Newslinks for Sunday 12th February 2023

Learn work skills or face benefits cut, jobless told

“Benefit claimants will be required to spend a fortnight on an intensive programme designed to get them back into work or risk losing universal credit payments under government plans to reduce unemployment. Ministers are piloting plans for universal credit claimants to attend a two-week programme of daily face-to-face appointments at local jobcentres to help them prepare to return to work. Those who repeatedly refuse to attend could lose their entire standard allowance, worth £334.91 a month, for as long as three months. The programme, already being piloted in four areas, will apply to those who have been out of work for three months — the critical point after which people’s chances of returning to work diminish significantly.” – Sunday Times

Strikes ‘must end for Tories to survive local elections’, warns Hayward

“Strikes must end if the Tories are to survive the local elections, Rishi Sunak has been warned. Lord Hayward, the Conservative election guru and a leading pollster, said public frustration over the industrial action that has hit the NHS, railways and schools is “blanking out” other Government policies and announcements. As the strike action drags on, it is difficult for ministers to “get other messages across”, he told The Telegraph… Other messages the Conservative party may be keen to push ahead of the elections could include the prospect of lower interest rates as well as any progress on the small boats crisis or the Northern Ireland protocol.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • More industrial action on cards as union rejects ‘final’ pay offer – Sunday Times

Keegan at odds with Home Office plan to restrict overseas students

“Gillian Keegan has signalled that she disagrees with the Home Office’s plan to cut migration by targeting overseas students, adding the financial boost from international students to British universities was “hugely valuable”. The education secretary has said the university sector is something Britain “should be very proud of”, amid briefings that the home secretary, Suella Braverman, is considering looking at cutting the number of international students coming to the UK, or changing the terms of their stay… She said she wanted to expand the amount of money Britain gets from education export revenues, programmes that take place outside the UK through partner institutions, distance learning or international campuses, from £26bn to £35bn by the end of the decade.” – The Observer

  • Department to send more Channel migrants to Scotland – Sun on Sunday

Defence 1) UK agrees historic £2billion nuclear sub deal with Australia

“The UK has agreed to provide ­Australia with nuclear submarines in the first deal of its kind ever — worth billions to British industry. Ministers are said to be open “in principle” to the idea of building conventionally-armed nuke-powered subs, like Britain’s Astute Class for them which cost nearly £2billion each. The landmark agreement will help the Aussies get a high-tech sub as soon as possible as part of the AUKUS defence pact to help face down the growing threat of China. Insiders say ministers would be open to building a sub for another ally — like Australia — in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, securing billions of pounds and guaranteeing thousands of jobs for a generation.” – Sun on Sunday

Defence 2) Fears Britain’s armed forces are too small to combat Russia

“Nato chiefs fear Britain’s military forces are so overstretched that they are not fit to be on the front line of the defence against Russia, sources have claimed. The UK is due to take over leadership of Nato’s rapid-reaction force from Germany at the end of the year. But reports in the German media, backed up by Ministry of Defence sources in the UK, claim that Nato has asked Berlin to remain in charge for an extra year because Britain cannot spare the 5,000 personnel required… The claims come amid growing fears that the UK will be unable to defend itself if there is no extra money for the Armed Forces in Jeremy Hunt’s Budget next month.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Sunak wins this dogfight, but the Tory war continues – Sunday Times
  • Zelensky is like a modern-day Churchill, Wallace says – Sun on Sunday
  • Russian spy tried to recruit new Tory party chairman – Mail on Sunday


  • Our safety and freedom are at stake – Edward Lucas, Mail on Sunday
  • This is not a simple battle between good and evil – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday

Duncan Smith calls for arrest of Xinjiang governor if he touches British soil

“Former Tory leader Sir Ian Duncan Smith has said the Governor of Xinjiang should be arrested if he comes to Britain. Erkin Tuniyaz may travel to the UK next week and could meet Foreign Office directors at an undisclosed location and not at its King Charles Street HQ. The Foreign Office was this week widely condemned by MPs for entertaining the idea of talks with the governor given China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. This includes allegations of forcibly sterilising women and of putting children in “concentration camps”… The Tory MP claimed Mr Tuniyaz will be entering Britain using a diplomatic passport which he has no right to as he is not a registered diplomat.” – Sunday Express

  • He is one of the authors of a cross-party letter to the attorney general – The Observer

Net Zero 1) Sunak facing test of solar pledge as he is urged to reject huge energy farm

“Rishi Sunak has been urged to stick to a pledge to avoid building solar farms on agricultural land as a huge energy farm is considered for land in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. If approved, the project from Sunnica, an energy company, could create a Cabinet clash, with Lucy Frazer, the new Culture Secretary, vehemently opposing the development in her South East Cambridgeshire constituency. The Sunnica Energy Farm would cover 2,792 acres around several villages in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Its size means it is classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), with the process on whether to approve it being overseen by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate rather than local planning officials.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • HS2 under review as line faces delay and costs balloon – Sunday Times


  • Generations of Tories have hoped for growth; they never plan for it – Phillip Inman, The Observer

>Today: ToryDiary: Net Zero is dead. Long live Energy Security?

