Patel calls on Oxfam to lose state funding over scandal

“Oxfam should be stripped of its government funding over the Haiti sex scandal, a former international development secretary has said. Priti Patel said that she was shocked by the revelations made by The Times and “those responsible for these crimes should be prosecuted and UK aid should be withdrawn from this scandalous organisation”. Ms Patel, who was in charge of Britain’s aid budget until November, when she resigned over secret meetings with Israeli politicians and officials, said: “The ultimate question is, why was this covered up? This was in the public interest and, once again, this was UK taxpayers’ money that was used in a most inappropriate way.” Last night Tory MPs also expressed anger at the role of the Department for International Development (Dfid).” – The Times

  • Government reviews charity links after ‘appalling’ claims – The Guardian
  • Fresh shame for Oxfam – The Times
  • Police ‘must go after accused workers’ – The Sun


  • Aid workers know real power, of course it can corrupt them – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph


  • Oxfam claims to have been transparent, but the record is damning – The Times

Barnier and Davis clash over the Customs Union

“David Davis hit back at Michel Barnier’s latest Brexit ultimatum this afternoon, warning the EU chief he could not ‘have it both ways’. The Brexit Secretary blasted the ‘fundamental contradiction’ in Mr Barnier’s claims to both want an amicable transition and strong powers for the EU to punish Britain. Mr Barnier enraged the British negotiators earlier today by threatening to call off the planned Brexit transition period if the UK quits the EU customs union. The two chief negotiators have spent all week in an escalating war of words and Mr Barnier gave a tetchy press conference in Brussels this morning, warning of a hard border in Northern Ireland and demanding continued free movement to Britain.” – Daily Mail

  • Brexit Secretary accuses Barnier of trying to ‘have it both ways’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Transition not a done deal, EU warns May – FT
  • Could Canada’s high-tech border controls offer a solution? – Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit impact report divides Ulster politicians – Belfast Telegraph
  • UK must set commitment to no hard border ‘in stone’, Dublin suggests – Daily Telegraph
  • Adams takes a parting shot at the UK – Daily Mail
  • Brexiteers attack ‘Treasury plan’ to stay in part of the Single Market – Daily Express

>Today: ToryDiary: The Belfast Agreement should not be hijacked to sacralise all of Dublin’s demands

Soubry ‘not sorry’ for demanding that Brexiteer colleagues be expelled from the party

“Conservative MPs who want the closest possible relationship with the European Union have been ramping up their efforts to prevent the party’s arch-Brexiters from getting their way, Anna Soubry has said. The MP for Broxtowe argued that the economic necessity of preventing a hard break from the EU meant she was not sorry for suggesting that Theresa Mayshould “sling out” ardent leave campaigners from the party. “Because I think like a lot of people in the Tory party and indeed Conservative voters, I think there is real concern now about the direction of travel when it comes to Brexit,” she said. “We are reaching a real crunch point and the government hasn’t worked out, 19 months on, what its end game is. And we need to know.”” – The Guardian

  • Soros is acting against the ‘spirit of the law’, argues Lord Lamont – Daily Mail
  • SNP MP urges party to stop lecturing Scots to be pro-EU – The Scotsman
  • BBC editor suggests EU are ‘terrified’ of competition from deregulated UK – Daily Express
  • Blow to Merkel as Schulz has to abandon plan to take foreign ministry – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: There is danger now in Germany of a weak, centrist government – with extremists flourishing on both sides

James Forsyth: We’re running out of time to decide what we want from Brexit

“I am told that at the end of the meeting, the participants had a “better understanding of each other’s positions” and that “progress was made”. But as the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood very gently pointed out, taking these ­decisions won’t get any easier with time. With the crunch EU Council meeting next month, the UK doesn’t have much more time either. The longer we wait, the harder it will be to build ­diplomatic support for our ­preferred solutions. Mrs May deserves some ­sympathy for her predicament. There are no easy choices on Brexit.” – The Sun

  • Remainers need to understand the depth of their failure – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • The Daily Mail The Guardianwon’t stop us trying to reverse Brexit – Eloise Todd,
  • Cameron has a duty to speak up for May on Brexit – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Brussels is wrong to obsess over fiscal union – Malcolm Barr and David Mackie, Daily Telegraph
  • A hard border would be a disaster for Northern Ireland – Naomi Long, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Iain Dale’s column: The language used by both sides in the Brexit debate is hardening and coarsening

Javid imposes restrictions on councils to avoid ‘multi-million pound gambles’

“Ministers have imposed new curbs on councils using cheap borrowed cash to stake multimillion-pound bets on the commercial property market. Local authorities must take more care to avoid undue risk when making investment decisions under guidelines from Sajid Javid, the housing, communities and local government secretary. Councils are also under a new obligation to ensure that relative amateurs are not staking huge bets as they chase returns to replace revenue lost through government cuts. Councils spent almost £2.8 billion on land and building in 2016, more than double the figure for the previous year. The trend, exposed in an investigation by The Times, sparked fears that low-cost Treasury loans available to local councils are fuelling a dangerous boom.” – The Times

  • …as Street seeks more powers to fine motorists – Daily Mail
  • How outsourcing fell out of fashion in the UK – FT

