Reshuffle 1) Leadsom gives  warning against “male dominated” workplaces

“Andrea Leadsom has warned of the drawbacks of “male dominated” workplaces ahead of a Cabinet reshuffle in which Boris Johnson is expected to sack up to five female ministers. The Business Secretary, who believes her own job is among those under threat, has said that diversity is key to “excellence” in decision-making. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Ms Leadsom says gender equality should be “the absolute norm”, in what will be interpreted as a shot across the Prime Minister’s bows. There are currently only eight women among the 31 ministers attending Cabinet. Baroness Morgan, the Culture Secretary, has confirmed she will be standing down and five others are seen as vulnerable.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Business Secretary offers to give evidence of Bercow’s ‘bullying’ – The Sun

>Today: Book Reviews: Bercow was the rudest Speaker of modern times, yet by the end he had degenerated into an Establishment stooge

Reshuffle 2) Smith tipped for promotion

“As an amateur artist who both sketches and poses in life drawing classes, Chloe Smith is a woman with an eye for detail. It is a trait which has earned her huge respect in her current role as parliamentary secretary for the Cabinet Office, where she has become the Government’s go-to expert on the constitution. Now Ms Smith is being tipped by senior colleagues for promotion to the Cabinet at the age of 37, to help Mr Johnson force through the changes to Whitehall that he wants to instigate over the next two years.” – Daily Telegraph

Reshuffle 3) Dowden “will be given his own Department”

“One person in line for a significant promotion is Oliver Dowden, the Paymaster General.
Dowden, who was David Cameron’s deputy chief of staff, has impressed Boris Johnson with his ability to get things done and to steer policy through the Whitehall system. He will be given his own department to run. The most churn will take place at junior ministerial level. Number 10 is keen to ensure more female MPs are ready to be elevated to the Cabinet come the next reshuffle. Expect promotions for Helen Whately and Suella Braverman among others.” – James Forsyth, The Sun

Reshuffle 4) Frazer “to replace Cox”

“Boris Johnson is expected to appoint Britain’s first female attorney-general and could “spare” women thought to be facing the sack in his reshuffle amid accusations of sexism. The prime minister is said to be preparing to promote Lucy Frazer, a justice minister and former solicitor-general, to replace Geoffrey Cox…Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s most senior adviser, prompted fury last night after ending a meeting with government advisers by saying: “I’ll see half of you next week.” His comments were not well received by those fearing for their jobs….Stephen Barclay, the former Brexit secretary who lost his job when his department was closed, is being tipped as the new environment secretary. Mark Spencer, the chief whip, is also being touted for the role.” – The Times

Senior Tory MPs step up opposition to Huawei

“Senior Conservatives have written to Tory MPs to raise concerns about the government’s decision to allow Huawei to play a role in the UK’s 5G network. In a letter, the group – which includes four ex-cabinet ministers – said there were alternatives to the Chinese firm. They want “high-risk” vendors to be ruled out now, or phased out over time. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the decision followed a “rigorous” review by security experts and that Huawei’s involvement would be restricted. The letter comes as US vice-president Mike Pence said the US was “profoundly disappointed” with the UK’s decision. The letter from Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Owen Paterson, David Davis, Damian Green, Tobias Ellwood and Bob Seely, which has been seen by the BBC, says some MPs were ‘working to find a better solution’.” – BBC

  • Decision may threaten trade deal with the US – The Times

Downing Street plot “power grab” of NHS

“Boris Johnson will use a new law to clip the wings of the NHS chief executive as he attempts to exert more control over the health service. No 10 is concerned that Sir Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, has too much power. Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s chief aide, believes that at present the law gives Sir Simon excessive freedom, making it hard for Downing Street to impose its will. There is also frustration in government about the slow pace at which the health service responds to demands from Whitehall. Legislation to be introduced this year will include powers for ministers to give orders to Sir Simon, who is meant to be operationally independent. The government has begun monthly meetings with him and is demanding tangible reductions in waiting times after one of the worst winters on record for hospitals last year.” – The Times

