Sunak orders inquiry into Zahawi’s taxes

“Rishi Sunak has ordered an investigation into the financial affairs of Nadhim Zahawi after it emerged that he was kept in the dark about the Conservative Party chairman’s multimillion-pound settlement with the tax authorities. The prime minister said there were “clearly questions that need answering” after Downing Street admitted that he was only made aware this weekend that Zahawi had paid a fine to HM Revenue & Customs for tax avoidance. Sunak said he had asked Sir Laurie Magnus, the government’s adviser on ministerial interests, to “get to the bottom” of Zahawi’s unpaid tax and whether he had broken any rules by failing to declare what he owed from the sale of YouGov, the polling company.” – The Times

  • Prime Minister was ‘unaware’ of £1m tax penalty – Daily Telegraph
  • Sunak faces big test of his commitment to ‘integrity’… – FT
  • …and suffers worst approval rating since becoming leader – Daily Telegraph


  • Conservative chairman might regret not throwing in the towel sooner – Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph
  • Zahawi may not only be embarrassing for Sunak, but damaging – Stephen Bush, FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Zahawi’s future, Sunak’s decision

Johnson 1) He hits out at ‘nonsense’ claims BBC chairman helped him get loan

“Boris Johnson today hit out at ‘complete nonsense’ over claims the BBC chairman helped him secure a £800,000 loan while he was prime minister. The former premier said the reports about Richard Sharp’s involvement were ‘just another example of the BBC disappearing up its own fundament’. Mr Johnson, who has returned to London after a weekend trip to Ukraine, also insisted Mr Sharp ‘knows absolutely nothing about my personal finances – let me tell you that for 100 per cent ding dang sure’. It has been reported that Mr Sharp was involved in talks about how to arrange a loan guarantee for Mr Johnson in November and December 2020.” – Daily Mail

  • Watchdog reviews Sharp’s appointment as BBC chairman – The Times
  • ‘Wheeler-dealer’ and his tricky relationship with money – The Guardian


  • Health minister’s medical firm made a £15m profit – The Times

Johnson 2) Admit Ukraine to Nato, he says

“Ukraine should be admitted to Nato, Boris Johnson has said in a plea for western countries to send tanks, fighter jets and long-range artillery to Kyiv. The former prime minister laid bare his frustrations with Germany and the US after they failed to reach a deal last week to donate tanks to Ukraine, saying: “What the hell are we waiting for?” Johnson visited the towns of Borodyanka and Bucha at the weekend and saw the aftermath of atrocities committed by Russian troops. He then met President Zelensky. He said that President Putin was preparing to deploy hundreds of thousands of conscripts in a “counter punch” offensive in the spring and he called on the US and Germany to agree to the delivery of M1 Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.” – The Times

Johnson 3) The sooner Putin loses, the sooner the suffering ends

“The Ukrainian expulsion of Russian troops from Kyiv will go down as one of the great feats of arms of modern times. They did it again in Kharkiv, and again in Kherson. They can, and will, drive Putin out of the whole of Ukraine. This is now a war of independence, and history teaches us that wars of independence only end one way. The question is when. The sooner we can help the Ukrainians to their inevitable victory, the sooner their suffering will be over, and the sooner the whole world, including Russia, can begin to recover from Putin’s catastrophe. That requires all of us in the West, all the friends of Ukraine, to double and treble our support.” – Daily Mail

>Today: Jeremy Browne in Comment: If Global Britain is to flourish, it must aim wider than the Commonwealth and Europe – and reach Latin America

Hunt to propose carbon border tax

“The UK is to propose a carbon border tax that would place a levy on imported steel as part of a £600mn support package to help Britain’s two biggest steelmakers invest in greener technologies and avert the loss of thousands of jobs. Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, has agreed to consult on ways to level the playing field for British Steel and Tata Steel UK against competitors based in regions with lower environmental standards or lower operating costs. One option will be the introduction of a carbon border adjustment mechanism, similar to the one agreed by the EU last year, that will force importers to cover the cost of the carbon emissions of the foreign steel, said two people familiar with the situation.” – FT

