Trade talks

Times
Boris Johnson will urge the president of the European Commission this week to push on with trade talks as he seeks to secure a deal with the EU by the end of the year. The prime minister will host Ursula von der Leyen in No 10 for opening talks on Britain’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU on Wednesday. Mr Johnson is being urged by some ministers, including Liz Truss, the trade secretary, and Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, to hold trade talks with the EU and the US in parallel. They argue that doing so will give Britain more leverage in negotiations with the EU. Other ministers, however, feel that doing so could jeopardise chances of getting a deal by December.

Reuters
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in London on Wednesday ahead of the opening rounds of trade talks that will begin once Britain formally leaves the bloc on Jan. 31. The two leaders are likely to discuss whether they can strike a new trade relationship in the transition period that will follow until December 2020. Von der Leyen has said time is extremely short “for the mass of issues that have to be negotiated”. Johnson has set a hard deadline to reach a new trade deal with the EU, betting that the prospect of another Brexit cliff-edge would force Brussels to move more quickly to seal an accord.

Labour Party

Telegraph
The Labour party could campaign for Britain to rejoin the European Union if Jess Phillips is elected leader, the MP indicated on Sunday. In preparation for the Labour leadership race, which is expected to officially begin on Tuesday, Ms Phillips distanced herself from the other candidates by telling members she will not accept Brexit even after it happens. The Birmingham MP said unless the UK was “living in a paradise of trade” and was “totally safe in the world” after Brexit, she would fight to get back into the Union. Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show in her first major interview since announcing her candidacy for the party leadership, Ms Phillips said: “If we are living in a paradise of trade and we are totally safe in the world and are not having to constantly look to America for our security, then maybe I will be proven wrong.

Independent
Labour leadership contender Jess Phillips says she would fight to reverse Brexit if it proves to be damaging, arguing the party must not be afraid of the debate. The outsider made the pledge as Keir Starmer, the race favourite, joined another candidate, Clive Lewis, in arguing the battle over EU membership is over following Boris Johnson’s big election win. Meanwhile, Lisa Nandy set out her stall by saying she would ditch Labour’s multibillion-pound plan to provide free superfast broadband across the country, because there were “more pressing issues”.

Times
Moderate Labour leadership candidates fear Jeremy Corbyn’s allies will today attempt to “stitch up” the contest in favour of a hard-left candidate. The national executive committee, the party’s ruling body, will meet to decide the timetable and regulations for the race to succeed Mr Corbyn. There are concerns that supporters of Rebecca Long Bailey, who is seen as the “continuity Corbyn” candidate, will attempt to “rig” the contest. Jess Phillips and Sir Keir Starmer are among the candidates attempting to attract as many moderates to the party as possible in an effort to broaden the base of their support.

Independent
David Lammy has ruled himself out of the running for Labour leader, saying he is “not the individual best placed for this role at this time”. The MP for Tottenham and former minister said he had considered a bid to succeed Jeremy Corbyn but would now support a candidate who he believes is better able to unify the party. He suggested that he was seen as too anti-Brexit to win back Leave voters that Labour lost at the general election. In a hint that he is eyeing up a prominent shadow cabinet role, Mr Lammy told The Independent he wanted to make a “full contribution” to the task of uniting Labour after its crushing election defeat.

Express
LABOUR leadership rivals clashed over Brexit after hardcore Remainer Jess Phillips admitted she would “fight” for the UK to rejoin the EU. The outspoken backbencher revealed she would try to take the country back in if it boosted security and the economy. But Sir Keir Starmer insisted the general election had settled the row and it was time to move on.  And Ms Phillips was told to listen to Labour’s lost voters in its Leave-voting heartlands. Party officials will meet today (MON) to set out the rules and timetable of the election to replace Jeremy Corbyn.

iNews
Labour leadership hopeful Emily Thornberry is poised to launch legal action this week against her former MP colleague over an allegation that she called Brexit voters “stupid”. The shadow foreign secretary has called the claim by Caroline Flint, who lost her seat at the election, a “total and utter lie”. Ms Thornberry is to meet with her lawyers in the next few days before deciding whether to go ahead with a legal case against the former minister and MP for Don Valley. She has already issued a “letter before action”, or legal warning of a future writ, to Ms Flint after the comments were made in the wake of the election last month.

Yahoo News
Jeremy Corbyn’s allies are facing a backlash over plans to radically reshape the Labour party before he steps down this spring. Multiple sources have told HuffPost UK that general secretary Jennie Formby and Corbyn chief of staff Karie Murphy are drafting proposals to “embed Corbynism” with a major staffing reorganisation expected to start this week and end in March. Among the plans are moves to slash the ‘analytics’ and the elections teams based at Labour HQ and to replace long-serving regional staff with ‘community organisers’, a group of party workers seen as Murphy’s brainchild. Regional officials have been regarded with suspicion by some Corbyn supporters because they served under the Blair/Brown/Miliband eras, whereas community organisers – hired at a cost of millions – were viewed as a leftwing alternative power structure.

