May: A second referendum would ‘further divide our country’

‘Theresa May will try to silence calls for a second referendum on Europe today, with Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, among the big hitters certain to back her. In some of her strongest language to date, the prime minister will tell MPs that another plebiscite would break faith with the British people and do “irreparable damage to the integrity our politics”. This newspaper revealed on Saturday that five cabinet ministers have been discussing endorsing a second referendum if all other options to avoid leaving the European Union on March 29 without a deal come to nothing… In remarks that will highlight Mrs May’s great irritation at such an approach, the prime minister is expected to tell the Commons that another vote “would say to millions who trusted in democracy that our democracy does not deliver; it would be likely to leave us no further forward than the last vote, and would further divide our country at the very moment that we should be working to unite it.” The Scottish Tories are set to lead the charge against a referendum re-run. They have been telling the SNP that it cannot keep repeating the independence referendum until it gets the result it wants and fear that asking the country about Brexit again would undermine their case.’ – The Times

>Today: Nicky Morgan’s column: I won’t support a second referendum – even if the Government does. Here’s why.


Cabinet 1) Hancock will urge the Cabinet to activate No Deal plans

‘Aides of Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed he would call on colleagues on Tuesday to dramatically accelerate No Deal planning given the deadlock over the PM’s Brexit deal. The Sun can reveal he ‘activated’ the NHS’ own plans last week – amid spiralling fears key medicines could be caught up in chaos at the border. One ally said: “He doesn’t want no deal but thinks it’s essential that we prepare for it as a possible outcome.”’ – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: May must decide at tomorrow’s Cabinet to put no deal planning fully into effect

Cabinet 2) Gauke says he would quit rather than accept No Deal

‘In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Gauke warned that the pursuit of this outcome was not a decision the prime minister “can responsibly take” given the economic carnage that would ensue. The Europhile minister also warned that should parliament reject Mrs May’s compromise Brexit deal, in a vote earmarked for January, it would fuel populism and political parties offering “simplistic solutions”. The chances of the UK crashing out of the EU are rising, with Mrs May struggling to make progress at a European leaders’ summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday about potential changes to her withdrawal agreement that might persuade sceptical MPs to vote in favour of the deal. Asked if he could remain in the cabinet in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Mr Gauke said: “I couldn’t support a conscious decision to crash out at the end of March and I don’t think there are many who could.”’ – FT

>Today: Profile: David Lidington – the Tory loyalist diverging from his leader over Brexit. And now tipped as her successor.

Cabinet 3) Cox allegedly told colleagues the Prime Minister should be ‘removed’  in ‘quarter one’ of 2019

‘The Attorney General allegedly told Cabinet ministers that Theresa May must be “removed” from office after Brexit so others can “take over” and renegotiate her deal, The Telegraph has learned. During a conference call with Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid and Michael Gove, Geoffrey Cox is said to have told ministers that they should “swallow” the Prime Minister’s deal for now. Three sources told The Telegraph that he then allegedly suggested during the weekend call that the Prime Minister “would need to be removed for quarter one [April of next year] so we can take over the next stage”. It was claimed that Mr Cox has made similar comments on more than one occasion. A spokesman for Mr Cox said: “The Attorney General firmly denies any suggestion that he called for the PM to be removed. ‎This is completely untrue.”‘ – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: WATCH: What is Fox’s medical verdict on May’s deal? “It’s recovering.”

No cap on highly-skilled migrants, as the Home Office softens limits on low-skilled workers

‘Sajid Javid, the home secretary, will announce that there will be no cap on highly skilled migrants from anywhere in the world. It will be part of an approach which he says will be “based on skills, not where people come from”, marking an end to EU freedom of movement. The scheme will also open the door to some low-skilled migrants from countries with no track record of abusing immigration rules. They will get short-term visas of up to a year. Once their time expires, they must leave and will be unable to return for up to a year. The Migration Advisory Committee suggested in September that there should be no route at all for low-skilled migrants, a proposal greeted with horror by business. Ministers subsequently agreed to soften the plan, with contentious discussions inside government about how to set these restrictions. The Times understands that there is also last-minute wrangling between the Home Office and the Treasury over whether so-called “medium-skilled” migrants will have to show they can earn £30,000 to enter. It is understood that the figure may no longer appear in the immigration white paper.’ – The Times

  • Councils object to unequal distribution of refugees – The Times
  • Macron’s immigration plan threatens to split his party – The Times
  • His slogans have never been matched by action – The Times Leader
  • Yellow vests continue to protest – Daily Mail
  • Thousands march in Brussels against UN migration treaty – The Times
  • Violence breaks out – Daily Mail
  • Frankfurt police investigated on suspicion of forming a neo-Nazi cell – Daily Telegraph

DUP MP calls for a return to direct rule

‘Emma Little-Pengelly, MP for Belfast South, said that it was inappropriate for civil servants to be making “life or death decisions” instead of ministers. Her husband is Richard Pengelly, the most senior civil servant in Northern Ireland’s Department of Health. Mrs Little-Pengelly told Piennar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday: “We have said publicly . . . that we need the decision-making and democratic accountability in Northern Ireland. It’s deeply disappointing we don’t have a Northern Irish assembly there and we must work to continue that happening. “In the absence of that it’s absolutely unacceptable that we have senior civil servants who are effectively making decisions. There is a significant issue here about democratic deficit and democratic accountability. We’ve urged the government to step in. We don’t desire direct rule, of course not, we’re a party of devolution. But in the absence of getting those institutions up and going in Northern Ireland we believe there should be ministerial decision-making from Westminster.”’ – The Times

