Johnson prepares to unveil Queen’s Speech

“Boris Johnson will announce immediate help for the high street today in the first Queen’s Speech of his ‘people’s government’. Half a million independent shops, restaurants, pubs and cinemas will benefit from a cut in business rates from April. Standard retailer discounts will rise from 33 per cent to 50 per cent – at a cost of around £320million. It comes as it was revealed that the Queen’s Speech will contain 40 bills and introduce sweeping changes targeting the NHS, the legal system and Brexit. The Prime Minister intends to put the health service at the heart of the Government’s legislative programme alongside moves to finally force through EU withdrawal by the end of January.” – Daily Mail

  • Pledge to halve business rates for struggling high street shops – The Sun
  • Tough accounting watchdog planned – FT
  • Prime Minister vows to end ‘witch hunt’ of veterans – The Sun
  • Second independence referendum ‘ruled out’ – The Scotsman
  • BBC ‘braced for funding battle’ – FT
  • Planning reforms to ‘turbo-charge’ house building – The Sun

>Today: Garvan Walshe’s column: Merging DfID and the FCO makes sense in these tough times

Armed Forces leadership warns of funding crisis

“The British armed forces face a funding crisis that threatens to ground aircraft and restrict deployments of support vessels, amid increasing concerns about operational commitments as spending constraints bite. Gen Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, summoned the heads of the army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy to an urgent meeting this week to discuss a critical shortfall in next year’s defence budget. The gap, which one military official said was equivalent to £1bn in the next financial year, is exacerbated by financial commitments such as the F35 fighter jets, the world’s most expensive warplanes, and the new fleet of Astute-class submarines.” – FT

>Yesterday: Sir Julian Brazier in Comment: So Downing Street wants to tackle defence procurement. Here are five ways in which it should change.

Hancock hints that Johnson may u-turn on ‘milkshake tax’

“Health Secretary Matt Hancock has sparked fears that Brits could be slapped with a new “fat tax” on milkshakes and other sugary products. Boris Johnson vowed to axe plans for a “Milkshake Tax” when he ran for Tory leader. But Mr Hancock refused point-blank to rule out extending the hated sugar tax to other products such as sugary milk drinks, speciality lattes and juice-based drinks. Pressed on whether he could at least rule out a Milkshake Tax, Mr Hancock pointedly dodged the question and simply repeated his election mantra: “Fifty thousand more nurses.” But he did bin recommendations from Public Health England to ban eating and drinking on public transport.” – The Sun

  • He also urges people to stop mocking the ‘worried well’… – The Times
  • …and denies u-turn over nursing bursary – The Guardian


  • Northern Irish nurses on strike – FT


  • The rise in part-time GPs is a symptom of failure – J Meirion Thomas, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: John O’Connell in Think Tanks: Why supporters of low taxes should be optimistic about this Government

Revised boundaries would push Tory majority north of 100

“Boris Johnson would secure a 104-seat majority under proposed boundary changes that could be introduced before the next election, an exclusive analysis reveals. The Conservatives would have twice as many seats as Labour under the reforms which were put forward by the Boundary Commissions in 2018 for a slimmed down 600-seat House of Commons. The Tories would have 352 seats (just 13 down from their 365 seats in the new Parliament) compared to Labour’s 174 (down 29 seats on their current showing), with the SNP in third place on 47 (just two down). The Liberal Democrats would drop another four seats to have just seven MPs, tied with Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).” – Daily Telegraph


New MPs ‘flock to ERG’

“New Conservative MPs have rushed to sign up with the party’s hardline group of Eurosceptics, casting doubt on claims that the size of Boris Johnson’s general election victory will allow him to ignore them. Newly elected Tories outnumbered their experienced colleagues at the first meeting of the European Research Group (ERG) since last Thursday’s vote, its chairman said. The new MPs included Joy Morrissey, who defeated Dominic Grieve, the pro-EU Tory rebel who stood as an independent in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. The ERG, formerly led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, was a thorn in Theresa May’s side as she repeatedly tried to get her Brexit deal through parliament.” – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Johnson – at a stroke, a bigger player in foreign affairs, because of his larger majority. But what does he want to do?

