Brexit 1) EU ‘humiliates’ May with refusal to budge

“Theresa May was humiliated by European leaders late last night after they rejected pleas for any further concessions to get her Brexit deal through parliament. France and Ireland led a move to strike out a compromise agreement that would have given the prime minister “political and legal assurances” that Britain would not be trapped in an indefinite Irish backstop. Instead EU leaders took an uncompromising stance, refusing any form of binding guarantee and deleting a pledge that the backstop “does not represent a desirable outcome” for Europe. The rejection means that the prime minister will return from Brussels empty handed despite a personal appeal to her fellow leaders to help to get the deal over the line. Downing Street sources tried to put a brave face on the setback, saying that private messages from EU leaders were that “further discussions” had not been ruled out. However, in another blow, a European commitment that if the backstop were ever triggered “it would only be in place for a short period” was struck out of the summit conclusions.” – The Times

  • Brussels scraps plans for reassurances – FT
  • Juncker ‘tears up’ proposals and attacks ‘nebulous and imprecise’ demands – Daily Mail
  • The Prime Minister’s promises unravel – Daily Telegraph


  • Varadkar to disappoint May over the backstop – FT
  • Dublin maintains unity government to avoid ‘Brexit chaos’ – Daily Express
  • Allister warns unionists not to fall for ‘sleight of hand’ – News Letter


  • Delaying UK’s exit would not be an easy ride – Henry Zeffman, The Times
  • EU divided over how much aid to give – Alex Barker and Mehreen Khan, FT


>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Two pledges to MPs helped the Prime Minister over the line yesterday – but now she must fulfil them

Brexit 2) Cabinet continue to push for resignation date

“Cabinet ministers are trying to persuade Theresa May to resign next Spring as the only way to break Parliament’s deadlock over Brexit. The Sun can reveal a growing number of senior loyalists now believe a pledge by the PM to step down within six months will persuade Tory Brexiteers and the DUP to back her Brexit deal. In exchange, the rebels would win the chance to put a Leaver in charge of future trade deal negotiations with a new Tory leadership contest sparked. The ‘self-sacrifice’ strategy emerged as it became clear yesterday that Mrs May’s dramatic no confidence vote victory on Wednesday night failed to end the raging party civil war. Hardline Brexiteers kept up their demand for the PM to go yesterday, as well as their determination to vote down her deal. They were bolstered by Dominic Raab adding his name to the calls… One loyal senior minister told The Sun: “We are going to say to Theresa, ‘you’ve done your best, but the only way to get this thing over the line is for you to go next year’. Things have got very personal between her and the DUP which aren’t ever going to be fixed.”” – The Sun

  • May confirms we won’t lead the Tories into the next election – The Scotsman


  • The Tories are a shambolic mess, where to they go from here? – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph


  • May isn’t beaten, but she is bloodied – FT

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: May – “I’ve heard loud and clear the concerns of those who didn’t feel they were able to support me”

Brexit 3) Conservative divisions over the next steps deepen

“The Conservative Party is facing an irrevocable split over Brexit, senior Tories said yesterday, as rival factions attacked each other in the face of Theresa May’s weakened leadership. The prime minister’s appeal for unity after she won a confidence vote appeared to fall on deaf ears as MPs traded insults and Brexiteers continued to insist that she should resign. Some MPs from the European Research Group (ERG), a Brexiteer faction, were said to be threatening to go “on strike” until there was a change of leader. Under the plan those MPs would fail to vote on some legislation, to prove that Mrs May cannot command a majority in the Commons. The prime minister, meanwhile, will be pressed on Tuesday by rival ministers in her cabinet who have opposing strategies to rescue her Brexit deal. One faction, led by Philip Hammond, the chancellor, wants Mrs May to allow parliament a vote on all possible outcomes, including a second referendum, to establish what course of action MPs would be willing to support. The second faction, dominated by Brexiteers, wants the prime minister to announce that a “no-deal exit” is now the government’s central planning assumption.” – The Times

  • Fresh ‘civil war’ erupts over Hammond’s ‘extremists’ comment – Daily Telegraph
  • Chancellor offers ‘grovelling apology’ – The Sun


  • May’s allies urge rebels to end feuding – Daily Express
  • Raab warned that he risks tearing the party apart – Daily Mail
  • Eurosceptics remain defiant over deal – FT
  • What Rees-Mogg and the rebels could do next – Daily Telegraph
  • Hannan’s MEP group ordered to repay €535,000 in EU funds – The Guardian


  • Corbyn delays no confidence motion to avoid ‘uniting the Tories’ – The Guardian
  • Labour urged to stop ‘cosying up’ to the DUP – News Letter


