Published:

Johnson and Kwarteng threaten a windfall tax on energy firms if they do not increase investment in gas and renewables…

“Boris Johnson will attempt to head off political outrage over soaring profits at energy giants next week by demanding that they pour billions of pounds more into British gas and renewable projects. Shell and BP are preparing to announce their highest profits for a decade and will today be told to invest more in the North Sea and offshore wind projects if they want to escape a windfall tax. Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, will tell the two companies today that he expects more commitments to invest in Britain as the “quid pro quo” for government support for renewable energy and North Sea drilling. Johnson is due to meet energy companies next week in the hope of confirming further commitments on UK energy after Shell announced plans for £25 billion in projects over the next decade.” – The Times

  • The Prime Minister places his head in a pressure cooker – The Sun
  • Tory MPs sought for committee judging Johnson – The Guardian
  • A windfall tax on oil and gas is just Left-wing populism – Ross Clark, The Daily Telegraph

>Today: 

…whilst Sunak agrees, and suggests action on soaring energy bills right now would be “silly”

“Rishi Sunak last night told energy bosses they have to invest in new power stations and wind farms or they will face a windfall tax. But the Chancellor said it would be “silly” to provide Brits with more help with their sky-high energy bills now. Instead he said the country should wait until the autumn, when prices are expected to rise again. In his toughest warning to energy bosses yet, Mr Sunak did not rule out whacking them with a new tax. He told Mumsnet: “If we don’t see that type of investment coming forward, and if the companies are not going to make those investments in our country and in our energy security, then of course, that’s something I would look at. “Nothing is ever off the table.But right now, what I believe the right thing to do is to encourage those companies to invest so we have more energy security and support the economy.” – The Sun

  • The Chancellor’s Covid fraud unit ‘staffed with novices’ – The Times
  • Windfall threats won’t solve the energy crisis – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph
  • Our feckless NHS is squandering Sunak’s tax raid – Kate Andrews, The Daily Telegraph
  • Don’t count Sunak out – he could still recover – Paul Waugh, The I

Forsyth: Political paralysis will leave Johnson in peril

“The consensus in Tory circles is that Johnson will make it to the Queen’s Speech next month. One well-connected minister tells me “a poor local election result is so baked in” that “you would have to have very bad set of results” to change things. But the Queen’s Speech will reveal another problem for the government. There will be lots of legislation but a lack of a defining theme. This has been a creeping issue for Johnson since his 2019 victory. The two central Tory promises in that campaign were to “get Brexit done” and to stop Jeremy Corbyn: both were achieved quickly. The lack of a subsequent agenda was obscured by the pandemic, which so dominated affairs from March 2020 on. But it is becoming more apparent again, with the problem being compounded by Johnson’s reluctance to make difficult decisions.” – The Times

  • Dropping of UK audit bill from the Queen’s Speech criticised – The Financial Times
  • The speech will feature bills on rail, media, and net zero, but planning reforms have been abandoned – The I

Ukraine 1) Wallace: Russia should be pushed out of ‘all of Ukraine’…

“Russian forces should be pushed out of the whole of Ukraine, including Crimea and the Donetsk region, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said. Reinforcing the view of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss that Russia must be pushed out of “the whole of Ukraine”, the minister said Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea “needs to be reversed”. Asked if the UK would help Ukraine win back its territory, the Defence Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’re prepared to help Ukraine stand by its sovereignty and defend itself however long that may take. “There is no difference in the position of the United Kingdom since 2014, which is when Ukraine as a sovereign nation was invaded both in Crimea… and Donetsk. “That needs to stop, that needs to be reversed.” He was earlier quizzed on Sky News whether Britain would support Ukrainians as they push into Crimea, and said: “There’s a long way to go before Ukraine pushes into Crimea.” – The I

