Remainers could threaten Government’s tax powers to force second referendum…

“Supporters of a second Brexit referendum could curtail the government’s power to collect taxes unless Theresa May bows to their demand. The proposal appears in a report on ways to force another vote by the Best for Britain campaign group. The report is backed by Dominic Grieve, the leading pro-EU Conservative, and includes advice from David Howarth, a professor of law at Cambridge. Under present laws, if Mrs May’s deal is not approved by parliament before March 29 the UK will leave the EU without any deal. One of the four options proposed in the report is to force the government to replace no deal as its default option with a referendum. To do so MPs would try to amend the Finance Bill when it returns to the Commons on January 8. The government needs this bill to pass to authorise the collection of taxes. Under the plans, pro-EU MPs would table an amendment “making future taxation conditional on holding a referendum (with an option to remain)”. If there were no majority for that, MPs would “unite those who want a [referendum] with those who want to rule out no deal” and make taxation conditional on either a deal being approved or a referendum held. The report acknowledges that the government could “tough the situation out” by bringing an emergency budget in the five days between the UK leaving the EU and the end of the tax year.” – The Times

  • Warning that EU plans ‘VAT bombshell’ for small firms – Daily Telegraph
  • Government will fight plans to abolish daylight savings – The Sun
  • Ministers accused of ‘abusing powers’ to hide Brexit truths – The Times
  • ‘No deal’ could put public at risk, warns Met chief – Daily Telegraph


  • Germans sound alarm bells over cost of no-deal to the EU – The Sun
  • Fury over Brussels’ ‘favouritism’ for France – Daily Express
  • UK GDP to top France’s in the 2020s, even without Scotland – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: A second referendum remains deeply unpopular among Conservative Party members

…as Labour indicates opposition to ‘indicative votes’

“Labour is opposed to the idea of MPs having “indicative votes” on options to try to resolve the current parliamentary impasse over Brexit, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said. Senior cabinet ministers including business secretary Greg Clark and trade secretary Liam Fox have proposed giving MPs indicative votes on various Brexit options ranging from a no-deal exit to a second referendum if parliament rejects Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement. Prime minister Theresa May has so far dismissed the idea, as she tries to win round Eurosceptic Conservative MPs strongly opposed to the Brexit deal before a crunch Commons vote next month. But some of Mrs May’s allies believe she could ultimately endorse giving MPs the opportunity to express their views on alternative Brexit outcomes if she suffers defeat on her withdrawal agreement in the Commons. Mr McDonnell told the Financial Times that indicative votes would be unlikely to achieve a breakthrough in the parliamentary gridlock, adding that they appeared to be a stalling mechanism that would push Britain ever closer to the Brexit date of March 29 without an exit deal.” – FT

  • Labour leader demands that Parliament is recalled early for ‘meaningful vote’ – Daily Mail
  • MPs demand vote on every single Brexit option – Daily Express

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Our survey. Precious little sign that the Prime Minister’s campaign to win Tories over to her deal is working

Fraser Nelson: ‘Despite Brexit’, Britain has never been a better place to live

“There is no such thing as a newspaper that only prints good news, nor would there be much demand for one. We read the press to understand the world’s problems and Brexit has brought plenty of them – political ones, at least. But beyond Westminster, how did things go in 2018? The answer is: surprisingly well. It will sound preposterous, but we might well have just had the best year in British history. And next year might be better still. A couple of years ago, I set up an email alert that sends me every news article containing the words “despite Brexit”. At first, I did this for my own amusement: the headlines do tend to be quite (unintentionally) funny. But then I noticed they painted a picture of an extraordinary country. One where immigrants are being welcomed and settled, with investment pouring in and companies reaching out. The kind of place that anyone would be pleased to live in. And the strangest thing about these stories is that they all appear to be true. Let’s start with the health of British business.“Somewhat surprisingly,” one Irish newspaper reported last week, the UK “has been ranked the best country in the world in which to do business for the second year in a row, despite Brexit.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Life’s pretty good, just look at the numbers – Philip Collins, The Times
  • I used to think Brexit would revitalise politics… I was wrong – Katy Balls, The Guardian
  • Leaving the EU proving harder than May thought – Chris Giles, FT

Ministers accused of leaving Britain a ‘soft touch’ for cross-channel migrants

“Ministers have been accused of allowing the UK to appear to be a “soft touch” for migrants crossing the Channel because they are so distracted by Brexit that they are failing to ensure that the border is properly policed. A total of 82 migrants have been detained since Christmas Day after attempting to reach Britain by boat. Nine people, including three children, were intercepted yesterday on a beach in Sandgate, Kent, after they were spotted in a 14ft long inflatable vessel. Charities said that it was a matter of time before the crossings – described by Caroline Nokes, the immigration minister, as “deeply concerning” – resulted in fatalities. It was revealed last night that only one cutter was patrolling Britain’s coastline, supported by two smaller patrol boats. Conservative MPs said that Sajid Javid’s Home Office was failing to get a grip on the problem because officials were too distracted by Brexit and the Windrush scandal. Tim Loughton, the senior Tory MP on the Commons home affairs committee, said that the Home Office’s “resources and attention” had been “stretched in many different directions” by Brexit and the treatment of the Windrush generation of migrants, meaning that “very little additional resource has gone into those people who are not coming here legitimately”.” – The Times

