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Downing Street blamed for slow response to housing crisis…

““The real problem is that Theresa May is a Nimby,” says one former Downing Street aide. “She’s a shire Tory and she just doesn’t understand the scale of the housing crisis or the number of new homes needed to tackle it.” The prime minister may have promised to make it her “mission” to fix the broken housing market, but she joined a campaign to block a new development on Poundfield, a greenfield site in her Maidenhead constituency. Those who worked with her say this is not just a parochial concern. Radical proposals from Sajid Javid, the housing secretary, and Philip Hammond, the chancellor, have been blocked by No 10.” – The Times

  • Developers face losing right to build – The Times
  • Javid ‘goes to war’ with NIMBYs and land-bankers – The Times

Comment:

  • If we want homes for all we have to build tall – Alice Thomson, The Times

Editorial:

  • Tories must be bolder on housing or cede power to Labour –The Times

…as May ‘vows not to quit’

“A defiant Theresa May last night vowed she will not quit, despite mounting pressure from rebel Tory MPs. Speaking to journalists on a flight to China, the Prime Minister brushed aside questions about her leadership, declaring: ‘I’m not a quitter.’ But she also acknowledged she needed to make a better job of explaining what the Government was trying to achieve. MPs have said the Government appears to be ‘drifting’, with the PM apparently struggling to control her Cabinet. Mrs May raised eyebrows last year following the general election when she vowed to stay on and lead the Tories into the next election in 2022. But last night she ducked a question about whether she still planned to remain leader.” – Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister promises to ‘step up’ relationship with China… – The Times
  • …but warns Beijing to play by global rules – FT

Comment:

  • May must stand up to China’s bully state – Roger Boyes, The Times
  • Beijing runs the most protectionist economy on Earth – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph
  • It’s a good time for Britain to talk Chinese trade – Linda Yueh, Times Red Box
  • May has to keep Britain’s promise to Hong Kong – Joshua Wong, The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: Our survey. Large rise in those saying May should leave Number Ten now. But seven in ten believe otherwise.

EU 1) Baker says leaked report is bid to undermine Brexit

“Brexiteer ministers last night accused Britain’s most senior civil servant of conspiring with the Treasury to produce an unauthorised and “flawed” analysis highlighting the risks of cutting economic ties with the European Union. In a public attack Steve Baker, the Brexit minister, disowned a leaked government document warning of the economic damage that would be caused by a “no deal” or limited free trade agreement with Britain’s biggest trading partner. He told the House of Commons that the paper, due to be briefed to cabinet ministers this week, required “significant further work” and was “not yet anywhere near being approved”.” – The Times

  • Backlash mounts against minister’s ‘insulting’ comments – The Guardian
  • May pledges to publish studies only after deal is struck – FT
  • Chancellor accused of orchestrating ‘Project Fear Mk II’ – Daily Telegraph
  • France warns Japan of ‘consequences’ of trade with Britain – Daily Express

More:

  • Peers rail against Brexit as Withdrawal Bill reaches the upper house – Daily Mail
  • UK hits cap on admitting skilled non-EU immigrants – FT
  • Patten brands referendums ‘a sin against parliamentary democracy’ – Daily Mail
  • Brexit supporters underrepresented on flagship BBC shows – The Sun

>Yesterday:

EU 2) Brussels hands Britain ‘ultimatum’ on air pollution

“Ministers have been told by Brussels they must draw up plans to reduce air pollution within days or face legal action. The EU rebuked Britain yesterday for failing to improve air quality in cities and warned that more deaths will occur without urgent action. After years of falling short of safety standards, the UK was given a ‘final chance’ along with eight other countries. Environment Secretary Michael Gove will be expected to present solutions to the EU by February 5. Brussels said a case would be sent to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) if the response is deemed weak, potentially leading to a large fine.” – Daily Mail

  • Dutch urge Gove to spell out plans for fishing industry – The Guardian
  • Customs fraud puts trade deal at risk – The Times

EU 3) Daniel Hannan: We’re seeing a coordinated push by defeated Europhile elites

“We’re seeing a co-ordinated push by the defeated elites – the men who, having told us what to think for 50 years, can’t accept the referendum result. Three separate but linked campaigns were launched this week. First, a leaked document prepared by officials repeated the tired old lines about an economic hit after Brexit. Second, Europhiles in the House of Lords plotted to amend the Brexit bill to demand a parliamentary vote at the end of the negotiations, in the hope MPs will rescind our withdrawal. Third, the EU itself has come up with a way to keep us in in every sense except that we lose our veto.” – The Sun

  • A second EU vote could destroy Remainers – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times
  • Transition is toxic for both sides – Hugo Dixon, The Guardian
  • Remainers won’t get anywhere by clinging to Project Fear – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph
  • Leaked memo means Labour must make a choice – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian
  • How can we take back control without the impact assessments? – Kier Starmer, Times Red Box
  • We should listen to the economy, not economists, on Brexit – Andrew Lilico, Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit must not endanger the Belfast Agreement – Simon Coveney, The Guardian

Editorial:

  • The impact assessments should be published, not leaked – The Times
  • Remainers must realise the papers are meaningless – The Sun

Hammond ‘paves the way’ for Inheritance Tax overhaul

“The chancellor has raised the possibility of a big upheaval to inheritance tax less than a year after George Osborne’s reforms came into effect. Philip Hammond has written to the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) asking for a review, describing the present regime as “particularly complex”. The letter raises the possibility that generous reliefs that can be used to mitigate inheritance tax (IHT) bills may be limited or removed entirely. It may also be seen as a rebuke to Mr Osborne, who added another layer of complexity to the tax by introducing an extra IHT-free threshold for people who leave a main residence to a family member.” – The Times