Warsi raises doubts over Islamophobia inquiry

“The Conservatives have been warned not to “make the same mistakes” as Labour in the party’s inquiry into how it handles complaints of racism. The Board of Deputies of British Jews said that the Conservative inquiry into racism, including Islamophobia, must not avoid “difficult questions”. The intervention came after the Conservatives announced they had appointed Swaran Singh, a psychiatrist working at Warwick University, to lead the independent review into “all forms of discrimination and prejudice”. His appointment has been questioned by Baroness Warsi, the former Conservative chairwoman, who highlighted articles written by Professor Singh in which he discussed the role of Pakistan in the ethnic cleansing of Kashmir’s non-Muslim population.” – The Times

Thornberry and Starmer join Labour leadership race

“Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, has announced that she is entering the Labour leadership race and said she had warned Jeremy Corbyn that backing a general election would be an “act of catastrophic political folly”. Attempting to move the debate on from Brexit, Ms Thornberry said that her party needed to choose a successor who was best placed to take on Boris Johnson…Earlier, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary pledged not to abandon Jeremy Corbyn’s “radicalism” for a move back to the Blairite centre ground, as he set out his pitch for the party leadership. In a bid to win support from the left of the party, Sir Keir Starmer said Labour should not react to its crushing election defeat to “oversteer” back to the “bygone age”.” – The Times

  • She urges Corbyn’s senior aides to quit – Daily Mail
  • First candidates formally enter the contest – FT
  • Starmer’s Wikipedia entry removes reference to wealth – Daily Telegraph
  • Trickett says he ‘warned party’ about ignoring northern voters – The Guardian

The Left:

  • Corbynite MP insults colleagues – The Sun
  • Some voters ‘wanted to shoot’ leader, says Pidcock – The Guardian

>Today: Grieg Baker in Comment: Why I broke the news about what Jon Ashworth really thinks of Corbyn

Staff angry over post-election fallout

“Labour party staff who are angry that they face losing their jobs while senior aides to Jeremy Corbyn remain on the payroll have been called in to meetings to discuss possible redundancies. A leaked email sent on Wednesday shows that workers and advisers from the offices of the Labour leader and shadow ministers have been invited to meetings with their line managers following Thursday’s catastrophic election result… Labour’s communications director, Seumas Milne, and one of the party’s election directors, Karie Murphy, remain in their posts despite the party’s worst showing since the 1930s. Most of those who work for the leader of the opposition are on time-limited contracts while Jeremy Corbyn remains leader. It is understood that Milne and Murphy have been moved across to permanent contracts with the Labour party.” – The Guardian

Dick Taverne: The lessons Labour needs to learn from 1958

“At the 1959 general election the Conservative majority was 100. The general view was that there would never be a Labour government again. Jenkins, one of whose numerous gifts was a strong sense of history, then wrote an article arguing that, while the outlook for Labour was not good, its recovery could not be ruled out. We should remember what happened to the Conservatives after the Boer war: in 1902, there was not a cloud on the horizon for Lord Salisbury’s government; the Liberal opposition deeply divided over the war. Four years later, the biggest anti-Conservative landslide in history.” – The Guardian

  • Corbynistas think the voters let them down – David Aaronovitch, The Times
  • Momentum’s munchkins still hold power – Rod Liddle, The Sun
  • Why I hope the Opposition recover – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Forget Labour, it’s the Tories who need scrutinising – Martin Kettle, The Guardian

Congress votes to impeach Trump

“Donald Trump became the third president in American history to be impeached as the House of Representatives voted along party lines last night to set up a trial in the Senate. President Trump, 73, has denied having done anything wrong and accused the Democrats of an “assault on America” for bringing charges against him over his alleged attempt to “dig for dirt” in Ukraine on Joe Biden, a potential presidential rival. The House voted by 230 to 197 to impeach him for abuse of power, and by 229 to 198 to impeach him on obstruction. Not a single Republican voted in support of impeachment, reflecting the polarisation of America under the Trump presidency.” – The Times

  • Disgrace may only fire up his fans – Justin Webb, Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Ben Roback’s column: Scant sign of festive cheer as Republicans and Democrats wage an impeachment war

News in Brief:

  • Perhaps my campaign was ‘clunking’. But sometimes, clunking is what you need – Boris Johnson, The Spectator
  • The real reasons Labour lost – Glen O’Hara, CapX
  • The SNP has no mandate for a second independence referendum – John Macleod, Reaction
  • It’s time to break the left’s grip on the young – Emily Carver, 1828
  • Not all Remainers are liberals – Eric Kaufmann, UnHerd

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