Published:

Johnson 1) The Prime Minister is planning to bring back Right to Buy…

“Boris Johnson wants to give millions of people the right to buy the homes they rent from housing associations in a major shake-up inspired by Margaret Thatcher. The Prime Minister ordered officials to develop the plans in the last fortnight after becoming convinced the idea would help “generation rent”, The Telegraph can reveal. The proposal is intended to give the 2.5 million households in England who rent properties from housing associations the power to purchase their homes at a discounted price. It would be a new version of the famous Thatcher scheme that allowed families to buy properties from councils – one of the most well-known policies of her premiership.” – The Daily Telegraph

  • …but a ban on building work puts up to 100,000 new homes on hold – The Times
  • Mayor of Odesa promises to name a street in honour of the Prime Minister – The Daily Mail
  • Johnson’s allies question whether “left-leaning lawyer” should have advised on Sue Gray’s report – The Daily Telegraph
  • The cost of living crisis is the biggest threat to Johnson’s Government – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun

Johnson 2) … as he ‘pauses’ a manifesto pledge for flexible working and leave for carers…

“The Queen’s Speech will not include proposals to strengthen flexible working or introduce unpaid leave for carers after Boris Johnson again shelved plans for an employment bill. In the government’s first Queen’s Speech after the 2019 election it vowed that “measures will be brought forward to encourage flexible working” and “to introduce the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers”. These policies, both manifesto promises, were to be delivered in an employment bill. But the bill was dropped from the following speech, which set out the government’s agenda for the parliamentary term, in 2021. Sources said it was because the labour market was in flux due to the pandemic and that a bill was still planned. Now it has been dropped again from the speech, to be delivered on Tuesday next week, leaving Johnson at risk of not meeting a manifesto commitment.” – The Times

Johnson 3) …and is briefed by MI5, alongside the Home Secretary, over a potential ‘army of saboteurs’ sent by Putin against the UK

“Priti Patel and Boris Johnson have been warned by MI5 that Vladimir Putin could send an army of saboteurs to attack public infrastructure including power stations. Britain’s domestic counter-intelligence agency is reportedly on ‘high alert’ amid the fears of Russian agents set to infiltrate the UK. Threats include ‘deniable’ infrastructure attacks and operations to humiliate the UK government in an effort swing public opinion against Britain’s support for Ukraine. ‘There is a serious concern that officers or agents attached to Russia’s security services may attempt to enter the UK and target strategic locations,’ a security source said… Putin’s FSB security agency, formerly known as the KGB, is clamouring to restore its reputation amid repeated intelligence failures in Ukraine.” – The Daily Mail

Sunak ‘ignored a warning’ from the Ministry of Defence about missing NATO spending commitments

“Rishi Sunak ignored a direct MoD warning that the UK will miss Nato spending commitments by 2025 — and even tried to have the alert letter withdrawn. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace wrote to the Chancellor before March’s Spring Statement to warn arming Ukraine and inflation pressure meant the UK is facing a real-terms cut in security spending. The letter said the sacred Nato commitment to spend two per cent of GDP on defence risks being missed by the ­middle of the decade. But Mr Sunak never replied to the letter of March 11 and refused to alter spending plans. Instead, it’s claimed ­Treasury officials “put pressure” on the Ministry of Defence to withdraw the letter — sparking major Cabinet tensions. One Whitehall source said: “MoD officials are still flabbergasted they were barred from engaging with the Treasury on this matter and the letter appeared to have gone in the bin at No11.”” – The Sun

  • Red Wall Tories suggest Sunak, not Partygate, is the party’s weakness ahead of the local elections – The Times

Parish was searching for a ‘Dominator combine harvester’, friends suggest

“Not since the Wurzels tried to woo a young woman with their brand new combine harvester has farm machinery acquired such an amorous flavour. Chatboards, Facebook groups and friends of the disgraced MP Neil Parish were speculating yesterday that the pornographic material that ended his career began with an innocent search for a “Dominator” combine harvester. The Tiverton & Honiton Tory, 65, is quitting the Commons after watching pornography on the green benches in a “moment of madness”. He said he found it by accident while looking at tractors but then returned deliberately.  Farming communities quickly noticed that Parish, himself a farmer, had been photographed with his own combine harvester, a Claas Dominator 76. The theory went public when Colin Slade, a Devon county councillor and friend of Parish, told the BBC: “I know what he was looking for and I can see how that could go to something totally different — a play on words.” Slade later explained that he had not been told by Parish what search terms he had used.” – The Times 