  • Moldova entering ‘a dangerous moment’ – The Guardian
  • Putin could start a Third World War “within days” – The Sun
  • Zelensky refused to be evacuated from Kyiv as Russian hitmen parachuted into the capital – The Daily Telegraph
  • Putin is closer to launching a nuclear attack than we thought – Michael Clarke, The Sun

Ukraine 2) …as Britain plans to send 8,000 troops to Eastern Europe

“Britain is sending 8,000 troops to Eastern Europe in one of the largest deployments since the Cold War. Tanks, artillery guns, armoured assault vehicles and aircraft are also being sent to bolster Nato forces, in what Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, described as a “show of solidarity and strength”. The deployment [is] intended as a “deterrence of Russian aggression”… Russia also renewed its attacks on Kyiv on Thursday evening, with missiles striking the capital during an official visit by Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general. A Ukraine official described the strikes as a “postcard from Moscow” and questioned why Russia remained a member of the UN Security Council. The announcement that Britain will conduct large-scale exercises across Europe – from Finland to Northern Macedonia – reinforces the warning to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, not to attack Nato territories.” – The Daily Telegraph

  • First Briton to die fighting in Ukraine ‘like a brother’ – The Times
  • The West’s survival depends on a Ukrainian victory – Editorial, The Sun

>Today: 

Ministers 1) Patel lauds the passage of the Nationality and Borders Act, vowing a crackdown on people smugglers

“Priti Patel has hailed the passing by Parliament of a landmark law that she vows will finally fix Britain’s ‘broken’ asylum system. Writing in the Daily Mail, the Home Secretary says the Nationality and Borders Act will crack down on ‘evil’ people-smugglers facilitating dangerous Channel crossings. And she adds that ‘for far too long, the public has been branded racist simply for wanting controlled borders’. Her comments come after the bill finally received royal assent yesterday, having survived attempts by peers to reject key measures including the processing of refugee claims offshore. The latest data suggests no migrants have arrived by small boat for the past ten days, after the military took charge of stopping crossings earlier this year.” – The Daily Mail

  • Refugees being legal challenge to Rwanda deal – The Times
  • The number of migrants crossing the Channel falls to zero post-Rwanda scheme announcement – The Sun
  • It’s been obvious for decades that our asylum system needs to change – Priti Patel, The Daily Mail
  • Britain is a nation of migrants that fails to properly celebrate citizenship – Fraser Nelson, The Daily Telegraph

Ministers 2) Dorries pledges ‘new golden age for TV’, as the licence free faces the axe

“Ministers have formally signalled the death of the licence fee after deciding to overhaul the BBC’s 100-year-old funding model. In the first big update to British broadcasting laws for nearly 20 years, the government said it would set out a timetable for a review of the licence fee over the coming months, during which alternatives would be considered. A 42-page white paper said there were “clear challenges on the horizon to the sustainability of the licence fee”, not least the streaming revolution, which has resulted in fewer people choosing to pay for BBC services. Ministers warned that unless action were taken to overhaul the funding mechanism, a growing number of people who refuse to pay the fee could “significantly” push up the £159 levy.” – The Times

Ministers 3) Javid: Fixing HRT shortages will be a ‘national mission’

“Fixing shortages of HRT is to become a “national mission” the Health Secretary has said – warning that women should not be forced to share their supplies. Sajid Javid on Thursday night appointed the head of the Government’s Vaccines Taskforce to tackle the crisis, warning that too many women were being left without the “lifeline” on which they rely. Manufacturing and supply problems have fuelled shortages of some products, while demand has risen by two thirds in the last year. Ministers said the increased demand was in many ways “a success story” with more women coming forward to seek support. But they said too many were now being forced to “rush from pharmacy to pharmacy” trying to obtain treatment, or resorting to sharing precious supplies.” – The Daily Telegraph

Ministers 4) Rees-Mogg defends further delays to full post-Brexit checks on EU imports