  • When Remainer MPs savage Brexiteers, they risk insulting millions of voters – Mark Wallace, Daily Telegraph
  • Eurosceptics’ rebel alliance is not beaten yet – Iain Martin, The Times
  • Paper tigers may yet split the Tory Party – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian
  • I had no choice but to join the rebellion against May – Ian Duncan Smith, Daily Telegraph
  • The Prime Minister’s critics need to buy themselves a calculator – Sir Eric Pickles, Times Red Box
  • Failure to concede defeat shows Rees-Mogg is ridiculous – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail


Brexit 4) May’s allies blame Smith for setbacks

“Theresa May’s allies have turned on the chief whip, blaming him for two big failures in a week. Julian Smith is facing criticism after the Prime Minister was forced to pull the Brexit vote and half of Tory backbenchers called for her to go. MPs have also questioned his “bizarre” decision to allow a camera crew to follow his movements ahead of the planned meaningful vote, which was then delayed. One minister told The Daily Telegraph that Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary and former chief whip, was asked to step in and help shore up support for the Prime Minister in the run up to Wednesday’s no confidence vote. Another minister accused Mr Smith of “micromanaging” and said the past week have exposed his “failures”. “He has not been able to get the DUP on side,” he said. “Tory MPs who have personal connections with DUP MPs have asked to approach them – but Julian Smith says, no, that is my job.” On Wednesday, Mr Williamson was seen talking to DUP MPs to get them onside. Other Cabinet ministers also made calls to backbenchers to drum up support.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Crunch vote pencilled in for January 14th – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Get ready to play May’s Chicken Game again before too long

Brexit 5) Government goes on a hiring spree to prepare for no deal

“Panicked Government officials are preparing to recruit an extra 10,000 staff to prepare Britain for a no deal Brexit as Theresa May’s deal looks more and more like it’s doomed. Civil service chief executive John Manzoni said Whitehall would double the number of staff working on Brexit if talks collapse and Britain ‘crashes out’ of the EU on March 29. With just 106 days until Brexit Day he told MPs that an extra 5,000 staff had already been lined up and a further 5,000 would be employed if Britain was heading for a “disorderly” Brexit. The Government has already deployed 10,000 civil servants to work on no deal contingencies, Mr Manzoni told the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. The extra staff is a combination of employees redeployed from other departments and new recruits. He said Whitehall “can’t hire people fast enough” and the Government had to redistribute large chunks of resources from non-Brexit-facing departments. But Brexit MPs on the committee condemned the pair for using the phrase “disorderly Brexit”.” – The Sun

  • Efforts to save deal are ‘phoney’ and other options need testing, ministers say – Daily Telegraph
  • EU leaders ramp up plans for ‘no deal’ – The Sun
  • Rogers claims that Brexit ‘delusions’ risk plunging UK into crisis – The Guardian


  • Eurozone instability is a greater risk than no deal – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph
  • The nightmare of no-deal departure must be prevented – Martin Wolf, FT

Brexit 6) Supreme Court rules that Scottish Government exceeded powers with Brexit bill

“The UK Supreme Court has ruled that parts of a law passed by the Scottish parliament to establish control over areas such as fishing and farming exceed its powers. The unanimous judgment was a setback for the Scottish government, which has been locked in a fierce constitutional dispute with Westminster over who should have final say over devolved areas of policy previously set in Brussels. But the country’s highest court dismissed arguments by the UK government that the Scottish Brexit continuity bill as a whole was beyond the legislative competence of the parliament at Holyrood. Only one section of the bill, which would have given Scottish ministers a veto in Scotland on some UK subordinate legislation, exceeded Holyrood’s competence when it was passed in March, the court said. The Scottish parliament won “on the point of principle”, but the striking out of crucial sections of the bill means it “feels like a pyrrhic victory”, said Jo Murkens, a senior law lecturer at the London School of Economics.” – FT

  • Sturgeon to decide whether to salvage unlawful bill – The Guardian


  • Why Tories can’t be trusted with devolution – Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman

>Yesterday: Jonathan Clark in Comment: Brexit has reopened two constitutional conflicts which must be resolved

Philip Collins: May has a chance… if she will split Labour and the Tories in two

“There is still just about time for a dramatic pivot. It is late but not yet the midnight hour. Forget Mr Rees-Mogg and his crew of College Green quotesmiths. Reach across the floor of the House, although not to Jeremy Corbyn, who is merely sending John McDonnell out to chuckle through interviews about the games the pair of them are playing. The Labour leadership is not animated by Europe; it just wants the government to fall by any means. Yet the Labour Party is split on this question. Some of its members want a general election and some do not, for the same reason the Tories don’t, namely that it might produce a Corbyn government. Plenty of Labour MPs ardently want a second referendum and, by having the courage to offer that referendum, Mrs May could break her opponents, as well as her own party, in two… It would be the moment that Labour is forced to choose and, after talking to some of the people involved, I think there is a deal to be done. Labour moderates would play ball. Mrs May would then be free to ignore the right of her party and free to call the bluff of the DUP which would have forfeited its influence.” – The Times

