UK GDP grows 0.5 percent in June – POLITICO

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Good Friday morning. This is Eleni Courea. Rosa Prince will kick off next week.


BREAKING THIS MORNING: The U.K. economy grew by 0.5 percent in June, according to figures just published by the ONS. The U.K.’s gross domestic product shrank by 0.1 percent in May — which was put down to the three bank holidays — and grew by 0.2 percent in April.

On the airwaves: Chief Secretary to the Treasury John Glen is about to hit broadcast studios and will be on the Today program at 8.10 a.m. Shadow Employment Rights Minister Justin Madders is out for Labour and is on Times Radio at 8.35 a.m.

Reminder: One of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s five pledges was to get the economy growing again, as well as halving inflation and reducing the national debt. Inflation stats are due next week and No. 10 will be hopeful they continue their downward trend and take pressure off borrowers.

**A message from Google: We’re committed to helping the UK harness the power of technology, including AI. This summer, we’ve launched courses to help people and businesses across the UK do more using AI and machine learning, empowering workers to grow their career or business. Learn more here.**

LIFE COMES AT YOU FAST: To mark the end of No. 10’s Small Boats Week, today’s Times and Daily Mail leads spread with the news that 100,000 people have arrived in the U.K. on small boats over the past five years. That figure hasn’t been officially confirmed but it appears to have come from Border Force.

This in turn … is fueling calls from Tory MPs for the U.K. to quit the European Convention on Human Rights, among other things. The Telegraph reports backbench pressure groups are calling for legislation during this parliament stipulating that the ECHR doesn’t apply to migrants who arrive on small boats. MP Miriam Cates has a Telegraph op-ed arguing that the treaty has changed beyond recognition and is a threat to democracy. The Times speaks to some MPs including Tom Hunt and Jonathan Gullis who want Sunak to resurrect former Home Secretary Priti Patel’s “pushback” approach of using Border Force jet skis to redirect small boats back into French waters.

OnF*** off back to France’: The Times’ Patrick Maguire opens his column with an excellent political allegory for Lee Anderson, who’s rarely been in the news as much as he has this week. Maguire writes that deploying Anderson to make incendiary comments is part of a Tory strategy to focus the debate on topics Labour finds tricky and concludes: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine Robert Jenrick telling Nick Ferrari that ‘I think the point Lee Anderson makes is a fair one which I agree with’ — forever.”

Notably: Maguire reports that Labour leader Keir Starmer will make a major announcement on immigration policy in September.

TB scare: The Home Office has told an asylum seeker with TB they are going to be moved onto the Bibby Stockholm, the i’s Molly Blackall reports. Dominik Metz, a doctor in Oxfordshire who is treating several patients who have received letters saying they will be moved to the barge, said it was a “public health catastrophe in the making.”

SPEAKING OF PUBLIC HEALTH CRISES: Junior doctors in England have just walked out on strike, which is due to last until 7 a.m. on Tuesday. It’s their fifth round of action since March. The Times splash warns that the NHS is at a “tipping point” … the Telegraph splash reckons the junior doctor strikes have cost £1 billion so far … and the Mail splashes on an op-ed from Health Secretary Steve Barclay accusing the BMA of acting recklessly.

HIGH FLYING: The BBC’s Joshua Nevett has crunched the stats on Rishi Sunak’s frequent flying habit. Sunak has used RAF jets and helicopters for domestic flights once every eight days since becoming PM — more often than Liz Truss, Boris Johnson or Theresa May, according to MoD figures released under FOI. A Downing Street spokesperson told the BBC it was “standard practice for governments around the world” and a question of “value for money, security, and time efficiency.”


PUT THE KETTLE ON (OR ORDER ANOTHER COCKTAIL): We’re halfway through recess and there is very little going on in SW1. Lots of Westminster dwellers are taking two-week holidays before September marks the unofficial start of a long general election campaign. Before your Playbook author takes her own two-week break, here’s a rundown of some of the discussions taking place inside Downing Street, Labour and the tentative plans for reshuffles after this summer (if that’s what we’re calling it) is over.

Back to the office: One of the things at the top of Rishi Sunak’s in-tray when he returns will be finalizing his Cabinet reshuffle. Three Tories with knowledge of the discussions said there was a reasonable chance it could happen in the last week of August, with his new team in place before parliament returns on September 3.

Get ready for the RISH-uffle: We’ve used that pun before … but this time it really is one. Several well-placed figures said Sunak is preparing to promote some of his closest allies to key roles. Some in Downing Street are arguing that given voters’ desire for change, the party needs to go into the election with a top team that doesn’t look stale.

