Brexit 1) Johnson to take a tough line with the EU on trade negotiations

“Boris Johnson is preparing to impose full customs and border checks on all European goods entering the UK after Brexit, in a ramping up of pressure on the coming EU-UK trade talks, the Telegraph has learned. In a radical departure from pre-election ‘no deal’ planning that prioritised the smooth flow of goods into the UK from Europe, Whitehall departments have been told to prepare for imposing the full panoply of checks on EU imports to the UK. The toughened approach, which is designed to give UK negotiators greater leverage against Brussels, came as Mr Johnson promised that Brexit would open an exciting new chapter “in our great national drama”. “I know that we can turn this opportunity into a stunning success and whatever the bumps in the road ahead, I know that we will succeed,” he said. “Now is the time to use those tools to unleash the full potential of this brilliant country and to make better the lives of everyone in every corner of our United Kingdom.”   – Daily Telegraph

  • What happens now – Laura Kuenssberg, BBC
  • Bitter-sweet moment for staff at the Department for Exiting the European Union – Daily Mail


Brexit 2) Merkel warns against Canada-style free trade deal

“The UK has lost all its formal representation in Brussels and is now a “third country”, seeking a trade deal from outside the room with a formidable negotiating partner. Ms Merkel said talks with the UK would be “the dominant theme of this year”. She warned Mr Johnson that if he insisted on seeking a “Canada-style” trade deal with the EU, eliminating tariffs and quotas but allowing the UK to diverge from Brussels rules, there would be negative consequences for British business. “The more the UK will diverge from the conditions of the single market, the bigger the differences in our future relationship will be,” the German chancellor said.” – Financial Times

  • PM aims to have 80 per cent of Britain’s post-Brexit trade deals covered in three years – The Sun
  • A letter from Emmanuel Macron to the British people – The Times

Brexit 3) Leavers celebrate in Parliament Square

“Scenes of jubilation erupted at a rally in Parliament Square as the clock struck 11pm and hardcore Brexit fans had tears in their eyes as they sang a rendition of God Save The Queen. A recording of Big Ben’s bong was played and flares were set off as a video screen displayed the words ‘We’re Out!’ People in the crowd were heard screaming: “We’re gone!” and “We were there.” Fireworks were set off around Britain and crowds gathered at parties to celebrate the historic moment. A jubilant Nigel Farage described it as “the greatest moment in the modern history of our great nation.” – The Sun

  • Celebrations far and wide with festivals and pub crawls to mark history – Daily Mail
  • Good natured crowds gather – Robert Hardman, Daily Mail
  • Now it’s time for Britain to heal its bitter division – Leader, The Sun
  • May welcomes the news – Daily Express
  • We united across political spectrum to complete the people’s crusade – Kate Hoey, Daily Express

Brexit 4) Forsyth: The EU may miscalculate over the trade negotiations

“The danger is that the EU thinks that Boris Johnson will, ultimately, take what they offer, as Theresa May so often did. So they won’t realise he means what he says until it is too late. As one influential Government source warns: “Even if there was perfect mutual comprehension there would still be a moment of profound difficulty.” In a way, the blow up between the UK and the EU cannot come soon enough. It needs to happen before the two sides can start having a more realistic negotiation.” – James Forsyth, The Sun

Brexit 4) Moore: The ruled have given the rulers a lesson

“These were uncomfortable lessons to learn about many of the people who run this country, but happier lessons came from the public’s response. Three times after the referendum itself – in the 2017 election, in the European elections of 2019, and in the general election in December – electors had the chance to go back on their original decision. They never did so. Politicians who had tried to frustrate Brexit, most notably every single candidate who had left the Conservatives or Labour in the name of Remain, was punished at the ballot box. There is little evidence that this was because of increased support for Leave – although Leave held up astonishingly well against the BBC/Labour/Liberal Democrat/SNP and Green propaganda barrage. It was more because voters showed a clear understanding of their own constitutional function.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Brexit 5) Parris: Nothing has changed

“We do not wake up to a new world this morning. We wake to the same world. Welcome back to the old, hard choices, the same choices we’ve faced since 64 years ago at Suez when the Americans smacked us in the mouth: a post-imperial power with dreams of exceptionalism and a tired economy, troubled by low productivity and a culture of health and welfare entitlement that we struggle to afford. Enough arguing the toss over Brexit. It’s done now; it was surely a mistake; we who believed that and still do, did our utmost to persuade politicians and fellow citizens to think again and we failed. But some of us also argued that leaving the EU wouldn’t be the end of the world. That, too, I still believe; and the job of politics now is to re-set expectations. A bit of a pinch is coming.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

  • The UK is not yet at ease with itself – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian

Brexit 6) Gove: A chance to make politics work again

“The heart of the problem with our EU membership is it took power away from the people and the institutions directly accountable to them. Ministers, myself included, found every day that there were decisions which affected the lives of those we represented over which we had no effective control. From control of our borders and who could come to our country to the type of blowtorch you could use to harden the crust on a crème brûlée, we were subject to EU laws enforced by EU judges with responsibility out of our hands. Our politics suffered. Pledges were made and expectations raised, only for ministers to say they couldn’t deliver what they had promised and the voters wanted because Brussels tied our hands. Accountability, the muscle that makes democracy work, was weakened.” – Michael Gove, The Times

