Brexit

Express
THERESA May is heading for a trouncing in next week’s Withdrawal Agreement vote despite considering a move to cave in to Labour demands on Brexit to win their backing for her maligned deal. Latest research shows the Prime Minister is facing a humiliating defeat on Tuesday by a colossal 228 vote margin. Just 206 MPs are set to vote with the government while an insurmountable 433 are ready to reject the divorce deal. Political analysts had previously suggested the Prime Minister was hoping for a narrow defeat which could spur the EU into renegotating after realising a deal could be close to crossing the finish line. However the figures suggest May is on track for the biggest House of Commons defeat ever and the latest blow could see the PM accepting her deal is worthless and being left with no choice but to resign, call a general election or hold a second referendum.

Westmonster
Theresa May’s astonishingly unpopular proposed deal with the European Union has seen even bigger opposition rise since she delayed the original vote on it in December. That’s quite some achievement. Now BBC research suggests that May is set to see her deal voted down by a majority of 228. Anything like that number would be truly devastating. The number of MPs opposing the deal is said to have increased by 19 since the delay in December, meaning that 206 MPs are set to vote for it and 433 against. In other words, no chance. It is shocking just how badly the government have managed to botch this with a despised deal that Brexiteers simply can’t get behind. This is the problem with a Remainer Prime Minister surrounded by those who campaigned against leaving the EU in the first place.

Mail
Furious Theresa May has accused her own Cabinet ministers of plotting to undermine her as she fights to save her Brexit deal, a bombshell secret No 10 memo has revealed. An email leaked to this newspaper lays bare the open warfare in the Cabinet as rival ministers jockey for position amid reports the Prime Minister could be forced to resign if her Brexit deal is defeated. The email, written by No 10 director of communications Robbie Gibb, slams rival Tory leadership contenders Sajid Javid, Amber Rudd and Liz Truss. He accuses them of trying to upstage Mrs May’s £20billion annual NHS boost unveiled last weekend by announcing their own initiatives at the same time. He says Mrs May was ‘frustrated’ by their actions; she had not approved them – and they had not even bothered to ask her permission.

Times
Theresa May was appealing to Britain’s biggest unions last night in an attempt to win Labour support for her Brexit deal. The prime minister called Len McCluskey, the head of Unite, as she intensified her efforts to build support across party lines. The call was Mrs May’s first conversation with Mr McCluskey, who has been a vociferous critic of the prime minister and her government. She also telephoned Tim Roache, head of the GMB, after meeting a small group of Labour MPs in Westminster on Monday. The efforts to build cross-party support came after it was claimed that the prime minister could be heading for a defeat by more than 200 in Tuesday’s meaningful vote on her Brexit deal.

ITV News
Theresa May has reached out to union leaders as she makes an 11th-hour attempt to reach out to her political opponents to get her Brexit deal through the Commons. Downing Street said the Prime Minister had “constructive” phone conversations about her Brexit deal with trade union big beast Len McCluskey of Unite, a Brexit supporter and close confidant of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, as well as Tim Roache of the GMB. Number 10 also confirmed ministers would “consider very seriously” moves by Labour MPs to safeguard workers’ rights after Brexit in an attempt to win support for her deal, if the backbench amendment was selected by the Speaker. The amendment would keep EU rules on pay and conditions, health and safety issues, and environmental standards.

Mail
Theresa May has been appealing for help from union chiefs amid signs she faces the biggest Commons defeat ever over her Brexit deal. The PM is on track to lose by a massive 228 vote margin next Tuesday as Tory Brexiteers and Remainers rebel to join Labour in the division lobbies, according to a BBC analysis. The biggest previous setback for a government is believed to be by 166 in 1924, when Labour’s Ramsay MacDonald was leading a minority administration. However, in a chink of light for Mrs May two Tory MPs, George Freeman and Trudy Harrison, revealed they are switching sides to support her deal.  At a Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister insisted ‘for those who want to avoid no deal, backing the deal is the right thing to do’.

Independent
Theresa May has launched a fresh bid to secure support for her  Brexit deal by reaching out to trade unions and Labour MPs. The prime minister spoke to union bosses on Thursday and signalled that she will accept a Labour backbench amendment to secure workers’ rights after Brexit. The amendment was tabled by John Mann, Caroline Flint and Gareth Snell. Mr Mann said the government’s support would be “significant” and would make the proposed withdrawal agreement “more attractive”. Ms May’s calls with union leaders appeared to have had little impact. Speaking after a call with the prime minister, GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “I represent 620,000 working people and it’s about time their voices were heard. After nearly three years I’m glad the prime minister finally picked up the phone.

Independent
The European Commission has said it is “reflecting” on how to offer  Theresa May further help to get her Brexit deal through parliament next week. Brussels has been adamant that it cannot make any actual changes to the controversial deal, but there have been suggestions that further non-binding political “reassurances” could be made to smooth its passage. “President Juncker spoke last Friday to prime minister May at her request to see how we can help with additional reassurances,” an EU Commission spokesperson told reporters in Brussels. “Right now we are in the process of reflecting on how to do this and I will update you as soon as there are any contacts foreseen, which is no the case at this stage. But indeed they had agreed to remain in touch throughout the week, which is not yet over.”

