Gove ‘backs rising stars’ for next Tory leadership battle

“A future Conservative leadership contest could be a battle between the defence secretary and the new education secretary, Michael Gove has said. The environment secretary foresaw a fight between “tough and gritty” Gavin Williamson, 41, and Damian Hinds, 48, who he says would be the liberal wing’s candidate. Mr Hinds, who was elected as MP for East Hampshire in 2010, joined the cabinet this week. Theresa May has said that she intends to fight the next election as leader and ministers rarely publicly discuss her replacement. In an interview yesterday Brandon Lewis, the new party chairman, stuck to the official line that there would be no change of leader before the next election. Mr Gove’s decision to raise the prospect of a contest and name potential candidates raised eyebrows at Westminster. It came after a shambolic reshuffle that undermined Mrs May’s authority.” – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Higher and technical education. No young person left beHinds, er, behind.

>Yesterday: Profiles: Damian Hinds – liberal Catholic, social mobility wonk, and new Education Secretary

May 1) Prime Minister now ‘free to reform tuition fees’, claims Timothy

“Theresa May is now free to carry out reform of tuition fees after she sacked the two ministers who blocked her plans, her former chief of staff says today. Nick Timothy says Justine Greening, the former education secretary, opposed plans for a review to cut tuition fees during her time on Whitehall, forcing the rethink into the long grass. The Prime Minister sacked her earlier this week, prompting Ms Greening to leave the Government altogether in protest at being offered another job. She was replaced by Damian Hinds. Alongside the former universities minister Jo Johnson, Ms Greening refused to back a wide-ranging review which could have allowed institutions to charge different fees in a bid to increase competition.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Greening sits with Remain rebels at PMQs – Daily Mail
  • May sacked Education Secretary for ‘aiding Corbyn’ – Daily Express


  • Overseas students add £20bn boost to UK economy – FT


  • I did not get Greening fired, but she deserved to go – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph
  • Gyimah has a fight on his hands – David Morris, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Alex Morton’s column: Why the Tory tendency to bash our friends and back our enemies – for example, over student immigration numbers?

May 2) Planned crackdown on disposable plastic goes beyond bags

“Theresa May will today pledge to end the scourge of disposable plastic. In a major speech on the environment, she will warn that future generations will be shocked by our throwaway culture. She will unveil a 25-year strategy to eliminate all ‘avoidable’ plastic, including bottles, cups and most packaging. ‘We look back in horror at some of the damage done to our environment in the past and wonder how anyone could have thought that dumping toxic chemicals, untreated, into rivers was ever the right thing to do,’ she will say. ‘In years to come, I think people will be shocked at how today we allow so much plastic to be produced needlessly.'” – Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister wants plastic-free isles in supermarkets – The Times
  • Stanley Johnson says population must be limited to spare the environment – Daily Express


  • May finds that the mood of the nation has turned green – Katie Perrior, The Times

May 3) Reshuffle accused of ‘downgrading’ the equality agenda

“The appointment of Amber Rudd as Britain’s minister for women and equalities shows that diversity is moving further down the government’s list of priorities, said business leaders and opposition politicians. Ms Rudd is one of the most powerful voices in government, but there were doubts over how much time her job as home secretary would leave her to devote to equalities policy. “It is not good enough to treat this role as an afterthought,” said Dawn Butler, Labour’s shadow minister for women and equalities. She said the brief had been given to Ms Rudd as an “add-on to her other important responsibilities”. According to people close to Ms Rudd, the Government Equalities Office (GEO) will also move to the Home Office, the fourth time in five years that it has shifted department.” – FT

  • May’s new team ‘less diverse than Brown’s’ – The Times
  • Army defends ‘soft’ recruitment campaign – The Times


  • I was the Forces’ gay ‘poster boy’ but this is a distortion of soldiering – James Wharton, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The worst-handled reshuffle in recent history – perhaps ever

Hammond calls on Brussels to set out what it wants from Brexit

“The Chancellor will tonight use a speech in Berlin to demand the EU sets out what it wants from a Brexit trade deal because it ‘takes two to tango’. Philip Hammond, who is in Germany with Brexit Secretary David Davis today, is addressing German business leaders later. In extracts of his remarks to the Die Welt summit, Mr Hammond said Brussels kept complaining Britain had not said what it wanted from the talks. But he blasts: ‘In London, many feel that we have little, if any, signal of what future relationship the EU27 would like to have with a post-Brexit Britain.’ Mr Hammond and Mr Davis used their visit today to demand the City of London be included any future trade deal. They warned if Brussels refuses to do it could cause a global economic crash because London is such a major financial centre for international banks.” – Daily Mail

  • UK ministers try to enlist the support of European businesses – FT
  • EU signals fresh hope for the banks after Brexit – The Times


  • Lewis, new Tory chairman, ‘would now vote Leave’ – Daily Express
  • ‘No deal’ could cost half a million jobs, warns Khan – The Guardian
  • UK lines up trade deals with ‘dozens of non-EU countries’ – The Sun
  • Britain faces ‘huge bill’ for market access – Daily Telegraph


