Published:

Russia demands nerve agent as it defies May’s ultimatum

“Russia has demanded Theresa May hands over samples of the Novichok used to poison a Russian spy before the Kremlin considers responding to her ultimatum. The British Prime Minister issued Vladimir Putin with a deadline – midnight last night – to answer questions about the poisoning outrage in Salisbury ten days ago which has left Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia fighting for their lives in hospital. Moscow responded bluntly,  and – in a coded reference to Vladimir Putin’s boasts about his nuclear arsenal – Russian officials warned: ‘Any threat to take punitive measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that.’” – Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister brushes off ‘nuke threat’ – The Sun
  • Deadline passes on UK sanction threat – FT
  • Government to set out possible reprisals before MPs – The Guardian
  • We’re behind you all the way, allies promise May – The Times
  • Prime Minister ‘urges spy chiefs’ to devise covert ops – The Sun
  • Kremlin accuses London of bid to ‘discredit’ Moscow – Daily Mail

More:

  • Fury mounts over Corbyn’s response – Daily Mail
  • May could ‘force’ EU nations to boycott World Cup – Daily Express
  • Cyberforce of 1,000 to combat hostile nations and terrorists – The Times
  • British journalists face ban from Russia if RT loses licence – Daily Mail
  • Salmond accused of being ‘useful idiot’ as he’s urged to quit RT show – The Scotsman

William Hague: Waking up to the threat of Russia will be painful, but necessary

Moscow’s success relies partly on the ease with which all facts can be contested in the “post-truth” world we have now entered. But it also takes advantage of a deep psychological weakness in the West – that we really don’t want to admit to ourselves that we face new threats, rival systems and alternative ideologies, just when we thought we were free of all that. Admitting that Russia is a serious, long-term threat to our security is an awful, excruciatingly painful exercise for a great many people. For military planners, it means nearly 30 years of downgrading the need for large and strong conventional forces has been a mistake. For neo-conservatives, it means the assumption that democracy will prosper even in areas where it has few foundations was hopelessly wrong.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Russia’s reckless attack on the heart of my city – John Glen MP, Times Red Box
  • Britain can’t cut of all links to Russia – Tony Brenton, The Guardian
  • Brexit leaves us lonely in a dangerous world – Alex Massie, The Times
  • The Falklands let Thatcher prove herself the Iron Lady. What is May made of? – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
  • How exactly can Britain retaliate against Russia? – Chris Moncrieff, Belfast Telegraph

>Yesterday:

Britain to keep free movement until 2021 in Brexit ‘climb-down’

“Brexit war committee finally agreed the terms of Britain’s historic transition phase out of the EU – ahead of a crunch meeting of EU27 ambassadors in Brussels on Thursday. The core-Cabinet sub-committee in charge of negotiations nodded through a major climb-down keeping Britain’s open borders for EU citizens until 2021. Initially the government said free movement would end when Britain officially leaves the EU in 2019, but it is set to continue throughout the “time limited” exit period. And Mrs May’s inner circle used the behind closed doors meeting to plot how best to spin the bad news to MPs and voters. Mrs May summoned the 11 strong committee including Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Gavin Williamson and Amber Rudd to discuss “the package for the March European Council.”” – The Sun

  • UK will have spent £2 billion on preparations when it leaves the EU, says think-tank – The Sun

Comment:

  • We’ll continue to champion consumer rights after Brexit – Robin Walker MP, Times Red Box
  • Labour, Tory, and SNP MPs must unite to keep us in the EU – Ian Murray MP, The Scotsman

Ministers 1) Hammond faces backlash over plan to cull cash

“Philip Hammond is facing a backlash after suggesting 1p and 2p coins and £50 notes could be scrapped as part of moves to a cashless society. Treasury documents published alongside the Chancellor’s Spring Statement raise questions about the future of the small change, pointing out they are increasingly ‘falling out of circulation’. Large numbers of pennies and 2ps are being used just once before being thrown away, according to the assessment. At the other end of the scale, £50 notes are ‘rarely used for routine purchases’ and can be implicated in money laundering and tax evasion. However, Tory MP Ian Liddell-Grainger said the penny was a part of history and branded the idea of getting rid of small units ‘lazy’.” – Daily Mail

