Published:

Spring Statement 1) Sunak announces rises in the National Insurance threshold, alongside cuts to fuel duty, and to income tax by 2024…

“Rishi Sunak splashed the cash today as he handed back half the £12billion National Insurance hike, slashed 5p off fuel duty, and promised the basic rate of tax will drop by 2024 – but Britons still face the worst fall in living standards for nearly 70 years. Unveiling a mini-Budget for the cost-of-living crisis, the Chancellor declared that the fuel duty reduction will last until March next year to help Britons cope with soaring prices. In a bigger-than-anticipated move, he declared that the threshold for paying NICs will soar to £12,570 from July, bringing it into line with the personal allowance for tax.” – The Daily Mail

Spring Statement 2) “Tory MPs fear it won’t be enough to deal with a record squeeze on incomes”

“In a set of new forecasts yesterday, the Office for Budget Responsibility warned that, even with the tax cuts, the next 12 months will bring the biggest fall in living standards since records began in the mid-1950s.  The independent watchdog warned living standards would not now return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024, inflation would peak at close to 9 per cent and the overall tax burden would reach a record post-war level. Senior Tories urged the Chancellor to move further in cutting taxes for working families to help them cope with cost-of-living pressures, using the ‘wiggle room’ he has from soaring tax revenues and lower than expected borrowing.’” – The Daily Mail

  • The people of Leicester are unimpressed – The Financial Times
  • Sunak criticised for failing to raise benefits in line with inflation – The Daily Mail
  • Business leaders fear Sunak has ‘missed’ his chance to rebuild the British economy – The Times
  • Labour criticises “Alice in Sunakland” – The Daily Mail
  • The poorest will bare the brunt of the Chancellor’s parsimony – The Financial Times
  • Pleas for more increased defence spending are ignored – The Daily Mail
Comment:
  • The Chancellor’s tax cuts can’t come soon enough – Editorial, The Daily Mail
  • Sunak is boxed in – Editorial, The Times
  • The Chancellor cannot work miracles – Editorial, Daily Express
  • A very political Spring Statement – Editorial, The Financial Times
  • The Chancellor is unlucky, but should have done more – Editorial, The Sun
  • The Conservatives still lack a plan for growth – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph
  • It’s Chairman Rishi’s little blue book – Quentin Letts, The Times
  • We need to re-examine our taxes – John Longworth, Daily Express
  • The Tories don’t deserve to survive if they keep treating voters like fools – Alistair Heath, The Daily Telegraph
  • Sunak played it slick (and smug) – Henry Deedes, The Daily Mail
  • The Chancellor gives with one hand and takes with two – The Times
  • Sunak hoping to restore his fortunes – Robert Shrimsley, The Financial Times
  • Times writers give their verdicts – The Times
  • The Chancellor has put clear blue water between himself and the Prime Minister – Matthew Lynn, The Daily Telegraph
  • Sunak is only moving the deckchairs – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • The Chancellor makes me grave more boosterism – Stephen Glover, The Daily Mail
  • Sunak is a beacon of hope – Leo McKinstry, Daily Express
  • The Chancellor mustn’t ignore pensioners, schools or leaseholders – Sir Peter Bottomley MP, The Times

>Today:

>Yesterday:

Spring Statement 3) Lord Frost: Only lower taxes and spending can resolve the cost-of-living crisis

“Already bloated and fragile after the Covid pandemic, [the British state] is nevertheless asked to take on new task after new task, from policing supermarket displays to new social care responsibilities. It sits lower and lower in the water, each redesign making things worse not better. The forward momentum slows and manoeuvring becomes more and more difficult… The correct way forward is a different one: to get onto a new path, to hold the tax burden down, force the necessary difficult choices on spending, and boost growth. That means a fundamental redesign of the British state.” – The Daily Telegraph

  • US ‘will not entertain’ UK trade deal that risks Good Friday agreement – The Guardian

Johnson leads to tributes to Covid victims on the second anniversary of lockdown…

“Britain remembered its Covid dead yesterday two years after the first lockdown, as officials restricted access to free rapid tests. Boris Johnson led the National Day of Reflection, saying Covid victims ‘will never be out of our hearts and minds’. Events were held across the country, including a concert at St Paul’s Cathedral, which will be home to the national memorial for Covid victims funded by generous Daily Mail readers. A minute’s silence was held at midday and people were encouraged to shine a light or display flowers in their window from 8pm..” – The Daily Mail

  • Covid cases up – but Whitty says we can ‘roll with’ infections – The Sun
  • The Prime Minister wants the driving licence backlog cleared – The Times
  • Covid contracts given to the firm for which Owen Paterson lobbied – The Financial Times
  • Hancock failed to disclose messages – The Guardian

