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Defence 1) May urged Trump to hold fire against North Korea

TRUMP and MAY Gone with the wind“Theresa May has privately urged Donald Trump not to launch air strikes on North Korea’s nuclear arsenal yet. US defence chiefs have told their British counterparts they are confident they can “utterly destroy” despot Kim Jong-un’s doomsday programme in a pre-emptive strike. But UK intelligence experts have warned the odds of taking out all the rogue state’s missile and nuclear sites successfully at once are slim. And if they fail, the action risks a catastrophic retaliation. A No10 source said last night that the PM is keen “to play it down”, adding: “We’ve been here before. North Korea is something we must watch, but not to get overly excited about.We are urging restraint on military action.” Donald Trump is ratcheting up pressure on Pyongyang, despatching an aircraft carrier strike group to the region and insisting the US is ready to “act alone” if China doesn’t step in.” – The Sun

  • President claims to be working with China over North Korea – Daily Mail
  • Pence says ‘era of strategic patience’ is over – Daily Telegraph
  • Pyongyang defiant as Washington ramps up the pressure – The Times (£)
  • China and Russia dispatch ships to shadow Trump’s ‘armada’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Trump’s foreign policy shift wins mainstream praise – Daily Telegraph

Defence 2) Juliet Samuel: Trump is right to play Kim at his own game

Kim Jong-un, its dictator, is now believed to be sitting on a massive arsenal of chemical, biological, conventional and nuclear weapons. What seems to have eluded his military so far is the capacity to fire its missiles long distances – to the US’s West Coast, for example – and the ability to miniaturise its nukes for loading onto missiles. This is, however, only a matter of time, possibly months. Donald Trump is therefore quite right when he asserts that US policy has failed. So it’s time to hold our breath while he tries out a new tactic: play the vicious little dictator at his own game. The Kims have always used belligerence to extract concessions, like loosened sanctions, because no one is ever sure just how far Pyongyang will go. Mr Trump, with his aggressive rhetoric and ostentatious deployment of a massive aircraft carrier to the area, is turning the tables.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Keeping the peace without losing face – Richard Lloyd Parry, The Times (£)

Editorial:

  • The President should stop tweeting us into war and engage in level-headed diplomacy – Daily Mail

>Today: Nadhim Zahawi MP’s column: Why Trump should not simply strike out alone at North Korea

>Yesterday: Nicholas Mazzei in Comment: The Korean crisis highlights a stark truth. Britain is completely unprepared for war.

Defence 3) Ministers want three per cent target for ‘security’ spending

Armed Forces“They believe aid spending should be incorporated into a new pledge to spend 3 per cent of Britain’s GDP on security, allowing it to be used to help in ‘fragile’ states, where weak government allows terrorist groups to thrive. But this would require a change in the law unless ministers can broker an international agreement changing the rules that define what spending is counted as aid. Currently, ministers have to use definitions of aid spending set out by the OECD think-tank, which has previously resisted British attempts to blur the line between military spending and aid.” – Daily Mail

More defence:

  • Hundreds of Paras ‘not trained’ to jump from aircraft – Daily Mail
  • Wright tries to block bid to prosecute Blair over Iraq – Daily Mail

Editorial:

  • Merging the defence and aid budgets would be misguided – The Times (£)

Travel bill soars as ministers hunt Brexit deals

“Ministers spent more than £1.3 million on official overseas travel as they scrambled to fulfil Theresa May’s pledge to create a “truly global Britain” after the vote to leave the EU. The Foreign Office increased its ministerial travel budget by more than 70 per cent to £260,000 in the six months after the referendum on June 23, an analysis of government figures by The Times reveals. This was despite the department losing responsibility for Europe policy. The new Department for International Trade ran up a bill of £131,000 as Liam Fox and his ministers scoured the world for deals. Across the government there were 25 trips to the United States and 13 to China.” – The Times (£)

  • Rudd explors ‘barista vistas’ to let coffee shops and bars keep EU staff – The Sun
  • Brexit upheaval reduces new laws to 20-year low – FT
  • Is the Prime Minister looking to step down after Brexit? – Daily Express

More trade:

  • Investors fear collapse of Indian investment treaty could spike deals – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • How Britain can build a successful, lasting industrial strategy – Larry Elliott, The Guardian

>Today:

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Our survey. Three in five party members want ECJ jurisdiction to end as soon as we leave the EU.

