Brexit 1) EU threatens to withhold rebate

“Europe is threatening to keep back Britain’s final rebate payment of €5 billion as part of the negotiations over the Brexit bill, The Telegraph can disclose. Senior British sources said that negotiations over the bill, which the EU sets at €60 billion (£53.6 billion), had still not settled whether the UK would receive the €5 billion (£4.46 billion) payment as part of the final settlement when it leaves the EU in March 2019. There is a problem here, and the issue over whether the EU will pay us the 2018 rebate has not been resolved,” the source in Whitehall confirmed. The issue of the rebate, won by Margaret Thatcher in 1984, is a key irritant between the two sides as they try to move on to trade talks next month.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Brexit mutineers are objecting not just to the referendum but to a decision in Parliament – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Don’t be Putin’s useful idiots Grieve tells Brexiteers – Interview with Dominic Grieve, The Times

>Yesterday: Rebecca Park on Comment: A Brexit deal on financial services is achievable

Brexit 2) Tusk gives May two deadline to offer more money

“Theresa May has been told she has two weeks to put more money on the table if the EU is to agree to begin Brexit trade talks before the end of the year. EU Council President Donald Tusk said he was “ready” to move onto the next phase of Brexit talks, covering future relations with the UK. But he said the UK must show much more progress on the “divorce bill” and the Irish border by early next month. Mrs May said “good progress” was being made but more needed to be done. The talks are currently deadlocked over the UK’s financial settlement, citizens’ rights and Ireland with Irish PM Leo Varadkar accusing the UK of not “thinking through” the implications of Brexit for his country.” – BBC

Brexit 3) Irish demand border compromise

“The Irish government has said Brexit trade deal talks should not proceed until there is a firm commitment to preventing a “hard” Irish border. Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar said the assurance must be written down before the talks move on. “Before we move to phase two talks on trade, we want taken off the table any suggestion that there will be a physical border,” Mr Varadkar said. He was speaking at a European summit, attended by Prime Minister Theresa May.” – BBC

Brexit 4) UBS increases growth estimate

“One of Europe’s biggest banks has admitted the UK’s economic outlook is ‘not as bleak as many think’ after previously issuing dire warnings over the impact of Brexit. Economists at UBS Wealth Management, an arm of Swiss bank UBS, are now saying that the economy will grow faster than expected. They have forecast 1.1pc growth next year, still well behind other estimates, but up from an earlier projection of 0.7pc.” – Daily Mail

Brexit 5) Fixing date “takes away flexibility” complain MPs

“Theresa May is facing further pressure to abandon plans to enshrine the date of Brexit in law after a cross-party committee of MPs warned that it could cause “significant difficulties” in talks with Brussels. Fixing the moment of the withdrawal at 11pm on March 29, 2019, would take away ministers’ flexibility if the negotiations dragged on, the Exiting the European Union Committee said. Despite the majority report, four of the eight Conservative MPs and the single Democratic Unionist voted to reject it.” – The Times

  • Amendment to fix date will go ahead – The Sun

Brexit 6) Moore: It’s time to get annoyed with Davis

“I feel it is time to get annoyed with David Davis. For ages now, he has been flying from meeting to meeting, speaking at dinner after dinner, staying late at party after party, encouraging his bonhomous reassurance to be favourably contrasted with Mrs May’s anxious gloom. What has he to show for it? What concessions has he won? The key to negotiations is putting your best foot forward at the meetings, not putting on a brave face after them. Michel Barnier has the right idea – a grave expression, a guardedly polite manner and the tenacious pursuit of what he wants. Instead of chattering, he just quietly pockets each concession and tries to turn it into the logical basis for the next. Unfortunately, he’s on the other side.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Claims that Davis may resign “are simply wrong”. Who gains from media briefing against him?

Brexit 7) Scruton: We have a chance to come together as a nation

“We in Britain are not without our problems: we suffer from tensions of class and ethnicity that often threaten to divide our loyalties; we have suffered from spiritual and cultural decline as a result of losing our religion. But those problems are problems for all communities in the contemporary world, and do not erase the greatest asset that we have, which is our shared home and the tradition of mutual accountability that survives here. The British people remain bound to each other by ties of mutual responsibility and social trust, and it is my hope that these bonds will be strengthened as we come to terms with Brexit. For our ties are not the creation of shallow agreements, ideological fanaticism or consumerist whims. They belong to our way of being, in the place where we are.” – Roger Scruton, The Times

Budget 1) Chancellor will use “headroom” in public finances to boost housing

“Chancellor Philip Hammond plans to use “headroom” in the public finances to target spending on housing and health, a close friend has told the BBC. Stephen Hammond – a former transport minister – said the chancellor wants to use next Wednesday’s Budget to “attack problems” that contributed to the Tories’ poor election performance. The chancellor said in March he had “headroom” – available cash – of £26bn. Labour says he needs to tackle what it calls the squeeze in living standards.” – BBC

  • Hammond’s Challenge – Leader, The Times
  • Imagine if John McDonnell’s Budget – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail

>Today: Dan Wilson Craw on Comment: More social housing, fewer no-fault evictions. The Conservatives need a plan for Britain’s growing renters.

