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Trump “apoplectic” in phone call to Johnson

“Donald Trump vented “apoplectic” fury at Boris Johnson in a tense phone call over Britain’s decision to allow Huawei a role in its 5G mobile phone networks, according to officials in London and Washington. The British prime minister spoke to the US president last week soon after he announced his decision to allow the Chinese manufacturer to participate in the UK’s next-generation cellular network. This was in spite of vocal opposition from senior figures in the Trump administration, which is opposed to Huawei on national security grounds. Following the decision, Britain and the US tried to gloss over their differences with muted public statements. But one individual briefed on the contents of the call said Mr Trump was “apoplectic” with Mr Johnson for his Huawei decision and expressed his views in livid terms. A second official confirmed that the Trump-Johnson call was “very difficult”. British officials with knowledge of the exchange said they were taken aback by the force of the president’s language towards Mr Johnson.” – Financial Times

  • Claims are “overblown”, Downing Street insists – The Guardian
  • If  Trump loses this year it will be because of the culture war, not his record as president – Leader, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Strife between Johnson and the media is a good thing

PM to cut back on foreign travel to focus on domestic agenda

“Boris Johnson has ripped up plans for a series of foreign trade trips this year so he can stay in Downing Street to prioritise his levelling up agenda. No10 aides drew up a plan for a number of far-flung visits over the next few months to key countries where rapid agreements are hoped for – with a Japan trip top of the list.But the PM postponed the Tokyo plan and sent Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab there this week instead. In a dramatic departure from many of his predecessors, who used the early months of their premierships to globe-trot, the PM has ordered his travel plans are kept to a minimum this year. That has even meant a long-expected trip to Washington DC to launch landmark trade talks with Donald Trump has been postponed from this month to March at the earliest, and may be pushed back still further.” – The Sun

Hannan and Moore “on peerages list”

“Boris Johnson has nominated a string of Tory donors for peerages including a controversial businessman who was embroiled in a cash-for-access scandal. Peter Cruddas, who donated £50,000 to Mr Johnson’s campaign for the Tory leadership, is one of 28 people that the prime minister has recommended as Tory peers. He has donated more than £3 million to the Tories since 2007….Michael Spencer, a billionaire financier who has also served as Tory treasurer, has been nominated….Jon Moynihan, a multimillionare venture capitalist who chaired the Vote Leave finance committee, is also understood to be on the list….Others in line include Charles Moore, a former editor of The Daily Telegraph, Dan Hannan, a prominent Brexiteer and former Tory MEP, and James Wharton, a former Tory MP who helped Mr Johnson’s campaign.” – The Times

Jenrick helps key workers become first time buyers

“Key workers, such as nurses, police and military personnel, will get priority under a new scheme offering homes for first-time buyers at a 30% discount, the housing secretary will say on Friday. Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, said the new “First Homes” scheme, first announced during the election campaign, would save eligible buyers an average of approximately £100,000 on a first property. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is launching a consultation on how the scheme will work on Friday, without saying how many will be on offer. It said the 30% discount would apply to ‘a proportion of new homes’ and would be funded out of contributions from developers. Jenrick said the scheme would be ‘genuinely life-changing for people all over the country looking to buy their first home’.” – The Guardian

  • A grand plan – Leader, The Sun
  • £20,000 bonus for doctors to relocate to areas with a shortage of GPs – Daily Mail

Truss plans to scrap tariffs on wide range of products from next year

“Brits could enjoy cheaper coffee, trainers and wine as ministers plan to cut import tariffs from next year. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss today launched a consultation on the duty charges, and revealed plans to slash prices across the country. British businesses would then be boosted by the prices once Britain is finally out on January 1 2021. Higher tariffs on some goods would be cut completely because Brits don’t make them, making it cheaper for UK consumers. This could see a 7.5 per cent tariff scrapped on coffee, 16.9 per cent off trainers, or 32 euro cents per litre off wine. Other savings could include 42 euro cents per kg off Sugar, as well as slashing the 12.8 per cent tariff on limes.” – The Sun

>Today:

Williamson: Universities must uphold free speech

“The right to civil and non-violent protest is sacrosanct. However, intimidation, violence or threats of violence are crimes. Universities must make clear that intimidation is unacceptable and show a zero-tolerance approach to the perpetrators, applying strong sanctions and working with police where appropriate to secure prosecutions. Universities should also do more to promote the right culture. The University of Oxford has adopted strong codes of conduct that champion academic freedom and free speech, explicitly recognising that this may sometimes cause offence. Every university should promote such unambiguous guidance. If universities don’t take action, the government will. If necessary, I’ll look at changing the underpinning legal framework, perhaps to clarify the duties of students’ unions or strengthen free speech rights. I don’t take such changes lightly, but I believe we have a responsibility to do whatever necessary to defend this right.” – Gavin Williamson, The Times

