Transport 1) Heathrow ruling throws ‘dozens’ of projects into doubt

“Dozens of airport, road and energy projects have been thrown into doubt after judges delivered a crushing blow to plans for a third runway at Heathrow over its impact on the environment. The Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that the government’s policy on expanding the airport was unlawful because ministers had failed to take proper account of how it affected Britain’s climate commitments. A refusal to properly consider the UN Paris agreement, which limits rises in global temperatures, when approving the third runway was “legally fatal”, the judges said. The government said it would accept the ruling, striking a severe blow to plans for the runway.” – The Times

  • Proposal ‘back in holding pattern’ – FT
  • Runway plan ‘in ruins’ as ministers accept court decision – The Times
  • Shapps signals shift of focus to expanding regional airports – Daily Telegraph


Transport 2) Ministers go silent on HS2’s link to Leeds

“Britain’s HS2 high speed rail line linking London to the north of England is likely to reach Manchester before Leeds, a government minister has signalled, raising doubts over whether the planned eastern leg to Yorkshire will be built. Andrew Stephenson, HS2 minister, said on Thursday that the government “will be bringing forward legislation for the high-speed line into Manchester as soon as practical”. He made no mention of the branch to Leeds. It followed an announcement last week by the Department for Transport that work would begin on legislation for the western leg to Manchester but not the eastern leg to Leeds.” – FT

>Yesterday: Garvan Walshe’s column: The cost of Johnson’s Brexit will be paid by his new Red Wall voters

Transport 3) Fraser Nelson: Uncompetitive and obsolete Heathrow is the wrong option for global Britain

“The idea of massive airport “hubs” is being challenged by new, smaller, more fuel-efficient aircraft like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. These now run flights from Glasgow to Orlando – emancipating Scots from the need to change at Heathrow. This is transforming air travel, and smaller airports. Five years ago, there were 16,500 direct air routes between cities – now it’s more than 23,000. When given the choice, travellers like to avoid being herded into Heathrow-style hubs and jumbo jets. The days of flying cattlesheds like the Boeing 747 (or the Airbus A380) may soon be over. Aside from anything else, Heathrow has yet to demonstrate that it can be trusted with two runways, let alone three. For years it has crammed itself full to bursting point, with a quarter of its flights delayed in take-off or landing.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Why no Heathrow third runway is a disaster for all of Britain – Adam Marshall, The Sun


  • Johnson will be celebrating, but he now has two big headaches – The Times
  • Court of Appeal ruling brings into focus the UK’s net-zero pledge – FT
  • Increase our airport capacity… or watch jobs disappear across the Channel – The Sun

>Yesterday: Robert Goodwill in Comment: Let’s Get Heathrow Done. Johnson must appeal if the Government loses today on expansion in the courts.

Government says it could walk away from EU negotiations ‘by June’

“Britain will begin preparations to leave the EU without a trade deal in just four months if Brussels has not agreed to its key demands by then. The UK’s mandate for trade negotiations with the EU, published on Thursday morning, makes clear that if the “broad outline” of a deal is not agreed by June, the Government will switch its attention to exiting the transition period without one at the end of the year. That would mean businesses being told they had six months to prepare for disruption at the borders, with customs checks, tariffs and quotas all likely to be imposed as Britain began trading with the EU under World Trade Organisation rules… The document says the Government will not extend the transition period beyond December 31 in any circumstances, leaving “a limited but sufficient time for the UK and EU to reach agreement”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson rejects EU demands to submit to independent oversight of Britain’s laws – The Times
  • Britain will pull out of European Arrest Warrant and Europol – The Sun
  • Border red tape ‘will mean 50,000 new form-fillers’ after Brexit – FT
  • Legal expert warns against leaving UK under jurisdiction of EU courts – Daily Express


  • Free of EU rules, we could be a high-tech hub – Iain Martin, The Times

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: “We will not link access to our waters to access to EU markets”. Gove’s statement on the negotiations.

