Brexit

Telegraph (by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard)
There is no such thing as Theresa May’s Brexit deal. The Withdrawal Agreement is merely a legal contract to pay £39bn, with the Irish back-stop for good measure. In exchange, Britain secures a transition phase with no veto rights, bound to accept all fresh EU law even when it threatens the national interest. On payment of the exit fee we also secure the ‘privilege’ of starting talks on a deal. The terms of that deal must be agreed by all 27 EU states (unlike the Withdrawal Agreement). This will be a negotiating nightmare. We will face the same cliff-edge in two years, but with less leverage and unanimity to contend with.

‘People’s vote’

Order-order
Whilst most of the media is focused on Tory infighting and Corbyn’s incoherent and contradictory strategy the People’s Vote crowd are escaping attention. It will be no surprise when Guido tells you there is lots of infighting there too… The main split is between those Labour MPs like Chris Leslie and Angela Smith who want to use it as reason for walking away from the Labour Party and setting up new party and those who want to try and win McDonnell and Corbyn over to the cause as the best way of getting a second referendum and stopping Brexit.

Project Fear

Times
The City of London will experience “very damaging” job losses, flights will be disrupted and there will be dramatic border queues at British ports, under European Union no-deal contingency plans published yesterday. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said that no-deal would be a disaster. He insisted that MPs should back the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Theresa May. “The risks of a disorderly exit of Great Britain from the EU are obvious,” he said

Mail
Brussels today threatened to curb British flights and kick out UK ex-pats if there is no Brexit deal. As the bitter standoff deepened, the EU released details of its plans for what happens if negotiations fail. According to the plans, British airlines would be allowed to operate flights between the UK and the continent. However, they would be barred from flying between EU airports, or operating services from Europe to the US. EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said a disorderly British exit would be a ‘catastrophe’, while one EU official warned of the worst border disruption ‘since wartime’.

Independent
A no-deal Brexit could cause the cancellation of thousands of flights between the UK and the European Union next year, because departures would be capped at 2018 levels.  Disappointed passengers who thought they had firm bookings to Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Greece and other destinations could find their tickets cancelled. While the cost would be automatically refunded, they would then need to compete for scarce seats and could face higher fares.

Sun
BRUSSELS has threatened to cause holiday carnage for millions of Brits if there’s a no deal Brexit. Eurocrats warned flights between the UK and EU will be “interrupted” and efforts to minimise chaos for tourists can only be “very time-limited”. They insisted contingency measures would only ensure “basic connectivity” after March 29 and suggested the number of services could be slashed. But defiant British airlines hit back and insisted holidaymakers having nothing to fear, with flights set to carry on as normal after Brexit.

EU

Westmonster
The day after the British government announced that the country is fully preparing for a No Deal, Brussels have revealed their stance. As one journalist described it, “EU blinks”. Though of course Brussels talk of disruption in the event of the UK walking away, there are some interesting revelations in 14 measures across what they describe as “a limited number of areas”. It seems those in the EU have finally accepted Brexit is happening, starting off their press release with the words: “The United Kingdom will leave the European Union in 100 days’ time”. Oh yes!

Independent
The EU has unveiled a raft of measures to protect its “vital interests” in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The European Commission on Wednesday recommended 14 measures in a number of areas, including financial services, air transport, customs and climate policy. Among the plans are emergency policies to “avoid full interruption of air traffic between the EU and the UK in the event of no deal”. But the bloc warned that the last-minute plan “will only ensure basic connectivity”, signalling that there could still be significant disruption to flights.

Telegraph
Contracts worth £45 trillion which had their legal status thrown into doubt by Brexit have dodged a cliff edge, thanks to last minute legal provisions from the EU Commission. The move follows months of lobbying by UK regulators with Brussels. The Bank of England has repeatedly warned that disrupting the derivatives market was one of the most significant threats to financial stability generated by Brexit. While the UK government moved to ensure contracts between UK and EU counterparties would still have legal clout in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, Brussels had not done likewise until now.

BBC News
The European Commission says it has started to implement its preparations for a no-deal Brexit – in case the UK leaves the EU without a plan. It has announced temporary measures to try to reduce the impact, but says it cannot counter all the problems it expects. As PM Theresa May’s proposed exit plan flounders in Parliament, both sides are preparing for the worst-case situation. The UK has allocated £2bn ($2.5bn) in funding to government departments. The European Commission’s measures are designed to limit disruption in certain key areas, such as finance and transport, if Brexit goes ahead in March without a deal.

Times
Germany has drawn up laws to shelter its businesses from the economic storm of a disorderly Brexit, and to prevent any sudden lurches in their tax burden. Last week Angela Merkel’s cabinet agreed to contingency measures to reassure companies in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Germany’s export-dominated economy would be particularly exposed to the trade barriers that could spring up. Britain is the fifth largest destination for its goods and about 750,000 German jobs depend on the relationship.

