Monarchy 1) A majority want the Sussexes stripped of their titles

“Most Britons think the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were wrong to have given their explosive interview, a poll reveals today. A majority of the public believes they have let down the Queen – and should be stripped of their royal titles. The survey was conducted after millions watched the bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview on ITV on Monday. It reveals the monarchy has been damaged, with even the Queen’s personal popularity taking a hit – though not as much as that of Harry and Prince Charles.” – Daily Mail

  • Why Piers Morgan left Good Morning Britain – BBC
  • Generations split on who to believe – The Times
  • Fox News presenter tweets that duke and duchess are “wallowing in their own (perceived) victimhood” – The Times
  • Journalists hit back at editors denial of racism – The Guardian
  • Never mind the Press… the Sussexes have sensationalised their story to a truly breathtaking degree – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

Monarchy 2) Palace statement says allegations to be “taken very seriously”, but that “recollections may vary”

“The Queen has reacted to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s claims about racism in the Royal family, saying their allegations would be “taken very seriously”, but that “recollections may vary”. In what is expected to be Her Majesty’s final word on the matter, she said the family was “saddened” to hear of the extent of the couple’s difficulties but that they would deal with it privately. In the most damaging claim in her interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan, 39, alleged that when she was pregnant with her son, Archie, “concerns” had been raised with the Duke of Sussex by a member of the family about how dark his skin might be.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Where Buckingham Palace disagrees with the duke and duchess – The Times
  • The Queen’s statement was a telling contrast to Harry and Meghan’s vicious interview – Leader, The Sun
  • A dignified response – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Thomas Markle defends the Royal Family – The Times
  • Royal Family will adapt and survive to deal with crisis – Mark Barkowski, Daily Express
  • Charles’s challenge is to repair royal family – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

Monarchy 3) The Times and Daily Telegraph follow up on Conservative Home’s interview with Rees-Mogg

“Jacob Rees-Mogg has defended the institution of the monarchy, saying that “interviews with chat show hosts in the United States” will not affect the Queen’s popularity…“Her Majesty is held in enormous affection,” he told Conservative Home’s Moggcast. “She has been a model of duty since she made that statement in South Africa aged 21 about how her whole life, whether it be long or short, would be spent in the service of the whole imperial family. That is what she has done. She has done her duty. I think she is loved across her realms for that. And I don’t think interviews with chat show hosts in the United States makes a great deal of difference to that.” Speaking about royal titles, Rees-Mogg said the only great-grandchild of a sovereign who can be referred to as a royal highness (HRH) is the first great-grandchild directly in the line of succession, under rules set out under letters patent issued by King George V in 1917.” – The Times

>Yesterday: Audio: The Moggcast: The Leader of the House suggests that Britain has “a selfish interest in Northern Ireland”

Coronavirus 1) UK denies claims of a ban on vaccine exports

“A fresh row has broken out between the UK and the EU after the bloc’s most senior official suggested the UK had banned all Covid-19 vaccine exports. Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, wrongly claimed the UK had an “outright ban” on exports of vaccines produced on its soil. The BBC understands Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has written to him to say the claims are “completely false”. And that an EU representative has been summoned for “further discussions”. It is the second time since the start of the year that the UK and EU have been at loggerheads over the issue of the production and distribution of coronavirus vaccines.” – BBC

  • Teaching union boss withdraws opposition to testing – The Sun

Coronavirus 2) OECD forecast that Biden stimulus will boost global recovery

“Joe Biden’s $1.9tn US stimulus programme will boost the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic around the world, the OECD said on Tuesday, as it upgraded its outlook for global growth. The Paris-based international organisation said it expected a stronger rebound from last year’s historic recession than it forecast in December, mainly because of the rapid rollout of Covid-19 vaccination programmes in many countries and the increase in US stimulus spending. The scale of the Biden plan will add about 1 percentage point to global economic growth in 2021, Laurence Boone, the OECD’s chief economist, told the Financial Times.” – Financial Times

>Yesterday: Jonathan Werren on Comment: The power of pubs to support communities and drive the recovery

Coronavirus 3) Early end to lockdown “very unlikely” says Whitty

“Lockdown easing is “very unlikely” to be brought forward even if the deaths and cases data continues to improve, according to England’s chief medical officer. Professor Chris Whitty said the UK will face an inevitable surge in Covid cases as measures start being lifted and that many restrictions must stay in place at least until June — warning: “If you open up too fast, a lot more people die.” And he said the spike in infections would be much lower if lockdown ended later in the year when most of the country has been jabbed. Although the jabs rollout will help to limit the number of deaths during the expected new surge, fatalities will still occur in unvaccinated Brits and in those for whom the shot has not worked, he added.” – The Sun

  • Councils “at risk of financial failure” – The Times

Coronavirus 4) MPs find that £23 billion spent on test and trace “made no difference”

“England’s test and trace programme failed to make a “measurable difference” to the spread of the pandemic despite an outlay of £23bn, an “unimaginable” level of expenditure, a parliamentary spending watchdog has claimed. Meg Hillier, chairman of the House of Commons public accounts committee, said the test and trace programme had cost the equivalent to the annual budget of the Department for Transport. British taxpayers “cannot be treated by government like an ATM machine”, she said. “We need to see a clear plan and costs better controlled.” In May last year, Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, told MPs that a “world-beating” test and trace scheme would be in place by June 1 2020..” – Financial Times

Osborne warns Corporation Tax rise will deter investment

“George Osborne has warned that Rishi Sunak’s plans to increase corporation tax will deter international investment in Britain but may never even happen….Osborne, a former chancellor, told an event organised by the Institute for Government: “I don’t want to criticise Rishi, but the idea that you can raise it to 25 per cent without consequences is not true. We wait to see, if this tax rise does go ahead, what effect it has. When I was trying to raise money, I preferred the VAT lever, not corporation tax. If you raise taxes on business, you’re just sending a message around the world that Britain isn’t a very enterprising place, just when you’re trying to encourage that in a recovery.” – The Times

>Today: Columnist Robert Halfon: Conservatives must never be complacent about Starmer. The public mood can change quickly.

Philp doubts if longer sentences deter crime

“A justice minister has admitted there is little evidence that longer sentences help to cut crime, despite his own department introducing laws yesterday to increase jail terms. Chris Philp, the minister responsible for sentencing, said that detailed research had found that the likelihood of being caught and punished was much more important in discouraging people from committing crime than the length of jail sentences. Answering a parliamentary question about the deterrent effect of longer sentences, he said: “The evidence is mixed, although harsher sentencing tends to be associated with limited or no general deterrent effect. Increases in the certainty of apprehension and punishment have consistently been found to have a deterrent effect.” – The Times

Transport 1) PM “backs cut in air passenger duty” to aid UK domestic flights…

“Boris Johnson is set to authorise a cut in the levy paid by airlines for domestic flights to help revive the beleaguered industry in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The prime minister will announce a review of air passenger duty with a view to halving the current level, according to senior Whitehall figures. The recommendation will form part of a wider Union Connectivity Review by Sir Peter Hendy, the chairman of Network Rail, to be published on Wednesday, proposing a new “UK Strategic Transport Network” to oversee British transport priorities.” – Financial Times

  • Flight duty may be cut to ‘level up’ the regions – The Times

Transport 2) Upgrades for rail and road links to Scotland also promised

“The Prime Minister will today commit £20 million to develop plans for upgraded rail, road, sea and air links following the interim report of Sir Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review being published. Key projects include upgrading the A75 between Gretna, Dumfries and Stranraer – a key route for south-west Scotland and Northern Ireland. The A75 is the Scottish road that goes from Gretna Green, along the border with England then up to Stranraer. Rail industry leaders have previously proposed building a tunnel from Stranraer to Larne in Northern Ireland to improve connectivity.” – The Scotsman

Transport 3) Dream of a tunnel to Northern Ireland moves a step closer

“A tunnel between the United Kingdom mainland and Northern Ireland championed by Boris Johnson moves a step closer today as a study into its feasibility is commissioned. Sir Peter Hendy, the Network Rail chairman who is advising the Government on improving UK transport links, has asked two leading construction figures to look into the idea…The Prime Minister is putting renewed focus on keeping the Union together amid sizable support for Scottish independence and heightened border tensions in Northern Ireland.” – Daily Telegraph

Transport 4) Johnson: A new strategy to get us back up to speed

“As we look at the transport network, there is a particular weakness that has become steadily more obvious in the last 20 years. We have become far too segmented in our thinking. For far too long, we have tended to carve up the country through a devolve and forget approach. We have devised transport strategies for Scotland, for Wales, for Northern Ireland and Northern England – and yet, incredible as it may seem, we have failed to produce a UK-wide transport strategy. We left it, bizarrely, to the EU, which had a concept called the “Trans-European Transport Network”. The UK paid handsomely for our friends to draw these lines on the map, about 420 million euros per year. We only got about ten per cent back. The result is that the sinews of pan-UK transport have atrophied, with inadequate connections, needless bottlenecks and endless delays on the vital links between one part of the UK and another.” – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Columnist Andy Street: Here in the West Midlands, we have been levelling up for four years

Feminists force change to guidance on census sex question

“The Office of National Statistics has been forced to rewrite its guidance to the census question asking a person’s sex following a victory for feminist campaigners at the High Court. There are less than two weeks to go before the census, which is due to take place on March 21. The ONS confirmed that the wording of its guidance was being changed last night and would be “visible imminently” after the successful challenge by the group Fair Play for Women.” – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Johnson believes in gender equality (but is putting more men than women in the House of Lords)

Board of Trade urges Truss to cut tariffs – following the example of Singapore

“The UK should consider slashing trade tariffs like Singapore to spur economic growth, the Board of Trade has suggested, as it called for exports to be placed at the heart of the recovery from covid-19. Calling for the Government to pursue trade deals with high-growth economies outside of the EU, Boris Johnson’s new group of trade advisers has recommended the UK follows the example of the Asian financial hub through the widespread removal of barriers to free trade..With Mr Johnson and International Trade Secretary Liz Truss leading calls internationally to lower trade barriers, the Board points to the “liberalising approach” of Singapore, Australia and New Zealand as a blueprint for post-Brexit Britain.” – Daily Telegraph

SNP Chief Whip steps down after complaint

“The SNP’s chief whip in the House of Commons has stepped aside until an investigation into his conduct is completed. The party said it had received a “formal complaint” involving Patrick Grady and that “due process” would now take place. Mr Grady, the MP for Glasgow North since 2015, became his party’s chief whip in June 2017.” – BBC

News in brief

  • Why Are American Conservatives Siding With the Royal Family? – Joanna Weiss, Politico
  • Jenny Harries has got Covid consistently wrong – she should not be rewarded – Matthew Lesh, CapX
  • The Royal response to Harry and Meghan is too little, too late – Peter Hunt, Spectator
  • Thailand’s monarchy in crisis – James Snell, The Critic
  • The Miller case exposes the tyranny of trans activism – Julie Bindel, Unherd