Security 1) China identified as the biggest threat

“Sensitive sites and technology will be made more secure to allow Britain to trade with an increasingly powerful China, a landmark defence, security and foreign policy review says today. China poses the “biggest state-based threat” to the UK’s economic security and presents a “systemic challenge” to British prosperity and values, according to a copy of the report that was leaked before publication to The Times. The 100-page document, Global Britain in a Competitive Age, will say that China’s military modernisation and growing international assertiveness in the Pacific region and beyond will pose an “increasing risk to UK interests”. It says that Britain will “not hesitate” to stand up for its values and will increase protection of critical infrastructure.” – The Times

  • Cap on Trident nuclear warhead stockpile to rise by more than 40 per cent – The Guardian
  • Troops will serve overseas “more often and for longer” – The Sun

Security 2) Government’s foreign policy focus to shift to Indo-Pacific

“The government is to set out its post-Brexit foreign policy, promising to reshape an “outdated international system” into one that better protects the UK’s interests and values. Its year-long review of foreign and defence policy marks a shift towards Indo-Pacific countries such as India, Japan and Australia. It will also pave the way for the UK to increase stocks of nuclear warheads. Labour says the strategy will leave the UK “woefully unprepared”. Later Boris Johnson will unveil the results of the Integrated Review of security, defence, development and foreign policy, which the government says will address “the challenges and opportunities the UK faces in a more competitive world”. – BBC

Security 3) PM’s pledge to use force to defend the Falklands

“Boris Johnson will pledge to defend the Falklands and Gibraltar with the military, leaked documents have revealed. As part of the Prime Minister’s landmark integrated review into defence and foreign policy, he has vowed to use the Armed Forces to protect the UK and its citizens, which includes its “responsibility to ensure the security of the 14 overseas territories”. In leaked papers seen by The Telegraph, the 100-page strategy, entitled “Global Britain in a Competitive Age”, sets out how it will protect overseas territories by “deterring and defending against state and non-state threats”. – Daily Telegraph

  • UK to expand nuclear stockpile in post-Brexit security review – Financial Times
  • Billions for defence plan may be lost to black hole – The Times

Security 4) Johnson: The world needs global Britain

“It is thanks to our history and geography that the UK is already in many ways more global than our comparators. We have a vast diaspora of people, perhaps five or six million, living abroad, far more as a proportion than most others in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. We may have only 1 per cent of the world’s population, but we are the fifth biggest exporter of goods and services. And we have a third invisible diaspora, far more important and more fruitful even than people or goods, and that is the vast dispersal of British ideas, and British values, puffed around the world like the seeds of some giant pollinating tree…These values are not uncontested. They are far from universal. That is why the world needs Global Britain more than ever and, to be truly prosperous and successful, Britain needs to be global.” – Boris Johnson, The Times

Security 5) Hague: How to cope with the rise of China

“We should not be a Hawk or a Dove on China, but we should be China Realists. The Realist says that, like it or not, China is now a powerful strategic adversary of the West. It is not setting out to conquer or invade us, but its vision of its own prosperity and security is a clear threat to our own vision of free, open, diverse societies, developing many exciting new technologies in ways that expand human freedom. China’s stated goal of being independent of us, and ahead of us, in everything from quantum computing to artificial intelligence, aerospace, medical devices and power equipment threatens us with being helplessly dependent on a single foreign power. We can’t allow that, still less for it to continue to be achieved on the back of the massive theft of our intellectual property.” – William Hague, Daily Telegraph

Security 6) Tougher sanctions regime promised

“The integrated review, a landmark post-Brexit review of defence and foreign policy, includes a commitment to launch an additional sanctions regime giving the UK “powers to prevent those involved in corruption from freely entering the UK or channelling money through our financial system” for the first time.” – The Guardian

