May pledges lowest corporation tax in the G20

tax“Theresa May will offer an olive branch to business today and declare her determination to cut corporation tax to a historic low. The Prime Minister will restate her commitment to the Conservative ‘core beliefs’ in ‘free markets, capitalism and business’ after some company bosses complained about a negative tone towards enterprise. Addressing the Confederation of British Industry, Mrs May will pledge to ensure Britain has the lowest corporate tax rate in the G20 group of nations. Currently 20 per cent, it is due to fall to 17 per cent by 2020.” – Daily Mail

  • The Prime Minister’s grand bargain with business – FT
  • Downing Street’s £2 billion boost to woo corporate leaders – Daily Express
  • May seeks solution to productivity conundrum – FT

Theresa May: The new role for business in a fairer Britain

“If we are to maintain confidence in a system that has delivered unprecedented levels of wealth and opportunity, lifted millions out of poverty around the world, brought nations closer together, improved standards of living and consumer choice, and underpinned the rules-based international system that has been key to global prosperity and security for so long, we need to ensure it works for everyone. This is not a task for government alone. So on Monday at the CBI’s annual conference, I will ask British business to work with me: helping to shape this new approach, setting the template for others to follow, and calling out what is bad in order to promote what is just and good.” – FT

Ministers 1) Hammond to crack down on middle-class perks

HAMMOND Philip white background“Middle class earners are set to be hit by a new tax raid on job perks such as free gym membership, health checks and mobile phone contracts, it was revealed today. Chancellor Philip Hammond will use Wednesday’s Autumn Statement to tighten up the rules surrounding popular ‘salary sacrifice’ schemes in which employees receive non-cash benefits in exchange for a cut in their pay. The schemes mean employees receive the perks tax-free, while big companies do not have to pay national insurance.” – Daily Mail

  • Eye-watering debt and Brexit are tying my hands, Chancellor claims – The Times (£)
  • Hammond urges Britain to get ‘match fit’ for Brexit opportunities – The Sun
  • MPs criticise Chancellor’s pessimistic economic outlook – Daily Mail
  • Tory county councils attack ‘biased’ funding for cities – FT
  • Hammond won’t rule out return of £1,300 Universal Credit to poorer households – The Sun
  • Chancellor dashes hopes of windfall for struggling families – The Guardian
  • Scotland faces fresh austerity drive – The Scotsman
  • Hammond urged to guarantee £1.83bn for Wales – Wales Online

More economy:

  • Seven in ten firms plan cash boost for innovation and development – The Sun
  • Facebook’s boost to post-Brexit Britain with 500 new jobs – The Times (£)


  • The Chancellor’s ambitions spread beyond ‘just about managing’ – Matthew d’Ancona, The Guardian
  • ‘Spreadsheet Phil’ can have it both ways, if he’s careful – Roger Bootle, Daily Telegraph
  • Higher borrowing is the key to Hammond’s Autumn Statement – John Redwood, FT
  • Autumn Statement could define UK and Brexit – Brian Monteith, The Scotsman
  • ‘Jam tomorrow’ is all the Chancellor is likely to offer struggling Britons – Larry Elliott, The Guardian


  • Hammond should stress long-term, structural reform and avoid giveaways – The Times (£)



Ministers 2) Harrington and Kirby accused of ‘cover up’ over pensions u-turn

“Ministers have been accused of a cover-up after refusing to disclose what they said to insurance bosses at a top golf resort, just days before axing a flagship pension policy. Pensions Minister Richard Harrington and Economic Secretary Simon Kirby gave speeches at a ‘closed-door junket’ at five-star Gleneagles, and later dined with some of the biggest names in finance… Less than two weeks after the politicians returned from the getaway in September, the Treasury said it was abandoning plans to allow pensioners to cash in their rip-off annuity incomes for a lump sum. Now they have been accused of bowing to lobbying by pension giants during their jaunt to the Scottish Highlands, and face calls to reveal what went on behind closed doors.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Julian Knight MP in Comment: Companies must be held to their pension commitments

Ministers 3) Fox seeks outsiders for trade team

International shield“Liam Fox is going on a hiring spree, bringing in nearly 100 outsiders to help strike post-Brexit trade deals. The Department for International Trade has posted dozens of jobs on the civil service external jobs site in recent days, including an £80,000-a-year spin doctor for the international trade secretary. The department says it wants staff to help negotiate “a new position for the UK within the World Trade Organisation” and draw up free trade deals.” – The Times (£)

  • Villiers and Tristram Hunt clash over single market membership – Daily Express
  • Eurosceptics welcome Blair’s intervention – Daily Telegraph
  • More than 70 MPs call for ‘clean break’ – Daily Express
  • Letwin wants May to challenge ‘xenophobic’ mood – The Times (£)

More Brexit:

