New prison riot puts pressure on Truss

TRUSS Chancellor“Rioting inmates took part-control of a jail last night, prompting fears of copycat disturbances across the prison system. Fires were lit as up to 60 prisoners went on the rampage on a wing at Swaleside jail on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, which holds hundreds of inmates serving life sentences…The Swaleside riot will heighten concern in the Ministry of Justice about the stability of the country’s overcrowded prisons and put further pressure on Liz Truss, the justice secretary.” – The Times(£)

  • Inmates film carnage – Daily Mail
  • Prison wing reclaimed – BBC
  • Prison officers reject new pay deal – Daily Mail

DfiD has the highest civil service pay

“Britain’s bloated foreign aid department now hands out the highest salaries in Whitehall, it was revealed last night. Pen-pushers at the Department for International Development have an average wage of more than £53,000 a year – nearly twice that of the average worker. The figures come amid controversy over how millions of pounds of aid is given to the world’s most corrupt nations – where it risks being squandered, stolen or seized by terrorists.” – Daily Mail

Don’t be cowed by terrorists says May

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-13-00-20“The prime minister has said people should go about their business as usual and not be “cowed by terrorists” after the Christmas market attack in Germany. Theresa May told the London Evening Standard it was important to “send a clear message that people should “carry on with our lives as usual”. She added that the police and security services were “unsung heroes”. Twelve people were killed on Monday when a truck was driven into a crowd at the Breitscheidplatz market in Berlin.” – BBC

  • Terrorism thrives on our lack of self belief – Michael Gove The Times(£)
  • Terror suspect plotted to bomb UK shopping centre – Independent
  • Painful lessons to learn from the attacks – Leader Daily Telegraph

Barwell announces £60 million fund to “tackles second home problem”

“The government is to introduce a £60m annual fund to help areas of England with high levels of second-home ownership to “tackle the problem”. The money, to be shared by 150 councils over five years, will go into providing “affordable” housing for first-time buyers in places where demand is high. The money has been raised through increases in stamp duty. Housing Minister Gavin Barwell said this would help those who struggle to get permanent accommodation. One-third of the money will go to south-west England.” – BBC

Boris attacks “indefensible” Russian attack on aid convoy

boris-johnson“Boris Johnson has slammed Russia for blitzing an aid convoy in Syria after a UN inquiry blamed a Kremlin jet. The devastating strike close to Aleppo killed 10 aid workers and took out 17 trucks, destroying vitally needed supplies for 78,000 people. The attack in September was seen as one of the worst atrocities of the five year-long war. A three month probe by the UN yesterday found three Syrian regime helicopter gunships lead the onslaught, followed up by Assad and Russian jets. Mr Johnson branded the killings “indefensible”.” – The Sun

Brexit 1) Big majority want to get on with it

“A majority of Brits now want a speedy Brexit – as it also emerges Theresa May faces an even harder fight for a good walk out deal from the EU. An ICM poll to mark the six month anniversary of the landmark referendum today found 54% want the PM to implement the result as soon as possible. And just one in five voters – 20% – disagreed. The number in favour of a quick EU departure includes a quarter of all Remain voters, in a sign the country is finally beginning to unify around the huge decision.” – The Sun

  • We must fight to make sure the PM delivers – Paul Nuttall Daily Express

>Today:  MPs ETC: Five people who made the Brexit vote happen 5) Victoria Woodcock

Brexit 2) The Queen is “frustrated” by the secrecy

The Queen“The Queen was left “disappointed” with Theresa May after the prime minister declined to share plans for Brexit during her first stay at Balmoral, The Times has learnt. Mrs May stuck to her “Brexit means Brexit” line during the visit to Scotland in September rather than giving a private briefing on how she intended to negotiate Britain’s way out of the European Union, according to a source close to the monarch. The prime minister’s failure to go beyond her public remarks during the stay meant that the Queen’s relationship with her 13th prime minister did not get off to an ideal start, the account suggests.” – The Times(£)

Brexit 3) PM urged to get transitional deal for the City

“The government is being urged to clinch a transition arrangement for the City of London during Brexit negotiations to assuage concerns of employers who are delaying business decisions because of the uncertainty created in the run up to the UK’s departure from the EU. The City of London Corporation, the local authority that covers much of the financial district, urged Theresa May to arrange transition arrangements “as soon as possible”.” – The Guardian

Jo Johnson “sneaks out” tuition fee increase

JOHNSON Jo October 2016“The latest stage of a controversial rise in university tuition fees to £9,250 a year in England has been ‘sneaked out’ to avoid debate, critics claimed last night. Details of the increase, affecting more than 500,000 students, were put on an obscure government website last week without any announcement from the Department for Education. The move was condemned by Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, who said the DfE was trying to avoid public scrutiny. Universities minister Jo Johnson announced in July that tuition fees would rise to £9,250 a year from next autumn and the increase could apply to students who have already started courses.” – Daily Mail

Anti semitism rife at some universities says peer

“Some of Britain’s leading universities are becoming no-go zones for Jewish students because anti-Semitism is so rife, the first ever higher education adjudicator has warned.  Baroness Ruth Deech, a cross-bench peer who formerly held the highest office dealing with student complaints, said that institutions may be failing to combat hatred against Jews as they “afraid of offending” their potential benefactors from Gulf states.” – Daily Telegraph

