Trump decries climate “prophets of doom”

“President Trump attacked “prophets of doom” on climate change yesterday as he exchanged thinly veiled insults with the teenage activist Greta Thunberg. In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Trump urged executives and ministers to dismiss “predictions of the apocalypse”. The speech was watched by Ms Thunberg, 17. “To embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse,” he said. “They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers. And I have them, and you have them, and we all have them. And they want to see us do badly, but we don’t let that happen.”…Climate change is a key issue at this year’s forum. While it has long campaigned for action, it has been accused of hypocrisy because of the high numbers of private jets taken by delegates to attend the week-long event in the Swiss Alps.” – The Times

  • US President hails ‘tremendous’ post-Brexit trade deal with ‘wonderful’ Johnson – The Sun
  • Business leaders at Davos face a corporate balancing act – Financial Times
  • I’m with the teenage zealot – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
  • Embrace your green future, Mark Carney warns companies – The Times
  • Mnuchin warns against digital tax – Daily Telegraph
  • Senate agrees impeachment rules – BBC

Johnson to scrap £30,000 minimum salary threshold for immigrants

“Boris Johnson will scrap a £30,000 minimum salary threshold for immigrants arriving after Brexit under his plans for an Australian-style points system. The prime minister’s approach is in stark contrast to that of his predecessor, Theresa May, who prompted a cabinet revolt after insisting on the income rule despite concerns that it would deter skilled workers. Under Mr Johnson’s plan migrants’ earnings will be taken into account as part of their application to enter the UK. Other criteria could include English proficiency, educational qualifications, occupation and willingness to work in particular areas of Britain. While the prime minister is understood to have the support of his cabinet, ditching the £30,000 criteria will still be controversial in the Tory party.” – The Times

Buckland pledged that serious offenders will serve at least two-thirds of their prison terms

“Justice Secretary Robert Buckland today pledges to restore faith in the broken criminal justice system. Punishments must reflect the severity of crimes, he said, adding:’We owe it to victims’. Legislation being brought immediately before Parliament to end soft justice will also mean those let out will face strict licence conditions. Writing exclusively in today’s Daily Express Mr Buckland says: ‘Time and again I have experienced victims who feel let down. Let down by a system that can allow rapists and violent criminals back onto our streets within a shorter time frame than could possibly fit their crimes.” Today’s legislation – effective from April 1 – will abolish soft touch Labour laws, bringing to an end 15 years of offenders knowing a ten-year stretch for crimes like serious sexual offences really only means five years inside. More than 90 percent of offenders currently sent to prison are automatically released half way through their sentence, including some of the most serious sexual predators and violent criminals.’ ” – Daily Express

Social media firms to be required to protect children from harmful content

“Social media firms will be legally required to protect children from harmful content under the first-ever code to police the internet. In a victory for The Telegraph’s duty of care campaign, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham today publishes groundbreaking rules that will bar Facebook, Google and other tech giants from serving children any content that is “detrimental to their physical or mental health or wellbeing.” The Government-backed code will be enforced by fines potentially worth billions of pounds and is designed to prevent a repeat of the case of Molly Russell, the 14-year-old who killed herself after viewing self-harm images on Instagram and other sites. It will also require the companies to safeguard children’s privacy to prevent them being groomed by paedophiles, to curb “addictive” features like notifications that keep them online and to restrict the firms’ from using personal information for commercial ends.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The Internet is still far from being a safe space for children – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Shapps to launch railcard for veterans

“A new railcard for military veterans will be launched in November, the Department for Transport has announced. The railcard will extend cheaper train travel to more than 830,000 veterans who do not qualify for existing discounts. Holders will be able to save a third off most train tickets, although certain restrictions will apply. The card will be available to buy from November 11 – Armistice Day – and will cost £21 for an introductory period, before the price is increased to £30. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘Every part of society should honour the debt we owe those who’ve served our country. I’m proud that the Department for Transport, together with other Government colleagues and the rail industry, is doing its bit. This railcard will help open up opportunities to veterans, whether through employment and retraining, or by strengthening links with friends and family. I believe that enabling former service personnel to travel more easily is the least we can do.’ ” – ITV News

