Downing Street (eventually) criticises Trump’s migrant ban

trumpmay2‘Theresa May was forced to perform a dramatic U-turn last night and condemned Donald Trump’s ban on Muslim migrants entering the US. She performed a somersault hours after refusing three times to criticise the US President’s controversial policy during her visit to Turkey. Her change of tack, when she landed back in London late last night, followed an international outcry and a revolt from Tory MPs. Downing Street issued a hurried statement saying that the Prime Minister had changed her mind and was opposed to Trump’s decision.’ – Mail on Sunday

>Today: ToryDiary: Trump bans ConservativeHome columnist from the United States

>Yesterday: Kieron O’Hara on Comment: Why does the Left hate Trump? After all, in some ways he’s one of them.

Trade talks with the US will begin immediately – to Brussels’ frustration

‘Donald Trump and Theresa May have delivered a rebuke to the EU by agreeing the first steps in a new free trade deal two years before Brexit. In defiance of claims that Britain should not launch substantive negotiations with other countries until after Britain leaves the EU, the two leaders thrashed out an agreement that they would trade “more than ever”. At lunch on Friday, Trump pledged to ensure that the trade arrangements that the UK has with the US through its membership of the EU will continue when the UK leaves. May and Trump also agreed to start a new trade negotiation agreement that will see high-level talks between the two nations begin immediately.’ – Sunday Times (£)

>Yesterday: Eve Norridge on Comment: We should confidently seek freer but fairer trade with China in this New Year of the Rooster

May rebukes Turkey over human rights, then secures a jet fighter deal

Turkey flag‘Theresa May agreed a defence deal with Turkey yesterday to build 250 jet fighters — even as she admitted selling arms to a regime with a poor human rights record. The deal came as the prime minister met Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, in Ankara. She was the first western leader to visit Erdogan since he crushed an attempted coup last July. The deal will see BAE Systems, the UK’s biggest defence firm, design and help to create Turkey’s first home-built jet fighter — the TF-X — in tandem with Turkish Aerospace Industries. In a victory for Britain over the EU, BAE saw off rival Airbus to win the contract.’ – Sunday Times (£)


Hodges: The Prime Minister must walk an international tightrope

‘Her speech to an audience of Congressional Republicans saw her laying down some clear political markers. Nato. Putin. Protectionism. The war on terror. The Muslim ban. The Iran deal. In each of these key areas she drew a subtle distinction between her agenda and that of her impetuous host. Indeed, short of mounting the stage in Philadelphia with a pink hat and Meryl Streep placard, it’s hard to see what more she could have done within the bounds of diplomatic propriety to signal her disapproval of major elements of Trump’s programme and philosophy. But, of course, that still wasn’t enough for some people.’ – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Theresa May saves NATO

Shapps: DfID should be merged with the Foreign Office

SHAPPS Grant favourite‘DfID did not regard British interests as part of its remit and would frequently balk at the idea of letting recipients know who the money had come from. Frankly, I found this naive, even ludicrous…I am extremely proud of Britain’s spending to help the world’s poorest people, and I do not want to see it diminished. Yet if we continue to spend cash with so little reference to our own national interests, or indeed sometimes the interests of the populations of the recipient countries, then we will risk forfeiting British taxpayers’ consent. To avoid that danger, we need to rejoin the work of DfID to that of the Foreign Office — either through joint ministers or by the departments coming back together. Otherwise, I fear that a broad and growing reaction against aid could leave the world’s poorest without the help they still badly need from Britain.’ – Grant Shapps, Sunday Times (£)

  • He tried to stop the millions paid to the ‘Ethiopian Spice Girls’ – Sunday Times (£)

New details of Trident navigation problems emerge

‘The Trident nuclear deterrent was blighted by problems with its navigation controls in the years before one of the missiles malfunctioned and veered off course in a secret test that was covered up by No 10. Documents published by the United States defence department show that more than £1.4bn has been spent repairing faults and modernising the guidance system of the ageing missiles. Last week Theresa May and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said they had “absolute faith” in Trident after it was revealed that a news blackout had been imposed when a missile test from a Royal Navy submarine failed in June last year. Serious questions are emerging, however, over the missile’s reliability.’ – Sunday Times (£)

