“The Conservatives could suffer bigger losses in this week’s local elections because up to two million voters are set to be barred over new red tape, a study suggests. From Thursday, when ballots take place in England, those heading to vote will have to show photo ID at polling stations. But analysis – based on Office for National Statistics figures, voting intention data and the Government’s own research – estimates as many as 860,000 Tory-supporting voters may not have valid photo ID. Older voters, who tend to vote Conservative, will be disproportionately affected by this requirement.” – Daily Mail
“Brits are opposed to explicit sex education in class, have strong views on what a woman is and are proud of our nation’s past. An exclusive mega-poll for The Sun reveals that Rishi Sunak is more popular than Sir Keir Starmer — including among women and even in Scotland. The PM beats Sir Softie amongst the over-50s, across the South and Midlands and, most painfully for Labour, amongst working class voters. In a wake up call for all our politicians, it shows the Government’s Rwanda scheme is popular and the country split over whether to ignore Euro-judges frustrating Britain’s small boats clampdown.” – The Sun
“The Home Office is planning to use 10 redundant cruise ships, ferries and barges to house asylum seekers in ports around the country, with Liverpool expected to be next in line as ministers struggle to get to grips with the asylum backlog. Officials have been told to look at “all options” to find housing for people caught up in processing delays, including former military camps and prisons, with the total backlog more than 1,500 higher than in December when Rishi Sunak pledged to clear it within a year.
Home Office insiders have conceded that they may have to find more hotels to house people – despite pressure from Conservative backbench MPs…” – The Guardian
“One of the country’s biggest housebuilders is taking Michael Gove to court over his decision to block one of its developments because he did not like the look of the homes. Berkeley Homes has written to the housing secretary informing him that it intends to challenge his “irrational decision” to overrule planning inspectors and refuse permission for the 165-home development in Kent. It wants him to “agree to the immediate quashing of [his] decision”. Gove said Berkeley’s plans for the homes were of a “generic suburban nature” and did not “reflect the expectations” of the local design code. The homes were due to be built in Crane Valley, an area of outstanding natural beauty 16 miles from Tunbridge Wells.” – The Times
>Yesterday: Anthony Browne MP’s column: Climate change. The more involved I have got, the more optimistic I have become. It is a problem with a solution.
“Women’s rights groups and trade unions have written to Kemi Badenoch to plead for her not to scrap the new worker protection bill, saying new laws are badly needed to tackle “endemic” sexual harassment in the workplace. The Fawcett Society and Pregnant Then Screwed were among the groups to call on the business secretary not to allow the legislation to time out, after it became a rare example of a private member’s bill winning government backing. The bill would introduce a legal duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and to protect staff from third-party harassment by clients and customers.” – The Guardian
>Today: John Longworth in Comment: What Badenoch needs to do about retained EU law – based on my experience in a Thatcher task force.
>Yesterday: Fred de Fossard in Comment: Sunak and Badenoch have stalled on the Retained EU Law Bill – and the Government seems embarrassed by it
“Health unions in England will on Tuesday face a critical vote over whether to accept the government’s pay offer, as NHS leaders warned that strike action by medical workers had taken a “heavy toll” on the health service. The NHS Staff Council, which includes representatives from 14 health unions, are set to announce the results of a ballot on the offer of a one-off payment linked to 2022-23 wages with a 5 per cent pay rise for 2023-24. Speaking over the weekend, health secretary Steve Barclay said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the staff council, which also has representatives from employer bodies, would accept the government’s “fair” pay deal.” – FT
>Yesterday: Howard Flight’s column: Scrap the NHS and legalise voluntary euthanasia
“Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will on Tuesday face renewed pressure over his decision to appoint civil servant Sue Gray as his chief of staff, when ministers update parliament on their investigation into the matter. Gray, who led the inquiry into coronavirus lockdown parties in Downing Street and Whitehall, resigned from the levelling up department with immediate effect in March to take on the Labour role. The decision was met with strong criticism from several Tory MPs and allies of former prime minister Boris Johnson, who argued that her move to Labour undermined the notion of civil service impartiality.” – FT
“Keir Starmer is preparing to ditch Labour’s commitment to free university tuition, setting him on another collision course with the left of his party. Labour’s two past general election manifestos promised to abolish tuition fees and Starmer’s successful leadership campaign in 2020 pledged to retain that policy. But the Labour leader is preparing a speech for later this month in which he will reverse his position… Labour strategists hope that electoral benefits from showing Starmer’s fiscal discipline will outweigh the costs of criticism from the party’s left that he is abandoning another previous commitment.” – The Times
“There really was no need for Keir Starmer to announce a change to the process by which ministers appoint individuals to public positions, but then Richard Sharp resigned as BBC chairman and Labour didn’t have a lot to say after that. So all the relevant facts were fed into the party’s Instant Policy Generator and hey presto! A future Labour government will have a new “independent” process that would “depoliticise” the appointment process for the BBC chair. Consider the practicalities and precedents of this brave new Labour world in which the prime minister voluntarily surrenders his powers of patronage for no specific advantage.” – Daily Telegraph
>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Sharp, Johnson and the BBC. ‘Some appointments are so important to public life in the UK, the Prime Minister will understandably want to be involved.’
“Police Scotland is investigating the whereabouts of £400,000 left to the party in supporters’ wills. This is part of a wider investigation into £660,000 donated to the SNP to fund a second independence referendum. It has received a number of large donations in recent years, such as a bequeath worth £300,000 from the estate of Estelle Brownrigg, who died aged 73 in 2018. According to the Sunday Mail, the party has received £1million in this way since 2021… Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell was arrested earlier this month and released without charge 11 hours later as part of an investigation into the funding and finances of the SNP.” – Daily Express
“Doubts over whether the King will be good for the monarchy have “faded away” and his popularity has risen since the death of his mother last autumn. New polling in the build-up to the coronation has found that the King’s positive ratings are rising, with 62 per cent believing that Charles will be good for the monarchy. The results are in stark contrast to a poll in March last year, when 39 per cent of people predicted that he would be a good king. Thirty-one per cent believed he would be a bad king, compared with 20 per cent in the latest poll. The King’s personal approval ratings have also risen, having hit record highs immediately after his mother’s death.” – The Times
>Today: ToryDiary: The new and old King