EU

Express
AN IRISH MEP has vowed to vote against Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal in the European Parliament, in a last ditched attempt to block Britain from leaving the EU. Billy Kelleher, the Fianna Fáil MEP, has said he plans to vote against Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal in the European Parliament, when the Withdrawal Agreement faces its final hurdle on January 29. The Irish politicians has said he opposes the Brexit deal over fears it could erode the rights of Irish/EU citizens in Northern Ireland. In a letter to Ireland’s deputy prime minister Simon Coveney, who is responsible for Brexit in the Irish government, Mr Kelleher branded the Withdrawal Agreement “vague” and outlined his opposition to the deal.

BBC News
The taoiseach Leo Varadkar has called for “a level playing field” in the Brexit negotiations. The Irish prime minister said there must be a common minimum standard so the UK could not “undercut” the EU. He said the next step is to negotiate a free trade agreement between the UK and EU. Mr Varadkar spoke as the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen visited Ireland for the first time in her current role.

Express
BRITISH MEPs have urged the EU to “learn the lessons” from Brexit in a scathing final attack on the bloc two weeks before the UK finally removes its shackles. The European Parliament is debating the future of the bloc at a gathering in Strasbourg that saw Brexit Party MEP Ann Widdecombe warn the EU that should it want a relationship with the UK, it needed to scale back to a “loose alliance”.

Independent
The European Parliament has said it has “grave concerns” over the UK’s treatment of EU citizens after Brexit and has accused Boris Johnson’s government of putting them in jeopardy. MEPs on Wednesday backed a resolution by 610 votes in favour to 29 against with 68 abstentions criticising the UK’s handling of the situation. The resolution also stressed that their approval of the Brexit deal later this month would depend on new assurances being given from the UK side.

Reuters
It will ultimately be up to Britain whether or not it seeks more time to negotiate a trade agreement with the European Union after it leaves the bloc, the head of the European Commission said on Wednesday. Britain is set to leave the EU on Jan. 31 after agreeing a divorce deal late last year but will remain bound by all the bloc’s rules until the end of 2020 under an agreed transition phase aimed at smoothing its exit. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists he will not ask for more time, even as European leaders, including EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, cast doubt on the feasibility of agreeing a trade deal over the next 11 months.

Brexit

Breitbart
London authorities have approved a street party in Parliament Square, Westminster, on Brexit Day, organised by Nigel Farage and Leave Means Leave. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage announced the approval on social media, writing: “Leave Means Leave have been given the approval to hold an event in Parliament Square on 31st January. Great news! It is a big moment in the history of this nation to celebrate.” The event starts at 9 p.m. and Mr Farage directs those interested in attending to register on the Brexit Celebration website.

Telegraph
It started when MPs banned Big Ben was from bonging on Brexit night. Now Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has been told he cannot set off fireworks near Parliament Square to celebrate the ending of Britain’s 45 year long membership of the European Union. The news came as Tory MP Mark Francois launched a crowd funding campaign with campaigners Stand Up for Brexit to cover the £500,000 cost of Big Ben – which is currently being renovated in Parliament’s Elizabeth Tower – being made ready to chime on Brexit night.

BBC News
Brexit supporters have been given permission for a party in London’s Parliament Square at the moment the UK leaves the EU on 31 January. The event, being organised by Leave Means Leave, is due to take place between 21:00 and 23:15 GMT. The UK will leave the EU at 23:00 GMT, 47 years after it joined the then European Economic Community in 1973. Veteran Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage said it was “a big moment in the history of this nation to celebrate”.

Express
SENIOR ministers are blaming a Remainer plot among parliamentary chiefs for silencing Big Ben on Brexit night, the Daily Express has learned. They claim anti-Brexit members of the House of Commission exaggerated the estimated cost of temporarily reactivating Westminster’s iconic bell in a killjoy attempt to undermine celebrations of the UK’s departure from the EU at the end of the month.

Times
Nigel Farage has won his campaign to hold a Brexit night party outside parliament but could be forced to celebrate without fireworks or the bongs of Big Ben. The public are being asked to submit lyrics for new songs, to the tune of popular hits, that the crowd could embrace for a singalong at the event instead. Mr Farage and the campaign group Leave Means Leave will take over Parliament Square outside the House of Commons for the night of Britain’s departure from the European Union on January 31.

Labour leadership

Mail
Rebecca Long-Bailey is in front in the race to become Labour  leader, a shock poll revealed. The survey put the hard-Left Corbynite ahead of Sir Keir Starmer, the moderate ex-director of public prosecutions. Mrs Long-Bailey, Labour’s business spokesman, is the choice of leading figures such as John McDonnell and Diane Abbott. But she has had a slow start to her campaign while Sir Keir has the support of Britain’s largest union, Unison.

