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Government faces a ‘new Tory rebellion threat’ over pre-Easter vote to extend lockdown laws

“Boris Johnson is facing yet another Tory rebellion over lockdown rules today with backbenchers planning to vote against extending the laws for a further six months. The legislation governing the current shutdown has to be approved again by MPs on or before March 25. But it can only be extended for six months at a time, meaning a pre-Easter vote would extend the law until September, despite plans to come out of most lockdown rules by late June. ‘Dozens’ of senior lockdownsceptic MPs are expected to vote against renewing the legislation, according to the Telegraph. They want the lockdown to be ended far sooner than the proposed June 21 end-date, arguing the success of the vaccination programme allows it to be significantly sped up.” – Mail on Sunday

Conservative MPs demand return of full Commons sittings

“Tory MPs are demanding a return of full Commons sittings and have accused some colleagues of “swinging the lead”. Many have joined debates via video call from home after social distancing measures cut seating in the chamber from 400 to 50. But with most MPs now vaccinated, there is mounting pressure for the restrictions to end. Some Tories are threatening to vote against extending the “hybrid” Parliament at the end of the month. One senior MP said: “Too many of my colleagues are enjoying the long, paid break from the day-to-day grind of Westminster. I suspect that some of them are merely putting their feet up at home and leaving their parliamentary assistants to do all the hard graft. But this has been going on for 11 months now and enough is enough. I’m sorry to say that some of my colleagues are simply swinging the lead.”” – Sun on Sunday

Patel calls for ‘full report’ from Met Police after clash at vigil

“Priti Patel has called for a ‘full report’ from Metropolitan Police after officers manhandled screaming women amid extraordinary clashes at a vigil to mourn the death of Sarah Everard. Four arrests were made after hundreds of people defied lockdown to gather without social distancing, but scenes were peaceful until police moved to block the bandstand and shocking scenes of violence proceeded to break out in Clapham Common, south London. The Home Secretary revealed she has asked the force for a ‘full report’ following ‘upsetting’ footage widely circulated online after an estimated 1,500 people gathered for an unofficial vigil to mourn the death of the 33-year-old marketing executive.” – Mail on Sunday

Comment:

  • Our plan to better protect the victims of abuse – Robert Buckland MP, Sunday Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Davina McCall, groupthink and the Twitterfication of society

Lawyers ‘to be prevented from delaying deportations’

“Lawyers will be prevented from using judicial reviews for “hopeless” cases in order to frustrate attempts by the Home Office to deport immigrants, The Telegraph can disclose. A Government source said: “It will end the industrial use of Judicial Review to the High Court with hopeless claims that have already been adjudicated by tribunal judges which frustrate removals at the last minute. Robert Buckland will say on Thursday that the Government wants to stop the automatic referral of judicial review cases to senior judges. The reform plans are expected to be the first salvo from the Government in a major crackdown on so-called “meritless” immigration and asylum claims expected in coming weeks.” – Sunday Telegraph

FA Cup final and World Snooker Championships will kickstart return of spectator sport, confirms Government

“The FA Cup final will be played in front of 20,000 fans and the World Snooker Championships will kickstart the return of spectator sport, the Government has confirmed. The spectacles are the highlights of a dozen pilot events starting next month, which could pave the way to a return to big crowds this summer. Ministers are trialling a number of events around the country with differently sized audiences to ensure that events can reopen again safely. Crowds will be invited to the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible theatre, which starts on April 17, while club nights, comedy events and business conferences will be run in Liverpool. The FA Cup final on May 15 will be the biggest event with crowds to date in the UK since the pandemic began, and will be held two days before pubs can reopen indoors.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Dowden: This summer it’s bums on seats or bust – Sunday Times

Johnson vows to make Britain a cyber superpower to tackle threat of digital warfare

“Boris  Johnson aims to make Britain a cyber superpower with a new force to tackle the threat of digital warfare. Thousands will be signed up to defend the nation. The PM is to set up a “cyber corridor” across the North of England to develop high-tech systems to keep the UK safe. A far-reaching review will be part of the biggest overhaul of national security in decades. Experts believe hacking and computer virus attacks have replaced bombs, missiles and poison as the most likely threats to our national security. They warn Britain risks losing future battles to tech-savvy China and Russia without a shot being fired unless it adapts.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Government to ‘level up’ rural bus services with £2.5 billion National Bus Strategy – Sunday Telegraph
  • >Today: ToryDiary: Johnson – “Our new, full-spectrum approach to cyber will transform our ability to protect our people”

    Sunak may offer health workers a one-off bonus to defuse the row over NHS pay

    “Chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering defusing the row over NHS pay by offering a one-off bonus for health workers. Unions were angered by a proposed one per cent rise, threatening strikes and demanding 12 per cent instead. They said it was a ‘slap in the face’ for nurses. In response, Ministers said the rest of the public sector was having to accept a pay freeze. Sources claim a bonus could avoid a U-turn. One said: ‘It is an idea being discussed on the margins. But the fear is that if it is like the £500 dished out in Scotland, they will just bank it and repeat demands for a rise. The likelihood is that negotiations end up in the 2-3 per cent zone.’” – Mail on Sunday

