Calls for British ambassador to the EU to be replaced

EU Exit brexit“The knives were out last night for Britain’s ambassador to the EU over his ‘gloomy pessimism’ about Brexit. Sir Ivan Rogers had suggested it could take a decade to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with Europe – and even that could still collapse. Eurosceptics said he was ‘scarred’ by his time spent negotiating David Cameron’s failed referendum deal and, as a veteran of Brussels, was ‘out of his comfort zone’. There were even demands for Sir Ivan to be replaced with a diplomat who is more energetically pro-Brexit, amid speculation that his comments were deliberately leaked to undermine his position.” – Daily Mail

  • Duncan Smith attacks Rogers over negotiation comments – The Sun
  • Prime Minister refuses to comment on ‘ten years’ projection – The Independent
  • Brexit Secretary provides valuable insight into Government thinking – FT
  • Leaked report shows Brussels bigwigs plan to play hardball – Daily Express
  • UK will face £50bn ‘ exit bill’ when Article 50 is triggered, warns EU negotiator – Daily Telegraph
  • O’Donnell says deal will take ‘at least five years’ to reach – The Sun
  • May seeks early deal to protect expat rights – FT
  • EU cancelles dinner where exit was to be discussed – Daily Express

More Brexit:

  • Clegg savages Government aim to get Brexit deal in two years – The Sun
  • Leaving may make UK less safe, peers warn – The Independent
  • Salmond mocks May over EU ‘snub’ – Daily Express
  • EU doesn’t work, says… Bob Geldof – The Times (£)
  • Japanese banks warn of leaving London without Brexit clarity – FT
  • Lloyd’s of London move just 50 jobs overseas – Daily Mail

Asa Bennett: Sir Ivan led Cameron to European doom. Why would May listen to him on Brexit?

The Prime Minister should not be cowed by anything he says, no matter how eminent he may be in the world of officialdom. He is Whitehall personified: anti-change, instinctively hostile to anything that questions the pro-EU consensus, and unable to see Brexit as anything other than a problem to be managed and mitigated. Theresa May, by contrast, says she sees Brexit as an opportunity and wants to make a success of it. If she’s going to do that, she should ignore people like Sir Ivan Rogers.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Stop being so nasty to Brexit voters – Tom Utley, Daily Mail
  • May’s no-mates moment is no metaphor, Brexit is a matter between nations – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit could plunge us into a new dark age – Daniel Zeichner, The Times (£)
  • EU fanatics want to keep us in as long as possible – Chris Roycroft-Davies, Daily Express


  • Theresa-no-mates: how Brussels snubbed our Prime Minister – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph


  • Memo to the Foreign Office: stop whining and back the UK – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: How is the new Department for International Trade getting on?


Ministers 1) Fallon confirms loss of one of UK’s three tank regiments

DEFENCE cuts“Britain will lose one of three tank regiments even as Russia is growing its tank warfare capabilities, it was announced yesterday. The King’s Royal Hussars will swap its 56 Challenger 2 tanks for a fleet of Ajax lightly armoured vehicles. The switch, announced by Sir Michael Fallon in a written statement to parliament, is part of a cost-cutting drive that began in 2010… The newly created Strike brigades will operate Ajax vehicles, which look like mini-tanks but offer much less armoured protection. The platform would be no match for Russia’s latest Armata tank.” – The Times (£)

  • US role in fight against ISIS will continue under Trump, says Defence Secretary – The Guardian
  • Army regiments moved as part of major restructure – The Scotsman
  • Armed Forces families ‘living in squalor’ – Daily Telegraph

Ministers 2) Javid confirms £900m more social care funding

“Council tax increases will help to raise an extra £900 million for social care over the next two years, ministers have said, but campaigners have dismissed the figure as insufficient. The plans confirmed by Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, yesterday will lead to a rise in council tax bills by an average of £90 a year. Councils will be allowed to bring forward an increase of 3 per cent in April and a further 3 per cent in 2018. Mr Javid said that the changes would raise £208 million in the next financial year and £444 million in 2018-19. In addition, a £240 million adult social care support grant will be created for 2017-18 by reforms to an existing scheme that was designed to encourage councils to build extra properties.” – The Times (£)

  • Wollaston turns fire on ministers – The Sun
  • Bone wants misspent aid money redirected into social care – The Times (£)


  • Biggest bonehead is the bore of Bolsover – Patrick Kidd, The Times (£)

More spending:

  • Hammond’s golden opportunity to boost growth – Ed Conway, The Times (£)

>Today: Local Government: Let’s celebrate the adult social care success stories

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The NHS versus pensioner welfare – what happens when sacred cows compete?

Ministers 3) Johnson calls in Russian and Iranian ambassadors over Aleppo…

BORIS blue and red“Boris Johnson summoned the Russian and Iranian ambassadors last night to convey “profound disquiet” over the situation in Aleppo as recriminations mounted over the West’s failure to help civilians. The foreign secretary said that Tehran and Moscow “deserve no credit for the fact an evacuation appears to be under way today”, hours after wounded civilians and fighters began leaving, bringing an end to months of siege and four years of fighting. “Having inflicted such suffering on the people of eastern Aleppo, Iran and Russia cannot expect praise for allowing some people to escape at the final hour,” Mr Johnson said.” – The Times (£)

  • Mayor of Aleppo begs EU to send forces to help evacuation – The Sun
  • Welsh MP confronts Russian ambassador over carnage in Syria – Wales Online

More Johnson:

  • MPs urge Foreign Secretary to ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia – The Times (£)
  • Voters back May, but aren’t so keen on Johnson – The Sun


