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Brexit 1) Davis: The EU is stalling talks in an attempt to extract more money from us

‘Britain on Tuesday accused the EU of deliberately stalling Brexit talks to try to squeeze more money out of the UK, raising tensions between the two sides ahead of Thursday’s European leaders summit in Brussels. UK Brexit secretary David Davis said British negotiators were running out of things to talk about, increasing the prospect of a crisis in November if the EU continued to block discussions on a future trade relationship. “They are using time pressure to see if they can get more money out of us,” Mr Davis told the Commons. “Bluntly that’s what is going on — it’s obvious to anybody.” The EU wants Britain to increase significantly its initial offer to pay €20bn as part of divorce talks before the bloc will move on to discuss a future trade relationship.’ – FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: It’s breakthrough! No, it’s deadlock! Brexit talks latest.

Brexit 2) Rudd claims a no-deal Brexit is ‘unthinkable’

‘A cabinet split has emerged over whether the UK could walk away from the EU without any Brexit deal, as Amber Rudd said it was “unthinkable” but David Davis insisted it must remain an option. Rudd, the home secretary, appeared to undermine the government’s position that “no deal is better than a bad deal” on Tuesday as she dismissed the idea of not getting an agreement that at the very least covered security. “It is unthinkable there would be no deal. It is so much in their interest as well as ours … We will make sure there is something between them and us to maintain our security,” Rudd told parliament’s home affairs committee. An hour earlier, Davis had told the House of Commons that it was necessary to keep the option of no deal open.’ – The Guardian

Budget 1) Hammond hints at fuel duty freeze

‘The Chancellor is under intense pressure to cancel a 3p-a-litre rise in pump prices that is due to come in next April. The Treasury has declined to comment on the status of the rise, which would be the first since 2010. But, in a significant move, the Chancellor highlighted the seven-year freeze yesterday as he briefed the Cabinet on measures the government is taking to ease pressures caused by the rising cost of living. With inflation hitting three per cent last year, senior Tories now believe it would be unthinkable for Mr Hammond to press ahead with the increase. Charlie Elphicke, a Tory member of the Commons Treasury committee, said: ‘Freezing fuel duty would be the right thing for the Chancellor to do.’ – Daily Mail

Budget 2) Cabinet battle over tuition fee freeze

‘Theresa May is facing a toxic cabinet battle over the future of university funding after her £2 billion promise to freeze student tuition fees ran into opposition. The prime minister is set to clash with the education secretary and universities minister after announcing at the Tory party conference that the maximum cost for courses would stay at £9,250 a year. An investigation by The Times has revealed that a host of other cabinet ministers also have strongly differing views about how to fund universities, as the party tries to counter Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity among young voters. Conversations with dozens of ministers and experts for a series about the university sector reveal a fundamental divide over the purpose of higher education and a battle over what to do next.’ – The Times

>Today: Alex Wild on Comment: Build houses, abolish NICs for people under 30. How to win younger peoples’ votes.

>Yesterday: James Frayne’s column: To win over young voters, don’t make the mistake of assuming they’re all wealthy graduates

May meets backbenchers in the hope of staving off a Universal Credit rebellion

‘Theresa May met Tory backbenchers yesterday in an attempt to stave off a rebellion on universal credit. Three outspoken Conservative MPs — Heidi Allen, Johnny Mercer and Sarah Wollaston — went to Downing Street to discuss their concerns about the policy with the prime minister. The reform, which combines six means-tested benefits into a single payment, has been heavily criticised amid claims it pushes claimants into debt and rent arrears. The system pays out in arrears, to mirror the way wages are paid, but leaves claimants facing a six-week wait for their first instalment. The meeting came on the eve of an opposition day debate on the issue. Labour will seek to expose Tory divisions with a Commons vote demanding a pause to the roll-out of the scheme. Up to 25 Tory MPs are prepared to rebel.’ – The Times

  • She reportedly won’t budge over six-week payment delay – The Guardian
  • The reform is kind to taxpayers, to those seeking work, and those unable to work – David Gauke, The Sun
  • Some are driven into debt – The Guardian
  • Scottish MP will miss the vote as he is refereeing a football match – The Sun

>Today: Profile: David Gauke, today defending Universal Credit…later to be uncorked as Chancellor?

