Brexit 1) Strathclyde warns delays could force early election

Lords“Theresa May could be forced into an early election should parliament create a deadlock over her Brexit plan, a former cabinet minister has warned. Lord Strathclyde, leader of the House of Lords under David Cameron, said that attempts by MPs or peers to block the Brexit process would make it hard for her “not to go back to the people”. He is one of the most senior figures to suggest Mrs May could be forced to hold an election before 2020, despite her insistence that she will not do so.” – The Times (£)

  • Leave campaigners issue ‘red lines’ for May – Daily Express
  • Remainers campaign to give under-30s a voice in the negotiations – The Guardian

Home Nations:

  • Sturgeon uses New Year’s message to vow to protect Scottish EU interests – Daily Telegraph
  • Welsh outrage at plans to withdraw from the ECHR – Wales Online

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Taking care with a European Court

Brexit 2) Walker ‘confirms that Britain will leave the single market’…

“Britain will leave the EU’s Single Market after Brexit, a Tory Minister has finally confirmed after months of speculation. Despite Theresa May’s desire to keep her negotiating strategy a secret, Robin Walker said that membership will “automatically cease to apply” as part of the country’s EU divorce. The Junior Brexit Minister’s revelation came in a parliamentary answer snuck out just before the Christmas break. ‘Remoaners’ claim it’s the first time a government Minister has publicly endorsed that position.” – The Sun

  • …but German motor industry chief says we may have to remain – The Sun

Brexit 3) Ministers urged to delay Green Belt development

HOMES Manifesto“Ministers are being urged to impose a ban on green belt development until after Britain has left the EU so that housing forecasts can be reduced to reflect lower immigration. Tory MPs fear that, unless ministers agree to ‘pause’ development now, huge swathes of green belt land could be bulldozed to house EU migrants who will not have the right to come to the UK. Official forecasts suggest 5.3million new homes will be needed in England over the next 25 years, with immigration accounting for 37 per cent of new demand. But, with Theresa May pledging to end free movement, critics say these figures should be reviewed.” – Daily Mail

  • Transition deal may prevent UK economic ‘catastrophe’, claims EU lawyer – FT
  • Scrap health insurance rule for stay-at-home EU parents, says Wollaston – The Guardian
  • Brussels will have raked in £623 billion from Britain by 2020, warn campaigners – The Sun

Matthew Parris: We’ve been poisoned by political cults

“Too late – the herd has been radicalised. They have been radicalised by what displays many of the characteristics of a cult. Political scientists intent on serious study of the psychology both of Trumpism and of Brexit should be pointed away from numbers, facts, statistics for criminal recidivism among Mexicans, or distinctions between gross and net contributions, and towards the profiling of cult behaviour and the process of radicalisation. Muslims are not the only humans susceptible to being turned by fundamentalist explanatory accounts of the world: theories-of-everything which somehow make the past clear and the future certain.” – The Times (£)



May’s defence of Israel comes under fire

Israel flag“Theresa May faced a backlash from the United States and concern from a senior Tory yesterday after criticising Barack Obama’s secretary of state. In a move seen as an attempt to woo Donald Trump’s incoming administration, the prime minister distanced herself from remarks by John Kerry, who described the ruling Israeli coalition as being “the most right-wing in Israeli history”. A spokesman for the prime minister said that it was inappropriate “to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally”.” – The Times (£)

  • Blunt questions the Prime Minister’s criticism of Kerry – The Guardian
  • Anti-extremism activists backed by May posted anti-Semitic conspiracies – Daily Mail

More America:

Charles Moore: The Prime Minister’s u-turn is right-wing virtue signalling

“Some may see this as a welcome, if belated attempt by Mrs May to make up for her Government’s earlier mistake, though it would look more impressive if Britain were to refuse to attend the let’s-bash-Israel international conference in Paris announced for January 15. It could equally well be the Prime Minister’s effort to make the noises necessary to placate critics without altering the actual policy at all. I’m afraid the Right, in recent times, has become almost as adept as the Left at virtue-signalling. And so we drift into 2017, with no hand on the tiller.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Extraordinary attack may be an attempt to curry favour with Trump – Azriel Bermant, The Guardian
  • Both Kerry’s speech and the UN are a distraction – James Sorene, Daily Telegraph

Ministers 1) Fallon accused of overstating the strength of the Army

Armed Forces“Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was last night accused of misleading the nation – by over-stating the size of the Army by 4,500 troops. Labour claimed the Tory heavyweight misled Parliament by stating before Christmas that the Government would “continue to sustain” a force of 112,000 regular and reserve troops. The current figure is 107,560 with the regular Army at 80,640. The shortfall is almost equal to an entire Brigade. Labour added the Government had already lowered a key ‘trained strength’ qualification to boost the number of Army personnel on the books.” – The Sun

