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Ukraine crisis: ‘Whiff of Munich’ warning from Wallace

“The defence secretary has likened last-minute western diplomatic efforts to stop Russian aggression to appeasement, saying there is a “whiff of Munich in the air”. Ben Wallace said Russia invading Ukraine is “highly likely” and warned that the military presence on the border has now reached such a size that they could “launch an offensive at any time”. Wallace added: “It may be that he [Putin] just switches off his tanks and we all go home but there is a whiff of Munich in the air from some in the West.” His comments appear to reflect frustration that Britain’s diplomatic efforts could be no more than a straw man amid fears Russia is already intent on invading Ukraine come what may.” – Sunday Times

  • Truss’ issues stark warning to Putin as Russian air force engages in a dramatic show of strength – Mail on Sunday
  • Russia plots ‘false flag’ attack to provoke war – Sunday Telegraph
  • West draws up ‘the mother of all sanctions’ but will they work? – Sunday Times
  • Concerns grow over Truss’s publicly funded five photos a day – The Observer

Comment:

  • Britons vow to stay in Ukraine despite Foreign Office warning – Ian Birrell, Mail on Sunday

Patel orders shake-up of how Met Police choose top cops

“Priti Patel has ordered a shake-up of how top cops are chosen after the shock resignation of the Metropolitan police chief. The Home Secretary wants an outsider who can reform the force’s culture instead of senior officers “inheriting” the job. She has told allies she is determined to end the “Buggins’ turn” system — where appointments are made by rotation rather than merit. Her resolve has been strengthened by suspicions “political skulduggery” led to the departure of Met commissioner Dame Cressida Dick. Whitehall sources say she was forced out by a Left-wing plot to undermine Boris Johnson.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Khan pledges to end toxic culture at Met police and signals showdown with Patel – The Observer
  • Home Secretary’s original pick for Met chief is back in the running – Sunday Times
  • Johnson ‘should not be involved in picking new Met chief’ – The Observer

More:

  • ‘Kill the bill’: surge in Bristol riot charges prompts alarm over civil liberties – The Observer
  • How Khan failed London – Sunday Telegraph

Comment:

  • Conspiracy of silence over the police is truly criminal – Stephen Bush, Sunday Times
  • I recall the bad old days of the Metropolitan police. Never again – Sadiq Khan, The Observer

Johnson to ‘restore a smaller state’ as part of No 10 ‘reset’, says Barclay

“Boris Johnson’s government will take “a step back from people’s lives” as it seeks to “restore a smaller state” in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister’s new chief of staff has said. Pledging to “make the centre of government work like the best-run companies”, Steve Barclay said a priority of Mr Johnson’s reset will be to reduce the size of the state, following record levels of government spending and interventions. Writing in The Telegraph in his first intervention since being drafted into Number 10, Mr Barclay declared: “It’s time to return to a more enabling approach. To trust the people, return power to communities and free up business to deliver.” The pledges publicly set out reassurances made privately to backbenchers and ministers to help quell pushes to oust the Prime Minister over the “partygate” scandal.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Prime Minister will hit the road to drive forward his levelling up campaign – Sun on Sunday

Comment:

  • We in No 10 know that cutting back the size of the state must be a priority – Steve Barclay MP, Sunday Telegraph

Prime Minister in ‘very dangerous territory’ over ally’s ‘partygate’ police investigation comments, says Green

“Boris Johnson has been warned by Theresa May’s former de facto deputy that the Government is in “very dangerous territory” over an ally’s comments about the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into “partygate”. On Friday, a “senior ally” of Mr Johnson was quoted in The Times as saying the force should be “very certain” that the Prime Minister had breached coronavirus rules before issuing a fixed penalty notice. “There is inevitably a degree of discretion here,” the supporter said. “Do you want the Met Police deciding who the prime minister is?” Damian Green, a former policing minister who served as first secretary of state in Theresa May’s government, warned that the remarks were “very dangerous territory for any Government”.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Johnson’s position ‘difficult’ if Met fines him, warns Iain Duncan Smith – The Observer
  • Now Prime Minister bans staff from using the Downing Street garden – Mail on Sunday
  • Johnson’s senior aide crashed at Government pad during lockdown – Sun on Sunday

Team Carrie:

  • Newman, key member of ‘Carrie clique’, has been unfairly blamed, friends insist – Mail on Sunday
  • Ashcroft, the billionaire taking aim at Carrie Johnson – Sunday Times
  • Party sources remain baffled by certain aspects of Symonds’s 30th birthday party – Mail on Sunday

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: John Major, lost leader

Lord Ashcroft: If Johnson has let his home life interfere with duty, he only has himself to blame

“When I embarked on the project several months ago, Carrie was clearly a noteworthy and colourful figure, and one who obviously took a very different approach to the role of Prime Minister’s spouse than any of her predecessors. As the first Prime Ministerial consort to have had a political career of her own, and one given to making public statements on important policy issues, Carrie is a legitimate subject for a biography, as well as an interesting one. She asked for – and was granted – a personal spokeswoman who is paid a six-figure salary from Conservative Party funds. She has given speeches about the environment and LGBT rights. It is right she should be scrutinised in her capacity as a public figure.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Casting out Team Carrie is like being on the Titanic and hurling deckchairs at the iceberg – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday

Schools must stop teaching activist propaganda, warns Education Secretary

“Schools must root out activist teaching, says the Education Secretary. Rules will be issued this week to stop classes being filled with propaganda. Nadhim Zahawi has acted after some staff were accused of “brainwashing” kids. In one recent case, children as young as ten were urged to write critical letters about Boris Johnson. And ministers have been asked to probe a council over reports teachers have been trained to teach “worrying” race theories in primary schools. Mr Zahawi vows to make it clear to teachers their job is about “education not indoctrination”. He does admit there can be uncertainty about issues but says his new guidelines will “make things easier” for staff to know where to draw the line.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Britain and America must unite to combat pernicious wokists, Dowden to tell the US – Mail on Sunday

