London Playbook: Good Friday — Belfast beckons — SW1’s Easter weekend

London Playbook: Good Friday — Belfast beckons — SW1’s Easter weekend
Опубликовано: Friday, 07 April 2023 06:22

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Good Good Friday morning. This is Dan Bloom. There’s no Playbook PM today, and Rosa Prince returns on Monday.


TUMBLEWEED: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Labour leader Keir Starmer and even Lib Dem chief Ed Davey are tucked away for the long weekend as most of Westminster gets some much-needed R&R (no, not that R&R). The government grid is thin gruel and Laura Kuenssberg and Sophy Ridge’s Sunday shows are on a break. Unless you’re a duty officer or journalist on the holiday rota, you can probably crawl back into bed with a hot cross bun for a bit.

ER, EXCEPT: There’s travel chaos … more sleaze … a Labour “dog-whistle” row … the upcoming anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement … Joe Biden jetting in next week … a 96-hour doctors’ strike that could “overwhelm” A&Es … and a row over royal slavery reparations.

And a note of caution: With reports on ex-Chief Whip Mark Spencer’s row with Nus Ghani and benefit sanctions both popping online on Thursday, today would in theory be a “good” — if transparently cynical — day to bury news. No one seems to know when the pesky Dominic Raab report or Boris Johnson’s honors list will turn up.

Other than that: Get your rest while you can. After reading Playbook of course.

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SORRY, YOU CAN’T LEAVE: Dover-Calais ferry operator DFDS warned passengers at 2.59 a.m. to allow two full hours to complete border controls and check-in, though at around . The Mirror and the Sun splash on “standstill” and “bad Friday,” with Dover queues already hitting 90 minutes on Thursday and Euston station closed all weekend. Both red-tops point out it’ll at least be quite warm.

Sheer weight: Travel trade body Abta estimates 2 million Brits want to head abroad this weekend, piling pressure on an already-stretched system. The Independent’s travel editor Simon Calder says in his splash story that it’s expected to be the busiest Easter weekend since 2019.

DESPITE BREXIT? My colleague Cristina Gallardo has dug into whether you’ll just have to lump big delays as a post-Brexit fact of life forever. The answer: Not necessarily. Queues are being exacerbated by Brits’ passports having to be stamped when they enter the Schengen area, to enforce a 90-day tourism limit. But the U.K. uses e-gates and doesn’t bother with a stamp.

Diary date: The European Commission’s new “smart” border process will eliminate the need for stamps, but it has been delayed until at least August 2024. Even then some visitors will have to scan fingerprints and facial images at a self-service kiosk, writes Cristina.


HUGE WEEK: Sunak is spending the long weekend in his constituency before meeting U.S. President Joe Biden on his visit to Northern Ireland. While the timetable is not nailed down, Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Chris Todd said the leaders are both arriving on Tuesday evening with “a number of events” on Wednesday. The Irish News has more.

High alert: The Telegraph splashes on what the cops called “very strong community intelligence” that dissent republicans are plotting terror attacks against police officers ahead of the visit.

Shooting for the moon: Bloomberg’s Alex Wickham and Ellen Milligan hear U.K. officials want to use the occasion to lobby U.S. officials to revive talks on a post-Brexit trade deal — which has long been off the table under Biden.

NOW HEAR THIS: Monday is of course the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement — and in a special episode of POLITICO’s Westminster Insider podcast, host Ailbhe Rea heads home to Belfast to retell the gripping inside story of how a historic compromise was reached. Hour by hour she reconstructs the final week before a deal was sealed with guests including former PM Tony Blair, his chief of staff Jonathan Powell, former Irish premier Bertie Ahern, and citizens who have benefitted from the peace.

Paging Jeffrey: Blair urges DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson to show “political leadership” in getting his party back into Stormont. The former PM says the decision of whether to return to power-sharing is “a test” for Donaldson but that “he can” show the leadership required — which means “instead of playing to the gallery, being prepared to look at the genuine interests of the people you represent.” Here’s the write-up.

