Published:

Johnson 1) The Prime Minister pushes to relax childcare rules to ease cost of living pressures…

“Boris Johnson is pushing to cut the cost of childcare by allowing nurseries in England to take in more toddlers without employing extra staff, as part of plans to relax health and safety rules to ease the cost of living. At a cabinet brainstorming session on reducing living costs, Johnson was on board with the idea of reviewing nursery ratios of staff to children…According to one source, Johnson asked to speed up a review of childcare costs, which has been looking at how many children each adult can supervise. A cabinet source said Nadhim Zahawi, the education secretary, was looking at bringing England more into line with Scotland, which has looser ratios for two-year-olds.” – The Guardian

  • Johnson has not yet been dined for BYOB party in Downing Street – The Sun
  • Can the Prime Minister ‘level up’ Britain by improving bus services? – The Financial Times
  • Johnson confirms he asked Clegg to remove captured British volunteer video from Facebook – The Sun

>Today:

>Yesterday:

Johnson 2) …as he threatens to ‘privatise the a*** off’ the Passport Office and DVLA…

“Boris Johnson has threatened to ‘privatise the a*** off’ the Passport Office and DVLA unless they step up services, it was revealed today. The PM laid into the ‘post-Covid manana culture’ at some government agencies as he urged the Cabinet to find efficiencies that can help ease the cost-of-living crisis. The swipe at lingering pandemic practices such as working from home came amid fury at ‘nightmare’ delays in receiving new passports. Meanwhile, the DVLA has been condemned for being slow issuing licences, with ministers partly blaming refusal to return to offices…The Cabinet meeting this morning was focused on brainstorming measures that can protect Britons from soaring prices.” – The Daily Mail

  • Recruitment crisis and backlog of 500,000 documents blamed for passport delays – The I
  • The Passport Office is another arm of the state infected by WFH lethargy – Editorial, The Sun
  • Taxpayers expect value for money – Editorial, Daily Express
  • Mutinous mandarins are threatening the Government’s agenda – Editorial, The Daily Mail
  • Sometimes even Rees-Mogg gets things right – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

>Yesterday:

Johnson 3) …and as Downing Street warns Musk over harmful content on Twitter

“Downing Street has told Elon Musk that Twitter must remain “responsible” under his ownership, and the EU has said the company will face millions of pounds in fines if it fails to crack down on “hate speech and harassment”. The billionaire founder of Tesla, whose £34.5 billion Twitter takeover was accepted on Monday, has said that he wants to prioritise free speech on the platform, describing it as the “bedrock of a functioning democracy”. His comments have led to concerns that Twitter could reduce the role of moderators and seek confrontation with regulators that are cracking down on harmful content on social media platforms. The Online Safety Bill proposes that social media companies must set out how they will deal with harmful material. They would face fines in Britain unless they had proper processes in place.” – The Times

  • From Trump to David Icke – accounts that now may return to Twitter – The Guardian
  • Twitter is not fit for purpose – Douglas Murray, The Sun

>Today:

Cost of Living 1) Sunak urged by Malthouse and others to cut taxes

“Rishi Sunak was urged to cut tax during a Cabinet meeting about tackling the cost of living crisis, after official figures revealed record-high tax receipts for the Treasury. While colleagues suggested reducing the cost of childcare and scrapping MOTs to help ease the pain of rising bills and prices, Kit Malthouse, the policing minister, argued that reducing the tax burden would be the best way to help struggling families. His view is understood to have received support in the room and was backed by former Cabinet ministers on Tuesday night…However, the Chancellor is understood to have argued that further moves on tax would have to wait until the autumn Budget. New figures released on Tuesday showed that HM Revenue and Customs collected £718.2 billion in taxes in the last tax year, up almost a quarter from the year before.” – The Daily Telegraph

  • Government borrowing halves as economy rebounds from lockdowns – The Financial Times
  • How Sunak launched an unprecedented stealth tax raid – The Daily Telegraph
  • The Chancellor is sympathetic to making Jubilee bank holiday permanent – The Sun
  • Cutting taxes is the real solution to the cost-of-living crisis – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph

Cost of Living 2) Shapps suggests increasing the length of MOT certificates

“The requirement for motorists to have an MOT check on their vehicles every year could be scrapped under plans to ease the cost of living crisis after Boris Johnson instructed ministers to suggest policies that would not cost the Treasury any money…Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, suggested increasing the length of MOT certificates, which are currently valid for 12 months. If the policy becomes law it could save motorists £54.85 a year, which is the legal maximum cost of a test, although testing centres are free to set their own prices. MOTs are required annually for most cars that are more than three years old. One source who attended the Cabinet meeting told The Telegraph: “If we moved from an annual check to a check every two years, that is halving the cost of MOT renewal. That is a bread and butter policy that shows that the Conservatives are on your side.” – The Daily Telegraph

