STRONG ECONOMIC RECOVERY SAYS BORIS
The Times reports: Boris Johnson has said that Britain’s economic recovery will be stronger than pessimists think amid optimism about the vaccination programme. The Prime Minister said before that he had no doubt that Britain could enjoy a strong, jobs-led recovery. The Office for Budget Responsibility, the official forecaster, is expected to say this week that the economy will bounce back more quickly than expected. A rapid recovery could reduce the need for tax rises to help repair Britain’s finances, which have been ravaged by the coronavirus. The Prime Minister’s comments contrasted with those of Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, who has warned of the enormous strain on public finances.
NO CAMERON COME BACK
The Daily Mail reports that former Prime Minister David Cameron said the prospect of Donald Trump making a comeback is enough to keep us all spinning over as he ruled out his own return to the political frontline. The former prime minister insisted he is ‘happy doing what I am doing’ as he revealed he certainly does not miss taking part in Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons every Wednesday. Mr Cameron was asked on Monday afternoon during an appearance in front of Parliament’s National Security Strategy Committee if he ever thought about mounting a comeback.
SCOTLAND : LEGAL ADVICE RELEASED IN PATHETIC U-TURN
From the Daily Mail: Scotland’s Deputy First Minister today agreed to release key legal advice he received over Alex Salmond’s judicial review in a pathetic U-turn, following threats of a no-confidence motion.The advice relates to the former First Minister’s successful legal challenge of the Scottish Government’s harassment complaints procedure, which led to Mr Salmond being awarded more than £500,000. SNP deputy chief John Swinney said that subject to the mandatory legal checks and processes, the Scottish Government will release the key legal advice in order to counter ‘false claims being made by some’. The Scottish Tories submitted a motion of no confidence in Mr Swinney at Holyrood yesterday after accusing him of failing to comply with two parliamentary votes calling for the publication of legal advice.
FORMER FRENCH PRESIDENT GUILTY OF CORRUPTION
The Daily Mail reports that former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was today found guilty of corruption and handed a three-year prison sentence, with two years suspended and the option of being detained at home with an electronic bracelet for the third year. He is almost certain to appeal and remains free, with no arrest warrant issued. The verdict is the latest twist in the tumultuous political career of the 66-year-old who ruled France from 2007 to 2012 and remains a favourite for many on the right.The conviction is likely to undermine any attempted comeback to frontline politics, an ambition he has denied, but which has been promoted by many supporters ahead of 2022 presidential elections.
FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP STILL LOVED BY CPAC AUDIENCE
The Telegraph reports: Donald Trump teased a third run for office as he returned to the national stage with a barnstorming speech in which he positioned himself as the future of the Republican Party. In his first major speech since leaving the White House, Mr Trump declared his dominance over US politics was “far from over” and repeated his false claims that he had won the 2020 presidential election. While he stopped short of pledging to run for president again, his heavily anticipated address to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual jamboree for grassroots conservatives, confirmed Mr Trump’s intention to remain dominant. His speech received an enthusiastic response from the audience.
WILL PUBLICLY OWNED BRITISH RAILWAYS MAKE A COME BACK
From the Morning Star: Northern rail operations are to remain under public ownership and control for the next five years, prompting calls from RMT today for the renationalisation of all railway services.The government decided today to extend the public ownership of Arriva-owned Northern after it was taken back in March last year. The union’s general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘This announcement to keep Northern public is good news, and something that RMT has been campaigning on for many years after repeated failures by the previous privatised operators. Make no mistake that this announcement is also a colossal admission of the failure of privatised railways by the government and to fight the climate emergency, we need a functional and publicly owned railway more than ever.’
TAX INCREASE WARNINGS FOR RISHI SUNAK
The London Evening Standard writes that Chancellor Rishi Sunak faced new warnings on Monday from Conservative MPs against an immediate rise in corporation tax in Wednesday’s Budget. Mel Stride, chairman of the Treasury select committee, said it would be reasonable to put up corporation tax by the end of the parliament — but not yet: ‘the last thing we want from the Chancellor now is a jacking up of taxes and the dampening down of the animal spirits of the economy. Steve Baker, the influential former Brexit minister, fired a warning shot from the Tory Right-wing by retweeting an acid comment made by TV presenter Emma Kenny, who hit out at reports that Mr Sunak intends to raise corporation tax from 19p to 25p. Ms Kenny claimed three million people who had had no financial support would lose even more if the Chancellor went ahead.