  • MPs staff could be paid by Parliament in Commons’ overhaul – The Financial Times
  • ‘Allies of Lord Frost’ call for him to quit the Lords and contest the by-election – The Daily Mail
  • Parish had no choice but to quit – Editorial, Daily Express
  • The Commons is a chamber of horrors – Editorial, The Times
  • Westminster sleaze is spiralling out of control. We can no longer afford to turn a blind eye – Nick Timothy, The Daily Telegraph

Dowden and Kwarteng disagree over the suggestion that half of all Conservative MPs should be women…

“The Conservatives have outlined plans to boost the number of female Tory MPs today, as they try to diffuse the burgeoning row over sexism and laddish behaviour in Parliament. Party chairman Oliver Dowden this morning reiterated a commitment from Boris Johnson to ensure half of Conservative candidates for the Commons are women…But Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng today spoke out against all-women shortlists being used. He told Sky News the party needed a lot more more female MPs ‘as we should have more people from a wider range of backgrounds’. But asked if he would support all-female lists he said: ‘I’ve never been a fan, frankly, personally, of quotas and shortlists.’” – The Daily Mail

  • Kwarteng blames misogyny amongst MPs on ‘some bad apples’ – The Guardian
  • Nokes: By-election candidate must be a woman – The Times

>Yesterday: 

…as the Business Secretary opposes the Chancellor’s floating of an energy windfall tax

“A windfall tax on oil and gas companies would be a disincentive to investment, the business secretary has said, days after Rishi Sunak suggested he was considering the idea. Kwasi Kwarteng said that an extra tax on energy companies’ profits would be “arbitrary and unexpected”. With Shell and BP poised to announce their highest profits for a decade, the chancellor warned them last week to invest more in the North Sea and British renewable projects if they want to escape a windfall tax. Sunak’s intervention provoked some surprise as a windfall tax is a flagship Labour policy which the government has consistently opposed. But yesterday Kwarteng made clear his continued opposition to the idea. “I’ve never been a supporter of windfall taxes,” he told Sky News. “I’ve been very clear about that publicly. I think they discourage investment.”” – The Times

>Yesterday: 

Lawson: Russia is a state built on lies. So how could anyone agree to a peace deal with it?

Russia is a country where “fantasies come to be believed, and the truth is never acceptable: it would be more than someone’s job is worth to tell it. This sort of thing is not unknown in the West — British Prime Ministers and American Presidents are frequently told what their advisers think they want to hear. But ours are societies with a querulously independent press and a firm tradition of legal protection for the rights of the individual against the state. Russia has never had that…Few have more cause for such absolute lack of faith in the Kremlin’s word than the Ukrainian people and their government. For this reason, I cannot imagine the war being concluded soon, or ever, with a formal agreement between the two sides. Kyiv knows better than to take Putin’s word for anything, including the time of day. The lies will never stop.” – The Daily Mail

  • Civilians escape besieged Mariupol factory as diehard soldiers stay and fight – The Sun
  • Russia ‘is already paving the way for a takeover of Moldova’ – The Times
  • Invest in our military – Ukraine can’t fight our wars for us – Lord Dannatt, Daily Express

Donelan says universities will face fines if they don’t teach in person

“Universities will be fined if they fail to ensure students have face-to-face teaching, the government has said. Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, said she wanted inspectors to investigate staff attendance on campus. Most universities say lecturers have returned to campuses but individual courses at various institutions are still using online or “blended” methods. In some cases, larger lectures are delivered remotely while students attend tutorials… Donelan said she wanted vice-chancellors to take action about the “stubborn minority” of lecturers who were still working remotely… “Students and lecturers will be going to the pub, going out for meals, they’ll be going to parties, going to weddings, probably concerts, so it doesn’t actually make sense that they can’t then be in a lecture theatre.” – The Times

Bank of England ‘duty bound’ to trigger recession to curb inflation

“Britain’s central bank policymakers are “duty bound” when they meet this week to push the UK into recession to cap rising inflation, a former Bank of England (BoE) official has said. Adam Posen, who runs Washington-based thinktank the Peterson Institute, said that while the Bank of England would not want workers to lose their jobs, it should hike interest rates now to squeeze out inflationary pressures made worse by Brexit trade and immigration restrictions. The BoE’s monetary policy committee (MPC) meets on Thursday and is expected to increase interest rates by 0.25%, taking the central bank’s base rate to 1% – its highest level since early 2009. Inflation in March peaked at 7% – its highest level for 30 years.” – The Guardian

