Rugby school head slams Keir Starmer for plans to cut private school tax breaks

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer joins party members in Chatham, Kent (PA)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer joins party members in Chatham, Kent (PA)

The head of a top private school has hit out at Labour’s Keir Starmer for his “ideologically driven” pledge to abolish tax breaks for independent schools.

Gareth Parker-Jones, headmaster of Rugby, says “the Labour Party is crossing an educational and political Rubicon” with a policy that “ignores the benefits” of independent schools by removing their VAT exemption. In an article for Spear’s magazine, Parker-Jones says many schools “would not survive”, and others would have to cut their bursaries.

He also hits out at the Labour leader’s own schooling, asking: “Has Keir Starmer forgotten that he was a beneficiary of an independent school’s bursary programme?” Starmer’s school, Reigate Grammar, introduced fees part-way through his time there, which were paid by the council.

“Has this policy been properly thought through? I think not.” Parker-Jones adds.

William’s eye on the future

 (Hugo Burnand/Royal Household 2023/PA Wire)
(Hugo Burnand/Royal Household 2023/PA Wire)

A source close to Prince William has briefed that he is already planning how to make his own coronation more modern, including getting rid of the controversial “homage of the people” used by his father.

But Gyles Brandreth, who is friendly with the King and went to Westminster Abbey this month, tells us an “elaborate coronation” full of pageantry is part of “brand Britain”. At a fundraiser for 18keys, a charity for homeless women, Brandreth said the late Queen Elizabeth, who he wrote a biography of, would have thought the ceremony was “wonderful”.

Yousaf’s childhood dreams come true

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf (PA)
Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf (PA)

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf is confronting the unfolding scandal in his Scottish National Party with good humour. Yousaf has revealed that his childhood ambition was to work at the UN in conflict resolution. “I may not have made it, but my current job certainly involves resolving political conflict on a fairly regular basis!” he wrote in a letter to author Dominic Shelmerdine. Cheeky.

Rev Coles gets used to life after being a vicar

The Rev Richard Coles gave up the cloth last year to write full time, but he’s still adjusting. “I’ve got phantom vicar pain,” Coles told us at the Nibbies book awards on Park Lane last night. “I wander around my new village smiling at people in this genial way”. Then Coles realises he doesn’t need to do that anymore. “If you’re not wearing a dog collar it looks sinister” he said. “So I’m trying to dial that down.”

Biebers are on the scene

Justin and Hailey Bieber were snapped leaving Chiltern Firehouse last night — Hailey is launching her skincare brand in London this week. At Ronnie Scott’s, singer Joss Stone and Dave Stewart from Eurythmics were at the press launch of The Time Traveller’s Wife: The Musical. The pair collaborated to write the show’s music and lyrics. And at the British Book Awards at Mayfair’s Grosvenor Hotel, Davina McCall said she was “walking on air” after she and co-author Dr Naomi Potter won the book of the year prize for their tome Menopausing.