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“Ministers are preparing a strategy of delay and prevarication to combat any attempt by the European Court of Human Rights to strike down Rishi Sunak’s new small boats legislation. To avoid the nuclear option of pulling out of the court altogether, the government is drawing up a plan to contest any ruling against the UK while continuing to implement the policy on the ground. Even if a final ruling goes against the government, ministers still believe they are under no immediate obligation to implement the judgment, and could ignore it for years. Whitehall sources pointed to figures suggesting that about 40 per cent of leading judgments relating to EU states from the past ten years had not been implemented.” – The Times
>Yesterday: ToryDiary: PMQs sketch: Sunak looks, astonishingly, as if he is enjoying himself
“Home Office civil servants lodged a flood of complaints about Suella Braverman’s new asylum policy yesterday, with one suggesting it breaches international law. A slew of anonymous negative comments came during an online question and answer session for civil servants within the department. One said they were ’embarrassed and ashamed’ of measures in the Illegal Migration Bill, which set out earlier this week how all Channel migrants will be detained and disqualified from claiming asylum… A third claimed they were struggling to balance ‘my own personal ethical convictions’ with the Home Secretary’s ‘rhetoric and policies’.” – Daily Mail
>Yesterday: Olivia O’Malley in International: In New Zealand, another Westminster system grapples with thorny question of civil service neutrality
“The Budget will be a “game of two halves” – with expensive cost-of-living relief and painful spending restraint. Jeremy Hunt has told Tories he will “put meat on the bones” of the PM’s plan to fix the economy. But the Chancellor warned there will be no let-up next week on the high tax burden. Treasury insiders admit there will be little to cheer about beyond continued help with energy bills and another potential freeze in fuel prices. The £2,500 Energy Price Guarantee will extend for three months, costing £2.7billion. Modelling suggests it will drop to £2,000 in July due to wholesale prices falling. But MPs calling for a U-turn on hiking corporation tax to 25 per cent are set for disappointment.” – The Sun
“Britain will play a bigger role in a security pact with the US to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines than envisaged 18 months ago, when the countries started negotiating the Aukus deal, according to several people familiar with the deal. Rishi Sunak, UK prime minister, told colleagues on Wednesday that the so-called Aukus negotiations had been a success for Britain, with one minister noting that “the deal has definitely gone our way”. “The prime minister was buzzing about it when he told ministers, smiling and bouncing on the balls of his feet,” the minister added. Sunak, US president Joe Biden and Australia’s prime minister Anthony Albanese will unveil the deal in San Diego on Monday.” – FT
>Today: Stephen Booth’s column: How Putin’s Ukraine war helped to bring about the new Northern Ireland Protocol deal. And what could happen next.
>Yesterday: Michelle Donelan MP in Comment: Today, we announce data protection reforms. And seize a major Brexit opportunity.
“Matt Hancock was censored by the Cabinet Office over his concerns that the Covid-19 pandemic began with a lab leak in Wuhan, the Lockdown Files reveals. The former health secretary was told to tone down claims in his book because the Government feared it would “cause problems” with China. Mr Hancock wanted to say that the Chinese explanation – that the virus being discovered close to a government science lab in Wuhan was coincidental – “just doesn’t fly”. But, in correspondence from late last year and leaked to the Telegraph, the Cabinet Office told him that the Government’s position was that the original outbreak’s location was “entirely coincidental”.” – Daily Telegraph
“Sir Graham Brady, boss of the influential 1922 Tory backbench committee, will stand down at the next general election. The senior MP announced today he’s moving out of politics to “pursue other opportunities and interests”. Sir Graham was first elected in 1997 to represent Altrincham and Sale West. And he was named Chair of the 1922 Committee in 2010. In a statement released to his local paper, Sir Graham said: “Representing my home town in the House of Commons has been an immense privilege for which I will always be grateful. My colleagues in the House of Commons have also given me the unique opportunity of chairing the 1922 Committee for longer than anyone else in its one hundred year history.”” – The Sun
“Boris Johnson warned Dominic Raab about his conduct when he was prime minister and has given evidence to the bullying inquiry into the justice secretary’s behaviour. Johnson has been interviewed by Adam Tolley KC, the independent lawyer who is looking into a number of formal complaints made by senior civil servants against Raab. They are understood to relate to Raab’s roles as justice secretary and foreign secretary, appointments both made by Johnson. The inquiry, which is not expected to conclude until the end of this month, is understood to have spoken to a number of officials who either complained about or witnessed Raab’s alleged behaviour.” – The Times
“England’s Lionesses kicked off Rishi Sunak’s drive to more girls playing footie today – with a training session in Downing Street. The whistle-wielding PM observed the skills drills before getting his Three Lions shirt signed by Euro 22 champion Jill Scott. Schoolgirls enjoyed playing outside No10 to mark the launch of a new sporting initiative to breed the next generation of women stars. New government standards will tell teachers to offer female pupils the same sports as boys. A curriculum shake-up will also encourage schools to increase PE lessons to a minimum two hours each week… It follows the Let Girls Play joint campaign by the Lionesses and the FA following their Euros 22 triumph.” – The Sun
“Gary Lineker could be facing his BBC career coming to an end after he refused to back down over comments drawing a parallel between the Government’s migration policy and Nazi Germany. The corporation’s highest-paid star openly defied the broadcaster by renewing his attack on the Government with a string of comments on social media, and sharing a tweet which read: “Gary Lineker is entitled to say what he likes.” His future with the corporation might now be in serious doubt. Insiders said that his follow-up tweets had “fanned the flames” of an already serious situation, with no sign that he intends to curtail his social media use.” – Daily Telegraph