Published:

Putin launches the first full invasion in Europe since 1945 as he attacks Ukraine

“Russia launched an all out assault on Ukraine this morning, sending troops pouring across the border into Kharkiv and mounting an amphibious landing in the Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukrainian officials said. Explosions caused by missiles and artillery fire began before dawn across Ukraine, including around the capital Kyiv and the Black Sea ports of Odessa and Mariupol, and Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. The move puts an end to weeks of diplomatic attempts to prevent a conflict and plunged Europe deep into military crisis. Military officials said cruise missiles have been used in attacks on Kyiv’s airport and that tanks have been seen crossing its northern border with Belarus.” – The Times

  • Putin launches ‘special military operation’ to ‘de-Nazify’ Ukraine – Daily Telegraph
  • He demands Kiev lay down arms as explosions heard in country’s capital – FT
  • Missiles rain down on Kharkov and tanks roll across border from Belarus – Daily Mail
  • Ukraine calls up 200,000 reserve troops for war – The Times

More:

  • War may create millions of refugees – The Times
  • Harrowing pics show innocent Ukrainians fleeing their country – The Sun
  • Panicked Kiev residents empty ATMs and take refuge in subway tunnels – Daily Mail

Johnson accuses Russian president of choosing ‘path of bloodshed’

“Boris Johnson today declared that Russia has ‘chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction’ in Ukraine after launching ‘horrific attacks’ on its neighbour as Europe woke up to war. The Prime Minister spoke to President Zelenskyy shortly after the invasion began, telling him ‘he hoped Ukraine could resist’ and that the thoughts of everyone in the UK were with Ukraine ‘during this dark time’. Mr Johnson chaired a COBRA meeting at 7.30am GMT having promised a ‘decisive’ response amid calls for Britain to punish Putin’s oligarchs. He is expected to address the Commons later where he is certain to agree further sanctions. Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said this morning that the UK would respond with ‘unprecedented’ sanctions ‘to punish this appalling decision’ by Russia’s leader, who he accused of a pursuing a ‘Tsarist fantasy’ amid fears Putin may also attack Moldova and other former Soviet states.” – Daily Mail

  • UK will stop Russia selling sovereign debt in London, says Truss – The Guardian
  • We’ll kick Putin’s backside, says Wallace – The Times
  • Cleverly stands firm against UK troops in Ukraine – Daily Express
  • Britain to send more weapons to Ukraine within days – The Sun
  • US considers permanent base in eastern Europe – The Times

More:

  • Stop RT spreading Russian propaganda, Dorries tells Ofcom – The Times
  • Culture secretary accused of putting British media in Russia at risk – FT
  • Davis slams regulator over Russia Today – Daily Express

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Britain must be ready for a painful sanctions war with Russia

James Kilner: Putin hasn’t changed, he’s just much better prepared

“Putin’s aggression towards Ukraine is nothing new. The Kremlin’s former vassal states have heard the drumbeat of war before and recognise its chill warning. In 2007, nearly 16 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Putin told the world in a speech that he wanted to restore Moscow’s former hegemony. A year later I reported on the Russian army’s invasion of Georgia, as Putin flirted with capturing its capital city, Tblisi. So it is rather jarring to hear that he has “changed”, or that he has “gone mad”. This is the same Putin, but the difference now is that he is in a far stronger position to push through what he sees as the defining mission of his presidency: restoring a dominant Kremlin at the centre of a sphere of influence that stretches from eastern Europe across Asia to the far East.” – Daily Telegraph

  • We must finish Putin because if we don’t act soon, Ukraine will only be the start – Rod Liddle, The Sun
  • The People’s Army that’s stepping up for the fight – Ian Birrell, Daly Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: No, the Tories aren’t in Putin’s pay, nor is Labour working for him to win

Students set to shoulder £100k bill for degrees…

“Students who take out a £45,000 loan to cover their fees and living expenses face paying back £100,000 under reforms being announced today. Undergraduates in England will see dramatic changes to the loan system from September of next year. The starting salary threshold for repayments will be reduced to £25,000 from £27,200 and the loan term stretched from 30 to 40 years, meaning many will be repaying the funds as they approach retirement. However, the 3 per cent interest rate on loans, which is charged on top of the retail prices index, will be scrapped in favour of just RPI. Tuition fees will be frozen at £9,250 for at least two years. The changes form part of the government’s response to the Augar review into the funding of post-18 education. Ministers described their reforms as fairer on the taxpayer.” – The Times

  • Government prioritising savings in review of post-18 education – The Guardian

…as pupils who fail maths and English GCSEs ‘will be banned from taking out student loans’

