Brexit 1) May makes surprise visit to Brussels

‘Theresa May will fly to Brussels today for emergency talks with EU chiefs to break the impasse on Brexit. The prime minister will make the surprise trip with David Davis, the Brexit secretary. They will meet Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator. The meeting, which is understood to have been requested by Britain, comes days after Mr Juncker and Mr Barnier declared that talks over the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc were deadlocked. The two sides will speak over dinner in the commission building. Also present will be Oliver Robbins, the British civil servant leading on Brexit, and Martin Selmayr, Mr Juncker’s chief of staff. It will be the first dinner between Mrs May and Mr Juncker since a fractious meal in Downing Street in April.’ – The Times

  • The Prime Minister urges Merkel to break the impasse – FT
  • The European Council is about to decide about whether talks can progress – FT
  • There’s no reason to fret about a no-deal Brexit – Roger Bootle, Daily Telegraph
  • Escaping the Common Fisheries Policy is a huge opportunity – Matt Ridley, The Times
  • Canvey Island seeks independence – The Times

Brexit 2) Tory MPs are in talks with Labour about rebellion, McDonnell claims

‘Labour is in talks with Conservative MPs on a parliamentary veto to prevent the UK leaving the EU without a deal, the shadow chancellor has revealed. John McDonnell said Labour would not countenance a no-deal outcome; it would be disastrous for the UK to revert to World Trade Organisation rules “because the damage to the economy will be so great”. He said there was no majority in the House of Commons for allowing such an exit from the bloc.
..When asked whether Labour was talking to Tory MPs, the shadow chancellor said there were discussions going “right the way across the house”. The suggestion has caused disquiet among Labour backbenchers seeking support for their amendments from Tory rebels. They now fear that Mr McDonnell’s suggestion of shadow Cabinet involvement may scare off potential Tory allies.’ – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Provision for No Deal is in the Conservative manifesto. A vote against it would thus be one of confidence.

>Yesterday: WATCH: McDonnell – “I’m not countenancing no deal… it’s not going to happen”

Budget 1) Hammond urged to get radical on house-building – as Gove is tipped for his job

‘Philip Hammond is being urged by Conservative MPs to use his budget next month to deliver cash for a radical building programme. The chancellor has been asked to boost a scheme in which the state joins forces with developers to build homes on publicly owned land. He has had meetings with MPs to seek bold ideas for the budget, which his critics have said needs to be radical to save his political career. The chancellor is said to want to avoid a repeat of the fallout from his March budget, which fell apart over a plan to increase national insurance contributions. Two cabinet ministers who backed Remain were thought to have demanded his departure, with one said to have described him as “politically inept”. Michael Gove, the environment secretary, is tipped as a possible replacement.’ – The Times

>Today: Liam Booth-Smith on Local Government: Solving the housing crisis means homeowners accepting a fall in house prices


Budget 2) The Chancellor is reported to be considering a major rebalancing from old to young

‘Philip Hammond is planning a Budget raid on older workers to pay for tax breaks for younger people as he battles to save his job. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is understood to be examining ways to link tax to age to promote “intergenerational fairness” in next month’s Budget. Tax breaks would be offered to workers in their 20s and 30s, paid for by cutting reliefs for older and better off workers. One Whitehall source said the Budget, to be unveiled on Nov 22, would be a “bold” attempt to “restack the deck for the next generation”. The policy, already dubbed a “tax on age”, will be controversial because it will target voters who are more likely to vote Conservative. The Tories’ disastrous election result in June was blamed on a poorly-thought through “dementia tax”.’ – Daily Telegraph

Tougher penalties for causing death by dangerous driving

‘Motorists who cause death by dangerous driving will face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, the government has said. Those who kill while speeding, street racing or using a mobile phone could be given the highest penalty. A new offence of causing serious injury through careless driving will be created. The announcement comes in response to a public consultation of 9,000 people, 70 per cent of whom believed that the sentence for causing death by dangerous driving should be increased from 14 years to life. Ninety per cent supported the creation of the new offence and the “vast majority” agreed that the punishment for causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink and drugs should also be life in jail. Dominic Raab, the justice minister, said: “Based on the seriousness of the worst cases, the anguish of the victims’ families and maximum penalties for other serious offences such as manslaughter, we intend to introduce life sentences of imprisonment for those who wreck lives by driving dangerously, drunk or high on drugs.”’ – The Times

  • Bereaved families welcome the decision – The i paper
  • A year in prison for assaulting emergency services staff – The Sun
  • London police choose not to investigate 150,000 crimes – The Sun
  • The Met are abdicating responsibility – The Sun Says
  • Prison inmates are making marketing cold-calls – Daily Mail

