There are fears that Putin is poised to invade eastern Ukraine. He claims this morning that Russian troops have been ordered to their barracks.

Screen shot 2014-03-04 at 07.55.29There are growing international fears that Vladimir Putin is preparing to launch an all-out invasion of eastern Ukraine and Crimea after military bases were said to have been given an ultimatum to surrender on Tuesday morning. Russia sought to justify its action in Crimea by producing a letter from the Viktor Yanukovych, the deposed Ukrainian president, asking Mr Putin to intervene…Ukraine ordered full mobilisation of its forces as bases in Crimea were surrounded and airports and ports occupied by Russian troops.” – Daily Telegraph

Cameron hints at sanctions publicly…

CAMERON-PENSIVE“William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, visited Ukraine’s new government in Kiev yesterday, where he described the deteriorating situation as the “biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st century”. He warned the “world cannot just allow this to happen” and added: “Russia should be in no doubt about this. This is something that we take very seriously”…David Cameron, the Prime Minister, signalled last night that Russia would face economic sanctions from the EU if it fails to withdraw its troops from Ukrainian soil. He raised the prospect of “diplomatic, political, economic and other pressure” being brought to bear against Moscow.” – The Independent

…While ruling them out privately

“Britain’s approach was revealed when a tie-less, jumper-wearing functionary became the latest figure to carry a document into Downing Street so that it could be caught on camera. It advised that “the UK should not support for now trade sanctions or close London’s financial centre to Russians”. Ministers should also “discourage any discussion (eg at Nato) of contingency military preparations”. But they should consider visa curbs and travel bans on key Russian figures and support EU plans to provide Ukraine with alternative oil and gas supplies “if Russia cuts them off”.” – Daily Express


  • Screen shot 2014-03-04 at 08.11.58Crimean administration claims that Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odessa want independence from Kiev – The Times (£)
  • Ukraine’s military is dispersed; it lacks readiness, and much of its equipment is in storage – BBC
  • America wants punitive measures against Moscow, but Europeans are divided – The Guardian
  • War fears decimate Russian stocks – Financial Times (£)
  • The blighted people of the Crimea who were rounded up at gunpoint by Russians – Ian Birrell, Daily Mail
  • Crisis could push up petrol prices – The Sun
  • West’s secret weapon deployed.  Louise Mensch exchanges Twitter fire with Russian Embassy – Daily Mail



  • Screen shot 2014-03-04 at 08.21.34Appease Putin now and I really fear we could stumble into war – Edward Lucas, Daily Mail
  • Russia is in no position to fight a new cold war – Financial Times
  • Sanctions won’t worry Putin – Liam Halligan, Daily Telegraph
  • America’s gas glut could burn Putin’s fingers – Justin Webb, The Times (£)
  • Britain should leave Ukraine alone – Douglas Carswell MP, Daily Telegraph

> Today:

> Yesterday:

Cameron to pledge spending and tax cuts todayCameron_Thatcher1

“Coming a fortnight before Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget, his speech in the West Midlands today is bound to be seen at Westminster as a hint of pre-election tax cuts. And it follows pressure from Tory backbenchers for cuts in income tax aimed directly at middle-income families. Aides said the speech was designed to make clear Mr Cameron’s beliefs rather than previewing any policy announcements.” – Daily Express

  • Cameron ‘intervened in police investigation into Nigella Lawson’s drug-taking’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Salmond: Poor Scotland – love-bombed by the Prime Minister and dive-bombed by the Chancellor – Scotsman
  • Cameron at Nelson Mandela Westminster Abbey memorial service – Daily Mail

Gove warns of education “apartheid”

“In a speech at the McLaren technology centre in Surrey, Mr Gove said it was vital that school pupils should have access to both types of learning to ensure they are prepared for the changing labour market, which increasingly values technological ability and innovation.  “We cannot afford to leave any intellect untapped, any pair of hands idle, because the security we want for all can only be achieved by a first-class education for all,” he said, in a speech to mark the start of apprenticeship week.” – Financial Times

