Javid tells Johnson to give Sunak ‘space and freedom’

“Sajid Javid has told Boris Johnson to give his successor as chancellor “space to do his job without fear or favour” as No 10 prepares to turn on the spending taps in the budget. In a resignation statement that exposed the conflict over the government’s economic policy, Mr Javid mocked Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s senior aide, and urged Mr Johnson not to pass today’s bills on to future generations. Speaking a fortnight before the budget and amid speculation that Rishi Sunak is under pressure from Mr Johnson to relax borrowing rules, Mr Javid insisted that it would be wrong to scrap a commitment to reduce debt over the time of the parliament.” – The Times

  • He warns against Treasury takeover and fires parting shot at Cummings… – Daily Telegraph
  • …and says not to ‘betray’ today’s young by borrowing billions more for NHS – The Sun


  • Sunak expected to kick tough decisions down the road – FT
  • Chancellor warned rates hike needed for spending boost – Daily Express
  • ‘Go big or go home’ to heal north-south divide, No 10 told – The Guardian


  • Javid is right to urge that taxes are kept down – The Sun



Neha Shah: How did British Indians become so prominent in the Conservative party?

“Rishi Sunak’s pharmacist mother and Priti Patel’s newsagent-owning parents were typical of their generation. The Conservative leadership of the time identified this demographic as potential voters. From the 1980s onwards, the Tories began to court an imagined “Indian community”, limited to east African Indians who had settled around London. Successful British Indians were held up as evidence of what could be achieved under a free-market Conservative government… Fast-forward to 2010, and the Conservatives held 30% of the British Indian vote. After 30 years of Thatcherite ideology, British Indians were the most pro-Conservative ethnic minority, after the Jewish community. After decades of gradual advance, this number soared to 40% in 2017.” – The Guardian

  •  Will the Chancellor be brave enough to get rid of Britain’s 60p tax rate? – Simon Lambert, Daily Mail

Heathrow plans ‘under threat’ as Prime Minister looks at alternatives

“The expansion of Heathrow airport is hanging in the balance after Boris Johnson threatened to withdraw government support for a third runway in the face of a pivotal court ruling. The prime minister’s official spokesman said that Heathrow still had to demonstrate that the project met environmental standards and had a “realistic” business case. The comments were made as the Court of Appeal prepared to publish a judgment today on the expansion, which critics claim is unlawful. There was mounting speculation that judges could uphold four separate legal challenges against the government’s existing airports national policy statement – passed by MPs almost two years ago – which in effect gives approval for a third runway.” – The Times

  • Heathrow braced for court ruling on third runway – FT
  • Airport boss says ‘free trade future’ hinges on new runway – Daily Telegraph


  • A third runway for Heathrow is no way to ‘level up’ Britain – Justine Greening, The Guardian

Government unveils new fund to tackle homelessness

“Boris Johnson tonight unveiled a £236 million boost to help tackle the scourge of rough sleeping. The Prime Minister has also appointed Dame Louise Casey to lead an urgent review into the causes of the problem. The new funding will go towards offering Housing First style ‘move on’ accommodation for up to 6,000 rough sleepers. In December Mr Johnson restated his commitment to end rough sleeping by 2024. At the last count there were 4,677 people identified as sleeping rough in England – more than double the number in 2010 – although this is thought to be an underestimate. When the latest government homelessness figures were published for April to June 2019, 68,170 households were recorded as having been assessed by their councils as either homeless or threatened with homelessness.” – Daily Express

  • Prime Minister appoints top adviser who tackled it under Blair – The Sun
  • UK’s official rough sleeping numbers ‘far lower than reality’ – The Guardian

Johnson ‘suggests Watson peerage should be blocked’

“Boris Johnson has suggested that Tom Watson should be blocked from getting a peerage after an investigation dismissed “sensational allegations” of a Westminster paedophile conspiracy. The independent inquiry into child sexual abuse said that Mr Watson’s 2012 claim in parliament of a powerful paedophile network at the heart of political life had been a significant factor in Theresa May’s decision to set up the investigation. The former Labour deputy leader also exerted influence on police inquiries, including Operation Midland, which pursued false claims against innocent public figures… Mr Johnson ultimately has the power to block the nomination even if it is approved by the commission. He will supply Mr Corbyn’s list to the Queen and is entitled to amend it, although it is “customary” for the prime minister not to do so.” – The Times

  • The true scandal was the way a handful of fantasists were allowed to wreck lives – David Aaronovitch, The Times

>Yesterday: Left Watch: Who watches the Watsons?

