Published:

Sunak defends his wife in non-domicile tax status row

“Rishi Sunak yesterday accused Labour of a dirty tricks campaign against his wife — branding their tax attacks “unpleasant smears”. The Chancellor’s multi-millionaire Indian-born missus Akshata Murty has non-dom status — meaning she does not have to pay UK tax on the millions she earns abroad. Mr Sunak insisted every penny owed in the UK is paid and said: “To smear my wife to get at me is awful.” He added: “She loves her country like I love mine.”  Heiress and businesswoman Akshata Murty is an Indian citizen and insists she pays tax there on her vast fortune. She also pays around £30,000 a year for non-domicile status — meaning she can live here but not pay UK tax on income she earns abroad.” – The Sun

  • The Chancellor believes he is the target of a “political hit job” – The Daily Mail
  • Who is Akshata Murty? – The Scotsman
  • Murty has a ‘global empire’… – The Daily Mail
  • …and may have avoided £20 million in tax – The Guardian
  • She does so because India is her ‘final resting place’ – The Daily Telegraph 
  • ‘Senior Conservatives’ suggest she may need to change her tax status before the next election – The I
  • Sunak “may be the victim of a conspiracy cooked up by Johnson allies” – The Daily Telegraph
  • This is very damaging for the Chancellor – Editorial, The Times
  • The timing for these revelations could not be worse – Andrew Pierce, The Daily Mail
  • Sunak’s wealth is an obvious target – as he is now finding out – Fraser Nelson, The Daily Telegraph 

>Today:

Johnson unveils his long-awaited energy strategy…

“Mr Johnson’s long-awaited strategy includes a push to build eight new nuclear reactors by 2050, carpet an area larger than Exmoor with solar panels and allow communities to be offered lower energy bills if they permit new onshore wind turbines to go ahead. The Government said this would enable the UK to cut natural gas consumption by more than 40pc by 2030. However, the proposals are likely to spark opposition from Tory backbenchers and rural campaigners in the party’s heartlands. Speaking at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station under construction, Mr Johnson said the strategy was “about tackling the mistakes of the past and making sure that we are set well for the future and we are never again subject to the vagaries of the global oil and gas prices…”

The Financial Times

  • Ministers also unveil a £375 million package to cut bills and Russian ties – Daily Express
  • Five new elements of the strategy – The I
  • Bills may not be lower for three years – The Times
  • Leaked documents show Sunak blocked increase of energy bill rebate from £200 to £500 ‘or more’ – The I
  • The Government pledges to make half of all new UK cars electric by 2028… – The Financial Times
  • …and to boost North Sea oil and gas production – The Scotsman 
  • Proposals long on targets but short on how to deliver them – Editorial, The Times
  • Johnson must convince voters this energy strategy is necessary – Editorial, The Sun
  • Cutting usage essential for energy security – Editorial, The Financial Times
  • Our fixation with Net Zero is risky – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph 
  • The Government’s approach represents a revival of free-market conservatism – Hugo Gye, The I
  • The Prime Minister’s obsession with wind power is a load of hot air – Dr John Constable, The Sun
  • The energy strategy flunks key tests – Helen Thomas, The Financial Times
  • Rising bills have killed Tory MPs’ hopes for the Chancellor – Paul Waugh, The I

>Yesterday:

…as he implores Germany to wean itself off Russian oil and gas, whilst hosting Scholz in Downing Street

“Boris Johnson will today press the German chancellor to turn off the taps to Russian oil and gas as he announces plans to provide Ukraine with more lethal military weapons. The prime minister is said to believe that the European Union’s position is becoming “embarrassing” after it emerged that it has paid €35 billion to Russia for energy since the invasion of Ukraine. Johnson will host Olaf Scholz in Downing Street, where he is expected to announce that more than £1 billion has been raised from a donor conference hosted by the UK a fortnight ago. The two leaders are expected to commit their governments to providing Ukraine with more anti-tank weapons.” – The Times

Truss warns the Ukrainian war is entering a ‘new and difficult phase’, as UK military aid increases

