May’s New Year message: It’s time to unite

downingst‘Britons must unite after their “divisive” decision to leave the European Union, Theresa May has said, as she pledged to use the next 12 months to make sure the UK gets the best Brexit deal. The Prime Minister quoted murdered Labour MP Jo Cox in her New Year’s Day message and called on Britons to come together irrespective of how they voted in last summer’s referendum. Mrs May also promised that 2017 will be the year in which Britain starts the process of leaving the EU and getting “the right deal” for Britons.’ – Sunday Telegraph

>Today: WATCH: May’s New Year message – This will be the year we start to make Brexit happen

Hodges: 2017 will see the Prime Minister lead a much broader revolution than Brexit

‘May appreciates the scale of her task. Though ‘Brexit means Brexit’ has unwittingly become her catchphrase, she has been adamant from the moment she stepped into No 10 that the Leave vote was simply a symbol of a much wider popular discontent. ‘She believes the referendum result was about much more than the EU,’ a Downing Street insider told me. ‘It reflects a far deeper desire for change.’ That’s why in the coming months we can expect to see May trying to expand the political conversation beyond the narrow confines of Article 50 implementation and back on to areas of what she calls her ‘social reform agenda’. Housing, education, the criminal justice system, energy prices, broken markets – each of these areas are set to become the focus of May’s attempt to redress what she describes as Britain’s ‘burning injustices’.’ – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday

>Yesterday: Michael Gove on Comment: In this coming year, let’s all come together – to campaign for a clean, constructive and complete Brexit.

Terrorist kills 39 in attack on Istanbul New Year party

Turkey flag‘Thirty nine people have been killed in an armed attack in an Istanbul nightclub, the city’s governor has revealed. The gunman, believed to have been dressed in a Santa costume, opened fire inside the Reina nightclub in Istanbul’s Ortaköy district, where hundreds were celebrating the New Year. A further 69 people are thought to have been wounded in the attack, which has been captured in CCTV footage. It happened at 1.30am local time. Sixteen of the casualties are believed to be foreign nationals. Special forces officers have stormed the building, but the location of the gunman is unknown.’ – Mail on Sunday

  • Largest ever armed police presence at London celebrations – Mail on Sunday
  • ISIS hopes to use chemical weapons in the UK – Sunday Times (£)
  • Merkel says Islamist terrorism is the greatest threat in 2017 – Mail on Sunday
  • Afghan migrant stabs Austrian woman for reading the Bible – Mail on Sunday
  • Record number of charities linked to terrorism – Sunday Telegraph
  • Trojan Horse witnesses accuse Government of betrayal after their names are released – Sunday Times (£)

>Today: Michael Fallon on Comment: As this New Year begins, let’s honour the work of our brave servicemen and women

UK splashes aid millions on nations with bigger economies than our own

‘Britain is spending millions of pounds of aid money on helping to build hospitals in China and funding postgraduate studies in India — even though the economies of both nations have outstripped our own. New figures slipped out by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office reveal a detailed breakdown of aid grants given to the emerging superpowers last year despite a pledge by ministers to cut traditional financial support to the countries. One aid project claimed to “support female parliamentarians” in India even though women continue to be significantly underrepresented in the House of Commons. Another grant, worth £40,000, was handed to China to “improve” its copyright laws. Almost £250,000 was also spent on officials from North Korea.’ – Sunday Times (£)

May calls time on Russian oligarchs at Tory fundraisers

Putin hunting‘Theresa May believes that Russian and former Soviet bloc oligarchs with links to Vladimir Putin became too close to the Tories under David Cameron and should be barred from party fundraising events, The Mail on Sunday understands. Amid mounting international tension over the alleged espionage activities of Putin’s foreign agents, the Prime Minister objects to lavish party functions being dominated by billionaire Russians with opaque pasts who are able to rub shoulders with Cabinet Ministers. Mrs May also disapproves of MPs taking part in Anglo-Russian parliamentary groups – or ‘MP forums’ – believing them a ‘security risk’. A senior political source said…’She thinks it is sensible to sup with a long spoon when it comes to Moscow, and that wasn’t always the case under the previous administration.’ – Mail on Sunday

  • Lenin painting to be shown for the first time in decades – Sunday Times (£)
  • Trump should remember that the bear has sharp claws – Sunday Times Leader (£)
  • Backlash from Congress over the President-elect’s Kremlin bromance – Sunday Times (£)
  • Russian embassy in London leads trolling campaign – Sunday Times (£)
  • Evidence of hacking found on computer of Vermont electricity firm – The Observer

>Yesterday: Joe Baron on Comment: Obama’s foreign policy closes on a typically low note

Willetts: As the baby boomers turn 70, it’s the young who need gifts

‘Our baby boom started soon after the war, so for us 2017 will be the year of the 70th birthday. More of us will turn 70 than ever before. In many ways it will be a celebration of lives well lived in a tolerant and successful society. The challenge for us baby-boomers is to do everything we can to ensure the same future for our children and grandchildren. If we want decent social care as we grow old, we need to consider how we can help the younger generations to receive the training and housing they need. We should remember that wise American bumper sticker: be nice to your kids — they choose your nursing home.’ – David Willetts, Sunday Times (£)

