EU

Breitbart
European Union lead negotiator Michel Barnier has warned that the bloc is still preparing for a No Deal Brexit, particularly if Britain will not let the EU dictate how it administers state aid. “If the UK wants an open link with us for the products – zero tariffs, zero quotas – we need to be careful about zero dumping at the same time,” the Frenchman said in Stockholm, Sweden. “I hope that this point is and will be correctly understood by everybody. We will ask necessarily certain conditions on state aid policy in the UK,” he warned. Most countries around the world agree to certain restrictions on the extent to which national governments can come to the aid of national industries through subsidies, tax breaks, and so on, in rules outlined by the World Trade Organization (WTO) — but the European Union goes much further, making it even more difficult for member-state governments to favour domestic firms for government contracts, assist ailing steel plants, etc. The EU has been clear that one of its negotiation objections during the upcoming “transition” period — in which Britain will be out of the EU in name but an EU member-state without institutional representation in practice while a trade deal is negotiated (or not) — is to make Britain agree to continue to follow EU state aid rules. The bloc has also indicated that it wants to exercise some control over the extent to which Britain can cut its taxes in the name of a so-called “level playing field” — fearing that a less bureaucratic, lower tax Britain would be too competitive compared to a European Union notorious for red tape and inflexibility.

Independent
Boris Johnson’s Brexit timetable does not give enough time to negotiate a full trade deal between the EU and the UK, Michel Barnier has said. Speaking in Stockholm on Thursday, the EU’s chief negotiator said it would take longer than the 11-month transition period to negotiate a comprehensive relationship. Instead, Mr Barnier said Brussels will “prioritise” and try to secure a “basic agreement” with the UK – with the EU’s red lines being trade in goods, regulatory alignment, and fishing. “If we want to agree on each and every point of this political declaration – which would lead to an unprecedented relationship – it will take more than 11 months,” he said.

Express
A SENIOR EU boss has warned Britain it will have to respect the bloc’s rules if it wants access to the single market after Brexit. Thierry Breton, the new European Commissioner for the Internal Market, said Brexit would have a cost for the UK but hoped a good deal could be reached. The former Harvard Business School professor and French finance minister said: “We do not like Brexit but we respect the decision of the British people. As far as we are concerned, we will be strict: to access the European single market, the British will have to respect all our rules, especially environmental, social and health standards and also state aid control.”

Independent
The president of the European Commission has urged Britain’s youth to not to settle for “isolation” after Brexit, and said they would not have to accept the new “status quo” negotiated by Boris Johnson. In her first official visit to the UK Ursula von der Leyen told an audience of students in London that the Brexit deal negotiated would be “for your generation” to live with and that they would have the option of changing it. She suggested that if Britain’s youth were not satisfied with what was negotiated, they should not accept the status quo and instead could “turn things into how they should be”.

WAB

Telegraph
Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal has passed through the Commons in a historic vote which brought it a step closer to being enshrined in law. MPs on Thursday night voted in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at its third reading by 330 votes to 231, a majority of 99. It came after three years of Parliamentary wrangling over Brexit, which is now set to happen on Jan 31.  The Brexit Bill has now passed to the House of Lords, where peers will debate it next week. A source in the Lords said the Bill is likely to become law on Jan 22.

Guardian
Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill cleared the House of Commons on Thursday in a major milestone that means the UK is on track to leave the EU on 31 January. The prime minister won a vote on the EU withdrawal bill at third reading by 330 votes to 231, a majority of 99. Before the election, MPs had thwarted Theresa May’s Brexit bill and threatened to do the same to Johnson’s revised deal.  However, the make-up of the new parliament is now strongly pro-Brexit, with Johnson’s sizeable Tory majority. The bill will now go to the House of Lords where peers could give it a more challenging hearing but are still unlikely to block its passage.

Northern Ireland

Times
Power sharing appeared on the brink of being restored in Northern Ireland last night after the UK and Irish governments released an outline deal. Julian Smith, the Northern Ireland secretary, asked the Speaker of the defunct Stormont Assembly  to recall its members this morning in the hope that parties would agree to re-enter. “We have had three years of talks and there is finally a good deal on the table that all parties can support,” Mr Smith said. “Now is decision time. There is something in this deal for everyone.”

Sky News
The British and Irish governments have tabled a draft agreement to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland, three years after it collapsed. The two largest parties, Sinn Fein and the DUP, have been locked in talks this week. Simon Coveney, speaking for the Irish government, said: “We have worked tirelessly through some extremely complicated issues.” He urged “all political leaders and their teams to grab this opportunity and get back to work” and he said the deal is “filled with compromises” which are fair and in the interests of the people of Northern Ireland.

