Javid demands police use ‘full force of the law’ on climate change roadblocks

‘The home secretary urged the police to use the “full force of the law” after footage emerged of two officers dancing to music at an illegal roadblock at Oxford Circus and of another using a skateboard on Waterloo Bridge. Activists, who are plotting to escalate their activities today by targeting Heathrow airport on one of the busiest days of the year, have bragged that police do not have the resources to stop them, saying: “The hollowed-out British state is overwhelmed.” Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, a former Metropolitan Police commissioner, also criticised the handling of the protests, warning that violent crime was likely to increase over Easter weekend. In the first two days of protests the Extinction Rebellion action affected 500,000 commuters, and retailers in the West End lost £12 million.’ – The Times

  • The protesters’ strategy is to clog up the criminal justice system – The Times
  • And now they want to disrupt Heathrow – Daily Mail
  • Authorities struggle to get a grip – FT
  • Khan blames cuts… – The Sun
  • …while almost doubling his culture budget – The Sun
  • Emma Thompson flies in from LA to join the climate change protest – The Times
  • Protest founder challenged over her privilege – Daily Mail
  • The Met bid to double the number of Special Constables – Daily Telegraph

Opinion and Editorial

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: And then they shall see Robin Boardman-Pattison coming in a cloud with power and great glory

The Conservatives re-select two MEPs who are campaigning against Brexit

‘Two MEPs campaigning for a second referendum have been re-selected as candidates for the Conservative Party. Sajjad Karim, a former Liberal Democrat who has described Brexit as ‘madness’, will be top of the party’s candidates list in the North West of England. While Charles Tannock, who co-founded the Conservatives for a People’s Vote campaign, will be on the ballot paper in London. The pair have been re-selected by the party ahead of next month’s European Parliament elections despite their calls for Brexit to be cancelled. Dr Karim, who has been an MEP since 2004, said last December: ‘The only way to stop this madness in its tracks is a Parliamentary process leading to a People’s Vote. We want to be leading in our continent ideally through the European Union and projecting ourselves to the globe and winning, not falling down with a whimper.” – Daily Mail



Downing Street angers MPs by planning for a new Queen’s Speech

‘Whitehall departments were told last week that the prime minister would “actively consider” proposals for the speech — which outlines the government’s legislative plans at the beginning of a new session of parliament — after the Easter recess ends on Tuesday. No 10 is understood to be preparing a light programme of less controversial measures including action to improve the environment and pensions. Any attempt by Mrs May to open a new session of parliament will enrage Tory MPs pressing for her removal, however. It will also require the co-operation of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and a renewal of the Conservatives’ confidence and supply arrangement… Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader now demanding that Mrs May set a timetable for her departure, urged her not to seek to present a new legislative programme. He said it was “inconceivable” that the next session of parliament could start until the Brexit issue was resolved. He said that Mrs May should introduce any urgent bills in the current session. “The nature of the Queen’s Speech is that it has the character of the prime minister written through it. Without the prime minister’s authority it is just a wish list of things that probably won’t happen,” he said.’ – The Times

Concern that the credit card bubble might burst, as defaults rise

‘Banks have seen a ‘significant increase’ in customers defaulting on credit cards since the start of this year. The rise in those unable to pay their bills sparked fears Britain’s £73billion plastic debt timebomb is about to go off. More than one in five credit card firms saw an increase in defaults in the first three months of 2019 – the highest rate for two years, the Bank of England revealed. Credit card lending has been growing rapidly for the past decade, fuelled by eye-catching offers.’ – Daily Mail

  • Retail sales rise – FT
  • Lenders expect Brexit delay to further weaken mortgage demand – The Times
  • Crossrail delayed to 2021 – FT
  • Clifton-Brown accused of trying to exert ‘undue influence’ on planning process – The Times

Net migration is set to remain almost unchanged under new rules

‘Theresa May has no chance of hitting her target of reducing immigration to 1990s levels after Brexit, a think-tank said yesterday. The rate of net migration will be barely changed, Migration Watch UK said. It published estimates based on the prospect that under future immigration rules, skilled workers will be allowed to come and live in Britain if their earnings are £30,000 a year or more. If that happens, immigration will add 270,000 people a year to the population. The 270,000 figure for net migration – which is the number of people added to the population after both immigration and emigration have been counted – compares with 283,000 according to the most recent official migration count, which covered the year to the end of September 2018. It is around 10 per cent below the five-year average for net migration, Migration Watch said.’ – Daily Mail

