Sunak sells short the workers he is so keen to clap

Elliot Chappell
© Twitter/@RishiSunak
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It’s the report we’ve all been waiting for. The intelligence and security committee will be publishing its paper on Russian interference in UK politics this morning, well over a year after it was written. Boris Johnson has been keen to suppress its publication, with No 10 refusing to allow its release ahead of the last general election. And as you probably saw, today’s big reveal comes after the committee rejected the PM’s choice of chairman last week and opted instead for Julian Lewis – who was promptly stripped of the party whip. According to the Daily Telegraph, the dossier is expected to show that Russia tried to influence the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, but will conclude that there is no evidence that it did so in the 2016 Brexit referendum. It should also give details on the influence of Russian money in the UK, and in particular could show the extent of political donations to the Tory Party. Keep your eyes peeled for its release at 10.30 today.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a pay rise for certain public sector workers to recognise their “vital contribution” during the pandemic… but seems to have missed a few from his list. Those to get a pay rise include teachers, doctors and police officers – but others such as social care workers and nurses, for example, have been left out. Labour’s welcomed the pay rise as “good news” but Anneliese Dodds has said that it “won’t make up for a decade of real-term pay cuts” – economists have calculated that once inflation is accounted for, public sector wages will still remain below 2010 levels. British Medical Association vice chairman David Wrigley told BBC Breakfast this morning that its members feel “disappointed and let down” by the announcement. He explained that “these are the sort of rises we’d expect to see in normal times, not in a time when many of us have not had a day off in six months and have been putting our lives on the line”. After a decade characterised by pay freezes and austerity, capped with a pandemic, many will rightly see this as an insulting offer to our health workers.

In other worrying news, MPs voted down an amendment to the trade bill in parliament last night that would have protected the NHS and publicly funded health and care services in future trade deals. Specifically, the amendment sought to protect the NHS from control from outside the UK, and to make sure that any deal did not compromise the ability to provide a “comprehensive publicly funded health service free at the point of delivery”. Put forward by Green MP Caroline Lucas and supported by Labour, MPs voted 340 to 251 to reject the amendment. The government has argued that existing UK law provides enough protection, but Labour’s Bill Esterson said that the lack of scrutiny leaves the NHS “wide open to pharmaceutical giants”. As Labour protested loudly at the last general election, this Tory administration is very much willing to put our health service on the table in trade talks – and this is the legislative manifestation of that. The bill has now passed to the House of Lords.

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