“Jacob Rees-Mogg, the UK’s Brexit opportunities minister, has defended his decision to delay for a fourth time full post-Brexit border checks on imports from the EU, claiming it would save £1bn a year and control rising living costs. Port operators were critical, saying the £100mn they had spent in preparation for the checks from July 1 “now looks like wasted time, effort and money”, and that they would seek government reimbursement. Meanwhile the British Veterinary Association and farmers’ leaders claimed that dangerous animal and plant diseases could enter the country through an effectively open border. Checks have now been delayed until at least the end of 2023. But Rees-Mogg’s allies said they hoped physical border checks — barring some spot inspections of animals — would never be needed and that a new digital trade system was due to come into operation in 2024.” – The Financial Times

  • UK ports consider legal action after controls delay – The Guardian
  • The Minister for Efficiency reveals a photo of the empty Cabinet Office where he left notes – The Daily Mail

Ministers 5) Burghart: Mastercard and Visa must stop taking payments for essay-cheat websites

“The government will tell Mastercard and Visa to stop taking payments for essay-cheat websites, which were criminalised yesterday to protect degree standards. An education minister has told The Times that Paypal has already agreed to sever ties with the essay-mill websites, which are endemic across the internet and openly compete for customers. The legislation makes it illegal for companies to provide, arrange or advertise such services for financial gain in England. Alex Burghart, the skills minister, wrote to internet service providers telling them not to host such companies. He said students had a responsibility not to cheat and warned those who did that they risked being found out in their professional lives.” – The Times

Ministers 6) Braverman accuses male Tory MPs of acting ‘like animals’

“A female Cabinet minister has accused some male MPs of behaving like animals — as pressure grew to name the porngate Tory. Attorney General Suella Braverman called for an urgent discussion about moral standards at Westminster on another day of shame for politicians. It came as Tory party whips referred an MP to Parliament’s sleaze watchdog for allegedly watching porn in the Commons chamber. Ms Braverman said if the male is proved to have done so then he should “no longer hold his privileged position as an MP”. She pointed a finger at a minority of male MPs, saying: “There are some bad apples who are out of order, who behave like animals, and are bringing Parliament into disrepute, to be honest.”” – The Sun

  • Heaton-Harris urged to name and suspend Tory MP in pornography scandal – The Daily Telegraph
  • Female MPs vow to end misconduct at Westminster – The I
  • Johnson amongst MPs to call for ‘Porngate’ politician to quit – The Daily Mail
  • Sexual assault will continue at Westminster until guilty MPs are banished – The I

>Today: 

Mordaunt: Prepare for a string of post-Brexit trade deals

“The UK and the US are both nations that value freedom, self-determination and independence. Many in the United States immediately recognised this instinct and the opportunity that leaving the regulatory orbit of the EU would bring. This week the Secretary of State for Trade and I met our US counterparts to discuss a pathway to a federal level deal, removing tariffs and boosting trade still further. This work at the federal level is only part of what we need to do to maximise the opportunities to grow our economies and the investment to bring talented people together. Over the last four months I have been working in the United States. This included the longest visit by any UK minister to the US since Churchill’s stay during WW2. Our goal was simple – to open up new opportunities by entering into state level agreements to boost trade.” – Penny Mordaunt, Daily Express

The Government takes a stake in a business making cannabis products

“The British government has become a shareholder in a cannabis-based products company called Grass & Co, as well as a south London brewery and a Nordic yoghurt bar maker as part of its most recent investments under the Future Fund Covid-19 support scheme. Chancellor Rishi Sunak launched the Future Fund in May 2020 to help lossmaking but fast-growing businesses that needed equity funding to support their operations through coronavirus lockdowns. The scheme had a unique angle, however, offering these firms convertible loans that would turn to equity stakes at the next fundraising. It was aimed at promising tech companies that typically rely on venture fundraising.” – The Financial Times

Home Office permanent secretary: Working from home has ‘zero bearing’ on passport chaos

