May orders GP surgeries to stay open all week…

mailgpmay“Theresa May has ordered GPs to offer appointments 8am to 8pm, seven days a week – or lose funding. In a personal intervention, the Prime Minister is demanding easier access to surgeries to help tackle overcrowding in NHS hospitals. A Daily Mail investigation revealed that patients unable to see their GP are inundating casualty units. Nearly half of England’s hospitals were struggling so badly last week they declared ‘operational pressure alerts’. Six issued the highest level warning, where patient safety was judged to be at risk. Thousands of GP practices close their doors on weekday afternoons, while others take a three-hour lunch break. Now they will have to open from 8am to 8pm every day, unless they can prove there is no demand for it.” – Daily Mail

…Wollaston complains of “wrong message”

“This week Dr Wollaston was shocked by reports that the prime minister’s team had criticised Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England…“Throughout the NHS we have a message that they have to be transparent and open about data. It sends completely the wrong message to then have the impression that the chief executive of the NHS isn’t included in that because he has to be supportive of the government.” She is very worried that Mr Stevens could resign.” – Interview with Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston in The Times(£)

Brexit 1) MPs urge May to declare aims by mid February

EU Exit brexit“Theresa May must spell out whether she wants the UK to remain in the single market and customs union, before Brexit talks begin, MPs have said. The Commons Brexit committee said the PM should “declare her position” by the middle of February to allow sufficient time for scrutiny. In its first report, it said MPs must get a vote on the final deal and backed having an interim deal if needed. In response, the government said its goal was a “smooth and orderly exit”.” – BBC

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: In Brussels, a clash is coming between dogma and pragmatism

Brexit 2) New Zealand and UK want free trade deal as soon as possible

“New Zealand hopes to negotiate a “high quality” free trade agreement with the UK once it leaves the EU, its prime minister Bill English has said. Following a meeting with Theresa May, he said he hoped this would happen “as soon as possible”. Mrs May said both countries already enjoy a strong and growing trading relationship worth over £3bn last year. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox will be visiting New Zealand in the coming months, she said.” – BBC

  • US already working on a deal – The Sun

>Yesterday: WATCH: New Zealand’s new Prime Minister – “We are ready to negotiate a high quality free trade agreement with the UK”

Brexit 3) Speech to say we will have full control of our own laws

theresa-may-21-11-16“Britain will no longer obey edicts handed down by EU judges, Theresa May will declare in a speech on Brexit next week. Setting out detailed plans for Britain leaving the EU, the Prime Minister will say that the public has delivered a clear message that it wants to break free of the European Court of Justice. And she will pledge that, in her negotiations with Brussels, she will insist that Britain once again takes full control of its own laws.” – Daily Mail

Brexit 4) EU proposes special deal for city access

“The EU’s chief negotiator in the Brexit talks has shown the first signs of backing away from his hardline, no-compromise approach after admitting he wants a deal with Britain that will guarantee the other 27 member states continued easy access to the City. Michel Barnier wants a “special” relationship with the City of London after Britain has left the bloc, according to unpublished minutes seen by the Guardian that hint at unease about the costs of Brexit on continental Europe. Barnier told a private meeting of MEPs this week that special work was needed to avoid financial instability, according to a European parliament summary of the session.” – The Guardian

Brexit 5) Trump officials ask EU which country will be next to quit

TRUMP Donald second presidential debate“Donald Trump’s top team have asked the EU which country will be next to do a Brexit – Barack Obama’s Brussels envoy claimed today. Anthony Gardner, the outgoing US ambassador to the EU, tore into the billionaire for appearing to “support the fragmentation” of the bloc….He revealed: “That was the one question that was asked, basically what is the next country to leave, which is kind of suggesting the place is about to fall apart.” – The Sun

>Yesterday: Columnist Iain Dale: The BBC’s flagrant bias for Obama and against Trump

Brexit 6) Jenkin hits back at Malta

“Malta’s prime minister has been warned his country will suffer if he pushes for Britain to be punished for Brexit. The warning from Tory MP Bernard Jenkin came after Joseph Muscat claimed Britain will be forced to accept rulings from the European Court of Justice for years after quitting the EU…Mr Jenkin said abiding by European Court of Justice rulings was “completely unacceptable” and suggested Malta was worried about losing out on trade with the UK….He warned a bad deal for the UK would hit the island nation hard.  “Malta has a very substantial number of employees who are dependent on trade with the UK,” he said.” – Daily Express

