Brexit

Telegraph
The Brexit Secretary has accused the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator of “scaremongering” after they clashed over the rights of EU citizens living in Britain. Steve Barclay told Guy Verhofstadt he was “feeding the anxiety” of migrants by tweeting demands they all be given identity cards, which the Government has already ruled out. During a meeting in Whitehall, Mr Verhofstadt also told Mr Barclay that EU citizens should not have to apply for settled status – effectively continuing freedom of movement. But Mr Barclay pointed out that the UK scheme for EU citizens is far more generous than the EU scheme for British citizens living abroad, who are still facing huge uncertainty about their future.

Express
CABINET minister Stephen Barclay last night rebuked Brussels negotiator Guy Verhofstadt for “scaremongering” about the rights of EU citizens to stay in the EU after Brexit. The EU Exit Secretary gave the Belgian MEP a dressing down during talks in Downing Street following his repeated claims that their settlement rights could be in jeopardy. Officials said Mr Barclay “reiterated the extensive protections that have been offered to EU citizens living in the UK.” He was also said to have reminded Mr Verhofstadt, who is the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, “of the impact of scaremongering which feeds the anxiety of EU citizens whom we are seeking to reassure”.

EU

Express
BREXIT PARTY MEPs caused a “huge revolt” against an EU ban in the Parliament, causing the chamber to erupt into cheers and applause. Brexit Party MEPs led a “huge revolt” in the EU Parliament as they collectively disobeyed the rule ordering members not to wave their country flags in the chamber. Michael Heaver posted a video of the moment on his Twitter. In the footage, the Brexit Party group can be seen standing up and cheering, with other MEPs joining in. Belinda de Lucy and Alexandra Phillips wave their small tabletop British flags in celebration. The MEP for East of England’s caption read: “EU now don’t even want national flags on display in the EuroParl. “We weren’t having it. Magnificent moment of unity just now. We are proud of our flag!”

Telegraph
Boris Johnson’s attempts at “gamesmanship” will not bounce Brussels into agreeing a quickfire trade deal by the end of this year, the European Union’s trade commissioner Phil Hogan has warned. The Prime Minister will find it impossible to stick to a mutually agreed deadline for a deal, Mr Hogan said, doubling down on previous warnings. He also warned that the country must accept state aid restrictions if it hopes for tariff-free access to the EU, a suggestion likely to raise concerns in Downing Street given the government’s rescue deal with Flybe.

Mail
Angela Merkel has warned the UK’s decision to leave the European Union must act as a ‘wake up call’ for the bloc.  But the German Chancellor, who is due to step down next year at the end of a fourth and final term in power, insisted countries are better off in the EU than outside it.  She said the bloc acted as a ‘life insurance’ policy for ‘small’ countries like Germany and ensures they can exert influence on the global stage.

Sun
ANGELA Merkel has urged the European Union to change in order to maintain its influence on the world stage after Brexit. The German Chancellor said she was worried the UK could pose a serious economic threat to the EU, and the bloc has to lift its game to stay relevant. Ms Merkel doled out her advice to the EU weeks before the UK is set to leave on January 31.  She told the Financial Times: “(The EU has to become) attractive, innovative, creative, a good place for research and education… competition can then be very productive.”

Independent
The EU’s trade boss has warned the UK that a full Brexit trade deal by the end of the year is “just not possible”. Phil Hogan, Ireland’s EU commissioner, said he was “certainly” not going to be able to meet Boris Johnson’s ambition of having a comprehensive agreement in place by 31 December. He was echoing comments by chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who said publicly earlier this month that Mr Johnson’s timetable did not give enough time for a deal. “Certainly by the end of the year we are not going to get everything that’s in the 36-page document on the future relationship agreed because Prime Minister Johnson decided we are going to have everything concluded by the end of the year,” Mr Hogan said at an event in Washington.

BBC News
They say an army marches on its stomach. The European Union does it with slides. The EU negotiating team is gearing up for talks with the UK about the post-Brexit relationship by holding a series of seminars for diplomats from the 27 member states. The presentations are being published online. Stuffed with jargon and seriously lacking in inspirational clipart, they provide important clues about how things might play out. Remember the Political Declaration? Known in Brussels as “the PD”, it’s the 26-page sketch of the future relationship agreed alongside the 600-page Withdrawal Agreement, which settled the terms of the UK’s departure.

Guardian
One of the European parliament’s union jacks will be sent to the EU museum in Brussels, a committee has decided, but Brexit party MEPs are to be denied a flag-lowering ceremony on 31 January. Instead of the potentially dramatic scene of a union jack being lowered against the midnight sky when Britain leaves the EU on 31 January, parliament grounds staff will remove the flags without ceremony at an unconfirmed time. One flag will then be despatched to the House of History, the EU-funded museum in Brussels that aims to tell the story of the continent, from ancient Greek myths to Brexit referendum promises.