  • New rules will open up the UK to the world’s most skilled workers – The Times

‘Violent dissident republicans’ accused of murdering a journalist in Londonderry

‘A journalist murdered in Northern Ireland last night has been named as 29-year-old Lyra McKee, as police said they suspected the New IRA of carrying out the attack. The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s (PSNI) Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton confirmed Ms McKee was the victim after shots were fired in Londonderry, with police treating her death as a “terrorist act”. It was suspected “violent dissident republicans” were behind the attack, which police said was most likely perpetrated by the New IRA.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • It is thought she was killed by stray bullet intended for police officers – Daily Mail
  • Petrol bombs were thrown and cars set alight – The Guardian

Corbyn is warned that his SATs plan will harm the poorest children

‘Poorer children will suffer most if primary school SATs are scrapped by a Labour government, leading education figures have said… In a letter to The Times 59 academy trust chiefs, head teachers and educationalists said that externally set and marked national tests were the most “accurate, fair and objective” way to assess a pupil’s progress. ‘If pupils were “overly stressed”, it was a reflection of how they were being prepared for the tests, the letter says. It also says: “It is our most vulnerable children who would be most disadvantaged by teacher assessments. Research is clear that it is these pupils whose work is disproportionately impacted by natural unconscious bias.” They fear that disadvantaged children can be overlooked in a busy classroom and teachers can underestimate their potential, but an objective test means this cannot happen.’ – The Times

  • Teachers’ union pledges to campaign against the Conservatives in the local elections – Daily Mail
  • Scottish government announces overhaul of botched tests – Daily Telegraph
  • One in five teachers use their own money for supplies – The Guardian
  • EU students will get free tuition in Scotland until 2024 while the English must pay – Daily Telegraph
  • The North East might be about to elect the most powerful Corbynista in Britain – The Guardian

>Wednesday: LeftWatch: Abolishing SATs is a policy designed to please teaching unions, not help school pupils

British Army set to have fewer tanks than Cambodia

‘The military is planning to revamp only 148 of its 227 Challenger 2 tanks because of cost constraints, The Times has learnt. That would send the armed forces down to 56th in the global league table of number of tanks available. The remainder of the Challenger 2s, which entered service between 1998 and 2002, are expected to be used for parts. It is possible that some could be patched up for deployment in an emergency. The army has had £31 billion stripped from its budget since 2010, according to a senior defence insider. At present Britain’s 227 tanks earn it a ranking of 48th, below Ethiopia, with 461, Romania, 418, and Spain, 327. Russia tops the table, with 12,950 tanks, followed by the US, with 6,333. Fifteen nations have more than 1,300 tanks.’ – The Times

Facebook bans 12 far right groups

‘Facebook has banned far-right groups including the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL) from having any presence on the social network for violating the site’s rules around promoting hate and violence. The banned groups, which also includes Knights Templar International, Britain First and the National Front as well as key members of their leadership, have been removed from both Facebook or Instagram. The social network’s policy does not allow groups or individuals which engage in ‘terrorist activity, organised hate, mass or serial murder, human trafficking or organised violence or criminal activity’.’ – Daily Mail

  • People who support those groups will also be banned – The Times
  • Christchurch forced Facebook’s hand – The Times
  • UKIP leader presents candidate who told MP ‘I wouldn’t even rape you’ – Daily Mail
  • Benjamin justifies his rape ‘joke’ by saying Phillips is ‘a giant bitch’ – The Times
  • UKIP “is not dead. It is very much alive”, candidate protests – The Times
  • Rees-Mogg praises the Brexit Party for taking support from Tommy Robinson-tainted UKIP – Daily Express

‘Sweeping and systematic’ Russian interference in the US presidential election, Mueller finds

‘Russian intelligence officers hacked emails belonging to Mr Trump’s rivals and used fake accounts to disseminate false information about his opponents as part of efforts to interfere in the US election, the report concluded. In findings that will raise alarm, Mr Mueller stated that the Russians interfered “ in sweeping and systematic fashion”. He added: “The Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome.” Mr Trump and members of his campaign did not criminally conspire to work with foreign agents, but the inquiry did find repeated contacts between aides and Russian-government linked interests. Campaign members tweeted false claims pushed by Russian-backed entities, and Donald Trump Jr was directly contacted by Wikileaks and urged to share links to stolen material, which he did.’ – The Times

  • Trump claims ‘total and complete exoneration’ – The Times
  • He feared the investigation would mean ‘the end of my presidency’ – Daily Mail
  • Details of his efforts to block the probe – FT
  • The President’s woes are unlikely to be over – The Times Leader
  • The administration was not completely accurate in its presentation of the report – The Guardian Leader
  • The conflict in Washington is escalating – FT
  • Hope Hicks hung up on Vladimir Putin – Daily Mail