Published:

Emergency plan to slash price of food, fuel and phone tariffs to help fight cost of living crisis

“Cabinet ministers have been ordered to draw up emergency plans to slash the price of food, oil ­products, clothes and phones to ease Britain’s cost-of-living crisis. Under-fire Boris Johnson vowed last night to “do all we can to help” and is scrambling his top team to insist they come up with radical proposals to knock hundreds of pounds off family bills… Among the proposals already to have landed on Boris’ overflowing desk is the plan to slash ­tariffs on food that Britain is not able to produce, such as rice. Ministers are also considering reducing the cost of fuel by cutting the small tariffs that remain on refined oil products.” – The Sun

  • Ministers ordered to find new ‘non-fiscal’ ways to combat cost of living – The Guardian
  • Brexit masterplan to slash costs – Daily Express

Partygate 1) Fear of rebellion has ‘delayed new laws on online safety, house-building and crime’

“New laws designed to keep children safe online, strengthen the rights of crime victims and overhaul the planning system have been delayed by ministers worried about parliamentary rebellions. At least a dozen Government bills which were promised at the Queen’s Speech a year ago will not become law in time for the next speech which takes place on 10 May. Downing Street is seeking to push through another 10 pieces of legislation in the next few days. Boris Johnson has blamed the delay on the need to deal with the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, which have both taken up time in Parliament.” – The i

  • Starmer is told by senior MP to ‘forget about’ his obsession with scandal – Daily Mail
  • Tory MPs braced for loss of hundreds of seats in local elections – FT

Comment:

  • Johnson will have to change if he’s to survive – William Hague, The Times

Partygate 2) Johnson expects to escape fine over ‘bring your own booze’ party

“Boris Johnson is increasingly confident that he will not be fined for attending a lockdown-breaking “bring your own booze” party in the No 10 garden. It is claimed that he has not been questioned about it by police. The prime minister has admitted attending the event in May 2020, which was organised by his then principal private secretary and attended by up to 100 people. He claimed that he believed it was a work-related event. The first questionnaires for those who attended the event were sent out about six weeks ago, with the first fines for it issued last week. No 10 confirmed yesterday that Johnson was yet to be issued with a fine related to that event.” – The Times

  • He will try to send MPs packing for almost two weeks ‘to take heat out of Partygate’ – The Sun
  • Gray report to be completed by end of May at earliest, sources say – The Guardian

>Yesterday: David Gauke’s column: This Government has a problem with the rule of law. And the threat to it now comes from the Right.

Prime Minister backs Rees-Mogg’s push to get civil servants back in the office…

“Number 10 10 last night backed a push by Jacob Rees-Mogg to get civil servants back into the office. Labour has accused ministers of bullying by politely asking mandarins and officials to stop permanently working from home. The drive by Mr Rees-Mogg has also caused a spat in Cabinet. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries reportedly said: ‘There’s a whiff of something Dickensian about it. Why are we measuring bodies behind desks? Why aren’t we measuring productivity?” But the PM’s official spokesman said BoJo supported Mr Rees-Mogg’s efforts.” – The Sun

>Today: David Willetts’ column: The civil service must innovate to become more efficient. And working at the office isn’t always best, Jacob.

…as Brexit Opportunities Minister seeks ‘bonfire of red tape’

“British B&Bs could be cut loose from EU laws hindering them offering package deals – as Jacob Rees-Mogg plans to light a bonfire of red tape. The Brexit Opportunities Minister yesterday revealed he is preparing to publish a hitlist of 1,500 Brussels regs still clamped on UK firms. One due for the scrapheap is the Package Travel Directive that slaps small hotels with bundles of red tape if they also offer deals like theatre or dinner vouchers to guests. Mr Rees-Mogg said the law was brought in to prevent “Carry On Abroad” disasters where holidaymakers get ripped off by cowboy packages.” – The Sun

  • Goal held back by ‘huge cost’ of net zero – Daily Express

>Today:

Ukraine: Wallace ready with British howitzers and radar systems

“Britain may send howitzers and counter-battery radars that can detect incoming Russian fire to Ukraine, the defence secretary revealed yesterday. Ben Wallace told MPs that the UK was considering sending the 105mm L118 light gun, a towed howitzer, which has been in service with the army since 1974. He said AS90 howitzers, another option available, were unsuitable because of their age and weight. Wallace also raised the prospect of sending counter-battery radars. A defence source said that the Ministry of Defence was considering the Mobile Artillery Monitoring Battlefield Asset (Mamba) weapon-locating radar system.” – The Times

