Pulling up the shutters — Trumpeting tour — Fighting to the finish – POLITICO

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NEWS FROM POLITICO TOWERS: Our U.K. team is growing again. As we move to expand and strengthen our coverage of U.K. tech and trade in 2023, we’re on the hunt for new reporters and editors — including a role overseeing our technology and trade coverage out of London. Check out the positions, and read more on the plans, in our release this morning. 

Good Tuesday Morning. This is Annabelle Dickson for the last time this week. Esther Webber will bring you your Wednesday Playbook fix, and will then be in the chair for the rest of the week. Before we get to the news in Westminster, though …

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING: Former U.S. President Donald Trump has for years bragged to his close associates about knowing illicit details about French President Emmanuel Macron’s sex life, gleaned from “intelligence” briefings, according to an intriguing story in Rolling Stone. The magazine reports on the reactions in Paris and Washington to one of the items on the FBI’s list of documents seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, which is titled “info re: President of France.”

**A message from UK Fisheries: If the Government wants to protect our fishing industry and improve our food security, it needs to negotiate properly with the Norwegians. In 2020, Norway exported £558m of seafood products to the UK at preferential tariffs, but we have just 5% of our traditional fishing quota in their economic zone. Read more here.**


PULLING UP THE SHUTTERS: Where is Liz Truss? With a week to go until she is expected to be asked by the queen to form a new government, the Tory leadership frontrunner is nowhere to be seen. She will not be taking part in tonight’s planned BBC interview with Nick Robinson, as she’s apparently too busy. Her team says there is nothing to flag on the specifics of what she’s up to today, and where she is. So what’s going on? 

Answers on a postcard: Is she off to Ukraine for a photo-op in a tank? Is she plotting her new Cabinet at Chevening? Or just chilling at Chequers with Boris Johnson?

Reminder to Liz: You need to be in London tomorrow night for the final hustings of the contest.

Robinson no show: News that Truss will not be turning up for a grilling from Robinson because she can no longer spare the time has led to charges the foreign secretary is avoiding scrutiny. The BBC no-show suggests Truss either “doesn’t have a plan at all, or the plan she has falls far short of the challenges we face this winter,” a person from the Rishi Sunak campaign said in response.

And more: “People will rightly conclude that she doesn’t want to answer questions about her plans for the country because she simply hasn’t got any serious answers to the big challenges facing our country,” Labour’s Conor McGinn said in the opposition party’s own response. Former Chief Whip Mark Harper, who backs Sunak, brutally quipped that a plan that couldn’t survive 30 minutes of questioning from Nick Robinson wouldn’t survive contact with reality.

Unconcerned: But Team Truss seems unconcerned, seeing the interview as a distraction from their task of winning as many votes as possible in the final days of the contest, and preparing for government. Boris Johnson’s strategist set a precedent in 2019 when he turned down a broadcast interview with veteran presenter Andrew Neil, and still went on to win a landslide.

Shrug: Beyond reports of a few “caustic remarks” from parliamentary opponents on party WhatsApp groups, one minister told Playbook things were pretty quiet in the Tory ranks. One pro-Truss activist said Truss had probably done the right thing. “It’s a bank holiday. Everyone is with their families. We have all had our fill of this process. How much more do we need to hear the same stuff again, and again?”

This could be interesting: Truss has continually promised action on boosting energy supply, and the Times reckons she will give the green light to a raft of oil and gas drilling licenses as one of her first acts as prime minister. The paper says Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng (tipped to be chancellor) and Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg (who is also being tipped for a senior economic job in the Truss government) have been meeting oil and gas companies. City AM also got wind of the high-level oil and gas industry talks with Rees-Mogg.

Questions to answer: Nobody would argue a bit of long-term planning wouldn’t go amiss, but as George Grylls notes, the licenses are unlikely to bring down prices in the immediate term. The plans, which are not exactly in keeping with Britain’s net zero efforts, are unlikely to go down well with the green lobby after this summer’s record-breaking temperatures.

It probably won’t help these guys: Stark pleas for urgent fuel bill help to save the great British pub make the front of today’s Metro and Yorkshire Post.

Ready to go? Pub bosses will not be heartened by a report in the i paper, which says detailed meetings between the Truss camp and Treasury officials haven’t yet taken place. A Truss campaign source told i: “Access meetings with the Cabinet Secretary have been offered to provide limited briefings to help prepare for forming an administration. But addressing the cost of living crisis will rightly require the full support and advice that is only available to the government of the day.”

Not waiting around: In the absence of a plan from the center, local councils are taking matters into their own hands and planning to set up warm banks in art galleries, community centers and libraries for those who are unable to afford to heat their homes. The Times has more. 

How are our neighbors doing? Our former EU compatriots are having their own forthright discussion about the need for major energy reform as European government also grapple with soaring energy wholesale prices. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday the EU is planning an “emergency intervention” in the bloc’s power market. It is a departure from the Commission’s previous defense of EU power market design. There has been growing criticism from EU member countries that the system wasn’t designed to deal with the energy emergency unleashed by the price surge following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. POLITICO’s Victor Jack and Barbara Moens have a very useful piece looking in some detail at the growing disquiet in European capitals. 

