May will tell MPs today that the UK will be free to sign trade deals on Day One…

‘Theresa May will today insist that Britain is allowed to begin striking global trade deals and registering new EU arrivals on the first day after Brexit. Eurosceptics have voiced concerns over the Prime Minister’s plan for a two-year transition period following our official exit on March 29, 2019. Brussels has said during the period the UK will have to remain under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and be forced to abide by freedom of movement rules. Critics say it is remaining in the EU in all but name. But in a bid to allay fears among her backbenches, Mrs May will today tell MPs the country will start the process of going its own way during the transition.’ – Daily Mail

  • Cabinet sub-committee meets today to consider ‘gradual divergence’ from EU rules – The Times
  • She is urged to spell out what kind of arrangement she is aiming for – The Sun
  • Britain must ‘face the consequences’ of Brexit, Barnier warns – Daily Mail
  • He claims there are no options available beyond the existing Canada and Norway arrangements – The Sun
  • Cameron to lead China investment fund – The Times



>Today: Nicky Morgan’s column: Threats, intimidation, violence, and trolling. Something is rotten in the state of our democracy.

…while Labour is on the verge of backing a policy that would make trade deals impossible

‘Labour is likely to announce that it wants to stay in a modified version of the EU customs union indefinitely, according to three members of the shadow cabinet…Jeremy Corbyn’s party is likely to say that it wants to negotiate to be part of a new UK-EU customs union very similar to the one at present. It will also say that Britain should be part of future trade deals done by the EU. Critically, under Labour Britain would demand a seat at the table, on the EU side, in future trade talks between the EU and other countries, something that would have to be negotiated in Brexit talks. The plan reflects Labour’s scepticism on the benefits of Britain signing future trade deals, the belief that the impact on the customs regime of the Tory plan is likely to be catastrophic and the desire for a clear dividing line between it and the government. “It think we’re almost there,” one member of the shadow cabinet said about the plan.’ – The Times

  • Abbott admits immigration might not fall under Labour – Daily Mail
  • We’ll make it easier for universities to hire the brightest talent – Brandon Lewis, The Times
  • Key Opposition figures commit to conflicting positions on a second referendum in the same day – The Sun
  • Tory rebels want May to work with Labour against her own policy – The Guardian
  • Ignore the people – A.C.Grayling, The Times
  • Malloch-Brown joins anti-Brexit alliance – The Guardian
  • The Economist rejects an advert from a pro-Brexit animal charity – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: WATCH: Lewis – “We’re delivering what business needs whilst taking control of our borders”

Anonymous Cabinet sources urge the Prime Minister to stay until 2021

‘Theresa May is being urged to delay her departure until close to the next election to avoid the Tory party engaging in a bloody battle that could ruin trade talks with the EU before they are complete. Cabinet ministers and senior backbenchers fear that any resignation before 2021 could be ruinous for the party and thwart the delicate negotiations, which are likely to continue after Brexit in March 2019…One cabinet minister told The Times: “She is not one to up sticks and leave. I’m confident that she will go on long beyond when many people expect. There is no clean and simple moment when she will or can leave. I think the leadership contest will be pushed back and back.” Brussels is expecting Mrs May to agree the broad principles of a new EU-UK relationship by next October. However, the government is being warned by the European Commission that a full EU-UK trade agreement (FTA), running to thousands of pages, will take many more months, meaning that it will not be ready until the end of 2020 at the earliest. The next general election must be held before June 2022; Tory leadership elections take about four months, and some experts think that the FTA negotiations will take longer.’ – The Times

  • ‘Allies’ urge her to delay a reshuffle – The Sun
  • Do not fear change, Prime Minister – The Sun Says

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Needed early in the New Year. A reshuffle to help Britain better prepare for leaving the EU.

Mordaunt rebukes Saudi Arabia over Yemen blockade

‘Saudi Arabia has “no excuses” for blocking food and fuel shipments to Yemen and could be in breach of international humanitarian law if it continues to do so, a British minister has said, in the strongest rebuke yet to a key ally. Penny Mordaunt, the secretary of state for international development, said that Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the UK could be damaged if Riyadh does not act to ease restrictions she warned could push the country into the “worst famine in decades.” Ms Mordaunt flew to Riyadh on Sunday to push for an end to restrictions on deliveries of food, fuel, and medical supplies to rebel-held areas of Yemen imposed by the Saudi-led coalition last month. Speaking exclusively to the Telegraph in Djibouti before her visit, Ms Mordaunt stressed that Britain “fully appreciates” the coalition’s security concerns and supported its right to screen shipping to prevent military supplies entering rebel held areas. But she said it had “no excuse” for blocking ships that had been screened, adding: “It is very clear that if you are using starvation as a weapon you are in breach of international humanitarian law. And what I have seen on my visit is that what is being held up is aid.”’ – Daily Telegraph

  • DfID worker assaulted and killed in Lebanon – The Times
  • Kremlin-linked Twitter accounts promote hatred after terror attacks – The Times
  • The far right will control Austria’s foreign, interior and defence ministries – The Times

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