  • Leading central banks plan for aggressive round of interest rate hikes as a ‘show of strength’ against inflation – The Daily Mail
  • How bad can stagflation get? – Valentine Romei and Alan Smith, The Financial Times

Foges: I don’t trust my party with the future of the BBC

“That will be England gone . . .” Philip Larkin’s Going, Going drifted to mind when I read of the government’s plans to ditch the BBC licence fee in 2027 and replace it with a “fair and appropriate” alternative. The poem foresees the gradual loss of our green and pleasant land to shopping malls and “bleak high-risers”; the funding review portends the decline of things less tangible but no less valuable: culture, identity, national pride. “Most things are never meant,” wrote Larkin. Ministers might not intend to trigger the demise of the BBC as a world-class institution, but make no mistake about the trajectory: the licence fee is replaced by a subscription service; the corporation is forced to drop a lot of the “public interest” stuff; content becomes narrower and cheaper; the number of consumers declines; the BBC moves from the centre of national life to its margins, from institution to irrelevance, history-maker to GCSE history module. It is an act of national self-harm, like the French attacking their wine producers or the US its film industry. But hey, it might win the Tories 17 more votes in the red wall.” – The Times

Up to 230 migrants cross the Channel, after 11 day hiatus in crossings following the Rwanda deal announcement

“Up to 230 migrants have crossed the English Channel this morning after an eleven day hiatus in what was being claimed as an early victory for the Government’s new scheme for sending asylum seekers to Rwanda. UK officials, including a Border Force vessel, escorted seven small boats of men, women and children into Dover Harbour, Kent, at around 12.30am. The last migrants to arrive at Dover in Kent were a total of 263 across seven small boats on April 19 – and Ministry of Justice data revealed not a single adult or child made it across since. It comes amid a new strategy to deal with Channel migrants launched on April 14 which saw the military take charge of attempts to control crossings with a joint task force drawn from the Navy, Army and Air Force in Kent. This week, Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said that the drop to zero was evidence that Home Secretary Priti Patel’s scheme, which will see asylum seekers sent 4,000 miles to claim refugee status from Rwanda, is ‘working already’.” – The Daily Mail

  • The Rwanda migrant plan does not break the law, Australian diplomat says – The Times

Wandsworth Tories fear first shift in power since 1978

“The Conservatives have controlled Wandsworth borough council since a year before Margaret Thatcher became prime minister. At this week’s local elections, however, Boris Johnson risks becoming the first Tory leader in 44 years to lose the Iron Lady’s “favourite council” as voters are given the first chance to express their opinions on the No 10 parties scandal. Wandsworth is not only unrecognisable from 1978 — it looks utterly different from when Johnson ended his term as Mayor of London six years ago such is the pace of change. The borough had been a willing partner in Johnson’s City Hall drive to transform run-down parts of the capital with foreign investment.” – The Times

  • Disillusioned voters ‘spell trouble’ for the Tories in Somerset – The Daily Telegraph
  • Ministers dispatched to shore up strongholds as rebels warn the local elections could decide Boris Johnson’s fate – The I
  • A mid-term drubbing should focus Tory minds – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph

>Today: 

Police chiefs urged to apply for Metropolitan Police top job

“Home Office officials have been contacting chief constables to persuade them to apply for the Metropolitan Police commissioner vacancy amid fears the acrimonious departure of Dame Cressida Dick could deter candidates. Sources said that a string of senior officers had been “tapped on the shoulder” to try to bolster the field and ensure there was a wide array of applicants from across policing. Dick quit in February after Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, withdrew his support and publicly stated that he did not believe she could restore trust and confidence after a series of scandals. Priti Patel, the home secretary, has ordered an inquiry into Dick’s ousting after Sir Stephen House, the temporary commissioner, complained that due process had not been followed. Chief constables are understood to have been separately contacted by both Home Office officials and Sophie Linden, Khan’s deputy mayor for policing, as the opposing politicians jockey for their preferred candidate.” – The Times

Labour 1) Starmer accuses the Conservatives of ‘trying to throw mud’ over Beergate – as he denies breaking lockdown rules with officials