“Britain is to supply heavier weapons and armoured combat vehicles to support Ukraine. UK aid is being ramped up as the war enters what Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called ‘a new and difficult phase’. She predicted ‘a more concentrated Russian offensive’ in the days and weeks ahead as she met Nato foreign ministers in Brussels. The offensive is expected to involve tens of thousands of Russian troops taking on Ukraine forces in the east of the country. To ensure the protection of Ukrainian troops, Britain will provide armoured vehicles which can withstand explosive devices, rockets and rifle fire. According to sources, the UK has also agreed to send Harpoon anti-ship missiles in a bid to break the Russian navy’s siege of Black Sea ports.” – The Daily Mail

  • Russia’s forces have received order to slaughter civilians, Ukraine’s intelligence service claims – The Sun
  • Zelensky: Borodyanka ‘much worse’ than Bucha – The Guardian
  • NATO states agree to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine – The Financial Times
  • Finland and Sweden could join NATO – Daily Express
  • Donbas showdown will be “like the Second World War” – The Daily Telegraph 

>Today:

Javid implores health chiefs to preserve women-only hospital wards

“The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) this week produced guidance saying it was legal for hospitals – as well as other public venues – to offer single-sex services. It said trans people could be excluded from areas such as wards, toilets and changing rooms, provided such a move was ‘proportionate’. An NHS equality chief led a health service mutiny over the ruling, labelling it ‘transphobic’ and saying it should be put in the ‘bin’. But the Daily Mail can reveal that Mr Javid has pressurised health bosses to accept the guidance and protect single-sex wards. A senior government source said: ‘The Health Secretary welcomes the EHRC guidance and he is going to ask the NHS to take it fully into account as part of the review into same-sex wards.’” – The Daily Mail

  • Up to 50 Tory MPs could rebel to force the Government to include trans in upcoming conversion therapy bill – The Guardian 
  • Johnson brings common sense to the gender debate – Editorial, Daily Express
  • The wizardry of woke is finally being overcome – Editorial, The Daily Mail
  • The debate on transgender rights must remain reasonable – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph 

>Today:

Veterans Support Group accuse the Government of breaking promises over vexatious Troubles prosecutions

“Boris Johnson has been accused of breaking his promise to protect Troubles veterans from vexatious prosecutions, as Tory MPs lose faith that ministers will introduce the safeguards they have pledged. Senior Conservatives in the parliamentary Veterans Support Group (VSG) have lashed out at the government over its failure to block cases against British soldiers who served in Northern Ireland. A personal vow to end the “unfair” prosecution of veterans was first made by Johnson during the party leadership contest in July 2019. It became a Conservative manifesto promise to “give veterans the protections they deserve” in the general election later that year.” – The Times

Pickles tells Grenfell inquiry he is “extremely busy” and to stop “wasting his time”

“Former Cabinet minister Lord Pickles has provoked a backlash after telling the Grenfell inquiry he was ‘extremely busy’ as he urged the panel to use their time ‘wisely’. The Conservative peer also drew sharp criticism for wrongly making reference to the ‘nameless 96 people’ who were killed in the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire. There were 72 victims in the tragedy, all of whom have been named. On the second day of his evidence to the Grenfell inquiry, Lord Pickles at various points seemed to grow visibly frustrated over questions about his time in government. The 69-year-old was communities and local government secretary between 2010 and 2015, during which time ministers engaged in a ‘red tape challenge’ to cut Whitehall bureaucracy.” – The Daily Mail

Alleged killer of Sir David Amess claimed he murdered the MP ‘to save Muslims’

“The alleged terrorist killer of Sir David Amess has told a court that he wanted to kill a politician to stop him from “harming Muslims” in Syria. Ali Harbi Ali, 26, told the jury at the Old Bailey that he wanted to “make hijrah”, to travel and fight for Islamic State, but he found it too difficult to get there. He is accused of stabbing Amess, the Conservative MP, more than 20 times during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15 last year. The prosecution alleges that he had planned an attack for years and considered other MPs including the cabinet minister Michael Gove and Mike Freer, the Tory MP for Finchley & Golders Green.” – The Times