  • Salmond calls on Government to end its military ‘obsession’ – The Independent

Ministers 2) Hayes fighting to get British motorists compensation from Volkswagen

“Earlier this year US judges approved a £12 billion settlement that forced the company to compensate Volkswagen drivers there, with each driver set to receive up to £8,000 each. And this week it agreed a further £810 million to compensate luxury car owners following the emissions scandal which saw the company admit it had installed software to cheat green air tests. The treatment of drivers in the US is in stark contrast to those in the UK, where VW is so far yet to offer any of the 1.2m drivers compensation. John Hayes, the transport minister, is locked in discussions with Volkswagen and told The Telegraph that he “is determined to do right by the British motorist”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Business leaders warn of new north-south divide as business rates are reevaluated – Daily Telegraph
  • Independent energy firms call on government to stop meddling – FT

Brazier receives a knightood in the New Year’s honours

BRAZIER, Julian headshot“Canterbury MP Julian Brazier is one of three Kent notable people honoured with a knighthood this year. Also ennobled was Kent-born actor Mark Rylance, who shares the glory of the nation’s highest award with David Behan, who is chief executive of the Care Quality Commission. Canterbury and Whitstable MP Julian Brazier said he was “honoured and humbled” to have been knighted in the New Year’s Honour list.” – Kent Online

  • New Year honour for controversial International Development mandarin – Daily Mail
  • Fury as HMRC customer service boss is ‘rewarded for failure’ – The Sun
  • Corbyn claims Tories are making a ‘mockery’ of the system – The Independent
  • Conservative donor gets a knighthood – The Guardian


  • Sir Mo is a fitting title for Britain’s greatest athlete – Jim White, Daily Telegraph
  • Medal-winning sportsmen shouldn’t get more honours – Matthew Syed, The Times (£)

Labour 1) Blunkett warns against press crackdown

“Lord Blunkett, the former home secretary who fell victim to phone hacking, has warned of the danger of government proposals to take “a regulatory and financial sledgehammer” to freedom of the press. He said that plans to subject newspapers to punishments unless they submitted to regulation by a state-approved body were a threat to the democratic process. “A rumbustious, inquisitive press is a sign of a healthy society,” Lord Blunkett said. “In contrast, one of the first actions of any new totalitarian despot is to grasp control of the media.”” – The Times (£)

  • Watchdog slams Government plans for more anti-terrorism legislation – The Sun

Labour 2) Party set to finish third in 2017 Scottish local elections

LABOUR dead rose“Labour is on course to finish third in next year’s local council elections behind the SNP and Conservatives, according to a leaked party report. Internal polling found a quarter of Labour’s supporters in Scotland have switched their allegiances to the Tories since 2015, as the constitution continues to dominate voters’ priorities north of the border. That could mean Labour losing power at several town halls across its former heartlands, including Glasgow.” – The Scotsman

Labour 3) Corbyn rules out Blair’s return to Parliament

“Tony Blair will not return to the House of Commons while Jeremy Corbyn is in charge of Labour, the party leader has said. Mr Corbyn said “nuanced differences of opinion” would prevent the former prime minister’s return to Parliamentary politics inside Labour, which he led to three successive general election victories between 1997 and 2005. This summer Mr Corbyn backed a motion declaring his predecessor guilty of “contempt” following the release of the Chilcot Report, while Mr Blair was later reported to be mulling a comeback because he considered the Islington North MP a “nutter”.” – Belfast Telegraph

>Yesterday: Peter Cuthbertson in Comment: Labour’s prison policy is a threat to public safety

Schools face crisis as headteachers quit

School“Britain is facing a crisis in recruiting head teachers, with hundreds complaining of high pressure and insufficient pay as they quit and retire early. One in ten schools is losing its head teacher each year, research by The Times reveals. Schools have been left without a head for up to three years, while one school employed six heads in five years and another had to advertise a vacant post seven times before finding a suitable candidate. Some councils have seen more head teachers leaving in the past five years than the number of schools in the area.” – The Times (£)


  • A burgeoning recruitment crisis needs to be prevented – The Times (£)

News in Brief:

  • Government agencies and police can see all you do online as Snooper’s Charter comes in – The Sun
  • Police grill Chelsea Pensioner for four hours over death of IRA terrorist in 1972 – Daily Mail
  • Health chief admits alcohol advice could have been better – The Times (£)
  • ‘Selfish’ party goers are putting NHS under intolerable strain, warns Health Service boss – Daily Telegraph
  • China announces comprehensive ban on the ivory trade – FT
  • London stock exchange hits record high – Daily Express
  • DUP minister defends Foster in public spending row – Belfast Telegraph