Grayling to end Network Rail’s monopoly

telegraphnetwork“Network Rail will be stripped of its control over Britain’s train tracks and power will be handed to operators in the biggest shake-up of the railways for decades, the Government is to announce. In an attempt to end delays and to lower fares for consumers, Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, will say he wants the state-owned Network Rail to share responsibility for running the tracks with private train operators. It means that rail companies such as Virgin and Southern would become responsible for repairs and maintenance for the first time, ending Network Rail’s monopoly.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Change to be confirmed in speech to Policy Exchange – The Times(£)
  • Fares rise driven by Virgin Trains East Coast – The Guardian
  • Overcrowding and delays worsen – The Times(£)
  • Network Rail charging 50p to use public lavatory – Daily Mail
  • Travel plans changed by pets – inews

Brexit 1) EU customs deal possible says Hands

“The UK could seek a deal which would allow sections of the economy to remain within the EU’s customs union after Brexit, international trade minister Greg Hands has suggested. Mr Hands said officials would be able to choose the type of products to be covered by agreements. The union operates alongside the EU’s single market and free trade area. It comes after the Brexit secretary said the UK would consider paying for “best possible” single market access.” – BBC

>Today: George Maggs on Comment: Brexit. Trump. Not a revolt against the elites, but an upsurge of patriotism

>Yesterday: Columnist Syed Kamall: Barnier – reasonable, willing to listen, methodical

Brexit 2) UK won’t block EU defence co-operation says Boris

boris-johnson“Britain will not seek to obstruct European efforts to develop closer defence co-operation after Brexit, Boris Johnson has said. In a speech in London, the foreign secretary said: “If they want to do that, fine,” but said countries should ensure they met their Nato commitments. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has previously said the UK would oppose the move because it could “undermine” Nato. France and Germany have made the case for increased military co-operation.” – BBC

  • Save the African elephants says Boris – The Sun

Brexit 3) Government prepares Article 50 legislation in the event of Supreme Court defeat

“Theresa May will challenge Parliament to defy the will of the people by voting down Article 50 if the Government loses an appeal in the Supreme Court, senior sources have said. Ministers have told The Daily Telegraph that the “expectation” amongst Cabinet ministers is that the Government will not succeed in its bid to overturn a High Court ruling which said the Prime Minister must consult Parliament before triggering Article 50, which begins formal Brexit negotiations. In anticipation of a defeat in the Supreme Court, Number 10 is preparing legislation and allies of Mrs May are now “confident” that MPs “would not dare” try and vote down the legislation.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Four of the judges have formal links to the EU or European institutions – Daily Mail
  • Why the free press must shine a light on this unelected court – Leader Daily Mail
  • Rejecting Brexit would be a terrible mistake says Stephen Hawking – Daily Express
  • Judges rehearse for TV trial – The Times(£)
  • PM dares House of Lords to vote against Article 50 – Daily Express
  • Bring the remainers to a halt – The Sun Says
  • May hires her own economics adviser – Daily Mail

Brexit 4) “We’re the insurgents now,” says Morgan

nicky-morgan“Nicky Morgan is the leader of the Tory resistance, the pro-European liberal Conservative who is fighting to stop her party and the country veering to the right….She says:  “Anyone who voted Remain and now queries the type of Brexit is accused of being a moaner. That really says more about the other side. They have always been the anti-establishment underdogs and now it has flipped and they should be the responsible ones. They need to get on with it and not moan. We are the insurgents now.” – Interview with Nicky Morgan The Times(£)

  • Stop insulting voters says John Longworth – Daily Express
  • Police investigate threat to Anna Soubry  – The Sun

Brexit 5) UK may still spend money on Aid via the EU says Wharton

“Britain may still pay into EU aid agencies post-Brexit, a minister suggested yesterday. The International Development Minister James Wharton told MPs he suspected Britain would look to work with organisations that “could deliver value for money”. Mr Wharton was asked an urgent question in the Commons over whether funding would remain when Britain leaves the European Union.” – The Sun

By-election 1) Lib Dems “are back” says Farron

tim-farron-18-09-16“Lib Dem leader Tim Farron claims his party is “back in the big time” after it fought on the issue of Brexit to oust ex-Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park by-election….Mr Farron said the outcome was a verdict on Theresa May’s “UKIP-ish” take on Brexit and showed that it was possible for moderates to win. The result was seized on by the European Parliament’s lead Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt – a Liberal politician – who congratulated Ms Olney and said Europe “is watching”.” – BBC

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The moral of Richmond Park. Don’t call unnecessary by-elections

By-election 2) New Lib Dem MP dragged off airwaves

“Sarah Olney MP had to be dragged off-air by a member of her press team after a grilling by Talk Radio’s Julia Hartley-Brewer.  The interview, in which the journalist and presenter asked whether the new MP for Richmond would be calling for a second by-election, as the Lib Dems have done over the Brexit vote, only lasted three minutes before it was terminated by Mrs Olney’s team. She was asked: “When is the second by-election going to be held? We don’t really know what voters were really voting for when they elected you”.” – Daily Telegraph

By-election 3) No safe Labour seats left warns Umunna

Chuka Umunna 12-05-15“Labour faces being crushed between Ukip and a resurgent Liberal Democrat Party in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, senior allies of Jeremy Corbyn admitted last night. The party suffered humiliation in the Richmond Park by-election yesterday, losing its deposit in a London by-election for the first time since 1909….Labour figures fear that the party faces electoral crisis as it loses votes to the Lib Dems in pro-Remain urban and southern seats, while Ukip builds support in its working-class heartlands of the north and Midlands. Chuka Umunna, the former leadership hopeful, warned that there were now “no safe Labour seats”.” – The Times(£)

