Knighthood for 1922 Committee Chairman Graham Brady

“Theresa May hands gongs to a powerful Parliamentary ally and several pro-Brexit MPs in the New Year honours today.The chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench Tories, Graham Brady, is awarded a knighthood. A veteran MP and close ally of the PM, he gave her his staunch support after the Tories lost their majority in June’s snap election. Three other senior backbench Tories – who all backed Leave in the EU referendum – are also honoured…Two other members of the 1922 Committee executive are also honoured, with vice-chairman Cheryl Gillan being made a dame while treasurer Geoffrey Clifton-Brown is knighted. All three are long-standing MPs with decades behind them in the Commons. All backed Leave in the EU referendum, as did a fourth Tory MP to be honoured, veteran ex-minister Christopher Chope, who is knighted.” – Daily Mail

In 2018 the Conservatives must fight the battle of ideas declares the Daily Telegraph

“We have said many times in 2017 that the Tories need to revive their idealism and contrast it with the Left, and we said it not for the sake of some internal battle within Conservatism but out of horror of losing the war with Labour. The Tories have chosen, rightly, to focus on Brexit but, wrongly, to fudge their philosophy. Labour has fudged Brexit but, increasingly, committed itself to neo-Marxism – and so the danger it now poses to the country is very real. The Conservatives must fight back in 2018.” – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Brexit 1)  Adonis resigns blaming both the EU negotiations and the rail franchise “bailout”

“Lord Adonis has revealed the “troubling evidence” behind his decision to quit as Theresa May’s infrastructure tsar and rejected claims that he resigned before he was fired. The former Labour transport secretary, who was appointed by George Osborne two years ago to advise on big projects, resigned yesterday to oppose Brexit and in protest at an “indefensible” rail franchise “bailout” which he says could cost billions. It is the second resignation of a former Labour cabinet minister in less than a month after Alan Milburn’s decision to quit as head of the social mobility commission.” – The Times

  • Good riddance to this supercilious servant of the EU – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

>Today: Daniel Kawczynski on Comment: After we escape the EU, we must help other countries to protect their sovereignty from Brussels

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Our panel’s Speech of the Year award goes to Theresa May’s Lancaster House speech

Brexit 2) Hannan says Britain will thrive and the world is watching us

“Being a free country means being free to succeed or fail. We could, I suppose, opt instead for Jeremy Corbyn, who regrets that the USSR lost the Cold War. But I doubt we will. It’s not the kind of people we are. We remain an enterprising nation. We lead the world in biotech, law, finance, education, TV. We sell tea to China, ­kayaks to the Inuit, boomerangs to ­Australia. We are as well placed as any nation on Earth to make a success of this century. The eyes of other countries are upon us, watching to see whether we stumble. We will surely show them that we are the resolute and innovative nation we have always been.” – Daniel Hannan, The Sun

Brexit 3) Over a hundred trade negotiators hired by Fox

“Britain’s drive to turbocharge its global trade links after Brexit has passed a crucial milestone with more than 100 experienced trade negotiators hired at a key ministry to strike new deals around the world. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the recruitment meant the UK was ready to take full advantage of the opportunities of breaking free from the European Union. The team will also assist the campaign he is spearheading to build trade relationships around the world, promoting British exports and foreign investment into the UK in the run-up to Brexit Day.” – Daily Express

Brexit 4) Heseltine is right that a Corbyn Government would be a temporary problem declares Moore

“Michael Heseltine has got into trouble for saying that a government led by Jeremy Corbyn would be better than Brexit. I am not sure that one would prevent the other but, from his point of view, he is right. Compared with the great European destiny, a Corbyn administration is but the blink of an eye. One purpose of the European Union is to ensure that it makes little difference who runs the government of a member state: the real power is elsewhere. Remainers like that. Leavers don’t.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

May’s environment adviser accused of “war” on field sports

“Theresa May’s top environmental adviser is backing new curbs on firearm licences, pheasant shooting and grouse moor management in what pro-blood sports MPs fear is a new “war” on field sports. Sir John Randall, who works in the Number 10 policy unit, purportedly made the claims to campaigners in a private meeting and then told them that he had raised the activists’ concerns personally with Michael Gove, the Environment secretary. Sir John was a Government whip from 2010 to 2013.” – Daily Telegraph

Bradley announces boost for children’s TV

“The government has launched a £60m fund to help make children’s television programmes in Britain, as concern grows that young people are growing up on a diet of foreign imports on Netflix and YouTube. Karen Bradley, the culture secretary, said the money would help to fund up to half of the production and distribution costs of original children’s content made in Britain. The money will come from unallocated funds from the 2010 licence fee settlement and will be distributed from 2019 for three years. The fund will focus on programmes from “new and diverse backgrounds” and those “made in the nations and regions”.” – The Guardian

Boundary changes would have meant outright Conservative majority

“The Conservatives were denied an outright majority at the last general election because of a voting system which is slanted in favour of the Labour party, new analysis has shown. The new figures reveal that the Tories would have been left with a clear majority of 14 if the boundary reforms – which have been frustrated by Labour and the Liberal Democrats – had been in place. Changes being proposed by the Boundary Commissions for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to make the current system fairer would have given the Tories a small outright majority in the Commons in June’s election.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Labour frontbencher Cat Smith accused of hypocrisy for backing changes to her seat – Daily Telegraph

