Gove to announce new farmers’ subsidy programme based on “public money for public good”

“Farmers will be rewarded with subsidies for opening up the countryside to the public and improving the environment after Brexit, Michael Gove will say. The Environment Secretary will announce plans to replace EU subsidies with a new system which pays farmers to improve “public access” to their land so that people can enjoy more of the countryside. He will say that as part of a “green Brexit” farmers will be paid subsidies for improving the environment by planting woodlands, turning fields into wildflower meadows and providing new habitats for animals.” – Daily Telegraph

  • He’s planning to “scrap the CAP” – Independent
  • Because it diverts taxpayers’ money to wealthy landowners – FT
  • The new scheme will be focused on “supporting environmental benefits” – Guardian
  • But subsidies will remain at same level “for five years after Brexit” – The Times

Hunt apologises after non-urgent operations are postponed

“Jeremy Hunt has apologised to patients after tens of thousands of non-urgent operations were postponed in England. The Health Secretary admitted there were “real pressures” facing the health service as NHS England urged hospitals to defer routine procedures such as hip replacements until the end of January to free up hospital beds and staff, amid reports many hospitals were plunged into crisis over the festive period. Mr Hunt said the move, which could lead to up to 55,000 routine operations being delayed, was “absolutely not what I want” but conceded that hospitals were under huge pressure from the ageing population and a spike in flu and respiratory diseases.” – Independent

  • But says NHS isn’t in “crisis” – The Sun
  • He speaks of “planned, methodical, thoughtful” approach – Daily Express
  • And a ten-year plan – Daily Mail
  • “Pressure mounts” on NHS as patients, doctors, and providers “accuse government” of failure – Guardian
  • DUP and SF criticise each other over health system – Belfast News Letter


  • The NHS has had financial problems pretty much since the start – Daily Telegraph
  • We need to demand less of it, or pay more for it – The Times
  • Politicians need to be brave about this – The Sun


  • Here’s what I’d do – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph
  • And me – Leo McKinstry, Daily Express
  • I wouldn’t cut free prescriptions – Frances Ryan, Guardian
  • And here are my two solutions – Roy Lilley, Daily Telegraph
  • The government’s approach is “woefully inadequate” – Andrew Grice, Independent
  • Where has Hunt been? – Polly Toynbee, Guardian

Fox in China speaks of welcoming foreign investment

“Liam Fox has said Britain still welcomes foreign investment after the US rejected a Chinese buyout deal of a money transfer company over national security concerns. He made the comments during a visit to China as part of economic talks between Beijing and London. The deal is important for the UK to establish itself as a global trading nation after leaving the EU in 2019. The US rejection of MoneyGram International Inc by China’s Ant Financial is the most high-profile Chinese deal to be torpedoed under the Trump administration.” – Daily Express

Evans-Pritchard: Don’t worry. Britain won’t be left behind the Eurozone

“Brexiteers must hold their nerve. By a twist of timing, the eurozone is briefly basking in economic glory while Britain languishes in relative stagnation. It is an illusion of the economic cycle, magnified by Europe’s elastic snap-back from a needlessly severe recession. The EMU sorpasso over recent months looks more meaningful than it really is, yet it is inevitably creating confusion and will colour Brexit talks at a crucial juncture. We can all agree that the UK economy has long been mismanaged. It needs a radical shift from consumption to investment if it is to avoid falling further behind the US and the rising powers of Asia. But one problem that it does not face is being left behind by the eurozone in any lasting sense.” – Daily Telegraph

  • May shouldn’t have drawn any red lines – Philip Stephens, FT
  • Joining the TPP could be a good idea – Matt Kilcoyne, Daily Telegraph
  • Might Merkel be on the way out? – Anne McElvoy, Guardian
  • I wish Brexit would just go away – Owen Jones, Guardian

>Yesterday: Lee Rotherham in Comment: The 42 different types of trade relationship with the EU (so far)

May meets first-time home buyers

“The Prime Minister visited Wokingham to meet first-time buyers who she says have benefited from changes to stamp duty. Chancellor Philip Hammond cut stamp duty cut for 95% of first-time buyers, with 80% paying none at all, in his November Budget.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Andrew Boff in Comment: Wasting potential for 27,000 homes – Sadiq Khan’s housing contradiction

