London Playbook: Strikes hope — Budget fallout — Labour’s election prep

London Playbook: Strikes hope — Budget fallout — Labour’s election prep
Опубликовано: Friday, 17 March 2023 06:20

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BOOKMARK THIS: Boris Johnson was reselected last night as the Tory candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, majority 7,210, despite speculation he’d seek out a safer seat down the line. Asked if he will definitely see it through and stand in Uxbridge at the next general election, his spokesman told Playbook: “Yes.”

Good Friday morning: This is Dan Bloom. Rosa Prince returns on Monday.


HAPPY FRIDAY: Rishi Sunak is waking up on his 150th day in office to the prospect that the biggest strikes in NHS history have finally been neutered — and other unions could follow. He won’t be relaxing by his new heated swimming pool, as he is due to spend today and the weekend in Downing Street. But with neither the budget nor Brexit deal collapsed (yet), and international agreements on Aussie submarines and small boats in the last week, the PM will have a spring in his morning Peloton workout.

SCOOP — ARE TEACHERS NEXT? Two people tell Playbook the National Education Union (NEU) has discussed sitting down imminently for pay talks with the government. It appeared to be the last of four unions holding out after leaders of the ASCL, NAHT and NASUWT all met Education Secretary Gillian Keegan earlier this week.

Why now? The NEU was refusing Keegan’s demands to suspend strikes in exchange for talks on pay, including for 2022/23, saying she should meet at arbitration service Acas. But its latest two-day walkout ended Thursday, meaning there is a window of opportunity for both sides to come to the table.

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HOPE: The breakthrough for 1.2 million NHS workers in England, yet to be approved by union members, splashes the Sun, Times, Mirror, Express, Metro and i, and makes the front of the Guardian and FT. The Mirror’s Martin Bagot says there were “tense negotiations late into the night.” The Times’ Chris Smyth says in his analysis that “politically, the strikes have been a score draw” … which is probably the best way of nudging other sectors to a resolution. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt told LBC “I hope” that’s what’ll happen.

But but but … Sunak and Hunt’s next 50 days include Boris Johnson blowing up any sense of calm Tory managerialism at the Privileges Committee … a revolt and DUP verdict on the Windsor Framework … Joe Biden’s hazard-prone visit to Northern Ireland … a review of the state pension age that will affect core voters … and the May 4 local elections. If he makes it through all that, he’s rewarded with the coronation — followed by Eurovision on his 200th day in office.

CIVIL OUT-OF-SERVICE: Mike Clancy of the Prospect civil service union said the NHS deal “may provide a template for unlocking disputes elsewhere” — but the PCS’ Mark Serwotka has just announced five weeks of strikes in passport offices, saying “ministers have failed to hold any meaningful talks.” Meetings have been at official-level to keep up lines of communication ahead of the 2023/24 pay review.

JUNIOR DOCTORS’ HOPE: The British Medical Association, which walked out this week, has asked Barclay for a meeting this afternoon after he “found the willingness to discuss pay.”

ON TRACK? The RMT‘s next train operators strike is Saturday, but a ballot of members on a Network Rail pay offer ends on Monday. General Secretary Mick Lynch on Thursday said “the end is in sight” if pay offers improve.

THE BIG QUESTIONS: Thursday’s draft NHS deal (details here), hailed by both sides, is a big move from ministers who refused for months to even talk about pay. But it has plenty of bear traps. Consulting members will take a few weeks and Unite said it could not recommend approval.

THE BIGGEST QUESTION: Who will fund the £2.5 billion “backlog bonus?” Hunt last night told Marr “none of that’s been resolved yet.” In a clip Thursday, Sunak refused to say how much it will cost.

The government line: Barclay stressed “this will not come from patient-facing aspects.” But talks are ongoing, with the Treasury apparently resistant to coughing up more cash before the Autumn Statement. For now the Department of Health and Social Care is finding savings through a cross-government “efficiencies review,” but the IFS’ Ben Zaranko says these would have to be “heroic.” Smyth says there is widespread expectation the Treasury will end up finding billions more down the back of the sofa. Zaranko says this would effectively rewrite the budget “before the ink is dry.”

THE OTHER FLY IN THE OINTMENT: Last night it emerged nurses’ pay could be hived off from other NHS workers in future. The idea of special treatment for nurses would be very controversial with other the unions for health care assistants, porters, lab workers and the like, which already have no love lost with the RCN.

