May accused of ‘stretching the truth’ on the NHS

NHS“A rift between the head of the NHS and Downing Street deepened yesterday as Theresa May was accused of “stretching” the truth over funding. In a combative appearance before MPs, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, accused the prime minister of “pretending” that cash shortages were not causing problems and attacked her cuts to social care. He contradicted Mrs May directly, saying that the NHS got “less than we asked for” from the government.” – The Times (£)

  • Corbyn misses open goal on health at PMQs – The Sun
  • Prime Minister says crisis claims are ‘overblown’ – Daily Express
  • Hunt to face Commons over NHS ‘humanitarian crisis’ – The Independent
  • London’s NHS hospitals face extra £16 million a year in business rates bills – FT
  • Top health boss calls for two-hour A&E target – The Sun


  • Rift between Prime Minister and Health Service chief set to widen – Chris Smyth, The Times (£)
  • The real NHS crisis is not cuts but bureaucracy – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph

More May:

  • Prime Minister to be the only G7 leader at Davos – Daily Mail


Jenni Russell: May is getting away with being the new Miliband

“When Miliband stood up at party conferences and attacked an unequal country that worked for the privileged few, promised to freeze energy bills, end the nimbyism that was preventing new houses, and punish firms that didn’t train apprentices, he was jeered by the Tories and the right-wing press for having an unrealistic, anti-market, “defiantly socialist platform”. Three years on, May promises a government that works for everyone, not the privileged few, rails against the “burning injustice” of the poor dying almost a decade earlier than the rich, attacks inequalities of race, sex and class, criticises the price of energy, plans new houses and garden towns, asserts that government can be a force for good, and is praised by Miliband’s former critics as the woman who stands up for the weak and who could transform Britain.” – The Times (£)

Ministers 1) Hammond says he has ‘moved on’ from the EU

EU Brexit“Philip Hammond today admitted that he had finally come to terms with the public’s decision to back Brexit despite his previous warnings about leaving the EU. In a significant shift in tone, the Chancellor urged fellow Remain supporters to accept the result and focus on achieving a strong divorce deal with Brussels. Mr Hammond, who has attracted criticism for his gloomy tone in the aftermath of the referendum, said that his position had ‘moved on’ after once claiming that Brexit would leave Britain poorer.” – Daily Mail

  • Does has Carney, who says ‘hard Brexit’ would be worse for the EU – The Times (£)
  • Chancellor urges Germany not to try to punish UK – FT
  • City lobby group drops demand for ‘passport’ to the EU – FT
  • Firms won’t have to pay £1,000 per EU worker, says Prime Minister – Daily Mail

More EU:

  • May says Northern Irish election won’t slow Article 50 – FT
  • British rule would place Ulster ‘at mercy’ of hard Brexit – The Independent
  • Norwegians reject Sturgeon’s single market plan – Daily Telegraph
  • Ministers believe Government will lose Supreme Court case – The Sun
  • EU politicians threaten to block deal if UK benefits too much – Daily Express
  • Labour MP launches petition for second referendum – Wales Online



Ministers 2) Questions over Chancellor’s stake in business

“Philip Hammond took a personal stake in a food technology company just months before it won a share of a £560,000 Government grant and he became Chancellor, The Telegraph can disclose. Mr Hammond, when he was Foreign Secretary, took the 15 per cent stake in Cambridgeshire-based Hydramach in October 2015, according to records at Companies House. Months later – in April 2016 – Hydramach was one of eight companies which won the grant to develop low fat and low sugar soups, ready meals and sauces from Innovate UK, a tech start up quango run by the Department for Business. Last night a former standards watchdog said Mr Hammond’s failure to make public his shareholding was “a serious failure” because “there is clearly a potential conflict of interest”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Report confirms our £1 billion in aid handouts are exploited by fraudsters – Daily Mail
  • Quarter of UK handouts fail to reach poorest in Pakistan – The Times (£)
  • Extra £2,000 for childless Forces widows – The Sun
  • Labour’s Lewis criticised over ‘public good, private bad’ – FT

Ministers 3) Russian embassy accuses Johnson of trying to ‘sabotage’ relations

BORIS blue and red“Russia’s embassy in London accused Boris Johnson yesterday of trying to sabotage a reconciliation with the West in an escalating war of words. The embassy said the foreign secretary was pursuing the “opposite objective” to that of Margaret Thatcher when she sought to “mend relations” between Moscow and Washington. The latest online outburst came after a lengthy post on its website claiming Britain was preparing an “official witch-hunt” against President Putin’s regime.” – The Times (£)

