Old age 1) MPs urge Hammond to divert foreign aid to support social care

elderly‘The £12billion foreign aid budget should be used to tackle the crisis in social care, MPs said last night. Their call to put Britain’s elderly first came amid warnings that the system supporting the vulnerable was close to ‘toppling over’. And yesterday Chancellor Philip Hammond suggested for the first time there would be a review of the controversial target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income on foreign aid. Shipley MP Philip Davies said: ‘Charity begins at home and we should make sure we are spending enough on social care for our vulnerable older and disabled constituents before we send money abroad – especially when so much of that is wasted.’’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: John O’Connell on Comment: Social care needs more money – but higher Council Tax is not the right way to deliver it

Old age 2) May blames councils for failing the elderly

‘Downing Street has savaged councils for wasting billions and failing to find beds for elderly patients ready to leave hospital. PM Theresa May is fighting back against claims the Government created the crisis by not funding care homes sufficiently. Figures released by No10 reveal the “transfer of care” rate is 20 times worse for the bottom performing ten per cent of local authorities than the top ten per cent. They show half of all delays are in just 20 council areas. The PM’s spokesman said: “Money alone is not the solution.”’ – The Sun

  • Parents would rather die than spend their children’s inheritance – The Times (£)
  • Face up to the costs of growing old – Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)
  • Thousands of care workers earn below minimum wage – The Times (£)

Old age 3) Ministers explore ways to get the self-employed saving for retirement

MANIFESTO Savings‘More than £80bn was poured into pensions by companies in the UK and their employees last year, but one group is conspicuously failing to save: the self-employed…But at the same time, the ranks of the self-employed have been swelling, with more and more workers choosing to enter the so-called “gig economy”, helped by online platforms such as Uber and Deliveroo. They now number around 5m, or 15 per cent of the UK workforce and their absence in the automatic enrolment policy has become too glaring for ministers to ignore. On Monday, the government confirmed it would look at ways to draw more self-employed, as well as other groups, into a pension as part of a wide-ranging 2017 review. It simultaneously released new figures which showed pension saving among those working for themselves had fallen from from 31 per cent in 2005-06 to 14 per cent in 2014-15.’ – FT

  • Johnson rejects Blair’s request for an extra £100,000 – The Times (£)

Brexit 1) Hammond expresses support for a transitional deal

‘Brexit could take more than two years to deliver, Philip Hammond warned today as he widened Cabinet splits by saying publicly for the first time that he wants to strike a transitional deal with the EU. Taking a swipe at Cabinet colleagues opposed to the idea, the Chancellor said there was an ’emerging view’ among business leaders, regulators and ‘thoughtful politicians’ that a transitional deal after Brexit will be needed. Interim arrangements relating to Britain’s relationship with the EU immediately after Brexit are needed to avoid financial disruption, he said. Mr Hammond also warned that ‘large numbers of people’ will be needed to be hired and trained to deal with a five-fold increase in border checks, which would cost ‘hundreds of millions of pounds’.’ – Daily Mail

Today: ToryDiary: Nothing is more permanent than the temporary. The pluses, minuses and paradox of an interim deal.

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Davis soars and Hammond and Rudd rebound in our Cabinet League Table

Brexit 2) 60 MPs make the case for leaving the Single Market

EU Exit brexit‘The EU was last night savaged for adding £500 to household food and clothing bills as over 60 Tory MPs stepped up demands for a ‘Hard Brexit’. In a scathing letter to European Parliament chiefs, the hard-line Tories claim the EU’s protectionist policies and tariffs on imports are “denying” cheaper products to customers. The extraordinary blast came as Tories laid into EU leaders for banning Theresa May from an end-of-year dinner at this Thursday’s EU Council meeting in Brussels. And No.10 accepted the snub despite a plea just two months ago for the UK to remain at the top table at all times. In the letter signed by the 60 MPs, Tory backbencher Suella Fernandes tells European Parliament chief Martin Schulz that Brexit Britain has to leave the single market and customs union as the EU “has not served the best interests of the UK”.’ – The Sun 

>Today: Christopher Howarth’s Guide to Brexit: How to manage the Northern Irish border after we leave the EU

>Yesterday: Nadhim Zahawi’s column: Britain cannot be an international Jobcentre Plus. Free movement from the EU must be curbed.

Brexit 3) Soames criticises Morgan for ‘triviliasing’ rebels’ cause

Nicky Morgan was slammed today by a Tory Remainer ally for ‘trivialising’ a fight over Brexit by attacking Theresa May’s £995 trousers. Sir Nicholas Soames said he was ‘fond’ of the former education secretary but warned she had badly mishandled the ‘Trousergate’ row. The stinging criticism from the grandee comes after the Loughborough MP was branded ‘impertinent’ by another senior Tory… Sir Nicholas said: ‘What Nicky Morgan said of the Prime Minister was completely unacceptable and succeeded in trivialising a very important argument that a group of us was making about Brexit. I am not the least surprised that the Prime Minister said she did not want Nicky Morgan to come.’ – Daily Mail