On the up: The two names that keep popping up in Playbook’s conversations are Sunak loyalist John Glen — most recently tipped by the Times to replace Ben Wallace as defense secretary — and Claire Coutinho, who could be in line for Cabinet, possibly replacing Glen as chief secretary to the Treasury. Sunak allies lower down the rungs are also in line for promotions, such as his PPS Craig Williams.

More broadly: There is a push in No. 10 to toughen up the PM’s rhetoric and take the fight more to Labour. Two of Sunak’s most senior aides — Chief of Staff Liam Booth-Smith and Political Secretary James Forsyth — have been arguing that he needs to pursue a sharper political approach.

They’re not the only ones: My colleague Esther Webber hears from two ex-government aides who are well-connected in Tory circles that without some drastic course correction, Sunak’s administration is a “boiling frog” awaiting a slow death. Both people said he needed “a tonal shift” toward being much more visible and aggressive.

Which begs the question: What’s going on with the Tory election campaign? Two well-connected Tories tell Playbook there has been some grumbling about when (or whether) Isaac Levido will take ownership of it. Lynton Crosby went to work full time in CCHQ in November 2013, a full 18 months before the 2015 general election. Levido, who also runs Fleetwood Strategy, is only in CCHQ around once a week — when the election is only around 12 months away (if not less).

Further reading: Katy Balls writes in her column in the Evening Standard that No. 10 will choose its new defense secretary based on whether they can be trusted not to agitate for more spending. She says appointing Glen would lead to allegations of “jobs for the boys.”

OVER IN LABOUR LAND: There’s also the matter of Keir Starmer’s long-anticipated shadow Cabinet reshuffle, which had been widely expected in May after the local elections and then after by-elections on July 20 — but has yet to materialize.

Third time lucky? Starmer’s aides are looking at a potential window in the first two weeks of September, on the basis this would give people time to settle into their new briefs before Labour conference (which is taking place later than usual on October 8).

The central question of this rejig: What will become of deputy leader Angela Rayner? She is still tipped for the leveling-up brief, meaning a demotion for Lisa Nandy. Two Labour officials told Playbook there had been complaints about Nandy from members of Starmer’s team. One said: “There’s a view that she doesn’t do enough and doesn’t toe the line enough. Which is a shame, as she is one of our best performers.” Shadow Cabinet ministers seen as in the same gang as Nandy, such as Jonathan Ashworth and Louise Haigh, could also be moved.

On the other hand: Others argue that Starmer’s team is creating a justification to demote Nandy — who is one of their most frequently used media performers — simply to make way for Rayner, on the basis that finding the right role for Rayner is key to managing her relationship with Starmer.

Besides that: Conversations are ongoing and the reshuffle isn’t due for several weeks, but several well-placed Labour officials told Playbook recently that the people in the biggest jobs — Yvette Cooper, David Lammy, John Healey and of course Rachel Reeves — are likely to stay put, as are rising stars Wes Streeting and Bridget Phillipson.

The Ed M question: Some Labour aides want to see Ed Miliband demoted and are arguing that rather than him leading the energy department in government and doing media on it, Miliband should be given a role as climate envoy to the Labour leader. But a senior Labour official told Playbook that suggestions Miliband could be demoted were wide off the mark.

DISCLAIMER: Both No. 10 and LOTO declined to comment on reshuffle speculation.

ONE UNNOTICED LABOUR WIN … has been the decision to schedule Labour’s conference on the second weekend of October. This breaks with the longstanding tradition where Labour’s gathering is held the week before the Tory one. Some in Downing Street are worried that going last will give Labour a political advantage and play into the narrative of them being a “government in waiting.” A Labour official told Playbook it meant the party would be “getting the last word.” A Tory official came back with: “In terms of ‘the last word,’ that will be for the voters to decide at a general election.”

Speaking of the election: My colleague Annabelle Dickson has a fun piece about the Tory and Labour attack dogs who will be fighting it out over the next 12 months or so.


LIKE PULLING TEETH: Before embarking on the Playbook summer tour, one question kept rattling round my mind (Dan Bloom writes). Why is it so hard to get an NHS dentist? 

So where better … to mark the tour’s halfway point than Staffordshire, where a BBC survey last year found 94 percent of practices weren’t taking new patients. Julian Keen flicks on the air con in his treatment room in Biddulph, with letterbox windows overlooking the rolling moor, and tries to explain why.

