May ‘blames Cameron’ for controversial honours…

MAY Theresa pensive“Theresa May blames David Cameron for controversial appointments in the New Year’s honours list, it was claimed last night. Political figures and mandarins including Tory donors and the permanent secretary of the Department for International Development were among recipients of gongs. And sources close to Mrs May said many of the nominations came from Mr Cameron. The Prime Minister wants future honours to prioritise those who have helped the economy or boosted social mobility.” – Daily Mail

  • It’s the Prime Minister’s task to tell Trump the truth about Putin – Matthew d’Ancona, The Guardian

…and revives pledge to cut migrant benefits

“Theresa May is preparing to use Brexit to fulfil David Cameron’s manifesto promise to stop EU migrants from claiming benefits. Senior government figures are studying whether to stop newly arrived migrants from the continent from claiming tax credits and other in-work benefits. This was pledged in the Tory manifesto but Mr Cameron was able to negotiate only a temporary compromise with the rest of the EU last year. The deal was nullified when Britain voted to leave the union in June. Now Mrs May is looking at resurrecting the idea and bringing EU migrants into line with those from outside the continent.” – The Times (£)


  • Has the penny finally dropped about mass immigration? – Daily Mail
  • Coming months will show if May’s up to the task of Brexit – The Times (£)


Ministers 1) Duncan Smith warns EU that it would be ‘foolish’ to try and punish Britain

EU Brexit“The former Work and Pensions Secretary admitted “no one knows” how negotiations will pan out after Article 50 is triggered but remained confident it was in the interests of the European bloc to come to an agreement with Britain. Speaking to John Pienaar on BBC Radio 5 Live, the Tory politician said: “The simple answer is ‘of course we don’t [know how negotiations will pan out]’ but the reality is that the debate here in the UK about this has been ludicrously one-sided. “As though the UK has to figure out what it wants and go in and say ‘this is what we want to get’.” – Daily Express

  • Brexit’s slow-burning fuse will reach a powder-keg this year – William Keegan, The Guardian

Ministers 2) Cabinet members urge tough line with Lords on Brexit

“Cabinet ministers have urged Theresa May to threaten the House of Lords with a bloodbath if peers seek to frustrate Brexit. Senior Tories say the Prime Minister should stand ready to threaten the Upper Chamber with abolition or a huge cut in numbers and powers. Inside Whitehall, plans are being drawn up for responding to an expected Supreme Court ruling that a vote is needed in both Houses to trigger Article 50, launching the Brexit process.” – Daily Mail

Boris Johnson: Insurance law highlights why we were right to vote Leave

BORIS union flagIt is a principle of EU law that it has “direct effect”. As soon as the Court of Justice has spoken – wham – the entire 500 million people of the EU are subject to the force field of their will. And unless the member state governments take steps to bring their own law into line, they can be sued themselves. That, in large measure, is how the EU has come to generate 60 per cent of our legislation. This kiddie quad bike insurance law is a perfect example of both the over-regulation that has sapped the competitiveness of the EU and burdened it with low growth and high unemployment, and the judicial activism of the ECJ.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Liberalism may be struggling, but democracy is just fine – Kenan Malik, The Guardian

Ministers 3) Barwell backs new ‘garden villages’

“Plans to build ‘garden villages’ in the green belt and other desirable areas of rural England have won the backing of ministers. Nearly 50,000 houses will be built in the 14 new communities, with the Government pledging planning freedoms and support to fast-track their development. A smaller version of pre-planned ‘garden cities’, each village will have between 1,500 and 10,000 homes… Gavin Barwell, the housing and planning minister, said: ‘Locally-led garden towns and villages have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need. They also bring new jobs and facilities and a big boost to local economies.’” – Daily Mail

  • Fourteen developments to create up to 200,000 homes – FT

Ministers 4) Wallace warns that ISIS are planning a ‘mass casualty’ chemical attack

ISIS“The Minister of State for Security has issued a stark warning that ISIS is plotting a chemical attack on Britain. Ben Wallace said exercises are being carried out to prepare for such an atrocity. ISIS has the capabilities to produce their own mustard gas, having already used the tactics in the Middle East. Troops fighting against the terror group have been left with appalling injuries – including agonising blisters on their skin and badly damaged lungs – in a frightening echo of warfare in the trenches on the Western Front.” – Daily Mail

Scottish Conservatives condemn rising numbers missing out on university

“The number of Scottish applicants missing out on a university place increased to a new record level last year after more than doubling over the past decade of SNP rule, official figures have disclosed… The Scottish Conservatives said the large increase in the “unplaced” total means more youngsters are being presented with a choice between attending university south of the Border or losing out altogether. Liz Smith, the party’s Shadow Education Secretary, said: “This problem is serious since it means that a rising number of very well qualified Scottish pupils are finding it impossible to get places in Scottish universities.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • SNP transport minister defends fare increases on troubled network – Daily Telegraph
  • Sturgeon hands out first ‘baby boxes’ to newborns – The Independent
  • Scottish councils consider universal basic income trial – The Guardian

Labour members urged to reject change to leadership rules

Labour holes“Richard Angell, of the centrist Progress group closely associated with the New Labour years, said it was his new year’s resolution to stop an amendment supported by the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, which would lower the number of supportive MPs needed to qualify as a leadership candidate. Currently, would-be candidates need the support of 15% of their parliamentary colleagues for their name to be added to the ballot. However, the Labour conference this year will vote on whether to lower the threshold to 5% of MPs. The move is favoured by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn because it is viewed as an avenue to allow a continuity leftwing candidate to succeed him whenever he chooses to resign.” – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • Forces mark first year in fifty with no deaths on operations – Daily Telegraph
  • Number of charities linked to terrorism soars – Daily Mail
  • ISIS vows new campaign of terror after massacre – The Times (£)
  • New UK tax evasion penalties introduced – FT
  • More than 1,000 migrants fight riot police as they storm Spanish border – Daily Express
  • Northern Ireland faces ‘growing political crisis’, warns McGuinness – The Independent
  • Latest fare rises are ‘kick in the teeth’ for rail passengers – Daily Telegraph
  • Stay away from A&E unless it’s life-threatening, warn health chiefs – Daily Mail