UK employment has fallen at the fastest rate in more than a decade as 220,000 jobs were lost between April and June, the largest quarterly fall since the financial crisis.
The true state of employment in Britain may be hidden by the government’s furlough scheme, as many fear they will not have jobs to come back to when the scheme winds down in October and demand for workers “remains depressed”.
Elsewhere, there is growing pressure on the government to deal with the uptick of migrants making the dangerous journey across the Channel in small boats. Immigration minister Chris Philp is to hold talks with his French counterparts in Paris to discuss the issue.
A group of 25 Tory MP backbenchers were condemned by a former child refugee for saying migrants coming to the UK via the Channel were "invading" the country, with one claiming they could simply "paddle in".
At least 597 migrants arrived on the UK’s shores between Thursday and Sunday. In total, more than 4,000 migrants have made the treacherous journey so far this year.
Prime minister Boris Johnson condemned the actions of “cruel and criminal gangs” who carry out the Channel crossings, adding the journey is “a pretty dangerous stretch of water in potentially unseaworthy vessels”.
Good morning, and welcome to The Independent's liveblog on all things to do with UK politics today.
Employment in Britain falls at fastest rate in over a decade
A total of 73,000 people have been taken off company payroll since lockdown was first imposed in March, as the far-reaching effects of the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on UK employment.
Between April and June, 220,000 people lost their jobs, the largest quarterly fall since the financial crisis more than a decade ago, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Ben Chapman has the details:
Secondary school pupils may post greater virus risk than primary students - reports
It has been reported that government research suggests some secondary school pupils may spread Covid-19 at a similar rate to adults.
The same research is being used by ministers to insist it is safe for pupils to return to school in September, as Boris Johnson declared it was the “national priority” and continuing closures was “morally indefensible”.
Although Sage member and president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said the findings showed schools and pupils “play a minor role in transmission of the virus”, a source in Public Health England told The Times that secondary school children are most likely to get infected and transmit the virus.
Andy Gregory reports:
UK ‘determined’ to work with France to stop migrants crossing Channel
The UK is in talks with France and is “determined” to work with French counterparts to stop migrants from crossing the Channel in search of asylum as the journeys are “dangerous and illegal”, junior health minister Edward Argar has told LBC Radio.
Mr Argar added that Boris Johnson wants “greater flexibility” to return migrants coming to the UK’s shores back to France, where they began their journey across the Channel.
Immigration minister Chris Philps is to hold talks with French counterparts in Paris following increasing pressure from Conservative MPs to address the uptick in crossings.
More than 4,000 migrants have made it onto British shores so far this year after the treacherous voyage across the world’s busiest shipping lane. At least 597 people arrived between Thursday and Sunday.
Home secretary Priti Patel said earlier the UK needs to work with France to make the route “unviable”, calling the number of recent crossings “totally unacceptable”.
“Across the Government we are absolutely committed to shutting down this route and we will bring down the criminal gangs that facilitate these illegal crossings.”
Tory MP faces backlash for saying migrants are ‘breaking into’ UK
Natalie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover and Deal, has been criticised for describing migrants making the dangerous journey across the Channel as “breaking into” the UK to seek asylum.
Ms Elphicke, who wrote an article for The Express on Sunday calling for a more robust plan to stop the crossings, told BBC Radio 4 the Dublin Regulation, which determines which EU member state is responsible for examining asylum applications, is “unsatisfactory and inflexible” and does not allow the UK to “return” people back to France.
“And that is why it is important to bring forward legislation when we finally leave the transition period at the end of the year to make sure that we can return people who break into our country through illegal routes like this crossing,” she said.
On social media, many have called her choice of words “dehumanising” and compared the notion of “breaking into” a country to colonialism.
One person criticised her for not acknowledging the “human suffering and desperation it take to cross the Channel in a boat”.
Others said they were “angered” by her language and said making the crossing harder would not stop organised crime.
NHS Test and Trace system to cut 6,000 contact tracers
The Department for Health and Social Care will reduce the number of NHS contact tracers by a third in an overhaul of the Test and Trace programme, which was initially described as “world beating”.
The department announced the programme will now provide local authorities across England with a dedicated team of contact tracers, calling it a “more tailored service”.
Our politics correspondent Ashely Cowburn has the story:
Over 10m meals eaten under Eat Out To Help Out scheme
According to the Treasury, more than 10 million meals have been consumed in restaurants under the new support scheme Eat Out To Help Out.
Diners receive a 50 per cent discount, up to £10, when they dine at restaurants taking part in the scheme from Monday to Wednesday, throughout August.
The Treasury said it received claims for 10,540,394 individual meals from restaurants across the country. More than 83,000 restaurants are signed onto the scheme.
Consider ‘virtual trial’ for Harry Dunn’s alleged killer, Priti Patel asked
Andrea Leadsom, MP for the constituency Harry Dunn’s family lives in, has written to home secretary Priti Patel asking her to consider a “virtual trial” for the 19-year-old’s alleged killer.
Anne Sacoolas, 42, was charged with causing death by dangerous driving after a crash outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire last August, but claimed diplomatic immunity and was able to return to the US.
The Dunn family has been trying ever since to bring her to justice, but have been frustrated by her claiming diplomatic immunity, which sparked an international controversy.
Ms Leadsom said in her letter, seen by the PA news agency, that the virtual trial would be a “way to achieve closure… without undermining the US decision not to accept the extradition request”.
She also wrote to the Solicitor General, the Foreign Secretary, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Lord Chancellor about the issue.
The family’s spokesperson, Radd Seiger, said the family “would not object” if a decision was taken to conduct a remote trial.
Harry’s mother, Charlotte Charles, told PA she was grateful to Ms Leadsom for writing the letters on their behalf to “ensure that justice is done for Harry”.
“For me and my family, it is all about doing the right thing and ensuring justice is done,” she added.
Harry’s first death anniversary falls on 27 August.
Data on coronavirus in schools incomplete, warns health minister
A health minister has cautioned against “reading too much” into a major Public Health England (PHE) report about the transmission of Covid-19 among school children as it is still a “work in progress”.
Edward Argar claimed no one had seen the final results of the yet-to-be-published work. It comes as ministers insist the study shows “little evidence that the virus is transmitted at school”.
Ashley Cowburn reports:
Minister for employment responds to latest ONS figures on job losses
Mims Davies addressed today’s figures on the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on jobs across Britain, pointing towards a number of schemes the government set out to help protect jobs.
She said: “Today’s figures show more of the impact the virus is having on both our economy and labour market, meaning many people will be understandably concerned about the future - which is why we’ve set out our Plan for Jobs, to protect, create and support jobs as we build back our economy.
“We've already protected more than 9.5 million jobs throughout this period with the furlough scheme, supported more than two million self-employed people and paid out billions in loans and grants to thousands of businesses.
"Our Eat Out to Help Out scheme is supporting thousands of jobs in the hospitality sector and helping boost confidence, and the key cut to stamp duty has led to a surge in house sales and a welcome boost to the economy.
"Looking to the future, next month we're launching the £2 billion Kickstart scheme to create thousands of new high quality jobs for young people, increasing access to tailored job support by doubling the number of work coaches across the UK and we are boosting the DWP Flexible Support Fund by £150m to provide vital localised employment support.
"We are determined to build back stronger and support people as we move into recovery."
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