May holds DUP talks in search of a Brexit way forward

‘The prime minister will hold talks with Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, in the next 24 hours in an attempt to ease Unionist concerns that Northern Ireland could have a separate status within Britain under a future deal.Downing Street said last night that agreement was still possible…The choreographed Brexit deal unravelled yesterday after details of the agreement reached between London and Dublin were leaked to the Irish media shortly before Mrs May was due to meet Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, to sign off on it. The Times understands that Mrs Foster had been broadly briefed on the proposed agreement but had not seen the specific wording of the 15-page draft text…EU sources have warned that unless a deal can be signed off by Friday it is unlikely to be agreed at next week’s summit. Backbench MPs are likely to increase demands that she walk away from the talks if the EU refuses to move on to trade negotiations next week. Last night a senior Tory said that Mrs May would not be allowed to concede anything substantive to Dublin. “If, to save their blushes, the Irish agree to a meaningless and frankly unenforceable set of words then great. If they don’t, or Theresa May goes too far, then we and the DUP will withdraw support and there could be a leadership change this side of Christmas.”’ – The Times

  • Dubious leak ran out of control – The Times
  • Unionists ‘went ballistic’ – Daily Mail
  • The Brussels briefers had got ahead of themselves – Daily Mail
  • Brexiteers were too optimistic – The Guardian
  • Time limits on the ECJ’s authority are another sticking point – The Sun
  • They still want to secure agreement this week – The Sun
  • How France ambushed Boris at the UN – The Times





MPs warned over computer security and password sharing

‘MPs were today warned that they risked letting hackers into the seat of power by sharing their computer passwords with aides and even interns. A string of politicians admitted they give their passwords to members of staff to enable their workers to access their official email accounts. The shock admission came despite stern briefings to all MPs about cyber-security – and prompted a new warning from Commons authorities who said they could “put the entire parliamentary network at risk”. Conservative MP Nadine Dorries was the first to reveal she shares her password with other people as she took to the airwaves to defend Damian Green, who is accused of looking at porn on his office computer – arguing that he could have been framed by someone else. The backbencher said: “My staff log on to my computer on my desk with my login everyday – including interns on exchange programmes.” Fellow Tory Nick Boles added: “I often forget my password and have to ask my staff what it is.”’ – The Sun

  • Retired officers are overstepping the mark – The Times Leader
  • Scotland Yard launches internal investigation into their actions – The Sun
  • Detective says he was driven out for warning about a witch hunt – Daily Mail
  • Son of undercover police officer sues the Met – The Times


Hammond accused of telling generals the Army could be even smaller

‘Philip Hammond has enraged defence chiefs by telling the PM that the Army only needs 50,000 troops. The Chancellor’s declaration came during a stormy meeting about a fresh round of defence cuts, senior Cabinet sources have revealed. Top brass are fighting a desperate battle to stop the axe falling on any more of the Army’s current standing strength of 78,000. Reducing it down to 50,000 would make it its smallest size since the time of the French Revolution before Napoleon’s conquests began 220 years ago. It would also mean it less than half the size of France’s army, at 111,000 soldiers, smaller than Italy’s 99,000, Spain’s 77,000 and even Germany’s 60,000. Mr Hammond is accused of making the bombshell argument during a tense face off with former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon in front of Theresa May.’ – The Sun

Bitcoin crackdown won’t work, experts argue

‘Government plans for a crackdown on bitcoin will be ineffective in preventing the use of the cryptocurrency for organised crime, experts said yesterday. The Treasury intends to regulate bitcoin and other digital cryptocurrencies to bring them into line with legislation on money laundering and the funding of terrorism. However, experts said the decentralised way that bitcoin was traded around the world meant there would always be loopholes. The rules, which would also apply across the EU, are expected to come into force by the beginning of next year and require online platforms where bitcoins are traded, and digital wallet services where they are stored, to carry out due diligence on customers and report any suspicious transactions.’ – The Times

>Today: Nicholas Mazzei on Comment: Let’s build on Bitcoin – by abolishing cash and switching to a digital pound sterling

Calls to close the aid fund that allegedly handed British cash to terrorists and dictators

‘The ‘secretive’ Government fund that has allegedly bolstered jihadis and tyrants must be shut down, campaigners said yesterday. The call came as the Foreign Office halted a £12million taxpayer-funded aid project in Syria over fears some of the cash had gone to terrorists. But campaigners warned that the case was just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. The £1 billion Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), which gets half its money from the aid budget, has handed cash to military and security projects in countries notorious for human-rights abuses. The fund – overseen by the National Security Council and chaired by the Prime Minister – has a ‘serious lack of transparency’ making it impossible for MPs or the public to properly scrutinise it, according to the report by charity Global Justice Now…£400,000 from the fund has gone to bolster armed forces in Sudan, where head of state Omar al-Bashir faces five counts of crimes against humanity from the International Criminal Court.’ – Daily Mail

