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What the papers say: Britain’s booming economy and ‘whinging’ Whitehall

6 January 2017

8:24 AM

6 January 2017

8:24 AM

The front page of the Times makes happy reading for the Government this morning with its news that Britain’s economy grew at a faster rate than any other leading economy in the world last year. But while politicians are keen to act as cheerleaders on occasions like this, they are somewhat more reluctant to mention another ‘metric of success: immigration’. So says the Guardian in its editorial in which it argues that foreign workers wanting to come to Britain is a sign of just how healthy our economy is. Theresa May faces a challenge, the paper says, in addressing the worries of workers who want immigration to be controlled, while not ignoring the demands of various sectors for workers from overseas. So what’s the solution? The Guardian sounds a note of pessimism saying that no answer can ‘satisfy both political pressure for lower numbers and employer demands for flexibility’. Instead it says the way to keep workers happy is simple: the Government must ensure a level playing field – by enforcing laws such as the minimum wage – rather than pinning the blame on immigrants for workers’ woes.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail hits out at the First Division Association – a union representing senior civil servants – for saying Whitehall mandarins deserve a pay rise. This plea falls on deaf ears in the Mail which says that the timing of this demand – in the wake of the row over Sir Ivan Rogers’ departure – is ‘extraordinary’, given that the ‘political objectivity’ of elements of the civil service is already in doubt. The paper also says it’s questionable whether Whitehall even has the ‘negotiating skills necessary to deliver Britain’s orderly departure from Brussels’. Instead, the Mail says, it’s time for the civil service to stop ‘whingeing’ and get on with the job in question.

The Sun says that if 2016 put paid to worries over Project Fear coming true, 2017 is adding another nail into the campaign’s coffin. The paper says in its editorial that the good news about Britain’s economy in the wake of the Brexit vote is resoundingly clear: ‘the FTSE has broken records and our manufacturing and services sectors have hit two-year highs,’ it points out. Meanwhile, the paper cites a study carried out by the University of Cambridge revealing that the impact of leaving the EU is likely to be ‘minor’ for the UK. ‘Project Fear has never looked more ridiculous,’ the paper concludes.

Across the pond, Donald Trump is set for a crunch meeting with US intelligence officials today who have been investigating alleged Russian hacking of the election. The president-elect might have made his own views on the subject perfectly clear but the Times says it’s time for Trump to change tack. While the president-elect is ‘entitled’ to ask questions of spooks, says the paper, this row for Trump isn’t one about competence. Instead, the Times says, ‘he is denying an intelligence conclusion that he finds politically inconvenient’. And in doing so, Trump is doing the very thing that he is accusing the US intelligence community of doing: ’engaging in political grandstanding’. It’s high time that Trump stops shouting and ‘bolsters a bipartisan commitment to national security,’ the paper concludes.

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