Javid threatens tax increases for higher earners

“Sajid Javid is weighing a big tax raid on higher earners in his March Budget to help fund Boris Johnson’s plan to “level up” the economy, including a long-mooted shake-up of pension tax breaks. The chancellor’s allies said he was committed to making the tax system “fair and efficient”. Treasury insiders confirmed he was considering reforms that would hit the better off and ease pressure on strained public finances. Among the measures under scrutiny is the system of pension tax relief, which mainly benefits richer people. It costs the Treasury almost £40bn a year in foregone income tax revenues.” – Financial Times

  • Britons “willing to pay higher taxes” to help the elderly – Daily Express

Licence Fee could be replaced by “tier model”  where individual channels are paid for

“The BBC licence fee could be replaced with a “tier model” in which viewers and listeners can choose the level of access they want to the corporation’s output, The Daily Telegraph has learnt. Under a plan being considered by ministers, only those who wanted access to the BBC’s television channels, apps and website would pay the full fee with cheaper licences for people who did not use every service. Baroness Morgan, the Culture Secretary, said earlier this week that the BBC had to find a way of keeping its funding model “relevant” in an age of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, and the tier model was seen as a possible solution…By issuing passwords for the BBC’s TV channels, and website, as well as apps such as iPlayer and BBC Sounds, the corporation would be able to cut off people who failed to pay the licence fee in the same way that electricity firms can cut people off, rather than pursuing them through the criminal courts.” – Daily Telegrap

>Yesterday: Damian Green on Comment: Enough of this BBC-bashing. A weaker corporation would mean a weaker culture. And no Tory should want that.

Gove defends Tory election campaign

“Labour’s “devastating” general election defeat could spell the end of the party, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has warned. The Labour MP told a BBC Radio 4 documentary the party had to change or face up to 15 years out of power.Senior Labour and Tory figures give frank assessments of the 2019 campaign in the programme to be aired on Sunday…Cabinet Minister Michael Gove is asked if it was a mistake for Boris Johnson not to be interviewed by the BBC’s Andrew Neil. “No, because we won,” he replied. “I’m sure Boris would have done brilliantly, but with the best will in the world and I am huge fan of Andrew Neil, the purpose of running an election campaign is to win so that you can govern the country well, not to agree to every broadcast bid.” – BBC

>Today: ToryDiary: Local elections 2020: Holding the mayoralties in the Tees Valley and the West Midlands will be key Conservative challenges

Former Tory Ministers finding new roles

“Lucrative corporate jobs, hiking the Scottish Munros and taking a break are among the next moves for former Conservative ministers. Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd and Sir Michael Fallon are among the former cabinet behemoths who have accepted high-profile private-sector jobs since stepping down from parliament last December. Mr Hammond, 64, the former chancellor, is a board member at Ardagh Group, an Irish producer of glass and metal containers, a role for which he is said to be paid about £125,000. He has also become an adviser to OakNorth, a British business bank. Ms Rudd, 56, the former home secretary, has followed her brother Roland into public relations to be a senior adviser at Teneo, a “global consulting, strategy and communications firm”. …..David Gauke, 48, former justice secretary, reflected that he was “enjoying a more civilised pace of life” during the “transition phase” out of full-time politics. He is in talks over several options in the private sector but also wants to continue to “contribute to the debate” at Westminster, including with his regular column for ConservativeHome, the Tory grassroots news website.” – The Times

  • Osborne’s future at the Evening Standard “in doubt” – The Guardian

Long-Bailey vows to back all strikes  “no questions asked”

“Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey will promise to “back workers in every dispute and strike against unfair, exploitative and unjust employers”. Speaking at a rally in Sheffield she will warn her party not to treat trade unions like “embarrassing relatives”. ..She is expected to tell supporters that the party needs a leader who is “as comfortable on the picket line as at the dispatch box” and will vow that “under my leadership Labour will never return to condemning striking teachers or firefighters.” – BBC

  • Corbyn won’t give evidence to Miliband Review into election defeat – The Sun
  • Canvassing strategy had “major deficiencies” – The Guardian
  • Let workers ignore emails at home says leadership candidate – The Times
  • Tory council candidate imprisoned after threats to Yvette Cooper – The Times

