Brexit 1) Davis: Here are our goals in 2018

‘The emphasis here must always be on raising standards. There is no route to prosperity in trying to become cheaper than China, or in undermining the safety standards which give confidence to British goods. Whether it’s the Prime Minister’s commitments to workers rights, or Michael Gove’s determination to uphold animal welfare standards, this Government believes the UK’s future lies in a race to the top in global standards. It would therefore be inconsistent to have a situation where we are outside the EU but bound by its every rule and regulation. Instead, we will work to create an economic relationship that delivers for the whole of Europe and is right for the unique circumstances of the UK. We start from the uniquely trusted position, closer than Canada or Japan, bigger than Norway, and more deeply integrated, from energy networks to services, than any other trade partner. Our approach is simple: we are looking at the full sweep of economic cooperation that currently exists and determining how that can be maintained with the minimum additional barriers or friction, while returning control to the UK Parliament. In terms of scope, the final deal should, amongst other things, cover goods, agriculture and services, including financial services…Given the strength and breadth of our links, a deal which took in some areas of our economic relationship but not others would be, in the favoured phrase of EU diplomats, cherry picking.’ – David Davis, Daily Telegraph

  • He is planning a set-piece speech to relaunch his work – The Sun
  • DEXEU relies on disproportionately young civil servants – The Times
  • My Party must stop trying to sabotage Brexit – Kate Hoey, Daily Telegraph
  • Officials told to prepare for No Deal – The Times
  • Ministers launch investigation of controversial foreign trawlers – The Times

>Today: John Longworth on Comment: Leavers have every reason to be optimistic about the year ahead

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

Brexit 2) Wallace: The self-declared ‘centrists’ are nothing of the sort – they’re a fringe movement

‘A range of centrist political parties have been launched in recent months, hoping to capitalise on the hype. But none has made any impact, and most have already sunk without trace. The pre-existing party which calls itself centrist, the Liberal Democrats, picked up a few seats last June, but went backwards in total votes and vote share. Why the mismatch between the rhetoric, which implies a centrist tsunami is about to sweep all before it, and the reality, which if I compared it to a damp squib would probably result in me apologising to squibs for tarnishing their reputation? Let’s ask the question: what does centrism mean in modern Britain? Most attempts at a definition start by identifying what centrists are against: Corbynism on the left and Brexit on the right. But what is a centrist actually for?’ – Mark Wallace, the i paper

  • Priti Patel asks the Electoral Commission to investigate Remain campaigns for collusion – The Sun
  • Adonis and Heseltine take their EU support to ludicrous extents – Norman Tebbit, Daily Telegraph
  • Is Macron a serious proposition, or a proponent of vacuous waffle? – FT Leader

The Prime Minister might retire the title of ‘First Secretary’

‘Theresa May has still not decided whether to appoint a first secretary of state after the departure of Damian Green. The prime minister is said to be contemplating a reshuffle within two weeks, although attempting big changes could be fraught with danger. Mrs May must fill Mr Green’s job in the Cabinet Office, a key role overseeing domestic policy committees that some have suggested might go to Jeremy Hunt, the long-serving health secretary. She may retire the “first secretary” title, which she revived after the election and denotes her deputy in all but name. Senior Tory sources said that an attempt to move Boris Johnson from the Foreign Office now looked unlikely.’ – The Times

  • May reported to be considering a raft of female ministers for promotion in the reshuffle – Daily Telegraph
  • Milton could become Health Secretary – The Sun
  • Johnson is ‘very happy’ where he is and ‘would resist’ being moved – FT

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

Passengers and MPs protest against rail far rises, as Grayling looks at possible controls

