Communications

Telegraph
Gavin Williamson has expressed “grave” concerns at the prospect of the Chinese telecom giant Huawei being involved in the UK’s new 5G network. During a trip to Ukraine, the Defence Secretary said Huawei’s role in the network was “something we’d have to look at very closely”. He said: “We’ve got to look at what partners such as Australia and the US are doing in order to ensure that they have the maximum security of that 5G network and we’ve got to recognise the fact, as has been recently exposed, the Chinese state does sometimes act in a malign way.” His comments follow a warning this month from Alex Younger, the MI6 chief, who said Britain needed to decide how comfortable it was using Chinese-owned technologies within its communications infrastructure.

Times
The defence secretary has become the first cabinet minister to speak out against the telecoms giant Huawei amid fears that its involvement in Britain’s next-generation mobile network will enable Chinese spying. Gavin Williamson said that he had “grave” and “very deep concerns” about the Chinese company providing technology to upgrade Britain’s services to superfast 5G. He indicated that a full review of security risks would be needed as he accused Beijing of acting “sometimes in a malign way”. His intervention came after the US, New Zealand and Australia — members, along with Britain and Canada, of the Five-Eyes intelligence alliance — banned the company from involvement in their new networks.

BBC News
The Defence Secretary has reportedly said he has “very deep concerns” about Chinese firm Huawei being involved in upgrading the UK’s mobile network. Gavin Williamson’s comments – reported by the Times – came after some nations restricted use of the firm’s products in 5G networks over security concerns. MI6’s head recently said Britain faced decisions on Chinese ownership of tech. The UK says China is behind hackers targeting commercial secrets. Huawei denies any link to the Chinese state. On Wednesday, Mr Williamson was reported as saying: “I have grave, very deep concerns about Huawei providing the 5G network in Britain. It’s something we’d have to look at very closely.” Australia, New Zealand and the US have restricted use of Huawei technology in 5G mobile networks, and Mr Williamson said the UK would look at their example.

Migration

Times
The authorities have been told to “get a grip” after dozens of migrants crossed the Channel over Christmas. Charlie Elphicke, the Conservative MP for Dover, said that the Home Office and National Crime Agency did not appear to be on top of the problem. On Christmas Day 40 migrants were rescued in the Channel as they tried to reach Britain and three more were found yesterday. A further five people turned up at Dover police station on Christmas Day saying that they were Iranian and had arrived by boat. An abandoned craft was discovered later.

ITV News
Three more migrants have been intercepted as Border Force officials step up their efforts to tackle people smugglers after 40 migrants crossed the Channel towards Britain on Christmas Day. Authorities were called to five separate instances involving people presenting themselves as Iraqi, Iranian and Afghan yesterday. A Home Office spokeswoman confirmed that three more migrants were intercepted overnight. Shortly after midnight, Border Force was made aware that three men on board a small boat, who presented themselves as Iranian, had been rescued by the French authorities near Dover. The men were transferred to the UK authorities and will be interviewed by immigration officials.

Westmonster
The increasingly worrying trend of illegal immigrants seeking to get to the UK via boat from France continued on Christmas Day, with forty migrants rescued in a single day. Some are claiming to be from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, with those coming across being discovered off the Kent coast. French Maritime officials posted photos of what is going on. As is being reported locally in Kent, the first instance saw the Border Force called at 2:40am when 8 migrants arrived in Folkestone. Other incidents occurred throughout the day including the Border Force and a lifeboat deployed at 6:50am to to help 13 migrants in a dinghy near Deal in Kent.

EU

Express
THE EU’s “economic madness” is allowing Italy to plunge deeper into debt and risks collapsing the Eurozone, financial experts fear. The European Central Bank’s (ECB) purchase of government and corporate bonds has swollen its balance sheet to a record £4.19 trillion (4.66 trillion euros). Brussels hoped the mass purchase would supply EU markets with money, and lower interest rates, to boost the economy following the 2008 financial crash. Despite striking a deal with the EU over its budget plans this month, Italy’s debt has grown to £1.8 trillion (two trillion euros). But with Italy holding such large debt the ballooning of the ECB balance sheet to 41.6 per cent of the Eurozone’s annual economic output is “insane”, according to German economists Matthias Weik and Marc Friedrich.

Express
INCREASING ideological divisions between Western European Union member states and Eastern members could prove to be too “toxic” for the bloc to survive in the coming years, European policy expert Rem Korteweg warned. European Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker used his second to last State of the Union speech in 2017 to urge member states to accept proposals for increased cooperation with the European Union. But Eastern European countries such as Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have led efforts to push back against further integration in an attempt to regain more independence from the bloc. EU policy expert Rem Kortaweg suggested their refusal to bow down to the demands of Brussels has turned the relationship between Western and Eastern EU members “toxic.” In December 2017, the European Parliament voted to trigger Article 7 of the EU Treaty against Poland – leading to a suspension of the country’s voting rights in the European institutions – as the bloc investigates whether Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had violated “core” European values with controversial changes to the country’s rule of law.

