Aleppo debate 1) MPs say ‘Britain is shamed’

House of Commons logo‘Britain is shamed as a nation for failing to prevent the tragedy in Syria and allowing Russia to undermine world order with no consequences, MPs said yesterday. Ed Miliband was singled out for his part in defeating a government attempt to launch military action against President Assad in 2013 after the dictator used chemical weapons on his people. Many MPs saw the vote as a pivotal moment in the near six-year conflict…Boris Johnson said David Cameron’s failure to win the Syria vote in 2013 created a space that was filled by President Putin when Russian jets began airstrikes in support of the regime last year: “The dictator was left to do his worst, along with his allies Russia and Iran, and the bloodiest tragedy of the 21st century has since unfolded.”’ – The Times (£)

  • Anger over ‘poor showing’ for Syria debate – Independent


  • ‘Never again’ is happening now in Aleppo – Julie Lenarz, Daily Telegraph
  • Aleppo is another example of Western impotence. What about Mosul? – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph 
  • There’s still a lot more we need to learn about what’s happening – Robert Fisk, Independent
  • Intervening would have been ‘disastrous’ – Michael Burleigh, Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: No, we have not caused the agony of Aleppo

Aleppo debate 2) Johnson says Britain left Assad to ‘do his worst’

JOHNSON Boris Syria‘The Foreign Secretary described the ongoing Syrian civil war as the “bloodiest tragedy of the 21st century” as the five-month siege of rebel-held Aleppo nears an end. Under bombardment from Russian and Syrian government forces, Mr Johnson described to MPs how, following reports of war crimes, Assad’s forces are “doing their upmost to stamp out the last embers of revolt”. But, despite the worsening humanitarian disaster in the city, Mr Johnson claimed aid drops over war-torn Syria are too great a risk under current conditions as he warned transport aircraft would be “sitting ducks” for Russian fighter jets.’ – Daily Express

Aleppo debate 3) Osborne says Government should feels some responsibility, admitting that he does

Osborne‘George Osborne has said he personally takes responsibility for the situation in Aleppo and insisted that Parliament is “deluding itself” if it doesn’t share some of the blame. The former Chancellor said Britain failed to intervene to support rebels in besieged eastern districts and others across Syria when it had the chance. Speaking at an emergency debate held in the House of Commons, the Conservative MP said massacres currently reported to be unfolding had not come out of the blue. “The Syrian civil war has been raging since 2011 and therefore it is something that we should have foreseen and done something about,” Mr Osborne said.’  – Independent

  • He criticises Labour for voting against action – Daily Express
  • Osborne gave the most notable speech of the Aleppo debate – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph


>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Osborne – “We could have done something about” the tragedy in Aleppo

More Aleppo

  • UN human rights office has ‘reliable accounts’ of pro-regime forces killing civilians in their homes – Guardian
  • Opposition claims Turkey has mediated a ceasefire – The Times (£)
  • Turkish and rebel officials confirm that ‘an agreement has been reached’ – Guardian
  • Evacuation begins today, after battle seems to have ended – Daily Telegraph
  • Evacuation delayed by ‘Iranian militias’ – The Times (£)
  • What you can do to help – Independent


  • Through my experiences in Srebrenica, I know that humanity ‘can’t afford’ this – Nedžad Avdić, Guardian
  • The contrast between Aleppo and east Mosul – Patrick Cockburn, Independent
  • In terms of the region’s future, this is a ‘victory for Iran’ – David Gardner, FT

Ministers consider banning all-out strikes as senior Conservatives ‘demand’ emergency legislation

Chris Philp‘A ban on all-out strikes and the break-up of the country’s biggest train operator are among reforms to the railways being considered by ministers, The Times has learnt. Senior Conservatives are demanding emergency legislation to ensure that at least half of all train services keep running during a strike, amid mounting anger over the worst rail dispute in a generation. It is understood that the government is examining the idea and has commissioned Whitehall to consider how such laws would work…Under the plans, proposed by the Tory MP Chris Philp and backed by some ministers, it would also be a legal requirement for strikes on critical public infrastructure — including railways — to be “reasonable and proportionate”. Mr Philp raised the proposal yesterday at a meeting between Mr Grayling and a dozen Tory colleagues who represent seats in the southeast.’ – The Times (£)