  • Botched reshuffle casts May as the tragic victim of Brexit – Ian Birrell, The Guardian
  • France and Germany could push Europe into getting it very wrong – Peter Foster, Daily Telegraph
  • Let’s stop debating leave or remain and focus on getting Brexit right – Anand Menon, Times Red Box
  • We need a clear vision for future immigration policy – Caron Pope, Daily Telegraph
  • Davis’ letter is the latest instance of Brexit cakeism – Jonathan Lis, The Guardian


  • British proposals deserve a fair hearing – The Times

Johnson criticises Virgin Trains’ newspaper ban

“Virgin Trains’ decision to stop selling the Daily Mail is absurd and pompous, Boris Johnson has said. The rail company, which is part owned by Sir Richard Branson, said that the newspaper was “not at all compatible” with the company’s brand and beliefs in an internal note to staff. The newspaper was one of a handful of titles sold and given free to first-class passengers but will no longer be stocked on the west coast mainline, which connects London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. Mr Johnson, the foreign secretary, said that the company was guilty of censorship. He tweeted: “Absurd ban on Daily Mail by Virgin! Pompous, censorious and wrong #virginontheridiculous”.” – The Times

  • Hancock vows to reverse Lords’ proposed curbs on press freedom – Daily Mail
  • Peers vote to ‘restart Leveson enquiry’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Vote ‘raises pressure for phone-hacking probe’ – FT


  • Foreign Secretary to raise Britons’ plight with Iranian counterpart – The Guardian


  • Beware the slippery slope of censorship – David Aaronovitch, The Times


  • Voters would be horrified if more money is wasted on an enquiry – The Sun

>Today: Garvan Walshe in Comment: The protests in Iran show the regime is running out of time

Hospital bosses write to Hunt about NHS crisis

“The winter crisis in the NHS is a “watershed moment” that shows the service can no longer meet its constitutional standards of care without tens of billions of extra funding, hospital chiefs have warned. In a letter to Jeremy Hunt, the health and social care secretary, the body which represents hospitals urges him to ditch the Conservatives’ longstanding policy of giving the NHS only small budget increases. NHS Providers claims the policy, introduced as part of the coalition government’s implementation of austerity in 2010, is damaging patient care, has caused serious staffing problems and led to key targets being routinely missed. – The Guardian

  • How can May fix what she doesn’t believe to be broken? – Luciana Berger, Times Red Box
  • It’s not up to volunteers to rescue the health service – Dan Corry, The Guardian

>Today: Interviews: Boles says that National Insurance should become National Health Insurance – and fund the NHS

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: “I apologise to those people who have had their operations delayed” – PMQs focuses on the NHS

Leadsom threatens MPs with ‘real sanctions’ for abusing staff

“Politicians could be kicked out of Parliament if they abuse or bully their staff in a crackdown on Westminster sex pests, the Commons leader today said. Andrea Leadsom warned MPs they will not be let off with ‘just an apology’ but will face ‘real sanctions’ if they harass their staff. Theresa May yesterday unveiled a new beefed-up ministerial code to make clear misconduct ‘will not be tolerated’ and ordered her new Cabinet to read it. It comes after Parliament was rocked by the sex harassment scandal which saw two of the Prime Minister’s closest colleagues ousted from the cabinet.” – Daily Mail

  • Staff ‘admit they don’t speak out’ – The Sun

Grayling criticised for blaming rail problems on union

“Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, has been accused of passing the buck over severe rail disruption on Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern trains, for which he blamed staff shortages caused by “militant unions”. A report from the National Audit Office criticises the government’s management of the UK’s largest rail franchise, held by Govia Thameslink, and concludes that policy decisions have had a negative impact on millions of passengers. The report says Department for Transport officials failed to grasp the potential impact on passengers of combining an increase in capacity, targets to improve services and the increase in driver-only operated trains, which led to strikes by union members.” – The Guardian

  • RMT boss pays workers £200 each to keep striking – The Sun

Sajid Javid: I’m determined to renew the dream of home ownership

“We have come a long way in a short time. Since 2010, we have delivered more than a million homes and Help to Buy has supported over 245,000 people to buy their own home. The reduction in stamp duty, announced at the biggest and boldest budget for housing for decades, has exempted 80 per cent of first-time buyers from the tax altogether. And we are cracking down on rogue landlords and abuse of leasehold to lift standards and fairness across the board. But while we’re making good progress, I know there’s a lot more to do to help us deliver the 300,000 homes a year we will need by the mid-2020s.” – Times Red Box

Caulfield calls for energy drink ban for under-16s

“A Tory MP today demanded a ban on the sale of energy drinks to under-16s after one of her constituents died after developing a 15 can-a-day addiction. Scaffolder Justin Bartholomew, 25, drank vast quantities of the caffeine-packed drinks as he marriage failed. He killed himself after developing anxiety which his family partly blamed on his energy drink habit. Today Ms Caulfield, the MP for Lewes, urged the Prime Minister to tighten up laws round the sale of the drinks. Addressing Theresa May in the weekly bout of PMQs she said: ‘My constituent Justin Bartholomew was just 25 when he committed suicide late last year. His family are convinced that his intake of high energy drinks, over 15 cans a day, increased his anxiety and contributed to his death.'” – Daily Mail

