May: Let’s close the gender pay gap entirely and for good

‘We need to act if we are to close the gap for good within a generation. It is essential that we do so. Most importantly, because equality for women is a right, and our whole society is the poorer as long as it remains unrealised. There is also a clear economic imperative. It is estimated that if women and men enjoyed parity in their hours, pay and seniority at work then we could see up to £150 billion added to our GDP. Making full use of women’s academic achievements, experience and talents would help boost UK productivity, to the benefit of our whole economy. This is an area where the government has taken a decisive lead. Last year we introduced mandatory gender pay gap reporting for large employers. This means that every organisation with more than 250 staff must publish on their own website, as well as on the government’s online reporting service, their gender pay gap, bonus gap, and other information about the differences between the salaries that men and women receive.’ – Theresa May, Daily Telegraph

  • The latest addition to her list of burning injustices – The Times
  • The average of the published gaps is 18 per cent – Daily Telegraph
  • The Conservative Party will voluntarily publish its gap…after the deadline – The Guardian
  • Female MPs report discrimination – FT
  • The Prime Minister has bounced back from a dreadful year – Alice Thomson, The Times
  • Rudd sparks speculation with glitzy fundraiser – The Sun
  • War in WI – The Times

Putin rushes to take advantage of Porton Down expert’s clumsy interview

‘President Putin also seized on the admission by Gary Aitkenhead, head of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, that he had not identified the “precise source” of the poison used against Sergei and Yulia Skripal. In an interview that caused dismay in No 10, Mr Aitkenhead said his laboratories had identified it as a military-grade novichok nerve agent which could probably be deployed only by a nation state. Mr Putin said that given the lack of precise information about the agent’s origin “the speed at which the anti-Russian campaign has been launched causes bewilderment”…Downing Street mounted a damage-limitation exercise after Mr Aitkenhead’s comments, saying that Theresa May drew on a comprehensive intelligence assessment alongside the scientific analysis before blaming Russia and insisting that the Porton Down chief had not contradicted this. However, the interview with Sky News, which had been approved in advance by No 10, risks undermining the international coalition against Moscow.’ – The Times

  • Glen raises questions about Russian on the same flight as Yulia Skripal – Daily Mail
  • Chemical weapons watchdog meets today – The Guardian
  • The Kremlin is distrusted because its experiments with the future of war involve sacrificing morality – Roger Boyes, The Times
  • Far-right views now ‘mainstream’ in Europe – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Henry Newman’s column: The unified reaction to the Skripal affair suggests talk of Britain’s ‘isolation’ was premature

Commonwealth Games offer ‘huge opportunity’ for post-Brexit trade

‘More than 6,500 athletes and officials gathered in Australia’s Gold Coast for the opening of the Commonwealth Games on Wednesday. For Brexit Britain, however, boosting trade with former colonies is as important as winning medals now that it is preparing to leave the EU. “This is a huge opportunity for the UK in the post-Brexit world to really help turbocharge the Commonwealth into being a vibrant group of countries,” said Jonathan Marland, a former Conservative party treasurer who is chairing a trade delegation at the games.  We all speak English, there is fundamental rule of law that underpins our activities and a number of the major countries — Australia, Singapore, Canada and the UK — are free-trading. So there is the basis of what I think could be a Commonwealth trade framework,” he said. The games mark the start of a critical month for the Commonwealth, a group of 53 nations that are mostly former British territories. Political leaders from member nations will gather in London for the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in mid-April.’ – FT

  • Concern over Whitehall ‘chaos’ threatening the trade strategy – Daily Telegraph
  • Benn’s committee splits over EFTA/EEA option – The Guardian
  • Mogg criticises ‘high priests of Remain’ skewing Brexit committee report – FT
  • While Remainers pine for David Miliband, have they forgotten how useless he was? – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph
  • EU judge broke rules by moonlighting at a quango, but was allowed to quietly resign – Daily Telegraph
  • Norwegian MPs are concerned that Britain might get a better deal – Daily Telegraph
  • Passport protectionism would be unwise – Richard Tice, Daily Telegraph
  • UKIP staves off bankruptcy – FT

>Today: Simon Clarke on Comment: A greener City of London will outpace Paris and Frankfurt after Brexit

Blunkett: There is a crisis of violence on our streets

‘The staggering statistics are that 48 people have been murdered in the capital so far this year. For the first time in modern history, London is more deadly than New York. Rates of rape and robbery were already higher than in the city once called the crime metropolis of America. That is not a shallow comparison. London and New York not only have populations of similar sizes, about eight million, but a similar annual police budget: approximately £3 billion. Yet the U.S. city invests in about 25 per cent more officers — 40,000, compared to our 32,000. The Met also have to carry responsibility for counter-terrorism, which is handled in America by Homeland Security, a different branch of law enforcement. I believe that a crisis of violence on our streets threatens British society on a scale that has not been seen before. It represents a monstrous challenge for the police, who cannot defeat it alone.’ – David Blunkett, Daily Mail

  • West Midlands Chief Constable blames budget cuts – FT
  • Less political correctness, more targeting of real criminals – The Sun Says
  • Get tough on the causes of crime – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Downing Street refuses to praise outgoing DPP – The Sun
  • 16-year-old shot in the face – The Sun
  • Rising crime demands a tough response – The Times Leader