“Kids who fail their maths and English GCSEs will be banned from getting a student loan under a proposed crackdown on duff degrees. Government plans will stop pupils without at least a Grade 4 – a C under the old system – getting taxpayer cash to pay for uni tuition fees. Ministers want to stop students studying useless Mickey Mouse subjects with low entry standards burning a hole in the public purse. They want to end the cycle of kids getting saddled with debt but not earning enough as graduates to pay it back, leaving taxpayers picking up the bill. The proposals would rule out a fifth of all kids from getting a student loan, leaving them to stump up the £27,000 themselves or abandon their uni dreams.” – The Sun

>Today: Michelle Donelan MP in Comment: Our response to Augar. A new, fairer deal for students, universities and the taxpayer

We can’t lower taxes and splurge too, Sunak warns Johnson…

“Rishi Sunak will today warn Prime Minister Boris Johnson he must make difficult and unpopular decisions if he wants to cut taxes. In a dig at his boss, the Chancellor will say Britain cannot have sky-high spending without paying for it. He will try to reassure mutinous Tory MPs worried about the direction of the party that he “firmly believes in lower taxes”. But drawing a line in the sand between him and the PM, he will suggest it is only possible if spending is reined in… His comments come amid a Tory row over the £12billion-a-year National Insurance hike this April. The cash is being used to help clear the NHS pandemic backlog and will then go towards social care.” – The Sun

  • ‘Calls to slash taxes now are flippant’ – Daily Mail
  • Chancellor lays out vision for ‘economic freedom’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Sunak pledges to put economy before immediate tax-cutting – The Times
  • Mais lecture will aim to quell concern among Tory backbenchers about the tax burden – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Sunak sets out his stall as heir to Thatcher – Iain Martin, The Times

>Today: Stephen Booth’s column: Rees-Mogg will need Johnson’s full backing if he’s to deliver regulatory reform

…and he won’t hike them to go green, minister vows

“Rishi  Sunak won’t raise taxes again to pay for net zero in a bid to calm raging Tories, his deputy says. Simon Clarke came out swinging against swathes of MPs who want to dump the PM’s green plans amid huge fears about spiralling costs. And he hinted he wanted to see tax breaks in future to help Brits become more eco-friendly. It came after senior backbencher Steve Baker renewed his attacks on the PM’s green agenda – saying the current policies are not “rational”. But the Chief Secretary to the Treasury argued that going green can help the economy, drive down costs and create jobs, slapping down claims from sections of the party who think our ambitions should be reigned in… It could mean that some taxes swap around to help the nation go greener – but that he didn’t want to see more costs whacked on the nation.” – The Sun

  • Be honest about net zero cost or public will reject it, Government warned – Daily Telegraph
  • UK warned future exploration of North Sea risks undermining climate credibility – FT

>Yesterday: Steve Baker MP in Comment: Wanted – a politically and economically viable path to low emissions

Safety first, Javid tells public as Covid emergency law is ended

“People should still “be sensible” about Covid-19 as the requirement to isolate ends today, the health secretary has said. Sajid Javid hailed an “important day” as nearly two years of emergency laws were over, but public health advice was largely unchanged. People with Covid will still be urged to stay at home for at least five days, updated guidance published today recommends. Anyone with a cough and fever should still stay at home and get a Covid test. Ministers are now considering whether the advice will change once test kits stop being free in April, with public health officials expected to argue that people should be encouraged to get a test even if they have to pay. Javid said it was “an important day as we move from rules set by the government to more personal responsibility”.” – The Times

  • Hospitals to axe visiting restrictions, masks no longer compulsory on London Transport – Daily Mail
  • End to pills-by-post policy will stop home abortions – The Times

Comment:

  • Why should the Government express a view on where people work? – Matt Hancock MP, Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: New ConservativeHome Event: Ending the pandemic – the role for Global Britain

Labour’s fight to capitalise on Prime Minister’s scandals

“Widely written off for the past two years as a grey man in a blue suit, Keir Starmer is suddenly centre stage. If the opinion polls are to be believed, his opposition Labour party could even win a narrow victory if a general election were held tomorrow in the UK. Starmer’s Labour is — for now — the beneficiary of growing public anger at Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, which is dogged by an economic “cost of living” crisis and a seemingly endless succession of revelations about sleaze and scandal. Having been pummelled at the previous general election in 2019, when the party suffered its worst result since 1935, Labour is now recording national poll leads ranging from 5-10 points. Various polls suggest Starmer is now perceived more highly than Prime Minister Johnson on multiple attributes, such as being “in touch” with voters.” – FT

  • Streeting apologises for Harold Shipman jibe aimed at Johnson – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Starmer ‘will partner with private sector and take advantage of Brexit’ – The Guardian
  • Khan faces review over Dame Cressida’s resignation – Daily Telegraph
  • Ukraine crisis: Corbynites criticise Nato ‘expansion’ – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Tories need to do more than just complain about the BBC – Henry Hill, CapX
  • Putin is looking to rebuild Russia’s empire – Niall Ferguson, The Spectator
  • Convenient clichés make for poor foreign policy – Damien Phillips, The Critic
  • The abject failure of Cool Britannia – Mary Harrington, UnHerd