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Johnson hopes for Green’s return and attacks police vendetta…

“Boris Johnson has said he hopes Damian Green will one day be able to return to government office, despite his dismissal for lying over pornography found on his computer. Mr Johnson raised concerns that the former first secretary of state may have been the victim of a ‘vendetta’, describing the leak of secret details from a police raid of his parliamentary offices as ‘a bit whiffy’. The Foreign Secretary added his voice to calls for further investigation of the way police evidence about the discovery of legal porn on Mr Green’s work computer found its way into the press. Speaking during a visit to Moscow, Mr Johnson said: ‘I’m very sad for Damian and I think he has been a fine public servant and done a great job, and hopefully one day he will come back and continue to serve in other ways.'” – Daily Mail

  • Sources suggest sacking will boost May’s popularity in the Party – The Guardian
  • Ex-minister signals that he’s not going into hiding – Daily Mail

More:

  • Interview with Kate Maltby – Daily Telegraph
  • Maltby made claims to Downing Street about Green’s behaviour a year ago – Daily Mail

>Yesterday:

…as May demands the police investigate officers who brought him down…

“Theresa May last night heaped pressure on Scotland Yard to investigate  two ex-cops who leaked details about porn found on sacked  Damian Green’s office computer. And  Boris Johnson accused the  officers of a vendetta against the PM’s deputy, saying the scandal was “a bit whiffy”. Ex-Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick and ex-Detective Constable Neil Lewis could face unlimited fines if found guilty of data protection offences. Yesterday the Met referred the pair to the Information Commissioner over alleged misuse of confidential data gleaned from a historic investigation.” – The Sun

  • Police turn on officers who brought down Green – The Times
  • Officer who leaked against Deputy Prime Minister ‘liked’ anti-Tory material – Daily Mail

…and uses Christmas break to plan reshuffle

“Theresa May will reshuffle her cabinet in the new year after the sacking on Wednesday of Damian Green, her de facto deputy. Aides say that the UK prime minister has not yet decided whether to replace Mr Green as first secretary of state, a role that she added to her cabinet earlier this year. But she is expected to use his departure to push through a wider shake-up of her top team. After the departure of the third cabinet minister in just two months, Mrs May will use the Christmas holiday to plan a reshuffle, which has been repeatedly called for by the influential 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs. Mrs May’s allies say Jeremy Hunt, currently the health secretary, is “highly rated” and tipped for a promotion, while Tory chairman Patrick McLoughlin is likely to be replaced.” – FT

  • Leadsom says Westminster may banish abusers – The Times
  • Watchdog suspends investigation into Vaz on health grounds – The Times
  • Tory MP’s aide cleared of rape charges – Daily Mail
  • Trade minister cleared of breaching the ministerial code – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Hunt, the great survivor, is making himself indispensable to May – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph
  • May can do without a deputy like Green but desperately needs new blood – Francis Elliott, The Times
  • Health Secretary is the obvious candidate for the Prime Minister’s new deputy – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • The Prime Minister should respond to this loss with a reshuffle – The Times
  • UK could pay the price for Green’s porn folly – The Scotsman

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Now let Davis or Rudd become First Secretary of State

Philip Collins: The police must stop meddling in politics

” The only relevant point is that there was a betrayal of the principle of British policing that information gathered in the course of an investigation, which is not relevant to the case in question, should not be revealed. Mr Lewis and Mr Quick are now being investigated by the information commissioner to see if they have broken data protection laws. If they have not, the law should be tightened because it is quite wrong for the police to be speaking out about cases which are being heard by a court or inquiry. The police should also review the stipulation that retired officers cannot face disciplinary action. The information they hold should remain classified. It cannot be open season just because an officer takes early retirement.” – The Times

  • The Prime Minister is weak, yet somehow invincible – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • If Green can’t be a minister, he shouldn’t be an MP either – Sophie Walker, The Guardian

Editorial:

  • This won’t harm May, voters don’t know who Green is – The Sun

May dubbed ‘Madam Brexit’ on visit to Poland

“Theresa May smiled as she was accidentally dubbed Madam Brexit today as she held talks with the Polish PM in a charm offensive to drum up support for a swift trade deal. The Prime Minster was flanked by Boris Johnson and Philip Hammond as she travelled to Warsaw hours after losing Damian Green from her Cabinet in the porn row. Mrs May held talks with Poland’s PM Mateusz Morawiecki, who backed Britain getting a swift free trade deal with the EU after Brexit. The PM was joined by her closest Cabinet lieutenants on the trip, including new Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and Home Secretary Amber Rudd.” – Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister offered ‘dream’ trade deal in Poland – The Sun
  • Government’s Brexit analysis ridiculed as ‘printed off Wikipedia’ – Daily Mail
  • Brussels set to offer ‘stripped-back Canada-style’ deal – The Sun
  • Labour in revolt as 64 MPs defy Corbyn to back the Customs Union – Daily Express

Editorial:

  • The EU is hypocritical to call Poland undemocratic – Daily Telegraph
  • Brussels is driving a wedge between east and west – The Times
  • May’s Polish overtures strike a dissident chord – FT
  • Brexit will worsen the EU’s dilemmas – The Guardian

>Today:

>Yesterday:

Ministers 1) Lewis confirms that blue passports will return post-Brexit

“The  European Union-approved burgundy document was controversially introduced in 1988. But the Home Office has confirmed it will be scrapped when we leave on March 29, 2019. They will gradually be phased out so those with existing passports will not have to change them until they expire. Burgundy-coloured new passports will still be issued without any EU insignia on them until the current passport contract expires five months after Brexit. The new blue and gold travel documents will be issued to those renewing or applying for a new passport from October 2019. Making the announcement, immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said it was a change to symbolise our sovereignty.” – Daily Mail

