Published:

Gove bids to end Ukrainian refugee chaos with £350 ‘cash for rooms’ offer

“People who open their homes to Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion will get £350 a month under a “cash for accommodation” scheme, as ministers try to make amends for the UK’s chaotic response to the crisis. In a humiliation for Priti Patel, the home secretary, who has been heavily criticised for failing to remove bureaucratic visa requirements for refugees that have been waived by other European countries, fellow cabinet minister Michael Gove announced the plan last night, calling for a “national effort” on behalf of people in desperate need. Gove, secretary for levelling up, housing and communities said: “The crisis in Ukraine has sent shock waves across the world as hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been forced to flee their homes, leaving everything they know and love.”” – The Observer

  • Volunteers to sign up online, with sponsored people vetted ‘in days’ – Sunday Telegraph
  • MI6 warns Patel not to relax visa rules for Ukrainian refugees due to risks – Mail on Sunday

Britain to assemble coalition to put Russian war criminals behind bars

“Justice Secretary and deputy prime minister Dominic Raab will visit the Hague tomorrow to offer Britain’s full support in ensuring Russian war criminals are prosecuted. Britain could help with “witness relocation” and those found guilty of atrocities could be jailed in UK prisons. Mr Raab has pledged to build a coalition of countries that will assist war crimes investigations, and he will offer British legal expertise and technical support to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Attorney General Suella Braverman has already talked with Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Iryna Venediktova, about what help the country needs to collect and preserve evidence of war crimes. The moves to crack down on war criminals come as the Government investigates how it can stop Russian oligarchs using the British legal system to “intimidate and silence their critics”.” – Sunday Express

  • Sunak tells UK businesses there is ‘no case’ to invest in Russia – Sunday Telegraph
  • MPs urge Johnson to nominate Zelensky for knighthood – Sun on Sunday

Comment:

  • The Economic Crime Bill must not undermine the right of appeal – Matthew Syed, Sunday Times

Wallace fought ‘securocrats’ to donate UK’s tank-busting weapons to Ukraine

“Britain’s most important contribution to the war in Ukraine might never have happened had security chiefs and mandarins got their way. They spent nine months opposing demands by Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, to send lethal aid to the government in Kyiv. Wallace last week announced that Britain has given the Ukrainians 3,615 NLAW short-range anti-tank weapons, credited with stalling the advance of Russian armoured columns. He also wants to supply Starstreak anti-aircraft weapons and “a small consignment” of Javelin anti-tank missiles as Russian forces close in on Kyiv. But the inside account of how Wallace, with Boris Johnson’s backing, argued with the intelligence and foreign policy establishment over when to arm the Ukrainians reveals how security chiefs initially badly misread Vladimir Putin’s intentions.” – Sunday Times

  • Russia warns it will target Western weapons convoys in Ukraine – Sunday Telegraph

More:

  • Minister warns Moscow against using chemical weapons – The Observer
  • The new legion of foreign fighters: who are they and where do they come from? – Sunday Times
  • British soldiers sent to eastern Europe could be hit with £200 extra tax bill – Sun on Sunday

Truss reveals plan to put Article 16 on hold because of Ukraine war

“Liz Truss has set out plans to put the potential triggering of Article 16 on hold because of the Ukraine crisis and instead help Northern Ireland businesses with an “economic stimulus” package including tax cuts. The Foreign Secretary is understood to have written to Boris Johnson outlining a proposal to boost trade between Britain and Northern Ireland with tax breaks and a “unilateral green lane” allowing goods that would remain in the UK to cross the Irish Sea with minimal paperwork. The plan is seen by Ms Truss as a way to avoid a major confrontation with the European Union at a time when she is simultaneously helping to coordinate a united international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But it is likely to provoke fury among Brexiteers who fear the Government’s resolve to overhaul the Northern Ireland protocol is slipping.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • ‘Significant changes’ needed to Protocol, Johnson tells Irish premier – The Observer

Sunak lines up new measures to tackle cost-of-living crunch…

“Rishi Sunak is preparing a “two stage” set of further interventions to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, having conceded the need for a significantly beefed-up spring statement next week, The Telegraph understands. The Chancellor is understood to have accepted that the scale of the Ukraine crisis requires a fresh intervention by the Government as families face the biggest cost-of-living squeeze in a generation. A government source refused to be “drawn on specifics of what Rishi may or may not say” in the financial statement, planned for March 23… Options available to Mr Sunak include a further reduction to the rate at which Universal Credit payments are cut for people who work and an increase in state benefits above the planned 3.1 per cent rate.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Use £1.9billion tax windfall from record petrol prices to help UK motorists, fifty Tory MPs tell Chancellor – Mail on Sunday
  • No ‘big bazooka’ action to combat rising bills in Chancellor’s mini-budget – Sun on Sunday

…as Johnson sets up oil and gas taskforce to plot a way out of the energy crisis

“Boris Johnson will set up an energy task force to bolster the UK’s oil, gas and nuclear supplies as he plots a way out of the energy crisis. Two senior industry experts at its head will report directly to the Prime Minister and advise on a ‘transition period’ focusing on fossil fuels – as the Government signals its clearest move yet away from the Net Zero target. Sources said the task force has the twin aim of boosting the UK’s energy self-sufficiency in the wake of the war in Ukraine and keeping household energy bills down. Government insiders have privately admitted the Government’s focus on decarbonising the economy by 2050 has to be dropped in the short term. It comes as the Prime Minister stressed the need for Europe to rid itself of its dependency on Russian oil and gas, and Ministers grapple with spiralling heating costs.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Will the lights go out? Will petrol be rationed? How to solve an energy crisis – Sunday Times
  • Mordaunt suggests colleagues should not take funds from Tory donor behind Channel power project – The Observer

Fracking:

  • Cuadrilla calls for fracking support now before wells are capped with concrete – Sunday Telegraph
  • British shale firm could extract natural gas to heat 125,000 homes this year – Mail on Sunday

Matt Hancock: Why I am protesting against the UK’s largest solar farm

“To give you an idea, the proposed site would be the size of 2,115 football pitches and cover swaths of my West Suffolk constituency in glass and metal sheeting. It is not just the outlandish scale of the development that concerns me and the community I’ve been honoured to represent for more than a decade. For alongside the solar panels, will come giant batteries – some the size of a shipping container – to store electricity for the National Grid. They are a known fire hazard and have no place in any residential setting, let alone a rural village. To be clear, I am a supporter of solar power. I have backed many solar installations in the right place with strong and even enthusiastic local support. But the proposed battery and solar farm in West Suffolk would be a gross intrusion into the lives of my constituents, and a dangerous one at that.” – Mail on Sunday

More than half of UK voters still think Boris Johnson should resign

“A majority of voters still want to see Boris Johnson resign despite the crisis over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the latest Opinium poll for the Observer. There has been a significant fall in the proportion of voters who want the prime minister to stand aside. However, the new poll showed that 53% still wanted to see him go – down 10 points since January… There are clear concerns over the cost of living at home. There was a 15-point increase in those who now expect the economy to get worse over the next year (71%), while 57% expect their personal finances to worsen – up 12 points. Johnson’s net approval ratings have improved from low levels. Those approving of the job he is doing make up 27%, with 54% disapproving.” – The Observer

>Today: ToryDiary: Why some Tory MPs remain determined to overhaul Parliament’s disciplinary process