Wording fudged: A letter by Steve Barclay to the RCN confirmed he will work on “the design and implementation issues, including scope and legal aspects, of a separate pay spine for nursing staff exclusively” for introduction in 2024/25. But ITV’s Anushka Asthana spotted that the RCN watered down a press release that said he’d “create” a new pay spine — the online version now says he’d “consider” one.


DAY 3: Perhaps Jeremy Hunt’s meetings with newspaper editors Thursday weren’t completely in vain. The Times, Telegraph and Mail all have voices railing against Labour’s rapid decision to oppose scrapping the lifetime allowance on pensions. The Mail spread reproduces Rachel Reeves’ “wriggling” Today interview and the Telegraph’s Dan Martin looks at the chronology of Labour’s decision.

Back to the golf course: Given polls are pointing to a Labour victory in 2024, ex-Lib Dem Pensions Minister Steve Webb tells the Times this could create a “gold rush” where workers accelerate pensions savings, cash in and retire early before Keir Starmer reaches No. 10.

Ramping up: While around 9,000 people paid lifetime allowance charges in 2020-21 according to the OBR, the Telegraph has research from consultancy LCP that shows as many as 2 million people could be affected. Tory Treasury committee member John Baron says Labour is indulging in “class war.”

A long time in politics etc: The Tel headline on Labour returning to a George Osborne cap that was government policy 48 hours ago is: “Labour’s pensions tax raid plan.”

THE LABOUR LINE: That the £835 million-a-year cost makes it a bung to the 1 percent. Rachel Reeves, as quoted in the Mail: “At a time when families across the country face rising bills, higher costs and frozen wages, this gilded giveaway is the wrong priority, at the wrong time, for the wrong people.”

THE TORY LINE: That it will help keep 15,000 people in the workforce over five years. A Tory official told Playbook: “Labour didn’t think before they lashed out. We have serious workforce shortages, and Labour have ended up in a position where they’re going after experienced public servants — doctors, head teachers, police chiefs and military top brass. It’s painful to watch.”

DELIGHTING THE TREASURY: Renowned pollster John Curtice writes in the i that 60 percent back changes to the lifetime allowance.

BUT BUT BUT … It’s not all a bed of roses. The Telegraph has a roll call of peers hitting out at next month’s corporation tax rise, including former Goldman Sachs strategist Baroness Dambisa Moyo in her maiden speech. And the FT’s Chris Giles quotes Treasury Committee Chair Harriett Baldwin bemoaning the “fiction” in Hunt’s budget that fuel duty freezes and investment allowances will end, which “game” his fiscal rules. ConHome’s Henry Hill tells the IfG’s Inside Briefing podcast it’s a success “in that the government hasn’t fallen over and gone on fire.”

STEALTH RISES: The Mail’s second budget spread is on the £1,000 “stealth tax raid” on middle-class earners through frozen thresholds.

SMALL PRINT ALERT: Priti Patel tells the Express the Red Book indicates trade deals could come with easier access for migrant workers: “It sends all the wrong messages.”

SUNLIT UPLANDS: The budget offer of 30 hours’ free childcare for 1- and 2-year-olds could be brought in quicker than September 2025, says Children’s Minister Claire Coutinho. She tells the Sun it can “absolutely” be accelerated … “if we can get the workforce in place.” Good luck, as they say, with that.

FUTURE THREAT: Jeremy Hunt’s overhaul of disability benefits later this decade could leave people with complex or invisible conditions hundreds of pounds out of pocket, the IFS tells the i’s Chloe Chaplain.

OUR PLACE IN THE WORLD: The OECD publishes its interim economic outlook at 11 a.m. U.K. time — press conference details here.


ELECTION CLOCK TICKS, SLOWLY: Submissions close today to Labour’s National Policy Forum, the turgid process that forms the party’s pre-election agenda. Two Labour figures — an NEC member and a shadow Cabinet minister — say the party is hoping to have its policy position “done and dusted” by January. It would then be ready to take into a “Clause V” meeting to write a manifesto weeks before election day (relive the chaotic 2017 one here).

Wheels grind slowly: Draft policy documents will be distributed by May 9 and NPF members have until June 5 to submit amendments, my colleague Emilio Casalicchio texts in. Then it’s a long weekend away in Nottingham on July 21-23 where the shadow Cabinet, unions, ruling NEC and NPF reps will hold late-night meetings working up “detailed positions” to bring to October’s party conference. Votes are pencilled on the Sunday morning if they can’t agree. “I would rather be anywhere else,” quips one shadow minister.