Breitbart
Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar has declared that Ireland is “on team EU” and thanked the bloc for its “solidarity” while telling its British neighbours they must agree to abide by Brussels’ anti-competitive “level playing field” rules after Brexit to secure a trade deal. The Irish prime minister — or taoiseach — made the comments during a press conference with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in Dublin on Wednesday.

Express
BREXIT day will be marked in by the European Parliament by taking down the Union Jack flying alongside its member state counterparts and marching the flag to the European history museum. The flag, which flies on Rue Wiertz, outside the European Parliament in Brussels is set to be “hauled down and marched to the House of European History museum for safekeeping” according to a Telegraph correspondent. The House of European History Museum states it aims to “initiate learning on transnational perspectives across Europe.”

Northern Ireland

BBC News
Northern Ireland will be kept in an “austerity trap” unless the government’s financial package is increased, the Stormont finance minister has said. Conor Murphy claimed the £1bn on offer does nothing to fix problems with health and education. He earlier described the package as an “act of bad faith”. NI Secretary Julian Smith has rejected criticism of the financial package to underpin the deal to restore Stormont. Mr Murphy said the government has “stepped back from its financial commitment” and that it “isn’t acceptable”.

Big Ben

Telegraph
The battle for Big Ben to bong on Brexit night has descended into farce after it emerged that a six-figure sum donated by Brexiteers cannot be used to fund the chiming of Parliament’s Great Bell. After Boris Johnson called on the public to “bung a bob” for Big Ben to sound the moment Britain leaves the EU, more than £150,000 was raised on the Go Fund Me crowdfunding site. But last night the House of Commons Commission – chaired by the Speaker – said the money could not be used because of parliamentary rules on financial donations.

Times
Boris Johnson’s call to the public to “bung a bob for a Big Ben bong” on the night Britain leaves the EU has raised more than £100,000 in less than 24 hours, despite attempts by No 10 to distance itself from the campaign. The prime minister had said on Tuesday that he was “working up a plan” so people could donate the money needed to make the bell peal. He subsequently went cool on the idea but an appeal by Eurosceptic Conservative MPs has rapidly gained momentum.

Independent
Boris Johnson appears to have backed away from expensive plans to make Big Ben bong to mark the moment Brexit happens, with No 10 citing “potential difficulties”. It comes after the prime minister spoke about the prospect of the public being able to raise money for the cost of making Big Ben chime at 11pm on 31 January to mark the UK’s legal exit from the European Union.  “We’re working up a plan so people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong, because there are some people who want to,” Mr Johnson said during a BBC interview earlier this week.

Mirror
Boris Johnson finally admitted defeat today in his Brexit battle for Big Ben to bong Britain out of the EU. The Prime Minister accepted the bell will not toll for him – despite his decision to launch a £500,000 crowd-funding campaign to ring in departure on January 31. His spokesman said: “The House of Commons authorities have set out that there may be potential difficulties in accepting money from public donations. “The PM’s focus is on the events which he and the Government are planning to mark January 31.

Mail
Plans for Big Ben to bong the UK out of the European Union  descended into farce last night. Just two days after Boris Johnson backed the idea of the bell ringing at 11pm on January 31st and called for public donations to cover the cost, Downing Street admitted defeat. Senior government sources blamed ‘intransigence’ by the House of Commons authorities who have raised a string of objections – and claimed the cost of bringing the bell out of mothballs could be £500,000.

Scotland

Express
A SENIOR SNP politician has called on the Scottish Parliament to bypass Boris Johnson and Westminster by calling its own second Scottish independence referendum. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has ramped up her calls for a another referendum over recent weeks, arguing the SNP’s gains at last month’s general election – which saw the party increase its number of seats by 13 to 48 – means it has a mandate to hold Indyref2 this year. But Boris Johnson is refusing to bow to her demands, and earlier this week wrote to the SNP leader to again reject her request, highlighting how the party had previously promised that a referendum had been a “once-in-a-generation event”.

BBC News
The European Union flag is to be taken down outside the Scottish Parliament when the UK leaves on 31 January, it has been confirmed. Former Europe minister Alasdair Allan was campaigning for the flag to stay up to mark Scotland’s 62% vote for Remain. But the parliament’s management group has confirmed that it will come down. Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh told MSPs that the Council of Europe Flag will be flown on Europe Day “as a mark of our continued ties with that body”.

Knife crime

Mirror
Knife crime is at a 10-year high in England and Wales, new figures show. The number of offences dealt with by the justice system in the year ending September 2019 was the highest it has been in a decade.  There were 22,286 knife and offensive weapon offences formally dealt with by the criminal justice system in England and Wales last year, according to Ministry of Justice (MoJ) statistics. This is a three per cent rise on the previous year and the highest since September 2009 (26,364).

Sun
THE number of knife offences has soared to its highest in a decade. There were 22,306 blade and offensive weapon crimes in England and Wales in the year to June, Ministry of Justice figures reveal. This is a three per cent rise on the previous year and the highest since 2009 when there were 26,364. The number of people cautioned or convicted for carrying knives also hit a record 14,135 in the year to September 2019.