“One of the country’s most senior civil servants has put himself at odds with the Government over working from home by issuing a public statement in support of the beleaguered head of the Passport Office. Matthew Rycroft, permanent secretary at the Home Office, said that where the Passport Office’s director-general worked had “precisely zero bearing” on the crisis engulfing her organisation. The Telegraph disclosed on Wednesday that Abi Tierney, the £160,000-a-year Passport Office boss, has been working from home in Leicestershire, 100 miles from its headquarters in London, as well as from satellite offices around the country. On Thursday, she and other officials were due to be hauled into the Cabinet Office by Steve Barclay to explain how they were going to tackle a passport applications backlog and ten-week wait that threatens the summer plans of tens of thousands of holidaymakers. It also emerged that a French call-centre company at the centre of the chaos also runs the helplines for Britain’s much-criticised Ukrainian refugee schemes.” – The Daily Telegraph

Lawyer advising Sue Gray accused the Tories of ‘serving up bile’

“A barrister advising Sue Gray on her report into Partygate urged Twitter users to join Labour and accused the Tories of ‘serving up bile’. Daniel Stilitz QC, who is believed to be a Labour member himself, deleted his social media account yesterday after his anti-government posts were widely shared online. Critics accused Mr Stilitz of not showing due impartiality given his high-profile role advising Miss Gray on her much-anticipated report into alleged illegal gatherings at Downing Street during the pandemic. In other posts, Remain-supporting Mr Stilitz, of 11KBW chambers in London, said Labour MPs backing a Brexit deal were ‘mugs’ and retweeted a post calling Boris Johnson ‘our reckless dangerous PM’. In another post, he said: ‘Why not join Labour? Now seems as good a time as any.’ Commenting on Brexit in 2019, he said: ‘The future of the UK is collateral damage in this mad Tory fight to the death.’” – The Daily Mail

Wallis charged over car crash that left a village without internet for days

“A Tory MP who cut off a village from the internet when his car ran into a telegraph pole has been charged with a string of driving offences. Jamie Wallis, 37, is accused of failing to stop after the late-night crash in his Mercedes. The Bridgend MP, from Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan, has also been charged with failing to report the crash, driving without due care and leaving a vehicle in a dangerous position. Police said the alleged incident was in Llanblethian, near Cowbridge, in November. No other vehicles were involved in the 1.10am crash. The pole was broken, causing an internet failure for several days. In March, Mr Wallis became the first MP to come out as transgender. He wrote: “I’m trans. Or to be more accurate, I want to be.” He will appear in court next month.” – The Sun

Labour 1) Starmer criticised for attending his own birthday event during 2020 – complete with two cakes

“Sir Keir Starmer was last night accused of hypocrisy for attending a birthday cake celebration in his office during the pandemic. The Labour leader tucked into the shop-bought chocolate and lemon cakes while coronavirus guidance advised against holding close social gatherings indoors. Sir Keir has repeatedly demanded Boris Johnson quit for attending an impromptu birthday gathering in the Cabinet Room in June 2020 – just three months before his own celebration. Sir Keir Starmer was last night accused of hypocrisy for attending a birthday cake celebration in his office during the pandemic. The Labour leader tucked into the shop-bought chocolate and lemon cakes while coronavirus guidance advised against holding close social gatherings indoors. Sir Keir has repeatedly demanded Boris Johnson quit for attending an impromptu birthday gathering in the Cabinet Room in June 2020 – just three months before his own celebration.” – The Daily Mail

  • Starmer won’t be fined over beer ‘even if he is found to have broken rules’ – The Daily Telegraph
  • Labour MP ‘launched drunken tirade’ against Holden for his pushing for a review into Starmer’s lockdown beers – The Daily Mail
  • The Labour Party hosts Israeli Labor party in effort to win Jewish voters – The Guardian
  • Starmer urged to come clean about previous opposition to NATO – Daily Express
  • Where’s the puce-faced piety now, Sir Keir? – Editorial, The Daily Mail
  • Labour seek to kickstart their fortunes in Glasgow – Sebastian Payne, The Financial Times

