DUP and Sinn Fein return to Stormont

“Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government is expected to be restored within days after Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party signed up to a draft deal brokered by the British and Irish governments. Three years after Sinn Fein walked out of the executive, causing the collapse of the Stormont assembly, the party announced it would return. Mary Lou McDonald, the Sinn Fein president, described the moment as historic, adding: “Let’s get back to work.” Earlier, Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, indicated that her party was ready to re-enter government with Sinn Fein, following the publication of a draft deal and a promised investment package for Northern Ireland’s struggling public services thought to be worth billions.” – The Times

  • Johnson hails ‘great step forward’ – Daily Mail
  • Republicans back power-sharing deal – Daily Telegraph
  • Deal offers hope to Northern Irish businesses – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Smith’s plan for Northern Ireland undercuts the Government on veterans and Brexit

Cummings ‘frozen out’ of hunt for ‘weirdos’

“The prime minister’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings has been warned that he can have no personal role in recruiting new civil service “weirdos and misfits” to shake up Whitehall. This month Mr Cummings used his personal blog to call for people with different skills and backgrounds to apply to work in Downing Street. He asked them to email him directly with CVs, suggesting that while some would be hired as political special advisers, others would be taken on as civil service officials. However, it is understood that Mr Cummings has been told that, while he can have a role in recruiting special advisers, he is banned from selecting or championing any applicants to become civil servants.” – The Times

  • He has a case for shaking up Whitehall – FT

Prime Minister accused of reducing Parliament to ‘passive observers’

“Boris Johnson has been accused of trying to reduce Parliament to “passive observers” during his negotiations with the EU over a trade deal. A House of Lords committee complained that a mechanism for giving MPs and peers a say in approving the negotiating objectives had been taken out of Mr Johnson’s version of the deal. The panel said that while the European Parliament would be able to scrutinise the future trade deal, Westminster politicians would have no such role. The Prime Minister’s EU Withdrawal Bill was passed unamended by the House of Commons by a majority of 99 earlier this week, and will be debated by the House of Lords next week.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Public fear that the Lords could delay the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – Daily Express
  • France to ‘defy Johnson’ and take three years to ratify a deal – The Sun


  • Watchdog bars Hammond discussing Brexit role with employers – Daily Telegraph
  • ‘Do we carry on with crash, bang, wallop nationalism?’ – Lunch with Ken Clarke, FT
  • US trade deal would ‘strengthen hand’ against Brussels, ambassadors claims – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: Will Big Ben chime to mark the moment we leave the EU?

Matthew Parris: The new Johnson is admirably dull

“Senior aides and special advisers have apparently been told that if their ministerial bosses want to advance their careers, they’ll do it best by “focusing on departmental progress rather than media hits”. If they have something to say to him they should tell the boss direct, not via the Today programme. According to this account, he hates brown-nosing. He likes meetings to be short, businesslike and to the point. There is no need to tell him what a fine prime minister he is. I watched PMQs on Wednesday after reading that apparently well-informed account of how Johnson wants to run things. The way he handled things in the chamber entirely bore out the report. There was very little of the bluff and bluster we’ve come to associate with Johnson, no jokes and no showing off.” – The Times

‘Class war’ in Cabinet over housing policy

“Two Cabinet ministers are at loggerheads in a ‘class war’ over the Government’s policy on housing. The row involves multi-millionaire Housing and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick and his deputy Esther McVey, who is from a ‘blue collar’ background. In recent months there have been heated discussions in the department over how the Government should be spending its housing cash – and which voters it should be targeting. It is understood that Cambridge graduate Mr Jenrick, 38, a rising star in Westminster who has been an MP for just six years, wants to prioritise traditional Tory policies of helping voters on to the housing ladder. But he has clashed with Miss McVey, 52, a former Barnardo’s child from Liverpool who has argued for money to go into more council housing to help the working-class voters who switched from Labour at the last election.” – Daily Mail

  • Scottish Tories will reward, not penalise blue-collar workers under my leadership – Jackson Carlaw MSP, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Eddie Hughes MP in Comment: Yes, let’s move CCHQ resources to the regions. But do so authentically.

Goldsmith calls for changes in aid rules

“Environment minister Zac Goldsmith has called for international aid rules to allow Britain to help Australia tackle the devastating bushfires, despite the country’s own wealth. He made the call as he revealed he has donated his £9,000 MP winding-up fee, paid on the loss of his seat at the general election, to the Australian wildlife rescue charity WIRES. Baron Goldsmith, who was appointed a life peer and remained Minister for the Environment and International Development after losing Richmond Park to the Lib Dems, demanded an overhaul of overseas aid to allow the UK to donate to any country in crisis. The call appears to put him at odds with the international rules on aid funding followed by his own department.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Shapps accused of exploiting position to promote private flying – The Times
  • Patel sends US extradition notice for woman who killed British motorist – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Michael Nazir-Ali in Comment: This new Conservative Government should learn from the wisdom of Burke

