Autumn Statement 1) May demands action to help the JAMs – those just-about managing

MAY Theresa pensive‘Theresa May and Philip Hammond have ended weeks of fraught Autumn Statement negotiations by agreeing measures to help key voters known in Whitehall as “Jams” — people who are “just about managing”. Downing Street and Treasury officials have spent weeks in tough talks, with the prime minister demanding that her government’s first big economic event next week should have more measures to help working class voters left behind by globalisation. Mr Hammond, the chancellor, constrained by slowing growth and Brexit uncertainty, was planning a pared-down package, focused on boosting infrastructure and productivity and laying down flexible new fiscal rules allowing him to increase spending in a downturn. But Mrs May’s team insisted on a series of specific measures to help people, many of whom voted for Brexit in June, whose living standards could be further eroded next year by rising inflation and the fall in sterling.’ – FT

  • Hammond should honour the promise on student loans – Martin Lewis, FT
  • Don’t blame me for inequality, says Carney – The Sun
  • New evidence of racial inequality in the courts system – The Sun
  • Britain still secretly sends aid to China – The Times (£)
  • Only Labour can improve home ownership – John Healey, The Times (£)

>Today: ToryDiary: How Trump will help May to bury “Vote blue, go green”

Autumn Statement 2) Cutting fuel duty would ‘pay for itself’

‘The Chancellor was last night urged to “turbocharge” a Brexit by slashing fuel duty – as a new report claimed it won’t cost him a penny. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) said a 3p cut would save households £116 a year, trigger a £850 million boost for the economy and create 8,000 jobs…The report commissioned by campaign group FairFuelUK said that deciding to freeze it for the rest of the decade would save the poorest paid Brits in the country an extra £120. Tory fuel campaigner Charlie Elphicke said: “This report clearly shows cutting fuel duty would be a huge boost for hard-working classes of modern Britain. It would mean more jobs – and more money in the pockets of families and small business. This is a powerful case for the Chancellor.”’ – The Sun

  • May should target the energy suppliers – The Sun Says
  • The Chancellor must explain how infrastructure bonds will work in practice – FT Leader

>Today: Andrew Lilico on Comment: Infrastructure. Housing. Tariffs. Financial Services. CAP. What Hammond should announce next week.

Autumn Statement 3) Lawson urges Hammond to cut ‘crazy’ Stamp Duty

HOMES Manifesto‘Stamp Duty levels are “crazy” and must be reversed to stop a “tax on mobility”, former Conservative Chancellor Lord Lawson has said. Lord Lawson said Philip Hammond, the current Chancellor, should cut stamp duty in March’s Budget and increase other taxes to pay down the deficit. The comments came after research found Stamp Duty reforms have slowed the housing market and raised half as much money as the Treasury predicted.’ – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: James Sproule on Comment: Hammond must use the Autumn Statement to bolster faltering business confidence

Brexit 1) Government prepares three-line Article 50 Bill

‘The government has prepared a short three-line bill to begin the Brexit process – so Theresa May can meet her March deadline, it is understood. Sources say they believe the legislation is so tightly drawn it will be difficult for critical MPs to amend. Ministers have drawn up the legislation in case they lose their appeal to the Supreme Court – which would force them to consult Parliament. The High Court ruled against the government earlier this month. Sources say the government would plan to introduce the bill in the Commons immediately after the Supreme Court ruling.’ – BBC News

  • Supreme Court judge criticised for weighing in on Brexit before the case is heard – Daily Telegraph
  • Tyrie demands information on Nissan deal – FT
  • Google plans to double its headcount in the UK – FT
  • A US stimulus programme could reignite the Eurozone crisis – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Henry Hill’s Red, White and Blue column: Sinn Fein won’t rule out taking seats to vote against Article 50

Brexit 2) Merkel opens up the possibility of a compromise on free movement

Border‘Angela Merkel has for the first time signalled that she is willing to compromise on the issue of freedom of movement in the wake of Britain’s Brexit vote. In comments seen as a significant shift, the German Chancellor suggested that the European Union needs to “discuss further” the rules around freedom of movement. It suggests for the first time that Britain may be able to gain full control of its borders while still retaining access to the single market, something that EU leaders including Jean-Claude Juncker have previously said would be impossible.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson says the idea free movement is a fundamental principle is “b****cks”… – The Sun
  • …and says we’re ‘probably’ leaving the Customs Union – The Guardian
  • Negotiators fear the EU is going to make unreasonable financial demands – The Times (£)
  • Hard or Soft Brexit? Labour doesn’t care anymore – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Erdogan’s purges deepen rift with Brussels – FT

>Today: Alex Morton’s column: Our immigration system should be based on permits and have a cultural compatibility test

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Our survey. Over half of Party member respondents say getting an immigration cut post-Brexit is a priority for them

Brexit 3) Supposed ‘Whitehall memo’ was written by consultants with no input from Government

‘Furious ministers have disowned a leaked memo that claimed Theresa May has no plan for Brexit because of deep splits in Cabinet. The document predicted the Government will need to hire an extra 30,000 civil servants to cope with the increased workload of leaving the EU – including negotiators – and criticises the Prime Minister for micromanaging. But No 10 said the memo came from an external consultant working for the accountancy firm Deloitte, which campaigned for Remain during the EU referendum campaign. The firm also confirmed that the author had no ‘input’ from Downing Street or any other part of government.’ – Daily Mail

