Tory Wars 1) Levelling-up cash favours southeast over red wall, MPs claim

“Rishi Sunak’s North Yorkshire constituency of Richmond is among wealthy areas to be given millions in funding designed to boost living standards. Sir Keir Starmer’s north London constituency also benefits. The £2 billion-plus fund is shared between 111 communities across the UK as part of the second round of levelling-up funding. In England 52 Tory constituencies benefit, more than twice as many as those represented by Labour MPs. However, Tory MPs in seats in the north and Midlands who missed out have accused Sunak of favouring the south… Of the 80 successful bids in England, only half are in the 100 most deprived areas of the country.” – The Times

  • Eden Project of the North wins levelling-up funding – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Sunak – one of the few remaining centre-right leaders in major countries. As an era of Big Government rolls on.

Tory Wars 2) Legal protection for parents discussing gender with children

“Parents will be given specific legal protection to discuss gender identity matters with their children under plans being considered by Kemi Badenoch, the equalities minister, for a long-delayed ban on conversion therapy. The government announced this week that it would legislate to ban conversion therapy relating to gender identity as well as sexuality. It came almost a year after Boris Johnson’s government said there was too much “complexity” for transgender people to be covered by the ban. In an attempt to reassure critics who say the legislation could inadvertently criminalise conversations with children about gender identity, the government is looking at ways to ensure it does not constrain parents or clinicians.” – The Times

  • How Tories’ trans unity was torpedoed by Mordaunt ally – Daily Telegraph
  • Letting pupils ‘socially transition’ harms well-being, teachers told – Daily Telegraph


  • Labour’s British and Scottish leaders try to end row over gender recognition bill – The Guardian
  • Starmer sides with Sturgeon on gender law – Daily Mail


  • Proposed ban on trans conversion therapy is doing the work of activists – Daily Telegraph

Tory Wars 3) Sunak on ‘shaky ground’ over concessions to rebels, say senior Tories

“Senior Tories have privately voiced fears about a slew of concessions made by Rishi Sunak to rebels on planning, the environment and online safety, suggesting counter-rebellions may have to be organised. Several former ministers have suggested they are worried about Sunak’s strategy and said the prime minister could find himself trapped between two wings of his party. Potential flash points include the retained EU law bill, the economic crime bill and the finance bill after the spring budget. One warned that Sunak would risk seeing counter-rebellions emerging that could reignite old party tensions if the same concessions were seen on other issues such as Brexit, taxation or planning.” – The Guardian

  • Scrapping all EU laws this year ‘is unrealistic and undemocratic’, MPs warn – The Times


  • Political interests drive the retained EU bill, not policy – Stephen Bush, FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Retained EU Law Bill. The Government may claim it wants no delay. But it wouldn’t be alone in welcoming one.

Tory Wars 4) Sunak ‘happy to meet’ Liz Truss backers pushing for growth

“Rishi Sunak has offered to meet members of a Trussite group that is urging “pro-growth” policies. The Conservative Growth Group met for the first time on Tuesday night to discuss how to make the case for lower taxes and regulatory reforms to unblock the economy – and ensure that the government does ignore the ideas promoted during Liz Truss’s brief premiership. Truss was among those at the drinks reception in Westminster, as were several MPs who served in her cabinet, including Simon Clarke, Ranil Jayawardena, Wendy Morton and Chloe Smith.” – The Times

  • Slash taxes now or the Tories will lose the next election, MPs warn Hunt – Daily Mail
  • You need tax cuts to boost growth, Dyson tells Sunak – The Times


  • Confidence among SMEs drops sharply as government cuts back support – FT
  • Hunt is mocked over toe-curling ‘inflation explainer’ video – Daily Mail

Sir James Dyson: Big government is wrecking the economy

“It is a measure of our political malaise that the Prime Minister recently declared it was a “big risk” for a politician to say that “change requires sacrifice and hard work”. That he deemed it dangerous to state something so obvious is deeply telling. Hard work and sacrifice should be a vote winner, not an electoral liability. But growth has become a dirty word and an idea too risky to contemplate. This helps explain why our economy is in the doldrums and why, on current trends, the average British family will be poorer than their Polish counterpart by 2030.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Softly-softly Sunak must show fighting spirit – Iain Martin, The Times

>Today: Catherine McBride in Comment: The environment shouldn’t be weaponised against free trade

Barclay warns striking nurses’ pay demands will take billions away from vulnerable

“Health Secretary Steve Barclay has warned nurses hitting the picket lines today that their demands will only hurt the most vulnerable in need of care in the NHS. Nurses are still demanding a 19 percent pay rise which would cost the taxpayer more than £13billion a year. In an article for the Independent, Mr Barclay warned that action taken by nurses today threatens to undermine efforts to tackle waiting lists and get a grip on the NHS crisis. And he warned that the pay demands of nurses will just divert financial resources needed for other areas of the NHS… His comments come as Pat Cullen, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nurses (RCN), told Radio 4’s Today program that the union is “willing to meet the government halfway.”” – Daily Express

  • NHS faces ‘biggest day of industrial action ever’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Prime Minister hits back at Starmer in angry clash over NHS crisis – Daily Express


  • Rail chaos ‘is more costly than pay demands’ – Daily Mail
  • Sunak ‘takes a swing at Biden’ after Washington slammed his new anti-strike law – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: PMQs sketch – Starmer waits for the ambulance to arrive

