Johnson’s UK energy strategy stalls as the Chancellor opposes greater spending commitments…

“Boris Johnson’s promised energy security strategy has been delayed again, as chancellor Rishi Sunak continues to hold out against big new spending commitments. Sunak, under fierce pressure to do more to help families through the cost of living crisis, has told colleagues he wants to turn off the spending taps and that every “marginal pound” should go towards tax cuts. His tough stance has put the brakes on the energy strategy, which was originally due for publication last week and then again at the start of this week. Officials close to the process said they did not expect an announcement this week and that April 4, during the Easter parliamentary recess, was now the earliest date.” – The Financial Times 

  • Fears of protests at the Prime Minister’s plans for “stadium-sized” nuclear power plants built near homes – The Sun 
  • Zahawi hints further help may be on its way for struggling families – The Guardian
  • Sunak continues to mull a council tax rebate – Daily Express
  • Can the Chancellor hold down spending until 2024? – Editorial, The Times
  • Sunak just cannot understand the nation’s pain – Editorial, Daily Express
  • The Chancellor is being very un-Conservative by putting up taxes for millions – Ruth Sunderland, The Daily Mail 

…as he joins Zahawi in pledging help for pupils in an effort to improve GCSE grades

“Boris Johnson has promised parents that pupils falling behind at school will get help, as the education secretary said that driving up GCSE grades would boost the economy by £30 billion. Nadhim Zahawi will set his first schools white paper before parliament today but headteachers criticised the “parent pledge” and the plans to force schools to join strong academy trusts. All schools will be expected to teach a minimum 32.5-hour week by next year. Zahawi also wants to raise the average GCSE attainment by one grade. Any schools with persistent low standards that shun recommended measures such as tutoring to help to improve numeracy and literacy could face critical Ofsted reports.” – The Times

  • The Education Secretary urges teachers to ‘exercise restraint’ in the face of rising inflation – The Daily Mail
  • Ambition of all schools in England attaining academy status by 2030 – The Financial Times
  • Zahawi also justifies Sir Gavin Williamson’s knighthood – The Daily Mail
  • Universities and local government organisations raise fears for EU-funded UK training schemes post-Brexit – The Financial Times

 Patel ‘could be sacked’ after a failure to end the Channel migrant crisis

“The PM is considering a summer reshuffle to freshen up his top team, with the embattled Home Sec at the top of his hit list according to insiders. Allies of Levelling Up Sec Michael Gove are touting him as a possible replacement, which could happen as early as June. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is also in line for the promotion after impressing during the Ukraine crisis. Red Wall MPs are increasingly frustrated at the crossings, which have already topped 4,000 this year, four times as many as 2021… An ally of the Home Secretary hit back at the rumours saying: “She’s in this bizarre predicament where Priti is taking all the blame for something happening and able to be stopped by another country. “Hopefully after the French elections we get somewhere with them.”” – The Sun

  • The Home Secretary to announce national register of domestic abusers – The Daily Mail
  • Will we ever end the illegal migrant invasion of our beaches? – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • Refugee charity attacks UK’s Homes for Ukraine scheme – The Guardian
  • It may be time to dismantle the ‘useless’ Home Office and start again – Editorial, The Sun
  • Refugee red tape is a farce – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph 

Ukraine 1) Biden denies having called for regime change in Russia

“[Efforts] at peace came as Joe Biden tried to limit the fallout from his controversial statement at the weekend that Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power”. When asked on Sunday if he wanted to see Putin removed from office in Russia he said simply “no”. The president’s original comments were swiftly walked back by both the White House and the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, who insisted the US did not have “a strategy of regime change in Russia – or anywhere else”. The UK, Germany and France also distanced themselves from Biden’s apparently unplanned remark.” – The Guardian

  • Macron warns against ‘verbal escalation’ – The Times
  • Boris Johnson is doing more to help than the French President – The Daily Telegraph 
  • This conflict will drive more countries to acquire nuclear weapons – Ian Birrell, The I
  • Russia’s war risks plunging us into a recession – Roger Bootle, The Daily Telegraph
  • The President’s ‘verbal blunders’ raise important questions about his leadership, fitness, and stamina – Editorial, The Times
  • The President’s loose talk is dangerous – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph 
  • It’s Biden losing his marbles, not Putin – Dominic Lawson, The Daily Mail
  • This should focus Western minds on what the real endgame looks like – Editorial, The Guardian
  • Putin’s fate is beyond our control – Tim Stanley, The Daily Telegraph 

Ukraine 2) Putin plans to partition Ukraine, warns top intelligence official

“Russia is seeking to split Ukraine in two, mirroring the partition of the Korean peninsula into North and South Korea, Kyiv’s top military intelligence officer said yesterday. Brigadier General Kyrylo Budanov warned that President Putin’s failure to capture the capital and overthrow the Zelensky government could mean he will try to cut his losses. “There are reasons to believe he may try to impose a separation line between the occupied and unoccupied regions The warning came as peace talks were set to resume in Turkey this week after Russia signalled a change of strategy, claiming to have switched its focus to “liberating” Ukraine’s south and east. Ukrainian troops have begun pushing back Russian forces from their stalled assault on the capital.” – The Times

  • Ukraine will discuss neutrality as part of a peace deal, but a referendum is required, says Zelensky – The Irish Times
  • Erdogan calls for a ceasefire – The Daily Mail
  • Zelensky ‘looking for peace without delay’ as talks resume… – The Guardian
  • …as he begs the West for more military hardware – The Daily Mail
  • Russian forces attempting to encircle Ukrainian forces in the east, says Ministry of Defence – The I
  • Ukraine ‘will not be silent’ about the ‘horror’ of rapes committed during Russia’s invasion, according to a politician in the country – The Scotsman
  • Defeat in Ukraine will be curtains for Russia – Edward Lucas, The Times

Shapps warns P&O Ferries it could be banned from British ports

“Grant Shapps, UK transport secretary, is to tell P&O Ferries to rehire the 800 staff it sacked this month as its plan to replace them with very low-paid workers is doomed because a law will soon ban the practice. Shapps will tell Peter Hebblethwaite, the company’s chief executive, that the legislation, to be outlined this week, will require all ferry companies operating out of UK ports to pay the national minimum wage. An aide to the transport secretary said Shapps “will tell Hebblethwaite that if he doesn’t perform a U-turn, we will force him to do it anyway. We hope they will see reason and step back. We will make it impossible for ferry companies to operate from UK ports without paying the national minimum wage.” The company, which fired 800 workers this month without formal consultation, wants to halve its labour costs by replacing crews with international agency staff on an average hourly rate of £5.50.”  – The Financial Times

  • The Transport Secretary has ‘no plans’ for crisis talks – The I
  • We must play dirty with P&O – Huw Merriman MP, The Times

Leading Conservative councillors predict gains in May local elections, despite economic hardship

“Conservative leaders insist they are on track for strong results in local elections across England, predicting they will seize control of one of Labour’s longest-held councils, despite many admitting more should be done to ease the “nightmare” of soaring bills…However, Tory leaders outside London said they did not believe the party would be punished at the polls on 5 May, when local elections take place in England, Wales and Scotland. Elections for the Northern Ireland assembly will take place on the same day. Tory strategists have set their sights on taking control of Sunderland city council for the first time in its 48-year history, in what would represent a headline-grabbing victory for Boris Johnson and a serious blow for Keir Starmer.” – The Guardian

Hancock: We must change the way we treat dyslexics like me

“To be a politician is to have a thick skin. But even after nearly a decade in the public eye, Matt Hancock felt unable to reveal that he had dyslexia for fear that he would derail his career. “Shame is the right word, actually. I had a practical worry that I wouldn’t get on in my career and then I had an emotional barrier to talking about it which was shame,” he told The Telegraph. Not long after, however, following encouragement from a colleague, the former health and culture secretary came out publicly as dyslexic. Four years on from that decision, Mr Hancock is now on a campaign to change the way Britain sees those with dyslexia.” – The Daily Telegraph

Miller justifies Online Safety Bill by describing her experience of being ‘cyber-flashed’

“A Conservative MP who was cyber-flashed while on a busy train to London revealed she has become accustomed to a ‘regular bombardment of online verbal abuse, rape, and even death threats’. Basingstoke MP Maria Miller, 57, recalled the moment she received an unsolicited explicit image without consent of a man’s genitalia by someone she was sharing a packed train with to Waterloo station. The 57-year-old also hailed the Online Safety Bill, which was introduced in Parliament last week and called it ‘a ground-breaking piece of legislation’ that will ‘hold tech giants to account for the first time’.” – The Daily Mail

Khan’s City Hall ‘tried to gag Cressida Dick’, and to prevent her from receiving compensation

“City Hall wanted to stop Dame Cressida Dick from speaking out publicly about her leadership of the Metropolitan Police while the London mayor tried to prevent her from getting a penny in compensation, The Times has learnt. Negotiations between Dick and Sadiq Khan over her departure are understood to have become “extremely acrimonious” over the prospect of a gagging clause and the size of her payout. The parties have been trying to broker a deal for six weeks since Dick resigned when Khan withdrew his confidence in the wake of a series of officer scandals involving misogyny, racism and corruption.” – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Putin’s useful German idiots – Matthew Karnitschnig, Politico 
  • Schools white paper to include Maths and English targets – Brendan Jeffreys, BBC 
  • Volodymyr Zelensky in his own words – Zanny Minton Beddoes, Ollie Carroll, and Arkady Ostrovsky, The Economist 
  • Could Biden gaffe us into World War Three? – Freddy Gray, The Spectator 
  • The heroic failure of Cumbernauld – Daniel Kalder, UnHerd