Christmas Message 1) The Queen will say that “small steps” can overcome division

“She will say: ‘Small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding. The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference.’ For the first time Prince George and Princess Charlotte may accompany their parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It is thought that at six and four they are now old enough to sit through the service. Their younger brother, Prince Louis, 19 months, will stay at Sandringham with his nanny, Maria Borrallo.” – Daily Mail

Christmas Message 2) Johnson to highlight Christians facing persecution abroad

“In his first Christmas message to the nation as prime minister, Mr Johnson declared: “Today of all days, I want us to remember those Christians around the world who are facing persecution. For them, Christmas Day will be marked in private, in secret, perhaps even in a prison cell.” He added: “As prime minister, that’s something I want to change. We stand with Christians everywhere, in solidarity, and will defend your right to practise your faith.” – Financial Times

> Today:

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Christmas (and Brexit). Late in time behold them come.

Can rough sleeping be ended by 2025?

“Mr Johnson’s government has promised to address the problem, including ending rough sleeping within five years. But policy experts said existing measures were not enough to tackle the roots of homelessness. Rather than blaming immigration, they said the main cause was the lack of low-cost housing that has forced many on low incomes into expensive private renting, and thousands from there into temporary accommodation organised by local councils.” – Financial Times

  • The housing crisis should be as much of a priority as Brexit – Rachel Sylvester, The Times
  • Johnson must fix housing – Sun Editorial

> Today: Paul Mercer on Local Government: Tackling homelessness from the ground up

Storm clouds gather over defence review

“Boris Johnson has duly announced a strategic review — the third in five years — and promised it will be “radical”, covering all aspects of international policy ranging from defence and diplomacy to development. However, in setting out the parameters, Downing Street has also fired a warning shot: the new strategy will seek to modernise defence capabilities, while reducing costs in the long term. Even before the review has begun, the spectre of budgetary constraint is already causing anxiety within the military, with the heads of the armed forces battling to close a shortfall of more than £1bn in next year’s allocation, as the FT reported last week.” – Financial Times

Bottomley interview: “In each department in which I was a Minister, I would volunteer to go”

““In each department I was in, I would say – you have at least one minister too many. If you want a vacancy let me know, and I’ll go,” he says today. Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s chief of staff who plans to scale back the machine of government, could thus find an ally in Sir Peter, who has been an MP since 1975. Speaking in his first newspaper interview since becoming Father of the House, Sir Peter said: “Anyone can be a half competent minister. You’ve got civil servants to prop you up, journalists to give you a running commentary on what you ought to be doing.” – Daily Telegraph

More Ministers and other news

  • Whateley hopes British investor will save Gainsborough painting – Daily Mail
  • Ministers accused of “abject failure” as fewer get on their bikes – The Times
  • SDLP committed to power-sharing – Belfast Telegraph
  • Ministers to monitor racist football chanting – Daily Telegraph
  • The MPs making Christmas pies and roaming around graveyards – The Sun
  • Osborne has been and remains opposed to Universal Credit – Daily Telegraph
  • Ireland’s coalition is on the verge of collapse – Daily Express
  • Christmas eve trains cancelled by Northern Rail because of “unprecedented levels of sickness” – Manchester Evening News
  • Northern Powerhouse impetus is making up for lost time – Yorkshire Post Editorial
  • Spectacular Boxing Day eclipse due – Daily Express

Labour review “won’t back a leadership candidate”

“Labour Together, which is running what it calls a cross-factional commission into the party’s worst election showing since 1935, will assess what went wrong in the December poll. Miliband, the former Labour leader, and Lucy Powell MP, his campaign manager for the 2015 election, are leading the initiative alongside the MP Shabana Mahmood and representatives from unions, local parties and community groups. They will be taking soundings from the leftwing campaign group Momentum and the centre-left group Progress.” – The Guardian

  • Burgon labelled “barking mad” – Daily Telegraph
  • White Van Man V Thornberry – The Sun
  • Long-Bailey may not win – The Times
  • Scotland’s only Labour MP considering deputy leader bid – Scotsman
  • The five lessons that Labour must learn – William Hague, Daily Telegraph
  • The Left would rather dissolve the people than understand them – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph
  • Labour could be left without a functioning opposition – Rosa Prince, Daily Telegraph
  • A party in denial – Times Editorial

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