Gas price rises “could disrupt food supply chain”

“Russia has been accused of increasing gas prices in a bid to undermine Britain and the EU’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy corporation, is facing an investigation into a spike in the cost of natural gas and a knock-on effect that threatens to disrupt the supply of meat in the food chain within a fortnight… As a result, household energy bills are likely to rise next year but the immediate effect has been to force the closure of two “globally significant” fertiliser plants in the UK that will lead to shortages of carbon dioxide, a by-product crucial to the meat processing industry and the manufacture of fizzy drinks…On Friday night, Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, was seeking urgent talks with the chief executives of National Grid, the regulator Ofgem and the retail supplier Centrica to try to prevent disruption to food supplies.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Household bills will soar by more than £1,500 a year – Daily Mail
  • Small firms go bust – The Times

Reshuffle 1) PM gives “pep talk” as new Cabinet meets

“Boris Johnson’s new Cabinet met in Downing Street today for the first time since the brutal reshuffle saw four of them axed. The PM’s 30-strong top team filed into the famous room in No10 at 9am for a special Friday morning get together. He gave his senior ministers a “half-time pep talk” urging them to work together to deliver on his flagship levelling-up agenda. He said: “This is the moment when we spit out the orange peel, we adjust our gum shields and our scrum caps… And we get out on to the pitch in the knowledge that we’re going to have to do it together and we’re going to have to do it as a team.” Most were Cabinet survivors of Mr Johnson’s shake-up, but for four newly promoted ministers it was their first time sat around the oval table.” – The Sun

  • After the reshuffle, Boris Johnson needs to deliver – Leader, Financial Times
  • Rewards for Brexiteers, culture warriors and key fixers – The Guardian
  • Raab tries to keep Chevening – Daily Mail
  • Munira Mirza and Dougie Smith both avoid the limelight “but have a huge effect on how we live our lives” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Why headlines about ‘axing a slew of white men’ might come back to bite the Prime Minister

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Government Reshuffle Live Blog.

Reshuffle 2) Bethell removed as Health Minister after controversy over email accounts

“Tory peer Lord Bethell has been removed as a health minister in Boris Johnson’s reshuffle, amid a controversy over his use of personal email accounts. Along with former health secretary Matt Hancock, he has faced criticism for using personal accounts to conduct government business. The use of personal emails at the health department is currently being investigated by the UK’s data watchdog. The department has previously insisted official guidelines have been followed. Downing Street did not give a reason for Lord Bethell’s exit, which was confirmed as part of a wider rejig of government ministers.” – BBC

Reshuffle 3) Williamson “offered a knighthood to soften blow of sacking”

“Gavin Williamson is being tipped for a knighthood in a move likely to anger parents, teachers and unions. The former education secretary is expected to feature in the Prime Minister’s next honours list after being sacked in the reshuffle, according to Whitehall sources. When approached by The Telegraph, the MP for South Staffordshire declined to comment, saying it was “not something I have heard about”. But there are suggestions that Boris Johnson may have made the offer to soften the blow of Mr Williams’s departure from the Cabinet on Wednesday.”- Daily Telegraph

Shapps eases foreign holiday restrictions

“Holiday bookings soared yesterday after punitive travel restrictions were finally lifted. Within minutes of the official announcement, travel agents were deluged with inquiries and predicted this weekend would be their busiest of the year…Turkey and the Maldives, both removed from the red list yesterday, were among the most sought after destinations. The traffic light system is also being replaced with a simpler ‘go/no-go’ regime with far less coronavirus testing. The fully vaccinated will no longer have to pay for costly PCR swabs or pre-return tests….Announcing the move last night, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system.’ The shake-up means that the amber list is officially dead.” – Daily Mail

  • Travel traffic light reform is welcome, but still too cautious – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Gove puts planning reform on hold

“Michael Gove, the new cabinet minister in charge of housing and the levelling-up agenda, has put the UK government’s flagship planning reforms on hold, creating further uncertainty for the property industry. Gove, who was appointed to lead the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in Boris Johnson’s big reshuffle of his top team earlier this week, has taken on two of the thorniest issues in the government’s in-tray: housing reform and tackling regional inequality….Gove’s expanded ministry will be responsible for much of that agenda. Those with knowledge of Gove’s thinking said he intended to use his new portfolio to pursue “a relentless focus on overlooked families and unvalued communities” — pointing to the themes of a lecture he delivered last summer on “the forgotten man” who backed Brexit in 2016.” – Financial Times


