Hammond launches campaign to protect businesses from cyber-attacks

HAMMOND Philip white background‘Philip Hammond, the chancellor, will on Tuesday launch a secondment programme in which up to 100 staff of large British businesses will be trained at the new National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of GCHQ, Britain’s electronic eavesdropping agency. Speaking at the opening of the NCSC’s new operations hub in London, Mr Hammond will warn that “the greater connectivity that enables the digital economy…is also a source of vulnerability”…“The cyber attacks we are seeing are increasing in their frequency, their severity, and their sophistication,” he will say. Two-thirds of large businesses have reported experiencing a cyber breach or attack in the past 12 months.’ – FT

  • The UK is the target of two serious attacks every day – The Sun
  • The Treasury is weakened but still powerful – Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)
  • Macron’s team allege Russia is trying to undermine the French election – Daily Mail
  • Like it or not, there’s a natural limit on how much tax Chancellors can raise – Mark Littlewood, The Times (£)

>Today: ToryDiary: Hammond bucks the downward trend in our Cabinet League Table

Trump’s security adviser quits after misleading Pence about his contact with the Russians

‘President Trump’s national security adviser resigned last night as it emerged that the justice department had warned the White House last month that he was compromised by the Russians. Mike Flynn stood down under mounting pressure after it was revealed he had misled colleagues — including Mike Pence, the vice-president — over talks he held with Russia’s ambassador to Washington before Mr Trump’s inauguration. Mr Flynn said initially that a phone conversation on December 29 with Sergei Kislyak had not touched on sanctions imposed that day by President Obama to punish Moscow for alleged interference in the US election. The conversation appears, however, to have been tapped by US intelligence services, who routinely monitor foreign diplomats.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: There should be no room for Putin apologism on the right

Truss feels the heat as inmates ‘take over’ one of Britain’s largest prisons

Prison bars‘Inmates have effectively taken over at one of Britain’s biggest prisons, an undercover investigation has found. The scale of issues facing the UK prison system was highlighted the BBC’s Panorama programme following an investigation into HMP Northumberland, which is run by private firm Sodexo Justice Services. BBC reporter Joe Fenton spent two months undercover as a custody officer in the prison near Morpeth, which houses 1,348 men. He said inmates were effectively running the prison, where he witnessed widespread drug abuse.’ – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: WATCH: Truss – there’s “no quick fix” to reduce prisoner numbers

Duddridge: A dozen Cabinet ministers back getting rid of Bercow

‘Most of the Cabinet would vote to oust John Bercow as Commons Speaker, one of his leading critics claimed yesterday. Former minister James Duddridge, who is pushing for a vote of no confidence in Mr Bercow, said more than a dozen Cabinet ministers are ready to support the move. Tory MPs have questioned how Mr Bercow can be seen as neutral after he revealed he voted Remain in the Brexit referendum, and branded U.S. President Donald Trump ‘racist and sexist’. Downing Street has said Mr Bercow’s future is a ‘matter for MPs’ and indicated ministers will be free to join any attempts to get rid of him.’ – Daily Mail

Britain’s EU membership bill to rise by almost a third before Brexit

EU FLag‘Britain’s contribution to the EU budget is to soar by almost a third – just before the country formally cuts ties with Brussels. Official figures slipped out by the Treasury reveal that the UK’s net contribution to the bloc will jump in the final two years before Brexit. Britain’s net payment of £7.9billion to the EU budget this financial year will rise to £8.1billion in 2017/18, before reaching £10.2billion in 2018/19. Conservative MP Peter Bone last night said it was ‘perverse’ to expect British taxpayers to increase contributions to the EU after they voted to leave in last year’s referendum. He claimed the revelations made the case for accelerating the Brexit process, adding that it would be ‘unacceptable’ for EU budget contributions to continue as part of any transitional deal.’ – Daily Mail

  • We’re leaving in the nick of time – Daily Mail Leader
  • The EU Commission acknowledges Britain is ‘more resilient’ than expected – FT
  • May should have lowered expectations – Janan Ganesh, FT
  • The Euro is piling more misery onto Greece – The Times Leader (£)
  • Davidson accuses the SNP of ‘weaponising’ Brexit – The Scotsman

>Today: Andrew Green on Comment: Why there will be no Brexit cliff edge for EU employees in Britain

Gibb: Parents want new faith and grammar schools

‘We want to scrap the ineffective rule that prevents the creation of more faith schools, schools which are so popular with parents. The director of the Catholic Education Service, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Archbishop of Canterbury have all responded positively to our proposal to expand the number of high-quality faith schools. Parental demand for good faith schools has, for too long, been stifled by ineffective regulation preventing faith groups from opening more schools. Numerous headteachers and other education figures have also said they want to set up new grammar schools. As confirmed in the Autumn Statement, the government has already made provision for £50 million of new capital funding to support the expansion of existing grammar schools in each year from 2017-18. The demand is there.’ – Nick Gibb, The Times (£)