>Yesterday: Laura Sandys in Think Tanks: We need a bold devolution agenda that lets communities ‘take back control’

Johnson accuses Burmese leader of presiding over ‘man-made disaster’

“Boris Johnson has accused Aung San Suu Kyi of presiding over a “man made tragedy” as the Foreign Secretary prepared to raise the plight of Rohingya Muslims with the de facto leader of Burma during an official visit. Mr Johnson described the “suffering” the people have endured as “one of the most shocking humanitarian disasters of our time”. More than 600,000 men, women and children are estimated to have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh following persecution from the Burmese military in their native state of Rakhine, which began in August. The Foreign Secretary is due to meet Ms Suu Kyi on Sunday and he is also due to visit a refugee camp on the Bangladesh-Burma border.” – Daily Telegraph

Hunt ‘preparing to call Royal Commission’ into NHS funding

“Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is ready to trigger a landmark cross-party Royal Commission into the future of the NHS, senior Tories claim. The Sun can reveal that dozens of Conservative MPs livid with the state of the party have held meetings with the Health Secretary lobbying him to trigger a ground-breaking study of the NHS’ funding needs. They believe it will win back voters in May’s council elections and move the party on from bitter Brexit infighting. Theresa May has repeatedly refused to be drawn on the idea of a Royal Commission despite growing pressure and forecasts the NHS needs billions more to cope with an ageing society. But senior Tories told the Sun that Jeremy Hunt was “ready to act” after the disastrous winter for the health service.” – The Sun

  • Abandon Treasury orthodoxy to fix the NHS’ finances – Nicholas Macpherson, FT

>Today: Paul Barnes in Comment: £350 million more a week for the NHS. Why set our sights do low?

>Yesterday: J Meirion Thomas in Comment: The Immigration Health Surcharge must be revised or abolished – not tinkered with.

Minister pledges to support schools which bar hijabs and fasting

“Schools that try to ban hijabs or fasting will receive government support if they face a backlash, a minister has pledged. Lord Agnew of Oulton, the schools minister, says that he will help head teachers to make difficult and “sensitive” decisions if they come up against opposition.Writing for The Times, he criticised parents, local residents and religious leaders who “intimidate and bully” schools when they disagree with the head teacher. He said that “a culture of fear and intimidation must not be allowed to pass through the school gates”. He gave his personal backing to Neena Lall, head of St Stephen’s primary in east London which tried to ban girls under eight from wearing the hijab. The school capitulated to opposition and removed the ban last month. A governor at St Stephen’s, Arif Qawi, resigned after pleading for help from Damien Hinds, the education secretary, is resisting “bullying” from “various Muslim organisations”.” – The Times

  • A culture of intimidation cannot pass the school gates – Lord Agnew, Times Red Box

Cameron ‘a fan’ of ‘Whack-a-Gove’ game

“Former PM David Cameron plays an online game that lets players bash his Brexit rival Michael Gove on the head. “Whack a Gove” users bop a mole-like cartoon of the politician for points. One friend told The Sun: “David has been showing the game to friends. It’s a dinner party favourite.” The Tory duo fell out spectacularly over the EU. Mr Cameron vowed never to forgive him for taking charge of the successful Vote Leave campaign in 2016. The pair and their wives had been close chums but have not spoken since Mr Cameron quit as PM hours after Britain backed Brexit. Environment Secretary Mr Gove’s spokesman declined to hit back yesterday. And a spokesman for the ex-Tory leader claimed: “This is not a game David plays.”” – The Sun

Nationalisation will be forever, McDonnell claims

“Public ownership is both a political decision and an economic necessity, John McDonnell will say today. The shadow chancellor will use a speech at a London conference to state that Labour would put democratically owned and managed public services “irreversibly in the hands of workers” so they can “never again be taken away”. He is expected to accuse an “intellectually bankrupt” Conservative government of offering economic reforms which are no more than a “pale imitation” of the agenda put forward by Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader… Neil Carberry, the CBI’s managing director for infrastructure, said: “At a time when the UK must be seen as a great place to invest and create jobs, Labour’s proposals would simply wind the clock back on our economy.”” – The Times

  • Shadow Chancellor spells out targets for state control – The Sun

Prominent Labour activist steps down over charity expense claims

“A prominent Labour activist at the forefront of challenging alleged antisemitism within the party resigned yesterday after claims of misusing expenses at a charity. Jeremy Newmark stood down from the Jewish Labour Movement after allegations of a cover-up involving the chief executive of the Conservative Party, Sir Mick Davis. The alleged inappropriate spending occurred at the Jewish Leadership Council when Mr Newmark was chief executive and Sir Mick was chairman of the charity’s trustees… Mr Newmark came under pressure after The Jewish Chronicleobtained a leaked copy of an internal report of the Jewish Leadership Council which detailed unproven allegations of undocumented expenses claims and inappropriate spending.” – The Times

  • Vaz: too sick to be investigated, but well enough to travel the world? – Daily Mail

News in Brief:

  • Germany in crisis gets a government of last resort – Leo Traugott, Reaction
  • The NHS delusion – Oliver Wiseman, CapX
  • There is no housing crisis, it would be easier if there were – Matthew Parris, The Spectator
  • A simple tax tweak that could strengthen our negotiating hand – David M Owen, Brexit Central