  • Britain’s schools need a Chinese lesson – Elizabeth Truss MP, Daily Telegraph

Will he Won’t he Will he Won’t he: Boris denies Osborne has asked him to stand in 2015…but doesn’t rule it out

BORIS angel devil“The London mayor said on Monday that he was “most surprised” at newspaper accounts that Mr Osborne had urged him to stand as an MP – a move described as an attempt by the Tory leadership to tie the mayor into the party’s fate at the next election. However, Mr Johnson is said by friends to be weighing up his options and has not excluded a return to Westminster in the May 2015 general election, serving as an MP alongside his existing job as mayor until his term expires in 2016.” – Financial Times

  • Osborne’s intrigues against Boris are a sign of Tory panic – Benedict Brogan, Daily Telegraph
  • Margaret Hodge could be Labour’s candidate for Mayor – Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)

Number Ten aide arrested over child porn

“[Patrick Rock] quit after the Prime Minister learned he was at the centre of a police probe over images of child abuse. Detectives from the National Crime Agency searched No 10 and examined IT systems and offices used by Mr Rock, deputy director of the Downing Street policy unit. Mr Rock was a protege of Margaret Thatcher and has held a series of senior posts in the Conservative Party. He has been close to Mr Cameron for many years.” – Daily Mail

The Mirror v Richard Benyon, Round Three: The paper attacks his ConservativeHome response yesterday to its allegations

BENYON Richard“Mr Benyon has now called for changes to FOI laws stating “we need to make sure that the Act is there for what it is designed to do” rather than “raking up political ammunition”. He also complained in a blog post for the rightwing website that this newspaper used a “picture of me looking as posh as possible”. ..Mr Benyon accused the GMB of “acting as a fig leaf for the Labour Party”, adding: “It has gone on a fishing trip around local authorities, using the Freedom of Information Act to harvest data with which to knock the government in general and Conservatives in particular.” – Daily Mirror

> Yesterday:

Alexander to lead LibDem coalition negotiation team

“The Liberal Democrat leader told a meeting of his parliamentary party that Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, would lead a team of negotiators. He will be joined by the Lib Dem peer Baroness Brinton of Kenardington, international development minister Lynne Featherstone and the pensions minister Steve Webb, all of whom are popular with the party’s grassroots. Their appointment will be seen as an attempt to allay fears that senior Lib Dems in Government would prefer another coalition with the Conservatives rather than pairing up with Labour.” – The Times (£)

Labour wants NHS patients to treat themselves

ed-miliband-official“Older people would also get more support to help them live safely and securely at home to prevent costly hospital visits, the Labour leader says. Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Miliband revealed details of a Labour study of the health and social care systems which recommends a more integrated approach meant to “put more power in the hands of patients”. One of the central recommendations from Sir John Oldham’s review is greater “self-management” of long-term conditions like asthma, arthritis and diabetes.” – Daily Telegraph

Miliband article in full

News in Brief

  • UKIP 1) Lots of white and retired voters – Daily Mail
  • UKIP 2) Kaiser Chiefs accuse Farage of being racist and a liar – The Sun
  • UKIP 3)Treat it as a major party, Ofcom orders TV channels – Daily Mail
  • Childcare costs families more than mortgage – Sky News
  • EU directive’s costs dwarf savings from UK’s red tape crackdown – Financial Times
  • Bercow travel bill hits £150,000 – Daily Express
  • Hospital told to stop threatening whistleblower as Hunt steps in – Daily Mail
  • Voters don’t mind MPs having taken heroin or cocaine…but do mind if their experience is limited to politics, journalism, think tanks and local government – The Times (£)
  • Plaid Westminster leader warns against cherry-picking Silk Commission recommendations on new powers for Assembly – Wales Online
  • Row in Belfast City Council as DUP councillor wears Linfield scarf – Belfast Telegraph
  • PC Blakelock gang paid to co-operate – Daily Telegraph
  • Pistorius trial begins – The Guardian
  • The day Spencer Le Marchant MP kicked what he believed to be a lazy Tory MP only to discover he was the Peruvian Ambassador – Jerry Hayes, Daily Mail