Peerages 1) Hammond and Clarke “have been nominated”

“Boris Johnson has nominated two men he kicked out of the Tories in the Commons for opposing him on Brexit for seats in the Lords, the BBC has learned. Former Chancellors Ken Clarke and Phillip Hammond had the Conservative whip withdrawn last year for attempting to block a no-deal Brexit. They have now stood down as MPs but have continued to be critical of the prime minister’s policies. The nomination and vetting process for new peers is not yet complete. But Mr Clarke and Mr Hammond are on Downing Street’s list, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg understands. Downing Street is also expected to nominate former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who has also clashed with the prime minister over Brexit in the past, for a seat in the Lords. The PM has also put forward two former Labour MPs – Iain Austin and John Woodcock – to sit as non-aligned peers.” – BBC

Peerages 2) New bullying allegations increase pressure for Bercow to be blocked

“John Bercow said that he would not rely on the word of a “f***ing clerk” who had accused an MP of bullying and harassing her, according to the former Speaker’s most senior official. Lord Lisvane, who served as clerk of the House of Commons until 2014, passed to the parliamentary standards watchdog last month a dossier of allegations that Mr Bercow bullied staff. Mr Bercow denied everything and accused his former chief adviser of failing in his “duty of care to all House staff” for not raising concerns with him at the time.” – The Times

Reshuffle Rumours 1) Sunak “to stay at The Treasury”

“Boris Johnson is expected to conduct his long-awaited reshuffle next week, with No 10 now considering keeping loyalist minister Rishi Sunak in the Treasury to keep an eye on the chancellor, Sajid Javid. Sunak had been tipped to head up a new economic super-ministry but those plans are in doubt and Johnson is thought to want to keep him in his current job as chief secretary to the Treasury, overseeing the spending review coming up later this year. The reshuffle, expected next Thursday or Friday, comes as different ministers and advisers jostle to get close to the prime minister, whose circle of confidants has become clearer in recent weeks.” – The Guardian

Reshuffle Rumours 2) What can be done about Gove?

“Inconveniently, the two ministers thought most likely for the chop: Environment Secretary Theresa Villers and Andrea Leadsom, the Business Secretary, are both female and leavers. But in an echo of the psychodrama that cost Mr Johnson the Tory leadership in 2016, there is arguably a bigger problem to solve: what to do with Michael Gove? The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is once again at the centre of cabinet consternation amid claims he is causing division inside Downing Street by refusing to throw his support wholeheartedly behind a free trade deal with the US. His strident stance is all the more difficult because the former Vote Leaver had been touted as someone who could help to oversee Britain’s trade negotiations. Now, having repeatedly voiced concerns at cabinet about chlorinated chicken and animal welfare standards, the former Environment Secretary is being linked to the presidency of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26), a crucial climate change summit due to be hosted by the UK in Glasgow in November.” – Daily Telegraph

Raab to seek early trade deal with Australia

“Boris Johnson has sent Dominic Raab to Australia to seek an early trade deal that will put pressure on the EU in the coming negotiations. The Foreign Secretary will land in Canberra on Thursday at the start of a four-day visit to the region which will also take in Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. All four countries have expressed a desire to tie up trade deals with the UK, and Mr Johnson wants to send a message to Brussels that Britain will manage with or without an EU trade deal. On Monday Mr Johnson and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, set out their objectives for the coming trade talks, exposing a chasm between the two sides.” – Daily Telegraph

Javid pledges to keep electric car funding

“Sajid Javid has performed an about turn over plans to scrap Government grants for electric cars after the motor industry warned it would have a “devastating” impact on demand. A taxpayer-funded contribution of up to £3,500 towards the cost of new electric cars was due to come to an end next month, but the Treasury will continue paying some subsidies as part of a package of measures expected to be announced in the budget. It comes after Boris Johnson announced a ban on the sale of all new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars from 2035, meaning motorists will be restricted to buying fully electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles from then.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Cummings wants control of budget spending plans – The Times
  • Chancellor to issue ‘Brexit red tape challenge’ to public in the Budget – Financial Times
  • Petrol car ban is a leap in the dark – Leader, The Sun
  • Mixed messages are alienating the public – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Free the e-scooters and unleash a British transport revolution – Matthew Lesh, City AM

>Today: Columnist Rachel Wolf: Achieving net zero will require massive changes to our lives – when is anyone going to tell voters?

