Published:

May survives crunch meeting with backbenchers…

“Theresa May was offered ‘loyal and genuine’ support by her MPs it was claimed tonight after making a ‘heartfelt’ appeal to her backbenchers. The PM survived a crunch confrontation with her fractious party at the 1922 Committee meeting tonight where she spoke of her personal drive to get a Brexit deal done in the national interest. And as the meeting broke up, Brexiteer Michael Fabricant claimed it was a ‘love in’ and told waiting reporters: ‘It’s not Daniella in the lion’s den, it’s petting zoo’. Mrs May was welcomed by cheers and loud banging of desks as she arrived for a tense meeting of the 1922 Committee in Parliament days after being warned to ‘bring her own noose’ to a ‘show trial’. Some Brexiteers demanded ‘cast iron guarantees’ that Britain would leave the EU and pressed their leader on what concessions she had manage to force out of Brussels.” – Daily Mail

  • Lion’s den ‘more like petting zoo’ – The Times
  • Leader quells rebels with ‘heartfelt’ unity plea – FT
  • Brexiteers having ‘arms twisted’ to send in letters – Daily Express

More:

  • Polls suggest falling confidence in May to deliver a good deal – Daily Mail
  • Prime Minister ‘to trigger no-deal planning’ in three weeks – The Times
  • May forced to rule out final say for the ECJ – Daily Mail
  • EU citizens offered lifelong rights in exchange for expats’ free movement – The Sun

Analysis:

  • How the 1922 Committee became the power behind the party – Henry Zeffman, The Times

>Yesterday:

…as Gove unveils fisheries bill which boosts the Scottish Government…

“Michael Gove has unveiled legislation giving Scottish ministers “significant” new powers over the fishing industry after Brexit. The Environment Secretary said the Fisheries Bill will enable the UK to control who fishes in its waters and create a “sustainable, profitable” industry. He said leaving the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) will give the UK Government and devolved administrations the power to manage fisheries more effectively and sustainably. Fishing leaders said the Bill was necessary to set up frameworks outside the “universally detested” CFP and urged Scottish and UK ministers to work together in “harmony” to achieve this. But the SNP administration has repeatedly accused the UK Government of staging a Brexit “power grab” for refusing to hand over all powers repatriated from Brussels in devolved areas like fisheries.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Shipping bosses call out Government ‘dramatics’ over shortages – The Sun

Comment:

  • Our ports are equipped to grasp the opportunities of Brexit – Royston Smith MP, Times Red Box

…and Cox warns that her deal will be inescapable if signed

Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU will be almost impossible to get out of, the Attorney General has warned amid mounting Cabinet opposition. Geoffrey Cox is said to have made clear that ministers will not be able to change the customs backstop once the UK is signed up to it. Eurosceptics are demanding an “exit mechanism” that enables the UK to break off the backstop, which will come into force in March 2021 if the UK has still not signed a deal with Brussels. It is designed to avoid a hard border with Ireland, but Eurosceptics fear that it will leave the UK in a state of “permanent vassalage” with the EU. According to The Spectator, Mr Cox is said to have spelled out to ministers on Tuesday that Britain has a choice to accept a backstop it cannot get out of, push for no deal or renounce the backstop entirely.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Negotiators tell Brussels that ECJ will get ‘final say’ – The Sun
  • UK will ‘pay the price’ of no-deal as May mulls long transition – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • This Alice-in-Wonderland Brexit will satisfy nobody – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: It’s time to study the map that leads from Norway to Canada

Prime Minister faces allegations of cronyism over civil service appointment

“Theresa May has cited the government’s crisis over Brexit to justify installing her longstanding lieutenant as Britain’s most senior civil servant without a formal recruitment process. Sir Mark Sedwill, 54, was promoted to cabinet secretary after it was announced that Sir Jeremy Heywood, 56, who is being treated for cancer, would not return to work. Sir Mark had been acting in the role since June. The prime minister is understood to have argued privately that the emergency of Brexit meant that an appointment was needed straight away. She also said that foreign crises, including that caused by the murder of the Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, meant that Sir Mark should keep his post as national security adviser. Labour said that the decision amounted to “an abuse of process” and urged the prime minister to explain the “extraordinary” move.” – The Times