“Sir Keir Starmer accused the Tories of ‘throwing mud’ ahead of the local elections today as he again denied breaking lockdown rules by drinking beer with officials last year. While repeatedly lambasting Boris Johnson over the ‘Partygate’ scandal, Sir Keir has repeatedly insisted that no rules were broken during his trip to Durham on April 30 last year. Appearing on television today he again denied any rules were broken. He also insisted it was an ‘genuine mistake’ by Labour to deny his deputy Angela Rayner was present, when she was also there. Asked if the deputy leader was at the office, Sir Keir told Sky News: ‘Yes. We were in the office, we were working, we paused for something to eat, there was no party, no rules were broken and that is the long and short of it. ‘I know what is going on here, we have got an election on Thursday and there are just Tory MPs trying to throw mud around because they have got nothing to say on the central issue of the cost of living.’” – The Daily Mail

  • Blair backs Starmer in Labour campaign video – The Times
  • Labour officials lied about Rayner’s attendance at ‘Beergate bash’ as they are “very busy” – The Sun
  • MPs demand evidence Starmer did not break lockdown rules – The Daily Mail
  • Starmer must show voters ‘he’s not just an out of touch Remainer’ and ‘be more patriotic’, supporters warn – The Sun
  • Stop dissembling and come clean, Sir Keir – Editorial, The Daily Mail
  • Dull Starmer is using Johnson’s Partygate defence playbook to distract from his own ‘Beergate’ scandal – Editorial, The Sun
  • New Labour still casts a dark shadow over Britain – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph

Labour 2) Rayner says the Government’s refusal to publish a PPE firm’s contract ‘reeks of cover-up’

“Labour has accused ministers of a potential cover-up over a PPE contract with a company linked to Tory peer Michelle Mone, after the health department refused to release documents connected to the deal, citing commercial sensitivities. The row comes days after the National Crime Agency (NCA) searched Mone’s home as part of a potential fraud investigation into the company, PPE Medpro, which won more than £200m in government contracts without public tender. Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, wrote to the government in January to seek the release of correspondence and records connected to the deal, as happened over a testing contract won by another company, Randox, after lobbying by the then Tory MP Owen Paterson. In the letter, Rayner noted that Medpro won the two contracts via a “VIP lane” for politically connected companies after Mone contacted two ministers in May 2020 to say she could source PPE.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: 

Labour 3) Colleagues touched me up, according to Bryant

“A Labour MP was “regularly touched up” when he first joined parliament by older colleagues who had not come out as gay, he said. Chris Bryant’s comments follow a series of scandals over the behaviour of MPs, leading to a call for a culture change in Westminster. Bryant told LBC Radio: “I remember when I came in, in 2001, I was regularly touched up by older, senior gay — well, they weren’t out, but — MPs. “I never felt I was able to report it because you end up being part of the story, and that’s the last thing you want. And I think a lot of women have been through that.” Though Bryant said he could think of four MPs, he did not name them. He added: “I was shocked at the time . . . none of them are out, of course. I think that now if anybody would do that I would be absolutely robust. I would call the person out immediately and I would make a complaint.”” – The Times

Davey denies claims of a ‘Labour-Lib Dem pact to ‘stitch up’ local elections, as bookies make them favourites in upcoming by-election

“Sir Ed Davey has denied rumours of a ‘Lib-Lab’ pact to compound Tory losses in Thursday’s local elections and force Boris Johnson to resign. Tory chairman Oliver Dowden claimed Sir Keir Starmer was standing down candidates ‘in swathes of the country’ where Lib Dem support is strong to avoid splitting the anti-Tory vote. And he alleges Sir Ed Davey’s party has returned the favour where Labour is dominant elsewhere… Sir Ed Davey told Ridge on Sky News: ‘Listen, there is no pact now, there is not going to be a pact in the future.’… The fears come after bookmakers made the Liberal Democrats are favourites to win the Tiverton and Honiton by-election triggered by the resignation of ‘Porn MP’ Neil Parish. Sir Ed’s party is 1/3 with StarSports and Ladbrokes to win the by-election triggered by Parish’s resignation after admitting that he watched porn twice in the House of Commons yesterday.” – The Daily Mail

  • The Liberal Democrats are the challengers in Parish’s seat, according to Davey – The Guardian
  • Secret woke alliance would be bad for our democracy – Leo McKinstry, Daily Express

>Yesterday: 