Because it’s (Good) Friday: Watch this excellent clip of Stephen Grimason, the former BBC journalist who was leaked a copy of the Good Friday Agreement, on the moment he sprinted up the stairs “like Linford Christie” to wave it in front of the camera “hopelessly out of breath.”

Ahern speaks: The Guardian reports Ahern has said there is a “logic and rationale” for reviewing some of the institutions of the GFA, but only if Stormont is restored. DUP former First Minister Arlene Foster has interviewed Ahern for GB News, which will play out on Sunday.

Sunak speaks: The PM is likely to issue an Easter message and words marking the GFA anniversary over the break.


ARE WE THE BADDIES? Keir Starmer is waking up to an angry backlash to a Twitter attack ad on Sunak that has been branded a “dog-whistle,” “shameful” and “appalling.” Despite condemnation from a broad spectrum of SW1, Labour was doubling down on Thursday night and swerving calls to withdraw its picture of a smiling PM with the caption: “Do you think adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison? Rishi Sunak doesn’t.”

Not budging: Asked for its response to the furor, a Labour spokesperson issued a statement to Playbook at 7.27 p.m. saying it “is the party of law and order” and the Tories “have left dangerous convicted criminals free to roam the streets.” The post was still online as we hit send on this morning’s Playbook.

Is this really the line? The Labour research that sparked it all says 4,500 adults convicted of sexual assault or sexual activity on children under 16 were given non-jail sentences. But that is “since 2010” — five years before Sunak was even a backbench MP.

14 months ago: Starmer (with many others) condemned Boris Johnson for accusing him of “falling to prosecute Jimmy Savile” when he was director of public prosecutions. Surely Labour is not suggesting Sunak should held responsible for court sentences at a time when he was (check notes) a hedge fund man?

Then there’s this: While the parameters are set by the government of the day, sentences are issued by judges. Sexual activity with a child already carries up to 14 years.

And this: After Home Secretary Suella Braverman talked up the role of British Pakistani men in grooming gangs, Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi tweeted: “Dog whistle met by dog whistle. Disgraceful comments by Braverman over the weekend has triggered an appalling fight into the gutter.” Novara Media’s Ash Sarkar said: “If the Tories had mocked up this ad with the photo of an Asian Labour MP, they’d be decried as racist.”

Unity: Corbyn ally John McDonnell tweeted “please withdraw it” … the Mirror’s Kevin Maguire said “take this down. Gutter politics” … outrage-machine Tory MP Lee Anderson said “for the first time ever I agree with Kevin. This is vile and desperate” … Tory MP Robert Largan said it was “really shameful stuff” … Ex-Tory Rory Stewart branded it “bile” … The i’s Paul Waugh said it is “truly appalling” … The New Statesman’s George Eaton called it “one of the worst political adverts in recent UK history” … and so on.

Party line: The graphic hardly slipped out in error: It was tweeted by Starmer’s Director of Strategy Deborah Mattinson, Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed and others. Asked to opine, another shadow Cabinet minister sent Playbook the “lips zipped shut” emoji.

TUNE IN: Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell has the happy task of defending all this on BBC Breakfast at 7.30 a.m.

TOUGH ON CRIME LATEST: Before Twitter kicked off, Starmer gave an interview to the Mirror’s Sophie Huskisson, demanding ministers speed up a legal change that will force killers to attend their own sentencing in person. Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s murderer refused to leave his cell. The Sun meanwhile reports Sunak is considering housing prisoners on barges to tackle jail overcrowding, if putting asylum seekers on them works well.

MEANWHILE: The New Statesman’s Rachel Wearmouth has a fun interview with Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry, including … she was so confident of victory in 1992 that she ate only red food at an election night party (“strawberries, edam, trout”) … shadow cab now only gets soft fruit because Wes Streeting “eats apples in a very macho way” … and Starmer holds such a tight leash that meetings are only 25 minutes long. Serious lines on Corbyn and trans people, too.


