Published:

Diplomacy with Russia can still save Ukraine, insists Johnson

“Boris Johnson and President Biden have said that there remains a “crucial window” to avoid a Russian invasion of Ukraine as Moscow hints that it is still open to a diplomatic solution to the crisis. In a marked change of tone the two western leaders agreed there was an opportunity to avert conflict as international efforts to ease tensions increased. The Russian foreign minister used a televised meeting with President Putin to hold the door open to peace. “It seems to me that our possibilities [of diplomacy] are far from being exhausted,” Sergey Lavrov said. “[Talks] certainly should not continue indefinitely, but at this stage I would suggest that they continue and be intensified.” Separately the Russian defence minister said that some military drills, which have fanned fears of invasion, had ended or were coming to a close.” – The Times

  • Ukrainian president makes ‘ironic’ claim that invasion will come on Wednesday – Daily Telegraph
  • No ‘real sign of de-escalation’ after apparent olive branch from Moscow, says Washington – FT

More:

  • An invasion may ‘not stop at Ukraine’, warns Truss… – Daily Telegraph
  • We must show Russian president how much war will cost him, says Johnson – The Times
  • Foreign Secretary has ‘hit list’ of Putin’s pals to whack with sanctions – The Sun
  • Putin retreats! – Daily Express

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Ukraine and Russia. We can’t commit to pursuing liberal ends abroad without also providing the means

Woke ideology emboldens the West’s enemies, says Dowden

“The growing obsession with “woke” issues is emboldening Russia, China and other enemies of the West, the Conservative Party chairman has claimed. Oliver Dowden criticised left-wing parties’ fixation on issues that “divide us rather than what unites us” in a speech yesterday to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, in Washington DC. He said “obsessing over pronouns” and attempts to “decolonise” the school curriculum were examples of issues that were distracting from efforts to stand up for democracy. “Woke” ideology was now everywhere, he said, while addressing “cancel culture” that has included the toppling of statues of historical figures associated with colonialism and slavery and the silencing of figures such as JK Rowling over their views on transgender people.” – The Times

  • He gives speech to rightwing US thinktank decrying ‘cancel culture’ – The Guardian

John Penrose MP: Cleaning up the City can help stop tanks in Ukraine

“But the West’s threats won’t work if Putin doesn’t believe we’re serious, which is why the global financial markets based in the City of London are central to what happens in Ukraine. The square mile is a brilliant economic asset for global Britain, but it’s also a magnet for dirty cash. Even if only a tiny fraction of the billions that slosh through the City’s trading floors every day is illicit, it’s still big money. And since the City’s success depends on Britain’s reputation as an honest, rules-based, free-trading country, anything that corrodes our brand is lethal. So we’ve got to close any loopholes that let Putin’s oligarchs — to say nothing of an unsavoury ragbag of kleptocrats, organised crime lords, drug smugglers and gun-runners — launder their dirty cash through global financial markets and then, once it’s squeaky-clean, buy themselves posh London apartments and go shopping at Harrods.” – Times Red Box

  • There is a whiff of Munich about the West’s appeasement of Putin – Jeremy Black, Daily Telegraph
  • How the crisis plays out in Putin’s head – William Hague, The Times
  • This is the EU’s darkest hour – Richard Kemp, Daily Telegraph

>Today:

Prime Minister expected to deny wrongdoing over No 10 parties

“Boris Johnson is expected to deny wrongdoing to the police by arguing his presence at Downing Street gatherings in lockdown was part of the working day, though No 10 said his official response to the Metropolitan police would remain private. The prime minister has until Friday to answer a questionnaire sent by the Met which may lead the force to issue a fixed penalty notice (FPN) or conclude there was no case to answer. Johnson is expected to reject the allegation that he broke any laws prohibiting gatherings, but No 10 said it would not make public his defence. His official spokesperson said: “We will respond as required. As you know, I think the Met made clear that that was in seven days, so we will comply with that requirement.”” – The Guardian

  • He will not reveal what he tells police – The Sun
  • Police to reveal number of fines issued for ‘partygate’ gatherings – Daily Telegraph

Free Covid testing to be axed as cases and deaths keep falling

“Ministers are preparing to announce the end of free coronavirus testing for millions of people next week, as part of plans to cut the ongoing costs of the pandemic as cases and deaths continue to fall. Under proposals being finalised in Whitehall, healthy adults would no longer be eligible to order free lateral flow tests on the NHS. There are also plans to scale back PCR testing, with one option being to limit its availability to older adults and people considered to be clinically vulnerable. The changes, which will be announced after months of speculation, will be announced as part of the government’s Living Safely With Covid strategy, which is due to be published next week. The new strategy could come into effect as soon as next month.” – The Times

