Fallon ends investigation of allegations against Iraq War veterans

mailiraq“The £60million witch-hunt against British veterans of Iraq is to be scrapped. The ‘poisonous lies’ peddled against them by legal parasites will come to an end, the Defence Secretary declared last night. Michael Fallon said the Iraq Historic Allegations Team, which once had 3,600 claims on its books, will have its caseload slashed to just 20. The move ends a nightmare decade for troops accused of misconduct. And it represents a major victory for the Daily Mail, which has campaigned for Ihat to be reined in.” – Daily Mail

  • Our troops were victims of a charismatic conman – Sir Michael Fallon Daily Mail
  • Finally justice for our hounded troops – Leader Daily Mail
  • A plague of lawyers – Stephen Glover Daily Mail
  • Iraq abuse inquiry shut down after Daily Telegraph campaign – Daily Telegraph
  • Too late the Government comes to its senses – Leader Daily Telegraph
  • Shameful blackening of the Army’s name – The Sun Says
  • Fallon accused of pressurising regulator – The Guardian

NHS problems are unacceptable says Hunt

“Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has conceded the NHS in England is facing “completely unacceptable” problems. He said there was “no excuse” for some of the difficulties highlighted during the BBC’s NHS week and the government had a plan to help hospitals cope. A series of reports has revealed lengthening waits in A&E and patients being left for hours on trolleys. Sir Robert Francis QC, who investigated failings in Mid Staffordshire, said the NHS was facing an “existential crisis”.” – BBC

Johnson called for arms sales to Saudis to continue

JOHNSON Boris Syria“Boris Johnson pressed Liam Fox to continue exports of weapons to Saudi Arabia after the bombing of a funeral in Yemen last October that killed more than 140 people and was condemned by UN monitors…In the letter dated 8 November, Johnson advised the trade secretary it was right to proceed with the arms sales. “The issue is extremely finely balanced, but I judge at present that the Saudis appear committed both to improving processes and to taking action to address failures/individual incidents,” he said.” – The Guardian

Government condemns energy price rise

“Two energy suppliers have been condemned by the government as “completely unacceptable” for increasing prices while a rival keeps them frozen. Scottish Power announced yesterday that it was raising its standard tariffs by 7.8 per cent, adding about £86 to annual dual fuel bills for 1.1 million households. Npower had already announced a 9.8 per cent rise. British Gas, however, said that it was freezing its prices until August. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The British Gas price freeze is good news for 5 million households but it is completely unacceptable for other suppliers to increase their prices significantly when Ofgem has said there is no case for doing so.” – The Times(£)

Trump considers new travel ban

TRUMP inauguration speech“Donald Trump is considering a new executive order to ban citizens of certain countries from travelling to the US after his initial attempt was overturned in the courts. Mr Trump told reporters on Air Force One that a “brand new order” could be issued as early as Monday or Tuesday. It comes after an appeals court in San Francisco upheld a court ruling to suspend his original order.” – BBC

Brexit 1) Labour’s front bench Brexit rebels let off with a written warning

“Labour frontbenchers who defied Jeremy Corbyn in the Commons Brexit vote will be sent a formal written warning over their behaviour but will not be sacked. Mr Corbyn had imposed a three-line whip on his MPs to vote to back Brexit. But 52 Labour MPs rebelled in Wednesday’s vote, including 11 junior shadow ministers, and three whips whose job it is to impose party discipline. Convention dictates that members of the leader’s shadow team should resign or be sacked if they defy such an order.” – BBC


Brexit 2) MPs plotting via WhatsApp led by Steve Baker

BAKER Steve Neil“They are the most powerful opposition force in British politics, but even the denizens of Westminster would not recognise the group by its official name. They have more influence than Her Majesty’s official opposition, five times more MPs than the Lib Dems and a sense of discipline that puts the SNP to shame. The most aggressive and successful political cadre in Britain today is run by a nucleus of Brexit-supporting Tory MPs from the traditional right who for more than a decade were derided by David Cameron. Ministers say that the direction of government is being shaped by what happens on a private WhatsApp message group for 59 members of the European Research Group (ERG), a little-known organisation led by Steve Baker, the High Wycombe MP who is a former RAF pilot.” – The Times(£)

  • Scrapping EU rules will speed up property development – Financial Times

Brexit 3) Production up as trade deficit falls

“The economy continued to enjoy a post-Brexit boost as industrial and manufacturing output in December was stronger than expected, while the country’s trade balance narrowed. Industrial production rose by 1.1 per cent month-on-month in December, close to double the rate expected, while manufacturing was up by 2.1 per cent, an annual growth rate of 4.4 per cent. Britain’s trade deficit narrowed sharply in the final three months of the year to £8.6 billion, having hit a record high in the previous quarter, as the fall in the pound helped exporters.” – The Times(£)

Brexit 4) Stay in the ECJ or no deal, says Verhofstad

Guy Verhofstadt“Britain will remain under the jurisdiction of the European court of justice for years to come if it seeks a transition deal to cushion its withdrawal from the EU, the chief negotiator for the European parliament has said. In the clearest sign to date that Britain is on a collision course with Brussels over the court, Guy Verhofstadt said European negotiators were primed to push back against Theresa May’s promises to remove the UK from the writ of European judges as soon as Britain leaves the EU in 2019.” – The Guardian

Brexit 5) Forsyth: the Lords won’t be so suicidal as to block Brexit

“The House of Lords won’t block Brexit. Despite there being no Government majority in the Upper House and the fact most peers are pro-EU, the Brexit Bill will make it through. Why? Because the reason this unelected chamber still exists in the 21st century it that it has a very strong self-preservation instinct. It knows how far it can push things.” – James Forsyth The Sun

>Yesterday: Matthew Barrett: Don’t be so eager to scrap the Lords, Conservative MPs. We may need it one day to check Labour tyranny.