Budget 2) Takeaway box tax could be introduced

“A tax on takeaway boxes is to be considered in a bid to tackle the problem of plastic waste. In Wednesday’s Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to call for evidence on whether a tax on the use of the most environmentally damaging single-use plastics would help. Single-use plastics include packaging, bubble wrap, and polystyrene takeaway boxes.” – BBC

  • Ditching animal haters tag – Francis Elliott, The Times

Budget 3) Debt mountain has cost £520 billion in interest payments

“Britain’s colossal debt mountain has cost taxpayers £520 billion in interest payments alone since the country last balanced the books nearly 20 years ago. Profligate Chancellors have embarked on a borrowing binge since Britain was last in surplus in 2000-01 – pushing the national debt up nearly six-fold from £317 billion to £1.8 trillion. Debt interest payments have totalled £520 billion over that period – or about £21,000 per household – leeching much-needed resources away from public services.” – Daily Mail

Budget 4) Chancellor undermined by reshuffle speculation

“Philip Hammond has been undermined days before his budget by claims that Downing Street has told Tory MPs to expect a reshuffle in the new year. The chancellor was yesterday finalising key measures, including action on housebuilding, the environment and preparing Britain for a future outside the EU. Many of his colleagues believe it is likely to be his last as speculation grows that Theresa May will sack him. “No 10 is telling people asking about their own future that they only have to wait to the new year,” a former cabinet minister said. “That doesn’t look good for Philip.” – The Times

Budget 5) Moving goalposts to allow an extra £5 billion of borrowing a year

“Chancellor Philip Hammond is planning to shift the goalposts on the government’s borrowing limits in a move that will flatter the public finances and provide up to £5bn a year in additional public spending in the Budget on Wednesday. He will use a technical change in the accounting status of housing associations to reduce headline borrowing figures but will not make a corresponding change to his deficit targets in the Budget.” – Financial Times

Budget 6) Heath: Boldness is needed

“The most important challenges are simple: we need faster economic growth, a more competitive economy and higher wages earned by higher productivity, and a housing market that works for the many. The economics of Brexit falls primarily into the first category: a high-skills, low tax country with a supercharged private sector and a revitalised entrepreneurial spirit could, over the medium term, more than cope with whatever idiotic, self-defeating vexations the EU wants to impose on us. A tariff is like a tax: there is no real distinction between the two. Even income tax is a form of tariff: it imposes a wedge between how much a provider of labour earns and how much the buyer of labour pays. The difference is that a tariff is a tax between people trying to trade between borders, whereas other taxes hit people who try to trade within borders. A high tax economy is the equivalent of internal protectionism.” – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

Budget 7) Green Belt changes rejected says Forsyth

“Relations between May and the Chancellor Philip Hammond might be dire, the condescending way he talks to her in meetings has taken aides aback, but she still needs him to deliver a successful Budget…“Building the homes our country needs so everyone can afford a place to call their own,” is the Tories’ new policy priority according to No10. But Theresa May has been resistant to the kind of planning reform that would mean enough houses get built where people actually want to live. I am told she has even knocked on the head a plan that would see houses allowed to be built within half a mile of train stations in the green belt in areas of high demand.” – James Forsyth, The Sun

Conservatives can’t be a Party of lazy privilege warns Freeman

“The Conservative Party risks being seen as “a narrow party of nostalgia, hard Brexit, public sector austerity and lazy privilege”, the head of Theresa May’s policy forum has warned her. In a letter to the prime minister, obtained by The House magazine, George Freeman, a Tory MP, warned Mrs May she needed to “move fast” to show she had learnt the lessons of the election in June which cost the Conservatives their majority. The private letter was written in the run-up to the Conservative party conference. “We are now in a new battle of ideas which is reshaping 21st-century politics,” he wrote. “We need to move fast to show that the Conservative Party has learnt the lessons of the last election and is serious about intellectual, organisational and cultural renewal.” – The Times

