Javid and May “clash” over demand for emergency funds to tackle knife crime

“Sajid Javid clashed with Theresa May on Tuesday as he demanded millions more in emergency funding for police to combat the knife crime crisis. In what was described as a “testy” exchange with Mrs May, the Home Secretary argued current resourcing – including the extra £1bn announced just months ago – did “not go far enough” to help police combat record levels of knife crime. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, appeared to rebuke Mr Javid by suggesting that the police should “prioritise” the resources they have and focus staff on “real time” cases rather than historic investigations. The Home Secretary also proposed a major expansion of stop and search powers by changing guidance to give police more freedom to look for knives following a deadly weekend in which two 17-year-olds were stabbed to death in London and Manchester.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Pupils given lessons in how to treat stab wounds – The Times
  • Smirking at soft justice Britain – Daily Mail
  • Military is “ready to respond” reveals Williamson – The Sun
  • How Glasgow tackled gang culture and violence – The Times
  • Javid in strategy talks with police chiefs – BBC
  • Met chief links knife crime rise to police cuts in challenge to Prime Minister – Daily Telegraph
  • Khan refuses to take responsibility – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Politicians must decide whether their priority in response to knife crime is ‘do something’ or ‘do something effective’

Johnson: We need more stop and search

“If we simply address this epidemic like sociologists or outreach workers, we will not solve the problem and we will not be truly helping these kids. We also need to be tough. I know this because, 11 or 12 years ago, our capital city was in the grip of an almost identical epidemic. People were horrified at the loss of young life and the violence they could see on their street corners. I contested the 2008 mayoral election on a simple pledge: to get knife crime down. I have to tell you that for the first six months — perhaps longer — I thought we would fail. It was an utterly hellish time. I would lie awake praying that the following day would not see another stabbing….We substantially changed the calculation of risk in the mind of any kid setting out from home with a knife. We launched Operation Blunt Two — a massive programme of stop and search. In its first year, this took about 10,000 knives off the streets. Naturally there were protests from pressure groups. Some suggested that stop and search was discriminatory and heavy-handed. We ignored these voices. It worked.” – Boris Johnson, Daily Mail

Other comment

  • We must give police more powers to fight the knife crime disease infecting our young people – Sajid Javid, Daily Telegraph
  • Action this day – Leader, The Times
  • The Government must get a grip – Leader, Daily Express

Brexit 1) Government plans to slash tariffs if there is “no deal”

“The UK government may cut trade tariffs on between 80% and 90% of goods in the event of a no-deal Brexit, reports say. Some tariffs would be scrapped completely, including those on car parts, and some agricultural produce. However, 10-20% of key products would continue to be protected by the current level of tariffs, including some textiles, cars, beef, lamb and dairy. The government said it would make an announcement once a decision had been finalised. Tariffs are taxes on imports which protect UK companies from overseas competition. Many supporters of Brexit argue that tariffs on food and other items should be scrapped in order to lower prices for consumers.” – BBC

  • Business has been “left in the dark” – The Times

>Today: Esther McVey on Comment: A loss of trust over Brexit could break our politics. And I shudder to think of the consequences.

Brexit 2) Bombardier puts pressure on the DUP

“Bombardier, the most important employer in the Unionist strongholds of Northern Ireland, is putting pressure on the region’s Democratic Unionist party to drop its objections to Theresa May’s Brexit deal as a critical vote in Westminster nears. The Canadian aircraft manufacturer, which employs almost 4,000 people at four separate Belfast factories, has kept a relatively low public profile over Brexit compared to other UK-based manufacturers. But the increasing threat of Britain leaving without a deal has prompted Bombardier to warn the DUP — which has fiercely criticised Mrs May’s deal in the past — of the serious consequences on its Northern Ireland operations of a hard exit, according to people familiar with the discussions.” – Financial Times

  • Hammond loses “deal dividend” as businesses get tired of the delay – Daily Telegraph
  • Why Leo Varadkar may regret insulting the DUP – Eamon Delaney, Belfast Telegraph

Brexit 3) There is “still hope” insists Cox

“Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, has said there is still hope of a Brexit breakthrough as he arrived in Brussels to meet Michel Barnier. He was accompanied by Stephen Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, who has written to Mr Barnier saying Britain is prepared to ringfence the rights of EU citizens if there is a ‘no deal’ Brexit. The three men were due to have dinner on Tuesday evening although there is little hope of an end to the impasse over the backstop.” – Daily Telegraph

