Clark launches Industrial Strategy paper today

‘Improving our business environment means making the UK one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business. Investing in people means giving more of us the skills to seize the opportunities of today’s and tomorrow’s labour market. For ideas, we want to be among the top performers in research and development; for places, to make sure everyone can find good work near where they live; for infrastructure, to upgrade the connections we rely on, be they physical or digital…Our ambition is a combined public and private investment of 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027, bringing us up to the OECD average, and an increase to 3 per cent over the longer term. Along with the other policies outlined today, this is a major advance towards a more productive economy… As well as setting a path to improved productivity, we also need to lift our eyes to the long term, putting the UK at the forefront of coming global trends. In consultation with leading scientists and technologists, we have identified four trends in which Britain can lead the global technological revolution: artificial intelligence and big data; clean growth; the future of mobility; and meeting the needs of an ageing society – a challenge faced by many nations across the world.’ – Greg Clark, Daily Telegraph

  • Pension funds will be allowed to invest in start-ups – FT
  • Productivity is the target – The Guardian
  • Big pharma unveils £1 billion boost for post-Brexit Britain – FT
  • Artificial intelligence offers huge opportunities – Matt Hancock, The Times
  • Tories should champion the tax-paying rich – Clare Foges, The Times
  • Banks brace for annual health-check – FT
  • Labour must protect workers’ rights – The Guardian Leader


The Brexit bill could be kept ‘secret’

‘The EU finally signalled they might be willing to move on to trade talks before the new year after the PM held a spate of meetings with leaders on Brussels on Friday. But EU sources said she secured the change of heart only after promising to double the UK’s offer to £40bn and to keep the final details of Britain’s contributions hidden. This means the cash commitments discussed at the crunch December meeting of the European Council – where EU leaders will decide whether to start trade talks – will not be put in writing. An EU official said they had agreed to the secrecy to allow Mrs May to sign over more cash while allowing her to deal with ‘political sensitivities’. But the revelation risks enraging Brexiteer backbenchers and will fuel fears that Britain will send huge amounts of money into the EU’s budget.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: ConservativeHome’s new monthly survey is out


‘Compromise’ sought on defence spending

‘The Government will strike a ‘compromise’ with Tory MPs to avert a threatened rebellion over a planned £2billion annual defence cuts, a minister today suggested. A string of Conservative MPs – including Sir Nicholas Soames, a grandson of Winston Churchill – had called for an urgent rethink on the plan. And today International Trade Secretary Liam Fox signalled that ministers are ready to change tack to quell a threatened backbench revolt on the issue. While defence minister Tobias Ellwood – who battled to save Pc Keith Palmer in the Westminster terror attack – reportedly threatened to resign if cuts are imposed on the Army. Dr Fox told Sky News’s Sunday with Niall Paterson that changes to the policy could be just around the corner. He said: ‘I think we should wait and see exactly what sort of compromise we reach – because that’s what it will be.” – Daily Mail

  • Blundering towards another round of ill-advised defence cuts – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Claims that cybersecurity will get money, but Armed Forces will not – Daily Telegraph
  • NHS hires hackers for cyberdefence plan – The Times
  • May pledges to fully cover the costs of the Manchester bomb – Daily Mail
  • Iran aims to extend missile range to reach European targets – Daily Mail

Gove plans ban on microbeads by January

‘Michael Gove today signals a crackdown on the plastic polluting our oceans as he pushes to introduce a law banning ‘toxic’ microbeads. The Environment Secretary is laying out legislation before Parliament to try to outlaw the tiny pieces of plastic used in cosmetics and face scrubs. Millions of microbeads wash into our rivers and seas every day and are eaten by fish, sea birds and crabs – even ending up in the seafood we eat. If there are no objections from MPs, a ban on their manufacture will come into force in early January. A full ban on sale will follow in six months’ time.’ – Daily Mail

Conservative Party funding was offered to the DUP

‘Damian Green offered to funnel money to the Democratic Unionist Party in a secret side deal, The Times can reveal. Theresa May’s de facto deputy offered Conservative Party funding for a salary for a senior DUP employee after the confidence and supply agreement had been completed in the summer. The revelation has angered some Tory MPs who said that it would be an inappropriate use of party funds. One donor said they would be furious if they discovered that money had gone to a different party. No 10 said that the arrangement had not been put into motion but did not deny that the offer had been made. Mr Green’s future is already in the balance pending a Cabinet Office investigation into his conduct.’ – The Times

