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Brexit 1) May – We’re in ‘touching distance’ of a deal on citizens’ rights

‘Theresa May today hinted there will be no transition period to prevent a ‘cliff-edge’ Brexit unless a future trade deal is agreed. Critics warned the move means businesses will not be able to properly plan for the departure and could throw them into turmoil. While Jeremy Corbyn tried to pile further pressure on the PM by warning that her Brexit plans risk creating a nightmare for jobs and living standards. But Mrs May hit back insisting that she is confident that Britain will strike a good deal with the Brussels bloc. Addressing Parliament, the PM suggested the two-year transition phase she has promised businesses might not happen if a new post-Brexit trade deal is not reached. But she insisted the Government is in ‘touching distance’ of an agreement with the bloc on major issues such as EU citizens rights.’ – Daily Mail

  • The Prime Minister tied transition to trade talks – The Times
  • Walking away is still on the table – The Sun
  • She’s right – The Sun Says
  • The ball is in the EU’s court, says Johnson – The Guardian
  • The number of Withdrawal Bill amendments could rise to 400 this week – The Sun
  • Austria’s new leader tells the EU to take a back seat – Daily Mail
  • Erdogan tells Brussels to let Turkey join – The Times

>Today: Iain Duncan Smith’s column: What a new migration policy might look like

>Yesterday: WATCH: May’s statement on last week’s EU talks

Brexit 2) Wallace: Juncker’s leaks are driven by his concern that he is losing control of the agenda

‘The first leak was a sign that Juncker feared his reputation threatened his role in the negotiations. This time, the more aggressive, personal tone indicates his position has worsened – the leaker is becoming more shrill because he (or his boss) is finding it harder to be heard. That isn’t surprising. Last week’s EU meeting saw the pragmatic Member States assert themselves, aided by pressure from Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator. While progress is still slow, the door has now been opened to future trade talks, conditional on getting an offer of more money. While the Commission operates in a world of integrationist theory, the Member States must deal with real voters and real cash. The agenda is shifting away from the Brussels ideologues and towards the pragmatists in the national capitals, who want an eventual deal. As the agenda slipped away from the Commission President, his power slipped, too – so now we get this new leak to place him back at the centre of the story.’ – Mark Wallace, the i paper

Brexit 3) Hague: Remainers must abandon fantasies of a second referendum

‘A new referendum would be needed to try to cancel the one held last year. Any such plebiscite, or attempt to avoid one, would be the most divisive, bitter, angry, hate-filled, and disillusioning process this country could inflict on itself. Yes, large numbers of young people who failed to do so the first time would turn out to vote, and they would mainly vote to remain in the EU. But set against that, millions of people of all ages would be enraged by an elite trying to overturn their opinion, a political system going round in circles, and an impression that consulting them at all is a sham.’ – William Hague, Daily Telegraph

Rees-Mogg: Build more houses on greenfield sites

‘Britain’s green belt fields must be built on, leading Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg insisted last night. The MP for picturesque North East Somerset’s comments followed reports Communities Secretary Sajid Javid wants the Treasury to borrow £50billion to kickstart a housebuilding programme. But he blasted the borrowing plans saying it was “putting the cart before the horse”. The party favourite said the UK’s “gummed up” planning system needed to be overhauled first. He said: “I think it’s tackling the wrong end of the problem. I don’t think there’s a shortage of capital for house-building, I think there’s a shortage of planning permissions. This is putting the cart before the horse. If you have £50 billion available to spend on housing but you’ve got a planning system which is completely gummed up and doesn’t work and isn’t delivering the numbers. Just putting more money into it will simply inflate the price of land, it won’t actually be the solution, so you’ve got to clear up the planning system first.” Describing current planning laws as “sclerotic”, he told the BBC’s Westminster Hour, Tory supporters were no longer entirely opposed to building on green belt or fields.’ – The Sun

Duncan Smith calls for Universal Credit waiting times to be cut

‘The architect of the Tories’ flagship benefit reforms has demanded wholesale changes to prevent claimants waiting so long to get their first handout. Iain Duncan Smith, the former Work and Pensions Secretary, told ITV News that the waiting time for access to the first Universal Credit payment should be cut. He blamed George Osborne, the former Chancellor, for making people wait six weeks before getting the first payment. Mr Duncan Smith said two of the weeks were not ‘wholly necessary’ – saying a four week delay was what he had envisaged. The intervention came on the day that Commons speaker John Bercow announced an emergency debate on the controversial reforms. He has set aside three hours this afternoon after Tory MPs joined with Labour to demand ministers come to Parliament to explain themselves. The fact that Mr Duncan Smith – a former Conservative leader – has spoken out will pile further pressure on Philip Hammond to make changes to the UC regime in next month’s Budget.’ – Daily Mail

  • Bercow rebukes the Government for failing to form the liaison committee – The Times

>Today: Sir Edward Leigh on Comment: The Government’s refusal to respond to the Opposition’s welfare motion undermines Parliament

A ladder as a logo? No thanks.

