Inflation eases for third straight month

“Falling transport costs meant UK inflation slowed for the third month in a row in January, reducing pressure on the Bank of England to make more large rate rises. The consumer prices index rose by 10.1pc year-on-year in January, meaning inflation has now cooled by a whole percentage point since it hit a 41-year high of 11.1pc in October 2022. This was a drop from the 10.5pc rate recorded in December and means inflation has slowed in line with the Bank of England’s expectations. Inflation is slowing more quickly than many analysts expected. The consensus expectation amongst City economists was that CPI in January would be 10.3pc. On a monthly basis, CPI fell by 0.6pc between December and January, according to the Office for National Statistics.” – The Daily Telegraph

Sunak accused of ‘sitting on’ Brexit deal…

“Rishi Sunak has had the text of a Northern Ireland Brexit deal on his desk for over a week, with Brussels concerned about his delay in signing off on it. Downing Street continues to insist that no deal has been agreed with the EU to solve the problems of the Northern Ireland protocol, saying that both sides are still engaged in “intensive scoping”. But The Times understands that official negotiations concluded at the end of last month, with a framework agreement presented to Sunak. “He has basically been sitting on it, asking for bits of clarification, but the deal is done,” one Whitehall source said… Brussels sources said that the “ball is in Sunak’s court”, with a strict diplomatic purdah in effect until London signs off on the framework agreement.” – The Times

  • The Prime Minister will ‘hold discussions’ with EU leaders at the Munich Security Conference – The Daily Mail
  • British exports to Northern Ireland will face same EU red tape as China – The Daily Telegraph
  • Britain’s trade deal with the EU ‘faces being re-opened under a Labour government’ – The Sun
  • Making Brexit work is a ‘delusion’, says Verhofstadt – The Daily Telegraph
  • As Sunak concludes tortuous Northern Ireland deal, Johnson watches and waits – The Guardian
  • New Protocol deal could enable Johnson’s ‘comeback’, Brexiteers warn – The I
  • Follow court of public opinion on EU judges – Editorial, The Daily Mail
  • Post-Brexit, politics is becoming local again – James Kangasooriam, The Times
  • The EU’s imperial court hates UK independence – Martin Howe, The Daily Telegraph
  • Keep our brave soldiers out of the clutches of the EU superstate – Ann Widdecombe, Daily Express
  • The Tory party is dying on the cross of hard Brexit – Jeremy Warner, The Daily Telegraph


…as he ‘explores’ public sector pay deal that backdates wage offer

“Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and chancellor Jeremy Hunt are exploring a pay offer to try to end the wave of public sector strikes that would backdate next year’s wage award for NHS staff and other key workers. After weeks of deadlock, Sunak and Hunt are considering giving workers a lump sum by backdating next year’s pay rise, which takes effect from April, probably to the start of January 2023, according to officials briefed on the discussions. No final decisions have been taken, but the talks reflect fears in Downing Street that the wave of strikes could run on for months, especially if, as expected, public sector workers are asked to endure another year of real-terms pay cuts. The government is contending with the worst industrial action in decades…” – The Financial Times

  • Keegan to meet with NEU bosses – The Daily Mail
  • 2022 was Britain’s most disruptive year of strikes since Thatcher – The Times
  • BMA recruits thousands of junior doctors to back strikes – The Daily Telegraph
  • Train firms accuse RMT of bad faith in strike talks – The Times


Braverman’s Home Office ‘will act’ as legal parent for child refugees

“The controversial practice of housing migrants in hotels will continue for the foreseeable future as the Home Office plans to change the law to allow it to act as a legal parent for unaccompanied child refugees. Suella Braverman, the home secretary, is expected to make the change as part of legislation to be introduced next month, replacing the asylum system. It is expected that thousands more unaccompanied child refugees will arrive in small boats this year. Since July 2021, 4,600 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children have been housed in six hotels, each for an average of 16 days but some for up to three months. It is illegal to accommodate unaccompanied children in unregulated facilities, which include hotels.” – The Times

  • Will Sunak’s plan to curb small boat migration work? – The Financial Times
  • Red Wall areas housing seven times as many asylum seekers as the South East – The Daily Telegraph
  • The Tories can’t afford to let crime spiral out of control all over again – Philip Johnston, The Daily Telegraph
  • I’m sick of people with an ounce of common sense being labelled ‘far-right’ – Allison Pearson, The Daily Telegraph

The Treasury and Department for Work and Pensions order ‘sick note crackdown’

“Doctors are to be told to sign fewer people off work with sick notes and instead help them to remain in employment under plans being considered for next month’s Budget. The Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are examining how to reverse a marked rise in the number of people off work with long-term sickness in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Telegraph can reveal that one idea under consideration is a new approach to how GPs decide whether people are too sick to work. Doctors would be encouraged to focus on recommending ways people with long-term illnesses can continue to work with support rather than using sick notes to authorise them to drop out of the labour market entirely.” – The Daily Telegraph

  • Hunt has Budget ‘wiggle room’ for childcare reforms but not tax cuts, ex-Bank of England economist says – The I
  • More risk, fewer rules: the plan to revive the City of London – The Financial Times


France is ‘concerned’ about the state of Britain’s Armed Forces, as Wallace asks for more money