  • Tax on gifting ‘may be lifted’ for parents helping their children buy property – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • What’s the point of Tories who don’t stand for low taxes and small government? – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph

Davidson is now ‘voters’ favourite’ to succeed May

“Ruth Davidson last night became voters’  front runner to replace Theresa May as it emerged she was the most popular senior Tory. A major YouGov poll revealed the Scots Tory leader would be able to repeat Mrs May’s 42% vote share at the general election last year. Sparky Ms Davidson would not lose any Conservative voters as the party’s new boss, the survey of 1,669 Brits found. But Cabinet heavyweights Boris Johnson, David Davis, and Amber Rudd all would. The Foreign Secretary and Brexit Secretary would both lose 9% of the electorate’s support, and the Home Secretary would shed 10% of Tory voters.” – The Sun

More America:

  • President calls for ‘new American moment’ in bid to unite country – Daily Telegraph
  • Trump will ‘punish’ EU for ‘cooking the books’ on trade – Daily Express

More Scotland:

  • Police Scotland chief constable faces new probe – FT

Williamson ‘did not warn colleague’ affair was going public

“Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson failed to warn his ex-colleague he was going public about their office fling. Williamson, 41, last week spoke about the office romance with a married workmate 14 years ago – calling it “a dreadful mistake.” But the woman was left “shocked and very upset”, according to her mum. She said Williamson had not consulted her daughter, a mum of one, before releasing his version of events… Williamson was managing director and senior to the woman at Yorkshire fireplace firm Elgin & Hall. The Tory claims he left the job because he did not want a reminder of cheating on wife Joanne. He denied he was asked to leave.” – The Sun

  • The quiet approach can achieve more on defence funding – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph

Ministers told to ‘come clean’ on jihadis returning to Britain

“Ministers are under growing pressure to disclose how many British jihadis who have returned from Syria have been prosecuted amid fears hundreds are roaming free on UK streets. The Home Office has repeatedly refused to publish its latest figures showing how many returnees have faced UK courts, claiming it does not hold the data. This is despite the fact that in 2016, the department was able to reveal how one in eight jihadists who had travelled to Syria and Iraq had been prosecuted on their return to the UK. Last night politicians urged the Government to ‘come clean’ on the numbers ahead of a debate on the issue of returnees in the Commons today (Weds).” – Daily Mail

  • Government urged to automatically jail fighters returning from terror hotspots – The Sun

Comment:

  • Why won’t the left call ‘time’s up’ on the hijab? – Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph

MPs criticise ‘sluggish’ response to teacher crisis

“Secondary school teachers deserting the profession have triggered a crisis in education — and the government’s response has been sluggish and incoherent, MPs said. There were 10,000 fewer secondary school teachers in 2016 than 2010, a fall of 5 per cent. Many have left because of the heavy workload and poor morale, according to the public accounts committee (PAC). It said that too much money had been spent on schemes to recruit teachers, with varying results, and not enough on retaining experienced staff. It calculated that spending on recruitment was 15 times greater than that on measures to keep teachers in the job.” – The Times

  • Scottish councils and teachers ‘declare war’ on SNP plan – Daily Telegraph

Labour council leader blame’s Corbynite ‘sexist bullies’ as she quits

“The head of a council at the centre of a bitter Labour row over a £2 billion housing project has quit and accused Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters of sexism and bullying. Claire Kober, the leader of Haringey council, north London, said she would not stand during local elections in May. Her decision comes after a protracted row over the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), a controversial deal to build 6,500 new homes in partnership with a private company. Ms Kober had backed the project but was opposed by left-wing councillors, trade unions, local Momentum members and the borough’s two Labour MPs, David Lammy and Catherine West.” – The Times

  • Corbynistas rail against gentrification projects – The Times
  • Jarvis bids to become mayor of Sheffield – FT

More:

  • Galloway to sue Momentum founder in Israel spat – The Times

Editorial:

  • Bullying of Haringey Council shows what life would be like under Momentum – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Local Government: “Ideological dogma will do nothing to improve the lives of residents”: Full text of Kober’s statement

Parliament could be placed on ‘at risk’ register, MPs warned

“MPs have been warned that the Palace of Westminster could be placed on Britain’s “at risk” register for heritage sites if they further delay plans for a major project of restoration and renewal during a parliamentary vote on Wednesday, it can be revealed. A briefing note drawn up for politicians by Historic England that has been seen by the Guardian, also claims that such a move could place parliament’s Unesco world heritage site status in jeopardy. The public body, which has a statutory duty to advise ministers on all matters relating to the historic environment, is concerned that MPs may back a motion that would push back any decision on comprehensive works until the end of the parliament.” – The Guardian

  • MPs must stay in the Palace during renovations – Sir Edward Leigh, Times Red Box

News in Brief:

  • Ten things to know about economic models – Richard Braham, Full Fact
  • It’s too soon for Davos to toast Trump’s ‘pro-business’ policies – Charles Hankla, Reaction
  • Braggart-in-Chief’s new American moment – Dominic Green, CapX
  • Those pushing ‘soft Brexit’ undermine our national interest – Austin Mitchell, Brexit Central
  • Syria is putting America’s credibility on the line – Paul Wood, The Spectator

And finally… Tory MPs given seminar on using Instagram

“Tories are hardly known for being social-media savvy in the internet age, but many of them have been desperately trying to up their game. Last week some MPs were sent to secret classes to learn how to use Instagram to try and win back younger voters, The Sun revealed. The sessions, which were organised by Tory HQ and run by social media professionals have been held in Parliament, in a bid to shake up the party’s dire image online… Today Liz Truss has been smoking the competition with some utterly engaging content promoting herself on the social media site.” – The Sun

>Yesterday:

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