Published:

Johnson praises ‘tireless’ British troops…

“Boris Johnson has reiterated Britain’s support for Baltic states in the face of Russian aggression, pledging that the country will maintain an “unconditional commitment” to the security of the region. On a trip to a military base in Estonia, the Prime Minister told British troops that their role allowed “everybody in our country” to enjoy Christmas “in peace and security … because of what you’re doing here.” In a meeting with Jüri Ratas, the Estonian Prime Minister, Mr Johnson separately “reaffirmed the UK’s unconditional commitment to Estonia’s regional security through NATO,” a Downing Street spokesman said. Mr Johnson has taken a strong stand against Russian aggression, criticising Moscow’s “blatant disregard for international rules and agreements”, and helping to coordinate the international response to last year’s nerve agent attack in Salisbury while he was Foreign Secretary.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Admirals ‘thrown to sharks’ as top-heavy Navy cuts costs – Sunday Times

Comment:

  • Why I’m now a ‘Boris believer’ – Michael Portillo, Sunday Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Brexit. The story of 2019 in a single paragraph.

…and receives White House invitation

“President Donald Trump has invited Boris Johnson to visit him in the Oval Office as part of a Brexit victory lap in the new year. The prime minister has been invited to make an official visit to America with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds as formal transatlantic trade negotiations begin after Britain leaves the European Union on January 31. However, Downing Street sources say there have yet to be formal discussions with the White House on the exact timing of the visit, with the president facing the prospect of a Senate impeachment trial next month. Trump has extended several invitations to Johnson since he became prime minister in July, but it is understood that the latest request was made after his emphatic election victory.” – Sunday Times

  • Prime Minister ‘in no rush to accept’ due to impeachment drama – Mail on Sunday

More:

  • Fury as Trump issues ‘shock ultimatum’ for trade talks – Sunday Express
  • US ambassador says UK will enter ‘Roaring Twenties’ post-Brexit – Mail on Sunday

>Yesterday: Tom Tugendhat MP in Comment: The three foreign policy actions that Johnson should take now that he has this huge majority

The North 1) MPs call for change of course on HS2

“Conservative MPs representing newly-won northern seats have joined a new group calling for the party to “change course” over its support for High Speed 2. In a letter to Boris Johnson, 21 MPs reveal that they have formed an HS2 Review Group, whose members are concerned that the business case for the rail line has “increasingly weakened” amid spiralling costs. The members of the new group, which met for the first time on Friday, include James Grundy, who now represents the Labour stronghold of Leigh, Lancs., along with Alexander Strafford, the new MP for Rother Valley, in South Yorkshire, and Andy Carter, who won the seat of Warrington South last week. Their intervention comes as Mr Johnson prepares to decide the future of the scheme, after he shelved an official review into whether and how it should proceed, until after the election.” – Sunday Telegraph

Analysis:

  • How the Conservatives ‘got it done’ – Sebastian Payne, FT

>Yesterday: Chris Penney in Comment: “Oh, you’re one of those are you?” My lessons from canvassing for the Tories

The North 2) Berry overseeing plans for ‘MIT of the North’

“The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston boasts 96 Nobel laureates and helped to create the web, computer games, spreadsheets, fax machines, GPS — and disposable razors. Now the north of England could be set to get its own version of MIT as part of Boris Johnson’s plans to boost the region’s economy. The government is in discussions to set up a new institution that would provide space, technical support and seed money for the next James Dyson trying to invent products for a global market. Jake Berry, the Northern Powerhouse minister, is leading discussions on setting up an “MIT of the north” as part of a multibillion-pound investment package for the region.” – Sunday Times

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

Williamson urges more to take up fostering

“The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, today reveals that his parents “did the most generous thing any family can do” by opening their hearts and home to a foster child. In an article for The Sunday Times, as he unveils a £45m boost to adoption services, Williamson recalls the “nervousness and apprehension” when they decided to foster… His parents, Ray, a local government worker, and Beverly, a jobcentre worker, fostered a child for 10 years, starting when Williamson, who grew up with his biological sister and brother in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, was in his teens… He made his appeal for new foster families as he announced an extra year’s funding for the Adoption Support Fund (ASF), which helps adoptive families in England access therapy.” – Sunday Times

  • Government pledges £45 million for adopted chilren – Sun on Sunday

Comment:

  • A gift that lasts a lifetime – Gavin Williamson MP, Sunday Times

Patel ‘to receive sentencing powers’ in shake-up

“Home Secretary Priti Patel would be handed control of sentencing powers under a radical shake-up of Whitehall being drawn up. The move to give responsibility for prisons and parole conditions to Ms Patel – who once advocated the return of the death penalty – follows a series of rows over the release of London Bridge killer Usman Khan and plans to free black cab rapist John Worboys. No 10 is also looking to strip the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government of responsibility for ‘community cohesion’ amid concerns that anti-radicalisation measures need to be ‘toughened up’, with the Home Office taking over. The plans are likely to form part of wider reforms being drawn up by Boris Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings, including creating a standalone department to manage borders and immigration.” – Mail on Sunday

