Government wins Article 50 vote

EU Brexit‘Theresa May has won the overwhelming backing of MPs for her timetable to start Brexit talks in March 2017 — but only after agreeing to publish a plan setting out her objectives and promising MPs a vote on the final “divorce deal”. Labour agreed to back the prime minister’s timetable for Brexit but insisted Mrs May should first publish a detailed negotiating strategy. Some pro-EU Conservative MPs said a white paper, a thorough policy document, should be produced in the new year. Mrs May’s allies said the prime minister would not give away her negotiating hand and that any “plan” would be limited in scope. But MPs were reassured they would have the last word on Brexit, with David Davis, Brexit secretary, saying it was “inconceivable” they would not have a vote on a final deal.’ – FT

  • Davis: Europhiles pay lip service to democracy while trying to block Brexit – Daily Telegraph
  • Ken Clarke was the only Tory rebel – Daily Mail




Supreme Court’s Neuberger says it would ‘seem a bit odd’ to ask MPs to now vote again

‘The Supreme Court’s top judge yesterday openly questioned whether a second vote on triggering Article 50 is now needed – given last night’s show of hands in the Commons. Speaking just hours before MPs backed a Brexit, Lord Neuberger said it would “seem a bit odd” to the man in the street if MPs were asked to go back and do it all again…During evidence, Lord Neuberger said: “To the man in the street it sounds a bit odd if one says to the Government you have to go back to Parliament to have an act of Parliament passed to show what Parliament’s will is when you have already been to Parliament and had a motion before both Houses which serves the notice. It does seem a bit odd doesn’t it?”’ – The Sun

  • The case moves onto questions of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – Daily Telegraph
  • Scottish Lord Advocate admits Holyrood does not have a veto – Daily Mail
  • Legal aid-funded challenger is a convicted benefits fraudster – The Sun
  • Lord Sumption’s ties have an online fanclub – Daily Telegraph
  • Man arrested over threats to Gina Miller – Daily Telegraph
  • Hateful views should be allowed, but not harassment – Oliver Kamm, The Times (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Brexit. Ministers advance, proposing an Article 50 vote. And they retreat, conceding more scrutiny. Who is bluffing whom?

Mass immigration is a security threat, says the Prime Minister

Border‘Theresa May has named mass migration as one of the biggest challenges to Britain’s security. The Prime Minister yesterday unveiled a report showing there have been 222 arrests for terrorism-related offences in the past year.She stressed Britain’s biggest security challenges remained threats from states such as Russia, from terrorism and from cyber attacks. The Government’s first annual defence and security strategy review also noted that the threat from terrorism was “more acute and more complex than ever before”.’ – The Sun

Gove and Whittingdale urge firms to draw up wishlists of regulations to scrap

‘Senior Tory MPs have begun pushing for a list of regulations affecting companies to tear up after Brexit, even though Theresa May has promised to carry over all EU law into British law. Two former cabinet ministers, John Whittingdale and Michael Gove, suggested to the CBI business group on Wednesday that companies should start drawing up a list of regulations they want to see abolished or reformed. The two leave campaigners raised the prospect of EU laws being scrapped after the passage of May’s great repeal bill carrying over existing legislation, as they cross-examined witnesses at a session of the Commons committee on exiting the EU.’ – The Guardian

>Today: Daniel Hannan’s column: We will get a good deal – because rational self-interest will overcome the Eurocrats’ fury

Johnson accuses Saudis of ‘twisting’ Islam and fighting ‘proxy wars’

boris-johnson‘Boris Johnson accused Saudi Arabia of abusing Islam and acting as a puppeteer in proxy wars throughout the Middle East, in remarks that flout a longstanding Foreign Office convention not to criticise the UK’s allies in public. The foreign secretary told a conference in Rome last week that the behaviour of Saudi Arabia, and also Iran, was a tragedy, adding that there was an absence of visionary leadership in the region that was willing to reach out across the Sunni-Shia divide. At the event, Johnson said: “There are politicians who are twisting and abusing religion and different strains of the same religion in order to further their own political objectives. That’s one of the biggest political problems in the whole region. And the tragedy for me – and that’s why you have these proxy wars being fought the whole time in that area – is that there is not strong enough leadership in the countries themselves.”’ – The Guardian

  • He will visit the Middle East in a few days – Daily Mail

May, the modern Tudor monarch?

