Published:

Johnson 1) The Prime Minister vows to take ‘full responsibility’ for a potential local elections ‘hammering’…

“Boris Johnson tonight pledged to take ‘full responsibility’ if the Conservatives suffer a hammering in this week’s local elections following the Partygate scandal. A number of Tory MPs have warned they are waiting on Thursday’s poll results before delivering their verdict on the Prime Minister’s future following the Covid rule-breaking in Number 10. It has been suggested that particularly dire results for the Conservatives could bring fresh efforts among Tories to trigger a confidence vote in Mr Johnson and force a leadership challenge.  Elections are taking place on Thursday for local councils in England, Wales and Scotland, as well as London boroughs and the Northern Ireland Assembly.” – The Daily Mail

  • Tories under siege in Taunton – The Times
  • Johnson seeks to play down Conservative prospects – The Financial Times
  • Red Wall voters says Partygate was a disgrace, but the cost-of-living crisis will decide the Prime Minister’s fate – The Sun
  • Vote Conservative for a “better Britain” on Thursday – Boris Johnson, Daily Express
  • The Prime Minister can survive a local elections disaster – but perhaps not for long – Philip Johnston, The Daily Telegraph

>Today: 

Johnson 2) …as he admits Ukrainian visas could have been issued faster…

“Boris Johnson has admitted that the UK could have acted faster to help Ukrainian refugees amid criticism that they are being put at risk by delays in processing visas. The prime minister insisted that visas were required to stop people “pretending” to be refugees but acknowledged that the government had been slow, with only 27,000 Ukrainians arriving, despite 117,000 applications. Johnson defended his response to the crisis. He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “We have done a huge amount to help Ukrainian women and children in the area but we’re now seeing large numbers come to the UK. So far, 86,000 visas have been issued and 27,000 are already here and I want to say, thank you — 27,000 is a lot and it’s growing fast and I want to pay tribute to all those who are helping to look after Ukrainians.”” – The Times

  • The Prime Minister pledged £300 million more in military support in speech to Ukraine’s parliament – The Daily Mail
  • MPs push back on Moran’s suggestion the announcement was held back due to the local elections – The Daily Mail
  • Johnson has not spoken to Macron since his re-election – The Times
  • ‘Brave, clever, and he’s got cool hair’: Residents of Boris Johnson Street in Ukraine sing PM’s praises – The Daily Telegraph
  • Germany can no longer ignore the costs of its dependence on Russian energy – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph

>Today: 

Johnson 3) …rules out a windfall tax on energy firms…

“Boris Johnson last night ruled out a windfall tax again – despite BP reporting vast pre-tax profits of £5billion yesterday. The PM insisted it would put jobs at risk and hurt investment at the oil and gas giant…The comments put the PM at odds with Rishi Sunak, who last week suggested he could back the idea of a windfall charge if firms did not plough more cash into Britain. Labour have repeatedly called for companies to be taxed on their extra profits – with the cash pumped back in to help lower bills. But Mr Johnson said: “If you put a windfall tax on the energy companies, what that means is that you discourage them from making the investments that we want to see that will, in the end, keep energy prices lower for everybody.”” – The Sun

  • BP denies that a windfall tax would hit their investment – The Times

Johnson 4) …and an all-woman shortlist in Tiverton and Honiton…

“More needs to be done to tackle sexual harassment in Westminster but the government is making progress, Boris Johnson has admitted. The Prime Minister rejected calls for the Conservative Party to insist on a woman as its candidate in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election following the resignation of MP Neil Parish for watching pornography. But Mr Johnson said reforms to the culture and measures to tackle problematic behaviour had “come on in leaps and bounds” since he had first arrived as an MP in 2001. He told Times Radio: “Things have changed massively. Even I came when I came in, in 2001… it was very very different, the atmosphere. We’ve come on in leaps and bounds. Is there more progress to be made? Yes, there is. We’re making it.”” – The I

  • Westminster sex pests can’t get away with it as they could 30 years ago – Edwina Currie, The I