Tory MPs “not welcome” at Durham Miners Gala

“There is “no chance” new Tory MPs will be invited to the Durham Miners’ Gala, the area’s miners’ association president has said. Alan Mardghum paraphrased the prime minister to say he would “rather die in a ditch” than see members of the Conservative Party, which had done “its best to destroy miners”, attend. The area was a Labour stronghold but it recently lost four of its seven seats. The gala is the UK’s biggest annual gathering of trade union members. Some of the area’s new MPs have now expressed a desire to attend.” – BBC

Brexit 1) EU threatens to offer UK worse trade deal than for China or Japan

“The European Union is preparing to offer the UK a trade deal on tougher terms than its deals with Canada, Japan and a host of other leading trade partners, the Telegraph has learned. In what will be seen by industry as an unusually harsh move, the European Commission has warned EU member states that it would be a mistake to allow some UK industry bodies to be allowed to certify that goods conform to EU standards. The so-called Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) are granted to other key EU trade partners to facilitate the smooth movement of goods in key sectors, but could be withheld from the UK if it only seeks a basic trade deal. The uncompromising European Commission stance surprised even some EU members states when they met on January 10 to discuss future goods trade with the UK, according to an account of the meeting obtained by The Telegraph.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Javid insists we will diverge from EU rules – Daily Telegraph
  • Royal Mail to release Brexit stamp – The Sun
  • Welsh Assembly votes against leaving the EU – BBC

Today: Columnist Daniel Hannan: I wave farewell to the EU in my last column for this site as an MEP

Brexit 2) Government defeated in Lords votes on child refugees

“The government has suffered five defeats on its Brexit deal in the space of 24 hours in the House of Lords, with the heaviest defeat in a vote to restore the right of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with their families in the UK after Brexit. There was a vote of 300 in favour and 220 against, giving a majority of 80 in support of an amendment, proposed by the Labour peer Alf Dubs, requiring the UK government to maintain the principle of family reunion for child refugees fleeing conflict.” – The Guardian

Phillips withdraws from Labour leadership contest….

“Jess Phillips has dropped out of the Labour leadership contest, leaving four candidates in the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn. In a video message to supporters, the Birmingham Yardley MP said the next leader had to be able to unite the whole Labour movement. Ms Phillips said she had to “be honest” with herself – “that person is not me.”…She had yet to receive any nominations from trade unions, affiliate bodies or local parties. Confirming her exit, the 38-year old said Labour needed a leader “who can unite all parts of our movement, the union movement, members and elected representatives”. “In order to win the country, we are going to have to find a candidate, in this race, who can do all of that, and then take that message out to the country. A message of hope and change, that things can be better.”…In a recent interview with LBC, Ms Phillips said if she couldn’t be leader, she would support one of the other female candidates in the race.” – BBC

  • Starmer has most to gain – The Times
  • Thornberry wants the rich to pay more tax – The Guardian
  • Starmer’s soft-left approach is the unifying force that Labour needs – Zoe Williams, The Guardian
  • Corbyn is Labour members’ most liked party leader ever – Daily Mail
  • How Labour lost the election – Heather Stewart, The Guardian

,…as Nandy wins endorsement from the GMB

“Lisa Nandy’s campaign to become the next Labour leader has received a significant boost after the UK’s third biggest union endorsed her nomination. The Wigan MP was confirmed as the GMB’s pick on Tuesday after a hustings involving the four remaining candidates. The union’s 60-strong executive also nominated Angela Rayner in the deputy leadership race, in which Rayner is the runaway favourite. The GMB’s backing was seen as the only viable route for Nandy to gain enough affiliate support to make it to the next round. She already has the support of the National Union of Mineworkers and will have to seek a further endorsement by a socialist society.” – The Guardian

Downing Street warns BBC that the new Director General must bring in reform

“The next director-general of the BBC will face the sack unless they embrace major reforms, Downing Street warned last night. In an unprecedented intervention, No 10 sources said Boris Johnson is ready to act if the Corporation chooses an ‘unsuitable’ successor to Tony Hall. Last night BBC grandee David Dimbleby said any suggestion the Government might influence who got the director-general’s job was ‘outrageous’. He warned any such interference would make the Corporation ‘seem to be a servant of the Government’.” – Daily Mail

