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Council elections 1) Many candidates stress they are standing as “Local Conservatives”

“Hundreds of Tories are distancing themselves from Boris Johnson by standing as “Local Conservatives” in Thursday’s council elections, with rebel MPs saying they will gauge support over the weekend for a move against the prime minister. Election leaflets seen by the Guardian show local candidates across England playing down their Tory affiliations, eschewing pictures of Johnson and styling themselves as “Local Conservative” on voting ballot papers. Conservative central office registered “Local Conservative” as an alternative title in early 2019, when Theresa May’s unpopularity was at its height.” – The Guardian

  • Tory candidates ask voters to forgive “mistakes made in Westminster” – The Times
  • How to follow the results – BBC
  • Labour candidates optimistic in Worthing – The Guardian
  • Independent candidates on a mission to change face of local politics – The Times
  • Seven key battlegrounds – The Sun
  • Johnson braced for Lib Dem assault on Tory ‘blue wall’ – Financial Times
  • Why Tories might lose Thatcher’s ‘favourite council’ to Labour for first time since 1970s – Daily Telegraph
  • Labour councillor in Newham suspended – Daily Mail
  • Shapps refers Khan to Electoral Commission over Crossrail opening – Daily Telegraph

>Today:

Council elections 2) YouGov poll suggests slower Labour progress in the north than the south

“Labour is likely to advance in key battlegrounds in the local elections but may struggle to win significant numbers of new councils outright, according to a major new results projection by YouGov for Sky News. Labour looks set to make slower progress in the north of England than elsewhere in the local council elections, despite Sir Keir Starmer putting regaining the “red wall” lost in the 2019 general election at the top of his agenda. YouGov project the numbers voting Conservative are likely to decrease but not all necessarily swing to Labour. They expect Liberal Democrats and Greens to take votes off both Tories and Labour.” – Sky News

  • Starmer lacks fizz to flatten the Tories – Iain Martin, The Times
  • Labour faces an open goal. It mustn’t miss – Larry Elliott, The Guardian
  • What Labour still needs to learn from Blair, 25 years on – Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times
  • Beware the perils of a Partygate protest vote – Leader, Daily Mail
  • Conservative councillors should not have to pay the price for the Government’s drift – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Council elections 3) Conservatives are expected to fall behind Labour in Scotland

“Partygate has caused confidence in the Scottish Tories to drop as voters north of the border turn away from Boris Johnson’s and towards Labour. The Prime Minister’s party had taken a knock in the opinion polls since it was revealed rule-breaking gatherings were held in Whitehall when the country was forced to adhere to Covid-curbing measures. However, opinion polls in Scotland appear to show the result has been even more damaging north of the border as the Tories fall further behind the SNP and have been leapfrogged by Labour.” – Daily Express

  • Climate change is a central issue in this vote – Richard Dixon, Scotsman
  • The slow death of local democracy must be prevented – Leader, Scotsman
  • Poll suggests Labour surge in Wales – Wales Online

Johnson gives EU “final chance” to compromise over protocol

“Boris Johnson is to give talks with the European Union over Northern Ireland “one last chance” before introducing legislation that will allow him to override the controversial protocol. The prime minister has sent Conor Burns, the Northern Ireland minister, to Washington in an attempt to explain the government’s new strategy that would give ministers the power to unilaterally suspend part of the agreement that was signed by Johnson in 2019.” – The Times

  • Francois warns of “serious damage” to stability in Northern Ireland – Daily Express
  • Voters go to polls in Northern Ireland Assembly election – BBC
  • No one will benefit from a Northern Ireland stalemate – Leader, Financial Times
  • Sinn Féin set for historic election victory – Daily Telegraph
  • A significant moment for Stormont – Leader, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Columnist Stephen Booth: Brexit’s legacy, the Northern Ireland Protocol, small boats – and Britain’s tense relationship with Macron

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Northern Irish legacy legislation. There will be no amnesty. But will there be a statute of limitations?

