Government in crisis 1) 26 Tory MPs force through Grieve amendment in the hope of blocking No Deal Brexit

‘Eight former Cabinet ministers led a devastating revolt against Theresa May to wrestle back control of Brexit. A total of 26 Tory MPs allied with Labour, the SNP and Lib Dems to force the Government to take orders from the House of Commons if the PM’s deal is voted down in six days time, as ministers expect. Tabled by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, the rebel amendment was passed by 321 v 299, a majority of 22. It left shell-shocked Mrs May facing an all-or-nothing mighty showdown on Tuesday next week. In a further hammer blow for the PM that left her authority hanging by a thread, the rebels also included an array of senior loyalists – such as ex-Cabinet ministers Damian Green, Sir Michael Fallon and Sir Oliver Letwin, as well as grandees Sir Nicholas Soames, Richard Benyon, Nick Boles and Ed Vaizey. The centrist Tories insisted they were helping No10 block a No Deal outcome, which they say will devastate the economy.’ – The Sun



Government in crisis 2) Ministers lose ‘contempt of Parliament’ vote over legal advice

‘Theresa May will publish the “final and full” confidential legal advice given to the cabinet on her Brexit deal after the government became the first to be found in contempt of parliament. The prime minister’s concession, after a vote of contempt was passed by 311 votes to 293, appeared to head off a constitutional stand-off between parliament and the government. However, Downing Street refused to say when the advice from the attorney-general, Geoffrey Cox, would be published or how comprehensive it would be. Sources suggested it would be before MPs voted on the EU withdrawal agreement on Tuesday. John Bercow, the Speaker, said that it would be unimaginable for the full legal advice not to be released before the vote. Labour insisted that it would bring another motion in the Commons if the government failed to follow the spirit as well as the letter of the order.’ – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: ConHome’s Cabinet League Table. Everyone’s rating is down – and half of the top table is now in negative territory. Worst ever results.

>Yesterday: MPsETC: The contempt motion. Bone and Hollobone vote against the Government.

Government in crisis 3) Harper: I’m a former Chief Whip, I’ve never rebelled, but even I cannot support this bad deal

‘This is an article I never wanted to write, having been loyal to my Party and its leadership for my entire 13 years in the House of Commons. However, in order to remain true to the manifesto promises on which I was elected as a Conservative and Unionist MP last year as well as my commitment to the integrity of our United Kingdom, I am unable to support the Cabinet’s EU Withdrawal Agreement…I don’t think any UK Prime Minister should agree to such an arrangement, and I am not prepared to do so…This not only compromises the integrity of our country, but also breaches a promise in the Conservative manifesto, that the Conservative Party would “ensure that as we leave the EU no new barriers to living and doing business within our own union are created.”’ – Mark Harper, Daily Telegraph



Farage: I am quitting UKIP – it has fallen to the extremists and thugs I fought to keep out

‘Under my leadership of Ukip, the party banned former members of the BNP and EDL from joining. Many accusations of racism and extremism were thrown at us, but I strongly maintain they were untrue. Under Gerard Batten’s leadership, however, the party’s direction has changed fundamentally. Analysis of weekly local council by-elections up and down the country shows that Ukip now fields very few candidates. Worse still, many of our very best organisers and activists on the ground have resigned their positions. This means we no longer have a professional campaigning team. The party of elections is quickly becoming a party of street activism, with our members being urged to attend marches rather than taking the fight to the ballot box…Ukip should be riding high in the polls. With regret, however, I must admit that I now do not believe it will do so again. Mr Batten’s obsession with Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (to use Tommy Robinson’s real name) and fixation with the issue of Islam makes Ukip unrecognisable to many of us.’ – Nigel Farage, Daily Telegraph

  • He threatens a new Brexit party – Daily Express
  • A string of other senior figures have also left – The Times

Grayling insists the HS2 budget will not rise any further

‘The £56 billion budget for HS2 will not rise despite repeated warnings that spending on the high-speed line is spiralling out of control, the transport secretary said yesterday. Chris Grayling was responding to warnings from an industry expert that the ultimate cost could double. Michael Byng said the first phase of the line between London and Birmingham was likely to cost as much as £55.6 billion rather than the £27 billion government forecast. It would likely send the final cost over £100 billion when it finally opens in 2033, he suggested. Sir Terry Morgan, the chairman of HS2 Ltd, the government-owned company tasked with building the line, admitted this week there was “still a lot of work to do” to deliver the project on time and on budget. Speaking to The Times, Sir Terry, who is expected to be sacked by the government, said it would be “very difficult” to keep to the tight budget.’ – The Times

