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Cabinet ministers ‘to face wrath of party’s grassroots over tax rises’

“Cabinet ministers are facing a hostile reception from the Tory party’s grassroots when they return to their constituencies this weekend after waving through manifesto-busting tax rises in Parliament. One constituency chairman told The Telegraph that he was “greatly saddened” that the liberation of Britons from the state under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s was now being “rolled back by a Conservative Prime Minister”. Boris Johnson is experiencing a backlash over the tax increase, with activists, donors and former party chairmen all expressing their dismay about the 1.25 percentage point rise in National Insurance to pay for the NHS and social care. The Prime Minister has also faced questions about whether his Conservative Party remained committed to low taxes after he raised the tax burden to the highest level in 70 years.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tories trailing Labour with lowest backing since election – The Times
  • Are there only five real Tories left? Just a handful of rebels defy Boris – Daily Mail
  • Social care reforms will ‘disproportionately’ benefit wealthy southerners – Daily Telegraph
  • Homes may still have to be sold to cover bills – The Sun
  • Johnson defends £270,000 NHS salaries – The Times

More:

  • NI hike to fund social care poses a serious moral question, says Archbishop of Canterbury – Daily Mail
  • Labour may tax wealth more heavily to fund social care, says Starmer – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Philip Booth in Comment: Beware of the return of inflation

Fraser Nelson: A new Tory awkward squad is forming. Can it save Conservatism?

“For years, Boris Johnson will have dreamed of wielding the kind of power he holds today. He enjoys strong popularity, a stonking majority and – thanks to the emergency Covid powers – minimal parliamentary scrutiny. His Cabinet will rubber-stamp whatever he brings them and, in Sir Keir Starmer, he has a gofer rather than an opponent. Rarely has a Prime Minister had a better opportunity to shape politics and the national debate. This makes it all the more baffling to see him re-enacting the Blairite agenda he was lambasting 20 years ago, on these pages and in The Spectator. He held NHS-worship up to ridicule and pilloried Tony Blair for raising taxes when he had promised not to. He argued, quite persuasively, that the most vulnerable in society are badly let down by a naive assumption that every problem can be solved by throwing money at it. His words, read today, lose none of their force.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The Thatcherites condemn Johnson. But it is to his advantage that he has no ideology

France accuses Patel of financial blackmail over migrant crossings

“France has accused Britain of “financial blackmail” over the migrant crisis as a diplomatic rift between the countries deepens. Gérald Darmanin, the French interior minister, publicly rebuked his counterpart Priti Patel this morning, referencing her threat to withhold £54 million from France if Channel crossings continue to escalate. Darmanin and Patel met in London on Tuesday for what were described in Paris as “very tense” talks over British demands for French police to stop more boats. She has offered to pay £54 million to France to double their patrols of the shoreline but threatened to withhold this if the country’s authorities fail to hit a rate of 75 per cent. “France will not accept any practices that are contrary to maritime law, nor any financial blackmail,” Darmanin tweeted. “The British commitment must be respected. I said it very clearly to my counterpart.”” – The Times

  • Risk that migrants will deliberately drown themselves if boats are intercepted at sea, warns French interior ministry – Daily Telegraph
  • Immigration workers’ union says maritime law would have to be rewritten – The Guardian
  • Another 50 migrants including women and young children are intercepted trying to cross Channel today – Daily Mail

Defence 1) Ministers look for someone to blame over Ajax tank that makes soldiers sick

“Ministers believe they have been “deceived” on the extent of the problems with the army’s Ajax light tank and are searching for those to blame, according to defence sources. They think they were not told the full extent of the troubles with the £5.5 billion programme by the army or their officials out of concern that it would be scrapped in the integrated review. A defence source said: “Ministers now know that they have been deceived on Ajax and they fully intend to identify those responsible.” Jeremy Quin, the procurement minister, cast fresh doubt yesterday on the “troubled” programme. The tank is beset by noise and vibration problems that have caused sickness and injury. He told MPs he hoped a long-term solution could be found for a programme he described as “incredibly important” for both the British Army and thousands of workers, including at General Dynamics, the contractor.” – The Times

  • Defence minister said he cannot promise the Ajax will ever be used – Daily Mail

Defence 2) UK would be prepared to launch Afghanistan drone strikes, says Wallace

“Britain could be prepared to undertake lethal drone strikes in Afghanistan if the Taliban fail to prevent international terrorism taking hold in the country, the defence secretary said on Tuesday. Ben Wallace was speaking as he showcased a £16m prototype of the remotely piloted Protector in Lincolnshire, making one of the first ever flights by a large drone capable of bearing missiles in the UK. When asked if he was prepared to consider launching drone strikes in Afghanistan, Wallace said: “I’ll do whatever I have to do to protect citizens’ lives and our interests and our allies, when we’re called upon to do so, wherever that may be.” Talk of using drones against terror groups operating in Afghanistan has increased following last month’s chaotic withdrawal, which also left hundreds of westerners and thousands more Afghans who had worked with the west stranded in the country.” – The Guardian

  • Defence Secretary said the number of potential terrorists was likely to have grown in the 20 years since the 9/11 attacks – The Times

>Today: Ed McGuinness in Comment: Afghanistan – and the changes that should now be made to better support our veterans

Vaccine passports could be rolled out to pubs and restaurants to prevent another winter lockdown, minister suggests

