Syria 1) May backs new sanctions on Russia…

Vladimir Putin‘Theresa May threw her weight behind efforts to impose sanctions on Russia over its backing for President Assad last night in the face of European opposition. The prime minister said after a 20-minute call with Donald Trump that the US president had created a “window of opportunity” for Vladimir Putin to change course. She also backed his efforts to apply pressure on China to curb North Korea and supported his toughening position against Iran’s influence in the Middle East. Her intervention will dismay European allies, who were resisting plans set out by Boris Johnson for sanctions against Russian military officials. Germany and Italy made clear that they would not support the foreign secretary’s initial proposals.’ – The Times (£)


>Today: ToryDiary: Regime change in Syria. Through diplomacy, yes – if possible. Through war, no.

>Yesterday: Nicky Morgan’s column: I’ve voted for military action in Syria before – and am ready to do so again if necessary

Syria 2) …but is sceptical about further airstrikes

‘A major Cabinet split has opened up over Donald Trump’s Syria air strikes as Theresa May refuses to give Britain’s backing to any fresh assault. The deep divide has pitted the PM against Boris Johnson and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon. Both want the UK to be as closely aligned as possible with the US. But Mrs May wants to keep Britian out of any military confrontation, and has also angered ministers by still not making any public comment on the strikes four days on.’ – The Sun

>Today: Iain Duncan Smith’s column: At long last, the USA has shown clear commitment to act against Assad

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Trump’s missiles targeted the Assad regime. But he was also watching Kim Jong Un.

Syria 3) Johnson: Moscow must stop supporting Assad

Boris Johnson (09-06-16)‘Boris Johnson warned Russia that Donald Trump’s willingness to bomb Syria is a ‘game changer’ today as he backed sanctions against Kremlin generals. The Foreign Secretary urged Vladimir Putin to recognise the strength of international condemnation as he met counterparts from the powerful G7 nations in Italy. After holding an hour of private talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this afternoon, Mr Johnson said they were in total agreement that Bashar Assad must go in the wake of the chemical atrocity in Idlib last week. He said the G7 was considering escalating sanctions against Russian and Syrian generals involved in the military campaign. ‘The choice is to stick like glue to the Assad regime … or to work with the rest of the world,’ Mr Johnson told reporters at the summit in Lucca.’ – Daily Mail

  • Divided opinion at the G7 – The Times (£)
  • The Russian embassy uses Twitter to bait the Government – The Times (£)
  • North Korea says it is ready for war – Daily Mail
  • Polish investigation alleges President Kaczynski was killed by a bomb – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Farron’s support for action in Syria shows how Clegg changed the Lib Dems

Leadsom: Our plan to clean up England

‘We can’t let litter louts put our reputation at risk: putting a stop to litter is a vital part of our ambition to become the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it. This will not happen without a little bit of effort, and it falls to all of us to keep our neighbourhoods litter, graffiti, and fly-poster free. There are always those who see themselves as exceptions to the rule, and who clog up our rivers, hedgerows and town centres with their rubbish. The strategy we have just launched, the first of its kind in England, is designed to clean up our streets, making England an even better place to live and visit.’ – Andrea Leadsom, Daily Telegraph

  • Councils told to stop using littering fines as a cash cow – The Sun

EU skilled worker scheme means Brits could travel to work even without a deal

EU FLag‘British workers will be in demand across the EU post Brexit because of a skilled labour shortage – a think tank claims. Migration Watch last night said the EU’s expansion of a new ‘Blue Card’ scheme meant an extra 138,000 could be issued each year. The jobs would be available across France, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden. Migration Watch said it meant Brits would be able to work in the EU even “without any special agreement” following Brexit talks. Currently 90 per cent of all Blue Cards are issued in Germany – the location for the famous BBC sitcom about Brit builders ‘Auf Wiedersehen Pet’.’ – The Sun

  • Patterson and Howarth back strict post-Brexit visa regime – The Sun
  • Sturgeon’s 80 meetings with Eurocrats – The Times (£)
  • 88 per cent of Germans want Britain punished – The Sun
  • Migration statistics fail to count people arriving at night – The Sun
  • We must help refugee children – Nicky Morgan and Tim Loughton, The Times (£)
  • The EU27 is set to accept Tusk’s Brexit guidelines – FT

Car insurance set to soar

‘Car insurance bills could soar above £1,000 next year due to stealth taxes and controversial compensation reforms, according to a report. The cost of the average annual motor insurance policy is already £110 higher today than it was a year ago, rising 16 per cent to £781. This has been driven by a flood of bogus whiplash claims, rising repair costs and successive tax increases.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: Charlie Elphicke on Comment: Diesel drivers deserve a fair deal

