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Friday morning news briefing: Mass cull of Whitehall jobs

By Danny Boyle
boris johnson latest news russia ukraine putin war deborah james cancer
boris johnson latest news russia ukraine putin war deborah james cancer

Civil service union leaders are on a direct collision course with ministers. As Whitehall opened a new front in their homeworking battle by seeking the right to work from abroad, Boris Johnson unveiled plans to cut 91,000 civil service jobs

The Prime Minister said the savings made from cutting "swollen" departments would be ploughed into helping people with the cost of living crisis – hinting it may be used to fund future tax cuts. 

At a Cabinet away day in Stoke-on-Trent, he gave each member of his top team one month to come up with plans for slimming down their own department as part of a drive to cut the overall number of officials by a fifth. 

Gordon Rayner and Nick Gutteridge explain how the bosses of Whitehall departments will insist that staff are allowed to work overseas "for personal reasons" rather than having to take annual leave.

Cartoonist Davey's take on the ways Boris Johnson plans to tackle the cost of living crisis
Cartoonist Davey's take on the ways Boris Johnson plans to tackle the cost of living crisis

A series of motions passed by the FDA union's conference amounted to a manifesto for home working, in direct contradiction of government policy. 

The union's official stance is now that "work is no longer a place, but what is done".

Columnist Judith Woods argues that "this militancy is predicated on a bizarrely philosophical concept" and Matthew Lynn asks: "Would anyone notice if we sacked homeworking civil servants?"

Lord Frost: PM must brave it out over Protocol

Boris Johnson must show the same leadership over Northern Ireland as he has on Ukraine by ripping up the Northern Ireland Protocol, says Lord Frost. 

The former Brexit minister, who was the architect of the 2019 withdrawal deal, said efforts to broker an agreement have "reached the end of the road" and urged the Prime Minister to act now to save the Union even if it means "confrontation" with the EU. 

Writing for The Telegraph, he said Sinn Fein's victory in last week's Stormont elections and the refusal of the DUP to enter power-sharing have "forced the Government's hand". 

Lord Frost's intervention comes after a day during which relations further deteriorated as Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, had a "tetchy" half-hour call with the EU's negotiator, Maros Sefcovic.

Pudding fit for the jubilee is no mere trifle

A lemon Swiss roll and amaretti trifle inspired by a dessert from the Queen's 1947 wedding menu has been named the nation's Platinum Pudding, beating 5,000 other recipes. 

The dessert, created by Jemma Melvin, won a nationwide contest to find a recipe that could be recreated in homes across the UK to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee next month. 

See the recipe for how you can make the winning entry.

Daily dose of Matt

In his latest cartoon, Matt finds humour in the High Court battle dubbed Wagatha Christie.

Also in the news: Today's other headlines

National inspiration | Deborah James has been made a dame after she raised more than £3 million for cancer charities in less than a week. Ms James, renowned for her BBC podcast You, Me and the Big C, revealed on Monday that she had started end-of-life care for bowel cancer. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have donated to her cause.

Around the world: A bridge too far for invaders

Military experts agree that crossing any river in the middle of a conflict is not easy. But the Russian army's attempt to build a pontoon over the Siverskyi Donets river was so catastrophically flawed that it ended with a large portion of a battalion wiped out in the process. Chief reporter Robert Mendick writes that if ever a battle in the brutal Ukraine war was emblematic of Russian military failure, then perhaps this was it. As the head of an elite unit said that British troops are "ready to go and fight" Russia in a "lethal" way if called upon, follow live updates.

A battalion of around 50 Russian army vehicles gather on the river bank. CREDIT: REUTERS - REUTERS
A battalion of around 50 Russian army vehicles gather on the river bank. CREDIT: REUTERS - REUTERS

Comment and analysis

Editor's choice

  1. Scurrilous gossip | Why Agatha Christie would have revelled in the Wagatha Christie trial
  2. Thundering start | Queen's Platinum Jubilee Celebration: A Gallop Through History, review
  3. Geek chic | Eleven ways Stranger Things kept the 1980s in vogue

Sport briefing: Spurs humiliate 10-man Arsenal

Tottenham kept their Champions League hopes alive as they put 10-man Arsenal to the sword with a 3-0 victory in a pulsating north London derby. Sam Wallace reports on a long, dark night of the soul for Mikel Arteta and Matt Law examines the 11 minutes of madness that might undo a season of progress for Arsenal. In cricket, Brendon McCullum is likely to make relaxing England's midnight team curfew one of his first big decisions after signing a £2m contract as the new Test head coach.

Business briefing: Sunak warned over windfall tax

Rishi Sunak will put Britain's energy security at risk if he imposes a windfall tax on oil companies, the head of BP has warned, as the country battles soaring fuel prices. Bernard Looney said a tax raid on his industry would make the UK a less stable environment for investment and potentially hold back plans to wean the country off its dependence on foreign oil and gas. Experts are warning of a surge in the price of diesel because refineries are struggling to keep pace with demand.

Tonight's dinner

Smoked haddock with garlicky cream and raw asparagus salad | Eleanor Steafel says there is something very comforting about an old fashioned smoked fish supper. See the recipe and try our Cookbook newsletter.

Travel: England's best secret beaches

It felt like winter would never end, but – after months of chilly temperatures – warmer weather has finally arrived. For those hoping to celebrate this weekend with a trip to the seaside – the first for six months, perhaps – Daniel Start picks a dozen of England's least crowded stretches of sand that are gloriously off the beaten track.

And finally... for this morning's downtime

Where are Britain's Eurovision Song Contest entries now? | Guaranteed to provide a lift in dark times, Eurovision 2022 is flouncing back onto our screens. Britain has a chequered record in Europe's trashiest competition. Ahead of the final tomorrow night, Tristram Fane Saunders explores what came next for contestants.

If you want to receive twice-daily briefings like this by email, sign up to the Front Page newsletter here. For two-minute audio updates, try The Briefing - on podcasts, smart speakers and WhatsApp.

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Dive Deeper:
Friday evening UK news briefing: Covid jobs in line of fire in civil service cuts
Also from this evening's Front Page newsletter: Joy for the Queen in first public appearance since March. Sign up below
Thursday evening UK news briefing: Russia warns of 'military' retaliation over Finland Nato plans
Also from this evening's Front Page newsletter: First review of the Top Gun sequel and day three of the Wagatha…
Lemon trifle is crowned Platinum Pudding for Queen’s Jubilee celebrations
The winner of the Platinum Pudding competition says the experience was “surreal” – after only deciding to enter after a…
Boris Johnson urged to be ‘honest’ about NI protocol issues being caused by Brexit deal he chose – as it happened
Maroš Šefčovič says UK must admit that EU cannot solve all problems caused by type of Brexit negotiated by prime…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
'Downing Street has become the place where our nation's laws are broken'
The sheer number of fines handed out for breaking coronavirus laws undermines Boris Johnson’s repeated claims to MPs that there…
'Boris Johnson is leading Britain into hardship and ignoring those who need help'
The gaping hole in the Queen’s Speech setting out the Government’s programme for the next 12 months was a sorry…
Get all your news in one place