Withdrawal Agreement Bill finally passes third reading

“Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal has passed through the Commons in a historic vote which brought it a step closer to being enshrined in law. MPs on Thursday night voted in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at its third reading by 330 votes to 231, a majority of 99. It came after three years of Parliamentary wrangling over Brexit, which is now set to happen on Jan 31. The Brexit Bill has now passed to the House of Lords, where peers will debate it next week. A source in the Lords said the Bill is likely to become law on Jan 22. The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the vote was a “significant positive step” to Brexit, adding: “The country did deliver a very clear message that they want Brexit to be resolved.”” – Daily Telegraph


  • UK to ‘keep ban on chlorinated chicken’ – FT
  • Refuse fishing access and risk another ‘cod war’, warns Brussels – Daily Telegraph
  • Barnier ‘sticks to firm line’ in talks – FT
  • Full trade deal will involve delay, insists Von der Leyen – The Sun


  • Why Britain needs the Brexit Spartans of the ERG now more than ever – Madeline Grant, Daily Telegraph


Ministers 1) Northern rail could run out of money within weeks, warns Shapps

“The operator of the UK’s ailing Northern rail franchise is soon going to run out of money — forcing the government to step in within weeks, the transport secretary said on Thursday. A decision will be made by the end of January whether to strip the franchise from Arriva Rail North or allow it to run a reduced service under a new contract, Grant Shapps said in a written statement. “It has now been confirmed to me from the most recent available financial information that the franchise will only be able to continue for a number of months,” Mr Shapps said. He will either accept Arriva’s plan for reduced services under a new contract or the state will take over as an operator of last resort. Arriva is owned by German state railway Deutsche Bahn.” – FT

Ministers 2) Smith says Stormont could be on the brink of returning

“Northern Ireland was on the brink of a deal on Thursday night to restore its government as the DUP signalled it would back a joint proposal tabled by London and Dublin. The British and Irish governments published a deal aimed and restoring the Stormont Executive and have called on Northern Ireland’s political parties to support it. Arlene Foster, the lead of the DUP said, “On balance we believe there is a basis upon which the Assembly and Executive can re-established in a fair and balanced way.” … Julian Smith, the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, has asked the speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly to convene the parliament on Friday and requested that the parties of the power sharing agreement attend and vote on the joint government proposal.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Draft deal ‘on the table’ – FT

Ministers 3) Raab signals crackdown on human rights abusers

“Britain is preparing to activate a new post-Brexit sanctions regime, with foreign secretary Dominic Raab planning to freeze the assets of Russian citizens and those of other countries deemed responsible for human rights abuses. Mr Raab on Thursday held talks with his Canadian counterpart, François-Philippe Champagne, as he sought to present Britain as part of a new western coalition intent on punishing those accused of murder, torture or inhuman treatment of others. The foreign secretary, a former human rights lawyer, is expected to introduce the new British sanctions regime next month. It would be followed by a specific list of people whose assets in the UK will be frozen.” – FT

  • Johnson backs theory that Iran shot down airliner with Britons aboard… – The Guardian
  • …and tells Iranian President that ‘nuclear deal must stay’ – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Richard Bingley in Comment: A cyber war is on the way

Government to put £71 million into Redcar steelworks

“Millions to transform an old steelworks is the first cash injection to help “level up” Britain. No 10 yesterday revealed that £71million would be spent in Redcar — an ex-Labour seat that is now held by the Tories. The money will help the site, which shut in 2015, turn into a business zone for green energy and tech companies. Treasury minister Rishi Sunak said: “This is our levelling-up agenda in action, as we back Teesside’s exciting ambitions to be a global trading centre with great jobs for world-leading industries.” Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “I have always said I would be the first to ask Government for more money when we needed it for the redevelopment of the former Redcar steelworks site. So, after asking, I’m pleased we will be receiving the £71m to help secure the site and accelerate its preparation for private sector investment.”” – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: HS2’s financial case gets weaker and weaker – but has its political justification held up any better?

