Brexit day

iNews
The Government is set to encourage councils and community groups to fly the Union flag to celebrate Brexit on 31 January. Ministers are preparing a package of announcements to mark the moment Britain leaves the EU at the end of this month, which could include a commemorative coin and Big Ben ringing out. One of the items is likely to be a fund from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to help local councils and other groups buy and display the Union flag, i understands. A Westminster source said: “It’s prompted by Brexit but is also meant to celebrate national identity more broadly.” The move has been promoted by senior Tory backbencher Sir John Hayes, who said in the House of Commons last week that flying the UK flag from public buildings “would be a fitting tribute to the decision the British people made to leave the European Union”. Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay replied: “Any opportunity to do so is one that he and I would always celebrate.” Strident Brexiteer Mark Francois is leading efforts to get the bell restarted.

Times
Boris Johnson is trying to take control over a “fundamental aspect” of Britain’s independent legal system that will damage the integrity of the courts, a senior lawyer has warned. Under new powers in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, after Brexit ministers will be able to rule which British courts are no longer bound by previous European Court of Justice rulings. A previous version of the legislation, introduced by Mr Johnson last year, said that only the Supreme Court could overrule ECJ precedence. Opponents of the change fear it will create legal uncertainty and reverse established decisions in areas such as competition law, environmental protections and equal pay.

EU

Express
BRUSSELS is set to use London’s access to European markets as a bargaining chip in trade deal talks with Boris Johnson. The EU will be unashamedly “political” in Brexit talks Croatia’s prime minister, Andrej Plenkovic, whose country is taking over the presidency of the EU, has revealed. Asked whether the EU would use its power to switch off London’s ability to access European clients, Mr Plenkovic said: “I wouldn’t go into the vocabulary of weapons but what I have learned in international and European negotiations is that all arguments and considerations are treated as political.” Meanwhile, a Brussels insider said the EU’s demands would be unprecedented adding: “We have to go well beyond the baseline provided in US cooperation or the more recent Swiss practice.”

Mail
The EU will not be rushed into striking a deal on the future relationship with the UK just because Parliament has passed a law to prevent an extension of negotiations, Ireland’s deputy premier warned today. Simon Coveney said the timetable set by Boris Johnson of the end of 2020 to achieve a free trade deal was ‘very ambitious’. He warned the UK that the deal encompassed much more than trade and might take longer than the 11 months that will remain after Brexit takes place on January 31.

Huffington Post
Passing law to prevent the extension of Brexit negotiations will not force the EU to rush into a deal, Ireland’s deputy premier has warned. Simon Coveney said the EU felt the end of 2020 deadline set by Boris Johnson was “ambitious, if not unrealistic”. Coveney said he felt it would take longer than 12 months, as he highlighted the deal encompassed much more than trade and included areas like aviation, fishing and data. “When people talk about the future relationship, in the UK in particular, they seem to only talk about a future trade agreement, actually there’s much more to this than that – there’s fishing, there’s aviation, there’s data and so many other things,” he said.

Sky News
Brussels will not be rushed into reaching a Brexit deal just because the UK has outlawed the extension of talks, Ireland’s deputy prime minister has warned. Simon Coveney said the EU feels the end of 2020 deadline set by Boris Johnson is “ambitious, if not unrealistic”. The foreign minister believes it will take longer than 12 months to hammer out an agreement on the future post-Brexit relationship, pointing out it is more wide-ranging than trade alone, taking in other areas such as aviation, fishing and data.

Morning Star
PRESIDENT Emmanuel Macron’s government has blinked in its five-week standoff with the French trade unions. It has offered to withdraw proposals to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 if they call off strikes. Following demonstrations that have brought as many as 800,000 people onto the streets on the biggest days, the retreat is a victory — and the CFDT and UNSA union federations have already welcomed it. But the CGT federation is less impressed. Calling for further protests, its message to Macron this weekend was: “We’re still here.”

Conservative Party

Express
BORIS JOHNSON is to be told that he needs to revive Britain’s neglected and forgotten high streets when a powerful new group within the parliamentary party has its first meeting on Tuesday. It is understood that the Prime Minister is hoping to attend the first meeting of the new “Blue Collar Club” formed on the back of the huge Conservative success in taking historically safe Labour seats in last month’s general election. The new club already has 130 MPs signed up in mainly midlands and northern seats and is set to agree an agenda for the next year to help ensure the surprise gains remain Conservative seats. The group believe that their agenda can potentially “obliterate” Labour in its former heartlands and ensure the Conservatives govern for the long term.

Labour Party

Telegraph
Labour’s overseas members have been accused of “conspiracy mongering” after compiling a report that claimed the party’s anti-Semitism row was “stoked by Israel’s government”. Charles James, author of a report which has been seen by The Telegraph entitled “General Election Part Two: Why didn’t we win?”, wrote: “Many of us believe that the row about anti-Semitism has been stoked by the government of Israel and its helpers in the UK.” Citing a 2017 documentary produced by Al Jazeera, which explored the relationship between the Israel lobby and British politics, Mr James, who is secretary of the 3,500-strong group, wrote that the “government of Israel is putting significant efforts and finances into influencing British politics, including the Labour Party”.