Prime Minister ‘to tear up Brexit deal ground rules’

“Boris Johnson is preparing to tear up part of the Brexit deal as he sets out his “red lines” for a trade agreement with the European Union on Thursday. The Prime Minister has made it clear that he will not be bound by the political declaration attached to the EU Withdrawal Agreement, which sets out the ground rules for a trade deal. Downing Street sources said the rules of engagement agreed by Mr Johnson last year had been superseded by promises made in the Tory manifesto on which he was elected in December. The Prime Minister believes he is within his rights to go back on previous agreements covering areas including borders, fishing rights and state aid.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson ‘ goes back on trade deal pledges to Brussels’ – FT
  • EU will require customs checks on all British goods, warns Barnier – The Times
  • Top City bosses reject post-Brexit ‘Singapore on Thames’ – FT

>Today: Garvan Walshe’s column: The cost of Johnson’s Brexit will be paid by his new Red Wall voters

Ministers to close apprenticeships ‘loophole’

“A loophole which allows fat cat bosses to avoid offering thousands of needy kids apprenticeships will be closed. Gavin Williamson has written to Britain’s apprenticeships czar to say cash raised via the apprenticeship tax must not be used to pay for MBAs. It comes amid fury that high-flying city slickers are using the funds to beef up their glittering CVs while many Brits cannot get on to an apprenticeship at all. Mr Williamson said the vital cash should be used to “kick-start careers or level up skills”. He has written to Jennifer Coupland, chief executive the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, to review the use of the cash for MBAs.” – The Sun

Police will have ‘no excuse’ for not cutting crime, says Patel

“The home secretary has ordered the police to cut the number of cases of murder, serious violence and neighbourhood crime within three years in return for officer numbers having been boosted. Signalling a return to targets, Priti Patel told a conference of police chiefs yesterday that there would be no excuses for not reducing crime. Ms Patel said that she had delivered on the police’s demands by pledging an extra 20,000 officers and simplifying rules on stop and search, and now sought “outcomes” that were non-negotiable. The targets also include reductions in county lines drug dealing, domestic abuse and neighbourhood crime such as vehicle theft.” – The Times

  • Extra officers must lead to results, police chiefs told – The Guardian
  • Braverman tells police they ‘must allow lawyers access to all evidence’ – The Times


Keep offices and schools open despite coronavirus fears, ministers urge

“Employers are being told not to close offices and schools asked to stay open as the Government attempts to stem rising panic over the ongoing spread of coronavirus. On Wednesday night, ministers warned “over-reaction” could cost Britain dear, with more than 35 schools closing or sending pupils home and office closures affecting hundreds of workers. The warning came as increasing numbers of Britons scrambled to cancel holidays abroad, with major events postponed as outbreaks spread across Europe and more new cases were declared outside China than in it… Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, told the Commons on Wednesday that it was important to be “proportionate” in response to the coronavirus threat.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prepare for more coronavirus cases, warns Hancock – FT
  • Prepare for pandemic, head of WHO warns – The Times
  • Trump looks to defuse coronavirus threat and boost markets – FT


  • President faces his ‘Chernobyl moment’ after slashing defences – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Ben Roback in International: Namaste Trump! He says India is now “America’s premier defence partner”. That’s bad news for Johnson.

Donelan confirms review of university admissions

“University hopefuls could be forced to wait until they receive their A-level grades before applying for a course under radical plans from a watchdog. The Office for Students has suggested scrapping predicted grades and pre-qualification unconditional offers… Other proposals included cracking down on ‘false marketing’ and ‘inducements’ to students such as offering cash or promises of accommodation in return for signing up to courses. Institutions could also be asked to sign up to a code of practice that systematically offers lower grades to disadvantaged students. Universities minister Michelle Donelan yesterday welcomed the admissions review, saying it would ‘be instrumental in helping assess how the system can be improved’.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: “How will we fight against quotas if we accept them in our own party?” A male Conservative MP’s view of Johnson’s women ministers plan.

