The reshuffle concludes – after failing to live up to the hype

‘Mrs May said: ‘This Government is about building a country fit for the future – one that truly works for everyone with a stronger economy and a fairer society. This reshuffle helps us do just that by bringing fresh talent into Government, boosting delivery in key policy areas like housing, health and social care, and ensuring the Government looks more like the country it serves. It also allows a new generation of gifted Ministers to step up and make life better for people across the whole UK.’ Senior Tories branded the Cabinet reshuffle – which was derailed when ministers simply refused to be shifted – ’embarrassing’ and too cautious. Grandee Sir Nicholas Soames said simply: ‘Is that it?’…The meltdown left Mrs May scrambling after weeks of briefing that she would carry out a major overhaul to make her team less ‘pale and male’. In the end just one woman – Esther McVey – was made a full member of the Cabinet, balancing out the departure of Ms Greening.’ – Daily Mail



New vice-chairmen will be paid £10,000 or more from Party coffers

‘A party source said vice-chairmen and women would be paid varying amounts determined by their experience and past positions and suggested that claims some were being paid £15,000 were at the “high end”. The Conservative party refused to comment. One former vice-chairman said they were “not paid” when they did the job. Vice-chairmen are expected to be broadly loyal to the prime minister. Stephen Hammond was dismissed from his position before Christmas after he took part in an EU rebellion. Sir Mick Davis, chief executive of the Conservative Party, must find money from donations to pay the salaries. One senior Tory said: “The Conservative Party is extremely hard-up and there are a rather large number of vice-chairs.”‘ – The Times

>Today: Priti Patel on Comment: Priorities for the new Party Chairman. He should prepare the way for Tory members to elect his successor.

>Yesterday: Priti Patel on Comment: Priorities for the new Party Chairman. Let’s democratise, decentralise, cut membership fees – and open up candidate selection.

Gimson: Slash membership fees to revitalise the Tory grassroots

‘Something dramatic needs to be done to reverse the collapse in membership. My shire Tory can remember, only a generation ago, going round collecting subscriptions from elderly ladies who could afford to pay only £2 each, but who felt that the party valued them, and enjoyed belonging to it. Events such as coffee mornings were laid on, which cost very little to attend, so were open to the widest range of local people. Nowadays, occasional smart lunches are organised in the local town, which are so expensive that about 90% of the population cannot even consider attending. The village branches have mostly collapsed, for what normal person wants to pay an annual subscription of £25 to belong to the Conservative party? That just sounds like a rip-off, devised by fancy metropolitan types for whom £25 is small change. May must know this better than most people do, for she herself started life as a village Conservative from an unmoneyed background. She and Lewis should cut the subscription to £3 with immediate effect.’ – Andrew Gimson, The Guardian

Hammond and Davis join forces to send a message to German business leaders

‘In a guest contribution to the FAZ (Wednesday edition) , the ministers said that they wanted to convey the message to “German business leaders” that a priority for the British government is a transitional period before finally leaving the internal market and the customs union. This is also clearly in the interest of the EU and Germany. London understands Germany’s attitude that Britain can not on the one hand leave the Union, but on the other hand enjoy all the benefits of membership. “However, the EU’s priorities are not incompatible with ours: a deep and special partnership with our closest trading partners and allies,” said Hammond and Davis. In reshaping relations between the UK and the continent, it is about being “imaginative and inventive” and not relying on recipes practiced elsewhere.’ – Frankfurter Allgemeine

Hancock urges action to deliver equal pay at the BBC

‘Matthew Hancock, the new UK culture secretary, has put pressure on the BBC to become a “beacon for the British values of fairness” when it comes to pay, following the resignation of Carrie Gracie, the broadcaster’s China editor. On Tuesday — one day after UK prime minister Theresa May appointed him as culture secretary — Mr Hancock said that “much more action is needed” from the BBC to close its gender pay gap and address concerns that some male staff at the broadcaster are paid more than ambassadors in the regions where they report. “This is not just a matter of levelling women’s pay up. It’s a matter of pay equality. Working for the BBC is public service and a great privilege, yet some men at the BBC are paid far more than other equivalent public servants,” he said.’ – FT

Gove and May extend plastic bag tax

‘Theresa May is extending the 5p plastic bag charge to all small shops in the hope of ending Britain’s ‘profligate’ waste of natural resources and ‘throwaway culture’. The Prime Minister told Cabinet ministers that a new 25-year environment strategy to be unveiled tomorrow would ‘send a strong message to the public about the Government’s commitment to be the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than we inherited’. Corner shops and other retailers with fewer than 250 employees are currently exempted from the charge in England, but May and her Environment Secretary Michael Gove will set out plans for the levy to cover almost all plastic bags.’ – Daily Mail

  • They’re planning a plastic bottle deposit scheme, too – The Sun
  • The Environment Secretary switches to a reusable coffee cup (that matches his tie) – Daily Mail

Leading NHS hospital warns of shortage of specialist cancer nurses

‘A leading NHS hospital is delaying chemotherapy for cancer patients and those who are terminally ill face cuts to their treatment because of a chronic shortage of specialist nurses, according to a leaked memo. Andrew Weaver, head of chemotherapy at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, which treats thousands of patients from across the region, said in a memo to staff that treatment was being delayed. He also warned that the number of chemotherapy cycles offered to the terminally ill would have to be cut because of a lack of staff trained to deal with medication. The centre has a 40 per cent shortfall in nurses on the unit that administers chemotherapy. The proposals, seen by The Times, are believed to be unprecedented. Last night patient groups warned that they would cost lives and leave people to die in pain.’ – The Times

