Published:

Defiant Johnson insists he didn’t break Covid rules…

“Boris Johnson remains defiant that he did not break coronavirus rules despite being fined, close allies have said, as he plans to brush aside the controversy with a “business as usual” agenda this week. He will attempt to minimise the fallout of the scandal over lockdown parties as MPs return to Westminster tomorrow by emphasising his close engagement with President Zelensky, a renewed focus on combating the cost-of-living crisis and a trade visit to India on Thursday. He has ordered all relevant cabinet ministers to consider how their departments can help to reduce the cost of living and will summon them for a meeting to discuss the options next week.” – The Times

  • Prime Minister accused of ‘instigating’ lockdown party – Daily Telegraph
  • Defiant allies insist he did not break rules amidst fears of second fine – Daily Mail
  • Johnson accused of demeaning his office after new partygate claims – FT
  • Senior Conservatives fear traditional voters will desert them – The Guardian
  • Met ‘keeps Sue Gray waiting’ to publish her report – The Times

Comment:

  • Why I am standing by my letter of no confidence – Caroline Nokes MP, The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Government is on a sticky wicket. Can Johnson bat it to safety?

…as Sturgeon reported to police for breaking her own face mask law

“Scottish police are assessing a complaint against Nicola Sturgeon over footage which appeared to show her breaking her own face mask law. The First Minister visited an East Kilbride barbers shop on Saturday, for an SNP campaign event ahead of next month’s local elections. She wore a tartan mask when photographers and camera crews were present for the photo-op, during which she shaved off a man’s beard. However, mobile phone footage, apparently taken by a customer in a barber’s chair, later emerged of Ms Sturgeon mingling at close quarters with her face uncovered.” – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • First Minister suffers humiliating blow as own constituency has UK’s worst rate of child poverty – Daily Express
  • SNP ‘engulfed in sleaze’ as it faces calls to suspend two MPs – Daily Telegraph

Stop your misguided moralising on Rwanda deal, MPs tell Archbishop

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has been accused of “misguided moralising” after leading the Church of England’s attack on the Government’s Rwanda deal and “partygate”. The Most Rev Justin Welby was said to have undermined the role of the Church by using his Easter Sunday address to criticise the Prime Minister’s plan to send asylum seekers to the landlocked east African nation. On the same morning, the Archbishop of York questioned what kind of country people want Britain to be and suggested that public servants should lead by example when it comes to morality.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Patel hits back at Welby – Daily Mail
  • Rwanda asylum plan is ‘almost Easter story of redemption’, says Rees-Mogg – The Guardian
  • Widdecombe: ‘Traffickers are the ungodly!’ – Daily Express

More:

  • Rwanda plan may not deter migrants from coming to Britain, says top official – FT
  • He also claims deploying Navy in the channel is ‘not going to make any difference’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Patel’s migrant scheme ‘will kick Rwandan genocide orphans out their home’… – Daily Mail
  • …and Britain is to take refugees from Rwanda as part of deal – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Welby, small boats and asylum. What’s his alternative?

Priti Patel and Vincent Biruta: No humanitarian nation can allow this deadly trafficking to continue

“Through investment in jobs, skills, and opportunities in Africa, this bold new approach hopes to set a precedent that could be replicated elsewhere. It will disrupt the business model of organised crime gangs and deter migrants from putting their lives at risk. And it will ensure that those who are in genuine need of protection will be safe and secure in a host country recognised globally for its record on welcoming and integrating migrants. Because of Rwanda’s recent history, the country has a deep connection to the plight of those seeking safety and opportunity in a new land…” – The Times

  • Welby can’t see that modern societies need borders to survive – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph
  • What’s really ungodly, Archbishop, is people smugglers – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail
  • Rwanda won’t work, but it will for Johnson – Clare Foges, The Times

Home Secretary to overhaul Prevent counter-terror programme

“Priti Patel has said she intends to overhaul the government’s counterextremism strategy amid concerns that it does not focus enough on Islamic extremists. The home secretary is still waiting for the outcome of an independent review of Prevent, ordered by the Home Office more than three years ago. While insisting she will not prejudge its recommendations, she said her time as home secretary had shown her that “there are definitely things that we need to change”. Her comments are confirmation that Prevent, which has a £40 million budget, will undergo an overhaul.” – The Times

  • Patel intervenes after ‘major bungles’ – The Sun

Britain’s defence budget will have to increase to help fund war in Ukraine, Wallace hints

“Britain’s defence budget will have to increase later this year to help fund the war in Ukraine, Ben Wallace has hinted. The Defence Secretary told The Sun the effect of inflation would squeeze budgets and Ministry of Defence cash might run out sooner than expected. His comments come as 120 armoured vehicles from Britain are to be shipped to Ukraine this week in the latest batch of aid. It will include Mastiff six-wheel-drive vehicles, which can carry eight troops and two crew and is commonly used for patrols and in convoys.” – The Sun

>Today: Anand Menon in Comment: Europe and the war. The unity engendered by Russia’s invasion may not last.

Security for cash in savings clubs as new laws will protect shoppers’ money

“Ministers will introduce legislation this week to protect shoppers’ money in savings clubs. It will prevent scandals like Farepak – a Christmas savings club that collapsed in 2006, owing £37million to around 100,000 consumers. Savings clubs allow shoppers to pay for goods in instalments throughout the year, instead of in one go. These savings are currently not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. But new laws will mean the clubs must safeguard the cash, so even if the company goes bust, shoppers’ money will still be protected.” – Daily Mail

  • Four in five believe Johnson is out of touch on inflation crisis – The Times

Labour split by leadership call for action against climate crisis blockades

“Labour faces an escalating internal row over the treatment of climate crisis protesters after a shadow cabinet minister backed calls for nationwide injunctions to stop them blocking critical roads and fuel supplies. Steve Reed, the shadow justice secretary, called for immediate and wide-ranging bans on protesters’ tactics to be put in place last week. Reed said ministers should “get on with their jobs” and block further action from the Just Stop Oil group after about 40 arrests were made at Inter Terminals in Grays, Essex, last Monday. Others were arrested at Kingsbury oil terminal in Warwickshire.” – The Guardian

  • Seven in ten teenagers should go to university, Blair declares – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Northern Ireland’s dangerous future – Jenny McCartney, UnHerd
  • The brave new world of Swedish education – Ben Sixsmith, The Critic
  • We need to talk about the English language – Caroline Ansell MP, CapX
  • The tragic loss of Somaliland’s epic Waaheen market – James Jeffrey, The Spectator