  • Brits to be charged £100 for PCRs – Daily Express
  • Government accused of cooking the books on VIP lane for Covid PPE contracts – The Times
  • Bereaved families call for Johnson to lose say over Covid inquiry topics – The Guardian

Patel to strip power of mayors to hire and fire police chiefs at will…

“Priti Patel is to introduce a new law that will prevent Sadiq Khan from summarily sacking or suspending the next Metropolitan Police Commissioner. The Home Secretary is planning the legal change to prevent police and crime commissioners (PCCs) dismissing chief constables, including the Met Police Commissioner, for political or personal reasons. The move was already being planned before the Mayor of London forced the resignation of Dame Cressida Dick amid concerns within the Government that a pattern has been emerging of Labour PCCs disposing of policing chiefs. It is thought that the departure of Dame Cressida, who quit after being told that she had lost the support of Mr Khan, will accelerate the shake-up to protect her successor and other chief constables who fall out with their political masters.” – Daily Telegraph

…as Raab takes charge of transfers to open jails after sex abuser flees

“Dominic Raab will take decisions himself on whether to move high-risk criminals to open prisons after a manhunt was launched to find a convicted sex offender who fled at the weekend. Police warned that Paul Robson, who is serving a life sentence for attempted rape and indecent assault, “presents a particular danger to women and young children”. He was reported missing from HMP North Sea Camp, a category D open prison near Boston, Lincolnshire, at about 7am on Sunday. Lincolnshire police have urged people not to approach the 56-year-old as he “can cause real harm to anyone he comes across”. The prisoner is described as a white male with a bald head and a long goatee beard and is of a slim build.” – The Times

  • Starmer receives death threats after Johnson’s Savile claim – FT

>Today: K Harvey Proctor in Comment: The real case against Starmer’s term as DPP. How Operation Midland stole my job, my home, and my reputation.

Johnson insists he is ‘working hard’ with Scottish Tories despite calls for him to resign

“Boris Johnson has insisted he is “working very hard” with his Tory colleagues in Scotland despite their calls for him to quit. The Prime Minister on Monday visited Rosyth as part of what has been dubbed a “levelling up tour” of the UK. He did not meet with Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, who maintains Mr Johnson must resign over Downing Street parties during lockdown. But Mr Johnson claimed that he was “working very hard with my colleagues in Scotland on our joint agenda of uniting and levelling up and delivering for the people of the whole UK”. The location of Rosyth was chosen for the visit as it is a possible location for one of two Scottish freeports, which will be established following a deal between the UK and Scottish Governments.” – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Johnson’s promise of a smaller state is empty rhetoric – Henry Hill, Times Red Box

Gove warns developers must pay cost of cladding removal

“Developers who own unsafe blocks and freeholders who “can afford to pay” will be forced to cover the costs of removing dangerous cladding from buildings under government plans. Michael Gove, the housing secretary, accused property businesses of “continuing to profit” while “hardworking families” in leasehold properties struggled to pay the bill for remediation works as he announced proposed changes to building safety legislation. About three million people are trapped in unsafe or unsellable flats in a scandal exposed by the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, which killed 72 people. Under existing law, flat owners are liable to pay to fix defects, leaving some with bills costing more than their homes.” – The Times

  • But ‘watered down’ proposals will see leaseholders covering cost of property fixes – Daily Telegraph

Labour vows to reverse decline in UK manufacturing

“Labour will pledge this week to reverse the decline in manufacturing, as new figures show a fall of 93,000 jobs in the sector since the Conservatives took power. Touring the north-west of England on Tuesday, Keir Starmer will highlight figures in Germany, where more than 1 million manufacturing jobs have been created over the same period. The Labour leader said manufacturing was in deep decline under the Tories because of low investment and cuts to skills budgets. He will visit Burnley, now a marginal Tory seat that was won by the Conservatives in 2019 – the first time in 100 years. In the new analysis released by Labour before Starmer’s visit, the party said jobs in manufacturing fell by 93,000 between the end of 2009 and the end of 2021. This includes 16,000 jobs lost in the north of England and 18,500 in the Midlands.” – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • It’s time for Stormont to collapse – Henry Hill, UnHerd
  • Boris vs the Scottish Tories – Katy Balls, The Spectator
  • Free trade is worth billions – Patrick Minford, The Critic
  • Navigating the new post-Covid etiquette – Henry Hill, CapX