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Brexit 1) May presents ‘good news’ from Brussels

‘Theresa May achieved the rare feat of uniting her Conservative party on Brexit on Monday afternoon, as Tory MPs from all sides lined up to hail her “triumph” in finalising a “divorce” deal with the EU. Mrs May said the deal was good for both Leavers and Remainers, as Ken Clarke, the pro-EU former chancellor, labelled it a “triumph”. The deal was also welcomed by Iain Duncan Smith, the Eurosceptic former Tory leader. The calm on the Tory benches was aided by Mrs May’s concession earlier in the day for limits on the sweeping “Henry VIII powers” that would have allowed her to implement details of the Brexit deal with little parliamentary scrutiny. But the peace could be shortlived as cabinet ministers prepare to set out sharply differing visions of a future EU/UK trade deal.’ – FT

  • EU leaders want the withdrawal agreement to be written into law before talking trade – The Times
  • The Prime Minister demands a transition deal by March, or else the money is off the table – The Sun
  • Barnier talks Canada – FT
  • Even Soubry and IDS are in agreement – Daily Mail
  • The banks are ditching their apocalyptic rhetoric – FT

Opinion

Editorials

>Today: Henry Newman’s column: Incoherent, contradictory and palpably ridiculous – the Opposition’s Brexit policy is a farce

>Yesterday:

Brexit 2) May’s open letter to EU citizens: “I want you to stay”

‘In an open letter to EU nationals, she said she was ‘proud’ they had chosen to live in the UK and that she wanted them to stay after Brexit on the terms agreed in Brussels. The missive is a follow-up to one sent by the Prime Minister in October when she told the 3.3million Europeans living in Britain they would be allowed to stay regardless of the outcome of talks…In the letter to EU citizens, the PM wrote: ‘I greatly value the depth of the contributions you make – enriching every part of our economy, our society, our culture and our national life. ‘I know our country would be poorer if you left and I want you to stay.’ She told EU citizens their rights would be written into UK law through a Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill. And she said that – controversially – their rights will be guaranteed by the European Court of Justice for eight years.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Who are “May’s people”? She needs to know.

Brexit 3) Ministers offer oversight deal on Henry VIII powers

‘Number 10 folded on their landmark EU Withdrawal Bill to give MPs oversight over controversial “Henry VIII powers” — but vowed to stand firm over calls for a vote on the final terms of Brexit. The new law designed to bring all of Brussels’ red tape onto British books on Brexit day has faced a turbulent ride through the Commons — especially over plans to allow ministers to change the rules with a flick of a pen. In a major climb down a “sifting committee” of senior MPs will be set up to allow extra scrutiny over the powers that date back to the Tudor king. Government lawyers believe Ministers will have to make more than 1,000 tweaks to legislation – without MPs’ involvement – but critics branded it an unprecedented power grab.’ – The Sun

>Yesterday:

First Tory poll lead since September – and May doubles her personal lead over Corbyn

‘The prime minister’s Brexit deal appears to have improved her public standing and edged the Tories ahead on 42 per cent of the vote, up two points on last week, with Labour unchanged on 41 per cent. The YouGov poll of 1,680 adults on Sunday and yesterday also suggests that the Liberal Democrats are unchanged on 7 per cent with the rest down one point on 10 per cent. A one point lead is within the margin of error but is a boost for Mrs May a week after some Tories were speculating that she may not last until Christmas…Mrs May’s lead over Mr Corbyn has risen sharply, from four to nine points. Asked who would make the best prime minister, 37 per cent said Mrs May, up from 34 per cent last week, and 28 per cent said Mr Corbyn, down from 30 per cent last week. In a separate question about who voters would most trust to negotiate Brexit, 32 per cent said Mrs May, 16 per cent said Mr Corbyn.’ – The Times

  • Labour attacks ‘Teletext Tories’ over digital failings – The Guardian

Gove plans tougher sentences for animal cruelty, and legal recognition of animal sentience

‘The maximum sentence for animal cruelty will be increased to five years in jail and animal sentience will be enshrined in law. Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the tough new legislation will help protect animals. On a visit to Battersea Dog and Cats Home yesterday, he also said Brexit would help Britain improve animal welfare standards and combat problems like puppy smuggling. The Government has published a draft bill which will increase the highest penalty for cruelty to animals from six months to five years in England and Wales. By contrast, the maximum sentence is two years in France, three years in Germany and five years in both Ireland and Northern Ireland. The draft also says Ministers ‘must have regard to the welfare needs of animals as sentient beings in formulating and implementing Government policy’.’ – Daily Mail

