Poland could block the Prime Minister’s bid to curb migrant benefits

CAMERON EU fence“David Cameron was fighting to save his EU reform package last night after Poland warned it could not accept his bid to curb benefits for migrants. … Mr Cameron flew into Warsaw for crunch talks with new prime minister Beata Szydlo amid growing signs that Poland could block his plan to ban EU migrants from claiming benefits for their first four years in the UK. … Speaking ahead of a working dinner yesterday, Mrs Szydlo described the proposal as unacceptable.” – Daily Mail

  • “The migrant crisis could push Britain out of Europe as it makes voters think ‘get me out of here’, David Cameron has warned.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Eurosceptic Tory MPs have blasted David Cameron for declaring Britain’s desire to leave the EU is only ‘short-term’.” – The Sun

And comment:

  • “Voters think: Oh Christ, push Europe away from me!” – David Cameron is interviewed by James Forsyth and Fraser Nelson in The Spectator
  • “Can Cameron really offer the best of both worlds in the EU referendum?” – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • “Le Pen aside, Europe’s populist parties are floundering.” – Tony Barber, Financial Times
  • “Be careful what you wish for, Brexit zealots.” – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)
  • “Britain’s illusory debate on Europe and migration.” – Financial Times editorial
  • “An emergency limit on immigration is David Cameron’s best hope for renegotiation.” – Times editorial (£)

> Today: Daniel Hannan’s column – It’s time for Conservative MPs to come off the fence on the EU

Cameron is likely to delay the Heathrow decision again

Takeoff“David Cameron is expected to confirm another delay to the airport expansion decision today, triggering at least six months of furious lobbying from rival Heathrow and Gatwick bids. … Mr Cameron is expected to signal some form of backing for a third runway at Heathrow while raising concerns over pollution — delaying ultimate approval for the plans until the summer.” – The Times (£)

  • “Free from the Liberal Democrats, [the Conservatives] have proposed a battery of measures to weaken the opposition and to reduce executive accountability, leaving MPs, including some of their own, increasingly disconcerted.” – George Eaton, New Statesman

Elliott Johnson’s father accuses the Tory leader of shielding Feldman

Lord Feldman“The father of the Tatler Tory’s alleged bullying victim accused David Cameron of protecting his friend Lord Feldman over his role in the scandal. … Ray Johnson, father of Elliott Johnson who killed himself after complaining of being bullied by Mark Clarke, said the Prime Minister had to choose between ‘his friend’ and ‘justice’. … Lord Feldman, the Tory chairman, claims he knew nothing about allegations against Mr Clarke until August of this year.” – Daily Mail

  • “Lord Feldman of Elstree, the Conservative chairman, could have to give evidence on oath about the ‘Tatler Tory’ bullying scandal after the father of an activist who apparently killed himself said he would mount a legal action against the party.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Andrew Feldman, the Conservative party chairman, has denied allegations made by a former activist that he was given a 20-page dossier detailing bullying within the Tory youth wing in 2010.” – The Guardian
  • “A graduate who worked as a teenage intern for Tatler Tory Mark Clarke has claimed he repeatedly groped her.” – Daily Mail
  • “‘Would you want your teenage kids to be involved with a group like that?’ One experienced MP said. ‘I bloody wouldn’t.'” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “The Tories cannot just circle the wagons around chairman Lord Feldman over the bullying scandal engulfing the party.” – Sun editorial
  • “The Mark Clarke scandal has exposed the class divide at the heart of the Conservative party.” – Phil Clarke, Daily Telegraph

> Today: Nick Boles on Comment – Stop the witch hunt against Andrew Feldman

> Yesterday: Douglas Hansen-Luke on Comment – The roots of the Clarke scandal, and a way forward for our Party

Osborne at PMQs 1) He pledges more money for flood victims

OSBORNE red and blue“George Osborne has pledged to match pound-for-pound donations to help victims of the floods. … In a major boost to the Mail’s Christmas Flood Appeal, the Chancellor said he would give up to £1million. … Mr Osborne also announced a £50million fund for homes and businesses hit by the floods, saying families would be able to claim up to £5,000 each to deal with the devastation wrought by Storm Desmond and to protect their homes from future damage.” – Daily Mail

  • “Thousands of new homes are at significant risk of flooding and could be uninsurable, an investigation has found.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Britain’s biggest buy-to-let investors are to sell off their empire after complaining that the sector has become an ‘easy target for a tax grab’.” – Daily Mail
  • “George Osborne has appointed Angela Knight, a former lobbyist for the banking and energy sectors, to simplify the tax code — even as he published a draft finance bill that will add to one of the longest tax codes in the world.” – Financial Times
  • “Londoners account for almost a quarter of growth in the nation’s wealth, powering ahead of every other part of the country.” – Daily Mail
  • “Savers in their 80s and 90s are being persuaded to place 20-year bets on the stock market, according to the City watchdog.” – Daily Mail
  • “British firms must make apprenticeships more ‘highly regarded’ or they risk having to rely on workers from ‘outside their local area or even overseas’, the chief inspector of schools will warn on Thursday.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “[Osborne] is not yet statesmanlike but he was less gauche than at his last PMQs.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • “Finally, £5.8bn to help the victims of floods… but it’s going abroad.” – Rod Liddle, The Sun

