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“Boris Johnson has refused to back Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal in a major blow to Downing Street’s hopes of avoiding a eurosceptic Tory rebellion. The former prime minister said the “best way forward” was to instead press ahead with a law that would rip up the existing Irish border agreement with the EU. In an interview, Mr Johnson insisted that passing the Protocol Bill would “fix all the problems” faced by people and businesses in Northern Ireland. His remarks will dent Number 10’s hopes of winning round Conservative MPs and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who have expressed concern over the contents of Mr Sunak’s deal. Downing Street had been braced for Mr Johnson’s opposition, with Mr Sunak’s allies arguing that he is motivated by a wish to return to power.” – Daily Telegraph
“Britain will not send Typhoon jets to Ukraine in the short term, the defence secretary has said, despite a campaign by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and the former prime minister Boris Johnson. Speaking on the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion on Friday, Ben Wallace said the Typhoons would be too complex for Ukrainian pilots to fly and would involve putting hundreds of British troops on the ground to support them. The defence secretary’s comments deal a blow to Zelenskiy, who travelled to the UK this month to make a public request for fighter jets. The Ukrainian president has been backed by Johnson, who on Thursday repeated his call for Britain to supply the planes.” – The Guardian
“Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, has rebuked Johnny Mercer, the veterans minister, in a deepening row over funding for the armed forces. Earlier this week Mercer claimed it is “not credible” for Wallace to say that the UK has been “hollowed out” given significant rises in funding. Wallace yesterday hit back, referring to Mercer as a “junior minister” who “doesn’t have to run a budget” and only has responsibility for 12 people in his office. Mercer’s wife, Felicity Cornelius-Mercer, accused the defence secretary of treating her husband and the office for veterans with “disdain”. Wallace is attempting to secure an additional £11 billion in the spring budget in March to deal with the impact of inflation on expensive military projects.” – The Times
“British Jews are being spied on by organised criminal gangs hired by Iran and targeted for potential assassination, the Security minister has warned. Tom Tugendhat confirmed reports that high-profile members of the Jewish community were being tracked as revenge killings by Tehran. This follows a report from the Jewish Chronicle that detailed how the Iranian regime was ‘mapping’ Jews in the UK as murder targets should Israel launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Mr Tugendhat has since confirmed the report and said British intelligence was keeping a close eye on the regime’s agents. He said Iran was backing organised criminal gangs in Britain to carry out its surveillance.” – Daily Mail
“UK ministers have proposed scores of amendments to a contentious spying bill to secure its passage through parliament, including changes to a planned register of people working for foreign organisations. The government has also put forward changes to curb the national security bill’s potentially stifling effect on media freedom. Security minister Tom Tugendhat insisted the bill would play a “critical” role in keeping the UK safe from “hostile foreign activity” but said the changes would improve the legislation. “These amendments will focus the bill on the most serious threats we face,” he said. The legislation is intended to update the UK’s laws on espionage, some of which are more than 100 years old, to cope with threats such as cyber attacks and other new forms of state-backed hostile action.” – FT
“Britain’s asylum backlog has hit a new record of 160,000 – leaving Rishi Sunak’s vow to clear it by Christmas in tatters. Ministers are facing a major backlash over an “amnesty” for thousands of small boat arrivals in a bid to push down the numbers. The Home Office faced a hammer blow as another 74,000 joined the queue for sanctuary after a whopping 45,000 people made the dangerous Channel crossing. It came as new stats revealed the number of people coming here to study reached a staggering 485,000 – up 80 per cent from 2019. The most common were Indian nationals – up 300 per cent – followed by Chinese nationals.” – The Sun
>Today: ToryDiary: Sunak clears the decks for his small boats Bill, so raising the stakes for his future. And for border control.
>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Blair, Hague, and digital ID. Their proposals owe more to Cummings than Orwell – and are designed with Sunak in mind.
“Environment Secretary Therese Coffey stirred up a fresh row today when she claimed Britons struggling with food bills should ‘work some more hours’. The gaffe-prone Cabinet minister was branded ‘appalling’ for her ‘shocking’ comments by a Labour MP as they clashed in the House of Commons. The spat came as Ms Coffey admitted the cost of living crisis was ‘really tough’ for UK families. She added that ‘one of the best ways’ for people to boost their incomes was ‘potentially to work some more hours, to get upskilled, to get a higher income’. The row is the latest in a series of controversies to hit Ms Coffey, who has been dubbed ‘Calamity Coffey’ by critics.” – Daily Mail
>Yesterday: Malcolm Gooderham in Comment: Reforming the role of the Bank as Hunt’s Budget approaches next month
“Conservative activists who back Boris Johnson drew up a target list of MPs who resigned from his government triggering his downfall including Rishi Sunak’s Chief Whip Simon Hart. The list contains Tory MPs from the left and right of the party who resigned en masse forcing Mr Johnson to announce his resignation. The revelation comes after Damian Green, Theresa May’s former Deputy Prime Minister, was blocked by activists for being a candidate for the newly created Weald of Kent seat. Mr Green is chairman of the One Nation group on the left of the party which includes many former Remainers and critics of Mr Johnson.” – Daily Express
“Downing Street slapped down Sadiq Khan today after he begged Rishi Sunak to spend £110million to prop up his controversial ULEZ scheme. The Labour Mayor of London has already made hundreds of millions from his hated ultra low emission zone, as income rose from £77million to £226million in the last two years. Yet the Government slammed Khan’s demands for more money, saying it was up to him to ‘justify his decision to expand the ULEZ’ and make sure it is ‘not just a tax on the poorest motorists’… Khan’s pleas for more than £100million of extra cash came after it was revealed the Mayor plans to expand ULEZ to cover the whole of London from August 29.” – Daily Mail
>Yesterday: Local Government: Council Tax rises? There is an alternative.
“Bungling Sir Keir Starmer flip-flopped again yesterday – now saying Shamima Begum should not be allowed back. At a speech laying out his “five missions” for government, the Labour leader was repeatedly grilled over a string of u-turns from opposing Brexit to supporting Jeremy Corbyn. And he was lampooned for suggesting his reforms may be “too bold” while failing to announce a single new policy. It came as Sir Keir abandoned his opposition to refusing the rights of IS bride Begum to return. The then shadow Brexit Secretary in 2019 said stripping her of British citizenship was the “wrong decision” and had been “rushed”. But yesterday he welcomed the court’s “firm conclusion” to throw out her appeal and told the event in Manchester…” – The Sun
>Yesterday: James Vitali in Comment: We cannot have higher economic growth without more housebuilding
“Kate Forbes has apologised for hurt caused and promised to protect the rights of everybody in Scotland, “particularly minorities”, as she endeavours to reset her campaign for the leadership of the Scottish National party after her faith-informed views on equal marriage, transgender rights and sex outside marriage prompted a bruising backlash. Forbes, a member of the socially conservative, evangelical Free Church of Scotland, said on Twitter on Thursday she felt “greatly burdened and heartsore that some of my responses to direct questions in the media have caused hurt to friends, colleagues and fellow citizens,” and she had listened carefully to the response.” – The Guardian