Watson turns fire on Labour over anti-semitism

“Tom Watson, the Labour deputy leader, has called on the party to release its submission to the official watchdog investigating allegations of antisemitism amid claims that serving staff are among 30 whistleblowers helping the inquiry. He stepped up the pressure on Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary and a key ally of Jeremy Corbyn, after the BBC Panorama documentary on Wednesday that included testimony from eight former members of staff. Mr Watson also demanded that Ms Formby give the Equalities and Human Rights Commission access to all her email addresses, after she was accused of interfering in one of the party’s most prominent antisemitism cases then trying to cover up what she had done.” – The Times

  • Party bosses hand out ‘bizarre’ guide to deflecting criticism on the issue – The Sun
  • Formby hits back at deputy leader – The Guardian
  • Corbyn accused of staging ‘bizarre stunt’ to dodge questions – Daily Mail


  • Labour’s flailing paranoia only proves its critics right – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn can’t, and won’t, change his views now – Philip Collins, The Times
  • Unity smashed, Labour is at war with itself – Leo McKinstry, Daily Mail
  • This time it’s different, antisemitism could finally sink Labour – Stephen Bush, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Is Labour anti-semitic? Yesterday’s Panorama in full.

May hits out at critics in valedictory interview…

“Candidly, she talks about reasons for those times she woke up worried about big decisions in the middle of the night and of mistakes she made. Despite the best intentions, she also failed signally not to take a couple of well-aimed swipes at Boris Johnson and Chancellor Philip Hammond – who has been accused of trying to block Treasury cash for some of her legacy spending pledges, such as a £27billion school funding plan. Acidly, she points out to me that her full title is ‘Prime Minister and First Lord of Treasury.’ Translation: she outranks Hammond when deciding whose hands control the public purse strings.” – Daily Mail

  • She suggests people who mocked her tears on resignation are sexist… – Daily Telegraph
  • …and ‘stared down ministers’ to found new injustices quango – The Sun


  • Bercow could face bullying inquiry as part of outgoing Prime Minister’s legacy push – The Times
  • How MPs will decide his fate – Daily Telegraph

…as she appears to back down in row over US ambassador

Theresa May appeared to back down on Thursday in her fight to choose Britain’s next ambassador to the US after her foreign minister hinted that an early appointment was unlikely. Although a Downing Street spokesman would only confirm that Sir Kim Darroch’s replacement would be announced “in due course”, Sir Alan Duncan admitted: “We do really want to make sure we get the very best person and I think it’d be a pity if in the interests of alacrity we chose a number two rather than a number one.” It came after Sir Alan, minister of state for Europe and the Americas, had accused Tory leadership favourite Boris Johnson of throwing the veteran diplomat “under a bus” by failing to back him during a TV debate with rival Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday night.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Hunt insists she will choose his successor… – The Sun
  • …and urges envoys to ‘speak truth to power’ – The Guardian
  • Johnson under fire from own side over Darroch… – FT
  • …as he insists he will back British diplomats – The Sun


  • Darroch squandered the high ground with his resignation – Hugh Bennett, Daily Telegraph
  • We must rein in our chaotic Foreign Office – Stewart Jackson, Daily Telegraph
  • Diplomats did not bother to find the method in Trump’s madness – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph


Rudd u-turns on no-deal in overture to Johnson…

Amber Rudd has dropped her opposition to a no deal Brexit in a move that could save her Cabinet career if Boris Johnson becomes prime minister. The Work and Pensions Secretary has been implacably opposed to no deal, and repeatedly argued against it in Cabinet meetings along with fellow Remain voters David Gauke and Greg Clark. But with Mr Johnson in a seemingly unassailable lead over Jeremy Hunt, Ms Rudd said she now accepted that a no deal Brexit had to be “part of the armoury” as the new leader tried to renegotiate a deal with the EU. Ms Rudd, who is supporting Mr Hunt’s campaign to be leader, had hoped to become the country’s first female Chancellor, but has now readjusted her sights and would be happy simply to keep her current job.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Brexiteers jostle for Cabinet posts to create ‘ring of steel’ around leader – The Sun
  • May warns Johnson the EU won’t re-open the deal – Daily Express
  • Front-runner concurs with Trump that May’s Brexit has been a ‘disaster’ – The Sun
  • Grieve says he could quit the Party if Hunt loses – The Sun
  • Bank of England says no-deal outcome is increasingly likely – FT
  • Switzerland strikes Brexit agreements with Britain – Daily Express


  • Macron is ready for a showdown with Johnson – Iain Martin, The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Hustings in Maidstone. Johnson offers glutinous harmony while Hunt is “the better Jeremy”.

…who may already have won the leadership

“But if the ConservativeHome findings are accurate, and they broadly reflect other surveys, enough Tory members may have already voted to put former foreign secretary Mr Johnson into No 10. Paul Goodman, editor of ConservativeHome, said: “If the survey is accurate, it would be reasonable to assume, on the evidence available at the moment, that Johnson will win somewhere between 67 per cent and 72 per cent of the vote. And if the survey is correct, Johnson has won this contest already. Even if the entire 28 per cent of those who haven’t voted yet opt for Hunt, he cannot catch the front-runner.”” – Evening Standard

  • Fewer than half of members have returned ballots – The Times

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: It’s shocking to see some Conservative MPs doing the Left’s work by slagging off the front-runner.


