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Everything is on the table in Hinds’s review of tuition fees

‘Tomorrow the prime minister and Hinds will unveil a panel to conduct the government’s review of university funding. He is clear this will lead to a cut in fees for cheap arts courses that offer little economic benefit to the students or the country. “We have a system where you have almost all institutions and almost all courses at those institutions charging exactly the same price where some cost higher amounts [to teach] than others and some have higher returns to the student than others,” he said. “It’s right that we now ask questions about how that system operates. I would like to see options available which have different costs attached to them.” Hinds outlined a world in which fees for each course will be determined by “a combination of three things: the cost [to universities] to put it on, the benefit to the student and the benefit to our country and our economy”… Everything, from the interest rate on loans to the threshold at which people start paying it back, is on the table, according to Hinds.’ – Sunday Times

>Today: ToryDiary: More good school places for pupils. Back to the future with Hinds.

>Yesterday: Mark Lehain on Comment: The times tables reform. Not a giant leap – but one of so many small steps for the better.

May pledges to take back control of foreign and security policy

‘The prime minister used a speech at a security conference in Munich to declare that she would pull Britain out of the EU’s “common foreign and security policy”, giving the UK full control of diplomacy, peacekeeping, defence and overseas aid for the first time in 26 years. Britain has been bound by some collective responsibility since common foreign and security policy was created by the Maastricht treaty. The move is designed to show Brexiteers — who have grown concerned that the UK is going to remain in permanent alignment with Brussels — that some things will change even during the transition phase between 2019 and 2021 when trade relations are likely to remain much the same. May said: “There is no reason why we should not agree distinct arrangements for our foreign and defence policy co-operation in the time-limited implementation period as the commission has proposed. We shouldn’t wait where we don’t need to.”’ – Sunday Times

>Yesterday: MPsETC: “Those who threaten our security would like nothing more than to see us fractured.” May’s security speech in Munich speech. Full text.

Hodges: Hammond is used as a human shield – and he’s sick of it

‘For the past few months the Prime Minister has been using her Chancellor as a human shield. Whenever her Kamikaze Brexiteers have to be appeased, it is Hammond who is offered up for sacrifice. In December it was over the divorce bill. Last month it was the scale of changes to Britain’s trading relationship with the EU. Last week it was because of his unduly pessimistic tone whenever he addresses the great ‘opportunities’ of the post-Brexit era. Whenever Hammond deviates a millimetre from the Government line, he is pounced on by his critics. And the Prime Minister is only too happy to let them pounce. Compare Hammond’s regular punishment beatings with the largesse granted to those on the other side of the debate.’ – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday

>Today: Gisela Stuart on Comment: This is a crucial moment for May and her government. There must be no backsliding on a clean Brexit.

Academics come out for Brexit

‘Nearly 40 leading intellectuals have launched a campaign to back Brexit, demanding an end to patronising “propaganda” that dismisses “leave” voters as “idiots”. In the first such intervention since the vote, renowned economists, lawyers, philosophers, historians, scientists and experts in foreign and domestic policy warn it is wrong to see Britain’s intellectual leaders as pro-remain. The group, which includes those who voted “remain” in 2016, is led by the historian Professor Robert Tombs and the economist Dr Graham Gudgin, both of Cambridge University. It also includes the former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove, the Labour peer Lord Glasman and the Oxford law professor Dr Richard Ekins. Tombs and Gudgin are also behind a website, briefingsforbrexit.com, due to go live in the next few days.’ – Sunday Times

  • They are producing detailed rebuttals to pro-EU claims – including to the Treasury’s errors (which officials refuse to discuss) – Sunday Times
  • They attack the myth of Leave voters being uneducated – Sunday Telegraph
  • New research quango boss urges free movement to continue for scientists – Sunday Times

Claims of a rift between Barwell and CCHQ’s head of communications

‘A fierce battle emerged last night between a No 10 aide caught in a porn row and a Tory spin doctor with close links to Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. Carrie Symonds is fighting moves to sack her as the party’s communications chief over claims that she spends too much time promoting the Brexit-backing Ministers and not enough time promoting Theresa May. The dispute took an extraordinary turn last week when Mrs May’s Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell – who is leading efforts to overhaul Tory HQ – was embarrassed after he replied to a tweet concerning hardcore pornographic videos…Ms Symonds has been targeted as part of the shake-up after some senior Tories claimed she had become too politically close to Brexiteers Mr Johnson and Mr Gove. Conservative MP supporters of both men are believed to be plotting Mrs May’s downfall.’ – Mail on Sunday

