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Good Tuesday morning. This is Rosa Prince — Eleni Courea is your Playbook writer for the rest of the week.
DRIVING THE DAY
SOMETHING ROTTEN: How many more rapists and killers are in the Met? That’s the astonishing question that splashes the Independent, as Louise Casey’s deeply disturbing report into the Metropolitan Police commissioned in the wake of police officer Wayne Couzens’ murder of Sarah Everard is published today. Her finding that the force is “institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic” makes the front of the Mail, Guardian, Times, Express, Metro, and Morning Star too, and no wonder. The 363-page report describes a catalogue of shameful episodes, and a pattern of hollow promises from senior officers who seem incapable of instituting meaningful change.
The findings: More than 25 years after the MacPherson report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the Met remains institutionally racist, showing a “wilful blindness” to racism at all levels. A bullying “boys club” in which predators flourish means neither Casey nor current Commissioner Mark Rowley can rule out the possibility of other murderers and rapists lurking within the force. And perhaps worst of all, as Fiona Hamilton says in her analysis in the Times, so many of the stories are not new; too often senior officers apologize yet nothing changes.
Horror stories: A female officer who reported being raped by a colleague was then forced to work alongside him; junior staff were urinated on in showers; a gay officer crossed the street to avoid colleagues; a Muslim officer had bacon pushed into his boots; a Sikh member of staff whose superior thought it would be amusing to cut off his beard; female officers were treated like “cattle” and judged on their perceived attractiveness; broken fridges used to store rape kits; police advised to delete compromising WhatsApp messages.
The recommendations: Independent experts should overhaul the force, with consideration given to breaking it up if major reforms are not achieved quickly. The parliamentary and diplomatic protection command, which Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens and the rapist David Carrick both belonged to, should be disbanded. There should be a review of how the force handles sexual crimes and those involving children, and a “fundamental reset” of stop and search, which is disproportionately aimed at Black people.
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Still not getting it? Somewhat surprisingly, while he spoke of his “anger, frustration and embarrassment” at the report’s findings, Rowley said he would not categorize the force’s failings as “institutional” because the term was “political and ambiguous.” Feels as if he may get pushback on this.
Casey writes: Casey has written an article for Times in which she describes her year-long process of investigating the Met as a troubling experience, saying she was “appalled” by what she unearthed. The crossbench peer, who began her work in response to Everard’s murder, says women have lost trust in the police. She concludes: “My report has held a mirror up to the Met. Now is the moment for it to take action. The future of policing, and the public’s permission to police them, depends on it.”
No trust: Until recently it would have been hard to imagine a Conservative prime minister expressing a lack of confidence in the country’s flagship police force, yet that is exactly what Rishi Sunak does this morning. In an interview with BBC Breakfast recorded Monday, the PM was asked what he would say to his daughters if they asked if they could trust the police. “Clearly at the moment trust in the police has been hugely damaged by the things we’ve discovered over the past year,” he said. Asked if that included his own trust, he replied: “Everybody’s trust.”
More response: Suella Braverman told Sky News it was now up to the Met’s leadership to get a grip of the situation. “The report is clear that there are systemic and chronic problems with leadership and culture,” she said. The home secretary may well face an urgent question in the Commons later. In an interview with Sky News, one of Carrick’s victims said all male Met officers should now be revetted. London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who ultimately oversees the force, said: “The evidence is damning.”
Disband the Met: Caroline Nokes, chair of the women and equalities committee and a former Home Officer minister, told TalkTV’s Tom Newton Dunn: “When people start talking about the breakup of the Met, I wonder if that’s almost an inevitability now. It’s proven itself to be a failing organization that can’t get to grips with its problems, and hasn’t even really tried.” The Telegraph leader also calls for the Met to be disbanded if it cannot reform.
Opposition view: Keir Starmer said in response to the report: “The racist, sexist and homophobic abuses of power that have run rife in the Metropolitan Police have shattered the trust that Britain’s policing relies on and let victims down.” He and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper will hold a press conference this afternoon setting out their response to Casey and police reform. For the Lib Dems, former police officer Wendy Chamberlain said: “It’s clear that despite repeated reviews and reports that the force’s toxic culture has never been properly addressed. This time, it has to be.”
More follows: Casey, Rowley, Khan and Shadow Policing Minister Sarah Jones are all on the broadcast round this morning, starting with the Met commissioner on Sky at 7.05 a.m.
ERG, WHAT NOW?
