Public Finances 1) Tax cut boost for millions as thresholds rise

“Thirty million workers will get a tax cut today when the latest rise in the basic rate threshold takes effect. It means that workers will not start paying income tax until they earn £11,850 – a £350 rise on the level last year. A typical basic rate taxpayer will pay £1,075 less in income tax this year than they did in 2010, when the coalition government began a radical programme to take the low-paid out of tax. Higher rate taxpayers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will also benefit, with the 40p tax threshold jumping from £45,000 to £46,350, producing an annual saving of £270. Treasury figures suggest a typical higher rate taxpayer will pay £1,323 less in income tax than they did in 2010.” – Daily Mail

  • Winners and losers in the new UK tax year – FT
  • Regulator to crack down on rip-off investment charges – Daily Mail
  • Value of property held by under-30s falls below £10,000 – Daily Telegraph
  • Experts slam ‘useless’ sugar tax which will hit the poor – The Sun
  • New Scots tax system could ‘move further’ from the UK – The Scotsman


  • It’s time for a revaluation of Council Tax – The Times
  • The Government must support small businesses as pension bills rise – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: SNP ask Government to delay handover of welfare powers

Public Finances 2) Overseas aid budget soars

“Britain’s foreign aid budget soared by £555million to almost £14billion last year – more than doubling over a decade. The figures released yesterday will intensify calls for ministers to look again at the pledge introduced by David Cameron to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas handouts each year. Ministers are facing pressure to give more money to vital services at home such as cancer screening, schools and the NHS. Council tax bills are rising by the biggest amount for 14 years this year, in part because of the social care crisis – and policing resources are under scrutiny after more than 50 murders in London since the start of the year. The Treasury is also under pressure to give more money to defence as the threat from Russia intensifies.” – Daily Mail

  • Government pays hundreds of thousands in air pollution court battles – Daily Mail

Philip Hammond: Why we are determined to bring taxes down

“Today’s increase in the personal allowance means that everyone will pay less income tax. A basic rate taxpayer will pay £1,075 less income tax than they did in 2010. And the benefits aren’t just for those of working age: from today, pensioners on the full basic state pension will receive an extra £180 a year; the threshold at which young adults start paying back their student loan will increase to £25,000. And we are taking the next step to deliver our commitment that by 2020 parents will be able to pass on a home worth up to £1 million to their children without paying any inheritance tax. Of course, my commitment to keeping taxes low means I would like to do more to enable people to keep even more of the money they earn. But government is about hard choices, and we have consciously chosen to take a balanced approach.” – Daily Telegraph

Hancock to grill Facebook over data breach

“Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has summoned Facebook bosses to a showdown over its mass data breach. He will take the tech giant’s UK team to task at a meeting next Wednesday over putting the personal information of more than a million Brits at risk. The tough-talking minister slammed Facebook’s breach of 87 million users’ data as “completely unacceptable”. It comes after the social media firm earlier this week admitted that the number of its users whose data was sold to political firm Cambridge Analytica was 40 million more than previously thought. This included an estimated 1.1million British users. Mr Hancock said he will demand to know how Facebook will be giving its users more control over their data and seek further assurances that UK users data won’t be misused in the future.” – The Sun

  • UK data protection chief welcomes privacy changes – The Guardian
  • DUP will ‘take no lectures’ from Sinn Fein over social media – Belfast Telegraph

Gauke pledges to stand up for homeowners after stabbing…

The Justice Secretary has said he is on the side of homeowners who defend their property after it emerged that an armed burglar who died after struggling with a pensioner was a career criminal wanted by police. Henry Vincent, 37, died from a stab wound following a burglary at the South London home of 78-year-old Richard Osborn-Brooks on Tuesday night. A second man remains on the run. It comes amid mounting concern about a surge of violence in London, where 55 people have already died this year. The Metropolitan police said yesterday that up to 200 extra police officers will be on the streets this weekend. Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, on Thursday broke his silence over the recent spate of murders in the Capital and called for more funding to tackle violent crime.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Ministry of Justice ‘sympathises’ with people who defend themselves – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: May’s diplomatic coup against Russia sees her bounce back in our Cabinet League Table

…as Khan admits he has yet to meet families of knife crime victims

“Sadiq Khan said yesterday he was ‘angered and heartbroken’ by the London killings – but admitted he had yet to visit any of the bereaved families. The Labour Mayor of London, who has been criticised for his slow response to the spiralling numbers of deaths, put out a statement which said the loss of life was ‘devastating’, and promising that criminals who use knives ‘will feel the full force of the law’. He blamed spending cuts for the rising levels of street violence. But Mr Khan, who has been accused by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith of going ‘missing in action’, acknowledged in a radio interview that he has yet to meet any relatives of victims.” – Daily Mail

  • Mayor and Prime Minister criticised for inaction – The Times
  • Khan ‘works from home’ as murder rate soars – The Sun
  • Lammy mocked over interview lamenting missing police… with officer in the background – Daily Mail
  • Abbott gaffes again with another bogus statistic on London knife crime – Daily Express