Brexit 6) It could shipwreck May, warns Parris

PARRIS Mathhew“This week the House of Commons won a big-headline concession from the prime minister that may prove entirely empty — or could utterly sabotage her Brexit plans. MPs will vote on the draft deal that she and our fellow EU members may (or may not) reach by next year, before the European parliament stages its own vote and the other 27 national parliaments are asked to approve the terms. The moment is supposed to be reached remarkably soon and certainly before the end of next year. There are little more than 18 months left in which to negotiate.” – Matthew Parris The Times(£)

Helic: Muslims must do more to integrate

“Baroness Helic, who fled the Bosnian war, explains her love for the UK…In her view the Muslim community must do more to fight the Islamist threat. “Radicalisation and extremism can only be defeated if the desire to defeat it comes from within Muslim communities.” She says she is not a “great fan” of faith schools — “Why separate people?” — and she is opposed to Sharia courts in this country. “Why have Sharia courts when there is law here going back hundreds of years that has supported this country very well? Don’t get me started on arranged marriages.” She would never wear a veil.” – Interview with Baroness Helic The Times(£)

Sturgeon protests over child refugees

nicola-sturgeon-08-01-17“First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to Theresa May urging her to reverse a decision to cut off a “vital route to safety” for child refugees. The UK government has come under fire for ending the “Dubs amendment” scheme in March after taking in 350 children. Ms Sturgeon said the scheme was “the only reliable and legal route” for unaccompanied child refugees. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the scheme “acts as a pull” factor and “encourages people traffickers”.” – BBC

>Today: ToryDiary: Councils are to blame for the failure to take more refugees

Families of IRA victims seek meeting after SNP MP called the terrorists “freedom fighters”

“The families of three Scottish soldiers murdered by the IRA are seeking a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon in the hope she will help their campaign to bring the killers to justice. The request for a meeting was made after the First Minister personally apologised to the families for views expressed by the SNP MSP John Mason on the killings. Mr Mason sparked outrage when he suggested IRA terrorists could be considered “freedom fighters” when the executions of teenage brothers John and Joseph McCaig, aged 17 and 18, and Dougald McCaughey,23, were being discussed on Twitter.” – The Scotsman

  • Independent Scotland would have to join the Euro to become an EU member – The Sun

Bercow wants to stay on until 2020…

John Bercow“John Bercow has told friends he wants to stay on as Speaker until 2020, despite formal moves to force him out after his extraordinary attack on Donald Trump this week. Mr Bercow pledged that he would serve for nine years when he took over as Speaker in June 2009. Under this timetable he would step down in June next year. But he has refused to commit publicly to a departure date in recent years. And a senior Tory source said he was now canvassing opinion about the idea of staying in post until the next election in May 2020 – almost two years beyond his promised exit date.” – Daily Mail

…but he blocked disclosures about Vaz after taking donations

“John Bercow stopped the Commons being warned about police inquiries into Keith Vaz after accepting tens of thousands of pounds from the MP’s associates. The Speaker, who is required to be scrupulously fair as chairman of the lower house, took the gifts to help him to hold on to his parliamentary seat at the general elections in 2010 and 2015. The Times used the Freedom of Information Act to request details of all Mr Vaz’s communications with the Speaker’s office but Mr Bercow forbade any material to be disclosed. He signed a formal certificate presented to Elizabeth Denham, the UK’s information commissioner, saying that to hand anything over would “prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs”.” – The Times(£)

Welby calls for higher taxes

WELBY, Justin“THE Archbishop of Canterbury called on PM Theresa May to clobber the rich with higher taxes because they don’t give back to society. Justin Welby said free market capitalism did not work and wealth was not spread across everyone equally. He told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: “Inevitably, some people will have to pay more. Trickle down as an effective form of redistribution fails, it doesn’t work.” – The Sun

Oborne: The sooner Osborne stands down as an MP the better

“This week, Tory MP Nick Boles, who is fighting cancer, rose from his hospital bed to vote in favour of triggering Article 50…George Osborne defied a three-line whip to go off and make a doubtless lucrative speech at a business summit in Antwerp…Osborne’s dereliction of duty is beneath contempt. The sooner this greedy, money-grubbing individual quits the House of Commons, the better for the quality of British public life.” – Peter Oborne Daily Mail

Moore: Child abuse claims boost the gay marriage faction in the Church of England

moorenew“Next week, the General Synod of the Church of England will vote on a report by the bishops on marriage and same-sex relationships…Enthusiasts for same-sex marriage are angry. For them, this subject is the great battleground, and they are uncompromising fundamentalists. Their most formidable opponents are the mainstream evangelicals who now provide the greatest drive and largest number of recruits within the C of E. If the gay marriage faction can convince the media and public that their opponents are all John Smyth-style weirdos, they are much more likely to prevail.” – Charles Moore Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Fakes news is killing minds says Apple boss – Daily Telegraph
  • Pubs under threat from Business Rates rise – The Times(£)
  • Parks are in crisis MPs claim – The Sun
  • Council Tax to rise in most areas – BBC
  • Civil service cut more in the West Midlands than London – Birmingham Post
  • Conservative deputy chairman in South Ribble suspended for offensive tweet – BBC
  • Craig Oliver collected his knighthood secretly – The Sun