Gove stripped of Europe role as Brexit negotiator Frost joins cabinet

“Boris Johnson has stripped Michael Gove of his role overseeing Britain’s future relationship with Europe and replaced him with Lord Frost, who negotiated last year’s Brexit trade deal. In a move that opponents claimed amounted to a “sidelining” of Gove, Downing Street said that Frost would have a seat in cabinet and take responsibility for dealings with Brussels. He will take Gove’s job as UK chairman of the withdrawal agreement joint committee. Based in the Cabinet Office, Frost will be responsible for talks on easing trade restrictions between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Downing Street said that he would also be in charge of dealing with post-Brexit trade problems as well as overseeing domestic reform to “maximise” the opportunities of having left the EU.” – The Times

  • ‘Slash and burn’ of EU rules ruled out post-Brexit – FT
  • UK to scrap EU’s limit on state aid to help firms – The Times
  • Brexit forces Northern Ireland buyers to cancel orders for 100,000 trees – The Guardian


  •  UK and EU risk a state of ‘permanent alert’ – George Parker and Peter Foster, FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Frost’s appointment chills the temperature for the EU

Cummings ‘wanted to scrap the Sage committee’ after raging at leaks by pro-lockdown scientists

“Dominic Cummings urged Boris Johnson to scrap the Sage committee amid concerns about an alleged culture of lobbying and leaking by pro-lockdown advisers. The Prime Minister was encouraged to act against the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies over worries some of the experts were using their positions to push publicly for tougher restrictions. Some figures in Whitehall also believe members of the group have been responsible for leaking proposals to the media in order to pressure ministers to back stricter measures. A source told the Mail that matters came to a head last year when Mr Cummings suggested getting rid of the body altogether.” – Daily Mail

  • Thousands of university students want jobs in nursing – The Times
  • Taxpayers face huge bill for empty quarantine hotel rooms – Daily Telegraph
  • Vaccine passports might be needed for cinema and theatre – The Sun
  • Businesses prepare ‘no jab, no job’ contracts – Daily Mail


Johnson under pressure to relax social distancing in pubs

“Boris Johnson is under pressure from his own ministers to relax social distancing restrictions in pubs and shops as Covid vaccines are rolled out. Whitehall sources said a major study showing the impact of the vaccines on transmission, due next month, will be key to decisions about how far the hospitality industry can “get back to normal” as lockdown eases. On Wednesday, Mr Johnson confirmed that bars and restaurants are set to be “one of the last things” to reopen as the Government prepares to publish a roadmap out of lockdown. Ministers told The Telegraph that many pubs will struggle to survive unless blanket social distancing rules are eased.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Anti-lockdown Tories pile further pressure on the Prime Minister – Daily Mail
  • Covid infections dropping fast across England, study shows – FT
  • Scientists urge ministers to agree on an ‘acceptable’ number of Covid-19 infections – Daily Mail
  • Areas ‘could be plunged into postcode lockdowns’ – The Sun
  • Parents ‘to test children for Covid twice a week’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson set to focus on ‘data, not dates’ – The Sun

>Today: Garvan Walshe’s column: We can be sure that those who have been vaccinated won’t die of Covid. So the case for lockdowns is vanishing fast.

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Fifteen million people have been vaccinated against Covid on time. Here are thirty more fields in which Britain leads the world.

David Aaronovitch: The state won’t give up Covid powers easily

“The concern is that the measures we have taken to combat the virus are not seen as essentially wartime measures to be rescinded the moment the crisis is over. They have a strange in-between psychology to them. We passed the Coronavirus Act at the end of March last year, granting the government emergency and discretionary powers with minimum time for scrutiny and debate. Understandably so. By then the storm was upon us. Since then we have enacted a whole series of underdiscussed new measures that have conferred powers on the police, instructed citizens where they may and may not walk or spend the night, closed down businesses or allowed them to reopen at government discretion — the list is extraordinary. All of these measures must formally be reviewed and the main act ceases to operate next spring.” – The Times

  • Society will never ‘learn to live with Covid’ like flu – Sherelle Jacobs, Daily Telegraph
  • How the UK’s vaccine success can drive life after Brexit – Simon Kuper, FT
  • The quiet heroes of this pandemic put the self-pitying moaners to shame – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Johnson needs a clear route out of lockdown or he’ll risk a Tory rebellion – Katy Balls, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Sebastian Rees in Think Tanks: The NHS will need more private sector help to tackle its post-Covid backlog

Government should slash VAT on home insulation and give tax breaks to Brits who buy electric cars, MPs demand

“Boris Johnson should slash VAT on home insulation and give tax breaks to Brits who buy electric cars, MPs demand today. Ministers must incentivise cash-strapped Brits to build back greener after the Covid crisis, the Environmental Audit Committee said. In a string of recommendations, they called on the chancellor to use the upcoming Budget to slash VAT on products which make homes more energy efficient – like double glazing and home insulation. And MPs said “tax incentives” should be created to help Brits switch over to pricey electric cars and make them more affordable. The group also called on ministers to look at a carbon border tax – something the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng floated last week.” – The Sun