Ministers urged to scrap Gove’s EBacc over low pass rates

“Ministers have been urged to abolish the “EBacc” GCSE programme after less than a quarter of pupils were found to pass the exams, with no prospect of any improvement. Since reforms introduced by Michael Gove as education secretary in 2010, secondary schools have been incentivised to get as many pupils as possible studying a core set of GCSE subjects – maths, English language and literature, the sciences, history or geography and a language – known as the EBacc. The government has set a target of 75 per cent of pupils taking the subjects by 2022 and 90 per cent by 2025. The proportion of pupils taking the EBacc has stalled at below 40 per cent. Only 24 per cent of GCSE students pass all subjects, according to the EDSK think tank, which found that there was little prospect of either figure going up.” – The Times

Defence 1) Hunt claims Royal Navy has been ‘run down too much’

Jeremy Hunt has said the Royal Navy has been “run down too much” as he cited a skirmish between Britain and Iran in the Persian Gulf as proof that more warships are needed. The Foreign Secretary said the “deeply troubling” events in the Middle East showed that the Navy must be “expanded to meet the threats we face”. Writing in The Telegraph, the Tory leadership candidate said he would add more warships and carrier-based jets to the fleet if he becomes prime minister because “boosting our hard power is the surest way to keep Britain respected overseas”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Underdog says Iran crisis proves his point – Daily Mail


  • Time to put our money where our mouth is on defence – Jeremy Hunt, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft in Comment: My choice for the next Prime Minister

Defence 2) Johnson pledges new law to protect troops who served in Ulster

“Boris Johnson today backs The Sun’s Veterans Pledge – and has vowed to pass a new law to end unjust prosecutions of Northern Ireland troops. No10 front-runner Mr Johnson also promised to appoint a Veterans Minister to his Cabinet. He said: “We need to end unfair trials of people who served Queen and country.” It means our next PM will tackle head-on bitter injustices on our military heroes — as rival Jeremy Hunt is also on board. The move will bring relief to up to 1,000 Northern Ireland vets who face fresh probes — as all 302 Army killings over a 35-year period are reinvestigated.” – The Sun

  • He also promises to create a Veterans Minister – Daily Mail


  • Supporting our veterans must be a priority from day one – The Sun

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Westminster legislating for Northern Ireland sets a useful precedent for the DUP

Defence 3) British vessels on alert after confrontation with Iran

“British merchant vessels near the Strait of Hormuz are on the highest alert after a Royal Navy warship came close to a military confrontation with Iranian vessels in the Gulf. Officials increased the threat assessment to level 3, meaning serious security incidents are imminent, and is advising all commercial ships to avoid Iranian territorial waters. The change, which came to light yesterday, was made at the beginning of the week after Tehran warned that it would try to seize British tankers in retaliation for the detention last week by the Gibraltar authorities of an Iranian supertanker suspected of breaching sanctions.” – The Times

  • Iran warns Western powers to ‘leave region’ – The Guardian
  • UK and US military assets in the Gulf – The Times


  • Tehran’s game of dare risks full-blown war with the West – Mark Almond, Daily Telegraph

>Today: John Jenkins in Comment: Too many excuses are made for Iran – especially by the EU. We must get real, stand with America, and take decisive action.

Javid backs police over facial recognition

“Home Secretary Sajid Javid has backed police trials of facial recognition cameras in face of legal action that claims they threaten people’s privacy. The surveillance software, which is designed to help spot suspects in public spaces, has been trialled by forces including Scotland Yard and South Wales where the legal action is being mounted. The action by Ed Bridges, 36, from Cardiff, and backed by the civil rights group, Liberty, claims his image may have been captured unlawfully on facial recognition cameras from a police van while he was out Christmas shopping in Cardiff city centre. They claim it violated his privacy and data protection rights by processing an image taken of him in public, action which he says caused him “distress”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prisoners to be given keys to their cells in shake-up – The Sun

Andy Street: Why the Conservatives should make the environment a priority

“As well as being the right thing to do, tackling climate change also offers an opportunity for the Conservatives to re-establish themselves with the younger generation. Once again we would be tackling the defining issue for future generations, just like we did with housing in the 1930s, the welfare state in the 1950s and individualism in the 1980s. We are at our best when we reach out beyond our traditional boundaries and think big. This is one of those moments. Regionally the key challenge we face is how we deliver this and our ambitious plan for decarbonisation, without jeopardising the economic growth, jobs and prosperity of the region.” – Times Red Box

Robinson jailed

“As he was taken to the cells Robinson winked to his supporters sitting in the public galley. His crime had been to livestream, via Facebook, footage of defendants arriving at court in a sexual grooming trial. The action – a direct challenge to the mainstream media – jeopardised a court case and broke the cornerstone rule of English justice that guarantees a fair trial. Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, hates the mainstream media…Last week, outside the courthouse where he had been found guilty, he repeated the rhetoric. Flashing a winning smile to a crowd who chanted his name, Robinson appeared defiant.” – BBC

News in Brief:

  • It’s time for Britain to get tough with Iran – Simon Waldman, CapX
  • Labour MPs must speak out against Corbyn becoming Prime Minister – Ian Austin, Reaction
  • Sturgeon has fallen into a trap of her own making – Stephen Daisley, The Spectator
  • No, my marriage is not a “second holocaust” – Giles Fraser, UnHerd
  • Brexit is an opportunity to rethink our relationship with Africa – Sebastien Kurzel, Comment Central