Teachers to strike in England and Wales

“Teachers will strike over pay in England and Wales on seven dates in February and March, the National Education Union (NEU) has announced. National strikes are scheduled for 1 February, 15 and 16 March. There are several regional dates too. The NEU is the UK’s largest education union, and says the strike will affect 23,400 schools in England and Wales. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan says she plans to meet union leaders later this week.” – BBC

  • Lockdown-style learning returns – The Times
  • Teacher strikes will harm schools as they recover from pandemic – Gillian Keegan, The Times
  • Schools must stay open through the teachers’ strike – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Pupils deserve better – Leader, The Sun
  •  As a mother, I’m furious at this decision by teachers to strike – Molly Kingsley, Daily Mail

Wages rise at fastest pace for over 20 years, but still below inflation

“Wages have grown at the fastest rate in over 20 years, but are still failing to keep up with rising prices. Regular pay, which excludes bonuses, rose at an annual pace of 6.4% between September and November, official figures show. It marks the fastest growth since 2001, excluding the pandemic, when people got big rises after returning to work from furlough. However, when adjusted for rising prices, wages fell by 2.6%.” – BBC

  • There’s risk in betting against the British economy – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Transgenderism 1) Sunak blocks Sturgeon’s gender reforms

“Rishi Sunak has blocked Nicola Sturgeon’s controversial gender reforms after concluding that they would have “chilling effects” on the safety of women-only spaces across the UK. In an unprecedented decision, approved by the Prime Minister, Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, announced that he would veto the Gender Recognition Reform Bill. He said he had concluded that the Bill would damage the operation of Britain-wide equalities legislation after receiving detailed legal advice on its impact.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Banning conversion therapy for minors will rob trans children of the chance to think again, putting them on a pathway to medical treatment – Kathleen Stock, Daily Telegraph
  • Identity Politics – Leader, The Times
  • Starmer in ‘huge split’ with his own party – Daily Telegraph
  • Blocking gender law is vital to safeguard women-only spaces – Stephen Pollard, Daily Express
  • Where was Starmer’s ‘concern’ for Scotland’s gender reforms when it mattered most? – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph
  • Sunak is right to block this flawed legislation – Leader, Daily Mail
  • The PM has shown real political courage – Tom Harris, Daily Mail
  • BBC bias row erupts as presenter calls Sturgeon ‘our leader’ in Sunak interview – Daily Express

Transgenderism 2) PM faces ‘big backlash’ over trans conversion therapy ban

“Rishi Sunak faces a “big backlash” if he presses ahead with a ban on trans conversion therapy which campaigners and Tory MPs say could criminalise parents, teachers and doctors. The Government has already committed to ban therapists from pressurising gay people to be straight – a move which is entirely uncontroversial. But over the weekend, Whitehall sources indicated that the Prime Minister wants to extend the law in order to ban the use of conversion therapy around gender transitions – where an attempt is made to persuade children who want to change their gender that they should stay as they are.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Banning conversion therapy for minors will rob trans children of the chance to think again, putting them on a pathway to medical treatment – Kathleen Stock, Daily Telegraph
  • The Government should not be browbeaten into a ban on trans conversion therapy – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Transgenderism 3) Home Office issues pronoun advice

“Home Office staff have been told to be careful about pronouns when addressing colleagues and to avoid using words such as “mate” and “homosexuality”. Staff at the department’s homeland security group, the unit responsible for tackling terrorism, were given a lunchtime presentation advising them on how to address people’s gender identities. It said that some people used “mixed” or “split” pronouns, such as “he and they” or “she and they,” meaning both were acceptable and they could be used interchangeably…Other terms staff were encouraged to avoid using included butch, femme, transsexual, sex change, pre-operative and post-operative. Also blacklisted were “transgendered” as it “suggests a condition of some kind”, and “transgenderism” because it “suggests an ‘ideology’ that could be argued against”.” – The Times

Johnson signs a deal for his memoirs

“Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has signed a deal to write a book about his turbulent time as prime minister, described as a “memoir like no other”. Publisher HarperCollins has bought the rights to the memoir, which is yet to be titled. No publication date has been set for the account of Mr Johnson’s time in office. A biographer and friend of Mr Johnson said he expected the former PM to make a “vast sum” from the book deal. “It will be tremendously readable and no ghost writer will be required,” Andrew Gimson, author of The Rise of Boris Johnson, told the BBC.” – BBC

PM to undertake “soapbox tour” of the UK

“Rishi Sunak will embark on a soapbox tour of Britain ahead of the next election dubbed “PM Connect”, The Sun can reveal. As the Tories languish in the polls, the Prime Minister is to host a series of town hall style question and answer sessions to meet voters and hear their gripes. Last night pollsters YouGov had the Tories on just 25 per cent, compared to Labour’s 47. As Chancellor, Mr Sunak hosted similar meetings with workers at Boots and Treasury staff based around the country. Downing Street sources said the tour of the nation would begin later this week.” – The Sun

UK weighs designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organisation

