Cameron ready “to cave in on migrants’ benefits ban”…

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 08.04.00“The prime minister will not take the plan off the table when he holds talks over dinner at a summit on Thursday night, but will make it clear that he is open to alternatives, Downing Street sources said.  Last night critics seized on the “climbdown”, with one minister saying: “There is noth­ing left to hide behind.”  The prime minister had put the four-year ban on tax credits for migrant workers at the heart of his renegotiation of EU membership ahead of the referen­dum he has promised to hold by 2017.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • Cameron’s flexible approach to migrants and benefits – Observer
  • Charity alleged to have illegally funded Brexit campaign groups – Observer
  • How Cameron made the negotiations more difficult for himself – Andrew Rawnsley, Observer
  • EU monster in its death throes – Simon Heffer, Sunday Telegraph
  • The EU’s stubborness over benefits makes Cameron’s task even harder – Sunday Telegraph Editorial

…As he pushes for a bar on semi-automatic weapons in wake of Paris attacks

“He wants to outlaw the possession of high-powered assault rifles — and back the move with the biggest-ever crackdown on the illegal firearms trade. The PM will outline his proposals to tackle IS to fellow leaders at a summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. Mr Cameron will call for greater sharing of ballistics data across the 28 EU states, and a plan to improve firearms intelligence in the western Balkans — with tougher laws and action to take weapons out of circulation.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

Are Letwin and Jo Johnson at odds over how to raise tuition fees?

JOHNSON Jo“It is understood that Oliver Letwin, who advises David Cameron on implementing policy, thinks reforms could be introduced as secondary legislation rather than as a fresh Act of Parliament.  Mr Letwin’s idea means radical changes to England’s higher education system could be passed with little parliamentary debate and no amendments, such as reducing or abolishing tuition fees, that could embarrass the government. Sources said this has angered Jo Johnson, the universities minister, who believes reforms must be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny. “ – The Independent on Sunday

Berry wants mail-out scheme to promote cheaper deals for older households

“Jake Berry, the MP for Rossendale and Darwen and a ministerial aide in the Treasury, thinks firms that help consumers switch supplier could pay for the right to include their marketing in the letters. They would bid around £1m for the contract to be the Government’s “preferred switching partner” in a a deal that could last three years.  Such firms would stand to gain millions of pounds from pensioners, many of whom are unaware that they can switch to a cheaper electricity supplier by post rather than via the internet.” – Independent on Sunday

Willetts: Let’s get ready for a mission to Mars

Willetts David DP“Some people say we should stay out of manned flight. But there are still things that can only be accomplished with human ingenuity. The last American astronauts on the moon travelled 17 miles in their lunar buggy during three days there; so far the American Mars rover has travelled only seven miles in three years on the Red Planet — though Europe’s Mars rover, largely designed at Stevenage, Hertfordshire, will do better. Living for a long time in the space station is a necessary precursor to a mission to Mars. But I believe the next step is a lunar base. The discovery that parts of the moon have ice changes everything. A lunar base is the ultimate insurance scheme preserving as much of our planet’s DNA as possible. “ – Sunday Times (£)

Parents of Elliott Johnson to boycott Clifford Chance enquiry

“The move by Ray and Alison Johnson, whose son Elliott committed suicide in September, is a major blow to Tory chairman Lord Feldman’s hopes of avoiding the sack over the matter. The Johnsons said they did not trust David Cameron’s claim that the inquiry by the lawyers chosen by the Tories to investigate their son’s death was ‘independent and transparent’. As a result the family will refuse to give evidence – and they appealed to other activists bullied by Mark Clarke to give evidence to the Johnsons’ lawyers instead.” – Mail on Sunday

Paris summit reaches agreement on climate plan

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 08.17.13“The culmination of more than 20 years of fraught UN climate talks has seen all countries agree to reduce emissions, promise to raise $100bn a year by 2020 to help poor countries adapt their economies, and accept a new goal of net zero emissions by later this century. Formally adopted in Paris by 195 countries, the first universal climate deal will see an accelerated phase-out of fossil fuels, the growth of renewable energy streams and powerful new carbon markets to enable countries to trade emissions and protect forests.” – Observer

Corbyn plans to give supporters greater powers and to rein in Labour MPs

Corbyn will make his first concrete move to strengthen his power over rebellious MPs next month by “consulting” on plans to give new control over policy to his army of supporters.  In a private meeting in Parliament on 9 December, Mr Corbyn’s aides told MPs that the influential National Policy Forum – set up by Tony Blair to get a grip on policy-making – would be overhauled and replaced by a new system.” - Independent on Sunday

  • How critics plan to oust him – Sunday Telegraph
  • Former Defence Secretary Lord Hutton says that Labour leader is a security risk – Sunday Times (£)
  • Corbyn accused of ‘making a violent criminal sound like a peace campaigner’ in character reference criticised by trial judge – Mail on Sunday
  • Abbott ‘plots to oust Chief Whip’ – Mail on Sunday
  • Public face of Momentum grew up in £7 million mansion thanks to proceeds of a huge alleged fraud – Sunday Telegraph
  • Poll: Corbyn polarises opinion - Mail on Sunday
  • ‘The lunatics have taken over Labour … it’s as if the BNP ran the Tory party’ – Simon Danczuk, Mail on Sunday
  • Diana Johnson hits out at ‘broken promise’ over contaminated blood scandal – Sunday Express
  • Balls says Trump is a liar – Mail on Sunday
  • Cruz takes clear lead over Trump in Iowa Republican poll – Observer
  • Only voters can stop Trump and Corbyn – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph

News in Brief

  • Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 08.36.29Gordon Banks reveals that he is suffering from kidney cancer – Sunday Mirror
  • FA agree to sponsor a parliamentary women’s team – Sunday Express
  • Woman wins seat in Saudi election - Observer
  • Ministers not told of ‘very high’ levels of cyanide gas in house where boy died during 2014 floods – Mail on Sunday
  • Housing association tenants to be allowed to use discount from scheme elsewhere in the country – Independent on Sunday
  • Church of England clergyman banned over same-sex marriage – Sunday Telegraph
  • The Silicon Valley boss who wants to put an end to email at work – Sunday Times (£)
  • Forth Bridge Timetable row - Scotsman
  • The controversial art of the filibuster - Independent on Sunday
  • Mark and Carol Thatcher “feud over Thatcher auction claim” - Mail on Sunday

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