  • MPs brand grammars a ‘distraction’ – FT

The Sun calls on the Government to support press freedom

sun-logo‘Investigative journalism is threatened by a perverse law that would force newspapers to pay the costs of anyone who takes them to court, win or lose. And partisan websites dismiss reputable news organisations as “unreliable” while merrily hosting propaganda from some of the world’s most anti-democratic regimes. Now the Law Commission proposes that any journalist or whistleblower caught handling secret information should face up to 14 years in jail…These recommendations place too much power in the hands of officials who would rather the public was always kept in the dark. Number 10 must show it values a free Press and throw out the Law Commission proposals immediately.’ – The Sun Says

  • Ministers deny leak law will harm journalists or whistleblowers – The Times (£)

Johnson welcomes the Gambia back into the Commonwealth

‘Boris Johnson will today extend the hand of friendship to the Gambia when he welcomes the west African country back into the Commonwealth. In the first visit to the country by a British foreign secretary, Mr Johnson will hold talks with President Barrow, 51, the former Argos security guard who ousted Yahya Jammeh, who withdrew from the Commonwealth four years ago. Mr Johnson will claim that Britain is “growing in influence and activity around the world” as he seeks to bolster relations with countries outside the EU. Mr Barrow, an unknown businessman who won support for his promises of free education, affordable healthcare, ending human rights abuses and freeing government critics from jail, also stood on a platform of taking his country back into the Commonwealth.’ – The Times (£)

  • The aid industry plans a political fightback – FT

Clamour to end the pensions triple lock grows

money‘Former defence minister Andrew Murrison led calls for the pensions formula to be axed — freeing up £2billion a year for the NHS. He told The Sun: “We have to make some difficult choices.” Ex-universities minister David Willetts, now executive chairman of Resolution, backed him…Theresa May’s policy adviser George Freeman branded the gulf in incomes “unsustainable”. David Cameron pioneered the triple lock in 2010 when he was PM. Independent Treasury forecasters predict the pensions bill will rocket by £20billion by 2025. Downing Street insisted the triple lock was a manifesto vow that “would be kept”.’ – The Sun

Neo-Nazi walks free after being convicted of making a viable pipe bomb

‘A teenage extremist who made a pipe bomb and hid it in a bedroom drawer walked free from court yesterday. The 17-year-old was a member of a neo-Nazi youth group with abhorrent views and he went online to praise the murderer of MP Jo Cox as a ‘hero’. The ‘bright and articulate’ college student made a ‘viable’ Improvised Explosive Device (IED) using fireworks after Googling ‘how to create a pipe bomb’. But police alerted to his alarming Snapchat messages raided his bedroom, which was covered in Nazi memorabilia, and found the bomb, capable of causing serious injury.’ – Daily Mail

  • The Met is struggling to recruit enough firearms officers – Daily Mail

Labour slips to third place among working class voters

LABOUR dead rose‘Labour has slumped to third place among working-class voters for the first time, according to a poll. The survey suggested the party has the support of just 20 per cent of working-class voters – behind the Tories, on 39 per cent, and Ukip on 23 per cent. The findings will pile pressure on Jeremy Corbyn, whose brand of hard-Left politics is seen by many of his MPs as toxic to voters in the party’s working-class heartlands. It will fuel divisions over how to respond to the concerns of traditional Labour voters about issues such as immigration and Brexit.’ – Daily Mail

  • Their Stoke campaign is hit by controversy over sexism and UKIP ‘toerags’ – The Times (£)
  • Co-Op Banks is going up for sale – Daily Mail
  • Labour couldn’t run a company, never mind a country – Daily Mail Leader
  • Most Brits don’t share Loach’s dystopian view of the UK – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • UKIP spokesman apologises for racially-charged retweet – The Guardian
  • Ulster Unionist leader in trouble after planning to transfer his vote to the SDLP – Belfast News Letter

>Yesterday: WATCH: Is Labour on the rocks in Stoke?

News in Brief

  • It’s 20 years to the day since the famous “Murderers” Mail splash – Daily Mail Leader
  • £150,000 donated for orphaned siblings – The Times (£)
  • Valentine’s hopes rise as woman finds seven heart-shaped potatoes in one bag – The Sun
  • Prue Leith to replace Mary Berry on the Bake-Off – Daily Mail
  • Long-banned chemicals are sinking into ocean trenches – FT
  • Special Forces fighting the IRA won’t get medals for fear of upsetting Sinn Fein – The Sun
  • Seven more referendums that could be on the way – WalesOnline