Social reform 1) Grammar schools scheme to concentrate on the just-about-managings, as well as the least well-off

GREENING FlickrWe want to see more children from disadvantaged families get into grammars – that’s vital,” Ms Greening is expected to say. “I welcome that many grammar schools are now changing their admissions code to give a priority of places to these children – I want all of them to follow this example. We certainly will not lose sight of the fact that we want grammars to achieve more for disadvantaged children. But we also shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that many young people from an ordinary  working class background already attend our existing grammar schools.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Key group is those well-off enough not to qualify for the pupil premium but living below median earnings of about £25,100 a year – The Times (£)

> Yesterday: Ben Rochelle on Comment – How can Greening get out of the trap she’s in over the National Funding Formula for schools?

Social reform 2) Downing Street working on plan to cap gas and electricity price rises

“The Daily Mail understands the Government is working on a scheme to protect families which will include a cap, after pressure from MPs and campaigners to step in. The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘We are concerned by the planned increases. ‘We are committed to getting the best possible deal for households and expect energy companies to treat their customers fairly. ‘Wherever markets are not working for consumers, this Government is prepared to act.’ “ – Daily Mail

  • EDF condemned after millions hit by second energy price rise – The Times (£)

Syria: Johnson presses on

JOHNSON Boris Foreign Secretary Carla“The Foreign Secretary said Russia had put itself on “the wrong side of the argument” but it was not too late for Vladimir Putin to change his mind over his support for Bashar al-Assad’s “barbaric” regime. He said “we stand ready to work together” and would continue talking to G7 foreign ministers about “how we can continue to strive for a political solution that brings an end to the suffering of the Syrian people.” Mr Johnson was speaking after scientists at Britain’s Porton Down military laboratories confirmed that sarin was used in the attack in Idlib province and that “it is highly likely the Assad regime was responsible”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Russia vetoes draft UN resolution on Syria gas attack probe – The Independent
  • Foreign office behind sanctions plan – The Times (£)
  • Downing Street says it backs the Foreign Secretary. Hammond supports him – The Guardian
  • Johnson’s mayoral water cannons can’t be used or sold – The Sun
  • Christians face genocide, but the Government looks the other way – George Carey, Daily Telegraph
  • The Foreign Secretary has been pushing a hard line over money and Gibraltar – Chris Giles, Financial Times
  • May needs Johnson onside to sell her Brexit deal – Iain Martin, The Times (£)
  • He has been humiliated – Tim Farron, The Guardian

> Today:

> Yesterday:

As Tillerson visits Moscow and tensions rise over North Korea, Trump U-turns on NATO: “I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete”.

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 07.57.30“The about-face came as the US secretary of state was returning from Russia, where Trump said he got the sense ‘things went pretty well’ despite the fact that the relationship between the two countries is at ‘an all-time low. Right now we’re not getting along with Russia at all. But we’re going to see what happens.’ Trump said at a press conference in the White House’s East Room with the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. The president had repeatedly called NATO ‘obsolete’ during his campaign for the White House.” –  Daily Mail

  • Tillerson Moscow visit. He says there is a “low level of trust” Putin says relations with America “have not improved but rather deteriorated. – Financial Times
  • America’s Secretary of State has paved the way for a wary truce – The Times (£)
  • Dearlove accuses Trump of borrowing from Russia to keep his business empire afloat – The Sun
  • Trump broke news of Syria attack to China’s president over ‘beautiful piece of chocolate cake’ –  Daily Mail
  • He hails “great chemistry” with Xi Jinping – The Guardian
  • North Korea may be preparing to hold sixth nuclear test this weekend – Daily Mail
  • China scrambles troops to North Korea’s border – Daily Express
  • Stubborn diplomacy, not hubristic intervention, is the way to face down Putin – Dominic Raab, Daily Telegraph
  • Trump’s transactional approach to diplomacy could unlock the North Korean puzzle – Times Editorial (£)
  • America acting alone on North Korea would be in no-one’s interest – Daily Telegraph Editoria
  • Melania Trump wins damages from the Daily Mail – The Independent

> Today: Columnist Daniel Hannan – Spicer didn’t deny the Holocaust – but the Twitter mob simply doesn’t care