Bercow 1) Speaker urges any victims of bullying to speak out

“The Commons Speaker has urged anybody who believes they have been bullied by John Bercow to come forward, dealing a blow to his predecessor’s hopes of a peerage. The call from Sir Lindsay Hoyle came as Mr Bercow was rebuked by the parliamentary authorities yesterday for identifying Commons employees without their permission in his memoir Unspeakable for “the purpose of financial gain or commercial success”. Mr Bercow was accused of undermining the principle of confidentiality that protects Commons staff who provide impartial advice to MPs. A House spokesman said that some employees named in the book, which was published yesterday, had an expectation of privacy and were not in a position to respond to his depiction of events, adding: ‘We condemn this behaviour.’ ” – The Times

  • Fox breaks through Commons security – Daily Mail

Bercow 2) “No chance” of peerage after new claims he used “sexually and racially inappropriate” language

“John Bercow’s hopes of receiving a peerage were extinguished on Thursday night after he was publicly rebuked by the House of Commons and accused of using “sexually and racially inappropriate” language by his former most senior official. After the former Speaker was admonished for naming former staff he is accused of bullying in his autobiography, The Telegraph can reveal that he is facing fresh claims of offensive behaviour. Lord Lisvane, the former clerk of the House of Commons, is understood to have set out details of Mr Bercow making inappropriate remarks in an official complaint submitted to the Commissioner for Standards, the Parliamentary watchdog. While Lord Lisvane declined to comment, senior allies have confirmed to this newspaper that his complaint goes beyond allegations of bullying and harassment to include examples of comments made by Mr Bercow in his presence. – Daily Telegraph

Public “had given up on the police”

“The public has given up on the police solving crimes, an official report warns on Friday, as it says officers have been “rumbled” for failing to investigate offences including burglary and theft. Matt Parr, HM Inspector of Constabulary, said the failure of the police to investigate high-volume crimes like car thefts, minor assaults and burglaries was having a “corrosive” effect on the public’s trust in the police. His comments follow a series of investigations by The Daily Telegraph revealing how car thieves and burglars are not being pursued by police. The report reveals that victims are losing faith and pulling out of prosecutions across nearly all crimes. It also shows the proportion of offences solved has plummeted from 14 per cent in 2015 to 7.3 per cent in 2019. “I think these levels of volume crime resolution are corrosive for the long-term relationship between the public and police,” said Mr Parr as he noted the proportion crimes closed because the victim did not support a prosecution had risen to 22.6 per cent in 2019 from 8.7 per cent in 2015.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prisons are running out of space – The Times
  • Police officers can no longer ignore the crimes people care about – Leader, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Shabnam Nasimi on Comment: We changed the law to deal with Stephen Lawrence’s murderers. We must do the same for terrorist threats.

SNP 1) Scottish finance secretary quits over messages to boy

“Scotland’s finance secretary has quit hours before delivering his budget amid reports that he messaged a 16-year-old boy on social media. The Scottish Sun said that Derek Mackay contacted the schoolboy over a six-month period, and told him that he was “cute”. Mr Mackay said he had “behaved foolishly” and took full responsibility for his actions. He also apologised “unreservedly” to the boy and his family. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she did not know about Mr Mackay’s “unacceptable” behaviour until Wednesday evening, and is “not aware of any further allegations” against him. In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, she confirmed that he has been suspended by the SNP while further investigations are carried out.” – BBC

  • Minister had warned of online risks – The Times

SNP 2) Nelson: It’s part of a trend

“The finance secretary, Derek Mackay, quit just hours before he was due to deliver the Budget after admitting to “foolishness” in bombarding a 16-year-old boy with text messages. Worse, it fits a trend. It starts with Angus MacNeil’s “foolishness” (his word) with a Church of Scotland minister’s teenage daughter. Then the affair that saw Stewart Hosie stand down as SNP deputy leader, then Mark McDonald quit as a minister after a sexting scandal. It’s all a bit much. You can, of course, argue that each of these is an individual and personal tragedy. At a push, you might laugh it off, say that (to use the joke in Holyrood) the nationalists can be seen as “romantic mujahideen” whose antics don’t affect their politics. But, as Sir John Major found, there comes a point where a pattern is spotted. Unkind words such as “sleaze” are used – and labels stick. Voters do not see isolated cases but a theme: the arrogance, carelessness and decadence of a party too long in power.” – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

