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Partygate 1) Tory MPs to vote against new investigation after the Prime Minister apologises

“Boris Johnson will order his MPs tomorrow to block an investigation into claims that he misled parliament over lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street. The prime minister offered a “wholehearted apology” yesterday after being issued with a fixed-penalty notice for attending a gathering in the cabinet room to celebrate his 56th birthday. Johnson insisted, however, that he had not misled the Commons when he said last December that Covid rules were followed at all times in Downing Street. “It did not occur to me, then or subsequently, that a gathering in the cabinet room just before a vital meeting on Covid strategy could amount to a breach of the rules,” he said.” – The Times

  • Minister compares PM party penalty to speeding fine – BBC
  • Johnson flies to India ahead of ‘dishonesty’ vote – Daily Telegraph
  • Saying sorry won’t be enough to escape voters’ wrath – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
  • He is not out of the woods yet – Leader, The Times
  • The PM is safe for now. But for how long? – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • All perspective has been lost – Leader, The Sun
  • Some of the confected outrage by his political opponents verges on deranged – Leader, Daily Mail
  • Time to vote the PM from office – The Guardian

>Yesterday:

Partygate 2) Harper calls on Johnson to resign

“A former Conservative chief whip on Tuesday told Boris Johnson he was “no longer worthy” of the office of Prime Minister after his “partygate” fine. Speaking in the Commons, Mark Harper said he could not “defend what I think is indefensible” in the wake of Mr Johnson’s fixed penalty notice last week. Moments after his intervention, Mr Harper tweeted the letter of no confidence he sent to Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee, as he joined calls for a vote to oust Mr Johnson.” – Daily Telegraph

Rwanda 1) May criticises Government’s asylum plan

“Former prime minister Theresa May has criticised the government’s plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda. Mrs May told the Commons she did not support the policy due to her concerns over whether it met standards on “legality, practicality and efficacy”. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the scheme would be “a major blow to people smugglers” and would stop people dying on dangerous routes to the UK.” – BBC

  • Reservists lined up to help stop migrants crossing Channel in dinghies – The Sun

>Today: Columnist Robert Halfon: Our Party’s track record on refugees is one to be proud of

Rwanda 2) Johnson: BBC and Welby more critical of our plans than they are of Putin

“Boris Johnson on Tuesday night accused the BBC and the Archbishop of Canterbury of being more critical of the Rwanda migrants plan than Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Mr Johnson told Conservative MPs that the BBC and the Archbishop were “less vociferous” in their criticism of the Russian president than they were of plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. Addressing Tory backbenchers at a private meeting, he said the Rwanda deal was a good policy and claimed it had been “misconstrued” by the BBC and senior members of the clergy.” – Daily Telegraph

Ukraine 1) More fighter jets by western allies…

“A Pentagon spokesman said last night that Ukraine had received fighter planes from western allies. John Kirby said that the country’s forces “right now have available to them more fixed-wing fighter aircraft than they did two weeks ago”.He added: “I would just say, without getting into what other nations are providing, that they have received additional platforms and parts . . . They have received additional aircraft and parts to help them get more aircraft in the air.” – The Times

  • Ukraine can still hold its ground – Richard Kemp, Daily Telegraph
  • Street in Odessa renamed to honour Boris Johnson – The Sun
  • A blitzkrieg more barbaric and bloody than anything we’ve seen before – Mark Almond, Daily Mail

Ukraine 2)…but Germany is refusing to help

“Germany on Tuesday night refused to join an international coalition in sending heavy weaponry to Ukraine as the country entered a new phase of the war against Russia. Olaf Scholz, the chancellor, said that while Germany was willing to give financial aid, he was not prepared to export tanks and armoured personnel carriers to Kyiv. Mr Scholz said Germany would not “go it alone” on weapons, and that any decisions would be made in close cooperation with “friends and allies.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Macron “puts phone down” on Putin – The Times
  • Europe needs to ween itself off Russian energy – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Dorries vows to use web safety law to protect Press freedom