Coronavirus 1) EU member states suspend use of the AstraZeneca vaccine

“The EU’s coronavirus vaccination drive was thrown into fresh chaos on Monday after major European nations suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine over blood clot fears. The move, described as “baffling” by British scientists, went against the advice of the EU’s medicines regulator and the World Health Organisation, who have said the jab is safe. Germany, France, Italy and Spain announced that they would temporarily stop administering the AstraZeneca vaccine until an investigation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – which will hold a preliminary meeting on Tuesday – was concluded. Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland and Bulgaria had already suspended use of the jab after reports of blood clot deaths.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Experts assess blood clot reports – BBC
  • PM declares jab is safe – The Sun
  • European Council President Charles Michel attacked for “misinformation” – Daily Express
  • NHS coronavirus vaccination programme goes into overdrive – The Times
  • In Israel we can taste post-Covid freedom – Melanie Phillips, The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Old Woman Europe


Coronavirus 2) Sturgeon to set out dates to ease lockdown

“Nicola Sturgeon is to set out dates for the end of the “stay at home” rule and the reopening of shops and hospitality in Scotland, in a speech at Holyrood. Some measures could be phased in from 5 April, with further changes later in the month and more to follow in May. The first minister said things were set to “get a fair bit better in the weeks and months ahead” as restrictions ease. However, she warned that she would not “throw caution to the wind” and risk Covid-19 cases running out of control. Ms Sturgeon will address MSPs on Tuesday afternoon after discussing the latest scientific evidence and advice with her cabinet in the morning.” – BBC

Coronavirus 3) Kuenssberg: The inside story of the government’s battle against the virus

“There was intense secrecy, throughout, with the various vaccines given secret code names to ensure commercial confidentiality. All were named after submarines – the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine “Ambush”, I can now reveal, and the Oxford-AstraZeneca “Triumph”. After 12 months of grappling with endless calculations about balancing risks to life, wider health and how the country makes a living, decision-makers are exhausted. They have to accept it is perfectly possible to be wrong, one senior minister tells me. And those who made the decisions are all too aware mistakes they made in these past 12 months may have had such a terrible cost.” – Laura Kuenssberg, BBC

Undercover police to be stationed around bars to protect women…

“Police officers in plain clothes will be stationed undercover outside bars and clubs across the country in the coming months in a new scheme to keep women safe on the streets. New government funding amounting to £25 million has also been announced to improve lighting and put up CCTV cameras in neighbourhoods that could see women at risk of attack. The measures were announced by Boris Johnson on Monday as he said it was time to “drive out violence against women and girls” after the killing of Sarah Everard. On Monday, Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, had called on people to not attend protests amid a fierce backlash about how police handled a vigil for Miss Everard on Saturday night.” – Daily Telegraph

  • New street lights will be installed – The Sun
  • Everard case has catalysed emotions and calls for change – Leader, Financial Times
  • Women need tougher laws to make them safe – Rachel Sylvester, The Times
  • Met Police must examine its recruitment process which hires such creeps – Leader, The Sun

…while Labour is accused of “cynicism” for opposing greater police powers to control protests

“Labour has been accused of “cynically exploiting” widespread anger over the policing of the Sarah Everard vigil to vote against giving police new powers to control protests. A row erupted on Sunday over the decision by Sir Keir Starmer’s party to oppose the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which has come before the Commons this week. A vote is due to take place on Tuesday. The legislation introduces tougher sentences for child murderers and sex offenders, while also handing police stronger powers to deal with protesters, including stricter controls on when gatherings can take place and noise limits on demonstrations. Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, told MPs on Monday that putting restrictions on the right to protest would “do great damage to our democracy”. – Daily Telegraph

  • It is time to let the emergency virus powers lapse – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Theresa May raises concerns – Daily Mail
  • Arrests made at London protest over policing powers and vigil – The Guardian
  • Met police officer guarding Sarah Everard murder scene ‘sent inappropriate WhatsApp messages to colleagues about her killing’ – Daily Mail

>Today: Steve Baker and Dominic Grieve on Comment: Saturday’s vigil, its mishandling – and why we should be wary of this plan for more police powers

Daily Express follows up on Goodman’s prediction that Biden could help resolve Northern Ireland’s trade dispute with the EU