Johnson 5) …all as Number 10 admits the first Rwanda removals may be months away

“The first flights sending asylum seekers to Rwanda may not take off for months because of numerous legal challenges, Downing Street has said. Boris Johnson had hoped for departures by the end of May but six challenges against the policy have already been lodged and have delayed its implementation. The prime minister’s spokesman suggested the legal actions had emboldened migrants in Calais who may otherwise have been deterred from crossing the Channel in small boats. Under the £120 million plan to curb the small-boat crisis, male asylum seekers will be sent to Rwanda on a one-way ticket while their claims are assessed…The prime minister’s spokesman said it was “too early to judge” the impact of the Rwanda policy.” – The Times

  • The number of unaccompanied child migrants crossing the Channel rises three-fold in a year – The Daily Mail

Javid and Donelan press hospitals and universities to return to normal post-Covid

“Hospital chiefs and university vice-chancellors have been threatened with government action unless they get back to normal after the pandemic, The Telegraph can disclose. Sajid Javid, Health Secretary, and Michelle Donelan, Universities Minister, have respectively told NHS trusts to drop restrictions in hospitals which are limiting operational capacity, and return to face-to-face teaching. The Health Secretary is also threatening naming and shaming NHS trusts which do not heed his warnings to ease the measures, which were relaxed last month. It comes after Jacob Rees Mogg, the minister for Brexit opportunities, carried out spot checks on Whitehall offices in a push to get civil servants back to the office.” – The Daily Telegraph

Kwarteng pledges “substantial fines” for energy suppliers found to have ripped-off customers

“Energy suppliers face “substantial fines” as regulators begin an urgent investigation into claims they are ripping off customers by inflating direct debits to ease cashflow problems. Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, said companies had three weeks to respond to allegations of “completely unacceptable behaviour” relating to unjustified direct debit increases…[BP] reported underlying profits of £4.95 billion for the first three months of the year, more than double those of a year earlier, as it benefited from a sharp rise in oil and gas prices.” – The Times

Johnson: A return to Thatcher’s Right to Buy scheme will always be loathed by the Left – and loved by voters

“Anyone who is old enough to remember Mrs Thatcher’s glory days will have been cheered by the news that Right to Buy is back. Boris Johnson is planning to revive her flagship policy to help young people on to the housing ladder. Of all the legacies of the 1980s, none has more obviously changed Britain for the better than the sale of council houses, which transformed more than 2.5 million tenants into proud homeowners. Yet the job Mrs Thatcher began, of creating a property-owning democracy, remains unfinished. Forty years on, about 17 per cent of households in England still live in social housing, as tenants of local authorities or housing associations.” – Daniel Johnson, The Daily Mail

  • The Prime Minister is right to build on Thatcher’s Tory principles – Tim Newark, Daily Express

Ukraine war and China lockdowns drive fastest UK price rises in years

“The cost of household goods such as toys, furniture and clothing is rising by the fastest rate in more than 15 years as the impact of the war in Ukraine combines with Covid lockdowns in China. Non-food inflation accelerated to 2.2% in April, up from 1.5% in March, according to the latest shop price index from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and market research group NielsenIQ, the highest rate since the monitor began in 2006. Food inflation rose to 3.5% in April – from 3.3% in March – making it the highest such figure on the index since March 2013, as the price of energy and commodities, including wheat and oil, drove up costs for many producers. The inflation is intensifying existing pressures on the cost of living, including last month’s energy cap increase that pushed the average electricity and gas bill up by £700 a year.” – The Guardian

Bounceback Covid loans used to fund ISIS, court told

“Thousands of pounds have allegedly been siphoned off from the UK government’s bounceback Covid loans scheme to fund terrorist activities, according to a court case that started on Tuesday in London. An ex-pub landlord, Tarek Namouz, 42, faces eight charges of entering into a terror funding arrangement between November 2020 and May 2021. He is also accused of two counts of possessing terrorist information relating to videos. Prosecutor Jonathan Polnay told the court it is alleged that the defendant sent “the proceeds of coronavirus bounceback funding loans to Isis” in his summary of the case, referring to the Islamist group.” – The Financial Times