RUH-ROH: The Times investigative team has a Day 2 story that will make suspended Tory MP Scott Benton sweat. The betting and gaming APPG chair was filmed apparently boasting that gambling firms deliberately set the value of their hospitality slightly below £300, the level at which it has to be declared.

Erm, you might’ve said too much: “Without saying too much, you’d be amazed at the number of times I’ve been to races and the ticket comes to £295,” the Blackpool South MP — who has referred himself to the parliamentary standards commissioner — told the undercover reporters.

Yep, you’ve definitely said too much: “A lot of companies try to be quite cute about the level of the hospitality to make sure it falls just under so people don’t have to declare it,” he added.

BIG BUSINESS: Times journalist Billy Kenber points out there are “huge implications for MPs and lobbyists if this is going on at scale,” given their contacts would not be publicly declared. From what is on registers, the Guardian says gambling firms went from spending £8,000 on events for MPs in 2019 to £114,000 in 2021. The i’s Poppy Wood has a decent roundup of concerns about the “soft underbelly” world of APPGs.

STINGING THE STINGERS: Tory MP Philip Davies (various racing or sports hospitality received this parliament: £4,783) has written for his employers at GB News about how he “decided to turn the tables” on the Times sting. He was approached by the reporters, but thought something smelt off — so met them but with a secret camera hidden in his tie. He writes that “on balance” he approved of their methods to expose wrongdoing but also accuses it of being a “honey trap.”


EVERYTHING IS FINE: The SNP continues its rapid descent from untouchable to chaos, as supporters of leadership runner-up Kate Forbes tell the Telegraph the election should be rerun entirely. “There has been a material change in circumstances” after Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell was arrested, says one.

What it’s about: Humza Yousaf, who narrowly beat Forbes to the job of first minister, insisted it’s a “conspiracy theory” to claim police were somehow “in cahoots” with Sturgeon about the timing of her husband’s arrest. But winning the leadership race as Sturgeon’s natural successor just days earlier has put him in an awkward position. SNP MP Angus MacNeil tells the Telegraph Yousaf “was billed as the continuity candidate. Are we sure that the membership are now happy with their choice?”

Seared on brains: No one has been charged, investigations are ongoing and strict contempt of court laws apply. The simple image of the police tent outside Sturgeon and Murrell’s home, though, will remain — a senior Tory official sounded amazed as they said on Thursday: “It’s still there!” SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn told the News Agents podcast it’s hard to get “out of your mind.”

NOW READ THIS: POLITICO’s Andrew McDonald has a painful-to-read blow-by-blow account of the SNP’s six months of misery.


DON’T GO OUTSIDE: Dire warnings about patient safety are ramping up ahead of junior doctors’ 96-hour strike from 7 a.m. on Tuesday. A health leader told the NHS Confederation — which represents health trusts — that “basic patient safety will be compromised” and A&Es are likely to be “utterly overwhelmed.” The confederation says “many aspects of patient care” are “resting on a knife-edge.”

It gets worse: The Times splashes on warnings that up to half of doctors in England will be absent — and says the BMA council chairman has warned consultants and juniors could walk out together next time. A consultants’ ballot is due to open in the next fortnight.

AND THEN THERE WERE 4: NASUWT teaching union reps, who we can only assume all hate their in-laws, begin their four-day conference today — yes really. At the meeting in Glasgow they will likely become the fourth major teaching union to reject the government’s pay offer. The NEU, ASCL and NAHT all already said no this week. A survey of members is due back today or Saturday.

Don’t make me call your parents: More than 19 percent of those who responded to a union survey said they were still living at home with mom and/or dad.

IN THE POST: Royal Mail managers and the Communication Workers Union will continue talks this weekend as a deal to end their long-running dispute is “half” done, the Mail reports.

HOPE ON THE HORIZON: The U.K. government has developed a bespoke funding plan that could replace the EU’s Horizon scheme, negotiations over which have been on hold, writes the Times’ Oliver Wright.

