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May takes ‘swipe at Hammond’ with upbeat Brexit assessment…

“Britain’s economy will have a ‘better future’ outside the EU, Theresa May said yesterday. In an upbeat assessment, the Prime Minister said she was determined to confound the doomsayers, including some in her own government, who claim leaving the EU will inevitably damage the economy. Speaking to reporters on a trip to China, Mrs May took a thinly-veiled swipe at Chancellor Philip Hammond, saying people ‘did not vote for nothing to change when we come out of the EU’. It came as Jean-Claude Juncker gave his strongest admission yet that the EU could be forced to cave in to UK demands for a comprehensive trade deal. Despite previously advocating a hard-line approach, he said that Brussels would have to grant Britain ‘extras’ amid pressure from the business not to harm trading links.” – Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister ‘promises’ that EU free movement will end on Brexit day – Daily Telegraph
  • EU moves to stop post-Brexit ‘bonfire of regulations’ – FT

More:

  • Fury as Soubry says Brexiteers have ‘mental health issues’ – Daily Mail
  • Hague criticises Adonis’ call for second Brexit vote – The Times
  • Ministers deny u-turn as Government publishes assessments – FT
  • Peers urged to use ‘entire arsenal of powers’ to limit Brexit damage – Daily Mail
  • Edinburgh MP calls strategy ‘a disaster in slow motion’ – The Scotsman

Comment:

  • Europe’s civil wars will blow away the Treasury Brexit forecast – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit Britain’s nervous breakdown – Philip Stephens, FT
  • Resist technocrats who say the world is too complex for democracy – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: George Bridges: “The implementation period will not be a bridge to a clear destination; it will be a gangplank into thin air” – full text

…as Fox leaves ‘door open’ to staying in a customs union

Liam Fox has failed to rule out Britain staying in a customs union after Brexit as he admitted a free trade deal with China may be “some time away”. The International Trade Secretary also cast doubt on whether there will be a post-Brexit implementation period after Brexit. Speaking in Beijing, where is accompanying the Prime Minister on a three-day trade mission, Dr Fox twice made references to “if” there is an implementation phase. The issue of whether Britain signs up to some sort of customs union with the EU – having said it will leave the existing customs union – is hugely divisive within the Conservative Party because Brexiteers believe that being in any sort of customs union would prevent the UK from signing global trade deals.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Trade Secretary vows to back May ‘as long as she wants to lead’ – The Sun
  • Being in EU ‘doesn’t stop more trade with China’, says Fox – The Guardian
  • Delays on ‘no deal’ prep raise fears that May is ‘going soft’ – The Times
  • EU leaders ‘plotting against the City’ – The Sun
  • US trade deal won’t balance lost EU migration, analysis reportedly says – Daily Telegraph
  • Juncker admits EU could face infighting over Brexit deal – Daily Express

China:

  • British beef back on the menu as Beijing lifts BSE ban – The Times

Comment:

  • We’re making Britain a global trading nation once again – Graham Stuart MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Visit should strengthen links between China and Britain – Richard Graham MP, Times Red Box
  • Leaked report shows the need for May to get a grip on Whitehall – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph
  • Global Britain is just a Brexit fantasy – Martin Kettle, The Guardian

>Today: Bill Wiggin MP in Comment: A Brexit implementation period might be acceptable – but only if it is strictly time-limited

Talk that a ‘senior minister’ may be about to resign over May’s leadership

“A senior minister is preparing to denounce Theresa May in a dramatic move that could trigger her downfall. The respected Tory MP has told allies he is close to resigning in a principled protest at the PM’s failing leadership. He then intends to issue a call for new direction for the party in a speech from the Commons backbenches. The minister – whose identity is known by The Sun – is one of a number not in the Cabinet left very frustrated by the PM’s failure to promote the younger generation into senior jobs during her botched New Year reshuffle. No10 aides will fear his outburst is likely to trigger a chain reaction of other ministers and MPs also speaking out in a bid to persuade the PM to set a date for her early departure.” – The Sun

  • Grandee blasts Downing Street for Brexit dithering – The Sun
  • Prime Minister rejects peer’s resignation – FT

Comment:

  • Bottom line is that toppling May would put Brexit in critical danger – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph

James Forsyth: May should lead, or go

“What should worry No 10 most about the past ten days is how many level-headed Tory MPs are beginning to think it is worth rolling the dice; that while a change of leader might be messy, things can hardly be worse than they are now. This is not mutiny, as such, it’s something more powerful: a growing conviction that this drift can’t go on and that it’s their job, as MPs, to ensure their party and country is given that direction. May can either provide that leadership herself – or lose her grip on the party and on power.” – The Spectator

  • The Prime Minister must stop defining herself by her weakness – Rob Wilson, Daily Telegraph
  • Britain needs the optimism of a Macron, or a Trump – Iain Martin, The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Our survey – Next Tory leader. Three Brexiteers lead, as last month: Rees-Mogg, Gove and Johnson.