    • The vaccine programme has one key thing Test and Trace doesn’t, and it’s not money – Oliver Colvile, Sunday Times

    Jake Berry: The Government’s u-turn over a new coal mine may delight Extinction Rebellion but threatens thousands of jobs

    “At the last election it was “Workington Man” not “Wokeington Man” nor Extinction Rebellion who gave Boris Johnson the largest Conservative majority for a generation. This very same voter is now faced with the loss of 2,500 new jobs, as well as the estimated £100 million a year that would have been delivered by the mine to the local economy. These stark financial facts are part of the reason that the mine was approved on three separate occasions by the local council. The Government has decided to intervene and call for a public inquiry, despite having ruled it out twice in January. This further delay, coming on top of a five-year planning process, will probably prevent the development proceeding as West Cumbria Mining may finally run out of patience.” – Sunday Telegraph

    >Yesterday: David Gauke’s column: Is Britain really set to become a low tax, less regulated, free trading, buccaneering country?

    Westminster has ‘duty of care’ for civil servants in Scotland, says Fox

    “Westminster has a “very clear duty of care” to protect Scottish civil servants involved in the Salmond row and MPs must ensure Scottish Government officials operate in an impartial and appropriate way, Liam Fox, the former UK Cabinet minister, has insisted. In an exclusive interview with The Herald, the Scot who served in the Major, Cameron and May Governments, makes a dramatic intervention into the controversy that has engulfed Nicola Sturgeon, her predecessor, the Scottish Government and Parliament, insisting that Westminster has a direct input into how Edinburgh is run at an official level.” – Herald on Sunday

    • Civil servants braced to take rap in MSPs’ hearing over Salmond inquiry – Sunday Times

    >Yesterday: ToryDiary: As the SNP stonewalls Holyrood, Parliament should help hold Scottish civil servants to account

    Davidson urges Scots to vote Tory to stop SNP majority

    “The Scottish Tories could deny the Scottish National party a majority at Holyrood, Ruth Davidson has insisted. Davidson said that the SNP winning an overall majority’s in May’s Scottish parliament election was no longer the “nailed-on near-certainty” that polls had once predicted. But to stop Sturgeon’s party winning that majority – and then using it to push for a second Scottish independence referendum – the Tory Holyrood leader urged all Scots opposed to breaking up the UK to back her party in the regional section of the vote, even if they had never voted Conservative before. Speaking as she addressed the party’s Scottish spring conference, Davidson insisted it was only the Tories who could stop the SNP from winning more than half the seats in the Scottish parliament.” – The Observer

    • Jack says the Nationalists are telling “fairy stories” about the Union – Sunday Express

    Comment:

    • Ministers should act now to save the British Transport Police from the SNP – Henry Hill, The Spectator

    UK accuses China of breaching Hong Kong joint declaration

    “Dominic Raab has accused China of breaching the legal deal over the governance of Hong Kong, amid criticisms of Beijing’s attempts to tighten its control over the territory. In a major escalation of diplomatic tensions, the foreign secretary said the UK considered China to be in a “state of ongoing non-compliance” with the Sino-British joint declaration as he condemned Beijing’s decision to reduce the role of the public in picking Hong Kong’s leaders. China has instead handed power to a pro-Beijing committee, which will appoint more council members. Raab said the move was the third breach of the legally binding joint declaration in less than nine months and part of a “pattern designed to harass and stifle all voices critical of China’s policies”.” – The Observer

    Starmer faces backlash from Labour MPs for ‘misjudging’ the public’s mood over Royal racism claim

    “Sir Keir Starmer faces a bitter backlash from Labour MPs for ‘wobbling’ over Meghan’s racism claim about the Royal Family and for ‘bungling’ the party’s tax plans. They say their leader ‘misjudged’ the public mood by appearing too sympathetic to the Duchess of Sussex’s explosive claims in his first reaction. They claim that sent a ‘terrible message’ to patriotic voters in the so-called ‘Red Wall’ in the North and Midlands that Labour must win back from the Tories. But Labour MPs are also furious that they were initially told not to oppose Tory income tax hikes in the Budget only to be ordered last week to vote against them… Last night, even one member of Sir Keir’s frontbench team admitted that the leader’s operation had to improve dramatically.” – Mail on Sunday

    • Palace to bring in ‘independent investigators to launch Markle bullying probe’ – Sun on Sunday

    Comment:

    • Starmer hoped for his ‘People’s Princess’ moment, but missed – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday

    >Today: Dr Sarah Ingham in Comment: The Duchess, the Queen – and that Oprah interview. It’s time for Johnson to step in.

    Opposition suspends East Ham and West Ham constituency parties over fraud allegations

    “Two local Labour parties have been suspended after an allegation of electoral fraud was made to police. The East Ham and West Ham Labour branches based in Newham, east London, are now facing an investigation by the party. The Metropolitan police confirmed it made an assessment of a claim of “electoral malpractice” but decided officers did not need to take further action. The move by Labour means no party meetings or business can take place and, while the party refused to divulge the nature of the investigation, it is understood to be “serious”. In an internal email from London Labour officials to members, reported by LabourList, the allegations are said to be “wide-ranging and supported by a considerable amount of evidence”.” – The Observer