Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen
Damian Green, the former first secretary of state, was on the Today programme this morning promoting a plan he has drawn up for a national care fund, to pay for social care. It would everyone having to contribute something – effectively, compulsory insurance – but the key feature of his proposal is to get pensioner homeowners to use equity release to pay for their contributions, unlocking some of the vast wealth tied up in property.
He told the programme:
It’s a staggering amount of money. It is 1.7 trillion of equity owned by over-65s with no mortgage left on their homes. A very small amount of that could solve a lot of this crisis …
My suggestion would take a very small part of that wealth and leave them significant amounts of money to hand on to their children, because I absolutely accept that inheritance through the generations is important.
The £30,000 figure is purely illustrative, and I am conscious of two caveats. One, that government would still need to cover the long tail of the small number who incurred the most costs, and secondly, that those with no equity would still need to be covered by taxation.
But this radical policy would meet some of the most difficult political concerns.
Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, has said the UK should table new customs plans within the next two weeks. These are from RTE’s Tony Connelly.
BREAKING: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says that the British Prime Minister Theresa May shd table a new proposal on the future customs relationship between the EU & UK within the next 2 wks, hints it cd see continued alignment btwn whole of UK and EU on customs into the future
the Taoiseach said the prime minister had given him some insights into what he called “new thinking” on the British side.
Varadkar: I said to the prime minister that any move that helped to align all of the EU and the UK in terms of customs into the future would be beneficial.
“It would help solve some of the problems related to the border but not all of them. It would certainly help us continue to trade between Britain and Ireland much as we do now.”
Following a 45 minute meeting on the margins of the EU-Western Balkans Summit, Mr Varadkar warned repeatedly that keeping the UK aligned on customs was not the only thing required to avoid a hard border.
Theresa May’s new thinking, he said, was presented “verbally and conceptually” and as such Dublin could not respond until it was presented as a formal written proposal in the Brexit negotiations.
Taoiseach said he was “not discouraged”by the meeting.
“The PM gave me an insight into some new thinking the UK government as in relation to customs. Obviously we’ll see how that develops. We haven’t been able to get any detail on that yet,but certainly any move on customs that brings the U.K. closer to the EU is to be welcomed.
He said he made it clear to the prime minister that Ireland would insist on its red line of a legally operable backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement, whatever progress was made on customs.
Asked if the Theresa May could deliver on a new customs relationship given the depths of opposition by hardliners in her cabinet, the Taoiseach said he believed she could, although it involved the “internal politics of the UK.