Brexit

Times
Boris Johnson will abandon his pledge not to extend the post-Brexit transition period beyond the end of next year, the EU’s new trade commissioner has said. In an interview Phil Hogan pointed to how the prime minister had broken his promise to take the UK out of the EU on October 31. Mr Hogan told The Irish Times: “We saw the way the prime minister promised to die in the ditch rather than extend the deadline for Brexit, only for him to do just that. “I don’t believe prime minister Johnson will die in the ditch over the timeline for the future relationship either.”

Mail
Boris Johnson will break his pledge not to extend the Brexit  ‘transition’ period, the EU’s trade chief predicted yesterday. In a highly provocative intervention, EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan insisted Mr Johnson would cave and agree to keep Britain locked inside the bloc’s single market and customs union beyond the end of next year. Referring to the prime minister’s broken promise of getting Brexit done by October 31, he said: ‘In the past, we saw the way the prime minister promised to die in the ditch rather than extend the deadline for Brexit, only for him to do just that. ‘I don’t believe prime minister Johnson will die in the ditch over the timeline for the future relationship either.’

Trade

Express
US Ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, has made a stunning 2020 prediction ahead of the beginning of trade talks between Britain and America in the new year. The US ambassador, 72, has hailed 2020 as an “incredible” year and has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Donald Trump to “embrace” the post-Brexit opportunities. Mr Johnson, owner of the New York Jets, has predicted a trade deal between the UK and the US has the potential to be sent “into the stratosphere”. The Trump ally, also urged the UK and the US to be braced for the “roaring 20s” as the two nations’’special relationship’ enters into another decade. He wrote on Twitter: “2020 promises to be an incredible year for the #SpecialRelationship. “Let’s embrace the opportunity to take US & UK trade into the stratosphere!”

Labour Party

Independent
Jeremy Corbyn has claimed Labour is “the resistance” to prime minister Boris Johnson and will be “on the streets” opposing the government. The outgoing leader made no reference in his new year message to his decision to step down following the party’s defeat in the general election. Instead, he used it to rail against billionaires and to call for the NHS and climate change to be the top priorities for the next decade. In the message, Mr Corbyn said: “2019 has been quite the year for our country and for our Labour movement. “And now we are not just entering a new year but a new decade, and the period ahead could not be more important.

Sun
LABOUR leadership hopefuls fear Jeremy Corbyn’s allies are trying to shorten the contest to just eight weeks in a “stitch up” to boost his chosen successor. The race to replace the 70 year-old veteran Socialist formally opens next week and was expected to run until the end of March. But some of the contenders have learned senior party officials are now trying to impose an end date of Saturday, March 7 instead. In addition, the wannabe candidates fear they will only be allowed two weeks to tie down the support of the required number of formal backers to allow them to run. Under rule changes enforced last year to lessen MPs’ power over the selection, hopefuls must win the support of at least 5% of affiliated members, including at least two unions, or 5% of constituency parties, on top of 21 MPs. A shorter contest is seen to significantly benefit Mr Corbyn’s inner circle’s preferred choice, Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Telegraph
Labour moderates fear party chairman Ian Lavery is preparing to run as a ‘stalking horse’ in the leadership contest in order to bolster the chances of fellow Corbynista Rebecca Long-Bailey.  With two of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies now contemplating running to replace him, critics of the current leadership believe he is in fact attempting to pave the way for Ms Long-Bailey to takeover as the “continuity” candidate. It comes after a spokesman for Mr Lavery confirmed on Sunday evening that he was “seriously considering” his options, just hours after Ms Long-Bailey made her first major intervention since the election. Should they both formally declare, they will be pitted against Clive Lewis, another pro-Corbyn candidate, who on Monday attempted to appeal to Remainers by criticising the party leadership for “triangulating” on a second referendum.

Mail
Angela Rayner is set to declare her bid to be Labour’s deputy within days – and endorse flatmate Rebecca Long Bailey as leader, sources said last night. The shadow education secretary is a popular figure in the party and had been tipped to run for the top job.  ‘It’s mostly there, but she had to speak to her close family and sort out a few bits with lawyers,’ a source close to Miss Rayner said. Her friend Miss Long Bailey, a key Corbyn ally who has the support of senior hard-Left figures, yesterday made a bizarre pledge to champion ‘progressive patriotism’. In her first public comments since the election, the shadow business secretary attempted to appeal to all sides of the party in a Guardian article.

Times
Allies of Angela Rayner are warning the leading Labour MP not to endorse the leadership campaign of Rebecca Long Bailey — despite the pair being tipped to run on a joint ticket. Ms Long Bailey and Ms Rayner, who are flatmates, are widely expected to run for Labour’s leadership and deputy leadership respectively and had been expected to endorse each other. But Ms Rayner, the shadow education secretary, is being told that by championing Ms Long Bailey, the shadow business secretary, she would risk being dragged into the Corbynite battle over who should be the leftwinger to succeed him.

Minimum wage

Guardian
Almost 3 million workers in Britain are to receive a pay rise of more than four times the rate of inflation from April, after the government said it would increase the official minimum wage. In an announcement designed to woo low-paid workers in the immediate aftermath of Boris Johnson’s election victory earlier this month, the government said the national living wage for over-25s would increase from £8.21 an hour to £8.72 from the start of April. Johnson said the increase was the “biggest ever cash boost” to the legal pay floor. “Hard work should always pay, but for too long people haven’t seen the pay rises they deserve,” he said.