‘All parties value social mobility. There is nothing exclusive to the Conservatives about wanting people to get on. Do these folk really think that a tastefully drawn ladder, possibly with a workman standing by with a fag, is likely to resonate with voters unsure of which way to mark their card in the polling booth? Even in Soho, home of the three-martini lunch, that idea would not survive the first cocktail. Did Margaret Thatcher win three elections because voters liked the torch that was then the Tories’ logo? Hardly, though it was a recognisable symbol, suggesting a leader of conviction and the torch of liberty, a noble British ideal.’ – Michael Henderson, Daily Telegraph

Labour MP quits equalities committee over misogynistic and homophobic comments

‘The Labour MP who defeated Nick Clegg at the general election resigned from parliament’s women and equalities select committee yesterday after it emerged that he had made misogynistic and homophobic comments online. Jared O’Mara, who become MP for Sheffield Hallam in June, made the posts on music websites in 2002 and 2004, when he stood for election to Sheffield city council. In the posts Mr O’Mara described gay men as “fudge packers” and “poofters”, suggested that overweight people did not “deserve our respect” and invited the pop group Girls Aloud to have an orgy with him. He suggested that it would be “quite funny” if Jamie Cullum, the jazz pianist, was “sodomised with his own piano” until he died and compared homophobia to abuse suffered by people with ginger hair. Labour has been urged to suspend Mr O’Mara, 36, but The Times understands that Jeremy Corbyn will stand by him.’ – The Times

  • Female politicians reveal their own experiences of assault and harassment – The Times
  • Ministers are calling for British citizens to be killed without trial – where’s Corbyn? – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Izzard launches yet another bid to join Labour’s NEC – The Guardian

Peers seek to force the Government to act against cold-callers

‘Ministers face a Lords defeat today over their failure to protect pensioners and debt-laden households from cold-calling. A cross-party group of peers led by ex-pensions minister Ros Altmann will try to force the Government to honour its commitment to ban cold-calling in law by proposing an amendment to its Financial Guidance and Claims Bill. Despite promising action to crackdown on cold-calling, ministers have ruled out any legislation until 2020. But Baroness Altmann said millions more people will have been plagued by nuisance calls, debts and have fallen victim to scams. Her amendment, which has support from across the Lords, would ban cold-calling for pensions in the same way it is banned for mortgages and would outlaw the use of information obtained by cold-calling. It would also force firms to abide by a “special duty of care” for customers plagued by debt.’ – The Sun

Madrid threatens Catalonia with force

‘A senior Spanish cabinet minister has warned that Madrid is prepared to use force to restore order in Catalonia as separatists vowed to resist direct rule. Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, the Spanish government spokesman and education minister, told The Times that Catalan police would be used to quell protests that threatened public order. “No government wants any acts of violence but the government has to make sure that the law is obeyed and if there are people on the other side who do not want to obey the law, then, through the Mossos d’Esquadra [the Catalan police], we will have to restore the law,” Mr Méndez de Vigo said. Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, said at the weekend that Madrid would impose direct rule on the wealthy northeastern region. The move came after Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan regional president, refused to back down on a pledge to declare independence.’ – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Spain could learn from the UK’s handling of the SNP

Phillips: Communism is as evil as fascism

‘Why are supporters of communism and fascism treated so differently? This is not to suggest that the gulags were the equivalent of the Holocaust. It is merely to wonder why communist ideology, which caused the deaths of so many millions, does not provoke the horror and revulsion that bar fascist supporters from a place in public discourse. Fascism only became seen as unconscionable after the Holocaust linked it to genocide. Concealing its common antecedents, communism then posed as fascism’s antithesis. In fact, much fascist thinking has emerged today in carefully sanitised form — on the left. Atomisation and alienation are contemporary obsessions, while Nietzschean destructiveness has become a fashionable shibboleth fuelling the emergence of the “ooooh Jeremy Corbyn” constituency.’ – Melanie Phillips, The Times

Hostile British banks are forcing cryptocurrency firms abroad

‘British banks are shunning companies that handle cryptocurrencies, forcing many to open accounts in Gibraltar, Poland and Bulgaria and prompting some to question the UK’s ambitions to be a global hub for the fast-growing fintech sector. Investor interest in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has surged since their prices rocketed this year, but traditional banks are steering clear of the sector, fearing it is riddled with criminals and fraudsters. “Nobody will give us a bank account in the UK,” said James Godfrey, head of capital markets at BlockEx, a platform for trading digital assets including cryptocurrencies. He said Metro Bank recently shut its UK account, forcing it to rely on a Bulgarian lender to keep trading. Mr Godfrey said the disruption had prompted BlockEx to consider moving to a more welcoming location, such as Toronto. “Having [Bank of England governor] Mark Carney standing at the front of the shop and saying ‘raa, raa, fintech’ just doesn’t do it for me.”’ – FT

News in Brief

14 comments for: Newslinks for Tuesday 24th October 2017

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