Infrastructure commissioners urge May to make her mind up on major projects

Gatwick‘Members of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), set up by George Osborne to “get Britain building”, said that the prime minister could not afford a return to the “bad old days of indecision and inaction”. Mrs May halted plans for a nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset amid claims that she has concerns about China’s involvement. A decision on a third runway at Heathrow is long overdue, with Mrs May under pressure from her constituents in Maidenhead to oppose more flights into the airport west of London.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Sanjoy Sen on Comment: Our Party’s reputation for financial responsibility will suffer if we keep deferring energy decisions

Economic indicators undermine Brexit doom-mongering

‘Fears that the Brexit vote would cause an immediate downturn in the economy were diminished yesterday after a hat-trick of good news added to signs that the UK is faring better than expected two months after the vote. The positive economic data were buoyed by a rally in housebuilding shares as Persimmon followed Taylor Wimpey and Bovis Homes in saying that sales were unaffected by the result. It came as UK manufacturing export orders rose to a two-year high after the fall in the pound boosted the attractiveness of British goods…A quarter of employers plan to increase their workforce in the next three months, while only 3 per cent expect to reduce staff, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation…Activity in the eurozone economy rose to its highest level in seven months and shows no signs of being “derailed by Brexit uncertainty.’ – The Times (£)

  • By contrast, the EU’s prospects look grim – The Sun Says (£)
  • Fresh pressure for an EU army – The Times (£)
  • Owen Smith seeks to defy the referendum result – The Times (£)
  • Flemish leader proposes North Sea Union – The Times (£)
  • Prince William reassures Merkel about UK partnership with Germany – The Sun (£)


>Today: Henry Hill’s Red, White and Blue column: Davidson accuses Sturgeon of distorting EU vote to sow discord

>Yesterday: Vicky Ford on Comment: What the other EU member states are thinking about the Brexit negotiations

Hague accused of ‘lobbying by the back door’

William Hague 14-01-16‘Lord Hague of Richmond, the former foreign secretary, has been accused of “lobbying by the back door” after taking a leading role advising blue-chip companies that want to influence the government’s approach to Brexit. As part of what critics are calling a Brexit lobbying bonanza, the former Conservative leader is to take on the position within the international lobbying and advisory consultancy Teneo. In its “Brexit client transition unit”, he will be joined by Lord Davies of Abersoch, the former trade minister, and Sir Michael Rake, the former CBI chairman.’ – The Times (£)

Sixteen illegal immigrants are caught every day – but only a third are deported

‘Nearly 18,000 illegal immigrants have been caught working in Britain over the past three years – equivalent to 16 every day. In the latest sign of Britain’s woeful border controls, the Sun can reveal immigration officers discovered 4,863 alone last year. But only one in three is being deported. The shock figures come just three weeks after former UK Border Agency boss Rob Whiteman warned up to a million illegal immigrants may be living in Britain and will never be kicked out.’ – The Sun (£)

  • Armed migrants hold up UK-bound lorry – Daily Mail

Half of ISIS sympathisers referred for deradicalisation turn down help

ISIS‘The government’s counterextremism programme is being shunned by nearly half of people assessed to be susceptible to Islamic State ideology. The Channel programme, the strand of the Prevent strategy that deals with the most serious cases, offers voluntary support and mentoring to those deemed vulnerable to extremism. However, during the past financial year 117 out of 245 people refused support through the Channel scheme where “Islamic State” was flagged as the type of extremism, according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council.’ – The Times (£)

MPs call for ban on plastic micro-beads in cosmetics

‘MPs have called for a ban on the microbeads used in facial scrubs and toothpaste by the end of 2017, after hearing evidence that the tiny plastic particles are polluting oceans so much that a plate of oysters can contain 50 of them. If the government balks at a ban, it should bring in new rules to make it easier for consumers to know if products contain plastic microbeads, the House of Commons environmental audit committee said in a new report.’ – FT

Finkelstein: It’s a myth that politicians were better in the past

DISRAELI  Portrait‘Was Gladstone a pompous, windy, self-absorbed nutter or a titan of reform and conscience? Both. Was Disraeli a conman, incompetent and a snob or a creative genius and political miracle worker? Both. Was Asquith an inflexible drunk who was besotted with his mistress when he should have been running the country or a transformative figure who modernised Britain? Both. Was Robert Walpole a crook and a chancer or a statesman who kept Britain at peace? Both. Lloyd George, bounder and opportunist or great radical leader? Bonar Law, unimaginative minnow or great war leader? The Duke of Newcastle, old fool or master of the patronage system? Both, both, both. The idea that there are simple heroes and villains collapses under the weight of evidence. As does the idea that politicians were so much better in the past.’ – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