Labour tensions grow over key aides…

“The Labour Party’s leadership contenders may have radically different ideas for the party’s future. But they share at least one belief: Jeremy Corbyn’s closest aides, Karie Murphy and Seumas Milne, are culpable for the party’s catastrophic general election result. Like Corbyn, neither Murphy, a Scottish former nurse, nor Milne, a Winchester and Oxford-educated journalist, was prepared to quit immediately after the defeat. And the presence at headquarters of the architects of the doomed election campaign is fuelling such resentment that it threatens to stymie the left as it seeks to “win the debate” on where the party goes next… The pressure on her will grow today with the disclosure by this newspaper of Labour’s secret list of target seats for the general election.” – Sunday Times

  • Anger, recrimination, and bitterness in battle for party’s soul – The Observer
  • Long-Bailey behind Thornberry and Starmer – Sunday Times
  • McCluskey to ‘strengthen hard-left grip on Labour’ by backing Long-Bailey – Sun on Sunday

…as leadership rivals fear staff could be laid off to undermine bids

“Supporters of Emily Thornberry and Sir Keir Starmer fear that Jeremy Corbyn’s allies are preparing to lay-off key members of their staff in an attempt to derail their bids for the Labour leadership. Amid a bitter internal struggle to replace Mr Corbyn, senior Labour figures have warned that aides working for the two frontrunners could become “collateral damage”. The Telegraph understands that Ms Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, has privately expressed concern that members of her team could be targeted in the redundancy round now being conducted in the wake of the election defeat.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Lammy hints at bid to be first black leader – The Observer

Deputy leadership:

  • I’ll stop Labour’s lifeblood draining away’, says Allin-Khan – Sunday Times

Andrew Rawnsley: Labour has no hope of rebuilding unless it breaks the cold grip of the hard left

“Such a cataclysm surely has to mean the termination of the party’s fatal experiment with Corbynism. Or does it? The Corbynites don’t think so. They show scant contrition for what they have inflicted on Labour and the many millions of people who depend on the party to protect and champion them. Nor are they displaying any willingness to relinquish their control. Quite the reverse. Jeremy Corbyn is squatting on as leader while John McDonnell tries to fix the succession for his protege, Rebecca Long Bailey. The senior apparatchiks of the Corbynite court continue to draw their salaries even as the party plans to sack blameless junior Labour staffers and its defeated MPs roar with rage.” – The Observer

  • The reason for Labour’s election defeat isn’t complicated: it was about trust – Caroline Flint, Sun on Sunday
  • Next leader must recognise the fundamental errors that made Labour unelectable – David Miliband, The Observer
  • Meet the new ‘left behind’ — Labour’s middle-class elite – Matthew Goodwin, Sunday Times
  • Lefties need to listen to the public instead of blaming anyone but themselves – Ian Austin, Sun on Sunday

Opposition figures face police investigations

“A Labour shadow minister is being investigated by police over an allegation of sexual assault in a nightclub months before the general election, The Telegraph can disclose. The Labour frontbencher is alleged to have touched someone’s bottom while on the dance floor with people he knew and had met earlier that day. He was still able to stand for re-election earlier this month despite an ongoing police inquiry.  It is understood that Labour judged the allegation to be “less serious” than those against another MP who was suspended in October over claims of sexual harassment. Police confirmed that they were investigating an allegation of sexual touching on an evening in July.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Ex-MP in IPSA probe over salary to aged friend – Sun on Sunday

Hoyle will let Big Ben bong for Brexit

“The new Commons Speaker has said he would allow Big Ben to ring out to mark Brexit, as he pledged not to let his political views cloud his decisions. Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the great bell in Parliament’s Elizabeth Tower should be rung on Jan 31 if MPs “wish to do that”, stating that the UK’s formal departure from the EU on Jan 31 will be a “significant moment”. His comments mark a significant break from the approach of his predecessor, who, since stepping down has described Brexit as Britain’s biggest mistake since the Second World War. Last year a committee chaired by Mr Bercow blocked a bid for Big Ben to chime on the UK’s originally intended exit date of March 29 2019. More than 50 MPs have now signed an early day motion calling for Big Ben to ring out at 11pm on Jan 31. The bell is housed in Parliament’s Elizabeth Tower, which is currently being refurbished.” – Sunday Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The end of the Independent Group for Change, and farewell to ‘Parliament’s new tribe’

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