FRAUD COSTS MORE THAN THE DEFENSE BUDGET
From the Daily Mail: The government is losing up to £52billion a year due to fraud – more than the entire defence budget. The staggering scale was revealed in an assessment slipped out by Whitehall, which also warned that the problems could be reaching ‘epidemic’ levels as criminals exploit coronavirus bailouts. Government auditors have warned that criminals might be milking billions of pounds from the huge furlough scheme, emergency grants and loans introduced since the pandemic began. But a briefing slipped out last week from the Whitehall counter-fraud operation underlines that abuse was already running high even before the crisis. It gives a figure of £29.3billion-£52billion for the annual amount lost by the government, including through the tax and welfare system. The estimates are extrapolated from ‘loss measurement activity’ across government. By contrast, Ministry of Defence spending is only around £41billion a year.
LOOPHOLE MAKES MOCKERY OF MINISTER’S PROMISE
The Guardian writes: Eviction orders are being issued to tenants who have run up rent arrears because of the pandemic despite a promise by the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, that no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home. Twenty members of the London Renters Union are among those facing the first court proceedings after the government quietly changed its eviction ban last month to allow landlords to throw out tenants who had fallen into arrears as a result of Covid. Until January, landlords could not evict tenants because of rent arrears amassed since the first March lockdown. It means that if people could not pay their rent from mid-August landlords can seek court orders to evict them. Acorn, the national community union that focuses on renters rights said it was deeply concerned about the loophole, which it claimed makes a mockery of Robert Jenrick’s promise that no one would lose their homes due to covid.
TRADE MINISTER ON A MISSION
The Express reports that since her appointment as International Trade Secretary in July 2019, Liz Truss has been a woman on a mission. Sparing no effort in the pursuit of new markets for British business, she has flown hither and thither, shaken hands, taken tea, welcomed dignitaries to London – and built the foundations for Britain’s success beyond the EU. Her work has paid off, with what started as a trickle of trade deals turning into a veritable flood as her foreign counterparts signed on the dotted line in a bid to be part of this next stage in our history. Countries as diverse as Canada, Vietnam, Iceland and Kenya are members of the list of 64 non-EU countries we now have trade agreements with. On top of that, we also have ‘mutual recognition agreements’ – where each side recognises the other’s standards in terms of testing and inspections – with New Zealand, Australia, and the USA, paving the way for trade talks with those countries too.
BREXIT A TRAGEDY ACCORDING TO ITALIAN MEP
From the Express: Italian exports to the UK have seen a historic collapse due to Brexit, according to a latest study, based on Istat data relating to foreign trade in January 2021. Made in Italy exports have dropped by around 38.3 percent due to red tape hindering trade. Most exported Italian products to the UK are foods, transport, clothing, machinery and appliances and metals.The study also found British imports into Italy have also decreased by up to 70.3 percent. MEP Paolo de Castro argued these exports and imports are paying the price of Brexit. He said: “Brexit is turning out to be a tragedy, not only for us, but above all for the British, who are realising it more and more every day.” Wine is second place among the best-selling Italian agri-food products in the UK, with Prosecco in the lead.
From the Daily Star: Our four-legged friends have been helping many people to get through lockdown and one youngster was so determined to walk his neighbour’s dog that he wrote them a note asking for permission. The American boy, who is around 10-years-old, even offered to look after the dog when the pandemic is over. He wrote: Hello neighbours. My name is Troy. I’m in the 4th grade and I’m just wondering if maybe after this virus you need a dog sitter and if so I can take your dogs on walks and more. The neighbour was so touched by the note they decided to take a picture of it and shared on Reddit last year. The note has recently resurfaced and garnered more than 103,000 upvotes and hundreds of positive comments.