Johnson refuses to apologise for Saudi remarks or change his ways

BORIS angel devil‘Boris Johnson has made it clear that he will not change his approach to the role of foreign secretary following a meeting with Theresa May to discuss his condemnation of Saudi Arabia for fighting “proxy wars”. The prime minister summoned Mr Johnson to Downing Street on Thursday evening after her spokeswoman issued a public rebuke for his criticism of a key ally.’ Mr Johnson has refused to apologise, however, and has told friends that he believes No 10 mishandled its reaction to the publication of his remarks. Allies also dismissed claims that he could quit.’ – The Times (£)

  • May appointed this maverick, so there’s no point slapping him down all the time – Daily Mail Leader
  • The sanctimonious left cannot bear him – The Sun Says
  • Rifkind says he is dangerous – Daily Mail
  • Secret talks between the Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister – The Sun
  • Morgan dropped from Article 50 meeting after criticising May- Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Between them, May and Johnson risk endangering an orderly Brexit

Brexit 1) Davis ‘not really interested’ in a transitional arrangement

‘David Davis, Britain’s Brexit secretary, said he was “not really interested” in a transitional deal to cushion Britain from the effects of Brexit and that he would consider one only in order to “be kind” to the EU. Financial companies have pressed the government to agree a transition period after Britain leaves the bloc and before new trade terms are finalised, during which current arrangements remain in place. But speaking in mid-November, Mr Davis told a private meeting with the City of London Corporation that negotiating a transition, as recently championed by Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, would not benefit the UK and could delay the Brexit process. Mr Davis accepted, however, that Britain’s “sudden” departure could compromise the EU’s financial stability and said he would be “more in favour” if the EU asked Britain for a transition.’ – FT

  • Bankers’ lobby asked for a transitional deal – FT
  • May is right on course for Brexit – Daily Mail Leader
  • The French ambassador denies her country will be an obstacle – The Times (£)
  • If Davis doesn’t get what he wants, we’ll play hardball – The Sun
  • Remain lawyer tries new disruption tactic – Daily Mail
  • We Remainers aren’t being obstructive enough – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)

Brexit 2) Brussels to offer opt-in EU citizenship for Brits

Guy Verhofstadt‘Plans to allow British nationals to retain their EU citizenship after Brexit are to form part of the European parliament’s negotiating position. The “associate citizenship” status, plans for which were first revealed in The Times, would give those who adopt it the right to freedom of movement and residence throughout the EU as well as the right to vote for a representative in the European parliament. It would be made available to citizens of former member states who “feel and wish to be part of the European project”. The proposal was put forward last month by the Luxembourg MEP Charles Goerens for inclusion in a future EU treaty. But following Wednesday’s House of Commons vote…Mr Goerens agreed with the European parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, that it should be brought forward more quickly.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: ToryDiary: Leavers should welcome Brussels’s offer of opt-in EU citizenship for Brits

Brexit 3) Cameron blames his referendum defeat on ‘populism’

‘David Cameron has claimed that he was swept from power by a wave of populism, in his most significant intervention since leaving Downing Street. In remarks that annoyed the Tory right, the former prime minister said that the vote for Brexit, which ended his premiership, was part of a growing “movement of unhappiness” and that leaders needed to find a way to “combat populism”. Speaking at DePauw University in Indiana at the start of a speaking tour of the US, Mr Cameron said he was “optimistic and confident” that populism would not bring an end to globalisation or allow the far-right to win the French presidency. He added: “It may seem odd that I’m so optimistic. After all, the rise of populism cost me my job”…The Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said that Mr Cameron sounded like a sore loser. “It’s called democracy,” he added. “He didn’t mind looking populist when he beat Ed Miliband in 2015.”’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: WATCH: Cameron – “Ultimately, I didn’t believe that Brexit was the right outcome for my country”

Brexit 4) Bogdanor: Now the people, not parliament, are sovereign

ballot_box‘Liberal-minded people find themselves uncomfortable with the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people. They use arguments against it similar to those deployed by 19th-century conservatives opposed to the extension of the franchise. In 1974, Jean Rey, ex-President of the European Commission, deplored the coming referendum in the UK. “A referendum on this matter consists of consulting people who don’t know the problems instead of consulting people who know them. I would deplore a situation in which the policy of this great country should be left to housewives. It should be decided instead by trained and informed people.” Many liberals have become elitists, berating the voters for using their democratic rights. I do not share this perspective, despite having voted Remain. The high turnout of 72 per cent in the referendum seems to me a striking illustration of democratic commitment on the part of the least fortunate in our society.’ – Vernon Bogdanor, FT

>Yesterday: Richard Ritchie on Comment: Leaving the EU. What would Powell have made of the role of the Supreme Court?

