Truss pledges £2.3 billion flood defence programme

Flood‘Liz Truss, the environment secretary, conceded today that even the strongest flood defences would not be sufficient to protect Britain from all adverse weather. A day after saying that climate change was responsible for the unprecedented rainfall which has affected Cumbria and parts of Scotland, Ms Truss attempted to see off a political row after Labour claimed that spending on flood risk management had fallen by £115 million compared to last year. During a visit to Carlisle, where thousands of residents were left without power due to Storm Desmond, she insisted that the government would review its projections about flooding.’ – The Times (£)

  • 5,000 flood victims get a council tax break – Daily Mail
  • Farron urges people to open their holiday homes to those left homeless - The Times (£)
  • Sturgeon denies maintenance cuts caused bridge crack – The Scotsman



>Today: Profile: Rory Stewart, more Churchill than Wooster

>Yesterday: WATCH: Cameron – helping people affected by the floods

EU 1) An attempt to lower the referendum voting age is defeated

‘David Cameron is hoping to stop the House of Lords delaying his EU referendum, after it hit a snag in its passage into law when peers sent it back to the Commons with a demand for 16 and 17 year olds to be given the vote, now that MPs have rejected the Lords’ amendment 303 votes to 253. The rejection of this proposal, designated by the Commons Speaker as a matter of “financial privilege” because of the additional cost it would have required to fulfil, means that peers are not meant to stand in their way. They are, instead, meant to acknowledge the Commons’ supremacy.’ – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The constitution is too precious to mess with for short-term political gain

EU 2) OBR: Renegotiating migrant benefit rules won’t have much impact on immigration

Border‘David Cameron’s flagship plan to curb benefits for EU migrants would do little to cut immigration, the Government’s top economic advisers warned yesterday. A senior member of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said there was nothing to suggest a four-year wait before migrants can claim would significantly reduce numbers. The Prime Minister has made the curb the focus of his bid to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU, arguing it would have a ‘substantial’ impact on arrivals.’ – Daily Mail

  • Cameron set to get a frosty reception in Poland today – FT
  • There’ll be a million new jobs by 2020…but most will go to migrants – Daily Mail
  • Schengen falls apart as Austria builds a border fence – Daily Mail


  • Cameron should back the Leave campaign – Daily Mail Leader
  • The ‘row’ was a smokescreen…the Prime Minister has given up on immigration – The Sun Says (£)

Gove plans drastic action to reduce the prison population

‘Thousands of criminals will have their jail terms cut under plans by Michael Gove to lower the prison population. More foreign inmates would be released at least nine months early on the condition that they leave the country, in an effort to boost the number of such offenders removed from the UK. More than 10,000 are incarcerated in England and Wales. British prisoners would also have sentences reduced and more would be let out on day release monitored by satellite tracking devices. This could allow them to work during the week.’ – The Times (£)

Goldsmith warns Cameron against Heathrow ‘betrayal’

Zac Goldsmith‘Zac Goldsmith, Tory candidate for London mayor, has told David Cameron that it would be “an enormous betrayal” if the prime minister decided to back the expansion of Heathrow airport. Mr Cameron is expected this month to announce a further delay in making a final choice between Heathrow and Gatwick in an attempt to remove the issue from next May’s mayoral elections.’ – FT

The Chancellor rules out another Scottish independence referendum

‘George Osborne has branded SNP MPs “noisy and aggressive”, ruled out a second independence referendum and said Labour’s decline in Scotland presented the Conservatives with the opportunity to rebuild north of the border. The Chancellor, who will take Prime Minister’s Questions because David Cameron is on a ministerial trip to Europe, said it would be a “tragedy” if Scotland left the Union and made clear that the vote in 2014 had settled the issue of Scottish independence for a generation.’ – The Herald

>Yesterday: Ruth Davidson’s column: No to separation, yes to a united future – this is what the Scottish Conservatives stand for

