Johnson piles pressure on EU’s Brexit ‘time wasters’ by kick starting trade talks with the US

“Boris Johnson is set to kick start trade talks with the US within the next two weeks, amid frustration in Number 10 at EU “time wasting.” The Prime Minister will next week (March 2) publish the Government’s “red lines” for its US trade negotiations which are expected to push back on US demands for its drug and health firms to have greater access to the British market… The moves on US trade will be seen as an attempt to pile further pressure on the EU whose leaders have questioned whether a trade deal can be agreed before the end of year and are resisting the Prime Minister’s demand for a Canada-style agreement. The Government will set out its detailed demands for a trade deal this Thursday, with Downing Street issuing a plea that the EU should not “waste time.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Minister says acid-washed chicken should be considered for import – The Times
  • Civil servants ‘deliberately attempted to sabotage UK’s EU exit’ – Daily Express


  • EU set for final push to toughen post-Brexit trade stance – FT
  •  Macron warns getting a Brexit trade deal by December will be ‘tense’ – The Sun
  • France eyes up British fishing waters as EU draws up shopping list of demands – Daily Express

Prime Minister extends votes to expatriates

“Boris Johnson is to scrap rules forbidding expats who have lived abroad for more than 15 years to vote in general elections. The news came in a letter personally signed by Boris to campaigner Harry Shindler who has fought for more than 20 years to give Brits overseas the right to vote. Last night Harry, 99, who fought in WW2 and then retired to Italy where he now lives said:”This is a great victory for all of us patriotic Brits who have campaigned for years to get the vote back. The PM has assured us that we will be allowed to vote on the next election even if we have lived abroad for more than 15 years.” In the letter Boris told Harry: “The government is committed to scrapping the arbitrary rule that prevents British citizens who have lived abroad for more than 15 years from participating in UK parliamentary elections.”” – The Sun

  • Johnson urged to support 20,000 Britons in North Cyprus – Daily Express

Civil Service 1) ‘Furious’ Patel demands leak inquiry over MI5 row

“Priti Patel has demanded a formal leak inquiry into “hostile briefings” by officials in her department after claims emerged that intelligence chiefs at MI5 do not trust her. Security sources took the extraordinary step yesterday of issuing a public statement to say that the claims about the home secretary were “simply untrue” and not in the public interest. The Times revealed last week that Ms Patel was attempting to oust Sir Philip Rutnam, permanent secretary at the Home Office. Several sources inside the home secretary’s department accused her of bullying, belittling officials in meetings and creating an atmosphere of fear. In response to the claims Ms Patel asked Helen MacNamara, director of propriety and ethics at the Cabinet Office, to conduct a leak inquiry to establish who was briefing against her.” – The Times

  • Spy chiefs deny they are ‘keeping secrets’ – Daily Express


  • Public venues face legal duty to prepare against terrorist attack – FT


  • Letting civil servants undermine the Government insults taxpayers – The Sun

Civil Service 2) Johnson urged to pull back from cull of top civil servants

“Boris Johnson was on Sunday urged not to conduct a politically motivated cull of senior civil servants, amid claims that Number 10 has compiled a hit list of mandarins it wants to purge from top Whitehall jobs. Peter Ricketts, former head of the Foreign Office, said the latest front in Downing Street’s war with the British “establishment” would destabilise civil servants who were doing their best to offer impartial advice to the new government. Meanwhile, David Davis, former Brexit secretary, also warned Mr Johnson to back off. “You don’t solve a piece of managerial reform with a firing squad,” he told The Andrew Marr Show on the BBC.” – FT

  • Cummings faces curb from Whitehall HR ‘respect’ initiative – Daily Telegraph
  • Golden goodbyes for 1,000 staff… after ministers promised a ban – The Times


  • Will  Cummings’ reign bring the shadowy world of spads into the light? – James Butler, The Guardian

Chancellor may relax fiscal rules to secure up to £26 billion

“The Chancellor may relax the fiscal rules to raise £26 billion extra a year in his Budget next month as he prepares for the biggest spending boost for at least two decades. Rishi Sunak is considering giving the Government the leeway to go one per cent above or below a balanced current budget – a move that could raise an extra £26 billion for hospitals, criminal justice, transport upgrades and schools. The other Budget option, which would raise an extra £11 billion, would relax the fiscal rules of Sajid Javid, his predecessor, to allow the Government to achieve a balanced budget within five, rather than three years. The moves on the fiscal rules – first floated by the Resolution Foundation last year – could also reduce the need to raise taxes amid signs of growing opposition to them amongst Conservative backbenchers.” – Daily Telegraph