Whistleblower claims she warned DfiD 12 years ago about Oxfam chief

‘An official at the Department for International Aid and Development failed to heed a warning about the disgraced Oxfam chief at the centre of the aid scandal, according to a whistleblower. Having raised her concerns over the conduct of Roland van Hauwermeiren – who left Oxfam after being accused of using prostitutes – the whistleblower says Dfid responded: ‘People can change.’ The female humanitarian employee who raised the alarm worked under Roland van Hauwermeiren for Merlin – now part of Save The Children – in Liberia in the early 2000s. When she discovered he had later become Oxfam’s Country Director in Chad in 2006, she reported allegations about his past misconduct, but says her concerns fell on deaf ears. Mr van Hauwermeiren later went on to work for Oxfam in Haiti, where he was forced out after being accused of sleeping with prostitutes, a claim he denies.’ – Mail on Sunday

More Labour infighting as ‘burly’ Corbynite seizes podium from National Policy Forum chief

‘Labour MPs have expressed outrage after a ‘burly’ ex-union official seemed to push a female rival out of the way at a crucial party meeting. Witnesses hit out at the behaviour of National Executive Committee (NEC) chairman Andy Kerr after he seized control of a key vote in Leeds yesterday, which a candidate ousted by left-wing group Momentum was set to win. The ballot to elect a new chairman for the National Policy Forum (NPF) was put off after it was ruled that insufficient time had been allowed for the process. But NPF chairwoman Katrina Murray tried to press on with the contested vote anyway – leading Mr Kerr to push her away from the podium just minutes before leader Jeremy Corbyn was due to take to the stage.’ – Mail on Sunday

  • MPs ‘ashamed’ to witness ‘bullying’ – Sunday Telegraph
  • The hard left was going to lose the vote, so they cancelled it – Sunday Times
  • Bridgen requests Unexplained Wealth Order to be levelled at Vaz – Sunday Times
  • Deceased homeless man for whom Corbyn laid flowers ‘was convicted child abuser’ – Sunday Times
  • A new battle opens up over housing plans in Walthamstow – The Observer
  • Labour council criticised by Scottish leader for opposing equal pay – Scotland on Sunday

Czech spy who met Corbyn claims 15 Labour MPs had contact with Communist agents

‘Ken Livingstone, John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn were part of a group of at least 15 senior Labour figures who shared information with Eastern bloc agents, it is claimed. Jan Sarkocy, a former Czechoslovak spy, described the MPs as “great sources” to himself or his colleagues in the KGB. The new claims come after he said on Friday that the Labour leader had shared information with the Communist Czechoslovak regime. Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Sarkocy claimed that: Mr Livingstone also discussed information with the Czechoslovak regime; The future London mayor made frequent visits to the Czechoslovak embassy, where he drank whisky; Mr McDonnell met a KGB agent on several occasions; Between 10 and 15 Labour MPs held meetings with the Czechoslovak secret service. Labour described the latest claims as “absurd”, while Mr Livingstone said they were a “tissue of lies”. He did admit meeting a Russian “representative” at the time, but said “nothing happened”.’ – Sunday Telegraph

Bolton ousted by UKIP members

‘Henry Bolton today threatened to sue Ukip after being ousted as leader – as his ex girlfriend Jo Marney hinted they are back together. The former Army officer, 54, was toppled from the top job when party members decided to support a no confidence vote against him at a crunch meeting today. His political career ended in scandal after his ex Ms Marney, a former glamour model 30 years his junior, was exposed for sending racist texts about Meghan Markle. Speaking after today’s vote, Mr Bolton revealed he is considering launching legal action against against Ukip’s NEC over the way he has been treated. Meanwhile, Ms Marney – a former glamour model – sent a series of tweets declaring her love for the father-of-three and hinting that they will pick their relationship back up.’ – Mail on Sunday

MI5 ‘watched’ the London Bridge attackers load their van, but did not intervene

‘The ringleader of the London Bridge terror attack was under surveillance on the night of the atrocity and had earlier staked out crowds at Trafalgar Square and Oxford Street as possible targets. Intelligence officers secretly watched Khuram Butt and his two accomplices load a hire van outside his flat in Barking, east London, just two hours before the vehicle was used as a deadly battering ram, according to informed sources. The officers did not order police to move in on the suspects because Butt had been downgraded as an MI5 priority and they did not realise he was about to embark on a killing spree.’ – Sunday Times

Russian plotters were ordered to attack Clinton and support Trump

‘Trump was briefed on Mueller’s 37-page indictment, which outlines charges against 13 Russians accused of travelling to the US, using stolen identities to pose as Americans, organising fake campaign events and setting up hundreds of social media accounts in an attempt to install Trump as president. The description of a wide-ranging Russian plot that aimed to boost Trump’s candidacy and undermine his opponent, Hillary Clinton, hit the president where he feels most vulnerable. He is under Mueller’s microscope for potential obstruction offences in firing James Comey as FBI director and seeking to ensure favourable treatment for Michael Flynn, the national security adviser that Trump dismissed after 24 days. But his biggest fear has always appeared to be that Mueller’s inquiry would call his victory into question.’ – Sunday Times

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