announce that the Coalition’s social policies will be rated against 17 new indicators, ranging from babies’ birth weight to adults’ job opportunities. For more details read our report here.
MAY DAY FOR UNTIDY GARDENS
And it’s worth noting that Theresa May is finally pushing ahead with “punitive” anti-social behaviour plans by releasing a White Paper and giving a speech at 11am today. The plans were drawn up 15 months ago, but are thought to have been delayed due to tensions in the Coalition.
The plans will include reducing the current 19 different anti-social behaviour powers, including ASBOs, into seven and introduce a “community trigger” giving the public the power to demand the police take action if a complaint over antisocial behaviour is made by five or more households – a measure first suggested by Hazel Blears. .
The plans will also include on-the-spot penalties of up to £100 for householders who dump rubbish in their gardens, the Mail has splashed on this. Miscreants could also be taken to court for refusing to clear away old fridges and sofas. For more information read the Guardian report.
Ed Davey is out and about today too. The Government is publishing its long-awaited draft energy bill later, designed to encourage investment in clean energy and help increase supply. He’s just been on the Today programme.
In response to the accusation that this is going to bring up energy bills, he said:
“Consumers already pay for infrastructure in their bills… It is a good thing if we can keep the lights on. If we didn’t make these changes, bills would be £200 higher.”
Charles Hendry, the energy minister, told the Telegraph that:
“People shouldn’t think this will bring about a drop in prices when we have £110bn of investment needed to keep the lights on in this country.”
“There’s a cost, but doing it this way we’re delivering that investment at the lowest cost to consumers.”
For more information on how this will increase our energy bills, read our report.
The Guardian and the Times (£) have features analysing polling data. Interestingly, the Guardian says Ed is gaining on Dave, while the Times says that Labour is failing to capitalise on the Government’s recent difficulties and the eurozone woes.
The Times also points out that Labour is still behind on the economy, with David Cameron, Nick Clegg and George Osborne trusted as the better economic team – backed by 40 per cent of the public, down two points from March.Ed Miliband and Ed Balls are on 33, up five points.
The Times poll also provides a warning for Eurosceptics and Labour tacticians who are urging a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, suggesting that, despite hostility to the EU, the public would not yet back a vote on leaving.
Latest YouGov/The Sun results: Conservatives 32%, Labour 44%, Lib Dems 7%, UKIP 8%
Overall government approval rating: APP -35
Comres leader approval ratings: David Cameron -28, Ed Miliband-19, Nick Clegg is -36
TWEETS AND TWITS
A moment of solidarity with Laurie Penny:
“@PennyRed: And this is why, jus occasionally, reporters get angry with headline-writers – https://t.co/QrlcQIMb”
In The Telegraph
Mary Riddell: If Miliband’s latest guru fails, he’ll be left without a prayer
Philip Johnston: How did we allow this killer trade to bloom?
Norman Tebbit: David Cameron is facing make-or-break time
Leader: Tough measures in pursuit of growth
Best of the rest
Gabby Hinsliff in the Guardian: Ed Miliband, you stoke this anti-Europe fire at your peril
Philip Stephens in the Financial Times (£): Cameron has forgotten his first political lesson
Rachel Sylvester in the Times (£): Mind the cracks in Labour’s pavement politics
Dominic Lawson in the Independent: Don’t blame Germany for not wanting to call Europe’s tune
9am: Nick Clegg gives a speech on social mobility. Royal Society 6-9 Carlton House Terrace
9.30am: George Osborne and Christine Lagarde are holding a joint press conference as part of the annual visit by the IMF to the UK. HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London
9.30am: Inflation figures for April are published by the Office for National Statistics
10am: Alan Johnson MP, Lord Smith and Tom Watson to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London
10.45am: Commons Home Affairs Committee takes evidence from the head of the UK Border Force Brian Moore. House of Commons
11am: Theresa May will give a speech on tackling anti-social behaviour at the Association of Chief Police Officers’ conference. Manchester Central, Manchester
2.30pm: Deputy Prime Minister’s questions
Today: Attorney General’s questions
3pm: Caroline Spelman is to give a speech at the Association of British Insurers annual conference
6.15pm: Francis Maude speech to launch report on Whitehall decision making, Institute for Government, 2 Carlton Gardens