Queen’s Speech “will include new laws to counter hostile states”…

“Foreign spies operating in Britain face being prosecuted and deported under new laws to protect the nation from hostile states such as China and Russia. Boris Johnson will use the Queen’s Speech on May 11 to announce a bill to counter hostile states, including a requirement for all individuals working on behalf of foreign governments in Britain to register their presence. Failure to do so would be a criminal offence. The government will also update the “archaic” Official Secrets Act so it can be used against individuals who try to undermine Britain’s interests from abroad, including cyberhackers working on behalf of hostile states. Johnson is determined to press ahead with the measures amid mounting concern over the activities of Russia and China.” – The Times

  • Putin faces biggest protest as Navalny “clings to life” – The Times

…as Raab expresses “full support” for the Czech Republic

“The British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said the UK stood in “full support” of the Czech Republic after the country’s police announced they were hunting two Russians, suspected of carrying out the Salisbury poisonings, in relation to an explosion at an arms depot. The Czech authorities said on Saturday they were seeking Alexander Petrov, 41, and Ruslan Boshirov, 43, in connection with a previously unexplained 2014 explosion at a munitions dump in Vrbětice, which left two dead….Raab praised the Czechs, who had “exposed the lengths that the Russian intelligence services will go to in their attempts to conduct dangerous and malign operations in Europe” – and hinted that he believed the same GRU cell was behind both plots.” – The Guardian

  • Russia expels Czech diplomats over explosion row – BBC

Johnson and Dowden attack plans for breakaway league by “big six” football clubs

“Europe’s richest football clubs were on Sunday night threatened with expulsion from their domestic leagues and warned that their players would be barred from the World Cup after they unveiled plans for a new €10 billion breakaway Super League. The so-called ‘big six’ in England, comprising Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, formally confirmed that they have joined with six leading clubs in Spain and Italy over a new highly selective and largely closed tournament that would effectively replace the Champions League….The Prime Minister said that he supported football authorities in trying to block the plans. “They would strike at the heart of the domestic game, and will concern fans across the country,” said Johnson. Culture secretary Oliver Dowden stressed the financial link from the Premier League down to the grassroots game and warned of the dangers of a “closed shop” in European football.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Government must put fans first and change football for the better – Alsion McGovern, Shadow Sports Minister, The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: In their pocket?

Government guarantee for 95 per cent mortgages

“First-time buyers will be able to get on the property ladder with just a five per cent deposit under a government scheme launching today. High street banks including Lloyds, Santander and Barclays will start offering state-backed mortgages worth up to 95 per cent of the value of a home. Other lenders taking part are HSBC and NatWest. The scheme, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Budget, is designed to encourage banks to offer low-deposit mortgages by ensuring a government guarantee in case of losses. Both first-time buyers and current homeowners will be able to access the mortgages to buy houses worth up to £600,000.” – Daily Mail

  • Khan snaps at reporter over housing record – Daily Express
  • House prices up by £7,000 in a month – The Times

Patel accuses Facebook of “unacceptable” threat to children’s safety

“Priti Patel will on Monday accuse Facebook of putting profits before children’s safety, as she says tech giants have a “moral duty” to prevent abuse. The Home Secretary will take the unusual step of singling out Facebook for its “unacceptable” plans to encrypt all messages, which she says will hamper law enforcement agencies’ ability to prevent “abhorrent” online child abuse. She will tell a conference of industry and child protection experts that Facebook and other social media platforms need to start treating children’s online safety as seriously as they do selling advertising, phones and online games.” – Daily Telegraph

Lobbying 1) Lord Prior challenged over Greensill role

“The Conservative peer who chairs NHS England is facing demands to explain why he helped arrange for Greensill Capital to lobby senior health service bosses, with Labour describing his role as “shocking”. David Prior is facing questions over a meeting he organised between the now collapsed finance firm’s founder Lex Greensill and the overall boss of the NHS and its chief financial officer. Lord Prior – a former Tory MP, health minister and Tory party deputy chair – also helped to facilitate a meeting at which Lex Greensill was able to lobby Lady Harding, the Tory peer who chairs NHS Improvement, the health service’s financial regulator.” – The Guardian

