Russia 1) May prepares for cyberwar

“Theresa May is preparing a cyberwar against Russia’s spy network after accusing two of its agents of carrying out the Salisbury nerve agent attack. Serving notice of new covert operations against the Russian military intelligence service, the prime minister said that it was a threat to “all our allies and to all our citizens” and promised to do “whatever is necessary to keep our people safe”. In a Commons statement yesterday Mrs May named two members of Kremlin military intelligence as key suspects in the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 67, and his daughter, Yulia, 34, with a nerve agent on March 4. The prime minister drew gasps from MPs when she revealed that Britain’s security and intelligence services had established that the men, who used the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, were GRU (foreign intelligence) agents.” – The Times

  • Attackers will be arrested if they ever leave Russia – Daily Mail


  • Russia is reviving Cold War methods to theatrically kill off its enemies – Nigel West, Daily Telegraph
  • Now we know for sure Putin sent assassins to Britain – we must target Russia – The Sun Says
  • This was a warlike act by Russia – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Skripal and the Kremlin – Leader, The Times

>Today: Bob Seely on Comment: Ten steps to defend our country against the aggression and subversion of Putin’s Russia

>Yesterday: Andrew Gimson’s Commons sketch: May condemns Russian “obfuscation and lies” about the Salisbury attacks

Russia 2) The UK pledges to dismantle Kremlin’s spy network

“Downing Street vowed to do everything in its power to “dismantle” the GRU and warned of further sanctions and retaliation against Russia, but admitted police were powerless to extradite the men. Whitehall sources accused the GRU of acting “with a sense of impunity” and of developing an appetite for brazen operations such as the attack  on Col Skripal as well as cyber hacking and the shooting down of the passenger jet MH-17 over Ukraine.” – Daily Telegraph

Russia 3) Corbyn challenged over “weaselly words”

“Jeremy Corbyn faced a backlash over his ‘weaselly words’ on Russian blame for Salisbury today. The Labour leader was taken to task by Theresa May, Boris Johnson and even his own MPs for equivocating over the nerve agent outrage. Mr Corbyn was widely criticised earlier this year when he resisted stating that the Russian authorities were behind the poison attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia.  He also previously played down Moscow’s annexation of the Crimea in 2014, suggesting that NATO was to blame for the aggression.” – Daily Mail

  • If even Russian state media can admit who poisoned the Skripals, why can’t Jeremy Corbyn? – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph

Russia 4) Putin’s spokesman says the names “mean nothing to us”

“Russia said Wednesday it did not know the names of two Russians Britain has blamed for a nerve agent attack on a former spy and accused London of manipulating information. ‘The names published by the media, like their photographs, mean nothing to us,’ foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. British police identified Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov as the men who tried to kill Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with Novichok in March. UK authorities said the names were likely to be aliases.” – Daily Mail

Hancock warns NHS IT systems are putting lives at risk

“I know NHS IT has had a chequered history. And I understand why some have shied away from reforming it. There are fewer bigger organisations in the world, but for the Chinese army and Walmart, so it’s not easy. But we have learned how we can do it, from seizing the incredible opportunities of artificial intelligence through to fixing basic computers in hospitals so they can talk to each other. The fact that your hospital can’t see your GP record, or that patients don’t have control over their data, or that even within the same hospital different departments have to write down basic details, is expensive, frustrating for staff, and risks patient safety.” Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Daily Telegraph

Sunka pledges to stop landlords charging excessive sums for damaged items

“Fat-cat landlords will be banned from charging rip-off rates to replace damaged items under a new £250 million-a-year crackdown. Ministers last night unveiled new rules that will limit landlords and agents to recovering only “reasonable” incurred costs.And they will be forced to back up the bills with evidence. Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak said tenants were being charged as much as £60 for smoke alarms when councils would replace them free of charge. He said: “Tenants across the country, whatever their income, should not be hit with unfair costs by agents or landlords. This Government is determined to make sure our housing market works and this new provision will make renting fairer and more transparent for all.” – The Sun

Brexiteers to set out alternative to Chequers

“As Westminster is settling down to the next phase of its collective mild nervous breakdown, the pushback to Brexiteers’ criticism of Theresa May’s Chequers plan is that the naysayers don’t have their own…In the coming days, the Brexiteers, organised behind the scenes by that powerful grouping, the ERG, which regular readers here will be very familiar with, have a plan to counter that accusation. I hear from Sunday onwards we should expect several days of carefully planned announcements, almost like a government grid perhaps, where the Brexiteers, with their eyes ruthlessly on their short term prize of “chucking Chequers”, will lay out an alternative.” – Laura Kuenssberg, BBC