BBC News
The Irish government is now prioritising planning for a no-deal Brexit, according to its published contingency plan. The document, which runs to more than 130 pages, outlines plans for 19 sectors should the UK leave the EU without a withdrawal deal. It includes a move to purchase land at Dublin and Rosslare ports to deal with congestion caused by new custom checks. Ireland’s foreign minister said the plan was “stark” but “comprehensive”. The UK leaving the EU without a deal will cause significant stress to the Irish economy, Simon Coveney said.

Telegraph
Poland’s prime minister has called on European leaders to help Theresa May navigate the “storm” of Brexit as he criticised senior EU officials over their “unfortunate behaviour” at last week’s summit in Brussels. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mateusz Morawiecki said he was disappointed by the “rather unfortunate behaviour” of senior EU officials such as Jean-Claude Juncker, who suggested Mrs May was being “nebulous” at the December summit.

Express
POLAND’s Prime Minister has launched a vicious attack on Brussels bureaucrats for their negative attitude towards the UK during the Brexit negotiations. Stressing the urgent need for continued friendly relations, he decried the EU’s “rather unfortunate behaviour”. He claimed the EU had made counter-productive comments during the negotiations. Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, the politician said: “Sadly, the Brexit case has brought to light rather unfortunate behaviour.

Times
Ports in Belgium and the Netherlands claim that they are “Brexit proof” against chaotic queues but say that Calais enjoys an unfair advantage because of an Anglo-French treaty that allows Britain to carry out streamlined customs checks at the port. Under Le Touquet accord, if there was a no-deal Brexit, goods going from Calais to Britain would be checked once but from Dutch ports they would be checked twice. Annika Hult, trade director of Stena Line, which operates from the Hook of Holland near Rotterdam, said that the EU must act

Immigration

Guardian
Rebellious ministers believe Theresa May will be forced to allow workers earning as little as £21,000 to enter the UK after Brexit in the face of intense lobbying from businesses demanding the right to employ low-skilled workers from abroad. The prime minister had wanted to limit the vast majority of immigration to people with jobs paid £30,000 and over, but had already had to concede there would be a further year of consultation on the threshold after a cabinet revolt. And within hours of the publication of the government’s long-awaited immigration white paper on Wednesday, uproar from business groups over the proposals deepened the cracks in what had been intended as one of the flagship policies for May’s vision of post-Brexit Britain

Fiona Onasanya

Telegraph
Labour MP who dreamed of becoming Britain’s first black prime minister could be jailed after she was convicted at the Old Bailey of lying to the police about a speeding charge. Fiona Onasanya, a former party whip, was found to have colluded with her brother Festus after she was caught speeding just weeks after being elected as an MP in last year’s election. During her retrial, called after a previous jury failed to reach a verdict, the court heard that the 35-year-old had been texting as well as speeding but had “persistently and deliberately” lied to police to avoid prosecution.

Times
A Labour MP faces a jail sentence after she was found guilty of lying to police to avoid a speeding charge. Fiona Onasanya’s political career was in tatters yesterday as she was suspended by the Labour Party, which called on her to resign as an MP after her conviction for perverting the course of justice. The solicitor, 35, lied “persistently and deliberately” to police about who was driving her car in an attempt to avoid penalty points after it was recorded at 41mph in a 30mph zone near Thorney in her Peterborough constituency.

Mail
As a Labour whip, Fiona Onasanya was responsible for ensuring the discipline and loyalty of her fellow MPs. So how ironic that what ultimately sealed her fate was a fatal blow delivered by of one of her closest political allies. It was only after her first trial had begun that prosecutors were handed the key piece of evidence that finally nailed the 35-year-old’s lies. Reading details in his local paper, Dr Christian DeFeo, her former aide, realised the speeding offence which put her in the Old Bailey dock had taken place close to his home on a night when she had driven to visit him

Mirror
Former Labour whip Fiona Onasanya has been found guilty of perverting the course of justice following an Old Bailey retrial for lying to police to avoid a speeding charge. MP and former Labour whip Fiona Onasanya has been found guilty of lying to police to avoid a speeding charge. The 35-year-old solicitor was accused of colluding with her brother Festus after her car was clocked going 41mph in a 30mph zone in the village of Thorney near Peterborough. The MP, who was elected in June 2017 but stood down as a Labour whip last month, was found guilty of one count of perverting the course of justice following a retrial at the Old Bailey.

BBC News
An MP has been found guilty of perverting the course of justice by lying to police about who was behind the wheel of a speeding car. Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya denied she was driving her car when it was caught doing 41mph in a 30mph zone in Thorney, Cambridgeshire, in July 2017. The 35-year-old Labour MP was convicted in an Old Bailey retrial. A Labour Party spokesman said she had been “administratively suspended” and has called for her to resign.

Independent
Former Labour whip Fiona Onasanya has been found guilty of perverting the course of justice following an Old Bailey retrial for lying to police to avoid a speeding charge. The 35-year-old solicitor was accused of colluding with her brother Festus after her car was clocked going 41mph in a 30mph zone in the village of Thorney, near Peterborough, in July last year. The MP for Peterborough, who was elected in June 2017 but stood down as a Labour whip last month, was found guilty of one count of perverting the course of justice at the conclusion of the retrial on Wednesday.