Johnson ‘furious’ at Tory MP inviting Putin spin doctor to Parliament

Putin hunting‘Boris Johnson is furious at a decision to let Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin mouthpiece launch a blistering attack on Britain from inside the Commons tomorrow. Russian spin doctor and Putin confidante Maria Zakharova, who has called the Foreign Secretary ‘shameful’, is guest of honour at a glittering reception at the Commons Terrace Pavilion overlooking the Thames. Embarrassingly for the Government, the event has been organised by Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski, who has been accused in the past of being ‘gushing’ towards the Russians. Last night, there were calls by MPs for Mr Kawczynski to be stripped of his membership of the all-party Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee… The editor in chief of the hardline pro-Putin TV station Russia Today, Margarita Simonyan, will also be present.’ – Mail on Sunday

Lawyers’ fees to be capped in NHS medical negligence cases

‘Lawyers who ‘cream’ millions of pounds off the NHS are to have their legal fees capped – in a victory for The Mail on Sunday. The Health Secretary is to bring in stringent controls so law firms can no longer claim exorbitant fees for clinical-negligence cases that result in only modest compensation. Jeremy Hunt’s announcement, made exclusively to this paper, comes after we revealed the staggering fees the NHS has to pay former patients’ lawyers. It gave £418million to legal teams last year – up 43 per cent on 2015. In one case, a firm tried to bill more than £73,000 after their client was awarded £1,500 over a missed viral infection.’ – Mail on Sunday

  • The health service would save millions by buying painkillers in Asda – Mail on Sunday
  • Fine firms who rip off the taxpayer – The Sun on Sunday Says
  • £70 million paid to parents who say they would have aborted babies if disabilities had been identified – Sunday Times (£)

Corbyn’s grip slips as Labour rebellion against Article 50 grows

Jeremy Corbyn‘Jeremy Corbyn faces losing another shadow cabinet ally, Rachael Maskell, as more than 100 Labour MPs prepare to join the growing revolt over Brexit this week. Maskell, the shadow environment secretary, will hold public meetings tomorrow in her York seat, which voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, before deciding whether to vote for article 50 triggering Britain’s exit. This weekend Maskell said Labour must represent those who voted to remain as well as leavers, some of whom had not voted for the type of Brexit being planned by Theresa May.’ – Sunday Times (£)

Phillips: Authorities still struggle to tackle threats against female MPs

‘I have always found West Midlands Police to be very responsive to my complaints when people have wished me dead or mocked up images of me bound up. The tragic and still raw and painful murder of Jo Cox — killed by Thomas Mair last June — has caused everyone to pause for thought. Women MPs are no longer able to brush off aggressive emails or social media threats in the way we once would. We have to think of ­having our offices fitted with panic alarms and safe rooms. The police and the House of Commons security teams similarly have become acutely aware that better security and risk assessments are needed. Unfortunately, it just isn’t that easy to manage. The sheer scale and worldwide spread of the internet means tracking down where the hatred originates can be tricky.’ – Jess Phillips, The Sun on Sunday

Farage gets his life back

nigel-farage‘“There are more ways of doing opinion shifting than conventional politics. I’ve seen the impact of talk radio in America. It’s absolutely bloody massive. And it’s growing here.” He denies he is joining the ranks of arch controversialist “shock jocks” like Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones: “I’m not a shock jock.” Instead he regards it as a personal test. “I want to try and prove to myself that I’ve got a skill set that is broader than what I’ve been doing. But in terms of politics and current affairs, I see it as a fantastic opportunity to keep pushing agendas very, very hard.” Farage wants to use his new platform to campaign to reduce the number of people going (pointlessly, he reckons) to university. “We’re underskilling in this country by sending too many people to do academic degrees. I just don’t get it.”’ – Sunday Times (£)

>Today: Robert Jenrick on Comment: Stoke-on-Trent Central can turn blue with your help. We haven’t written this by-election off.

News in Brief