Interest rates expected to rise

“Interest rates are expected to rise to their highest for 13 years today after Boris Johnson said Britain was better positioned to deal with spiralling inflation now than it had been in the 1980s and 1990s. The Bank of England is forecast to raise interest rates from 0.75 per cent to 1 per cent in an attempt to curb inflation, which hit a 30-year-high in March. The announcement, on the day that voters go to the polls for the local elections, comes amid mounting concern in government about the economic impact of the war in Ukraine and contracting growth in the United States.” – The Times

  • Eustice suggests shoppers should buy value brands to combat soaring living costs – The Sun
  • Inflation and the investment outlook – John Redwood, Financial Times

Queen’s Speech “will include” Brexit Freedom’s Bill to cut red tape

“Boris Johnson has vowed to sweep away left-over Brussels red tape in a landmark bill to be announced as part of the Queen’s Speech next week. The PM’s Brexit Freedoms Bill will rid Britain of rules and regulations that cost firms an estimated £1billion a year. Other key measures will focus on fostering economic growth to provide a ­long-term solution to the cost-of-living crisis…The PM has ordered every Whitehall department to identify waste that can be cut and potential savings that can be made to ensure value for money for taxpayers.” – Daily Express

  • Rees-Mogg is taking a chainsaw to rules and regulations that do nothing to improve society – Leader, Daily Express
  • UK ports want recompense for ‘white elephant’ post-Brexit borders – Financial Times

Lord Frost “frozen out” of by-election to replace Parish

“Lord Frost’s path to a speedy return to Westminster politics appears to have been blocked as Tories picking a candidate for an upcoming by-election seek someone local. The former Brexit minister, who left Boris Johnson’s Cabinet last December, is understood to be open to running as a Tory MP after a career as a government official. However, any hope of standing in Tiverton and Honiton, the seat left vacant by Neil Parish’s resignation after he admitted to watching pornography in the Commons, looks set to be dashed. The local Tory association is said to want a local candidate, given the Liberal Democrats – the biggest threat to victory there – are sure to criticise anyone “parachuted” into the seat.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Parish formally resigns – BBC

Rwanda plan “at risk from left-wing lawyers”

“Boris Johnson has attacked the ‘liberal-Left lawyers’ trying to block his plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. As it emerged that almost 700 migrants crossed the Channel in just three days this week, the Prime Minister conceded that ‘legal eagles’ were trying to thwart his controversial policy, but insisted: ‘We will get it done.’ But he faced a dire warning that unless the deportation flights start soon, the crisis will overwhelm the Government and cost the Tories the crucial Northern and Midlands seats that won them the last election. There had been hopes that some of those aiming to reach the English coast by dinghy had been deterred by last month’s deal with Rwanda – under which asylum seekers will be put on one-way flights to East Africa – and the Royal Navy taking control of operations in the Channel.” – Daily Mail

Beergate 1) Police hint they may take action

“Sir Keir Starmer’s Beergate excuses fell flat yesterday — as police finally hinted they might take action. In a new grilling on the curry takeaway at Durham’s Miners Hall, where he was seen clutching a San Miguel bottle, the Labour leader claimed all local “restaurants and pubs were closed”. Yet a simple check found that to be a lie…..Last night Durham Police said: “We have received a number of recent communications, which we are considering and will respond in due course.” – The Sun

  • Starmer looks like a guilty man falling to pieces in the witness box – Leader, The Sun
  • Labour’s cosy Durham cabal and a silence that’s deafening – Andrew Pierce – Daily Mail

Beergate 2) If Starmer is fined “it could be terminal”

“Yet all this could change if Durham police do open an investigation. If they end up fining Starmer, it could prove terminal. After all, Starmer has repeatedly insisted not only that Johnson resign, but that Rishi Sunak must also quit, despite the chancellor’s rule-breaking seemingly one-off and largely accidental. If Starmer was also found to have broken the rules, it is hard to see how he could credibly refuse to apply the same standard to himself. If he clung on in such a scenario, his credibility would be shot. The prime minister has made it abundantly clear that he is not going to resign over the parties affair however many fines he gets. If the only political casualty of the affair turns out to be Starmer himself, it will be an irony so bitter for Labour that all the beer in Durham would not wash the taste away.” – The Times

  • Labour figures fear claims will damage party – Financial Times
  • Starmer isn’t as honest as he’d like us to think – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

Heath: We are sleepwalking into a spiral of decline

“We are stuck in a vortex of decline, immobilised by warped ideologies and the power of vested interests. We know we need to change, but nobody can pull it off. Even Brexit, a truly revolutionary project which gave hope to millions, has temporarily been neutralised as an agent of change. Take “our NHS”, the supposed “envy of the world”: there is a taboo, an omerta around admitting how bad and unreformable it has become and how many lives it now ruins. Any politician or senior figure who breaks this code of silence faces immediate cancellation.” – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • What we get wrong about local elections – Ross Clark, The Spectator
  • UK and Japan set to agree ‘landmark’ new defence agreement – Independent
  • It’s time to punish Andrew Neil – Laura Perrins, Conservative Woman
  • Will Sinn Fein paint the town green? – Owen Polley, The Critic
  • Feminists now face a new battle over abortion – Julie Bindel, Unherd