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Our survey. Big rise in those saying May should leave Number Ten now. But a majority believes otherwise.

Prime Minister denies second contractor in trouble as Capita shares crash

“Theresa May last night denied another major government contractor was in meltdown after a shares crash wiped £1bn off the value of Capita. A profits warning from the giant firm sparked fears it could become the next Carillion, the construction firm that dramatically collapsed just weeks ago. But the Prime Minister rejected comparisons between them and insisted ministers were not concerned. Mrs May’s spokesman said: ‘The British government monitors the financial health of all its strategic suppliers and does not believe any, including Capita, are in a comparable position to Carillion.’… Shares in Capita, which collects the BBC licence fee and provides computer services to UK air traffic control, yesterday plummeted by nearly 50pc to lows not seen since 1998. The fall came after bosses revealed weak sales and said the company had spread itself too thinly.” – Daily Mail

  • Rescue boss sets out his stall, but will it settle nerves? – Ben Marlow, Daily Telegraph
  • Beginning of the end for public service contracting – David Walker, The Guardian

Government not on the side of NIMBYs, Javid declares

“Ministers last night warned they will not be on the side of Nimbys as they launched a drive to build hundreds of thousands of new homes. Housing Secretary Sajid Javid threatened ‘not in my backyard’ objectors that the Government ‘is not going to be your friend’. His warning came ahead of the launch today of a £900million fund to encourage housebuilders to start work on up to 200,000 homes. Mr Javid and Chancellor Philip Hammond will announce cash for 133 projects across the country to get much-needed homes built quicker. Under the schemes, the government will agree to pay for infrastructure such as new roads, cycle paths, flood defences or land mediation.” – Daily Mail

  • Taylor Wimpey hits back at ministers over land banking – The Times
  • London developers face growing activism over housing – FT
  • List reveals market’s shaky foundations – The Times

Comment:

  • Conservatives know we are doomed if we fail on housing – Dominic Raab, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • The Prime Minister must act now on housing – The Sun

>Today: Local Government: The long slow decline of the high rise

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Javid’s search for the key to a housebuilding revolution continues

Mordaunt praises ‘heroic’ British aid efforts in Madagascar

“Penny Mordaunt has claimed that “heroic” British efforts to tackle an outbreak of plague in Madagascar helped to save thousands of lives. The international development secretary said efforts to control the spread of plague, which killed more than 200 people on the island last year, “averted a catastrophe”. Funding from the Department for International Development (DfID) to the World Health Organization helped to provide the Madagascan government with specialist support in the early stages of the outbreak. The DfID-funded Department of Health and Social Care provided three experts who flew to the African island to provide advice on monitoring, infection prevention and control, through safe burial and airport screening.” – The Guardian

Gove tells water companies to ‘clear up their act’

“Michael Gove has hit out at ‘tax dodging’ water companies and warned of future hosepipe bans as a new round of price hikes were unveiled today. The Environment Secretary has written to the industry watchdog, Ofwat, detailing his concerns over company mis-management and allegations of profiteering. Mr Gove is concerned that companies have taken on massive loans – high gearing – to fund their work at the same time as pocketing billions for their, mostly foreign, owners. In his letter to the Ofwat chairman, Jonson Cox, he wrote: ‘The use of some water companies of opaque financial structures based in tax havens and high gearing is deeply concerning. I also share your concern that some companies for many years have been making excessive profits.’” – Daily Mail

  • Britain faces hosepipe ban as bosses enjoy ‘excessive’ pay – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Environment Secretary ordered to rethink ‘cavalier’ animal welfare bill – The Times

Bradley says she’s under legal obligation to call an Ulster election

“Secretary of State Karen Bradley was implored to give the people of Northern Ireland “something positive” next week as she confirmed all party talks are to start no later than Monday. However, the only thing Mrs Bradley confirmed was that she had a legal obligation to call an election. Mrs Bradley was appearing in front of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee for the first time since her appointment in Prime Minister Theresa May’s reshuffle at the beginning of the year. MPs discussed Brexit, the border, legacy issues, Bombardier and Kilroot power station losing out on a major energy contract. However, most of the near two-hour session was dominated with the state of play in the ongoing Northern Ireland talks.” – Belfast Telegraph