He’ll see you now: Keen’s stubbly beard is flecked gray. It’s his day off — he’d be too busy to see me otherwise. He prints Wednesday’s “day list.” He had 47 appointments between 9 a.m. and 5.15 p.m. There’s an hour for lunch, which he might use seeing a private patient and filling out a hospital referral.

HEALTH WARNING: This is, er, not a cheery interview. Keen, 45, says dentistry these days is “running on vapors” … “horse-whipped” … “shackled” … “soul-destroying” … “completely failed” … “at crisis point” … a “production line” … “a ludicrous system” … “one-star” … “a leaky bucket” … “working in treacle” … and fixes are “minor little sticking plasters on the bursting Hoover Dam.” He could go on.

WHERE IT STARTED: Keen partly blames the 2006 General Dental Services Contract, introduced under Labour. Before then, if a dentist saw demand in an area, they could open a practice. When he opened in Biddulph in 2008, he had to compete for a tender against 14 bids. Yet when he won, then-MP Charlotte Atkins gave him 5,000 names she’d gathered of patients in need. He believes the contract was “designed by accountants” to “ration the service” to save money.

And since then … he says paperwork is longer, cutting the time to see patients … morale has fallen … and many dentists have left. Some 52 percent of adults saw an NHS dentist in the two years to March 2007. In 2018 and 2019 (pre-COVID), it was 49.6 percent. Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley has raised concerns about availability with ministers and the local health board.

For Keen … it’s about more than numbers. A decade ago, he says, “it really felt like they wanted you here” — not any more. His practice has lost three dentists in 18 months, and its four treatment rooms are only all occupied on a good day. Keen himself sold the practice recently, but still works there alongside his dentist wife, Fiona Cuthill. This way their evenings are free of admin.

At the same time: The practice turns away “tens of phone calls” a day from patients wanting to join — “sometimes they’re in tears.” Keen doesn’t operate a waiting list — he doesn’t see the point. The problem worsens as patients who’ve moved away stay on his books. One’s just come in from Northwich, Cheshire, a 90-minute round trip. 

And that means: Some patients leave the NHS and others end up in hospital. Already, says Keen, children are going under general anaesthetic for extractions, at much greater expense than at their local dentist. “You need anaesthetists, surgeons, nurses … I would imagine it would run into the thousands of pounds.” 

PART OF THE PROBLEM  Is the blunt payment system, says Keen. Behind the three bands that patients pay lie UDAs (Units of Dental Activity), which is how money goes from the state to the dentist. Each UDA is worth about £27 for Keen. He says reforms in November, which split the £70.70 “Band 2” into 2a, 2b and 2c, made things better but it’s still too simplistic. Three fillings on one patient would give him five UDAs (the rate for Band 2b). Yet it’s the same number of UDAs for 10 fillings, because that’s a 2b treatment too.

Tick, tock: Keen manages the problem by having 10-minute appointments — including cleaning and writing up notes. It used to be more like 15. “You feel like you’re working in a minefield now,” he says. “We’re working with a drill that speeds 100,000 rpm in somebody’s mouth, and you’re looking at clock thinking, I’ve got to get this patient in and out fast.” The “slightest mistake” and you’re out.

SO HOW TO FIX IT? “Throwing a bit of money” won’t help, says Keen — it needs a full rethink of the contract. Government proposals like contract reform, training more dentists and new ways of working are all good but he thinks “it’s all talk” and ministers are more focused on A&E ambulance queues. This year’s NHS Workforce Plan pledged to raise dentistry training places by 40 percent to 1,100 a year by 2031/32. But Keen is not happy about plans for a “tie-in” period in which they’ll have to perform NHS work — he says that’ll hit morale.

So after all that: Does he still love his job? “Er, no. No,” he says. “Every day I think about giving up. The trouble is trying to find something else that you can do.”

Put him in the maybe pile: Keen says he has voted Conservative in the past, but didn’t turn out in 2019. “This next time I probably won’t bother voting because I don’t think it’ll make any difference,” he says. “I’m quite resigned.”

The government says: UDAs rose a fifth last year, ministers are considering further reforms, and a dental recovery plan is due to be announced later this year.

SEAT RECAP: Staffordshire Moorlands has been a bellwether since 1983, yet Tory MP Karen Bradley’s 16,428 majority puts it way down Labour’s target list (number 238 according to one punt). Stoke-on-Trent’s three seats will be more feisty — all three were Labour since the 1950s and turned Tory between 2017 and 2019. Labour took overall control of the city council in May for the first time in eight years.

