Tuesday is the last day of the parliamentary term before the summer recess, and as usual the government used it to dump a huge number of announcements at the same time.
The wave of written statements from various departments largely dealt with the government’s decision to scrap the cap on public sector wages. But littered among them were some other important moves.
1. The Brexit department is no longer negotiating Brexit
When Theresa May became prime minister she created a new department – the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) – to lead negotiations with Brussels.
But today, the prime minister formally confirmed she was stripping the department, now run by Dominic Raab, of much of its responsibility.
Instead, the Europe Unit of the Cabinet Office, led by Olly Robbins, will have “overall responsibility for the preparation and conduct of the negotiations”.
May also said for the remaining time, she will “lead” the negotiations with the EU.
The announcement was made just as Raab appeared alongside Robbins at the Commons Brexit committee. He insisted the changes were “to make sure there is one team, one chain of command” and did not mind at all.
Jenny Chapman, Labour’s shadow Brexit minister, immediately mocked the new Brexit secretary. “Dominic Raab has been sidelined by the prime minister before he has even had the chance to get his feet under the table,” she said.
2. Red Arrows base scrapped
The home of the Red Arrows, RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, will be sold to cut costs as the air force celebrates its 100th year.
Defence minister Tobias Ellwood said today the Ministry of Defence had to create a “smaller, more modern and capability-focused estate between now and 2040”.
The Red Arrows themselves will be relocated, as their current base is scheduled to be closed in 2022. Ellwood said this “would offer better value for money and, crucially, better military capability”.
Lib Dem defence spokesman Jamie Stone slammed the decision, given the “enormous national importance” of the airfield.
“Not only is the base now home to our iconic red arrows, but it was also home to the 617 squadron of the Dambusters mission in World War II,” he said.
“The Conservatives’ decision to sell the base off is a huge blow to jobs in Lincoln as well as our national heritage.”
3. Crackdown on foreign ownership
Greg Clark, the business secretary, announced today he would seek to block foreign takeovers of some British businesses to “ensure that critical national infrastructure is protected to safeguard national security”.
Under the plan, contained in a White Paper titled “National Security and Investment”, the government will screen investment from foreign firms into the UK’s defence and technology sectors.
Clark said while the UK had a “proud and hard-won reputation as one of the most open economies in the world”, the government had to react to “evolving” threats.
“The government believes that the proposed package of reforms published today strikes the right balance between maintaining the openness and attractiveness of the UK as a destination for inward investment, while also providing the government with modernised powers it needs to protect the country,” he said.
4. New director of public prosecutions
Attorney general Geoffrey Cox announced Max Hill QC as the next director of public prosecutions.
Hill has been the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation since March 2017 and will take over from Alison Saunders in November.
As a barrister, Hill prosecuted the failed 21/7 bombers and appeared at the inquest into the 7/7 attacks.
It comes after months in which the CPS has been heavily criticised for a catalogue of disclosure failings that led to cases collapsing and warnings about miscarriages of justice.
The collapsed rape trial of Liam Allan raised the profile of a string of similar sex cases, where charges were dropped when critical material emerged at the last minute.
The revelations prompted a review of every live rape and serious sexual assault prosecution in England and Wales, which found issues with the disclosure of unused material in 47 cases.
Last week, MPs criticised Saunders over long-term failings that saw vital evidence withheld from defence lawyers in rape and serious sexual assault cases.