Published:

Prime Minister plans trip to Ukraine capital to show support in war…

“Boris Johnson is considering a lightning trip to Kyiv to show support for Ukraine’s battle against Vladimir Putin. The Prime Minister has asked officials to examine the practicality and value of the trip to the Ukrainian capital for talks with president Volodymyr Zelensky. Security officials are said to be ‘having kittens’ at the prospect of the PM travelling to a war zone; from which ten million have fled, UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi said on Sunday. But a Whitehall source said Mr Johnson ‘wants to go’ if it can be made to work… But the situation last night in Kyiv showed how difficult it would be to ensure the Prime Minister’s safety if he does visit. Mayor Vitali Klitschko shared pictures of what appeared to be an explosion in the distance in the city’s Podil district.” – Daily Mail

  • Johnson sorry for comparing Ukraine war to the Brexit vote – The Times

More:

  • Biden to visit Poland – The Guardian
  • Truss condemns Russian abduction of Mariupol citizens ‘forcibly taken’ across the border – Daily Telegraph
  • Ukraine rejects demands to surrender port – The Times

…and will chair roundtable on boosting UK’s nuclear power output

“Boris Johnson will chair a meeting on how to increase the UK’s nuclear power output on Monday, as he prepares to publish his energy security strategy this month amid soaring prices. The prime minister will discuss domestic nuclear projects with leaders from the nuclear industry at a roundtable meeting at Downing Street, No 10 said. Johnson is expected to publish the government’s energy security strategy later in March, against a backdrop of rocketing energy bills, which were already creating a cost of living crisis even before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine led ministers to pledge to phase out Russian energy… Last November, the government agreed to invest in a new generation of mini-nuclear reactors, being developed by engineering firm Rolls-Royce.” – The Guardian

  • Saudi Aramco rakes in blockbuster profits amid soaring energy prices – Daily Mail

>Today: Anthony Browne MP in Comment: Now is not the time to go slow on Net Zero

Spring Statement 1) Johnson and Sunak ‘signal a fuel duty cut’ as they pledge to tackle cost of living crisis

“A cut in fuel duty has been signalled by Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, as they seek to ease the cost of living crisis facing families in the Spring Statement. Expectations that the levy could be reduced by 5p a litre were raised after the Chancellor pledged to “stand by” hard-pressed householders facing “prohibitively expensive” petrol prices and the Prime Minister was said to be “pushing” for a cut for motorists. Mr Sunak told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “We recognise the importance of people being able to fill their cars up, and that not being prohibitively expensive.” … One Tory MP who has called for a cut in fuel duty, which currently stands at 58p per litre, said: “The Boris people seem to be much more getting it and are pushing it quite a bit.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Reduction of at least 5p expected – The Times
  • Chancellor vows his ‘mission’ is to cut taxes for millions of Brits as soon as he can – The Sun
  • Economy working ‘really well’ despite cost-of-living crisis, insists Javid – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: We won’t stand in the way of the Chancellor if he cuts fuel duty – Reeves

Spring Statement 2) Chancellor refuses to back down on National Insurance tax hike

“Rishi Sunak refused to back down on the hated National Insurance tax rise last night — even with Brits facing double-digit inflation for the first time in 40 years. The Chancellor insisted the “decision is done”. Mr Sunak said hiking taxes was “the last thing I wanted to do” but claimed he had to try to balance the books so the burden of Covid did not fall on kids for years to come. However, last night there was growing speculation he could effectively cancel out April’s rise for millions by raising National Insurance thresholds to £11,300. The move would cost the Treasury £5billion, but that would be covered by higher tax receipts due to soaring inflation.” – The Sun

  • He could raise the thresholds at which people start to pay the tax – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: The Chancellor prepares voters for the Spring Statement by saying he’ll stand by them

Spring Statement 3) Sunak ‘poised to defy calls for increase in defence budget’