  • UK ally Denmark takes hard line – FT
  • Neil skewers Open Britain for misrepresenting Brexiteers – Daily Express
  • Plaid Cymru AM says Scotland and Wales should pursue ‘Norway option’ – Wales Online


  • Brexit means Britain can be an even greater ally to our European partners – Dominic Raab, Daily Telegraph
  • Brexiteers’ bar-room bravado will backfire – Clare Foges, The Times (£)
  • Hasn’t Blair done enough damage already? – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun


Buckland calls police investigation into Heath a ‘fishing expedition’

“The child sex investigation into former prime minister Sir Edward Heath appears to be ‘an incredible fishing expedition’, one of the Government’s top law officers has told police. Solicitor General Robert Buckland is said to have raised concerns with Wiltshire Police about the scope of the inquiry. The Tory MP, whose constituency is in the force area, reportedly privately confronted its police and crime commissioner Angus Macpherson.” – Daily Mail

  • Child abuse inquiry hit by fresh crisis as two more victim groups say they’ve lost confidence in leadership – Daily Mail

Benn isolated by leadership in deselection threat

LABOUR dead rose“John McDonnell has refused to step in and ensure that Hilary Benn remains a Labour MP as he faces the growing threat of deselection. Mr Benn has been disliked by many supporters of Jeremy Corbyn since he argued against the Labour leader and in favour of airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria. A report in The Sunday Times claimed that positions in Mr Benn’s Leeds Central constituency party have been taken over by Corbyn supporters and that he is facing the threat of deselection in the seat. Asked whether he would discourage a challenge against Mr Benn, Mr McDonnell said the leadership would not interfere in local party affairs.” – The Times (£)

  • Khan demands Volkswagen compensate Londoners and TfL – The Guardian
  • Labour suggest Queen pay for Buckingham Palace restoration – Daily Mail


  • Let’s call time on post-truth politics – Diane Abbott, The Times (£)

MPs warn that Royal Navy’s strength is ‘woefully low’

“The Royal Navy has been shrunk to a ‘dangerous and historic low’ and now does not have enough ships to combat global threats, MPs warn today. The naval force must be increased if the country is to continue to protect its shores and the Falkland Islands, while contributing to Nato and other commitments, they caution. The current fleet of 19 frigates and destroyers – of which only 17 are usable – is ‘woefully low’ and to cut it any further would be ‘completely unacceptable’, a report concludes.” – Daily Mail

  • Fleet is too small to protect Britain – The Times (£)
  • Budget cuts and delays threaten shipbuilding – FT
  • Royal Navy fires flares at Spanish vessel off Gibraltar – Daily Telegraph

Thatcherite with British wife is surprise favourite to lead French right

French flag“A Margaret Thatcher fan with a British wife tonight emerged as the surprise favourite to become the next President of France. Francois Fillon, 62, is surging ahead in the first round of a Republican Party primary to choose a candidate to become head of state in May. He will also play a key role in Brexit negotiations after Britain triggers its formal exit from the European Union… Mr Fillon has frequently expressed his desire to ‘liberate the economy’ in France, so as to leave a historical legacy ‘as strong as that of Mrs Thatcher’.” – Daily Mail

  • Sarkozy quits politics after humiliation at the polls – The Times (£)
  • Polls for French election show Le Pen in the lead – Daily Express

More European right:

  • Merkel plans to run for a fourth term – Daily Mail

Legalise cannabis to net £1bn a year and end ’embarrassing’ drug policy, MPs call

“Cannabis should be legalised to bring Britain up to speed with a growing number of Western countries and end the “embarrassment” of domestic drugs policy, a cross party group of MPs have said. Former deputy prime minster Nick Clegg and former health minister Norman Lamb joined Labour and Tory figures to back a new report which claimed legalisation could net the Treasury more than £1 billion a year in tax revenue. The Adam Smith Institute and Volteface study argued that the UK should follow the lead of the United States, where four further states legalised marijuana in this month’s elections.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • NHS transformation plan used to cover £22 billion in cuts, warns BMA chief – Daily Mail
  • Rail chiefs urge unions to join the new century – The Times (£)
  • Trump lauds ‘mad dog’ general as possible defence secretary – Daily Telegraph
  • President-elect to revive NASA’s moon mission – Daily Express
  • City professionals sought for career change to teaching – FT
  • RAF kills ten times as many ISIS militants in Iraq as Syria – The Sun
  • Scottish Government urged to strengthen hunting laws – The Scotsman

And finally… meet the Chief Whip’s pet spider

Gavin Williamson“Theresa May’s top Commons enforcer keeps a pet tarantula on his desk, it was revealed today. Gavin Williams, the government’s chief whip, chose to depart from the recent trend of ministers who have recruited pet cats in their departments and has opted to rear an eight-legged creature instead. He calls the tarantula Cronus – named after a Greek god who overthrew his father by castrating him with a sickle.” – Daily Mail