Northern Ireland

Independent
Boris Johnson will meet the leaders of Northern Ireland‘s restored power-sharing executive on a visit to Belfast on Monday. The prime minister will hold talks with first minister Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill at Stormont. His visit comes in the wake of the landmark deal, tabled by the UK and Irish governments, to restore the devolved institutions following three years of political deadlock in the region.

Sun
BORIS Johnson has sparked a backlash from Tory MPs after it emerged the small print of his deal to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland risks opening up new Troubles probes into thousands of veterans. The Government’s New Decade, New Approach agreement that persuaded warring Northern Irish parties to restore the Stormont executive for the first time in three years promised to deal address “legacy issues” within 100 days.

Sky News
Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar are set to meet the leaders of Northern Ireland’s restored power-sharing executive on a visit to Belfast. The prime minister and Taoiseach will hold talks with DUP First Minister Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill at Stormont on Monday. It comes in the wake of the landmark deal, tabled by the UK and Irish governments, to restore the devolved institutions following three years of political deadlock in the region.  At the talks, Mr Johnson can expect to face questions on the financial promises the government made as part of efforts to get the “New Decade, New Approach” agreement over the line.

Guardian
The Irish border could yet snag Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, with experts saying it will be impossible to deliver the computer systems for the special arrangements for Northern Ireland by the end of this year. Failure to implement the new systems will risk legal action by the European commission against Britain, the Institute for Government says. In a new report, it says: “The [Brexit] deal has the support of no Northern Irish political parties and it looks almost impossible to complete the practical changes, for government and business, by the end of the year.

Times
Boris Johnson is preparing to hand over up to £2 billion to the new Northern Ireland executive as part of the deal that restored power-sharing after three years of impasse. The prime minister is due to arrive in Belfast today to hold talks with Arlene Foster, the Democratic Unionist Party’s first minister and Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Fein’s deputy first minister, at Stormont. His visit follows the landmark deal, accepted by the parties on Friday, that will restore the devolved institutions after three years of political deadlock.

Guardian
Boris Johnson has predicted “an incredible time” for Northern Ireland now that the region has a functioning power-sharing government again. Prior to a trip to Belfast, the prime minister welcomed the historic deal that restored the cross-community coalition at Stormont. “After three years, Stormont is open for business again with an executive who can now move forward with improving people’s lives and delivering for all communities in Northern Ireland,” he said. Johnson said he hoped in particular that the Northern Ireland executive would be able to resolve the current industrial action in the local NHS and drive forward public sector reforms.

Independent
The EU will not be rushed into striking a deal on future relations with the UK just because Parliament has passed a law to prevent an extension of negotiations, Ireland’s foreign minister has said. Simon Coveney said the 31 December deadline written into Boris Johnson’s EU withdrawal legislation was “very ambitious” and would not apply to the remaining 27 nations of the EU. Mr Johnson’s insistence that he will not extend the transition period for negotiations beyond the end of 2020 has raised the spectre of a chaotic no-deal Brexit disrupting trade and travel.

Climate

Independent
Boris Johnson was today facing calls to step up action on global warming, after a poll for The Independent found overwhelming support for radical change to end the UK’s net carbon emissions by the end of the decade. Some 70 per cent of those questioned by pollsters BMG said they supported the target of net-zero emissions by 2030, with only 7 per cent opposing it. And support for swift action over the next 10 years was high across all age ranges, social groups and parts of the country, countering perceptions of a generational or urban/rural split on the climate emergency. The survey found high levels of concern over the threat which climate change poses to everyday life for people in the UK, with 57 per cent saying they expected it to have a negative impact, against just 12 per cent who said it would be positive and 21 per cent who thought it would not make any difference.

Illegal migration

Mail
The images of boats dangerously overloaded with people desperate to reach our shores may capture the headlines. But migrants are far more likely to try to enter Britain in the back of lorries than chance the perilous sea crossing, figures from the French authorities show. At least 23,000 were caught in lorries in Calais or the Channel Tunnel last year. In comparison 3,339 crossed by boat, the French estimate, with 1,391 of those stopped. Attempted crossings rose sharply last year ahead of Brexit when security is expected to become tighter. The new figures only applies to those detected in the city’s Port or in the Eurotunnel, and not in other towns such as Cherbourg, Dunkirk and Le Havre where there are regular ferries to the UK.

Electric cars

Times
The government should scrap VAT on electric cars to boost sales, ministers have been told. Radical change was needed because too many drivers were still put off green cars by high buying prices, it was said. The AA said that ministers had to go further than the present £3,500 grant offered to motorists to help them to buy the cars. Electric cars can cost at least £10,000 more than their petrol and diesel equivalents and analysts say that the price gap is unlikely to narrow for several years. The government has set a target to abolish the sale of new petrol and diesel cars within the next 20 years, with at least half of vehicles being zero emission in the next decade.