  • May appoints key ally in bid to salvage ’emergency’ – Daily Express
  • Brexit clouds end tenure of ‘Mr Indispensable’ – FT
  • Treasury cedes influence to ‘securocrats’ – The Times

Profile:

  • Heywood changed the Civil Service – Oliver Wright, The Times

Tenants will gain access to ‘rogue landlords’ database

“Theresa May has pledged to give tenants access to the government’s new rogue landlord database after a Guardian and ITV News investigation revealed that not a single name had been entered into the system in more than six months since its launch – and that even when landlords’ names were listed, the public would not be allowed to see them. In a swift U-turn, the prime minister’s official spokesman said on Wednesday: “Our rogue landlord database has only been in place since April and has been warmly welcomed by councils as an important enforcement tool. As we have said, only offences committed from April this year can be included, and it can take several months to secure convictions. We are clear that we expect to see entries in the database from the new year. We also intend to make information in the database available to prospective and existing tenants.” The government estimated before the launch of the database that there were 10,500 rogue landlords operating in England, and said it expected more than 600 of the worst offenders to be entered into the system.” – The Guardian

  • House prices would fall in a no-deal Brexit, warn Moody’s – FT

Priti Patel: We must empower a new generation of home-owners

“The property-owning democracy we created, with millions of families being able to buy their council houses or get a mortgage to buy a private property, has been undermined by successive governments’ failure to ensure sufficient new homes were built. A shortage of supply in the private sector has meant high house prices and council tenants priced out of ever owning their homes. Our country and the Conservative Party is at its strongest when it promotes the spirit of enterprise, the values of hope and aspiration, and the desire to get on in life. That means having a government that is committed to empowering and freeing families, businesses and communities. For some, including those on the political left, government support for home ownership is objectionable as they claim this reduces the amount of houses available. Ownership does not reduce the amount of homes available, but offers families a secure asset and the ability to keep the money they spend on their home.” – Times Red Box

>Yesterday: Matt Kilcoyne in Think Tanks: How a flexible Right to Buy will breathe new life into an old policy – and a transformational one, too

May accuses Corbyn of huge tax-and-spend plans…

“Theresa May today angrily blasted Jeremy Corbyn’s massive tax and spend plans – warning it would cost every family an eye-watering £35,000. The Prime Minister said a Labour government would mean ‘higher taxes, fewer jobs’ which would saddle the country with debt for years to come. She lashed the Labour leader after he attacked her for ignoring the plight of Britain’s poorest families and carrying on with the botched Universal Credit roll out. The two leaders furiously clashed in the weekly PMQs Commons showdown, which comes as the Prime Minister is facing massive pressure from her own MPs over her Brexit plans. Mr Corbyn took to the despatch box to accuse the PM of vowing to end austerity while presiding over a government which has overseen massive budget squeezes. And he tried to pile more pressure on the Tory leader to abandon the roll-out of Universal Credit – her flagship welfare reform.” – Daily Mail

  • Abbott’s charity languishes with little in the bank – Daily Mail

>Today: Will Tanner in Comment: The Budget choice on ending austerity. Raise taxes – or ease up on deficit reduction.

…as Hammond mulls VAT squeeze on small businesses

“Philip Hammond is considering changes to the VAT rules for small companies in an attempt to reform what he believes is a defective system that costs the Treasury up to £2bn a year. The chancellor is looking at cutting, or at least extending a freeze in, the £85,000 turnover threshold for value added tax after being advised that companies stop growing, or lie, to avoid crossing the line. In last year’s Budget Mr Hammond froze the threshold for two years from April 2018, but his allies confirm that the chancellor regards this as unfinished business. “Options include cutting the threshold,” said one. The threshold normally rises every year in line with inflation. Mr Hammond had eyed reform of the VAT regime for small companies in his last Budget, including moving Britain closer to global standards such as the EU average of £20,000. He had to drop radical changes in the face of a backlash from Conservative MPs and business groups, who warned it would bring thousands of small businesses into the VAT system.” – FT

  • …or is he already backing away from that idea? – The Sun
  • Web giants could be taxed to stamp out ‘fake news’ – The Sun

Comment:

  • The public and public servants are both tired of austerity’s sacrifices – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Robert Halfon MP’s column: Here’s the Worker’s Budget we need next week