  • Our blue passports embodied our unique history – Brandon Lewis, The Sun

Ministers 2) Foreign Secretary says UK ready to wage cyber-warfare with Russia

“Britain is ‘prepared and able’ to launch massive retaliatory cyber attacks against Russia, Boris Johnson warned last night. The Foreign Secretary, who arrived in Moscow yesterday for talks, said the UK ‘cannot accept’ Russia’s ‘destabilising’ cyber activity against the West. In meetings with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov today, Mr Johnson will complain about Russian-backed hackers’ efforts to attack critical UK infrastructure – such as power stations and communication networks – influence elections, and spread fake news. He will underline Britain’s growing offensive cyber capability, after GCHQ this week revealed it has developed sophisticated weapons that could cripple a hostile state.” – Daily Mail

  • Johnson faces cold reception on Russian trip – FT
  • Labour MPs accuse American in the Commons of being a Russian spy – Daily Mail
  • Actual spy who attended Downing Street meeting arrested by Ukraine – Daily Mail

More:

  • May declares Islamic State ‘crushed’ in Iraq and Syria – Daily Telegraph
  • Britain votes to reject US recognition of Israel’s capital at the UN – Daily Mail

Ministers 3) ‘Boost for Hammond’ as borrowing falls

“Public sector borrowing was down £200million to £8.7billion in November in a boost for Chancellor Philip Hammond. Top economists had predicted the figure would soar to £9billion. A Treasury spokesman said: “This is the best year-to-date borrowing in a decade, but there is still further to go to repair the public finances. “We continue to build an economy fit for the future by taking a balanced approach, getting debt falling while investing in our vital public services and keeping taxes low.” Overall the Government has borrowed £48.1billion this financial year, £3.1billion lower than a year ago. The Chancellor wants to balance the books within the next Parliament.” – The Sun

Ministers 4) Gove announces that almost 20,000 badgers were shot in record cull

“Almost 20,000 badgers were shot this autumn in the biggest cull on record in order to protect cattle from tuberculosis. Michael Gove, the environment secretary, published the figures ahead of a visit to Devon to see a colony of beavers, prompting animal welfare groups to accuse him of trying to divert attention from the cull. More badgers were shot in September and October than in the whole of the previous four years, according to data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The Badger Trust said it appeared that none of the 19,274 badgers shot in 19 areas had been tested for TB, therefore it was not known how many were infected.” – The Times

  • May to unveil crackdown on ‘cruel’ puppy farms – The Sun
  • MP calls for plastic bottle deposit schemes – The Sun

Ministers 5) Javid hints at compromise on Yorkshire devolution

“People in Barnsley and Doncaster have voted in favour of a proposed devolution deal that would elect a mayor for the whole county of Yorkshire. The results of what the two local authorities called “community polls” were announced on Thursday afternoon. Both south Yorkshire towns rejected a government-backed deal for the Sheffield city region in favour of a proposed deal for the whole county… The government has previously insisted it will not consider any whole-Yorkshire devolution plan that includes the councils already signed up to the Sheffield city region deal. But in a change of position, the communities secretary, Sajid Javid, wrote to civic leaders in South Yorkshire on Wednesday to suggest a compromise.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Javid gives leasehold sharks the boot – he deserves applause

Davidson attacks Sturgeon over SNP’s education record

“A third of Nicola Sturgeon’s education targets have been “delayed, diverted or ducked” despite her claims it is her top priority, Ruth Davidson has said. The Scottish Conservative leader highlighted an SNP government “report card” that showed the deadlines for 23 of its 75 initiatives to improve the schools system have been missed. Among the schemes she said had been “kicked into the long grass” were proposals to encourage more high-quality graduates into teaching, a drive to improve the inspection regime and a plan for more headteachers. Ms Sturgeon frantically consulted John Swinney, the Education Minister and her deputy, as Ms Davidson used First Minister’s Questions asked her about the delayed initiatives.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Scottish teacher recruitment scheme to tackle shortage – The Scotsman

More:

  • Labour and Nationalist councillors block plan to fly Union Flag to commemorate war dead – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Davies attacks the Welsh political class for anti-Brexit groupthink

Black Rod warns that Parliamentary fire could be ‘next Grenfell’

“The outgoing Black Rod has warned that Parliament ‘could be the next Grenfell’ unless vital repairs are carried out. David Leakey said the Palace of Westminster is at risk of ‘major fire and loss of life’ as he stood down from the ancient post in the House of Lords last night. In an interview, he urged MPs to ‘find the courage’ to back plans to vacate Parliament while urgent repairs take place. The former Army officer’s comparison risked causing offence to those who lost their homes or family in the horrific blaze that engulfed the Grenfell Tower in west London in June, killing 71. He said politicians had a tough task as it was difficult to justify spending billions on repairing Parliament when they have not spent millions on high-rise blocks such as Grenfell.” – Daily Mail

  • Fake peers practice setting up flat-pack Lords in case of disaster – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Barnier wanted a free trade deal on services with the United States – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • Catalan separatists win back their majority – Diego Torres, Politico
  • Leaving the Single Market and Customs Union in name only would be worst of all worlds – John Mills, Brexit Central
  • May must share the blame for Brexit bitterness – Alex Massie, The Spectator
  • One in four Brexit department posts left unfilled – Jon Stone, The Independent

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