Coronavirus: Ministers ‘trying to calm panic’

“Ministers are trying to calm panic and said that the isolated cases seen in Britain can be contained. They are working on contingency plans under which hospitals would cancel non-urgent surgery to treat large numbers of patients with pneumonia and other illnesses caused by the virus. In an acute pandemic, “critical care services may be at risk of being overwhelmed”, according to a 2011 flu plan that is still the basis for present preparations. It gives little indication of how patients will be prioritised, other than saying it should be done in an open and transparent way. There are “often no absolute right answers”, it says… Mr Hancock said: “We want to minimise the social and economic disruption subject to keeping people safe. And of course, that’s always going to be a balance. And we’re going to be led by the scientific advice into what works.”” – The Times

  • UK ‘facing economic downgrade’ due to outbreak – Daily Telegraph
  • Top UK health official warns on potential social cost of tackling coronavirus – FT
  • Schools ‘could be closed for eight weeks’ – Daily Mail
  • Government failing on outbreak, say GPs – The Guardian
  • Masks sell out, but do they work? – Daily Mail


  • There is nothing irrational about the panic – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: As the coronavirus spreads, Hancock is endangered by twin perils – complacency and panic

Lobbyist hired to recruit spads

“Downing Street has been accused of a conflict of interest after appointing a lobbying firm to help recruit a new generation of special advisers. The government wants to find candidates with a background in advising business leaders and companies. Hanbury Strategy, a strategic advisory firm, will run the first phase of the recruitment process, which will involve interviewing applicants by telephone, online and in person. The interview panel will include Isaac Levido, who led the Conservative Party’s recent general election campaign. The company will make recommendations to Lee Cain, the prime minister’s director of communications, who will make the final decision on appointments.” – The Times

  • Downing Street launches new search for talent – FT


  • Whilst Cummings fiddles, the civil service burns – Jane Dudman, The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Brexity Hezza and Lawsony Javid

Patel ‘gives top civil servant the silent treatment’

“Priti Patel has refused to hold meetings with her most senior civil servant, amid a continuing toxic atmosphere at the top of the Home Office. The Times understands that relations between Ms Patel and Sir Philip Rutnam, her permanent secretary, have all but broken down after she blamed him for allegations of bullying in the department becoming public. The two are understood not to have held a single one-to-one meeting for more than a week, with one source describing the top of the organisation as being “utterly dysfunctional”. Senior Tory sources retaliated to the leak by suggesting that Ms Patel had asked Downing Street to remove Sir Philip before Christmas because they did not think he was up to the job.” – The Times

  • Home Secretary ‘tried to have Home Office official sacked on Christmas Eve’ – The Guardian

Williamson want strictest schools to export discipline

“New supernanny-style teachers will be sent into schools to crack down on unruly kids. Ministers are urging Britain’s best and strictest schools to volunteer to help dish out discipline in the country’s rowdiest classrooms. Gavin Williamson is pumping £10million into creating “behaviour hubs” to bring naughty pupils into line. Teachers brought in to help their struggling colleagues will consider bringing in strict new behaviour codes and mobile phone bans. The Education Secretary said kids only stand a chance of getting the best grades possible if there is order in the classroom… He also backed heads who choose to ban mobiles from the classroom.” – The Sun

  • Everyone benefits when children are taught to be polite, respectful, and disciplined – Gavin Williamson, Daily Telegraph

Eustice criticised for not visiting flood victims

Shield“The environment secretary has been criticised for not meeting residents of Ironbridge who were evacuated from their homes beside the River Severn after flood defences were overwhelmed. George Eustice spent 45 minutes in Ironbridge but was whisked in and out of a fenced-off compound and did not visit a hotel a few minutes walk away, where evacuees were being looked after. Eustice defended Boris Johnson for not visiting flood-stricken areas along the Severn and said he was in close contact with the prime minister and keeping him updated regularly. Roy and Mary Guest, who had to leave their home on the Wharfage in Ironbridge, said they were disappointed Eustice had not visited them.” – The Guardian

  • Johnson visits homelessness shelter instead – Daily Mail


  • Why has Johnson disappeared from view? He’s betting you don’t care – Katy Balls, The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: A welcome fall in rough sleeping – but more accommodation is not enough for further progress

Government rejects calls to rethink strategy over illegal drug use

“The UK government has brushed aside calls to rethink its approach to combating illegal drug use, putting its faith in more effective law enforcement despite an official report finding crackdowns have “little impact” on supply and can fuel drug-related violence. A review commissioned by the Home Office and published on Thursday during a drugs policy “summit” in Glasgow said the illicit drugs market in England and Wales was worth about £9.4bn a year, with the total cost to society exceeding £19bn.  “The available evidence is complex but suggests that enforcement ‘crackdowns’ have little impact on the overall drug supply,” wrote review author Carol Black.” – FT