Downing Street hints at u-turn on low traffic neighbourhoods

“Low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) have an “impact on businesses” that must be considered, Downing Street has admitted in an about-turn after Boris Johnson had urged councils to “crack on” with green schemes. LTNs and cycle lanes have been introduced by councils nationwide since the launch of the Government’s £2 billion Active Travel Fund in May 2020. But their rollout has been met with complaints from residents about disabled access, adverse effects on businesses and rising pollution levels. Tradesmen who live near road closures claim they have been forced to raise prices by as much as a quarter because they are able to attend significantly fewer jobs. Asked whether the schemes still had Mr Johnson’s support, his official spokesman said: “I have to say, I haven’t asked him about that specific policy recently.” – The Daily Telegraph

Dick’s replacement unlikely to be a woman

“The next head of the Metropolitan Police is likely to be a middle-class, middle-aged white man after the leading female contender ruled herself out. Dame Lynne Owens, former head of the National Crime Agency, has announced that she will not apply to become Dame Cressida Dick’s successor. Owens, 53, who stepped down from the agency prematurely in September to focus on recovering from breast cancer, would have been considered a hot favourite because she is not only widely respected in policing but is well liked by Priti Patel, the home secretary. She wrote on Twitter that it had been a difficult decision but that she would not talk about her reasons for not applying, except to say it was not health related.” – The Times

Tory Police and Crime Commissioner caught breaking the speed limit five times in 12 weeks – after pledging a crackdown on speeding

“A Tory Police and Crime Commissioner who pledged to crack down on speeding is caught breaking a 30mph limit five times in 12 weeks. Caroline Henry, the PCC for Nottinghamshire, pleaded guilty to five speeding offences in the space of four months – including two committed on consecutive days. The 52-year-old previously admitted the offences, which took place while she was campaigning to be the new PCC as well as after she was elected for the role, at a hearing back in February at Nottingham Magistrates Court.” – The Daily Mail

New variants mean we can expect to ‘catch a Covid’ just as we do colds, say experts as severity weakens, experts suggest

“It won’t be long before we are talking about “catching a Covid” just as we do with a cold, experts suggest. With the effects of the virus becoming less severe, on average, people who go down with Covid are increasingly mistaking it for a cold or hay fever, data indicate. As people build up immunity from vaccines and previous infections, the virus has weakened to become more cold-like in recent weeks, and Omicron is intrinsically less dangerous than the Delta variant. It does, however, remain deadly for some people and there is still the risk that immunity levels will deteriorate and that a more deadly new variant will emerge.” – The I

  • China’s never-ending lockdown shows the perils of Zero Covid – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph

Biden: Over-turning Roe vs Wade could upend gay marriage laws, as he seeks to make abortion ‘the law of the land’

“President Joe Biden said women have a ‘fundamental’ right to an abortion and called on American voters to ‘elect pro-choice officials this November’ in Tuesday morning statement, hours after a memo leaked that suggests the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. He also pledged the White House would be ‘ready when any ruling is issued.’…Biden reasserted his position after the leak was confirmed, telling reporters just before boarding Air Force one that it was ‘really quite a radical decision’ and ‘a fundamental shift in American jurisprudence.’ The president also said it could regulate all the decisions in an American’s private life such as ‘who you marry, whether or not you decide to conceive a child or not, whether or not you can have a abortion, a range of other decisions.” – The Daily Mail

  • Obamas: The reversal would be a blow to all who believe in a free society – The I
  • If you think culture wars are bad, wait until Roe v Wade is scrapped – America will have civil war – Caroline Iggulden, The Sun
  • The Court would be right to hand over the issue to elected politicians – Editorial, The Times

Lufur Rahman, disgraced former Tower Hamlets’ mayor, returns to politics

“The disgraced former mayor of Tower Hamlets is making a political comeback with support from an ex-councillor who was jailed for housing fraud amid fresh allegations of dirty tricks in the borough. Lutfur Rahman, who became the London borough’s first directly elected mayor in 2010, was handed a five-year ban from politics after he was to have committed corrupt and illegal practices by an election court in 2015. Richard Mawrey, who was election commissioner, said Rahman had “driven a coach and horses through election law and didn’t care” and had run a “ruthless and dishonest campaign” to convince the electorate that Labour’s candidate, John Biggs, was a racist.” – The Times

