Brexit

Express
THERESA MAY’s Brexit deal gives the European Union the ability to “punish us even further” after leaving the Brussels bloc, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson has warned. The DUP MP and staunch Brexiteer said the British people feel disrespected by the EU as he warned that Theresa May’s Brexit deal allows Britons to continue to be “punished” by the bloc. Mr Wilson said: “I think people in Britain genuinely feel that the EU has stuck two fingers up to the British electorate. They have made it quite clear that they have total disrespect for our Prime Minister, disrespect for our institutions, disrespect for our democratic decisions and disrespect for the people who made those democratic decisions. “Now, that is no way to reach an amicable agreement.

EU

Express
BELGIUM became yet another unstable European Union government after its prime minister Charles Michel announced his decision to resign amid a furious row over the country’s support for a UN migration pact that collapsed the government. Mr Michel lost the support of the Flemish nationalist N-VA, the largest party in his coalition government, over the non-binding United Nations agreement, which opponents claimed would open to door to further European migration. Belgium now finds itself braced for a snap election as early as next month despite the prime minister’s desperate request for parliament to support his minority government in a “coalition of goodwill” until the scheduled elections in late May. But his request left Socialists and Greens unconvinced of his ability to lead the country and with the threat of a no confidence vote, Mr Michel said: “My appeal was not convincing. It was not heard. I take the decision to resign.”

Express
THE EU has been delivered a blow after the third-largest group in the European Parliament joined forces with a French eurosceptic party to help cement its influence after the Brussels elections. Ahead of May’s European Parliament vote, which decides the MEPs for the next five years, new alliances are being formed among Eurosceptics in Brussels.The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), announced an alliance with the French Eurosceptic Debout la France (DF) party ahead of next year’s EU election. They will fill the gap left by Brexiteer MEPs. The eurosceptic alliance is likely to send shockwaves across the continent.

Express
THE European Union could make Britain’s fishing industry suffer after Brexit and leave UK fish rotting at its borders, fishing boss Simon Collins has warned. Simon Collins, Executive Officer at the Shetland Fishermen’s Association, warned the “bigger danger” for British fishermen is the  European Union’s ability to delay imports after Brexit. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Collins said: “The bigger danger is not so much tariffs, because we have so many costs that go up and down the whole time, but it is what happens at the borders. It’s the frictionless trade because the stuff we are selling into the EU – much like stuff coming back from the EU to the UK is of course time sensitive.

Trade

Mail
The French economy will briefly become larger than Britain’s next year as Brexit uncertainty takes its toll, according to a report.  France is set to replace the UK as the sixth richest country in the world, the Centre for Economics and Business Research said. But Britain’s fundamental strengths mean this country will quickly overcome the setback of being pushed into seventh place and will overtake France again to reclaim the sixth spot a year later. The predictions, in an annual league table of economies by the CEBR, suggest that Brexit will have little impact on our international ranking in the long term. Britain is still slated to be in sixth spot by 2033, scotching claims from Remainers that the economy would be permanently damaged by leaving the EU.

ITV News
France will overtake the United Kingdom to become the world’s sixth biggest economy next year as the impact of Brexit bites, a reports has said. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) said “disruption” to the British economy was inevitable due to lower inward and business investment. However, the CEBR’s World Economic League Table report says post-Brexit Britain will return to the sixth spot by 2020 – a position it is expected to retain through to 2033. The forecast also suggests that even if Britain’s departure from the European Union leads to the secession of Scotland and Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK is forecast to be a larger economy than France by 2026.

Telegraph
Donald Trump wants to complete a UK-US free trade deal before the 2020 presidential election, one of Britain’s most active supporters in the US Congress has revealed.  George Holding, the Republican congressman from North Carolina, told The Daily Telegraph that Mr Trump “absolutely” wants an agreement to be wrapped up before his re-election bid.  Mr Holding said he had discussed the issue with the US president and Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, during a meeting in the White House this summer.  “He ran [for office] on doing bilateral agreements,” Mr Holding said of the president.

High streets

Telegraph
Britain’s high streets will receive a £675 million cash injection under Government plans to turn empty shops into tea rooms, community centres and new homes. As of today, local authorities will be able to apply for grants from the Future High Streets Fund, with £55 million set aside for the restoration of historic buildings at risk of falling into disrepair. The fund is the latest in a series of policy announcements announced by ministers recent months to reverse the decline of the country’s high streets, which have been decimated by the rise of online retailers and ecommerce.

Immigration

Breitbart
Migration Watch UK has warned the Government’s plans for immigration after Brexit will lead to an influx “even more massive” than the record levels Britain is already experiencing. Delayed for almost a year, the White Paper   on immigration after Brexit has now been unveiled by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who campaigned for a Remain vote as Business Secretary during the EU referendum. The United Kingdom has never had particularly strong immigration controls and Tory manifesto promises to cut the net annual inflow “from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands” in 2010, 2015, and 2017 have never been realistically achievable due to the country’s EU membership — as Brussels mandates unlimited and effectively unvetted intra-bloc migration under its Free Movement regime.

Times
Two children were among 40 migrants from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan rescued from five boats in the Channel yesterday. More than 150 people have now been rescued since the beginning of last month. The migrants were discovered in five separate incidents within six hours that involved the Border Force and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The Home Office blamed “organised criminal activity” for what is thought to be the largest number of migrants picked up off the coast in a day. One group of eight, including a girl, was found at 2.40am heading towards Folkestone. The girl will be put in the care of social services. The group was medically assessed and then handed over to immigration officials.