WRITTEN IN THE STARS: The ERG group of Brexiteer MPs gathers at 10.30 a.m. — perfect timing for former compadres now in government to pop along after Cabinet — where they will hear the judgment by a so-called star chamber of legal experts on the Windsor Framework. Following the DUP’s rejection of the framework, aka Rishi Sunak’s solution to the problematic Northern Ireland protocol, the group will then announce in a press conference whether they will back the key “Stormont Brake” section of the framework when it comes before the Commons on Wednesday.
Still a thing? As POLITICO’s Annabelle Dickson suggested back in December, the ERG is no longer the force it was when former Chair Steve Baker and his merry band thwarted all of Theresa May’s attempts to persuade parliament to back her Brexit deal. Yet for all that, No. 10 would rather not be forced to rely on Labour votes to get Sunak’s painstakingly negotiated “Stormont brake” through the Commons.
Stars in their eyes: Led by veteran MP Bill Cash, the star chamber includes ERG Deputy Chair David Jones and lawyers Martin Howe and Barnabas Reynolds; they have spent the past couple of weeks poring over the framework, and have produced a detailed assessment running to more than 70 pages.
And … it’s not looking good: The plugged-in David Maddox of the Express hears the writing was on the wall as soon as the DUP came out against the deal. One senior member of the ERG tells him: “We have been close allies of the DUP for quite a number of years now and we were always unlikely to go against their decision.”
Metaphor of the day: Former Trade Minister James Duddridge tells the Telegraph he will “absolutely vote against” what he describes as a “betrayal of Brexit,” adding: “I’m not going to negotiate away my principles, nor is the government going to be able to polish a little brown thing.” Peter Bone tells the Mail that limiting Wednesday’s debate to 90 minutes and holding the vote only on the brake as opposed to the full framework is “shoddy” of the government.
Reality bites: Predictions vary as to how many Tories may rebel in the vote, with the i hearing they may number around 20, while the FT suggests no more than a dozen. Sunak is confident enough to have invited EU chief negotiator Maroš Šefčovič to London on Friday to formally sign the deal.
Sharing power here? The real question may not be whether the Stormont brake is secured, but if the DUP will agree to reenter power-sharing any time soon. It could be this doesn’t happen quickly enough for the parties to be able to welcome U.S. President Joe Biden to Stormont when he visits Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next month. But ministers will be hoping that once the May local elections pass, and the threat of losing votes to the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice party subsidies, the DUP may yet be lured back.
The rub: Following his own careful reading of the draft regulations to enact the Stormont brake, POLITICO’s Shawn Pogatchnik explains the aspects which are giving the DUP pause. He says that the power to block the introduction of new EU goods standards appears to lie with London, not Belfast.
Ulster says no. Again: There is a certain amount of frustration in government that the party which staunchly backed Brexit seems unwilling to suggest a way of making it work. One Whitehall official told Playbook: “It’s worth considering what a vote against the brake means in practice. At the moment, the legal default in domestic and international law is auto alignment with EU rules on goods in Northern Ireland. It’s only implementation of the Windsor Framework … that changes that default. So in effect, a vote against the brake is a vote for automatic alignment with the EU with no say or safeguards.”
Want more? Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris faces questions about the Windsor Framework at the European scrutiny committee from 3.30 p.m.
WAITING GAME: The explosive Boris Johnson rebuttal dossier we were promised on Monday will now be landing today. Team Boris insists it submitted the 50-odd page document to the committee on privileges investigating allegations he misled parliament over lockdown parties in a timely manner. The committee sniffs that the dossier didn’t arrive until “2.32 p.m.,” and will be published “as soon as is practicably possible,” given the need to redact some names and details. Keep hitting refresh here to find it.
Copy and paste from yesterday: The dossier is said by Johnson’s spokesperson to contain compelling evidence which fully exonerates him. This includes advice from aides suggesting what he should say in the Commons. The document also includes an attack on the impartiality of the probe’s chair, Labour Mother of the House Harriet Harman.
The main event: The shenanigans over the dossier whet the appetite for Johnson’s live appearance before the Committee on Wednesday. The Guardian’s Aletha Adu has a profile of the former PM’s lawyer, David Pannick, who will accompany Johnson to the hearing but will not speak himself (he will however be permitted to pass notes to his client, so he’ll be the one scribbling furiously).
Are we there yet? Meanwhile, also in the Guardian, Aubrey Allegretti hears the committee’s verdict may not be issued until May, after which Johnson would have two weeks to respond.
Cold comfort from Rishi: In his BBC Breakfast interview, Sunak doesn’t exactly come riding to his predecessor-but-one’s rescue. Asked about his decision to grant a free vote on any penalty recommended by the committee, the PM says: “That’s generally the rule of thumb with these things. These are matters for individuals rather than for government.” Asked if he agreed with friends of Johnson that the committee’s investigation was a “witch hunt,” he said: “That’s ultimately something for Boris Johnson …. That’s not what I’m focussed on.”
Burn: Another BoJo successor, this time in his role of London mayor, offered far less measured remarks. Speaking at a Green Alliance event last night, Sadiq Khan took umbrage at Johnson for saying the mayor shouldn’t have the power to impose ULEZ clean air zones. The Guardian’s Helena Horton has the full tirade.
What Tory members make of it: A survey of party activists by ConHome suggests that while a majority believe Johnson broke lockdown rules, most say he didn’t deliberately mislead the Commons. A majority also feel the privileges committee inquiry is unfair. And while most want to see Johnson remain as an MP, they don’t favor his return as Tory leader.
More polls: The ConHome survey follows the Deltapoll poll which put the Labour lead at just 10 percent Monday; Guido has a write-up. Worth pointing out to Conservatives before they get over-excited that the latest Redfield and Wilton poll has the margin as wide as ever on 21 points. POLITICO’s Poll of Polls aggregator gives Labour a 19-point lead.
There were no parties: Luckily, in the absence for now of the actual Boris dossier, the Critic’s wickedly droll Rob Hutton is on hand to suggest what might be in it, starting with: “1. There were no parties. Necking a bottle of champagne and then shagging someone on your desk is standard behaviour in most of the places Johnson has worked over the years.”
Bully for him: Also in his Beeb interview, Rishi Sunak was asked about the inquiry into claims his deputy Dominic Raab bullied staff. Swerving the bear trap of disclosing whether he would sack the justice secretary if the probe goes against him, the PM said: “I’m not going to preempt a process that hasn’t concluded. People can judge me by my actions … I was the one who initiated this investigation. I was the one who appointed a leading, independent KC to get to the bottom of this.”
THAT’S ALL FOLKS: It’s the final day of the budget debate in the Commons, and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is marking the occasion by appearing in both houses of parliament. He’ll be at Treasury questions in the Commons from 11.30 a.m. followed by the debate and vote, before ending his afternoon giving evidence before the Lords economic affairs committee.
What Labour wants to talk about: Labour will use the debate to highlight the party’s opposition to Hunt’s move to scrap the cap on pension savings. Shadow Chief Secretary Pat McFadden will describe the decision as a “cash bonus for the 1 percent.”
Tax hike: Highlighting figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility suggesting the disposable income of average U.K. households has fallen by £1,500 since the start of the pandemic, McFadden is calling on Conservative backbenchers to back Labour in the vote. “The Labour Party would immediately reverse this Tory decision, and prioritize working people and families,” he said in words briefed overnight.
Rishi rebuttal: In his Beeb interview, Sunak says scrapping the cap was necessary to stop doctors retiring early. “This is about cutting waiting lists,” he said. “We need our best doctors, our experienced doctors, we need them working. Because of the pension regime, they were stopped from doing that. I want to get the waiting lists down, and that’s why we’ve made the change that we’ve made, and it’s going to benefit everyone to get health care quicker.”
SO LONG, FAREWELL: Nicola Sturgeon embarked on a farewell tour ahead of her upcoming departure as SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister by engaging in a whirl of events and interviews in … Glasgow? Edinburgh? No … (checks notes …) London. Playbook PM brought you the first part of her day on Monday. Ace reporter Noah Keate takes you through Sturgeon and the SNP’s afternoon and evening events.
Can’t deny the obvious: Sturgeon admitted the SNP leadership turmoil involving a loss of members has been a, well, “less than edifying” process. Speaking to Sky News’ Beth Rigby, the outgoing FM urged the contenders to replace her not to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” and to retain the trust of the Scottish people.
Not bovvered: Sturgeon told Rigby she had faced more “more toxic abuse” on the issue of trans rights and women’s rights “than I have on probably any other issue.” Responding to claims that author J.K. Rowling had said she was a destroyer of women’s rights, Sturgeon said that did not hurt her because it was “fundamentally not true.”