Express
SWEDEN will go into 2019 in political turmoil after ending the year without a government and could face a re-run of September’s fraught general election. The country’s centre-left Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven was once again rejected by parliament just before Christmas when 200 MPs voted against him becoming prime minister while 116 voted in favour and 28 abstained. The Scandinavian EU member state is now pinning its hopes on resolving the crisis in the New Year when MPs return after a three-week Christmas break. Parliament speaker Andreas Norlen announced he would meet again with party leaders on January 14 and called for a prime minister vote two days later. If that fails, a final and fourth premier vote would then be held on January 23 in a last ditch effort to avoid a new General Election being called.

Times
Britain could stop the biannual tradition of changing the clocks and stay on British Summer Time if suggestions from government officials go ahead. The move would follow EU proposals urging countries to decide which time zone they wanted to be in by next April. In August the bloc said that 84 per cent of 4.6 million respondents from the 28 member states backed plans to abandon the clock changes in a consultation. Emails released after a freedom of information request show that days after the EU’s announcement, officials from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy contacted counterparts in the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy to discuss options.

Mail
Britain could scrap changing the clocks and stay permanently on British Summer Time, private emails between officials suggest. The move would be in line with European proposals – announced earlier this year – which urged countries to decide by April which time zone they want to be in permanently. It would mean each country either staying in summer time from October 2019 or changing their clocks back one last time next autumn to remain permanently in winter time. When the proposal was announced by EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker in August there was confusion over whether the new directive would apply to Britain after it leaves the EU on March 29. However, emails released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the government is likely to follow Brussels and propose Britain stay on summer time all year.

Grooming gangs

Sun
SAJID Javid defended calling a grooming gang “sick Asian paedophiles” and the government’s right to strip them of their British citizenship today. The Home Secretary said on BBC Radio 4’s Today he took the scandal personally because Rochdale is his hometown and the men shared his Pakistani background. He insisted he was right to call them “sick Asian paedophiles”, arguing that ignoring their ethnicity would give a boost to extremists. Javid also said it was his job to keep the British public safe even if it meant they were being sent back to countries where they may face fewer checks on their actions. In October he faced criticism after tweeting about a group of 20 men in Huddersfield who were found guilty of rape and sexual abuse of girls. He tweeted: “These sick Asian paedophiles are finally facing justice. I want to commend the bravery of the victims.

Times
Sajid Javid has said that he took the Rochdale sexual grooming scandal personally because it involved men from his home town who were from a Pakistani background like him. The home secretary also defended the government’s decision to strip some members of the gang of their British citizenship, and said that his job was to keep the British public safe even if it meant offenders being sent to a country where they may face fewer checks. Mr Javid said yesterday that he had been right to speak out about “sick Asian paedophiles”, and that ignoring their race would give a boost to right-wing extremists.

NHS

Telegraph
Health officials will increase funding for children’s hospices to up to £25 million a year, the head of the NHS has announced. Simon Stevens said care of terminally ill children was a top priority for the NHS, as he promised an expansion of services which mean help can be provided close to home. Mr Stevens said: “Looking after a child at the end of their life is the hardest thing a parent or carer will ever do, and it is vital they have somewhere to turn for help if they need it. “Providing help and support to families when they need it most is a top priority for the NHS which is why ensuring specialised, personalised care close to home will be part of the NHS long term plan.”

Times
Ambulance response targets have been missed every month since they were revised, Labour has found. Last July, in an attempt to prioritise the most urgent cases, the blanket eight-minute target in England was scrapped and emergencies were designated as either life-threatening, or category 1 calls, with a paramedic expected to arrive within seven minutes; or less serious, category 2, with a target of 18 minutes. Labour said in a report that on average the targets for both were missed every month. Average response times for category 2 emergencies, which can include people who have had a heart attack or stroke but are conscious and breathing normally, varied between 20 minutes, 15 seconds, and 29 minutes, 36 seconds, according to figures obtained by the Daily Mail.

Hospital parking

Telegraph
Hospitals have been accused of placing a “tax on the sick,” with many doubling their car parking charges in the last year. An investigation reveals that almost half of NHS trusts have increased their prices, with some taking in almost £4.5 million a year from the fees. Patients groups said it was unfair to levy charges on people because they were unwell. The Freedom of Information disclosures from 124 NHS trusts shows that 43 per cent had increased prices in the last year for visitors, staff or both.  At Airedale NHS Foundation Trust in West Yorkshire, the price for a four-hour stay went from £3.50 to £8 in a year. The trust made £1.3 million from parking in 2017/18. At Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, the price of a stay over five hours has risen from £3.50 to £8 for visitors and patients, in less than a year.

Times
Almost half of NHS hospitals have increased parking charges in the past year, according to figures which show that some have doubled their prices. The rises came despite years of politicians and campaigners urging restraint. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have pledged to abolish hospital parking charges and a national campaign for a fairer system began ten years ago. Of more than 120 trusts in England who responded to a freedom of information request on charges, 43 per cent said that they had increased prices. Airedale NHS Foundation Trust in West Yorkshire was responsible for one of the biggest increases in prices. It charged £8 for a stay of four to twenty-four hours in 2017-18, up from £3.50 the previous year.

