Soleimani 1) 3,000 US troops sent to Middle East as Iran warns of “severe revenge”

“The United States was rushing 3,000 troops to the Middle East last night as Iran vowed ‘severe revenge’ for the assassination of its most celebrated commander, Qasem Soleimani, in a drone strike in Baghdad. The Pentagon said that the soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division would be joining the 750 sent to Kuwait this week. Americans were advised by the State Department to leave Iraq as analysts warned that the killing of the Iranian general was the riskiest US move since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein. Mr Trump said that Soleimani had plotted to kill Americans, having already been responsible for ‘the deaths of millions’. ” – The Times

  • This may be even more significant than the assassination of Osama bin Laden – John Bradley, Daily Mail
  • The US should launch a diplomatic initiative – Richard Haass, Financial Times
  • Trump has put the world in a far better place – Leader, The Sun

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


Soleimani 2) Johnson “was not given advance notice”

“Boris Johnson was not warned about the US airstrike in Iraq that killed a top Iranian general, the BBC understands. The UK has 400 troops based in the Middle East and works alongside US forces in the region. But President Donald Trump did not tell the UK PM about the attack he ordered that killed Qasem Soleimani on Friday. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has asked Mr Johnson to confirm what the UK was told before the airstrike. In a letter to the prime minister, he asked whether, if it had been informed in advance, the government had expressed its opposition to the attack.” – BBC

  • Parliament will not be recalled – Daily Mail
  • Corbyn seeks urgent meeting of the Privy Council – BBC

Soleimani 3) Trump says the execution helps to “stop war”

“Donald Trump said he was not seeking a war with Iran, or ‘regime change,’ after assassinating the country’s top general in an audacious drone strike. The US president said he had acted to prevent a plot against America by General Qassim Soleimani, who he called a ‘sick monster’and ‘the number one terrorist anywhere in the world.’ Mr Trump said: ‘We took action last night to stop a war, we did not take action to start a war. Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion, contributing to terror plots as far away as New Delhi and London. His reign of terror is over. He was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and personnel but we caught him in the act and terminated him.’ ” – Daily Telegraph

  • If there is a plan, Trump is hiding it well – The Times

Soleimani 4) We had the chance to kill him years ago

“Soleimani first came to prominence following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when he was in charge of the Iran-sponsored Shia militias in southern Iraq that carried out a series of attacks against British troops based in Basra. His actions led to the deaths of several British soldiers, with many more suffering serious injury, as the militias waged a brutal terrorist campaign against British forces. At one point during the Iraq campaign an elite SAS team was dispatched to assassinate Soleimani, but the operation was called off by the then Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband who told British commanders his preference was to open negotiations with the Iranian commander, not to kill him. Since then the 62-year-old poster boy of Iran’s Islamic Revolution has overseen the rapid expansion of Iranian meddling throughout the Middle East.” – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph

  • He was in our crosshairs – Daily Express
  • Tracked for years, wiped out by a drone – Daily Mail
  • Iran’s complicated history with its ‘Great Satan’ the US – The Times

Soleimani 5) UK citizens in the Gulf could be in the firing line

“Britain is braced for a revenge attack from Iran following Donald Trump’s decision to assassinate the nation’s top general. Security officials fear that UK citizens in the Gulf – or our troops stationed in the region – could be in the firing line. They are also preparing for a massive cyber-attack to avenge the killing of General Qassem Soleimani….The Government has also not ruled out the prospect of Iran launching a conventional military attack. UK military bases and Royal Navy ships operating in the Middle East have been placed on a heightened state of alert. Defence planners are reviewing security levels. Foreign Office travel advice for the region was also under review last night, with the official advice for Iran already updated to urge Britons to ‘avoid any rallies, marches or processions’.” – Daily Mail

  • A plan is needed to manage retaliation – Leader, The Times

Soleimani 6) Moore: Trump was right to take action

“The Sunni Arab world – not to mention millions of his fellow Shi’ites who deplore his unceasing violence – has even more reason to rejoice at his death than do the American or the British people. In Iran and its proxies today, there are well-orchestrated scenes of grief; but, as with almost all Muslim terrorists, the greatest proportion of the blood on Soleimani’s hands was Muslim. Most Muslims know that. The same part of the world now knows something it previously did not about Donald Trump. In Europe, we tend to think of him as a dangerous bully, but in the Middle East he has had almost the opposite problem. There, the President is widely seen as the latest in a long line of US leaders – most notably Clinton and Obama – who talk bigger than they act. Iran will have known that previous US presidents had contemplated killing Soleimani, but decided against it. Probably it will have assumed that Mr Trump was no different. Now that view of him has vanished.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

  • Policy on Iran needs to be tough, yes, but also consistent – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn condemns “belligerent” Trump – The Sun

Jenrick wants more tenants to be allowed to keep pets

“Landlords should no longer stop tenants from keeping pets unless they are badly behaved, under a government diktat. Only seven per cent of landlords advertise properties as suitable for animals. Many renters are forced to give up their cherished companions as a price for moving in. But Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has ordered the Government’s model tenancy contract to be rewritten to remove all restrictions on well-behaved pets….The action will not be legally binding, but Mr Jenrick has not ruled out enshrining it in legislation if landlords refuse to go easier on pets.” – The Sun

Welsh Conservative Assembly member released without charge

“A Conservative assembly member who was arrested on New Year’s Day has been released without charge. Nick Ramsay, who represents Monmouth, was taken into custody after an incident at his home. Gwent Police said officers arrested a 44-year-old man following a report of a “disturbance” at an address in Raglan, Monmouthshire. He has since been released and faces “no further action” following an investigation, the force said.” – BBC

