Robert Jenrick (Picture: Tim Sanders)

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick told staff at an asylum reception centre to paint over wall art depicting cartoons and animals. They had commissioned the paintings  to provide a “welcoming” atmosphere for children. Enver Solomon, head of the Refugee Council, said Jenrick gave the order as he visited the Kent asylum intake unit earlier this year. It was on the same visit that he was said to have urged workers to take down welcome signs with colourful branding. This was designed to make clear the centre was a “law enforcement environment” and “not a welcome centre”.

On the same visit, Jenrick also complained that pictures on the wall designed for children should be painted over, according to Mr Solomon. The charity boss told a Refugee Week event hosted by the Wiener Holocaust Library that the pictures are designed to put at ease lone children, like two Afghan boys he met at the centre.

They were “absolutely ­terrified” following a ­“horrifying journey” across Europe to Britain  via a Channel small boat. Solomon said, “The ­immigration minister said pictures of cartoons and animals must be removed and that staff should make sure they are painted over, as they give an impression of welcoming, which Jenrick didn’t want to show. “This demonstrates that the hostile environment has become so entrenched, that today we have lost sight of humanity.”

Labour’s shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said, “The idea that painting over murals and removing entertainment for unaccompanied children in immigration centres will somehow stop the boats is utterly absurd.” So is that the criterion for assessing cruelty?

Energy bosses profit boost

The world’s 722 biggest companies are collectively making more than $1tn a year (£780 billion) in “windfall profits” on the back of soaring energy prices and rising interest rates, according to analysis of Forbes magazine data by the charities Oxfam and ActionAid.

The collective profits were 89 percent higher than the previous four-year average covering 2017-20. Windfall profits are defined as those exceeding average profits in the previous four years by more than 10 percent.

Energy companies recorded the highest windfall profits. Of the 45 energy firms on Forbes list of the 2,000 biggest companies, they made on average £185 billion a year in windfall profits in 2021 and 2022, according to the research.

The surge in energy profits has led to the creation of a total of 96 energy billionaires with a combined wealth of nearly £338 billion—about £40 billion more than in April last year. Many food and beverage corporations, banks, pharmaceutical companies and retailers also reported a surge in profits during a cost of living crisis in which more than a quarter of a billion people in 58 countries experienced acute food insecurity in 2022.

If present polices aren’t dumped, electricity prices in Britain will remain above their pre-crisis levels until the late 2030s, a leading energy analyst has warned. Cornwall Insight said it did not expect wholesale electricity prices to return to their early 2021 levels for at least 15 years. It also warned that, following recent falls in bills, prices would rise again this winter if temperatures returned to their seasonal average and demand for gas increased. Grant Shapps, the energy secretary said he wants prices to “really fall” so that bills again become “something that people cease to really have to think too much about”—although that was never true for most people.

Work-related deaths are up 10 percent in the past year, according to figures last week from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Figures reveal that 135 workers were killed during the 12 months. This was up 12 on the 123 reported in the previous year’s report. The industries with the highest deaths were construction (45), agriculture, forestry, and fishing (21), manufacturing (15), and transportation and storage (15). Agriculture, forestry, and fishing had the highest rate of fatal injury per 100,000 workers of all the main industrial sectors, followed by waste and recycling, the HSE added.

Do you remember the Chinese “spy” balloon floating over the United States that caused such a furore. The US military Pentagon acknowledged last week that the balloon neither collected nor transmitted data or intelligence. The admission was made in passing by Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder in response to a question at a press conference. Ryder declared, “It has been our assessment now that it did not collect while it was transiting the United States or over-flying the United States.”

Plenty of cash for prime London real estate

More than 70 percent of “prime central London” properties sold so far this year have been bought entirely in cash, according to a report by estate agents Savills. Nearly three-quarters of sales in prime central London—an estate agent term for an area that stretches from Chelsea to Camden and Notting Hill to Westminster—have been bought mortgage-free in the seven months from January. That compares with about 35 percent for Britain as a whole.

Parasite-handler Frances McDonald, director of residential research at Savills, said, “The established prime markets most synonymous with equity rich buyers are holding up the strongest amid mortgage market turbulence.” The estate agency said that despite concern about the impact of interest rates in the wider housing market, “prime London residential values remained remarkably resilient”.

Former top cop is a now a serious fraud

Who better to head up the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) than  a man who was at the top of a racist, misogynist, homophobic organisation? Nick Ephgrave, who was assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in charge of frontline policing between 2019 and 2022, will take over as SFO director in September.

He was in the Met for most of his 32-year policing career. Earlier this year, the Metropolitan police was the subject of a damning review by Baroness Louise Casey, who recommended that Britain’s largest police force should be broken up if it could not fix a number of serious failings. Corrupt bosses won’t be the target, but black people might find themselves with a new state agency chasing them.

Things they say

‘These are personal decisions around how people are budgeting every month’

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer on people using food banks

‘Given your intellectual weakness, I am giving you an easy to understand sentence, six months jail’

A French judge to person grabbed during the riots

‘Difficult decision’

US president Joe Biden on his choice to send cluster bombs to the war in Ukraine

‘Dame Andrea Leadsom’s declarations have been transparent and accurate in accordance with the rules and the law at all times’

Tory Andrea Leadsom explains that there was nothing wrong in having shares in Barclays when she was investigating the bank for a parliamentary committee


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