Guardian
Rebecca Long-Bailey is expected to win the backing of Momentum as a poll placed her ahead of closest rival for the Labour leadership, Keir Starmer. The shadow business secretary, who has been criticised for the slow start to her campaign, came out ahead of the shadow Brexit secretary based on first preferences, with 42% of the votes compared to his 37% in the poll, conducted by Survation of more than 3,800 LabourList readers. Although Starmer receives the majority of second preferences from all candidates in the race, they are not enough to eliminate Long-Bailey’s first round lead.

Conservative Party

Mail
The Conservative Party is considering setting up another base outside London following its election wins in the North and Midlands. Officials said they were looking at whether to establish an office to ‘better reflect the party’s new geographic make-up’. The building would be a visible symbol of the Tory presence in previously Labour heartlands. On the day after his election triumph, Boris Johnson pledged to earn the trust of Labour voters who ‘lent him’ their votes.

Express
THE CONSERVATIVE party yesterday (Wed) confirmed it is planning to relocate its headquarters from London to the Midlands or the North as Boris Johnson seeks to entrench the Tories in Labour’s former heartlands. Mr Johnson wants to capitalise on the Conservative’s historic election victory, which saw them demolish Jeremy Corbyn’s so-called “Red wall” by winning a swathe of seats in traditional Labour areas. Potential sites for an office outside of London are now being explored, a party spokesman said Activists are also being canvassed on their views for a new location.

Telegraph
The Conservative party’s headquarters could move to a new location in the north or the Midlands following Boris Johnson’s electoral win in Labour’s former heartlands. One senior Tory source told the Daily Telegraph the party has to recognise its centre of gravity is now about 200 miles north from its London office. The source said currently campaign managers had to make an eight hour round trip from northern seats in order to be able to attend meetings in CCHQ.

Telegraph
Jeremy Corbyn sided with Vladimir Putin and “failed the test” in the wake of the Salisbury attack, Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy has claimed. In a withering rebuke of Jeremy Corbyn’s worldview, the Wigan MP yesterday said that if elected she would never again allow Labour to stand in “solidarity” with Russia’s “authoritarian regime”.  Speaking in central London, Ms Nandy, who quit Mr Corbyn’s frontbench in 2016, attacked her party’s “totally wrong” response to a regime that had used chemical weapons on UK streets and oppressed minority groups at home.

Courts

Mail
Boris Johnson has ordered a clampdown on the judicial review system. The Prime Minister, who was infuriated last year when the Supreme Court ruled his suspension of Parliament was illegal, claimed the system was being ‘abused’. No 10 said a planned legal assessment would be fast-tracked, with a change in the law likely ‘within months’. Judicial reviews allow people to challenge government actions in the courts.

Mirror
Boris Johnson has been accused of plotting “revenge” against Britain’s judges for his humiliating defeat in the Supreme Court. “This is payback time,” Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti told the Mirror, after the PM announced an overhaul of judicial review. “It’s revenge for losing 11-nil in the Supreme Court. It’s like losing 11-nil in the cup final and coming with a baseball bat for the referee.” The Prime Minister today announced a “constitution, democracy and rights commission” tasked with ensuring judicial reviews are not “abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays.”

BBC News
TV cameras are to be allowed to film in Crown Courts in England and Wales for the first time. New legislation being laid before Parliament will allow judges’ sentencing remarks in serious high-profile criminal cases to be seen and heard by TV and online audiences. However, trials will not be televised as they are in countries such as the US as only the judge will be filmed. The judiciary, broadcasters and government have welcomed the move. The legislation will, for the first time, allow TV cameras to film judges passing sentence in murder, sexual offences, terrorism and other serious high-profile criminal cases in Crown Courts in England and Wales, including the Old Bailey.

Education

Times
Students should choose apprenticeships rather than the broken university system, Tony Blair’s son suggests. Euan Blair issued the advice 21 years after his father pledged as prime minister to get half of young people into university and a few months after that target was met. Sixth-formers had until last night to apply for university this autumn through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas). Euan, 35, is the co-founder of White Hat, which matches bright school leavers with white-collar apprenticeships at 250 companies including Google, BP and L’Oréal.

Times
Record numbers of state school pupils have received offers to study at Oxford University this year as it attempts to shed its reputation as a bastion for the privileged. More than two thirds, or 69.1 per cent, of its offers went to state school pupils, up from 64.5 per cent last year. State schools that have had a good year include Harris Westminster, the sixth-form college set up by the Harris Federation and the independent Westminster School. It has had 25 offers from Oxford colleges compared with 16 last year.

Pension tax

Times
Tens of thousands of high earners will receive a pension tax windfall under plans to solve a staffing crisis among NHS doctors, The Times has learnt. The Treasury is preparing to give tax relief worth hundreds of millions of pounds to those earning more than £110,000. The measure will stop doctors being hit with huge bills, which are causing them to turn down extra work and harming patient care.

ITV News
High earners could end up being given pension tax breaks as part of efforts to get doctors to take on more shifts, it is being reported. The Treasury has refused to comment on a Times report that it is preparing to give tax relief worth hundreds of millions of pounds to people earning more than £110,000 a year. The move would be designed to tackle the issue of doctors turning down additional shifts because taking on extra hours can see them hit with an increased tax bill on their pension contributions.