Electoral Commission calls for Remain campaign to “clarify” referendum spending

“More clarity is needed in rules aimed at stopping campaigners bypassing spending limits during a referendum, the Electoral Commission says. It said campaigners should have to provide more information to show they were not using multiple groups to avoid hitting spending limits. The watchdog says it will “review” new claims that the rules were breached by the EU Remain campaign last year. Britain Stronger in Europe said it had always complied with the rules. The Electoral Commission is already formally investigating the Leave campaign. Now the Guido Fawkes website is calling for a similar probe into the other side.” – BBC

Increased foreign aid to most corrupt nations

“UK aid to corrupt countries soared by 10 per cent last year. Almost £1.39billion was sent to the world’s 20 most crooked states last year – up from £1.26billion in 2015. The money was handed over despite warnings that some of it would be wasted, stolen or even handed to terrorists. The Department for International Development insists it operates a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to corruption. But critics warn it is wrong to increase aid to countries where there is a clear risk of it being diverted. The Government is committed to spending the equivalent of 0.7 per cent of UK income on foreign aid – £13.4billion last year.” – Daily Mail

Record high for stock markets

“Global stocks this year enjoyed their best annual performance since the post-crisis recovery, as accelerating economic growth across the world helped power several major markets to double digit gains. The FTSE All-World index advanced nearly 22 per cent during 2017, its biggest increase since 2009 and its fourth-best yearly performance since the benchmark started in 1993. Despite a late US stock tumble on Friday afternoon dragging the global stock market gauge down in the last trading session of the year, the FTSE All-World rose 1.6 per cent in December and has now notched up 14 straight months of gains — the longest run on record.” – Financial Times

Balls hints at Parliamentary comeback and takes a swipe at Corbyn

“I think it would be a really, really bad mindset for me if I spent the next 10 years doing everything I do in the hope that somehow it might mean that I go back and do what I did before,” he says. That is not to say he would never do it again, he stresses….Losing his seat came as a shock at first but he says he had always been haunted by the fear of another five years in opposition. He also doesn’t think he could have served in Corbyn’s Cabinet because of fundamental disagreements on policy. These days, he says, “unless you say that the New Labour government was a centrist, establishment, mainstream sell-out, you’re not properly Labour, you’re a ‘red Tory’. That upsets me.” – Interview with Ed Balls, Daily Telegraph

GMB approves big pay rise for union officials

“One of Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest trade union backers was today accused of rank “hypocrisy” over fat-cat pay – after an eye-watering wage hike for top officials. Activists in the GMB are outraged after it emerged the union’s nine regional secretaries were awarded an inflation busting 7.2 per cent pay rise – up £5,000 to £75,000. The pay deals come as the GMB tells thousands of members in local government to accept a 2 per cent pay deal – as it’s the “best that can be achieved”.” – The Sun

Stormont talks could resume by mid January

“A date for a new round of talks to break the political deadlock at Stormont is expected to be announced in the next few days, a DUP MP has said. Gregory Campbell suggested the negotiations could be up and running by mid-January – almost exactly a year after the late Martin McGuinness resigned as Deputy First Minister and brought down the Executive.The East Londonderry MP told BBC Radio Foyle: “I think it will be the case that there will be more talks. Hopefully they will be more productive than they have been recently. Gaps have been narrowed.” – Belfast Telegraph

Protests spread across Iran

“Demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans in several cities across Iran on Friday, as protests against alleged corruption and rising prices turned into the largest wave of demonstrations since nationwide pro-reform unrest in 2009. Police dispersed protesters in the western city of Kermanshah as spontaneous rallies spread to Tehran and apparently several other cities, a day after demonstrations in the north-east, the semi-official news agency Fars said. The outbreak of unrest reflects growing discontent over rising prices and alleged corruption, as well as concern over the country’s costly involvement in regional conflicts such as Syria and Iraq.” – The Guardian

Why Conservatives rejected Scottish devolution in 1992

“The Conservatives dismissed calls for constitutional reform in Scotland ahead of the 1992 election, with John Major’s senior political advisers telling him that devolution was “not of general interest”…declassified government papers reveal that the Tories gave constitutional reform only brief consideration when drawing up their manifesto for the 1992 general election. A briefing paper for the Prime Minister summarising discussion among top Conservative strategists reveals that Chris Patten, the then party chairman, raised the fact that “other parties would major on” calls for devolution. However, party chiefs believed that “the Labour Party’s proposals for Scotland would result in expensive regional government in England for which there was no popular demand.” – The Scotsman

Parris: We must learn to live with fake news

“I believe the immediate response of my generation — that such things must somehow be stopped by “regulation” — is wrong: first because this is in practice impossible if we’re to maintain platforms on which people can express opinions; the sheer volume of cybertraffic makes mediating (censoring) social media impossible except after the horse has bolted. And second because, perversely, protecting people from nastiness makes them more vulnerable: it impairs the production of the ultimate antibody against abuse, which is learning to take no notice.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

News in brief

  • Happy Brexmas David Jones – Brexit Central
  • Why the EU will have to start talking about trade soon – Pieter Cleppe, CapX
  • My ‘person of the year’? Theresa May – Douglas Murray, Coffee House
  • If I was Guest Editor on the Today programme… – John Redwood
  • When Silvio Berlusconi Met Gordon Brown – Stewart Wood, Huffington Post