Royal Navy ships sail for Jersey in fishing row with France

“Boris Johnson ordered two Royal Navy patrol vessels to sail to the Channel Islands last night amid fears that French fishing boats were preparing to blockade Jersey’s main port. In a marked escalation of tensions over post-Brexit fishing rights, Downing Street said the prime minister acted after intelligence suggested that a fleet of 60 boats was preparing to block access to St Helier. Government sources accused the French authorities of rejecting attempts to defuse the crisis. Dozens of French boats arrived at the harbour this morning, with some crews setting off flares during the so far peaceful protest. Following emergency talks with John Le Fondré, Jersey’s chief minister, Johnson last night warned that any attempt to prevent ships entering St Helier would be “completely unjustified” and expressed his “unwavering support” for the island’s government.” – The Times

  • French fishermen blockade Jersey’s capital – Daily Telegraph
  • A hundred French vessels descend on Channel island – The Sun
  • The blockade mapped – Daily Express
  • France threatens to cut off Jersey’s electricity as Brexit fishing row grows – Daily Telegraph


  • French power threat leaves Britain facing the nuclear option – Ben Marlow, Daily Telegraph

Elections 1) Prime Minister looks set to demolish ‘Red Wall’ with three more victories…

“Boris Johnson is on course to take a wrecking ball to the Red Wall again today by securing a hat-trick in Labour’s former heartlands – as a poll puts the Tories ten points ahead. The Conservatives are on the brink of a historic victory in the Hartlepool by-election, as well as the two key mayoral races in the West Midlands and Tees Valley. Today’s bumper set of local elections, which have been dubbed ‘Super Thursday’, mark a major test for both Mr Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Ballots will be cast in every part of Great Britain, with elections for the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments, London Assembly, and Hartlepool by-election. More than 5,000 council seats in England will also be contested, along with 13 mayoralties and 39 police and crime commissioner positions.” – Daily Mail

  • ‘Vaccine bounce’ helps Conservatives to ten-point lead – The Sun
  • Tories confident of election ‘hat-trick’ in Hartlepool, Teesside and the West Midlands – The Times


  • Tory win in Hartlepool wouldn’t be as dramatic as it sounds – James Johnson, Times Red Box

>Today: ToryDiary: A day to ponder the tale of a candidate in these elections, and ask ourselves if we take democracy for granted


Elections 2) …as he ‘slaps down’ calls for another Scottish referendum

“Boris Johnson has warned that tomorrow’s local elections will be tough – but slapped down Nicola Sturgeon’s demands for another divisive referendum. Ahead of millions of voters heading to the polls tomorrow, he vowed to fight for every vote. But the PM insisted that now is not the time for another “reckless and irresponsible” referendum on Scottish independence. The PM was speaking as voters head to the polls in the Holyrood election, alongside a handful of others. He was questioned on the issue as he campaigned for local elections in England in Stourbridge, the West Midlands, where he took a bike ride along a canal… Elsewhere the PM warned that the election results would be tough across the country.” – The Sun

  • Pro-UK activists spend heavily to head off SNP majority at Holyrood – The Guardian
  • Lend us your vote to thwart independence, Tories urge unionists – The Times
  • Sturgeon’s hopes of a Holyrood majority ‘are slipping away’ – Daily Mail
  • First Minister is waging war against the Union, warns Brown – Daily Telegraph
  • Salmond supporters accused of ‘torrent of homophobic and transphobic abuse’ – The Guardian


  • Keep the pro-UK vote united and use your peach ballot wisely – Douglas Ross, Daily Telegraph
  • Still formidable but SNP is singing its swansong – Mark Brolin, Times Red Box

Elections 3) Bailey is now just 12 percentage points behind Khan as knife crime crisis ‘dents Labour’s campaign’

“The London mayoral race has tightened ahead of polling day tomorrow, with a new survey giving Sadiq Khan a 12 point lead over Tory rival Shaun Bailey. YouGov’s final poll before the capital votes puts the Labour incumbent on 43 per cent in the first round. That is down four points on last month while Mr Bailey is up one point to 31 per cent. The numbers suggest Mr Khan is on course to win the contest in a second round run-off with Mr Bailey by 59 per cent to 41 per cent.  Overall, Mr Khan’s lead over Mr Bailey has fallen from 19 points to 12 points. A separate survey conducted by Opinium suggested that the capital’s violent crime crisis could prevent Mr Khan from winning a majority in the first round with a majority of Londoners of the view that knife crime is getting worse.” – Daily Mail

  • Scrap Thames tunnel or lose our support, activists tell Mayor – The Guardian

Elections 4) Labour MPs urged to ‘cut Sir Keir Starmer some slack’ as election defeats loom

“Sir Keir Starmer’s top team on Wednesday urged Labour MPs to “cut him some slack” over Thursday’s expected election defeats. The Labour leader said he would “carry the can” for any losses but needed more time to turn the party around. Shadow ministers rallied around the leader after backbenchers called for a major shakeup of the Labour front bench and asked Sir Keir to consider standing down if the party receives a drubbing at the ballot box. In a mass democratic exercise dubbed “Super Thursday”, the country will vote for local councillors, metropolitan mayors, Scottish MSPs and Welsh Senedd members, police and crime commissioners and a new MP in Hartlepool. One poll released on Tuesday morning put the Tories 17 points ahead of Labour in the Hartlepool by-election and in the mayoral race in the West Midlands.” – The Times

  • Polls open as Labour leader promises to ‘carry the can’ for results – The Guardian
  • Oppsition heading for two key election poundings, bombshell polls reveal – The Sun
  • English local elections set to be judgment on Starmer rather than Johnson – FT
  • Labour ‘in more difficult position than it was in the mid-1980s’, says Barwell – Daily Express


  • Until Labour remainers properly accept Brexit, the party will be stuck in limbo – Larry Elliott, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Robert Halfon MP’s column: A local Labour candidate has organised a petition against an army cadet course. Not quite the people’s priorities.