Rate of English hospital admissions passes winter peak…

“The rate of Covid-19 hospital admissions in England has passed the peak reached at the start of this year and is now the highest since January 2021, new figures show. Admissions among older people are continuing to drive the increase, with all age groups over 65 recording rates last seen during the second wave of the virus in the early weeks of last year. By contrast, rates for children and young adults are still well below the level reached at the beginning of 2022. The overall Covid-19 hospital admission rate for England stood at 20.5 per 100,000 people in the week ending April 3, according to the UK Health Surveillance Agency.” – The I

  • …as the UK’s daily Covid cases plunger over a third – The Daily Mail
  • Study suggests Omicorn variant does cause different symptoms to Delta – The Guardian

Ministers auction off PPE at bargain prices to unload unwanted items

“PPE bought for hundreds of thousands of pounds is being auctioned by the government for a fraction of its cost on an auction site. In an attempt to offload billions of items of unwanted PPE and cut storage fees that are running at £7 million a month, ministers are holding a fire sale of items they hope will recoup some money for the taxpayer. Officials insist the auctions are the best alternative to burning unwanted PPE to avoid having to pay storage costs…The total cost to taxpayers of the PPE on sale has been estimated at about £600,000 but it has so far attracted bids totalling only £2,500.” – The Times

Channel 4’s failed bid to prevent privatisation highlighted by leaked documents

“Channel 4 proposed partnering with private investors to spend £200mn a year on British films and shows as part of an alternative plan to head off privatisation, according to documents shared with ministers. The confidential blueprint presented in February to Nadine Dorries, culture secretary, set out a business case for the commercially funded, government-owned broadcaster to remain in public hands, based on the biggest overhaul of its model since it was founded in 1982. Along with an injection of private capital, the plan seen by the Financial Times would have allowed Channel 4 to benefit from the secondary sale of rights to projects commissioned through the joint venture.” – The Financial Times

  • The broadcaster claims privatisation would cost £3 billion – The Times

Labour peer faces Lords ban for leaving a parliamentary security guard ‘physically shaken’

“A veteran Labour peer faces a ban for berating a Parliamentary security guard so angrily they were left “physically shaken”. Lord Tom Pendry, 87, flew into a rage at the officer for stopping one of his guests wandering the Palace of Westminster unaccompanied, a probe found. The fuming ex-minister stormed up to the guard, allegedly grabbing their radio and demanding to know their name.  After an investigation the Lords standards enforcer has recommended he be suspended for a week for bullying. Commissioner Akbar Khan ruled Lord Pendry’s behaviour was “verbally aggressive” and “intimidating”.” – The Sun

Sturgeon likened to Trump after print journalists ‘excluded’ from campaign launch

“The SNP leader, who will launch her party’s manifesto for the council elections at a cost-of-living photo-opportunity in Glasgow today, said the election will be a judgement of Boris Johnson’s response to the cost of living crisis. The cost-of-living photo opportunity is not a typical campaign launch, the SNP said, with limited numbers and only broadcasters such as the BBC and STV getting an invite. Critics said the decision to bar print journalists from the event was an example of “cowardice” and “arrogance” by Ms Sturgeon. t comes as the First Minister urges Scots to vote SNP at May’s local elections in order to “send a message” to the Prime Minister as people are “terrified” to open their bills.” – The Scotsman

News in Brief:

  • Nicola Sturgeon’s secret state – James Heale and Michael Simmons, The Spectator 
  • Bring back Victorian YIMBY-ism – Henry Oliver, The Critic 
  • Rural voters are abandoning the Government – here is how it can win them back – Jonathan Roberts, Cap X
  • Disney has always spread propaganda – Geoff Shullenberger, UnHerd 
  • The forgotten nuclear threat of North Korea – Katie Stallard, The New Statesman
  • Row over the Chancellor’s potential former Green Card status highlight how his woes could get even worse – Sam Coates, Sky