…as he tells MPs that ‘basic facts of biology remain overwhelmingly important’ in transgender row intervention

“Boris Johnson has plunged into the transgender row declaring “basic facts of biology” should be used to recognise women…He was asked at Prime Minister’s Questions by Tory MP Angela Richardson to “discuss how we can constructively support young people who are experiencing gender distress”. The PM said the trans debate required “extreme sensitivity, tact, love and care”. But he added: “I do want to say that I think when it comes to distinguishing between a man and a woman, the basic facts of biology remain overwhelmingly important.” – The Sun

  • Johnson ‘overstepped mark’ with PMQs claim that the P&O sackings broke the law – The Times

Ukraine 1) Trevelyan warns China it will face sanctions if it aids Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

“Britain will sanction China if it supports Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a Cabinet minister warned last night. Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan urged Beijing not to send arms or financial aid to Russia after the US claimed it requested China’s support, which both countries deny. Joe Biden last week warned Chinese president Xi Jinping there will be ‘consequences’ if he backs the invasion. The White House said sanctions are ‘certainly one tool in the tool box’. Mrs Trevelyan said the British Government would take similarly robust action. ‘We’ve sanctioned Belarus right alongside Russia precisely because they basically said ‘feel free to park your tanks on our lawn’. That is just not acceptable,’ she added.– The Daily Mail

Comment:
  • A month on, is Russia winning? – Larisa Brown, The Times
  • Partygate is a foolish distraction from the Ukraine crisis – Rod Liddle, The Sun
  • America doubts Biden’s leadership – David Charter, The Times

Ukraine 2) Defence Secretary features in the latest doctored video by ‘state-sponsored’ Russian pranksters

“Britain wanted Ukraine to join Nato but was blocked by other members of the defence alliance, Ben Wallace has said. The defence secretary made the comments during a hoax call with two Russian pranksters last week. The comedians, known as Vovan and Lexus, managed to speak to Wallace by pretending to be the Ukrainian prime minister. The pair, whose previous victims include Sir Elton John and the Duke of Sussex, are drip-feeding video excerpts from the call to the frustration of western officials, who have accused the Kremlin of orchestrating the prank.” – The Times

  • Risk of Putin being deposed by Russian security services – The Times

>Today:

Ukraine 3) Raab provides £1 million boost to efforts to prosecute war criminals

“British investigators will work with the UN’s top criminal court as part of a £1 million government package aimed at prosecuting alleged war crimes in Ukraine. The resource boost to the International Criminal Court came after Dominic Raab, the justice secretary, visited senior officials in The Hague last week. Karim Khan QC, the chief prosecutor, has already instructed the court’s team of lawyers to begin investigations into possible prosecutions of alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces during the one-month invasion of Ukraine. .” – The Times

Ministers plan a big increase in oil and gas production to reduce spiralling power prices

“The Government is planning to increase the production of North Sea oil and gas to counter rapidly increasing energy prices, a Cabinet Minister has claimed. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke told BBC’s Newsnight that more oil and gas will form part of the government’s strategic energy strategy which is due to be released next week. Mr Clarke said officials were examining proposals to approve additional oil and gas fields in order to wean Britain off Russian fossil fuels.’” – The Daily Mail

  • Ministers warn wind farm plans will provoke opposition – The Times
  • Leadsom lends her support to fracking – Daily Express

The ‘terrorist’ accused of stabbing Sir David Amess had a look of ‘self-satisfaction’ afterwards, witnesses claim

“A terror suspect looked smug and proud after stabbing MP Sir David Amess to death, the Old Bailey heard yesterday. Ali Harbi Ali had a look of “self-satisfaction” following the killing at the Tory’s constituency surgery, a jury was told. Witness Yvonne Eaves said of the 26-year-old: “He wasn’t remorseful. He’s like, ‘I’ve achieved something’.” Dad-of-five Sir David, 69, suffered 21 wounds to the face, arms and chest in the attack. His killer was “relaxed and smiling” beforehand, said the Southend West MP’s aide, Rebecca Hayton..” – The Sun

  • Charlie Elphicke abandons rape report libel challenge – The Times 

News in Brief:

  • Why I drove a van to Poland – David Cameron, The Spectator 
  • ‘This is Going to Hurt’ is a brilliant advert for private healthcare – Henry Hill, Cap X
  • This war can save liberalism – Francis Fukuyama, UnHerd 
  • Time to end the grievance-industrial complex – Rakib Ehsan, The Critic 
  • Welcome to Sunakland, complete with Teletubbies and Ted Heath on Instagram – Madeline Grant, The Daily Telegraph