BBC News
The DUP has said the text of a deal published by the two governments is not “perfect”, but “there is a basis upon which the Assembly and Executive can be re-established”. The text was published on Thursday night. Arlene Foster said: “There are elements within it which we recognise are the product of long negotiations and represent compromise outcomes.” Sinn Féin President Mary-Lou McDonald said the party would “assess” the text. If agreed, the deal could see the assembly reconvene on Friday. The statement from the DUP leader said the party had weighed the governments’ paper against their 10 commitments for negotiations.

Reuters
Northern Ireland’s largest pro-British party, the Democratic Unionist Party, said it believed the draft deal published by the British and Irish governments on Thursday provided a basis upon which the regional assembly can be re-established. The positive response came less than one hour after the two governments urged all parties to back the deal to restore devolved government for the first time in three years or risk fresh elections in the British-run region if Monday’s deadline for agreement passes. Sinn Fein, the largest Irish nationalist party, withdrew from the power-sharing government exactly three years ago, saying it was not being treated equally by the DUP.

Independent
The UK and Irish governments have published a draft deal to restore a devolved government in Northern Ireland. Secretary of state Julian Smith has asked the speaker of Stormont, the seat of the Northern Ireland assembly, to hold a sitting on Friday morning to see whether the parties will attend and sign up to it. The move comes without the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) or Sinn Fein having publicly signalled a willingness to agree to the terms of the deal, entitled “New Decade, New Approach”.

Mail
The UK and Irish governments have published a draft deal to restore Stormont, with the Assembly to be recalled on Friday to see if the parties will turn up and sign up to it. Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith has asked the speaker of the defunct house to hold a sitting on Friday morning, without the Stormont parties having yet agreed to all the proposals.

The Sussexes

Times
The Prince of Wales could stop funding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex if they step away from royal duties entirely, The Times understands. Charles has made it clear that he will not be writing his son a blank cheque as he and his wife embark on a new life after relinquishing their roles as senior members of the royal family. The warning came as doubts were raised about how the couple intend to become “financially independent” as they carve themselves a “progressive new role”, splitting their time between Britain and North America.

Mirror
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry face calls to pay back £2.4m spent on their official home after revealing their bid for “financial independence” from the Royal Family. A Privy Counsellor and campaign group Republic criticised the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for saying they would step down as senior royals – but keep a claim on the newly-refubished Windsor pad. In a statement last night the Royal couple said they would “step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent”, dividing time between the US and UK.

Mail
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have refused to name the secretive multi-millionaire who loaned the couple their Canadian mansion – but who has used highly controversial methods also deployed by money-launderers and tax-evaders to conceal his identity. The royals declined an invitation by DailyMail.com to reveal the mystery mansion owner’s identity amid claims that he could be a Russian billionaire. The couple’s spokeswoman also declined to say whether they had paid for the vacation. The latest disclosure comes amid their bombshell decision to quit their royal duties and split their time between the UK and North America.

Sun
MEGHAN Markle has headed back to Canada, where she left baby Archie behind for the pair’s announcement they would be leaving the Royal family, a source revealed. She flew back after just three days in the UK leaving Prince Harry to hold crisis talks with the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William on their split from the Royal Family. Meghan, 38, will rejoin eight-month-old Archie in Vancouver, and is expected to stay there for the foreseeable future. Harry, 35, is staying in Britain to host the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draw next week.

Telegraph
When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were quitting as ‘senior’ members of the Royal family, they unveiled their plans in a 200-word bombshell statement and launched their new lives on a specially commissioned website sussexroyal.com. But yesterday those plans began to unravel before they could even be put in place. Within hours, Buckingham Palace insiders began to pick apart a series of claims, covering everything from their security to their financing and even to their housing. The Sussexes complain on their website they are “prohibited from earning any income”. Under their new plan, they “prefer to release [their] financial tie” to the Queen’s Sovereign Grant.

Times
With a global fanbase, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex can consider many future possibilities. Prince Harry’s personal fortune has been estimated at £30 million. The Queen Mother is thought to have left about £70 million in trust for her great-grandchildren, with Harry, 35, and his brother sharing about £14 million from her estate. The brothers inherited 75 per cent of the £21 million estate left by their mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who also left them her jewellery. They have already spoken about wanting to expand their charitable work.

Mail
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are likely to keep their Royal titles despite stepping away from official duties in their bid to become ‘financially independent’. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Wednesday released a statement which detailed their plans to split their time between the UK and North America, while also giving up their share of the Sovereign Grant. At the end of the statement, the couple signed off as ‘Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’.