  • Hoping to prosecute the butchers of Aleppo is a sad fig leaf for Western failure – John Slinger, Daily Telegraph

…as Corbyn stands by Morning Star after Syria row

“Jeremy Corbyn has backed the revolutionary left-wing Morning Starnewspaper despite a headline claiming that Aleppo was being “liberated”. The Labour leader insisted he would not stop buying the publication despite an outcry over its stance on Syria. Mr Corbyn said he disagreed with the front page headline that stated: “Final liberation of Aleppo is in sight”, but would continue to read the newspaper. The article was part of a broader editorial stance that has been hostile to Syrian rebels, many of whom the newspaper views as terrorists, and by extension supportive of the Russian and Syrian government position.” – The Times (£)

  • New aide sang with IRA men who led bar massacre that killed five – Daily Mail
  • Corbyn branded ‘very foolish’ by MPs over Sinn Fein appointment – The Sun


  • Leader’s new hiring exposes what’s beneath the Christmas jumper – Jane Merrick, The Times (£)
  • Appointing a Sinn Fein staffer is a crass insult to voters – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Garvan Walshe’s column: Will Aleppo be remembered as the start of a slide into general war?

Labour plan to relaunch leader as ‘leftwing populist’

Jeremy Corbyn (Tory Poster)“The Labour Party is “ramping up” preparations to relaunch Jeremy Corbyn as a leftwing populist figure in the new year as the party seeks to ride the anti-politics mood following Brexit. Mr Corbyn is expected to appear more frequently on television, and a newly bolstered team of advisers are said to be working to develop flagship policies to highlight his willingness to lead a revolt against vested interests. Senior party officials reportedly believe the Islington North MP’s unpolished authenticity could gather support from the same anti-establishment sentiment that has heralded the popularity of the likes of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, and believe this could bolster his chances in a potential early election.” – The Independent

  • The party dealt with immigration in 1965 and can do so again – Martin Kettle, The Guardian

Philip Collins: Ministers must stand and fight the RMT Marxists

“Too many trade unionists in Britain want to pick a fight and it has to be said that the government is not looking very strong. Claire Perry resigned as a minister saying she was ashamed some days to be a rail minister. So sort it out, then. Don’t run away. You are being held over a barrel by the kids-book Marxists of the RMT. The government should make a point of winning this fight, visibly, in exemplary fashion. This is a test for Mr Grayling, the transport secretary, but he should realise he is in the right.” – The Times (£)

  • Southern cancels all services as strike enters third day – The Guardian
  • Corbyn to use Lords to block new anti-strike laws – The Times (£)
  • Conductors are a relic of the past, driver-only trains are the future – FT

More comment:

  • Sack the strikers and get some East Europeans in before Brexit – Kelvin Mackenzie, The Sun

>Today: Graeme Archer’s column: Criminalise the RMT – and give season ticket holders a say in deciding railway franchises

>Yesterday: Dr Kieran Mullan in Comment: We need an education revolution to equip workers for the 21st Century

Northern Irish First Minister blocked attempts to close failing energy scheme, alleges ex-colleague

DUP logo“DUP First Minister Arlene Foster over-ruled her own minister from immediately shutting down a renewable energy scheme which will cost the tax-payer an estimated £400m, it was claimed last night. Mrs Foster’s former ministerial colleague, Jonathan Bell, made a series of explosive allegations to the BBC and said that Mrs Foster should apologise to the people of Northern Ireland for her handling of the ‘Cash for Ash’ scandal. The DUP leader has strenuously denied his claims and has accused the former Enterprise Minister of acting aggressively towards her in a stormy meeting.” – Belfast Telegraph

  • Top DUP man breaks ranks over renewable heat scandal – News Letter


  • Bell vs Foster: not enough blows landed to KO the First Minister – Alex Kane, Belfast Telegraph
  • Foster’s survival seems guaranteed, but her credibility hangs in the balance – Suzanne Breen, Belfast Telegraph

SNP use new powers to launch £190m ‘tax raid’ on Middle Scotland

“The SNP’s Finance Minister has used the first Holyrood budget to include control over income tax to stage a £190 million raid on middle Scotland. Derek Mackay confirmed that the Scottish Government intends to raise £79 million by having a lower salary threshold for the 40p higher rate of income tax than the rest of the UK. Those earning more than £45,000 per year will pay £314 more tax next year than if they lived in England. In addition, a compulsory nationwide increase in the top four bands of council tax is expected to generate £111 million next year from middle-class families.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Scotland to become highest-taxed part of the UK – The Scotsman
  • Scottish Government accused of cutting £330m from council funding… – The Guardian
  • …or is it a £240m boost? – The Scotsman
  • Scottish Parliament bosses to replace lights at cost of £1.75m – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Mundell’s ‘hint’ on a special Scottish deal is nothing of the sort

News in Brief:

  • Heads unhappy as primaries struggle to master new tests – The Times (£)
  • UK gives final approval to ‘three-parent’ babies – FT
  • Number of ISIS fighters has fallen from 60,000 to fewer than 15,000 since Coalition air strikes began – Daily Mail
  • Chinese aircraft carrier group conduct live fire drill amidst mounting tensions over Taiwan – The Guardian
  • Intelligence agents accuse Putin of approving hacks in US election – The Times (£)
  • Obama vows to take action over Russian interference – The Independent
  • Recycling falls for first time on record due to confusion about different bins – Daily Telegraph
  • China cedes status as largest US creditor to Japan – FT
  • Plaid criticise Welsh Office rebrand – Wales Online