May’s New Year Message: pass my deal soon…

“She said: “New year is a time to look ahead and in 2019 the UK will start a new chapter. The Brexit deal I have negotiated delivers on the vote of the British people and in the next few weeks MPs will have an important decision to make. If parliament backs a deal, Britain can turn a corner.” MPs will resume debating May’s proposed Brexit deal on 9 January, with the vote due to take place the following week. It had been scheduled for December, but the prime minister postponed it at the last minute, amid near-unanimous expectations that she would lose heavily.” – The Guardian

Other greetings for 2019 from around the world:

  • Trump says “you’re out partying and I’m working” – Daily Mail
  • (No date set for Presidential UK visit) – The Guardian
  • Kim Jong-Un threatens “new path” – Daily Express
  • Merkel vows to defend global order – The Times
  • Xi Jinping pledges to open markets – Daily Mail
  • Sturgeon says she will protect Scotland’s place in Europe – Scotsman
  • (Bed blocking cost in Scottish NHS hits £500 million since she became First Minister – Daily Telegraph)
  • Welby: Archbsihop echoes Queen’s call for unity and hails “wonderfully diverse” Britain – The Times
  • Gove’s new Food Waste Tsar: Let’s stop throwing away £20 billion worth of it a year – Daily Mail
  • Farage photographed with bronze whaler shark – Daily Mail
  • Three stabbed at Manchester Victoria Station, counter-terror police leading investigation – Manchester Evening News


  • Forget Remoaners, 2019 is full of hope with investment pouring into Britain and our creative and digital sectors leading the world – Sun Editorial
  • Western states cannot just act as spectators as big powers trample on the rules-based order – Times Editorial

…(But there’s no suggestion of a breakthrough on the backstop)

“She has been in contact with European counterparts over the break, and you can expect more of that to continue over the week,” the prime minister’s spokeswoman said. “I haven’t got a list for you, but she has been in touch with European leaders, and that will continue in the lead-up to the vote.” Asked if the prime minister was confident of success, given the resumption of the Commons debate begins in little more than a week, the spokeswoman said: “That is what she is focused on, yes.” – The Guardian

  • Project Fear 2 fails to cut through: “optimistic Britons defy gloomy Brexit outlook” – The Times
  • Number 10 concedes that there is “more work to do” with Commons due to debate May’s deal next week – Daily Express
  • Benn floats special Labour conference on second referendum – Daily Express
  • Juncker uses private jet for half his official visits – Daily Mail
  • Global Britain, sorry, Global Ireland: country ramps up diplomatic footprint – Financial Times

Clare Foges: Brexit has brought passion back to politics

“We think of Brexit as having poisoned debate but it has also killed off apathy. It has made politics interesting again. It has encouraged people of all walks of life to be engaged, to care. It has given a crash-course in political literacy to those who previously couldn’t give a damn (after 46 years as a member of the European Union, millions of us now actually understand it). It has widened our lexicon with talk of backstops and Brino (Brexit in name only), frictionless trade and facilitated customs arrangements. It has made political debate less elitist, a conversation in which everyone can express an opinion. Remember when apathy was seen as a threat to democratic legitimacy? Amid the slings and arrows of 2016-18 it can be easy to forget how exercised we used to be by political disengagement, especially among the young.” – The Times

  • I back May’s plan – Andrea Leadsom, Daily Mail
  • Let 2019 be the year that Brexiteers helped Britain to rediscover the power of true democracy – Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph

> Today:

> Yesterday:

Channel migrants. Briefed-against Javid changes course on naval boats.

“Sajid Javid appeared to cave in to political pressure over his response to the surge of migrants crossing the Channel by recalling two Border Force cutters from overseas yesterday. The home secretary said that the vessels were to return from Gibraltar and the Aegean Sea to patrol Britain’s waters. Mr Javid had claimed on Saturday that such a move would attract migrants. He made the decision after cutting short his South African holiday and holding talks with officials at the National Crime Agency, Border Force and security agencies. Conservative MPs had been calling for tougher action to deter migrants, many of them Iranian, from trying to cross one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.” – The Times

  • May should have sorted the problem in 2016 – Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail
  • Stop this migrant taxi service – Leo McKinstry, Daily Express
  • We will only empower criminal gangs if we fail to send Channel migrants back to France – David Wood, Daily Telegraph
  • From fishing to migrants, the integrity of our borders requires proper maritime patrols – Daily Telegraph Editorial

