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Boris Johnson: The West must end its dependence on Putin

“When Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine the first time round, in 2014, the West made a terrible mistake. The Russian leader had committed an act of violent aggression and taken a huge chunk out of a sovereign country – and we let him get away with it. We decided we could somehow go back to normality. Economic relations did not just resume – they intensified, with the West taking more Russian gas than ever before, becoming more dependent on the goodwill of Putin and more exposed to the vagaries of the global gas and oil price. And so when he finally came to launch his vicious war in Ukraine, he knew the world would find it very hard to punish him. He knew that he had created an addiction.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Putin’s hollow regime could quickly collapse – William Hague, The Times

>Yesterday: Shanker Singham in Comment: A four-point plan for (re)building the global network of liberty

Prime Minister plans Saudi Arabia visit to seek oil supply increase

“Boris Johnson is facing scrutiny over a planned trip to Saudi Arabia to push for an increase in oil output amid an outcry over the regime’s biggest ever mass execution and growing fears the prime minister may try to limit media scrutiny of the visit. Downing Street would not confirm Johnson’s likely trip to Riyadh, but sources have said he wants to appeal to the Gulf state to increase its oil output to replace supplies from Russia. MPs registered their deep concern after Saudi Arabia’s execution of 81 men on Saturday. Crispin Blunt, a backbench Conservative MP, secured an urgent question in the House of Commons, saying it represented “a new low for human rights and criminal justice in the kingdom, only a week after the crown prince had promised to modernise its justice system.”” – The Guardian

  • Mission has slim chance of immediate success – The Times

Comment:

  • Opposition to Putin must not lead the UK to appease equally repellent dictators – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian

Gove confirms ‘unlimited numbers’ of people fleeing Ukraine will be allowed to live here for three years

“The website where you can sign up to house Ukranian refugees has crashed an hour after the scheme was launched as more than 37,000 generous Brits have registered to welcome those fleeing Russian bombs. Michael Gove confirmed ‘unlimited numbers’ will be allowed to live here for three years as he appealed to people to open their homes to Ukrainian refugees today. The Housing Secretary announced the launch of the Homes for Ukraine scheme that will pay families £350-a-month to take in those fleeing Russian brutality for at least six months. The website to register for the scheme went down immediately after it was launched with some people unable to complete the online form for up to an hour.” – Daily Mail

  • Labour calls UK’s homes plan a ‘DIY asylum scheme’ – The Guardian

Sketches:

  • General Gove parks his tanks on Patel’s lawn – Quentin Letts, The Times
  • A tonal switch from baseball bat to kid gloves – Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Peter Franklin in Comment: The war – and the end of the McWorld of consumer peace

Three Britons reportedly killed in air strike

“The Foreign Office is urgently investigating reports that three British former special forces officers were killed in the Russian air strike at the Yavoriv base near the Polish border on Sunday. Officials are understood to be liaising with the Ukrainian authorities and international partners to establish further information. According to the Daily Mirror, the three men killed by the cruise missile attack were not part of the foreign fighters unit that was being trained at the base, which is only six miles from the Polish border. The strike killed at least 35 people.” – Daily Telegraph

  • British volunteer fighters in Ukraine unlikely to face terrorism charges – The Times
  • Defence spending set to fall because of soaring inflation – Daily Telegraph
  • China ‘willing to supply Russia’ with weapons and military support – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Secret camp where British veterans are training to take on Putin – Ian Birrell, Daily Mail

>Today: Bob Seely MP in Comment: Russia and the war. 1) Its aims

UK fast-tracks new law and prepares to expand Russian sanctions list

“The UK government is preparing to sanction hundreds of individuals linked to Vladimir Putin as parliament fast-tracks legislation on Monday designed to crack down on the flow of “dirty money” into the country. The long-awaited economic crime bill, brought forward on an emergency timetable after the Russian president ordered the invasion of Ukraine, will enable Britain to mirror sanctions already imposed by the EU and US through an urgent designation procedure. Officials confirmed passing the bill would allow hundreds of individuals to be named as part of a “significant” sanctions package that foreign secretary Liz Truss plans to announce as early as Tuesday.” – FT

