Davis and May offer different Brexit timetables

‘Theresa May today insisted she ‘expects and intends’ to call a vote on the Brexit deal before Britain quits the bloc in a humiliating slap down to David Davis. The Brexit Secretary warned MPs earlier that the Brexit talks were likely go down to the wire in March 2019 – meaning the vote promised to MPs could be after exit happens. Mrs May dismissed the claim at Prime Minister’s Questions, telling enraged Remain MPs she was ‘confident’ she would keep her promise of a ‘meaningful’ vote on the deal. Downing Street said the plan to conclude the Brexit talks by October next year leaving time for the crucial vote before exit day on March 30, 2019. In a humiliating climb down, a spokesman for Mr Davis issued a statement disavowing his earlier comments to MPs.’ – Daily Mail

  • Ministers shouldn’t contradict each other – The Sun Says
  • Parliament must have the power – The Guardian Leader
  • One Minister says Davis has ‘mentally checked out’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Rogers says he advised her to delay Article 50 – The Times
  • HMRC won’t know if their new customs software will be ready until July 2018 – The Sun


>Today: ToryDiary: May is much stronger than her critics are able to see

>Yesterday: Charlie Elphicke on Comment: “We should insure against the risk of error.” His Commons speech on Brexit contingency: full text.

New evidence of pro-Remain bias in academia

‘A Tory MP was castigated this week and accused of ‘McCarthyism’ for asking universities what they are teaching about the UK’s departure from the EU. But yesterday the Daily Mail uncovered a string of examples of senior figures at universities explicitly speaking out in favour of Remain. Before the vote, a raft of senior academics spoke publicly to urge their students to back staying in the EU. Last night, one student campaigner revealed a professor had stormed up to him at a Vote Leave stall in Durham – and compared Brexit supporters to the Nazis.’ – Daily Mail

  • Scully shares pro-EU leaflet that was handed out by his daughter’s engineering lecturer – Daily Mail
  • Are universities really bastions of Remain? – The Times
  • £450,000-a-year vice-chancellor resigns from the committee that sets her own salary – The Times
  • We should be more concerned about the Left’s attempts to kill free speech on campus – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph
  • Early data shows university applications are up – FT
  • Rees-Mogg calls Carney ‘hostile to Brexit’ – Daily Telegraph



>Yesterday: Rebecca Lowe Coulson’s column: MPs shouldn’t inject political bias into the university syllabus – but neither should academics

May hopes to bring in Vote Leave’s Elliott to reform CCHQ

‘Theresa May is planning to bring in the head of the Brexit referendum campaign to overhaul the Tory machine and reassure Leave-supporting MPs and activists. Matthew Elliott, former chief executive of Vote Leave, is in advanced negotiations over a senior role at Conservative Campaign Headquarters, The Times has learnt. The appointment, most probably as party vice-chairman, is part of changes called for after the Tories’ shambolic election and conference. Supporters point to Mr Elliott’s record leading successful campaigns in favour of leaving the EU and, in 2011, against a move to the alternative vote electoral system, as well as his role setting up the Taxpayers’ Alliance, an influential low-tax pressure group. His recruitment will also be seen as a signal of intent on Brexit after Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, raised the alarm over moves towards a Norway-style deal that would keep Britain closely aligned with the EU.’ – The Times

>Today: Nick Boles on Comment: To revitalise modern Conservatism, we must offer voters a Square Deal

>Yesterday: MPsETC: Labour has started selecting candidates for target seats – the Conservatives must not get left behind

Welfare 1) The Government abandons plans to cap housing benefit for those in supported accommodation

‘Theresa May U-turned on another Government policy yesterday as she said ministers were dropping plans to cap housing benefit for tenants in social housing. At PMQs Mrs May confirmed ministers would no longer roll out welfare changes that would see the elderly in sheltered accommodation have their benefit capped in line with private sector tenants. She was greeted with cheers as she unveiled the climbdown. Mrs May told MPs the Government would publish full details of its plans on Tuesday next week. She added: “But I can also say today that as part of our response to the review, we will not apply the local housing allowance cap to supported housing. Indeed, we will not be implementing it in the wider social rented sector.”‘ – The Sun