  • He could push spending to £1 trillion – The Sun
  • Spree would see Johnson ‘spend more than Blair’ – Daily Mail
  • Fuel duty could rise to spare pension tax relief – The Times
  • Sunak bows to pressure on IR35 tax changes – FT


  • Chancellor ‘to move Treasury officials up north’ – The Sun

Matthew Elliott: Sunak should cut waste and keep taxes down

“Part of his mandate for massive change is undoubtedly to spend more money on essential services. As crime has edged up, so has public concern, so extra spending for 20,000 new police officers makes sense. And with our nation’s ­infrastructure creaking and hospitals falling down, extra capital spending is needed too. But as the founder of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, I hope Boris and his Chancellor Rishi Sunak keep taxpayers in mind as they write their Budget. Government spending will be an eye-watering £881billion this year. Much of that money is used well, but the Government needs to keep a laser-like focus on the wasteful ­spending that crept in under previous administrations.” – The Sun

  • Chancellor must give small savers a break – Libby Purves, The Times
  • Sunak’s fiscal expansion is long overdue – Gavyn Davis, FT
  • He must know a poor South won’t make the North richer – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • Believe the hype, budget 2020 is very important – Larry Elliott, The Guardian

>Today: Neil O’Brien MP’s column: How the Conservatives can do better with younger voters. And remain a compassionate party.

Crises 1) Eustice defends Johnson’s absence from flood-hit areas

“Boris Johnson’s decision not to visit any flood-hit areas came under further scrutiny yesterday when the environment secretary was forced to explain his absence. Three hundred flood warnings and alerts were in place last night in England and Wales as the Met Office forecast more heavy rain, gale-force winds and snow. George Eustice defended Mr Johnson for defying calls to visit flood-stricken areas. He told Sky News: “It’s not true that the prime minister’s not been engaged in this. In a cabinet government it’s not a one-man show, it’s right that on certain operational things such as this that the prime minister will ask one of his cabinet members to lead. I can’t see anything wrong with that.”” – The Times

  • Boris must beware the fault lines that could rock his new coalition – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph


Crises 2) ‘Pandemic’ warning as UK confirms four new coronavirus cases

“Four new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the UK on Sunday, as experts warned of an impending pandemic with parts of Italy in lockdown after a massive rise in the number of new infections there. The new British patients had all been passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship and were in quarantine in The Wirral when they fell ill, having returned from Japan on Saturday. It emerged on Sunday that the patients had been tested while in Japan, but the results were not received until Sunday morning, by which point they were back in the UK. They have now been transferred to specialist NHS infection centres… It brings the total number of UK cases to 13, and comes as the European threat from coronavirus dramatically increased, with three deaths in northern Italy following the diagnosis of more than 152 cases.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Situation ‘at tipping point’ with ‘time running out to stop pandemic’, experts warn – The Sun

>Today: Lord Ashcroft in Comment: An open letter to Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the new International Development Secretary

New group of MPs to hold Johnson to his word on Northern Irish prosecutions…

“Dozens of Conservative MPs have set up a veterans’ campaign group to ensure that Boris Johnson delivers on his promise to stop historic prosecutions of British soldiers who served in Northern Ireland. The group of 40 MPs wants to make sure the Prime Minister introduces legislation to protect former troops from prosecution for their involvement in any deaths during the Troubles. It comes as it emerged a former soldier who was being investigated over his actions in Northern Ireland had killed himself. Friends of the veteran, named as Eddie “Spud” Murphy, fear the pressure he felt at being investigated may have contributed to his death.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Reneging on Northern Ireland pledges risks trade deals with US and EU – The Guardian


…as MoD confirms US reports about replacement for Trident

“New plans for a multi-billion pound replacement of Trident have been revealed by the US. The Pentagon revealed details of the new nuclear warheads in a US committee meeting before the UK government had even told MPs. Now the Ministry of Defence have confirmed officials are working towards replacing the warheads. The Observer revealed US Strategic Command commander Admiral Charles Richard wrote in a statement that a replacement warhead was needed in the States… The statement was made last week, and it is understood the Government just had no time to tell MPs about it.” – The Sun

  • Davis warns Huawei green light could be ‘worst decision made by a British prime minister’ – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: The “worst decision a British PM has made” – Davis