  • Return boat migrants or risk humanitarian crisis, warns ex-Home Office chief – Daily Telegraph


  • Strong border control is a moral obligation – Daily Telegraph
  • The Government’s response is inadequate – The Times

>Today: Benedict Rogers in Comment: Hunt’s review of British policy on the persecution of Christians is crucial and courageous

Gauke gives prisoners landlines in bid to cut recidivism

“Prisoners in 50 jails are to get landline phones in their cells in a £10m scheme by the Ministry of Justice to reduce re-offending by maintaining contacts with their families. All calls on the in-cell phones will be recorded and will only be permitted to a small number of pre-approved numbers in a move that the Ministry of Justice also sees as combating illegal use of mobile phones. Twenty jails have already introduced the phones in cells but in the remainder inmates either have to risk penalties by using mobiles illegally or share busy communal phones on prison landings… The Ministry says the role of family in rehabilitation is underlined by research which found prisoners who received family visits were 39 per cent less likely to reoffend. David Gauke, the Justice Secretary said: “At this time of year more than any other we’re reminded of the importance of family, and there can be few groups that this applies to more than prisoners. In-cell telephones provide a crucial means of allowing prisoners to build and maintain family relationships, something we know is fundamental to their rehabilitation. Introducing them to more prisons is a recognition of the contribution I believe in-cell telephones make to turning prisons into places of decency where offenders have a real chance to transform their lives.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Critics blast ‘creature comforts for criminals’ – Daily Mail

…as Evans attacks legal aid cuts

“The former Commons deputy speaker Nigel Evans, who spent his life savings defending himself against false accusations of rape and sexual abuse, has said he would now vote against the legal aid cuts brought in by the Conservative-led coalition. His call to restore funding to its pre-2012 level comes as other prominent Conservative MPs including Bob Neill, the chair of the Commons justice select committee, say the savings were excessive and may have displaced costs on to other departments. Neill, a barrister, has said the original impulse may have been to cut down “on some instances of needless expenditure” but the pendulum has swung too far. “The evidence is pretty compelling that changes are needed … We cannot expect people who often have multiple problems in their lives necessarily to be able to resolve such things on their own,” he said. Evans, the Tory MP for the Ribble Valley in Lancashire, spent about £130,000 in 2014 fighting charges that he raped a university student and sexually assaulted six other men over a 10-year period. He supported the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (Laspo) when it was passed by parliament in 2012, but says his experience since then has proved to him the act was wrong and that the legal system needs an injection of cash.” – The Guardian

Corbyn makes list of global ‘antisemitism incidents’

“Jeremy Corbyn has been named in an annual list of the top ten antisemitic incidents around the world. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a human rights organisation which researches the Holocaust, placed Mr Corbyn fourth in the list. The Labour leader was dogged by accusations of antisemitism for much of the summer after The Times’s revelation that he had hosted an event comparing Israel to the Nazis. This was followed by claims that he had been present as a wreath was laid for Palestinians involved in the Black September terrorist group. The centre, which is based in Los Angeles, wrote: “Allegations of antisemitism on the part of key members and officials of the UK’s Labour Party officials have piled up in recent years, injecting the world’s oldest hatred into the mainstream of society. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn stands directly responsible. “In July Britain’s three leading Jewish newspapers published a joint article warning of ‘the existential threat to Jewish life in this country that would be posed by a Corbyn government’. A poll conducted at the end of the summer concluded that 40 per cent of the Jewish community would consider leaving the UK if Labour took the election.”” – The Times

  • Labour leader ‘too upset’ to address concerns, claims Thornberry – Daily Mail

News in Brief:

  • What does the British public think about capitalism? – Matt Singh, CapX
  • May is blocking crucial thinking on immigration – Ananya Chowdhury, 1828
  • Where did it all go wrong for Macron? – Gavin Mortimer, The Spectator
  • The truth about ‘liberal’ London – Paul Embery, UnHerd

And finally… archives cast light on Thatcher’s bid to shake ‘anti-football’ image

“By battling their way to the semi-finals of the Italia 90 World Cup before (inevitably) losing to Germany on penalties, England’s footballers made their nation, and their prime minister proud. And – newly released Cabinet papers reveal – what made Margaret Thatcher most proud was that unlike players from other nations, the gentleman footballers of England never resorted to the dastardly foreign practice of diving. The documents show that as Mrs Thatcher prepared to welcome some of the World Cup squad for tea and sandwiches at No 10, she planned to tell them: “We all noticed that when an England player was brought down, unlike other teams, our players did not immediately seek the Oscar for best actor for impersonating the death scene from Richard III. “You got on calmly with the game and always accepted the referee’s decision without demur.”… The Cabinet papers, which can now be viewed at the National Archives at Kew, also show how Downing Street was keen to use the reception to improve the image of a prime minister who was not known for her love of football, or its fans. A written briefing ahead of the event made clear that her chief press secretary, Bernard Ingham, wanted to use the Downing Street tea to “help promote the image that you are not anti-football (but simply anti-hooliganism)”.” – The Independent

  • Major was urged to pivot to a ‘libertarian agenda’ – FT
  • Kinnock demanded more impressive official car – Daily Mail