TRUMPETING TOUR: Prime Minister Boris Johnson is heading to Dorset with his Cabinet bestie Nadine Dorries today to hail his government’s broadband achievements as he leaves office. In the first of a number of visits in his final week as PM, Johnson will see work on a major program to get reliable broadband to hard-to-reach areas kick off. Watch out for a broadcast clip this afternoon. His spokesperson will also be holding a briefing with Lobby journalists today — the only one of the week, given it’s recess.

Reshuffle rumor mill: While this is likely to be the last time Johnson is out talking gigabit broadband, Dorries may have more broadband visits to come. The Mail’s Glen Owen hears Truss has told allies that the culture secretary is guaranteed to keep her job if she wants it because of her “unfinished business with the BBC and tech giants.” Certainly one to watch.

Back in Downing Street: The Sun’s Harry Cole says minister are livid about plans to switch cars used by top ministers with 24-hour protection from British-made Jaguars to German Audis. The global supply crisis is really hitting home.

ZAHAWI NEARLY THERE YET? Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi is making the most of what looks likely to be his final days as chancellor and has jetted off to New York and Washington this week to talk energy security, financial services and climate change. The Treasury says he will visit the New York Stock Exchange and meet senior figures at global banks before heading up to the U.S. capital for meetings with the U.S. central bank and Treasury. Closer cooperation between the U.K. and U.S. nuclear industries is also on the agenda. 

Not impressed: Labour is not impressed, telling the Indy and others news orgs, that “rather than going on another junket at the taxpayer’s expense, the chancellor should start listening to people here at home.” 

Rivaling Rishi: Playbook couldn’t help but notice the volume of official photos of Zahawi which have already made their way onto the Treasury’s official Flickr account during his short tenure as chancellor. It seems he is *almost* as tenacious as his predecessor at posing for a ministerial action shot.

**With POLITICO Pro you’ll never miss out on any policy decision coming out of Westminster impacting your business. Learn more here.**


FIGHTING TO THE FINISH: Tory leadership voting does not close until 5 p.m. on Friday, and Sunak is fighting to the end. He is doing two member events in Hertfordshire, and then a Women2Win event this afternoon. 

RULE CHANGE: Tory mega-donor and Boris Johnson fan Peter Cruddas has demanded a leadership contest rule change in return for his continued support. He told the Tortoise podcast: “If nothing changes, if Boris goes and this [party] constitution remains the same, I’m not interested,” when asked what it would take for him to put away his wallet. The Telegraph has his quotes.

POLITICALLY TRICKY: David Gauke, a former Treasury minister, had a good piece on ConHome which goes beyond the barb-trading of the leadership contest. While making the case for corporation tax cuts, he argues it will be “almost impossible for the Government to win the argument that reversing the increase in Corporation Tax is the right priority now.” “As a priority, it lacks empathy for those households facing a financial crisis, it gives Labour another source of revenue (probably spent multiple times over) and may increase hostility to larger businesses who are seen as not making a fair contribution.”

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PARLIAMENT: Still in recess.

BACK TO SCHOOL NEWS: Two former Tory education secretaries — Justine Greening and Kenneth Baker — have called on the next PM to immediately address pressures faced by schools struggling with rising energy and wage bills, ahead of schools returning this week. Schools aren’t covered by the energy price cap. The Guardian’s Sally Weale has the story. Elsewhere, new research by the parenting firm Triple P shows that 65 percent of parents believe this year’s school starters are behind due to lockdown. Tory MP Angela Leadsom is calling for more support for the generation that grew up as babies during those lockdowns.

GOVT OF ALL THE OUTSOURCING: The Home Office has spent more than £2.5 million this year paying private companies to pick up people trying to cross the Channel, the Guardian’s Rob Davies reports. A firm based on the Isle of Wight that normally serves the offshore wind industry was the biggest beneficiary of Home Office contracts for boats and crews for the Channel.

LEGAL NEWS: Barristers will shut down crown courts across England and Wales today as they begin indefinite strike action over government reforms to legal aid payments. The Indy splashes on a warning from Victims Commissioner Vera Baird, who told Lizzie Dearden that the court chaos will add to the already mounting backlog and allow criminals to go free.

Legal news II: The six people who were found guilty of harassing the BBC’s Nick Watt during an anti-lockdown protest in 2021 will be sentenced today.

MEANWHILE IN MANCHESTER: Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and RMT boss Mick Lynch will be among the line-up at tonight’s Enough is Enough rally at Manchester Cathedral. The event kicks off at 7 p.m.

GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR BOMB: Sadly the attempt to get the next generation moon rocket, Artemis, into space yesterday was aborted. Engineers reportedly reckon they are on course for a second attempt on Friday. The BBC has more, and Playbook is already excited.