WALKABOUT: Keen takes me to the high street to meet some of his patients, and they’re about as upbeat as he is. Butcher Michael Owen, 59 — who sells a “meat for a week” platter for £23 — says his electric bill has gone from £280 to £780 a month. The 2019 Tory voter doesn’t know what he’ll do next year, given he thinks politicians are “the mafia.” “We were sold a wolf in sheep’s clothing with Brexit and I fell for it,” he grumbles. Lesley Street, 62, at the sandwich shop used to back Labour but has stopped voting: “I’ve lost faith in it all.”

STOKING THE FUTURE: I drive the 25 minutes down the road to Stoke to meet Daniel Waterman at his animation studio, Carse & Waterman. The contrast is striking. The trendy office in a former empty NatWest — the wartime-green money lift is still there — employs seven people (all under 40) and has shiny computers, film posters and a Pac-Man machine. A group of kids is due for a workshop. 

Local hope: The 34-year-old’s firm, making animations for film, TV, companies and public bodies, is part of “Silicon Stoke,” exactly the sort of new-wave cluster ministers want to talk about. But this was never the plan. He and his co-founder were just at Staffordshire Uni. Even now, he splits his time between Stoke and his home in north London. 

Appealing: “Our staff will be able to afford a house … some can walk to work,” he says. It helps make the industry real for Stoke teenagers, too. “I grew up in Elstree. Next to the Tesco there was a film studio. It made it tangible, because you just saw it.”

Less appealing: The immediate area is “falling apart,” he adds. “I show up sometimes and there’s literal human faeces on our doorstep, and the windows are regularly smashed.” Yet the business rates are huge, and it’s a conservation zone which makes any changes cost more; problems he lays at the council’s door.

So how will he vote? “I’ve voted every way possible,” he says, and you guessed it — he’s not decided for next year either. “There’s a lot of learning that both parties need to do.”

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PARLIAMENT: Tumbleweed.

WHAT THE GOVERNMENT WANTS TO TALK ABOUT: The Crown Court will work at full throttle for the third year running to try to clear the backlog, the Ministry of Justice announced. There’s also more cash to modernize court buildings.

WHAT LABOUT WANTS TO TALK ABOUT: Labour has crunched stats showing that flashing offences have doubled in a decade — but that only one in 10 leads to a charge. It makes page 2 of the Mail.

BATTLE FOR CITY HALL: The Lib Dems’ London mayoral candidate will be announced at 10 a.m. Members are choosing between Lib Dem Racial Diversity Campaign Chair Chris French and activist Rob Blackie.

SHELLING OUT: Tory MP Theresa Villiers owned more than £70,000 worth of shares in oil and gas company Shell during her time as environment secretary, the Mirror’s Nick Sommerlad reveals. It’s the Mirror splash and has been widely picked up elsewhere.

FACING THE HEAT: Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey has been warned by her local Suffolk County Council that the ban on new oil-powered boilers from 2026 will “entrench” rural fuel poverty as many families can’t afford heat pumps. The Telegraph’s Nick Gutteridge and Amy Gibbons have the story.

FEELING GREEN: The Guardian splashes on an interview by Emily Dugan with Greenpeace joint Executive Directors Areeba Hamid and Will McCallum, who say Rishi Sunak will “go down in history” as the PM who failed the U.K. on climate.

SHAPPS BACKS ELECTRIC CARS: The U.K. should be “leaning into” the phase-out of petrol and diesel vehicles as a way to boost investment in British battery manufacturing, Energy Secretary Grant Shapps tells my colleagues Charlie Cooper and Stefan Boscia. Shapps said the U.K.’s “clear picture” on zero emissions vehicles was instrumental in securing a recent £4 billion Gigafactory investment from the Tata Group.

SEEKING COUNCIL: Ministers are examining proposals to change how councils are funded by giving more money to areas where children have a lower chance of being better-educated or wealthier than their parents. A report from Onward warning that the current funding formula amounts to a “social mobility penalty” has been shared with Treasury and DLUHC ministers. The Times’ Oli Wright has the story.

WHITEHALL WAGE WARS: More civil servants on salaries over £100,000 is actually good because it will attract better talent to Whitehall, Onward’s Seb Payne argues in the i.

TURFED OUT: More than 20,000 families have been evicted by no-fault Section 21 notices since the government promised to ban them in 2019, according to government figures written up by the Mirror. Shadow Housing Secretary Lisa Nandy said the numbers “are a shocking illustration of how the housing crisis is growing ever deeper.”