Talking of which: The SNP held yet another leadership debate last night, this time on LBC. Ash Regan raised the scandal involving inaccurate party membership figures. “This contest has obviously been run in what I consider to be an inappropriately short time frame,” she said. “Over the last week the material circumstances of this party have changed beyond all recognition.” While Regan divulged she had taken legal advice, she had “no plans” to take any court action and will “absolutely support” whoever becomes leader.
All vote now: Humza Yousaf criticized Regan’s proposal for a citizens’ assembly as a means of resolving disagreement over the Gender Recognition Reform Bill. “I as a Muslim, my rights have been under attack for many years … I can’t imagine somebody saying, ‘you know what, forget what you guys think, let’s just throw this out to the public in a citizens’ assembly and everybody else in the public can determine what your rights should be.’”
Leader or follower: Promoting his leadership credentials, Yousaf added: “Sometimes in a position of leadership you have to demonstrate that leadership, particularly when it’s for the most marginalized communities … you can’t just not back the rights of minorities because the majority of the public might not back it.”
‘ello, ‘ello, ‘ello: Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that Police Scotland is under increasing pressure to act after Sturgeon disclosed that she and her husband Peter Murrell, who was forced to resign as SNP chief executive over the membership numbers dispute, had yet to be questioned in connection to separate allegations of missing funds.
SAVE OUR BANKS: Shadow City Minister Tulip Siddiq has written to Jeremy Hunt about the recent collapses of banks SVB and Credit Suisse, asking about the risk to the wider financial system and urging him to review the impact on rising interest rates. She tweeted the full text here. (More on the Credit Suisse fallout from my top POLITICO colleagues here.)
THORN IN THE SIDE: Martin Forde, the KC who wrote a critical report on the culture within Labour, continues to raise doubts about Keir Starmer’s leadership, telling a Compass event the party’s response to allegations of racism and prejudice was inadequate. “It’s just not good enough to say ‘I’ve been on a course’ and that means I’m untouchable.” The Guardian has more.
STRIKES LATEST: Signal workers and maintenance staff from the RMT union voted to accept a 9 percent pay offer from Network Rail, raising hopes an end could be in sight for the long-running rail dispute.
All in: NHS strikes in Scotland are off after Royal College of Nursing members voted to accept a pay deal amounting to an increase of 6.5 percent in 2023/24.
All out: University staff are on day two of a three-day strike.
**Jeremy Hunt, chancellor of the exchequer will headline POLITICO Tech U.K. Launch event that will take place on Wednesday, April 19 afternoon. Register today to follow the discussion online.**
TODAY IN WESTMINSTER
BILATERAL BUZZ: Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is due to meet Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen to sign a new U.K.-Israel Bilateral Roadmap. This will deepen cooperation across shared priorities over the next decade including on trade, cybersecurity and defense and science and technology.
ON THE BUSES: A new initiative to up skill, recruit and retain bus professionals and improve the bus sector will be announced by Roads Minister Richard Holden. The government has provided £815,000 of investment for a new Bus Centre of Excellence in Leicester.
ECT CALL: A cross-party group of 15 parliamentarians called on a minister to support withdrawing the U.K. from the controversial Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), Sebastian Whale reports for POLITICO’s Morning Trade U.K. email. In a letter to Energy Minister Graham Stuart organized by the environment APPG, MPs and peers say the treaty is inconsistent with the Paris climate agreement and the U.K.’s own environmental promises. ECT provisions allow fossil fuel investors to sue governments for profits lost due to policy changes. Environment APPG Chair and ex-Tory Minister Chris Skidmore leads a debate on the ECT in Westminster Hall at 11 a.m. Watch here.
SPOOKS IRL: GCHQ officials failed to adequately explain why they needed to “sweep up” data in more than four-in-10 bulk collections, a watchdog found. The Times has a write-up.
HOW’RE WE DOING? The latest public sector finance stats from the ONS went live here at 7 a.m.
HOUSE OF COMMONS: Sits from 11.30 a.m. with Treasury questions followed by a 10-minute rule bill from Labour’s Ben Bradshaw on same sex marriage related to the Church of England. The main business is the conclusion of the budget debate and the Tories’ Nigel Adams has the adjournment debate on large solar farms.
WESTMINSTER HALL: Debates from 9.30 a.m. on topics including Commonwealth Day (led by Tory MP Maria Miller) … energy support for farms (managed by the DUP’s Carla Lockhart) … and social mobility (headed by the Tories’ David Evennett).