NHS

Telegraph
A quarter of children referred for specialist mental health care because of self-harm, eating disorders and other conditions are being rejected for treatment, a new report has found. The study by the Education Policy Institute warns that young patients are waiting an average of two months for help, and frequently turned away. It follows research showing that one in three mental health trusts are only accepting cases classed as the most severe. GPs have warned that children were being forced to wait until their condition deteriorated – in some cases resulting in a suicide attempt – in order to get to see a specialist.

Times
Pharmacists could play a huge role in improving cancer survival rates by becoming the first port of call for screenings and referrals, a report has said. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) says that local pharmacies could act as a “convenient and accessible place” where staff could examine suspicious moles or persistent coughs and breathlessness and refer patients  to hospitals without this needing to be done by a GP. The society’s plan was released alongside a report by University College London (UCL) that predicted lung cancer survival rates in Britain could more than double over the next decade, saving 5,000 lives a year.

Education

Times
Outstanding schools are to lose their exemption from  Ofsted inspections. All top-rated schools and colleges will be inspected in the next five academic years under proposals from the Department for Education (DfE) announced today. Michael Gove, as education secretary in 2012, exempted outstanding schools from being routinely inspected to free them from bureaucracy. It has meant that some schools have gone for more than a decade without an Ofsted visit. Other outstanding schools, inspected because of concerns, have been found to have deteriorated.

National Trust

Telegraph
Huge swathes of farmland owned by the National Trust are to be forested under plans to make the charity carbon zero by 2030. On the Trust’s 125th anniversary, Hilary McGrady, the director general, announced that trees will be planted on 18,000 hectares (44,000 acres), the equivalent area of 42 Sherwood Forests. But controversially, around half of that expanse will come from grazing land, with dozens of tenant farmers told they will have to reduce their numbers of cattle and sheep. Some 20 million trees will be grown over the next 10 years, some planted and some allowed to self-seed after livestock is removed from upland areas.

Times
The National Trust will convert vast areas of its land from meat production to woodland to become carbon neutral by 2030. It plans to grow 20 million trees over the next ten years by planting saplings or removing livestock to allow self-seeding. Dozens of farm tenancies will be altered as they come up for renewal to cut sheep and cattle numbers. The trust plans to spend about £90 million creating 18,000 hectares of woodland, increasing the proportion of forests from 10 to 17 per cent by 2030.

Mail
The National Trust has announced it will plant vast swathes of woodland on its sites – in the latest victory for the Daily Mail’s tree-planting campaign. A staggering 20million trees will be added to the charity’s land over the next decade, creating the equivalent of 42 Sherwood Forests. It is just the latest initiative announced since the Daily Mail began its Be A Tree Angel campaign to plant thousands of trees across Britain. Currently, 60 per cent of the National Trust’s land is farmland, mostly used for grazing cattle and sheep. But 44,478 acres – an area one-and-a-half times the size of Manchester – are set to be transformed from farming into woodland by 2030.

Iran

Telegraph
Boris Johnson has said that Iran shot down the Ukrainian passenger plane in Tehran after Western intelligence agencies concluded that the downing of the jet was most likely an accident. US satellites reportedly picked up two surface-to-air missiles being launched shortly before the accident and US officials suspect there are missile fragments near the crash site where all 176 passenger died. Mr Johnson said: “There is now a body of information that the flight was shot down by an Iranian Surface to Air Missile. This may well have been unintentional.” His comments came shortly after Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, which had 63 nationals on board, said “multiple intelligence sources” pointed to a missile strike that appeared to be accidental.

Times
An Iranian surface-to-air missile brought down the passenger jet that crashed in Tehran on Wednesday killing all 176 people on board, senior US and British officials have concluded. The aircraft came down hours after Iran launched 16 missiles at Iraqi military bases in retaliation for the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the country’s most powerful commander. Four British citizens were among the dead. Iran claimed that the airliner had a mechanical fault. However, American satellites have detected the signature of two missile launches, followed by an explosion, moments before the Ukrainian International Airlines flight crashed.

Mail
Iran fired two missiles at the Ukrainian passenger jet which crashed near Tehran and killed 176 people, it is believed.  Satellite data detected two surface-to-air missiles being launched just minutes after the Boeing 737 took off, the US government says.  It is believed that Iran may have shot the plane down unintentionally, possibly mistaking it for a military jet just hours after Tehran had attacked US bases in Iraq.  Footage which emerged last night showed the Ukrainian International Airlines jet exploding in mid-air after it was hit by the missiles, killing all 167 passengers and nine crew on board.

Telegraph
Boris Johnson has reaffirmed his commitment to the Iran nuclear deal in a 20-minute phone call with the country’s president. The Prime Minister told Hassan Rouhani the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) retained his backing, as Downing Street said it was the “best arrangement” to avoid Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons. It came as Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, warned that Iran’s breaches of the JCPOA were becoming “acute” and that signatories were “looking hard” at what steps to take.

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