  • MSPs pass motion to “take no deal off the table” – The Scotsman

>Today: ToryDiary: Our survey. A plurality of Party members would back May’s deal were meaningful change made to the backstop

Brexit 4) Government attempts to woo Labour MPs with workers’ rights pledge are rebuffed

“MPs have been promised a vote on any changes to workers’ rights after Brexit as Theresa May seeks Labour support to pass her deal on leaving the EU. No 10 said Parliament would be given a say over whether to adopt any new protections introduced on the continent and to stay aligned with EU standards. Labour MPs in Leave constituencies have been seeking assurances the UK will not fall behind EU standards after Brexit. But the TUC said they should not be “taken in by blatant window dressing”. The union movement said what was being offered was “flimsy procedural tweaks”. Safeguarding workers’ rights has been one of Labour’s key demands in the Brexit negotiations.” – BBC

Brexit 5) Smith says that Parliament could force Customs Union membership

“The chief whip, Julian Smith, has warned cabinet ministers that, if MPs reject Theresa May’s deal a second time next week, parliament would take control and force a softer Brexit. As part of attempts to win over Brexit-supporting ministers, Smith struck a pessimistic note on Tuesday about the parliamentary arithmetic, the Guardian understands. He suggested the most likely outcome if the deal were rejected again would be that MPs opt to take a no-deal Brexit off the table and extend article 50. A softer Brexit would then emerge as the majority view in parliament, through a process of “indicative votes”.” – The Guardian

Brexit 6) Dearlove warns that May’s agreement would be “disastrous”

“The former head of MI6 and dozens of senior academics have said a no-deal Brexit would be far better for Britain than Theresa May’s “disastrous” deal. Sir Richard Dearlove said there would be “no tangible benefits” from a Brexit conducted under Mrs May’s deal, which would merely “prolong the agony”. In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, he is joined by 33 academics and business leaders who say that a no deal Brexit would offer “immediate opportunities”. It came as the Governor of the Bank of England admitted his previous predictions of the impact of no deal had been too gloomy. In November Mark Carney said no deal would result in a reduction of between 5 and 8 per cent of Britain’s gross domestic product, but on Tuesday he told a House of Lords committee the economic hit could be as low as 2.5 per cent over three years, with the worst case scenario being 6 per cent. He told peers: “There has been progress in preparedness, and that reduces the level of the economic shock.” – Daily Telegraph

  •  The Withdrawal Agreement is disastrous – Letters, Daily Telegraph
  • Conservatives can unite once the Brexit psychodrama is over – Stewart Jackson, The Times

Brexit 7) Rees-Mogg: Nobody knows who speaks for the Government

“Collective responsibility has been abandoned so no one knows which minister speaks authoritatively for the Government’s position and, worst of all, the Referendum result, where 17.4 million people decided that we should leave, is put at nothing by the extremist ­Remainers. Next week will see this come to a head as there will be a series of Parliamentary votes to determine the future of Brexit….If the House of Commons will not accept the ordinary relationship between it and the Executive, then a vote of ­confidence ought to take place. If Theresa May were to win such a vote for a second time then there is no ­obligation for the Government to follow mere motions of the Commons….Eurosceptics must similarly be guided by the electorate — it is our duty and obligation to those who trusted that the vote in 2016 would be decisive and would be implemented. This makes it necessary to vote against the current deal as well as efforts to move the date beyond March 29. The people have spoken. The case ought to be concluded. Let’s have lift-off.” – Jacob Rees-Mogg, The Sun

Voters in Peterborough have a chance to force a by-election

“The disgraced MP Fiona Onasanya could lose her parliamentary seat after a recall petition was ordered yesterday. It followed the rejection of her appeal against her conviction for perverting the course of justice. Onasanya, who was elected as Labour MP for Peterborough but was expelled from the party in December, was told by the Court of Appeal that there was “absolutely no basis to challenge her conviction”. John Bercow, the Speaker, told MPs that he would trigger a recall petition. The petition has to be opened within the next ten working days and up to ten designated places could be set up and stay open for six weeks for constituents to sign the petition. A by-election will be called if 10 per cent of eligible constituents — estimated to be about 7,000 people — sign the petition.” – The Times

Grayling proposes to force utility firms to maintain roads, to prevent potholes

“Utility companies will be forced to maintain roads for five years after digging them up under government plans to eradicate potholes. Gas, electricity, water and communications companies have to “guarantee” the road for two years after work has been completed but this period will more than double in proposals announced today…Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, said: “Potholes are the biggest enemy for road users and this government is looking at all options to keep our roads in the best condition. Road surfaces can be made worse by utility companies, so imposing higher standards on repairs will help keep roads pothole-free for longer.” – The Times

Warsi claims there is Islamophobia in the Conservative Party….