Intervention news for 2019 1) Perry hails new energy price cap

Claire Perry, the energy minister, said: “Today marks the end of unjustified price rises on energy bills. Bill payers can now be confident that any change to the price cap will be a fair representation of the actual costs of energy rather than suppliers passing on inefficiencies to their customers or as excess profits.” The government has also promised to end overcharging in other areas such as phone bills and insurance premiums. Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “The introduction of this cap will put an end to suppliers exploiting loyal customers. However, while people on default tariffs should now be paying a fairer price for their energy, they will still be better off if they shop around.” – The Times

Intervention news for 2019 2) Biggest companies must justify salaries under new rules, says Clark

“Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Britain has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most dependable and best places in the world to work, invest and do business, and the vast majority of our biggest companies act responsibly, with good business practices. “We do however understand the frustration of workers and shareholders when executive pay is out of step with performance and their concerns are not heard.” Mr Clark said the new regulation “will build on our reputation by increasing transparency and boosting accountability at the highest level – giving workers a stronger dialogue and voice in the boardroom and ensuring businesses are accountable for their executive pay.” – The Sun

Meanwhile, Truss takes a stand for freedom

“The Treasury minister said the areas would give fans a ‘choice’ and mean ‘better atmosphere’ at matches. Posting a picture of herself at a Norwich City game, Ms Truss said she was ‘proud’ her club had ‘led the way’ on the issue. The government is currently consulting on changing the law to allow standing in the top flight and Championship…Ms Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, tweeted over the weekend: ‘I support safe standing being allowed in the Championship and Premier League. More choice and better atmosphere for fans. Proud @NorwichCityFC have led the way on this. #freetostand #ncfc’ “ – Daily Mail

Skidmore: we should value arts degrees

“In his first interview since he was appointed last month, Mr Skidmore said that there “can’t be an either/or mentality where we somehow place [those studying] humanities subjects as second-class students. He said that arts and humanities degrees were one of the building blocks of the international reputation enjoyed by British universities. “Part of that reputation is around the value of the liberal arts degree and the humanities degrees. And I think we’ve got to make sure that we recognise that’s a vital part of our education system in the UK,” he said. “I think there is a real case not just in science but also in humanities to sell the value of that research.” – The Times

Miller calls for Bercow departure date: treatment of the Cox Report is “disgraceful”

“The Conservative MP Maria Miller, who chairs the women and equalities committee, called for “clarity” over when Speaker John Bercow would stand down, as she criticised the rate of change following Dame Laura Cox’s inquiry. The inquiry recommended a shake-up of the senior leadership team, but Miller said the significant issues raised in the report appeared to be being “swept under the carpet”. She said: “It’s absolutely disgraceful the way in which the Cox report is being taken forward, and that significant issues that she raised appear to be being swept under the carpet. I will continue to do everything that I can to make sure that there is an acknowledgement of the need to change the culture here.” – The Guardian

Mogg follows Williamson and Gove in fundraising for the DUP

“The Conservative Party has remained silent on leading party Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg’s plans to take part in a fundraiser for the DUP. The prominent backbencher is set to speak at an event this month organised by DUP North Antrim MP Ian Paisley. Conservative Party members in Northern Ireland have criticised the decision, given that they plan to stand against DUP candidates in May’s council elections. It is the latest in a series of DUP events held in the north which have been attended by senior Tories, such as defence secretary Gavin Williamson and environment secretary Michael Gove.” – Irish News

Colvile: This has been the worst decade for house-building since World War Two, and it’s all our fault

“There is so much more that needs to be done. We should simplify and speed up planning. Make sure housing design is more sympathetic to communities’ needs. Increase the number of small housebuilders. Ensure that new development is matched by new infrastructure. Reopen the argument about a green belt model which protects too much low-quality land, rather than the most beautiful countryside.
We can also do much more to tilt the existing market towards ownership – for example via Help to Own, which would see landlords get a tax break for selling to their tenants, and tenants get the core of a deposit.” – Daily Telegraph

And Finally, as 2019 dawns, after a year of Brexit drama, a leadership challenge, Cabinet resignations, a stalled EU deal, no majority, second referendum speculation, division, dissent, rumours of a split…

“The Conservatives hold a two-point lead over Labour in the final survey of a year in which stable poll results have been in marked contrast to the turmoil at Westminster. Theresa May’s party had the backing of 41 per cent of voters, with Labour on 39 per cent. The YouGov poll for The Times carried out on December 16 and 17 gives the Tories a slightly extended lead compared with a survey the week before that had the two main parties on 39 and 38 per cent respectively.” – The Times