‘Ministers are considering a crackdown on “rip off” rail fare rises after Tory MPs warned that price hikes are heaping “financial misery” on commuters and could cost the Conservatives at the next election. The Telegraph understands that Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, has asked officials to produce plans to peg future increases to a lower rate of inflation in a bid to ease the burden on rail passengers. It comes as commuters returning to work face fare rises of 3.4 per cent, the highest in five years with season tickets on some of the country’s busiest routes rising by more than £100. Protests are planned at around 40 railway stations to mark the increase. The rises have been condemned by Tory MPs and members of the Government amid mounting concerns that they are fuelling support for Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader.’ – Daily Telegraph

Foges: The case for building walls

‘The idea of tearing down walls and loosening borders is the dream of liberals, progressives and Marxists the world over. Labour’s own John McDonnell declared in 2016 that “in this century, we will have open borders. We are seeing it in Europe already. The movement of peoples across the globe will mean that borders are almost going to become irrelevant by the end of this century”. Against these dangerous ideas it is important that the counter-argument is made: that strong, effectively policed borders are not the bar to a better world but a prerequisite for it. When people feel there is little control over who comes in to their country resentment builds, antipathy to legal immigration increases, public generosity wears thin and people harden their hearts not only to those seeking a new home but to the poor at home already needing help. The more the welfare state of any nation appears to be a sieve through which people of any nation may enter, the more consent for welfare itself is undermined.’ – Clare Foges, The Times

  • Record numbers of health tourists are coming to the UK to give birth – The Sun
  • We can’t afford for the NHS to treat the rest of the world – The Sun Says
  • Missed hospital appointments cost almost £1 billion a year – The Times

Four young men stabbed to death in London on New Year’s Eve

‘Four young men were murdered in knife attacks in separate incidents in London on New Year’s Eve and early yesterday. A fifth man in his 20s was in a critical condition in hospital, having been stabbed in the fourth incident at 2.35am yesterday near Old Street. Detectives from the Metropolitan Police have begun four murder investigations. The killings took the number of people stabbed to death in the capital last year to 80. In the first incident, at 11.30am on New Year’s Eve, an 18-year-old man was stabbed in Larmans Road, Enfield. He died in hospital that evening. At about 7.35pm a 20-year-old man was fatally stabbed in Memorial Avenue, West Ham. And at about 10.40pm a 17-year-old young man was fatally stabbed in Norwood Road, Tulse Hill.’ – The Times

  • The Met is giving up on what it deems low-level offences – The Times
  • Five men stabbed in brawl in Sheffield – The Sun
  • Police and politicians must get a grip on violent crime – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • Force plans to distribute daily crime briefings via Amazon Alexa – The Times

Toby Young appointed to the board of new university watchdog

‘Toby Young, the writer and free school pioneer, has been appointed to the board of a higher education watchdog. The new Office for Students (OfS) has a remit to hold universities to account over issues including vice chancellors’ pay and free speech on campus. Justine Greening, the education secretary, said that it would be responsible for ensuring the “world class reputation” of the UK’s universities was maintained. Mr Young, who co-founded a free school in west London and runs the New School Network, a charity, will sit alongside Ruth Carlson, a civil engineering student at the University of Surrey, and Elizabeth Fagan, the managing director of Boots. The other board members are: Simon Levine, the global joint chief executive of DLA Piper, the law firm; Katja Hall from a business mentoring organisation and Monisha Shah, head of governors at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in south London…Mr Young has been criticised for his outspoken views on education.’ – The Times

Iranian protests continue despite the theocracy’s security forces attempting a clampdown

‘The death toll from violent protests in Iran has risen to 21 after nine more people were killed in clashes overnight. Six deaths happened when protesters clashed with security forces as they tried to storm a police station in Qahderijan, a town of 30,000 in the Isfahan region of central Iran. A member of the Revolutionary Guards was killed in nearby Kahriz Sang, and a passer-by in the town of Kahriz Sang – all in the region around the cultural centre of Isfahan. Around 100 people were arrested overnight in the same region, Iranian state television reported. Despite the unrest, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani yesterday dismissed the protests as ‘nothing’.’ – Daily Mail