Johnson in Northern Ireland as Treasury stumps up £2 billion to get deal going…

“Boris Johnson is preparing to hand over up to £2 billion to the new Northern Ireland executive as part of the deal that restored power-sharing after three years of impasse. The prime minister is due to arrive in Belfast today to hold talks with Arlene Foster, the Democratic Unionist Party’s first minister and Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Fein’s deputy first minister, at Stormont. His visit follows the landmark deal, accepted by the parties on Friday, that will restore the devolved institutions after three years of political deadlock. As part of the deal the Treasury is expected to find nearly £2 billion in additional funding to improve public services in the province.” – The Times

  • He hails ‘incredible time’ for the Province – The Guardian
  • Prime Minister ‘to push for nursing strike solution’ – FT

…as legacy proposals spark backlash from Tory MPs

“Boris Johnson has sparked a backlash from Tory MPs after it emerged the smallprint of his deal to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland risks opening up new Troubles probes into thousands of veterans. The Government’s New Decade, New Approach agreement that persuaded warring Northern Irish parties to restore the Stormont executive for the first time in three years promised to deal address “legacy issues” within 100 days. Senior Tories said this was “totally contradictory” to what the PM promised in his leadership campaign to end unjust prosecutions of Northern Ireland veterans. The row comes as Mr Johnson visits Belfast today to mark the “historic” reopening of the Stormont Assembly… But the PM is expected to face a grilling over exactly how much money the Government has committed to Northern Ireland as part of its successful efforts to restore power-sharing.” – The Sun

Jack rules out Scottish referendum ‘in Sturgeon’s lifetime’

“A second independence referendum should not be held while Nicola Sturgeon is First Minister or even during her lifetime, the Scottish Secretary has said as Boris Johnson prepares this week to formally reject her request for the legal powers. Alister Jack said his message to Ms Sturgeon was that the staging of any future separation vote would be a matter for her successor in Bute House and possibly her successor’s successor. As pledged by Mr Johnson during the recent Westminster election campaign, Mr Jack said the Prime Minister would not give her the powers for another referendum even if the SNP wins an outright majority in next year’s Holyrood election.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Time’s too short to elect an unknown as Scottish Tory leader – Jamie Greene MSP, The Times
  • No point in Leonard carrying on after indyref two defeat – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

Iran crisis deepens over arrest of ambassador

“Iranian protesters burnt the Union Jack outside the British embassy in Tehran as a diplomatic crisis over the arrest of the UK ambassador grew. A crowd of hardline religious students and regime supporters chanted “Death to England” and called for the expulsion of Rob Macaire, the ambassador. They also burnt Israeli flags. On Saturday Mr Macaire was detained in Tehran for half an hour after he left a vigil in memory of the 176 people killed on board a Ukrainian airliner shot down by Iran last week. Abbas Araghchi, the Iranian deputy foreign minister, claimed that Mr Macaire was arrested “as an unknown foreigner” and was released as soon as his credentials had been checked.” – The Times

  • Corbyn launches incendiary attack on ‘assassination’ of Soleimani – Daily Express

Security: Wallace calls for UK to have strategic autonomy from the US…

“Britain must be able to fight wars without the help of the US, the Defence Secretary has said, as he admitted the thought of America withdrawing from its leadership role keeps him awake at night. Ben Wallace said a forthcoming defence review must give Britain the ability to stand alone, particular in terms of surveillance and reconnaissance, rather than always relying on the US. He said: “The assumptions…that we were always going to be part of a US coalition on everything is really just not where we are going to be.” It came as Brandon Lewis, the Security Minister, said Britain should “stop putting ourselves down as a country” and realise that “we’ve got a loud voice”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson visit shows ‘critical importance’ of Omani alliance – The Guardian

…as MI5 chief ‘shrugs off’ Huawei risk to Britain’s intelligence relationships

“Andrew Parker, head of MI5, says he has “no reason to think” that the UK’s intelligence-sharing relationship with the US would be hit if Britain adopted Huawei technology in its 5G mobile phone network, as a key decision on the issue looms. Sir Andrew’s comments will increase expectations in UK government and industry circles that the Chinese company’s equipment will be permitted for use in some “non-core” parts of the network. Boris Johnson’s government will on Monday face last-minute lobbying from Washington to exclude Huawei from the country’s 5G network, as the prime minister prepares to make a decision — expected this month — with huge geopolitical and economic consequences.” – FT