  • Senior DUP figure says many Tory MPs ‘hate’ Theresa May – Daily Telegraph
  • Could Hunt become a Brexiteer ‘stop Boris’ candidate? – Daily Mail
  • May ‘forced’ hunting pledge into the Tory manifesto – The Times

Scruton: The notion of heresy is being revived on campus

‘Traditional education had much to say about the art of not giving offence. Modern education has a lot more to say about the art of taking offence. This, in my experience, has been one of the achievements of gender studies, which has shown students how to take offence at behaviour, at words, at pronouns, at institutions, customs and even at facts, whenever “gender identity” is in question. It did not take much education to make old-fashioned women take offence at the presence of a man in the women’s bathroom. But it takes a lot of education to teach a woman to take offence at a women’s bathroom from which males who “self-identify” as women are excluded. Students today are being encouraged to demand “safe spaces”, where carefully nurtured vulnerabilities will not be “triggered” into crisis. The correct response, which is to invite students to look for a safe space elsewhere, is not one that universities seem to consider, since each student is an addition to income but censorship costs nothing.’ – Roger Scruton, The Times

Record number of foreign students come to British universities

‘A record number of international students were admitted to British universities this year – despite fears of them being deterred by immigration policies. Figures from admissions body Ucas show the number of students from abroad rose by 2 per cent to the highest ever total of 70,945. Broken down, there was a 5 per cent increase in students from countries outside the EU, bringing them to a total of 40,245. Students from EU countries decreased by 2 per cent to 30,700 – 650 fewer than last year.’ – Daily Mail

  • What a surprise, there was no Brexodus – The Sun Says
  • Project Fear fails again – The Sun
  • Calais becomes increasingly lawless – Daily Mail
  • Suspected illegal immigrants complain about ‘Western’ detention centre food – Daily Mail
  • Flights deporting criminals cost £1 million a week – The Sun

Thousands of vulnerable children used by drug gangs

‘Thousands of children and teenagers are being used by criminal gangs as drug runners in a grooming scandal with echoes of Rotherham and Rochdale, it can be revealed. Modern slavery laws are to be employed for the first time to tackle exploitation of the children, some as young as 12 and in care, as the scale of criminal activity becomes clear. The National Crime Agency (NCA) believes that the “county lines” drug trade, in which urban gangs move Class A drugs and cash between inner-city hubs and out-of-town locations, is out of control. Officers have identified more than 700 of the operations, which are named after the telephone lines used by gangs to control drug markets around the country. Criminals attempt to avoid prosecution by grooming children to carry the drugs. The recruitment process they follow has been likened to the grooming used by rapists and child abusers who exploited children in Rochdale, Rotherham, Oxford and other towns and cities.’ – The Times

McDonnell says he ‘can’t predict’ how much all his extra borrowing would cost

‘John McDonnell has again refused to say how much Labour’s spending binge could cost Britain. The Shadow Chancellor admitted: “I can’t predict it” when he was quizzed on the matter this morning. He was asked on ITV’s Peston on Sunday whether the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ estimate that it could total around £2billion in extra interest was accurate. But he replied: “I can’t predict it. I’m being straight with you here.” Mr McDonnell, who wants to take advantage of low interest rates to borrow more to invest in public services, claimed he wouldn’t be able to know what the situation would be like by the time they hoped to get into government. “What I can say is that the rates are at historic lows, this is the time to borrow,” he added.’ – The Sun

  • His plans would cost up to ‘£270 billion in debt interest alone’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Trust me, I’ll make us all a fortune – John McDonnell, The Guardian
  • Shadow ministers refuse to say when they would wipe out the deficit – Daily Mail
  • Labour harassment inquiry to investigate second ‘suicide’ – The Times
  • Corbynism is not a cult, but the Labour leader has his own Christmas annual – The Times
  • Moderate MPs must take on the hard left while they still can – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Labour MP says May has done ‘absolutely nothing’ for women – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief