Johnson to make ‘full-throated apology’ to MPs today over Partygate fines…

“Boris Johnson is expected to make a ‘full-throated apology’ to MPs today after he was fined by police for attending a birthday bash in breach of Covid rules. But is it reported he will stop short of addressing allegations he instigated a separate lockdown leaving do, as he attempts to convince politicians there are bigger issues to focus on than the partygate saga. It is thought he will zone in on the crisis in Ukraine, along with the Government’s controversial new policy on sending ‘illegal’ migrants to Rwanda. It comes as he faces a potential investigation into whether he misled Parliament when making earlier statements about parties in Downing Street and his involvement in them.” – The Daily Mail

  • Johnson could faces investigation into claims he misled the Commons – The Times
  • A Tory mutiny ‘not likely’ against the Prime Minister… – The I
  • …although the local elections will provide a useful flashpoint for plotters – The Guardian
  • The Prime Minister’s failures and successes, including Brexit and the vaccine – The I
  • From prorogation to partygate – 1,000 days of Johnson as Prime Minister – The Guardian
  • The economic crisis requires leaders who can understand how bad this problem can get – Editorial, The Scotsman
  • Johnson has broken trust with the public, and anger is unlikely to go away – Editorial, The Times
  • The Prime Minister should do more to rebuild trust over the Falkland Islands – Editorial, The Financial Times
  • Mrs Thatcher stood for something – this government exists in a moral vacuum – Suzanne Moore, The Daily Telegraph

…as he hands Stormer armoured missile launchers to Ukraine

“Boris Johnson will hand Stormer armoured missile launchers to Ukraine to unleash hell on Mad Vlad Putin’s army. Their 17 Starstreak missiles can blitz low-flying jets and helicopters. Experts hailed them “the best kit” yet sent by any Western power. Sources say the MoD showed off the Stormers’ punch to Ukrainians at a display on Salisbury Plain two weeks ago. The 13-ton, high-tech launchers can be loaded on to C-17 transport planes and flown to the war in days. They only need a crew of three — a driver, commander and gunner…The deployment of “a handful of Stormers” alongside 120 personnel carriers already pledged marks a significant increase in heavy weaponry from Britain.” – The Sun

  • Hackers ‘from UAE’ targeted Number 10 – The Daily Mail
  • Britain should be immensely proud of arming Ukraine’s fightback – Editorial, The Sun
  • The UK must ramp up its sanctions on Russia – Tom Keatinge, The Financial Times

Ukraine is entering the ‘second phase of the war’

“Russia has begun its long-expected large-scale military action to seize the east of Ukraine, the country’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said. “Now we can already state that the Russian troops have begun the battle for the Donbas, for which they have been preparing for a long time,” he said in a video address late on Monday night. Zelenskiy said a “significant part of the entire Russian army is now concentrated on this offensive”. He added: “No matter how many soldiers are driven there, we will defend ourselves. We will fight. We will not give up anything Ukrainian.” Echoing his comments, Kyiv’s presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak said: “The second phase of the war has started.”” – The Guardian

  • Zelensky hopes Ukraine can be named a candidate for EU membership ‘within weeks’ – The I
  • Ukraine sheds new light on the great tragedies of the last century – Robert Tombs, The Daily Telegraph
  • Shared values that shaped the West are at risk – William Hague, The Times

Ministers 1) Patel accused of misunderstanding the church’s role by her local bishop

“Priti Patel’s local bishop has accused her of misunderstanding the role of the church in the continuing row over the Rwanda migrant deal. Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford and a former asylum seeker, wrote to the Home Secretary on Monday to express her full backing for the Archbishop of Canterbury, who described the Rwanda proposal as ungodly, and to urge her to reconsider her position. It came after Ms Patel issued a thinly-veiled attack on the Most Rev Justin Welby. In a joint article with Vincent Biruta, the Rwandan foreign minister, published in The Times, the Home Secretary rounded on critics of the scheme and said they had failed to offer any alternative solution to the migrant crisis.” – The Daily Telegraph

  • More than 1,000 migrants are reported to have crossed the Channel in the five days since Patel unveiled the deal to send asylum seekers to Rwanda – The Daily Mail
  • The number of non-EU migrants has risen sharply – Daily Express



Ministers 2) Rees-Mogg tells ministers to order civil servants back to the office

“Jacob Rees-Mogg has demanded that cabinet ministers do more to get their civil servants back to the office after the vast majority of Whitehall departments were found still to be operating at less than half of their normal capacity. The minister for government efficiency has told colleagues to monitor staff attendance fortnightly, warning: “We have significant progress to make.”…About 80 per cent of government departments were found to be operating with less than half of all desks in use and 36 per cent were operating at two thirds of normal levels. Before the pandemic average staff occupancy across Whitehall was about 80 per cent.” – The Times

