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Johnson tells Zelensky that Britain is ‘pursuing more options’ to help Ukraine…

“Vladimir Putin’s “barbaric actions” are “testing not just Ukraine but all of humanity”, Boris Johnson warned in a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday.No 10 said that both leaders “condemned the murders of Brent Renaud and countless innocent Ukrainians, and the abduction of the mayors of Dniprorudne and Melitopol”. Mr Johnson also told Mr Zelensky that the UK would continue to pursue more options for bolstering Ukraine’s self-defence, including at Tuesday’s meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force countries in London. The UK has already sent 3,615 anti-tank weapons (NLAWs) to Ukraine and is also set to send Starstreak anti-air missiles as well. The phone call came after dozens of people were killed as Russian air strikes hit a Ukrainian military base near the Polish border.” – The Daily Telegraph

  • Leaders of ten European countries to meet in the UK to “deepen military ties” in the face of Russian aggression – The I
  • US warns Putin that he would face Nato’s “full force” as a missile strike lands within 15 miles of the Polish border – The Daily Telegraph 
  • Zelensky offers “chilling warning” to the Western alliance – South Wales Echo
  • Javid welcomes 21 ‘very ill’ Ukrainian children with cancer, who have arrived in the UK for essential care – The Sun 

>Today: Sarah Atherton MP in Comment: Russia’s Ukraine war. We must review our army cuts, reconsider fracking – and park Net Zero.

…But is a peace deal inching nearer?

“Russian and Ukrainian officials gave their most upbeat assessments yet on Sunday of progress in their talks on the war in Ukraine, suggesting there could be a positive result within days.Ukraine said it is willing to negotiate but will not surrender or accept any ultimatums, as a key Ukrainian negotiator said Moscow is beginning to ‘talk constructively’ ahead of a video-conference on Monday between representatives from both countries. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also said he would meet Vladimir Putin for peace talks, saying that whilst this is a ‘hard path, this path is needed’…Neither side indicated what the scope of any agreement might be.” – The Daily Mail

  • Levelling Up Secretary ‘unsure’ if he could take in a refugee under the government’s new scheme – The Daily Mail
  • Threat to pay debt in roubles raises prospect of Russian default – The Financial Times
  • Russia used ‘banned white phosphorous bombs’ in attacking Ukraine – The Times 
  • Our approach to refugees is failing – Nick Timothy, The Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Watch: Starmer – Government’s crisis response ‘too slow’, ‘too narrow’, and ‘too mean’

Gove says next week’s Spring Statement won’t see a U-turn on the national insurance rise

“Michael Gove has ruled out tax cuts for families in the Chancellor’s spring statement despite the cost-of-living crisis. The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary said on Sunday that Rishi Sunak would not cut taxes or reduce the rise in National Insurance in his mini Budget in two weeks. It comes amid warnings from senior backbenchers that the Government must “give people some money back” to cope with a cost-of-living crunch brought about by tax increases and rising energy prices exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. “We’re very aware that there are cost-of-living pressures that will accumulate as a result of what’s going on in Ukraine,” Mr Gove told the BBC. Asked whether Mr Sunak would consider any reduction of the tax burden on households, Mr Gove said: “No. What we have to do at the moment is to provide support in every way possible that is targeted.” – The Daily Telegraph

  • Editorial: Cutting fuel duty and scrapping the National Insurance rise are more essential than ever – The Sun
  • The Chancellor puts further pressure on companies to cut investments in Russia – The Times
  • Sunak’s freezing of tax thresholds potentially even more painful than national insurance hikes – Ruth Sutherland, The Daily Mail
  • No avoiding cost of living crisis – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • Campaigners urge ministers to delay rise in state pension age – The Daily Express

>Today: David Gauke’s column: Higher Universal Credit, public sector pay, state pensions – perhaps some tax cuts. What Sunak should do next

Clare Foges: Britain must reconsider foreign aid to India and Pakistan if they remain neutral on Ukraine