‘Like Elizabeth, Theresa May has to deal with problems in Europe and upheaval at home. She even faces unruly Scots. And there is something of the revenge tragedy about the way she has sacked and humiliated former enemies such as George Osborne. Her court includes ruthless political enforcers, including chief whip Gavin Williamson, who keeps a tarantula called Cronus in his office, named after the mythical Greek figure who castrated his father and threw his testicles into the sea. But the prime minister fears the Tudor comparisons are getting out of hand when it is suggested that Liam Fox, her Brexiter trade minister, might be the 21st-century equivalent of the swashbuckling Sir Francis Drake. “Think about the tights!” she gasps. It is a mischievous side to the prime minister rarely seen by the public, or indeed by many Tory MPs.’ – FT

  • Her anger at civil servants for blocking policy ideas – The Sun
  • ‘Don’t tell me what you think I want to hear’  – The Times (£)
  • ‘Stop calling them JAMs’ – Daily Mail

Patel to clamp down on firms ‘profiteering’ from the aid budget

aidgraphic‘Firms raking in billions from Britain’s foreign aid budget could be forced to reveal how much they’re charging the government in fees and staff salaries, it was reported last night. And International Development Secretary Priti Patel is set to review all overseas aid contracts after it was revealed how consultancy companies have been massively overcharging for services. Spending on consultants has doubled since 2012 to an eye-watering £1bn, reporters revealed, after analysing more than 70,000 financial transactions in the department. Ten British companies are said to have received almost half of the funds – with one think tank charging £10,306 to write a single blog post and another raking in £23,000 in taxpayers’ cash to write a two-page document.’ – The Sun

Neill demands Grayling’s resignation

‘Bob Neill, the chairman of the justice select committee and a former minister for London, said that Mr Grayling was “not fit to hold office”. He accused Mr Grayling of lying to parliament after a leaked letter suggested that he wanted to keep commuter travel “out of the clutches” of the Labour Party. On Tuesday Mr Grayling rejected a request by Sadiq Khan for Transport for London (TfL) to take over the Southeastern commuter route to London, insisting that there was no need for a reorganisation. But in a private letter to the previous mayor Boris Johnson, sent in April 2013 and leaked to the Evening Standard, Mr Grayling warned against rail devolution because he wanted to keep responsibility for key services away from any future Labour mayor.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: How do you solve a problem like the railways?

Sleaford by-election: Labour might be pushed into fourth place

LABOUR dead rose‘This has been a safe Tory seat for as long as anyone can remember. Stephen Phillips, the former MP whose resignation triggered the contest, won 56 per cent of the vote in May 2015. Defeat now for the Tory candidate, Caroline Johnson, a consultant paediatrician, would be astonishing. Instead, all eyes are on whether Labour, which came second with 10,690 votes last year, will be squeezed into third place as the UK Independence party slices into its working-class vote. The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile — who picked up only 3,562 votes in the general election — have been carpet-bombing the locals with pro-Remain leaflets. They believe they can leapfrog Labour, pushing them down into fourth place.’ – FT

  • This is the other way a ‘Brexit by-election’ can go – The Guardian

Jones: Save Momentum from Momentum’s Trotskyist members

‘Momentum – the grassroots movement set up in the aftermath of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership victory – is currently facing a takeover bid by Trotskyist sectarians. If they succeed, Momentum will be destroyed. The most prominent sectarian figures are embittered veterans of struggles from the 1970s and 80s, people who have only experienced defeat, and who won’t let an unexpected opportunity afforded by the seismic political developments of the last two years slip through their fingers. This is their last chance. They jump from organisation to organisation, and are adept at manipulating internal structures for their own advantage: sitting out long boring meetings, coordinating interventions, playing victim when it suits. They’re not interested in say, door-to-door campaigning, but rather in debating their obscure pet issues with long-winded interventions at meetings on a Thursday evening.’ – Owen Jones, The Guardian

Hundreds of police officers accused of sexual abuse

Police‘Hundreds of police officers are being accused of sexually abusing victims and suspects in what a senior police watchdog has called “the most serious corruption issue facing the service”. Forces across England and Wales received 436 allegations of abuse of power for sexual gain against 306 police officers, 20 police community support officers and eight staff in the two years to March but inspectors believe the problem is even more prevalent than the numbers suggest. Despite the large numbers, there is evidence that only 40 officers or staff have been dismissed for abusing authority for sexual gain in a similar period.’ – The Guardian

  • All complaints from the last two years will be reviewed – The Times (£)
  • Police officer jailed for drugs offences – Daily Mail

Lib Dems face criminal investigation over election spending breaches

‘Specialist detectives are probing the Lib Dem’s chief executive after electoral chiefs reported the party to police over election expenses. Tim Gordon will be investigated following a maximum £20,000 fine over almost £185,000 of missing election payments. An Electoral Commission investigation found 307 payments totalling £184,676 were missing from the Lib Dems’ 2015 general election spending return with no reasonable excuse. It is the responsibility of Mr Gordon – party’s registered campaigns officer–to ensure spending returns are accurate and rules are followed. The watchdog’s investigation concluded Mr Gordon had committed an offence under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA) by “knowingly or recklessly making a false declaration”.’ – The Sun

News in Brief

  • Senior Real IRA figure shot dead – The Guardian
  • Chester’s city walls eroded by urine – The Times (£)
  • ‘Tank-chasing’ lawyers to investigate the Troubles – The Sun
  • Meet the next Prime Minister of New Zealand – The Guardian
  • Tata agrees Port Talbot rescue deal – FT
  • Why Rees-Mogg has to time his baths carefully – The Times (£)
  • It’s 75 years since the surrender of Hong Kong – Daily Mail
  • Thieves hide inside shop by posing as mannequins – The Sun
  • Racist troll found guilty of harassing Berger – The Guardian