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Brexit 1) Davis appears to suggest Brexit might not happen (but denies it)

“Brexit could still be reversed, David Davis has suggested at a meeting of leading think tanks. At a private meeting in Whitehall shortly before Christmas, the Brexit secretary is understood to have praised the government’s progress in moving on to phase two of Brexit talks, telling those present: “My view is that it means there is less chance of no deal – and less chance of no Brexit. Some present took his remarks to suggest that Brexit was not certain… Mr Davis said that he had been misinterpreted. A spokesman for him said: “He was simply repeating the prime minister’s point that the deal is good for people who supported Leave and who fear Brexit isn’t going to happen, and Remain supporters who fear no deal.”” – The Times

  • Whitehall warned not to ‘go slow’ on departure preparations – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Brexit’s enemies are a deluded, comical rabble – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail
  • Now May can get back to sorting Britain’s future – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Brexit has busted the myth of the fragile Union

Brexit 2) Paterson urges May to ‘walk away’ if no trade deal by March

“Senior Brexiteer Owen Paterson has warned Theresa May that heads of terms for a new free trade deal with the EU need to be agreed by March or Britain should quit talks and prepare for no deal. Writing exclusively for the Daily Express online, the former cabinet minister who sits on the board of leading Brexit group of Leave Means Leave has told the Prime Minister that enough concessions have been made to the EU and the Prime Minister must not be taken in by “Remoaner double talk. The tough line from the Brexit group which includes more than 50 Tory MPs, has come as Remainers have seized on reports that Brexit Secretary David Davis has suggested that ending Brussels rule could be stopped.” – Daily Express

  • Fox flies 200,000 miles chasing May’s dream The Times
  • Moving Euro clearing would backfire, Brussels warned – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Liam Fox MP in Comment: In this new year, let’s resolve to capitalise on the huge trade and investment opportunities of Brexit

>Yesterday: Kieran Mullan in Comment: A good deal is within our grasp – including on the Northern Irish border

Brexit 3) Johnson may be offered ‘Brexit super-ministry’ in reshuffle

“Boris Johnson could be offered a new Brexit ‘super-ministry’ as part of Theresa May’s New Year reshuffle. The Prime Minister is expected to offer him a role encompassing parts of the Business Department and major infrastructure decisions to prepare Britain for leaving the EU. But last night allies of the Foreign Secretary said he would refuse to accept anything that looked like a demotion. The Mail understands the long-awaited reshuffle could begin as early as next week. Senior sources said it was ‘looking very likely’.” – Daily Mail

More:

  • May urged to sack five ministers after Cabinet chaos – Daily Express
  • Don’t pander to Adonis in reshuffle, May told – The Times
  • Watson demands Grayling resign over rail bailout – The Sun

Comment:

  • Adonis’ Brexit stand shows why it’s a mistake to sneer at centrists – Matthew d’Ancona, The Guardian

Editorial:

  • Britain’s new place in the world will need identifying and defending – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: May doesn’t need a First Secretary of State

Foreign Secretary wants more influence on aid spending

“British aid will be spent on supporting the government’s foreign policy rather than on only helping the world’s poor, Boris Johnson has vowed. In a promise to shake up international development spending, the foreign secretary said the money would be “more sensibly distributed” to support Britain’s policy goals in addition to poverty relief. Parts of the £13 billion aid budget will be diverted to support British efforts to deny safe havens to Islamist terrorists in Africa, Yemen and in refugee camps for Rohingya Muslims fleeing across the Burmese border into Bangladesh… He added that Brexit would give the UK more control over how aid funding currently handed to European Union projects is spent.” – The Times

  • Johnson ‘concerned’ as two demonstrators reported killed in Iran – The Sun

Rudd preparing to remove foreign students from immigration figures

“Minsters are preparing to take foreign students out of the immigration figures, despite opposition from Theresa May. The Prime Minister has blocked the move for years, arguing it would undermine confidence in the UK’s immigration statistics. But Home Secretary Amber Rudd has warned Mrs May that growing support for the measure in Parliament means it is now ‘inevitable’. The Home Office believes there is no way of preventing MPs from forcing a parliamentary vote on the issue when the new Immigration Bill is brought forward this year. A Government source said: ‘It is inevitable that someone will bring forward an amendment on this, and it is very difficult to see how we could defeat it.’” – Daily Mail

  • Home Secretary ridiculed for ‘Dad’s Army’ plan for Border Force volunteers – The Sun
  • What Brexodus? Europeans flock to the UK – Daily Express

More:

  • Freemasons are blocking reform, claims police leader – The Times

Andrew Rawnsley: Labour risk repeating the Tories’ mistake of taking voters for granted

“The idea of an early election was not itself the problem – the problem was its atrocious execution. Even then, the Tories emerged from their worst campaign in living memory with a higher vote share than Labour and a 55-seat advantage in the Commons. Had a few thousand votes been distributed differently, Mrs May could, despite herself, have acquired a respectable majority and things would look rather different today. This is a source of hope for Tories as they peer into the mists of the future. If they could fight such a terrible campaign under a leader so hopeless at retail politics and still end up ahead of Labour, what might they be able to achieve under a fresh chief presiding over a properly run campaign, with some attractive propositions for the voters?” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: ConservativeHome readers award Gaffe of the Year to…the Conservative Manifesto

Concern that SNP smacking ban will see ‘good parents’ prosecuted

“The first attempt to outlaw smacking children saw Scottish Government ministers wrestle with concerns that a ban would see “good parents” prosecuted, newly released Cabinet papers have disclosed. As Holyrood considers a fresh bid to make smacking illegal, the documents outline the difficulties faced by Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition ministers when they tried to introduce a ban 15 years ago. According to the 2002 Cabinet papers, the then deputy first minister Jim (now Lord) Wallace believed a smacking ban would help Scotland rid its reputation for violence. “Scotland is by international standards a violent country and if we want to break that cycle we can make a start with the young,” a memorandum he presented to Cabinet said.” – The Scotsman

  • Why we should be optimistic for 2018 – Brian Monteith, The Scotsman

News in Brief:

  • Adonis’ exit is a problem of the Government’s own making – Bruce Newsome, Comment Central
  • When will the Treasury be called to account? – Jon Moynihan, CapX
  • In defence of 2017 – Stephen Daisley, The Spectator
  • Happy new year, Peter Lilley – Brexit Central

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