Brexit

Express
BORIS JOHNSON has promised to take the UK out of the EU by January 31 following his overwhelming election victory but one expert has warned the EU will not change its stance despite that.  Following the election, Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal was approved in the Commons by 358 to 234 votes. With his improved mandate, Mr Johnson will now go to Brussels with the ability to push through with negotiations. However, speaking to Express.co.uk, Dominic Walsh, policy analyst for think-tank, Open Europe warned the EU may not alter its position despite the dynamic between the two now changing. Mr Walsh said: “They won’t alter their fundamental red lines and priorities for a new Prime Minister or a new Parliament. “But they will be aware that the election result changes the dynamics. “They can be more confident now that a deal they agree can actually be ratified on the UK side.

Ireland

ITV News
Any “bare bones” trade agreement between the EU and UK would be less than satisfactory, Micheal Martin said. He warned another dangerous hard Brexit cliff-edge could be beckoning next year as he voiced concern about UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s approach to the pending negotiations. Mr Martin, the leader of the Opposition, said: “He may be contemplating a sort of a bare bones type of trade agreement that’s less than satisfactory. “So I think there are concerns in terms of that approach.” Mr Martin said he is worried about the British Government’s legislative plans to make it illegal to extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020, even if a trade deal is not ready by then. “That is unnecessary. I think it’s dangerous,” he said.

Express
BORIS Johnson’s EU withdrawal agreement “betrays” Northern Ireland and “must be resisted at every level”, Ulster politician Jim Allister has claimed, amid unionist fears an Irish Sea border would lead to eventual political unity with the Republic of Ireland. Mr Allister, the leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) party, foresees a disturbing trajectory of events for those that wish to maintain the union, warning “through the path of economic unity we can anticipate the political unity of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland”. He added: “Northern Ireland will remain in the orbit of the European Union and the Republic of Ireland and in time that will inevitably orientate its economy away from Great Britain and towards the Irish Republic, ultimately it is a relatively short step from economic unity to political unity.” Many in the loyalist and unionist communities suspect the same process that turned the EU from an economic union into its present political entity may be replicated on the island of Ireland.

ITV News
Stormont parties supporting a united Ireland do not have a majority, the Taoiseach said. Leo Varadkar said the election of more nationalist than unionist MPs in this month’s Westminster poll was not a one-off. The result was unprecedented amid Brexit-fuelled calls in some quarters for a referendum on Irish unity. Sinn Fein’s John Finucane, the son of a lawyer murdered by loyalists, triumphed over the DUP’s Nigel Dodds in North Belfast in one of the republican party’s stand-out successes.

Labour Party

Telegraph
Senior Labour politicians including a Cabinet minister passed information to communist spies during the Cold War, a Daily Telegraph investigation has found. Stan Orme, who went on to serve as a minister under James Callaghan, met with agents on a monthly basis and passed on information about foreign policy decisions, reports from Czechoslovak agent to their bosses in Prague claim. Mr Orme – codenamed Manchester – was listed as a “confidential contact” by agents who targeted Labour MPs by wining and dining them.

EU

Times
Brussels will threaten to block the City of London’s access to European markets in an opening salvo of post-Brexit trade talks in the new year. EU chiefs will also warn Downing Street that they could put up barriers to data flows vital to British commerce. In two weeks European governments will begin internal talks with, according to a restricted document, “possible decisions on adequacy [personal data] and equivalence [financial services]”. The two decisions will be central to the EU’s negotiating strategy because both will be crucial for the British economy in terms of data flows critical for smooth commerce and the future of financial services, which account for 7 per cent of Britain’s output.

Times
Britain would be “welcome to come back” and rejoin the European Union even after Brexit has taken effect, the European Commission’s vice-president has said. In a letter to UK citizens, Frans Timmermans said that Britain’s long-held Euroscepticism had “kept all of us in better shape” as he lamented the country’s impending departure. He added, in a message published in The Guardian, that he feared other countries could follow the UK and quit the bloc in the years ahead.

Guardian
Britain has been unnecessarily damaged by Brexit and “more will follow”, the vice-president of the European commission has written in a “love letter” to the British people in which he promises a warm welcome back should attitudes change. Frans Timmermans, who is Ursula von der Leyen’s deputy in her role as European commission president, writes that British scepticism of the EU had been an asset to the bloc as he expresses his own feelings of rejection ahead of the country’s impending departure on 31 January, likening himself to a jilted “old lover”. Writing in the Guardian, Timmermans, a former Dutch foreign minister who was also deputy to Jean-Claude Juncker, says he first grew to love the UK and the character of its people through his time at a British school in Rome, Saint George’s English School.

Independent
Britain will “always” be welcomed back into the EU after Brexit, according to an executive vice president of the European Commission.  In a “love letter” to the UK, Frans Timmermans  admits that “so much unnecessary damage” has been inflicted on both sides during the bitter exit negotiations and says he fears more will follow. It comes as Boris Johnson prepares to legally sever ties with the bloc on 31 January after winning the healthiest Conservative majority at a general election since Margaret Thatcher’s last victory at the ballot box.