Patel challenges police over delay in arresting M25 protestors

“Patel summoned Met Commissioner Cressida Dick and other police chiefs responsible for the M25 after they failed to drag away protesters ‘immediately’ when up to 80 eco-morons blocked the motorway for the third time in five days and also shut down the M3 and M11 as they ran riot. The Home Secretary held the emergency Zoom call after protesters from Insulate Britain shut down the UK’s busiest road during rush hour every 48 hours this week and made officers ‘look like idiots’, one Tory MP said. The enviro-zealots even warned officers they would do it again after being released without bail conditions on Monday and Wednesday – with Hertfordshire Police defending the decision not to charge them claiming they still need time to ‘gather evidence and build a case’ despite arresting dozens of them in the middle of the M25.” – Daily Mail

  • Feeble cops are now openly betraying the public they are paid to serve – Leader, The Sun
  • Our police should be on the side of the public, not privileged green extremists – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph
  • France stops more Channel migrant boats since UK threat to scrap £54m deal – The Times
  • Patel’s treatment of refugees “shames our country”, claim Lib Dems – The Guardian

Dorries delists concrete tower

“Nadine Dorries, the new Culture Secretary, has stripped an industrial landmark of protected status, paving the way for a major redevelopment. The Dorman Long Tower in Redcar, North Yorks, was granted Grade II listed status following a local campaign to spare the 1950’s landmark from being demolished to make way for a new business park. But the newly appointed Culture Secretary has revoked the former coal store’s protected status after just days in the job following a Cabinet reshuffle, and only one week after the building was listed.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Culture Secretary ready to take on “crackpot” BBC bosses – Daily Express

Starmer to address “green new deal” plans at Party Conference

“Keir Starmer is committed to debating plans for a green new deal at Labour’s conference later this month, his team have insisted, despite the party having rejected a grassroots motion on the issue. Labour sources said the need to transform the economy to meet the climate challenge and create green jobs in the UK would be a key theme in Starmer’s conference speech, and in a lengthy essay for the Fabian Society he is due to publish in the run-up to the conference in Brighton. During last year’s Labour leadership campaign, Starmer wrote: “We need a green new deal hardwired into every level of government,” but some green activists are concerned about whether the leadership remains committed to the policy.” – The Guardian

  • Sir Keir must respect women or lose them – Janice Turner, The Times

>Today: Book Review: Payne journeys through the Red Wall seats to discover how Labour lost them and Johnson won

Scotland misses out on a freeport, after SNP walk out

“Scotland is to miss out on a freeport after SNP ministers walked out on talks with UK officials about a joint agreement to establish new trade hubs. The UK Government is now set to push ahead with plans to sideline the nationalist administration and invite bids for a single Scottish freeport, which it will establish unilaterally, after negotiations collapsed. Officials had been discussing a deal that would have seen two ports in Scotland receive the special status, with the scheme a key part of Boris Johnson’s vision for boosting trade in post-Brexit Britain. Freeports receive significant tax breaks and exemptions from some customs rules, and advocates claim that would create thousands of jobs and boost local economies.” – Daily Telegraph

Parris: Snubbing the French is a mistake

“I don’t know how far it would have been possible to meet French unhappiness over Aukus, but grown-ups try. Failure to inform, to discuss, to confide, and the embarrassing of Emmanuel Macron as he faces presidential elections display a kneejerk Anglo-Saxon contempt for allies whose friendship we need so much. Earlier I read that we aimed to deepen military co-operation with France. How can this help? Brexit could have been an opportunity to build stronger one-to-one relations with our neighbour now we don’t have to route things through Brussels; and France would welcome a counterpoint to Germany. All this we seem to disregard.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

  • France recalls ambassadors from US and Australia amid backlash over submarine deal – Daily Telegraph
  • The nuclear submarine pact was No 10’s biggest secret – The Times

News in brief

  • Does Truss have what it takes to be Foreign Secretary? – Patrick O’Flynn, The Spectator
  • Goldsmiths University wants to topple the men who saved England – Jeremy Black, The Critic
  • AUKUS is a victory for freedom, democracy and the rule of law – Rohan Watt, CapX
  • If we collectively give in to gender ideology, we bow to power and succumb to bullies – Caroline ffiske, Conservatives for Women
  • A suitable growth target would be 2.5 per cent – John Redwood