“Nadine Dorries yesterday pledged to strengthen new online safety laws to ensure that Press freedoms are protected. There had been concerns that the Government’s Online Safety Bill would give tech firms too much power to take news websites’ stories down. Although the original proposals mean news stories could be put back up after an appeal, this could take so long that they may be out of date before being reinstated. Vowing to defend free speech, the Culture Secretary last night told the Commons that she would change the law so the stories remain online until an appeal has been heard.” – Daily Mail

IMF predicts UK to have slowest growth among the G7 next year

“The UK will be the worst-performing G7 economy next year with the cost of living crisis and tax increases projected to slow economic activity to a crawl, according to a new IMF forecast. The US, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Canada are forecast to grow faster, according to the fund.” – Financial Times

  • Fuel poverty to affect 40 per cent of UK households, energy bosses say – The Times

Sinn Fein offers a “caring” approach Northern Ireland assembly election campaign

“We will “roll up our sleeves” and “deliver real change”. We are “progressive, modern, caring”. Sinn Féin’s pitch ahead of May’s Northern Ireland assembly elections could almost have come from a manifesto anywhere. But it is significant as much for what it does not say as for what it does. Irish reunification — the fundamental goal of a party once discredited as the mouthpiece of the IRA nationalist paramilitary group — is reduced to a blink-and-you-miss-it image of the island of Ireland in campaign videos. Instead, tackling the cost of living crisis and getting Northern Ireland’s paralysed power-sharing executive back to work after the pro-UK Democratic Unionist party torpedoed it in February are top of the agenda for the May 5 vote, when polls indicate Sinn Féin could for the first time defeat unionists a century after Ireland was partitioned.” – Financial Times

PM seeks to secure “crucial” trade deal with India

“The UK is hoping to secure a trade deal with India to underscore what Downing Street sees as the benefits of leaving the European Union. India is also seen as a critical partner to counter the growing influence of China, with Mr Johnson’s government seeking to lock Beijing out of the UK’s push for new nuclear power plants as well as its 5G network….The Prime Minister’s trip to India has been long-delayed, cancelled twice as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.” – Daily Telegraph

Green Party campaigning in Burnley “shows expanded appeal”

“The Greens will field more than 2,500 candidates across England, Wales and Scotland, with the latter having a separate organisation and about 20 councillors. Such is the party’s ubiquity, officials say, that if they do not stand in a particular ward, voters email to complain. While the Greens hope for increases in traditional metropolitan hunting grounds such as London, Manchester and Birmingham, the battle in Burnley demonstrates how their appeal has expanded, in terms of geography and in the range of potential voters, a factor in traditional party loyalties breaking down.” – The Guardian

  • Scottish Labour’s Anas Sarwar bids to turn ‘likeability into electability’ – The Scotsman

>Today: Oliver Dowden on Comment: In the local elections, choose a better deal for your area – vote Conservative

Luke Johnson: Rees-Mogg is right to order civil servants back to the office

“It is little wonder then that there have been howls of protest from the usual suspects — not least the unions — condemning Jacob Rees-Mogg, the minister for Government Efficiency, for daring to tell Cabinet colleagues this week that their officials must return to the office full time..But being in the same location day and night is not healthy. It is isolating. Humans are social animals. It is how we work best. And with the challenges we face in the months ahead, we will have to work at our very best to survive.” – Luke Johnson, Daily Mail

  • Civil service unions condemn ‘vindictive’ back-to-office drive – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: Rees-Mogg vs Sir Humphrey. The Minister for Efficiency is right to tackle Whitehall’s working from home habit.

Other political news

  • Scottish A&E waiting times match worst level on record – BBC
  • Police drop criminal probe into former Mayor of Liverpool – Daily Mail
  • NHS transgender treatment for children ‘borders on ideological’, says Javid – Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Theresa May and the new Tory awkward squad – Patrick O’Flynn, The Spectator
  • Can’t get a GP appointment? Blame medical socialism – Len Shackleton, CapX
  • Could Sarah Palin cause the upset of the century? – Curt Mills, Unherd
  • Supporting multiculturalism is the natural conservative position – Imran Mulla, The Critic