Westminster abuse inquiry scaled back

“The public inquiry into child abuse is scaling back its investigations into claims of an establishment cover-up of a VIP paedophile ring in Westminster. The decision is a significant retreat by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse because the allegations triggered its creation by Theresa May four years ago. Andrew O’Connor, QC, the inquiry counsel on the Westminster strand, told its first hearing yesterday: “We suspect that much of the public concern relating to Westminster child abuse issues may have been created, or at least exacerbated, by a lack of knowledge.” He said that concern over the allegations had “diminished considerably” since Scotland Yard’s discredited Operation Midland inquiry into the allegations.” – The Times

Spending watchdog reveals hole in the defence budget

“A military plan to buy warships, jets and submarines is unaffordable and unrealistic, with a funding hole of up to £21 billion over ten years, the UK’s spending watchdog said yesterday. The Ministry of Defence omitted even to include the £1.3 billion price for a fleet of five new frigates in its equipment plan, the National Audit Office revealed. The NAO also identified a £576 million rise in the cost to build four replacement nuclear-armed Trident submarines. The watchdog took a veiled swipe at Philip Hammond, the chancellor, and Sir Michael Fallon, who succeeded him as defence secretary, suggesting that the MoD was reverting back to before 2012 when its budget was consistently overheated.” – The Times

  • May ‘ducks questions’ on whether she believes Williamson – Daily Mail

MPs vote in favour of leaving Westminster for renovations

“MPs have voted in favour of moving out of Westminster entirely so Parliament can be renovated before a disastrous fire. The Commons voted 234 to 135, a majority of just 16, in favour of endorsing the work of a joint committee of MPs and Peers on what to do about the dilapidated state of the building. It is the first time since the war that MPs and peers will move out of the Palace of Westminster, with the £4billion restoration expected to take at least six years. For the first time, MPs have formally accepted the ‘clear and pressing need’ to repair the Victorian systems that underpin the Palace of Westminster.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Leigh is right: Parliament must be repaired, but not emptied

Tories accuse SNP of hitting middle-class Scots with ‘stealth tax’

Hundreds of thousands of middle-class Scots have been hit with an income tax double whammy after the SNP’s Finance Minister imposed a £55 million stealth charge on top of a hike in the levy’s rates. Derek Mackay announced that he would increase the £43,000 salary threshold for the higher rate by only one per cent in April instead of inflation, as he had previously promised. The about-turn will cost almost 400,000 Scots an extra £169, compared to his previous plans, and will mean 18,000 lower earners are dragged into paying higher rate tax when they get their annual salary increases… the Tories accused the minister of “rubbing salt in the wound” of Scottish workers with a second “tax grab” and warned it would reinforce Scotland’s position as the highest taxed part of the UK, with forecasts showing the lowest economic growth in the developed world.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Councils get £160 million in budget deal – The Scotsman

More:

  • Davidson ‘relishes’ prospect of people protesting Trump – The Sun

Comment:

  • Budget imposes ‘Iron Age’ Greens levy on the better off – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

Conservatives demand that investigators are given access to Jones’ emails

“First Minister Carwyn Jones is facing a call to give investigators looking into the circumstances surrounding Carl Sargeant’s dismissal access to his private emails. It follows Mr Jones’ admission that since 2009 he has “occasionally” used a personal email address to communicate with Welsh Government officials, advisers and ministers… Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said the emails could hold “crucial evidence” to several investigations into the conduct of the First Minister, including one into whether he broke the Ministerial Code by misleading AMs over his knowledge of bullying within his own office. Mr Davies has written to Carwyn Jones asking him to commit to releasing all personal emails pertaining to government business. He also raised several concerns about this practice.” – Wales Online

  • No apology from First Minister as health board admits claims about Price were wrong – Wales Online

UKIP facing ‘financial ruin’ over defamation costs

“UKIP faces bankruptcy within weeks after it emerged the party could be liable to pay up to £650,000 in legal costs in a court case involving one of its MEPs. This amount is nearly double the amount in Ukip’s coffers, according to its latest annual accounts. The party agreed to pay the legal expenses for its Yorkshire and Humber MEP Jane Collins, who was found to have defamed three Labour MPs after accusing them of knowing about the child abuse scandal in Rotherham but doing nothing about it. Sir Kevin Barron, John Healey and Sarah Champion sued Jane Collins over her comments at Ukip’s party conference in September 2014 – and last year won £54,000 in damages each.” – The Sun

News in Brief:

  • Land banking is not to blame for the housing crisis – Ben Ramanauskas, CapX
  • Leaked forecasts are clearly based on outdated trade models – Patrick Minford, Brexit Central
  • Last rites read for Williamson’s career – Alastair Benn, Reaction
  • Trump’s sunbed optimism is rubbing off on the world – Freddy Gray, The Spectator

9 comments for: Newslinks for Thursday 1st February 2018

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