  • Narcotics ‘are so widely available they are as easy to buy as pizzas’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Drug use hits record levels with three million Brits using illegal substances – The Sun

>Today: Robert Ward in Local Government: Robust data is needed to defeat knife crime

Nokes criticises Johnson’s ‘ill-judged comments’

“A leading Tory backbencher has accused Boris Johnson of making ‘really ill-judged’ comments in the past and told him to ‘think very carefully’ about the impact his words have on women and ethnic minorities. Caroline Nokes, the chairman of the Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee, has also warned Britain has become less tolerant with a ‘massive rise in hate crimes’. Ms Nokes, who was sacked as immigration minister by Mr Johnson when he became Prime Minister in July 2019, expressed concern at controversial comments he has made. Mr Johnson drew sharp criticism for comparing women who wear burkas to letterboxes and bank robbers in a newspaper column after he quit as foreign secretary.” – Daily Mail

Warning over funding ‘black hole’ at the Ministry of Defence

“The UK armed forces risk losing day-to-day operational capabilities such as air surveillance and their only medical ship due to a black hole in the defence ministry’s equipment budget of up to £13bn, parliament’s spending watchdog has warned. The National Audit Office said the Ministry of Defence had presented an “unaffordable” equipment plan for the third year running, and accused the department of being “over-optimistic” about its ability to make savings in order to conceal the scale of its financial problems… The suggestion that the MoD is mismanaging its budget is particularly damaging given that prime minister Boris Johnson has just launched a review into UK defence and security strategy, which will include a focus on military procurement.” – FT

  • British military could be left depleted after £13bn shortfall – The Guardian
  • MoD bosses blow £6million to put off paying £3billion spy plane bill – The Sun

>Today: Daniel Bruce in Comment: Why the new Dfid and Foreign Office team must lead the way in tackling aid corruption

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: MPs prepare to pile pressure on Lewis over Ulster veterans

Nandy blasts Starmer for Labour’s ‘disastrous’ Brexit policy

“Lisa Nandy tonight blasted Sir Keir Starmer and labelled his Brexit policy a ‘disaster’ as she tried to salvage her Labour leadership campaign. Sir Keir and Ms Nandy engaged in fiery clashes as they and fellow challenger Rebecca Long-Bailey took part in the third TV debate of the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn. Ms Nandy wasted no time in attacking Sir Keir as she said the Brexit position he had steered the party towards of remaining neutral ‘was a disaster’ at the ballot box. She claimed voters on both sides of the divide felt ‘profoundly disrespected’ by the policy and that had played a major part in Labour’s brutal general election defeat. Meanwhile, all three of the challengers engaged in fractious exchanges over the party’s response to its anti-Semitism crisis.” – Daily Mail

Lord Sainsbury gave biggest political donation in history to Lib Dems

“Lord Sainsbury gave the UK’s biggest ever political donation to the Liberal Democrats in the run up to last year’s election, only for the party to lose a seat and its leader. Despite announcing just three years ago that he would no longer back party political causes, the former Sainsbury’s chairman donated £8million to the party in the last three months of 2019. The sum was considerably higher than the previous record of £5million donated by Sir Paul Getty to the Conservative Party ahead of the 2001 election. It helped the Lib Dems surpass Labour into second place on the donations register, securing more than £13.6 million compared with the latter’s £10.7 million, the bulk of which came from trade unions.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tory donors gave £37 million in run-up to the general election… – The Times
  • …and three are expected to receive peerages – Daily Mail

News in Brief:

  • Heathrow shows the folly of politicians passing the buck – Henry Hill, CapX
  • Third runway ruling should worry Johnson – Ross Clark, The Spectator
  • Airport bosses must take a new flight path – Neil Collins, Reaction
  • Tory MPs’ lines to take on Brexit leaked – Kate Forrester, Huffington Post
  • No 10 wants more people from the corporate arena advising ministers – Mark Kleinman, Sky News
  • Will coronavirus change the world? – Ed West, UnHerd