Bailey launches ‘scathing attack’ on Khan

“London Mayor candidate Shaun Bailey has launched a scathing attack on Sadiq Khan over the Capital’s shocking murder rate and revealing people are even being stabbed on the way to knife awareness courses. The Tory favourite, who is running against Mr Khan and ex-Cabinet member Rory Stewart for the role, hit out at the Labour politician over London’s out-of-control knife rime epidemic that last year saw a staggering 135 people murdered. The first victim of 2020 was killed on January 3 – three days after the New Year began. Mr Bailey told 2019 will be “remembered as a year of crime and fear for Londoners”… Mr Bailey has also taken aim at Mr Stewart’s campaign tactics following the Remainer’s announcement to leave his seat in Parliament to run in the race for Mayor of London.” – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Shaun Bailey in Local Government: We need tougher sentences to protect the LGBTQ+ community

Corbynistas oppose Rayner as Labour deputy

“Jeremy Corbyn’s allies have shunned the frontrunner to be deputy leader amid reports of longstanding resentment over her perceived lack of loyalty. John McDonnell and Diane Abbott have overlooked Angela Rayner, the favourite, who has campaigned on a so-called joint ticket with her friend Rebecca Long Bailey. Mr McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, and Ms Abbott, the shadow home secretary, have instead backed the shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, causing consternation in the wider party. In the race for the party leadership, activists from Momentum, the grassroots campaign group, are protesting against the assumption that Ms Long Bailey should be their designated candidate without a vote by members.” – The Times

  • She asks Long-Bailey to axe Corbyn’s ‘toxic’ aides – Daily Telegraph
  • Nearly half the public rate Corbyn 0/10 – The Sun

Lewis calls for referendum on the monarchy

“Labour leadership candidate Clive Lewis has called for a referendum on booting out the Royal family. Mr Lewis claimed there was support for the monarchy to be “scaled down” following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s shocking decision to move to Canada. Corbynista Clive Lewis called for the vote earlier today, while trying to boost his fledgling campaign for the Labour leadership. The shadow treasury minister said the public should be allowed to vote on “what the future of the monarchy is” as he fights to be leader… Mr Lewis said being black could be part of the reason he has received so few nominations, saying the Labour Party is not immune to “structural racism”.” – The Sun

  • He blames ‘race bias’ for lack of support – The Times
  • Phillips: people would pay more tax for decent care – The Guardian
  • Starmer vows to stamp out anti-Semitism – Daily Mail


  • Labour’s heartlands may be gone for ever, it needs to find new ones – Andy Beckett, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Iain Dale’s column: How Harry and Meghan sunk Barry Gardiner’s Labour leadership bid

Cabinet Secretary ‘dragged into’ royal row

“The cabinet secretary has been dragged into the row over Prince Harry’s future role in the monarchy. The Times understands that Sir Mark Sedwill has been consulted by Buckingham Palace on the implications to the state of the couple’s desire to “step back” from royal duties and spend more time abroad. Ultimately Sir Mark and the prime minister will be asked to approve any proposal involving public funds put forward by the palace on behalf of the government. This will include any cost to the taxpayer of additional security required to protect the couple if they go ahead with their plan to spend more time in Canada. While Prince Harry, who served in the army in Afghanistan, remains a high-profile potential terrorist target, such costs could be hard to justify if he steps back from royal duties.” – The Times

  • Polls show public want them to lose titles and public funding – Daily Mail
  • Patel ‘to help decide’ on funding for Sussexes… – The Sun
  • …and Raab will have to make the call on overseas travel – Daily Mail
  • Queen ‘wants rift repaired in 72 hours’ – Daily Telegraph


  • They’re already worth £35 million, they don’t need to be bankrolled – The Sun

Tehran admits to accidentally shooting down passenger jet

“The Iranian military has admitted it “unintentionally” shot down the Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed this week, killing all 176 people on board. The announcement, which was made on Iranian state TV, blamed “human error” for the tragedy and said that the aircraft had flown close to a sensitive military site and had been mistaken for a “hostile plane”. “The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, said. ““Investigations continue to identify and prosecute this great tragedy and unforgivable mistake.” … The general staff of the Iranian armed forces said today that those responsible for the incident will be brought before military justice “immediately”.” – The Times

  • Trump administration toughens sanctions on Iran – FT


  • President has created an opportunity but he will waste it – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph
  • Impeachment has only made him more popular – Thomas Meaney, The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • Stormont breakthrough won’t solve Northern Ireland’s long-term problems – Owen Polley, Reaction
  • Official Ireland surrenders to Sinn Fein’s history – Kevin Myers, The Critic
  • Blue collar Conservatism can unlock liberty and prosperity for millions – Ben Bradley MP, 1828
  • He’s no Trump, but Johnson may be Britain’s Shinzo Abe – Oliver Wiseman, CapX
  • Harry and Meghan’s embarrassing predicament – Douglas Murray, UnHerd