On committee corridor: Economic think tanks give evidence to the Treasury committee about the budget (9.45 a.m.) … DSIT Minister Paul Scully gives evidence to the DCMS sub-committee on online harms and disinformation about misinformation and trusted voices (10 a.m.) … The education committee hears from childcare experts (10 a.m.) … Defense Minister Annabel Goldie is among those giving evidence to the defense committee about defense and climate change (10.30 a.m.) … Former university vice-chancellors speak to the Lords’ industry and regulators committee about the work of the Office for Students (10.30 a.m.) … HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Charlie Taylor speaks to the justice committee about the prison operational workforce (2.30 p.m.) … The Lords’s economic affairs committee hears evidence from Chancellor Jeremy Hunt about the economy (3 p.m.) … and Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris gives evidence to the European scrutiny committee about the government’s Northern Ireland protocol negotiations (3.30 p.m.).
HOUSE OF LORDS: Sits from 2.30 p.m. with oral questions on EU funding for the European Structural and Investment Funds, the decline in the U.K.’s market share in international higher education students and the health of the British banking sector. The main business is the consideration of Commons amendments to the Seafarers’ Wages Bill, the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill and the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill.
BEYOND THE M25
VOVA AND XI’S GET-TOGETHER: Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia continues, with the president saying Beijing was ready with Russia “to stand guard over the world order based on international law.” Monday’s informal talks lasted for four and half hours, and were accompanied by a “six-course meal that included blini with quail and mushrooms, fish and pomegranate sorbet,” according to the Guardian. My POLITICO colleague Stuart Lau says Xi expressed confidence Russians would back Vladimir Putin in next year’s presidential election.
UKRAINE UPDATE: More than a dozen European states agreed to supply Ukraine with at least a million artillery shells over the coming year. POLITICO reports the plan is worth €2 billion in total and came after Ukraine told the EU it needed at least 350,000 shells a month. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the move was “exactly what is needed.”
MACRON GOES ON: My colleague Clea Caulcutt details how French President Emmanuel Macron survived two votes of no confidence in his government over controversial pension reforms, yet still faces widespread protests akin to the Gilets Jaunes movement of four years ago.
NOT COPEN: A Danish far-right leader has been barred from the U.K. after threatening to burn a copy of the Quran in Wakefield. The BBC said Security Minister Tom Tugendhat confirmed Rasmus Paludan, founder of the anti-Islam party Stram Kurs, had been added to the country’s immigration watchlist.
ON THE DEFENSIVE: Former Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon admitted the New Labour government “made some terrible mistakes” regarding the Iraq War. Speaking to LBC’s Andrew Marr two decades after the war began, Hoon said: “If we’re honest, we prepared for the wrong aftermath.”
**A message from Roche: Demand for eye care services is rising rapidly, with 3.5 million people in the UK expected to be living with sight loss by 2050. The National Eye Health Strategy Bill would expand the ophthalmology workforce, while making better use of the other parts of the eye health system, such as community and hospital optometry, enabling more patients to get the right care, at the right place and the right time. Write to your MP today and ask them to support the National Eye Health Strategy Bill. The Eyes Have It is a partnership of Macular Society, Fight for Sight, RNIB, The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Association of Optometrists and Roche. Roche has funded the creation of this website and advertising in Politico, with no control over Politico’s editorial content. References available on request from [email protected] M-GB-00011668 | Date of Preparation: March 2023**
Transport Secretary Mark Harper broadcast round: GB News (6.50 a.m.) … Times Radio (7.05 a.m.) … Sky News (7.20 a.m.) … TalkTV (7.35 a.m.) … LBC (7.50 a.m.) … GMB (8.25 a.m.) … Today program (8.30 a.m.).
Shadow Policing Minister Sarah Jones broadcast round: LBC News (7.30 a.m.) … Times Radio (7.50 a.m.) … Bauer media clip (playing out shortly after 8.10 a.m.) … Sky News (8.30 a.m.) … GB News (8.45 a.m.) … ITN media clip (playing out shortly after 9.10 a.m.).
Also on the Today program: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (7.40 a.m.) … Author of Met Police report Louise Casey (8.10 a.m.) … Met Police Commissioner Mark Rowley (8.20 a.m.).
Also on Kay Burley: Mark Rowley (7.05 a.m.) … Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) General Secretary Geoff Barton (7.30 a.m.) … Sadiq Khan (8.05 a.m.).
Also on Times Radio Breakfast: Louise Casey (8.05 a.m.) … Sadiq Khan (8.20 a.m.) … Former Victims’ Commissioner Vera Baird (9.35 a.m.).