  • Johnson ‘risks major spat with Trump’ – The Sun
  • American delegation demands idea is dropped – Daily Mail
  • Tech is ‘biggest challenge and opportunity’, says Parker  – FT

>Today: Bob Seeley MP in Comment: Why the Government should listen to our allies and say: no way, Huawei

Cummings wants ‘Cobra-style’ meetings to advance agenda

“Dominic Cummings is preparing to use Cobra-style security meetings to push through Boris Johnson’s agenda and hold ministers and officials to account. The prime minister’s chief adviser wants last year’s emergency no-deal preparations to become a template for reforming decision-making and project management in Whitehall. The move could mean the scrapping of many cabinet committees in which decisions have traditionally been made. They would be replaced by groups in which ministers, officials and advisers from across departments worked together on specific projects. The structure would be modelled on the government’s Cobra emergency committee and the so-called XO committee that oversaw the no-deal delivery plans.” – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: How to help hold those new Red Wall seats. Introducing the Midlands and Middlesbrough masterclass.

Labour 1) Long-Bailey calls for Lords to be scrapped

“Labour should pledge to abolish the House of Lords as part of a package of measures to shake up the constitution, the leading Corbynite contender for the party leadership has said. Rebecca Long Bailey said that the unelected second chamber was symptomatic of the “Westminster bubble” where power lay far from the communities that Labour needed to win back. The shadow business secretary also said she would not stand in the way of another Scottish independence referendum but was committed to the Union. Today is the deadline for leadership candidates to get nominations from at least 22 MPs or MEPs to go forward to the next stage of the process.” – The Times

  • Starmer targets rank-and-file members… – FT
  • …as Long-Bailey brands him ‘part of the establishment’ – The Sun
  • Lewis says Brexit campaign had ‘racism at its heart’ – Daily Mail
  • Thornberry admits she was wrong to ‘sneer’ at St George’s flags – The Sun
  • Hopeful make final pitches for support – The Guardian


  • Starmer has the ability and the character, but what does he stand for? – Andrew Rawnsley, The Guardian
  • Starmer would be a nightmare leader, he bulldozed Labour’s Red Wall – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun


  • Left-winger shows a Labour which cannot win – The Times


Labour 2) Members claim antisemitism scandal was ‘stoked by Israel’

“Labour’s overseas members have been accused of “conspiracy mongering” after compiling a report that claimed the party’s anti-Semitism row was “stoked by Israel’s government”. Charles James, author of a report which has been seen by The Telegraph entitled “General Election Part Two: Why didn’t we win?”, wrote: “Many of us believe that the row about anti-Semitism has been stoked by the government of Israel and its helpers in the UK.” Citing a 2017 documentary produced by Al Jazeera, which explored the relationship between the Israel lobby and British politics, Mr James, who is secretary of the 3,500-strong group, wrote that the “government of Israel is putting significant efforts and finances into influencing British politics, including the Labour Party”. He said the motive was to “prevent the election of a Labour government that will recognise a Palestinian state”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Long-Bailey ‘sticks knife into Corbyn’ over antisemitism – The Sun
  • Phillips forced to suspend key aide for ‘offensive’ antisemitic tweets – The Sun

Brexit 1) Pannick attacks plan to give ministers say over EU law

“Boris Johnson is trying to take control over a “fundamental aspect” of Britain’s independent legal system that will damage the integrity of the courts, a senior lawyer has warned. Under new powers in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, after Brexit ministers will be able to rule which British courts are no longer bound by previous European Court of Justice rulings. A previous version of the legislation, introduced by Mr Johnson last year, said that only the Supreme Court could overrule ECJ precedence. Opponents of the change fear it will create legal uncertainty and reverse established decisions in areas such as competition law, environmental protections and equal pay. Writing in The Times, Lord Pannick, QC, who led the action against the prime minister’s prorogation of parliament, said Mr Johnson was proposing to give ministers powers that belonged only to parliament.” – The Times

