Arch-critic of Corbyn in marginal seat to stand down from Parliament

Labour holes“Mr Reed is taking a job in the nuclear industry, insisting he can better serve his Copeland constituents in the private sector than as a Labour MP. Mr Reed narrowly won Copeland in 2015 by a majority of just 2,564 votes ahead of the Conservatives, with Ukip not far behind in third place. Copeland heavily voted for Brexit and with Labour trailing the Tories badly in the polls, Mr Corbyn will fear a painful defeat.” – Daily Mail

More Labour:

  • Corbyn’s link to trades union radicals alarms MPs – FT
  • Party heading for 2020 ‘bloodbath’, warns donor – Daily Telegraph

Tom Harris: Labour can’t afford to lose MPs like Reed, but it will

“However that unwanted contest pans out, for Labour, 2017 is already getting off to a bad start. It simply cannot afford to lose people of talent. We can add Reed to the likes of Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan, who have wisely gone off to do something more productive with their timerather than sit on the green benches and watch the slow-motion car crash engulfing their party. If all political careers end in failure, Jamie Reed can console himself that his is ending as a result of his party’s, not his own.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Can Labour hold Copeland? Prepare for a bare-knuckle fight – Lewis Baston, The Guardian
  • Proof the Tories aren’t planning a snap election – Joshua Carrington, Times Red Box

>Today: Tim Bale in Comment: Are elections won by members or money?

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: A big by-election test for May. The Labour MP for marginal Copeland resigns.

Ministers: Grayling leads contingency planning for further strikes…

On strike“Panicked Ministers are looking at laying on hundreds of extra buses to take kids to school and beat a week-long rail strike in the New Year. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling chaired an emergency ‘Cobra’ meeting yesterday ahead of an unprecedented six day walkout by Southern Rail drivers in January. Officials from the Department for Education were at yesterday’s summit, along with the Ministry of Defence and the British Transport Police.” – The Sun

>Yesterday: Keith Prince in Local Government: It is time to end strike action on public transport

…as Bradley announces broadband boost for 600,000 homes…

“An extra 600,000 rural homes and businesses are to be provided with broadband after ministers promised to spend another £440million on improving coverage in remote areas. The move follows years of controversy over slow progress in connecting more than one million homes which do not have a ‘superfast’ broadband service. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said a large chunk of the money – £292million – had been ‘clawed back’ from BT, which has been heavily criticised over the delays.” – Daily Mail

More ministers:

  • May promotes Cameron’s former policy chief to NHS minister – The Independent

…but faces legal challenge to Leveson review

Pile of newspapers“Ministers have been accused of launching an “unlawful” consultation on the second part of the Leveson inquiry meant to investigate corrupt dealings between the press and police, as well as new legal costs provisions. Two victims of press intrusion and an investigative website have filed a claim for a judicial review of the decision to consult on two remaining aspects of the Leveson inquiry, set up in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. The claim against the culture, media and sport department and the Home Office states that the 10-week consultation seeking the public’s views is “misleading and unbalanced in fundamental ways, which render it plainly unfair”. It argues that the consultation launched by the culture secretary, Karen Bradley, is unlawful because both Leveson part two and the controversial section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 concerning legal costs were previously promised, and because the consultation document itself is biased.” – The Guardian

  • We should all be fighting the crusade against press freedom – Paul Rowland, Wales Online
  • Justice is being subverted to force the press to kowtow to Mosley’s press-haters – Daily Mail


  • Don’t let politicians destroy press freedom – MailOnline

EU 1) Court setback for ‘Snooper’s Charter’

“Theresa May’s surveillance laws have been dealt a major setback after an EU court ruled that the bulk collection of citizens’ internet browsing history is illegal under European law. Wednesday’s ruling strikes at the centre of the Investigatory Powers Act – dubbed the “Snoopers’ Charter” – which requires internet providers to store 12 months of everybody’s browsing data and make it available to dozens of Government bodies. The European Court of Justice ruled that EU laws forbid the “general and indiscriminate” retention of internet data, following a challenge to British surveillance powers originally brought by Conservative MP David Davis and Labour’s Tom Watson.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Highest court rules UK surveillance powers illegal – FT
  • European ruling raises terror risk, warns ex-MI5 chief – The Times (£)

EU 2) Lawyers undermine Fox’s hopes of a quick trade deal

Building shield“Britain’s hopes of securing a quick EU trade deal were set back yesterday by one of Europe’s most senior lawyers, who argued that a new agreement with Singapore must be signed off by each member state. The legal opinion undermines the position of Liam Fox, the trade minister, who has insisted that Britain’s future trading arrangement with the EU would avoid the fate of the bloc’s deal with Canada, which was brought to the brink of collapse by opposition from Wallonia, the tiny French-speaking region of Belgium.” – The Times (£)

  • National and regional parliaments to get veto on Brexit deal – Daily Telegraph
  • Ruling ‘hugely’ complicates the Government’s task – The Sun

More EU:

  • Boost for Brexit Britain as borrowing falls to lowest level since financial crisis… – Daily Mail
  • …but Government borrowing higher than expected as Brexit ‘shadow’ looms – The Independent
  • Eustice accused of triggering ‘cod war’ between English and Scottish fishermen – The Times (£)
  • Sturgeon’s ‘unworkable’ demands will be used to undermine UK negotiators, MEP warns – Daily Telegraph
  • UK firms need ‘barrier-free’ single market access, says CBI – The Sun
  • Finnish Eurosceptics vow to ramp up campaigning – Daily Express