THIS SUMMER’S STORY: After more than 400 people crossed the Channel in small boats on Thursday, the i’s Arj Singh says the Home Office is recruiting hundreds of people to work in a flagship command unit to stop them.

Speaking of which: Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza has warned the new Illegal Migration Bill will “play into the hands” of child abusers by refusing to carve out an exemption for under-18s who arrive on small boats. Via the Times.

NHS COVER-UP? Byline Times is floating allegations of a “cover-up” after it pored through FOI requests to hundreds of hospitals, and found two-thirds did not formally report a single case of staff catching COVID at work.

Global Britain: The NHS workforce plan — which is due to increase medical school places — can’t come soon enough. The Times reports more foreign doctors joined the NHS last year than the entire total of medical students who enrolled on courses.

SLAVERY RECKONING: The Mail, Times and Telegraph all have King Charles on page 1 after he backed a three-year study into the royals’ historic ties to slavery. It was prompted by a Guardian investigation — and the Tel says the king has not ruled out the possibility of paying reparations. But ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor tells the Mail these should be paid by Charles personally, not the state … “otherwise we should sue the French” over 1066 too.

GULP: A Savanta poll two weeks ago, which runs in the Independent, found just 49 percent of people had trust in policing, or 46 percent of women. Met Commissioner Mark Rowley said on Thursday it’s “nonsensical” that he can’t sack dodgy officers.

EASTER READING FOR GEEKS: The Telegraph has published a nifty local elections index with charts and graphics on target seats.

NO ONE TELL BORIS JOHNSON: House of Lords leader John McFall tells the Guardian the upper house needs more experts. His neutral role means his comments are limited. He couldn’t possibly be talking about dozens of political allies of a certain former PM.

STAY ALERT: Campaigners have renewed warnings that the government’s emergency alert test later this month could endanger domestic abuse victims with hidden phones — more in the Times.

PARLIAMENT: You’ve guessed it — in recess until April 17.

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BOJO SUPERSTAR: Easter is a time for reflection — the perfect time, then, to cast one’s mind back to Boris Johnson’s Easter Sunday message last year. Johnson said the U.K. “bursts with new life and new hope” and “beyond the suffering lies redemption.” The jury might be out on the redemption front, but there’s sure been plenty of suffering for the Conservatives — Playbook’s ace reporter Noah Keate has rounded up a few of the year’s highlights.

Since last Easter: More than 100 Downing Street fixed penalty notices … 485 lost Tory seats at the local elections … Second place for the U.K. to Ukraine in Eurovision … One Sue Gray report … One MP resigning for watching porn in the Commons … One platinum jubilee … One (survived) vote of confidence in Johnson … Two Tory by-election defeats … 62 resignations in early July 2022 … Two Tory leadership contests … Two new PMs … Two new home secretaries … Three new chancellors … Four new education secretaries … 15 housing ministers since 2010 … One new monarch … Around 250,000 members of “The Queue” … One mini-budget … Over 1,000 mortgage products withdrawn from the market … Eight unforgettable BBC local radio interviews … Gavin Williamson’s third departure from government … Another NHS winter crisis … One Windsor Framework … One new Met Police commissioner …

And breathe: … Twitter almost collapsing several times40C temperatures in July … One Commonwealth Games … One “Wagatha Christie” trial … Countless Matt Hancock moments on “I’m a Celeb” … Over 100,000 leaked WhatsApp messages … Six episodes of “Harry & Meghan” on Netflix … One Prince Harry tome … One U-turn on privatizing Channel 4 … Over 1 million job vacancies … Eight Bank of England interest rate rises … The highest inflation for decades … Skyrocketing energy bills … No new nuclear power stations opened … One coal mine approved … HS2 delayedOne new Scottish first minister … One new Australian prime minister … One new New Zealand prime minister … One U.S. presidential indictment … No return to Northern Ireland power-sharing … and zero migrants sent to Rwanda. So far.


FATAL ATTRACTION: Stormy Daniels told TalkTV’s Piers Morgan she felt “sad” seeing Donald Trump make history being arrested in court as “the king has been dethroned.” She said she left within five minutes of their original encounter.

