Brexit speech 1) Twelve steps to freedom

Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 08.44.03‘It has been clear that Britain will have to leave the single market since early in Mrs May’s premiership, when it became evident that she saw the referendum result as a mandate to reduce immigration, though this was the first time the prime minister stated that consequence explicitly. She made the rather obvious point that Britain will no longer pay the membership fee of a club it has left, but entirely avoided the question of how her government will settle the tab. Britain is liable for a large share of long-term EU bills, which could be as high as £50 billion. How much of that Britain pays before it leaves will have to be settled as part of the negotiations.’ – The Times (£)


>Today: ToryDiary: Maggie May

Brexit speech 2) Johnson: May was clear and categorical. As she has been for months

Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 08.43.38‘I happened to listen to Peter Mandelson on the Today programme on Tuesday morning. He was asked to comment on the Prime Minister’s forthcoming speech on Europe, and he ventured the usual guff about how the government has no “plan” for Brexit, no vision, no idea how to enact the June 23 mandate of the people, and so forth. I don’t know whether he then listened to Theresa May’s 6,300 word speech about Global Britain, but if he did then I fancy that even the noble lord Mandelson of Foy and Hartlepool might have felt a little bit foolish. The truth is that to anyone willing to think logically, the broad outlines of the PM’s conception of leaving the EU have been obvious for months. She spelt it out with total clarity.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • Clarke asks why countries would let Britain set terms – Independent

More comment:

  • What I think she meant – Philip Collins, The Times (£)
  • And what I think she meant – John Rentoul, Independent
  • How clean can this clean break be? James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph
  • The success of the speech rests on what happens next – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
  • Has May forgotten how small Britain is? Rafael Behr, Guardian
  • May has betrayed us all – Tim Farron, Guardian
  • She’s getting her excuses in now – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph 
  • Now for an election – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail


Brexit speech 3) May warns EU against ‘self harm’ of bad deal

Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 08.45.14‘Theresa May warned Brussels yesterday that any attempt to punish Britain for leaving the EU would be “an act of calamitous self-harm” as she set out her Brexit vision for the first time. Taking a tough stance before exit negotiations begin, the prime minister insisted that she would walk away from the talks if offered a bad deal. Britain could lower tax rates to lure businesses from the Continent, she warned, while a lack of flexibility from Brussels risked “crushing into tiny pieces” the EU project. Mrs May called on the EU to wrap up a separation agreement and new trade deal within the next two years.’ – The Times (£)

  • An emphatic ultimatum – Dally Mail
  • May says that ‘no deal’ is better than ‘bad deal’ – Daily Telegraph
  • And that EU can be Britain’s ‘best friend’, or we can ‘walk away’ – Guardian
  • Davis brags about trade hopes – Daily Express
  • May admitted no weakness – Robert Shrimsley, FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: She believes a good deal can be reached. But “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.” May’s Brexit speech: full text

Brexit speech 4) Euro leaders welcome May’s ‘realistic tone’

‘European leaders gave a cautious welcome to Mrs May’s speech although restricted their comments in order to preserve its blanket-ban on opening any negotiations with the UK before the triggering of Article 50. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, welcomed the more “realistic” tone from London, a reference to European frustration over claims by some UK ministers that Britain would have its ‘cake and eat it’ in a deal with Brussels. “Sad process, surrealistic times but at least more realistic announcement on Brexit,” he wrote on Twitter, adding that the 27 remaining EU states were “united and ready to negotiate” after Article 50 is invoked. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator also welcomed the speech promising that he, in turn, would seek the “right deal” for the EU, but adding that an “orderly exit is prerequisite for future partnership.”’ – Daily Telegraph 

  • But suggest Brexit will hurt Britain more – Guardian
  • Verhofstadt claims it’s all an ‘illusion’ – Independent 
  • Ambassadors say May’s threats were ‘unnecessary’ – The Times (£)
  • Germany’s ‘relief’ – Independent
  • The speech ‘caused unease in Europe’ – FT
  • Europe’s newspaper responses – Daily Telegraph
  • Tajani wins European presidency – The Times (£)
  • The pound is up, the FSTE down – Guardian
  • Biggest Sterling gain since 2008 – Independent


If EU leaders reject this, they’ll look vindictive – Janet Daley, Daily Telegraph 

Brexit speech 5) Starmer praises May’s ‘ambition’, but criticises her approach

Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 08.45.05‘Labour’s shadow Brexit minister praised the “ambition” of Theresa May’s Brexit negotiation plans outlined today, but said choosing to leave the single market puts the government on a “precarious” path. Speaking in the House of Commons, Keir Starmer said “it is good that [Mrs May] has ruled hard Brexit out at this stage”, and praised the “significant” concession of a parliamentary vote on any eventual Brexit deal. However, he described Mrs May’s threat to “change the basis of Britain’s economic model” if negotiations are unsuccessful as “a very serious threat”.’ – FT\

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Corbyn criticises May’s demand for Single Market access, then says he wants Single Market access