Tyrie to challenge Carney over interest rates

TYRIE Andrew“Mark Carney faces a bruising showdown with a group of influential MPs when an investigation into the Bank of England’s use of monetary policy since the financial crisis is launched, amid concerns that it has had “unintended consequences” for the economy. The Treasury select committee is to investigate in February whether the Bank made the right decision in cutting interest rates to record lows and buying billions of government bonds with new money in the years after the recession…Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the committee, said: “Interest rates are stuck near zero..The efficacy of monetary policy or otherwise, its unintended consequences, and its prospects, need careful examination.” – The Times(£)

Soldiers could provide replacement buses to beat strike

“Soldiers could be called in to drive replacement buses during Southern Rail strikes, it was claimed last night. The Army is said to be on standby to ensure commuters, revellers and schoolchildren can travel amid strikes planned for New Year’s Eve and January. The drastic intervention would echo the firefighters’ strike of 2002, when soldiers operated Green Goddess emergency vehicles for the first time since 1977.” – Daily Mail

  • BA strikes suspended – BBC

>Yesterday: Columnist James Frayne: The Government is outmanoeuvring the unions

Headhunters target Labour MPs for lucrative public sector jobs…

money“Labour backbenchers are being headhunted for senior jobs in the public sector, according to MPs. Details of efforts to lure opposition politicians into roles in health, education and other industries emerged after Jamie Reed, Labour MP for Copeland, announced his resignation from the Commons on Wednesday. Mr Reed, an arch-critic of the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said that he was standing down from the marginal west Cumbria seat to take up a job in the nuclear power industry.” – The Times(£)

  • New post Brexit landscape could squeeze Labour out says think tank – The Guardian
  • Labour MP Kate Osamor attacks her Party’s boundary proposals – The Guardian

…as Corbyn calls for an early General Election

“Jeremy Corbyn has explicitly disclosed for the first time that he will instruct his MPs to back an early general election if the Prime Minister wants to call one. In an exclusive interview with The Independent, the Labour leader said his party will give Theresa May the parliamentary numbers she would need to bring about an election before 2020…Mr Corbyn said he was positive about improving his party’s poll ratings and its performance at the ballot box, but also risked disappointing some senior Labour MPs by dismissing the radical idea of a “progressive alliance” with the Liberal Democrats.” – Independent

The Prince of Wales warns against religious persecution

Prince Charles“Prince Charles has spoken out about the danger of religious persecution, warning against a repeat of “the horrors of the past”. Delivering BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, the Prince of Wales said the rise of populist groups “aggressive” to minority faiths had “deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days” of the 1930s. In the Christmas message, he urged respect for those of different faiths. He said religious freedom was a “choice between life and death” for some.” – BBC

  • Charles and the cheap slur of populism – Leader Daily Mail
  • The Crown will be safe with him – Tim Stanley Daily Telegraph


Ex soldier says he “feels betrayed” over investigation into terrorist shooting

“A former paratrooper who is facing prosecution over the alleged murder of an IRA commander has said he feels betrayed by the British Government. The unnamed widowed soldier, 67, known as Soldier A, was with a group of soldiers when Joe McCann, a senior leader in the Official IRA at the time, was shot and killed in 1972. A criminal investigation into his death was reopened in 2012.  The ex-soldier said he felt he was now being treated “like a terrorist”. He said the Government was “doing nothing” about the “witch-hunt”, adding: “I feel betrayed.” – Daily Telegraph

Trump intervenes to defend Israel

donald-trump-09-10-16“Egypt has suddenly delayed a vote on its UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank as Donald Trump made his opposition clear. A US official told the BBC that it had been considering an abstention, which would have allowed the motion to pass. Israel then contacted Donald Trump’s transition team to intervene, an Israeli official told Reuters. Egypt’s resolution called for Israel to stop building new settlements, which it said breached international law.” – BBC

Collins: We live in the best of times

“Democracy is not in peril; it is thriving. More than four billion people live under a democratic government….The world kept getting richer too in 2016. The number of people living in extreme poverty fell below 10 per cent for the first time. Since 1990 almost 1.1 billion have escaped extreme poverty…..The world once again got healthier in 2016.” – Philip Collins The Times(£)

Nelson: May can boost Tory appeal in the north

NELSON Fraser“Theresa May was always the Tory that Labour feared the most…This might dismay kale-munching adoptive Londoners (myself included) but made her into something rather rare: a Tory as popular in the north as in the south. And one who might, as a result, be capable of building the broad coalition that her predecessor could only dream of. David Cameron spent years trying to woo Labour voters with warm words on the environment, gay marriage and (latterly) a £9 minimum wage. It would be ironic if Mrs May made more progress with her unapologetically patriotic talk about cutting immigration and a “red, white and blue Brexit”.” – Fraser Nelson Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Scottish police face £190 million black hole after years of incompetence – Daily Telegraph
  • Brendan Cox to record alternative Christmas message – BBC
  • 48 Network Rail executives are earning more than the PM – The Sun
  • Belief in God falls to 28 per cent – The Times(£)
  • 5,000 pensioners will spend Christmas in A&E – Daily Telegraph
  • Half of electricity comes from low carbon sources – The Times(£)