Mirror
Ministers paid the European Commission £1.5 million for ‘translation services’ during Brexit negotiations. It comes after the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) were ridiculed for sending “clunky” translations of the Brexit white paper into 22 European languages.  Translation experts found numerous mistakes and irregularities in several translations, including the French, German, Croatian and Welsh language versions of Theresa May ’s Chequers plan. The fees were registered ahead of the EU leaders’ informal summit in Salzburg in September and the final November summit on Brexit. Labour MP Jo Stevens, a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said: “What an embarrassment – the Government has had to hand over huge sums of money to the EU to translate their negotiations for them.

WTO rules

Times
Up to 4,000 civil servants are being asked to abandon their day jobs to work on no-deal Brexit preparations under plans being rolled out across Whitehall. Officials in education, justice and welfare are among staff in five government departments being asked to take up new roles within weeks, The Times has learnt. None will be replaced and the secondments are expected to last at least six months. Whitehall sources said ministers were being told to reduce demands on their departments. Jonathan Slater, permanent secretary at the education department, told staff yesterday that the priority was ensuring that “key services continue to operate” but other areas of the department’s work are likely to be mothballed.

Second referendum

Independent
MPs are weighing up how quickly to launch a bid for a fresh referendum on Brexit, after inflicting a stunning defeat on Theresa May which cleared the way for a Commons vote. Another Conservative revolt will force the prime minister to present her “plan B” within just three working days of what seems certain to be a heavy defeat of her proposed deal next Tuesday. The victory torpedoed Ms May’s apparent plan to force MPs to vote multiple times on that deal, while “running down the clock” to the threat of crashing out of the EU with no agreement, as the feared alternative. It triggered chaotic scenes in the Commons, as furious Brexiteers accused John Bercow, the Commons speaker, of blatant bias in allowing the vote, against legal advice.

Bercow

Telegraph
John Bercow has been accused of taking a “kamikaze” approach to his role over Brexit because he is preparing to stand down. The Speaker ignored legal advice and parliamentary precedent to allow a vote that gives the Prime Minister just three days to present a “plan B” if her Brexit deal is voted down. One source said that Mr Bercow’s diary is empty from May, paving the way for him to leave after Brexit. “He is going out in a blaze of glory,” a source said. “It is kamikaze. He doesn’t care.” However James Duddridge, a Tory MP and prominent critic of John Bercow: “He has nothing else to go do.

Times
John Bercow is at odds with MPs again over the appointment of his most senior adviser on parliamentary procedure. Sir David Natzler is the clerk of the House of Commons whose advice the Speaker controversially overruled on Wednesday. He retires on March 1 and Mr Bercow is planning to announce his successor by the end of the month. There have been tensions between the Speaker and senior MPs over the appointment process. When a panel of MPs, including Andrea Leadsom, leader of the Commons, and Valerie Vaz, her Labour shadow, made a shortlist of four internal candidates, Mr Bercow asked for them to reconsider, believing that a worthy applicant had been left off the list.

Independent
Theresa May has called for John Bercow to fully “explain” why he broke with Commons rules to allow a vote that will give MPs a greater say over her Brexit strategy. The prime minister stepped into the bitter row surrounding the actions of the Commons speaker, saying: “I was surprised at that decision; it’s for the speaker to explain that decision.” The intervention came as the Japanese prime minister, speaking alongside Ms May warned: “The world is watching the UK as it exits the European Union.” Shinzo Abe said a no-deal Brexit must be avoided if Japan is to “invest more into your country and to enjoy further economic growth with the UK”. The comment was seized on by the anti-Brexit Best for Britain group

Guardian
Theresa May has said she was surprised that the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, had allowed MPs to vote on Dominic Grieve’s Brexit amendment  on Wednesday, and called on him to explain himself before parliament. The amendment compels the government to say within three sitting days what it will do if, as expected, May’s Brexit deal is voted down next Tuesday – giving her a deadline of Monday 21 January to make a statement on the government’s intentions. The prime minister said there should be “consistent interpretation” of the rules as she waded into the row about Bercow’s decision to allow Grieve to submit an amendment on a government motion that was intended not to be altered.

EU

Telegraph
Ever since the 2016 EU referendum, Jaguar Land Rover has been issuing grim warnings about job losses in the event of a hard Brexit. On Thursday morning, as it announced it was cutting its UK workforce by 4,500, it claimed “continuing uncertainty related to Brexit” was at least partly to blame. Yet JLR’s decision over the past three years to move production of its Land Rover Discovery model from Solihull to Slovakia, creating 2,350 jobs in eastern Europe rather than in the UK, received little scrutiny. As Remain-supporting ministers and the BBC warned of the dangers of Brexit to the car industry, Eurosceptic MPs cited JLR as a case study in why Britain needs to leave the EU.