>Today: ToryDiary: Love Island’s Thatcherite contestant – and what her comments exposed about meritocracy in the 2020s

Rees-Mogg backs calls for costly EU trade barriers to be lifted to help reduce consumer costs…

“Jacob Rees-Mogg is backing calls for costly trade barriers to be eliminated in a bid to reduce costs for consumers. The new Brexit Opportunities Minister has welcomed a report which demands the lifting of regulatory — or non-tariff — barriers. Mr Rees-Mogg said they are “the delight of protectionists and should be removed where possible”. From next year, all EU goods heading to the UK must be certified with a UKCA regulatory mark. Such non-tariff barriers can add costs of 20 per cent on imported goods. Victoria Hewson, author of the Institute of Economic Affairs report, said its proposals would “bolster the UK’s status as a free trading nation”.” – Sun on Sunday

  • He’s warned UK faces becoming EU ‘satellite’ state – Sunday Express

…as insiders suggest Truss aims to ‘blindside’ Sunak on tax

“Liz Truss is poised to blindside Chancellor Rishi Sunak as she gears up for a potential leadership race. Inside sources have claimed that Ms Truss is expected to put tax cuts at the centre of a campaign, as she was just one of three ministers who argued against the increase to National Insurance contributions when they were discussed at Cabinet. Mr Sunak, however, backed the rise as it was preferable to further borrowing. As a result, one minister has alleged that Ms Truss may run her campaign around the slogan “axe the Rishi tax”, heaping blame on the Chancellor. National Insurance payments will increase in April, as part of an attempt to fund social care in England and help the NHS recover after the pandemic.” – Sunday Express

  • Can Sunak’s high-wire act land him the top job? – Sunday Times
  • Would-be rivals to Boris will ‘fight over’ the Levelling-Up Secretary’s backing – Mail on Sunday

More:

  • Protesters across UK demonstrate against spiralling cost of living – The Observer
  • Million households missing out on Govt’s £200 energy discount will still get charged, claims Labour – Sun on Sunday
  • Senior MPs and peers plea for u-turn on ‘unconservative’ fracking ban – Sunday Telegraph

Comment:

  • Stuff the nimbys and build, build, build; the future of Britain (and the Tories) depends on it – Robert Colvile, Sunday Times

Talks on Northern Ireland protocol making ‘little progress’, says DUP leader

“A resolution to the problems with the Northern Ireland protocol is unlikely to be reached before the Stormont assembly elections in May, the leader of the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) has said. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said that “very little progress” was being made in negotiations between the UK government and the EU, describing the likelihood of a swift resolution as “quite small”. Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, and Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission vice-president, met in London on Friday to begin a series of intensive talks to try to end the impasse over the protocol. Despite both sides declaring they wanted a deal before March, hopes for success have remained low, with Boris Johnson privately putting the chances of a new deal for Northern Ireland being achieved this month at below 30%.” – The Observer

  • Foreign Secretary warned of ‘complete collapse in the British position’ – Sunday Express

>Yesterday: Peter Lilley in Comment: The Protocol. Mutual enforcement of the law can ensure goods are EU/UK compliant without border checks.

Tory figures attack Electoral Commission over failure to tackle illegal coercion in polling stations

“Laws preventing family members exerting pressure on voters in polling stations could be tightened up after the elections watchdog was accused of sowing “confusion” over existing safeguards. Ministers are examining proposals to amend the Elections Bill to make clear that relatives cannot accompany people into voting booths and officials can call in the police where they suspect coercion is taking place. The move comes amid fears of a potential resurgence of “family voting” in Tower Hamlets, east London, where Luftur Rahman, the former mayor found guilty of corruption relating to the 2014 election, is said to be planning a comeback in May’s council elections, having served a five year ban on standing for public office.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Conservatives nudge donors into plum state jobs – Sunday Times

House of Lords is latest to say no to Stonewall after mother of all rows

“The House of Lords has abandoned a workplace inclusivity programme run by Stonewall following a row about the use of gender-neutral language in legislation. It has become the latest organisation to pull out of the charity’s Diversity Champions programme under which participants pay for advice on creating a supportive working environment… The government had wanted to refer to “pregnant people” rather than mothers in its new maternity legislation, which was fast-tracked through parliament to enable Suella Braverman, the attorney-general who was expecting her second child, to take time off after the birth without having to step down as a minister. The wording was changed after it was rejected by the Lords, with the government conceding that “mother” was acceptable, but some peers raised concerns that it had been there at all.” – Sunday Times

  • Sturgeon’s close ally urged LGBT groups to lobby politicians over gender reforms – Sunday Telegraph

Labour wants Corbyn out of Commons to fury of union paymasters

“The Labour Party is preparing to deselect Jeremy Corbyn and replace him with a new candidate in his safe London seat. Discussions have been held at the top of the party about how to oust the former leader from Islington North. Corbyn, 72, has been sitting as an independent MP since October 2020, having had the whip removed after saying that allegations of antisemitism in Labour under his leadership had been “dramatically overstated”. It is understood that he is committed to standing at the next general election, either as an independent or for Labour. This creates a headache for party chiefs who face the prospect of having to parachute in a new candidate to contest his seat at the last minute.” – Sunday Times

  • Labour MP booted out over ‘racist’ comments made in the House of Commons bar – Sun on Sunday