Mission impossible: The NPF subjects including “a green and digital future” and “a future where families come first” are about as broad as Starmer’s five missions, leaving caverns of wriggle room. And of course the missions are separate to the NPF subjects. Two people say they could form five chapter headings of a future manifesto.

In other words … Ultimately the NPF is not some kind of gospel policymaking service. The NEC member says that while the NPF is the “Bible” for Starmer, it’s more of a “nod to the membership” than something to read religiously. A second shadow minister describes it with a knowing look as a “stakeholder management exercise” for members — “it’s one route in but it’s not the only route in.” And a party strategist jokes: “It’s all bollocks, isn’t it?”

Fight starts now: Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner is in Liverpool at 11 a.m. to launch the local party’s campaign for the May 4 elections.

ABOUT THAT: The Electoral Commission confirms that the latest date Sunak can hold a general election is January 28, 2025 — because parliament must be dissolved by December 17, 2024, five years since it met. A couple of months ago, many MPs were guessing it’d be in October 2024.

But but but … In her Times column, Spectator pol ed Katy Balls says a spring election is now viewed as “appealing” in No. 10 after a good few weeks for the PM — and Sunak would be front-and-center in any campaign. She also examines how the Aussies are inspiring both Labour and the Tories.

Can they win it back? Piers Morgan in the Sun can see a repeat of the 1992 election — where Labour lost after more than a year ahead in the polls — and the reason is “one word: competence.” Tory MP Bim Afolami told Question Time it will be “very hard” for the Conservatives to win the next election — though it’s possible if they “do the right things.”

THEIR SECRET WEAPON: Ex-Cabinet Minister Priti Patel gave us a reminder of the Tories’ savior or curse (insert your prejudice here) in a Dan Wootton interview on GB News. She told him “there is a culture of collusion involved” in the privileges committee that will question Boris Johnson next week and “it’s going to put our democracy in a very, very bad light. Where is democracy, quite frankly, right now?”

OOPS! Keir Starmer hasn’t quite banished Jeremy Corbyn from every nook. The independent MP is a substitute on the U.K. delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe — and visited Strasbourg in January. “It’s hilarious,” a mischievous fellow member tells Playbook, “they’ve forgotten he’s there. It’s all a bit strange that he’s not allowed to represent Labour in the U.K. parliament but he’s at the Council of Europe.”

Numberwang: Technically, Corbyn is not actually representing Labour. But the U.K. has 18 representatives and 18 substitutes, who can vote in place of a full representative. The Tories, part of the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance, have 10 Tory members and 10 Tory substitutes. But Labour, part of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group (SOC), has six members and five substitutes, while the sixth SOC substitute is Corbyn. It is thought to be up to Labour whips to suggest any change, and the party simply has “not got round to” doing so, another member said.

MISS EU: A poll by More in Common shows 46 percent of people think the U.K. should rejoin the EU by 2030, vesus 36 percent who think we shouldn’t. Cut out the “don’t knows” and it’s 56-44.

Divided Britain: Unsurprising perhaps after the Get Brexit Done election, but the party breakdown is stark. Just 22 percent of people who voted Tory in 2019 want to rejoin the EU — compared to 76 percent Green, 79 percent SNP, 80 percent Lib Dem and 82 percent Labour.

SCOOP — BLUNKETT ON DRUGS: Former home secretary and Labour grandee David Blunkett has said he would support a “proper, fully-funded inquiry” into the decriminalization of drugs — in a new episode of Westminster Insider on how to get away with a U-turn. He told POLITICO’s Aggie Chambre there was an argument for decriminalization, despite the idea being rejected by Keir Starmer. Blunkett made clear he had never been asked to give the Labour leader his advice on home affairs.

U-turning: Also in the podcast, David Laws laments the “terrible politics” of tuition fees U-turns … Ex-Theresa May Chief of Staff Fiona Hill says she knew the then-PM had to U-turn on the “dementia tax” within hours, when Laura Kuenssberg rang and said the backlash on the BBC website was “incredible” … And former Truss Cabinet Secretary Simon Clarke agrees the moment he found out about the 45p U-turn felt like a kick in the stomach.


