Iran crisis. Johnson flies back to Britain, ships ordered to Straits of Hormuz…

“Boris Johnson will return to the UK on Sunday after his holiday in Mustique but will walk in to a potential diplomatic row with the US after Britain was left in the dark about the attack. He is now ramping up security in the region by sending HMS Montrose and HMS Defender, a Type 23 frigate and a Type 45 destroyer, to accompany British-flagged oil tankers, it was revealed tonight Defence Secretary Ben Wallace ordered the warships to the Strait of Hormuz to ‘take all necessary steps to protect our ships and citizens’.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Netanyahu was briefed but the Prime Minister wasn’t – Mail on Sunday
  • Johnson’s reaction to news of the strike: “f**k” – Mail on Sunday
  • Wallace urges de-escalation – Sunday Express
  • Hunt: it’s a game of chicken – Sun on Sunday
  • Navy vessels sent to Strait of Hormuz – Observer
  • GCHQ on alert for cyber attack – Sunday Times
  • British and America spy planes hover in the sky – Mail on Sunday
  • What happens now to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe? – Sunday Times
  • Wife of British Iranian engineer held in prison fears for his release prospects – Sunday Telegraph
  • Foreign Office advice: Brits should leave Iran – Sunday Times
  • Labour, LibDems, SNP queue up to attack Johnson – Observer
  • Iran threatens to hit 35 American targets; Trump threatens to hit 52 Iranian ones – Observer
  • Pompeo makes the case for the strike – Mail on Sunday
  • Rouhani vows vengeance – Mail on Sunday
  • Macron supports Iraq, Saudis urge calm – Observer
  • Two rockets fired near American Embassy in Baghdad – Mail on Sunday
  • Crowds chant “Death to America” in Tehran… – Mail on Sunday
  • …And mourn Soleimani in Baghdad – Mail on Sunday
  • (The tale of three Baghads: one mourning, one celebrating…and one shopping – Sunday Times)
  • …And Maida Vale at Shi’ite Centre – Mail on Sunday
  • But Canadian Iranians rejoice – Mail on Sunday

…As Pompeo says that Europeans, Britain included, “haven’t been as helpful as I wish they could be”

“Mr Pompeo accused Britain, France and Germany of not providing sufficient support. By contrast he said America’s regional allies, possibly a reference to Israel and Saudi Arabia, had been “fantastic”. Plans for the UK, France and Germany to issue a joint statement fell apart after the three countries failed to agree on a wording. Mr Pompeo accused European powers of failing to realise America’s actions would save lives in Europe. Frankly, the Europeans haven’t been as helpful as I wish they they could be. The Brits, the French, the Germans, all need to understand that what we did, what the Americans did, saved lives in Europe as well.” – Sunday Express

Niall Ferguson: Iran is too weak to start a world war. But there’s now a danger of civil conflict in Iraq.

“The downside of killing Soleimani is that Iraq will now blow up. Freed from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny by the US invasion of 2003, it is a democracy with only limited US security support. Iranian penetration of Shi’ite militias and political parties means that it is dangerously close to becoming a vassal of Tehran. Significantly, the Iraqi prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, has condemned the US strike against Soleimani. The danger is a return to civil war.” – Sunday Times

> Today: ToryDiary – Trump and Iran. What’s the plan?

> Yesterday: Tom Tugendhat on Comment: More war, terror, and conflict? Perhaps. But here’s why Solemani’s death opens the prospect of a better future

Raab and Truss want trade talks with Trump now

“Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, and Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, are pushing for the UK to begin parallel talks with America, putting pressure on the EU by making progress towards a transatlantic trade deal. Truss wants Johnson to publish a “mandate” for US talks in the next few weeks and a team of 70 delegates is in place to begin those negotiations. But insiders say other ministers think it is “unrealistic” to turn US talks into leverage against Brussels. They say David Frost, Johnson’s chief negotiator, is focused solely on the EU.” – Sunday Times

  • Johnson to meet von der Leyen this week – Observer
  • The peers will bow to the people on Brexit – Sunday Express
  • Ministers set to lose farm subsidies when they vote to Leave – Sunday Telegraph
  • The UK’s best and brightest can give us hope in these negotiations – Iain Duncan Smith, Sunday Telegraph