  • The Tories aren’t the only party in crisis over Brexit – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • May’s last path to an orderly departure – Philip Stephens, FT

>Yesterday: Rebecca Lowe’s column: Leave isn’t right-wing, Remain isn’t left-wing

Javid offers cash boost to the police

Sajid Javid has told police he expects more crimes to be solved as householders face an extra £24 on their council tax bills to pay for a £1billion cash boost for forces. Writing in the Telegraph, the Home Secretary said the extra £970million was the biggest increase in police funding since 2010 and designed to answer their demands for extra frontline officers in the face of rising violence and crime. With nine in ten offences going unsolved, Mr Javid said one of the key priorities was to plug shortages of detectives to investigate and solve crimes. “Many [police leaders] have told me they want to recruit more officers into their forces and this extra funding will allow them to do just that,” he said. “Many have also talked about the need for more resources to deal with the changing nature of crime. This extra funding will allow them to recruit more detectives and ensure they are better placed to respond to the increasingly complex crimes they face.”… More than half of the £970million for 2019/20 will be picked up by council taxpayers by allowing all police and crime commissioners to increase their precept on bills from £12 to £24 a year. It means more than 36 per cent of police funding will now be paid by local taxes, up from 26 per cent in 2010/11.” – Daily Telegraph

  • English police given more support to meet pensions deficit – FT
  • Millions of Brits face tax rises next year – The Sun
  • Police must fill out form every time they shout at a suspect – Daily Mail


  • Boost in funding must be matched by improved results – Sajid Javid, Daily Telegraph
  • We must examine if the way we fund councils is fit for the future – James Brokenshire, Times Red Box

Labour floats breakup of ‘big four’ accountancies

“The big four accounting firms would be forced to break up their UK businesses and drop a huge number of their most prized audit clients under proposals floated by Labour on Friday. A report commissioned by the party has recommended radical measures to clean up Britain’s scandal-hit accounting industry, including capping the big four’s share of the audit market at 50 per cent of Britain’s largest listed companies. This would have a dramatic impact on the big four – Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC – because they audit all but 10 companies in the FTSE 350 index. The big accounting firms should be broken up by separating audit from other services, according to the report led by Prem Sikka, professor of accounting at Sheffield university, which was commissioned by shadow chancellor John McDonnell. The report proposed a new, state-backed body to audit the accounts of banks and other financial institutions. It also recommended an independent body to appoint and remunerate auditors for large groups outside of finance, to help eradicate cosy ties between company directors and their accountants.” – FT

  • Foreign Office denies that state funds went to account criticising Labour – The Guardian

Wiggin joins cross-party alliances pushing for ban on dog meat

“MPs have heaped fresh pressure on Theresa May to ban the eating of dogs in Britain after the US made it illegal in a landmark vote. Congress passed legislation yesterday to outlaw the human consumption of dog and cat meat across America. The move was drawn up to send a powerful moral message to Far East countries to also end the sick practice, where it is popular. In August, Downing Street pledged to look closely at the US plan but the Government has so far failed to take any action. Members of Parliament from across the political divide last night demanded the UK follows suit… Tory MP Bill Wiggin threatened to enforce a ban himself by hijacking government laws or tabling his own. Mr Wiggin said: “Representing a nation of dog lovers, the UK Government could act now to protect our canine companions and join the US in bringing in a ban. I will be looking for opportunities in 2019 to put down legislation which will seek to bring in a ban on eating dogs to strengthen global condemnation of this practice”.” – The Sun

News in Brief:

  • Here’s how to solve the Irish border issue and make the Withdrawal Agreement acceptable – Shanker Singham, Brexit Central
  • Why May’s predicament is not as hopeless as it looks – Andrew Gimson, CapX
  • Tory pressure mounts on May to axe Karen Bradley – Katy Balls, The Spectator
  • A Tory leadership race would have been an undemocratic travesty – Ben Kelly, Reaction
  • How the smartphone economy ate itself – Peter Franklin, UnHerd

And finally… Ovation for Dimbleby as veteran broadcaster stands down

“David Dimbleby was given a standing ovation last night at the end of his final episode of Question Time after 25 years as host. The veteran broadcaster, 80, thanked the audience as they got to their feet, telling them they were among more than 100,000 people in the past quarter of a century to have exercised a “really important democratic right”. Fiona Bruce, 54, will take over in the new year to become the programme’s first female host… John Major was prime minister when Dimbleby took over from Peter Sissons in 1994. His tenure has covered the Iraq War, the 2008 financial crisis and, most recently, the EU referendum. “It has been exhilarating following the twists and turns of British politics,” Dimbleby said after it emerged he was to quit the show. Kenneth Clarke, the Conservative MP, recently described the broadcaster as “one of the first of a generation who did start challenging the politicians and the people who were on [the programme] … He made a great thing about audience reaction and giving them more space.”” – The Times

  • The applause was genuine, ‘DD’ will be missed – Nicky Morgan, Times Red Box