Tory MPs warn against a ‘vendetta’ against the BBC

“The Conservative party risks losing voters if it continues its “vendetta” against the BBC, senior Tories have warned amid a mounting backlash. Last night backbench MPs threatened to oppose reported plans by the government to scrap the licence fee and replace it with a subscription model. Huw Merriman, chair of a Parliamentary group on the BBC, warns that “picking such a potentially unpopular fight” is “unlikely to end well”. Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Merriman says it is “worrying” that senior Government aides appear to be “ramping up an unedifying vendetta” against the broadcaster. Damian Green, the Former Cabinet minister, said: “Destroying the BBC wasn’t in our manifesto and would be cultural vandalism.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Backbench revolt over threat to scrap BBC licence fee – The Sun
  • Downing Street sources ‘raised doubts’ about TV and radio stations – Daily Express
  • Government ‘appears to back away from the scale of cuts’ – The Times
  • Minister plays down reports BBC licence fee to be axed – FT
  • ‘Funding crisis’ as 200,000 homes ditch licence fee – Daily Mail

Huw Merriman: The people’s government should not be attacking the Corporation

“How the Government can project our nation’s values from behind the BBC’s paywall remains to be seen. More worrying, it feels as if senior Government aides are now ramping up an unedifying vendetta against this much-admired corporation. This culminated in a bizarre promise this weekend to ‘whack’ the BBC. Whilst some may see the BBC as in need of the type of ‘trousers-down, six of the best’ treatment which may have been enjoyed, or endured, during boarding school, this is an institution which enjoys an 80 per cent approval rating from the same public which elects its Government.” – Huw Merriman, Daily Telegraph

  • This government threatens the principle at the heart of the BBC – Jane Martinson, The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: Whacking the BBC. Change is coming – whether the Corporation likes it or not.

Environment Secretary talks of limits of what can be done after storm chaos

“The Environment Secretary said the Government will “never be able to protect every single household” from flooding as Storm Dennis wreaked havoc across the UK. Three people lost their lives over the weekend and thousands were evacuated from their homes as the number of flood warnings reached an all-time record. Conservative and Labour MPs expressed anger at the government’s response. Philip Davies, the Tory MP for Shipley, said “precious little” has been done since the 2015 floods and called on the government to “pull its finger out”… George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, said the Government has not been caught “off guard”… The Cabinet minister blamed the “nature of climate change” for the scale of the damage and said: “We’ll never be able to protect every single household”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Government criticised over storm preparations – The Times
  • Retailers say Brexit border friction will hit food supplies – FT
  • Hundreds of flood warnings remain – Daily Telegraph
  • Met Office to get £1.2bn forecasting supercomputer – The Times

>Today: Robert Ward and Alan Burns in Local Government: Councils that declare a “climate emergency” engage in scaremongering, not practical action

Pressure grows on Johnson over Sabisky hire

“Pressure was growing on Downing Street yesterday to sack a new adviser over a string of controversial remarks he made on social media in the past. Andrew Sabisky, 27, was appointed to No 10 as part of Dominic Cummings’s drive to draft in “misfits and weirdos” to advise Boris Johnson’s administration. He has described himself as a “superforecaster” and once suggested that the benefits of giving children a mental performance-enhancing drug, which can occasionally prove fatal, are “probably worth a dead kid once a year”. An interview he gave to Schools Week in 2016 has also raised eyebrows: “Eugenics are about selecting ‘for’ good things,” he said. “Intelligence is largely inherited and correlates with better outcomes: physical health, income, lower mental illness.”” – The Times

  • He ‘demanded children be given the drug modafinil’ – The Sun
  • Labour urges adviser’s sacking after ‘eugenics support’ – FT
  • Ministers forced to deny Cummings is the ‘real PM’ – The Sun


  • Johnson is determined to break all the iron rules of politics – Larry Elliott, The Guardian

Global partners call out Britain’s absence from security conference

“Britain has been criticised by international politicians and diplomats for failing to send senior ministers to a global security conference. Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives, said that she hoped the British government’s low-key presence at the Munich Security Conference over the weekend was “not an indication of their commitment to multilateralism”. Her sentiments were echoed by other diplomats after Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, pulled out of attending at short notice. He was required to attend a post-reshuffle cabinet meeting in London on Friday morning, which clashed with the timing of the speech he had been due to give in Munich.” – The Times

  • ‘Global Britain’ goes missing at Munich security summit – FT


  • Australian MPs cancel UK trip in dispute over Huawei – The Times
  • Cambridge caught in crossfire of US-China tech war – FT
  • Royal Navy to be ‘smaller than Italy’s’ after ships delayed – The Sun


  • How can the governing classes be so naive about the threats we face? – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph
  • We’re quietly retreating from the world stage – Edward Lucas, The Times