RUBBISH NEWS: Unions will resume strike action next week that has left Edinburgh and other areas of Scotland in a dreadful state, after they rejected a new pay offer from council umbrella group Cosla. The current round of strikes end today in the capital and tomorrow across the rest of the country — but Scotland will only have a few days of respite before a new round of strikes begin next week. The BBC has the detail here.

ICYMI: Had a busy bank holiday? You might have missed POLITICO’s ace Emilio Casalicchio’s long-read on how a retired MI6 boss, his Brexiteer friends and a celebrity Marxist became targets in Russia’s war on Ukraine. Put it to the top of your Tuesday morning coffee reading list, it won’t disappoint.

**A message from UK Fisheries: Until 2019, the UK’s distant waters fleet caught around 10,000 tonnes of cod and haddock annually in Norwegian waters. As an independent coastal state in the post-Brexit era, we were promised a ‘Sea of Opportunity’ as the UK would be free to strike better deals with partners around the North Sea. Instead, our quota in Norwegian waters has been slashed by 95% to just 500 tonnes. And yet, in 2020 Norway’s seafood industry exported £558m of seafood products to us at zero or preferential tariffs. How can this be? We know our negotiators at Defra can strike a good deal for Britain, but they need the backing of ministers The new Conservative administration must take this seriously and do the deal with Norway that our crews and our industry deserve. Talks with Norway for 2023 begin in September. We cannot be let down again. Read more here.**


Digital Minister Matt Warman broadcast round: Sky News (7.05 a.m.) … Times Radio (7.20 a.m.) … LBC (7.50 a.m.) … talkTV (8.05 a.m.).

Also on the Today program: Trades Union Congress General Secretary Frances O’Grady (7.30 a.m.) … Astronomer Royal Martin Rees (7.50 a.m.) … Michael Dunford of the U.N. World Food Program (8.10 a.m.).

Good Morning Britain: Labour MP Khalid Mahmood (6.45 a.m.) … Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham (8.30 a.m.).

Also on Kay Burley at Breakfast: Andy Burnham (7.45 a.m.) … Former Ambassador to France Peter Ricketts and Labour Chair Anneliese Dodds (8.05 a.m.)

Also on Nick Ferrari at Breakfast (LBC): Former senior BP official Nick Butler (7.05 a.m.).

Also on Times Radio breakfast: Tom Rivett-Carnac, founding partner at Global Optimism and former political strategist for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Ross Dornan, market intelligence manager at Offshore Energy (7.05 a.m.) … FDA General Secretary Dave Penman (7.15 a.m.) … Northern Powerhouse Partnership Vice Chair Jim O’Neill (7.35 a.m.) … Chief executive NHS Confederation Matthew Taylor (8.05 a.m.) … Labour Chair Anneliese Dodds (8.35 a.m.).

Also on TalkTV breakfast: Tory MP Richard Holden (7.05 a.m.).

Reviewing the papers tonight: Sky News (10.30 p.m.): The FT’s Seb Payne and the Telegraph’s Camilla Turner … talkTV (10 p.m.): Broadcaster Daisy McAndrew and former Tory adviser Alex Deane.


(Click on the publication’s name to see its front page.)

Daily Express: Truss tax cut plan ‘only way’ to rescue economy

Daily Mail: Now Meghan Drops Her ‘Truth Bombs’

Daily Mirror: Maxwell Jail Pal Is A Double Murderer

Daily Star: Window Smashers

Financial Times: Brussels to unveil crisis action in bid to curb soaring energy costs

i: Truss: Wait until I’m PM for cost of living plan

POLITICO UK: EU routes to hit Russia dwindle as countries split on visa ban

PoliticsHome: Liz Truss considering ‘nuclear’ tax cuts to help with cost of living crisis

The Daily Telegraph: Statins not to blame for aches — it’s just age

The Guardian: Schools face closure chaos as costs soar, warn Tories

The Independent: Mounting court ‘chaos’ sees criminals go free

The Sun: Harry: I Lost My Dad

The Times: Rush to drill for more oil in North Sea


WESTMINSTER WEATHER: ☁️☁️☁️ Cloudy and breezy. Highs of 23C.

OUT TODAY: The first episode of Global’s the News Agents podcast by ex-BBC trio Lewis Goodall, Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel — and produced by podcast wizard Dino Sofos — is being recorded today and should be online by around 5 p.m. Full details here. Sofos has an interview in today’s Times with Billy Kenber, where he says the presenters will have the ability to call out lying guests in a most un-Beeb like way.

NEW GIG: David Wooding, formerly of the Sun, starts today as editor of the Sunday Express.

BIRTHDAYS: Former Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith … Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker … Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw … Shadow Social Security Minister Karen Buck … Tory peer and Times columnist Daniel Finkelstein.

PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: Editor Zoya Sheftalovich, reporter Andrew McDonald and producer Grace Stranger.

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Annabelle Dickson


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