  • Britain will send 22 more ambulances plus fire engines – The Sun
  • Military aid to Ukraine could rise to £500m, MPs told – The Guardian
  • Around 15,000 Russian troops have died since Ukraine invasion began, says Defence Secretary – Daily Telegraph
  • Lavrov warned east-west tensions now worse than during the Cold War – Daily Mail

>Yesterday:

Cameron accuses groups attacking Government’s anti-extremism scheme of ‘enabling terrorism’

“David Cameron has accused groups that attack the Government’s Prevent scheme of “enabling terrorism”. The ex-PM has backed a damning report that says misleading smears from left-wing campaigners, lawyers and Muslim groups are putting the public in danger. The Government’s flagship counter-extremism programme has been slammed for letting jihadis slip through the net and has been branded Islamophobic… His comments come as think-tank Policy Exchange today publishes its report. Mr Cameron warns in the report’s foreword “of ‘passive tolerance’, whereby society fails to interfere in minority communities for fear of appearing racist”.” – The Sun

  • Think tank calls for end to grievance culture – The Times

David Cameron: We can’t let strategy be defeated by extremists

“One thing is clear: it is the narrative itself that warps young, vulnerable minds and spurs many to act. And that is what Prevent is designed to tackle. It is a vital tool for intervening when radicalisation might be taking place and to counter the poisonous narrative. However, as we see in this seminal report, there is a concerted campaign to misrepresent and undermine Prevent. This comes from small but vocal fringe groups, many of whom have extremist links. The depth of that hostility to Prevent, and the extent of the grievance culture used to justify it, has intensified greatly in recent years.” – The Times

Sunak is on board with plans to make ‘Thank Holiday’ permanent

“Rishi Sunak has asked the Treasury for formal advice on an extra annual bank holiday for workers in Britain. The Chancellor is said to be “supportive” of a growing campaign to make this year’s Platinum Jubilee bank holiday permanent from 2023 in honour of the Queen. This year, there is an extra bank holiday on June 3 to mark Her Majesty’s historic 70 years on the throne – but the Government is now being urged to make it a permanent fixture. Boris Johnson and his wife, Carrie, are understood to be “highly supportive” of the plan for the yearly “Thank Holiday” as a way of recognising Her Majesty’s extraordinary service.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Government borrowing halves as economy rebounds – FT
  • Beleaguered Chancellor is now the most unpopular Cabinet minister – Daily Telegraph

Patel’s refugee pushback policy withdrawn days before legal review

“Priti Patel’s refugee pushback policy has been officially withdrawn by the government days before a judicial review of the tactic was due to be heard in the high court. The government’s legal department acknowledged in a letter on Sunday that the plan to try to force people in dinghies back to France has been abandoned after Boris Johnson’s announcement that the Royal Navy would take over operations in the Channel. Patel’s officials last week received notification that the Ministry of Defence, which is now in charge of picking up refugees in the Channel, did not have permission to use the tactic, the letter said.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Our survey. Eight in ten Tory activists line up behind the Government’s new asylum seekers’ scheme.

MPs criticise ‘misogynistic’ story about Rayner

“Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the House of Commons Speaker, on Monday condemned a “misogynistic” media report about deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner and warned such stories may deter women from standing for parliament. UK MPs criticised the story in the Mail on Sunday, which cited unnamed Conservatives as claiming Rayner tries to distract Boris Johnson at prime minister’s questions in the Commons by crossing and uncrossing her legs. Hoyle said he shared the views of MPs who regarded the story — written by Mail on Sunday political editor Glen Owen — as “misogynistic and offensive”.” – FT

  • Speaker demands to meet Mail on Sunday editor – Daily Telegraph
  • We’ll punish MP behind sexist slur, pledges Johnson – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Has the Mail on Sunday misread its readers?

News in Brief:

  • Metropolitan Police’s partygate investigation displays puzzling logic – Robert Peston, ITV
  • Nandy tells Starmer to stop focusing on Partygate – Kevin Schofield, Huffington Post
  • Le Pen’s popularity proves the EU is no liberal paradise – Henry Hill, New Statesman
  • The relentless march of Europe’s zombie centrists – Andrew Tettenborn, The Spectator
  • New Labour was beyond parody – Ian Martin, UnHerd
  • Don’t obsess over the sins of empire – Rakib Ehsan, The Critic