Nuclear power

Times
EDF is in a race against time to secure a funding deal for its proposed nuclear power station in Suffolk as delays risk making the project prohibitively expensive. The French energy giant has hired Rothschild as financial adviser for the Sizewell C project and says it wants a “definitive way forward” from the government this year so it can start construction in 2022. The company building the £22 billion Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset has promised it can significantly reduce the cost of the sister plant in Suffolk, including by transferring workers and equipment between the two.

Health

Mail
Patients are facing devastating waits for cancer treatment and hip surgery because doctors are slashing their hours to avoid hefty pension bills. A Mail investigation has revealed that one in five hospitals has admitted that waiting times are getting longer as a result of the dispute. Three NHS trusts used recent board meetings to highlight how the crisis is delaying potentially life-saving surgery for cancer. The British Medical Association confirmed that doctors were ‘scaling back their hours’ and warned that patients face ‘long and distressing waits’ as a result.

Times
Dirty air will lead to more than 160,000 deaths from heart attacks and strokes over the next decade unless Britain signs up to stricter pollution limits, a charity has warned. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said that there could be more than 40 deaths from heart and circulatory conditions every day as a direct result of particulate pollution across the UK. It is calling for Britain to sign up to stricter limits on the amount of fine particulate (PM2.5) pollution in the air.

Mail
Air pollution will cause 160,000 fatal strokes and heart attacks in the next decade unless the Government acts to clean up Britain’s dirty air, experts have warned. The British Heart Foundation says that roughly 40 people a day will die from heart and circulation problems caused by toxic air over the next ten years. Currently, the annual total is 11,000 and that figure is projected to rise during the decade. The charity warns today that air pollution presents a ‘major public health emergency’ that must be urgently addressed.

Sun
AIR pollution could kill 160,000 people over the next ten years, a charity says. The British Heart Foundation warns of more than 40 deaths a day from heart attacks and strokes linked to poor air quality. BHF said there are an estimated 11,000 deaths per year at the moment but this will rise as the population continues to age. Bosses want Britain to adopt tough World Health Organisation guidelines and meet them by 2030. EU limits for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution, which the UK meets, are 25 micrograms per metre cubed as an annual average. WHO limits are tougher at ten micrograms per metre cubed.

HS2

Telegraph
Most of London’s business leaders believe HS2 is too costly and disruptive, it has emerged, as Boris Johnson came under pressure from his transport adviser to scrap a large part of the project. A survey of 500 businesses in the capital showed that only two in five believe the railway line will boost the economy. The London Chamber of Commerce said its poll found that nearly three quarters of business leaders think HS2 costs too much and two thirds feel its construction has or will cause too much disruption. Almost half did not believe that HS2 was necessary.

BBC

Mail
The BBC wants two-thirds of its jobs to be based outside London by 2027, director-general Lord Hall has announced. The pledge comes just a month after the broadcaster was accused of catering to a pro-Remain metropolitan ‘bubble’. If the plans are agreed, 3,000 jobs could be relocated to other parts of the UK, including many new roles in the north of England, a BBC source said. Writing in the Financial Times, Lord Hall said: ‘A decade ago, a third of the BBC was based outside London. Today it is half. By 2027, I hope at least two-thirds of the BBC will be outside the capital.’

Justice

Telegraph
Victims of crime are having to wait up to three years for offenders to be sentenced as the length of time it takes to bring a criminal to justice has soared by more than a third in the past decade. Policing cuts, the virtual scrapping of police bail and problems dealing with the disclosure of digital evidence mean officers are taking longer than ever to pass evidence to prosecutors. Even when investigations are complete, trials are being further delayed because resources at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and in the court system have also been slashed.

Cannabis

Times
Nearly a quarter of a million people with arthritis, 100,000 cancer patients and 50,000 multiple sclerosis sufferers are among 1.4 million unwell Britons who are being forced to buy cannabis  illegally to treat their symptoms. A landmark YouGov poll of more than 10,000 people has found that almost 3 per cent of the adult population uses cannabis to treat a medical condition, with usage across all age groups, social classes and genders. More than half are using the drug every day and the average spend is £163 a month. This means patients are spending more than £2.6 billion a year on black market cannabis.

Iran

Telegraph
Iran summoned the British ambassador on Sunday after it accused him of “illegal and inappropriate” presence at anti-government demonstrations, deepening a diplomatic rift between the countries. Ambassador Rob Macaire denounced his detention on Saturday, which he said was “of course illegal”, saying he had attended a vigil for victims of the Ukrainian Airlines crash, but left as protests broke out. It came as Iran faced a second day of protests over the downing of the flight by the Iranian military, killing all 176 passengers, and initial denials by the regime.

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