Green challenges the PM over Huawei decision

“Boris Johnson has been challenged by two former cabinet ministers to pledge to remove Huawei from Britain’s 5G network as a rebellion by Tory MPs grows. Damian Green, a former chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, urged the prime minister to set out a timetable for reducing the Chinese company’s involvement. Mr Johnson gave approval for Huawei to provide 35 per cent of Britain’s 5G infrastructure despite warnings that it posed a threat to national security. Speaking at prime minister’s questions, Mr Green highlighted a decision by France to build its 5G network without Huawei.” – The Times


Rush to pass anti-terror law before more offenders are released

“The Government is in a race against time to pass new terror legislation to stop the release of the first suspect at the end of February, Whitehall officials have revealed. A bill that will retrospectively prevent terrorists from being released halfway through their sentences will be introduced in the Commons on Tuesday with the aim to complete its passage by recess at the end of next week. It will be considered by the House Lords from February 25 with Royal Assent targeted for February 27, before the first terrorist since the Streatham terror attack is due for release at the end of the month. A further five are due to be released in March, according to the Whitehall officials.” – Daily Telegraph

  • We need less politics and more action to tackle terrorism – Rory Stewart, City AM

Morgan suggests that the TV Licence could be scrapped in seven years

“The UK government has warned that the TV licence fee used to fund the BBC might be abolished after 2027, putting down a marker for a long fight about how the public service broadcaster is financed. Nicky Morgan, the culture secretary, on Wednesday announced that the debate over BBC funding would begin with an eight-week public consultation into the decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee. The BBC currently receives the majority of its £4.9bn annual budget through the collection of the compulsory fee, which is set to rise on April 1 from £154.50 to £157.50 per household with a TV. Boris Johnson’s newly elected government has set its sights on decriminalising non-payment of the licence by 2022, a move the BBC fears would cost it more than £200m a year.” – Financial Times

  • Rivals could compete with BBC for funding – The Times
  • Culture Secretary wants social media bosses to be held liable for online harm – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee is long overdue

Heath: Can the BBC survive?

“A radically reformed BBC could still be an asset for Britain: the export market for high-quality entertainment is booming. But time is running out. The new director general will need to embrace a subscription model – and why wait another seven years? – and full privatisation. A drastically-slimmed down BBC should either become a customer-owned co-op, or float on the stock exchange and be allowed to raise equity financing. It should admit that most linear TV channels will shut, reinvent itself primarily as a streaming app, selling subscriptions abroad to finance a huge investment programme at home. The new boss will also need to make a massive effort at diversifying its recruitment: it cannot just employ Left-liberals and Remainers. Will anybody be able to pull off such a turnaround? We must hope so, for otherwise, stripped of its legal privileges, shorn of its quasi-mythical cultural role, the BBC will slowly fade into irrelevance.” – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

  • My plan to save the BBC? A cheap licence for the basics and a full fee for all the extras – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail

IDS launches new group to champion Northern Ireland veterans

“Tory MPs created a new Veterans Support Group to show Boris Johnson they have enough to defeat him if he breaks his promise for a new law to protect Northern Ireland vets. They fear the Government’s deal to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland risks opening up new Troubles and probes into thousands of veterans despite the Tory election pledge not to.It spurred them to form a parliamentary group and after holding their first meeting more than 40 had signed up. That gives them enough to defeat the Government’s 80-seat majority in the Commons if necessary.The Group is headed by former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith. Deputy chairman Mark Francois said they formed the group to “make sure that if and when legislation appears in the Commons the interests of our veterans are properly protected”. Other senior Tories to join were Owen Paterson, Bob Stewart, Adam Holloway, Richard Drax and Laurence Robertson.” – The Sun

