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Sunak dampens hope of more help with energy bills…

“Rishi Sunak has said he will offer people more support with their energy bills only “if necessary” and highlighted the “volatility” of energy prices. The energy price cap will rise from about £1,300 per year to nearly £2,000 on Friday, and forecasts have suggested that it will rise to £2,800 in October. Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, said yesterday that the “shock” from energy prices would be bigger than every year of the oil crisis in the 1970s. He told an event hosted by the Bruegel think tank in Brussels that the volatility of commodity prices since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a risk to financial stability and that the global economy faced a challenge bigger than the 2008 financial crisis.” – The Times

  • Chancellor defends raid on the public – Daily Telegraph
  • Sunak has seen his personal ratings plummet following his Spring Statement – Daily Mail

More:

  • State pension set for its largest increase on record – Daily Express
  • UK aerospace R&D receives fresh funding boost – FT

>Today: David Willetts’ column: The cost of living crisis. We need greater mobility to get higher growth, and higher growth to fund higher wages.

>Yesterday: David Gauke’s column: Last week, Sunak aimed to please the Conservative core vote. And a lot of good it did him.

…as Johnson’s energy strategy held up over nuclear funding row

“Boris Johnson’s flagship energy strategy has been held up over a row with Rishi Sunak about funding a new generation of up to eight nuclear power stations costing the public more than £13bn. The strategy, which has been delayed for a month, was due to be published this week but has now been pencilled for 5 April after disagreement about the multibillion-pound cost of new nuclear plants and amid ongoing tensions between the prime minister and his chancellor, as well as the wider cabinet. Johnson has told the nuclear industry that he wants 25% of electricity generation to come from nuclear power by 2050, up from 16% now. Whitehall sources told the Guardian this shift could require the building of about eight new nuclear power stations.” – The Guardian

  • Sunak believes cost of building stations will drive up bills – The Times
  • Kwarteng aims to triple solar power capacity by 2030 – FT
  • Fury as ‘envious’ EU takes UK to court for green energy subsidies – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Trudy Harrison MP in Comment: Why we aim to keep the UK a world leader in the self-driving vehicle revolution

Police expected to issue first fines over Downing Street parties

“Scotland Yard is poised to issue the first fixed penalty notices for a series of lockdown-breaching parties that were held in Downing Street. The Metropolitan Police has contacted the Cabinet Office to inform officials that it is set to issue the first tranche of fines to about 20 people. They are understood to be the most clear-cut cases where staff have not contested allegations they broke the rules. Boris Johnson, who attended six of the alleged parties under investigation, is not expected to be among them. The Metropolitan Police has sent 100 questionnaires to people including Johnson and his wife Carrie, Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and Martin Reynolds, the prime minister’s former principal private secretary.” – The Times

  • Minister refuses to say if Johnson should quit if he is fined – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Dick to leave Met police earlier than planned, says Patel – The Guardian

Ukraine ‘justifies British Army cuts’, says Heappey…

“Britain’s decision to cut the size of the army is justified because the stout defence of Ukraine shows that “small bands of determined people” are more effective, a minister has said. James Heappey, the armed forces minister, said the faltering Russian invasion showed that small fighting units were more deadly in the modern battlefield. He said the Ukrainian infantry had successfully deployed guerrilla tactics of “hide to survive”. The size of the British infantry will be cut to 19,400 soldiers by 2024-25, down from 24,940 when the Conservatives came to power in 2010. The overall size of the army will be smaller than it was during Napoleonic times. In the Commons yesterday Conservative MPs piled pressure on the government to reverse the infantry cuts with some even calling for defence spending to be increased to three per cent of GDP to counter the threat from the Kremlin.” – The Times

  • Johnson is ‘on our side’ and helping Ukraine far more than ‘afraid’ Macron says Zelensky – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: It’s a thumbs-up for Johnson as a war leader. From Ukrainians themselves – and here at home so far.

…as Truss warns that Kiev cannot be sold out in peace talks with Russia

“Ukraine must not be sold out in peace talks with Russia, Liz Truss said on Monday as Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, criticised France and Germany for being too soft on Vladimir Putin… Ms Truss, the Foreign Secretary, told MPs: “We need to ensure that any future talks don’t end up selling Ukraine out or repeating the mistakes of the past. “We know that Putin is not serious about talks. He is still wantonly bombing innocent citizens across Ukraine, and that is why we need to do more to ensure that he loses and we force him to think again. We cannot allow him to win from this appalling aggression.” She warned that the Russian president “just came back for more” after agreeing a peace deal with Ukraine in 2014.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Putin is like Saddam but UK won’t topple him, minister says – The Times

Comment:

  • The West must back Ukraine for a long war – William Hague, The Times

>Today: Emily Barley in Comment: The nimble alliance of states we need to counter Russia, China and Iran

UK ‘interested’ in creating joint first ministers in Northern Ireland

“The UK government is “interested” in creating joint first ministers in Northern Ireland as part of a long-term strategy to improve the functioning of the devolved administration, according to officials. Power-sharing between pro-UK unionist politicians and nationalists who want a united Ireland has been fraught for years and the May 5 elections to the Stormont assembly appear likely to strain them further. A Lucid Talk poll published on Sunday put nationalist Sinn Féin seven points ahead of the biggest unionist party, the Democratic Unionist party, and on course to deliver a historic first defeat for parties seeking to uphold the union with the UK in a region created a century ago for Protestants. This would almost certainly give Sinn Féin the right to nominate the first minister, a post always held by a unionist since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which ended three decades of conflict in the region.” – FT

  • Ex-soldier in dock at ‘final Troubles trial’ – The Times
  • Manchester and Liverpool mayors seek to ‘reset’ post-Brexit ties with Ireland – Daily Express

Scotland:

  • Creaking Scottish ferry network undermines SNP’s competence credentials – FT

Teach pupils the benefits of the British Empire, says Zahawi

“Pupils should be taught about the benefits of the British Empire, the education secretary has said. Nadhim Zahawi cited the pre-Saddam Hussein Iraqi civil service as “the sort of thing children should be learning about” as he insisted that teachers should leave their political views outside the classroom. Schools should “teach children how to think, but not what to think”, Zahawi told Times Radio as he became the most senior minister to wade into the increasingly polarised debate about portrayal of the empire. Ministers have taken an increasingly firm line on the teaching of Empire, which has come to be seen as enmeshed with political questions of whether Britain is a structurally racist society. ast week the equalities minister Kemi Badenoch argued as well as the “terrible things” that happened under Empire there had also been “good things” and “we need to tell both sides of the story”.” – The Times

  • Plans to give kids with special educational needs and disabilities better access to schooling will be unveiled today – The Sun

Hughes outlines plan to shame bad landlords

“Landlords with substandard social accommodation will be named and shamed across the Government’s social media channels. The plans – set out in a white paper on social housing – will mean landlords are highlighted for breaching the regulator’s consumer standards, which cover the quality of accommodation, repairs and maintenance. They will also see a residents panel, comprising around 250 tenants from across England, set up to advise the Government of problems and potential further reforms to tackle poor landlords. There will also be tougher sanctions – including prison sentences of up to two years – for landlords whose failings on maintenance, repairs or work could put tenants at serious risk.” – Daily Telegraph

UK likely to criminalise illicit refugee crossings after MPs’ rebellion averted

“The UK appears set to criminalise illicit refugee crossings and could ship asylum seekers for processing in other countries after ministers easily saw off a potential rebellion in the Commons over the controversial borders and nationality bill. Despite a number of Conservative backbenchers expressing concerns about aspects of the bill, the government convincingly won a string of votes to restore elements changed in the House of Lords, including the idea of Australian-style third country processing. Speaking in the debate, Tom Pursglove, the junior migration minister, confirmed that, as restored, the bill could see Ukrainian refugees who arrived without permission removed for processing. He added there was “absolutely no reason” for Ukrainian nationals to resort to illicit crossings.” – The Guardian

Starmer refuses to answer when asked whether a woman can have a penis

“Sir Keir Starmer refused to answer the question of whether a woman can have a penis in the latest Labour Party confusion over the transgender debate. The topic has been a point of division in the party for more than a year after Sir Keir said backbencher Rosie Duffield’s comment that “only women have a cervix” was “not right”. Yvette Cooper and Anneliese Dodds, two of Labour’s frontbench MPs, both declined to give a definition of a woman on International Women’s Day earlier this month. Speaking to LBC’s Nick Ferrari during a phone-in, Sir Keir, the Labour leader, was asked multiple times whether or not “a woman can have a penis”… Asked by a caller whether it was fair that transgender women were allowed to compete in women’s sports, Sir Keir said it was a matter “for the sporting bodies to decide for themselves”, acknowledging that there were “difficult questions”.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: “Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge”. Johnson’s Vince Vaughan advice to the Cabinet about how to tackle trans.

News in Brief:

  • The case for more nuclear is clear, but how do we actually build it? – Fiona Townsley, CapX
  • Starmer won’t talk about sex and gender, and that’s a problem – James Kirkup, The Spectator
  • Britain must embrace the 40k mindset – Sam Ashworth-Hayes, The Critic
  • Russia is dying out – Paul Morland, UnHerd