George Bush senior has died

“Former US President George HW Bush has died at the age of 94, his son George W Bush has announced. George Bush Sr, as he was known, passed away on Friday evening, a spokesperson said on behalf of the family. He was the 41st US president between 1989 and 1993, after serving two terms as vice-president to Ronald Reagan. Despite achieving popularity ratings of 90%, he was accused of neglecting domestic affairs and was defeated by Bill Clinton in the 1992 election. He was a World War Two aviator and Texan oil tycoon before entering politics in 1964 as a Republican. In April, he was admitted to a hospital intensive care unit with an infection, a week after the death of his wife Barbara.” – BBC

Brexit 1) Gyimah is the latest Minister to resign…

“Sam Gyimah, the universities and science minister, has resigned in protest at the Government’s “naive” Brexit plan, saying that any deal we strike with Brussels will be “EU first”. Becoming the seventh member of the Government to quit since Theresa May unveiled the draft Withdrawal Agreement, Mr Gyimah says the plan was “not in the British national interest” and that voting for it would “set ourselves up for failure” by surrendering “our voice, our vote and our veto”. The Conservative MP, who campaigned for Remain, says he will vote against the plan in Parliament and that Mrs May should not rule out holding a second referendum Announcing his departure in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, Mr Gyimah cites the EU’s continued wrangling over the Galileo satellite project as the deciding factor in his resignation.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The House of Commons renders the proposed television debate on Brexit utterly superfluous


Brexit 2) …he declares the EU “stack the deck against us time and time again”

“The Government is finally pulling out of frustrating negotiations over Galileo, the EU’s strategic satellite navigation system. The PM is right to call time on a negotiation that was stacked against us from the very beginning. But Galileo is only a foretaste of what’s to come under the Government’s Brexit deal. Having surrendered our voice, our vote and our veto, we will have to rely on the “best endeavours” of the EU to strike a final agreement that works in our national interest. As minister with the responsibility for space technology I have seen first-hand the EU stack the deck against us time and time again, even while the ink was drying on the transition deal. Galileo is a clarion call that it will be “EU first”, and to think otherwise – whether you are a leaver or remainer – is, at best, incredibly naive.” – Sam Gyimah, Daily Telegraph

  • He insists “we shouldn’t dismiss out of hand” a second referendum – Daily Mail

Brexit 3) Google bidding war between the Government and opponents of the deal

“The government is paying to promote Theresa May’s Brexit deal on Google – but is facing a battle with opponents of the deal using very similar headlines. The Cabinet Office says it will reveal how much is being spent to push the government’s message to the top of the rankings when people search “what is the Brexit deal?”. However, we may not find out until after MPs vote on the deal next month. And the government ad keeps being knocked off the top spot by a campaign group called “Britain’s Future”, which says May’s deal betrays Brexit.” – BBC

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Here we go again – the Government is spending taxpayers’ money promoting its EU deal online

Brexit 4) Gove confirms he will be backing the PM

“For all its flaws, I am doing everything I can to support the Prime Minister’s deal which secures, at long last, our exit from the EU. Is it perfect? Far from it. Does it deliver 100 per cent of what I wanted? No. But then we didn’t win 100 per cent of the vote on June 23 2016. In politics, as in life, you can’t always get everything that you want. But this deal delivers in crucial ways. It guarantees an end to freedom of movement and control over our borders…. In the areas for which I am responsible as Environment Secretary, we will take back control of both farming and fishing policy….Let’s not, at this critical hour, risk the chance to reclaim our democracy and renew faith in our country.” – Michael Gove, Daily Mail

>Today: Andrew Green on Comment: Immigration. Voters will spurn the end of free movement if it brings no reduction in numbers.

Brexit 4)  Anger at Conservative Party funds being used to pay for postcards backing the deal

“The Tories are sending tens of thousands of postcards to party members across the country this weekend encouraging them to write to their MPs in a bid to shore up support for Theresa May’s deal. The Prime Minister has been accused of resorting to “propaganda” after the Tories distributed “back the Brexit deal” postcards which constituents are being urged to fill in and send on to their MPs. Eurosceptic Tory MPs warned the plans will backfire with grassroots Tories refusing to distribute the leaflets, which have been sent to local associations. Priti Patel, a Tory MP and former cabinet minister, said: “This foolhardy attempt to put pressure upon our hardworking and dedicated grassroots volunteers and members, encouraging them to go above the heads of Leave backing MPs, will backfire.” – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 5) Go back to Brussels and negotiate a unilateral release from the backstop, Johnson urges May