Ukraine 1) Truss set to warn of ‘misery across Europe’ if Russia wins in Ukraine

“The UK foreign secretary will on Wednesday warn of “misery across Europe and terrible consequences across the globe” if Russia succeeds in Ukraine, after Moscow accused Britain of escalating the war and threatened retaliation. In a keynote foreign policy speech at London’s Mansion House, Liz Truss will argue that the existing global security architecture “designed to guarantee peace and prosperity” had failed Ukraine. As a result, the free world would need to “reboot, recast and remodel” its approach to “deterring aggressors”. She will add: “Ukraine has to be a catalyst for wider change.”” – The Financial Times

  • The Foreign Secretary will call on NATO to provide Ukraine with “heavy weapons, tanks, and planes”… – The Sun
  • …and suggests defence spending needs to increase, to ‘double down’ on military aid to Ukraine – The Daily Telegraph
  • Truss, a ‘human hand grenade’ has gone from also-ran to Tory leadership contender – The I
  • Britain offers naval help in the Baltic – The Times
  • UK security depends on new trade partnerships – and Truss knows it – Katy Balls, The I
  • Opposition MPs are more bothered about Johnson than Putin – Quentin Letts, The Times
  • The West has successfully called Putin’s bluff – Hew Strachen, The Daily Telegraph

Ukraine 2) Moscow warns it can target UK diplomats with bombs

“The Kremlin has warned it could target military sites in the UK because of British support for Ukraine, while adding that it could also hit British diplomats returning to Kyiv after a defence minister’s ‘provocative’ talk of bombing Russia. Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, suggested that strikes could be authorised against NATO states who provide arms to Ukraine. She warned: ‘Do we understand correctly that for the sake of disrupting the logistics of military supplies, Russia can strike military targets on the territory of those Nato countries that supply arms to the Kyiv regime? ‘After all, this directly leads to deaths and bloodshed on Ukrainian territory. As far as I understand, Britain is one of those countries.’ Her words came after Britain’s Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said that the UK backed Ukrainian air strikes on Russian infrastructure.” – The Daily Mail

  • Fears grow over Moldova breakaway region being drawn into Ukraine war – The Guardian
  • Blinken: China faces a risk to its reputation due to its response to Russia’s invasion – Daily Express
  • Russia begins a ‘gas blackmail’ of Poland and Bulgaria – The Guardian
  • The UN secretary-general meeting Lavrov is a grotesque spectacle – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph

Ministers 1) Raab pledges terrorists in prison will lose their right to socialise under new laws

“Terrorists in prison are to lose their human rights to socialise as Dominic Raab expands the use of segregated “jails within jails” to prevent dangerous offenders from radicalising other inmates. The Justice Secretary is to use his new UK Bill of Rights to prevent terrorists and hate preachers using “trivial” and “elastic” claims under human rights laws to block their transfer to “separation” units, where they will be isolated from other prisoners. There are three units at the high-security jails HMP Frankland in Durham, Full Sutton near York and Woodhill in Milton Keynes, with places for 30 convicted terrorists. But only 10 are currently held in them…The units have been underused because of claims by inmates’ lawyers that transfer to them would breach their Article 11 rights to freedom of association and Article 8 rights to a family and private life.” – The Daily Telegraph

  • Prison guards are deferring to Islamists, report finds – The Times
  • The price of freedom is eternal vigilance against terrorist offenders – Dominic Raab, The Sun

Ministers 2) Patel ‘forced’ to order a Ministerial Directive by Home Office Permanent Secretary

“The top civil servant in the Home Office has urged his officials to continue challenging ministers when they believe a Government policy is unworkable after he was overruled by Priti Patel over the refugee deportation deal with Rwanda. Home Office Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft briefed his staff last week following Ms Patel’s Ministerial Directive to push ahead with her plans to deport refugees crossing the channel to Rwanda. The Home Secretary’s order came after Mr Rycroft told her that the policy may not offer “value for money”. According to Home Office officials who attended the online briefings, Mr Rycroft explained why he had written to the Home Secretary to raise concerns over the Rwanda deportation policy. One Home Office source said: “He explained what he had told the Home Secretary and that this is how civil servants should do their job. That they should challenge ministers and highlight issues.”” – The I

Ministers 3) Donelan pledges life-long learning shake-up to boost UK growth

“Government plans to enable more adults in England to do training courses throughout their lifetimes will have an important role in tackling the national skills shortage and boosting productivity, according to the minister for higher and further education. Michelle Donelan said the policy to introduce a “life-long loan entitlement” would address the UK’s low productivity growth and lack of key skills by “empowering the individual” to continue learning over the course of their career. The plan, currently under a consultation that ends in May, will give those aged over 18 access to the equivalent of four years undergraduate funding, currently £37,000, to spend on short or long courses above A-level equivalent.” – The Financial Times

Ministers 4) Glen seeks to calm fears over City jobs moving to the EU

“Britain’s City minister has agreed with estimates that about 7,000 jobs moved from the Square Mile to the EU after Brexit, but added that the financial services sector “has not experienced the haemorrhaging” of roles that many had anticipated. John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury and City minister, said on Tuesday that he broadly accepted calculations by consultancy group EY that thousands of financial services jobs had been transferred from the British capital to rival European cities due to the UK leaving the bloc. Speaking before the House of Lords European affairs committee, which is holding an inquiry into the UK-EU relationship in financial services, he added that the figures were similar to those used by the government and Bank of England.” – The Financial Times