DEMS THE BREAKS: The Lib Dems are off to York Barbican today for their first in-person Glee Club — sorry, party conference — for three years. Spring Conference is usually a smaller affair but their autumn gathering was scuppered by the queen’s death. Leader Ed Davey is doing an hourlong BBC local radio round (the same type that derailed Liz Truss last year) at 7.30 a.m. before heading to York for a rally at 6.30 p.m.

Gimmicks ahoy: Playbook hears staff have assembled a roll call of the party’s most ludicrous by-election props for the rally, including a replica of the “Boris bubble” they burst in North Shropshire … the literal blue wall they “demolished” in Chesham and Amersham … and the actual door they used to “show Boris the door” in Tiverton and Honiton.

Letters spray: Davey tells the Guardian his party will send letters in his name to Labour supporters in Tory-held Blue Wall seats in the south — urging them to vote tactically to “beat the Conservatives.” The interview notes he rules out pacts before an election … but there’s no mention of what might happen after one. Davey’s keynote speech is at 11.30 a.m. on Sunday.

Reality check: Despite a strong by-election game, the Lib Dems remain stubbornly on 9 percent in POLITICO’s Poll of Polls. Last night the party held Cottenham ward on South Cambridgeshire council — but its vote share was down 19 percent since May 2022 while the Tories’ was up 13 percent, says Andrew Teale of the Local Elections Archive Project.

**Alfred Kammer, director, European Department, International Monetary Fund, is joining POLITICO Live’s Finance Summit on March 23 in Paris to discuss the future of European Finance. Register today!**


SENTENCING HIKE: Domestic abusers who kill their partners will receive tougher sentences under government plans published today. The law will be changed so a history of coercive or controlling behavior becomes an aggravating factor in sentencing decisions for murder. The BBC has the story.

NEW BULLY CLAIMS: Justice Secretary Dominic Raab is on the morning round to discuss the above — but expect yet more claims of bullying to take over. Sky News’ Beth Rigby and Mollie Malone have interviewed silhouetted alleged victims, with one official telling the pair he “ruined lives.” An official said: “His was the worst behavior I have ever seen … It was coercive behavior. He had people in tears after coming out of his office.” Another said: “He wouldn’t shout, but he’d be so angry. Quiet fury.”

Not long now: Raab has been interviewed by investigator Adam Tolley, who has put the deputy PM’s defense to his accusers for response. He denies bullying. He’s on Sky at 7.25 a.m.

TIKTOK PRESSURE: Cross-party MPs and peers want the information commissioner to investigate if the Chinese-owned app’s handling of personal information breaches U.K. law, writes the Guardian. There was a clear split over the ban of the app on U.K. government devices last night, as Tory MP Luke Evans rode to TikTok-loving Grant Shapps’ defense but Labour’s Carolyn Harris joined those deleting it. Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden urged Shapps to “exercise caution” but told TalkTV “the Cabinet is in agreement.”

How the ban works: Playbook is told government devices will be updated so that only “permitted” apps can be downloaded, as is the case in some departments already. Officials are also looking at whether to block the TikTok URL. But the focus is only on devices that would carry government documents marked Official: Sensitive, for example. TikTok says it’s “disappointed” and users’ data is not stored in China, while the Chinese Embassy hit out at the “political” decision.

FRIT: Suella Braverman is flying to Rwanda later today to discuss its £120 million migration partnership with Britain, reports the Independent — which wasn’t invited. Nor were the Guardian or Mirror, writes Lizzie Dearden. This is not the first time ministers have excluded outlets they don’t like from official, taxpayer-funded government business abroad — the same happened on Priti Patel’s trip to Kigali last year. An official rejected a report that the BBC isn’t invited, as GB News is representing the broadcast “pool.”

STAMP OF SHAME: Royal Mail should face an Ofcom investigation for breaching its universal service obligation, a BEIS committee report says. It says the strikes-hit firm has failed to deliver letters to all addresses six days a week, deprioritizing letters over parcels. The CWU says it’s “vindicated.”

DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION: Some people have lost their jobs or income after driving license delays that have affected 3 million people, says a public accounts committee report. PA’s write-up is here.

IT GETS RESULTS: A story by Paul Waugh featured in the i (not to mention Playbook) appears to have nudged the government into action, as plans to end free NHS prescriptions for 60-65 year-olds were scrapped.

FUELING THE FIRE: Environmentalist website DeSmog looks at Tory MP Mark Pritchard’s potential earnings from companies that have an interest in fossil fuels. The website approached Pritchard for comment.