“Boris Johnson has told Theresa May to go back to Brussels and find a way that Britain can unilaterally abandon guarantees over the Irish border as the price of Brexiteer support. The prime minister is facing hostility from dozens of her MPs over fears that her Brexit plan could leave Britain indefinitely tied to the “backstop”, the Northern Ireland insurance policy designed to prevent a hard border. The guarantee would keep Northern Ireland in the EU single market and customs union and tie Great Britain to many of the bloc’s rules, unless the EU gave consent for the UK to leave.” – The Times

Brexit 6) Eight cabinet ministers meeting secretly, to discuss “pivot” towards Norwegian option

“Eight Cabinet ministers have held secret talks about pivoting toa Norway-style “plan B” if the Prime Minister’s deal is voted down in the Commons, The Telegraph has learned. A cross-Brexit alliance of ministers – equivalent to almost a third of the Cabinet – has held discussions about joining the European Free Trade Association amid concern there is “zero chance” of the Prime Minister’s deal surviving. Last week four ministers – Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General and Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary – were briefed on the plans. Amber Rudd, the Work and Pensions Secretary, Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, David Gauke, the Justice Secretary, have also privately expressed support for Norway.” – Daily Telegraph

Brexit 7) Barclay is “frustrated” at delays over “no deal” planning

“Those inside the machine estimate that it would take four months of intense preparations to get this country into a place where it could make no deal manageable. So, by waiting until after the meaningful vote, the Government is denying itself valuable time. I am told that new Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay, who will update Cabinet on no-deal preparedness on Tuesday, is frustrated at the foot- dragging by No 10. A growing number of other ministers share this concern.” – James Forsyth, The Sun

Brexit 8) Labour agree to back motion opposing “No Deal”

“Labour are backing a cross-party bid to ensure the UK cannot leave the EU without a deal. Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the amendment to 11 December’s Commons vote on the PM’s Brexit deal had his “full support”. If MPs back the amendment it will not be binding but Theresa May would find it difficult to ignore. And it could put Parliament in the driving seat if, as expected, MPs vote down the PM’s Brexit deal. Mrs May has repeatedly warned MPs that the only alternative to her Brexit deal is quitting the EU without a deal on 29 March.” – BBC

Brexit 9) Moore: The PM is “paralysed by fear”

“It is true that one of the most irresponsible actions of this Government is not to have made full preparations for the long-foreseeable, precisely datable, and always seriously likely possibility of no deal. We often speak of panic reactions: this is an example of a panic non-reaction, the paralysis of fear. But I cannot see how Mrs May’s fear psychology can inspire her MPs to support her. She is saying, in effect, “I have caused such a frightening situation by not being ready for any alternative on 29 March that you must back my deal. I’ve failed you. Help me!” A growing number of Tory MPs recognises that the real situation is not nearly so frightening, but our nation’s lack of leadership is.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Brexit 10) Parris: Tory backers of a second referendum should keep quiet, for now

“For a timid Tory MP (and most parliamentarians are not distinguished by their courage) it’s the difference between putting a spanner in the works and picking up the pieces. This weekend they would look like wreckers. After May’s deal falls they could sound like healers. I’m sufficiently confident of this to advise those who seek a fresh referendum not to try testing this with an amendment to be voted on before the House gives its verdict on the deal itself. Such a proposal is much more likely to be thrown out before the deal’s fate is decided than after. Any test of parliament’s attitude to another referendum, taken now, would almost certainly fail to attract sufficient support — and thereafter the government could claim parliament had rejected the idea.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

  • We should be celebrating our freedom from the clutches of the European Union – Leader, The Sun
  • The decision to Leave has been sabotaged – Frederick Forsyth, Daily Express

Council Tax precepts for policing to increase

“Council tax is set to rise as part of a £700 million police funding boost to be announced within weeks. The cash injection comes after years of warnings from forces about an increase in violent crime and reductions in officer numbers across the country. Bills could go up by as much as £24 a year for each household in England and Wales. The move was agreed after it emerged that Theresa May was facing a Tory rebellion over police funding, with MPs demanding action over violent crime. The dispute prompted weeks of fraught negotiations between Philip Hammond, the chancellor, and Sajid Javid, the home secretary, with the spectre of up to 80 Tory MPs rebelling in a vote in the new year.” – The Times