Study shows that Conservative members are “socially illiberal” and pro-Brexit

“Conservative members are “a breed apart” from members of the other main political parties, with much stronger tendencies towards socially illiberal and authoritarian attitudes and completely different views on Brexit, a study has found. The biggest ever polling of party members’ opinions shows that Tories are half as likely to support gay marriage as members of Labour, the Lib Dems or the SNP and significantly more supportive of the death penalty, obedience to authority and censorship of the media “to uphold moral standards”. The findings by academics at Queen Mary University of London could spell trouble for the chances of a more socially liberal candidate such as Ruth Davidson succeeding Theresa May as Tory leader, given that the final choice is made in a vote of party members.” – Guardian

  • Over half support death penalty – Independent
  • Scottish Conservative MP says party has “serious problem” with under-40s – Herald
  • May’s anti-slavery commissioner subject of inquiry – The Times 
  • Meanwhile, senior politicians “warn” her over including students in immigration target – Daily Express
  • Boris Johnson stands up for Young – The Sun
  • And Windsor Conservative councillor “sparks fury” by calling for homeless people to be “cleared” before royal wedding – Daily Mail


  • May had better have a better year – Christopher Wilkins, The Times
  • Young’s appointment shows how Tories are “out of step with modern society” – Ian Birrell, Guardian


Blair 1) He tells Labour to “make Brexit the Tory Brexit”

“Mr Blair’s frank assessment of Labour’s Brexit strategy, set out in a lengthy article published today on his Institute for Global Change website, is likely to be given a frosty reception by the party’s current leadership…. Mr Blair said it would be “far better to fight for the right for the country to re-think” its decision and “demand that we know the full details” of any proposed new relationship with the EU before Brexit is finalised. He said opposing Brexit would allow Labour to “go after the Tories for their failures to tackle the country’s real challenges”. “Make Brexit the Tory Brexit,” he said. “Make them own it 100 per cent. “Show people why Brexit isn’t and never was the answer.”” – Daily Telegraph


  • We will learn our fate this year – Tony Blair, Independent

Blair 2) New book suggests he told Trump aides that UK may have “spied” on US campaign

“Tony Blair warned Donald Trump’s aides that British intelligence may have spied on them during the election, according to an explosive new book. The former prime minister met Jared Kushner, son-in-law to Donald Trump and a senior aide, at the White House last February. According to the author Michael Wolff, Mr Blair shared a “juicy rumour” during their meeting — “that the British had had the Trump campaign staff under surveillance, monitoring its telephone calls and other communications and possibly even Trump himself”.” – The Times

  • Here’s an extract from the book – Guardian

Turner: Corbyn should listen to the Iranian women protestors

“When the next election comes, when my pen is hovering in the ballot box, I know now that I will be thinking about where Jeremy Corbyn was on February 9, 2014. He was in north London celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran. Celebrating the moment in 1979 when Iranian women were forced out of government jobs, robbed of legal rights, compelled to ask their husbands’ permission to travel abroad. Women marching on the streets of Tehran were derided, beaten and stabbed as they begged men not to take their freedom — men like Jeremy Corbyn who were delightedly crowing that the Shah and western imperialism were overthrown.” – The Times

>Yesterday: Leftwatch: Even now, Corbyn seems unlikely to pay for his supporting the Iranian theocracy

More Labour

  • Rayner focuses on white working-class boys – Guardian
  • My upbringing means I know that “being working class is rubbish” – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph

Trump says that when Bannon was fired, he lost “his job” and “his mind”

“Donald Trump has publicly disowned Steve Bannon as the pair fell out spectacularly over a new book revealing embarrassing details about the White House. The US president said Mr Bannon, who ran Mr Trump’s election campaign and advised him in office, “has nothing to do with me or my presidency”. Mr Trump claimed his former chief strategist had “lost his mind” and “rarely” met him one-on-one before leaving the White House last August.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • We should look more closely at Central Europe – Andrea Hossó, BrexitCentral
  • My response to the past few days – Toby Young, Reaction
  • It’s about time we recognised the NHS’s failings – Kate Andrews, Spectator
  • Some more thoughts on why I don’t like Brexit – Tony Blair, New Statesman
  • What Trump might do this year – Adam Gopnik, New Yorker