The Greens still want to leave NATO…just not when there’s a war on

“The Green Party wants Britain to leave Nato but not until after Russia’s war with Ukraine is over, its co-leader has said. Adrian Ramsay said that it remained the party’s “long-term policy” for Britain to leave the military alliance and instead focus on “peacekeeping institutions”. The Green Party’s “peace and defence” policy decries Nato as a “military-oriented body, which imposes conflict cessation rather than encouraging peace building”. It says that Nato “is not a sustainable mechanism for maintaining peace in the world”, meaning that the party “would take the UK out of Nato.” Asked about that stance by Sky News yesterday, Ramsay said: “We have a long-term policy that’s about reviewing what structures we need to have to build peace in the world. We have to remember this conflict has happened at a time when we are part of Nato and we are still seeing nuclear weapons dominate.” – The Times

SNP 1) Sturgeon vows the war in Ukraine will not delay a second independence referendum (or change the SNP’s stance on nuclear weapons)…

“Ms Sturgeon said she had “not changed her position” on when a referendum would be held, despite fears the conflict in Ukraine could continue well into next year. The First Minister has insisted she still sees 2023 as a realistic date for a new vote… Ms Sturgeon also reiterated her party’s stance on Nato membership, saying she would like to see an independent Scotland be a “non-nuclear member” of the alliance. The issue has been divisive in the SNP, which changed its stance in 2012, sparking the resignation of three MSPs… Questions have been raised as to how Scotland’s anti-Trident stance will be perceived in a time of conflict with nuclear power Russia. Ms Sturgeon told Sophy Ridge’s Sky News on Sunday: “I would want to see an independent Scotland be a non-nuclear member of Nato. Remember, the vast majority of countries in the world don’t have nuclear weapons and I think we’re right now being reminded of the dangers posed by nuclear weapons.” – The Scotsman

  • Davidson: Don’t reward the SNP for failure – The Scotsman
  • Time for Scotland to wake up to its decline under the SNP – Brian Monteith, The Scotsman

SNP 2)…as SNP MP Black apologies for flouting drinking ban on ScotRail trains

“A prominent SNP MP has apologised after being filmed flouting rules banning drinking on Scottish trains by swigging from a can of Tennent’s lager after a football match. Mhairi Black, the MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, was shown in a video posted online by The Spectator drinking in a packed carriage after Partick Thistle, the football team she supports, lost a match…The footage was recorded on a Scotrail service between Ayr and Glasgow Central following the Ayr United and Partick Thistle clash on Friday evening. The six-second clip, filmed from opposite seats, shows another jubilant traveller waving a bottle of Buckfast over the politician’s head. The Scottish Conservative MSP Russell Findlay said: “The train booze ban has been in place for 18 months — and there’s no exemption for SNP politicians just because their team got beaten. Although as a passenger who has to regularly endure the SNP’s nationalised trains, I can’t really blame this MP for wanting a drink.” Since November 16, 2020, alcohol has been banned in stations and on trains “at any time of day”. People “showing specific signs of intoxication” are not permitted to travel.” – The Times 

Sinn Fein ‘slammed’ by Northern Irish party leaders for border poll talks bid with New IRA group Saoradh ahead of Stormont elections

“The DUP has accused Sinn Fein of seeking to build an alliance on a border poll with “people who are still involved in murder on our streets”. In the UTV election debate, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson challenged Michelle O’Neill after the revelation that her party wrote to the dissident republican group Saoradh to seek engagement on “developing a common strategy and co-operation” on a referendum. “We have been saying now for weeks that Sinn Fein are trying to hide that their number one priority is for a border poll,” the DUP leader said. “Others have been saying, ‘Oh no, this is not an issue’. But it is an issue when we have Sinn Fein looking to build an alliance with people who are still committing murder on our streets to deliver their unity poll.” Saoradh is reportedly the political wing of the New IRA, which shot dead journalist Lyra McKee in 2019. The party denies it has any link to violence.” – The Belfast Telegraph

  • The Alliance aim to break the duopoly at the head of Northern Irish politics – Jude Webber, The Financial Times
  • Is Sinn Fein on course for victory – and Irish unity? – David Jones, The Daily Mail

News in Brief:

  • New York has become the city that never eats – Kate Andrews, The Spectator 
  • Will Sinn Fein unite Ireland? – Carlo Gebler, UnHerd 
  • How Blair won over Conservative Britain – Anthony Broxton, The Critic 
  • Tackling the stain of rough sleeping requires muscular humanity, not performative compassion – Ian Acheson, Cap X 
  • Britain needs a government, not this fag end farce – Iain Martin, Reaction