Home Office 1) Tories defend Patel over bullying allegations

“Senior Tories have defended Priti Patel after she was accused of ‘bullying’ civil servants to the point of collapse over the failure to deport Jamaican criminals. The Home Secretary is said to rule her department by belittling officials, making unreasonable demands and creating an “atmosphere of fear”. Business minister Nadhim Zahawi has now jumped to her defence, insisting Ms Patel was “utterly professional” and “works day and night”… According to the Times, Ms Patel had held a heated meeting with one senior Home Office official who later collapsed. She is said to have confronted them after the High Court blocked the deportation of 25 foreign criminals to Jamaica.” – The Sun

  • She ‘has bullied civil servants for years’, former colleagues say – The Times
  • Rage at officials ‘dragging their feet’ on tougher action against XR – Daily Mail
  • Top civil servant accused of ‘obstructing Home Secretaries’ – Daily Telegraph


  • Let’s hear it for the civil servants, they deserve more support – Salma Shah, Times Red Box

Home Office 2) Carlaw to lobby Johnson over immigration plans

“Jackson Carlaw has insisted the UK Government’s controversial immigration blueprint was a “work in progress” amid intense Scottish Tory anger about the plans. The Scottish Conservative leader said he would discuss the proposal to all but end low skilled immigration when he meets the Prime Minister shortly and claimed it had not been fully understood. But he pointedly failed to endorse the current plan, instead stating that he hoped the final version would be “appropriate to Scotland.” In a clear sign of the tension between the UK and Scottish Tories on the issue, he also welcomed aspects of a paper unveiled by Nicola Sturgeon that proposed a separate Scottish visa.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Immigration rules post-Brexit could fuel modern slavery, say charities – The Guardian
  • Serco wins contract to run immigration detention centres – FT
  • Windrush review drops claim HO is ‘institutionally racist’ – The Times


  • SNP attack Brown over warning about Scotland’s divisions – Daily Express


  • Bercow is wrong – Brexit is not the final nail in the UK’s coffin – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Carlaw kicks off comprehensive policy review to take the fight to the SNP

Fraser Nelson: Care homes won’t like it, but we’ve come to the end of cheap labour

“Spare a thought for the managers of British care homes. Priti Patel’s new immigration rules, they say, will hit them hard because they’ll struggle to find staff to take such crucially important jobs for a derisory level of pay. Mario Kreft, who built a personal fortune from care homes, summed it up earlier this week. “The way fees are calculated,” he said, “means that it is possible to earn more stacking shelves in a supermarket than it is to provide social care for our loved ones.” Precisely. It’s a scandal. And one the Tories wish to remedy. You can hear similar complaints from around the country – made most loudly by employers who have not yet worked out that the era of low wages is coming to a long-overdue end.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Conservatives’ immigration plan puts ideology before economics – Tim Kibasi, The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The new points-based immigration system gives ministers a lot of room for manoeuvre

MPs threaten to rebel if fuel duty freeze ends

“Boris Johnson has been warned that he faces a backbench rebellion if he uses the budget to raise fuel duty. The Treasury is understood to be looking at ending the present freeze either this year or next to send a signal of the government’s intent to tackle climate change. But a group of Tory MPs — including those in new Conservative “red wall” seats are preparing to write to Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, warning of the electoral danger of reversing the prime minister’s election pledge. Mr Johnson said he had “no intention” to raise duty but has come under pressure from his advisers, including Dominic Cummings, to end the freeze on duty that has lasted almost a decade… Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP for Harlow, said that such a move would betray working class voters.” – The Times

  • Chancellor urged to reform stamp duty and get country moving again – Daily Telegraph


  • Blue‑collar voters will bear brunt – Robert Halfon MP, The Times
  • For the people’s sake Johnson must drop fuel duty hike – Quentin Willson, The Sun
  • Pensions tax relief on a slippery slope – Merryn Somerset Webb, FT

>Today: Chris Bullivant in Comment: If free market and social conservatives find common ground, they could be unstoppable

Nanny State 1) Eustice announces ban on coal for home fires

“The sale of bags of coal and wet wood for domestic fires will be banned in England from February next year under plans to remove a huge source of air pollution. Ministers will announce today that the most polluting fuels will be phased out completely by 2023 in a victory for The Times’s Clean Air for All campaign… Mr Eustice said he recognised that many people cherished their “cosy open fires and wood-burning stoves” but they needed to switch to cleaner fuels, such as wood that had been kiln- dried to below 20 per cent moisture; wood left for at least two years to air dry; and coal-based fuel with low smoke and sulphur emissions. New rules on manufactured solid fuels will require producers to prove they have a very low sulphur content and emit only very little smoke.” – The Times

  • Fears are raised that pollution move will hit rural homes – Daily Telegraph


  • Fixing our boilers will dwarf cost of HS2 – Ed Conway, The Times

>Yesterday: George Trefgarne in Comment: The Prime Minister is hovering in a holding pattern above Heathrow

Nanny State 2) Politicians call for supermarkets to put sweets on top shelf to tackle childhood obesity