CAMPAIGNERS’ HOPE: Care Minister Helen Whately told a Westminster Hall debate she is “sympathetic” to calls for a “Green Badge” for care workers’ car parking and “absolutely hears” the argument. The campaign now moves to persuading the Treasury to stump up the cash — likely a few million.

SUMMONING THE RAIN: More than 30 locations across the country will host big screens to show the king’s coronation on May 6, Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer announced. Sites will be in all four nations of the U.K., with over £1 million made available by DCMS. More at Sky.

HOUSE OF COMMONS: Sits from 9.30 a.m. with a day of private Members’ bills including the remaining stages of the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill (Tory MP Henry Smith), the Child Support (Enforcement) Bill (the Tories’ Siobhan Baillie) and the Powers of Attorney Bill (Tory MP Stephen Metcalfe).

HOUSE OF LORDS: Not sitting.


CHINA <3 RUSSIA: Chinese companies have sent Russian entities 1,000 assault rifles and other equipment which could be used for military purposes, according to data POLITICO obtained. The shipments took place after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and will fuel rising concern in Downing Street about China’s position on the world stage.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine: Doubts are growing about the wisdom of holding the shattered frontline city of Bakhmut against relentless Russian assaults, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is digging in and insists his top commanders are united in keeping up an attritional defense that has dragged on for months. POLITICO’s Jamie Dettmer and Veronika Melkozerova have the story.

NEED FOR SPEED: Wales is lowering its speed limit to a default 20mph on many roads in exactly six months. The Labour government has released results of a trial insisting it had minimal impact on journey times.

GOD’S OWN COUNTRY: South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire’s mayors are to begin devolution talks with Westminster this year, the Yorkshire Post says, with the government also “set to press ahead” with a combined authority for East Yorkshire and Hull.

BIG BUCKS: U.K. government figures say they would privately welcome Qatari investment into Manchester United, as the club’s owners consider a £4 billion bid, writes my colleague Stefan Boscia.

DO YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SHOUT: Paris police clashed with protestors opposing the French government’s new pension reforms. The BBC reports thousands of people gathered singing the national anthem and waving trade union flags. POLITICO’s Clea Caulcutt reports that Emmanuel Macron is a weakened president.

NOT ANOTHER 2: The Inverness Courier holds an SNP leadership debate this evening which will be streamed online for free. LBC presenter Iain Dale hosts the first U.K.-wide radio debate between the three candidates live from Glasgow at 7 p.m. on Monday.

NOT PREACHING TO THE CONVERTED: Mhairi Black has become the latest prominent SNP MP to swipe at leadership candidate Kate Forbes’ stance on conversion therapy. She tells POLITICO’s Andrew McDonald: “You can never really consent to it.”

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Justice Secretary Dominic Raab broadcast round: GB News (7.15 a.m.) … Sky News (7.25 a.m.) … BBC Breakfast (7.35 a.m.) … LBC (7.45 a.m.) … GMB (8.25 a.m.) … Today program (8.30 a.m.).

Labour Party Chair Anneliese Dodds broadcast round: GB News (7.20 a.m.) … LBC News (7.35 a.m.) … ITN media clip (playing out shortly after 7.50 a.m.) … Sky News (8.05 a.m) … Times Radio (8.35 a.m.).

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey BBC local radio broadcast round: Manchester (7.30 a.m.) … Wiltshire (7.38 a.m.) … Berkshire (7.45 a.m.) … Lancashire (8.08 a.m.) … Surrey (8.15 a.m.) … Gloucestershire (8.22 a.m.).

Also on Good Morning Britain: Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton (8.10 a.m.).

Also on Times Radio Breakfast: Dex Hunter-Torricke, former speechwriter to Mark Zuckerberg (7.50 a.m.) … GMB Union National Secretary Andy Prendergast (8.05am)

Also on Sky News Breakfast: Andy Prendergast (7.45 a.m.).

Also on GB News Breakfast: GP Anita Raja (8 a.m.).

Also on Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: Unison deputy head of health Helga Pile (7.05 a.m.) … Former Health Minister James Bethell (7.10 a.m.).


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

POLITICO UK: UK ministers welcome Qatari bid for Manchester United.

Daily Express: Victory for common sense and patients.

Daily Mail: Beyond Parody!

Daily Mirror: Nurses deal at last.

