Lives ‘at risk’ after honours list fiasco

“The Cabinet Office was accused of endangering lives last night after it accidentally published the home addresses of more than 1,000 politicians, military officials, celebrities and MI5 officers who received new year honours. The security breach was described as “a complete disaster” by a former leader of the Conservative Party. The failure was condemned by the former head of the civil service, Lord Kerslake, as a “very serious breach of personal security”. He is leading calls for an inquiry after the Cabinet Office apologised yesterday, saying it had reported its error to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and contacted “all those affected directly”. Iain Duncan Smith, who was knighted in the latest honours list, said the publication of the 1,097 addresses on the Cabinet Office website, including three senior police officers involved in investigating the suspected Russian poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, was a “complete disaster”. Last night Sir Mark Sedwill, who holds a dual role as the cabinet secretary and also the prime minister’s national security adviser, was criticised, with some counterterrorism officials calling for him to resign. Richard Walton, the former head of counterterrorism at Scotland Yard, said it could endanger the lives of police and government officials working in sensitive roles.” – Sunday Times

PM wants new taskforce to meet EU deadline

“Boris Johnson has signalled his determination to face down Brussels in 2020’s crunch post-Brexit talks by setting up a new Downing Street unit to spearhead negotiations. The establishment of Taskforce Europe is at the top of the ‘to do’ list being drafted by Mr Johnson from the beaches of Mustique where he is spending the New Year as he prepares for Brexit next month and – he has promised – a trade deal with the EU by December. Also high on Mr Johnson’s list are a Budget which could lead to a hike in Capital Gains Tax, a radical reorganisation of Whitehall departments and a mass Cabinet cull expected to lead to Michael Gove being given overall charge of global trade talks. The new taskforce, which will be headed by the Prime Minister’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost and is intended to be operational by Brexit Day on January 31, comes as new EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen questioned Mr Johnson’s timeframe for striking a deal by the end of next year. Ms von der Leyen set the fractious tone for the coming months by saying this weekend that she was ‘very worried’ by Mr Johnson’s timeframe for trade talks and suggested that the Brexit ‘transition’ period – which would see Britain locked inside the single market and customs union – could be extended until 2023.” – Mail on Sunday


Huawei deal ‘given green light’

“Security chiefs have given the green light for Boris Johnson to allow Chinese tech giant Huawei to provide Britain’s 5G networks, despite espionage fears. A senior security source told The Mail on Sunday ‘the balance between national security and the economic benefit to the UK is something we are confident we can manage’. The Prime Minister is due to convene his National Security Council in the third week of January to make a decision on whether the controversial firm can be trusted to provide elements of the vital upgrade. Preliminary discussions recommended excluding the firm from ‘core’ aspects of the British network. But the MoS understands that security service bosses have given their blessing to a plan to allow the firm to supply ‘non core’ elements such as antennae for high-speed mobile internet. However, such a move risks a row with the US, which takes a harder line on China. The NSC has previously been warned that blocking Huawei’s access to the UK’s 5G network risks leaving Britain in the technological dark age. A Whitehall source said: “This is now a purely political decision.” Huawei has consistently denied espionage allegations.” – Mail on Sunday

Fight against crime 1) New cash to divert youngsters from gangs…

“Boris Johnson will step up the war on violent crime this week with fresh action to stop youngsters being dragged into gang culture. The PM has approved an extra stream of funding for specialist teams operating in 18 of the worst hotspots. A £35million cash boost will enhance the work of Violence Reduction Units set up to tackle the root causes of street crime. It is part of a two-pronged approach, coupled with hiring 20,000 extra cops and tougher jail sentences for serious offenders. The units work with schools, youth clubs and community groups to intervene long before kids pick up a weapon. Hospital staff and social workers have now been given a legal duty to protect youngsters by flagging up knife wounds, suspicious injuries or unusual behaviour. Teachers are also under an obligation to report danger signs. Police recorded 47,000 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales in the year up to March 2019. In London alone, 2019 was the bloodiest year in a decade with 133 people violently killed. Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday said: “I will not tolerate criminals drawing vulnerable young people into a life of violence. “The units play a vital role in diverting young people away from crime and the funding I’ll announce will allow them to continue this important work.” – Sun on Sunday

Fight against crime 2) …Patel: Violence is being fuelled by guns, knives and drugs from abroad

“As Home Secretary, my number one job is to make sure that people are safe. No one should ever have to walk our streets afraid of being attacked. But the sad truth is, there has been a rise in some high-harm violent offences such as those involving knives and guns. Stabbings in Barnet and Elstree and a shooting in Battersea brought this reality home over the Christmas period. The homicide rate has started rising after a period of long-term decline and this rise has been most pronounced among young men. These crimes have devastating effects on our communities and often feel like very local crimes. But it’s a bleak fact that much of the violence is fuelled with trafficked guns, weapons and drugs that originate elsewhere. Street crime has become more internationalised. There is no one, simple solution to this. Our response has to be local, national and international. Locally, we have to understand what drives too many young people towards serious violence and intervene early. So on Sunday I am announcing a £35 million funding boost for Violence Reduction Units, which work to combat knife crime on our streets and to stop vulnerable young people from being drawn into a life of violence.” – Sunday Telegraph

Fight against crime 3) Police using AI tech with ‘troubling’ secrecy, says former MI5 chief