Lobbying 2) Labour drawn into the row

“The Conservatives on Sunday night attempted to draw Labour into the lobbying row engulfing Westminster by claiming an senior opposition frontbencher has questions to answer over his role at a firm that provides advocacy services. Lord Falconer, shadow attorney general, is a partner at Gibson Dunn, an international law firm headquartered in the US, which has provided advice on “political lobbying” in the UK. It says of its “public policy” lobbying practice: “Unlike a pure lobbying firm, Gibson Dunn’s work is grounded in traditional analytic and advocacy skills, combined with broad experience in US and international government operations.” It says its methods “achieve the desired result without fanfare or unwanted publicity”. ” – Daily Telegraph

Lobbying 3) Timothy: The PM must stop public service being corrupted for private gain

“The true scandal is about the corruption of public service for private gain. It is about how public servants appear to have made decisions because of the prospect of personal advantage. It is about how private interests have been allowed into the heart of government as they pretended to be motivated by public service…Thanks to this culture, the legacy and reputation of one former prime minister lies in tatters. If Boris Johnson wants to avoid the same fate, he will need to investigate the Greensill affair without fear or favour, make sure his own ministers, advisers and officials are whiter than white, and eliminate the spectre of corruption from British public life. There are few things more serious.” – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph

  • Cameron “did nothing wrong” claims Eustice – The Times
  • Ministers ‘will look at’ ideas for new lobbying rules – BBC
  • Some former MPs working for lobbyists have Parliamentary passes – The Times


Coronavirus 1) Poorer households hardest hit by pandemic

“Poorer households were thrown into the pandemic with a “weak foundation” due to high levels of income inequality compared to other countries, a new study shows. Research reveals lower savings, more debt and a weaker social security safety net than in France and Germany left some Brits with less resilience to deal with the crisis. The least well-off fifth of working-age households in the UK are 20 per cent worse off than those in France while the richest fifth are 17 per cent better off, the Resolution Foundation found.” – The Sun

  • Australia opens travel bubble with New Zealand – BBC
  • UK to pass ten million second jabs today – The Times
  • To understand the dangers of Covid passports, simply imagine an obesity equivalent – Charles Walker MP, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Columnist Neil O’Brien: Covid. We should stick to the plan – and finish the job.

>Yesterday: WATCH: The Government’s traffic light system for international travel “poses a risk”, warns Sturgeon

Coronavirus 2) Call for a Wales-specific public inquiry

“The Plaid Cymru and Welsh Conservatives leaders say there should be a Wales-specific public inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Adam Price and Andrew RT Davies said the inquiry should take place in addition to a separate UK one. Welsh Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford said there should be a single inquiry involving all UK nations. The party leaders were taking part in an ITV Wales televised Senedd election debate dominated by the pandemic. During the debate, both Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price and Welsh Conservatives leader Andrew RT Davies said a Wales-specific inquiry into the Welsh government’s handling of the Covid crisis had to happen in addition to one for the UK government.” – BBC

>Yesterday: WATCH: Andrew RT Davies – “We’ve seen the Welsh government take different approaches for the sake of being different”

Sinn Fein leader apologises for the death of Lord Mountbatten

“The leader of Sinn Fein has said she is sorry for the murder of the Lord Mountbatten by the IRA following the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh. Mary Lou McDonald, the President of the republican party, said the death of the Duke’s uncle in 1979 was “heartbreaking” and that it was her responsibility to “lead from the front.” Her comments represent a significant shift from her predecessor Gerry Adams, who has refused to apologise for his previous claims that Lord Mountbatten “knew the danger” and could not “have objected to dying in what was clearly a war situation.” Lord Mountbatten was assassinated in August 1979 while holidaying at his summer home Classiebawn Castle.” – Daily Telegraph

Salmond: An independent Scotland should not immediately pursue full EU membership

“Alex Salmond has said that an independent Scotland should not immediately pursue full EU membership and must establish its own currency “immediately”, in a fresh attack on Nicola Sturgeon’s constitutional strategy. The former First Minister claimed the SNP case for separation was “frozen in aspic” and had not taken account of drastic changes since he led the Yes campaign to defeat in 2014. He suggested that an independent Scotland should initially have a Norway-style relationship with Europe, as a member of European Free Trade Association (EFTA), saying this would allow Scotland to maintain access to the UK internal market and British common travel area.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Your chance to stop the independence referendum drumbeat – Douglas Ross, Daily Telegraph
  • Independent Scotland needs its own currency, says Salmond – The Times
  • Half of UK thinks Scotland should be allowed second independence referendum – Financial Times
  • Independence is the only real issue in this election – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

Juncker: “I should have spoken out in the referendum. But Cameron told me to stay quiet”…

“Time is said to be the greatest healer. But for Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Union between 2015 and 2019, the gaping wound of Brexit five years after the referendum still seems sore…“I should not have listened to David Cameron,” he says leaning back in his chair in his office in the commission’s Brussels HQ. “He told me not to interfere in the debate in the UK, not to come to London, not to do interviews with the British press. I made a mistake because I did not defend the EU’s point of view in the UK. They asked me to shut up, so I shut up. That is something I criticise myself for. I should have spoken out rather than stay silent.” – The i

  • Brussels Brexit chief calls for ‘good faith’ as relations with UK improve – Financial Times

…Brexit “has boosted British GDP”

“Brexit has given the UK economy a timely shot in the arm amounting to two percent of GDP – equal to almost £4 billion – largely because unshackling itself from the EU enabled Britain to get a vital head-start on the vaccination rollout, a new analysis has indicated. The new report, published today by the Centre for Business and Economic Research (CEBR), considers the impact quitting the bloc has had so far in the three-and-a-half months since the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020. Specifically, the analysis looks at the impact on exports and import substitutes, the impact of the early vaccine rollout, and the impact of regulatory and other changes.” – Daily Express

  • Red tape threatens drugs supplies in Northern Ireland – Financial Times
  • A post-Brexit trade deal with India can be the jewel in Johnson’s crown – Mark Littlewood, The Times

Prince Charles and Prince William to lead summit to discuss future of the monarchy

“Princes Charles and William will meet to discuss the future of the monarchy after the death of Prince Philip, reports say. The two heirs will reportedly plan with the Queen which members of ‘The Firm’ will be working Royals and what they should do. It comes after the Duke of Edinburgh’s death on April 9 raised questions over if his hundreds of patronages should be passed down. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s departure complicated matters by reducing the number of people available to help the monarch in high-profile roles.” – Daily Mail

  • Steadfast Queen will keep calm and carry on – Penny Junor, The Times
  • The Queen was alone in her grief while revellers enjoyed a weekend out — this cannot be right – Leader, The Sun
  • Philip’s last journey exemplified the ideals of the crown and nation he served – Leader, The Times
  • Prince Philip’s funeral was an unapologetic celebration of royal pageantry and patriotism – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail
  • Kate Middleton showed she’s a class act who can be the monarchy’s new rock – Sarah Vine, Daily Mail
  • The Queen should not have had to sit alone at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral – Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Need we fear a third wave after lockdown ends? – Philip Thomas, The Spectator
  • Tory donor “drawn into lobbying scandal” – Independent
  • Is it time for the honours system to go? – Michael Collins, The Critic
  • The UK can’t be a secession free-for-all – Henry Hill, Unherd
  • The USA and China avoid all specifics on decarbonisation – John Redwood