  • Sleaze scandal exposes SNP’s power vacuum – Iain Martin, The Times

Burgon proposes Labour members be consulted before military action is taken

“Labour’s leadership candidates distanced themselves yesterday from a proposal to ballot party members before future military action. Richard Burgon, who is standing to be the party’s deputy leader, has proposed a “peace pledge” committing a Labour prime minister to ask party members for their views before a proposed armed intervention. The shadow justice secretary released a video yesterday of him discussing his plans with Jeremy Corbyn, who spoke of his failed attempt to prevent Britain from expanding military action in Syria in 2016. Mr Burgon said there would be exceptions if there were a genuine threat to national security or the action had UN backing. He acknowledged that if MPs voted for military intervention the ballot would have no legal force.” – The Times

  • Nandy criticises proposal – The Guardian
  • Labour still can’t define its purpose in life – Philip Collins, The Times
  • US Democrats and Labour are making the same mistake – Ross Clark, Daily Express

Firefighter sacked from union post after speaking at pro-Brexit rally sues for unfair dismissal

“A firefighter has lodged a claim for unfair dismissal after he was sacked by the Fire Brigades Union for speaking at a pro-Brexit rally. Paul Embery said today that an employment tribunal will take place later this year and he will ‘have my day in court’ following his dismissal. The full-time trade unionist was kicked out of the national executive of the FBU after speaking in favour of Brexit at a Leave Means Leave rally in March. It sparked a backlash among other unions, there were calls to reinstate him and he won support from other firefighters.” – Daily Mail

Sinn Fein challenged over links to violence

“Sinn Fein has spent the final days of Ireland’s general election campaign dogged by familiar links to republican violence but is still poised to breach the country’s political dam tomorrow. Mary Lou McDonald’s party is leading in opinion polls, albeit with little chance of reaching power, as she faces demands to apologise to the family of a man killed in 2007. Paul Quinn, 21, fell out with an enforcer in Cullyhanna, Co Armagh, and was lured across the border. He was beaten to death by republicans wielding iron bars. His mother, Breege, said that Sinn Fein, the main political force where the family lives, never came to apologise. Ms McDonald, 50, was caught off guard in a television debate this week over suggestions that her party had linked Mr Quinn’s death to crime. She denied it but was swiftly contradicted by the emergence of video featuring comments by Gerry Adams, the former Sinn Fein leader, and by Conor Murphy, the party’s finance minister in Northern Ireland, who claimed that Mr Quinn was involved in “smuggling and criminality”.” – The Times

Baroness Scotland challenged over cronyism

“Commonwealth chief Baroness Scotland was hit by a further blow last night after it emerged that Australia may halt its funding in protest at her conduct. Canberra’s threat to axe its £4million-a-year grant came as she faced a ‘trial by diplomat’ at her Marlborough House headquarters near Buckingham Palace yesterday amid mounting pressure to resign. Baroness Scotland was interrogated by 50 high commissioners at a crisis meeting of the Commonwealth Secretariat over a report which lambasted her over a £250,000 commission to a firm run by her Labour friend Lord Patel of Bradford. The showdown took place hours after a leaked letter by Boris Johnson confirmed a report by the Daily Mail last week that Baroness Scotland has been denied a second four-year term as the £160,000-a-year Commonwealth Secretary-General.” – Daily Mail

Yemen Al-Qaeda leader al-Raymi killed by US strike

“The United States has killed the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), President Donald Trump said. Qasim al-Raymi, who has led the jihadist group since 2015, was killed in a US operation in Yemen, the White House said. The jihadist leader had been linked to a series of attacks on Western interests in the 2000s. He took over the leadership after his predecessor was killed by a US drone strike. AQAP was formed in 2009 from two regional offshoots of Al-Qaeda in Yemen in Saudi Arabia, with the goal of toppling US-backed governments and eliminating all Western influence in the region. It has had most of its success in Yemen, prospering in the political instability that has plagued the country for years.” – BBC

News in brief

  • Hunt calls for national inquiry into NHS maternity safety – Independent
  • Johnson should embrace reform of the House of Lords – Ross Clark, The Spectator
  • Burgon’s Peace Pledge may be Labour’s stupidest idea yet – Oliver Kamm, CapX
  • The danger, and hope, of the European Right – Douglas Murray, Unherd
  • How the EU can survive Brexit – Charles Grant, New Statesman

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