Tories “plan mansion tax and raid on pensions”

“Boris Johnson has been weighing up shock plans to impose a ‘mansion tax’ on owners of expensive homes, in a move which will infuriate the ­Conservative Party’s grassroots and stun MPs. Severe cuts to pension tax relief enjoyed by millions of voters are also being considered by the Prime Minister and his Chancellor, Sajid Javid, for the Budget next month in an effort to pay for a huge increase in public spending. Two separate sources told The Telegraph that ideas to raise more tax from better-off homeowners had been discussed on separate occasions in the past few weeks at the highest levels of the Treasury and No 10. Some Treasury officials are understood to be keen on introducing what has been described as a “recurring” wealth tax that would primarily affect London and the South East, possibly as a quid pro quo for cutting stamp duty. It is not clear exactly what form the tax would take if it were included in the March 11 Budget, but options range from a levy – first mooted by Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader – to an additional higher band of council tax.” – Sunday Telegraph


  • Johnson and Javid must kill these ridiculous, unconservative tax plans, Leader – Sunday Telegraph

HS2 reported to be on track for approval

“Boris Johnson will give the green light to the HS2 high-speed rail project on Tuesday and announce further spending on infrastructure projects. The cabinet will give an immediate go-ahead to the London to Birmingham spur and the Birmingham to Crewe western arm of the Y-shaped route. The Manchester to Leeds section, however, will undergo a review to make sure that the plans are cost-effective. The decision comes after Johnson was warned by Tory donors with links to the construction industry that cancelling HS2 would result in 400 construction firms going out of business and the loss of 250,000 jobs in the supply chain. This could have affected the prime minister’s ability to deliver his priority of big infrastructure projects. In a sign that Johnson wants to make better transport links a key feature of his premiership, he will keep Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, who was a firm supporter of HS2, in his post in Thursday’s cabinet reshuffle.” – Sunday Times

  • Johnson revives £20billion plan for bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland – Mail on Sunday
  • Ten free ports in PM’s huge infrastructure boost – Sunday Express

Prime Minister signs off on skilled migrants plan

“The prime minister and Priti Patel met on Tuesday to finalise the details of Britain’s Australian-style points-based system, which will abolish the route into the UK for unskilled migrants from January 1 next year. Home Office figures suggest the new rules will mean an overnight reduction in unskilled EU migrants of about 90,000 a year, who will no longer have a route into Britain. Net migration to the UK was 212,000 in the year to June 2019. But officials predict a rise in the number of skilled migrants coming to the UK from 2021, currently 65,000 a year. At the moment they are split equally between EU and non-EU migrants. That ratio is predicted to change so that two-thirds of skilled migrants come from outside Europe. A letter outlining the details of the policy is to be sent to cabinet ministers this weekend. Approving it will be the centrepiece of a cabinet meeting on Friday, the first for Johnson’s new ministerial team after the prime minister’s planned reshuffle of his top team on Thursday.” – Sunday Times

  • Cummings turns fire on ‘rip-off’ BAE – Sunday Times
  • Patel and Hancock pledge to tackle ‘virginity’ clinics – Sunday Times

Truss set to avoid the axe in Cabinet reshuffle

“Boris Johnson is expected to defy influential adviser Dominic Cummings by refusing to sack Liz Truss in a Cabinet reshuffle on Thursday and scaling back plans for a ‘St Valentine’s Day massacre’. There is also likely to be a major boost for powerful Cabinet Office boss Michael Gove, who is expected to bring responsibility for November’s UN climate summit in Glasgow into his Whitehall empire. And Mr Gove wishes to use the Cabinet Office for cross-departmental No Deal Brexit planning to speed up the decision-making process. Chancellor Sajid Javid is likely to be spared the axe despite a series of power struggles with No 10 – but insiders have threatened to sack Mr Javid’s advisers and replace them with Downing Street loyalists. Ms Truss, the International Trade Secretary, is tipped to stay in the Cabinet, although perhaps not in her current role. There had been briefings – blamed by her friends on Mr Cummings – that she would be fired.” – Mail on Sunday