Calls grow for ‘foreign power’ laws…

“Parliamentarians, lobbyists and advisers with financial links to overseas powers should be forced to declare such arrangements in a public register, say proposals backed by MPs. Cross-party calls are growing for a “foreign powers act” in the wake of disclosures that a series of peers have financial interests in Russia. The Times revealed yesterday that Lord Barker of Battle and Lord Fairfax of Cameron, two Tory lords with business links to Moscow, had “requested government assistance for Russian associates” from the security minister. A series of other peers were shown to have financial interests in Russia. Some had made interventions in parliament that related to Russia and mirrored Kremlin narratives. The Lords commissioner for standards is now assessing whether the peers may have breached the code of conduct, after Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, formally raised his concerns with her.” – The Times

  • Pencil-and-paper voting has thwarted Russian meddling, claims Wright – The Guardian
  • Russia moves to block UK’s vision for world trade – The Times

Comment:

  • We need a list of lobbyists for hostile states – Bob Seely MP, The Times

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Ici Londres – Saudi Arabia’s western hirelings

…but new counter-terrorism legislation criticised

“New counter-terror powers designed to tackle the “vaguely defined” crime of hostile state activity threaten the protection of journalistic sources, campaigners for freedom of expression and the press have warned. In a joint statement, nine organisations including Index on Censorship and Reporters Without Borders have called on the House of Lords to recommend significant amendments to the bill as it reaches the closing stages of its passage through parliament. Unveiled by ministers in the summer, the counter-terrorism and border security bill proposes broad powers for border guards to stop and search individuals without suspicion on the grounds of tackling “hostile state” activity, and would criminalise travel to terrorist hotspots and the viewing of terrorist-linked material online. It has received significant criticism from the cross-party joint committee on human rights, which warned that the legislation crossed the line on human rights and could restrict free speech and curb access to information.” – The Guardian

MPs warn that struggling police risk ‘becoming irrelevant’

“Police forces are struggling to cope and risk becoming irrelevant, MPs warn today. In a damning exposé of the state of policing in England and Wales, MPs said forces were under ‘considerable stress’, with officer numbers slashed and vast numbers of crimes unsolved. The home affairs select committee said many crimes were never even investigated, meaning ‘policing is at risk of becoming irrelevant to most people’. The report will fuel fears that police are losing control of the streets following a surge in crime, the rise of ‘county lines’ drugs gangs and widespread concern over ‘Wild West Britain’. In the three years to March, crime reported to the police soared 32 per cent to 5.5 million incidents, but the number of charges or summons plunged 26 per cent – meaning 153,000 fewer suspects were hauled to court.” – Daily Mail

  • Crime rockets by a third… but charges drop – The Sun

May pledges reform to controversial ‘gagging clauses’

“Theresa May pledged to bring forward measures to toughen regulation of gagging clauses after MPs and campaigners criticised a ban on the publication of allegations of “sexual harassment” involving a company boss. The prime minister said yesterday that some employers were using non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) “unethically” as she criticised “abhorrent” sexual harassment in the workplace. Her comments came after Court of Appeal judges temporarily barred The Daily Telegraph from publishing “confidential information” from five employees about an individual the newspaper described as a “leading businessman”. The Labour MP Jess Phillips raised the case in the House of Commons yesterday, asking Mrs May to comment on the use of NDAs to “silence” accusers. She said: “It seems that our laws allow rich and powerful men to pretty much do whatever they want as long as they can pay to keep it quiet.”” – The Times

  • Parliamentary assistant claims she was ‘assaulted and stalked’ by an MP – Daily Telegraph

Speaker:

  • Bercow claims Parliament has taken ‘first step’ to address scandal – Daily Mail
  • Speaker faces inquiry as MPs apologise over bullying – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Bercow, the anti-Lenthall. “I have neither eyes to see, nor tongue to speak, in this place, but as Labour MPs are pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here.”

News in Brief:

  • Even ministers don’t understand Brexit – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • A deal with the EU isn’t worth breaking up the UK – Owen Polley, CapX
  • Britain and France vie for supremacy in European defence – Walter Ellis, Reaction
  • The Remainers’ caricature of Leave voters shows they still fail to understand why people backed Brexit – Matthew Goodwin, Brexit Central
  • Britain needs less speculation, not a smaller financial sector – Peter Franklin, UnHerd

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