Health

Mail
Health Secretary Matt Hancock hinted today that NHS hospitals in England will do away with the target of treating A&E patients within four hours. Mr Hancock’s comments triggered a backlash after statistics last week revealed emergency departments across the country are struggling more than ever to cope. Fourteen hospitals are already testing a system which measures average waiting times instead of trying to treat everyone within four hours – the NHS has failed to hit its ’95 per cent within four hours’ benchmark for almost five years in a row.

Guardian
Plans to scrap the four-hour A&E target have sparked a furious backlash from doctors and nurses, with some claiming it is driven by ministers’ desire to avoid negative publicity about patients facing increasingly long delays. A&E consultants led a chorus of medical opposition to the move. They pointedly urged NHS  leaders and ministers to concentrate on delivering the long-established maximum waiting time for emergency care rather than finding “ways around” it.

Times
Boris Johnson made his most explicit promise to reduce NHS waiting times yesterday, as doctors warned him not to change hospital targets to hide worsening problems. The prime minister acknowledged that patients faced “unacceptable” delays but said his government would “get those waiting lists down”. Health chiefs have warned that it will be a struggle to cut waiting times significantly, given staffing and funding that experts say may not be enough to keep up with the demands of an ageing population.

Mail
Prostate cancer deaths have passed 12,000 a year for the first time. The toll has risen by more than a quarter in less than 20 years, official figures show. By contrast, the number of annual deaths from breast cancer dropped by nearly 1,600 between 1999 and 2017, from 12,947 to 11,371. Annual prostate deaths have risen by nearly 2,600 in the same period, from 9,460 to 12,031 – a 27 per cent increase.

Sun
RECORD numbers of British men are being killed by prostate cancer. More than 12,000 die every year from the disease — the most common cancer in males. But most cases are still being picked up too late, making them harder to treat, campaigners say. Angela Culhane, chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK, said: “We absolutely must ensure that as many of these men as possible have their prostate cancer caught early and successfully treated.

Times
The number of annual deaths from prostate cancer in Britain has risen above 12,000 for the first time, prompting calls for health chiefs to consider a national screening programme. Despite progress in improving survival rates, a growing and ageing population means that cases and deaths are increasing. There were 48,561 cases and 12,031 deaths in 2017, compared with 47,864 cases and 11,307 deaths in 2014. Some 84 per cent of men who have prostate cancer diagnosed are alive after ten years, up from 25 per cent in the 1970s.

HS2

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.

Earth

Sun
THE PLANET has some work to do in the next decade in order to prevent potential mass species extinctions, according to a concerning new United Nations report. The agency’s Convention on Biological DIversity set goals to address the critical biodiversity crisis in a draft plan that was released earlier this week. “Transformative” changes are needed across economic, social, political and technological platforms, according to the report.

Flooding

Telegraph
Flood warnings have been issued across the UK and drivers have been told to avoid low lying roads near rivers as more rain is forecast on Thursday. Parts of the UK have already been hit by flooding in the wake of Storm Brendan, with some drivers seeing their cars submerged in water. The Environment Agency has issued flood warnings and alerts across the UK, with coastal areas particularly affected. Weather warnings are no longer in place, but strong winds and rain are expected to return on Thursday, beginning in Ireland and Scotland before pushing eastwards, with winds of around 50mph to 60mph on the Irish Sea and between 40mph and 50mph inland.

Russia

Telegraph
The entire Russian government abruptly resigned on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin proposed constitutional changes in the clearest to date indication that he intends to stay in power beyond 2024 in a different role. The resignation of the government of the unpopular Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev shocked observers who were gearing up for a slow public campaign to implement the sweeping amendments that Mr Putin proposed just hours earlier.

Times
Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, resigned yesterday in a dramatic move that he said was intended to smooth the way for changes to the constitution that could allow President Putin to rule for life. Mr Medvedev, 54, also said that his entire cabinet was stepping down. His televised announcement, which came as a big surprise, was made shortly after Mr Putin, 67, had called for a referendum on constitutional amendments that included an increase in the powers of parliament and the state council, an advisory body to the Kremlin.

Mirror
Vladimir Putin has reportedly nominated a little-known tax office chief as Russia’s new Prime Minister as part of his dramatic constitutional shake-up. The Russian President formally put forward Mikhail Mishustin, the head of Russia’s Federal Tax Service, to be the country’s new prime minister, the Kremlin said. President Putin is understood to be planning to appoint new members of the Government himself, and has asked the outgoing government to continue working until they are in place.

House prices

Telegraph
House prices climbed at their fastest pace in two years even before a widely expected election bounce as signs of life emerged from London’s ailing market. The property market was already rebounding before Boris Johnson’s election triumph as growth accelerated to 2.2pc year-on-year in November, up from 1.3pc the previous month, according to the Office for National Statistics.  Prices in London rose for only the second time in 18 months, inching up 0.2pc, while Wales enjoyed the strongest growth at 8pc.

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