Brexit 1) Foreign Secretary warns against keeping UK ‘shackled’ to EU laws

“Keeping Britain shackled to EU laws after Brexit would be ‘madness’, Boris Johnson warned yesterday. The Foreign Secretary said the ‘Brussels way of regulation’ cannot keep pace with the needs of the high-growth industries of the future. He said this argument was ‘gaining ground’ in the Cabinet as Theresa May consults ministers over the type of deal she should try to strike with Brussels. And he revealed he will make a ‘big speech’ on the issue early next year in a bid to gain public and political support for making a clean break from Brussels. During a trip to Moscow, Mr Johnson said maintaining full alignment with EU rules would make a mockery of Brexit.” – Daily Mail

  • Taxman accused of seeking ‘revenge’ on pro-Brexit entrepreneurs – Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit donors furious at huge tax bills – The Times
  • Gibraltarian minister demands inclusion in transition – Daily Express

More Johnson:

  • Johnson warns Russia against meddling in British elections – Daily Mail
  • Gnarled negotiator meets florid novice – Tom Parfitt, The Times
  • ‘I do have a go at Boris’ – Interview with Emily Thornberry, The Times

Brexit 2) May insists there is more to her premiership than Brexit

“Theresa May has denied she is simply ‘Madam Brexit’, declaring she is in the top job for the ‘long term’. The Prime Minister said she is feeling optimistic and will ‘undoubtedly’ deliver on a Brexit deal. But she said there are also other strings to her bow, arguing that her Government has just delivered a successful Budget and paved the way for bright years to come. On Thursday, an interpreter for Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki referred to Mrs May as ‘Madam Brexit’ in a translation broadcast live on television during a press conference in Warsaw. Mrs May was then seen smiling as she listened to the translation through her ear piece. It was not clear if it was an accurate representation of what Mr Morawiecki said or a mistake.” – Daily Mail

  • Defiant Prime Minister renews pledge to fight the next general election – Daily Telegraph
  • Economy defies gloom-mongers to grow even faster post-Brexit – Daily Mail


  • Legal action on whether UK can unilaterally abandon Brexit begins – Daily Telegraph
  • Now Remainers claim Article 50 was never triggered – Daily Express


  • European leaders won’t led Barnier’s Scrooge schtick last – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph


  • Brexit continues to polarise politics, but the fog is clearing – The Times
  • The Government needs a restorative reshuffle – FT
  • May must bring younger faces to the Cabinet table – The Sun

£500m ‘cost’ of new passports is branded ‘fake news’

“Yesterday ministers found themselves fending off claims on social media, fuelled by a celebrity and a shadow cabinet minister, that changing the colour would cost £500 million… His tweet linked to an article on The Independent website from eight months ago, which had the headline: “£500 million plan to ‘bring back blue passports’ after Brexit.” Within hours the message had been retweeted more than 16,000 times. In fact, the passport contract expires in September 2019 and the colour will be changed as part of a £490 million contract, advertised in October last year, which will last 11½ years and include design, manufacturing and printing. The colour change will not cost extra. When another Twitter user attempted to correct Mr Caan, he replied: “Apparently not. The £490 million is solely for the redesign.” – The Times

  • Home Office criticised over proposed shade of post-Brexit passports – Daily Mail

Nus Ghani: Don’t talk down our hand, Remainers, we can play a blinder on Brexit

“The EU needs to trade with the UK just as much as we need to trade with them. Clichéd, but true. We have a huge trade deficit with the EU – totalling £82 billion in 2016. Our markets are vital for the countries that drive the EU27’s economy – Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and the like. We should be looking at the trade negotiations in a much more positive light. Much of the press keep asking how much access we can get to EU markets. But we need to flip this question on its head and instead ask “how much access to the UK market should we grant the EU27, and what do we want in return?”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Inside the Cabinet’s Brexit ding-dong as main players fight for May’s ear – James Forsyth, The Sun
  • The EU is killing democracy, and I fear that 2018 will turn ugly – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Unless you think British identity quaint or odious, the new passport is fine – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph


Watchdog says officers who brought down Green were not acting in the public interest…

“The former police officers accused of smearing Damian Green cannot claim they were acting in the public interest, the police watchdog said yesterday. Sir Tom Winsor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said the need for the public to know investigators will keep their private information confidential is ‘overwhelming’. He warned the high-profile scandal risks damaging the British tradition of policing. He said victims, witnesses and suspects will refuse to co-operate if they believe police can ‘disregard’ their duty of confidentiality at any time. Sir Tom wrote to Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham to voice his concerns. She is considering whether ex-counter-terrorism police chief Bob Quick, 58, and his junior detective colleague Neil Lewis, 48, breached the Data Protection Act.” – Daily Mail