“Sedwill will implement Cummings’ reforms”

“Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary, is understood to have won the trust of Mr Cummings and Sir Eddie Lister, Mr Johnson’s joint chiefs of staff, since they arrived in 10 Downing St with the PM last summer. Sir Mark had been tipped to move to the US to replace Sir Kim Darroch who resigned as British ambassador after he personally criticised Donald Trump in leaked confidential diplomatic cables last July. There were concerns that Sir Mark – who took over the role in October 2018 – might clash with Education secretary Gavin Williamson who was reappointed to the Cabinet by Mr Johnson.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Cummings 1) He plans to bypass the lobby – Mail on Sunday
  • Cummings 2) He needs civil service support for his ideas – Observer
  • Cummings 3) Send for weirdo Charles Bronson to advise Patel – Rod Liddle, Sunday Times
  • Cummings 4) Weirdos, weirdos, weirdos: more, more, more – Julie Burchill, Sunday Telegraph
  • Don’t trash the civil service – Gus O’Donnell, Sunday Telegraph

Jenrick revamps Troubled Families scheme

“Mentors assigned to the whole family will benefit from £165million of new funding, the Government has announced. The scheme has already led to the number of children going into care two years after receiving support dropping by a third. And adults and juveniles on the scheme ending up in prison have also fallen. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said it would “help more people in need get access to the early, practical and coordinated support to transform their lives”. – Sun on Sunday

HS2 costs “out of control” claim

“In an incendiary report submitted to the Prime Minister and seen by The Telegraph, Lord Berkeley states that there is “overwhelming evidence” that the rail line’s costs are “out of control” and that its benefits have been “overstated” by ministers and officials. The peer, who was deputy chairman of the official review commissioned by Mr Johnson, says it is “highly unlikely” Parliament would have approved the project if MPs had been given the “real” costs attached to the scheme.” – Sunday Telegraph

Other political news:

  • Taxpayers Alliance on “nanny state killjoys” – Sun on Sunday
  • Former Northern Powerhouse head wants Ministry for the North – Sunday Times
  • Turn the industrial heartlands into eco heartlands – Rob Colvile, Sunday Times
  • Patel ditches polo industry scheme – Mail on Sunday
  • Jo Johnson says: don’t slash tuition fees – Mail on Sunday
  • Tory peers to be announced later this month – Sunday Times
  • New Hyndburn MP T-shirt rumpus – Sun on Sunday
  • Minister Dorries is still writing a thousand words a day as a novelistSunday Telegraph

Tobias Ellwood: China’s push for domination is linked to Australia’s bush fires

“It’s clear that we must wake up to the threat of climate change. All of us have a responsibility to do our bit but without China pulling its weight, our individual efforts will be in vain. So, what role can Britain, with our new-found optimism, play? Well, in November we will host the next international climate change forum, COP26, in Glasgow. We are duty-bound to use the international diplomacy for which we are so well known to push for greater consensus on the biggest issue of the decade. The planet is at stake. The bar could not be set higher. And the world will be watching.” – Mail on Sunday

Labour leadership. Starmer declares.

“Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary and an arch remainer, will seek to show that he can unite all wings of the party when he opens his campaign in Stevenage, a town that voted heavily for Brexit. Last night he released an emotive video depicting himself as the friend of striking print workers and boasting that as a young lawyer in the 1980s and 1990s he gave free legal advice to poll tax protesters and helped the families of striking dock workers who had been stripped of their benefits. Insiders said Starmer, who is thought to have the most supporters among Labour MPs, would try to reassure the left-leaning party membership he would not ditch all Corbyn’s policies.” – Sunday Times

> Yesterday: LeftWatch – All the Labour leadership contenders have a credibility gap in their condemnations of anti-semitism

Andrew Halls: I would have accepted funds for poor white boys had they been available to my school

“I am well aware that many other independent schools do huge amounts in different ways. But I am sure there is more we can all do. For example, if the threat of heavy taxes on independent schools is removed, could more of us help support state schools in challenging areas of the UK? This is not the time to forget the importance of what we can offer to children from ethnic minority backgrounds — we all have more to do here. But let’s also recognise that poor white boys are falling ever further behind: we mustn’t leave it until it is too late to help them, too.” – Sunday Times