  • Grayling ‘refuses to rule out anti-strike measures’ – The Times (£)
  • He says he’ll take a ‘careful look’ at new legislation ideas – The Sun
  • He is ‘vulnerable to accusations’ – FT
  • It’s the ‘biggest series of rail strikes in a generation’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Arbitration talks to happen today – Guardian
  • Who is Aslef’s president? – Daily Mail
  • Commuters in tears – The Times (£)


>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Strikes are relatively rare – but it isn’t acceptable that certain services are still regularly disrupted by them

Brexit 1) All key Brexit decisions deferred until 2017 amid committee disagreements

may‘All important decisions on Brexit have been deferred until next year amid reports that members of a key cabinet committee are struggling to reach agreement. Theresa May is determined to follow a formal policy development process, using committees set up shortly after her arrival in Downing Street rather than the more informal group preferred by David Cameron. Decisions are expected to start being made before Article 50 is triggered in March, although some issues such as the customs union may be deferred beyond then. Significant power over Brexit is held by the European Union Exit and Trade committee, which has 12 permanent members and is chaired by the prime minister. The committee meets fortnightly and typically discusses two approximately 80-page documents, such as details of World Trade Organisation rules and agricultural subsidies.’ – The Times (£)

  • May speaking with hard Brexit ‘deputation’ – Guardian

Brexit 2) Davis ‘is privately not averse’ to transitional arrangement

DAVIS David‘David Davis, the Brexit secretary, has privately conceded that Britain may need to enter into so-called “transition arrangements” with Brussels when Brexit talks are concluded in 2019, The Telegraph understands. In meetings with both top EU officials and some senior bankers, Mr Davis has indicated that he is “not averse” to a transition arrangement that enables the UK to bridge the gap between a formal exit from the EU and the start of a new trading relationship outside the EU. His private position is at odds with pronouncements from Mr Davis in more public settings, as when earlier this month told a meeting of the City of London Corporation that he was “not really interested” in a transitional deal.’  – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 3) Bradshaw claims referendum was ‘targeted by Russian hackers’

Ben Bradshaw 12-08-15‘Ben Bradshaw, a former Cabinet minister, called on world leaders to “wake up” to the scale of cyber warfare being waged by Vladimir Putin. He suggested the EU referendum was successfully targeted by Russian hackers. Speaking during an emergency House of Commons debate on Syria, where Russian forces have aided the country’s dictator Bashar al-Assad in a brutal siege of rebel-held city Aleppo, Mr Bradshaw warned MPs of the growing threat of Russia. The Exeter MP said: “I don’t think we have even begun to wake up to what Russia is doing when it comes to cyber warfare. “Not only their interference, now proven, in the American presidential campaign, probably in our own referendum last year.”’ – Daily Express

More Brexit

  • Rees-Mogg talks of plan to pay into EU from overseas aid budget – Daily Express
  • Former WTO chief says trade could form part of early skeleton agreement – Daily Telegraph
  • Starmer says May will be ‘found out’ for ‘exploiting immigration fears’ – Independent
  • Beckett says nobody thought Article 50 would ever be triggered – Daily Express
  • Lords committee call for transitional deal for sake of finance jobs – Guardian
  • Hammond’s approach makes him Labour ‘hero’ – FT
  • Civil service calls for clarity – FT
  • Cardwell says that Brexit doesn’t have to mean Farage’s Brexit – Guardian


  • What does Brexit mean for Labour? Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • The link between trade and mobility is key to setting migration policy – Carolyn Fairbairn, The Times (£)
  • Migration poses a real threat – Roger Boyes, The Times (£)
  • Keynes is as irrelevant as neoliberalism – George Monbiot – Guardian
  • May has a more difficult task than Thatcher – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Andrew Lilico in Comment: Hidden? Non-existent? Obscure? Nonsense. May’s Brexit negotiation strategy is clear