Challenge to Government’s changes to press briefing arrangements

“Newspaper bosses have hit out at Downing Street for trying to seize control of crucial Press briefings. The system, known as Lobby briefings, allows accredited reporters to quiz the PM’s spokesman in Parliament daily on any pressing issues. But the PM’s team have announced changes which will see the briefings moved to No9 Downing Street — giving the Government control of who is let into them. Critics have warned the move could damage Press freedom and particularly harm smaller, regional newspapers that do not have an army of political reporters. Society of Editors executive director Ian Murray slammed No10 for pushing through the changes without any consultation.” – The Sun

More children to be given free school breakfast

“Tens of thousands of poor kids will be given free breakfasts to stop them going hungry at school. Ministers will announce the move today as Boris Johnson pumps £21million into the meals and holiday clubs for needy children.Under the plans, some 650 schools in England’s most deprived areas will get £11.8million to lay on free breakfasts. A further £9million will bankroll free holiday clubs and meals during this year’s summer break. Schools minister Lord Agnew said poor kids will do better in the classroom if they don’t have rumbling tummies.” – The Sun

Phillips launches Labour leadership bid…

“Jess Phillips has announced she will stand as a candidate in the Labour leadership contest. The Birmingham Yardley MP joins Emily Thornberry, Clive Lewis and Lisa Nandy as confirmed candidates. Others including Rebecca Long Bailey and Keir Starmer are expected to join the race formally in the coming days. She tweeted a campaign video along with a statement saying that ‘politics needs honest voices’ and urging people to join her campaign at her website….Among her criticisms of the current leadership were the ‘woeful response’ to antisemitism within the party’s ranks and for ambiguity on Brexit from Jeremy Corbyn, who announced in the aftermath of last month’s election defeat that he would stay on for a ‘period of reflection’.” – The Guardian

  • “I’m quick, funny and speak to people.” – Interview with Jess Phillips, The Times
  • “If she’s really troubled about racism in the Labour Party, why did she spend the past three years campaigning to get Corbyn into Number 10?” – Olivia Utley, The Sun
  • Labour’s task – Leader, The Times

…as does Nandy

“Wigan MP Lisa Nandy has announced she is joining the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. In a letter to the Wigan Post, she said she wanted to “bring Labour home” to voters that have abandoned the party in its traditional strongholds…A timetable for the leadership election – and any rule changes – is set to be decided by the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) on Monday. In her letter, Ms Nandy said Labour would never win another general election without support in former “heartland” seats.” – BBC

Scottish trade union leader urges Labour to back second independence referendum

“The leader of Scotland’s trade union movement has urged Labour to support Nicola Sturgeon’s calls for a second independence referendum. Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), said the Scottish National party’s landslide victory in the general election made it clear that voters wanted a referendum. Smith, who will retire this spring after 14 years in the post, said the election result presented Labour with a dilemma but also an opportunity.”- The Guardian

  • Scottish Labour must split from UK party urges MSP – BBC

Gibb: Ministers are right to boycott the Today programme

“Nowhere is impartiality more important than Radio 4’s Today programme, but its election coverage was a masterclass in why the BBC is losing the trust of its audience. Trapped by its own woke ‘groupthink’, Today — or Radio Misery as my friends increasingly call it — bombarded its listeners with a relentlessly negative and sneering tone and painted a picture of Britain that was monstrously out of touch. It spectacularly misread the politics of the election with endless outside broadcasts in universities, full of interviews with Left-wing, entitled, virtue- signalling students. Meanwhile, the real election story was being played out in working-class English towns across the Midlands and the North.” – Sir Robbie Gibb, Daily Mail

Parris: Cummings’ plans will collide with traditional Tory instincts

“Asked whether the effect of ripping up Treasury rules would be to divert investment away from London and the South East, Cummings is reported to have replied that that was the intention. So here I’m going to be the disruptive special adviser I described earlier. Are we actually against “clustering”? Look at Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester. Isn’t the clustering of talent and investment part of the gravity-force of a free market? Doesn’t the clustering that Manchester enjoys leach talent from Rochdale? Isn’t Sheffield’s success part of Doncaster’s problem? Aren’t we in danger of squandering public funds on trying to make water run uphill? Well, that’s me “binned within weeks” from Cummings’s think-squad. It turns out there are disruptors and disruptors. Perhaps an old-fashioned kind of Tory “we’ve tried it before and nothing works” thinking is going out of the window. Perhaps not. It depends how much hold the adviser has over his prime-ministerial boss. The prime minister is one disruptor who Mr Cummings is not able to bin.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

  • ‘Corkscrew thinking’ like this is how Churchill beat Hitler – Simon Walters, Daily Mail
  • Cummings’ call for No 10 staff may break employment law – The Guardian
  • Don’t get into a war with the civil service, Kerslake warns – The i
  • Crackdown on civil service is breath of fresh air – Patrick O’Flynn, Daily Express
  • Shadow Minister accuses him of “subverting due process” – Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • No, killing Soleimani doesn’t mean war – Daniel McCarthy, The Spectator
  • Giving back control: an open letter to Dominic Cummings – Simon Kaye, CapX
  • The government needs to revisit IR35 – John Redwood
  • Strike against the Ayatollah’s favourite is a gambit and a gamble – Daniel Johnson, The Article
  • It’s time to break the left’s grip on the young – Emily Carver, 1828