Newspaper headlines: Boris Johnson’s bid to calm MPs and Ofqual attacks minister



By BBC News

image captionA warning of rising taxes to pay for the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic makes the lead in the Financial Times. Chancellor Rishi Sunak made an “impassioned plea” to Conservative MPs to trust him, after what the paper calls “much private angst” directed towards the prime minister. Boris Johnson also addressed his MPs in an effort to improve party relations “after a summer of policy U-turns”, the report adds.

image captionThe Guardian describes Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak’s briefings as “an attempt to calm mutinous Tory MPs” who are “angry and unsettled” by the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, the paper carries an exclusive story on a data specialist who, it claims, was fired from the civil service after posting on social media that police should use live rounds against Black Lives Matter demonstrators.

image captionThe prime minister’s drive to get people back to the workplace has “floundered”, the Daily Telegraph claims. A public campaign encouraging people to return to offices was scheduled to begin on Thursday, but will now not start until next week at the earliest, the paper says. It says the Cabinet Office wants more civil servants to return to the workplace before ministers tell others to do the same.

image captionIn an attack on the education secretary, the Metro’s lead says A-level and GCSE pupils could have sat their exams this summer “if Gavin Williamson had listened to Ofqual”. The paper says the exam regulator’s chairman Roger Taylor had given Mr Williamson three options, with the first being for socially distanced exams to go ahead. The “worst case scenario” option was to calculate grades, which is what happened – before heavy criticism of the algorithm led the government to fall back on teacher-assessed grades instead.

image captionAfter a record number of migrants crossed the Channel on Wednesday, the Times reports on a study that suggests the government’s hostile environment policy – designed to combat illegal immigration – is “flawed and unsafe”. The paper takes Home Secretary Priti Patel to task after her repeated pledges to tackle the issue. Experts have warned that publicity over the Home Office’s plans to deter people from making the crossing has actually fuelled numbers attempting the journey.

image captionThe i leads on German doctors saying that Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was poisoned by the deadly nerve agent, Novichok. The paper says the Soviet-era chemical weapon was used to “silence [Vladmir] Putin’s leading critic”, but adds that the Kremlin denies any knowledge of the attempts to poison Mr Navalny, who remains in a coma after falling ill on a flight in Siberia last month.

image captionGary Lineker is set to house a refugee at his Surrey mansion, the Daily Mirror reports. The paper says the Match of the Day host has applied to help through charity Refugees at Home. He tells the tabloid: “If I can help, why not?”

image captionA decision by the BBC to have singers for Rule, Britania! and Land of Hope and Glory at the Last Night of the Proms has been branded by the Daily Express as a “spectacular climb-down” by BBC chiefs. It says the corporation’s new director general, Tim Davie, is thought to have “overruled” plans for instrumental versions, which had been – the BBC says – for fear of spreading coronavirus when bringing together large groups of singers. The tabloid says the “U-turn” is a “victory for our ‘loud and proud’ nation”.

image captionIt’s a similar tale in the Daily Star, which warns “BBC luvvies” to look away ahead of its headline, “Britania rules OK”. The paper says broadcaster’s decision was a result of it caving in to pressure from angry TV fans.

Time for a look at this morning’s papers, which feature plenty of discussion about the prospect of the chancellor raising taxes to pay for the costs of coronavirus support schemes.

The leader in

the Times puts forward the case for tax hikes, saying the unprecedented economic difficulties require “a collective willingness of middle earners to pay for Britain”.

The Daily Express argues for a different approach, saying that increasing taxes would “destroy any hope of recovery”, and that they should be cut instead to grow the economy and support businesses.

Writing in the Spectator, James Kirkup says ministers should start an honest conversation with voters on the issue now rather than leaving it until later in this Parliament.
The Guardian’s Larry Elliott says the need to balance the books offers an opportunity for the Treasury to revolutionise the economy – but cautions readers against holding too much hope of politicians embracing the tough decisions required to do so.
The tax rises conversation came up after both Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Prime Minister Boris Johnson held meetings with MPs. The Financial Times says the PM was making an effort to improve party relations “after a summer of policy U-turns”, while the Guardian describes the briefings as “an attempt to calm mutinous Tory MPs” who are “angry and unsettled” by the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
media captionThe government “cannot carry on doing exactly what we did this year forever” says the chancellor

The Daily Telegraph reports that a public information campaign aimed at getting people to return to workplaces has been postponed. It says the Cabinet Office delayed the project because of fears ministers could be accused of hypocrisy because of the low numbers of civil servants in Whitehall offices.

Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex feature on many of the front pages after agreeing a deal with Netflix to produce what the streaming services called “inspirational programmes”. The Times’ critic Carol Midgley questions whether the deal will result in many new subscribers signing up to watch what she calls “woke TV”.
The Daily Mail’s Tom Leonard proposes that Netflix may not be focused on ratings, but instead adding more star names to its roster – noting that the quotes from the company’s chief executive Ted Sarandos in the statement confirming the deal are almost exactly the same as those he gave when Barack and Michelle Obama agreed a similar deal two years ago.

image copyrightReuters

image captionPrince Harry and wife Meghan say the focus of their deal with Netflix is to create “content that informs but also gives hope”
The Guardian claims one of the people recruited to the civil service after Dominic Cummings’ call for “weirdos and misfits” to apply has been sacked for tweeting that police should shoot Black Lives Matter protesters with live ammunition.

The paper says the data specialist was removed from a senior position at the Cabinet Office after an internal investigation in July.

A government spokesman said all standard vetting processes were carried out for the worker to be employed as a contractor, and that they had never met or spoken to Dominic Cummings.

A care worker from Reading who is the first person to have tested positive for Covid-19 twice in the UK has spoken to the Sun.

She is one of only five people worldwide who’s known to have contracted the disease for a second time – and says she was told by doctors that she didn’t need to have another test when she went to hospital suffering from shortness of breath due to her previous positive diagnosis.

Writing in the paper, Dr Simon Clarke from Reading University warns that efforts to fight the virus will become much more difficult if re-infection becomes widespread.

The BBC’s decision to perform a U-turn on whether Land of Hope and Glory and Rule, Britannia! would be sung at the Last Night of the Proms features in many papers.

image captionA “select” group of socially-distant singers will perform on the Last Night of the Proms
The Daily Mail’s Robert Hardman says it is “a sure sign that the BBC is very gently readjusting the dial from ‘transmit’ mode towards ‘listen’ mode” under the leadership of the new director general, Tim Davie.

Leo McKinstry adds to the chorus of praise for Mr Davie, claiming his decision hints that he will “transform the corporation for the better”.

Writing in the i, the comedian Shappi Khorsandi says “BBC bashers should chill out”, but welcomes the director general’s plans to make comedy shows more impartial, suggesting that a greater emphasis should be placed on commissioning sitcoms and sketch shows rather than political satire.

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