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Big decision 1) Government-owned firm behind HS2 ‘trying to con’ Johnson

“The Telegraph can disclose that HS2 Ltd has been “revising” agreements with companies carrying out the main construction works on the line so that future cost increases will be borne by the firm, which is funded by taxpayers’ money, rather than private contractors. Separately, speaking out for the first time today, Colin Morris, HS2’s former director of strategy, said the company appeared to be “artificially” lowering the estimated costs of the scheme in a move that could make the final taxpayers’ bill significantly higher than the current likely price tag of more than £100 billion. In a devastating attack, Mr Morris, said the scheme was “not fit for purpose” and compared it to someone taking out a mortgage on a house they were unable to afford and then expecting their children to foot the bill in the future.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Scrapping HS2 ‘will cost £12bn’ – Mail on Sunday
  • Jobs axe provides test for Tory promises to ‘level up’ regions – FT
  • Johnson is running a ‘Goodfellas government’ by allowing aides such as Cummings to terrorise Whitehall, claims cabinet minister – Mail on Sunday
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Big decision 2) Trump’s anger over Huawei deal casts cloud on PM’s Brexit celebrations…

“Boris Johnson has been warned that he is on course for a diplomatic war with Donald Trump and a furious cabinet row over plans to hand Huawei, the Chinese telecoms firm, access to Britain’s 5G phone network. The US president told Johnson on Friday night that giving a green light to the deal would be a grave threat to national security — risking a split in transatlantic relations that threatens to overshadow Friday’s Brexit celebrations, which Johnson has been working towards for three years. Trump is understood to have suggested to Johnson that Britain and America build an alternative to Huawei together. But UK officials believe that would take too long.” – Sunday Times

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…And Heseltine says Brexit celebrations rub Remainers’ noses in it

“The Tory peer and former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine has accused Boris Johnson of trying to “rub the noses of Remainers in their defeat”, after the prime minister announced events to commemorate the UK’s departure from the EU this coming Friday at 11pm. Downing Street said that 3m special 50p coins bearing the words “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations” will enter shops, banks and restaurants from Friday with a further 7m coming into circulation by the end of the year. Union Jack flags will also line Parliament Square and the Mall on Friday and the public will see government buildings in Whitehall lit up in red, white and blue.” – Observer

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Coronavirus crisis: NHS staff told how to handle bodies

“The advice for hospitals comes as the Foreign Office is arranging a charter flight to bring home 200 diplomats and other citizens from Wuhan. NHS staff on high alert over a lethal new virus have been issued with instructions on handling bodies and told that victims may pose a “minor risk” even after they die. It emerged as China warned that the spread of the virus was “accelerating” and the UK was poised to evacuate about 200 citizens from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the centre of the illness. GPs in the UK have been ordered to avoid examining suspected victims and told to keep them in closed rooms. All 31 people so far suspected by the NHS to have the virus have tested negative. However, officials are braced for the first positive case. One said the prospect was “highly likely”. – Sunday Times

Black Rod bids to block ‘bully’ Bercow’s peerage

“John Bercow’s chances of a peerage have suffered a new setback after a former Black Rod, one of the most senior officials in the Houses of Parliament, submitted a complaint about his bullying behaviour. Lieutenant General David Leakey, who was Black Rod for seven years during Bercow’s time as Speaker, has sent a dossier to the parliamentary commissioner for standards detailing his “bullying, intimidation and unacceptable behaviour”. It describes how Bercow allegedly subjected Leakey to abuse about his education, army career and social background — and accused Leakey of being an anti-semite in an angry rage when he banged his fists on the table.” – Sunday Times

  • Dossier outlining ‘bullying’ by Bercow to be lodged to stop his peerage – Sun on Sunday

Corbyn plots his socialist Labour legacy and a mission to Iraq

“Jeremy Corbyn plans to spend the next two months “embedding a socialist narrative” and “ensuring a Corbyn legacy” so his radical politics are locked into Labour’s future whoever succeeds him. A leaked strategy document obtained by The Sunday Times reveals that Corbyn has even drafted plans for a symbolic visit to Baghdad to promote “anti- imperialism” and show that there can never again be a return to Blairite politics. The Labour leader will focus on “inspiring young people”, visiting the “red wall” of seats in the north and Midlands, and championing “solidarity struggles” abroad prior to stepping down in April. On resigning in April, Corbyn, 70, will continue to serve as the MP for Islington North while launching his own organisation: the For The Many Foundation.” – Sunday Times

  • Long-Bailey faces exodus of moderate MPs if she wins party crown – Sun on Sunday
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  • Court to probe Symonds’ influence on PM after cancellation of badger cull – Observer
  • Grenfell Tower inquiry member quits over links to firm that supplied cladding – Mail on Sunday

And finally, the train now approaching is going backwards

“The HS2 plan for Manchester has been described as “utterly baffling” after a report revealed how current train platform designs, which cost £570m, are facing the wrong way for passengers travelling to Leeds. A report commissioned by Manchester city council shows that passengers arriving at Manchester airport will find the platforms face westwards towards Liverpool, says the report. The original platform designs were created with only HS2 in mind. But plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), were “bolted on” to the existing design. As a consequence, train drivers will have to move from the front to the back of the train in order to reverse out of the station.” – Sunday Times

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