  • Meddling peers plot last-minute changes to Withdrawal Agreement Bill – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Marr asks Lewis when Russian interference report will be published

Brexit 2) Ashcroft offers to pay for Big Ben

“Ministers are preparing a package of announcements to mark the moment Britain leaves the EU at the end of this month, which could include a commemorative coin and Big Ben ringing out… Strident Brexiteer Mark Francois is leading efforts to get the bell restarted. Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has said he would back the scheme as long as MPs voted in favour, while pro-Brexit businessman Lord Ashcroft has offered to foot the £120,000 cost. A Downing Street spokesman insisted that no final decisions had been made on how 31 January will be marked. Some in the Government are nervous about holding too many flashy events in case it alienates people who voted Remain.” – The i

Lord Callanan: Peers can start to finally put Brexit to bed

“It is important to recognise the role that my colleagues in the House of Lords have played in the Brexit process, particularly in the Lords’ EU committee and constitution committee. Their input throughout the Brexit process has proved invaluable. That is why the bill recognises the importance of the committee in scrutinising EU legislation. From today peers will have an opportunity to scrutinise the withdrawal agreement bill. So before the debate, I want to clarify that this bill is about delivering Brexit, nothing more, nothing less. That does not mean we are ignoring the concerns that peers have raised in recent days and weeks… Not everyone will agree on the need to take back control; that’s the nature of political debate. But what I do hope my colleagues in the Lords take into account is that the public want parliament to end the division and uncertainty that has bogged us down these past three years.” – Times Red Box

  • We’re leaving the EU, but EU law remains – Lord Pannick, The Times
  • The only ones ‘taking back control’ are ministers – Baroness Hayter, Times Red Box


  • Johnson can now deliver a ‘Brexit in name only’. Will he? – William Keegan, The Guardian
  • Why Britain should prioritise American trade talks over the EU – Steve Baker MP, Daily Telegraph

Sir Roger Scruton passes away aged 75

“Sir Roger Scruton, one of the country’s most controversial philosophers, has died aged 75 after a six-month battle with cancer. The prolific intellectual had published around 50 books over his career on aesthetics, morals and politics. A statement on Sir Roger’s personal website said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Sir Roger Scruton, FBA, FRSL… In April last year Sir Roger was sacked from his role as chairman of the independent body, Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, after comments he made about China and financier George Soros were published by the New Statesman magazine. The quotes attributed to Sir Roger by the New Statesman described the Chinese “creating robots out of their own people” and referred to a “Soros empire” in Hungary – a reference to the Jewish billionaire George Soros.” – Daily Telegraph

  • A towering intellect whose only crime was to be a conservative – Toby Young, Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Scruton and the Conservatives. “A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country.”

Prince Harry ‘in turmoil’ over cutting royal links

“The Duchess of Sussex is determined to step away from the royal family but Prince Harry would be “heartbroken” if he had to sever links altogether, a source close to the couple has said. The Queen is holding urgent talks at Sandringham today to decide the couple’s future after they announced a desire to step back from their roles as senior royals. An insider has told The Times that the pair both feel “tethered” by their responsibilities. The source added that the couple regarded themselves as having been pushed away by what they saw as a bullying attitude from the Duke of Cambridge. These claims have been strongly contested by sources close to the Cambridges, as well as some close to Prince Harry.” – The Times

  • Palace fears Duke and Duchess could go public with ‘damaging accusations’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Military figures dismayed by Duke of Sussex’s behaviour – Daily Telegraph
  • Fabricant urges Queen to make Harry the Governor-General of Canada – The Sun


  • The Queen is the real model for the monarchy’s success – Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph
  • Be careful what you wish for, Sussexes – Libby Purves, The Times
  • The NYT has got it wrong about Meghan and racism – Sherelle Jacobs, Daily Telegraph


  • The Queen must be firm – The Sun

News in Brief:

  • Scruton: A man who seemed bigger than the age – Douglas Murray, The Spectator
  • How Johnson could blow his majority – Peter Franklin, UnHerd
  • Who made parliament woke? – David Scullion, The Critic
  • Labour is in denial about its core vote – James Bloodworth, CapX
  • US-Iran tensions reveal President Trump’s methodical madness – Inderjeet Parmar, Reaction