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Reviving our high streets must mean working with the market

Four through to next round of Labour leadership contest

“Rebecca Long Bailey is through to the next round of the Labour leadership race on the back of support from MPs elected only last month. Four candidates — Ms Long Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips and Sir Keir Starmer — have secured the backing of 22 MPs or MEPs required to progress to the next stage. The campaigns of Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis appear to have stalled, raising questions over whether they will remain in the contest, while Barry Gardiner announced last night that he would no longer be standing. Candidates have until Monday to gather the necessary support. Figures on the Labour Party website show that 15 of the 26 nominations for Ms Long Bailey, the shadow business secretary, came from newly elected MPs.” – The Times

  • Now Thornberry gives Corbyn 0 out of 10 – Daily Mail


  • Ex-MP ‘not ashamed’ of visiting job centre – The Times
  • Gardiner receives £500,000 from firm linked to Chinese communists – Daily Mail


  • Labour has to bury Corbyn if it wants to win – Philip Collins, The Times

Scottish Labour to debate supporting an independence referendum

“Scottish Labour has been accused of surrendering to the SNP after it emerged its leader wants a special spring conference to decide whether to back a second independence referendum. Richard Leonard told his party’s Shadow Cabinet meeting this week he wants to hold the gathering in May to make a final decision, after consulting the membership on the key issue. It is understood the plan will be discussed at a meeting of Labour’s Scottish executive committee on Saturday, convened to arrange a wide-ranging review Mr Leonard is leading into the party’s disastrous general election performance. Labour lost all but one of its seven seats, recording its worst result north of the Border since 1910. Although Mr Leonard personally opposes holding another referendum, the Guardian reported that he would consider asking for a federal UK to be included in a multi-option vote.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Carlaw sets out his stall as the Scottish Tory leadership contest begins

Ministers ‘back Palace’ in row with Sussexes

“Ministers have backed Buckingham Palace this morning over Harry and Meghan’s split with the Royal family – but warned that the couple will likely still be funded by the taxpayer in future. Last night the top Royals shocked the country with their announcement they were stepping back from their Royal duties and would spend more time in North America – as revealed by The Sun 24 hours earlier… This morning Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick echoed the Palace’s statement, saying there were “issues to work through”… And he said that the Royals would likely continue to be funded by the taxpayer in future, saying there are “long-standing rules and guidelines” around the funding of the family.” – The Sun

  • Charles threatens to cut off Harry and Meghan’s cash – The Times
  • Six flaws in the plan – Daily Telegraph
  • Aides raise doubts over the Sussexes’ grasp of finances – The Times
  • Scotland Yard to review £600k protection – The Sun


  • Book deals and speeches could earn millions – The Times
  • Prince’s role in the Royal Marines could be under threat – Daily Express
  • Duchess ‘flees to Canada’ – Daily Mail

Fraser Nelson: There is logic to the choice, but you can’t be half-Royal

“A private life is on the cards, but it will have to be funded by a private income. Prince Harry is worth some £30 million (mainly through inheritance) – a pretty decent starting point for starting a new life abroad. If the Sussexes can restrict their budget to that of a Toronto multimillionaire, rather than Manhattan billionaire, it’s all doable. It just takes planning – and more patience than he has shown so far. The worst option, of course, was for Prince Harry to go rogue while still a full member of the household, which is how things had seemed. So in a way, he’s right to force the issue. A slimmed-down royal family will need an exit mechanism for those members seeking a private life: others may follow his path.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Sussexes will find it’s cold outside – Trevor Phillips, The Times
  • Absurd to blame this fiasco on ‘British racism’ – Sherelle Jacobs, Daily Telegraph
  • A move made seemingly without thought for the consequences – Ingrid Seward, The Times
  • Triumph of vanity over duty – Patrick Jephson, Daily Mail
  • Royals gave them everything they wanted, and still they wanted more – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph


  • Belief they can improve their image by cutting out the press is mistaken – The Times
  • There must have been a more sensitive way of handling this – Daily Telegraph
  • Obnoxious behaviour betrays the Royals and abuses taxpayers – The Sun

News in Brief:

  • Why Hague and Jolie’s sexual violence scheme went wrong – Isabel Hardman, The Spectator
  • Labour does not care if Scotland stays or goes – Graham Stewart, The Critic
  • Don’t expect Corbyn to go quietly – Stephen Pollard, UnHerd
  • Estonia’s digital state shows the way for Whitehall reform – Philip Salter, CapX
  • France split down the middle as pension protestors return to the streets – Walter Ellis, Reaction