Daily Star: Generation Zzzzzzzzzz.

Financial Times: Banks scramble to reassure investors and regulators after flight of deposits.

i: NHS pay deal signals end to wave of public sector strikes.

Metro: Say yes to end strikes.

The Daily Telegraph: Labour’s pension tax raid plan will ‘hit millions.’

The Guardian: Excoriating report condemns Met police over racist, sexist culture.

The Independent: Beginning of the end of the strikes?

The Sun: Carry on nurse.

The Times: Unions back ‘fair’ raise for a million NHS staff.


The Economist: What’s wrong with the banks.


EU Confidential: The POLITICO team discuss Germany’s efforts to derail EU plans to end the sale of combustion engines by 2035. The special guest is financier and political activist Bill Browder.

Westminster Insider: POLITICO’s Aggie Chambre explores how to get away with a U-turn.

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

Committee Corridor: Joanna Cherry speaks to home affairs committee Chair Diana Johnson and justice committee Chair Bob Neill about the backlog in the justice system.

The Political Party: Matt Forde interviews former BBC Director-General Greg Dyke.

The Rest Is Politics: Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell discuss the invasion of Iraq, 20 years on.

The Rundown: PoliticsHome’s Alain Tolhurst speaks to Treasury committee Chair Harriet Baldwin, Labour’s Shadow International Trade Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds, the IFS’ Ben Zaranko and Tory MP Kevin Foster about the budget.

Whitehall Sources: Calum Macdonald and Kirsty Buchanan are joined by former George Osborne SpAd James Chapman and former Ed Balls SpAd Karim Palant to discuss budget day.

Women with Balls: Katy Balls speaks to SNP leadership contender Ash Regan.


WESTMINSTER WEATHER: Light rain showers with a moderate breeze. Highs of 15C.

COST OF LIVING CRISIS: Forget the 44p extra tax on wine in the budget. Spare a thought for parliament’s bars, whose booze prices went up 10 percent on March 6 — “to become more aligned with external establishments.” But not that aligned: A pint of guest ale in Stranger’s still only cost £3.90 on budget day.

NEW GIG: Philip Duffy has been appointed the new chief executive of the Environment Agency (EA), starting on July 1.

WEEKEND CULTURE: The second Hong Kong Film Festival U.K. kicks off this Saturday until the end of March, including screening films that can’t be shown in Hong Kong. Over 60 screenings will take place in seven cities in the U.K.

WEEKEND TV GUIDE: Saturday marks exactly 20 years since MPs voted to approve the invasion of Iraq — Oscar-winning film “The Hurt Locker,” set in 2004 Baghdad, is shown on Sunday at 10.45 p.m. on BBC Two.

DON’T MISS: Radio 4’s Profile of Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, broadcast Saturday at 7 p.m. and repeated on Sunday.

JOB AD: The Independent is hiring a commissioning editor “who prides themselves on snappy headlines and excellent copy editing.”

BECAUSE IT’S FRIDAY: Stop everything and watch this video of mounted police chasing down a driver on his phone.

BIRTHDAYS: Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s wife Carrie Johnson … U.K. Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance … Dudley South MP Mike Wood … Romford MP Andrew Rosindell … Midlothian MP Owen Thompson … Crossbench peer and former Treasury Minister Jim O’Neill … Tory peer and former “Britain Stronger in Europe” chief Stuart Rose … Retired crossbench peer Robert Walker … Senior Deputy Speaker John Gardiner … Belfast Chamber of Commerce CEO Simon Hamilton … U.K. Ambassador to UAE Patrick Moody … Opinium’s Chris Curtis.

Celebrating over the weekend: Vice Chamberlain of the Household Jo Churchill … Former Tory SpAd Angus Walker… Edinburgh South West MP Joanna Cherry … Unaffiliated peer Amir Bhatia … Scottish Greens co-leader and Scottish government minister Patrick Harvie turns 50 … Crossbench peer and former Met Police chief Ian Blair turns 70 … Former Tory SpAd Ems Barr … Network Rail Chairman Peter Hendy turns 70 … The i’s Arj Singh Government Deputy Chief Whip in the Lords Patrick Stopford … Labour peer Raymond Plant … Scottish Tory MSP Jamie Greene … Former Welsh Government Education Minister Kirsty Williams.

PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Zoya Sheftalovich, reporter Noah Keate and producer Grace Stranger.

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