Published:

Northern MPs get ‘hotline’ to pitch spending projects

“Nearly 30 new Conservative MPs elected for seats in northern England have been given a hotline to a Cabinet minister to help them deliver local spending projects for their constituents. Jake Berry, the Northern Powerhouse minister, is compiling a “golden book” of Government commitments for northern seats to ensure that election pledges are delivered on. He said that one of the Government’s goals at the next election, expected in 2024, “had to be retaining that blue wall” of Tory MPs at the next election and “pour immoveable concrete for the foundations of it”. The minister – who sits in the Cabinet Office -has started to coordinate requests from MPs for help in their constituencies and is using his cross-Government position to push departments to deliver projects in northern seats.” – Daily Telegraph

  • New MP will work his old job over Christmas so as not to let down colleagues – The Sun
  • Southern manufacturing outpaces North and Midlands – FT

Comment:

  • It will take more than Tory cash-splashing to keep the red wall blue – Richard Partington, The Guardian

>Today:

>Yesterday: David Skelton in Comment: How Johnson can cement the Tory position in the North

Government urged to invest in flood defences

“Boris Johnson must overhaul the system for deciding where flood-defence funding is spent and launch an emergency response unit to prevent a repeat of the “catastrophic” damage caused by the November floods, leading politicians have said. Nearly 100 flood warnings were in place across much of England on Sunday, hampering the Christmas getaway, with towns and villages deluged in Kent and East Sussex. Dan Jarvis, the elected mayor of the Sheffield city region, called on the government to establish a “Cobra for the north” that would be chaired by a cabinet minister and kick into action as soon as floods hit the region. He said the prime minister had privately agreed to help convene a dedicated emergency response group to react quicker to widespread flooding after he was criticised for his slow response to the devastation.” – The Guardian

  • Johnson must put his mind to fixing the hideous housing crisis – The Sun

>Today: Adam Lent in Comment: The Conservatives have shown that they can take back control. Now is the time to hand it over.

Prime Minister blames Labour’s collapse for the loss of Scottish colleagues

“Boris Johnson has blamed Labour’s collapse for the loss of Tory seats in Scotland as he promised five unseated MPs they “will be back”. The Prime Minister said he will do “everything” to help Tory MPs who lost their seats in the election come back to Parliament, while warning his party to be “very very humble” to retain the support of voters in Labour’s former “Red Wall”. Speaking at a private drinks reception for Tory MPs last week, Mr Johnson said: “We do mourn the loss of some wonderful colleagues. They did a fantastic job.” … In a recording of his speech leaked to the Telegraph, Mr Johnson said the Tory MPs lost their seats “through no fault of their own” adding: “It was basically the Labour collapse [that] seemed to be the big problem.”” – Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

  • New battle over independence has begun – FT

Patel announces plans to fast-track scientists into Britain

“The number of top scientists fast tracked into Britain is being doubled in a bid make the country a global hub for new technology. Home Secretary Priti Patel today announced she is increasing the number of bodies who can offer fellowships to boffins and researchers from 62 to 120. A fellowship guarantees them immediate entry as long as they pass the standard immigration check. The move is part of PM Boris Johnson’s plan to make post-Brexit UK a world leader in technology and development. The Tory leader also made an election promise to abolish any cap on the number of elite academics coming to the UK from across the globe.” – The Sun

>Yesterday: Sunder Katwala in Comment: The Conservatives, ethnic minority voters, and the election. Next to no progress.

Johnson accused of ‘Trump tactics’ over BBC boycott

“The editor of Today on Radio 4 has accused No 10 of a “Trumpian” attempt to delegitimise the BBC after ministers were banned from appearing on it. Sarah Sands claimed that Downing Street had been emboldened by its election landslide. The Conservatives have refused to put ministers up for interview on Today since last weekend, with No 10 sources dismissing the show as “irrelevant” and an example of the BBC’s focus on a “pro-Remain metropolitan bubble in Islington”. The government has also launched a review into decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee, which could cost the corporation £200 million a year. Both Conservative and Labour figures have accused the national broadcaster of bias in its election coverage, a charge bosses vehemently reject.” – The Times

  • Director-General rejects claims of election bias – Daily Telegraph
  • BBC cracks down on reporters ‘going rogue on Twitter’ – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Tory victory was a verdict on culture wars – Clare Foges, The Times

Buckland ‘very concerned’ by reports of Islamists operating in prisons

“Islamist extremists in Britain’s prisons are holding makeshift Sharia trials, circulating banned books and openly grooming young Muslim inmates, The Times has been told. A former prisoner who claims that he took part in Sharia courts and punishment beatings has given a detailed account of how he came to join a group of prisoners at HMP Woodhill, Milton Keynes, who pledged allegiance to Isis. The revelations have prompted security experts to call for a fundamental review of terrorist radicalisation in jails across Britain… Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, said the former inmate’s account was “very concerning” but insisted that in the past four years “a great deal of time, effort and investment has gone into bearing down on the malign effects of extremism behind bars”.” – The Times