> Yesterday:

Osborne at PMQs 2) He rejects calls to ban Trump from Britain

“George Osborne has rejected a growing public clamour for the government to ban Donald Trump from Britain, arguing that democratic debate was the best way to counter his ‘nonsense’ views. … The chancellor said the US presidential candidate’s suggestion that Muslims be banned from travelling to the US was ‘not welcome’ and that it was at odds with ‘the founding principles of the United States’.” – Financial Times

  • “Meet the man more dangerous than Trump.” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)
  • “Donald Trump’s crude pantomime villainy will make it harder to fight Islamic terror.” – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

> Today: ToryDiary – Freedom’s Trump card

iPads for prisoners? The Times on the reforms that Gove could introduce

Prison bars“Technology will play a central role in modernising prisons. … Martin Narey, the former director-general of the Prison Service who is now on the Ministry of Justice board, suggests giving prisoners iPads. ‘Prisoners spend a lot of time in cells, and we need to make that time more constructive. They should be meeting a tutor once a week, but doing work on literacy and numeracy on their own.'” – The Times (£)

  • “A key witness in the VIP paedophile scandal says that he can no longer stand by claims attributed to him that he was a witness to two murders.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “The Justice Secretary is in danger of undermining public confidence in the penal system.” – Daily Telegraph editorial

> Today: David Munro on Local Government – The police need the right balance of praise and criticism

Ministers impose a five-year limit on new council house tenancies

“People will no longer have the right to live in their council home for life in future after ministers moved to impose a five-year limit on new tenancies. … In a move condemned by Labour as likely to break up communities, the government has quietly tabled an amendment to the housing and planning bill that sets a maximum of five-year terms for new secure tenancies.” – The Guardian

Fallon reveals the scale of the RAF strikes against ISIS…

Fighter jet“”RAF strikes have wiped out 396 IS terrorists in a year. … The figure, revealed by a Freedom of Information request, covers 12 months up to October. … Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told The Sun: ‘We have seen British hostages beheaded, British citizens murdered on a beach in Tunisia and it is plotting terror on our streets. That’s why the action our armed forces are taking to combat it is so important.'” – The Sun

  • “Russian rockets from a submarine lurking in the Mediterranean could be armed with nuclear warheads, Vladimir Putin has warned.” – The Sun
  • “Amnesty International have revealed ISIS has amassed a significant arsenal of weaponry after allegedly looting supplies from the Iraqi army and Syrian opposition forces.” – The Sun
  • “Police believe they have smashed a network of fanatics encouraging people to support Islamic State terrorists.” – Daily Mail
  • “The jihadi extremist who murdered Lee Rigby is trying to seek compensation from the taxpayer after his teeth were knocked out in prison.” – Daily Mail
  • “Tony Blair will be questioned by MPs on Friday about his links with Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and the part these ties played in shaping British policy as Libya degenerated into a failing state torn by division and violence.” – The Independent
  • “Isis now has support from 42 different international groups in countries ranging from the Philippines to Egypt, it has been revealed.” – The Independent
  • “A former British army officer and an Australian are thought to be among eight foreign mercenaries killed in Yemen this week fighting Iranian-backed rebels.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “Imagine the public rage if the terrorist who slaughtered Lee Rigby wins £20,000 from taxpayers for losing two teeth.” – Sun editorial
  • “ISIS is the enemy but Assad is the problem.” – Guardian editorial
  • “Once again, Britain is leading from the front.” – William Cohen and Joseph Ralston, Daily Telegraph

…as Corbyn sticks by Stop the War

Jeremy Corbyn (Tory Poster)“Jeremy Corbyn has ignored another plea from his MPs to snub the Stop The War Coalition, which he called ‘my friends for 30 years’. … The hard-left Labour leader will attend a fund-raising event tomorrow for the peace group despite it launching a fresh attack on IS critics. … Senior MPs fear his presence will only worsen the party’s bitter feud over Syria air strikes.” – The Sun