  • More female ministers but not in top jobs – Sunday Times
  • Rudd: Johnson will need more women in the cabinet – Sunday Times
  • Cox ‘desperate’ to hang on to his job as Attorney General – Sunday Telegraph
  • New Red Wall MP facing five disciplinary charges – Mail on Sunday

ToryDiary: Rudd and the reshuffle. Not the best woman to make the case for women


Sinn Féin surges in exit poll

“Sinn Féin has scored dramatic gains in Ireland’s general election, according to an exit poll on Saturday night, realigning Irish politics and boosting the party’s chance of joining the next government. The republican party won 22.3% of the vote while Leo Varadkar’s ruling Fine Gael party slumped to 22.4%, the poll said, potentially spelling an end to Varadkar’s tenure as taoiseach. Fianna Fáil, the main opposition party, won 22.2%. If replicated in actual results it would signal an unprecedented tie among the three parties, leaving it unclear which, if any, could woo smaller parties and independents to form a parliamentary majority and ruling alliance. Sinn Féin’s surge – up from 13.8% in the 2016 general election – reflected the anger of voters, especially among the young, at soaring rents and homelessness. The party’s leader, Mary Lou McDonald, cast the party as a leftwing agent of change that would break up the duopoly of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, centrist rivals that have alternated in power for a century.” – Observer

Long-Bailey vows to sack own MPs if she wins leadership contest

“Hardline Labour leadership contender Rebecca Long-Bailey has threatened to ruthlessly stamp out rebellions against her in the party if she wins. And she vowed to sack her own MPs if they turn against her. The Shadow Cabinet minister said she could not “accept dissent”. She told a growing band of moderates: “We know the damage it causes on our chances to succeed, so we need to have everybody pulling together. “I’d like that to happen nicely and for everybody to want to do that. “I think if people aren’t able to move on, that’s when obviously I’ll have to become a bit more ruthless.” Mrs Long Bailey was speaking at a rally in Lewisham, South East London, when she made the menacing remarks. She even said she has a copy of Machiavelli’s The Prince — a 16th- century guide on how to acquire and maintain political power by any means necessary. Her revelation follows a moderate MP telling The Sun on Sunday they would quit politics if Mrs Long Bailey is leader.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Nandy: I’m not moving south. They can move No 10 to me – Sunday Times
  • And she claimed nearly £4,000 for first class train travel in last year – Sun on Sunday
  • Corbyn’s local party backs Starmer for leadership – Observer
  • And his Lords nominations delayed – Mail on Sunday
  • Bercow’s peerage hopes ‘sunk’ by third bullying complaint – Sunday Times

UK faces ‘major’ coronavirus outbreak, warns world expert

“Britain could suffer a “major outbreak” of the coronavirus, which is likely to become a pandemic, according to the microbiologist who co-discovered ebola and the presence of Aids in Africa. Professor Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said he was “increasingly alarmed” by the rapid spread of the virus and the “huge” number of cases emerging daily. Almost 35,000 people in at least 28 countries have been infected, with 3,500 new cases yesterday. Among them were five Britons, including a boy aged nine, in the ski resort of Contamines-Montjoie in the French Alps, bringing the total number of cases involving UK citizens to seven. The global death toll climbed to 811.” – Sunday Times

  • ‘No-deal’ emergency plan revived as coronavirus threatens shortages – Sunday Times

Osborne may lose Standard editor job over row with boss

“George Osborne, the chancellor turned newspaper editor, is understood to have had a “bust-up” before Christmas with the Evening Standard proprietor, Evgeny Lebedev, over a photo the latter deemed unflattering. Sources at the paper say that Lebedev, 39, was unhappy about a front page image of him with the prime minister, Boris Johnson, at a shelter for homeless women. This resulted in a row between Lebedev and Osborne, prompting rumours that the former MP is set to be ousted as editor. However, a source at the paper said the situation was more “complicated” than Lebedev wanting Osborne gone. It has been suggested that Osborne could instead move to an advisory role.” – Sunday Times

  • Police speak to 16-year-old boy who received 270 messages from disgraced Scottish finance secretary Mackay – Mail on Sunday