Johnson: The Conservatives should make a clear and simple pledge – no new taxes, no tax rises

‘Instead of canvassing tax rises, we should say that tax henceforward will not go up. That’s it. No new taxes and no increase in rates. We should be lifting thresholds, so that people on modest incomes are not caught by fiscal drag, like so many in the South East. We should also remember the phenomenon first identified by the great Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldūn in 14th-century Tunisia, and now ascribed to Arthur Laffer: that if you cut the right taxes, you can actually increase receipts for government. And with that in mind, we should be looking not at rises but at cuts to income tax, capital gains tax and stamp duty. That is the way to get the economy going. If we must find savings in the short term, then let’s look at our bloated public procurement system, with its inflexible OJEU rules (the Official Journal of the European Union, which records all public sector contracts) that favour established companies and their complacent approach. Brexit gives us an opportunity to simplify. We should take it.’ – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The ERG dog that didn’t bark in the Johnson-preoccupied night

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Private or public, everything Johnson does is viewed through the prism of Brexit

Barnier is set to receive new negotiating instructions

‘The EU is preparing to give its Brexit negotiator new instructions to help close a deal with Britain, in a conciliatory move that will bolster Theresa May as she suffers savage attacks from Brexiters at home…An informal summit in Salzburg this month between the EU’s 27 remaining leaders is emerging as one of the most significant Brexit discussions since the bloc first set its strategy for talks. Ambassadors in Brussels have been told that, as well as the planned timing of any deal and sticking points such as the Irish border, the meeting will discuss whether to issue additional guidance to Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator. If approved, the move to update Mr Barnier’s instructions would help to “serve as a sort of mandate to do the deal” according to a senior EU diplomat. Senior British officials have long complained that Mr Barnier has interpreted his instructions too rigidly, leaving talks deadlocked.’ – FT

  • The EU does not think Chequers is “stable, politically” – The Times
  • 80 Conservative MPs will vote against it, Baker says – FT
  • The Prime Minister briefs the Queen at Balmoral – Daily Mail
  • Brexit does not in itself guarantee a rosy future, Fox warns – The Times
  • No Deal could bring an £80 billion customs windfall, report will predict – The Times
  • Putting off tough choices would make the eventual deal worse – Sir Stephen Wall, The Times
  • The myth of 1940 harms our Brexit preparations – Clare Foges, The Times

>Yesterday: WATCH: Percy says that Chequers offers “a sensible arrangement” for leaving the EU

Ministers delay a vote on boundary reforms

‘The government is due to publish a report by the Boundary Commission under which the number of parliamentary seats will be cut from 650 to 600 and constituencies across the country redrawn. Ministers, however, will stop short of tabling a vote on the changes over concerns that it could become a lightning rod for Brexiteer anger over Chequers. While the changes would benefit the Conservatives overall, more than a dozen Tory rebel MPs, including Boris Johnson and David Davis, could find their seats at risk. David Lidington, the prime minister’s de facto deputy, has tried to reassure MPs that “no colleague will be left behind” by the changes. A number of Tories fear privately, however, that the changes, if approved by parliament, could be used as leverage by Downing Street to remove Theresa May’s critics.’ – The Times

Nine ‘child’ asylum seekers a week are found to be adults

‘Adults posing as children to claim asylum in Britain are being exposed at the rate of nine every week, according to official figures. Over the past three years three out of five asylum seekers whose age was checked after they claimed to be under 18 were found to be adults. The Home Office statistics revealed 2,336 cases where the claims to be a child were disputed and then checked. Of these, 1,403 turned out to be over 18. More than seven out of ten unaccompanied Vietnamese child asylum seekers whose ages were investigated – around 100 in all – were actually adults. A similar percentage of child claimants from Iran and Iraq whose cases were checked were also discovered to be adults.’ – Daily Mail

  • Foreign Affairs select committee proposes inquiry into failure to prevent Assad’s crimes – Daily Mail
  • Forthcoming assault on Idlib will end with a bloodbath and another exodus – FT Leader

Anti-EU right make gains in Swedish election

‘The populist right made substantial gains in the Swedish election last night as the country’s prime minister battled to stay in post. Almost one in five voters turned to the radical right-wing Sweden Democrats, while Stefan Lofven’s ruling Social Democrats were on course to fall to their lowest tally in more than a century. Experts believe that there will be weeks or months of gridlock as the two main blocs enter thorny negotiations to form a new government. The Sweden Democrats, whose most prominent policies include taking the country out of the European Union and closing the borders to refugees, claimed to be the “real winners” of the election. Jimmie Akesson, their leader, urged the centre-right alliance to join forces with his party to gain an outright majority.’ – The Times