UKRAINE UPDATE: The Express splashes with Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.K. Vadym Prystaiko’s message of defiance to Russia, warning “we’ll fight to the last of us or the last of you.”

CHINESE WHISPERS: French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen received contrasting welcomes upon arriving in Beijing earlier this week, my POLITICO colleagues report, with Macron attending a state banquet while von der Leyen gave a sober press conference. China believes it can make greater headway with the French premier.

FARMAGEDDON: Rural communities will receive £110 million extra funding under the Rural England Prosperity Fund, the government announced overnight. It could be spent on farm diversification and boosting rural tourism.

LAST TANGO IN PARIS: As more pension strikes hit France on Thursday, the Times highlights two polls showing right-wing populist Marine Le Pen enjoys an unprecedented surge in support. Despite losing to Macron in the last two presidential elections, a poll showed she would defeat Macron 55 percent to 45 percent. Another found Le Pen would win between 29 and 36 percent of the first-round vote compared to 23.5 percent last year.

ANTI-GROWTH COALITION: The global economy looks set to grow at its slowest pace since 1990, IMF head Kristalina Georgieva said.


EASTER ROUND-UP: In time-honored tradition, we asked some of our readers how they’re spending the long weekend — from dino-watching, casual skydiving and beekeeping, to seeing a Premier League-player brother and of course eggs.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman: “Celebrating birthdays — for both my husband and myself — and Easter with a big family lunch. And a trip to the Natural History Museum to see Titanosaur for my son who’s dinosaur-mad.”

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves: “The kids will do an Easter egg hunt … and hopefully share at least one of the chocolates with me!”

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly: “Some things I used to take as normal parts of my life: sleep, be at home, see the family, walk the dogs and do some cooking. Might seem dull but to me that’s now really precious.”

Northern Ireland Minister Steve Baker: “I’m in Wycombe with my wife, going to an Iftar on Saturday evening and then my church on Sunday. Conceivably I may skydive Monday.”

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey: “Church Good Friday and Easter Sunday, cooking the roast lamb, organising an Easter egg hunt for the kids — and helping my mother in law with the Beekeeping!”

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn: “I’ll likely have an Easter egg hunt with my two young bairns then, if I get a chance, put my feet up and watch the football.”

Father of the House Peter Bottomley: “I’ve been reflecting on the 1980 death of Óscar Romero in the Church of the Divine Providence when a lone gunman, unhurried, stepped out of his vehicle, resting a rifle on his car door, aimed carefully down the aisle to where the archbishop was saying holy mass and with one single gunshot, the archbishop was dead. On Palm Sunday, I attended his funeral mass as representative of the British Council of Churches, when 14 more people were killed. The principles championed by Romero with his dedicated advocates: acceptance, service and selflessness are fundamental pursuits of life. I try to do likewise, fail like many and continue trying, like most.”

Lord Speaker John McFall: “Spending time with my son and family at Loch Lomond including an easter egg hunt with the grandchildren. I hope to also take a walk along Firth of Clyde near where I live to find communion with nature.”

Christians in Parliament APPG Chair Gary Streeter: “I plan to spend the weekend in the constituency … celebrating the resurrection of Christ in my local church in Plympton.”

APPG Vice Chair Marsha De Cordova: “On Easter Saturday it’s Fulham vs. West Ham — obviously cheering on my brother Bobby who plays for Fulham!”

Labour MP Stella Creasy: “Trying to persuade my kids the only bit of a Lindt bunny they want is the bell and to give me the rest.”

Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron: “I will spend the weekend with family and go to church in Kendal on Sunday. For me as a Christian, amongst the great values of Easter and Christmas is that it is almost legitimate to talk about your faith publicly and why you believe what you believe.” (1.58 a.m. tweet here).

Labour MP Cat Smith: “My partner, SNP MP David Linden and I are going to watch Barrow play Crewe on Good Friday, then Airdrie vs. Montrose on the Saturday. Then we are hosting the Easter Sunday meal for extended family.”