The free press is threatened by punitive new costs measure

Pile of newspapers‘Recognition of a regulator under the royal charter opens the door for the government to implement section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. Under this far-reaching legal sub-clause, any publication not signed up to Impress will be exposed to an uncomfortable threat. If a libel suit goes to court, the defending publisher will have to pay the costs of both sides — even if it wins the case…Nor is it only national newspapers that would be faced with swingeing legal liabilities. Section 40 would also apply to hard-pressed local newspapers, and smaller independent publications, from Private Eye to Spiked, the online magazine of which I am editor-at-large. Section 40 could ruin smaller publications, even if they managed to prevail in court.’ – Mick Hume, Sunday Times (£)

Police Federation blames the Prime Minister’s reforms for rising knife crime

‘Rank-and-file police officers have put themselves on a collision course with Theresa May after calling for wider stop and search powers to combat a surge in knife crime. The Police Federation, which represents 124,000 officers across the country, has criticised reforms introduced by May when she was home secretary that have resulted in a dramatic fall in incidents of stop and search. Over the same period, stabbings and other knife crime have risen. Steve White, the chairman of the federation, claimed police officers had bowed to “political pressure” and scaled back the use of stop and search after a series of warnings about their misuse from May.’ – Sunday Times (£)

Farage: The honours system is in a state of total disrepute

nigel-farage‘In 2010, when Mr Cameron became Prime Minister, he said that he wanted an upper chamber that reflected the way people in this country voted. As Ukip grew into being the third largest party in terms of popular support, we lobbied No 10 for some Ukip representation…In 2014, Ukip won the European elections and became the first party since 1906 to win a national election that was not Labour or Conservative…But, ever keen to keep our politics a closed shop, Mr Cameron then changed the story to say the House of Lords should reflect the House of Commons. Given that the Liberal Democrats currently have 104 life peers and that Ukip has not received a single one, this part of the system is in total disrepute. Many thought that Theresa May would be different, and that the old boys network would come to an end. Yet in the New Years List we see that at least eight former Home Office officials and colleagues of Mrs May have been rewarded with gongs. It would seem that nothing ever changes.’ – Nigel Farage, Sunday Telegraph

>Yesterday: MPsETC: A knighthood for Julian Brazier is announced in the New Year’s Honours list

Starmer calls for tighter migration rules

‘In an interview with The Sunday Times, Starmer, who has been tipped as a future Labour leader, warned that politicians were in danger of ignoring the reasons why people voted to leave the European Union and that those concerns included immigration. “There should be a fundamental rethink of im­migration rules from start to finish,” he said. “The rules on free movement have got to be changed — or the way the rules operate has got to change.” Starmer insisted that within the party “there is a consensus that when we leave the EU the immigration regime will have to change”. But his comments came shortly after Corbyn sug­ges­ted that the free movement of work­ers across the EU should con­­tinue after Britain’s exit.’ – Sunday Times (£)

>Yesterday: WATCH: From Corbyn’s New Year message. We won’t block Brexit. But we won’t stand by.

NHS trusts target private cash

NHS_Logo‘One of Britain’s most famous NHS hospitals is on course to get as much, if not more, money from private patients, charities and commercial activities as it does from the NHS. The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London will earn 45% of its income from private patients and other non-NHS sources this financial year and is about to embark on a drive to raise its income from paying patients from £90m to £100m. Other NHS trusts on the same path include Great Ormond Street, also in London, which received almost a quarter of its income from non-NHS sources last year. It is seeking a “step change in private patient activity”, according to its latest operating plan.’ – Sunday Times (£)

Round pound coins to be replaced

‘Households are being warned to spend or bank all their round pound coins before October, when they will cease to be legal tender. They will be phased out from March 28, when the new 12-sided £1 coin hits the streets, the Government has announced. And around the same time, new coin designs will start appearing in the shops, including a Jane Austen £2 and a 50p celebrating Sir Isaac Newton. About £1.3billion worth of coins are stored in change jars up and down the country, and the current £1 coin accounts for nearly a third of that, the Government said.’ – Mail on Sunday

News in Brief

  • One million people celebrate the New Year in central London – Mail on Sunday
  • Pilots’ union boss plotting strikes from yacht in Malta – Sunday Times (£)
  • Mystic Meg’s predictions for 2017 – The Sun on Sunday
  • Asil Nadir plans appeal after police corruption claims – Sunday Times (£)
  • Secrets of Thatcher’s television training revealed – Sunday Telegraph
  • ‘Silver bullet’ murder case reopened – Sunday Times (£)
  • UK companies linked to Azerbaijan pipeline bribery allegations – The Observer
  • The Queen may be too ill to attend church today – Sunday Telegraph