“French officials have raised concerns over the state of the British Armed Forces…Paris officials claimed that budget cuts to the UK’s military were causing alarm among Nato members, as defence ministers from the pact gathered in Brussels. It comes amid a row over defence spending in the upcoming budget, with Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, said to have asked the Chancellor for £10 billion…Calls for more money have been bolstered by the war in Ukraine, and by growing warnings about the threat from China in the wake of suspected spy balloons being shot down over the US…a leading French MP told the Telegraph that there were concerns…that Britain had given weapons to Ukraine from its own supplies, leaving its forces depleted.” – The Daily Telegraph

  • MPs fear Britain’s armed forces ‘have been cut beyond the bone’ – The Daily Mail
  • British troops ‘are up for a scrap’ and ready to be first line of defence against Putin – Daily Express
  • Chinese cameras leave British police vulnerable to spying, says watchdog – The Guardian
  • Ukraine needs Western support now more than ever – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph 
  • Sunak needs more than ‘robust pragmatism’ to fight China – his weakness leaves the UK at risk of serious threat – Iain Duncan-Smith, The Sun

DEFRA accused of ‘watering down’ pollution rules for farmers

“Ministers have been accused of giving farmers permission to pollute England’s waterways by loosening rules on how manure can be spread on the land. Internal government guidance seen by The Times shows that the Environment Agency has been told to apply only a weakened version of key legislation that should protect rivers, lakes and coastal waters from agricultural pollution. Legal experts say the decision has led to farmers being allowed to apply manure to bare fields during the wettest months of the year. Scientists say this would lead to it being washed into rivers, where it can fuel algal blooms that choke wildlife. Habitats already being damaged in this manner include the Wye, one of Britain’s… most ecologically precious rivers, according to campaigners.” – The Times

  • We should jail water company bosses if they keep drowning Britain under this tidal wave of sewage – Alex Brummer, The Daily Mail

Haley challenges Trump for 2024 Republican presidential nomination

“Nikki Haley has announced she is running to be US president, becoming the first official challenger to Donald Trump for next year’s Republican nomination. “Get excited! Time for a new generation. Let’s do this!” the former South Carolina governor wrote on Twitter, alongside a campaign video. She will address supporters at an event in Charleston tomorrow, to lay out what she envisages is her path to the White House. After serving as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations between 2017 and 2018, Haley, 51, said she would not challenge him if he sought the nomination again. She has changed her mind in recent months, she says, citing the country’s economic troubles and the need for “generational change” — a reference to Trump’s age of 76.” – The Times

Back me or find a new home, Starmer tells Labour’s hard-left

“Sir Keir Starmer has called on the hard-left of the Labour Party to back him or leave. The Labour leader made the call as they are due to be taken out of special measures over anti-Semitism by the Equality and Human Rights Commission on Wednesday morning. It comes two years after a report highlighted “serious failings” during the time Jeremy Corbyn led Labour. Sir Keir, in an article for The Times, underlined the changes he had made were “permanent, fundamental, irrevocable”. He added that Labour was unrecognisable from when he first took on the role back in 2019. “There are those who don’t like that change, who still refuse to see the reality of what had gone on under the previous leadership,” he said.” – The Daily Telegraph

  • UK equalities watchdog ‘satisfied’ with Labour action on antisemitism – The Financial Times
  • Labour MPs attack Khan’s ULEZ fee – The Sun
  • The Labour leader has been admirably clear in condemning antisemitism in his party – Editorial, The Times
  • Khan has overreached himself – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph
  • My Labour is patriotic, a party of equality, not protest – Sir Keir Starmer, The Times


‘Reckless’ bottle deposit plan must be reviewed, MSPs tell Sturgeon

“SNP MSPs are among a cross-party group warning the first minister to abandon “reckless” plans to introduce her recycling scheme by August. Fergus Ewing, the former rural economy secretary, and Christine Grahame, the veteran MSP, have signed a letter alongside…political opponents that warns of “extensive and wide-ranging concerns” about the deposit return scheme…The letter, also signed by the Conservative MSPs Maurice Golden and Brian Whittle, Labour’s Claire Baker and Paul O’Kane and the Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur, was written after concerns were raised by drinks producers about…cost. A Scottish government review published in December “identified that the scheme cannot be made to work as planned in August”, the MSPs said.” – The Times

Stormont assembly fails to elect speaker for sixth time

“Northern Ireland’s Stormont assembly has failed to elect a speaker for the sixth time since elections last May, with the biggest pro-UK political party blocking the move as it presses for sweeping changes to post-Brexit trading arrangements for the region. The Democratic Unionist party’s continuing boycott came as long-running negotiations between London and Brussels to resolve months of wrangling over the so-called Northern Ireland protocol looked to be edging towards a deal. The DUP’s opposition also scuppered a bid by nationalist party Sinn Féin to use the session to pass organ donation legislation, inspired by a popular campaign by the family of six-year-old Dáithi Mac Gabhann, a boy who has been waiting four years for a heart transplant.” – The Financial Times

News in Brief:

  • Why no one wants a Ford Fiesta anymore – Ross Clark, The Spectator 
  • Is Ukraine trying to open a second front against Russia? – William Nattrass, UnHerd 
  • Clarkson’s Farm is a rallying cry for rural YIMBYs – Henry Hill, CapX 
  • Stanley Baldwin, unfairly vilified pragmatist – Roland White, The Critic 
  • The great conexit from public life – Ed West, Wrong Side of History 

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