Javid: It would be wrong to ignore cultural reasons that might contribute to Asian abuse gangs

‘Mr Javid, 49, was born in Rochdale, Greater Manchester… Asked if that meant he took it more personally, Mr Javid told Today on BBC Radio 4: “Sometimes I have, yes. Especially with reference to Rochdale because it is my home town, I still go there now and again because I have family there that I care deeply about. When I heard about — and there has been more than one case — grooming gangs where almost every individual involved is of Pakistani heritage . . . I can’t help noting the fact that Rochdale is a town that means something to me and I am also of Pakistani heritage…” Mr Javid was asked if he was concerned about the possible lack of control over paedophiles if they returned to Pakistan. “I’m the British home secretary,” he replied. “My job is to protect the British public and to do what I think is right to protect the British public”…He said “there could be — and I’m not saying there are — some cultural reasons from the community that those men came from that could lead to this type of behaviour. For me to rule something out just because it would be considered sensitive would be wrong. If I had ignored it, or been seen to ignore, that is exactly what I think extremists would like to see in this country. It would give them oxygen and I refuse to do that.”’ – The Times

Williamson raises ‘grave’ concerns about the security risk of Chinese firms upgrading telecomms infrastructure

‘The defence secretary has become the first cabinet minister to speak out against the telecoms giant Huawei amid fears that its involvement in Britain’s next-generation mobile network will enable Chinese spying. Gavin Williamson said that he had “grave” and “very deep concerns” about the Chinese company providing technology to upgrade Britain’s services to superfast 5G. He indicated that a full review of security risks would be needed as he accused Beijing of acting “sometimes in a malign way”. His intervention came after the US, New Zealand and Australia — members, along with Britain and Canada, of the Five-Eyes intelligence alliance — banned the company from involvement in their new networks. Mr Williamson said that Britain should study its allies’ decisions and that closer examination of any security threats posed was required if the country were to allow Huawei to upgrade services to 5G. “I have grave, very deep concerns about Huawei providing the 5G network in Britain. It’s something we’d have to look at very closely.”’ – The Times

  • The military is urged to share anti-drone tech with police – The Times

Business confidence falls amid continued uncertainty over the Brexit deal

‘Company bosses surveyed by the Institute of Directors (IoD) revealed a deepening pessimism for the year ahead as economic confidence hits its lowest ebb since the Government lost its majority in the House of Commons in last year’s snap general election. Leaders fear continued uncertainty could damage the economy by scuppering the UK’s existing trade ties and squeezing the tight labour market. Tej Parikh, a senior economist at the IoD, said business leaders across the UK were looking ahead “with trepidation”. The cautious optimism over a transition period after March 2019 has “dissipated” as the prospect of a no-deal Brexit weighs heavily. “Uncertainty is already causing businesses to delay investment, hiring decisions and product launches, which also acts to weaken our international competitiveness further down the line. The longer this state of affairs continues, the more we lose by it, even if these effects aren’t apparent in the here and now,” he said. “Politicians must not forget that every day of Brexit confusion is a day we aren’t focused on the long term.”‘ – Daily Telegraph

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

Authorities must ‘get a grip’ on cross-Channel illegal immigration, Elphicke warns

‘On Christmas Day, 40 migrants were rescued in the Channel as they tried to reach the UK. A further five people presented themselves at Dover police station on Christmas Day, saying they were Iranian and had arrived by boat, which police found later. And three more would-be migrants were picked up from a small boat off the coast of Dover just after midnight on Boxing Day. Now Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover, has demanded that ministers ‘get a grip’ on Christmas crossings. He said: ‘With well over 100 migrants having broken into Britain in recent weeks the [Home Office and National Crime Agency] need urgently to explain what they are doing to put a stop to these crossings. This is an incredibly dangerous crossing to make in the middle of winter. Our volunteer lifeboat crews are being called out nearly every day. The British and French authorities must get a grip and find and stop the traffickers… before there is a tragedy.” – Daily Mail

  • Iranian illegal migrants sail into Dover then walk to police station – Daily Telegraph
  • Joint Franco-British operation to stop people smugglers began last month – The Times

The Sun Says: The Conservatives should remember they are meant to be the party of free choice

‘Public Health England’s 100-page proposal dictating caps on calorie levels for everything from onion bhajis to salad dressing is insane. It will hit restaurants, manufacturers, supermarkets and, inevitably, customers. Brits ate more in the 1970s but were slimmer as we led more active lives. Getting people off their couches would reverse our obesity problem far more effectively than punitive meddling. The Tories are supposed to be the party of free choice. They should remember that.’ – The Sun Says