  • Deadlock for the government – Daily Mail
  • It could have been worse, but it still isn’t good – Tony Barber, FT
  • Immigration killed off Sweden’s liberal dream – Mark Almond, Daily Mail
  • Afghan national wounds seven people in violent rampage in Paris – Daily Mail
  • Man dies in stabbing in Germany – Daily Mail
  • Rise of neo-Nazis is an all-too-familiar evil – The Times Leader
  • UKIP calls for shops to be banned from selling Christmas gifts ‘too early’ – The Sun

Russians wanted for the Salisbury attack are unlikely to ever be punished, Javid concedes

‘The two Russian citizens accused of carrying out the Salisbury poisoning are unlikely to be brought to justice, the home secretary admitted yesterday. Sajid Javid suggested that Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov would not be prosecuted over the nerve-agent attack in Salisbury on Sergei Skripal because “the reality is we’ll probably never see them in the UK”. Mr Javid became the first government minister to admit that “Russia will probably never let them leave the Russian Federation”, keeping the pair out of the grasp of the British authorities. Neil Basu, national head of counter-terrorism, said last week that it was a “brutal truth” that there was little more that the police could do unless the pair entered a country that had an extradition treaty with Britain.’ – The Times

  • The Kremlin’s aggression and new tactics require a reordering of national security – Edward Lucas, The Times
  • Russian hackers impersonate Williamson in email to Tory donors – The Sun
  • Mercer hits back as Barwell complains about his criticism of May – The Sun
  • British Army to maintain presence in Germany – Daily Mail
  • Royal Navy sailors tasered by American police – The Times
  • Professor accused in Russia lawsuit may be dead – The Times
  • Javid cannot leave it to the tech giants to protect children online – Peter Wanless, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: WATCH: Javid – “If they ever step out of the Russian Federation, Britain and its allies will bring them to prosecution.”

Lowe: How to build more homes while maintaining our green and pleasant land

‘Today FREER, the political initiative I direct, is publishing a new paper. Written by the Conservative MP Simon Clarke, it offers a visionary solution. Building on the excellent suggestions made by the Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh to address London’s housing stress, our paper puts forward an England-wide package deal proposal. First, it proposes freeing up green belt land for development within half a mile of all stations where there is no special environmental protection; second, it proposes a green land guarantee to stipulate that land designated under a range of environmental categories must not fall below 35 per cent of land in England. This would free up space for at least 1.5 million new homes while leaving 98 per cent of the existing green belt untouched and genuine green spaces better protected.’ – Rebecca Lowe, The Times

>Yesterday: WATCH: “I want to see longer tenancies,” says Brokenshire

May urged to rethink plans to write off child support debts

‘The Government wants to write off money owed to 970,000 single parents in legacy cases over the past 20 years even though some claims are still contested. It argues it’s not cost effective to attempt to chase the money. The plans will absolve non-paying parents and leave short-changed parents with no way of going through the courts for compensation. Outraged campaigners have compared the move to the Windrush fiasco in the Home Office earlier this year…The Government consulted on the changes in December last year then confirmed its plans two months ago – and now wants to push it through Parliament. Most of the 970,000 cases date back to the Child Support Agency, created in 1993 to free family courts from child maintenance cases.’ – The Sun

  • The Government should stand with those who need help – The Sun Says

>Today: Nicky Morgan’s column: May’s coming conference speech. We must see the woman who danced in Africa – not the PMQs version

Hancock opens direct complaints line for NHS staff

‘Staff will be able to use the Talk Health and Care digital platform on their phones and tablets after it is introduced today by Matt Hancock, the health secretary. He wants to hear first-hand from those working on the front line of the NHS, who are the most qualified to advise on what needs to change. “Millions of hard-working health and care staff turn up to work every day to meet any challenges tirelessly, with unending compassion,” he will say. “But they don’t just do this for money or other contract benefits. They do it to improve and save the lives of countless strangers, and in return it’s only right that they are valued, supported and developed. Too often health and care employers, despite the NHS being the world’s fifth largest employer, don’t get this right. It’s time we hear from health and care staff about what they really have to say about the jobs that are at the heart of this country.” Mr Hancock has expressed concerns at the high number of bullying and harassment claims from staff and wants to ensure that these problems are not “put into the too-difficult pile” by bosses.’ – The Times

  • Academy Trust accused of ripping off taxpayers – The Times
  • Crouch announces funding for disadvantaged children to join scouts and guides – The Guardian
  • HMRC lets the rich and famous avoid the embarrassment of court – The Times

Cable makes pitch to Labour moderates

‘Vince Cable has claimed that the Liberal Democrats could become “a new home” for Labour moderates driven out of their party in an intensifying factional dispute with hard-left supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. The Lib Dem leader last week announced reforms intended to turn his party into a mass “movement of the moderates” and said he was holding talks with a “surprisingly large number” of Labour MPs. His comments follow warnings by Tony Blair, former Labour prime minister, that it may be impossible for centre-left Labour MPs to “take back” control of their party, as Mr Corbyn strengthens his control.’ – FT

>Yesterday: WATCH: Umunna – Labour now is institutionally racist