  • Corporation faces wave of cuts – The Times

Teachers “pushing pupils to take easy GCSEs to boost grades”

“Teachers are gaming the system by making pupils take easy GCSEs, watchdogs have warned. Some have forced native English speakers to take qualifications in English for speakers of other languages. ..An “enormous proportion” of students were entered to get the European computer driving licence. But, once it was ditched from school league tables, the number taking it plummeted. Ofsted head Amanda Spielman warned poor children were being dumped with “hollow grades” which were almost worthless. In an alarming report, she said colleges were flooding the job market with youngsters with low-level qualifications, leaving them woefully underprepared.” – The Sun

Johnson rejects Nasa-style mission control office

“Boris Johnson has rejected an attempt by Dominic Cummings to force him out of his No 10 office into a Nasa-style mission control. The prime minister’s senior adviser was championing plans to move the political operation into No 12 Downing Street. It would have put the so-called weirdos and misfits he hopes to hire at the heart of government, with officials sidelined in favour of political advisers. However, the prime minister is understood to rather like his existing office, and is not willing to move. The aborted plan follows other more dramatic ideas to move civil servants, Conservative HQ and the House of Lords to the north.” – The Times

  • Thousands of weirdo applications sent in – Katy Balls – The i

Employment hits record high

“The UK’s booming labour market showed no sign of slowing in the three months to November, according to official data, with the strongest jobs growth in nearly a year pushing the employment rate to a new record. The unemployment rate stayed at 3.8 per cent, its lowest since the 1970s, but the number of people in work rose by 208,000, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. This was the best growth since the three months to January 2019 and well above analysts’ expectations. November’s data covers the month before Boris Johnson’s emphatic election victory in the middle of December, following which a number of surveys have shown a rise in consumer and business confidence.” – City AM

  • The strength of the British economy is defying predictions of post-Brexit doom – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Finkelstein: HS2 is a test of Johnson’s ambition

“Infrastructure projects pit those who have against those who are yet to have. They pit what is against what might be, and possible loss is felt more strongly than potential gain. The Conservatives now represent both haves and have-nots. So few things have the capacity to divide the party’s supporters, new and old, like infrastructure projects…HS2 is a financial decision, sure, and one in which the government must satisfy itself that the judgment of its latest review is correct. But there is more involved than that. It’s also a question of will. If this is to be a building government then HS2 is a test of its seriousness and resolve.” – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

  • Pull the plug on the obscenely expensive HS2 line before it’s too late – Leader, The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Johnson’s philosophy owes far more to Oakeshott than to Scruton

Fraser: The SNP should do a budget deal with the Tories

“In recent years, we have seen the SNP do a deal with the Greens to deliver a growing tax gap between what individuals pay in income tax in Scotland compared with the rest of the UK. Anyone earning more than £27,000 a year, hardly a group of wealthy individuals, will pay more income tax than their counterparts in England, and there is increasing concern in the business community about the perception that Scotland is the highest taxed part of the UK. Scottish Conservatives set out at the weekend our ‘asks’ for the Budget. We are clear in our ambition to see the tax gap reduced, and at least no more divergence in tax rates. And, specifically, there should be no clawback of the promised National Insurance cut by the UK Government, through higher income tax rates set in Scotland…I hope that the SNP will be prepared to work with us on delivering a Budget that takes Scotland forward, not back.” – Murdo Fraser MSP, The Scotsman

  • Northern Ireland’s Finance minister not pursuing corporation tax cut – BBC

News in brief

  • What would Orwell have made of Trump? – Peter Hitchens, The Spectator
  • Low-cost private schools are a lifeline for the poor – James Tooley, CapX
  • Gender and a government that’s lost its census – Caroline ffiske, Conservative Woman
  • Brexit reflections from John Mills – Brexit Central
  • Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband tells Johnson to get tough with Iran – Buzzfeed