“Rishi Sunak is expected to defy calls from cabinet colleagues to increase Britain’s defence budget this week despite the war in Ukraine. The chancellor said that a £24 billion investment he announced last year had already elevated Britain to the second largest Nato spender as he appeared to rule out any extra spending in his spring statement on Wednesday. It took Britain’s defence spending to slightly over 2 per cent of GDP. However, any decision not to increase the budget further is likely to disappoint senior cabinet colleagues, who have been pushing privately for Britain to increase its defence spending following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, has previously suggested that she would like to see Britain spending 5 per cent of its GDP on defence.” – The Times

  • He clashes with Rees-Mogg over Downing Street parties scandal – The Times

>Yesterday:

Larry Elliot: This is the Chancellor’s chance to stop a recession

“Consumer spending is going to be weak this year because wages will fail to keep pace with prices. Companies are going to mothball investment as the costs of doing business go up. The chances of an export-led boom are nil given that every other energy-importing country faces exactly the same pressures as the UK. That leaves the government, where policy is currently the opposite of what it needs to be. Sunak has frozen tax allowances for the rest of the parliament; he will raise employer and employee national insurance contributions by 1.25 percentage points from next month; and he has temporarily scrapped the pensions triple lock. Taken together, these measures will suck tens of billions of pounds out of the economy at precisely the wrong time.” – The Guardian

  • Tory pressure on Sunak to prioritise defence spending – Mhari Aurora, Times Red Box
  • He has short-term challenges, but he should also look further ahead – Martin Wolf, FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Sunak’s Budget which isn’t a Budget but will be a Budget – for a cost of living crisis unprecedented in recent times

Pupils ‘should learn benefits of Empire’, argues Badenoch

“The positives of the British Empire must be taught alongside the negatives, the equalities minister has said, after launching plans to overhaul the way history is taught in schools. Kemi Badenoch said that schools needed to tell “both sides of the story” as part of a more consistent and nuanced history curriculum. She said that the balanced way in which she was taught about the British Empire during her upbringing in Nigeria had helped to inform her views about how it should be taught in schools in the UK. Badenoch, who was born in London to Nigerian parents but spent some of her childhood in Lagos, said the “good things” that missionaries brought to the country during the era of colonialism had been balanced against the “terrible things” that had also happened.” – The Times

  • How to keep the Commonwealth away from tyrants – Trevor Phillips, The Times

>Today: Stewart Jackson’s column: Badenoch and Sewell have found a conservative way of viewing ethnicity and culture – and acting on it

Labour urges Kwarteng to launch legal action against P&O Ferries

“Labour has urged the business secretary to launch legal action against P&O Ferries over its “scandalous” decision to sack 800 workers without warning, which the party said is a criminal offence. Shadow transport secretary, Louise Haigh, deputy leader Angela Rayner and shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds have written to Kwasi Kwarteng, asking if he will begin proceedings for what they called the “scandalous action” of the ferry company. Under section 193 of the Trade Union Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, employers who want to make more than 100 people redundant have a duty to notify the business secretary of their plans, before giving notice to the workers. The employer is also required to do so at least 45 days before the dismissals.” – The Guardian

  • Sunak sparks union anger over treatment of firm’s owner – FT

Brown says Johnson should not fear second Scottish referendum

“Gordon Brown has said Boris Johnson should not be “afraid” of a second independence referendum, arguing that he had “no doubt” the Unionist side would win again. The former prime minister said the Tory Government thought they “can’t afford to have a referendum”, but he was “ready any time to put my arguments” for a rerun of the 2014 vote. His intervention came with Nicola Sturgeon expected shortly to unveil legislation for another separation vote, which she wants to stage by autumn next year. The Scottish Tories denied the UK Government was “scared” of another referendum, but argued “it’s the last thing Scotland needs right now”, as the country attempts to rebuild after the pandemic and with the focus on the “horrific events in Ukraine.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • SNP to publish indy ref bill despite failing support – Daily Express

News in Brief:

  • If the Government wants British tech to thrive, it must kill this bill – Sam Dumitriu, CapX
  • Why are there so few EU Rejoiners? – Tim Congdon, The Critic
  • The naïve idealism of Brown’s Nuremberg trial – Stephen Daisley, The Spectator
  • American education’s new dark age – William Deresiewicz, UnHerd