  • The Transport Secretary resists calls to strip Govia Thameslink of its contract – Daily Telegraph
  • He apologised for timetable chaos – The Sun
  • MPs call for a fare freeze for those worst affected – The Guardian

The Home Office knew about problems for the Windrush generation ‘four years ago’

‘The department had credible information about the potential adverse impact on such migrants of Theresa May’s policy to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants, the National Audit Office (NAO) said. Ministers from the Caribbean had also raised some Windrush cases with the government in April 2016 but it was not clear whether the Home Office was aware of them, according to the report. The NAO concluded that processes in the department contributed to the risk of wrongful detentions and removals. Sir Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “The treatment of people who had a legitimate right to remain in the UK raises grave questions about how the Home Office discharged its duty of care towards people made vulnerable because of a lack of documentation. It failed to protect their rights to live, work and access services in the UK, and many have suffered distress and material loss as a result.”’ – The Times

  • And yet nothing was done – FT
  • New CPS boss vows to fix the organisation’s failings – The Sun

SNP plans even higher taxes

‘Scotland has scope to impose higher income tax rates on the wealthy than in other parts of the UK without it backfiring and reducing revenue, finance secretary Derek Mackay has said. Scottish income tax is already slightly higher for the better-off, and political opponents and business groups have warned that widening the gap could reduce income by deterring investment or prompting richer taxpayers to move away… Next month’s budget will be a key moment for the 11-year-old SNP government amid growing demands for higher spending on health, teacher pay and council services. The fiscal pressures on Mr Mackay were eased by Mr Hammond’s UK plans for higher health spending next year, which will mean increases in the block grant to Scotland.’ – FT

  • CBI warns against middle-class tax hike – Daily Telegraph
  • Scottish NHS consultant shortage ‘twice as bad’ as official figures suggest – Daily Telegraph
  • NHS tips off private companies about waiting lists – The Times
  • I’m going to volunteer to help the health service – Sarah Vine, Daily Mail

New Labour peer signed letter protesting suspensions of Labour members over alleged anti-semitism

‘Martha Osamor, 78, was handed the peerage by her friend Jeremy Corbyn. Now Baroness Osamor, who was barred from standing for Labour in the 1980s because of her hard-Left views, can claim a tax-free daily attendance allowance of £305 – which averages at £22,000 per member a year…Mr Corbyn’s decision in May to elevate her was controversial because the new peer, mother of MP Kate Osamor, had signed a letter of protest over the suspensions of party members for alleged anti-Semitism. Gideon Falter, of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, described her appointment as a ‘two-fingered salute’ to the Jewish community.’ – Daily Mail

  • Her daughter is the disgraced former Shadow Cabinet member Kate Osamor – The Sun

Fresh security warning over Chinese telecoms firms

‘Chinese companies such as the telecoms giant Huawei could spy on Western consumers thanks to their dominance of the technology behind the new 5G superfast mobile network, a US congressional commission has warned. Security experts believe that Beijing would be capable of ordering the companies to “modify products” either to fail on command or to snoop on users. The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) mentioned Huawei, the world’s largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, as one of four Chinese companies it had particular concerns over. Its assessment backs up fears voiced by British security officials over the increasing influence of Huawei technology. In Britain the company is working closely with other telecoms firms to develop 5G. The US, New Zealand and Australia have all banned it from providing technology for their 5G networks.’ – The Times

  • There is good reason to be concerned – The Times Leader
  • BT is going to strip Huawei equipment out of the 4G network – FT
  • If we cannot clamp down on Putin’s cronies, we stand little chance of defending ourselves from China – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph
  • The West must be ready to take on its enemies – Roger Boyes, The Times
  • Student reveals details of brutal mistreatment by Emiratis – The Times
  • They tried to get him to spy on the UK – FT
  • Spain’s latest incursion into Gibraltarian waters causes outrage – Daily Telegraph
  • Mueller recommends ‘co-operative’ Flynn should not do jail time – The Times

Mosley-funded ‘press regulator’ receives only one call to its whistleblower line…and that came from its own staff

‘A hotline for whistleblowers set up by Impress, a press regulator, to expose media wrongdoing has not received any genuine calls in two years. The only call it did receive was made by its own staff checking that the service was actually working…The submission says that its board members or executives recused themselves from deliberations on 19 occasions because of potential conflicts of interest. Several of these cases related to Byline, a small news website for which two Impress board members have previously published articles. Despite the light workload, Impress managed to complete only 59 per cent of investigations within its 42 day target, blaming the “Christmas holiday period” and staff turnover for some of the delays. Of the regulator’s 12 board members and senior executives, six are current or former Labour Party members, while three are Liberal Democrat members, according to the latest register of interests. None has declared Conservative membership.’ – The Times

News in Brief