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Good morning. A Labour government would clamp down on out-of-hours emails, WhatsApps and phone calls from bosses, though exemptions would be made when necessary.

A senior Labour figure recently described this newsletter as “unnecessary”, though I think they were making a specific comment about the content that day, rather than a general steer as to whether or not the back-and-forth that accompanies the writing of today’s note would be prohibited under Keir Starmer.

Some serious thoughts on the policy, and on the Conservatives’ internal debates over election strategy.

Inside Politics is edited today by Leah Quinn. Follow Stephen on Twitter @stephenkb and please send gossip, thoughts and feedback to

Working strictly 9 to 5

The UK labour market is going to become a hot political topic, for the simple reason that it is the policy space where the gap between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer is the largest, both in style and substance.

That underpins the sweeping changes planned for the UK labour market, including banning “fire and rehire” and, per Jim Pickard’s and Delphine Strauss’s scoop, the introduction of a “right to disconnect” from out-of-hours emails, texts, WhatsApp messages and the like, such as has already been introduced in France, Italy, Portugal and elsewhere.

Taken together, the big change that we can say for certain would happen under a Labour majority government is that trade unions and individual workers would have a lot more power and be harder to remove than they are now. You can expect a Conservative government that is worried about the inroads Labour is making with business to start talking about this a lot more.

The “right to disconnect” in particular I think will travel widely: the policy is a talker that, whether you are shaking your head at the prospect or counting the days until a Labour government implements it, will be broadly recognised by people in most workplaces. For good or for ill, it is going to define how a lot of people see Keir Starmer’s Labour party.

And rightly so: ultimately the biggest change that Starmer’s Labour proposes to make to the UK’s economic model is to significantly increase the power of workers and trade unions. Yes, Labour also has an ambitious plan to green the UK economy, but the Conservatives will also have a rival plan. There won’t be a viable governing party not proposing some route to net zero (and thank goodness for that). But Labour’s position on the labour market is distinct and therefore worth noting.

Another subplot to watch out for: how the Liberal Democrats play all this. A Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition of some form, whether with Liberal Democrat ministers or with Liberal Democrat support on key bills and votes but with the Liberal Democrats playing no role in government, would largely I think be pretty harmonious. There is a lot that the two parties agree on, particularly on the big issues facing the UK at the moment — from net zero, to the importance of childcare to increasing UK growth, to tackling crime. (Though there is a reasonable argument about whether both parties are equally committed in reality.)

But the role of trade unions, of sectoral collective bargaining and of new workplace rights — these are issues that in a variety of ways rub up against the two parties’ different traditions. If after the next election we end up with a Labour government relying on Liberal Democrat support — which has to be among the likeliest outcomes in my view — then one area of friction could well be around Labour’s labour market plans.

She preferred the unmanaged decline

One reason to expect a change of government — in addition to the pretty big steer we got at the local elections — is that almost every day there is some new bit of news showing just how far Rishi Sunak is from being able to say that he has kept his five pledges to the British public at the time of the next election. Delphine and Jim have you covered on another one of those:

Staff shortages in education and health are worse than in any other area of the UK economy as public sector wages fall further behind those offered in the private sector, according to a survey of employers.

In healthcare, 55 per cent of employers had hard-to-fill vacancies, compared with 40 per cent of all private sector employers, according to the survey, which is published on Monday.

Part of the reason why the government looks unlikely to be able to say it has reduced NHS waiting lists is because of staff shortages. And there is no sign that the government will be able to claim a meaningful reduction in the number of people coming to the UK via small boats. If the government meets its pledge to halve inflation by the end of the year it will probably be by the skin of its teeth.

The biggest consequence of that is it increases the chance that people will see the next election as one in which a tired Conservative government needs to be kicked out by whatever force is best placed to do so locally. That was the neglected story of the local elections: the incredible efficient tactical voting by supporters of Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Greens.

But one political consequence of that is Sunak’s strategy for the election, to run on a “I’ve kept these promises . . . now look at what I’m promising to do next” message, is in jeopardy. As a result, there is, inevitably, going to be an argument about what he should do instead.

Priti Patel’s attack on Sunak for overseeing the “managed decline” of the Tory party is part of that. (Though many may look at what Sunak inherited and think, hey, managed decline is an upgrade on chaotic, rudderless and accelerated decline.) So too is Suella Braverman talking about the importance of bringing down net migration, which she will do in a speech today. (Though I’m personally unconvinced that what the government needs is a sixth pledge it cannot reliably deliver on, but different strokes for different folks.)

I’ll have more to say about Braverman’s speech tomorrow: but one thing to expect from across the Tory party is a more public debate about election strategy, given that ‘Plan A’ must surely be in some doubt.

Now try this

I had a magnificent weekend, in large part because instead of watching Arsenal lose to Brighton yesterday afternoon I was cooing over a cute toddler.

I spent Sunday morning reading the FTWeekend in bed: I particularly enjoyed Monica Mark’s fascinating and gripping look into South Africa’s copper thieves and the criminal underworld behind them, Brooke Masters’s Life & Arts essay on the looming end of affirmative action, and a brilliant mini-profile of Imran Khan.

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