>Yesterday: Richard Graham on Comment: Supported housing is crucial for hundreds of thousands of people – let’s back it properly

Welfare 2) The Work and Pensions committee urges ministers to cut the Universal Credit waiting time

‘Senior MPs heaped more pressure on Theresa May by backing siren calls to slash the six week waiting time for Universal Credit to four. The Commons Work and Pensions Committee said there was no “proper justification” for the 42 day delay and caused “acute financial difficulty”.MPs described it as a “major obstacle” blocking the successful rollout of the policy. In a report they said more than half of low and middle income families have no savings and two thirds have less than a month’s worth. And they blasted ministers for the initial seven day waiting period at the beginning of the transition to the flagship welfare benefit describing it as “purely a money-saving measure”. Tory backbencher and committee member Heidi Allen said: “Despite the clear support for Universal Credit, there is cross-party recognition that the 6 week wait does not honour the original intentions of the system.’ – The Sun

Fallon: Criticism of Saudi Arabia is ‘not helpful’ to weapons sales

‘Sir Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, said criticism of Saudi Arabia in parliament risked jeopardising BAE Systems’ £4bn deal to sell 48 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to the oil-rich kingdom. Despite having clinched a deal to sell 24 of the jets to Qatar last month, Riyadh has yet to sign a long anticipated agreement for the second batch of a contract first agreed between the UK and Saudi Arabia in 2007. BAE has already delivered 72 of the combat aircraft as part of that agreement…“We’ve been working extremely hard on the batch-two deal and I travelled to Saudi Arabia back in September and discussed progress on the deal with my opposite number the crown prince of Saudi Arabia,” Sir Michael said. “We continue to press for signature of at least a statement of intent. I have to repeat, sadly, that obviously other criticism of Saudi Arabia in this parliament is not helpful and I’ll leave it there. We need to do everything possible to encourage Saudi Arabia towards batch two and I believe they will commit toward batch two and we continue to work away on the timing.”’ – FT

  • Plans to sell warships threaten the Navy’s amphibious capability – Daily Telegraph
  • Conservative MP hosts extremist who praised genocide of the Rohingya people – The Times

Surprise uplift in growth strengthens case for an interest rate rise

‘Britain’s first interest rate rise in a decade is almost certain next week after third quarter GDP growth beat expectations to climb 0.4 per cent, economists have said. Official figures showed the economy accelerated in the three months to September from 0.3 per cent in each of the previous two quarters as factories benefited from stronger global growth and the cheap pound. At the same time, the UK’s dominant services sector continued to power ahead. Only the construction sector, which accounts for just 6 per cent of national output, struggled. It shrank for the second quarter in a row, putting it technically in recession. The economy’s solid performance, which outdid predictions of 0.3 per cent growth, cleared the final obstacle for the Bank of England to raise rates by a quarter of a percentage point to 0.5 per cent next Thursday. Since September, the Bank has said an increase could be expected “in the coming months” as long as the data turned out as expected.’ – The Times

Public and private sector bosses told to combat mental illness

‘Bosses must regularly check how their workers are feeling to cut the £99 billion-a-year economic toll of poor mental health, a report commissioned by the prime minister insists. Theresa May ordered the civil service and the NHS to implement its recommendations to act as an example to the private sector in creating workplaces where people feel able to admit to mental illness. The report estimates that one in seven employees has symptoms of a mental health condition and every year 300,000 people lose their jobs because of one. It said better job security, work-life balance and other conditions were needed to improve mental health and senior managers must be judged according to how well they protected it. Mrs May said that public sector organisations employing two million people should accept the recommendations. “With so many of our leading businesses leading the way in this area — and reaping the rewards as a result — I am sure that the private sector will follow suit,” she said.’ – The Times