Johnson reports on ‘worthwhile’ Nazanin talks in Tehran

‘Boris Johnson declared his freedom flight to Iran had been “worthwhile” today as hopes for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe rose. Speaking in the Commons, the Foreign Secretary said he didn’t want to give “false hope” about the fate of the British mum jailed on trumped up charges. But he said he had raised “complex consular cases” in each of his bilateral meetings in Tehran including with President Hassan Rouhani. And he said: “I was frank about the subjects where our countries have differences of interest and approach. “But our talks were constructive nonetheless.” He added: “I do not wish to raise false hopes but my meetings in Tehran were worthwhile.”‘ – The Sun

>Yesterday: Ryan Shorthouse on Comment: Conservatives should champion human rights, at home and abroad

Concerns over lack of evidence for opt-out organ policy

‘Ministers are asking for views as a consultation on the changes for England begins today. However, they have been criticised for pressing ahead with the plans despite a lack of evidence that a policy in Wales has had any impact. Theresa May announced in October that the law would be changed so that people are presumed to consent to their organs being used unless they specifically register an opt-out… Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, said: “Every day, three people die for want of a transplant, which is why our historic plans to transform the way organ donation works are so important.” Hugh Whittall, director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, said: “We are concerned that the government consultation goes straight into asking how an opt-out system should be introduced, rather than if it should. The government should not be making this change until there is evidence that it works, and until we are confident that it won’t undermine people’s trust in the system in the long-term. That evidence is simply not there yet.” Wales introduced an opt-out system two years ago and a review shows little change in donor numbers with 104 since the change compared with 101 in the two years previously.’ – The Times

  • Would a change in the rules mean more transplants? – BBC News

Hammond signs finance ministers’ group letter against Trump’s tax plans

The Chancellor joined with other European finance ministers to urge Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury Secretary, to rethink the proposed changes. In a letter addressed to Mr Mnuchin, the finance ministers of the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain warned that the tax reform promised by Mr Trump could risk ‘seriously hampering genuine trade and investment flows’. The ministers warned the measures could ‘discriminate’ in a manner which would contravene World Trade Organisation (WTO) provisions, would be inconsistent with double taxation rules, and would be ‘poorly targeted’ at helping to combat tax avoidance. ‘The inclusion of certain less conventional international tax provisions could contravene the US’s double taxation treaties and may risk having a major distortive impact on international trade,’ the letter stated.’ – Daily Mail

  • The President approves new manned space missions – Daily Mail
  • He will visit London to open the new US embassy – The Sun
  • The alt-right suspects Alexa is a lefty – The Times

McDonnell considers measures to make it even harder to get a mortgage

‘UK shadow chancellor John McDonnell is considering making mortgage lending more onerous for British banks in an effort to push them to lend more to smaller companies. The proposals were set out in “Financing Investment”, a report commissioned by the Labour leadership and written by GFC Economics, an independent economic research firm. The report, which was published on Monday, also suggests that the Bank of England should be moved to Birmingham. According to GFC, British banks are “diverting resources” away from vital industries and instead focusing on unproductive lending, such as consumer credit borrowing.’ – FT

Kerslake’s NHS attack backfires as it turns out he had been told to consider his position

‘The ex-boss of the civil service was left humiliated after his stinging attack on the Government’s handling of the NHS backfired as it emerged the Labour adviser was set to be sacked. Whitehall insiders hit back to insist Lord Kerslake “jumped before he was pushed” from the worst performing NHS trust on the eve before it was put into “special measures” with a £92million black hole. Lord Kerslake left King’s College in London on Sunday before declaring the government was “unrealistic” about scale of challenges facing the NHS. But his attack fell apart when it admitted he was advising the Labour Party on plans for government it it was revealed he had been asked to consider his position on Friday. NHS Improvement boss Baroness Harding said he should decide whether he was the right person to carry on leading the troubled hospital.’ – The Sun

Ethics committee to urge social media clampdown

‘Theresa May’s independent ethics watchdog will recommend laws to shift the liability for illegal content on to social media firms, The Times has learnt. This would recast the companies as publishers and stop them describing themselves as platforms with no control over the millions of messages and videos that they host. The report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which advises the prime minister on ethical standards, will not spell out the sanctions companies should face but lawyers said legislation could mean prosecution for those that failed to comply with new rules. The government is already looking at a statutory code of conduct for social media companies, backed by legislation. The recommendation forms part of the conclusions of an inquiry into intimidation experienced by parliamentary candidates in this year’s election campaign. Proposals on the speed with which companies should take down defamatory posts or ones that involve hate speech are likely to be included.’ – The Times

News in Brief

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