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Channel crossings 1) France warned of more deaths unless talks open

“Britain has warned France that more migrants will die in the Channel unless it reopens talks over Boris Johnson’s plan to reduce the number of small boats attempting to make the crossing. The prime minister said that he had no regrets after his decision to publish a letter to President Macron outlining plans to stem migrant numbers caused an extraordinary diplomatic spat. Within hours of the publication of the letter, France disinvited Priti Patel, the home secretary, from talks with her European counterparts this weekend aimed at finding a joint solution…In the letter, which was published on Twitter on Thursday night, Johnson asked Macron to agree to joint patrols with Border Force officers and British security contractors on French beaches.” – The Times

  • The Border Force can end this crisis, but only with new powers – Tony Smith, Daily Telegraph
  • French anger over claims police let Channel migrants leave – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Ministers must not let this Parliament pass without making progress on Civil Service reform

Channel crossings 2) Crown Prosecution Service failing to prosecute

“The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is failing to prosecute migrants who arrive in the UK illegally, figures show, as MPs warned that “soft touch” justice was encouraging people to get on small boats to cross the Channel. Only 61 migrants have been charged and 51 convicted for illegally entering the UK “without leave” in breach of the 1971 Immigration Act since December 2019, according to official figures obtained under Freedom of Information laws. That compares with more than 46,000 who entered the UK illegally over the same period, including 16,500 “irregular” entrants confirmed by the Home Office in 2020 and nearly 30,000 via small boats across the Channel or smuggled into the UK on lorries…the CPS revealed it would no longer prosecute asylum seekers entering the UK illegally unless they were involved in other criminal activity.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Border Force rudderless as no one wants to take ‘poisoned chalice’ job – Daily Telegraph

Channel crossings 3) Moore: It is too easy to blame Macron

“The easiest, most enjoyable thing just now is to blame the French. Far be it from me to defend Emmanuel Macron. He is undoubtedly seeking electoral advantage in next year’s presidential election. But if you imagine the situations reversed, with us in Britain being lectured by France that we must not let illegal immigrants leave our shores for theirs, I think you can see how the French might feel…Nevertheless, the true interests of both countries are closely aligned. Britain does not want the boats, of course, but nor does France. It is terrible for President Macron that this week’s drowning happened on his watch. It is also extremely unpleasant for the residents of northern France that Calais is a sort of fortress and that people smugglers infest their territory.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

  • French President’s petulance worsens the migrant crisis – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • Macron will sacrifice lives to score childish political points – Leader, The Sun
  • Undiplomatic relations – Leader, The Times

Channel crossings 4) Parris: The Geneva Convention is out of date

“The whole animus of western policy on asylum-seekers is to stymie the intention of the Geneva Convention. We’re surely aware we’re trying to impede, not facilitate, the movement of oppressed people. Because we’re cruel, immoral? No: because the convention sets up a false moral framework to which we do not in our hearts — or lives — adhere. It posits an equal duty on the part of all to care for all: a duty blindfolded against our particular relationship with individuals who seek our help. Real life recognises no such duty. It sees levels of obligation: first to family, then in declining order to friends, neighbours, community, country and mankind in general…A 70-year-old treaty blind to the hierarchy of obligation that individuals and nations can see cannot be timeless. Our continent knows that, often secretly. Britain should not act unilaterally but start exploring other minds, other governments.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

  • Britain will not solve the migrant crisis by itself – Camila Cavendish, Financial Times

Chief Medical Officer: New Covid variant is less worrying than delta

“The delta variant is of greater concern to the UK than the new Covid mutation, England’s chief medical officer has said amid rising international fears about the omicron strain. Prof Chris Whitty said ministers were right to take “precautionary” border measures to slow the arrival of the new variant into Britain. But he warned that any attempt to impose “more muscular restrictions” could lose public support and suggested concern was best focused on more immediate threats. His comments came amid rising fear around the world, with billions wiped off shares. London’s FTSE 100 fell 3.6 per cent – its biggest slide in more than a year – as investors took fright, wiping £72 billion off the value of Britain’s blue chip stocks.” – Daily Telegraph

  • US joins EU in restricting flights from southern Africa – BBC
  • Covid cases rise by 13 per cent in a week but hospital admissions fall – Daily Mail
  • Secondary schools told to test for Covid-19 after Christmas holidays – The Times
  • Travel bans planned on more countries – Daily Mail
  • How long before a vaccine protects us against the Omicron Covid variant? – The Times
  • European lockdowns get even stricter – Daily Mail
  • A sense of proportion is required – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • A new Covid variant is no surprise when rich countries are hoarding vaccines – Gordon Brown, The Guardian

Johnson plans “law and order crackdown”

“Boris Johnson will order a crackdown on prison discipline, sex offences and drug use next month under plans to reassure the public that he is focused on tackling crime. The Prime Minister will unveil a major law and order package as part of efforts to get back to bread-and-butter politics after weeks of turmoil triggered by U-turns and rows about sleaze. The Government’s white paper on prisons will focus on improving discipline in jails. Prison governors will be given powers to hand out fast-track punishments to convicts guilty of low level offences….Justice Secretary Dominic Raab is also expected to use the white paper to set out measures to help offenders find a job when they leave prison. Currently, just one in seven jail-leavers find a job within six months.” – Daily Mail