Mirror
Britain has been “unnecessarily damaged” by Brexit and “more will follow”, the vice-president of the  European Commission  has written in a “love letter” to the UK. But the UK would be welcomed back into the EU at any time, the European Commission’s vice president Frans Timmerman has said. Mr Timmermans said Britain’s long-held scepticism of the bloc had “kept all of us in better shape” as he lamented the looming departure. And he warned in the message to The Guardian of his fear that “more will follow” after the UK formally exits on January 31. That date will start the clock running down to the end of the transition period during which London and Brussels will try to broker a future relationship including a trade deal.

Telegraph
The vice-president of the European commission’s “love letter” to British people has been described as “a work of stunning arrogance” by senior Conservative MPS. Frans Timmermans, Ursula von der Leyen’s deputy, referred to himself as a jilted “old lover” in the piece, saying Britain has been unnecessarily damaged by Brexit and “more will follow”. Writing in the Guardian, Mr Timmermans, said: “I know you now. And I love you. For who you are and what you gave me. I’m like an old lover. “I know your strengths and your weaknesses. I know you can be generous but also miserly. I know you believe yourself to be unique and different.

Sun
EU migrants in Britain claimed more than £4billion a year in benefits. Those from Eastern Europe received more in welfare  than the average UK citizen — and paid less income tax. In the run-up to the Brexit referendum, ministers had insisted the figures were not available. But the cost of open doors migration has now been revealed. Data from the Department for Work and Pensions, taxman and Treasury shows EU workers received more than £2.2billion in tax credits and housing benefits, £1.1billion in out-of-work payments and £700million in child benefit. There is a stark contrast between Western and Eastern Europeans. Nearly half the personal taxes paid by migrants from countries such as Romania, Bulgaria and Poland went straight back in tax credits and child benefit.

Express
THE EUROPEAN Parliament is said to be considering enforcing a dress code after members of the Liberal Democrats wore anti-Brexit T-shirts in the chambers. Officials are reportedly concerned about MEPs wearing bright yellow tops with the words “B***** to Brexit” on them, according to the Daily Mail. There are fears the Lib Dems could wear the T-shirts again when British members have their final full sitting in January. This will co-incide with the UK leaving the EU on January 31. MEPs and members often appear to take a relaxed approach to their attire in the chambers. Minutes seen by the Mail also cited members sometimes wearing hooded jumpers and sunglasses.The minutes state a ‘draft proposal for amendments to the Bureau Rules governing access to and attendance in the chamber’ has been drawn up.

Illegal migration

ITV News
Four boats travelling across the Channel carrying 49 migrants were intercepted by British authorities on Boxing Day. Border Force was alerted to the small vessels heading towards the UK coast at around 1.30am on Thursday, the Home Office said. Two cutters and a coastal patrol vessel were deployed to intercept the craft and rescue the group made up of men, women and one child. The group presented themselves as Iranian, Iraqi and Afghan and will be medically assessed and transferred to immigration officials for interview. The Home Office said further migrant activity was intercepted by the French authorities, with two other small boats taken back to France.

Reuters
British border and coastguards picked up 49 suspected migrants on Thursday as they were trying to cross the Channel from France in small boats, according to media reports. The group of men, women and one child said they were from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, the BBC reported. A further two boats carrying 14 migrants were dealt with by French authorities, the broadcaster said. Sky News showed people, some wearing life jackets and others wrapped in blankets, being escorted by border force officials to the shore in the port of Dover in southeastern England. “HM Coastguard has been coordinating a search and rescue response to a number of incidents off Kent working with the Border Force,” Sky cited the emergency service as saying. A helicopter and three boats were involved in the search-and-rescue operation off the Kent coast.

MI6

Sun
TOP-secret planning documents of MI6’s HQ have gone missing in a shocking security gaffe. More than 100 papers, detailing layout and security measures, vanished from the building, which has featured in James Bond films like Skyfall. One source said last night: “To lose such sensitive documents was grossly irresponsible.” Furious chiefs investigated before terminating Balfour Beatty’s contract on the multi-million pound refurbishment project. It comes after the new Tory Government last week announced proposals to strengthen UK security against foreign spies and hackers. The secret documents were ­supposed to have been kept in a secure room during work at the HQ of the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service  (SIS) — better known as MI6.

Police

Breitbart
Police forces in the United Kingdom have squandered over a million pounds on electric cars that are incapable of chasing criminals or performing emergency services because the eco-friendly vehicles are too slow and take too long to charge. A freedom of information request found that police in the UK have spent £1.49 million on 448 green cars and vans. However, the actual cost of the eco-police fleets is likely much higher as many districts have not reported their purchases. The official police reports admit that the battery-powered cars are incapable of fulfilling police duties such as chasing criminals or handling emergency response situations and often run out of power before a shift ends. The vehicles are used almost exclusively in non-emergency situations or to drive police chiefs to work, reports the Daily Mail

Hospital parking

Telegraph
Hospital car parking fees for blue badge holders and the parents of sick children staying overnight are to end from April, Matt Hancock has announced. The Health Secretary said the move was an example of the Government “delivering on our promises” and listening to people’s “concerns on the doorsteps”. Blue badge holders, frequent outpatient attenders, parents of sick children staying overnight and staff working night shifts will no longer have to pay for parking under the plans being outlined on Friday. Mr Hancock said: “This month millions of people put their trust in us to deliver, many voting Conservative for the first time.