Plastic bag levy set to double, and extend to small shops

‘The price of single-use plastic bags could be doubled from 5p to 10p as 250,000 corner shops are banned from handing the bags out for free. Currently, only supermarkets and large stores are forced to apply the charge. But the Environment Secretary Michael Gove has said it will now be extended to smaller shops, where some 3.6billion bags are handed out every year. Mr Gove last night put forward the plans – first mooted in August – in a consultation document. He wants the changes to come in by January 2020…Mr Gove said: ‘The 5p single-use plastic bag carrier charge has been extremely successful in reducing the amount of plastic we use in our everyday lives. Between us, we have taken over 15billion plastic bags out of circulation. But we want to do even more to protect our precious planet and today’s announcement will accelerate further behaviour change and build on the success of the existing charge.’’ – Daily Mail

  • Concerns rise over wasteful ‘bags for life’ – The Sun
  • Gove admonishes Japan for return to commercial whaling – The Times
  • The decision is a betrayal of conservation efforts – The Times Leader
  • Money managers are taking on polluters – FT
  • Only one per cent of Department of Transport cars is eco friendly – Daily Mail

Hospitals double parking charges

‘Almost half of NHS hospitals have increased parking charges in the past year, according to figures which show that some have doubled their prices. The rises came despite years of politicians and campaigners urging restraint. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have pledged to abolish hospital parking charges and a national campaign for a fairer system began ten years ago. Of more than 120 trusts in England who responded to a freedom of information request on charges, 43 per cent said that they had increased prices. Airedale NHS Foundation Trust in West Yorkshire was responsible for one of the biggest increases in prices. It charged £8 for a stay of four to twenty-four hours in 2017-18, up from £3.50 the previous year.’ – The Times

  • The worst offenders – Daily Mail
  • Ambulance targets missed every month since they were revised – The Times
  • Samantha Cameron praises NHS volunteers – Daily Mail
  • All the normal problems of politics will return in 2019 – The Times Leader
  • Our railways are an obscene gravy train – Ross Clark, Daily Mail
  • Britain is ‘institutionally ageist’, care provider claims – Daily Mail
  • Three jobs, but struggling to pay the bills on Universal Credit – The Sun
  • ‘Ethnic pay gap’ estimate – The Sun
  • Scientists hail cancer breakthrough – Daily Telegraph

Labour accused of ‘playing the class card’ with hunting stunt

‘The Mail reported yesterday how shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman revealed a future Labour government would review penalties under the Hunting Act 2004, including a consultation on the introduction of jail terms. Baroness Ann Mallalieu, President of the Countryside Alliance, said: ‘The old “class card” is being played here because some in my party, wrongly in my view, believe it brings in votes. Politicians of all parties would have been well advised to go along to a local hunt today to meet and judge what people really think.’ Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: ‘Labour’s obsessive pursuit of hunting looks increasingly bizarre to people in the countryside, as well as to those in towns and cities. Politicians who prioritise issues that do not matter to the vast majority of the electorate are very likely to be perceived as out of touch and ignorant of people’s real concerns.’’ – Daily Mail

Trumps visit Iraq

‘President Trump flew to Iraq yesterday to make his first visit to US troops serving abroad as he sought to defend his decision to wind down the war against Islamic State in neighbouring Syria…Mr Trump announced the rapid withdrawal against the advice of some senior aides and commanders on the grounds that the United States had “won against Isis”. Yesterday, at al-Asad airbase in the west of Iraq, he tried to justify the decision, which has drawn fierce bipartisan criticism. However, in an apparent recognition that Islamic State is still a threat to security in the region, he stated that he had “no plans at all” to remove US troops from Iraq and added that “in fact, we could use this as the base if we wanted to do something in Syria”. The president and the first lady departed secretly for Iraq late on Christmas Day, leaving domestic political and economic turmoil behind as they flew east for 11 hours aboard a darkened Air Force One with the lights off and window shades down and an escort of military jets. They spent about three hours on Iraqi soil.’ – The Times

  • Russia warns Turkey it expects Assad to take over areas vacated by the Americans – The Times
  • ‘We’re no longer the world’s suckers,’ Trump tells cheering troops in Germany – Daily Mail
  • The Democrats believe they have the candidate and the message to beat the President in his own backyard – Justin Webb, The Times

News in Brief