Elections 5) West Yorkshire mayoral win could hand Labour by-election headache

“The Labour party is bracing for another difficult by-election this summer if Tracy Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen, is elected as the first West Yorkshire mayor on Thursday. The 59-year-old, a former actress, was first elected to parliament following the death of Jo Cox during the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign. Brabin was selected in December as the party’s candidate for the West Yorkshire mayoralty, which includes the cities of Wakefield and Leeds. Batley and Spen was a target for the Conservative party in the 2019 election, but Brabin held the seat with a reduced majority of 3,525. Officials in both parties are preparing for a similar battle to Hartlepool, which pollsters predict could return its first ever Tory MP following a by-election on Thursday.” – FT

  • By-election lessons from Warrington to Hartlepool – Anthony Broxton, Times Red Box

>Today: MPs Etc.: Fleet wins the Conservative selection for the Chesham and Amersham by-election

Veterans of the Northern Irish Troubles protected, alongside terrorists

“British veterans and terrorists will be exempt from prosecution for actions taken during the Troubles as part of plans to draw a line under the past, The Times has learnt. Ministers intend to bring in a statute of limitations so no one can be charged over incidents up to the 1998 Good Friday agreement except for cases involving war crimes, genocide or torture. Plans included in the 2014 Stormont House agreement to set up a £150 million unit to investigate all deaths during the Troubles will be scrapped, Whitehall sources confirmed. A Nelson Mandela-style “truth and reconciliation” process will be implemented instead. Those on all sides will be encouraged to come forward to talk about historical events without risk of prosecution.” – The Times

  • Commission can learn from South Africa – The Times


  • End this pandering to Sinn Fein and the IRA – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Troubles’ legal cases. After yesterday’s outcome, could the Government return to Lord Caine’s proposal?

Buckland dubbed nation’s ‘Chief Pet Detective’ as he unveils new laws to crackdown on dognapping

“Holly Willoughby anointed a top Tory the nation’s “Chief Pet Detective” today – after he vowed to treat dognappers like violent mobsters. Justice Secretary Robert Buckland was tickled pink live on This Morning after vowing to link pet thefts to tough laws for gangs – warning the shock rise in cases is linked to organised crime. In a chilling warning, the Ace Ventura of Whitehall said the thefts “might be the tip of something even more sinister.” Holly dubbed the senior minister the “Chief Pet Detective” after hearing about the harrowing nabbing of a pup called Mable. But unlike Jim Carrey’s character in the 1994 hit film, Mr Buckland will look to use the law to stop the horrendous crimes – rather than delving into the thefts himself.” – The Sun

Johnson urged to resist pressure from unions over face masks in classroom

“The Government must resist pressure from unions over face masks in the classroom, former ministers and parents have said. Boris Johnson has been told not to “pander” to teaching union bosses who have demanded that children should continue to wear masks during lessons until at least June 21. Three former Department for Education (DfE) ministers have urged the Government to keep its promise to remove the requirement on May 17, when step three of the roadmap out of restrictions is due to come into effect. The Tory MP Tim Loughton, a former children’s minister, said masks in the classroom should be dropped “as a matter of urgency”… Robert Halfon, the Conservative chair of the education select committee and a former DfE minister, said the Government must stick to May 17 as the date for ending masks in the classroom “like super glue”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Plans for 50 per cent funding cut to arts subjects at universities ‘catastrophic’ – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Emily Carver’s column: To bolster free speech in universities, we need laws taken off the statute book, rather than added to it

Sunak is urged to axe VAT on post-holiday Covid tests to reduce cost of foreign trips

“Rishi Sunak was under pressure from MPs within his own party last night to axe VAT on Covid tests needed for foreign holidays. Fifteen Tories urged the Chancellor to cut the cost of ‘gold standard’ PCR tests needed upon return to Britain. Ministers are insisting all travellers take the tests, whether or not they have been vaccinated, on their return to the UK when foreign travel restarts on May 17. But the industry has repeatedly warned this risks pricing families out of holidays abroad. In their letter to Mr Sunak, the Tory MPs say the cost of PCR tests would reduce by a fifth if VAT on them were scrapped. This would reduce the cheapest test to £36. They also warn that the cost of tests risks foreign travel becoming possible only for the wealthy.” – Daily Mail

News in Brief:

  • The shape of political realignment? How to read the results – Matt Singh, CapX
  • Labour needs to be humiliated – Peter Franklin, UnHerd
  • Holyrood 2021: Seats to watch out for – Stephen Daisley, The Spectator
  • The woodfired brick wall – Robert Hutton, The Critic
  • The liberals who can’t quit lockdown – Emma Green, The Atlantic