EU leaders agree to talk trade in December – but angle for more money

‘EU leaders today offered Theresa May a Brexit divorce deal by Christmas – but only if she forks out £48bn for it. After the PM left a Brussels summit, Europe’s other 27 leaders met to give the order to prepare for trade and transition talks from December. But they all made it clear that Phase Two of Brexit talks will only start if Mrs May spells out what future EU obligations – such as long-term grants and pensions – she will stump up for. So far, Britain has offered £18billion in exchange for a two year-long transition period from 2019 to 2021. But French president Emmanuel Macron risked a fresh row by insisting the figure was “not even half way there”. One senior EU diplomat told The Sun that that the 27 leaders would accept £30bn from Mrs May for future commitments.’ – The Sun

  • Tusk says talk of deadlock is ‘exaggerated’ – The i paper
  • Merkel says there is ‘zero indication’ that talks will fail – Daily Telegraph
  • They are fearful that she might be ousted – Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn seeks to derail talks – Daily Mail
  • Juncker complains about ‘superficial’ British press – The Sun
  • Mandelson’s bogus claims about the referendum campaign exposed – The Sun
  • What happens next? – The Times



>Today: Henry Newman on Comment: My take from Brussels this week. The EU side wants to ramp up the pressure – not wind down the talks.

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Corbyn’s attempt to disrupt the EU talks is a self-interested strategy – but it could backfire

Budget 1) Forsyth: Hammond plans boost to housebuilding

‘I understand from Government sources that the Budget is likely to back both land release and the Government directly commissioning houses. What this means is that the Government would free up public sector land and then get housebuilders to build thousands of homes on it. Because the Government had commissioned the homes itself, they could come straight on to the market. Developers, by contrast, have an incentive to drip houses on to the market to ensure that an increase in supply does not reduce prices. The Government directly commissioning homes would be a welcome step. But it won’t be sufficient to solve the housing crisis by itself. That will require further planning reform. I am told the Treasury is again pushing for that, as it wants to ease the restrictions on building on the green belt. It is making some progress on this argument.’ – James Forsyth, The Sun

  • Let’s hope Hammond’s idea of ‘big’ is the same as ours – The Sun Says

>Yesterday: Local Government: Letwin has disclosed the extent of resistance to the sale of surplus state land

Budget 2) Lowest September deficit for a decade

‘Britain achieved the smallest budget deficit in September for ten years according to official figures that will give Philip Hammond a boost before the autumn budget next month. The gap between what the government spends and what it receives in taxes dropped by £700 million compared with the same month last year, to reach £5.9 billion. It was the lowest deficit for the month since 2007, before the financial crisis took hold. It marks a significant turnaround from 2010 when the budget deficit surged to about 10 per cent of economic output. It has been steadily reduced to about 2.3 per cent. The figure was far below the £6.5 billion economists had been anticipating and marks the third consecutive month that public finances have performed better than expected. The deficit for August was also revised down by about £1 billion to £4.7 billion. It suggests the chancellor may have more wiggle room for spending in his autumn statement.’ – The Times

NHS to start checking proof of address

‘Patients in hospitals will be asked where they have lived for the last six months as part of a crackdown on health tourism. From Monday, hospitals will be obliged by law to identify and charge upfront any overseas patient who is not entitled to free NHS care. Staff have been told to ask the question of every patient starting a new course of treatment either in a clinic or on a ward. They are instructed ‘to avoid discrimination’ and quiz patients from all backgrounds and nationalities, even though the majority will be UK residents. Meanwhile, patients at some hospitals are being told to bring driving licences, passports, bank statements or energy bills to prove they are eligible for NHS care. Letters have gone out to them ahead of their appointments explaining they must ‘provide evidence’ of being ‘lawfully resident in the UK’.’ – Daily Mail

  • Chairwoman of NHS regulator urged to give up the Tory whip – The Times
  • NAO warns of increased border workload – The Sun

Call for the north to hire better teachers

‘A transformation of secondary school teaching in the north of England is needed to reduce the widening north-south divide among Oxbridge students, leading education officials have said. Schemes to attract the best and brightest teachers and head teachers to the north should emulate the success story in London schools, the children’s commissioner for England told The Times. Anne Longfield called for the change after figures were released showing that half the offers from Cambridge and Oxford went to applicants from London and the southeast. Statistics for applicants between 2010 and 2015 show that the west London borough of Richmond sent eight times as many students to Oxford (333) as Salford, Middlesbrough, Stoke, Hartlepool and Blackpool combined.’ – The Times