Sun
FOUR in ten NHS hospitals increased parking prices in the last year, a probe has found. Some NHS trusts have doubled the cost of a stay for patients and visitors. At Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, in West Yorks, four to 24 hours cost £8 in 2017/18, up from £3.50 the year before. The trust made £1,287,322 from parking in 2017/18. At Shrewsbury and Telford it used to be £3.50 for five to 24 hours but is now £8. The Royal Surrey County Hospital, in Guildford, charges £4 for an hour’s stay, the most expensive in the country. Hereford County Hospital and North Bristol NHS Trust are next, at £3.50.

Mirror
Almost half of NHS trusts have increased hospital parking charges, despite calls to axe the rip-off fees. A year after The Daily Mirror launched a campaign to scrap this “tax on the sick”, some have even doubled their prices, while private firms cream off millions in profits. Tory MP Rob Halfon said: “Charges cause misery for millions of NHS users.” Despite the growing furore, some NHS trusts are ignoring the outcry and charging the sick and visitors even more. Bosses in parts of the country have even doubled the cost of stays – helping to rake in £226million last year, with a huge chunk going to the private firms that run the sites and only 15% into the health service.

ITV News
Car parking prices have risen at more than four in 10 NHS hospitals in England in a year, data suggests. A total of 124 of the 152 trusts running hospitals responded to Freedom of Information requests by the Press Association, with 53 saying prices were up for visitors or staff, or both. Some trusts had doubled the cost of certain stays for visitors in 2017-18. Several hospitals defended the charges, saying some or all of it goes back into patient care or maintaining car parks. Data published by NHS Digital in October shows NHS trusts made more than £226m from parking fees, including penalty fines, in the last financial year.

Cancer

Telegraph
Scientists have discovered a breakthrough treatment to fight cancer, as they claim the disease will no longer be deadly for future generations. Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in London believe it is possible to strengthen the body’s defences by transplanting immune cells from strangers. Patients will begin to receive the new treatment next year, and the team now wants to establish ‘immune banks’ to store disease-fighting cells. Immunology expert Professor Adrian Hayday, group leader of the Immunosurveillance Lab at The Crick, said scientists and doctors could become more like engineers, upgrading the body rather than bombarding it with toxic chemotherapy.

Foxhunting

Times
Violence broke out at Boxing Day meets as hunts said that they were “here to stay” despite  calls for tougher rules. As Labour said that it would toughen the ban on hunting with hounds and consider prison sentences for those caught breaking the law, about 250,000 people met at hunts. In Elham, Kent, a saboteur’s eye socket was broken when more than 100 people turned out to oppose the East Kent with West Street Hunt. Saboteurs said that the victim had been thrown in front of a car, punched and kicked by at least two men. A man was arrested on suspicion of assault.

Sun
VIOLENCE broke out at multiple Boxing Day fox hunting meets this morning as supporters and anti-hunt protesters collided. One hunt supporter was arrested in Kent for GBH after a saboteur was left with a suspected broken eye socket. And in Wales, protesters narrowly avoided being trampled by spooked horses. Violence first erupted in Bassaleg, Newport, as dozens of horses came past, crashing into people as they were spooked by the shouting. In a video taken outside the Tredegar Arms pub, a man helping the horses and riders past the crowds becomes aggravated by a protester and shoves her. She retaliates by kicking him and a scuffle breaks out.

Mount Etna

Telegraph
A quake triggered by Mount Etna’s ongoing eruption jolted eastern Sicily before dawn Wednesday, slightly injuring 10 people and prompting frightened Italian villagers to flee their homes. Italy’s Civil Protection officials said the quake, which struck at 3:19 a.m., was part of a swarm of some 1,000 tremors, most of them barely perceptible, linked to Etna’s volcanic eruption this week. The quake struck north of Catania, the largest city in the eastern part of the Mediterranean island, but no injuries or damages were reported there. Italy’s national seismology institute said it registered a magnitude of 4.8 and occurred at a relatively shallow depth, 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) under the mountain’s surface. The temblor damaged some rural homes, including structures that had been abandoned years ago, toppled a Madonna statue in a church in the town of Santa Venerina and opened up cracks on a highway, which was closed for inspection, Rai state radio said.

Times
At least 28 people were treated in hospital after a 4.8-magnitude earthquake near Mount Etna shook them from their beds in the middle of the night. The quake, which struck at 3.19am yesterday, was the biggest since Europe’s largest active volcano began erupting on Monday, showering nearby villages with ash and temporarily disrupting flights at Catania airport. Six small towns on the flanks of the mountain suffered the most severe damage, including Pennisi, where the tremor toppled a church tower and a statue of Saint Emidio, a saint believed to provide protection against earthquakes.

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