Labour 2) The Opposition admits Rayner attended Starmer’s ‘beergate’ event, despite previous denials

“Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner was also at the event where boss Sir Keir Starmer had a beer during Covid restrictions. The Labour Party’s admission comes after officials spent three months denying she was at the event last year, when indoor socialising was banned. Both Ms Rayner and Sir Keir have been outspoken critics of PM Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak and their partygate fines, calling for them to quit. The party had repeatedly denied that Ms Rayner had been at last year’s online rally. But after being confronted with video evidence that she had joined Sir Keir, a Labour spokesman was forced to admit she had been there. A source claimed previous denials had been an “honest mistake”.” – The Sun

  • ‘Damning testimony’ of four MPs about Rayner’s ‘Sharon Stone’ ploy – The Daily Mail
  • Welsh female MP accuses Labour frontbencher of sexist remark – The Guardian

Labour 3) Byrne suspended from the Commons after watchdog found he ‘ostracized’ sick staff member during lockdown

“Labour former Cabinet minister Liam Byrne is set to be suspended from the House of Commons after being found to have bullied a staff member during Britain’s first Covid lockdown. A parliamentary watchdog found the Birmingham Hodge Hill MP had committed a ‘serious breach’ of Commons’ bullying and harassment rules. They said that Mr Byrne, 51, had been ‘abusing his position of power’ and ‘ostracizing’ his employee David Barker, who has agreed to be named, while he worked in the MP’s constituency office. This included Mr Byrne ‘ceasing personal contact with him for several months and denying him access to his Parliamentary IT account’, such as disabling his work emails. It was said that the impact of Mr Byrne’s behaviour was ‘compounded by the fact’ it occurred between March 2020 and the end of July that year, during the first national lockdown.” – The Daily Mail

Robertson mocked for blaming low Scottish census turnout on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

“A senior minister in Nicola Sturgeon’s government has suggested that Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is partly to blame for the pitiful response rate to the Scottish census. Angus Robertson provoked ridicule from opponents on Thursday when he claimed that public anxiety caused by “recent world events” had contributed to the survey descending into disarray. More than a fifth of households have so far refused to complete the census ahead of an original deadline of Sunday, after it was delayed by a year by SNP ministers who blamed Covid. In the rest of the UK, where the census went ahead last year as planned, the census was a major success with 97 per cent of households responding. Mr Robertson claimed that a 77.2 per cent response rate in Scotland was in fact “a substantial figure” in light of “everything happening in the world right now”.” – The Daily Telegraph

  • Ross: Johnson is still ‘fit for office’ – The Scotsman

>Yesterday:

Shrimsley: Self-serving leaders block Northern Ireland’s path to a new politics

“Six years on from a Brexit which it voted decisively against, Northern Ireland remains trapped in its consequences, let down by both the UK government and the strategic blunders of its largest party, the Democratic Unionists. While next week’s elections for the Stormont parliament could mark a significant new chapter, sadly the likelier outcome is more stasis. While voters are mostly preoccupied with the cost of living and public services, the campaign is driven by two other issues: the demands for reform of the Northern Ireland protocol, which governs post-Brexit trade, and whether Sinn Féin, once the marginalised political wing of the IRA, might be the largest party in the Stormont parliament. Yet the most pressing question will be whether the DUP continues to boycott the power-sharing structures in protest over the protocol, a stance which prevents the creation of a fully-functioning government for the province.” – The Financial Times

News in Brief:

  • The electric scooter ban doesn’t make sense – Ross Clarke, The Spectator
  • Oxford will never be destroyed – Will Lloyd, UnHerd 
  • Does anyone still seriously believe the NHS is the envy of the world? – John Ashmore, Cap X
  • Is Putin really willing to go nuclear? – Mark Galeotti, The New Statesman
  • An inspector calls – Henry Hill, The Critic