>Yesterday: James Frayne’s column: Violence is set to become a mainstream political issue in London

Warner: Interest rates may never get back to what was once normal

‘It would not be entirely out of character if the Bank, unavoidably always somewhat behind the curve, were finally to pluck up the courage to raise rates just as the economy was beginning to turn south again. At 0.5pc, Bank Rate is still firmly set for an economic depression. Whatever the delusions of the Left, it is hard to argue we are any longer actually in one. With close to full employment and one of the longest ever uninterrupted periods of economic growth on record, the economy appears to have returned to a semblance of pre-crisis normality. But interest rates most assuredly have not. The Bank is desperate to correct this mismatch. Another 25 basis points on rates to the positively exalted heights of 0.75pc is to my mind neither here nor there. It would nonetheless be an embarrassment were the Bank to begin the process of “normalisation” only to reverse it a few months later when the economy turns down. It also raises an important question. Is it any longer possible to raise rates to any appreciable degree without collapsing the economy?’ – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

  • How tax changes will affect you – Daily Mail
  • Trump lays out plans for tariffs targeting Chinese goods – FT


MoD signs off ‘witch hunt’ investigations into Iraq veterans yet again

‘Investigators could launch six more inquiries into alleged unlawful deaths in Iraq involving British troops because of human-rights laws. Eight inquest-style probes have already been launched at a cost of about £200,000 each – but now defence officials are set to sign off another six. Dozens of soldiers already quizzed by the controversial Iraq Historical Allegations Team (Ihat) could be dragged before a judge – and those who refuse may be charged with contempt of court. Officials had been passed 78 claims of unlawful deaths thrown out by Ihat to decide if they need to offer families in Iraq an inquest-style inquiry by the Iraq Fatality Investigations (IFI) unit…Former defence minister Andrew Murrison said: ‘It’s just not fair to subject brave men and women to repeated legal challenges, inquiries and investigations. It’s beginning to look like a witch-hunt and will certainly put good people off joining and staying in the Army.’’ – Daily Mail

Sugar: Corbyn is ‘dangerous’ and has got to go

‘Britain needs to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn, was the message from Lord Alan Sugar tonight. His comments come after the Labour leader decided to attend a Seder by a far-left group that once called for Israel’s destruction. Speaking to ITV News about Jeremy Corbyn’s attendance to the Jewdas event, Lord Sugar described the politican as ‘absolutely dangerous’. He said: ‘This country needs to get rid of him. There is no question of it. I don’t have the solution how to get rid of him. He is absolutely dangerous, totally totally dangerous and the [Labour] Party is powerless to try and get rid of him. He doesn’t mean it. He’s just giving lip service. Obviously his back room cronies have said ‘oh look Jeremy, you’d better say something about this anti-Semitism you can’t just sit there silent’ so he says ‘oh yeh yeh, no we’re not anti-Semitic’.’ – Daily Mail

  • The Chief Rabbi has ‘grave concerns’ – Daily Telegraph
  • The Board of Deputies accuses Corbyn of “deliberately provoking the Jewish community” – The Times
  • They previously published a prayer calling for Parliament to be burned down, and to ‘smash the state of Israel’ – Daily Mail
  • Former donor says Corbyn’s Labour is now tainted ‘forever’ – The Times
  • 1,000 new members join during the scandal – The Sun
  • Naz Shah deletes Winnie Mandela tweet featuring ‘necklacing’ quote – The Times
  • Jarvis can run for Sheffield mayor while an MP, NEC rules – The Times



  • He still doesn’t seem to understand that enough is enough – The Times Leader
  • Even Momentum admits there’s a problem, but Corbyn keeps turning a blind eye – The Sun Says

Teachers’ union to campaign against cuts during purdah

‘Teachers will leaflet parents about Tory ‘cuts’ to mobilise them in the run-up to next month’s local elections, union leaders have announced. The National Union of Teachers has called on its members to hand out fliers and put up banners at school gates criticising the Government over funding of schools. It will mean teachers around the country will be targeting families during the sensitive ‘purdah’ period before the vote on May 3…It follows a similar campaign in the run-up to last year’s general election, when many Tories lost their seats and Theresa May lost her Commons majority. Teachers then were accused of trying to sway the result by sending letters home in children’s schoolbags which criticised Tory education policies. The campaign cost the union £300,000 – more than Ukip spent on the poll.’ – Daily Mail

French strikers begin their campaign to break Macron’s reforms

‘Millions of commuters and tourists endured travel chaos yesterday after French railway unions began a three-month strike aimed at halting President Macron’s drive to reshape France. Much of the French railway system was on the verge of a standstill with one in four trains running in the Paris region on the first day back to work after the Easter break on what was dubbed “Black Tuesday”. Utility company employees, rubbish collectors and Air France staff also launched industrial action yesterday…The government vowed to press on with reform of the SNCF state rail operator that aims to trim costs. The company is ‎€48 billion in the red with annual losses of €3 billion. “The government will stand firm,” Élisabeth Borne, the transport minister, said. She criticised the unions for “trying to turn this into a political issue”. Many commuters denounced “selfish” rail personnel while others showed traditional French sympathy for strikers. The cheminots, as rail staff are affectionately known, are seen by supporters to be defending the nation’s workers against a regime that wants to rob them of their rights.’ – The Times

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