‘Stupid woman’

Times
Jeremy Corbyn’s credibility was on the line last night after the Labour leader was forced to deny that he had called Theresa May a “stupid woman”. The L A second Tory MP accused John Bercow of branding her a ‘stupid woman’ today as Andrea Leadsom led a Conservative revolt against the Speaker.   The Leader of the House seized on a furious row over Jeremy Corbyn jibing ‘stupid woman’ at Theresa May to revive the same charge against Mr Bercow. After the Speaker warned MPs he could not sanction the Labour leader, another Tory MP Vicky Ford accused Mr Bercow of making the remark at her.

Sky News
Jeremy Corbyn “clearly” used the phrase “stupid woman” rather than “stupid people”, a team of lip readers has told Sky News. The Labour leader has denied allegations he branded the prime minister a “stupid woman” during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday. He insisted he instead referred to “stupid people” in a comment about those “seeking to turn a debate about the national crisis facing our country into a pantomime”. But, amid a furious political row, lip-readers from 121 Captions have studied the footage of Mr Corbyn and disagreed with the politician’s explanation.

Independent
Jeremy Corbyn has escaped any action over the allegation he called Theresa May a “stupid woman” after experts failed to reach a firm conclusion. John Bercow, the Commons speaker, called in “professional lipspeakers” to investigate whether the Labour leader had uttered the remark – but told MPs they could not be “100 per cent certain”. He urged MPs to “take the word” of Mr Corbyn, who returned to the chamber to issue a firm denial, insisting: “I did not use the words ‘stupid woman’ about the prime minister or anyone else.” However, after viewing TV footage, Mr Bercow said: “It is easy to see why the leader of the opposition’s words might be construed as stupid woman.

Mail
A second Tory MP accused John Bercow of branding her a ‘stupid woman’ today as Andrea Leadsom led a Conservative revolt against the Speaker.  The Leader of the House seized on a furious row over Jeremy Corbyn jibing ‘stupid woman’ at Theresa May to revive the same charge against Mr Bercow. After the Speaker warned MPs he could not sanction the Labour leader, another Tory MP Vicky Ford accused Mr Bercow of making the remark at her. A furious Mr Bercow wagged his finger and insisted Ms Ford had never made the allegation before and that he ‘refutes it 100 per cent’.

Scotland

Express
NICOLA Sturgeon has made a second Brexit referendum her top priority ahead of talks with Theresa May today. The First Minister of Scotland has urged Mrs May to seek an extension to Article 50 and find “an alternative way forward” to break the Brexit deadlock. It comes after SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford told the House Of Commons that Ms Sturgeon’s plan to stay in the single market and customs union in a Norway-style option was “no longer viable”.

ITV News
Mosquito devices which emit a sound only young people can hear should be banned in Scotland, according to members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs). The devices are used in order to deter anti-social behaviour and have been deployed in a range of locations, including some train stations. However, MSYPs say the devices violate the rights of children and young people. A petition calling for a ban was published in January, with 725 young people asked for their experience of the devices. The majority of the respondents (85%) reported having never encountered a mosquito device.

Education

Telegraph
Private schools have warned of potential fee rises in the wake of the Treasury’s ruling on teacher pension contributions. Some independent schools may be left with “no alternative” but to hike their price, according to the Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools (AGBIS). The majority of private schools are part of the Teachers’ Pensions Scheme (TPS), and from September they will be forced by the Treasury to step up their payments by 48 per cent. The increase in employer contribution, from 16.48 per cent of teachers’ salaries to 23.6 per cent, will be “unaffordable” for many schools, the Independent Schools Council (ISC) has warned.

Telegraph
Teachers could be forced to allow full-face veils to be worn in classrooms if ministers accept a new definition of Islamophobia, one of the country’s leading equality campaigners has warned. Trevor Phillips, the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said it would be a “grave mistake” to define Islamophobia as a form of racism, as a committee of MPs and peers has recommended. Mr Phillips said defining Muslims as a race would “actually make life harder for them” instead of helping and that it would “reduce the lives of British Muslims… to the status of perpetual victims and pawns in some wider battle”.

Inflation

Times
Inflation has dropped to its lowest level since early last year as cheap fuel and video games dragged prices down in a boost to living standards. The consumer prices index fell to 2.3 per cent in November from 2.4 per cent in October and is set to fall further in the months ahead. The last time inflation was lower was in January 2017. The fall in inflation, which hit a peak of 3.1 per cent last November, promises to herald a period of real pay growth. Wages appear to be rising at their fastest pace in a decade, 3.3 per cent.

Probate

Telegraph
The Government could back down on radical changes to probate fees that have been slammed as a “stealth death tax” on top of existing inheritance tax levies, following fierce criticism from the House of Lords. The proposals would see estates worth £2m or more pay £6,000 in probate fees, up from the current flat rate of £215. Even more modest estates that happen to have been boosted by property values in London and the South East will pay significantly more.

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