BBC pol ed Chris Mason: “Back in God’s Own County, which is a joy. The thing is my last few returns to Yorkshire have ended prematurely courtesy of the intervention of news — Zahawi and Sturgeon. So here’s hoping things can remain steady until Tuesday …”

Spectator pol ed Katy Balls: “I’ll be taking in the Easter weekend from Amsterdam. Booked the day before the city’s authorities asked ‘wild’ British tourists to stay away.” (Backstory.)

Mirror deputy pol ed Ben Glaze: “Easter in Cornwall is a tradition — pints of Rattler cyder, fish and chips, pasties and cream teas (jam first, obvs) and walks by the sea.”

Press Gallery chair and Express pol ed Sam Lister: “So far I’m on day three of an enforced news blackout after my internet went down. Long may it continue!”

Lobby chair and i pol ed Hugo Gye: “Working! Sorry not to be more exciting. But I’m not expecting to have an exciting time.”

POLITICIANS’ PROMISES: Most people who told my colleague Emilio what they’d give up for Lent stuck to their guns, but … Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds had a “significant transgression” on giving up chocolate … while the Guardian’s Henry Dyer lapsed with one “inadvertent bag of crisps while mindlessly eating a meal deal.”

SURVIVORS’ AWARD: Millions of health, public service and hospitality workers who don’t get Easter off … and some politicians haven’t switched off either. As mentioned, Labour’s Lucy Powell is on the morning round … MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle is on TalkTV Breakfast with Peter Cardwell (standing in) … Any Questions tonight has the Conservatives’ Laura Trott, Labour’s Emily Thornberry and Lib Dem Munira Wilson … Tory MP couple Esther McVey and Philip Davies are continuing to present their GB News show … Grant Shapps is flying to South Korea and Japan on an energy security visit … and David Lammy is presenting a three-hour LBC show at 10 a.m. on Sunday. Hope some of them get a good fee.

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Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell broadcast round: BBC Breakfast (7.30 a.m.) … Sky News (8.05 a.m.) … Times Radio (8.35 a.m.) … LBC (8.50 a.m.) … GB News (9.05 a.m.).

Today program: Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People Koulla Yiasouma (6.50 a.m.) … DUP chief Jeffrey Donaldson (7.14 a.m.) … Sinn Féin politician Gerry Kelly (8.40 a.m.).

Also on Times Radio: Confederation of Passenger Transport’s Phil Smith (8 a.m.) … Tom Kelly, the former director of communications in Tony Blair’s Northern Ireland office (8.45 a.m.).

Also on Sky News Breakfast: Logistics U.K.’s Nichola Mallon (8.10 a.m.).

Also on LBC: Former Metropolitan Police Superintendent Nusrit Mehtab (7.05 a.m.).

TalkTV Breakfast: Tory MP James Sunderland (7.05 a.m.) … Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle (8.20 a.m.) … Former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett (9.20 a.m.).

LBC News: Lib Dem Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson (7.40 a.m.) … NHS Confederation Policy Director Layla McCay (8 a.m.).


(Click on the publication’s name to see its front page):

POLITICO UK: Brexit wrecked Britain’s school holiday trips abroad. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Daily Express: Negotiate! No, we’ll fight Putin to last man.

Daily Mail: Royals hit by new payout demands over slavery links.

Daily Mirror: Standstill.

Daily Star: Mamma Mia!

i: Smart motorways ban — pressure grows to scrap entire network across Britain.

The Daily Telegraph: IRA terror threat fear ahead of Biden visit.

The Guardian: Lords needs more experts, says speaker, as former PMs line up allies.

The Independent: Oh no, not again!

The Sun: Bad Friday.

The Times: Strike to ‘overwhelm’ A&E.


The Economist: Hug pylons not trees — the growth environmentalism needs.


