In his big speech this morning Boris pitched a relaunch of his premiership after the side blow from Coronavirus. In it, he reiterating many of the manifesto commitments that delivered his 80 seat majority just six months ago – yet with a crucial difference. Project Speed…
“the Chancellor and I have set up ‘Project Speed’ to scythe through red tape and get things done”
Not only were billions in infrastructure spending committed – a new project designed to unleash private investment and get Britain building by slashing regulatory barriers has been set out:
The speech doesn’t sound quite so communist with these announcements…
“Usually you trail your best lines, but the Prime Minister’s best bit is yet to come: promised planning reform is the real new deal. Homeowners will be able to build up via a fast track approval process and neighbours’ consent; commercial and residential properties will be able to switch purpose without hindrance; and the developers will get the ability to demolish old stores to get people living on our high streets. This is a plan to build up, rebuild, and repurpose.
New Survation polling commissioned by the Adam Smith Institute has found an overwhelming 86% of people expressed support for developing an economic recovery and exit plan, compared to just 2% who did not. Tory voters were the most likely to “strongly support” an economic recovery and exit plan (61%), compared to under half of Labour and Liberal Democrat voters (47%)…
In worrying news for the Government, a plurality of people (42%) believe that the there has not been enough done to develop an economic recovery and exit plan compared to those who think the Government has done enough (just 34%).
Labour, on the other hand, will not be pleased that a whopping 72% believe the Government should reduce taxes after the lockdown to try to increase economic growth and jobs, with just 8% disagreeing with reducing taxes, in stark contrast to Annaliese Dodds on Sunday who called for higher taxes to restore the economy. Younger voters aged 18-34, are ten points more likely to “strongly support” lower taxes after the lockdown compared to those over the age of 65…
In a new policy paper, the Adam Smith Institute has slammed Public Health England for its bureaucratic, centralised model of testing, and is urging the Government to rapidly learn from “Germany, South Korea, and more recently, the United States of America”, who have decentralised testing and embraced a mixture of public, non-government and private laboratories.
The ASI reveals that since March 16, the United Kingdom has just over doubled daily testing capacity. In the same time, the United States has increased daily testing by a factor of 21. That’s the date the US decentralised its testing regime and embraced private laboratories…
The research makes the compelling case that Public Health England’s early decision to centralise testing to a single PHE laboratory severely held the UK back. As of today in the UK, testing has been expanded to just twelve labs operated by PHE and a limited number of NHS laboratories. The paper says to catch up with successful testing nations, the UK must immediately:
fast-track approval for private sector laboratories to conduct COVID-19 testing;
substantially expand usage of NHS and university laboratories to conduct COVID-19 testing;
undertake rapid approval of private sector developed tests, including mutual recognition of tests approved by other regulatory bodies such as the FDA;
reduce testing red tape, including any requirements that initial positive tests must be retested centrally by PHE; and
explicitly call on companies to help make testing kits and develop lab capacity for COVID-19 testing, modelled on the successful call for businesses to make ventilators.
Author of the paper, the ASI’s Head of Research Matthew Lesh tells Guido that
“Public Health England has failed the nation. The early decision to centralise testing — initially to just a single lab and a single test — has had catastrophic consequences for human life…
They’ve repeatedly failed to take up offers from companies, universities and charities to help. Now we can’t even get NHS workers back to the front line. It has to change.”
Time to stop running away from the private sector. Embracing it will save lives…
Despite 60% of Brits knowing what a think tank is, just 3.74% can name one according to new wonk-focused research by ‘We are Flint’. The Adam Smith Institute comes up trumps as the only think tank with to secure more than 1% recognition. Their meme-filled Twitter account must be paying dividends, they’ve already updated their bio to reflect the findings. They tell Guido:
“The Adam Smith Institute has stood consistently and unashamedly by its principles for over four decades—we’re happy to see that means more people know us than any other research outfit.
“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the New Economics Foundation (ranking: 19), that we expect our dinner, but from regards to our own crucial work.
“We might all be guided by the invisible hand but we’d be lying if we said we don’t love being a little more visible than everyone else.”
Despite reaching the heady heights of 1.44% recognition, significantly ahead of runners-up the Fabian Society on just 0.85%, the ASI will be less pleased to hear that the margin of error of the 2,000 person poll is +/- 2.2%. Meaning it’s still entirely possible that literally nobody cares outside of SW1…
Philip Hammond’s fiscal responsibility challenge might not be the most exciting intervention in the Tory leadership race but it has received a warm welcome from many of Westminster’s top think tanks. The Institute of Economic Affairs’ Kate Andrews says:
“The Chancellor has dished out a fair and sensible warning to leadership candidates. Slashing tax and spending increases must go hand-in-hand with cuts in other areas and a radical pro-growth agenda, otherwise they are not fiscally responsible policies…
“With the UK tax burden at a near-fifty year high, putting more money back in people’s wallets should be a top priority, but it shouldn’t mean abandoning fiscal responsibility along the way.”
The Adam Smith Institute’s Matt Kilcoyne welcomes the move too:
“Right message at the right time from the Chancellor. As we approach the Cost of Government Day on the 18th June, the first day of the year that private spending overtakes all the spending and borrowing the government does on your behalf, it’s good to see a Conservative preaching fiscal responsibility.
“The UK still has a deficit, a mountain of debt, and government is still passing the buck onto those too young to vote. The next generation shouldn’t be sold out with election pledges made at the expense of their own futures.”
The TaxPayers’ Alliance also give it their seal of approval:
“Philip Hammond is right that a Tory leadership battle isn’t the place for a public spending arms race. A spending spree by the current, or next Prime Minister could leave taxpayers saddled with bills.”
As far as Guido is aware, none of the candidates have committed to Phil’s fiscal responsibility pledge so far. Nor has the current Prime Minister shown any hint of reconsidering her uncosted trillion pound black hole she’s leaving behind for her successor…
UPDATE: It turns out Phil’s Pledge has been taken by the most left-wing candidate in the race, Rory Stewart. If Rory can find time out from his never-ending walks around supermarket car parks to make the pledge, why can’t any of his supposedly more Conservative rivals?
The Tory leadership race’s resident gap yah kid opened up on his experience smoking opium in Iran this morning. He sad it was a “very stupid mistake” and he “shouldn’t have done it.” A delicious mistake, so easy to make….
The ASI’s Daniel Pryor has been quick out of the blocks with a response:
“Over 12,000 Brits are in prison for drug offences, but it’s one rule for politicians and another for the rest of us. Rory Stewart’s opium experience is nothing new – countless senior politicians have admitted to using illicit drugs, but this hasn’t translated into a sensible approach to drug policy… Politicians should spend less time apologising for taking drugs and more time sensibly regulating them.”