UK would help Sweden and Finland if Russia attacked, PM warns Putin


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t’s not just pop music, Freddie Ljungberg and arguments over how many screws were meant to come in the damn IKEA pack that binds Britain and Sweden together. We now have a mutual security pact.

Boris Johnson flew to Stockholm today where he met with Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and announced that the UK would help defend Sweden in event of a Russian attack. He is set to travel onward to Finland to sign a similar security declaration.

As our Political and Deputy Political editors Nicholas Cecil and David Bond report, Johnson has also offered to increase deployments to the region, including with Royal Air Force, Army and Royal Navy.

Both Sweden and Finland have traditions of neutrality, though it is fair to say that they have acted less evenhandedly in recent years. While neither are Nato members (yet), both nations take part in Nato exercises and sent troops to Afghanistan.

They are in some ways more enthusiastic supporters of the alliance than a few actual Nato members. Still, this is a significant moment and highlights a further consequence of the war in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin did not only seek to subjugate Kyiv. He wanted less Nato. As Sweden and Finland inch closer to joining the alliance, his disastrous miscalculation becomes only more self-evident.

At home, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research has found that roughly 1.5m British households are set to face food and energy bills “greater than their disposable income“.

In non-think tank speak, that means they can’t afford to do both. The report points out that the highest incidence of this is in London. So the capital is at the centre of the government’s flagship levelling up agenda, right? Well, no — see our leader article today.

Separately but relatedly, the Social Market Foundation (SMF) has called on ministers to make unhappy Londoners happier if they are serious about levelling up.

Research from the SMF found relatively affluent boroughs in London such as Islington, Hackney and Camden are falling well below the national average for residents’ happiness and life satisfaction.

Josh Salisbury’s news story is here and I’d also recommend heading to the SMF website to read the report. It’s short, thought-provoking and has the requisite interactive graphics.

In the comment pages, journalist and author James Montague says football fans can still have their say in what has become a billionaires’ arms race. While Consumer Business Editor Jonathan Prynn warns that London’s cost of living crisis is nearly out of control.

And finally, for whatever reason, Michael Gove went on television and made silly voices. If you missed it, the video’s here.

Wait, on second thought, that can’t be today’s sign off. Here’s Charlotte O’Sullivan’s five-star review of Everything Everywhere All at Once. Spoiler alert: prepare to be stunned.

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