Mirror
Minimum wage workers will receive a 51p an hour boost from April, the Government announced last night. The National Living Wage, which is the legal pay floor for employees aged 25 and over, will rise from £8.21 to £8.72.  The rate for 21 to 24 years olds will climb from £7.70 to £8.20. In contrast, the Real Living Wage, set by independent experts and championed by the Living Wage Foundation, is £9.30 an hour rising to £10.75 in London, where costs are higher. It is earned by all workers regardless of their age. Some 2.8 million employees are due to benefit from the hikes revealed by the Government.  The Treasury said it equates to an annual pay rise of £930 for a full-time worker aged 25 and over.

Sun
SAJID Javid today announces the minimum wage will rise by a record 51p so struggling Brits begin the new year with an imminent pay rise. The National Living Wage will increase from £8.21 to £8.72 an hour in April, the Chancellor reveals. The 6.2% hike is double the rate of average annual wage growth and also twice the current rate of inflation, as well as the legal minimum’s biggest cash rise ever since it came into force in 1997. It will deliver an extra £930 a year into the pockets of almost three million who earn it. Writing for The Sun today, Mr Javid says the move is the start of an array of action by the newly elected Tory government that will make 2020 “the year of levelling up”.

Terror

ITV News
Four men have been arrested in different parts of the country over a suspected terror plot. The four men, aged between 19 and 23, were held on Monday on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terror, while a fifth man, 19, was arrested on suspicion of encouraging terrorism. The raids in Manchester, Peterborough and north London were part of a pre-planned operation and were not linked to either the London Bridge terror attack last month or New Year’s Eve, the Metropolitan Police said. A Met statement said: “Officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command along with colleagues from the Counter Terrorism Policing North West (CTPNW) unit and the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) CTP have arrested five men on suspicion of terrorism offences.

Foreign aid

Mail
Boris Johnson was under pressure on foreign aid last night after cash help for fast-growing China and India soared. The two countries, which are rich enough to mount missions to the Moon, received £151million between them last year. UK taxpayer money paid for schemes to cut salt from diets, to send text alerts to problem drinkers and to find whether yoga can halt diabetes. The 12 per cent rise in spending on China and India flew in the face of vows to stop sending cash there. The total foreign aid budget grew £493million from 2017 to hit £14.6billion last year, official figures show.

Sun
BORIS Johnson was last night under increased pressure to cut the £14.6billion foreign aid budget after it emerged China and India received £151million in UK cash – a rise of 12 per cent. While both giants splashed out on space programmes, British taxpayers paid for schemes to cut salty diets, send text alerts to problem drinkers and find if yoga helps diabetes sufferers. Foreign aid grew from £493million in 2017 to £14.6billion last year, according to official figures seen by the Daily Mail. The British taxpayer donated £70,315 to a Chinese project to encourage shoppers not to buy products made with pangolins, an endangered species whose scales are used in traditional medicines, while its meat is a high-end delicacy. Meanwhile £20,062 of aid was spent on looking at how solar panels could power India’s railways.

Migration

Times
The number of migrants could rise sharply under Boris Johnson’s plans for an Australian points-based system unless he imposes a cap on the number of skilled workers allowed to come to the UK, campaigners have warned. The prime minister used the Queen’s Speech to commit the government to bringing forward laws for a points-based migration system after the end of the Brexit transition period in December next year. The system would rate people who want to move to the UK according to their skills, experience, qualifications, ability to speak English and whether they were willing to work in areas where there are shortages of labour.

Veterans

Mail
Forces veterans have had their futures ruined by a Government-sanctioned pension scam. Although some are still suffering trauma from tours of Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland, they now face working into their eighties after losing nest eggs worth up to £50,000. They said they had been ‘betrayed and abandoned’ by the Government which registered the rogue scheme but now refuses to help. They are also furious at the Ministry of Defence for approving cash transfers despite earlier warnings from watchdogs. Most victims agreed to switch their savings because the bogus schemes were enrolled with HMRC and the Pensions Regulator.

NHS

Times
NHS chiefs held a closed meeting with giant technology and pharmaceutical companies to consider how billions of pounds could be made from a central database of patient records. The scheme better to harness anonymised medical data would address concerns that the health service had given away intellectual property rights too cheaply in existing deals with companies such as Google’s DeepMind. Local NHS IT officers have criticised the service’s leaders for discussing it “behind closed doors”, saying that a lack of transparency could erode public trust. The NHS denies acting secretively.

France

Times
The tumultuous history of Franco-British relations is set to take an unexpected twist after reports that President Macron wants to bestow France’s highest honour, the Légion d’honneur, on London. Mr Macron is said to regard the distinction as a way of commemorating the city’s role during the Second World War, when it provided a base for Charles de Gaulle, the exiled French leader. Le Figaro said that Mr Macron was planning to announce the award on June 18, the 80th anniversary of the speech in which General de Gaulle called upon the French to resist the Nazi invasion of their country.

The Queen’s art

Mail
The Queen is locked in a planning battle to build a giant shed in the grounds of Windsor Castle to store priceless art that must be moved from Buckingham Palace during its £369million refurbishment, it was revealed today. The 23,000ft building would house many of Her Majesty’s paintings, porcelain, tapestries and furniture and would stand within a walled garden close to Frogmore Cottage, where Prince Harry lives with his wife Meghan and son Archie. But there is a row brewing after planning chiefs at Windsor and Maidenhead Council warned the storage plot could cause flooding and could blight the landscape because of a lack of trees in the area. Officials are threatening to block the plans unless the Queen’s staff set out how rainwater would be drained from the site which could cause flooding.

Social media

Times
Social media executives will face fines and the threat of criminal prosecution for failing to protect people who use their services under plans to regulate tech giants in Britain for the first time. The government is to publish next month its response to a consultation on policing social media companies such as Facebook and Google after Britain leaves the European Union. Ministers want to place the companies under a statutory duty of care, which will be enforced by Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog. The government is also expected to introduce a “senior management liability”, under which executives could be held personally responsible for breaches of standards.

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