Questions about Zahawi’s tax affairs

“Nadhim Zahawi, chair of Britain’s ruling Conservative party, is facing a chorus of questions about his tax affairs after he failed to confirm or deny reports he has agreed to pay millions of pounds in tax to settle a dispute with HM Revenue & Customs. When Zahawi was asked by reporters last July about a story that he was being investigated over his finances, the then chancellor said he was the victim of a “smear”… The allegation surfaced when the Stratford MP made an unsuccessful bid to become the next prime minister after the resignation of Boris Johnson.” – FT

  • No 10 defends Party Chairman after reports he paid millions to settle tax dispute – The Guardian
  • Questions over tax bill and offshore trust – The Times

Ministers set six-week window to decide on Northern Ireland elections

“Ministers are giving themselves until 5 March to decide whether to call fresh elections in Northern Ireland, as the Democratic Unionist party continues to block power-sharing at Stormont in protest at post-Brexit trading arrangements. This allows the EU and the UK a six-week window to try to thrash out a deal to end the dispute over the Northern Ireland protocol. The Northern Ireland secretary, Chris Heaton-Harris, is expected to confirm the government approach after meeting Irish political leaders in Dublin on Thursday afternoon. The deadline for an executive to be formed at Stormont runs out at midnight on Thursday, and the DUP has made it clear it will not return to the assembly until a deal on the Northern Ireland protocol is struck.” – The Guardian

  • There is no path back to a pre-Brexit Northern Ireland – Robert Shrimsley, FT

Jenrick defends comments on returning Albanian migrants

“Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, has pledged to find, detain and return as many illegal Albanian migrants as possible despite a diplomatic protest by Albania’s government about his language. Mr Jenrick said all but a tiny fraction of “extreme” cases involving Albanian Channel migrants would not be granted asylum, prompting the Albanian foreign minister to accuse him of verbally “lynching” the nation. Alastair King-Smith, the UK’s ambassador to Albania, was handed a “note of protest” from the ministry of foreign affairs in Tirana in response to what it described as discriminatory language used by Mr Jenrick.” – Daily Telegraph

Prime Minister slaps down food tsar who slammed workers for bringing cake into the office

“Rishi Sunak has slapped down a nanny-state quangocrat who slammed workers for eating cake in the office. The PM’s spokesman issued a blistering rebuke to Professor Susan Jebb for saying bringing unhealthy snacks into the office is as bad as blowing cigarette smoke into people’s faces. The Food Standards Agency chief claimed the nation’s weak willpower meant people could not make healthy choices and told The Times that if no one brought cakes in, “I would not eat cakes in the day”. Mr Sunak’s spokesman insisted office workers should be allowed to eat cake and backed free will over finger-wagging rules.” – The Sun

Sunak tells Khan to think again on expanded low emissions zone

“Sadiq Khan should “properly reconsider” his plan to expand London’s ultra-low emission zone, or Ulez, Rishi Sunak has said. The prime minister called on the mayor of London to abandon the proposal to extend the pollution charge to all London boroughs. Speaking at prime minister’s questions, Sunak said: “It is disappointing that the mayor, backed by the leader of the opposition, is choosing not to listen to the public, expanding the zone against the overwhelming views of residents and business. I urge the mayor to properly reconsider and respond to these serious concerns.” … It came as Khan announced that he would make permanent the ending of free morning peak travel for pensioners in an attempt to boost Transport for London’s revenue.” – The Times

  • Mayor faces furious backlash over plans for transport and council tax rises – Daily Mail

Labour seeks inquiry into Johnson and credit facility guaranteed by cousin

“Labour is calling for an investigation into an alleged arrangement by which Boris Johnson used a relative to act as a guarantor for an £800,000 credit facility when he was prime minister. The party has written to the parliamentary standards commissioner after the Sunday Times reported Canadian businessman Sam Blyth, a distant cousin, had agreed to act as a guarantor for a credit facility for Johnson. Blyth is a friend of Stanley Johnson, Boris’s father. Their mothers are believed to be cousins. The 67-year-old was considered for the position of chief executive of the British Council, the body that represents the UK’s international cultural relations and educational opportunities, but the body decided against hiring him.” – The Guardian

  • Starmer will reassure finance chiefs at Davos that Britain will be ‘open for business’… – The Sun
  • …and that he wants to fix post-Brexit relationship with EU – FT
  • Labour would suspend any police officers accused of rape, party says – The Guardian

Wakeford says he won’t be the last MP to defect

“Conservative backbenchers are openly contemplating futures outside the party and more could defect to Labour and Reform UK before the next general election, the last MP to cross the floor has said. Christian Wakeford, who defected to Labour from the Tories at prime minister’s questions a year ago today, said his former colleagues were “looking at finding alternative jobs already” and suggested he would not be the last to change parties before the next election… Wakeford won his seat with a majority of just 402 in 2019, before quitting his party after 19 years — a decision he said had cost him several friendships, including with his best man.” – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Why do the Tories love to promote their enemies? – Charlie Peters, The Critic
  • Section 35: where the culture war crashes into Britain’s ‘NQF’ constitution – Helen Dale, CapX
  • Why Ardern is stepping down – Nicholas Sheppard, The Spectator
  • We get the sculpture we deserve – Mary Harrington, UnHerd

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