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UK accuses Russia of plotting to install a puppet leader in Ukraine

“Britain has accused Russia of plotting to install a puppet leader in Ukraine as President Putin considers an invasion of the country. Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, took the highly unusual step of declassifying MI6 intelligence that suggests Russian security agencies are seeking to replace the pro-western President Zelensky with Yevhen Murayev, a former Ukrainian MP. Secret intelligence released by the British government this weekend also suggests that four businessmen and former politicians, all from the pro-Kremlin ruling clique toppled by a revolution in Ukraine eight years ago, are working with Russian security officers involved in planning an attack on the country.” – Sunday Times

  • Confusion over UK claim that Putin plans a coup – Observer

Tom Tugendhat: We need to close Britain to Putin’s friends

“Putin’s corrupt acolytes have grown used to the luxuries of London, Paris, and Berlin. They have bought homes, educated children, and invested in businesses to secure their place, and voice, in society. We need to close them down. Golden visas and hidden assets have no place in free markets, and the troops encircling Ukraine should be a wake-up call. This isn’t just oligarchs hiding the profit of crime: our national security is on the line. Only Putin knows if he’s reckless enough to use the frozen ground and the distraction of the Winter Olympics to risk the lives Russian troops and Ukrainian civilians.” – Sunday Telegraph

Other comment

  • This could be Putin’s Afghanistan – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
  • Wallace and Truss give me hope – Arlene Foster, Daily Express
  • Johnson’s deceit leaves us weak when we need to be strong – Matthew Syed, Sunday Times
  • Utilising the UK’s oil and gas reserves is not inconsistent with Net Zero – Robert Jenrick, Sunday Telegraph

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – With Westminster fixated on Partygate, Wallace is doggedly ‘keeping his eye on Russia’

Sue Gray has “dialogue” with Scotland Yard and has Downing Street data logs. Her report is now expected later this week

“Sue Gray has had an “ongoing dialogue” with Scotland Yard about her investigation into alleged rule-breaking at Downing Street, but is yet to decide how much to disclose to the public or police amid suggestions her report will be harsher than predicted. The senior civil servant will publish her findings later this week into social gatherings attended by the prime minister and others. They are likely to determine the duration of Johnson’s premiership, with dozens of Tory MPs saying they will reserve judgment until Gray has completed her work.” – Sunday Times

  • Gray has Downing Street data logs – Mail on Sunday
  • Ghani says she was told by a whip that she was sacked after “Muslimness was raised as an issue” at a Downing Street meeting… – Sunday Times
  • …But Spencer says he was the whip in question and that Ghani’s claims are “completely false and I consider them to be defamatory” – Observer
  • Adams, Burns, Docherty and Pincher lead operation to stop a ballot or win it if necessary – Sunday Telegraph
  • The Prime Minister’s fightback campaign – Observer
  • Aaron Bell submits a no confidence letter – Sunday Times
  • At least one MP has withdrawn a letter, or claims to have done so – Mail on Sunday
  • Wragg takes no confidence letters in to Brady’s office – Sunday Express
  • Have fewer than a dozen MPs actually submitted letters? – Observer
  • Johnson “wants Crosby back” – Sun on Sunday
  • Jane Hunt reported to have told Rosenfield that “I wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire” – Sunday Times
  • Wakeford claims Williamson threatened to cancel a new school in his seat – Sunday Times
  • Crabb, Martin Vickers and Selous suggest police action over parties – Observer
  • Sunak and Truss “on manoeuvres” – Mail on Sunday
  • Labour left horrified by Wakeford’s arrival and pressing for Cornyn’s return – Mail on Sunday

Nadine Dorries: The behaviour of attention-seeking backbenchers risks sabotaging magnificent achievements for Johnson and Britain

“Last week, sadly, a small minority of my colleagues spent their time chasing airtime and column inches because they are determined to remove from office our most successful Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher. The same old names keep cropping up. As for allegations about threatening behaviour from the whips, I can only imagine what vapours some of them would have had during the long days and nights of the Maastricht vote in 1993, when the party machine went into overdrive to secure a pro-EU majority.  The truth is, the recent portrayal of our whips office is largely out of date and mostly fiction. There is no truth, for example, in lurid claims that dissenting MPs have had funding for their constituencies threatened. Whips simply have no say in what is spent or where.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Johnson 1) He deserves another chance – Andrew Roberts, Mail on Sunday
  • Johnson 2) He’s a Tory hero – Nadhim Zahawi, Sunday Express
  • Johnson 3) I don’t believe that he lied to Parliament – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph
  • Johnson 4) His enemies are poised to strike – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday
  • Johnson 5) His real enemy: pro-lockdown fanatics – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday
  • The drama in Number Ten needs a good ending – James Graham, Sunday Times
  • Don’t let the pork barrel roll into British politics – Sunday Times Editorial

Other comment:

  • There’s nothing special about the Red Wall – Rob Colvile, Sunday Times
  • Sunak should crush Johnson’s tax rises – Liam Halligan, Sunday Telegraph
  • A new conservatism must advance the working class – Phillip Blond and Matthew Goodwin, Sunday Telegraph

> Today: ToryDiary – Wakeford should resign and fight a by-election in Bury South

Johnson mulls delaying compulsory Covid vaccines for NHS workers

“Compulsory Covid vaccines for NHS workers would be delayed for six months, under eleventh-hour plans being considered by Boris Johnson to help quell a seismic revolt among Tory MPs. On Saturday night, just two weeks before the NHS is due to begin sacking staff who have not had a jab, a Whitehall source said that the requirement is likely to be “kicked down the road”, amid demands by Conservative backbenchers for it to be dropped entirely. The disclosures come ahead of a crucial fortnight for Mr Johnson, as disaffected MPs prepare to submit letters of no confidence if a report by Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, implicates the Prime Minister in wrongdoing over the alleged illicit parties held in Downing Street despite Covid restrictions imposed by No 10.” – Sunday Telegraph

Other political news:

  • “We are deeply concerned that the Government’s recent proposals could criminalise legitimate therapies for children who are suffering from gender dysphoria.” Green, Doyle-Price, Syms and Bradley raise concerns about conversion therapy bill – Sunday Telegraph
  • Tory MPs lobby Sunak to cancel national insurance rise – Sun on Sunday
  • Johnson and Barclay seek to force civil servants back to their desks – Daily Mail
  • Is Mordaunt on resignation watch over Aquind? – Mail on Sunday
  • We need to get the country back to work – Mail on Sunday Editorial
  • Percy wants fine rescinded for minor Covid offences – Mail on Sunday