Patel says points-based system ‘will cut’ businesses’ reliance on cheap labour

“Businesses will be forced to end their reliance on cheap low-skilled migrants and recruit more British workers under a new points-based immigration system, the Government will announce on Wednesday. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, will introduce new laws next month aimed at limiting migration to skilled workers from the EU and rest of the world who have a job offer, speak English and command a salary of £25,600 a year or more. Ministers claim it will lead to a “significant reduction” in migration with advisors saying up to 70 per cent of EU workers allowed into the UK since 2004 would not have qualified under the points system. “Businesses can no longer rely on cheap migrant labour to do low-skill work as has been the case for the last 20 to 30 years,” said a Government source.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Outline of points system unveiled – The Sun
  • UK to ‘close door’ to non-English speakers and unskilled workers – The Guardian
  • Brexit visa changes to hit sectors in need of low-skilled labour – FT


  • Shadow Home Secretary sparks Twitter row on immigration comments – Daily Express

David Goodhart: At last, this is what we voted for

“The post-Brexit shake-up to Britain’s immigration system, unveiled today by Priti Patel, should be welcomed on the grounds of politics, economics – and general fairness. I would go further. This new, points-based labour migration policy represents the re-establishment of a national social contract with the British workforce – a contract that was ripped up when we adopted an open-door policy to EU migrants. The Government’s new system is much fairer because it works on merit, not nationality. We will no longer be forced to discriminate against a migrant from, say, New Zealand, over a Slovenian who enjoys an unambiguous right to come here. The new approach is democratically appropriate, too. It was for this sort of policy that many voted in the Brexit referendum of 2016, a sentiment that also may have swept Boris Johnson to his landslide election victory.” – Daily Mail

  • We cautiously welcome Patel’s commonsense plan for immigration – The Sun

EU nations ‘prepare tougher conditions’ on Brexit trade talks

“EU nations are preparing to toughen the conditions they will attach to any tariff-free trade deal with the UK, reinforcing demands from Brussels on regulatory alignment and access to fishing waters that Britain has already rejected.  But even as national ambassadors prepare to review the EU’s draft negotiating mandate in a meeting on Wednesday, Britain is advancing a clear vision of what it wants from the trade talks. The UK’s position under Boris Johnson is in stark contrast to that of his predecessor Theresa May, whose premiership was plagued by her inability to rally her party behind a shared vision of Brexit. Now, Britain says, it is the EU that is being inconsistent in its demands.” – FT

  • Frost insists Britain will not budge on escaping EU rules – The Sun
  • Barnier rejects UK call for Canada-style trade deal – The Guardian


  • Fears raised that EU will back Greece over return of Elgin Marbles – Daily Telegraph
  • EU to seek UK promise on fighting illegal trade in historical objects – FT
  • France dangles no deal Brexit threat ahead of crunch talks – Daily Express

>Today: ToryDiary: The Johnson adviser with the most power


Johnson accused of ‘hampering’ flood recovery effort

“Boris Johnson has been accused of hampering the recovery effort from the worst winter storms in a generation as flooded towns were evacuated and parts of Wales were braced for more downpours. MPs and council leaders in flood-stricken areas said the government’s refusal to call an emergency Cobra meeting had obstructed the response in some towns and delayed the release of vital funds to recover from Storms Ciara and Dennis. Holly Lynch, the Labour MP for Halifax, said that more than 1,000 homes, businesses and schools had been damaged by the hurricane-force winds and flooding last week yet there had been no support from government beyond the Bellwin scheme, which reimburses some of the costs faced by local authorities.” – The Guardian

  • We need dams not trees to protect villages, say scientists – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Cameron noted the Environment Agency’s flawed approach to flooding. But the problem has still not been dealt with.

Senior Tories speak out against cutting pensions tax relief…

“Cutting pensions tax relief for higher earners will make the Tories look like “socialists” and hit nearly four million people, senior Conservatives have warned. Boris Johnson will meet Rishi Sunak, his new chancellor, today for their first detailed discussions on plans for the budget on March 11. The Treasury has drawn up plans to cut the rate of relief for higher earners from 40 per cent to 20 per cent in a move that would raise £10 billion a year. They are also expected to discuss plans to loosen the government’s fiscal rules to enable more public spending. Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, warned that targeting pensions tax relief would be a “tax on aspiration”.” – The Times

  • Millions set to lose up to £2,500 a year if Treasury goes ahead – Daily Telegraph
  • Budget will happen on March 11 – The Sun

>Today: Ryan Bourne’s column: The real Budget question on borrowing is not “could we?” but “should we?”

…as Sunak grapples with the Government’s manifesto pledges

“Rishi Sunak, the new chancellor, has confirmed that the Budget will go ahead as planned on March 11, shutting down speculation that it would be delayed. The question now is whether Mr Sunak will diverge from his predecessor Sajid Javid’s strict fiscal rules in order to meet Number 10’s demands to open the spending taps. Economists warn that Mr Sunak will find it difficult to rewrite the rules in a way that allows for any significant increase in spending – unless he also ditches the government’s manifesto pledges. Under Mr Javid’s rules, the government has ample room to spend more on infrastructure without hitting a cap on investment of 3 per cent of gross domestic product. But unless the chancellor raises taxes or makes cuts elsewhere, he has virtually no room to raise day-to-day spending without breaking a pledge to balance the current budget by 2023.” – FT

  • Chancellor urged to legislate to protect cash – FT
  • ‘Johnson bounce’ as employment hits record high – The Sun