“Police and government agencies would have to publicly declare when they are using artificial intelligence to fight crime, under proposals to safeguard the civil liberties of members of the public, which are being drawn up for Boris Johnson by a former head of MI5. Lord Evans of Weardale, who is overseeing an official review of the use of AI in the public sector, said it was “troubling” that little is known about the increased use of AI by authorities, which are deploying automated software to recognise faces and help decide whether suspects should be bailed. Last week, it emerged that the emergency services could in the future remotely deploy drones to monitor accidents or ongoing crimes. Responding to fears that the use of AI could infringe the civil liberties of members of the public, Lord Evans said it was currently “very difficult” to find out where automated systems are being used by authorities. In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Lord Evans, who chairs Whitehall’s Committee on Standards in Public Life, said the use of AI by public bodies should be “visible and declared” where it could infringe on the civil liberties of members of the public.” – Sunday Telegraph

Howard accuses judges of twisting law

“Ex-Tory leader Michael Howard accuses judges of twisting the law to reach their desired outcome. He said the power of the courts had grown at the expense of democratically elected governments. Lord Howard, who became a QC in 1982, warned that judges were now “substituting their own views” in place of those of Parliament and ministers. He declared: “Sometimes, in order to reach the result they want to achieve, they distort the meaning of the Act of Parliament they are interpreting.” Lord Howard went on: “What we’ve seen in recent years is a very considerable increase in the power of the judiciary.” It follows growing concern over judges venturing into the political arena with rulings which have stifled attempts to deliver Brexit. Lord Howard blasted the Supreme Court for ruling Boris Johnson acted unlawfully when he suspended the Commons. He told BBC Radio 4 the law states proceedings in Parliament should not be impeached in any court, but that outgoing Supreme Court president Baroness Hale said because prorogation was not a decision of Parliament, it did not amount to a proceeding. Lord Howard added: “Prorogation was clearly, of any ordinary view of the language, a proceeding in Parliament.” The ex-Home Secretary spoke as the Government paved the way for an overhaul of the way judges are appointed.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Bercow first speaker in 230 years not to get automatic peerage – Sun on Sunday
  • Give public roles to Tories, ministers told – Sunday Times
  • Farage praises Johnson but issues warning to Brexiteers – Mail on Sunday
  • Guest editor Moore attacks ‘biased’ Today programme – Mail on Sunday
  • BBC faced dilemma over Thunberg interview – Sunday Times
  • Arcuri claims she has notes from Johnson chats – Sun on Sunday
  • Johnson and girlfriend fly to Caribbean in budget seats – Sun on Sunday
  • Britain First says 5,000 of its members have joined Tories – Observer
  • Tory anti-Brexiters tell where the next battle will be fought – Observer
  • Former senior Lib Dem slams ‘stupid’ and ‘extreme’ Brexit policy – Sunday Express

Blair sought EU funding while trying to stop Brexit

“Tony Blair was bidding for contracts with the European Union for his “institute for global change” as he publicly campaigned to overturn Brexit, The Telegraph can disclose. Documents obtained by this newspaper show that the former prime minister held talks with officials about striking a funding agreement between the European Commission and the not-for-profit Tony Blair Institute (TBI). The officials included Ana Gallo-Alvarez, who was previously seconded to Mr Blair’s Middle East envoy office as deputy head of mission. She chaired a meeting between Mr Blair’s staff and Commission officials last year after Mr Blair held talks with her then boss, Neven Mimica, an EU commissioner. On Saturday a TBI spokesman insisted that the institute was “perfectly entitled to seek EU funding for work relevant to EU funding streams”, adding: “As a matter of fact we have not yet submitted a formal application so no funding has been received.” She said any suggestion of a connection between the talks and Mr Blair’s opposition to Brexit was “absurd”. In emails seen by The Telegraph, Mr Blair’s staff explained that the institute wanted to “explore opportunities to receive financial support” and said Mr Blair had “unique” connections with leaders of developing countries.” – Sunday Telegraph

Corbyn allies cast doubt on leadership frontrunner

“Jeremy Corbyn’s allies are divided over who should succeed him amid concern that the frontrunner, Rebecca Long Bailey, is an unknown and lacks broad appeal among party members. Ian Lavery, the former miner and pro-Brexit chairman of the party, has told friends that he is considering a leadership challenge but is waiting for Long Bailey to set out her vision first. His candidacy would split Corbyn’s inner circle and enhance the prospects of a more moderate candidate such as the shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer. Lavery’s viability appeared in doubt last night, however, after a leaked recording revealed that he had joked about physically “grabbing” a female activist. Doubt over Long Bailey’s candidacy emerged at a meeting in the parliamentary office of shadow chancellor John McDonnell six days after the general election. A source who was present said he was told: “The concern is we just don’t know anything about her.” – Sunday Times

  • Has ‘Becky’ got the backbone to succeed Corbyn? – Sunday Times
  • Labour leadership rivals locked in bizarre war – Sun on Sunday
  • And Labour on course to become third party, Burnham warns – Sunday Telegraph
  • Ousted Labour MPs call for ‘fundamental change’ in party’s leadership – Sunday Telegraph
  • Corbyn’s exit ‘won’t end anti‑semitism’ – Sunday Times
  • Red wave of Labour women aims to turn tide after defeat – Sunday Times
News in Brief

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