Johnson insults Sturgeon

“Furious Boris Johnson branded Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon “that bloody Wee Jimmy Krankie woman” at tense talks, it is claimed. The PM hit out at a No10 meeting about this year’s climate summit in Glasgow.Amid severe difficulties with the Scottish government over the December summit’s planning, its former boss Claire Perry O’Neill suggested the Prime Minister offer Ms Sturgeon a formal role to stop her Scottish National Party from wrecking the event. Boris said: “Over my f****** dead body”, a witness told The Sun. He allegedly added: “I’m not being driven out of Scotland by that bloody Wee Jimmy Krankie woman.” Janette Tough, 72, played schoolboy Jimmy in 1980s Scottish comedy act The Krankies, also starring her hubby Ian, 72.” – The Sun

  • SNP claim Boris Johnson is ‘trying to impersonate Donald Trump’ – The Scotsman
  • Mackay urged schoolboy to keep chats secret after calling him ‘really cute’ – The Sun

Sweden and Denmark sorry to lose UK as an EU ally

“Britain’s exit from the EU has left its smaller, wealthier nations feeling the loss of a weighty ally as they brace for a divisive fight over a new €1tn budget for the bloc. “We are missing the UK as a big player and a close partner in those talks,” admitted Hans Dahlgren, Sweden’s Europe minister. “We have to work even harder to reach our objectives.” Ever since Margaret Thatcher demanded her money back at the 1984 Fontainebleau summit, Britain could be relied on to lead the charge for a tight EU budget — even if its hefty rebates increasingly left other countries picking up the tab. Now Sweden, Britain’s closest partner along with Denmark, is having to fight for itself over its own budget rebate.” – Financial Times

Trump acquitted as the Senate voted down impeachment

“President Donald Trump has been cleared in his impeachment trial, ending a congressional bid to oust him from office that bitterly divided the US. The Senate, run by the president’s fellow Republicans, voted to acquit him 52-48 on charges of abuse of power and 53-47 on obstruction of Congress. Democrats charged Mr Trump in December with pressuring Ukraine to smear a potential White House rival. In November, Mr Trump will be the first impeached president to go for election. In its historic vote on Wednesday, the Senate decided not to remove America’s 45th president from office on charges arising from his dealings with Ukraine. If convicted on either charge, Mr Trump would have had to turn over his office to Vice-President Mike Pence.” – BBC

  • Biden vows to press on despite Iowa ‘gut punch’ – BBC

Corbyn attacked by Labour councillors leader

“The leader of Labour’s 6,600-strong army of councillors has delivered a stinging critique of the national party and its disastrous general election performance, accusing Jeremy Corbyn and his team of being out of touch with grassroots issues. Cllr Nick Forbes, the leader of the Local Government Association (LGA) Labour Group, said there was a “huge sense of anger” among councillors – collectively the party’s second biggest funder, contributing £2m a year to party coffers – that they had been sidelined by the national leadership. He accused the party hierarchy of ignoring warnings from grassroots councillors after last year’s disappointing council elections that issues with Corbyn and policy meant the party was failing to cut through to Labour voters on the doorsteps.” – The Guardian

  • One in eight anti-Semitic cases in 2019 was linked to Labour Party, new figures suggest – Daily Mail
  • Thornberry says she is ‘squeezed’ in leadership race – BBC

>Today: Mike Hurleston on Local Government: Only the Conservatives care about Stockport’s gridlocked roads

News in brief

  • After Iowa, Trump looks invincible – Freddy Gray, The Spectator
  • Labour’s nostalgia politics will leave the public cold – James Bloodworth, CapX
  • The Conservatives are pushing divisive gender politics – Caroline ffiske, The Article
  • Why is income per head so much higher in the USA than the EU? – John Redwood
  • Democracy just died in the Senate – Stephen Lyons, Independent