Parish and Elphicke welcome scrappage scheme

ELPHICKE Charles Dover“Neil Parish, Tory chairman of the Commons environment committee, said ministers were right to limit the scheme to prevent it becoming a ‘middle-class subsidy’ for those who could already afford to upgrade to a new car. But he said even a targeted scheme could remove half of older diesels from the roads in areas worst affected by pollution. ‘I know there are concerns about the costs of any scheme,’ he added. ‘That’s why any proposed scheme should be targeted and proportionate. It should be a key weapon in the armoury of the Government in tackling air pollution.’ Fellow Tory MP Charlie Elphicke said a scrappage scheme was ‘the best way to get the oldest and dirtiest diesels off the roads’.” – Daily Mail

  • Diesel drivers could get £2,000 towards a clean car – The Times (£)
  • May overrules Grayling and Leadsom – The Sun

Comment:

  • The Prime Minister needs an energy adviser – Nick Butler, FT

Allen calls on Hammond to review benefit freeze

“Chancellor Philip Hammond is facing calls from within his own party to review the four-year freeze on working-age benefits to alleviate the pressures on those with the lowest incomes in Britain. It comes after The Independent revealed earlier this month the Government had grossly underestimated the severity of its four-year freeze on working-age benefits, with the cap now set to hit claimants by almost 50 per cent more than official estimates… Heidi Allen, a Conservative MP on the Work and Pensions Select Committee, told The Independent the Chancellor needed to look again at the policy.” – The Independent

  • Chancellor urged to call inquiry into Bank of England allegatiosn over libor rigging – The Guardian

Fraser urges unionist tactical voting in Scottish local elections

Scottish Conservatives“A senior Tory MSP has urged voters to “back anyone but the SNP” in the local elections in a bid to halt the second independence referendum and send a clear message to Nicola Sturgeon. Murdo Fraser, the finance spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, urged voters to support other Unionist parties, including UKIP and Labour, as there are “no wasted votes”. He told the Sunday Herald: “Whilst local issues are always important, overshadowing this election is Nicola Sturgeon’s irresponsible threat of a second independence referendum. This is your chance to send her a message.”” – Daily Express

  • SNP urged to set out five-year plan for tax – The Scotsman

Comment:

  • Nationalists stoop low to score political points over ‘rape clause’ – Brian Monteith, The Scotsman

Labour MP faces disciplinary action for criticising Corbyn

“A Labour MP faces disciplinary action after he criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and the party’s performance. Bermondsey and Southwark MP Neil Coyle sent a formal email questioning why Labour failed to give MPs a Brexit briefing, and was slow on responding to the media. But he has now accused the party of ‘petty and vindictive infighting’ after Mr Corbyn’s office reported him to the party’s Chief Whip for a ‘vicious’ and ‘unjustified attack’.” – Daily Mail

  • Shadow Cabinet criticised for ‘catastrophic’ slump in questions asked – The Sun
  • Massive Tory poll lead increases pressure on the Labour leader – The Times (£)

News in Brief:

  • Russian ambassador attacks the UK for ‘raising tensions’ with Estonia troop deployment – Daily Mail
  • Sinn Fein leader says political process is ‘broken’ – The Times (£)
  • Adams urges Dublin to oppose direct rule in Ulster – Belfast Telegraph
  • Families set to be ‘£500 worse off’ by Christmas as price rises outstrip wage increases – The Sun
  • German police investigate far-right link to Dortmund bombing – Daily Telegraph
  • US Commerce Secretary rubbishes IMF warnings against protectionism – FT
  • Turkish protesters ‘hunted’ by Erdogan supporters following disputed referendum – Daily Mail

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