Ex-Ministers 1) Frost to ‘break silence’ on Johnson’s strategy towards Northern Ireland

“Brexit guru Lord David Frost will finally break his silence today on why Boris Johnson signed up to a deal with the EU he is now trying rip up. The former chief negotiator will tonight warn Britain would “still be in the EU” had they not folded on checks on goods Northern Ireland – but he says that must now be torn up. The Tory peer will use a speech tonight to say the state of talks were so bad after Theresa May’s deal collapsed that the EU had them over a barrel. “It was the only realistic deal available given our unsatisfactory starting point in July 2019,” he will argue. “I do not believe Brexit would have happened if we had not taken it.”But he will demand the Northern Ireland Protocol that oversees checks between the mainland and Northern Ireland “has to be renegotiated or removed”.” – The Sun

Ex-Ministers 2) Hunt: GPs need assistants to do their paperwork to free up an extra ‘two hours’ of their day

“GPs should have personal assistants who do their paperwork so they can escape ‘two hours’ of admin each day, Jeremy Hunt claimed today. The former Health Secretary said its going to be ‘very difficult’ to get more family doctors into the NHS in the short-term, which already has 1,500 fewer GPs than 2016. So the health service needs to hire more staff to do doctors’ paperwork after each appointment so they can focus on seeing patients, Mr Hunt told a GP conference. It comes amid a huge row over the working hours and conditions of family doctors and the ‘postcode lottery’ of bagging an appointment. Patients have for years complained over struggling to access their GP, and in-person appointments have failed to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.” – The Daily Mail

Minimum marriage age raised to 18 in England and Wales as anti-child bride law clears Parliament

“The minimum age to marry or enter a civil partnership is to rise to 18 in England and Wales, as a backbench bill cleared Parliament without opposition. The bill, put forward last year by Conservative MP Pauline Latham, was approved by the House of Lords on Tuesday with support from both Government and opposition parties. It is set to receive Royal Assent and become law later this week. Until now, people have been able to get married from the age of 16 with parental consent, which campaigners have warned leaves girls in particular at risk of being coerced into forced marriages. The law makes it an offence to marry a child, and applies to both registered marriages and unregistered ceremonial events. The offence would apply “whether or not it is carried out in England and Wales,” meaning it is still an offence to take children out of the country with the intention of marrying them.” – The I

Australian high commissioner: Britain should not feel guilty about the Empire

“British diplomats should stop feeling guilty about imperial history and express more pride in the Queen and the Commonwealth, the departing Australian high commissioner has said. George Brandis, who is leaving London after four years, criticised figures in Whitehall who had bought into a narrative of negativity, and said Britain had “a lot of moral authority in faraway places”. He predicted that the monarchy would survive in Australia during his lifetime and that the Prince of Wales would make “a very fine head of state”. He said: “I wish the self-lacerating classes in Britain would realise that the world respects their own country a lot more than a lot of them do.” The establishment of a Chinese military base on the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, about 1,000 miles from the mainland, has become a key issue in the Australian election, which takes place on May 21.” – The Times

The Mail on Sunday declines Hoyle’s summons over Rayner story

“The Commons Speaker was facing a backlash last night after The Mail on Sunday rejected his bid to summon its editor. Sir Lindsay Hoyle had announced he would call in the paper’s editor and political editor over claims that Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner had used her legs to distract Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions. But his move sparked a freedom of speech row and warnings that a Speaker should never be involved in deciding what the Press was allowed to print. David Dillon, who edits The Mail on Sunday, rejected the demand for a meeting, saying journalists should ‘not take instruction from officials of the House of Commons, however august they may be’. Responding to Sir Lindsay, he wrote: ‘The Mail on Sunday deplores sexism and misogyny in all its forms. However journalists must be free to report what they are told by MPs about conversations which take place in the House of Commons, however unpalatable some may find them.’” – The Daily Mail

  • Row over ‘Basic Instinct’ jibe rumbles on – The Sun
  • Mail claims that three more MPs “gave the same account of what she said, including the use of a startling slang colloquialism” – The Daily Mail
  • Rayner: I ‘begged’ the Mail on Sunday not to publish the story – The Guardian
  • I’m a female MP, and I’m calling time on misogyny – Dehenna Davison, Daily Express
  • Whatever she wears, Rayner can run rings around Johnson – Sarah Vine, The Daily Mail

News in Brief:

  • Is Putin about to invade Moldova? – Dalibor Rohac, The Spectator 
  • Tony Blair’s war on reality – Mary Harrington, UnHerd 
  • Manager or Meme? Is Musk’s takeover of Twitter a good thing, a disaster, or just very funny? – Ben Sixsmith, The Critic 
  • Will Macron finally turn green rhetoric into action? – Philippa Nuttall, The New Statesman 
  • Hong Kong’s free press is in tatters – Benedict Rogers, Cap X