Davidson says Scots will continue to reject Labour whoever is chosen as leader

“Ruth Davidson is to argue that it does not matter who wins the Scottish Labour leadership contest on Saturday because the party is “holed below the waterline.” Speaking as Anas Sarwar or Richard Leonard is declared the victor, following a lengthy and bitter contest, Ms Davidson is expected to say that voters are sick of Labour’s “endless fighting.” The Scottish Tory leader will argue that Labour is “marooned on the rocks” regardless of who becomes its ninth leader since devolution and increasingly Scots view her party as the only one capable of taking on the Nationalists.” – Daily Telegraph

Johnson halts aid to North Korea

“Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson last night ordered the immediate suspension of foreign aid to North Korea in a major victory for the Daily Express. He acted after public outrage over Britain’s bloated overseas commitments and the escalation of the basket case regime’s nuclear weapons programme. The UK has funnelled £4 million of Official Development Assistance to the communist state since 2010 – during a period when it has ratcheted up tensions with the West. Official documents show that last year the country – run by dictator Kim Jong-un and labelled a pariah by the international community – received £216,000 in handouts from Britain. The Foreign Office said: “The Foreign Secretary has instructed officials to discontinue funding for all aid projects in North Korea.” – Daily Express

Cambridge student suffers abuse due to her Conservative views

“A Conservative student at Cambridge has spoken out about the ‘dirty looks’ and abuse she has had from her peers because of her political beliefs. Phoebe Pickering, 19, said young Tories were constantly the butt of jokes and branded ‘immoral’ – causing many to censor themselves in their daily lives. She said she had learned to ‘keep her mouth shut’ when asked about her political opinions by friends because she did not want to have to deal with the backlash. Writing in the student newspaper Varsity, she warned that Tory students were being demonised for their views and branded ‘bad people’.” – Daily Mail

Labour ignored pollution warnings in dash for diesel

“Tony Blair’s government ignored health warnings over air pollution as it pushed ahead with tax changes that led to a fourfold increase in the number of diesel vehicles on Britain’s roads, confidential Treasury files released yesterday show. Ministers were aware that an influx of diesels would damage air quality and were advised that a new levy would be required so as not to incentivise their purchase over petrol cars. However, officials working on the 2000 budget dismissed the warnings for presentational reasons, amid fears that the government would be seen as “overly harsh on diesel users”.” – The Times

Female Black Rod is chosen

“The first female Black Rod in the House of Lords in the 650-year history of the role has been approved by the Queen. Sarah Clarke will formally take over the position when its current holder David Leakey steps down at the end of this year, and will be known as the Lady Usher of the Black Rod. Currently responsible for the organisation of the annual Wimbledon tournament as championships director at the All-England Lawn Tennis Club, Miss Clarke has previously held roles at four Olympic Games, the London Marathon and UK Sport.” – Daily Telegraph

Councils spend a billion pounds on commercial property

“Councils are on course to spend more than £1bn on commercial property this year, investing more in shopping centres, country clubs, hotels, offices and other assets than in building council houses, figures show. Town halls in England and Wales spent £758m buying up commercial property in the first eight months of this year, according to property market data from Savills, but are only building 1,730 council houses a year, government figures for 2016-17 show. The £1bn councils are on track to spend could produce more than 8,000 new council homes, an expert estimate suggests. Earlier this year, Downing Street indicated that amount could deliver 12,500 homes.” – The Guardian

Mass anti Mugabe rally in Zimbabwe…

“Protesters are gathering in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare to demand the resignation of President Robert Mugabe. The rally is supported by the military which staged a takeover on Wednesday. Regional branches of the ruling Zanu-PF party as well as war veterans – who until last year were loyal to the president – are also saying Mr Mugabe should quit. Mr Mugabe, 93, had been under house arrest for days, but on Friday he made his first public appearance. He attended a university graduation ceremony in the capital.” – BBC

…tribal divisions mean the tragedy could continue says Parris

“It’s a rough-and-ready summary to say that if the planned Zimbabwean general election happens next year and the opposition were to win, there would be a feeling that Matabeleland had been empowered. If, say, Emmerson Mnangagwa or Robert Mugabe wins there would be a feeling that the ascendancy of one or another Mashona clan had been demonstrated. None of those conclusions would be good for democracy.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Mugabe did no good that better men could not have done by better means

News in brief

  • We need to fight the Brexit battle all over again – Michael St George, Conservative Woman
  • How Trump inadvertently boosted free trade – Jeffrey Tucker, Cap X
  • Northern Ireland’s political deadlock is starting to bite – Pádraig Belton, Coffee House
  • How to solve the Irish border Brexit question – Walter Ellis, Reaction
  • Hammond to agree “housing deals” with councils – Independent
  • The Government has a choice: spend money at home or give in to EU demands – Rory Broomfield, Brexit Central