  • Russian war criminals could be jailed in Britain as Raab pledges support to International Criminal Court – Daily Mail
  • UK will go to war with Russia if Putin attacks NATO warns Javid – The Sun
  • University lecturers accused of spreading pro-Putin propaganda – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Labour calls for reform of electoral system to be ditched – FT

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

Truss attacks China’s ‘attempt to silence’ UK-based Hong Kong human rights group

“Liz Truss has denounced the Chinese government after a UK-based group promoting human rights for Hong Kong became one of the first foreign organisations to be targeted under a sweeping national security law. Hong Kong authorities have formally warned Hong Kong Watch that its website and activities may potentially breach the national security law, punishable with a fine of HK$100,000 (£9,820) or three years in jail for Benedict Rogers, its British founder. Responding to the threat, Mr Rogers issued a statement in which he said that he refused to be silenced by Beijing “which, through a mixture of senseless brutality and ineptitude, has triggered rapid mass migration out of the city and shut down civil society”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Northern Ireland protocol is lawful, court of appeal rules – The Guardian

Sunak ‘will not cut’ £12billion tax ‘bomb’ in mini-Budget

“Rishi Sunak will not cut taxes in his mini-Budget this month — despite calls by Gordon Brown to axe the National Insurance rise. The former PM slammed the Chancellor for his £12billion tax “bomb” as families face a cost of living crisis. And he warned the Tories will “pay a price” for hitting the hard-pressed in the pocket. Mr Brown — Labour Chancellor from 1997 to 2007 — said: “You can’t put up fuel prices, you can’t allow food prices to go up, you can’t raise taxes and cut benefits — you can’t do all these things at the same time.” Despite the warning, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove insisted the Treasury will plough on.” – The Sun

  • Pressure on Chancellor as experts warn of misery at the pumps – FT
  • Sunak under pressure to halt planned music tax to save gigs and jobs – The Sun

Editorial:

  • Don’t burden families with this toxic tax rise – Daily Mail

>Today: David Willetts’ column: The case for Sunak announcing a windfall tax on energy companies next week

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

Britons should brace for rising Covid cases, says Javid

“Britons should brace for a rise in Covid infections after the easing of restrictions, the health secretary has said, as the latest figures show rates are increasing as people socialise more. Sajid Javid said the UK remained in a “very good position” but rising infection rates were to be “expected”. To reduce the risk of serious infection, he urged adults eligible for a booster vaccine to have one, given that one in five had not yet received it. The latest data from the Office for National Statistics Covid-19 Infections Survey showed an increase in cases across the whole of the UK. In the week ending 5 March, one in every 25 people in England, one in 13 in Northern Ireland, one in 18 in Scotland and one in 30 in Wales were estimated to have Covid-19.” – The Guardian

  • Easter holiday boost as Shapps axes tests and Passenger Locator Forms – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: The Coronavirus inquiry. I’m an outlier – but I believe that following public opinion was a problem.

Norman Tebbit: I’m proud of my time in Parliament, but now it’s time to retire

“In those years at Westminster, I made some enemies, the Labour leader Michael Foot amongst them. He was stung to call me “a semi-house trained polecat” when I described his defence of the closed shop in industrial relations as “undiluted fascism”. However, I made far more friends than enemies. Sadly, I lost all too many of those friends to the IRA terrorists – Airey Neave and Ian Gow amongst them – and the Brighton attack also left my wife wheelchair-bound for the last 36 years of her life. So it came about that last week Baroness Evans of Bowes Park, the Leader of The House of Lords, very kindly laid on a party to celebrate my half-century of service in the Commons and the Lords and invited my three children and half-a-dozen of my political friends to a lunch time glass or two of bubbly in her office.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Key questions remain unanswered about Homes for Ukraine – John Ashmore, CapX
  • The truth about Ukraine’s far-Right militias – Aris Roussinos, UnHerd
  • Where is the United Nations? – David Smith, The Critic
  • Saj’s struggling NHS revolution – Steerpike, The Spectator