May hopes to carry on until 2021 if deal passes…

“Theresa May’s allies are plotting to keep her in Downing Street for at least another two years amid growing confidence that she will get her Brexit deal through parliament. Her supporters in cabinet have been buoyed by what they believe to be a substantial shift in political arithmetic in the Commons. This follows secret talks between May’s chief Brexit negotiator Ollie Robbins and his European counterparts last week. Plans being floated by a prominent cabinet minister would see May hang on to power until the autumn of 2021 when she would hand over the keys of No 10 to a new Conservative leader. The new prime minister would then have about nine months to prepare their team before the next general election, due in May 2022. The party’s internal politics have become so febrile that only a week ago two of May’s most senior colleagues were preparing for a second referendum behind her back. Now her allies report a “significant improvement” in the number of MPs who are prepared to support her proposed withdrawal agreement.” – Sunday Times

  • MPs cannot prevent ‘no deal’ without backing the Withdrawal Agreement, warns Leadsom – Sunday Telegraph
  • Ministers claim May’s plan for three-year spending review is a ‘fantasy’ – The Observer


  • Williamson caught plotting how to succeed May – Sunday Times
  • 2019 election an ‘under-reported likelihood’, claims Osborne – The Observer


  • Of all the names we call Hunt, let ‘Prime Minister’ not be one – Nick Cohen, The Observer

>Today: Line Kristensen in Comment: Why you should be getting even more Conservative Party emails than you already do

…as Lidington oversees exercises for ‘no deal’ Brexit…

“Ministers are to stage emergency exercises at the border next month to see if ports and airports could cope with a no-deal Brexit. The plans, which will test Border Force computer systems and staff, could see people with fake passports or lorries of sheep used to check preparations. “We’ll be testing the border from end to end,” a cabinet minister said. Ministers were informed of the plans at a no-deal Brexit cabinet meeting last week, when David Lidington, Theresa May’s deputy, brokered a compromise on preparations for leaving the EU. At his suggestion, ministers agreed that no-deal planning will be the “principal operational focus” of the government for the foreseeable future – with other manifesto commitments ditched. Lidington’s intervention provided a middle ground between ministers who wanted no-deal planning to be the “central planning assumption” of the government and remainers who only want contingency planning as a last resort. The whole process of no deal has been shrouded in mystery, with even the cabinet divided over whether it is a bluff or a genuine effort to prepare for Britain to walk away.” – Sunday Times

  • Gauke hints again that he might quit over no-deal departure – Sunday Express
  • Hammond and Osborne branded Brexit ‘wreckers’ – Sun on Sunday
  • DUP slate Varadkar for border ‘con trick’ – Sunday Express


  • NHS told to review operations and holidays as deadline looms – Sunday Times
  • Health Service sets up trouble-shooting deam to deal with Brexit disruption – The Observer
  • Suppliers ‘struggle to stockpile life-saving drugs’ – Sunday Times


  • Don’t let Hammond the Grinch scheme to keep us in the EU – Iain Duncan Smith, Sun on Sunday

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: “For mighty dread had seized their troubled mind”

…and Corbyn affirms he would push on with EU withdrawal if he won a snap election

“Jeremy Corbyn would push ahead with Brexit if he won a snap general election next year, he said in an interview published today – a stance which is likely to anger the confused ranks of Labour MPs and party supporters who are demanding a second referendum. The opposition leader said he if he became Prime Minister he would head to Brussels to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s divorce deal from the European Union to secure a better outcome for the country.Mr Corbyn, a socialist who has in the past made a string of anti-EU comments and bashed the bloc for supporting austerity, has been reluctant to throw his weight behind a campaign for a People’s Vote, backed by a sizeable chunk of his party. “You’d have to go back and negotiate, and see what the timetable would be,” Mr Corbyn told the Guardian when asked what he would do if he won an election in the new year. Critics have accused Mr Corbyn of conducting a lacklustre Remain campaign in the run up to the 2016 referendum, with some even calling for his resignation, and have argued that he is happy to go along with Theresa May’s Brexit policy as long as the UK departs the EU.” – Sunday Express