  • Rogue cops branded ‘abhorrent’ by their own union – The Sun
  • Paddick defends ex-officers’ actions – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: “The police got their man” – whatever you think of Green, the behaviour of these officers is a disgrace

…as Leadsom blames Labour for delaying harassment report

“The Conservatives and Labour were involved in a row last night over plans to introduce tough sanctions to combat sexual harassment and bullying in parliament. In a sign that the fragile cross-party consensus on how to tackle the issue could yet collapse, sources close to Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, blamed Labour for a delay in the plans. The tension came as Theresa May denied she knew of allegations of inappropriate behaviour against Damian Green, her former deputy, last year. A report on measures to combat harassment was expected to be ready by last Thursday, when Mrs Leadsom updated MPs on progress. However, the Conservatives claimed the report had in effect been vetoed by Valerie Vaz, Labour’s shadow Commons leader.” – The Times

  • Pincher ‘cleared by Conservative Party’ over harassment allegations – Daily Mail
  • Crabb also cleared after sex pest claims – The Times

Downing Street and CCHQ up their social media game, though they meet a hostile response

“The Conservatives’ social media strategy is backfiring by drawing an overwhelmingly hostile response, analysis by The Times suggests. The party’s visibility has risen dramatically since the election after more proactive posting, with views of tweets from the official @conservatives account up by 4,200 per cent to 320 million, and the party generating more discussion on Facebook than Labour. However, its posts attract more comments than shares, a ratio that analysts say is a measure of unpopularity as people are more likely to share posts they like and comment on posts they dislike. By comparison, Labour gets three shares for every comment.” – The Times

  • Tory strategists block I’m a Celebrity star from helping the Party – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: And the Word was made…tweet?

Gove mulls crackdown on traditional fires

“There are few more evocative images of Christmas than families gathered around a roaring fire, with stockings hanging from the fireplace. But this scene may become harder to recreate in Britain if Michael Gove, UK environment secretary, backs proposals being considered by his department for tighter restrictions on the burning of wood in homes. The government is expected to launch a consultation in the new year on how to tackle worsening air pollution caused by the increased popularity of wood-burning stoves and other traditional fires. Ministers are considering tougher regulations to deter the burning of damp wood, which is less energy efficient than dry wood and produces more smoke.” – FT

Tories ‘backtrack’ on Boxing Day trains

“The vast majority of rail services will be shut on Boxing Day despite claims by the Tories a decade ago that they would boost the number of post-Christmas trains. Figures show that out of 30 rail networks only four – Chiltern Railways, Merseyrail, Scotrail and the Stansted Express airport service – will run even a partial service on Boxing Day, with numbers significantly down on previous years. Some companies, including Southern and Southeastern, have cancelled Boxing Day services because of engineering works. Research from the Commons library showed that eight companies ran reduced services on the same day last year. The number stood at five in 2014 and six in 2013. A full Boxing Day service has not run on the national rail network since 1979.” – The Times

  • Pay per mile in road toll revolution – The Times

Prime Minister rejects radical overhaul of Grenfell Tower enquiry

“The Grenfell Tower public inquiry may face a legal challenge after the prime minister infuriated survivors yesterday by rejecting their call for radical changes to the way it operates. Theresa May refused a direct appeal from Grenfell residents to appoint a panel that would include people capable of representing the experiences of the community in north Kensington, west London, to sit alongside Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the chairman. The timing of her decision, on the last working day before Christmas, was described as a “discourtesy” by Grenfell United, which represents bereaved families. Under legislation for public inquiries there is a 14-day window to lodge a judicial review challenge to the prime minister’s decision.” – The Times

Momentum to tighten grip on Labour in new ballot

“Momentum is set to grab three new positions on Labour’s governing body next month, increasing the organisation’s influence over the party. A slate that includes Jon Lansman, founder of the network of Jeremy Corbyn supporters, is expected to triumph in a ballot for local party representatives on Labour’s national executive committee. Mr Lansman, 60, was instrumental in pushing for the creation of the three seats to add to the 40- member committee, reflecting how much leverage its leading figures have amassed. The results of the ballot, which closes on January 12, will come after a transformative year for Momentum, which began life as Mr Corbyn’s leadership campaign in 2015. Its membership has grown to 31,000 and its supporter base has risen to 200,000. It is gaining 1,000 new members a month, insiders say.” – The Times

  • Manufacturing chief says prospect of Corbyn government is ‘nightmarish’ – FT


  • Corbyn drove me to despair, how wrong I was – Abi Wilkinson, The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • The Brexit debate must be more than a ‘Game of Trolls’ – Alex Massie, CapX
  • Tories on the back foot over passport ‘fake news’ – Katy Balls, The Spectator
  • I’m dreaming of a blue passport… – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • Defying the referendum in Parliament will fuel public discontent – John Redwood, Comment Central
  • Right-leaning parties were the real winners in Catalonia – Pablo Castaño, The Independent