> Yesterday: Columnist Ben Roback – In the White House battle between rationalists and nationalists, family is winning out

Hammond says exporters should look beyond Europe to Asia

“At the inaugural International FinTech (financial technology) conference today, Mr Hammond cited research from EY that showed most British companies in the sector wanted to expand into Asia. Returning from a trip to India last week, he said that ministers had agreed to work with the Government there to build “vital links between markets and consumers in Britain and Asia”. And he said the UK must maintain and enhance its reputation as “one of the best and most attractive places in the world to do business”.” – The Sun

  • Greek bailout hangs in the balance – Daily Express
  • One in seven of EU nationals in Britain are unemployed or economically inactive – Daily Mail
  • Immigration “particularly important to some sectors of the economy” – The Independent
  • Julian Barnes has gone bonkers about Brexit and the Daily Mail – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • EU cheap labour numbers reflect a changed Britain – Daily Express Editorial

Seconds out! (1): As the Brexit negotiation begins, its Selmayr v Timothy.

TIMOTHY Nick Barrie“He is confident Britain will pay a price for leaving. And his bossy, whip-smart legalism has come to embody all that No 10 loves to hate about Brussels. But as negotiations begin and the clock counts down to Britain’s scheduled departure in March 2019, Selmayr may be about to meet his match.If the clean-cut German has been compared to Rasputin, Nick Timothy actually looks the part. Standing at six foot, with hooded eyes and a beard that, in the words of Paul Goodman, the executive editor of the influential ConservativeHome website, makes him look like “a Greek Orthodox archimandrite”, he oversees a Downing Street regime every bit as centralised as the Selmayr machine. Ministers and officials alike have learnt not to cross him.” – George Parker and Alex Barker, Financial Times

Seconds out (2): As France’s election gathers pace, it’s Mélenchon v Le Pen

“Both candidates are anti-German, anti-American, anti-globalist, anti-NATO, and pro-Putin. Both want to rip up the EU Treaties. Both want some sort of parallel currency or sovereign monetary control. Both are viscerally hostile to financial markets and to liberal labour reform. Both want a bigger French state financed by borrowing, and damn the deficit. The ideologies merge. ‘Les extrêmes se touchent’, as the French say. If the complex arithmetic of the first-round election on April 23 leads to a duel between these two wings of the French Resistance, the outcome will be shattering for monetary union and the European project.” – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph (£)

Gwynne claims that the Government is abusing the civil service

GWYNNE Andrew“Jeremy Corbyn’s party accused ministers of promoting the phrase “Plan for Britain”, which has become a key Conservative Party slogan, in official government material. Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s campaigns chief, wrote to John Manzoni, the cabinet office permanent secretary, last night to make a formal complaint and demand an investigation into government use of the phrase. Mr Gwynne expressed concern that the slogan had become interchangeable as official government and Conservative Party messages, and Labour has collated a list of examples that it cites as proof.” – The Times (£)

  • Coyne’s last-ditch appeal to oust McCluskey – The Sun

> Today: ToryDiary – Hammond and May must not allow Labour to scare them off unpicking the pension triple lock

> Yesterday: LeftWatch – Labour resorts to hypnotism to win votes. You are feeling very sleepy. You are feeling very sleepy. You are feeling very zzzzzzz…

News in Brief

  • Borussia Dortmund explosions: Islamist suspect arrested over bus bombs as prosecutors investigate ‘terrorist link’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Direct rule is weeks away, Stormont told – The Times (£)
    Sharp rise in London gun crime reverses falling trend – Financial Times
  • Rachel Whetstone leaves Uber – Daily Mail
  • Diesel drivers face fear of tax raid – The Sun
  • Scottish LibDems launch local elections campaign – Scotsman
  • Foster says that she respects the Irish language – Belfast Telegraph
  • Doctor dragged from United Airlines plane files lawsuit – The Independent
  • America’s first woman Muslim judge found dead in the Hudson river – The Guardian
  • Six Ryedale Conservative councillors resign from Conservative group – Yorkshire Post
  • Britain set for rain over Easter weekend – Daily Express
  • Here’s why the Queen gives Maundy money today – Metro