  • Tory and Labour MPs say tax should fund breakfast clubs – The Sun

Rees-Mogg urges Party to let ‘Toff’ help them reach younger voters

“Jacob Rees Mogg today urged the Prime Minister to enlist the help of I’m a Celebrity winner Georgia Toffolo, 23, to reach out to young voters after meeting the star in Parliament. The Tory darling said Downing Street would be ‘very wise’ to use the reality TV star as their new poster girl as she understands ‘how to reach a bigger audience’. And Mr Rees-Mogg revealed that Ms Toffolo bashfully apologised for hailing him a ‘sex God’ after she was crowned Queen of the Jungle last year. The Made In Chelsea star, who has been a Conservative Party member since she was a teenager, spoke to a string of top Tories as she visited Westminster today to film a show about Winston Churchill.” – Daily Mail

  • MPs call for cut to aid budget – The Sun


Chinese leaders paid up to £12,000 for dinner with Cameron

“Chinese business leaders paid up to £12,000 a head to attend a dinner with David Cameron at an event in Shanghai this week. The dinner was billed as part of the Shanghai International Ball and Leadership Forum at the Waldorf Astoria. The former prime minister is in Shanghai to launch a £750 million fund intended to establish closer trade links through UK-China infrastructure investments. He is scheduled to meet President Xi tomorrow.A spokesman said that Mr Cameron was attending an event called the Women’s Leaders Forum at the Waldorf, organised by the Global Alliance of SMEs. However, Chinese media reported the event under a different name and said that Mr Cameron was privately invited by Fan Yue Ting, the founder of Camelliae, a networking app.” – The Times

Labour 1) Thornberry refuses to condemn McDonnell’s abuse of McVey

“Emily Thornberry today refused to condemn John McDonnell for branding Esther McVey a ‘stain on humanity’. Ms Thornberry declined to comment on Mr McDonnell’s bitter attacks on Ms McVey, in which he was said ‘lynch the b****’. Mr McDonnell’s furious attacks in November 2014 have been widely reported and condemned as an example of abuse and harassment in politics. He has repeatedly refused to apologise but insisted he was only reporting calls for the MP to be lynched not demanding it himself. Ms Thornberry left herself open to an hypocrisy charge as her refusal to comment came as she condemned Tory appointee Toby Young as a ‘horrible man’ with a ‘disgusting attitude to women’ on the same programme.” – Daily Mail

  • Momentum shuts down youth wing over ‘vile social media attacks’ – Daily Mail


  • Why can’t the Tories get across that the real sexists and bigots are Corbyn’s Labour? – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

>Today: Peter Franklin in Comment: Ruling political tribes 1) Labour. How the Left came in from the wilderness and drove the Blairites out.

Labour 2) Shadow Chancellor heads to Davos

“John McDonnell will head to a glittering summit of bankers and world leaders in Davos for the first time, it emerged tonight. The shadow chancellor, who has publicly scorned the global elite who attend the summit for his entire career, has accepted an invite to attend later this month. A spokesman said he lecture the World Economic Forum about the need to ‘rewrite the rules of the global economy’ and outline Labour’s alternative approach.  The invite to Mr McDonnell is a signal world leaders and the business community is taking Jeremy Corbyn and Labour more seriously. But senior Tory Michael Fabricant predicted Mr McDonnell would be politely listened to while he quotes Karl Marx’s Das Kapital and then be ignored.” – Daily Mail

  • Opposition plans to soak its class enemies are the politics of division – Daily Telegraph

Blow for Sturgeon as Scots reject a separate immigration system

“Nicola Sturgeon’s calls for Scotland to have it own immigration system was dealt a major blow after a poll found nearly two thirds of Scots are opposed to the plan. The SNP leader has repeated urged for Holyrood to be given new powers so it can let more EU nationals move there when border controls are tightened after Brexit. But a new survey by respected pollster Sir John Curtice found that 63 per cent of Scots want the same immigration as the rest of the UK. Meanwhile just 24 per cent of those surveyed said they want it to become easier for EU migrants to move north of the border.” – Daily Mail

  • Scottish justice minister blames watchdog as he denies ‘unlawful’ block on chief constable’s return – Daily Telegraph


  • Time to end the police shambles… and the secrecy – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: David Meikle in Local Government: In Glasgow, it is the Conservatives who offer the real opposition to the SNP

News in Brief:

  • The reshuffle highlights May’s three biggest weaknesses – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • Nothing can undo the Prime Minister’s reputation for incompetence – Alex Massie, CapX
  • Three cheers for the French revolution against #metoo – Olivia Utley, Reaction
  • EU’s evolution shows why we can’t stay in the single market or customs union – Violi Sahaj, Brexit Central