Tristram Hunt resigns as Labour MP to become V&A director

tristramhunt“Tristram Hunt is to resign as a Labour MP to take up the job of director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, triggering a byelection in his vulnerable constituency in Stoke. The former shadow education secretary, who hoped to succeed Ed Miliband as leader in 2015, has been fiercely critical of Jeremy Corbyn and the direction in which he has taken the party. MPs close to Hunt confirmed he had decided to pursue a career outside politics, and had landed the plum post at one of London’s most prestigious cultural institutions, where his predecessor Martin Roth was paid a salary of more than £145,000 as part of a total package worth at least £225,000.” – The Guardian

  • Brexit heartland that could be Corbyn’s Waterloo – The Guardian
  • Resignation underlines Labour’s poor leadership – Leader The Times(£)
  • UKIP to start major push against Labour – Daily Telegraph
  • The battle for Stoke-on-Trent Central – Matthew Goodwin Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Tristram Hunt makes his Great Escape – leaving Stoke-on-Trent Central up for grabs

Corbyn calls for nationalisation of care homes

“Failed care homes could be taken into public ownership under a future Labour government, Jeremy Corbyn is to say. The Labour leader will warn that the social care system in England is at risk of breaking down due to growing demand and financial pressures. He will cite King’s Fund research suggesting one in five nursing homes do not have enough staff on duty. Speaking in London, Mr Corbyn will also argue the economic system has been “rigged” against working people.” – BBC

Javid proposes Stamp Duty exemption for pensioners who downsize

sajid-javid“Pensioners who own large houses will be given incentives to downsize under new government plans to help ease the housing crisis. Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, will set out proposals for elderly home owners to receive help with moving costs or exemptions on stamp duty to encourage them to move into bungalows or flats. A White Paper on the plans is set to be published later this month with the hope of freeing up thousands of properties big enough for younger families.” – The Sun

Crouch proposes new horse racing tax

“Bookmakers who take bets on British horse races from UK gamblers could have to pay a 10% levy on their profits, under new government plans. From April, betting firms, including those offshore, will be charged the levy to support UK horse racing. The reforms look to replace the current system, which required only UK-based operators to pay. Sports minister Tracey Crouch said the move would make sure “gambling firms pay a fair return” to the sport.” – BBC

Hancock calls media summit to tackle fake news

Matt Hancock 26-10-15“Ministers have summoned media bosses for talks on “accuracy” in journalism amid growing concern over the rise of fake news. Matt Hancock, the minister of state for digital and culture policy, has asked UK newspaper industry representatives to join round-table discussions about the issue. Earlier this week, the US president-elect, Donald Trump, attacked CNN as “fake news” for reporting on an unverified intelligence dossier about his links to Russia.” – The Guardian

Lucas: Trump is sorting out the intelligence mess

“His jarring attacks on the spy world are aimed at the political appointees at the top, whom he regards as biased and incompetent, not career officials…. Mr Trump’s picks for CIA chief and, perhaps most importantly, director of national intelligence, are sound and solid. On Wednesday Rex Tillerson’s talking points about Russia in his confirmation hearing for secretary of state were cautious, but reasonable. The president-elect has grudgingly admitted that Russia did intervene in the election and that this was bad. He wants a cybersecurity review within 90 days.” – Edward Lucas The Times(£)

Oborne: Britain could pay a heavy price for MI5’s efforts to undermine Trump

oborne“What if Donald Trump faces down the CIA? Then, he will never forgive or forget the fact that Britain played such a squalid role in trying to stop him getting to the White House. The damage to Britain’s standing in the world would be permanent, and Christopher Steele’s dossier of sexual depravity will go down as an MI6 catastrophe on the same scale as the agency’s fabricated dossier on Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction…MI6 should never have approved Christopher Steele’s dossier on Donald Trump.” – Peter Oborne Daily Mail

Moore: The dangers of Trump’s Russophilia

MOORE Charles blue background“His admiration for Putin’s Russia is creepy. It worships the assertion of strength for its own sake. It delights in deception. Mr Trump this week publicly admitted that Russia hacked the Clinton campaign emails. From this one may conclude (though he has not publicly done so) that it also let them be leaked. Yet the president of a great, free country seems gleeful when the president of a great, unfree country seeks to intervene in his country’s free processes.” – Charles Moore Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Half of primary schools are oversubscribed – The Times(£)
  • Lord Carlile quite Lib Dems – BBC
  • Labour demands action to close gender gap among top civil servants – The Guardian
  • Earnings inequality for men has increased – BBC
  • ISIL fighters flee Mosul – The Times(£)
  • First-time buyers highest since 2007 – BBC
  • Strong jobs market in 2017 says Bank of England official – Daily Telegraph