HS2

Telegraph
Will there ever be a better time for Boris Johnson to take unpopular decisions? The Labour Party lies in ruins, seemingly determined not to learn the lessons of its election defeat. The Conservatives are at his feet, unable to believe the size of the majority he won. His Cabinet meetings have become a chorus of sycophancy, with even the Prime Minister looking bored by the various declarations of admiration. He will perhaps never have as much personal political power as he has now. The question facing No 10 is what he intends to do with it. His stated mission is to get Brexit done, which will keep him busy this year – but now is the time to kill off expensive bad ideas.

Guardian
Supporters of HS2 are growing increasingly anxious that Boris Johnson is prepared to scrap part of the high-speed railway project or overhaul it in a bid to redirect the money towards other transport in the north of England. Local government leaders from the north and Midlands are privately concerned there has been a change of tone from No 10 since Christmas, causing nervousness that the government could scale back the scheme. One pro-HS2 source with knowledge of Downing Street’s thinking said the future of the project, first announced in 2009, was “hanging in the balance” since the election campaign.

Health

Mail
Only one hospital trust in England treated its A&E patients within the NHS time target last year, MailOnline can reveal. Yeovil District Hospital was the only place that managed to process 95 per cent of its patients within four hours of their arrival. Its average for the year was 96.3 per cent. Statistics analysed by this website reveal that 117 comparable hospitals across the country all missed the mark. The worst performing trust, in Stockport, Greater Manchester, completed just 70.3 per cent of visits in time, meaning almost a third of its patients waited for longer.

Times
Hospital bosses carried out a “witch hunt” against doctors at their own trust in an attempt to identify which one had raised concerns about a woman’s death. Staff were asked to provide fingerprints and examples of their handwriting to try to establish whether they had written an anonymous letter to a widower informing him about failures in his late wife’s care. It is claimed doctors were told that if they failed to provide samples, they would be assumed to have been behind the letter. .

Mail
Hospital bosses in the Health Secretary’s own constituency have been accused of launching a witch-hunt to find a whistleblower. Doctors were asked to provide fingerprints and handwriting samples to identify which one wrote to a widower about blunders in his wife’s treatment, it is claimed. Staff were told they would be assumed to be behind the letter if they failed to comply, medical sources told a newspaper. Employees at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, in Matt Hancock’s constituency, said he had rebuffed their request for help, despite his praise of whistleblowers.

Telegraph
Chemists should tell shoppers to lose weight, cut their alcohol intake and quit other unhealthy habits, new NHS guidance says. The guidance from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence says pharmacists should have a much stronger role in getting the nation in shape. Pharmacists are being told to start conversations with shoppers about topics like weight loss when they pick up their prescriptions, or buy over the counter products.

Sun
CHEMISTS should tell tubby shoppers to lose some weight, a health watchdog suggests. New NHS guidance also wants pharmacists to encourage unhealthy Brits picking up prescriptions to reduce their boozing and eat more healthily. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence draft guidelines say with two in three adults too fat, chemists could advise on well-being. The guidance states: “Community pharmacy teams can engage with people who regularly buy over-the-counter medicines, collect prescriptions or ask for advice … and use the opportunity to start a more general conversation about health.

Mail
Pharmacists are being told to advise customers on obesity, drinking and smoking. New guidance from NHS body the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) encourages people to seek advice from their local chemist on topics including any harmful elements in their way of life. ‘We want every patient with a minor illness or those seeking wellbeing guidance to think ”Pharmacy First”, said primary care minister Jo Churchill yesterday.

Times
Sepsis is the most deadly condition in the world and kills more people than cancer, scientists have said, after finding that it is responsible for twice as many deaths as thought. The previous global estimate from 2016 put the annual death toll from sepsis, sometimes described as blood poisoning, at 5.3 million deaths with a total of 19.4 million cases. Researchers have said that this estimate was based on data from hospitals in seven relatively wealthy countries including the United States, New Zealand and Sweden.

Sun
SEPSIS deaths in the UK are among the highest in the world, damning figures show. The deadly condition, which is triggered by an infection, is the cause of one in five deaths worldwide. It is thought to have killed 47,860 in 2017 – ranking us 45th worst out of 195 countries. Researchers estimate the condition claimed 11million lives globally, twice as many as first thought. Sepsis claims one life every three seconds and is now a bigger killer than cancer, which is responsible for 9.6million deaths annually.

Social care

Mail
No one knows how many people have to sell their houses to pay the bills for a place in a care home, an official report admitted yesterday. It said almost all the information available on the crisis-ridden care system came from local councils – which do not find out about people who have to pay for themselves. There are ‘significant gaps’ in what is understood about how much money is paid for social care and where it comes from, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) watchdog said. This includes a lack of information about ‘the scale of household expenditure on privately funded care’.

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