  • Other MPs back May – The Times (£)
  • Jim Prior, wet who fought Thatcher, has died – The Times (£)

Martin: May’s ‘paranoia’ threatens her Government

MAY Theresa pensive‘It is not just that she is an enigma on the question of Brexit. She and her team are messing up in respects that seem minor now but which suggest future serious trouble. A Conservative leader whose appointment was welcomed so widely in the summer by voters discombobulated after the referendum campaign seems to be having considerable trouble settling in six months later. In recent weeks the whiff of paranoia around the government has become overpowering, with the Number 10 operation adopting an ever more control-freakish approach that history shows us usually backfires. The May team’s penchant for punishing critics reached a farcical peak at the weekend with the decision to exclude Nicky Morgan, a former cabinet minister and leading Tory Remainer, from a meeting at Number 10 because she had been mildly disrespectful about Mrs May’s elitist leather trousers.’ – Iain Martin, FT


Russia 1) Fallon warns of Kremlin intervention in elections

‘Sir Michael Fallon has highlighted a “disturbing pattern” of alleged Russian meddling in European elections, including in the Netherlands and Bulgaria. The defence secretary also accused President Putin of a “huge” rise in submarine activity and a trend of renewed Russian aggression off the British coast. “We have seen a rather disturbing pattern of these allegations now of direct Russian interference in countries as far apart as Bulgaria, the referendum in the Netherlands, continuing pressure on the Baltic States,” Sir Michael told MPs during defence questions. Rumen Radev, a pro-Russia newcomer to politics, won Bulgaria’s presidential election last month. In the Netherlands, the rejection by voters of a European Union partnership deal to remove trade barriers with Ukraine also appeared to favour Mr Putin.’ – The Times (£)

Russia 2) Aleppo is about to fall

Syria‘The rebellion of Aleppo appeared to be in its death throes as Assad’s troops and Iranian-backed militias took control of the vast majority of the territory once held by the opposition, coming within sight of a crucial victory in the war that has cost tens of thousands of lives over four and a half years. The Syrian army and its allies are in the “last moments before declaring victory” in Aleppo, a Syrian military source told Reuters, after rebel defences collapsed on Monday, leaving insurgents in a tiny, heavily bombarded pocket of ground…“The battle in eastern Aleppo should end quickly. They [rebels] don’t have much time. They either have to surrender or die,” Lieutenant General Zaid al-Saleh, head of the government’s Aleppo security committee, told reporters in the recaptured Sheikh Saeed district of the city.’ – The Guardian

  • UN warns of mass atrocities – The Times (£)
  • Assad supporters celebrate – Daily Mail
  • Human rights should be at the heart of foreign policy – Ann Clwyd, The Times (£)
  • ISIS recaptured Palmyra after Russian troops fled – The Times (£)
  • Sisi blames church attack on suicide bomber – The Times (£)

May accuses Labour of turning a ‘blind eye’ to anti-semitism

‘The UK has adopted an international definition of anti-Semitism, which police, councils, universities and public bodies can use. Announcing the move, the PM said it was “disgusting” that anti-Semitic views were being found in British politics…But Mrs May told a lunch of the Conservative Friends of Israel in London that the Conservatives were taking “the firmest stand” against anti-Semitism. The prime minister said that a clearer definition would “call out” anyone guilty of anti-Semitism in “essence, language or behaviour”, saying it was “unacceptable that there is anti-Semitism in this country”. “It is disgusting that these twisted views are being found in British politics,” she said, adding: “Of course, I am talking mainly about the Labour Party and their hard-left allies.”‘ – BBC News

  • Meanwhile, Corbyn plans ‘Christmas jumper day’ – The Sun

>Today: Anand Menon on Comment: May is arming her Party to challenge Labour in its heartlands

>Yesterday: MPsETC: May’s speech to the Conservative Friends of Israel – full text

Strikes 1) Worst rail disruption since the 1990s

On strike‘Hundreds of thousands of commuters face travel chaos this morning as Southern Railway drivers start three days of strike action. The roughly 300,000 rail passengers who use Southern services each week day will be forced to find alternative routes today after drivers with the Aslef union walked out at midnight in a long-running dispute over driver-only trains. The shutdown is the worst disruption since the railways were hit by a lengthy strike by signal workers in the mid 1990s.’ – Daily Mail

  • Union boss told Grayling they’d ‘strike for a decade’ – The Times (£)
  • Striking union gave Labour £118,000 last year – The Times (£)
  • Unite candidate says McCluskey is too busy running the Labour Party – The Guardian


Strikes 2) Post Office strikers target Christmas

‘Christmas mail services face serious disruption after Post Office workers voted to stage five days of strikes before the festive period. Hundreds of larger branches will close or operate reduced services on December 19, 20 and 24 as counter staff walk out in a dispute over closures, job cuts and the ending of a final salary pension scheme. Rural and smaller post offices also face disruption when cash handlers strike on December 22 and 23. The protests will seriously affect people sending gifts to family and friends. Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said members were “fighting to save their jobs and this great institution from terminal decline”.’ – The Times (£)

News in Brief