Telegraph
Authorities were called to several incidents which saw 40 migrants including two children, some in dinghies, cross the Channel towards Britain on Christmas Day. Border Force were involved in five separate instances involving people presenting as Iraqi, Iranian and Afghan, the Home Office said. A girl was among eight people who arrived in Folkestone, Kent, at around 2.40am. A child was also one of 13 people on board a dinghy assisted by Border Force off the coast of Deal, Kent, shortly before 7am.

Express
FORTY migrants have been rescued from boats trying to cross the English Channel on Christmas Day. Five vessels were intercepted by Border Force and French authorities as they made their way towards the Kent coast from France. The Home Office believes “organised criminal gang activity” is behind the illegal migration attempts. A Home Office spokesman said: “Border Force has intercepted a number of boats containing migrants attempting to cross the Channel overnight and this morning (Tuesday 25 December), and has deployed resources to deal with these incidents. “The evidence shows there is organised criminal gang activity behind illegal migration attempts by small boats across the Channel.

Rail travel

Sky News
The Department for Transport has confirmed it is actively working with a number of groups to explore the possibility of reopening old rail routes, axed under the so-called Beeching cuts of the 1960s. It follows a call by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling a year ago, encouraging those in the public and private sector to submit proposals for potential projects to regenerate old lines. The announcement will give fresh hope to dozens of campaign groups across the UK, who are still fighting to restore services cut more than half a century ago. A spokesman for the Department for Transport told Sky News: “We are continuing to grow the rail network to deliver improvements for passengers, unlock new housing and support the economy, including by exploring opportunities to restore previously lost capacity.

Foxhunting

Times
Saboteurs are targeting the hunts that use National Trust land after it said that the dates and locations of meets had to be publicised. Hunts that have rarely suffered protests are now being attacked online and in the field. Some have also been falsely accused of breaking the law, according to the Countryside Alliance, a pro-hunting pressure group. One hunt says that its licence for a trust estate, which it has used for decades, was withdrawn this month after the trust was abused on social media and masked protesters demonstrated outside its visitors’ centre. This is the busiest time in the hunt calendar and supporters say that 250,000 people are expected to follow 250 hunts today.

ITV News
Labour is promising to strengthen the legislation banning hunting with hounds with possible prison sentences for offenders who break the law. Ahead of the annual Boxing Day hunts, shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman said an incoming Labour government would review penalties under the Hunting Act 2004 to ensure it is an effective deterrent. It would include a consultation on the introduction of custodial sentences, bringing it in line with the penalties for other wildlife crimes.

Whaling

BBC News
Japan says it is to restart commercial whaling in July in a move that is likely to draw international criticism. It said it would withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the body tasked with whale conservation. Commercial whaling was banned by the IWC in 1986 after some species were driven almost to extinction. Officials in Japan, an IWC member since 1951, say eating whales is part of the country’s culture. For many years Japan has hunted whales for what it calls “scientific research” and to sell the meat, a programme widely criticised by conservationists.

Reuters
Japan will withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and resume commercial whaling from July, it said on Wednesday, abandoning a decades-old campaign to persuade the commission to allow it to hunt whales commercially. The announcement drew criticism from anti-whaling groups and others, with Australia saying it was “extremely disappointed” and New Zealand regretting the resumption of the “outdated and unnecessary” commercial killing of the ocean mammals. Japan’s commercial whaling will be limited to its own territorial waters and its exclusive economic zone, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who made the announcement at a news conference after a cabinet decision on Tuesday.

Dementia

Times
Dementia research will shift towards the use of t’ai chi, robot seal pups and GPS tagging as the government’s research funding body accepts that there is no sign of new “blockbuster” drugs to treat the condition. It will focus instead on improving the quality of patients’ lives. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is “rebalancing” its dementia efforts towards trials that aim to find better ways to live, saying that moonshot-style pushes for a cure will not work. More than a million people in Britain will soon have dementia and the condition is already the country’s biggest killer.

Plastic

Times
More than a billion plastic “bags for life” are being handed out annually by supermarkets, undermining their claims to be reducing waste by cutting down on single-use bags. The main retailers are using more plastic overall in their bags for life than in thin single-use bags, on which the government has imposed a 5p charge. Supermarkets replace bags for life free of charge but many customers treat them as single-use carriers, discarding them and buying new ones on their next shopping trip.

Mail
Supermarkets are selling customers billions of 10p ‘bags for life’ which contain twice as much plastic as 5p single-use bags, it was reported last night. It comes despite attempts by stores to reduce waste by cutting down on carrier bags. ‘Bags for life’ are reusable alternatives to single-use plastic bags. But major retailers are using more plastic overall to manufacture bags for life than in thin single-use bags. British retailers handed out a total of 1.18billion of them last year – at a cost of around 10p a bag. In the 12 months to the end of June, Tesco distributed 430million bags for life – the highest number for a supermarket.

Drones

Telegraph
The police force in charge of the investigation into the drone attack at Gatwick airport has been told to step aside and allow others to take over amid mounting criticism over its handling of the probe. MPs and peers claimed that the response by Sussex Police to the prolonged disruption at Britain’s second largest airport was “inadequate”, as they urged ministers to call in the Metropolitan Police to offer its expertise. They included Lord Harris of Haringey, the former Home Office representative to the Metropolitan Police Authority, who suggested an attack on critical national infrastructure warranted the involvement of Scotland Yard.

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