Any Questions (Radio 4, 8 p.m.): Recorded in Fulham with Work and Pensions Minister Laura Trott … Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry … Lib Dem Education spokesperson Munira Wilson … and broadcaster Inaya Folarin Iman.

The Camilla Tominey Show (GB News, 9.30 a.m. on Sunday): Christopher Hope sits in. Former Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster interviews former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

David Lammy (LBC): 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Westminster Hour (Radio 4, 10 p.m. on Sunday): Tory MP Conor Burns … Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Kyle … U.K. in a Changing Europe’s Jill Rutter … and the i’s Hugo Gye.


EU Confidential: The POLITICO team discusses Finland joining NATO and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to China. The special guest is Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Westminster Insider: POLITICO’s Ailbhe Rea examines how the Good Friday Agreement came to be, 25 years on.

Plus 6 of the best political podcasts to listen to this weekend:

Chopper’s Politics: Christopher Hope speaks to British rower Steve Redgrave, Tory MP John Redwood and Telegraph columnist Philip Johnston.

Holyrood Sources: Calum Macdonald and co. speak to former Scottish government Cabinet Secretary for Health Jeane Freeman.

The Bunker: Gavin Esler speaks to the Guardian’s Rory Carroll about his new book exploring Margaret Thatcher and the IRA.

The News Agents: The team provide a two-part rundown analyzing Donald Trump’s legal fight.

The Political Party: Matt Forde interviews former Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson.

The Prospect Podcast: Alan Rusbridger speaks to journalist Matthew d’Ancona and the Washington Post’s Sarah Ellison about Fox News and U.S. democracy.


WESTMINSTER WEATHER: Sunny with light winds. Highs of 15C.

CONGRATS TO: Sam Taylor permanently becomes BBC News’ chief operating officer … and Claude Sarfo becomes BBC News’ finance director — both roles sit on the BBC News board.

GRIM CULTURE FIX: Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen’s exhibition “Grenfell” — a 24-minute film about the 2017 fire — opens today at the Serpentine South Gallery, showing until May 10.

THATCHER’S REVOLUTION: Saturday marks a decade since Margaret Thatcher died — why not spend five hours re-watching the BBC’s “Thatcher: A Very British Revolution,” originally broadcast in 2019? You know you want to.

FILM BUFFS UNITE: For films of high (and low) quality to enjoy over the Easter weekend, Playbook has you sorted: Iconic Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” is on Channel 4 tonight at 11.05 p.m. … Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton war film “Where Eagles Dare” is on Channel 5 at 2.45 p.m. this Saturday … and no Bank Holiday would be complete without Oscar-winning musical drama “The Sound of Music” accompanying your Easter Sunday at 1.50 p.m. on BBC One.

TIKTOK WATCH: Matt Hancock relieved the nation by confirming he would not take part in “Dancing on Ice,” claiming it would be more like “Bambi on Ice.” Now there’s a picture …

JOB ADS: Reuters is hiring a media and campaign manager … and Guardian News and Media is looking for a commercial audience editor.

BIRTHDAYS: Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas … Orpington MP Gareth Bacon … South West Hertfordshire MP Gagan Mohindra … Tory peer Nick Herbert turns 60 … Former Labour MP Thelma Walker … Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

Celebrating over the weekend: Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan … Labour’s Director of Media Sophie Nazemi … BBC Radio 4 PM presenter Evan Davis … East Kilbride MP Lisa Cameron … Tory peer and former Pensions Minister Ros Altmann … Welsh Conservatives leader Andrew RT Davies … Labour peer Barbara Young … Maitland consultant Freddie Barber … Former Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Daniel Mulhall … Former WTO boss Pascal Lamy … The Express’ Christian Calgie … POLITICO’s own Esther Webber … Former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith … Commons liaison committee Chairman Bernard Jenkin … North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan … Welsh Labour MS Jack Sargeant … YouGov founder and CEO Stephan Shakespeare … Conservatives in Comms chief Adam Honeysett-Watts … Big Brother Watch board director Al Ghaff.

PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Zoya Sheftalovich, reporter Noah Keate and producer Fiona Lally.

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