  • Dover Brexit bonanza as port receives £45million in ‘levelling up’ funds – Daily Express
  • Ministers should end ‘fiction’ of inflation-linked fuel duty rises, say MPs – FT
  • Energy bills could drop below £3,000 within months, Ofgem boss claims – Daily Mail
  • English councils: the budget cuts that are threatening ‘levelling up’ – FT


  • Watch out Rishi, low-tax loons are circling – William Hague, The Times


Ministers warned they are ‘playing with fire’ over plans to increase the retirement age

“Million of Britons could work for longer under secret government plans to raise the retirement age to 68 by 2035, it has been revealed. The proposal is tipped to be announced in the March Budget and would affect those born in the 1970s and later. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt have both been warned by backbench MPs they are ‘playing with fire’ before the next General Election, The Sun reports. The proposal is estimated by the Treasury to be worth millions to the UK’s struggling economy. Already, hundreds of thousands of workers have decided to cut back on their pension contributions to help pay for rising food and energy costs amid a cost-of-living crisis.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Steve Brine MP in Comment: Failing to fund childcare properly puts this country at a growth disadvantage

Baker warns ‘large gap to be bridged’ over hated Brexit deal impasse

“Steve Baker has warned there is a “large gap to be bridged” over the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Northern Ireland Office minister said “there is no deal on the table”, but insisted all sides are keen to reach an agreement. Mr Baker’s comments came as MPs approved all Commons stages of the Northern Ireland Budget Bill to authorise resources for public services in Northern Ireland for the years ending March 31 2023 and 2024 in the absence of a functioning devolved Northern Ireland Assembly and executive. The Bill will undergo further scrutiny in the House of Lords at a later date… Members of the DUP spoke out in opposition to the protocol, with leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson warning his party was not prepared to tolerate a situation where Northern Ireland is treated like “an EU colony”.” – Daily Express

  • Can DUP be brought in from the cold to end Northern Ireland protocol row? – The Guardian


  • Labour to promise new security pact with EU and closer ties with Brussels – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The least bad solution to the Northern Ireland Protocol problem – from Sunak’s point of view?

Tory peer says Government must shield kids from porn through age checks online

“Kids must be shielded from porn online by forcing websites to introduce robust age checks, Rishi Sunak is being warned. The PM has already caved to a Commons rebellion from Tories demanding social media bosses face jail for failing to remove horrific content. Now Tory peer Jim Bethell has joined with children’s charities Barnardo’s and the NSPCC to toughen up the Online Safety Bill. A series of amendments will propose that all porn websites and social media sites must implement betting-style age verification systems within six months of the Bill becoming law. It will also demand that the legal definition of porn is consistent online with video and telly services.” – The Sun

Tory candidates given lessons on ‘white resentment’

“Conservative candidates for Parliament are given lessons on “white resentment” in diversity and inclusion training sessions. Would-be Tory MPs are told white resentment is a “significant problem” for ethnic minorities and is defined as “when white employees suggest equality and diversity training is no longer required, as it provides ethnic minority employees with unfair advantages”. Despite efforts by ministers to ban “woke” diversity courses for civil servants, similar workshops are being offered to Tory candidates via the Party’s online training platform. Tory candidates are offered unconscious bias training, a practice the Government promised to “phase out” across Whitehall in 2020.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Audio: The Moggcast. NHS reform. The Conservatives should learn from Wes Streeting. And “we should encourage people to use private health.”

News in Brief:

  • Conservatives must stop telling themselves comforting lies about the housing crisis – Elizabeth Dunkley, CapX
  • The Tories are about to strike out – Richard Johnson, UnHerd
  • Let the people smoke! – Samuel Martin, The Critic
  • We don’t need a ‘diverse’ coronation – Gareth Roberts, The Spectator

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