“Neutrality as an acceptable choice has been crushed under the rubble of Kharkiv and Mariupol. So clearly abhorrent are Putin’s actions, so beyond the pale in any culture or context, that even Switzerland has abandoned the habit of several lifetimes and joined the imposition of sanctions. Austria is rethinking its constitutional postwar neutrality. Even Finland is flirting with the idea of Nato membership. Sweden is sending thousands of anti-tank weapons to Ukraine. Whatever their traditions, these nations recognise that when it comes to this conflict, neutrality is complicity. Once this is established, consequences for the “neutral” must surely follow.” – Clare Foges, The Times

  • The attack on a training base for foreign fighters represents the opening of a new and more brutal phase in Putin’s attack on Ukraine – and one that might bring in the West – Times Editorial

Raab criticised by lawyers over “power grab” on human rights laws

“Plans by the government to overhaul flagship UK human rights legislation will make the state less accountable and amount to a power grab by ministers, according to lawyers, campaigners and charities. Ministers are proposing to replace the 1998 Human Rights Act with a British bill of rights after Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged reform in the Conservative party’s 2019 election manifesto. Dominic Raab, justice secretary and deputy prime minister, said in December the changes would reinforce parliament’s role as ultimate decision maker, and strengthen rights such as freedom of speech. However, lawyers and campaign groups have expressed alarm at the proposals, saying the changes will limit the duties on public authorities to protect people’s human rights, and make it harder for individuals to bring court cases for alleged breaches.” – The Financial Times

  • Victims of crime face longer waits for trials after barristers vote to go on strike – The Daily Telegraph

>Today: Rupert Matthews in Comment: Policing by consent will not be achieved by vacuous woke nonsense 

Ministers put bill to ban the import of hunting trophies on hold

“A promised ban on imports of hunting trophies has been delayed despite a survey showing overwhelming public support for the measure. Ministers had intended to introduce the Animals Abroad Bill, which would include the ban, this spring but a Whitehall source said there was now no timetable and the bill would be introduced “as soon as parliamentary time allows”. Other measures that were due to be in the bill, including banning imports of foie gras and fur, are opposed by some senior Conservatives. A survey of 2,000 adults last month found that 86 per cent were in favour of banning trophy imports as soon as possible, rising to 92 per cent of Conservative supporters. The survey was commissioned by the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, which said about 200 hunting trophies were imported each year and the delay would result in threatened species being targeted.” – The Times

  • MPs to vote today on Liberal Democrat amendment to ensure the government publishes details on animals killed be sewage dumping in rivers – The Daily Express
  • Backbencher Jonathan Gullis shares how bullying brought him to the brink of suicide, as MPs demand action to tackle rising mental health problems since the pandemic – The Daily Telegraph

Khan says children should be schooled on misogyny to prevent violence against women

“The mayor of London has said lessons on misogyny should be taught in primary schools, as he called on violence against women to be tackled. Sadiq Khan has launched a campaign to challenge sexist attitudes and inappropriate behaviours and to urge men to take a stand against misogyny. Football clubs in London have pledged their support for the campaign and will install posters and graphics across their stadiums. It comes after last year saw the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, the suspected murder-suicide of Gracie Spinks, and the deaths of police community support officer Julia James and teacher Sabina Nessa.” – Evening Standard

  • Labour calls for an investigation into Boris Johnson’s nomination of Evgeny Lebedev for a peerage… – The Financial Times
  • …as Starmer is labelled a hypocrite for privately congratulating the Evening Standard proprietor on joining the Lords – The Daily Mail
  • Police called to John Bercow’s home after an alleged domestic row with wife Sally – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Lebedev – and the least bad alternative to the House of Lords 

News in Brief:

  • Ukraine’s unilateral nuclear disarmament could have been Scotland – Brian Monteith, The Scotsman 
  • How magicians are fighting Putin – Andrew Watts, UnHerd 
  • Blocking new housing to save a car park is a new NIMBY nadir – Henry Hill, Cap X 
  • Schools should be free from child-harming electronic gadgetry – Will Orr-Ewing, The Critic 
  • Fracking would boost our energy security, whilst weaning Europe off Putin – Dominic Lawson, The Daily Mail