CHINA CORNER: China has given up on plans for a new embassy near the Tower of London after it failed to get planning permission from the local council, as React News first reported.

TORY TROOPERS: Tom Scotson has an interesting piece for PolHome on Conservative parliamentary selections. He writes that the party is increasingly choosing “local champions” to fight seats rather than parachuting people in. The trouble is they’re mostly men — Michael Crick’s stats suggest that only a fifth of Tory candidates selected so far are women.


PAY YOUR WAY: Councils across the U.K. are facing hundreds of fresh equal pay claims from female workers which could leave them with bills running into tens of millions of pounds. Glasgow council already paid out £770 million. ITV’s Anushka Asthana has the exclusive.

PSNI IN CRISIS: My POLITICO colleague Shawn Pogatchnik has an excellent deep-dive into the significance of the monumental cybersecurity breach on Tuesday which exposed the names and professional details of all police officers in Northern Ireland — and put officers’ lives at risk.

Spreading like wildfire: “By that night I had three colleagues, who don’t know each other, all independently sharing the document on different WhatsApp chats,” one police officer from a Protestant unionist background told Shawn. “None of us could believe what we were seeing. Terrorists would literally kill for this information, and we gave it away.” Another police officer said he may need to move his family because of the leak. “I’m a nationalist, not a unionist, but it becomes impossible to live as a nationalist if you’re openly seen to be in the police,” he said. “I can accept danger to my own life. But my family has to be 100 percent protected from my work, and that’s no longer possible.”

JOIN THE QUEUE: An independent Scotland could take as long as eight years to rejoin the EU following independence, an official Scottish government report found. It was released after a member of the public won an FOI battle. The Scotsman has the story.

RUSSIA HEADS FOR THE MOON: President Vladimir Putin hauled his country back into the space race in the early hours of Friday, with the launch of Russia’s first lunar mission in nearly half a century. The Lunar-25 mission will aim to scope out the lunar south pole — an area of the moon both Washington and Moscow are scrambling to get to in search of natural resources. More from POLITICO’s Joshua Posaner, Matt Berg and Laura Hülsemann here.

HAWAII WILDFIRES: U.S. President Joe Biden declared the Hawaii wildfires a major disaster, freeing up federal aid to support the island of Maui’s recovery from fires which have killed at least 53 people — my Stateside colleagues have more.

GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD: Iran transferred five Iranian-Americans from prison to house arrest. POLITICO has further details.

NIGER UPDATE: The Community of West African States ordered the activation of a standby force on Thursday to possibly use against the military junta that seized power in Niger. Playbook’s own Zoya Sheftalovich has more here.

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Chief Secretary to the Treasury John Glen broadcast round: Sky News (7.20 a.m.) … Times Radio (7.35 a.m.) … LBC (7.50 a.m.) … Today program (8.10 a.m.) … GB News (9.05 a.m.).

Shadow Employment Rights Minister Justin Madders broadcast round: GB News (7.50 a.m.) … Sky News (8.05 a.m.) … Times Radio (8.35 a.m.) … LBC News (8.50 a.m.).

Also on Sky News Breakfast: BMA junior doctor committee member Shivam Sharma (8.20 a.m.).

Also on Times Radio: Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers (7.07 a.m.) … former Economic Secretary to the Treasury Kitty Ussher (8.05 a.m.).

Also on Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Andy Cooke (8.50 a.m.).

Also on LBC News: ONS Director of Economic Statistics Production and Analysis Darren Morgan (7.50 a.m.).

TalkTV Breakfast: Former Tory Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell (7.20 a.m.) … Tory peer Andrew Robathan (8.05 a.m.) … Labour MP Khalid Mahmood (9.05 a.m.).


POLITICO UK: Meet Westminster’s attack dogs.

Daily Express: Fears of surge in small boats.

Daily Mail: Striking doctors are just “harming” patients.

Daily Mirror: Guess who had Shell shares.

Daily Star: Costa del dull.

Financial Times: New York’s Tapestry tackles Europe’s luxury giants with $8.5 billion Capri deal.

i: Mortgage rates war begins as 13 lenders cut prices.

Metro: High street hammered.

The Daily Telegraph: £1 billion cost of junior doctors’ strikes.

The Guardian: PM “will go down in history for failing on climate” — Greenpeace.

The Independent: Exposed — the great British car insurance con.

The Sun: In his hans.

The Times: Strikes push NHS to the brink.


The Economist: Kicking up a storm — Saudi Arabia upends global sports.