MPs urge Johnson not to ‘wobble’ on Heathrow

“Boris Johnson is being urged not to “wobble” on Heathrow’s third runway by MPs, amid fears he could use a legal challenge to quietly shelve the project. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and other opponents of the plan are expected to learn on Thursday whether their High Court case to stop the expansion has been successful. Some believe Mr Johnson – who once vowed to “lie down” in front of the bulldozers to stop a third runway – would be “unlikely to appeal” such a verdict. One ally said: “Everyone knows the Prime Minister has been a vocal critic of a third runway for a long time. If anything, I imagine it would be a rather tidy result for him.” However, former justice minister Crispin Blunt said there is “no question” of whether the third runway would go ahead.” – Daily Telegraph

Labour 1) Starmer calls for ‘end to infighting’ as rivals press him on donors

“Sir Keir Starmer has called for an end to Labour Party infighting as allies of Rebecca Long Bailey mounted direct attacks on his campaign. With voting starting today, the front-runner to succeed Jeremy Corbyn warned that the party risked being out of power for a generation if it did not “pull together and change”. Two shadow cabinet ministers suggested that Sir Keir’s campaign was funded by wealthy private donors and big corporations… Ms Long Bailey has declared receipt of £55,000 from Momentum, the pro-Corbyn group, and Unite, the trade union. It is understood that a further £100,000 arrived from Unite on Friday. Sir Keir has declared £7,000 from the trade union Unison. But it is thought he has easily outgunned Ms Long Bailey in fundraising.” – The Times

  • He commits to shadow cabinet roles for his rivals – The Guardian
  • Long-Bailey heading for humiliating ‘third-place finish’ – The Sun
  • Abbott quits the shadow cabinet – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Abbott – “Becky stood by the members’ choice.”

Labour 2) Party backs positive discrimination to close racial gap in policing

“The racial imbalance that has existed in policie forces needs a radical change in the law to allow positive discrimination in favour of ethnic minority recruits, Labour has said. New research shows the “race gap” in policing has grown in the last two decades and Labour’s policing spokesperson, Louise Haigh MP, said the move was needed to make police forces less white and speed up the “glacial” pace of change. Haigh’s comments marked the 21st anniversary of the landmark Stephen Lawrence inquiry report into policing and racial justice. Sir William Macpherson’s report investigated the failings in the 1993 Metropolitan police hunt for the racist killers of black student Stephen Lawrence.” – The Guardian

  • We need to escape the culture wars quagmire – Clare Foges, The Times


SNP: Party faces selection battle in Davidson’s seat between rival ‘big beasts’…

“The Scottish National party is facing a selection battle between two of its highest-profile politicians in an important seat in the Edinburgh parliament currently held by former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson. The contest between Joanna Cherry, an SNP member of the UK parliament, and Angus Robertson, the party’s former leader at Westminster, is likely to shine a spotlight on growing internal tensions after nearly 13 years in government in Scotland.  The SNP has been far more unified in recent years than Labour or the Conservatives and enjoys large leads in opinion polls, but party self-discipline is being increasingly tested by differences over strategy and policy.” – FT

…as Sturgeon dismisses MP’s plan to ‘force’ Scottish referendum

“Nicola Sturgeon has called a plan by one of her MPs to force a second independence referendum through a series of by-elections unreasonable as tensions simmer within the SNP. The Scottish first minister is facing pushback from some in her ranks who want another ballot on separation to be held sooner rather than later… The constitution is reserved to Westminster and although Ms Sturgeon has said she is prepared to take the British government to court to test whether Edinburgh could legislate for a referendum, she has repeatedly shown no appetite to rush towards a legal battle. This has led to disgruntlement from sections of the nationalist movement who want bolder action. Angus MacNeil, the chairman of the Commons international trade select committee, has suggested that all 47 SNP MPs could resign their seats and force by-elections.” – The Times

  • First Minister ’emphatic’ she is still best person to lead SNP – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Sturgeon says she’s not ready to quit

News in Brief:

  • How ConHome predicted the demand to sack Javid’s SpAds – Denis Bedoya, Infosurhoy
  • Why it’s time for Labour to dumb down – James Harris, CapX
  • Auditions for Sturgeon’s replacement are already taking place – Stephen Daisley, The Spectator
  • Why are the Left so hypocritical about sex? – Sarah Ditum, UnHerd
  • The EU didn’t like Frost’s speech – but what do Brexiteers think? – David Scullion, The Critic