Sunak splashes out to ease energy bills crisis…

“Rishi Sunak will unveil a multi-billion pound package on Thursday to help people cope with soaring energy bills – but has resisted cutting green levies, despite the cost of living crisis. Ofgem will announce a rise in the energy price cap, with industry estimates saying bills will increase by 50 per cent to about £1,915 for the typical household. The Chancellor is reportedly set to unveil state-backed loans that will allow energy firms to reduce the bills of every household in the UK, to ease the financial impact. The Telegraph also understands that Treasury officials have been preparing plans for a council tax rebate, a targeted measure that would help the poorest families.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Treasury and BoE work in tandem to head off ‘cost of living catastrophe’ – FT
  • Treasury preparing 11th hour package to soften national cost of living crisis – The Guardian
  • Government prepares plan to contain energy bills – FT
  • Energy bills are to soar by £650 with record price cap rise – Daily Mail
  • And energy bills to rise as Ofgem brings forward price cap announcement – The Guardian
  • Interest rate rise predicted – The Guardian

…and millions to get cuts in council tax

“Millions of people will be given rebates on their council tax bills worth hundreds of pounds to limit the impact of soaring energy prices on poorer households. The regulator Ofgem is expected to announce that the energy price cap will rise by 50 per cent to as much as £2,000 because of surging wholesale gas prices. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, is subsequently expected to say that people in council tax bands A to C will receive rebates funded by government grants. More than 15 million households could benefit from the additional support, with the poorest households enjoying the biggest rebates.” – The Times

MPs Tobias Ellwood, Sir Gary Streeter and Anthony Mangnall submit no confidence letters

“Five Conservative MPs called for Boris Johnson’s resignation in just over 24 hours amid growing unrest at his handling of the Downing Street parties saga. A clutch of backbenchers from different generations and various wings of the party took the total number of Johnson’s own MPs publicly demanding his departure to 13. At least a further five, including members of the government, are considering submitting letters of no confidence in the coming days, The Times has learnt. While it is not thought to be a co-ordinated plot, momentum is growing behind a challenge.” – The Times

  • I am terrified that I may ruin my political career – but Johnson must go – Daily Telegraph
  • Five more MPs submit no confidence letters – Daily Mail
  • Revolt against Johnson grows as three more no confidence letters are handed in – Daily Telegraph
  • PM hit by rebellion of moderate backbench MPs – FT
  • Johnson will not quit after Partygate – The Sun
  • PM’s Savile jibe: fair criticism of Starmer or ridiculous slur? – The Times

PM could face £12,000 fine if found guilty

“The prime minister could be fined more than £12,000 if he is found to have breached his own coronavirus laws, according to a senior lawyer. Adam Wagner, a barrister and expert on Covid regulations, said that the size of fixed penalty notices increased with each offence, potentially landing Boris Johnson, who denies wrongdoing, with a hefty fine. At least 6 of the 12 events referred to the Metropolitan Police by Sue Gray, the senior civil servant investigating allegations of lockdown breaches, were either attended by Johnson or are linked to him.” – The Times

  • Run No 10? No thanks: permanent secretaries reluctant to take on role – The Times
  • Sturgeon takes a saw to classroom doors in ‘crackpot’ DIY effort to stop Covid in schools – Daily Telegraph
  • MP blames SNP stress for loss of sight in one eye – The Times

Long-awaited levelling-up plan raises hopes and doubts for regions

“More than two years after Boris Johnson came to power with a promise to “level up” the UK, his government published a policy prospectus on Wednesday on which it intends to be judged by voters at the next general election and beyond. In a 332-page document delivered by Michael Gove, the levelling-up minister, the government sought to crystallise a policy agenda that critics say has remained stubbornly ill-defined since the prime minister took office two years ago. The paper promised to tackle the UK’s long-entrenched regional inequalities through a programme of English devolution, targeted spending in poorer areas outside London and the South-East, and 12 medium-term “missions” against which to benchmark success.” – FT


US bolsters Europe with 3,000 extra troops

“The US is deploying an extra 3,000 troops to Germany, Poland and Romania amid fears about President Putin’s intentions as he continues to amass Russian forces around Ukraine. The Pentagon said that France would also send more soldiers to Romania, adding that Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain were considering extra forces for eastern Nato states. Pushed on whether this meant there was evidence that Russian forces could move into Nato countries, John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said: “It’s important that we send a strong signal to Mr Putin and, frankly, to the world . . . An attack on one is an attack on all.” – The Times


DUP orders halt to Brexit port checks in Northern Ireland

“Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party was accused last night of trying to pull off an “unlawful” stunt after the party’s agriculture minister ordered a halt to Brexit agri-food checks at ports. Edwin Poots, whose officials are responsible for carrying out the checks on the Northern Ireland protocol, said he had ordered his permanent secretary to stop them from midnight today. Last night it was unclear whether Anthony Harbinson, the senior civil servant in his department, would comply with the order that would breach the UK’s obligations under the deal. EU sources said if the checks were stopped it would be the legal duty of the UK government to force the Northern Ireland executive to back down.” – The Times

  • N Ireland minister halts post-Brexit agriculture customs checks – FT
  • There’s no Brexit conspiracy here, says Truss – Daily Telegraph

Macron ‘absolutely wrong’ to blame Britain for migrant crisis, says Patel

“The home secretary rejected the French president’s comments, in which he said Britain’s reliance on “illegal” immigrant labour was behind the surge in numbers leaving France. Last year there was a record number of arrivals in the UK, more than 28,000, and last month six times as many people came ashore as in the same month last year. Macron told a regional newspaper in northern France that he intended to step up pressure on Boris Johnson to establish a legal route for asylum seekers. “The responsibility for those who die at sea does not fall upon France but upon this British refusal,” Macron said.” – The Times

  • Hotel rooms for asylum seekers costing taxpayer £1.2m per day – The Times
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