Plans to centralise the NHS draw criticism

‘Dozens of accident and emergency departments, maternity units and local hospitals will be closed or downgraded under radical NHS plans, analysis by The Times has found. Thousands of beds will be cut and treatments such as heart surgery and cancer care will be centralised across most of the country. Doctors condemned the “horrifying” scale of closures, saying that it made no sense to tackle pressure on the NHS by cutting hospital services. Health chiefs say that the changes will save lives and money. Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, has told GPs, hospitals and council leaders in every area of the country to draw up blueprints to improve care out of hospital and deal with a £22 billion hole facing health service budgets by 2020.’ – The Times (£)

  • Hunt won’t add folic acid to bread – Daily Mail

Caulfield: Here’s how to fix Southern Rail

Maria Caulfield MP‘Ending the strikes will only be the start. Despite industrial unrest, 50 per cent of delays on the Southern network are because of Network Rail issues such as signalling problems and track faults on our ageing Victorian railway line. To his credit, Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, has brought in Chris Gibb of Network Rail to chair a project board armed with £20 million of funding to help to improve the network. His announcement earlier this week that rail franchises and Network Rail will now run trains and track maintenance together under a single management will be a big help. In the long term, however, Sussex is in desperate need of extra capacity, and the best way to create that is a second main line from the south coast to London.’ – Maria Caulfield, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Andrew Allison on Comment: Grayling must find his inner Reagan – and smash the rail strike that is holding commuters to ransom

Farage lays into ‘low-grade’ UKIP members

‘The retired party boss hit out at members who he “would never have a drink with, who I would never employ and who use me as a vehicle for their own self-promotion.” Celebrating his retirement as boss of the troubled and split Brexit backers, he claimed he was having “a great time” as he is “not having to deal with low-grade people every day.” He added: “I am not responsible for what our branch secretary in Lower Slaughter said half-cut on Twitter last night – that isn’t my fault any more.” Mr Farage also expressed his delight that he no longer had “to go to eight-hour party executive meetings.”’ – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: In the Sleaford ‘Brexit by-election’, Brexit won hands-down

CIA finds that Russia did interfere with the US election

Putin hunting‘The CIA found that Russia’s interference with the presidential elections went beyond an attempt to undermine American democracy as a whole – and actively favored Donald Trump’s chances, it has been claimed. Those who provided WikiLeaks with emails from hacked Democratic accounts have been identified by intelligence authorities as members of a Russian campaign who worked towards the goal of seeing Trump elected, officials told the Washington Post. The shocking conclusion, made by a ‘consensus’ of intelligence agencies, was reported the same day President Barack Obama ordered a review of cyber attacks that targeted Democratic organizations and operatives during the 2016 elections.’ – Daily Mail

  • Vast scale of Kremlin sports doping revealed – Daily Mail
  • Turkey places pro-Russian hardliners in NATO posts – The Times (£)
  • Erdogan is undermining our defences – The Times Leader (£)
  • Prepare for a ‘cyber-space Pearl Harbour’, security experts warn – The Times (£)

Nine in ten councils plan largest tax rise they can get away with

‘Council tax bills are set to go up next spring at over four times the rate of inflation, town halls suggested yesterday. Almost all will jack up their bills by close to the highest level allowed without consulting voters, four per cent. More than nine out of 10 local authorities consulted by a local government journal confirmed they will push up their charge by the most they can. Councils have been allowed to push up the local tax by two per cent each year since David Cameron set limits in 2010.’ – Daily Mail

  • Local authorities are charging rip-off credit card fees – The Times Leader (£)

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