  • Police to use ‘Al Capone’ tactics to curb the murder rate – Daily Telegraph
  • Murder toll rises as stop-and-search falls – The Times


  • After 53 deaths our leaders must start saving lives – David Lammy MP, The Sun
  • Tories are in denial about violent crime – Diane Abbott MP, The Guardian


  • London’s violent crime wave can be beaten back – FT

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: London murders and gang grooming

Opposition demand investigation into Johnson over Russia

“Labour today demanded the Prime Minister order a probe into whether Boris Johnson misled the public over the Salisbury poison attack. They claim the Foreign Secretary’s claims in a television interview that Porton Down had ‘categorical’ proof Russia was behind the attack went beyond the evidence. The Opposition wants the PM to order the investigation which would look wt whether Mr Johnson breached the ministerial code. Calling for the inquiry, shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said: ‘The Foreign Secretary has some serious questions to answer over whether he misled the public, but is instead trying to deflect criticism with his characteristic bluff and bluster.’ The call was the latest twist in a war of words between Mr Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. The Foreign Secretary has said the Kremlin is to blame for the attempted murders of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. And he has accused Mr Corbyn of being part of the Russian ‘spin machine’ by casting doubt over whether Moscow was behind the poison plot.” – Daily Mail

  • Russian ambassador rounds on Foreign Secretary at press conference – Daily Mail
  • Salisbury poison ‘made at Russia’s Porton Down’ – The Times
  • Kremlin accuses UK of ‘playing with fire’ – Daily Mail


  • Foreign Secretary fails to understand that intelligence means doubt – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian


  • There is a risk that Moscow will win the information war – Daily Telegraph
  • Russia should open its labs to inspection – The Times

Labour’s new General Secretary under fire for suspending top Jewish official

“Labour’s hard-Left new general secretary has come under fire after it emerged she had placed the party’s most senior Jewish official on gardening leave. As the party struggled to get to grips with its anti-Semitism problem, Dan Simpson was told this week not to bother returning to the office. The secretary of the Parliamentary Labour Party had already handed in his resignation and was working out his notice. Mr Simpson was told of the decision on the same day that Jennie Formby, a former Unite union activist, officially took up her post as general secretary. Last night a Jewish MP criticised the move, saying it did not look right as Labour stood accused of failing to tackle anti-Semitism. Yesterday the Daily Mail revealed that Jeremy Corbyn wants to install an activist who defended Ken Livingstone over anti-Semitism claims as Labour’s new disciplinary chief.” – Daily Mail

  • Jewish official ‘quits Momentum over safety fears’ – The Times
  • Party’s new broom sweeps away key staff – The Times


  • Jeremy and a Corbynite Passover story – Robert Shrimsley, FT
  • If Corbyn’s fans are ‘top academics’ then God help our students – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail

>Today: Profile: The Jews in Britain

>Yesterday: Garvan Walshe’s column: In Corbyn’s Labour Party, Jews are treated as citizens of nowhere

Spain ‘set to capitulate’ on threat to derail Brexit over Gibraltar

“Spain is set to capitulate on its “hardball” threats to derail a transition deal over Gibraltar. Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said Madrid wants to sign a pact with the UK ensuring the Rock is fully covered when we leave the EU. And he promised its 30,000 inhabitants Spain will not turn Brexit into a “hostage-type situation” for them. Spanish ministers have spent months wrangling for tougher language after securing a veto over a transition period applying to Gibraltar. But in doing so they have angered other Member States by repeatedly threatening to hold up much needed Brexit progress. But the leader of the Tories in Brussels, who is MEP for Gibraltar, told The Sun the rest of the bloc has had enough of Spanish games.” – The Sun

  • Britain ‘tapped’ for leading role in new European military alliance – The Sun


  • Brexit day offers May a dignified way out of Downing Street – Philip Collins, The Times

Questions over CCHQ’s use of Philip May to rally campaigners

“He is often seen in the background accompanying the prime minister to official events or to church on a Sunday but yesterday Philip May came to the fore. The financier, who met his wife at a Conservative Association disco at Oxford University, called on volunteers to join the Tories’ phonebank initiative before local elections on May 3. In an email to the party’s supporters list, he urged backers to join his “calling community” to canvass support. Tory sources expect the party to do poorly in the mainly metropolitan centres where council seats are up for election in this cycle. Some grassroots Tories approved of the stunt, saying Mr May was popular with activists. However, Conservative Campaign Headquarters’ reliance on Theresa May’s husband is likely to raise questions about how engaging it believes senior elected figures to be.” – The Times

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: CCHQ redeploys campaign staff to battle candidate shortages in Manchester and Barking & Dagenham

News in Brief:

  • Macron grits his teeth as the rail unions bare their gums – Walter Ellis, Reaction
  • A decade of human progress – Marian L Tupy, CapX
  • An independent Singapore was never given a chance – Britain should learn from it – Conor McBain, Brexit Central
  • Khan is a lousy London Mayor. Why hasn’t anyone noticed? – Andrew Gilligan, The Spectator