Brexit speech 6) Sturgeon says this makes another Scottish referendum ‘more likely’

‘After the EU referendum in June, Nicola Sturgeon said Brexit made a second Scottish independence referendum “highly likely”. On Tuesday, she said Theresa May’s plan to take the UK out of the EU single market meant another independence vote was now “more likely”. So just how likely is likely? There is no doubting the desire of Ms Sturgeon’s Scottish National party for another chance to end the three-century-old union with England. And many others in Scotland, which voted by 62-38 per cent to remain in the EU, are deeply dismayed by the UK’s drive toward a “hard Brexit”. Nor has Mrs May offered much in the way of compromise.’ – FT

  • She says Scotland ‘isn’t being listened to’ – Daily Express
  • Her Brexit minister claims single market more important than English trade – Daily Telegraph
  • May ignores Sturgeon threats – Daily Mail


  • Sturgeon is a ‘prisoner of zealots’ – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

Rudd considering ‘alternative ways’ to attract ‘brightest and best’

Amber Rudd‘The Tory minister said her department was looking at a range of “alternative ways” to deal with EU immigration after Brexit. She said the Government was working towards a system that would end free movement but continue to attract Europe’s “brightest and the best”. She told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “The only thing I can say with absolute certainty on immigration with the EU is that we’ll no longer [have] freedom of movement – that is the one area which the Prime Minister was absolutely crystal clear on. “And in the Home Office we are setting out alternative ways of looking at this.”’ – Daily Express

  • May says immigration system should be in ‘national interest’ – Daily Mail

Brokenshire restates commitment to Good Friday agreement

‘The government remains committed to the Good Friday agreement and the re-establishment of power-sharing devolved government in Belfast, the Northern Ireland secretary has emphasised. James Brokenshire said that despite the forthcoming assembly election caused by a political crisis at Stormont, the government’s “strongly preferred option” remains devolution for the region. Brokenshire told the House of Commons on Tuesday that he was “not contemplating any outcome other than the re-establishment of strong and stable devolved government”. He repeated calls from Theresa May and her Irish counterpart, Enda Kenny, that Northern Ireland politicians avoid fomenting division and bitterness during the seven-week election campaign.’ – Guardian

>Today: Henry Hill’s column: Brokenshire says devolution is ‘only option’ for Ulster

More Government

  • Hague to work for Wall Street bank – The Times (£)
  • Hammond is lobbied to cut beer tax – The Sun 
  • Committee says Government failing to deal with corruption – Guardian

Straw, MI6, and Government to face rendition and torture claims in court

Jack Straw‘The former foreign secretary Jack Straw, MI6 and the government will have to defend claims that they participated in the 2004 kidnapping of a Libyan dissident and his wife, the supreme court has ruled. Claims that the rendition and torture of Abdel Hakim Belhaj breached rights enshrined in the Magna Carta should be put before an English court, a unanimous judgment by seven justices concluded. In a series of linked judgments, the UK’s highest court ruled that ministers could not claim “state immunity” or escape trial on the grounds of the legal doctrine of “foreign acts of state”.’ – Guardian

  • These are ‘very grave allegations’ – FT
  • Supreme Court says army had right to hold Taliban bomb maker – Daily Telegraph
  • There’s another Brexit legal challenge – Daily Mail

Evans-Pritchard: Xi presents himself at Davos as unlikely champion of free trade

‘China’s leader Xi Jinping swept into Davos as the champion of free trade and the unlikely guardian of the international order, throwing down the gauntlet to the incoming Trump administration with a theatrical flourish. “No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war. Pursuing protectionism is just like locking one’s self in a dark room: wind and rain might be kept outside but so are light and air,” he told a delighted gathering of the world elites. “Some people blame globalisation for chaos of our world, but our problems are not caused by globalisation. They are caused by war and conflict,” he said.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • He attacks Trump’s approach – FT
  • Cameron and Osborne paid lots to speak at WEF – The Sun

>Yesterday: James Frayne’s Column: The Davos crowd’s global outlook means it has lost any understanding of national movements

Russia open to talking about disarmament with Trump

Vladimir Putin‘Russia has opened the door to talks with Donald Trump on nuclear disarmament — on condition that the US president-elect is prepared to include America’s missile defence shield in the discussions. The Kremlin signalled that it would take up Mr Trump’s offer, expressed in an interview in The Times this week, to discuss a deal to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, but only if they resulted in US-Russian “parity”. The president-elect, who will be inaugurated on Friday, told this newspaper: “Let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia. I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially.”’ – The Times (£)


  • Trump ‘presents a challenge’ for security cooperation – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph
  • How did it get to this? Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

News in Brief

  • Gambia in state of emergency – The Sun
  • Nigeria mistakenly bombs aid camp – Guardian
  • Obama commutes Manning sentence – FT
  • Putin brags about Russian prostitutes – The Times (£)
  • It’s the ‘poorest day of the year’ – Daily Express