Ministers 3) Dorries and De Souza: The Government is ready to make Britain the safest place for children online

“One of the most heartbreaking parts of our jobs is having to hear children talk about the awful harm they’ve suffered online. In our roles as Digital Secretary and the Children’s Commissioner, we’ve sat down with the parents of young teens who’ve been directed by algorithms towards suicide chat rooms, bombarded with content on their social media encouraging them to drink bleach, or who have stumbled across extreme pornography.  And if they’re bullied at school, that bullying no longer stops at the school gates… This afternoon, MPs will be debating the introduction of the Online Harms Bill – the first legislation of its kind in the world. It’s a complex, groundbreaking Bill, but it has a very simple guiding principle at its heart: we must do more in the digital age to protect children online.” – The Daily Telegraph

  • Online safety is important, but not at the expense of free speech – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph


Ministers 4) The Transport Secretary announces train ticket prices will be cut by as much as half this spring

“Train ticket prices are set to be slashed by as much as half as the Government looks to address cost of living pressures with cheaper travel in April and May, ministers have revealed. In what is being dubbed the Great British Rail Sale, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said more than one million train tickets would be reduced this spring. He hopes the move will help hard-pressed households – currently contending with rising bills and soaring inflation – to afford trips across the UK and boost tourism. But the Campaign for Better Transpor said the initiative was only a ‘first step’ and called for an ‘end to massive annual fare rises’, while Labour pointed out that the sale would end just before May half-term and therefore would not benefit many families.” – The Daily Mail

  • The Scottish Government is urged to do the same – The Scotsman

Ministers 5) Kwarteng threatened with legal action over off-shore wind farms

“Communities in Suffolk are threatening the UK government with legal action after business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng last month approved two controversial wind farms off England’s east coast. Suffolk residents had objected to the projects being developed by ScottishPower…because of the design and location of the onshore infrastructure needed to connect them to Britain’s electricity grid…Energy executives and some climate campaigners have warned that if not planned carefully, the amount of onshore infrastructure that will be required to speed up deployment of clean electricity projects in Britain could become a new battleground with communities.” – The Financial Times

  • Miliband announces Labour would insulate two million houses to cut bills – The Guardian

Police take ‘no further action’ against Nicola Sturgeon following face mask complaint

“Police Scotland has said they reminded the First Minister of the importance of wearing a face covering and the First Minister has apologised. It comes after Nicola Sturgeon was reported to the police after accusations she broke Covid laws on face coverings in indoor public places. A video circulating on social media showed the First Minister without a mask on a visit to a barber’s in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, on Saturday during an election campaign trail. The law became guidance from Monday, with the public being encouraged to continue wearing masks. Police Scotland released a statement saying local officers have spoken to the First Minister to remind her of the importance of the then legal requirement.” – The Scotsman

Brexit friction pushes UK companies to set up Dutch trade hubs

“While the UK government launches a search for Brexit opportunities one group has already discovered them: Dutch warehouse owners. An influx of British-based companies to the Netherlands has swelled as they struggle with the disruption of a customs border across the North Sea. More than 90 investors have built or rented distribution space since 2017, half of them in 2021, according to government agency Invest in Holland. They included Huboo, a logistics provider to online retailers. Martin Bysh, chief executive, said it had to act after clients deserted as Brexit negotiations went to the wire in December 2020. “We lost about 10 per cent of our revenue, which was clients leaving the UK for Europe,” he said. “It was a chaotic landscape.”” – The Financial Times


Starmer: Crime victims are giving up on justice under the Conservatives

“Victims of crime are giving up on ever getting justice, Keir Starmer has warned, as Labour underlined official figures that show a quarter of reported crimes in England and Wales are being dropped for lack of evidence, with victims deciding not to support further action. The party leader promised to restore faith in law and order, saying that more than a decade of Conservative governance had left the justice system on its knees. And he accused the prime minister, Boris Johnson, of further undermining public confidence by personally breaking the law and then refusing to resign.” – The Guardian

News in Brief

  • The gloves are off for Macron and Le Pen – Gavin Mortimer, The Spectator 
  • What Starmer can learn from Corbyn – Paul Embrey, UnHerd
  • Why demonise medical interventions for pregnancy? – Ella Whelan, The Critic 
  • Globalisation – lessons from George Canning on how to remake trade – David Cowan, Engelsberg Ideas 
  • Why the “war on woke” is imploding – Martha Gill, The New Statesman