Samuel: When Syria is rebuilt, it will be with the cronyism that sparked the war in the first place

‘In August, the Syrian government reopened the Damascus International Exhibition. Three days after opening, it was bombed, according to SOHR, though Syria’s state media reported nothing about it. There is wealth flowing in and out of the country. When in Lebanon over the summer, we drove along the Syrian border on the way from one tourist site to another. Passing the turn-off to Damascus, half an hour away, we could see the road chock-a-block with cars. Our driver explained that many Damascus residents pop out to buy goods in Lebanon, where prices are lower. It might seem strange, with bombs still falling, but there is big money to be made in Syria, and the people to make it will almost certain be those who are friendliest to Bashar al-Assad. As Steven Heydemann, a fellow at the Brookings Institution points out, it was exactly these sorts of economic policies that triggered the civil war in the first place. Brahim the taxi driver might get his wish – but in the long term, that’s rather a bleak prospect for Syria.’ – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph

  • The fall of Raqqa is a moment of triumph over barbarism – The Times Leader
  • Inside the siege – The Times
  • British-made ‘zapper’ takes down ISIS drones – The Times
  • Brits who went to fight terrorists face a dilemma: fight on or come home? – The Times
  • The Kurdish dream lies in tatters – The Times

Labour’s Lewis apologises for ‘inexcusable’, ‘menacing’ language at Momentum event

‘Labour MP Clive Lewis today apologised ‘unreservedly’ for telling an activist to ‘get on your knees b****’ at an event during Labour conference. The backbencher admitted his language had been ‘offensive and unacceptable’ after facing a wave of condemnation from colleagues. Footage of a Momentum event in Brighton last month showed Mr Lewis, often tipped as a rising star in the party, making the remark to a man on stage as the audience laughed. Former deputy leader Harriet Harman described the comments as ‘inexplicable’ and ‘inexcusable’. Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy said it was ‘menacing’, while Jess Phillips said she was ‘appalled.’ – Daily Mail

  • Labour women set up campaign to investigate sexual abuse and harassment in the Party – The Sun
  • Labour Party Chairman pocketed six-figure sum from ten-member union – The Sun
  • Through the keyhole with privately wealthy Momentum founder – Daily Mail
  • Labour’s anti-semitism makes me and other Jews reconsider our place in Britain – Angela Epstein, Daily Mail
  • Hynter: I find Corbyn uncomfortable – The Times
  • The absolute state of the Opposition – The Sun Says

WTF, WHO? Mugabe appointed ‘goodwill ambassador’ by United Nations

‘Robert Mugabe has been controversially appointed as health ambassador for the World Health Organisation. The 93-year-old president of Zimbabwe – who oversaw plummeting life expectancy in his own country – will supposedly co-ordinate the United Nations organisation’s battle against heart disease, cancer and diabetes across Africa. The role – which comes with the title of ‘WHO goodwill ambassador’ – will be to encourage African governments to introduce policies to reduce smoking and drinking, improve diets and increase exercise. Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwe’s foreign affairs minister, said the appointment was a ‘major diplomacy coup’ for the country and claimed Mugabe is ‘very passionate about non-communicable diseases’.’ – Daily Mail

Trump attributes rise in UK crime to ‘Islamic terror’

‘Donald Trump was today accused of peddling ‘rubbish’ designed to provoke ‘hate crime’ after he wrongly linked the rise in offences in England and Wales to ‘Radical Islamic terror’. The US president sent a tweet referring to figures out yesterday showing crime increased by 13 per cent last year and warning ‘We must keep American safe’. But British MPs tore into Mr Trump for talking ‘nonsense’ and said he is ‘spreading fear and xenophobia’ by wrongly blaming the rise on terrorism. Others accused him of peddling ‘fake news’ and pointed out terrorism accounts for a ‘tiny’ proportion of crime in Britain. Mr Trump wrote on Twitter: ‘Just out report: ‘United Kingdom crime rises 13% annually amid spread of Radical Islamic terror.’ Not good, we must keep America safe!’ Labour MP Yvette Cooper, chair of the influential Home affairs Select Committee, hit back saying: ‘Hate crime in the UK has gone up by almost 30 per cent and rubbish like this tweet from Donald Trump is designed to provoke even more of it.” – Daily Mail

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