  • Rifkind claims Russian intelligence are not presuming Trump’s friendship to Putin – Daily Mail
  • May slams Russia leader’s record – The Sun
  • US spy agencies in crisis over Trump claims – FT
  • Former MI6 officer who produced dossier ‘terrified for his safety’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn suggests UK troops are ‘ratcheting up tensions’ in Eastern Europe – The Sun


  • Conspiracy theorists are having a field day – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)
  • Britain won’t love Trump, but we need deals with him – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph


  • Trump’s relations with China are more important than Russia – The Times (£)

>Today: ToryDiary: We need a strong American president. We may be getting a weak one.

Ministers 4) Grayling approves Stonehenge tunnel after 30 years of delays

“A tunnel is to be built under Stonehenge under plans announced by ministers, in a move that will reignite the controversy over improving major roads around the ancient site. Chris Grayling said he was taking a “big decision” to transform the A303, one of the main arteries to the south-west and a notorious bottleneck for lorries and holidaymakers, as part of a £2bn investment. The transport secretary said the tunnel could enhance the Stonehenge site by removing traffic. The concept has been backed by its custodians, English Heritage and the National Trust.” – The Guardian

Tories exploit Labour delay to attack Corbyn on Copeland

Jeremy Corbyn“Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to nuclear power is being exploited by the Conservatives as they fight to win a crucial seat for the first time in 80 years. The Tories are taking advantage of the fact that election spending limits do not yet apply in the marginal seat of Copeland in Cumbria, which is home to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant. It will also be the site of a new nuclear power station that could be in place by 2024. Parties can spend no more than £100,000 in any by-election, but the rules only kick in when the sitting MP resigns. While Copeland’s Labour MP James Reed has already announced that he is standing down, he will not officially do so until the end of the month, leaving parties free to spend as much as they wish until then.” – The Times (£)

  • Labour unrest amidst mixed messages from Corbyn over NATO – The Guardian
  • Did Abbott force Labour leader’s u-turn on immigration? – Daily Telegraph
  • Momentum’s ‘bitter war of words’ over whether to affiliate to Labour – The Guardian


  • Corbyn ‘reboot’ shows exactly why he has to go – Suzanne Moore, The Guardian
  • Yemen conflict must not be kicked further into the long grass – Stephen Twigg, The Times (£)

SNP to use new borrowing powers ‘to the max’

“Scotland’s Finance Minister has said he plans to use his new borrowing powers “to the max” despite getting an extra £800 million of spending money from Westminster. Derek Mackay told MSPs that he would “fully” use his Treasury-imposed borrowing quota of £450 million in 2017/18 and set out further plans for how the money will be spent. But he was forced to defend making Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK for income tax, arguing that those Scots who earn more than the £43,000 higher rate threshold should be targeted as they are the “richest in society.”” – Daily Telegraph

More SNP:

  • Salmond’s plan for independence dismissed as ‘fantasy’ – The Sun

McGuinness insists Ulster crisis is not ‘orange and green’ issue

Northern Ireland“The scandal over the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is not an “orange and green” issue, Martin McGuinness has insisted.
Writing exclusively for today’s Belfast Telegraph, Mr McGuinness said Arlene Foster’s attitude to the fiasco over recent weeks had insulted both unionists and nationalists. The veteran republican, who resigned as Deputy First Minister to force Mrs Foster out, also accused the DUP of playing “fast and loose” with the office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.” – Belfast Telegraph

  • Democratic Unionists likely to remain largest party, polls suggest – Belfast Telegraph
  • Mixed messages on talks from Sinn Fein – News Letter


  • Without respect, we don’t have genuine power-sharing – Martin McGuinness, Belfast Telegraph

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Strange but true – Unionists may come to miss McGuinness

News in Brief:

  • Southern Railway takes striking union to court – Daily Mail
  • US should have armed Ukraine, says Trump nominee – The Times (£)
  • Drug stocks tumble as Trump singles out pharma companies – FT
  • Gunman screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ opens fire in Spanish supermarket – Daily Mail
  • British experts on track to make 750mph travel a reality – The Times (£)
  • SDLP back ‘British-Irish’ rule if devolution fails in Northern Ireland – The Guardian