Hancock accused of breaking Ministerial Code, by endorsing a smartphone app

“Matt Hancock has been accused of breaking the ministerial code after appearing to endorse a smartphone app. Labour MP Justin Madders is demanding an investigation after the health secretary backed the use of “GP at Hand” in an Evening Standard interview. Mr Hancock – who has his own smartphone app – has spoken positively about the “GP at Hand” app in the past. But he was not aware his most recent comments would appear in a supplement sponsored by the app’s owner. An Evening Standard spokesman said: “It is not normal practice for us to discuss branding or presentation of articles with interviewees so Mr Hancock would not have been made aware of these.” The article, the spokesman added, was not an an advertorial, meaning the newspaper had full editorial control.” – BBC

Ministers “annoyed” with Truss over her jokes

“Liz Truss has once more irritated colleagues after making jokes at their expense before pitching for the job of chancellor. Ms Truss, the chief secretary to the Treasury, who in June accused fellow cabinet ministers of making “macho” demands for public spending and interfering in people’s day-to-day lives, told a newspaper that she would love Philip Hammond’s job. She had earlier made a number of jokes at an awards ceremony at the expense of cabinet colleagues. One targeted the supposed ambition of Matt Hancock, the health secretary, to become chancellor. Ms Truss joked that despite her efforts “Matt Hancock’s car keeps pitching up outside 11 Downing Street”. On the ambitions of Sajid Javid, the home secretary, who recently took her seat in the Commons during a debate, she told The Spectator magazine’s parliamentary awards: “I’m glad he and his sharp buttocks haven’t turned up tonight, at least I get a seat at the table.”..A cabinet source said that she had once more annoyed ministers, as she had with her speech this summer.” – The Times

Defeat for Hammond as landlords to be limited to five week deposit

“Landlords will only be able to charge renters a maximum of five weeks’ rent for deposits under new laws to be unveiled by ministers. Philip Hammond, who earns more than £10,000 a year in rental income as a landlord himself, had objected to the move.But Sun columnist James Forsyth today reveals that Housing Secretary James Brokenshire has won a Cabinet battle to overrule the Chancellor to implement the new cap. The move will reduce the maximum number of weeks’ rent a landlord can charge tenants from six weeks to five.” – The Sun

Labour MP accused of misleading the public, over her son’s arrest

“One of Jeremy Corbyn’s senior frontbenchers was accused last night of misleading the public over her knowledge of her son’s conviction for drug offences. Kate Osamor, 50, the shadow international development secretary, has continued to employ her son in her parliamentary office despite his guilty pleas in September. The Labour Party had previously claimed that she knew nothing about her son’s case until after he was given a community sentence on October 19. It can be disclosed that she was not only aware of the case but had written to the trial judge asking for leniency for Ishmael Osamor, 29, and stressing his remorse. He was caught with drugs worth £2,500 at the Bestival music festival in Dorset last year.” – The Times

May shakes hands with Saudi Prince

“The prime minister shook hands with Mohammed bin Salman last night less than two months after the murder of a journalist by a Saudi Arabian hit squad. Theresa May’s aides had earlier refused to say whether she would ask the crown prince if he was directly involved in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. After last night’s meeting Downing Street released a picture of a stern-faced prime minister not looking at the prince. The Saudis released footage of Mrs May greeting him, apparently cordially, with a handshake. In reference to Khashoggi’s murder, Downing Street issued a statement saying that Mrs May had told the prince that Saudi Arabia needed “to build confidence that such a deplorable incident could not happen again”.” – The Times

Oborne: Overseas Aid spending is still out of control

“A few months ago, I was surprised to get a message from the office of the International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt….I then warned Ms Mordaunt that I believed the foreign aid budget was out of control. I pointed to a number of scandals. They included the disgraceful episode when the Marxist government of Ethiopia was given millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money to put Communist propaganda in school textbooks…I then counselled Ms Mordaunt that she should learn from what had happened to her predecessors, Priti Patel, Justine Greening and Andrew Mitchell. They had all become enthusiastic drivers of the foreign aid gravy train — pouring billions into projects abroad at a time of austerity, when Britain was borrowing huge sums and our elderly care system teetered on the brink of collapse through lack of funds.” – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail

News in brief

  • What Gyimah’s Brexit resignation means for May – Katy Balls, The Spectator
  • New polling shows the public kicking back against Theresa May’s Brexit deal – Brian Monteith, Brexit Central
  • The real reason May wants a TV debate with Corbyn? To remind Tory MPs who their enemy is – Andrew Grice, Independent
  • What would happen if Britain held a second EU referendum? – Matt Singh, CapX
  •  Gyimah’s resignation means that a second referendum could well happen – Stephen Bush, New Statesman