Net Zero 2) Shapps faces Tory mutiny over hydrogen levy plans

“Grant Shapps, the new Energy Secretary, is facing a Tory backlash over plans for a hydrogen levy to be added onto household bills. The extra green levy, which under Government plans would be added onto energy bills from 2025 to fund the production of low-carbon hydrogen, has been met with anger amid concerns households will be paying for energy that they never use. It would be the first piece of legislation passed by Rishi Sunak’s new energy department, but Mr Shapps has been warned that the levy, which critics have branded as another tax, would stoke inflation, going against one of the Prime Minister’s five key priorities announced last month. Former Business Secretary Jacob Rees Mogg said he tried to block the levies when he was the minister in charge of the bill under Liz Truss.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Labour’s plan to tempt new retirees back to work and boost the economy – Sunday Express

Prevent anti-terror body ‘links Rees-Mogg to far-Right extremists’

“Britain’s ‘woke’ counter-terror strategy linked former Tory Cabinet Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg to extremists, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. The revelation comes days after a damning inquiry exposed how the Government’s Prevent programme was failing to tackle Islamist ideology, while at the same time treating mainstream views as extremism. The inquiry, by former Charity Commission boss William Shawcross, last week disclosed how Prevent officials had claimed that a leading Conservative politician was associated with ‘far-Right sympathetic audiences’. Mr Shawcross declined to name the individual but Prevent sources last night confirmed to the MoS that it was Mr Rees-Mogg, the former Business Secretary and leader of the House of Commons.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Met urged to reopen Partygate inquiry as fresh allegations emerge – The Observer
  • Now Warburton faces financial claims – Sunday Times


  • Is odd obsession with the Right helping to create a British Stasi? – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday
  • The Civil Service thinks it rules Britain – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph

Lib Dems aim to use Anderson’s views as weapon to win ‘safe’ Tory seats

“The Liberal Democrats are to launch a digital advertising blitz in “blue wall” seats held by leading cabinet ministers to highlight the new Conservative party deputy chair Lee Anderson’s enthusiastic backing for capital punishment. The party believes that recent remarks by Anderson, who was promoted to the post last week by Rishi Sunak, will prove “toxic” among Conservative voters in dozens of south-eastern constituencies, including those held by the chancellor of the exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, and deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab. The digital posters will also feature Anderson’s statements about wanting to send people who arrive in England in small boats back to Calais on a Royal Navy frigate the same day, and his claims that nurses who visit food banks must have their own financial problems.” – The Observer

  • New Tory party vice chairman hits back at critics – Sun on Sunday
  • Outspoken former Labour councillor earned the nickname 30p Lee – Sunday Times


  • Tories can win over working-class voters if they follow my plan – Lee Anderson, Sun on Sunday
  • Giving death penalty fan a job is starting to look like a fatal error – Matt Chorley, The Times

UK set to ‘snub’ EU Horizon scheme for new international alliance

“Britain is poised to snub the EU’s €100 billion (£88.6 billion) flagship research scheme as Michelle Donelan declares the UK is “more than ready to go it alone”. The new Science Secretary told The Telegraph that she is prepared to join with the United States, Japan and Switzerland under a new alliance, should the EU not agree to Britain’s post-Brexit terms of membership. The European Commission has been accused of “dragging its feet” over talks about the UK’s involvement with Horizon in order to “blackmail” the Government in negotiations over the Northern Ireland Protocol. The UK was set to contribute £2.1 billion annually to the seven-year Horizon programme in order to maintain access for British scientists and researchers to pan-European projects and funding.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Gove attends ‘secret cross-party summit held to confront failings of Brexit’ – The Observer
  • Tensions threaten to explode as Sunak ‘drafting plans’ to rebuild ties with the EU – Sunday Express


  • Sunak’s global search for friends and influence – Philip Stephens, FT

Sturgeon plans to win over critics of trans reforms by selling it as ‘constitutional battle’

“Nicola Sturgeon plans to win over critics of her controversial gender law reforms by presenting a legal fight with Downing Street as a “constitutional battle”, the Telegraph understands. The First Minister is waiting for the furore over trans rights to “die down” before mounting a judicial review against the UK Government’s decision to block her Bill from receiving royal assent. She has until mid-April to launch proceedings to overturn the Section 35 order, the legislative device used by the Scottish Secretary to veto the legislation. The laws, which passed in Holyrood in December, will see people as young as 16 allowed to change their legal gender simply by signing a declaration.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Manchester mayor knows he needs Tory allies to take on Whitehall – Interview, Sunday Times

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