Scottish Government queried “justification” for publishing Mackay story

“Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of a failure of leadership over the Derek Mackay scandal, as it emerged the Scottish Government demanded to know the ‘justification for publication’ of a story which exposed him and the name of the 16-year-old he is accused of sending hundreds of messages too. Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney, who said he was “utterly stunned” by the revelations, insisted the Government had ‘simply asked for information to give us the veracity and the substance of the points that were being put to us’.” – The Scotsman

  • Free speech is a foundation stone of our democracy and it’s vital we fight for it – Leader, The Sun
  • Disgraced former SNP minister erases social media – The Times

Polls open for Irish General Election

“Voters are going to the polls in the Republic of Ireland’s general election. Polls opened at 07:00 local time and will close at 22:00. Counting will begin on Sunday in all 39 constituencies. Newly elected TDs will gather on 20 February for the 33rd Dáil. A total of 160 representatives will be returned to the Dáil. The ceann comhairle, or speaker, is automatically re-elected. In most situations, the speaker does not vote, so a government will need 80 TDs to hold a majority.” – BBC

  • Conservatives must learn from Varadkar’s mistakes – Leader, Daily Telegraph

UK names first woman US ambassador

“The government has named Dame Karen Pierce as the new ambassador to the US. Dame Karen – who is currently the UK’s permanent representative to the United Nations – will become the first woman in the post. She replaces Sir Kim Darroch, who resigned in 2019 after he called President Donald Trump’s administration “clumsy and inept” in leaked emails. Dame Karen said she hoped to “strengthen the special relationship” between the countries. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called her “an outstanding and accomplished diplomat”, tweeting: “I can think of no better person to drive forward our hugely important relationship with the United States at this time.” – BBC

Rage at “virtue signalling” GMB as Dale walks out

“Britons have reacted with fury at the treatment of commentator Iain Dale who stormed off Good Morning Britain after being interrupted by what social media users have dubbed “virtue signalling” guests. Facebook users took aim at the manner in which Mr Dale was treated having been sat between Nihal Arthanayake and Grace Blakeley on Friday morning’s programme. The LBC radio host stormed off the set after Mr Arthanayake and Ms Blakeley blamed the shocking incident of Jonty Bravery pushing a young child from the Tate Modern on Tory austerity. Social media user erupted with fury at the programme, backing Mr Dale.” – Daily Express

>Yesterday: WATCH: Dale walks out of GMB debate

Moore: Fixing the Supreme Court should be the constitutional priority

“It is helpful to have our worries learnedly justified by Professor John Finnis of Oxford, arguably the most distinguished academic lawyer of our time. In a forthcoming pamphlet for the think-tank Policy Exchange (The Law of the Constitution before the Court), Professor Finnis identifies the problem with the Miller 2 judgment. He says it runs deeper than carelessness or haste.In his view, the Supreme Court judgment goes against our history and our law, and produces “a constitutional unsettlement”[itals on ‘un’]. Ignoring the arguments which the Divisional Court had already made the other way, it tramples over a central feature of our Bill of Rights of 1689, which protects political liberty by insisting that no “proceeding of Parliament” should be “impeached’ in a court.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Edward Faulks on Think Tanks: The Supreme Court’s prorogation judgement unbalanced our constitution. MPs should make a correction.

Parris: Make Charles the Prince Regent

“This year the Queen will turn 94. I’m not sure that when I turn 74 I would be up to managing a family crisis with national consequences. For how much longer will the Queen’s and Britain’s luck hold?..By her astuteness, circumspection and attention to duty, our Queen has stopped the clock on debate about the monarchy. Her passing will be quite a constitutional lurch: a terrible 21st-century moment for an old man to become king (for instance) of Australia. A regency would give the monarchy a vital opportunity for an arriving figure and a departing one to “reign” in tandem, while the magic and the command transfer from old to new. I’m told our royals don’t really do family conferences, don’t speak to each other about such matters. They really should.” –  Matthew Parris, The Times

News in brief

  • What to expect from the reshuffle – Katy Balls, The Spectator
  • How much do we really have to learn from Europe about counter-terrorism? – Liam Duffy, CapX
  • The price of green policies – John Redwood
  • Scrap Sunday Trading laws – Jason Reed, The Article
  • Cambridge Union should be ashamed of its snobbishness towards the military – Charlotte Gill, Free Market Conservatives