  • Mental health problems force thousands out of work – The Guardian
  • May deserves credit for this important work – The Times Leader
  • NHS considers Airbnb room rental plan – The Times
  • NICE urges trusts to stop rationing cataract operations – The Times
  • Scottish NHS plans cuts amid spiralling waiting lists – Daily Telegraph

O’Mara loses the Labour whip – as it emerges his Party sat on the allegations for a month

‘The Labour Party covered up allegations about Jared O’Mara for more than a month, The Sun can reveal. Party chiefs were made aware of vile online rants made by the disgraced Sheffield Hallam MP on 20 September — but a spokesman claimed yesterday that they knew nothing before Monday of this week. Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman insisted: “The party headquarters was not informed of any of that and if it had been we would have taken action on that.” But a dossier was sent to the Labour Party last month — and officials acknowledged its receipt…Last night when confronted by The Sun, Labour were forced to admit that they had been aware of some of the allegations for weeks. They said: “Last month, our press office received a partial report of some of Jared O’Mara’s 2004 online comments, which have subsequently received coverage in the press.”’ – The Sun

  • Too late – The Sun Says
  • Corbyn opposed the embattled MP quitting the equalities committee – The Sun
  • Labour knew the seat was high profile, but chose someone unsuited for public office – The Times Leader
  • Yet again they turn a blind eye to unacceptable abuse – Mims Davies, The Times
  • Woman tells of being punched in the face by O’Mara’s bouncers after a disagreement with him – The Sun
  • Hallam’s MP never bothers to turn up to the Commons – The Times
  • Lavery faces new investigation due to undeclared financial interest in greyhounds – The Times

>Yesterday: WATCH: May responds to the O’Mara scandal

Catalan vice-president: Madrid has given us no option but to declare independence

‘Catalonia’s vice president has today said Spain has given the region’s separatists no option but to proclaim a new republic. Oriol Junqueras said his party – one of two in the ruling separatist Catalan coalition – is ‘going to work toward building a republic, because we understand that there is a democratic mandate to establish such a republic.’ But Junqueras insisted he was speaking on behalf of his Republican Left party and not for the regional government of President Carles Puigdemont. He said the Spanish government ‘is giving us no other option.” – Daily Mail

>Today: Daniel Hannan’s column: The tension over Catalonia is a wholly avoidable tragedy for Spain

Tensions between Trump and the GOP threaten open warfare

‘The public enmity between Mr Trump and a handful of Congressional Republicans underscores the high stakes for both sides as they try to push through comprehensive tax reform. “There have often been spats, but the rhetoric in modern times has never been this coarse, personal or sophomoric,” said Tom Daschle, former Democratic Senate majority leader. While Mr Trump is venting at Republican leaders and GOP members he blames for the failure to pass any major legislation — such as the repeal of Obamacare — his attacks could come at a heavy price. Since the Republicans have a 52-48 majority in the Senate, they can only afford to lose two votes if they want to pass tax reform. Even as Mr McConnell tries to maintain a veneer of unity between his caucus and Mr Trump, Senate Republicans are facing a threat from outside government in Steve Bannon.’ – FT

Weinstein looks set to be stripped of his CBE

‘The Honours Committee is actively considering stripping disgraced film director Harvey Weinstein of his honour. The Hollywood Mogul, who is a US citizen, was made an honorary CBE in 2004 for services to the film industry. But following a torrent of allegations that he had sexually abused and raped leading actresses and members of his staff, there were calls for it to be revoked. A number of MPs from different parties made the demand, claiming he was bringing the system into disrepute. Theresa May also said she was ‘concerned’ by the allegations that Weinstein, 65, sexually assaulted young film stars. And last night the removal of his honour was being actively considered and is likely to be removed.’ – Daily Mail

News in Brief