  • EU offered NO reform – that is why we’ve left – Andrea Leadsom, Daily Express

PM says we need to “keep digging” to get out of the HS2 hole

“Boris Johnson has suggested the only answer to the “hole” enveloping HS2 is “to keep digging”. In an interview for Sky Kids’ FYI show, the PM criticised the “profligate” rail project and its “hopeless” management. But he appeared to rule out pulling the plug on the controversial scheme, which might cost in excess of £100bn, saying “in a hole the size of HS2, the only thing to do is keep digging”. A final decision on the UK’s largest construction project is due next month.” – BBC

Perry fired from climate change role

“Boris Johnson has sacked a former cabinet minister who was due to represent Britain at UN climate talks this November, prompting a row. Claire Perry O’Neill, a former energy minister, was appointed president of the climate summit, known as COP26, by Mr Johnson after he became prime minister. She revealed yesterday that he had “rescinded” his offer and suggested he had done so because of concerns about her independence. The role will now be taken by a minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis). Government sources said that there were concerns about the progress of preparations before the summit in Glasgow. They also highlighted allegations that Ms Perry O’Neill swore and screamed at civil servants while she was an energy minister. Ms Perry O’Neill told The Times that the bullying allegations, which were made in November 2018, were “unfounded” and had been “dismissed with no action taken”.” – The Times

Starmer pledges to reintroduce free migration

“Labour leadership contender Sir Keir Starmer risked infuriating Brexiteers by pledging to reintroduce free movement if he wins the party crown. The race frontrunner pledged to reverse PM Boris Johnson’s clampdown on unrestricted European immigration in a speech to mark exit day.And he also demanded the vote in general elections for the three million EU nationals living here. The Shadow Brexit secretary said: “”We welcome migrants, we don’t scapegoat them”. Sir Keir, who has been blamed by some for aiding Labour’s catastrophic election defeat with his Brexit policy, praised the benefits of EU membership in a speech in Westminster Cathedral Hall.” – The Sun

Sturgeon calls for patience from her Party on second independent referendum

“Scotland’s first minister has warned there are “no shortcuts” to indyref2 as she urged her party to patiently build the case for independence. In a speech in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon stressed that she still wants an independence referendum this year. But she acknowledged that it now may not happen until after next year’s Scottish Parliament election. And she again insisted that any referendum “must be legal and legitimate”. Ms Sturgeon was addressing SNP activists just hours before the UK leaves the EU at 23:00, despite Scottish voters backing Remain by 62% to 38% in the EU referendum.” – BBC

Welsh Conservatives ordered to lift suspension on Assembly member

“The leader of the Welsh Conservatives has been ordered by a high court judge to lift the suspension of an assembly member pending further legal action. Nick Ramsay, 44, was suspended from the Tory group after being arrested at his home in Raglan, Monmouthshire, on New Year’s Day. Gwent police released him the following afternoon, saying he would face no further action, but his suspension remained. Ramsay is suing Paul Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, at the high court. At a hearing in Bristol, Judge Jonathan Russen QC ordered the lifting of the suspension until a trial into the matter takes place in February. “In my judgment, it is appropriate that he is restored to the membership of the group,” Russen said. The court heard Ramsay was elected to the Welsh assembly in 2007 and became a member of the Conservative group.” – The Guardian

Trump set for acquittal

“US President Donald Trump is set to be acquitted in his impeachment trial after senators voted against calling witnesses or admitting new evidence. Democrats hoped four swing Republicans would vote for witnesses, which would have extended the trial without in all likelihood changing its outcome. In the end, only two of the four Republicans voted with Democrats. The trial now moves forward to a vote on whether to acquit President Trump, which he is all but certain to win. Senior members of President Trump’s Republican Party pushed from the outset for a speedy trial with no witnesses or new evidence. Above all, they wanted to avoid senators hearing from former National Security Adviser John Bolton.” – BBC

BBC criticised for “anti British drivel”

“The BBC was accused of producing “anti-British drivel” by one of its most senior presenters in an astonishing Twitter attack.Andrew Neil criticised the corporation over a video posted on the CBBC Twitter feed. The two minute clip was from satirical children’s show Horrible Histories.It was presented by comedian Nish Kumar who introduced the video with a reference to Britain’s EU departure. The video features Queen Victoria being shocked to discover goods she enjoys, such as tea and sugar, are not actually produced in Britain. Mr Neil commented: “This is anti-British drivel of a high order. Was any of the licence fee used to produce something purely designed to demean us?” Critics pointed out it’s unlikely Queen Victoria would have thought either tea or sugar come from the UK.” – Daily Express

Former PMs lucrative earnings from speeches

“David Cameron has earned £1.6 million since resigning as prime minister while his successor Theresa May has been paid £400,000 in five months for speaking events. Accounts for the Office of David Cameron, which were made public yesterday, show earnings of £836,168 in the year to April 30, 2019. Accounts for the year before show a profit of £790,274. While the accounts do not detail where Mr Cameron has made his money, he has had lucrative consultancy work and speaking engagements. Last May, he took a job as chairman of the advisory board of the US artificial intelligence firm Afiniti. He is also a consultant for the US genomics firm Illumina and is vice-chairman at the UK-China fund, which aims to boost co-operation between the two countries. Mr Cameron is listed with the Washington Speakers Bureau, which has Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and George W Bush on its books.” – The Times

News in brief