Iran

Telegraph
Boris Johnson has warned the Iranians not to attempt “retaliation or reprisals” against America following the assassination of Qassim Soleimani. In his first intervention in the crisis, the Prime Minister said he will be speaking to “all sides” to urge calm and de-escalation, setting Britain up as a mediator between the United States and a more cautious Europe. It came as three rockets landed near the US embassy in Baghdad. Donald Trump said the United States would “quickly and fully strike back”, possibly in a “disproportionate” manner if any US person or target was hit. “If they do anything there will be major retaliation,” Mr Trump told reporters later on board Air Force One, doubling down on a threat to bomb Iranian cultural sites.

Times
Boris Johnson said that “we will not lament” the killing of Iran’s top general by US forces as a senior commander in Tehran threatened to hit British troops in the Middle East. Speaking for the first time about the fatal drone strike on General Qasem Soleimani, the second most powerful man in Iran, the prime minister called for “de-escalation” on all sides. Mr Johnson had earlier had phone calls with President TrumpPresident Macron  and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. A senior commander in the Quds Force, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s international arm, told The Times that British soldiers could be “collateral damage” in attacks on the US military.

Mail
A million mourners have marched through Iran after military commander Qassem Soleimani’s body was paraded through the streets to chants of ‘death to America’ – as Dominic Raab insists Boris Johnson is ‘in charge’ despite him only jetting home from holiday today. Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s overseas clandestine and military operations as head of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, was killed on Friday in a US drone strike on his convoy at Baghdad airport. Following massive funeral marches in Iraq, his body was flown to the city of Ahvaz in southwest Iran, a city that was a focus of fighting during the bloody, 1980-88 war between Iraq and Iran in which the general slowly grew to prominence. He was later taken to the northeastern city of Mashhad.

Guardian
Dominic Raab has said Britain is “on the same page” as the US in relation to Friday’s assassination of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani. Amid continuing questions about the legal justification for US actions, Raab said the UK government was “sympathetic” to Washington’s situation. Speaking on Sky News, Raab said of Suleimani: “Let’s be very clear: he was a regional menace, and we understand the position that the Americans found themselves in, and they have a right to exercise self-defence. They have explained the basis on which that was done, and we are sympathetic to the situation they found themselves in.”

Sun
IRAN has put an $80million bounty on the head of Donald Trump as it vowed to attack the White House. The chilling announcement was broadcast live as millions of Iranians to the streets for the televised funeral of assassinated General Qasem Soleimani. Iran also vowed to ramp up its nukes program as it tonight pulled out of its 2015 nuclear deal. The government announced – as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Mashhad to mourn General Soleimani – it will no longer abide by any restrictions on its operations put in place by the deal. State TV announced the bounty, saying: “Iran has 80 million inhabitants. Based on the Iranian population, we want to raise $80million (£61million) which is a reward for those who get close to the head of President Trump.”

ITV News
US President Donald Trump says Iranian cultural sites are fair game for the US military, dismissing concerns within his own administration that doing so could constitute a war crime under international law. He also warned Iraq he would levy punishing sanctions if it expelled American troops in retaliation for a US airstrike in Baghdad that killed a top Iranian official. Mr Trump’s comments came amid escalating tensions in the Middle East following the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds force. Iran has vowed to retaliate and Iraq’s parliament responded by voting on Sunday to oust US troops based in the country.

Breitbart
The Islamic Centre of England in Maida Vale, Kilburn, London, has held a mass memorial for slain Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps general Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani, who as leader of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had been held responsible for directing the activities of Iran’s proxy militias and other assets in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, and for fomenting the recent siege of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Consequently, he was eliminated by a U.S. drone strike ordered by President Donald Trump, along with Kataib Hezbollah founder Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.

Australian fires

Telegraph
At least 25,000 koalas are believed to have died in a horrific wildfire in South Australia that may have devastating consequences for the survival of the species.   The fire on Kangaroo Island, which was considered a koala safe-have because its population had escaped a devasting Chlamydia epidemic, was described as “virtually unstoppable” on Saturday by firefighters.  On Friday, koala rescuer Margaret Hearle told The Telegraph that another important koala population, nicknamed “the gene pool” because of its good health, had been “wiped out” in Crestwood, New South Wales. Footage filmed by an ABC cameraman in New South Wales on Sunday showed the charred corpses of hundreds of kangaroos and sheep lying by the roadside.

ITV News
Two more people were missing in remote parts of the Australian state of New South Wales as rain and cooler temperatures brought some welcome relief to Australian communities battling wildfires on Monday. But the rain also brought challenges for fire crews as they attempted to complete strategic burns in preparation for higher temperatures forecast for later in the week. The developments came as Prime Minister Scott Morrison – battling a personal PR disaster through his handling of the crisis – announced a $2 billion AUD (£1.06 billion) funding boost to help the relief effort.