  • Labour leader faces furious backlash over EU remarks – The Observer
  • British space industry tries to chart post-Brexit course – FT
  • Bookings take off as EU gives guarantee on holiday flights – Sunday Times


  • Corbyn won’t be forgiven for conniving in a right-wing Brexit – Will Hutton, The Observer

Daniel Hannan: Blame Remainers, but no-deal might be the best Brexit now

If Britain leaves the EU with no deal, we shall have Gina Miller to thank. It was her court case that gave Parliament the decisive say over the disengagement. She hoped that MPs would use it to block Brexit. Instead, they are blocking Theresa May’s withdrawal terms, thus making it likelier that Britain leaves without an agreement. Never underestimate the law of unintended consequences. I don’t want to single out Ms Miller. A number of Remain-supporting politicians have made a similar miscalculation. By loudly and pompously declaring that they “won’t allow” a no-deal outcome, they have encouraged Brussels to dig in, and so, paradoxically, made a no-deal outcome more probable… Look at it from the point of view of an EU negotiator. If the British won’t walk away then, by definition, they have only two options – either to drop Brexit or to sign whatever terms Brussels puts before them. The EU can hardly be blamed, in the circumstances, for hardening its line. Repeatedly assured that Parliament would force British negotiators back to the table, it made increasingly aggressive demands: a massive financial payment, a spell of non-voting membership, the regulatory annexation of Northern Ireland, control of UK trade policy even after Brexit, a continuing role for Euro-judges – and all without any promise of a trade deal in return.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • A calamitous Brexit would be the Tories’ equivalent of the Winter of Discontent – Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer
  • Hard-line Remainers’ elite attempt to subvert democracy itself – Robert Tombs, Sunday Telegraph
  • They say the bullet won’t be fired, but once the safety catch is off… – Adam Boulton, Sunday Times
  • It’s time to tackle Brexit and show confidence in the future – Sir Bernard Jenkin, Sunday Telegraph
  • Backstop offers May a strategic advantage – Matthew O’Toole, FT
  • I’ll do anything to stop the Tories pursuing no-deal Brexit, even resigning the whip – Nick Boles, Sunday Telegraph
  • Disorderly Brexit will drive business to desperate measures – Adam Marshall, The Observer

Hinds announces an extra £12 million for adopted children

“An extra £12m for adopted children to have therapy will be announced by Damian Hinds, the education secretary, today as he puts emotional wellbeing, rather than just academic achievement, at the heart of his department’s mission. Hinds, who has three children under eight, said he felt a personal responsibility to ensure that those who had been adopted, or were living in care, had the same “life-developing, character-building, resilience-strengthening opportunities as other children”. The extra £12m, for the adoption support fund, is to encourage parents of adopted children, and people thinking about adopting, “to know there is specialist support in place to help families as they adjust to their new lives”. Hinds, who has urged primary pupils to climb trees and explore caves to build character, wants to ensure that emotional wellbeing is put on a par with academic results by schools, including for children who have had a traumatic start to life. Under plans unveiled in October, schools will be asked to monitor happiness and mental health to counter rising anxiety among the young. “It’s not an either/or between a well-rounded education and academic performance,” Hinds said.” – Sunday Times

>Yesterday: Hillary Su in Comment: From childhood in communist China to Tory candidacy in London. Why I am a Conservative.

Ministers ‘scramble’ to protect airports from copycat drone attacks

“Ministers were scrambling to protect Britain against potential “copy-cats” drone attacks amid fears the chaos at Gatwick could be replicated at other transport hubs across the country. Whitehall sources said the authorities were “very concerned” about attempts to repeat the paralysis at Britain’s second busiest airport which saw 140,000 passengers delayed and were taking urgent steps to safeguard others against the threat. Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, who is among ministers liaising with authorities and airport chiefs, told The Sunday Telegraph: “The Armed Forces stand ready to assist the civilian authorities whenever they are required.” Senior ministers are due to meet at Number 10 Downing Street tomorrow, Christmas Eve, to discuss their response to the threat. On Friday night police arrested a local drone enthusiast on suspicion of carrying out the attack… Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Richard Walton, who was Scotland Yard’s head of counter-terrorism until 2016, says: “Unfortunately we are now likely to see copy-cat incidents off the back of this.And the ease with which a major UK aviation hub was brought to a standstill will not have escaped the attention of terrorist groups who will be wondering why they have not tried using drones before.”” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Police to be issued net-throwing bazookas – Sunday Times