  • Treasury may ban cash-in-hand payments for tradesmen – Daily Mail
  • Airbnb hosts face tax crackdown – The Times
  • Chancellor to get windfall from Scots avoiding SNP tax hikes – Daily Telegraph
  • Hammond moots tax on coffee cups and chewing gum – FT

Comment:

  • Voters have a choice between British enterprise or Corbyn’s train wreck – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • Numbers to not justify Chancellor’s ‘Tiggerish’ outlook – Paul Johnson, FT
  • Hammond has buried Osborne’s Project Fear – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • The Chancellor has little fiscal headway and a tough course to navigate – The Times
  • Hammond’s optimism lacked real bounce – Daily Telegraph
  • Chancellor delivers scant fiscal cheer – FT
  • Hammond barely put a foot wrong in the Spring Statement – The Sun

>Today:

>Yesterday:

Ministers 2) Prisons preparing for Islamist influx, warns Gauke

“Britain’s prisons are being readied for an expected influx of Islamic State jihadis returning to Britain from Syria, the Justice Secretary has disclosed. David Gauke said “a lot of work” is being done by British authorities to ensure they are ready if large groups of British Isil fighters attempt to return home. Hundreds of British extremists could soon be Britain’s “problem” after Isil was largely defeated in Syria and Iraq, he said. In an interview in the Evening Standard newspaper Mr Gauke did not reveal how many are expected to return, although the Government has previously estimated that 850 UK-linked individuals went to engage in the Syrian conflict.” – Daily Telegraph

Ministers 3) Javid may force schools to make sure children mix

“Schools could be ordered to ensure their pupils mix with children from other ethnicities and religions under Government proposals. Communities Secretary Sajid Javid wants all schools without a diverse population to make sure children have exposure to families who are not like their own. His ‘integrated communities strategy’ aims to promote more tolerance among youngsters and prevent some sections of society becoming too isolated and inward-looking. But the proposals are likely to prove controversial if it means schools will be penalised for failing to integrate to a high enough standard. A number of isolated village schools have been marked down by Ofsted in the past for failing to teach children about other cultures.” – Daily Mail

  • Communities Secretary warns that 770,000 can’t speak English – The Guardian
  • Fury as ministers abandon bold integration plan from Casey – The Sun
  • Downing Street to curb Sharia in push for integration – The Times

Comment:

  • We must ensure those coming to Britain have a chance to integrate – Sajid Javid MP, The Sun
  • It’s time to ignore ‘racism’ fears and act to stop the UK falling apart – Dame Louise Casey, The Sun
  • We must support hate-crime victims – Nusrat Ghani MP, Times Red Box

Strip aid money from corrupt regimes, says Cameron

“Former Prime Minister David Cameron has urged the government to strip aid money from corrupt regimes in order to protect the taxpayer. Mr Cameron introduced a legal requirement for the British government to spend 0.7 per cent of its GDP on foreign aid while at Number 10. However, the requirement has led to controversy over accusations the taxpayer funds have been misused by corrupt regimes. Mr Cameron suggested all recipients should adhere to the ‘basic norms of governance’ – or face financial penalties… The former PM was appearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Capitol Hill in Washington.” – Daily Mail

Speaker faces fresh anger over anti-Brexit sticker

“Pro-Brexit Conservative MPs accused John Bercow of “overstepping the mark” yesterday after pictures emerged of his car with a “Bollocks to Brexit” sticker on the window. A photo on the Guido Fawkes website showed the Speaker’s car in a Commons car park with the sticker on the windscreen bearing the slogan: “It’s not a done deal.” Mr Bercow’s critics seized on it. “He can hold any private views that he likes but as Speaker he should not express them in public,” Andrew Bridgen, a Tory MP, said. “It is yet another example of his cavalier attitude to impartiality.” James Duddridge, another Tory MP, told the Daily Mail that Mr Bercow had “leapt across the line”. “Who in their right mind would put that sticker in their car?” he asked.” – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Tillerson’s departure paves the way for a Trumpist foreign policy – Dominic Green, CapX
  • Why Britain is limited in how it responds to Russia – David Galbreath, Reaction
  • On the border, Varadkar is acting against Ireland’s interests – Alex Redpath, Brexit Central
  • Scrapping one pence coins would be a step in a bad direction – Ross Clark, The Spectator

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