DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Rishi is right to stand firm against strikes

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Rishi is right to stand firm against strikes

In the face of co-ordinated strike action across the public sector, the Prime Minister tells the Mail today that he will stand firm even if the disruption lasts for months.

Rishi Sunak is going to need all his courage and diplomacy to prevail in this trial of strength with the intransigent unions.

But prevail he must. The demands of nurses, ambulance staff and others are unrealistic and unaffordable. Caving in would make rampant inflation even worse.

The Government has accepted the recommendations of the formal review body on NHS pay. Next year’s consultation has already begun and will take into account inflation since its last recommendation.

The Prime Minister says he will stand firm even if the disruption lasts for months

Mr Sunak does not want to pick a fight with health workers but, as he says, they have been made a fair, reasonable and independently assessed offer.

The next pay round, which Mr Sunak hints will be more generous, is not far away. At this time of economic crisis, it should not be too much to ask public sector workers to have a little patience.

The casualties of these rolling strikes are the sick, the vulnerable and those struggling to get to work on public transport.

But to the proud reputation of nurses and ambulance staff as caring professions, they could cause lasting damage.

Victory on Rwanda

It’s official. Rwanda is a safe country and sending cross-Channel migrants there to have their asylum claims processed is legal.

The High Court ruled that the Government was within its rights to use the African country to determine whether those arriving on our shores are genuinely refugees.

The migration lobby and their lawyers will no doubt appeal. But the principle has been established that it’s acceptable.

If successful, the policy will act as a deterrent to people risking their lives – and enriching trafficking gangs – by crossing the world’s busiest sea lane in flimsy boats.

Labour and the liberal Left describe the plan as unworkable. But until the first flight leaves and we see whether others are discouraged, how on earth can we know?

The Rwanda scheme may yet be delayed by the European Court of Human Rights. However, if it rules against Britain, ministers could ignore the decision.

They’ve done it before over prisoner voting rights and this issue is arguably far more important. We need to know who controls our borders – the UK Parliament or unelected Strasbourg judges.

In the meantime, Mr Sunak has pledged to clear most of the vast asylum backlog by the end of next year. If he’s as good as his word, in the best of all possible worlds flights to Rwanda may not even be necessary.

Press freedom in peril

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab have made encouraging noises about defending free speech.

So will they tackle the chilling threat to journalism contained in the Information Commissioner’s proposed statutory code of practice? Under it, journalists would need a ‘lawful reason’ for printing personal details of any people involved in the news – even those which are clearly public knowledge, such as someone’s job title.

Where the public interest is involved, they will also have to be ready to show paper trails of how they reached their decision to publish. This would be prohibitively time-consuming and impractical – and open to legal challenge by the unscrupulous to gag the Press.

Writing to the ministers, the Mail’s Ted Verity and two other national newspaper editors urge them to use the proposed Bill of Rights to exempt journalism from data protection law.

This happens in other freedom-loving democracies. It would be shameful if we didn’t follow their lead.

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