“Former Conservative chairman Baroness Warsi has said she will “not be bullied and hounded out” of the party and it was her job to stop its “re-ukipification”. Criticising the party’s handling of Islamophobia claims, the peer said Theresa May “doesn’t listen” and she had failed to “acknowledge when there is a problem”. She told the BBC’s Norman Smith: “Burying your head in the sand is not going to make problems go away.” – BBC

….as more than a dozen activists are expelled

“The Conservatives have suspended more than a dozen party activists for making anti-Muslim comments on a Facebook page. The party said that it had taken action against 14 members for posts on a page backing Jacob Rees-Mogg to take over as the next Tory leader. One said that he would not vote for Sajid Javid to replace Theresa May as it would be a vote for “Islam to lead this country”. Another said that their golden rule was “never do business with Pakis”. Another posted an image of a bulldozer with the words “free mosque removal service” and another said that a Muslim should not be allowed to work in any of the emergency services.” – The Times

Rudd promises to ease assessments for disabled claimants

“Amber Rudd, work and pensions secretary, has signalled a sweeping rethink of her department’s approach to assessing disabled claimant benefits in a sharp break with her predecessor.  Ms Rudd said disabled people had told her they felt they were being put “on trial” when claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP) disability benefits through the contentious “Work Capability Assessment”, which measures capacity to work. “People with disabilities and health conditions have enough challenges in life,” Ms Rudd told an audience at the headquarters of Scope, a disability charity. “Dealing with my department should not be one of them. So my ambition is to significantly improve how DWP supports disabled people and those with health conditions.” – Financial Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Thawing the benefits freeze

Corbyn ally stopped suspension in anti-semitic mural row

“An ally of Jeremy Corbyn told Labour Party officials not to suspend a woman who had defended an antisemitic mural, leaked emails have shown. Labour MPs say the email exchange from March last year, obtained by The Times, contradicts what Mr Corbyn told them and Jewish community leaders last year and marks a further worsening in relations between some MPs and the party leadership. It comes after Dame Margaret Hodge accused members of Mr Corbyn’s inner circle this morning of interfering in the outcome of antisemitism cases to reduce the sanction imposed.” – The Times

  • Another anti-Semitism shambles – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail
  • Hatton appears at Labour fundraiser – The Times
  • Corbyn’s circle still lament end of Soviet rule – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

Independent Group meets Electoral Commission to discuss forming a political party

“The Independent Group is in talks with the Electoral Commission about becoming a fully-fledged political party, group spokesman Chuka Umunna has said. He said the group had to become a party in order to present an alternative to the “broken political system”. Eight MPs quit Labour and joined forces with three former Tories to form the group, which is joint fourth-largest in Parliament, with the Lib Dems. By registering as a party, the group can contest seats in future elections.” – BBC

Colvile: More scepticism needed towards charities

“Every year Oxfam publishes a report on global wealth inequality that could have been written by John McDonnell and only makes its numbers work by treating an Oxford graduate as more impoverished than a Chinese peasant. Last year, its research was ripped apart for claiming that “two-thirds of billionaires’ wealth is the product of inheritance, monopoly and cronyism” which depended, among other bizarre decisions, on treating the entire tech sector as monopolistic. So many charities do amazing work. But it is clear that some of the biggest need to exercise better control over their overseas operations and perhaps focus on doing fewer things better. Above all we need to stop assuming that just because a charity has a famous name, it must be doing noble work. The more dazzling the halo, the greater the risk of being blinded.” – Robert Colvile, The Times

News in brief

  • Can Cox score the concession the Brexiteers want? – Katy Balls, The i
  • Emmanuel Macron’s troubling vision of an EU ‘renaissance’ – Kai Weiss, CapX
  • Will Theresa May vote for a no-deal Brexit? – Robert Peston, The Spectator
  • I’m willing to back May’s deal – Jim Fitzpatrick,  The Huffington Post
  • Memo to Mordaunt: To fight terror, stop funding it – Karen Harradine, The Conservative Woman