Eleven per cent rise in council staff earning over £150,000

TaxPayers' Alliance‘The number of town hall bosses paid more than the Prime Minister has soared – as households are hit by huge council tax rises. A damning audit today reveals 539 council staff took home at least £150,000 in pay and other benefits in 2015/16. This was 53 more than the year before – a rise of 11 per cent. The TaxPayers’ Alliance report also found 2,314 council employees were on £100,000 or more – up 89 on the previous year. The revelations come as millions of families face big increases in their council tax bills, purportedly to help meet the funding crisis in social care.’ – Daily Mail

Demands for an inquiry into what ministers knew about the Libor scandal

‘Downing Street was last night under pressure to open a fresh inquiry into the Libor rigging scandal after a recording implicated the Bank of England and government ministers. The leaked conversation, which was had at the height of the financial crisis, has fuelled suspicions that senior government officials leaned on banks to keep their Libor rates low. Senior figures who could be swept up in the scandal include Sir Jeremy Heywood, who was Downing Street chief of staff, and other key allies of then prime minister Gordon Brown.. In the recording – exposed by BBC1’s Panorama programme last night – senior Barclays manager Mark Dearlove appears to instruct the bank’s Libor submitter Peter Johnson to lower his rates…He tells him: ‘The bottom line is you’re going to absolutely hate this… but we’ve had some very serious pressure from the UK government and the Bank of England about pushing our Libors lower.’ – Daily Mail

May’s 37-point lead over Corbyn

Opinion Poll graphic‘Theresa May leads Jeremy Corbyn by a vast 37 per cent when voters are asked which of them would make the best Prime Minister, new polling has found. A gigantic 10,000-person poll carried out by former Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft laid bare the challenge facing the beleaguered Labour leader. The detailed research, carried with a panel ten times larger than a standard poll, will confirm Labour MPs’ fears they are doomed to defeat under Mr Corbyn. The damning findings came on the same day as Mr Corbyn’s latest policy push, this time recommitting himself to a £10 an hour minimum wage.’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: The parties.The leaders. And leaving the EU. What my 10,000-sample poll and focus groups found.

Judges overturn Grayling’s ban on legal aid for convicts

Judges said that refusing to allow certain categories of inmates access to public money to fight legal cases was ‘inherently unfair’. The Court of Appeal ruled that not allowing convicts state-funded legal help was wrong, especially for the mentally ill and prisoners with learning difficulties. The policy, which was introduced in 2013, could now join an embarrassing list of measures launched by then Justice Secretary Chris Grayling which have ended up on the scrapheap.’ – Daily Mail

  • Britain’s most dangerous prisoners gain the right to challenge terms of their imprisonment – Daily Telegraph

Thousands bid farewell to PC Keith Palmer

thin-blue-line-union-flag‘The thin blue line of police fellowship stretches a long way. It ran for almost a mile along Southwark Street in south London as 5,000 police officers lined the route of their fallen colleague’s final journey and it stretched into every police station as the funeral of PC Keith Palmer was marked with a thousand two-minute silences. This was a private funeral and a public occasion. The murder of PC Palmer on the cobbles beneath Big Ben on March 22 was a personal tragedy for those who loved him but the display of mourning was about more than one officer. “It’s a symbol of defiance,” one onlooker said.’ – The Times (£)

Latest push for a Stormont deal stumbles

‘Efforts to resolve political deadlock in Northern Ireland have stumbled again ahead of an Easter deadline to restore the province’s power-sharing arrangement between unionists and republicans. James Brokenshire, the Northern Ireland secretary, has asked the five parties involved in talks to agree by Friday to restore the devolved assembly and executive, which collapsed earlier this year over a public spending scandal. Sinn Fein, the Irish republican party, came within one seat of matching the Democratic Unionist party as the largest political group in the assembly after an election on March 2. That has complicated the search for a new working arrangement between the two parties.’ – FT

  • Ulster informant may have been ‘allowed to die’ to protect agent – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • Thea Rogers takes job at Deliveroo – Daily Mail
  • Vogue hires first male editor – The Times (£)
  • Mercer ‘admitted’ election spending errors – The Guardian
  • 300 German soldiers investigated over neo-Nazism – Daily Telegraph
  • Sepsis is a ‘silent killer’ – Daily Mail
  • Scottish NHS to provide PrEP to those at risk of HIV – The Guardian
  • The Prime Minister’s walking and working holiday in Snowdonia – The Times (£)
  • Britain isn’t wallowing in imperial nostalgia, it wants less of the outside world – Janan Ganesh, FT