“Joe Biden’s commitment to ensuring peace means he is likely to adopt a pragmatic approach to the thorny problem of the Northern Ireland protocol which will benefit Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a political analyst has predicted. Paul Goodman, the editor of the Conservative Home website, was speaking at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and London over the Protocol, the agreement struck between the UK and EU with the intention of preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland. ..Mr Goodman believes ultimately realpolitik will prevent the collapse of both the GFA and the NI Protocol. Writing in the Times, he explained: “A hard border in the Irish Sea looks increasingly unacceptable to unionists. “And, as recent history shows, a harder one in the island of Ireland is unacceptable to nationalists.” – Daily Express

Ross accuses SNP of abuses of power

“Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross on Monday accused the governing Scottish National party of abuses of power while setting out a policy stall for crucial elections in May that includes a universal £500-a-year retraining grant for workers. In a speech to the Scottish Conservatives’ online spring conference, Ross made clear he hoped a bitter rift between SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and her predecessor Alex Salmond would blunt support for the Nationalists in elections for the parliament in Edinburgh on May 6. Salmond has told a parliamentary inquiry into the Scottish government’s handling of sexual harassment complaints against him that Sturgeon’s closest associates plotted to drive him from public life.” – Financial Times

North Korean defector is standing as a Conservative council candidate

“A North Korean mum is making history by standing for election as a Tory councillor. Jihyun Park, 52, is the first defector to seek political office outside the Korean peninsula. The mum of three first fled the murderous regime — now headed by Kim Jong-un — after seeing loved ones starve to death. But Mrs Park was sold into slavery in China before being sent back in 1998, thrown into a notorious prison and tortured. When she suffered a horrific leg injury, she was booted out to die outside. Incredibly, Mrs Park escaped again through the mountains and desert in 2004 before the UN rescued her. Now, after settling in Prestwich, Greater Manchester, she hopes to represent Bury council.” – The Sun

  • Johnson’s vaccine bounce could hand him victory in May – Chris Hopkins, The Times

Merkel’s CDU party fears power is slipping away

“Angela Merkel’s party may be ousted from government for the first time in 16 years this autumn as opponents seek to capitalise on an electoral breakthrough and construct a rival coalition. Senior figures on the centre right said the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was in danger of losing power after a drubbing in two states where it was once a dominant force. Merkel, 66, has governed Germany for 11 of the past 15 years in a loveless but generally stable “grand coalition” with the SPD. In the autumn, however, the chancellor will stand down and politicians on both sides of her coalition have ruled out its return, opening an unpredictable box of options for the next government.” – The Times

  • Eco-warriors move closer to power – Leader, The Times

£2.6 million Downing Street media briefing room ready…

“After £2.6m and a seven-month wait, the curtains have finally opened on a studio based inside Downing Street where the prime minister’s press secretary will address the nation in new White House-style TV briefings. The first glimpses of the room revealed by ITV showed the podium that Allegra Stratton, a former BBC and Guardian journalist who also worked as communications director for the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, will stand behind as she fields questions from journalists.” – The Guardian

…as Conservative Board meeting “called off” after criticism over funds being spent on Downing Street flat

“A meeting of the Tory party’s ruling body was called off yesterday amid a grassroots backlash over the use of £60,000 of Conservative funds to pay for a makeover of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat. Conservative Party co-chairman Ben Elliot was expected to be challenged over the controversy at a long-planned meeting of the party’s board. But it was called off after party chiefs said there was ‘not enough business to discuss’. It comes amid mounting Tory protests at the way an estimated £60,000 of party funds was secretly used to help the Prime Minister and fiancee Carrie Symonds pay to refurbish their 11 Downing Street apartment.” – Daily Mail

News in brief

  • A profile of John Bew. The man who knows what ‘Global Britain’ means – Charlie Cooper, Politico
  • The twisted logic of Shamima Begum’s defenders – Brendan O’Neill, The Spectator
  • Stop exploiting the debate on women’s rights – Emma Webb, The Critic
  • After the pandemic, Britain needs its own Iwakura Mission – Tom Bailey, CapX
  • Madness of Green peer’s male-free streets – Kate Dunlop, Conservative Woman