  • It’s a question of when, not if, drones are used by terrorists – Richard Walton, Sunday Telegraph

Leadsom calls for MPs being investigated over expenses to be named

When, earlier this year, MPs voted to give themselves anonymity during investigations for financial impropriety, the Commons faced an almighty stink. Such was the level of concern about the move, even Kathryn Stone, the watchdog who polices the MPs’ code of conduct, spoke out publicly to warn that the ban on her publishing the names of those facing inquiries was seen as a “cover-up” and a retrograde step. Today, Andrea Leadsom, the cabinet minister who led the cross-party panel responsible for the change, suggests that the policy could now be overturned following the row. The vote, in July, imposed a ban on Mrs Stone publishing the names of MPs being investigated under the existing code of conduct, apparently in order to ensure the system was consistent with a new, separate complaints procedure for Commons staff raising the alarm about bullying or harassment. The use of anonymity under the new system was needed, the panel had argued, to prevent victims from being easily identified, for example in the case of a researcher who complained about their employer. Its argument for extending the new ban to investigations under the existing system appeared somewhat less compelling. To do otherwise, it was felt, would “muddy the waters”.” – Sunday Telegraph

Labour fixers try to head off ‘stupid woman’ row with claim next leader will be (hard-left) female

“Labour fixers today made a cynical attempt to try and deflect from Jeremy Corbyn’s “stupid woman” misogyny allegations by suggesting a female MP member of the hard left Momentum group as the veteran left-winger’s successor. Mr Corbyn was savaged as a sexist dinosaur after he mouthed the words “stupid woman” following a parliamentary run-in with Prime Minster Theresa May. The Labour leader has claimed he said “stupid people” – but professional lip-readers and voters watching the clip online have drawn their own conclusions. Now Labour insiders have circulated the idea that MP Laura Pidcock, 31, will be rewarded for her loyalty by Mr Corbyn. She called the Conservative Party “pathetic” before appearing on TV and firing off angry Tweets hailing Mr Corbyn a saint and dismissing the spat as an attempt to “divert attention from the Government’s shambolic rule”. Ms Pidcock was showered with praise by her fellow Corbynistas for being so outspoken in her defending of him in comparison to other Labour MPs such as Stella Creasey who chastised him. A senior Labour source told the Daily Mail she has now been hotly tipped as Mr Corbyn’s successor.” – Sunday Express

  • Corbyn’s sexism is outrageous, as is his cowardly lie – Karren Brady, Sun on Sunday

Lord Ashdown dies

“Paddy Ashdown, the action-man politician who made the Liberal Democrats a force in British politics, died last night after a brief battle with cancer. Lord Ashdown passed away seven weeks after announcing that he was being treated for bladder cancer, a diagnosis he received only in October – a development he bore with stoicism and good humour. He branded his prognosis “unpredictable”, declaring: “I’ve fought a lot of battles in my life.” This was not one he would win. In his political fights Ashdown took the Lib Dems from obscurity to become the strongest third party in parliament since the 1920s, beginning a revival that led them to the coalition government in 2010. Last night four prime ministers led the tributes to a politician who was widely admired for his sense of duty and for cramming several lives into his 77 years. His career included time in the Royal Marines, the Special Boat Section (later Service) and a spell as a spy with MI6 before entering parliament as MP for Yeovil in 1983, a seat he held until 2001. Theresa May said: “It is with great sadness that I have learnt of the passing of Lord Ashdown. Paddy served his country with distinction. He dedicated his life to public service and he will be sorely missed.” David Cameron called his death “desperately sad news”.” – Sunday Times

  • A tribute to Britain’s irrepressible internationalist – Miranda Green, FT