  • Reinstate student bursaries – The Times Leader
  • Computer analysis set to improve cancer treatment – Daily Mail
  • Department of Health staff take double the average number of sick days – Daily Mail
  • Hunt’s new social care responsibility is not matched by financial powers – FT

>Yesterday: Hugh Byrne on Comment: Winter pressure on hospital beds is inevitable – the NHS must adapt to manage it

How Young’s fate was sealed

‘As the media were preoccupied with May’s stuttering reshuffle taking place in Downing Street, Halfon made a stinging intervention in a parliamentary debate on Young’s role, called by Labour, that hastened Young’s downfall. “Things have gone badly wrong here,” Halfon said to Jo Johnson, the erstwhile universities minister…elsewhere at the OfS leadership, a rebellion was brewing. Nicola Dandridge, the body’s chief executive, was hearing from her former colleagues at the Universities UK group of their vice-chancellor’s distaste and horror at Young’s new role. Initially few were willing to go public but discussions were going on behind the scenes, with Imperial College the first to go public with opposition to Young’s appointment. More planned to follow. Halfon’s comments then triggered the end – and Young was cut adrift by the OfS, and he decided to cut his losses and quit. Within hours Barber was issuing a statement welcoming the move, saying “many of his previous tweets and articles were offensive, and not in line with the values of the Office for Students”.’ – The Guardian

  • The unions now want to drive him out of his job – The Times
  • He’s the latest victim of the Left’s war on supposed heresy – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • When will the Twitter mob take on the anti-semites, homophobes and terrorist apologists who flock to Labour? – The Sun Says
  • Cable says censorious student activist is not suitable for the regulator – The Times
  • Johnson lost universities job after clashes with Downing Street – The Times


Key Corbyn ally proposes huge rise in council tax for millions of homes

‘A key ally of Jeremy Corbyn has urged Labour-run local authorities to consider doubling the amount of council tax imposed on wealthy homeowners. Chris Williamson, the shadow fire minister, said the proposal would help alleviate the pressure on councils struggling financially as a result of Government funding cuts. Mr Williamson’s plan would see council tax frozen on properties in Bands A to C while homes in Band D would see payments hiked by 20 per cent. The rate of council tax would then increase progressively, culminating with a 100 per cent rise for homes in Band H.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • Ecuador seeks help to get rid of Assange – The Times

Wales explores a ban on smacking

‘The Welsh Government has launched a 12-week consultation on proposals that would effectively ban smacking. The plans put Wales alongside Scotland, where the Scottish Government is developing a bill to remove the defence of “justifiable assault” in Scots law, which allows parents to use physical punishment to admonish a child. About 50 countries – including France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Ireland – have already made the change.’ – WalesOnline

  • Will England come under pressure to follow suit? – Daily Mail

Branson accused of ‘censorship’ after banning the Daily Mail from Virgin trains

‘The Daily Mail has accused Virgin Trains of censorship after it said it would no longer sell the newspaper because of its views on immigration and gay rights. Virgin Trains, which is part owned by Sir Richard Branson, said the newspaper was “not compatible” with the company’s brand and beliefs. The Daily Mail was one of a handful of titles sold on trains and distributed free to first-class passengers. Virgin has now told staff that it will not be stocked on its west coast mainline services, which connect London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. An internal memo outlining the change of position was obtained by PR Week. It read: “There’s been considerable concern raised by colleagues about the Mail’s editorial position on issues such as immigration, LGBT rights, and unemployment. We’ve decided that this paper is not compatible with the [Virgin Trains] brand and our beliefs. We won’t be stocking the Daily Mail for sale or as a giveaway.” In response, the Mail accused Virgin of “censorship” and linked the decision to its news coverage of rail franchises and Sir Richard’s opposition to the paper’s pro-Brexit agenda.’ – The Times

  • Peers – including Tory Earl Attlee – attempt hijack of data protection Bill to attack freedom of the press – The Times
  • Britain’s worst rail service to get millions more funding – The Times 

Trump predicts that he would beat Winfrey in 2020

‘President Trump said Tuesday that he’d ‘beat Oprah’ if talk show host Oprah Winfrey faced off against him in the 2020 presidential election.’ ‘Oprah would be a lot of fun. I know her very well. I did one of her last shows … I like Oprah,’ the president told reporters at the White House. Trump added, ‘I don’t think she’s going to run’…Directly after the speech, her longtime partner Stedman Graham added fuel to the fire by telling the Los Angeles Times a presidential run isn’t totally out. ‘It’s up to the people,’ Graham said. ‘She would absolutely do it.’ Two unnamed pals of Winfrey’s added to the speculation by telling CNN Money that the longtime talk show host is ‘actively thinking’ about a bid. The White House has already chimed in on Monday, welcoming Winfrey as a potential Trump rival. ‘We welcome the challenger, whether it be Oprah Winfrey or anybody else,’ Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters aboard Air Force One.’ – Daily Mail

  • The Democrats should resist turning US elections into reality TV – Edward Luce, FT
  • Bannon forced out at Breitbart – Daily Mail
  • He was defeated by the President he helped to create – The Times
  • White House defends Trump’s work ethic as “yeoman-like” – Daily Mail
  • Is his crazed approach to North Korea paying off? – Justin Webb, Daily Mail
  • Spike in Russian submarine activity spurs NATO expansion – The Times

News in Brief