Davidson considers replacing some of her MSPs with new talent

‘Ruth Davidson is plotting to axe a clutch of her new MSPs elected in 2016 as she reckons they’ve failed to make the grade. Tory insiders revealed the Scottish party plans a clear-out to challenge Nicola Sturgeon and be “ready for government” at Holyrood in 2021. It comes as Brexit talks with ministers from across the UK will be held in London today for the first time in eight months. A Scottish Conservative insider said: “There are high-flying people who wouldn’t previously have considered standing for the Conservatives who are looking at the party under Ruth, the direction we’re taking, and liking what they see. The challenge is to get them on board.’ – The Sun

  • Salmond runs up four-figure Commons travel bill…even after losing his seat – Daily Mail
  • Sillars would like Sturgeon to step down – if there were any good replacements available – Daily Telegraph

Young Labour votes to support NATO withdrawal

‘The Labour Party’s youth wing demanded Britain’s withdrawal from Nato yesterday and described President Trump as a fascist. Young Labour, the organisation for party members aged 14 to 26, also rejected a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine and called for banks to come under public ownership. A motion entitled “Support Corbyn and internationalism, oppose Trump and Nato” said that imperialism — “a system in its broad outline based on war, racism and exploitation” — had characterised the relationship between the west and the rest of the world since the mid-19th century. It said that Mr Trump stood astride Nato and was regarded “variously as an authoritarian and a fascist”.’ – The Times

Ashcroft: Veterans’ employment prospects are hindered by popular misconceptions about their mental health

‘New research, which I conducted as part of my annual update to the veterans’ transition review, finds that on average, people estimate that more than half of veterans have a physical, emotional or mental health problem as a result of their time in the military. More than four fifths of the public think mental health disorders are among the most common problems faced by those leaving the Forces – many more than mentioned problems adjusting to a civilian environment or finding a good job…Many in our research said they would be hesitant about employing someone who had been in the Forces. Certainly, they would probably have a can-do attitude, specialist skills, the ability to deal with pressure and determination to get the job done without complaining. But even if they showed no signs of having been damaged by their service, there might be something ‘there under the surface, bubbling away, and it might be years later when it comes out’.’ – Lord Ashcroft, Daily Mail

  • Medical discharges mount – The Sun

Russia is funding the Taliban

‘Russia is funding Taliban military operations against Nato in Afghanistan through a covert programme of laundered fuel sales, The Times has learnt from members of the Islamist group and Afghan officials. Russian intelligence services are sending fleets of fuel tankers into Afghanistan through the Hairatan border crossing with Uzbekistan. From there, they are delivered free of charge to front companies operating on behalf of the Taliban. The arrangement allows about $2.5 million raised in cash from the sale of the fuel each month to be delivered directly to insurgent paymasters. Russia has accelerated its support in recent months in an apparent attempt to bolster the Taliban against Islamic State. The trade has become part of the revived “proxy war” strategy against the US and its allies, which stretches across battlefields from Ukraine to Syria. “We sell the fuel on and distribute the money directly to our commanders,” a Taliban treasurer from Ghazni province said…“Accepting money from the Russians is not something we like doing,” the Taliban treasurer said, “but it is necessary at this stage of our jihad.”’ – The Times

Half a trillion pounds ‘goes missing’ in ONS revaluation of the British economy

‘Global banks and international bond strategists have been left stunned by revised ONS figures showing that Britain is £490bn poorer than had been ­assumed and no longer has any reserve of net foreign assets, depriving the country of its safety margin as Brexit talks reach a crucial juncture. A massive write-down in the UK balance of payments data shows that Britain’s stock of wealth – the net international investment position – has collapsed from a surplus of £469bn to a net deficit of £22bn. This transforms the outlook for sterling and the gilts markets. “Half a trillion pounds has gone missing. This is equivalent to 25pc of GDP,” said Mark Capleton, UK rates strategist at Bank of America. Making matters worse, foreign ­direct investment (FDI) by companies is plummeting. It fell from a £120bn surplus in the first half 2016 to a £25bn deficit over the same period of this year.’ – Daily Telegraph

Centre-right Eurosceptic wins Austrian election

‘The leader of Austria’s right-leaning People’s Party has declared victory in a national election that puts him on track to become the world’s youngest leader. Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz, 31, claimed the win on Sunday night after projections gave his party a comfortable lead with more than 90 percent of the ballots counted. He fell well short of a majority, but has not ruled out the possibility of forming a minority government once the final result comes in. The young leader, dubbed Wunderwuzzi in his home country, which translates to Wonderkid, has pledged to cut benefits for all foreigners in Austria and has vowed to stop the European Union meddling in the country’s politics. Kurz, dubbed the Conservative Macron due to his age and his party reform, said: ‘I would of course like to form a stable government. If that cannot be done then there are other options.” – Daily Mail

News in Brief