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Presented by Goldman Sachs.
By ANNABELLE DICKSON
5 THINGS TO KNOW
1. MET UNDER FIRE: London’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick is under fire on many fronts today over her force’s handling of a south London vigil for Sarah Everard — the 33-year-old whose body was found in woodland in Kent after she went missing while walking home earlier this month.
Home Secretary Priti Patel called for a “full report” into the way the protests were handled after images of heavy-handed arrests circulated on social media last night. Home Office minister Victoria Atkins told the BBC’s Andrew Marr said she had found the images “very upsetting.” Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey called for Dick to go.
Wrong focus: Sky’s Sophy Ridge show devoted its whole hour to Everard and the fallout from the protests. Labour’s Shadow Domestic Violence Minister Jess Phillips said the focus on Dick’s future was the wrong one. “The reality is that I wish I’d had the heavy hand of the law when I’d been sexually assaulted, I wish that every woman I’ve ever worked with, that the heavy hand of the law had been there for them … if Cressida Dick stays or goes doesn’t make women in this country more safe and that’s what I want to talk about,” Phillips, who has long campaigned on domestic violence, said.
Policing bill fallout: The approach to last night’s protests has already sparked fierce debate about the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which seeks to widen the conditions police can impose on protests and has its second reading in the Commons tomorrow. Labour, which some had expected to abstain on the bill, confirmed this morning it would oppose it. Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy said it was “no time to be rushing through poorly thought-out measures to impose disproportionate controls on free expression and the right to protest.”
Women not statues: The bill would give the police the power to clamp down on protests that cause “serious disruption” to communities and organizations, and could also potentially give them the power to send people to prison for 10 years if they criminally damage memorials. There is “more mention of statues than there is on women” in the bill, Phillips points out. Atkins insisted there was a distinction between the powers being sought to crack down on “some of the very disruptive protests” in the bill, and the “peaceful” Everard vigil which was a “very different scenario.”
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Don’t just blame the police: Hastily passed coronavirus restrictions, which curb the right to protest, were also in the spotlight this morning. Tory backbencher Mark Harper, a leading critic of the laws, said while there were “serious questions” for Dick to answer, “those who supported Covid Regulations governing these scenes without asking questions should reflect on the responsibility they have too.” It comes as MPs are set to have their say on the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. The Telegraph’s Chris Hope reckons Boris Johnson faces a major rebellion next week from dozens of Conservative MPs over extending lockdown laws in England.
Other options: The Sunday Times reckons ministers are considering plans for a national register to monitor men who harass or are violent to women, similar to the sex offenders’ register, established in 1997. Atkins insisted “nothing is off the table,” when asked on Times Radio about calls for a new law to ban men verbally harassing women in the street.
2. BREXIT IMPACT NOT YET CLEAR: A sharp fall in EU and U.K. exports should not be taken as “really indicative” of the long-term future of EU and U.K. trade, the U.K.’s statistics chief Ian Diamond told the BBC’s Andrew Marr. Data from the end of January and beginning of February is starting to suggest a “pick-up,” he said, while insisting it was “too early to say” what the long-term future would be.
Not convinced: The Observer has put warnings from industry groups that the collapse of Britain’s trade with the EU would continue into the summer on its front page. It cites a failure to recruit up to 30,000 customs agents, despite government assurances that normal service has resumed. It follows up with a thunderer of an editorial. “Feeble claims by David Frost, Brexit booster-in-chief, that Covid and EU hostility are to blame will not wash. It’s clear where responsibility lies. And “lies” is the operative word,” the paper says. Ooof.
Stats war: Labour has already questioned the legality of the government’s use of trade figures to hit back at Brexit concerns, POLITICO’s Anna Issac reported on Friday. Expect this one to rumble on.
Simon says: After Cabinet Office minister David Frost’s Sunday Telegraph missive last week urging the EU to shake off its remaining ill-will over Brexit, Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has a big Saturday Times interview with Alice Thomson and Rachel Sylvester this week. He questions whether the U.K. is a trustworthy partner, claiming it is demonstrating “perverse nationalism” by seeking to reach a trade deal with the United States before the European Union strikes one.
Money talks: Brexiteer Mark Francois tells the Telegraph the prime minister should consider halting Brexit bill payments, or as he described it “Danegeld,” to the European Union until the difficulties with the Northern Ireland protocol have been resolved.
3. U.K. VERSUS RUSSIA AND CHINA: Russia will be treated like a “hostile state,” while China will be approached as a commercial “competitor,” in this week’s long-awaited integrated review of security, defense and foreign policy, according to the Sunday Times. It will also say tackling climate change is the UK’s “No 1 priority” on the world stage ahead of the G7 and COP26 climate summits this year. The Mail on Sunday says the review will “single out China in particular as posing the most serious geopolitical threat to Britain, through espionage, hacking and the ‘soft power’ of its economic expansionism.” The Times’ Larisa Brown and Steven Swinford also had a good scene-setter on Saturday.