Schools budget ‘to be cut by £3bn’ over next four years

School‘School budgets are facing a real-terms cut of £3bn over the next four years, a report has warned. A National Audit Office report into the financial sustainability of schools has warned that mainstream schools will need to reduce spending by an average of 8 per cent per pupil by 2019-2020 – a difference education leaders say is the biggest real terms cut in a generation. The independent parliamentary audit group named staff pay rises, higher employer contributions to national insurance and the teachers’ pension scheme as examples of rising industry costs that are unsustainable.’ – Independent 

Hunt says people should save for future old-age care

Jeremy Hunt 19-06-15‘Families should put money aside to pay for their care in old age like they do with their pensions, the Health Secretary urged last night. Jeremy Hunt called on adults to start thinking about how to fund their future needs as early as their twenties and thirties. He also warned that taxes would have to be raised to fund the spiralling costs of healthcare – particularly if the economy stalls. Mr Hunt was giving evidence to a House of Lords committee amid growing warnings that the social care system is on the brink of collapse.’ – Daily Mail

  • Government money for social care crisis is welcome – Editorial, Daily Express

Sturgeon hints at fielding SNP candidates in England

Sturgeon‘The SNP could stand candidates in elections south of the border to ‘speak up for’ English people, Nicola Sturgeon has said. The Scottish First minister hinted that London, where there has been anger over the Brexit vote, could be a target for the party. The suggestion raises the prospect of politicians representing areas of a country they do not even wish to be part of – as the SNP is campaigning for Scotland to become independent. The party claimed to have experience a surge in membership applications from south of the border after Mrs Sturgeon’s performances in TV debates before the 2015 general election.’ – Daily Mail

  • ‘Extraordinary gulf’ between schools in poor and wealthy areas of Scotland – Daily Telegraph

More Government

  • ’Staggering’ Dfid decision to build unusable airport – FT
  • 250,000 ejected from hospital overnight, per year – The Times (£)
  • McDonnell vows to keep pension triple lock – Guardian
  • Northern Ireland minister says British soldiers deaths won’t be investigated – Daily Mail
  • Feminists angry as Davies appointed to Women and Equalities Committee – The Sun
  • Portrait of Johnson disappears from club – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: James Frayne’s column: Britain should raise defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP

>Today: Henry Hill’s Column: SNP MP Ahmed-Sheikh could lose seat over HMRC court action

Trump appoints Tillerson

TRUMP Live‘Donald Trump placed US foreign policy in the hands of a Texas oil baron today, opening a new era of deal-making diplomacy that is likely to transform America’s engagement with the world. By picking Rex Tillerson to be his secretary of state the president-elect signalled his readiness to tackle opposition from his own party in Congress where the chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp is expected to face heavy scrutiny over his business ties to the Kremlin before his appointment can be confirmed. Democratic and Republican leaders have already expressed grave concern about intelligence assessments saying that Moscow interfered with the US presidential election to help the New York tycoon win, conclusions that Mr Trump has dismissed as unfounded.’ – The Times (£)

  • But what will the Senate say? Guardian
  • Kremlin says Tillerson has ‘good ties’ with Putin – Independent
  • Pop stars don’t want to sing for Trump’s inauguration – Daily Telegraph
  • He picks a former SEAL as Interior Secretary – Daily Telegraph


  • Tillerson is Trump’s ‘most Trumpian move’ yet – Catherine Philp, The Times (£)
  • Putin’s next target will be Corbyn – Matthew Norman, Independent
  • Trump is reinventing government – Editorial, The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Bob Stewart in Comment: Trump is right – we should not surrender to China over Taiwan

>Today: Profiles: The alt-right – Trump’s allies in his victory over Clinton

News in Brief

  • Spain chimes with Britain over GMT – The Times (£)
  • African leaders fly to Gambia to persuade Jammeh to stand down – Guardian
  • Dementia could be controlled like HIV – Independent
  • Anger over German minister’s refusal to wear hijab in Saudi Arabia – Daily Express
  • Johnson enters into the trouser jokes – Daily Mail
  • Wonder Woman stripped of UN position – Daily Telegraph