“Vaccine passports could be rolled out to pubs and restaurants to help tackle a winter Coronavirus wave, a Cabinet minister hinted today. Culture secretary Oliver Dowden didn’t rule out “further extending” the use of Covid ID beyond just nightclubs and large indoor venues. He said the Government wants “as few restrictions” as possible but insisted it will prioritise “protecting public health”. This week the vaccines minister said Covid papers are only being ruled out for “essential” services like food shops and public transport. Mr Dowden’s remarks will further anger Tory MPs who are set to launch a major rebellion over the PM’s vax passports plan… Mr Dowden said many large venues like Premier League football clubs and the Royal Albert Hall are voluntarily bringing in vaccine passports. The culture secretary also didn’t rule out widening mandatory vaccination beyond just NHS and care home workers.” – The Sun

  • Whitty set to approve Covid vaccine for ages 12-15 – The Times
  • Mass booster vaccines unnecessary as immunity ‘lasting well’, says Oxford jab professor – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Government starts to remove insolvency protection – FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Government is not making a good case for vaccine passports in nightclubs

Universities ordered to teach face to face

“Gavin Williamson told universities in a virtual speech not to rely on online teaching yesterday after pulling out of a conference in person. The education secretary was due to speak at the Universities UK conference in Newcastle but addressed the audience via a videolink instead. Sources said that the decision was taken because MPs had had to be in London for the Commons vote on NHS and social care reforms the previous evening. Williamson was also criticised on Wednesday for telling an interviewer that he had met Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United footballer, when he had actually spoken to Maro Itoje, the England rugby player. He told the conference that vice-chancellors should not use Covid as a cost-cutting excuse not to return to in-person teaching. He said the country had “moved on” from online teaching.” – The Times

  •  Minister ‘doesn’t know’ if Williamson’s gaffe was ‘racism or incompetence’ – The Sun

>Today: John Bald in Local Government: Birbalsingh is the ideal choice to champion social mobility

Lobbying regulator warns Tory co-chair over business activities

“The UK lobbying regulator has warned Conservative party co-chair Ben Elliot to draw a clearer line between his private interests and public duties, warning that he risked falling foul of the industry’s rules. The warning on Thursday came as the regulator declared — after a month-long investigation — that Quintessentially, Elliot’s private concierge business, had not engaged in any registrable lobbying activity. Harry Rich, who heads the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists, disclosed he had opened the probe in early August following “media reports suggesting Quintessentially arranges access to senior people”. Although he ended the investigation without taking formal action, Rich fired a shot across Elliot’s bow in a closing letter. He advised Elliot “to be cautious about the possibility of engaging in consultant lobbying activity (perhaps unintentionally) by not making a clear enough distinction between his role as a director of Quintessentially and his other activities connected to government”, according to the investigation summary published by Rich’s office.” – FT

DUP threatens to end power-sharing assembly unless changes made to Brexit deal

“Unionist leaders have said that they would collapse Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government if changes are not made to the province’s Brexit deal. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, signalled that his party would pull out of the Stormont executive and trigger new elections unless the European Union altered the Northern Ireland protocol. His comments have been timed to coincide with a trip to the province by Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator and vice-president of the European Commission. The DUP has been losing support to both other unionist parties and the cross-community Alliance party in recent months. Shortly after Donaldson took office he published demands for changes to the protocol, including no restriction on any goods crossing between Britain and Northern Ireland. He said on Thursday that his party was also seeking to challenge the legality of checks on goods crossing between Britain and Northern Ireland that were introduced under the protocol and establish whether their implementation requires the approval of the Stormont executive.” – The Times

  • Britain and EU in fresh row over border checks in Northern Ireland – The Sun
  • Frost ‘in blunt ultimatum to tear up hated EU deal’ – Daily Express

More trade:

  • Johnson accused of deliberate ‘strategic void’ on China to prioritise trade – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Stephen Booth’s column: The EU’s western establishment v its eastern European members. There’s a clash over defence as well as culture.

Disquiet over Scottish independence vote strategy clouds SNP conference

“Delegates to the Scottish National party’s autumn conference have blocked debate on an alternative to an independence referendum and on how to manage a border with England, decisions that risk deepening dissatisfaction among some members with first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s strategy. Sturgeon led the SNP to a resounding victory in devolved parliamentary elections in May and now, together with her new partners in government the Scottish Greens, commands a formal majority in the chamber at Holyrood for a second referendum on independence from the UK. But some in the party do not believe the SNP leader has a credible strategy for achieving her stated goal of holding a referendum before the end of 2023 and is not moving urgently enough to lay the ground for winning such a vote amid a fall in support for independence since last year.” – FT

  • Comedienne described as Sturgeon’s alter ego made series of posts using ‘offensive, hurtful language’ – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Sturgeon distracts her troops with promises of another independence ‘prospectus’

Davey and MPs call for Dick to go after ‘presiding over a series of disasters’

“MPs today added their voices to calls for Boris Johnson to replace Cressida Dick as Met Police commissioner  – but one Tory voiced fears that the alternative candidates were ‘too woke’. Dame Cressida, 60, is expected to be handed a two-year extension to her contract when it comes up for renewal in April despite having overseen a series of scandals. Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey was among those calling for her to go, telling MailOnline: ‘The Met desperately needs new leadership to change the culture of ”cover up rather than own up” at the top of the organisation, which the independent report on the murder of Daniel Morgan described as ”institutional corruption”… Meanwhile, one senior Tory MP said Scotland Yard desperately needed a new commissioner, but the alternatives to Dame Cressida were far too ‘woke’. ‘The problem with Cressida is she has presided over a series of disasters, and then says it is not her fault,’ they told MailOnline.” – Daily Mail

News in Brief:

  • Will the Protocol destroy the Belfast Agreement? – Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, The Critic
  • Boomers: the luckiest generation that ever lived – Ed West, UnHerd
  • What Britain should learn from Israel about booster shots – Simon Clarke, The Spectator
  • The public need Boris to be Boris, not Labour-lite – Tim Dawson, CapX