  • Don’t let lazy assumptions about the ‘Red Wall’ lead the Government astray – Madeline Grant, Daily Telegraph
  • We should cherish DfID, not scrap it – Andrew Mitchell MP, Daily Telegraph


  • Sunak should resist the temptation to launch a fresh raid on pensions – The Times

Resignation of No 10 adviser ‘puts focus on Johnson’s governance’

““Thank God” was how one senior British government official described the news that Andrew Sabisky, the self-proclaimed “superforecaster” with a history of deeply controversial views, had opted to leave Downing Street. Mr Sabisky had signalled his apparent support of eugenics, questioned whether black people had lower IQs and suggested that “universal contraception” might be a way to prevent the existence of a “permanent underclass”. In a resignation tweet, he said the “media hysteria” about his “old stuff online” had become a distraction for the government. His abrupt exit, after just a few days in Number 10, has raised questions about Boris Johnson’s approach to governing — particularly the influence of Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s most important adviser who has vowed to shake up the centre of power by hiring “weirdos and misfits”.” – FT

  • Eugenics row adviser Sabisky ‘was not vetted’ – The Times

>Today: Nadhim Zahawi in Comment: In defence of Cummings. He’s focused on delivering for those we serve. Isn’t that for the best?

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Beware the Eye of Johnson

Heappey urges military to think outside the box

“The military should come up with quirky ideas such as “plankton-powered rubber duck bombs” to develop the next generation of defence technology, the armed forces minister has said. James Heappey told senior personnel yesterday that they should not be afraid to “think the ridiculous”. Speaking in London at the inaugural conference of the cross-service strategic command, Mr Heappey suggested that the forces needed to move away from being like the Blockbuster video chain, focusing on physical platforms such as ships and jets, and be more like Netflix to concentrate on cybercapabilities. Special forces would move away from “crawling through the ditch with their dagger in their teeth ready to plunge it into the heart of the enemy commander” and instead “plant malware in the heart of enemy servers”, he said.” – The Times

  • First woman ever passes ‘brutal’ Paratrooper training – Daily Mail
  • UK to invest in making time ‘hack-proof’ – The Times


  • US delegation to urge Downing Street to change course on Huawei – Daily Telegraph
  • Trump chief of staff to meet Cummings – The Guardian

Murray quits as adviser to Corbyn

“One of Jeremy Corbyn’s most influential advisers has resigned in a sign of the internal changes facing the Labour party ahead of the conclusion of its leadership contest in April. Andrew Murray, who has advised the Labour leader on a part-time basis since February 2018, stepped down on Tuesday. Alongside his role with the party, he is also chief of staff at the Unite trade union. He will return full-time to that role. As one of the “four Ms” advising the leader – along with union leader Len McCluskey, communications director Seumas Milne and chief of staff Karie Murphy – Mr Murray has exerted significant influence over the party. He was praised by one colleague as “an experienced leader who brought skills to an often inexperienced team”.” – FT

  • Setback for Long-Bailey as Labour members appear to be abandoning the hard left – Daily Express

Khan urges EU to offer Britons ‘associate citizenship’

“The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has implored EU negotiators during a visit to Brussels to offer free movement for Britons through “associate citizenship”, as the “next best thing” to membership. With the backing of the former prime minister of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt, Khan called for the idea to be at the “the heart” of the negotiations over the future relationship. Khan said that rejoining the EU was not foreseeable in the “short to medium term” but that associate citizenship of the bloc could be one way to “make the best of Brexit”. The idea had been first raised in late 2016 by Verhofstadt, who was then the European parliament’s Brexit coordinator. The offer would include continued freedom of movement and residence around the bloc for those who wished to retain such rights.” – The Guardian


Steel ‘could be expelled’ from the Liberal Democrats

“Lord Steel is set to be the first politician singled out for censure by the national child sex abuse inquiry and faces expulsion from the Liberal Democrats, The Telegraph can reveal. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is set to publish the conclusions of its investigation into allegations relating to Westminster next week, and the Telegraph has learned that it is set to castigate Lord Steel. Friends of the peer, one of the towering political figures of the 1970s and 1980s, fear he will be made a “scapegoat” over his admission that he failed to pass on his suspicions about Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith’s abuse of boys to the authorities.” – Daily Telegraph

Alan Rusbridger: Abolishing the licence fee will only make Britain more divided

“Within weeks of being told that the Johnson Government intends to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee – thereby (in the worst fears of BBC supporters) making it a voluntary payment – we were told that the licence fee itself would be abolished. ‘We will whack it,’ was the mob-style threat attributed to a senior Government source. I think we can all guess who. There was some rowing back on that incendiary revelation this week when it was suggested that Boris Johnson and his consigliere Dominic Cummings are at odds on the issue but, if such a bold step were to be taken, it would spell the end of the BBC as we know it.” – Daily Mail

  • No 10 is wrong to declare war on judges – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

>Yesterday: James Frayne’s column: The BBC’s growing problem isn’t public hostility. It’s apathy. Fewer people see the point of it.

News in Brief:

  • Why Johnson needs a plan to bring together the Tory clan – Henry Hill, CapX
  • The Labour Party has chosen to identify as unelectable – Debbie Hayton, UnHerd
  • Sabisky episode exposes tensions at heart of Downing Street – Jack Dickens, Reaction
  • The online harms bill is an attack on freedom of speech – Andy Mayer, 1828
  • My fight against the police over ‘transphobic’ tweets – Harry Miller, The Spectator