  • Sunak ‘will hobble Boris Johnson’s eco-drive if he axes £5,000 Green Homes Grant’ – The Sun


  • Chancellor urged to extend furlough scheme – Daily Telegraph
  • Sunak’s closest Treasury aides among most vocal critics of fuel duty hike – The Sun
  • Chancellor urged to use budget to tackle rent debt crisis – The Guardian


  • How the Chancellor can raise revenues without wrecking the Covid recovery – Douglas McWilliams, Daily Mail
  • The budget is a dangerous moment for an ambitious chancellor – Aditya Chakrabortty, The Guardian


  • Budget is a clarifying moment for UK Conservatives – FT

>Yesterday: Ben Everitt MP in Comment: The Chancellor must not let a cliff-edge ending ruin the good work of the Stamp Duty holiday

Davison calls for increased sentences for violent crime

“An MP whose dad was killed with a single punch has set up a parliamentary group to look at sentencing in such attacks. Tory Dehenna Davison was just 13 when Dominic was killed in a Sheffield pub aged 35. The punch caused an artery to burst and he died almost instantly. The Bishop Auckland MP recalled her family’s horror when his attacker was let out of jail after just 18 months… She has now set up the All Party Parliamentary Group for One-Punch Assaults, which will look at “fairer” sentencing. Its key role will be to make a formal inquiry into sentencing and to make a report with proposals to make sure the courts “provide a fairer sense of justice”.” – The Sun

Thousands in Hong Kong sign up to BNO visa scheme for UK citizenship

“Almost 5,000 Hongkongers have already applied for the UK’s visa route a fortnight after the scheme opened, The Times has learnt. The new immigration route for British National Overseas (BNO) citizens from Hong Kong opened for applications on January 31. It offers up to 5.4 million Hongkongers a five-year visa and a path to full British citizenship. The government has said it expects about 300,000 people to use the scheme in its first five years, adding a number the size of Coventry to the country’s population. Government sources said that about half of the 5,000 applications received were from Hongkongers who were already in Britain having been granted Leave Outside the Rules, which offered temporary settlement for those fleeing China’s security crackdown while waiting for the new visa route to open last month.” – The Times

  • TFL’s pension scheme invests millions in Chinese firms linked to genocide – The Sun


  • Mother fled prison, savagery and abuse in North Korea… to stand for election as a Tory councillor – Daily Mail
  • How EU migrant exodus is reshaping communities across the UK – FT

>Yesterday: Lord Hannan’s column: The China genocide amendment. Trade sanctions punish the innocent – and make fortunes for oppressive regimes

Voters set to have to take ID to polls for UK elections from 2023

“Voters are expected to have to show ID to vote by 2023 under a crackdown on voter fraud. Anyone without a form of photo ID such as a passport or driving license will have to contact their council before polling day to confirm their ID if they want to cast their ballot. At the moment people simply turn up, give their name and address and are allowed to vote. Meanwhile, Brits living abroad will see their right to vote in UK elections extended beyond the current 15 year cap – allowing them to take part in votes indefinitely. The new plans will come as part of the Electoral Integrity Bill, which will be introduced to MPs in the next few months.” – The Sun

Starmer issues ‘call to arms’ for biggest economic shakeup since Second World War

“Sir Keir Starmer will today issue a “call to arms” for the biggest national rebuild since the Second World War, in a major speech that comes after weeks of party sniping over his leadership. Calling for a rethink of the British economy akin to the 1942 Beveridge Report, which paved the way for the modern welfare state, the Labour leader will declare that voters are “looking for more from their Government” after the coronavirus pandemic. The speech will set out a long term vision for his party over the next decade and draw “economic and political dividing lines” between Labour and the Government. Sir Keir has faced criticism in recent weeks from party members who believe he has not done enough to oppose the Government and its response to Covid-19.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Labour will look after your money, Sir Keir pledges in bid to build trust – The Times
  • Starmer to call for new partnership with business – FT


  • Khan slammed for ‘kicking Londoners in shin’ with plans to increase Tube fare – Daily Express

Neil shames SNP as party blocks publication of Salmond claims against Sturgeon

“A battle between Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond is heating up after a Holyrood Committee investigating the Scottish government’s mishandling of harassment complaints against him voted not to publish a revised submission containing bombshell claims against the Scottish First Minister. A government committee investigating the botched handling of complaints against Alex Salmond have voted to not publish his submissions, despite a court ruling. The former Scottish First Minister made a submission on the Scottish Government ministerial code to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints, in which he claims Ms Sturgeon broke the code.” – Daily Express

  • Salmond invited again to give evidence to Holyrood committee – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Radical’s column: Cherry and the SNP. Gender ideology is being used as a proxy for control of the party.

News in Brief:

  • Three cheers for the dawn of pharmacological willpower – Henry Hill, CapX
  • When will Germany grow up? – Katja Hoyer, UnHerd
  • The rise of vaccine diplomacy – Cindy Yu, The Spectator
  • Could the courts force Sturgeon to publish OECD report into state of Scottish schooling? – Gerald Warner, Reaction
  • The NI WhatsApp war – David Scullion, The Critic