Bus strike

Sun
HARD-LEFT union bosses are threatening to bring chaos to London’s roads by staging a bus driver strike. Unite boss ‘Red Len’ McCluskey is vowing to order his 20,000 members to down tools unless Transport chiefs cave to his demands. The union – a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s biggest donor – gleefully warned they will bring “gridlock” to the capital’s roads. Unite is balloting its members later this month on strike action in a row with Transport for London (TfL) over drivers getting tired at the wheel. Unite regional officer John Murphy said: “London bus drivers have had enough; they are permanently fatigued and at risk of being a danger to other road users, bus passengers and themselves.

HS2

Telegraph
Boris Johnson must make a decision on HS2 “as soon as possible” in the wake of a report that suggested the whole project should be scrapped, a former Northern Powerhouse minister has said. Andrew Percy, who served in Theresa May’s Government, yesterday urged a decision on the rail link to provide “certainty” for people in the North of England. A review into HS2 was postponed before the election but a leaked draft of its report suggests it will recommend the project is continued.

Sun
TAXPAYERS are set to lose a whopping £40billion on the troubled HS2 rail link, a lord reviewing the troubled project has warned. Lord Berkeley furiously accused the project’s bosses of “fiddling the figures” and misleading MPs about the scheme. In a blistering report for Boris Johnson, the Labour peer said the project is “completely out of control” and costs will spiral to at least £107billion. He also savaged claims the 354-mile high speed line from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds will electrify growth in the North and Midlands. He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge: “My report suggests that the project is completely out of control financially and it doesn’t actually do what’s on the tin.

Times
The cost of the high-speed rail link is “out of control”, could pass more than £100 billion and parliament has been misled about its price, the former deputy chairman of the official HS2 review has claimed. Lord Berkeley says that the government’s Oakervee review, which has yet to be published, has shut out expert advice and that HS2’s value to the economy is far less than claimed. He has published his own assessment, which says: “From the evidence I have seen, I believe that parliament was misled on the question of HS2 costs and that it is highly unlikely that, if it had been given the real cost figures by the Department for Transport, it would have passed the legislation.

NHS

Sun
THE US is on track to have one of its worst flu seasons ever, with thousands having died from the illness and millions more infected. Nearly 3,000 Americans are estimated to have died from the infectious disease, 800 more deaths than predicted just a week before, CNN reported. While it’s impossible to know how the flu will turn out, the 2019-20 season is on par with 2017-18, which was the most fatal in more than 40 years, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Since flu season began in October, the virus has sickened at least 6.4 million people and caused 55,000 hospitalizations, the CDC estimates.

Guardian
A hospital accused of bullying its staff is facing new claims that it failed to act on a leading doctor’s warning about a potentially fatal failure to monitor vulnerable patients, the Guardian can reveal. Dr Jonathan Boyle, the UK’s top vascular surgeon, had warned West Suffolk NHS trust, the health secretary Matt Hancock’s local hospital, that patients at risk of dying from burst aneurysms were not being safely monitored. An IT glitch meant that patients were not followed up to see how soon they would need potentially life-saving surgery. A doctor at the trust, however, says it initially repeatedly refused to take any action, raising further questions about its management.

Sun
MORE than 20 deaths have been linked to NHS advice line 111. The toll includes at least five young children, raising concerns over inexperienced staff giving the wrong advice to callers. Some deaths were linked to use of a computer program, NHS  Pathways, to stream calls. It allows users to check symptoms but “red flags” were missed by advisers, some on just £9 an hour who had received just six weeks’ training. Since 2014, coroners have issued guidance 15 times to try to prevent further deaths following cases involving the 24-hour phone line. Another five inquests have heard of call handlers missing chances to save patients, while two more cases are ongoing.

Banking

Telegraph
Top central banks will sweep up bonds worth hundreds of billions of pounds to kick-start growth again in 2020 in their latest unprecedented intervention into financial markets. The balance sheets of the four main central banks in the eurozone, US, ­Japan and UK are collectively expected to swell to more than £12 trillion by the end of 2020 after policymakers resorted to rebooting their quantitative easing (QE) programmes. The Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan and European Central Bank are expected to buy almost £500bn of debt this year and nearing £1 trillion by the end of 2021 through the experimental and controversial policy tool, according to estimates by Nomura. Policy at the Bank of England, including QE, has been put on hold amid the high levels of uncertainty.

Population

Mail
The populations of Coventry and Corby have risen at the highest rate of any towns outside London, a MailOnline investigation has revealed.  The population of the UK is projected to increase by three million over the next ten years, as experts warn a major acceleration in house building is required.   In central London, population growth has risen by 44 per cent over the past five years and in Tower Hamlets, east London, by 16 per cent.  MailOnline has analysed data from the Office for National Statistics to reveal in which parts of the country population growth is rising the fastest.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email