  • Criminals have never had it so easy – Leo McKinstry, Daily Express
  • Gove chairing new Cabinet committee to make progress on levelling up – The Guardian

Schools must not ‘push any sort of agenda’ with diversity drive, warns Zahawi

“Schools wishing to boost diversity in their curriculum must not “push any sort of agenda on children”, the Education Secretary has said. Nadhim Zahawi warned that schools must teach children in an “impartial” way rather than “telling them what to think”. He said that pupils must be taught the facts and taught how to think in a critical way so they can form their own opinions…Last month, The Telegraph revealed that the teaching of “white privilege” was rife in schools despite warnings that it was unlawful. Teachers have been accused of introducing “politically biased” materials to pupils during lessons about the police, racism and colonialism.” – Daily Telegraph

  • It’s time to scrap the divisive and patronising term ‘BAME’ – Calvin Robinson, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Fletcher and Doctor Who: a serious point about the importance of male role models needs to be made carefully

Scotland-Northern Ireland bridge scrapped over £335bn cost

“A major transport review has scrapped the idea of a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland as too expensive. The Union Connectivity Review found it would cost hundreds of billions of pounds to build a fixed link between the nations. Improvements to the west coast rail mainline and an upgrade of the A75 in the south of Scotland have been recommended. The Review also suggests improvements to road and rail on the east coast.” – BBC

Starmer “opens door” to Corbyn’s return

“Sir Keir Starmer has sparked fury by opening the door to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour comeback – but wants an apology over the anti-Semitism row first. The Labour leader said his predecessor could be welcomed back if he says sorry for downplaying a damning report into anti-Jewish racism…When asked if he would let Mr Corbyn stand under the Labour banner at the next election, the leader replied: “It’s up to him.” He told the BBC: “He knows what he must do in order to move this forward. He’s not chosen to do so – that’s his choice.” – The Sun

Down’s syndrome bill clears first hurdle in Parliament

“Plans to ensure people with Down’s syndrome get lifelong care have passed the first hurdle on the way to being law in England. MP Liam Fox said his bill was needed now because people with Down’s syndrome are starting to outlive their parents. The Tory former minister said it would “lighten the burden” on parents who worried about what would happen to their children after they died. The legislation has government support and is therefore likely to become law.” – BBC

Women MPs urge Speaker to keep the ban on babies in the chamber

“Sir Lindsay Hoyle has said he was “heavily lobbied” by female MPs not to change the rules on babies in the Commons. The Commons Speaker called for a review into whether babies should be allowed into the chamber after Stella Creasy, the Labour MP, was told she could not bring her three-month-old son to the House. In an interview with the BBC, he said: “I have been heavily lobbied not to change the rules by other mothers… I have texts on my phone saying ‘do not give in’.” In response to the revelations, Ms Creasy, the MP for Walthamstow, told The Telegraph: “I think it is pretty extraordinary to use a language of war with working parents and this idea of ‘do not give in’.” She said she had been struck by the contrast with other parliaments, citing the actions of the New Zealand parliamentary speaker, who held a baby so an MP could be heard.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Creasy isn’t doing women MPs any favours – Sarah Ditum, The Times

“Imbalance” in MPs second jobs

“Almost three times more British MPs declared earnings from financial services companies than from manufacturing, FT analysis has revealed — one of many imbalances that may complicate Tory efforts to defend legislators’ right to pursue part-time careers. MPs’ right to hold second jobs, which spurred a political row this month, has been defended by Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons. He told Parliament that it was “a historic strength . . . that MPs should have a wider focus than the Westminster bubble”. The government has now proposed changes to the rules to bar MPs from doing too many hours of outside work or acting as political consultants — but to preserve their right to have other income.” – Financial Times

Neil: Biden is asleep at the wheel

“Any suggestions that senility is setting in infuriates Left-wing politicians and commentators in America. They dismiss it as a Right-wing smear. But if it were only that, Team Biden would not put so much effort into shielding their man from public scrutiny. They limit his public appearances to a few scripted speeches, on the basis that they are reasonably confident he can read the autocue, though this week he managed to include a prompt — ‘end of quote’ — in a speech. But the moment he’s done speaking he’s whisked away before anybody can ask him a question; and when he can’t avoid questions he is rambling, incoherent and often grumpy.” – Andrew Neil, Daily Mail

News in brief

  • Johnson must act on immigration – Patrick O’Flynn, The Critic
  • Is this the beginning of the end for Sturgeon? – Alex Massie, The Spectator
  • Take back control from the Quangos – John Redwood
  • Remembering Sangatte, a migrant crisis we’ve seen before – Stephen Pollard, CapX
  • We must not follow Europe into lockdown – David Livermore, Spiked