May ‘backs away’ from plans to move Johnson in reshuffle…

“Theresa May has backed away from plans to demote Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in next week’s reshuffle, amid fears he could quit if she does. Reports last week claimed he was to be moved to a new Brexit ‘super-ministry’, which would encompass parts of the Business Department along with responsibility for major infrastructure projects. Supporters of Mr Johnson said he would not accept any move that looked like a demotion. One ally said: ‘Boris has no intention of walking away, but he knows that he can blow everything sky-high if he wants to.’ Whitehall sources last night played down the creation of a new Brexit ministry. Chancellor Philip Hammond is also expected to stay put, despite clashes with Mrs May over policy and pressure from Eurosceptic MPs who believe he is trying to water down Brexit.” – Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister ‘torn’ over timing of Hunt’s promotion due to winter NHS crisis – Daily Telegraph
  • Reshuffle planned for the next 48 hours – The Sun


>Today: Owen Paterson MP in Comment: Why are we so insular, unimaginative and inward-looking about healthcare? Europe’s systems are better than the NHS.

>Yesterday: Profiles: Henry Willink, the Conservative who proposed a National Health Service before Bevan created one

…as she clears way for ‘copycat’ customs union

“Theresa May will give herself powers to create a near-identical customs union with the EU after Brexit under legislation to be considered next week. The customs relationship with the EU could be one of the biggest political issues this year as Labour edges closer to pledging to stay in a union with the EU even if it stops Britain striking independent trade deals. Mrs May has given herself maximum room for manoeuvre in a trade bill that will be debated in the Commons on Monday and Tuesday, in a move that could worry Brexit supporters. Clause 31 of the bill allows the government to establish “a customs union between the UK and the country or territory”. The Commons library said that this clause gives the government power to implement any customs union with the EU. The revelation raises questions over whether a future customs agreement with the EU could restrict Britain’s trade policy.” – The Times

  • Chancellor risks ‘another damaging Cabinet row’ over trade relationship – The Sun
  • Hammond’s plan puts EU trade first – FT
  • Twenty MEPs urge May to stay in the Single Market – The Guardian


  • London confounds doom-mongers to become top tech-investment city – The Sun
  • UK productivity jumps at fastest rate for six years – The Guardian
  • Vote Leave donation faces fresh scrutiny – The Times
  • Experts warn that Germany will sabotage the deal – Daily Express


  • May is a survivor who can see us through the Brexit process – Michael Fabricant, Daily Telegraph
  • Prime Minister but be decisive on Brexit, housing, and social care – James Forsyth, The Sun


Ministers 1) Williamson wins more time to make Forces’ case

Gavin Williamson is on the brink of winning his first major battle as Defence Secretary as a spending review is set to be postponed following an outcry over proposed cuts to troop numbers. Theresa May is expected to order a national security and defence review to be split in two, with the security element of the review proceeding as planned but the defence section put back by months. Mr Williamson, together with a vocal group of backbench MPs from all parties, has argued that any further cuts to the Army or Royal Navy would prove disastrous to Britain’s military capability… Delaying the defence element of the review will give Mr Williamson extra time to make a case for maintaining the fighting strength of the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Review delayed by £20 billion hole in budget – The Times


  • Army has been taken over by PC dreamers who put lives at risk – Col. Tim Collins, Daily Telegraph

Ministers 2) Lidington publishes figures for on-the-run violent criminals

“A record number of violent criminals – including 19 murderers – are on the run after breaking parole conditions. More than 1,500 convicted offenders are at large after being released from jail on licence. Incredibly, the Ministry of Justice initially rebuffed requests to identify the escaped killers, claiming it would breach their privacy – even though the information could help trace them. But following an outcry, Justice Secretary David Lidington overturned the decision – which had been taken without his knowledge – and published a list of escaped murderers.” – Daily Mail

  • Victims and the public must be told why Warboys was released – The Times


  • Scores of British jihadis who fought for ISIS are off the radar, Wallace admits – The Sun


  • We need to decide: are our prisons too full, or too empty? – Matthew Scott, Daily Telegraph


  • Blame for Warboys’ lenient treatment lies with Starmer – The Sun

Ministers 3) Matthew Parris: Gove is one of the great ‘nearly-men’ of British politics