The Prime Minister supports expanding existing selective schools

‘The Prime Minister said creating extra places in selective schools would give parents more choice and boost social mobility. Her comments will pave the way for more grammar schools to set up sister campuses – or annexes – in their neighbourhoods. ‘We know that grammar schools are hugely popular with parents because of the academically stretching education they provide,’ Mrs May said. ‘They make a huge difference for all children that attend them, with the attainment gap from rich and poor pupils reduced to almost zero.’ She added at a reception for the Friends of Grammar Schools campaign group in Westminster last night: ‘The Government will continue to support the expansion of good and outstanding selective schools, where additional school places are needed.’ – Daily Mail

Inflation hits three per cent

‘Inflation in the UK has risen to its highest level in five years, squeezing the spending power of households but giving a boost to pensioners who will enjoy an increase in their state income. The annual headline rate of inflation rose to 3 per cent in September, up from August’s 2.9 per cent, and the highest reading since 2012, according to the Office for National Statistics. This means that a shopping basket containing all the goods and services bought by the average household costs about 3 per cent more than a year ago.’ – The Times

  • Fears of a rate rise grow – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Is the Government prepared for the political pressures of a rise in interest rates?

Traffic jams cost £9 billion a year

‘Highways chiefs have been ordered to reduce the time taken to reopen motorways after accidents as figures showed that traffic jams cost the economy £9 billion a year. The government has demanded improvements to the system used to clear carriageways following a spate of road closures that left drivers in tailbacks for up to eight hours. Jesse Norman, the transport minister, has written to Highways England suggesting that slip roads could be employed as contraflows to clear motorways of vehicles after closures, The Times has learnt. He also called for more effort to “look after motorists” caught up in delays, often without food and water.’ – The Times

  • One in three drivers suffer repair bills due to potholes – The Sun

Head of MI5 warns the terror threat is at a 30-year high

‘In a rare briefing for journalists in central London, Mr Parker said that MI5, the UK’s domestic security service, had foiled seven plots intended to “maim and kill in Great Britain” since March and 20 since 2013. “We have seen a dramatic upshift in threat this year,” said Mr Parker. “It’s at the highest tempo I have seen in my 34-year career. It’s clear we are contending with an intense UK terror threat from Islamist extremists. That threat is multi-dimensional, evolving rapidly and operating at a scale and pace we have not seen before.” Mr Parker also revealed that there had been 379 terror-related arrests in the UK in the year to June — a record number — and that there were over 500 live operations involving around 3,000 individuals “involved in extremist activity”.’ – FT

  • He urges tech firms to act – The Times
  • Who can save us from giants like Google? – Robert Colvile, The Sun
  • Regulate and fine them – The Sun Says
  • Hate crime allegations rose in the last year, but prosecutions fell – Daily Mail
  • Forty years on from Baader-Meinhof’s German Autumn, authorities reflect on the lessons – FT
  • US-backed fighters say Raqqa has been liberated – Daily Mail
  • Former Neo-Nazi comes out as gay – Daily Mail

Davidson to appear on the Bake Off

‘Fresh from packing them in at the Conservative party conference, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson’s profile is set be further raised with an appearance on a celebrity episode of The Great British Bake Off. Davidson, beloved by the party faithful for overseeing a remarkable revival in Conservative fortunes in Scotland, will take part in a charity special of the Channel 4 programme later this year to raise money for Stand Up to Cancer. The 38-year-old former journalist is no stranger to the baking show, having previously been a guest on the spinoff, An Extra Slice, when it aired on the BBC. She appeared alongside former Bake Off champion Nadiya Hussain, comedian Tom Allen and presenter Jo Brand last October, when she critiqued the 2016 contestants’ semi-final performances. The Edinburgh Central MSP has also made a guest appearance on the satirical quiz show Have I Got News For You.’ – The Guardian

  • The DUP might reconsider its opposition to boundary reforms – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • Inside China’s police state – Buzzfeed
  • Johnson’s Russia Today attack on Labour backfires – Huffington Post
  • Does May pass the Turing Test? – Country Squire
  • Vice doesn’t intend to commission Kriss again after sexual harassment allegation – Buzzfeed
  • Maltese journalist murdered with car bomb – New Statesman

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