“UK foreign secretary James Cleverly on Monday warned the Iranian government it would be “held to account” for the execution of former senior regime official Alireza Akbari, an Iranian-British dual national, describing his death as a “cowardly and shameful act”. His warning comes as the UK conducts a review to decide whether to designate Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, the most powerful wing of its military, a terrorist organisation in a sign of Britain’s hardening stance towards the Islamic republic.” – Financial Times

Government agrees to tougher punishments for social media bosses who let children see damaging content

“Rishi Sunak has been forced to back down on the Online Safety Bill amid pressure from 50 rebel Tory MPs for an amendment that will toughen up punishments for social media bosses. The Prime Minister had been facing a major backbench rebellion after 50 MPs put their names to an amendment that would make tech chiefs criminally liable for failing to block minors from seeing damaging content. Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan has effectively accepted the proposed change after talks with the rebels over the weekend, according to a source.” – Daily Mail

>Today: Michelle Donelan on Comment: The Online Safety Bill. “Legal But Harmful” had to go. Here’s why.

Plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda faces more delay

“The Rwanda deportation scheme faces even MORE delays after activists were given permission today to take the government to court again. In December a group of charities challenged plans by the Home Office to fly illegal migrants to Rwanda for processing and settlement. The High Court ruled the scheme as legal, but today individual claimants and the charity Asylum Aid were granted permission to challenge the decision at the Court of Appeal.” – The Sun

  • Tories set for political ‘wipeout’ amid migrant crisis if Sunak fails to ‘stop the boats’ – Daily Express
  • UK government urged to honour pledge to Afghan refugees’ families – The Guardian

Khan accused of manipulating Ulez poll after excluding thousands of votes

“Sadiq Khan has been accused of manipulating a public consultation on expanding London’s Ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) after it emerged that more than 5,000 votes were excluded. Emails reveal the Mayor’s officials removed thousands of votes submitted to a consultation on whether to expand Ulez across the whole of London. The crackdown on motorists is costing drivers in the capital an additional £385,000 a day in charges, according to RAC.” – Daily Telegraph

Army chief warns supplying tanks to Ukraine will leave us “weaker”

“The head of the British Army warned yesterday that the UK’s support for Ukraine is leaving this country ‘weaker’. In a letter obtained by the Daily Mail, General Sir Patrick Sanders spelled out the realities for Britain of donating so much of its military equipment. The Chief of the General Staff’s message to soldiers was released just moments after the Defence Secretary announced the latest provision of aid.” – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Ukraine – we should marry principle to practicality

EU and UK agree to more talks on Northern Ireland Protocol

“The UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, and the European Commission’s vice-president, Maroš Šefčovič, have committed to further talks to resolve the dispute over Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland. Following a “stock-taking” meeting on Monday afternoon, they agreed to continue what they described as “scoping work” to find potential solutions in a “constructive and collaborative spirit”. UK government sources said there were still “significant gaps” in approaches to the Northern Ireland protocol and the sides were some distance from an agreement.” – The Guardian

Greenhalgh and Bullivant: The Conservative Democratic Organisation is no Tory momentum

“We both joined the party that we love at a time when local associations were still strong. They employed professional agents and staff, raised all their money locally and had a huge say in who they wanted to represent them locally, regionally and nationally as their MP. Sadly, this has all changed in recent years. Money is increasingly raised centrally and directly from members by Party HQ, and associations have little to no say on who will represent them in parliament. In the past, the mood of the membership on major policy areas was also an important consideration for the leader and his or her team. Now the membership have no say over policy in any regard.” – Stephen Greenhalgh and Claire Bullivant, The Times

Moore: What about Church of England reparations for the Reformation?

“When the Church of England investigates its connection with slavery, it undoubtedly addresses a great wrong, but not one which lay at the heart of its life and purpose. The Church’s involvement with slavery was scandalous, and yet almost accidental. This is not the case with the Reformation. In that period, the C of E established its power, wealth and national privilege by methods which were sometimes murderous and usually oppressive.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Hague: Why I’m going to Davos

“As foreign secretary, I tended to avoid the World Economic Forum, the great annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland. I had dozens of international conferences to attend through the year and as David Cameron and George Osborne loved going there, I always volunteered to mind the shop in London. Now, however, I look forward to it because I want to know what the great mass of global chief executives and heads of government are all talking about. Inevitably elitist, outrageously expensive and utterly freezing it may be, but as you read this, I will be on my way there.” – William Hague, The Times

  • Economists glimpse signs of hope amid ‘precarious’ outlook – The Times
  • M&S is leading Britain’s high street revival – Matthew Lynn, Daily Telegraph
  • Bullish bosses rate UK in top three markets for investment – The Times
  • UK tax billions go uncollected as staff tackle Covid fraud and Brexit – Financial Times
  • Bank of England governor warns of Truss hangover effect – BBC
  • China’s population falls in historic shift – Financial Times

News in brief

  • The great Tory delusion – Gareth Roberts, The Spectator
  • Empowering Quangos undermines our democracy – John Redwood
  • Against the HRification of history – Fred Skulthorp, The Critic
  • The Public Order Bill is a danger to protest rights – Mark Johnson, Unherd
  • National Trust’s insane drive to make farmers extinct – Philip Walling, Conservative Woman

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