Eustice faces UK farmers’ anger over food standards and flooding

“Angry farmers booed the newly appointed environment secretary at their annual conference on Wednesday after he failed to provide reassurances on post-Brexit food standards or extra help for those hit by widespread flooding. The angry reaction from the audience in Birmingham came after George Eustice declined to commit the government to upholding existing UK standards after Brexit in future trade deals that would bar imports of cheap food cultivated in countries, such as the US, that have weaker regulation.  “I can’t provide any such assurances,” he told the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) conference when asked if Boris Johnson’s government would back an amendment to the new agriculture bill to impose tough standards on imported food.” – FT

  • Flooding crisis is under control, minister tells struggling farmers – The Guardian
  • Elderly farmers should be ‘paid to retire’, Secretary of State suggests – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Corbyn harries Johnson over his response to the flooding at Prime Minister’s Questions

Tennis match with Johnson auctioned at Party fundraiser

“The Tories sold off a game of tennis with Boris Johnson for £90,000 to the wife of an ally of Vladimir Putin, The Sun can reveal. Lubov Chernukhin paid for half of the prize at the Tory party’s lavish annual Black and White fundraising ball on Tuesday night. She is married to Russia’s former finance minister Vladimir Chernukhin, who served under Putin in the early 2000s before being appointed chairman of a state-owned bank. The match with Mr Johnson and Tory co-chairman Ben Elliott was the star prize in the traditional auction to raise funds for the party. But a source who was at the Tory fundraising ball in Battersea, south London, said Mr Johnson “wasn’t particularly keen to be auctioning himself off”.” – The Sun

  • He also had a go at singing the Welsh national anthem – The Times
  • Prime Minister criticised for ‘schmoozing’ without visiting flood victims – Daily Mail
  • Banned City trader an organiser of Tories’ Black and White ball – The Guardian

Poll suggests Karmer is clear front-runner for Labour leadership

“Jeremy Corbyn is set to be humiliated as Sir Keir Starmer looks to storm to Labour leadership victory in the first round, in a devastating blow to far-left Corbynistas. The former lawyer is set to receive over half the vote (53 percent), according to a YouGov poll of Labour members. Corbyn fanatic Rebecca Long-Bailey is behind on 31 percent and Lisa Nandy is just on 16 percent. The staggering vote difference is a huge boost for Sir Keir who was also backed by the London Mayor Sadiq Khan. A huge number of Labour MPs expect Sir Keir to top 50 percent. This means that the race may not go to second preferences at all… Angela Rayner is looking to become deputy leader, with 47 percent of the vote.” – Daily Express

  • Former Labour activist charged in police antisemitism investigation – The Guardian

Scottish health minister steps up security after ‘facing threats’ in wake of scandal-hit Glasgow super-hospital

“The Health Minister Jeane Freeman has been forced to step up her personal security after allegedly facing violent threats relating to the scandal hit Glasgow ‘super-hospital’. Ms Freeman revealed that a man has been arrested and charged after allegedly sending her threatening messages in the wake of the deaths of two children at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH). Ten-year-old Milly Main and a three-year-old boy died weeks apart from each other in August 2017 after being treated on the same ward at the hospital which was affected by water contamination. The news of the alleged threats against the Health Minister, who now has police officers posted near her constituency office, came as NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde launched legal action seeking £73 million in damages due to problems with QEUH.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Scotland to extend free bus travel to 18-year-olds – FT

Liberal Democrats accused of being ‘soft on terror’

“The Liberal Democrats have been accused of being soft on terror after bashing MI5’s demands for more access to WhatsApp messages to catch sick criminals. Speaking to ITV, spy boss Sir Andrew Parker had demanded technology companies give security services “exceptional” access to encrypted messages. The 58-year-old claimed it was “increasingly mystifying” that intelligence officials were barred from reading secret messages shared between terrorist suspects… His comments were pounced on by the Lib Dems, who claimed the safety measures went too far. Tory MP Michael Fabricant has now lashed out at the Lib Dem claims, insisting safety must come first.” – The Sun

News in Brief:

  • Where next for the Lib Dems? – Charlotte Henry, CapX
  • Will coronavirus turn out to be a Black Swan? – Maggie Pagano, Reaction
  • Le crunch: are the Brexit talks doomed before they begin? – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • A new forum sets out to save the UK , but time is ticking – Graham Stewart, The Critic
  • London is hoarding the regions’ treasures – James Barr, UnHerd