>Today: Alan O’Kelly and Hugh Byrne on Comment: It’s time for a Conservative Friends of Ireland group

Clark plans to raise tribunal fines for firms that mistreat workers

‘Penalties on firms found guilty of mistreating staff are to rocket under the biggest package of employment reforms for a generation. Business Secretary Greg Clark will today reveal that companies found to have shown “malice, spite, or gross oversight” to employees will face tribunal fines of £20,000 – up from £5,000. And the Government is also closing a loophole that allows agency workers to be employed on cheaper rates than permanent staff. Workers in the “gig economy” will also be entitled to holiday and sick pay. The measures follow the Matthew Taylor review in workers right. Mr Taylor last night told The Sun: “I’m 58 and this is the first time in my life a Conservative government has acted to help vulnerable workers.”’ – The Sun

  • Gig economy policies are May’s shot at a legacy beyond Brexit – FT
  • Zero hours contracts will still be allowed – The Guardian
  • Bosses will have robots soon – John Harris, The Guardian
  • The Sun launches a campaign to address flaws in Universal Credit
  • Rudd should fix the problems – The Sun Says
  • Teachers find pupils badly clothed and hungry – The Guardian
  • Morgan warns thousands of shops face ‘last Christmas’ without rates reform – The Sun
  • Average house price falls £10,000 in two months – Daily Mail
  • Markets fear rise in inflation – FT
  • Concerns about the global financial system – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph

HS2 ‘robbed’ property owners along its route to try to massage costs down

‘Bosses at HS2 have been accused of deliberately undervaluing homes and land needed for the £56 billion line in an attempt to cut costs. Businesses and householders on the route of the 250mph line claimed that they had been “robbed” by HS2 Ltd, the government-owned company responsible for delivering the scheme. One business owner said that he had lost hundreds of thousands of pounds after being forced to relocate without being given appropriate compensation. The comments will add to concerns over HS2’s costs amid warnings that the scheme risks spiralling billions of pounds over budget… Doug Thornton, the company’s former land and property director, told the programme: “There was a gap of almost 100 per cent in terms of the numbers, wrong numbers of properties that the organisation had not budgeted for.” A report from the National Audit Office (NAO) in September said that the cost of buying land to make way for phase one of the line between London and Birmingham had tripled in four years.’ – The Times

  • Tube drivers’ pay packets rise above £100,000, even though much of the job is now automated – The Times

‘Lives at risk’ from delays in getting a GP appointment

‘Patients face a “deadly” postcode lottery to see a GP, with one in five waiting three weeks or more in some areas. That compares to others where one in 50 had a similar wait. Campaigners warn long delays to see a doctor are costing lives. A Sun investigation found 20 per cent waited at least 21 days to see a GP or nurse in North Norfolk. Next worst was West Norfolk with 18 per cent, South West Lincs on 17 per cent and several on 16 per cent, including the Isle of Wight and Swindon. Meanwhile, two per cent waited that long in Dartford, Gravesham & Swanley, Kent, NHS Digital figures say. Nationally, three million sick Brits waited at least 21 days in October. Medical leaders claim the figure includes those needing regular appointments for ongoing conditions. Joyce Robins from Patient Concern said: “The delays put lives at risk.”’ – The Sun

  • How we deliver health services evidently needs a rethink – The Sun Says
  • Tackling loneliness can improve health and reduce costs – FT
  • The NHS could raise £7 billion by exporting its expertise – Layla McCay, The Times
  • The service’s volunteer army is planned to double – Daily Mail
  • Liver disease is on the rise – Daily Telegraph
  • Private urgent care clinics tempt doctors away from A&E – Daily Mail
  • NHS guidance airbrushes fathers out of the picture, think tank warns – Daily Telegraph

Thousands protest against Orban

‘About 10,000 people have rallied in Hungary’s capital Budapest against new labour laws, which have been labelled “slave” legislation by opponents. The crowds marched towards parliament and the state TV headquarters, in what was the fourth and largest protest since the laws were passed last week. Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters near the TV station. New rules mean companies can demand up to 400 hours of overtime a year and delay payment for it for three years. The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban says the labour reform will benefit workers as well as companies who need to fill a labour shortage.’ – BBC News

  • Labour should be wary of aiding Putin’s propaganda – Edward Lucas, The Times
  • The Kremlin wants to ‘lead and direct’ rap music, in Soviet-style cultural clampdown – Daily Mail

Boys can have periods, schoolchildren in Brighton will be taught

‘School children will be taught that “all genders” can have periods in new sex education lessons, in a victory for transgender rights campaigners. The advice to teachers was approved by Brighton & Hove City Council as they try to tackle stigma around menstruation. The new advice follows a council report which said: “Trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods”, adding that “menstruation must be inclusive of all genders”. Bins used for menstruation products will be provided in all toilets for children, according to the report.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • Gender-neutral pronoun ‘ze’ to be allowed in Scrabble – Daily Mail

News in Brief