6 of the best political podcasts to listen to this weekend:

Iain Dale All Talk: Dale interviews RMT General-Secretary Mick Lynch about his childhood, trade unionism and class conflict.

Rock & Roll Politics with Steve Richards: Richards reflects on the role of troublemakers in British politics, focusing on former Tory and Ulster Unionist MP Enoch Powell.

Stories of our times: Luke Jones hears from the Sunday Times’ Charlotte Ivers about why so many MPs are quitting Westminster at the next election.

The Bunker: Rafael Behr is joined by journalist and author James Ball to talk about the impact of the QAnon conspiracy theory on democracy.

The Political Party: Matt Forde speaks to Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf about the privileges and pressures of leading Scotland.

The Rundown: Alain Tolhurst is in conversation with Labour MP Chris Bryant about whether this might be the worst parliament ever.


WESTMINSTER WEATHER: Sunny intervals and 25C highs. But the rain might be back over the weekend.

LOOK UP: If we do get some clear skies, go out at night to watch the annual Perseid meteor shower. It will peak over the weekend and you could see over 50 meteors an hour — CNN has more info.

CLEARLY THE PLACE TO BE: Thursday’s Popbitch reported that on his first-class flight to L.A., Rishi Sunak found himself chatting across the aisle to Piers Morgan. But who else has been holidaying on the U.S. west coast this week? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt. If you spot him at a spin cycle class (or at lunch with Sunak), please let us know.

CONGRATS: Business and Trade Committee Chair Darren Jones and his wife Lucy Symons-Jones have welcomed baby Francesca Alice Symons-Jones to their family.

FRINGE BENEFITS: Events at the Edinburgh Fringe today include former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell speaking at an “In Conversation” event at midday … LBC’s Iain Dale interviewing Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf at 1 p.m. … and Dale and former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith both interviewing former SNP leadership contender Kate Forbes at 4 p.m.

On Saturday: SNP Culture Spokesperson at Westminster John Nicholson speaks at an “In Conversation” event at midday … Iain Dale interviews Shadow Home Office Minister Jess Phillips at 1 p.m. … Dale and Jacqui Smith both interview Lib Dem leader Ed Davey at 4 p.m. … and comedian Grace Campbell’s show A Show About More Me(n) opens at 5.30 p.m. in the Gilded Balloon Teviot.

On Sunday: Broadcaster Steve Richards’ Rock’n’Roll Politics show opens at 11 a.m. in theSpace @ Symposium Hall … Iain Dale interviews political scientist John Curtice and journalist Brian Taylor at 1 p.m. … and Dale and Jacqui Smith both interview former SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford at 4 p.m.

NOAH’S CULTURE FIX: Legendary playwright James Graham’s drama Dear England, about England football manager Gareth Southgate, closes at the Olivier Theatre today at 7.30 p.m. … the National Gallery’s exhibition After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art closes on Sunday … and the British Museum’s exhibition Luxury and power: Persia to Greece also closes on Sunday.

NEW GIG: Bas Javid — brother of former Home Secretary Sajid Javid — has been appointed director general of immigration enforcement in the Home Office.

JOB AD: The Department for Transport is hiring a policy adviser.

MOVING ON: BBC journalist Helena Wilkinson is leaving the night owls’ contingent — she will no longer be doing #TomorrowsPapersToday.

BIRTHDAYS: Former North Down MP Sylvia Hermon … Labour spinner Paul Ovenden … ITV News Europe Editor James Mates … Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait … POLITICO’s Andrew McDonald Bloomberg U.K. Political Editor Kitty Donaldson … Climate Change Committee Chief Executive Chris Stark.

Celebrating over the weekend: Commons Defense Committee Chair Tobias Ellwood … Shadow Apprenticeships Minister Toby Perkins … Bolton West MP Chris Green turns 50 … SNP Energy Spokesperson at Westminster Alan Brown … Totnes MP Anthony Mangnall … Former French President François Hollande … Former U.K. Chief Scientific Adviser David King … Senior adviser at Labour’s Parliamentary Research Service Shaun Dunbabin … U.K. Ambassador to China Caroline Wilson … Former ITN Political Editor Michael Brunson … Former U.K. Deputy High Commissioner to Jamaica and the Bahamas Nick Astbury … Welsh Labour MS Hefin David … Guardian Lobby journo Andrew Sparrow … Former Director of Government Comms Simon McGee.

PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editors Jack Lahart and Zoya Sheftalovich, reporter Noah Keate and producers Seb Starcevic and Dato Parulava.

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