  • Reject the establishment says Corbyn – Independent
  • Labour in London “terrified of the Lib Dems” – Independent

By-election 4) Any chance of early General Election “killed off”

 “The Brexit debate hasn’t changed, just sharpened.  The biggest implications of Richmond should be to end talk of an early election. That talk was always a bit fanciful, since almost everyone taking about it underestimates the problem of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.  But Richmond underlines the political risk involved.  If a sitting MP with a majority of more than 20,000 (even an MP as bad as Mr Goldsmith) isn’t safe, then we truly live in madly unpredictable times.” – James Kirkup Daily Telegraph

By-election 5) IDS tells Eurocrat to “mind his own business”

IDS“European leaders have been accused of “hijacking” the result of Richmond Park by-election by suggesting the shock Liberal Democrat win means Britain does not want to leave the European Union. Iain Duncan Smith, the Eurosceptic former Cabinet minister, told the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator – who welcomed the result – to “mind his own bloody business”.And these are not the circumstances in which a careful and risk-averse politician like Mrs May will want to gamble everything she’s got. ” – Daily Telegraph

By-election 6) It was a rejection of hard Brexit says Khan

“The crushing rejection of Zac Goldsmith at the Richmond Park by-election was an explicit rejection of “hard Brexit”, the Mayor of London has said. Sadiq Khan downplayed Labour’s poor result in the seat and said local voters had made their voters on the EU clear by rejecting the anti-EU former Tory MP.” – Independent

By-election 7) The Conservatives should have contested seat says Shapps

SHAPPS Grant favourite“The Conservatives were “completely wrong” not to field a candidate in the Richmond Park by-election, according to former party chairman Grant Shapps. The party decided not to run against Mr Goldsmith, who was also backed by Ukip, in the hope that the MP, who quit in protest over the Heathrow runway decision, would be returned to parliament and support the party’s narrow majority. But Mr Shapps, a Cameron loyalist, said that the party’s rules are “crystal clear”. ” – Independent

New surveillance laws are needed says Wallace

“This week the Investigatory Powers Act passed its final stages in Parliament and was granted Royal Assent by the Queen. Rarely has a piece of legislation been more vital for the safety and security of our families, communities and country. And never has it been subject to so much scrutiny by Parliament and experts. Yet there are those who are already demanding the Act is ditched because they don’t like it. These same people claim to stand for transparency and democracy.” Ben Wallace, Security Minister, The Sun

Don’t be embarrassed by patriotism Bishop of Burnley tells Anglican church

Church shield“The Rt Rev Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley, said the Church had largely been taken by surprise by the result of the Brexit referendum in June because it had become out of touch with life in deprived areas….In a scathing critique published in the Church Times, Bishop North characterised clergy as increasingly embarrassed by ideas once promoted by the Church such as patriotism, family values and the virtues of hard work.” – Daily Telegraph

Trump restores relations with Taiwan

“US President-elect Donald Trump has spoken directly with the president of Taiwan – breaking with US policy set in 1979 when formal relations were cut. Mr Trump’s transition team said he and Tsai Ing-wen noted “close economic, political, and security ties” between the US and Taiwan in a phone call. The move risks angering China, which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has reportedly dismissed the call as a “petty trick” by Taiwan.” – BBC

  • US jobless rate falls to none year low – BBC

Italian referendum “too close to call”

ballot_box“Italy’s future hangs on a few thousand votes, Matteo Renzi said as he held a series of frantic rallies yesterday to drum up support for his cause in a referendum that threatens to cause turmoil across Europe. “Never have there been so many people undecided,” he said. “The referendum match will be decided in the last 48 hours.” The 41-year-old prime minister has promised to resign if voters in tomorrow’s poll fail to back his bold plan to speed up legislation by cutting the powers of the senate.” – The Times(£)

  • The Italian vote may boost Brexit – James Forsyth The Sun

Delingpole: Pop stars should have the courage to back the Tories

“This week the conservative cause landed its greatest pop star catch since the Spice Girls came out for Margaret Thatcher. All right, Kate Bush did not fully out herself as a Tory but she came closer than most pop stars would dare…The whole point about Bush is that she has never played by the rules. She doesn’t care about fashion or what other people think (otherwise she could never have made that first, ineffably weird “Wuthering Heights” video, let alone released that godawful album The Dreaming).” – James Delingpole Financial Times

Parris: Ineptitude is he British disease

PARRIS Mathhew“Sheer ineptitude is the most important yet the most anonymous, the most damaging yet the least noticed, the most insidious yet the least confronted of our besetting national sins. It demoralises the competent, saps energy and degrades national life. We may be (as Michael Gove suggests) a Rolls-Royce of a country, but we tolerate a fair few chimpanzees at the wheel.” Matthew Parris The Times(£)

News in brief

  • Public Health England calls for increase in alcohol prices – The Times(£)
  • Regional inequality growing warns Bank of England – BBC
  • MPs attack appointment of white men to Channel 4 board – The Guardian
  • Police defend Heath child sex abuse investigation – BBC
  • Shale drillers sense victory – The Times(£)
  • Housing market doing well outside London says developer – Daily Telegraph
  • New President for Gambia – BBC
  • My joke on the radio landed Ed Balls on Strictly – Yvette Cooper The Times(£)