Sunak urged to abandon radical tax shake-up

“The new Chancellor has been urged to immediately suspend a huge tax shake-up for self-employed workers after being warned it will cause “enormous damage” to contractors and the wider economy. Businesses are planning to cut off contractors or delay work while a third of self-employed workers will stop freelancing amid widespread confusion over complying with the new IR35 rules, according to industry bodies. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) and the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) warned the contractor market has already been severely affected ahead of changes in April to laws clamping down on tax avoidance. The REC and IPSE both urged Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, to pause the plans and engage with businesses to stop the changes severely damaging the contractor market.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson faces budget rebellion from furious Tories over brutal ousting of Javid – The Sun
  • UK Budget may be delayed, says cabinet minister – FT


  • Javid’s axing shows Johnson has stopped bluffing – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • How the Chancellor can give his budget a boost – Clare Foges, The Times
  • Politicians should stop bashing the rich… most of us just don’t agree – Sonia Sodha, The Guardian

>Today: Richard Holden MP’s column: Five ideas for the new Chancellor’s Budget


Shapps ‘denies knowledge’ of Chinese offer to build HS2

“The transport secretary has played down suggestions that the Chinese state railway company could be called in to rescue the HS2 high-speed rail line. The state railway company told HS2 Ltd it could build the line in five years and for less money, according to a letter seen by Building magazine. Grant Shapps said: “This has not been a discussion with the Department [for Transport].” Boris Johnson approved the HS2 scheme last week in spite of an official review that warned that the cost could reach more than £100 billion, against a budget of £62 billion… Building reported that the China Railway Construction Corporation had written to HS2 Ltd’s chief executive last month, saying it could build the line by the middle of the decade for a much lower cost.” – The Times

  • HS2 must be made using British steel say unions – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: “HS2 only takes about four per cent each year of the capital budget” – Shapps

Soft Brexiteers ‘still holding out hope’ that Johnson will strike high-alignment EU deal

“Hard Brexit opponents are holding out desperate hope Boris Johnson will eventually sign up for a trade deal with close alignment with the European Union, one Remain-backing former cabinet minister has claimed… But one former cabinet minister has claimed many in Parliament expect Mr Johnson to “fold at the last minute” as the reality of a no deal Brexit approaches at the end of this year. The MP claimed the Prime Minister may have to rely on opposition votes for a softer deal if he wants to go down in history if he doesn’t want to be remembered as the leader who crashed the economy and broke up the union, with the issues Scottish independence and Irish reunification also continuing to persist.” – Daily Express

  • Britain and EU will ‘rip each other apart’ on trade, warns French minister – The Times

Long-Bailey says she would give Corbyn a high-level role…

“The two hard-Left candidates running to lead Labour say they want Jeremy Corbyn to stay in frontline politics – after he led the party to its worst election result since 1935. Rebecca Long-Bailey, who is standing to be leader, said she would give Mr Corbyn a top job because she ‘loves’ him. And Richard Burgon, who wants to be her deputy, said he had a ‘valuable role’ to play – perhaps even as Shadow Foreign Secretary. Miss Long-Bailey, who is trailing Sir Keir Starmer in Labour’s leadership race, has been labelled the ‘Continuity Corbyn’ candidate after she gave him ten out of ten for his leadership. It emerged at the weekend that she had told supporters in London that she would hand the failed leader a high-level brief if she was to succeed him.” – Daily Mail

  • Burgon suggests Corbyn could return as Foreign Secretary – Daily Telegraph
  • McDonnell and Starmer show split on Labour’s Brexit stance – The Guardian


  • Starmer’s past is coming under scrutiny. What can we learn from it? – David Renton, The Guardian


…as she and Nandy call for change in law on women’s spaces

“Lisa Nandy has said that trans prisoners, including those convicted of serious sexual offences, should be held in jails that match their chosen gender. The Labour leadership candidate told a hustings event yesterday that inmates who self-identify, such as Zoe Lynes, a convicted child rapist who now identifies as a woman, should have their crimes recorded as being committed by their preferred gender… It comes after Rebecca Long Bailey, 40, one of her rivals for the Labour leadership, said that equality law should be changed to give trans people a legal right to enter women-only spaces. She claimed that the proposal did not threaten women’s rights, as some feminist campaigners maintain. She insisted “there doesn’t need to be differentiation between” women’s rights and trans rights”.” – The Times

  • Next Labour leader faces chasm between public and party faithful – Daily Telegraph


  • Before we hurl insults around about ‘transphobes’ let’s be clear about what we mean – Catherine Bennett, The Guardian

>Today: Rebecca Lowe in Comment: The Right cannot afford to duck the debate about trans, sex and gender

News in Brief:

  • Cummings and the battle for Downing Street – Nicholas Watt, BBC
  • It’s Labour’s turn to wake up and smell the coffee – Matt Singh, CapX
  • The truth about ‘American Dirt’ – Jesse Singal, UnHerd
  • Why the new Attorney General matters so much – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • Our ideology in the North – Stephen Wigmore, The Critic