Telegraph
The water levels of the Rhine are low and Germany may be flirting with recession. The two are connected, many argue. The Rhine is a key artery for the transport of many goods into and through the country, particularly for the chemicals and energy industries. But praying that the water rises and all will come good might not be enough. Just as the idea that negative growth in the third quarter was due to the temporary hit of emissions testing rules on an already troubled car industry, the one-off excuses are starting to wear a bit thin. There is a grander slowdown facing Berlin, and, as the eurozone’s economic powerhouse, potentially the rest of its members too.

Migrants

Telegraph
More than half of failed asylum seekers stay in the UK illegally amid “rife” abuse of the system, according to the Home Office’s former head of  immigration enforcement. David Wood said tens of thousands remain in the UK despite their applications having been rejected or withdrawn as a result of an “ineffective and inefficient” asylum system that fails to remove them. His analysis, published today by the think tank Civitas, found just over half (52.8%) of applications for asylum were refused. And of the 80,813 failed asylum seekers rejected between 2010 and 2016, only 29,659 individuals were removed, leaving up to 51,154 who remained illegally in the UK.

Flu

Mail
Cases of flu in Britain have doubled in the space of a week, official figures released today have shown. Health bosses warn this winter’s influenza outbreak is now beginning to take hold, after weeks of little activity. Cases have increased by 85 per cent within the space of a week in England, while there has been a 55 per cent in Wales.While flu has risen by 139 per cent in Scotland and 50 per cent in Northern Ireland over the same time frame, data has revealed. Nearly two million people are now showing signs of the flu, according to estimates as experts warn it could pile more pressure on a stretched NHS.

Sun
CASES of the flu have doubled to two million in a week in Britain, official figures released today have shown. Health bosses warn this winter’s influenza outbreak has begun, after weeks of little activity. Within the space of a week cases have increased by 85 per cent in England and by 55 per cent in Wales. In the same data, cases of the flu have increased by 139 per cent and by 50 per cent in Northern Ireland. Nearly two million are experiencing symptoms of the flu, according to estimates and experts warn it could put for strain on the already-stretched NHS. Health authorities across the UK are monitoring the rates of flu in their own country.

Universal credit

Times
Amber Rudd plans to scrap the two-child limit on universal credit for children more than 21 months old after a Conservative revolt. The work and pensions secretary will also confirm that the “managed migration” of claimants to universal credit will slow down, focusing instead on a trial of 10,000 people using the six benefits that it replaces. The Treasury put £4.5 billion into universal credit in the budget after The Times revealed that Esther McVey, Ms Rudd’s predecessor, had complained privately that it was underfunded. Ms Rudd will use her first major welfare speech today to try to allay fears about the scheme, which Labour wants to scrap.

Independent
Controversial plans to retrospectively extend the two-child benefit cap to new universal credit (UC) claimants are to be scrapped, Amber Rudd will announce on Friday. The work and pensions secretary will use her first major welfare speech to try to allay fears about the roll-out of UC. The minister will bow to pressure and drop the initiative to broaden the two-child cap to children born before the welfare cut was introduced in April 2017. Ms Rudd will say: “As it stands, from February 2019 the two-child limit will be applied to families applying for universal credit who had their children before the cap was even announced. That is not right.

Sky News
Amber Rudd is to scrap a controversial plan to extend the two-child benefits cap, as part of an attempt to “reset” public perception of Universal Credit. In an exclusive television interview with Sky News, the work and pensions secretary described her role as “the most important job in government”. She warned a “no-deal” Brexit would be the “worst outcome” for the country, and indicated the benefit freeze would not be extended once the current timetable concludes next year. “I remain very committed to Universal Credit,” she said. “But I am looking at ways to demonstrate to people that it is fair and compassionate, and with that in mind I am making some changes.

North Pole

Mail
Earth’s magnetic fields are shifting – and scientists are unsure why. Researchers say the magnetic North Pole is ‘skittering’ away from Canada, towards Siberia. The problem has got so bad, researchers around the world are scrambling to update a global model of the fields. Called the World Magnetic Model, it underlies all modern navigation, from the systems that steer ships at sea to Google Maps on smartphones.  The most recent version of the model came out in 2015, and it was supposed to last until 2020. However, researchers say the magnetic field is changing so rapidly that they have to fix the model urgently.  It was due to be updated on the 15th January, but due to the US Government shutdown, that has already been delayed until the 30th.

Climate change

Times
The oceans are warming at a faster rate than was thought, according to the biggest analysis of sea temperatures so far. The vast majority of the extra heat from climate change is stored in the oceans but until recently there were few reliable methods of measuring it. Researchers have now combined findings from multiple studies to show there has been a consistent warming trend even during the so-called hiatus, a 15-year period at the beginning of this century when land temperatures seemed to hold. The latest study combined previous estimates to show that ocean warming is accelerating at a rate 40 per cent higher than was thought.

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