Ofsted Chairman resigns over comments about ‘inbred’ Isle of Wight

‘The chairman of the schools watchdog has finally quit today after he described the Isle of Wight as an inbred, poor, white, crime-filled ghetto. Ofsted chief David Hoare said the island’s school results – among the worst in the country – may be linked to its social problems. While many go there for ‘champagne’ holidays, the way ordinary islanders lived was ‘shocking’, he said, with ghettos ‘within inches’ of sailing clubs for the rich.’ – Daily Mail

Corbyn’s train video exposed as bogus

Jeremy Corbyn‘One of Britain’s biggest rail companies accused Jeremy Corbyn of dishonesty after the Labour leader claimed a train journey was so “ram-packed” that he was forced to sit on the floor. Virgin released CCTV footage showing rows of empty seats and said it took issue with his version of events. Mr Corbyn was lauded as a man of the people by supporters — and even some critics — last week for speaking out against overcrowding. In a film shot on the 11am service from London to Newcastle earlier this month, Mr Corbyn said he had chosen to sit on the floor of the packed train rather than travel first class to get a seat. Footage released by Virgin yesterday, however, shows Mr Corbyn walking past rows of empty seats on his way down the train minutes after it left King’s Cross.’ – The Times (£)

  • Labour’s various defences unravel – The Times (£)
  • So much for the claim that he is different – Daily Mail Leader
  • His insufferable sanctimony is just spin – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Twitter users mock him with pictures of empty rooms – Daily Mail
  • Branson enters battle of the beards – FT
  • Soap actress lined up to succeed Jo Cox – The Sun (£)

>Today: Rebecca Coulson’s column: Ten reflections on a Momentum rally

Smith calls the Labour leader a ‘lunatic’

‘Owen Smith yesterday declared that “Jeremy is not the only socialist in the village” as he attempted to steal a lead on his rival Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest. The challenger also rounded on his rival by warning: “What you won’t get with me is some lunatic at the top of the Labour Party.” At a rally in west London Mr Smith said: “At a hustings a few weeks ago, Jeremy Corbyn said, ‘Yes we’ve got to get some of the people who contemplated voting Tory in the past to vote Labour.’ Rubbish! We’ve got to get two million people who actually voted Tory, 12 months ago, to vote Labour, in 106 seats.’ – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Cameron and Osborne defeated the Labour moderates before Corbyn did

Banks accuses Carswell of conspiring with Tories to defeat Farage in South Thanet

CARSWELL Douglas Marr‘A senior Ukip figure has accused the party’s only MP of helping the Conservatives defeat Nigel Farage during the General Election. A company belonging Arron Banks, Ukip’s biggest donor, has written to Kent Police alleging that Douglas Carswell, the party’s MP for Clacton, helped the Tory campaign. Precision Risk & Intelligence claims that Mr Carswell downloaded Ukip polling data for the South Thanet seat in Kent and passed it to the Conservatives, who allegedly used it during the campaign.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • We’re just lucky those who ran Farage’s failed campaign weren’t allowed to run the referendum, Carswell fires back – The Guardian

French police order women to strip off in the name of secularism

‘The French ban on the burkini is threatening to turn into a farce as police officers armed with pepper spray and batons marched onto a beach today and ordered a woman to strip off. Four burly cops stood over the middle-aged woman, who had been quietly sunbathing on the Promenade des Anglais beach in Nice – yards from the scene of the Bastille Day lorry attack – and watched her take off a Muslim-style garment which protected her modesty. It is thought the woman was given a warning about the dress code on the beach and was handed an on-the-spot fine.’ – Daily Mail

  • Italy enjoys burkini boom – The Times (£)

News in Brief

  • Putin forces Crimean dissident into psychiatric hospital – The Times (£)
  • Earthquake kills six in central Italy – Daily Mail
  • North Korean submarine launches missile – The Guardian
  • Soldier shot dead on exercises in Northumberland – The Times (£)
  • Israel sold arms to Argentina during the Falklands War – Daily Telegraph
  • Sir Antony Jay has died – Daily Mail
  • MPs have found a way around the ban on alcohol in their temporary accommodation – The Times (£)