Foster calls for direct rule as Ulster devolution talks collapse again

“DUP leader Arlene Foster today ended talks on restoring devolution in Northern Ireland, accusing Sinn Fein of trying to hold her to ransom. Mrs Foster called on the Westminster government to intervene to set a budget and start making policy decisions held over during the 13-month stalemate. The decision to collapse the talks comes a day after Mrs Foster blasted Theresa May for making a ‘distracting’ intervention in a visit to Belfast on Monday. The Prime Minister raised hopes of a deal by travelling to Stormont to meet the parties alongside Irish premier Leo Varadkar. But Mrs May left empty handed and Mrs Foster today said the latest round of talks had failed.” – Daily Mail

  • DUP leader says she will not be held to ransom – News Letter
  • May blamed as power-sharing talks fail – The Times
  • Prime Minister ‘humiliated by DUP partners’ – The Sun
  • Blame game begins in earnest – Belfast Telegraph


  • Adams loses appeal over IRA prison breakout convictions – The Guardian
  • Redwood ‘destroys Barnier’s Irish warnings’ – Daily Express


  • Fiasco shows that 2006 ‘Agreement’ was nothing of the sort – Jon Tonge, Belfast Telegraph


Remainers dismiss Johnson’s appeal for unity

“Boris Johnson’s hopes of uniting Leavers and Remainers appeared to have failed today as he was branded a ‘charlatan’ by EU supporters and praised by Brexiteers. The Foreign Secretary launched his vision for quitting the EU in the first of a series of major speeches by Government ministers to set out the ‘road to Brexit’. Mr Johnson hailed Brexit as a cause for ‘hope not fear’ and rejected claims it was a ‘great V-sign from the cliffs of Dover’ or a ‘plague of boils’ on the nation. But it was immediately dismissed by Remain supporters. Labour peer Andrew Adonis accused Mr Johnson of being a ‘charlatan’ while Tory rebel Anna Soubry said the speech would drive British business to despair.” – Daily Mail

  • Foreign Secretary sets out areas of post-Brexit divergence – FT
  • Softer tone raises hopes of a ‘dinner deal’ – The Times
  • Rees-Mogg says UK will not ‘roll over’ – Daily Express
  • Prime Minister abandons plan to create new peers to smooth Brexit – The Sun


  • May and Barnier accused of hiding true extent of ‘Brexit bill’ – The Sun
  • EU seeks power to raid financial firms post-Brexit – Daily Telegraph
  • Businesses want customs union, survey shows – The Times
  • Pro-Brexit artists form union to stop themselves being denied work – The Sun
  • Brexiteers focus on the Commonwealth – FT
  • Japan alarmed by ‘act of self-harm’, former ambassador warns – The Guardian
  • Cameron apologised to Juncker for trying to block him – The Sun

>Today: Martyn Rady in Comment: The Prime Minister should replace the negotiating team and follow Barnier’s tough-talking example

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: “It is our stubborn attachment to running ourselves that will end up making our society fairer and more prosperous.” Johnson’s Brexit speech – full text

Nick Timothy: A key Brexit opportunity is now in peril

“We will soon be able to prioritise services as well as goods in deals with the world’s fastest-growing economies: 90 per cent of future economic growth is forecast to come from outside Europe, with one third coming from China alone. Yet the EU has no trade agreement with China, nor with the United States. This opportunity is now in danger, however, because a cross-party group of MPs has tabled amendments to force ministers to “maintain the United Kingdom’s participation in the EU’s customs union”. If we did this, we would expose ourselves to extraordinary risk. No country outside the EU, other than Monaco, is a member of the customs union. Not even Norway, which is in the single market, has joined it. This is because if they did so, EU negotiators would surrender access to their markets in return for trading rights with third countries that suit the EU, but not them.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Can any of us believe a word Johnson says? – David Aaronovitch, The Times
  • A Brexit which embodies the best of British ideals – Andrew Lilico, Daily Telegraph
  • Does Soubry or Rees-Mogg speak for the Tories? – Noah Carl, Times Red Box
  • A liberal and profoundly persuasive vision – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Foreign Secretary struggles to woo remainers – Anushka Asthana, The Guardian
  • Johnson articulated a coherent vision with real conviction – Janet Daley, Daily Telegraph
  • A bad Brexit would threaten workers’ rights – Frances O’Grady, Times Red Box


  • Foreign Secretary is a welcome, upbeat ambassador for Brexit – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson’s withered olive branch to Brexit opponents – FT
  • The Cabinet need some of Boris’ mojo – The Sun

>Today: Daniel Hannan MEP’s column: Johnson – a Tigger among Eeyores – is right to restate the positive, uplifting vision of Brexit

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Why our European neighbours think we’re a basket case

Mordaunt calls in the police over Oxfam

“Britain’s aid minister last night called in the police over the Oxfam scandal amid new claims the charity hushed up sex abuse allegations to spare its reputation. As the backlash intensified, Penny Mordaunt told global aid bosses that she would hold meetings today with the National Crime Agency. The NCA will also meet under-fire regulator the Charity Commission to make sure it is doing enough to bring sex abusers to justice. It raises the prospect of prosecutions against aid workers accused of abuse overseas. The meetings come as a senior Oxfam manager admitted last night that she had been aware of past claims of sexual abuse involving the charity’s staff in Asia.” – Daily Mail