Labour 1) Starmer is ‘the man who just can’t answer a straight question’ as he dodges ‘Beergate’ questions

“Keir Starmer was left squirming yesterday as he struggled to fend off urgent questions over ‘Beergate’. During a series of bruising interviews, the Labour leader refused three times to say whether police have been in touch with him following fresh revelations in the Daily Mail. Sir Keir also snapped angrily at a journalist who questioned whether he had really gone back to work after his 10pm beer and curry with his deputy Angela Rayner and party officials. Labour’s defence hangs on the unsubstantiated claim that he had carried on with campaigning duties after the late-night meal in Durham. The party yesterday refused to specify what, if any, work was done. But Sir Keir said it was ‘absurd’ to suggest that the Friday night drink on April 20, 2021, was the end of his working day.” – The Daily Mail

  • Backed into a Korma: Labour ordered £200-worth of takeaway curries for Sir Keir Starmer’s ‘Beergate’ lockdown bash – The Sun
  • Starmer dismisses claims of rule-breaking as ‘mud-slinging’ – The Financial Times
  • How the Labour leader’s lockdown beer differs from Johnson’s Covid rule-flouting birthday party – The I
  • Starmer’s Met Police bodyguards observed beer and curry being consumed – The Sun
  • Why won’t Starmer tell the truth? – Editorial, The Daily Mail
  • The Labour leader’s excuses have shattered like a poppadom – Editorial, The Sun
  • The holes in Starmer’s ‘Beergate’ story are becoming bigger – Stephen Pollard, The Daily Mail

>Yesterday: 

Labour 2) The Labour leader hints at expulsion for Labour’s NATO-sceptic MPs

“Sir Keir Starmer has suggested that he will expel Labour MPs who do not voice “unshakeable support for Nato”. He said he was “very clear” that support for the military alliance was “the root of the Labour Party”. The Times reported on Tuesday that Starmer’s allies wanted him to force hard-left MPs out of his party before the next general election. Asked about the report on Times Radio, the Labour leader said: “We’ve been very clear about the expectations of our members of parliament when it comes to issues like antisemitism, when it comes to the false equivalence that some argue between Russian aggression and the acts of Nato. I’ve been very, very clear about that. And I’ll be very clear and firm on those issues.”” – The Times

  • Starmer pledges to target dividends and shares in tax raid on the middle classes – The Daily Mail

Labour 3) Sarwar’s Scottish Labour firmly in second place in Scotland, as Sunak’s popularity plummets north of the border

“Anas Sarwar’s party is set to comfortably beat the Scottish Conservatives into second as the party opens up a seven-point lead in the Holyrood constituency voting intention, according to the survey by Savanta ComRes. It comes as the popularity of senior UK Government ministers plummets among Scots amid the Partygate scandal and the cost-of-living crisis. Poll results show the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, previously the most popular Conservative in Scotland, has suffered a 26-point drop in his net favourability and now sits on -48 per cent, down from -22.” – The Scotsman

The Liberal Democrats admit it is ‘rational’ to give Labour a clear run in certain seats – but Davey denies a pact

“The Lib Dems today admitted it is ‘rational’ to give Labour a clear run in areas where they can take on the Tories – amid claims of a secret elections pact. Party leader Sir Ed Davey insisted he made no apologies for putting ‘scarce resources where we think we can win’. But in a round of interviews with just days to go until crunch local elections he denied there was any formal arrangement with Keir Starmer. Tory chairman Oliver Dowden has accused Sir Keir of 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.” – The Daily Mail

News in Brief

  • Russian Orthodoxy on trial – Henry Hopwood-Phillips, The Critic 
  • Morrissey will never be cancelled – Douglas Coupland, UnHerd 
  • The return of Right to Buy should be welcomed – but the details matter – Harry Phibbs, CapX
  • It’s time Germany brought its Russia experts in from the cold – Elisabeth Braw, Engelsberg Ideas 
  • JD Vance’s win proves the Republicans are still Trump’s party – Emily Tamkin, The New Statesman