Johnson ‘set to back HS2’

“Boris Johnson is poised to approve HS2 as part of his attempt to “level up” Britain in a move that will put him at odds with his most senior adviser. The prime minister will hold meetings today with Sajid Javid, the chancellor, and Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, before deciding the project’s future. He is expected to announce within days that the project should go ahead but make significant cost-savings amid concerns that the final bill will exceed £100 billion. Dominic Cummings, his closest aide, and Andrew Gilligan, a senior adviser on transport, are said to have been arguing that the project should be scrapped. Mr Cummings, who has described HS2 as a “disaster zone”, has suggested the money would be better spent on alternative infrastructure.” – The Times

  • He’s urged to make a decision as it is ‘splitting the Tory Party’ – The Sun
  • Project should proceed, says the Chancellor – Daily Telegraph
  • Three new-intake MPs urge him to give it the green light – The Times
  • Shapps goes full steam ahead with rail overhaul plan – FT


  • Only infrastructure upgrades can fix the network – The Times

Prime Minister faces Tory rebellion over Huawei

“Conservative critics of Boris Johnson’s Huawei decision will push for a commitment from the government that the Chinese firm must be forced out of Britain’s telecoms infrastructure within three years. Johnson defied the US and rebels in his party on Tuesday by deciding to allow Huawei to build part of the UK’s 5G network as long as it is restricted to “non-core” parts of infrastructure and has no more than 35% of market share. A group of anti-Huawei Tories want an assurance that the government will work towards reducing the Chinese company’s influence in UK infrastructure to zero, ultimately stripping it out of the 4G network as well.” – The Guardian

  • Pompeo warns that decision could affect intelligence relationship – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson praises Trump’s Middle East peace plan at PMQs – The Guardian


  • Post-Brexit Britain cannot rely on a special relationship – Philip Stephens, FT
  • Johnson is still triumphant. Huawei shows that won’t last – Martin Kettle, The Guardian

>Today: Garvan Walshe’s column: Kushner’s Middle East peace deal is a bad idea from every perspective


Brexit: Prime Minister to tell EU he’s ‘prepared to accept border checks’…

Boris Johnson will tell the EU he is prepared to accept post-Brexit border checks rather than allowing Britain to be a rule-taker in a major speech setting out his aims for a trade deal next week. The Prime Minister will say sovereignty is more important than frictionless trade, defying warnings from Brussels that the UK must accept EU standards on goods if it wants the best possible deal… It means Mr Johnson will tell businesses they might face extra paperwork and physical checks on goods crossing the border, a price he is willing to pay to avoid crossing his own “red lines”, which include the right to diverge on standards and regulations, full control of Britain’s fishing waters and the end of European judges’ influence in the UK.” – Daily Telegraph

  • British businesses face disruption if London diverges from EU sanctions – FT


  • How the dream of 1973 turned sour – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail

>Today: Steve Barclay MP in Comment: Tomorrow we will get Brexit done, and start building a better future for every corner of our United Kingdom

…and Downing Street in stand-off with broadcasters over official message

“The BBC and other broadcasters are in a stand-off with No 10 over the Prime Minister’s plan to address the nation as Britain leaves the European Union. Boris Johnson intends to break with a long-standing tradition by using his personal videographer to record the historic message, bypassing the media. The BBC said it will not guarantee that Mr Johnson’s address will be aired. The message is understood to take the form of a “fireside chat”, urging the nation to embrace Brexit. No 10 then plans to hand out the prerecorded footage for use on air. All previous Prime Ministers have used the ‘pool’ system, in which footage is shot by one broadcaster and shared with others.” – Daily Telegraph

  • European Parliament gives its blessing to UK’s Brexit deal – FT
  • Farage says Britain is ‘too big to bully’ – The Sun


  • BBC faces biggest threat in decades, says head of news – FT

>Today: Video: WATCH: EU farewells 1) Hannan – “You are losing a bad tenant, but gaining a good neighbour”

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The claim that the UK has become a more xenophobic country since the referendum is a damaging myth

Allister Heath: We’ve got Brexit done, but the task of Euroscepticism remains

“Yet even though it has triumphed in Britain, Euroscepticism remains an unfinished project. It’s not just that we don’t yet know the terms of any future deal with the EU, and whether our government will concede too much. I’m not even referring to the fact that we will remain part of the European Convention on Human Rights, another post World War II, non-EU but still supranational legal construct from which a mature, pro-rights democracy such as ours should also be moving on. The real reason Euroscepticism remains incomplete is that the EU will boast 27 member states on 1 February, and it will accelerate ever-closer centralisation. No Brexiteer should be comfortable with abandoning Europe’s liberal, mainstream pro-democracy Eurosceptics to their fate.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Interviews: Lamont describes how the belief that Britain should leave the EU entered the Tory mainstream

>Yesterday: Mark Wallace in Comment: How Eurosceptics survived the wilderness years, and returned to win the day

