Downing Street: Strikers show ‘contempt for ordinary people’

On strike‘Union militants are showing a ‘shared contempt for ordinary people’ by disrupting Christmas, Downing Street said yesterday. As postal workers joined rail staff in staging walkouts, a spokesman for Theresa May accused the unions of trying to inflict ‘maximum damage and disruption during the festive period’. But Downing Street stopped short of backing calls for new anti-strike laws, despite a growing clamour from MPs.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: Chris Philp on Comment: Ministers must act now to stop railway strikes

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Strikes: Downing Street won’t just act for the sake of acting

Truss: Prisons crisis caused by too few staff

‘The justice secretary is blaming her predecessors for the crisis in prisons and says that there are too few officers to run them properly. Liz Truss told MPs that staff shortages and the drug and violence problems gripping jails in England and Wales would last for months. In a Commons statement on last week’s riot at Birmingham prison, she said that it would take time for the extra money she announced this year to remedy the problems. “We don’t have sufficient staff in our prisons, which is why the additional investment is being put in by the government,” she said.’ – The Times (£)

  • It will drag on – FT

May accuses Brussels of leaving EU migrants ‘high and dry’

EU FLag‘May has accused EU leaders of leaving close to five million people “high and dry” by refusing to do an early deal on EU citizens’ rights. The PM stepped up her criticism of Europe’s 27 other bosses last night after they rebuffed her bid to settle the issue early last week. Her plea for a “reciprocity” deal to allow EU citizens to stay here and Brits to keep living in Europe after Brexit was met with silence at the Brussels summit. Mrs May told MPs yesterday: “I made clear once again that I hope that this issue can be dealt with at an early stage of the negotiations. The other member states and the Council have been clear that they are not prepared to enter into negotiations before article 50 is triggered.”‘ – The Sun

  • She wouldn’t rule out paying for trade access – The Guardian
  • Our fishing industry could double when we escape the EU – The Sun
  • Sturgeon’s adviser pours cold water on her Single Market plans – Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit will make the NHS safer, say surgeons – Daily Mail

Rachman: Brexit might not be hard or soft but chaotic

‘If there was great goodwill on both sides, the negotiations could doubtless be accelerated. But that is where the politics come into it. There is already plenty of simmering ill will on both sides of the Channel. The British are hoping that, when the talks actually begin, things will calm down. In reality, it is more likely that the opposite will happen. The negotiating process will reveal the immense gap between the operating assumptions of the two sides. As a result, mutual acrimony will quickly increase — and talks could break down irretrievably. The flashpoint is likely to be the EU’s estimate of Britain’s financial liabilities following Brexit, covering everything from money already pledged to the union’s budget to the pensions of retired bureaucrats.’ – Gideon Rachman, FT

Billions ‘dumped’ into the World Bank to hit aid targets

PATEL October 2016‘Billions of pounds of British aid cash is ‘dumped’ every year into trust funds operated by the World Bank in order to meet the controversial aid target. The UK has channelled £9billion in this way over the past five years and in the process was charged £241million in administration fees by the bank. Experts said yesterday the money was being funnelled through these trust funds to ensure the UK meets the annual aim of spending 0.7 per cent of national income on helping the developing world. In some cases, the money sits there for years. It is believed £4billion the UK has contributed is still to be spent.’ – Daily Mail

DCLG ‘overclaimed’ successes of the Troubled Families programme

‘Claims David Cameron’s flagship £1.3billion Troubled Families programme helped 99 per cent taking part were slammed as “misleading” by MPs. A powerful Commons report found families had been rushed through the programme – launched in 2012. The Commons Public Accounts Committee said the Government “over-claimed” how they’d turned around lives with no real proof they’d had any “significant impact” on families. Ministers also exaggerated the financial benefits of the scheme claiming they’d saved taxpayers £1.2bn.’ – The Sun

>Today: Iain Duncan Smith’s column: In office, I worked to tackle the roots of poverty. My new mission is to deal with those of low productivity.

Terror 1) Truck attack on Berlin Christmas market

German flag‘A Pakistani asylum seeker believed to have used a hijacked 25-tonne Polish lorry to murder 12 people and injure 48 more at a Berlin Christmas market had only been in Germany for months and was known to police, it was revealed today. The masked 23-year-old, who has not been named but is known to have various aliases, turned off the truck’s lights before mounting the pavement at 40mph and ploughing through crowds of people enjoying mulled wine after work. The vehicle laden with steel cargo ripped through stalls and shoppers at 7pm on Breitscheidplatz Square, outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the German capital’s main shopping area.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Terror shakes democracies, but leaves autocrats unstirred

Terror 2) Russian ambassador to Turkey assassinated

‘Russia condemned the assassination last night of its ambassador to Turkey as a “terrorist act” — a development that threatens to spawn a new spiral of violence in the region. An off-duty Turkish policeman cried “Allahu akbar” and “don’t forget Aleppo” as he fired at least eight times into the back of Andrei Karlov, 62, at a photography exhibition. The grey-haired, bespectacled ambassador was easing into a speech at the embassy-sponsored event when the bullets tore through his body.’ – The Times (£)

  • The killer was an off-duty police officer – Daily Mail
  • Putin says the attack was intended to sabotage a Turkey/Russia deal – Daily Mail
  • Kremlin ally blames NATO – Daily Mail
  • Gunman opens fire outside US embassy in Ankara – Daily Mail

News in Brief

  • Cameron secures approval to join lucrative speaking circuit – Daily Mail
  • Lionel Blue’s uplifting thoughts on life – Daily Mail
  • Arlene Foster survives confidence vote – The Guardian
  • Saudi Arabia admits using British cluster bombs in Yemen – FT
  • Whittingdale sings Bat Out of Hell on live radio – Daily Mail
  • Trump’s economic policy is just what America needs – Art Laffer, Daily Telegraph
  • Electoral college formally confirms the next US President – The Guardian