Kremlin ‘tried to meddle in Scottish independence vote’

“Russia tried to “influence” the result of the Scottish Independence Referendum but not the Brexit vote, a long-awaited report into Moscow’s alleged meddling in British politics will reveal on Tuesday. Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee will describe the Kremlin’s attempt to divide the United Kingdom in 2014 as “the first post-Soviet interference in a Western democratic election”, The Telegraph has learnt. However, the report concludes that there is no direct evidence of Russian influence in the 2016 Brexit referendum. The findings of the 50-page report, which followed an 18-month parliamentary inquiry, will pile pressure on Boris Johnson to take a tougher line with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.” – Daily Telegraph


Tory hawks press button on nuclear power battle with China, as Pompeo visits

“After securing a de facto ban on Huawei from winning future business in the UK, hawkish Conservative MPs have turned their sights on other Chinese investments — with the nuclear industry set to become the next flashpoint. Over the past decade of a so-called “golden era” of Sino-British relations, initiated by former Tory chancellor George Osborne, Chinese companies snapped up an estimated $80bn of UK assets. They range from the manufacturer of the famous London black cabs to a wind farm in Norfolk, various property deals and stakes in various football clubs, including Southampton.” – FT

  • UK suspends China treaty ‘indefinitely’ – FT
  • China warns UK about ‘going down wrong path’ – Daily Mail

ToryDiary: Tory MPs, Downing Street and the Treasury are ready to clash over plans to cut the army to 60,000. Who will win out?

Virus response 1) Vaccine ‘could be ready by Christmas’

“A coronavirus vaccine could be available this year, Oxford University researchers said yesterday after a “milestone” clinical trial produced encouraging results. The vaccine stimulated “robust immune responses” and there were no serious side-effects in a phase-one trial involving about 1,100 healthy volunteers. The subjects displayed sufficient levels of neutralising antibodies, thought to be critical in protecting against viral infection, to give researchers grounds for optimism. A second important aspect of the immune system, T-cells, were also mobilised, according to a study in The Lancet. The researchers emphasised that it was not known whether these responses were sufficient to protect against Covid-19, but they said that the results were promising.” – The Times

  • Blackburn overtakes Leicester as virus hotspot – The Times
  • Contact tracers told to make even fewer calls – The Times
  • Chief nurse says she was dropped from No10 briefings – Daily Telegraph
  • Cabinet to meet without face masks – Daily Telegraph
  • EU finally agrees Covid bailout – Daily Telegraph
  • RBS tells staff to work from home til 2021 – FT

Virus response 2) Pay rises to reward public sector workers for virus efforts

“Doctors, teachers and police are among 900,000 public sector workers who will get above-inflation pay rises this year. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, said the increases were recognition for the “vital contribution” they had made during the coronavirus crisis. Economists said that the rise was likely to make the public sector more attractive to private sector workers, who are expected to be hit hardest as the economy recovers. Teachers will be given a 3.1 per cent rise; doctors and dentists 2.8 per cent; and police 2.5 per cent. Pay for the armed forces, the judiciary and senior civil servants will rise by 2 per cent; prison officers will receive 2.5 per cent.” – The Times

  • Almost 900,000 workers to get pay rise – The Guardian
  • PM hands pay rises to frontline workers –The Sun

Ministers ‘lavished millions on towns in marginal Tory seats’

“Today a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) reveals the process by which ministers selected 101 towns in England to each benefit from a £25 million boost to their economies last September. It shows 61 of the towns were chosen at the discretion of ministers led by Robert Jenrick, the housing and communities secretary. An analysis shows that all but one of them were either Conservative-held seats or Tory targets before the election. Of those held by Conservative MPs, 80 per cent had majorities of less than 5,000. Every single Labour seat targeted for funding fell to the Conservatives. Only two towns chosen had Tory majorities of more than 10,000 before the election, one of which was Mr Jenrick’s seat, Newark.” – The Times

  • Brexit trade agreement in the balance – The Times

Other news:

  • Tears as Elphicke on trial over sexual assault, admits to affair – The Times
  • Roberts faces allegations of inappropriare behaviour – BBC News

Moore: The word Islamist has a meaning. Leave it be

“The term allegedly perpetuates negative perceptions of Muslims. Instead, “faith-based terrorism” is proposed. The word “irhabi” is also touted. Obscure to a Western audience, it is said to mean “terrorist” in Arabic, though it derives from a word meaning “reverent fear”, which sounds like something believers in most religions ought to feel towards their faith.” – Daily Telegraph

And finally, theatre-goers ‘could be sprayed with disinfectant’

“The Government has given the go-ahead for trials of the anti-bacterial spray among a raft of measures being considered for bringing back performances in a Covid-secure way. Theatre-goers would be asked to walk under large metal detector-style arches which would spray a light mist of disinfectant as they walk underneath. It would be used alongside other measures such as temperature checks. Plans for disinfectant spray have been pioneered by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who showed the disinfectant arches to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden earlier this month.” – The Sun

News in Brief