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Ukraine crisis. British tanks, ships and warplanes move to eastern Europe

“Britain and its Nato allies moved tanks, ships and warplanes towards eastern Europe yesterday after casting doubt on claims from Russia that it was withdrawing troops from the border with Ukraine. Diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis continued but Nato’s secretary-general said “we are prepared for the worst” as he set out plans for new deployments. Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, said: “Alongside our Nato allies, we are deploying troops and assets on land, sea and air to bolster European defences in response to the build-up of Russian military forces on the border of Ukraine.” The UK and Nato gave a sceptical response to Russian statements about the withdrawal of troops following military exercises, with Wallace warning that President Putin’s forces still had the capacity to overwhelm Ukraine.” – The Times

  • America says Russia has deployed 7000 more troops to border – The Guardian
  • Truss to visit Ukraine – i
  • Patel scraps Russian “golden visas” – The Sun
  • “Thieves”, “criminals”, “a mafia gang”: Tugendat weighs in – Daily Telegraph
  • We must resist Putin’s aggression – Liz Truss, Daily Telegraph
  • Britain is stiffening western resolve on Putin – Iain Martin, The Times

> Today: Columnist Garvan Walshe: Putin’s plan for Ukraine: a chilling combination of subversion, bombardment and invasion

> Yesterday: Columnist Daniel Hannan – Putin has shown the West to be dithering, divided and drippy

Johnson “to announce end of remaining Covid restrictions on Monday”…

“Boris Johnson will make a landmark announcement on Monday scrapping all remaining Covid restrictions. The PM is due to announce to Parliament that the final curbs on our every day lives are to be axed. He’s bringing forward his plans to end all pandemic regulations by a month as Omicron cases continue to plummet. It means next Thursday is set to be the first day in two years which Brits will be able to enjoy without any restrictions. Covid cases have tumbled by 27% in a month with another 54,218 people testing positive in today’s figures. Boris will get up on his feet on Monday afternoon to unveil his full plan to “live with Covid” in a watershed moment.” – The Sun
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/politics/17672981/covid-restrictions-end-boris-johnson/

  • Javid wants to keep free testing, Sunak mindful of cost to Treasury – The Guardian
  • Health Secretary confirms vaccine offer to young children – Daily Mail
  • Prime Minister “to axe £500 test and trace payments” – The Sun
  • Starmer says decision is a mistake – Daily Telegraph
  • Northern Ireland businesses hoping for return to normal – Newsletter
  • Meanwhile in Canada: Trudeau Jewish Conservative MP lorry protest swastika rebuke – Daily Mail

> Today: Profile Kate Bingham, leader of the scientific cavalry who came to the rescue in the pandemic

…As the Met is asked not to publish Downing Street party photos

“The Cabinet Office has told the Metropolitan Police not to publish 300 photos linked to a criminal investigation into Downing Street parties. Scotland Yard received the request after aides at No 10 expressed concern that publication of the images could harm their reputations, The Times understands. It means that hundreds of photos of the Downing Street parties — some of which are believed to include Boris Johnson — are unlikely ever to be published. In one photo, the prime minister is said to be pictured holding a can of beer at his birthday party in the Cabinet Room in June 2020…Sue Gray, the senior civil servant investigating the gatherings, has handed 300 photos of the alleged rule-breaking parties to the Met.” – The Times

  • LibDems call for publication of unredacted Sue Gray report – The Guardian
  • Johnson seals new UK-Australia security deal – Daily Express
  • Johnson’s Tories are facing a crisis of direction – Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times

Zahawi bars Black Lives Matter promotion in schools

“Teachers have been forbidden from promoting Black Lives Matter to children as part of a crackdown on politics in the classroom. Schools must ensure that any “contentious and disputed” historic periods such as the British Empire and imperialism are taught in a “balanced” manner, according to guidance published by the Department for Education (DfE) on Thursday…Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, said: “Clearer guidance on political impartiality is just one part of my wider work to give children the best possible education as the Government continues to prioritise skills, schools and families, to enable young people to reach the full height of their potential.” – Daily Telegraph
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/02/16/dont-promote-black-lives-matter-pupils-says-new-guidance-schools/

  • New guidance “confusing”, says unions – The Guardian
  • Society can’t afford the dangerous decadence of the woke movement – Andrew Roberts, Daily Telegraph

Other political news:

  • Home Secretary hires Australian ex-Foreign Minister Downer as Border Force adviser – Daily Mail
  • Malthouse wants climate protesters arrested – Daily Telegraph
  • Patel wants new Ofcom AI powers – Daily Telegraph
  • Business Select Committee condemn “slow progress” for postmaster justice – Financial Times
  • HS2 eastern leg decision “has damaged Tory support in Yorkshire” – Yorkshire Post
  • Anti-Baker environment campaign: is it an opposition front? – The Guardian
  • Ministers stop the rollout of new smart meters to homes near RAF Fylingdales because they may interfere with the nuclear missile warning system – Daily Telegraph
  • Supreme Court rules that naming arrested suspects will breach their privacy – The Times
  • Privacy decision is dangerous – Sun Editorial

> Today:

Leo McKinstry: Beware the wrecking ball of inflation

“The Office for National Statistics yesterday revealed that, in the year to January, prices went up by 5.5 per cent, the steepest rise for 30 years. But even that may be a severe underestimate of the real burden consumers now face. It would be a disaster if rapid inflation became a permanent feature of our economic landscape. As Margaret Thatcher, who fought so hard to bring prices under control in the 1980s, said, “inflation is the parent of unemployment and the unseen robber of those who have saved.” She was right. Contempt for the value of money was a central ingredient of our national decline in the 1970s, when the RPI reached more than 25 per cent and Britain became known as “the sick man of Europe”.” – Daily Express

  • SNP claim Sunak is undermining Scotland – Scotsman

Is Starmer up for an anti-Tory electoral front?

“Labour will fight only a minimal campaign in most of the Liberal Democrat party’s top 30 target seats at the UK’s next general election, in an informal Lib-Lab plan to topple the Conservatives. Sir Keir Starmer, Labour leader, has told colleagues that his party must “ruthlessly focus” resources on its target seats in the vote — which must be held by 2024 — leaving the Lib Dems as the main challengers in some seats. Starmer’s allies say that none of Labour’s top target seats features on the Lib Dems’ list of top 30 target seats. “If both parties put resources into where they are most likely to win, you end up with more Labour seats and more Lib Dem seats,” said one.” – Financial Times

Labour:

  • Starmer hits ComRes rating high – Daily Mail
  • Starmer may stand Labour candidate against Corbyn – Daily Express
  • Rayner says police should “shoot terrorists and ask questions second” – The Sun
  • TUC claim Ministers “trying to fix” independent pensions report – Financial Times
  • Liverpool MP warns of food crisis – Liverpool Echo
  • Dick “quit after Khan Charing Cross police station ultimatum” – The Times

> Yesterday: Columnist Emily Carver: The Met’s failings go much further than Cressida Dick

LibDems:

SNP and Scotland:

  • Sturgeon exploited Covid to push independence – Tom Harris, Daily Mail
  • Finance Ministers should add Covid burden-sharing to G20 to-do list – Gordon Brown, Financial Times

News in Brief

  • Skidmore interview: supporters of Net Zero must learn from the Brexit campaign – New Statesman
  • Putin’s dramatics over Ukraine – James Forsyth, Spectator
  • The importance of levelling down – Giles Fraser, UnHerd
  • Ugly new Chelsea barracks – Charles Saumarez Smith
  • Financial education and the free market go hand in hand – Tim Dawson, CapX