  • We must rid ourselves of this terrorist scourge – Robert Buckland MP, The Times

Editorial:

Long-Bailey campaign has been playing ‘long game’ for leadership

“Rebecca Long Bailey’s hard-left leadership campaign chief has been building her support base for months by organising the selection as parliamentary candidates of several Momentum members who are now MPs, according to several sources. Alex Halligan, who is said to have Stalinist sympathies and is an activist with Momentum, the pro-Corbyn campaign group , was revealed by The Times as the co-ordinator behind the shadow business secretary’s bid for the top job. She is seen as the favourite to succeed Jeremy Corbyn in March… The selection drive orchestrated out of Ms Long Bailey’s constituency office was widely regarded as a long-term strategy to ensure that she would receive enough nominations to make it on to the ballot paper for the leadership election, the party members said.” – The Times

  • Front-runner said she’d like to rule party with an ‘iron fist’ – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • The rise of ‘Wrong Daily’ – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail

Thornberry says she would stand down if polls pointed to defeat

“Emily Thornberry has taken a swipe at Jeremy Corbyn and insisted that she would stand down as Labour leader if polls showed that the public had no confidence in her. The shadow foreign secretary is the first Labour MP to officially announce her candidacy to succeed Labour leader Mr Corbyn in the leadership contest. The party is still reeling from the humiliating drubbing it received at the hands of voters on December 12, winning a paltry 203 seats, its worst performance since 1935. The Labour leader’s toxic reputation with voters was one of the main reasons cited by Labour MPs and campaigners for the defeat… Writing in the Mirror, Ms Thornberry said that the most important thing for the party was to elect someone “who can win”.” – Daily Express

  • I’m the right person to lead Labour – but if that changes, I’ll step aside – Emily Thornberry, Daily Mirror

Miliband joins inquiry into election defeat

“A group of Labour MPs will today launch a commission to try and understand why their party lost the election in a Tory landslide. MPs and campaigners will ask Labour activists and party members to fill out a survey, asking them which messages were convincing to voters on the doorstep. The initiative is run by Labour MPs Ed Miliband and Lucy Powell, and is backed by Labour Together, a group calling for unity within the party. The commission has pledged to take a “balanced view” and aim to “bring the Labour movement together so that it can come to a collective view of what needs to change,” a spokesman said. It will hold focus groups with the public in Labour heartland seats the party lost in an attempt to explain why voters swung so strongly to the Tories.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Leaked documents lay bare failing of Labour’s campaign – Daily Mail
  • Pidcock attacked by grandees as she blames Blair – Daily Telegraph

Nick Timothy: The Left would apparently prefer to dissolve the people than change course

“For years, millions of voters from these places, and working-class voters across the country, have been ignored, taken for granted by Labour in particular, and treated as though their voice and vote did not matter. But these are the people who in the past three years have changed Britain’s future course: first in the referendum and now in the general election. But is anybody – especially the leaders of the Labour Party – willing to learn the lesson? Usually, after an election, the winners get on with governing and the losers try to work out how to change. Yet in this case, the victorious Tories are trying to change – as fast as they can – and Labour seem determined not to learn from their defeat.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The north has changed. To win it back, Labour must recognise that – Alex Niven, The Guardian
  • Can Starmer cut through with Labour’s northern voters? – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail

Hoyle says Bercow should go to the Lords

“John Bercow, the former Commons Speaker, should be elevated to the House of Lords, his successor has said. Sir Lindsay Hoyle, 62, said that Mr Bercow, nicknamed the “remainer in chief” by his critics, had done “some great things” during his time in office. Mr Bercow, 56, was a thorn in Theresa May’s side as she attempted to manoeuvre her Brexit bill through the House of Commons. The former Conservative MP overruled the advice of his own clerks to allow Remain-supporting MPs to take control of the order paper from ministers. After leaving office Mr Bercow called Brexit the “biggest foreign policy mistake in the postwar period”. On election night he told Sky News he would accept a peerage but was not “sitting awake at night worrying about it”.” – The Times

  • Ex-Speaker pleads for ‘personal courtesy’ in politics – Daily Telegraph
  • He ‘takes aim at Brexiteers’ in Christmas message – The Sun

News in Brief:

  • How Johnson could avoid Britain’s impending constitutional crisis – Vernon Bogdanor, The Article
  • What will Trump’s America learn from Boris? – Oliver Wiseman, The Critic
  • Is Tim Martin the man to salvage the CBI’s reputation after Brexit? – Matthew Lynn, The Spectator
  • How I learned the Tories weren’t evil – Polly Mackenzie, UnHerd
  • Where we must be vigilant about Johnson’s deal – Lee Rotherham, Brexit Central

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