Javid orders ministers to find savings

“Sajid Javid, the chancellor, has ordered cabinet ministers to draw up cuts of up to 5 per cent from their budgets. The Treasury wants to free up money to spend on other priorities, such as the NHS. A government source said: “This isn’t about cuts for their own sake, it’s about living within our means and prioritising what we do spend on our radical agenda: levelling up the country.” Not every department will be expected to make every cut suggested. This month Boris Johnson told his cabinet that it was “time for the slaughtering of sacred cows” and to cull pet projects supported by his predecessors, Theresa May and David Cameron. He said that the government should proceed with large-scale cuts even though some civil servants would “squeal”.” – The Times

  • Tories will write minimum school funding into law – The Times
  • Johnson pledges £5,000 per pupil to every secondary school in England – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: The calm before the reshuffle? Our first Cabinet League Table of 2020

Hancock promises to step in to help veteran’s charity after NHS cuts

“Health secretary Matt Hancock has pledged to step in to help veteran’s charity Combat Stress – which slashed support because of NHS cuts. The mental health service for former members of the armed services announced it had been forced to stop taking referrals after a shortfall in funding. But after a meeting with Veterans minister Johnny Mercer and Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin, vice chairman of the organisation earlier this week, the health secretary said work had started to make up the shortfall. Sir Bernard asked him about the cut and Mr Hancock replied: “There is work on a new contract to replace the old one and I hope that is settled and agreed as soon as possible.”” – The Sun

Former May cabinet members to lead select committees

“Several Conservative ministers who served in Theresa May’s government have been elected to chair House of Commons select committees after Boris Johnson, prime minister, dispensed with their services last year. Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary, is the most prominent ex-cabinet minister to take up a chairmanship along with former business secretary Greg Clark and defence minister Tobias Ellwood… Mr Hunt, who was also the UK’s longest-serving health secretary, was elected chair of the health and social care committee on Wednesday evening by 433 MPs. He unsuccessfully challenged Mr Johnson for the Tory leadership last summer and later rejected his offer to serve as defence secretary.” – FT

  • Davison speaks of father’s killing – The Times

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: Select Committee chairmanships announced

Poll shows Tories ahead of Labour in Wales

“Labour are predicted to lose seats at the next Welsh assembly election next year. As the current Government of Wales, Labour holds the most seats in the Senedd, the country’s National Assembly, with the Conservatives trailing just behind. Yet, according to a new poll, Labour is set to lose crucial seats in the Senedd in the 2021 election. The poll, exclusive to ITV and carried out by Cardiff University, found that Welsh voters are currently rewarding Boris Johnson, who is set to successfully lead the UK out of the EU on January 31. With the majority of Wales having voted Brexit, the Conservatives currently enjoy historic levels of support in the country.” – Daily Express

  • Scottish government wins vote to keep EU flag flying over Holyrood – The Guardian

Long-Bailey forced to backtrack over ‘worked through the night’ claims

“Rebecca Long-Bailey has been forced to backtrack over claims that she had worked through the night to help keep Labour afloat in the wake of the 2016 revolt against Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour leadership candidate has in recent days sought to highlight her loyalty to Mr Corbyn by referring back to her efforts after a frontbench colleague quit unexpectedly the night before an important committee hearing. The Salford MP retold the story at a dinner on Saturday alongside Mr Corbyn, during which she also claimed that shared files had been deleted after Robert Marris, who worked alongside her in the shadow treasury team, “flounced off”… But on Wednesday the shadow business secretary was forced to admit that her version of events were incorrect, as it emerged that the committee hearing had in fact been adjourned until five days later.” – Daily Telegraph

  • She calls on opponents to commit to re-nationalising energy, water, rail and mail – The Sun


  • Thornberry and de Piero in shocking clash over Brexit on heated Peston – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: The Brexit Story 12) “Nobody is ruling out Remain”, says Starmer

Hoyle dismantles John Bercow’s ‘constitutional vandalism’

“Lindsay Hoyle has dismantled former Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow’s rule to ignore the advice of Parliamentary clerks in a move to repair the “constitutional vandalism” caused by the previous leader. Speaker Hoyle, who was elected for the role before Christmas, has empowered Commons Clerks to state their views in the Commons library, which in turn restrains the power of the Speaker. The move is a rebuke of the “constitutional vandalism” caused by Mr Bercow, who last year passed an amendment by fellow Remainer Dominic Grieve to give excess power to the Speaker in a bid to halt Brexit, Tom Harwood of Guido Fawkes said on Twitter. Other Twitter users are quick to echo his comments.” – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: The Brexit Story 15) Ministers pull the meaningful vote, Bercow cuts up rough

News in Brief:

  • Time to get HS2 done – Maggie Pagano, Reaction
  • Living with Beauty: Roger Scruton’s legacy to his country – John Myers, CapX
  • Are you stuck in a purity spiral? – Gavin Haynes, UnHerd
  • Don’t abandon privatisation because of Northern Rail – Kate Andrews, The Spectator
  • Spartans who remade Britain – David Scullion, The Critic