Sun
PARENTS of poorly kids who have to spend the night in hospital will get free NHS car parking from next April. Blue Badge holders, regular outpatients, and night-shift staff will also be exempt from fees. Health Secretary Matt Hancock today announces the move, a Conservative manifesto pledge.  Macmillan Cancer Support hailed it as a “game-changer” — and said it would remove a worry for patients. The Department of Health said it would not set aside funds to reimburse NHS trusts, who set charges. But it said “they will be supported” to ensure the policy does not hit care. England’s 206 hospital trusts raked in a record £254million in the fees in 2018/19. A third of sites increased prices, with £1.98 the hourly average. The Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford charged the most at £4 an hour.

Sky News
Free parking for thousands of NHS patients and their visitors will be rolled out in England from April. Blue badge holders and patients who attend regular appointments for long-term health conditions will get free hospital parking under plans being outlined later today. All hospital trusts in England will also be expected to give free parking at specific times for parents with sick children staying overnight and staff on night shifts. Health trusts manage their own car parking and reinvest the profits into frontline care.

Guardian
Hospitals will be required from April to provide free car parking for disabled blue badge holders, parents of sick children staying overnight and staff working night shifts in England under plans promised in the Tory manifesto. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, announced that the new regime would be rolled out within months, making sure all hospitals follow the same rules to provide free parking for those in the most need. The rules currently vary from hospital to hospital, but will now be standardised. The Department for Health and Social Care gave no details of how much it would cost to scrap parking charges for these groups, but a government source said there would be extra funding from central government to help offset any shortfall in hospital budgets.

Health

Times
Thousands of people with blood cancer are dying unnecessarily because doctors are failing to spot their symptoms in time. The charity Bloodwise says that more than a quarter of patients with leukaemia and other blood cancers visit their GP at least three times before their illness is recognised and they are sent for blood tests. A third of the 40,000 people given a diagnosis every year have their disease identified only after an emergency hospital admission. Late diagnosis leads to a higher risk of death because there are fewer treatment options and patients are likely to experience more severe side-effects when they are treated, including kidney failure, broken bones and paralysis.

Sun
BEING overweight could actually help people battle cancer, according to a new study. Although a high body mass index (BMI) is linked to cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular and other diseases, it seems it is not always bad to be fat. Obese cancer patients responded better with the drug atezolizumab than thinner sufferers. Atezolizumab is a common immunotherapy treatment for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Lead investigator Dr Ganessan Kichenadasse, a medical oncology researcher, said: “This is an interesting outcome and it raises the potential to investigate further with other cancers and other anti-cancer drugs.

Smoking

Guardian
The government has been accused of undermining its ambition to make England smoke free after an anti-smoking campaign was cancelled following a 24% cut to the public health marketing budget. Health Harms, a Public Health England (PHE) scheme, has previously sought to harness new year resolutions in January to encourage the 6 million tobacco smokers in the country to quit through vaping and visualising how cancer-causing chemicals and tar are inhaled. Rates of smoking are declining, also thanks to the introduction of plain packaging and tax increases, but the government has been urged not to be “complacent” after it emerged the overall anti-smoking budget had been reduced to £3.8m from £5m.

Sun
FEWER smokers could quit after anti-ciggies campaigns were hit by government cuts, a charity has claimed. The New Year drive by Public Health England has had its £5million pot slashed by £1.2million, the British Lung Foundation says. The charity claims the reduction “undermines the Government’s aim to make England smoke-free by 2030.” It also said PHE’s Stoptober campaign was less successful this year because of fewer TV and radio adverts. The charity described the cuts as “foolhardy”, saying the campaigns are vital in giving smokers the boost they need to quit.

Public spending

Times
The Treasury is planning to rip up decades-old public spending rules in an effort to boost economic wellbeing in the north and the Midlands. Under proposals being drawn up before the spring budget, ministers will reassess how officials calculate the value for money of government investments in transport infrastructure, business development and initiatives such as free ports. Investment decisions would be less focused on overall national economic growth and, for the first time, Whitehall resources would be allocated on the basis of improving the wellbeing of people in the north, or narrowing the productivity gap with the south.

Bank Holidays

Sun
BAFFLED Brits are booking holidays for the wrong dates in 2020 – as 30 million diaries and calendars show an incorrect early May Bank Holiday date. The Government changed the date from Monday May 4 to Friday May 8 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day. But the move was only announced in June, after most of the UK’s 40 million diaries and calendars were printed. Many traditionally book holidays for the next year straight after Christmas, while families are gathered together.

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