Also on TalkTV Breakfast: DUP Brexit spokesperson Sammy Wilson (8.30 a.m.) … Former Tory peer Matt Ridley (8.40 a.m.) … Police Federation of England and Wales National Chair Steve Hartshorn (9.10 a.m.).
Also on Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: Mark Rowley (7.30 a.m.).
Also on LBC News: Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation Peter Tatchell (9.20 a.m.).
Also on GB News Breakfast: Former business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg (8 a.m.).
Also on Good Morning Britain: Mark Rowley (7.15 a.m.).
BBC Breakfast: Sadiq Khan (7.30 a.m.).
Politics Live (BBC Two 12.15 p.m.): Tory MP Ben Bradley … Shadow Prisons Minister Ellie Reeves … SNP Shadow DCMS Secretary John Nicolson … Head teacher Katharine Birbalsingh … Cookery writer Henry Dimbleby.
Shelagh Fogarty (LBC): Author of Met Police report Louise Casey (1.05 p.m.).
TODAY’S FRONT PAGES
(Click on the publication’s name to see its front page):
POLITICO UK: When is a veto not a veto? Rishi Sunak’s Brexit laws fuel fresh unionist concerns.
Daily Express: Condemned! Public’s loss of faith in police.
Daily Mail: Broken and rotten.
Daily Mirror: Last chance buffoon.
Daily Star: Feathered scumbags are at it again!
Financial Times: Shotgun marriage of Credit Suisse and UBS stirs bondholders’ anger.
i: The trial of Boris Johnson begins — as ex-PM plots his comeback.
Metro: Misogynists, homophobes and racists.
The Daily Telegraph: Met Police is ‘racist, sexist and broken.’
The Guardian: Racist, misogynist, homophobic — the damning verdict on Met Police.
The Independent: How many more rapists and killers are in the Met?
The Sun: Britain’s gone to pot.
The Times: Rotten Met ‘has lost public faith.’
WESTMINSTER WEATHER: Drizzle throughout the day with a moderate breeze. Highs of 15C.
SPOTTED … at the Aziz Foundation’s end Islamophobia event at the V&A: MP Naz Shah … Peers Sayeeda Warsi and Pola Uddin … The True and Fair Party’s Gina Miller … The Jewish News’ Justin Cohen … Arab News’ Tamara Turki … Powerscourt’s Simon Petar … Aziz Foundation Chair Asif Aziz … Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Edwin Shuker … Former Maldives Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Shaheed … The first Muslim hijab-wearing model Mariah Idrissi … Actor and comedian Adil Ray … and YouTuber Chunkz.
SPAD HIRE: Bloomberg’s Laura Wright will be media SpAding for Michelle Donelan at the swanky new Department for Science, Innovation and Tech from April 3. Wright, a broadcast journalist at Bloomberg, has been covering tech, markets and politics.
YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND IN ME: Labour MPs and peers announced the launch of Labour Friends of Taiwan, a new group aiming to build solidarity, friendship and exchange between the Labour movement and Taiwan. The group is chaired by MP Judith Cummins and peer Sonny Leong.
COAT OF ARMS: The Express’ Christian Calgie learns Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has kept the rather magnificent coat he gained on his recent trip to Kazakhstan. Inspired by Games of Thrones?
TV FIX: “Official Secrets,” the 2019 film starring Keira Knightley about a leaked GCHQ memo in the run-up to the Iraq war, is on BBC One at 10.40 p.m.
LISTEN TO THIS: File on 4 investigates the financial pressures facing social housing providers and the impact of long-term government funding cuts at 8 p.m. on Radio 4.
MP TIKTOK LATEST: Tory MP Luke Evans continued to make good use of TikTok, interviewing Grant Shapps about MP sessions. Something for BBC Parliament to learn from?
JOB AD: ITV News is hiring a digital video producer targeted at creating content for younger audiences, demonstrating “skillsets that deliver across multiple platforms, creating compelling and visually engaging videos.”
BIRTHDAYS: Former Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd … Former Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones … Crossbench peer Anthony Grabiner … Former head of the British Army General Mike Jackson … Labour peer Llin Golding turns 90 … Unaffiliated peer Brian Mackenzie turns 80 … FT Associate Editor Stephen Bush … Reuters U.K. pol ed Elizabeth Piper … Former Deputy PM Michael Heseltine turns 90.
PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Zoya Sheftalovich, reporter Noah Keate and producer Grace Stranger.
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