“Supermarkets should put unhealthy snacks like sweets on the top shelf to tackle childhood obesity, politicians have demanded. They said No10 should also consider creating tough new laws that could make ‘buy one get one free offers’ on junk food illegal. They also called for trolleys to be divided up into different compartments to encourage Brits to shop healthier. And they said chains like Sainsbury’s and Tesco should lay shuttle buses to ferry people stuck in “food deserts” to their nearest supermarket. The all party parliamentary group on healthy childhoods came up with the wacky proposals as they lashed supermarkets for “sacrificing healthy choices on the altar of profit”.” – The Sun

Ministers complaining about Cummings should shut up or resign, says former Chief Whip

“Ministers should stop “whingeing” about Dominic Cummings because they owe their jobs to him, a former Conservative Chief Whip has said. In a rare intervention, Lord Blencathra told The Telegraph on Thursday that ministers opposed to Mr Cummings should resign from the Government and make way for those who “see the bigger picture”. Last week’s reshuffle prompted a backlash from some ministers and Tory MPs about Mr Cummings, the Prime Minister’s chief aide, and his handling of special advisers. Reports emerged of ministers calling on Boris Johnson to “rein in” Mr Cummings and claiming that “half the Cabinet” feel unable to work with him.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Chief of Staff suggested NHS should pay to create babies with higher IQs – The Sun


  • Cummings has become his own worst enemy – Iain Martin, The Times
  • If he continues to be the story, he will not last till summer – Sir Anthony Seldon, Times Red Box

Paterson amongst ‘senior Tories’ attacking Government over Huawei

“Senior Tory MPs have demanded ministers act on ‘deadly serious’ warnings from the US that the involvement of Huawei in the construction of the UK’s 5G network will put intelligence sharing at risk. Owen Paterson, the former Cabinet minister, said the government’s attitude to the Chinese tech giant was ‘incomprehensible’ given White House opposition to using the firm. Mr Paterson is one of many Conservative MPs who are urging Downing Street to reverse its backing for Huawei and his intervention came after Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff had crunch talks on the issue in Number 10 today… Washington has urged its allies not to do business with Huawei due to security concerns. But Huawei has always denied that it poses a security risk.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Ziya Meral in Comment: It is time for a British Security Conference

Blair says  Labour must avoid ‘cul-de-sac’ of identity politics

“Tony Blair has warned the next Labour leader against becoming trapped in a “cul-de-sac of identity politics” over issues such as transgender rights, as he used an event in London to reiterate his belief that the party must focus on making itself electable again. The former prime minister, who also raised the idea of a possible alliance with the Liberal Democrats as a way to regain power, said the Conservatives would emerge victorious from any battles over contentious cultural issues. “You’ve got to distinguish between the advocacy of certain things that are right, whether it’s about gay rights, transgender rights, whatever it is,” he said in a Q&A session after a speech to mark the 120th anniversary of the founding of the party.” – The Guardian

  • Warning comes as as leadership rivals back pledge to expel ‘transphobic’ members – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Labour will ignore Blair’s speech yesterday. But Tories should take note.

MPs ‘misusing expense cards’, investigation finds

“Hordes of MPs are trying to use their taxpayer-funded credit card for personal expenses, an investigation has found. All MPs are given a government payment card to fund the running of their office, travel and other work-related costs. But since 2010, 100 MPs have used it to make more than three transactions for personal costs, a report by Parliament’s expenses watchdog Ipsa. That amounted to around £473,000 – 1.25 per cent of the £38 million that was spent on the cards in the last decade. There are 14 MPs whose personal transactions made up more than 15 per cent of their total spending on the card. The expenses watchdog has only contacted five MPs over misuse of their card and none have had their card removed permanently.” – The Sun

  • Historic England strike blow against plan for temporary Commons – The Times

EU ‘deadlocked’ over post-Brexit budget

“EU leaders were deadlocked over the bloc’s next multiannual budget after lengthy summit talks on Thursday night laid bare rifts over how to fill the €60bn to €75bn funding gap created by Brexit. Charles Michel, the European Council president, spent much of the night locked in one-to-one talks with leaders as he attempted to end an impasse over the 2021-27 spending plans. However, a rebellion by Germany and other northern European countries over plans to slash rebates they receive on their EU budget contributions overshadowed the discussions.  Britain’s departure has left the EU struggling to finance ambitious policies to fight climate change, aid poorer regions and subsidise farmers without placing heavier burdens on richer northern European countries that have baulked at proposals tabled by Mr Michel so far.” – FT

  • Don’t use Brexit to cut EU’s trillion euro budget, warns Macron… – Daily Telegraph
  • …but Merkel hits back with ‘thinly veiled swipe’ – Daily Express

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Frost’s address on Brexit is just as important as were Thatcher’s words at Bruges

News in Brief:

  • Taxes on Britain’s landlords are complex, unfair and counter-productive – Roy Meakin, CapX
  • The lost world of left-wing patriotism – Stephen Pollard, UnHerd
  • Cummings: history shows it usually ends badly for a leader’s favourite – Allan Massie, Reaction
  • Seven steps for levelling up Britain – Paul Collier, The Spectator
  • The strange case of Ulster’s most intolerant sect, the Alliance party – Owen Polley, The Critic