  • “Jeremy Corbyn has been warned by one of Labour’s statistical experts that consultations on the views of party members must be free of the ‘statistical junk’ the leadership produced on voters’ opinions of military involvement in Syria.” – The Guardian
  • “It might be the season of peace and goodwill, but depression and division were on display at Labour’s Christmas staff party on Tuesday night — where even dancing was deemed an act of disloyalty.” – The Times (£)
  • “Labour activists are launching a new group to operate on the left of the party – saying they will reject ‘the sniping intolerance and divisiveness that has sadly gripped debate in recent weeks’.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “The hard left is now operating within the Labour Party, but it doesn’t reflect our values.” – Mary Creagh, New Statesman
  • “Labour’s love affair with dictators is utterly sickening.” – Oliver Kamm, The Times (£)
  • “Jeremy Corbyn missed PMQs… but Labour MPs didn’t miss him.” – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph
  • “Angela Eagle has shown that there is still life in Labour after Corbyn.” – John Rentoul, The Independent
  • “Angela Eagle showed Labour how to look united at PMQs.” – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian

> Today: LeftWatch – Lambeth Momentum is now host to not one but three far left entryist organisations

Labour peers to push again for votes for 16-year-olds

“Labour peers have launched a fresh bid to force 16 and 17-year-olds onto the ballot for the EU referendum, it emerged last night. … Despite the measure having been rejected by MPs on Tuesday, the House of Lords will try again to push it through next week. … But yesterday a new proposal emerged which Labour says would have no cost implications and involve registration on the internet.” – Daily Mail

  • “Our gung-ho Lords and Ladies won’t be easily restrained.” – Andreas Whittham Smith, The Independent

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

Welby joins MPs in calling on the Government to end hunger in Britain

WELBY, Justin“Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, has added his voice to demands from leading politicians for the government and business to work together to end the hunger suffered by thousands of people in Britain. … The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger and Food Poverty, chaired by the Labour MP Frank Field, called on the government to make sure welfare benefits were paid in full and on time and to make sure that utility payment meters did not overcharge.” – Financial Times

  • “The tide is turning in this country.” – Justin Welby is interviewed by Michael Gove in The Spectator
  • “Basic income for all could end benefits trap.” – Jenni Russell, The Times (£)

Carmichael survives legal challenge

“After sitting as a highly unusual election court, judges in Edinburgh said Alistair Carmichael, the Orkney and Shetland MP and former UK secretary of state for Scotland, had told a ‘blatant lie’ about his role in the leak of a confidential memo during the general election campaign. … But the judges said they had been left with reasonable doubt about whether the lie could be taken as a false statement ‘in relation to [Mr Carmichael’s] personal character or conduct’ and thus his election should stand.” – Financial Times

  • “The Scottish government is calling on MSPs to block Westminster’s trade union bill, as ministers step up their campaign against the biggest crackdown on workers’ rights for 30 years.” – The Guardian
  • “Scotland’s Transport Minister has performed an extraordinary about-turn and finally admitted that work cancelled on the Forth road bridge five years ago would have fixed the faulty section that caused its closure.” – Daily Telegraph

The editor of the Daily Mail stands up for Freedom of Information

Daily Mail masthead“Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has urged Whitehall to back away from its ‘disturbing’ plans to curb the Freedom of Information Act. … He said the proposals are ‘entirely antipathetic to the mood of the times, in which voters expect more, not less transparency in the way they are governed’. … Mr Dacre warned: ‘At present the default position of Whitehall is that many things should be kept secret.’” – Daily Mail

  • “Public sector bureaucrats yesterday united in a ‘sinister’ attempt to crush the public’s right to know about scandals in the NHS, police, town halls and education.” – Daily Mail
  • “Labour has threatened to oppose Government plans to help the police and security services track down terrorists unless ministers release papers relating to the so-called Shrewsbury 24.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Toys could be used to spy on suspects in new anti-terror laws, it was claimed yesterday. … Home Secretary Theresa May’s Bill may allow hacking into anything connected to the internet.” – The Sun

And comment:

  • “What little FoI costs the Government is a tiny price for a more open society.” – Sun editorial

NHS Trust failed to investigate over 1,000 unexpected patient deaths, finds report

“One of Britain’s largest NHS mental health trusts reportedly failed to investigate more than 1,000 unexpected patient deaths. … The Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust had a ‘failure of leadership’ according to a report which was carried out by Mazars and commissioned by NHS England. … The probe was ordered following the death of Connor Sparrowhawk in 2013.” – Daily Mail

  • “Half of GPs say they would join in a mass resignation to protest at the pressures on surgeries caused by lack of funding and relentless paperwork, a study found.” – Daily Mail
  • “Britain’s biggest health and social care bodies are warning that a failure by George Osborne to deliver on promises to inject £6bn into care provision will lead to care home closures.” – Financial Times
  • “The number of paramedics leaving the NHS has doubled in four years, sparking fears that shortages could soon reach ‘catastrophic’ levels.” – Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Library visits down by 14 per cent since 2010 – Daily Mail
  • US joins those countries pushing for a strong climate deal – Financial Times
  • Minister wades into the Tyson Fury row – The Independent
  • BBC to extend News at Ten running time by ten minutes – Daily Telegraph
  • Angela Merkel is Time Magazine’s Person of the Year – BBC

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