Farage won’t rule out rejoining the Conservative Party

nigel-farage‘Nigel Farage has hinted he may seek to rejoin the Conservatives in a bid to hold the Party to account over Brexit, as sources suggested he will meet with Theresa May following discussions with Donald Trump. The interim Ukip leader’s allies believe the Prime Minister will be forced to meet Mr Farage “sooner than people think” because the President-elect’s team “won’t let her ignore” him…In an interview with Sky News, he said: “Well, no, I’m not totally convinced that they’re actually going to deliver. I mean, let’s see what happens. I wish (Theresa) May well as Prime Minister, I really, genuinely do.”‘ – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: UKIPWatch: Farage’s Trump card?

Truss considered calling in the Army as prison officers went on strike

‘The Justice Secretary was “minutes away” from calling in the Army…as prison officers brought the justice system to a standstill by striking. Nearly 10,000 walked out in protest at mounting violence behind bars – forcing mayhem in the courts with the high profile Jo Cox murder trial suspended. The Government was forced to ask a High Court judge to grant an injunction demanding officers go back to work unless they called off their “unlawful” protest. And the Sun can reveal Justice Secretary Liz Truss was set to call in hundreds of squaddies to man jail fences and perimeters when the Prison Officers Association finally caved in and agreed to the order at 5pm.’ – The Sun

  • This expensive strop didn’t help anyone – The Sun Says
  • Ministers threaten legal action against union leaders – The Times (£)
  • Mending prisons requires action on sentencing – The Times (£)
  • 15 per cent pay rise to target shortage of judges – The Times (£)

Warning over healthcare assistants replacing nurses

NHS_Logo‘The risk of patients dying in hospital increases by a fifth for each nurse on the ward replaced by a healthcare assistant, a study has concluded. Cutting nurses is “life-threatening” and proposals for a less-skilled class of nursing worker put patients at risk, researchers said. Hospitals hoping to use fewer skilled staff to save money have been warned not to repeat “the Mid Staffs fallacy” and assume that patients will not suffer. Peter Griffiths, of the University of Southampton, one of the study’s authors, said: “England has one of the lowest percentages among European countries of professional nurses at the bedside already. Our study suggests that the NHS needs to focus on achieving safe registered nurse staffing levels as a means to achieve better outcomes.”’ – The Times (£)

  • £800 million contract was awarded without agreeing services or prices – FT

Labour still has no Shadow Immigration Minister

‘Labour was last night branded “completely out of touch” with working class Brits after admitting it doesn’t have a Shadow Minister for Immigration. The party said that despite having a frontbencher responsible for Voter Engagement it hadn’t bothered to fill the post. Labour MP Keir Starmer resigned the role at the end of June at the start of the leadership battle won by Jeremy Corbyn earlier this summer. A Labour source yesterday said: “There’s no separate Shadow Immigration Minister at this stage.” The extraordinary confession came as Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell failed to mention immigration once in a 5,000 word speech yesterday about ‘Brexit’ and the economy.’ – The Sun

  • McDonnell urges fiscal discipline (yes, really) – The Guardian
  • Watson visits Israel in the hope of easing concerns about anti-semitism – The Guardian

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: “Red Ted” Knight, hero of the 1980s loony left, regains elected office in the Labour Party

Trump will make Russia great again in the Middle East

Putin hunting‘Mr Trump seems inclined towards co-operating with President Vladimir Putin, Mr Assad’s patron and another strongman soulmate, in ways that will do more to make Russia than America great again. US-Russian co-operation may abate the Assad regime’s plans to obliterate the rebels. “Unwilling to commit the resources to permit the opposition to prevail, the US and the EU have to come to terms with the fact that the Assad regime has won, thanks to Russian support”, says Eugene Rogan, professor of modern Middle Eastern history at Oxford university. “The most the US and EU can achieve now is to work with Russia and the Assad regime to ensure that victory is not followed by mass retaliation against the opposition”.’ – David Gardner, FT

Attack on press freedom rejected by MPs

‘Plans to force newspapers to pay legal costs in phone-hacking cases irrespective of whether they won or lost were defeated again in the Commons last night. The proposal, in an amendment to the Investigatory Powers Bill, will go back to the Lords today where it is also likely to be defeated if pushed to a vote. Robert Buckland, the solicitor-general, said that it would be “simply not appropriate” to include the amendment in the surveillance bill. MPs voted to reject the amendment, tabled in the Lords by Baroness Hollins, by 295 votes to 245. The bill gives police and security services a range of new powers to access data and internet communications.’ – The Times (£)

News in Brief

  • Argentinian airport worker won’t let Clarkson fly – The Sun
  • Former Rotherham police commissioner accused of perjury – The Times (£)
  • First Anglo-Saxon coffins unearthed – FT
  • Another resignation from the child abuse inquiry – Daily Mail
  • Missing boy found after two months – The Times (£)
  • Heath investigation is a surreal waste of time – Damian Thompson, Daily Mail
  • David Cameron seen wearing a coat – The Sun
  • Chagossians are set to be denied the right to return home – The Guardian
  • Timothy drawn into election expenses investigation – The Times (£)