Iain Martin: Brexit is already a success, and it hasn’t happened yet

“The Brexiteers who complained about the temerity of MPs such as Nick Clegg demanding full scrutiny and votes on such matters missed the point. To watch Mr Clegg, a former Liberal Democrat leader and pro-EU figure of long standing, be reborn as an arch-defender of the rights of parliament to decide its own destiny made for a heartwarming, not to say rather amusing, spectacle. Mr Clegg’s intervention on Article 50 demonstrated that in terms of bolstering the Commons Brexit is already working – and it hasn’t even happened yet.” – The Times (£)

  • In her big speech on Brexit May should learn from Cameron and Blair – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph
  • Scotland’s trying to square the Brexit circle, and so must Westminster – Russell Gunson, The Times (£)



Prime Minister’s senior aides earn almost what she does

MANIFESTO money“The prime minister’s two principal advisers each earn almost as much as Theresa May herself. Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, joint chiefs of staff in Downing Street, are paid £140,000 a year – 6 per cent less than Mrs May, whose combined salary is £149,440, according to figures yesterday. Their pay is in line with other cabinet members who earn £141,505, including their salaries as MPs. When David Cameron presided at No 10, his most senior adviser, Ed Llewellyn, also earned £140,000.” – The Times (£)

  • Cameron pushed through £1.7 million in severance pay for his advisers – The Sun

MPs 1) Soubry accuses May of ‘bullying’ Deloitte

“Theresa May was accused of bullying by a Tory MP after forcing one of the world’s largest consultancy firms to withdraw from bidding for Whitehall contracts for six months following a critical memo by one of its staff. Anna Soubry, a former minister, criticised the prime minister’s response when a memo by a member of Deloitte’s staff detailing Brexit strains at the heart of government was leaked last month. The Times revealed yesterday that the consultancy had agreed to the freeze on new contracts. Deloitte has apologised. No 10 does not dispute the details of the freeze. Sources claim it was not a punishment but a “reset” of relations between the government and the firm.” – The Times (£)

  • Consultancy puts forward plan to repair Downing Street relationship – FT

MPs 2) Bone criticises aid increase to corrupt countries

aidgraphic“Government sources last night said the latest figures were skewed by a big increase in aid to Syria. But the total handed to corrupt countries would have increased sharply even without this. Tory MP Peter Bone, who is campaigning for the Government to scrap its aid target, described the scale of the increase as ‘shocking’. ‘I think many people will be outraged to learn that we are sending more than £1billion a year to the world’s most corrupt countries and even more shocked to discover that the figure is going up,’ he said.” – Daily Mail

  • India overtakes Britain as sixth-largest economy (but we’ll still send them £180 million) – Daily Mail

MPs 3) Clarke joins cross-party call to cut prisoner numbers

“Prisoner numbers in England and Wales should be reduced by almost a half,  two former home secretaries and a former deputy prime minister have urged. Kenneth Clarke, the former Tory home secretary , Nick Clegg, the former Lib Dem deputy prime minister and Jacqui Smith, who served as Labour’s home secretary, have all called on the Government to act to curb the “escalating prison population”. The cross-party coalition of politicians said the population of prisons in England and Wales had “gone well beyond what is safe or sustainable” and that numbers should be reduced from around 85,000 to 45,000.” – Daily Telegraph

Scottish Conservatives criticise SNP for cutting education reform fund

Scottish Conservatives“John Swinney has defended budget cuts for implementing education reforms despite concerns raised by MSPs. The Education Secretary insisted the flagship Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) was at a stage that justifies a reduction in the development budget when he appeared before Holyrood’s Education Committee… Conservative MSP Ross Thomson said: “This comes at a time when the SQA have told this committee that they are going through an intense period of assessment redesign, which is on top of business as usual, on top of their transformation programme, the very tight timeline to meet, and they were very clear that this requires additional resource.”” – The Scotsman

  • Both Davidson and Dugdale can take heart from 2016 – Tom Peterkin, The Scotsman

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Northern Ireland’s government is ‘on the brink of collapse’ again

James reveals why she quit as UKIP leader

“Former Ukip leader Diane James said she stood down after just 18 days because she was unable to get rid of the party’s “old guard”. The MEP, who has since left the party, said she had become frustrated after she found she could not push through the changes she believed were necessary. “One can obviously continue to bang your head against a brick wall, going to bed at night hoping things might change and that you might be able to make a breakthrough,” she told BBC Radio 5 Live.” – The Sun

News in Brief:

  • Patients suffer in GP funding lottery – The Times (£)
  • Fears of an NHS winter crisis as 53,000 a month leave A&E without treatment – The Sun
  • Blunders which let Berlin terror suspect go free – Daily Mail
  • Concerns for Queen’s health after annual Sandringham trip delayed – Daily Telegraph
  • Car production rises to 17-year high – FT
  • Romania looks set to appoint first female Muslim prime minister – Daily Express
  • At least 1,000 Government laptops and drives missing since 2015 – The Guardian
  • UUP leader wants Stormont speaker to stand down – Belfast Telegraph
  • Deal to identify Argentine soldiers buried on the Falklands – The Sun