Anyone else feeling dizzy? This government has done so many U-turns that 2020 feels like some sort of drunken dance. Boris Johnson has reversed his positions on both face coverings (now mandatory in shops from July 24th) and on Chinese company Huawei’s involvement in our 5G network. This prompted Jonathan Ashworth to describe “days of ministerial muddle” while shadow minister Chi Onwurah slammed the government for being “incomprehensibly negligent“. This should give Keir Starmer lots to go on this afternoon, as the Labour leader and Johnson meet for their tenth session of Prime Minister’s Questions and the second to last before the summer recess.
Following the announcement yesterday on Huawei, Labour has said that the government still has “no clear strategy” on the UK’s relationship with China, continuing to point out an inconsistent approach across different departments. Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy last night highlighted that while the government has barred Huawei from the 5G network, it is at the same time “considering handing over technology involved in our nuclear industry to the Chinese government”. Nandy concluded that the UK is stuck in a trade war between China and the US, and that “the answer to that is not simply to hand over our national security to China or to the US”.
Meanwhile the government is continuing its campaign to deprive children of food. Having extended the national free school meal voucher scheme following the high-profile campaign from footballer Marcus Rashford (and another U-turn), the government has now revealed that children who become eligible during the summer will miss out. Responding to a parliamentary question from Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, minister Vicky Ford said any families facing hardship could “contact their local council to find out what services are available in their area”. This means families will be excluded just as support from the job retention scheme is beginning to wind up, with employer contributions being introduced in August, and the predicted job losses mount up. Hopefully this will come up when Starmer quizzes Johnson later. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.