Cyber north: Ahead of Tuesday, the government unveiled plans for a new cyber force in the north of England (yes, think of those Red Wall seats the Tories unexpectedly took from the Labour Party at the last election.) The Mail on Sunday has the details.
Warning shot: Efforts to modernize the Army’s fleet of Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV) are “woeful,” according to the Commons defense committee which says the aging fleet puts the army at “serious risk” of being outmatched by its enemies. The BBC has a write-up.
4. UNLOCKDOWN NATION: Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tells the Sunday Times there will be dozens of events in late April and May, including 20,000 fans at the FA Cup final on May 15, where the government will test allowing spectators to return to sports venues, theatres and nightclubs without social distancing, before their planned reopening after June 21.
5. IRAN LATEST: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe appeared in court on new charges of “propaganda against Iran” this morning. The judge told her to expect a verdict within seven working days, according to the Free Nazanin campaign. The BBC has a write-up of the latest developments.
Ridge on Sunday (Sky News): Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins; Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence Jess Phillips; Labour former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott; Women’s Equality Party founder Catherine Mayer and co-chair of the Mayor of London’s violence against women and girls panel Joan Smith. Listen to the Ridge on Sunday podcast here.
The Andrew Marr Show (BBC One): Victoria Atkins; Jess Phillips; U.K. National Statistician Ian Diamond and Line of Duty star Kelly Macdonald. Transcript.
G&T: Victoria Atkins; Jess Phillips; Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster; Former National Cyber Security Centre CEO Ciaran Martin; Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw; former Telegraph editor Charles Moore; Hastings and Rye MP Sally-Ann Hart. Paper review: The Spectator’s Isabel Hardman; the FT’s George Parker.
Swarbrick on Sunday (LBC): Jess Phillips; former Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Helen King; Home Office minister Victoria Atkins; Vice President of the children’s charity Barnardo’s Floella Benjamin; Portugal’s Secretary of State for Tourism Rita Marques.
Ayesha Hazarika on Times Radio (Times Radio 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.): Labour MP Tulip Siddiq; Tory MP Caroline Noakes; Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy; SNP MP Alison Thewlis; the Spectator’s Isabel Hardman.
Westminster Hour: (BBC Radio 4, Sunday 10 p.m.). Carolyn Quinn will be talking to Commons defense committee Chairman Tobias Ellwood … Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Fleur Anderson … Unaffiliated peer and former Vote Leave Chairwoman Gisela Stuart … HuffPost’s Paul Waugh.
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Scotland: Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are due to speak to the Scottish Conservatives’ virtual conference, 3 p.m. and 3.45 p.m. respectively.
Coronavirus: Office for National Statistics release ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): A Year Like No Other’ report, 9.30 a.m.
Commons: Sits at 2.30 p.m. with defense questions, second reading of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
Scotland: Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross due to speak at virtual Scottish Conservatives conference, 2 p.m. Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar to give first major speech as Scottish Labour leader on Facebook and Twitter, 10.30 a.m.
EU relations: Meeting of the EU Council’s Working Party on the U.K., 2 p.m. U.K. time.
Defense: Government due to publish its integrated review of Britain’s defense and foreign policy. Boris Johnson due to give a statement in the Commons.
Coronavirus: ONS Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey antibody data, 9.30 a.m.
Commons: Sits at 11.30 a.m. with justice questions.
Science: Former No. 10 adviser Dominic Cummings and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng at the science and technology committee giving evidence on new U.K. research funding agency, 9.30 a.m.
China: Former Chancellor George Osborne to give evidence to the Lords International Relations and Defence committee on the U.K.’s security and trade relationship with China, 10 a.m.
Commons: Sits from 11.30 a.m. with Welsh questions followed by prime minister’s questions.
Brexit: Cabinet Office minister David Frost, former Business Secretary Peter Mandelson, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, former Home Secretary Amber Rudd to speak at the launch of Robert Tombs’ book ‘This Sovereign Isle: Britain In and Out of Europe,’ 4.30 p.m.
Commons: Sits at 9.30 a.m. with DCMS and Attorney General questions followed by the business statement.
China: Former Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill to give evidence to the Lords International Relations and Defence committee on the U.K.’s security and trade relationship with China, 10 a.m.
Coronavirus: ONS to publish latest Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, 12 noon.
Buffeted by Brexit, and with Scottish independence and Irish unification back on the agenda, the U.K. is due for a constitutional overhaul, according to Linda Colley in FT weekend.
Not a read, but worth a listen. The chairman of GB News Andrew Neil speaks to the BBC’s Amol Rajan on his roles at The Sunday Times, the BBC and The Spectator.
Sunday Crunch is compiled by Annabelle Dickson. I’d love to hear what you think. Drop me a note at [email protected]
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