Halfon: Divert free childcare from the middle classes to the poorest

‘Childcare handouts for the middle classes should be curbed so that more poorer families can benefit from them, according to a senior Conservative MP. Robert Halfon, chairman of the education select committee, called for free nursery hours to be diverted to the unemployed, ‘whose children need it more’. He urged a reduction of the earnings cap below which parents are eligible for 30 hours a week of free childcare for three-and four-year-olds. Currently, all working couples or single parents are able to access the Government-funded hours as long as they earn less than £100,000 each. Mr Halfon wants this cap halved so that only middle earners are included in the offer, which was introduced in the autumn. He said the money saved from such a move could then be diverted to unemployed parents, who currently are only entitled to 15 hours, doubling the amount of time their children benefit from nursery learning.’ – Daily Mail

Canning: Young members are growing frustrated with the Conservative Party

‘I am part of numerous online groups of young supporters of our party — all of them more active and more lively than anything the party has done. And most worryingly of all, these groups are full of bright, enthusiastic young people who are becoming more and more disillusioned with trying to be involved with the party — whether it’s offering ideas, trying to organise events, speaking up on radio or in their local areas, or finding somewhere to hit the doorstep. This has driven a whole host of young people to just set up their own organisations — some successful, some most definitely not. But all are born out of a strong desire to contribute to their party. Right-leaning think tanks also have come in and filled a gap in the market, leaving a real risk of the Conservative Party itself losing access to large numbers of Conservative-supporting young people, as they look to other organisations to give them their political voice.’ – Stephen Canning, The Times

CCHQ investigates alleged ‘purge’ of Kensington and Chelsea councillors

‘The Conservative Party is investigating its Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham branch over an “autocratic” leadership clique and complaints that it has deselected six sitting councillors. The only black Tory on Kensington and Chelsea council is among those prevented from standing in the local elections next May. Eve Allison, 54, told The Times that she had been a victim of “pseudo-racism, classism and elitism” by senior figures in the local party. Ms Allison said that for her to be deselected after working to help survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire in the neighbouring ward “looks really bad”. “I’m the only councillor of colour and I’ve made a difference . . . They wanted to suppress me right from the get-go,” she said.’ – The Times

  • Cllr Allison accuses local party of ‘lynching’ – The Sun

Hunt pledges more radiologists

‘The NHS will take on 300 more radiologists in England, Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, has said. The pledge is part of the Cancer Workforce Plan, intended to tackle what one charity called a “crisis in the diagnostic workforce”. Another 200 clinical endoscopists, who use tiny cameras on flexible tubes to investigate suspected cancers inside the body, will also be appointed. It is hoped that the new staff will be trained by 2020, according to Health Education England. Mr Hunt said: “We want to save more lives and to do that we need more specialists who can investigate and diagnose cancer quickly. These extra specialists will go a long way to help the NHS save an extra 30,000 lives by 2020.” However, the all-party parliamentary group on Cancer said that NHS England would “struggle” to achieve ambitious plans to improve cancer care.’ – The Times

  • A quarter of nurses are obese – The Times

Labour council’s own pension advisers warn of the cost of Corbynism

‘A Labour-controlled council has been urged to invest part of its £250 million pension fund overseas because of “political risk” associated with Labour policies if Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister. Camden council said that it had been advised by London CIV that it would be “imprudent” to expose London pension funds to infrastructure investments that were entirely UK-focused because of risk associated with a programme of renationalisation. Labour pledged in its manifesto this year that it would bring rail, mail and utilities back under public ownership. London CIV, which is chaired by Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, is a regulated investment vehicle for local government that manages £5 billion of assets…The document stated that “a potential future change of government could lead to a sharp repricing of core infrastructure assets due to concerns over renationalisation and regulatory changes to existing contracts”.’ – The Times

US Supreme Court allows Trump’s travel ban to be reintroduced

‘The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to President Donald Trump by allowing his latest travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries to go into full effect even as legal challenges continue in lower courts. The ruling is an indication that the Trump administration’s third travel ban could be able to stand. The court, with two of the nine justices dissenting, granted his administration’s request to lift two injunctions imposed by lower courts that had partially blocked the ban, which is the third version of a contentious policy that Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office in January. The justices, with two dissenting votes, said Monday that the policy can take full effect even as legal challenges against it make their way through the courts. Meanwhile, Trump has arrived back to Washington after a trip to Utah to announce his plan to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in the southwestern state.’ – Daily Mail

  • Blue-collar America believes he is taking care of business – Justin Webb, The Times
  • The President has missed his deadline to move the US embassy to Jerusalem – The Guardian

News in Brief