“Our modern cult of aspiration and ambition, our TED-talks fixation with “daring to dream”, risks blinding us to two types of individual that are so big a part of humanity as to be universal types. There are those who know their strengths and limitations, pitch for what they’re confident they can do really well, dig in, and stay there. And there are men and women who did want to reach the top, didn’t quite make it, and instead achieved great things a few rungs down the ladder. The first group we disparage with terms like “unambitious”. The second are despatched by history to the anteroom labelled “nearly-men”. Well here’s to the “nearly” men and women in politics. And here’s to the quiet doers who think it’s the job, not the rung, that matters. If Michael Gove can design for farming in 21st-century England and Wales a pattern that serves nature, and leisure, and beauty, then I don’t call that nearly: I’d call it total.” – The Times

  • The Environment Secretary’s ‘slow revolution’ in farming – FT
  • Sturgeon under pressure over farm subsidy loss – Daily Express


  • Tories can be green but Gove must not be captured by the environmentalist blob – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Modernisers Revisited. Meet “Onward” (Or perhaps “Onward!”) – the new C-Change.

Tories ‘demand answers’ over Scottish Government’s social security system

“The Scottish Conservatives have sought assurances that Scotland’s new social security IT system will be fit for purpose in the wake of problems with Scottish Government and public sector computer systems. The new social security IT system is set to be that single largest computer project that the Scottish Government has ever had to deliver. It has been estimated that it will cost £190 million and take four years to complete. But a series of spiralling computer costs for existing systems has led to the Tories questioning the Scottish Government’s record on IT and challenge ministers to ensure the same mistakes are not repeated.” – The Scotsman

Prime Minister under fresh pressure to remove Young

“Fresh pressure to remove Toby Young from a new universities watchdog was heaped on Theresa May yesterday when it was revealed he has admitted to being a porn “addict”. In a 2001 Spectator article titled “Confessions of a porn addict”, the journalist queried Linda Boreman’s claim that she was raped for the 1972 film Deep Throat. He also wrote that he had watched several thousand porn films and women in them “are nearly always completely liberated beings”. Dawn Butler, the shadow women and equalities minister, said the prime minister would be accused of “wilfully rewarding misogyny, homophobia and bigotry” if she did not terminate his appointment to the Office for Students (OFS).” – The Times

  • Leading Labour figures accuse appointee of misogyny – The Guardian


  • Young believes in nothing but Tobyism – Janice Turner, The Times

Labour 1) Adonis admits to bid to ‘sabotage’ Brexit

“Labour peer Andrew Adonis last night openly declared he wants to ‘sabotage’ Brexit. The ex-Cabinet minister insisted he was a ‘democrat’ but would work to unpick Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. Lord Adonis’ astonishing claim comes days after he quit a Government post with a tirade against Theresa May and her negotiating plans. His startling declaration lays bare the intent of some Remain campaigners to defy the will of the people 18 months after the referendum vote. The intervention comes after Tony Blair launched a new onslaught against Brexit yesterday, insisting it can still be stopped.” – Daily Mail

  • Blair warns that ‘populist uprisings’ could destroy the EU – Daily Mail


  • We can stop Brexit, but we need some help from across the Channel – Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian
  • If Blair is the best anti-Brexiteers can offer, they’re finished – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph

Labour 2) Corbyn poses at Trotskyite ‘shrine’

“Jeremy Corbyn posed for snaps on holiday in Mexico just yards from the a shrine to a slain Russian revolutionary. The hard-left Labour chief socialised with lefty pals on the same street where red Leon Trotsky, a key pioneer of the Russian revolution, was murdered. Mr Corbyn was seen in pictures outside a restaurant near the Leon Trotsky House and Communism museum in Mexico City, Guido Fawkes reported. The original “Trot” lived at the house in the year before he was assassinated in 1940 after being exiled from Russia in 1929. The museum was set up to honour the tyrant murdered by agents of Soviet dictator Stalin with an ice pick. In 1988 Mr Corbyn demanded the Russian government “completely rehabilitate” Trotsky, who as head of the Red Army orchestrated the bloody slaughter of the Russian Civil War.” – The Sun

  • Hard-left rivals banned from pub amidst infighting over anti-Semitism in Momentum – The Times

News in Brief:

  • What Europeans really think about Brexit – David Goodhart, The Spectator
  • How getting drunk in Korea doubled British exports there – Adrian Hill, Brexit Central
  • Does a calm 2018 really suit May? – Oliver Wiseman, CapX
  • A carnivalesque, late Roman Empire presidency – Alastair Benn, Reaction
  • Plummeting membership makes the Tories ripe for entryism – George Eaton, New Statesman