  • Post-Brexit migrant farm worker visa scheme announced – BBC
  • Anything could now happen on Brexit as Barnier bluff goes wrong – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph
  • The EU is a racket willing to break any rule – Iain Martin, The Times
  • Even with a bad deal Brexit still backed – John Curtice, Daily Telegraph
  • Labour would vote down Canada-style Brexit deal says Starmer – The Guardian
  • Raab head for Brussels – Daily Express


Investigation into Corbyn’s overseas trips

“Parliament’s ethics watchdog has launched an inquiry into controversial overseas visits made by Jeremy Corbyn before he became Labour leader. Mr Corbyn was reported to the parliamentary commissioner for standards by three different Conservative MPs during the summer over allegations that he had not properly registered trips abroad which were paid for by other organisations. Pictures had emerged of Mr Corbyn holding a wreath in front of a plaque honouring the founder of Black September, the group behind the killing of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972, in Tunisia in 2014.” – The Times

  • The Labour Party is lost to ultra-left fanatics – David Aaronovitch, The Times
  • May demands an apology for anti-semitism – Daily Mail

McDonnell says he would not fire nuclear weapons to protect the UK

“Labour shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said he would not fire nuclear weapons to protect Britain and named Das Kapital as his most influential book. Mr McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn’s effective deputy, also defended his historic support for the IRA saying “everything I did around Ireland was to try to bring about peace”. During the interview Mr McDonnell also compared himself and Mr Corbyn – both pensioners – as like “two old geezers from Last of the Summer Wine touring the country”.” – Daily Telegraph

Scallop wars ended

“Scallop wars”, the conflict between Cornish fishermen and their French counterparts, appears to have been brought to a peaceful conclusion, after the French government agreed to compensate British boats for staying out of the Baie de Seine. A joint statement released by the UK and French governments on Wednesday night said “constructive” talks involving representatives of their respective fishing industries had resulted in a deal. Conservation measures aimed at restoring scallop stocks in the 40-mile stretch of waters off the Normandy coast will now be extended to British boats under 15-metres long, which were initially excluded.” – The Guardian

Scots disatisfied with SNP performance

“Opponents of the Scottish National party seeking to portray it as a faltering force after more than a decade in power do not have to look far for ammunition. Just hours before SNP leader and first minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday unveiled her programme for government for the coming year to the Scottish parliament, official data showed a fall in the proportion of Scots satisfied with key public services and a worrying rise in waiting times for mental health treatment for young people.” – Financial Times

Call for boost in Universal Credit payments

“Theresa May has been told that she must inject nearly £3 billion into controversial benefit reforms as the policy reaches its most delicate stage in parliament. MPs will be asked this autumn to approve the extension of universal credit payments to 2.1 million less well-off families who at present claim income-linked benefits. These include about one million families in which parents work in low-paid jobs. This group of people who are “just about managing” have previously been identified by the prime minister as her political priority….The analysis by the Resolution Foundation, a think tank chaired by Lord Willetts, a former Tory minister, found that universal credit had lost a key objective of increasing benefit take-up among low-paid claimants in addition to increasing incentives to find work.” – The Times

Timothy: There is merit in the IPPR report

“Wednesday’s controversial report by the Institute for Public Policy Research will inevitably be attacked for its tax recommendations. This is not surprising, given the think tank’s centre-Left origins…But there is merit in several of the report’s ideas. A National Investment Bank would help to re-industrialise the economy, improve productivity and bring growth to the regions. An “alternative minimum corporation tax” would prevent multinationals from avoiding UK taxes.Increasing taxes on accumulated wealth would mean lower taxes on income, and save younger families from carrying the burden of our ageing society alone. A better approach to corporate governance would not only give workers a say in decisions that affect them, but help firms to make their own decisions for the long term, and so allow a reduction in micro-managing government regulation.” – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph

  • Welby is wrong to put his faith in ever higher taxes – James Price, The Times

News in brief

  • Trump’s legacy: Banana Republicanism – Dominic Green, CapX
  • The rise of Sajid Javid – The Spectator
  • Trump challenged by anonymous attack from White House official – Independent
  • Vote Leave head Matthew Elliott: “The Brexiteers won the battle but we could lose the war” – New Statesman
  • PMQs, possibly the worst thing about British politics – Finn McRedmond, Reaction