Cameron condemns Trump’s comments about MuslimsTRUMP Donald‘Donald Trump was branded a ‘hate preacher’ last night and faced calls to be banned from Britain after his ‘obnoxious, repellent and dangerous’ claims that police in London ‘fear for their lives’ because some communities are so radicalised. The Republican frontrunner also demanded ‘a total and complete shutdown’ of Muslim immigration into America, which David Cameron said was ‘divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong’. Labour MP Stella Creasy and the Scottish National Party’s Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh condemned Mr Trump as a ‘hate preacher’.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: Gerald Howarth on Comment: May should appoint Baroness Cox to lead the review into sharia courts

>Yesterday: WATCH: Trump’s call for “a total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”

Activist claims Feldman was given a dossier warning of Clarke’s bullting in 2010

‘A 20-page dossier detailing a culture of bullying within the Conservative Party’s youth wing was handed to party chairman Lord Feldman in 2010, according to a former activist. The activist, who says he was himself a victim of bullying, told BBC Newsnight that the dossier was given by Ben Howlett, now an MP, to Lord Feldman…Two activists involved in producing the document say it named Mark Clarke…Patrick Sullivan, who runs a Conservative think tank, said hard copies of the 2010 dossier were handed to Lord Feldman and Tory co-chair Baroness Sayeeda Warsi. His testimony appears to contradict the account of Lord Feldman, a close friend and political ally of the prime minister.’ – BBC News

Ex-ministers spill the beans on what Whitehall is really like

Whitehall‘The phone call from the prime minister, the walk up Downing Street and a cheery wave to photographers from the steps of No 10: being made a government minister is the realisation of a dream for most MPs. A set of candid accounts about what happens next, however, aims to prepare politicians for the bizarre, brutal and bewildering reality..For David Willetts, the former Tory universities minister, the real villain is a “completely dysfunctional” cabinet Office. “It imposes absurd things on you. It then runs away when things don’t work out and always blames you.”’ – The Times (£)

Blair: Labour’s plight under Corbyn is a tragedy

‘All wings of the Labour Party which support the notion of the Labour Party as a Party aspiring to govern, rather than as a fringe protest movement agree on the tragedy of the Labour Party’s current position. But even within that governing tendency, there is disagreement about the last Labour Government, what it stood for and what it should be proud of.’ – Tony Blair, The Spectator

  • Stop the War is too extreme even for the Greens…but Corbyn won’t quit – Daily Mail
  • Oldham is the beginning of the end – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Tom Watson warns of an attempted hard left takeover – Daily Telegraph
  • Momentum scrambles to counter entryism concerns – FT
  • Corbyn quotes communist dictator at Labour Christmas party – Daily Telegraph
  • Young Fabians invite IRA killer to their seasonal bash – The Independent

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: “At the moment, we don’t worry about how Labour will oppose our plans”

Health chiefs warn of creaking care system

NHS_Logo‘Health and social care chiefs are demanding a crisis meeting with George Osborne and Jeremy Hunt to avert what they fear could be a wave of care home closures within months after years of spending cuts. Leaders of four separate organisations representing council and NHS bodies have written to the Chancellor and Health Secretary, warning that plans unveiled in the recent spending review fall short of what is needed to avert disaster.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • NHS Hospital investigated over ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ notice for patient with Down’s Syndrome – Daily Mail
  • Shameful discrimination against those with learning disabilities – The Sun Says (£)

>Yesterday: Ben Spencer on Comment: Junior Doctors’ contracts – we must scrap our 1940s-style approach to employment in the NHS

Finkelstein: Siding with Assad would be a disaster

‘The idea that we should join with Assad has the support of foreign policy realists such as Julian Lewis and Boris Johnson. They accept the moral case against the Syrian regime, but Lewis points out that there was a moral case against working with Stalin in the Second World War. Assad can be our ally, as the Soviets were, in delivering us from the greater evil of Isis. On its own terms — on realist, practical, pragmatic terms — this argument is utterly wrong.’ – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

News in Brief

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