  • Patel won’t give to Oxfam again – The Sun
  • Don’t use scandal to shut charities, warns UN – The Times
  • David Miliband’s charity accused of hushing up allegations of fraud, abuse, and bribery – Daily Mail


  • There are laws against what Oxfam did, I know because I drafted them – Sir Bill Cash, Times Red Box
  • Unless charities rediscover their moral core, they won’t survive – Larry Elliott, The Guardian
  • Politicisation and lax controls made charity a disaster waiting to happen – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

Williamson says UK will not follow France’s lead on Syria…

“Gavin Williamson risked igniting a diplomatic storm yesterday by claiming there is no point in Britain listening to Emmanuel Macron. The Defence Secretary took aim at the French president amid growing concerns in London at his increasingly hostile Brexit strategy. The intervention came after Mr Macron threatened to launch strikes on the Syrian government for allegedly using chemical weapons against civilians. But the senior Cabinet member, who is tipped to be a future Prime Minister, said that the UK felt no need to ‘copy’ decisions in neighbouring countries. ‘What is the point in listening to French politicians,’ he said. ‘We have our own foreign policy, we don’t need to copy [others].’ The comments will raise concerns about tension between the UK and France, who are close military allies and the only European countries with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.” – Daily Mail

  • Defence Secretary denies rift with Washington over fate of British jihadists – The Times
  • Fury as Iraqi refugee admits to fake abuse ‘racket’ targeting British troops – Daily Mail

…as he accuses Russia over ‘destructive’ cyber attack

“Britain has blamed President Putin’s military for a global cyberattack that cost businesses hundreds of millions of pounds, in an unprecedented public rebuke. Raising tensions between the countries, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the foreign office minister for cybersecurity, accused Russian military intelligence of launching the NotPetya attack last June that crippled government IT systems in Ukraine. The malware spread across 64 other countries, including the UK. It is thought to be the first time that the government has publicly blamed Russia for a specific global cyberattack. The Foreign Office said that the decision underlined “the fact that the UK and its allies will not tolerate malicious cyberactivity”. Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, said: “We have entered a new era of warfare, witnessing a destructive and deadly mix of conventional military might and malicious cyberattacks.'” – The Times

Ministers too ‘politically correct’ to enforce school hijab bans, former Ofsted head claims

The Government is too politically correct to enforce rules on hijabs in schools, leaving teachers “alone, isolated and vulnerable”, the former head of Ofsted has warned. Sir Michael Wilshaw said a lack of formal policy from the Department for Education on whether children should be allowed to cover their heads in lessons has led to angry clashes. He also highlighted concerns that there are 150 schools around the country which make it compulsory for children to wear hijabs, adding that “the country has enormously changed” and some communities hold very conservative views which cannot easily be challenged. It follows a public outcry after a primary school in east London announced it was banning children from wearing hijabs but was forced to reverse the decision after complaints from parents.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: After his success on reading, Gibb gets his way on times tables

Barwell apologises over pornographic tweet

“Theresa May’s chief of staff has apologised after he responded to a Twitter account which posted pornographic images and videos. Gavin Barwell, the Prime Minister’s right hand man in Downing Street, said he regrets the embarrassment caused when he inadvertently replied to an x-rated image online. It comes after Mrs May’s former deputy prime minister Damian Green was forced to stand aside after he was accused of watching porn on his office computer. Mr Barwell replied to a tweet from the account @twinkystar_69 which posts graphic adult videos and pictures. A Number 10 source said: “Gavin Barwell replied to this tweet, which was in his timeline, in error. He has deleted the reply and regrets the embarrassment this has caused.”” – Daily Telegraph

MPs call for action on rough sleeping after Westminster death

“A homeless man was found dead on Parliament’s doorstep this morning – prompting MPs to call for tougher action to tackle rough sleeping. The man was discovered in Westminster underground station by the back entrance to the Palace of Westminster, which politicians and their staff walk through every day. Temperatures plunged to -2.1C in the areas last night, and many homeless people use the station to get shelter from the freezing temperatures outside. Politicians said they were horrified at the news of the tragedy, and said it should serve as a wake-up call to do more to combat the rising numbers of rough sleepers. Members of Jeremy Corbyn’s office said they knew the man – who has not been named – and laid flowers at the scene tonight.” – Daily Mail

  • Council drops plan to fine rough sleepers after outcry – The Guardian


  • Ministers ‘complicit’ in woman’s overdose death – The Times

Wishart warns Sturgeon against rushing a second independence vote

“Pete Wishart has urged Nicola Sturgeon not to hold a second independence vote until at least 2021 unless she is certain a vote in the next few years would provide a victory. Writing in his column in the National today, titled ‘Why we need to be like Wallace in Braveheart’ the SNP MP wrote: “It would be unthinkable to lose another indyref and almost reckless to proceed without good evidence it could be won.” The suggestion from Wishart follows on from suggestions made by MSP James Dornan that a new vote should be held as early as next year. However, Wishart, who could be a possible contender in the forthcoming contest for depute party leader, said that he would be against an earlier vote unless there was evidence that a Yes vote would win.” – The Scotsman

News in Brief:

  • Ultra-remainer hatred of Johnson borders on the deranged – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • Do we really need a transition period? – John Redwood, Brexit Central
  • Geography, not ideology, drives Russia’s clash with the West – Benn Steil, Foreign Policy
  • How statistics distort policy – Diego Zuluaga, CapX
  • Does aid do more harm than good? – Harriet Sargeant, The Spectator