Trade

Express
CONSERVATIVE MP John Redwood savagely blasted Remainers for not understanding the WTO rules in the House of Commons. The Brexiteer clarified the difference between our situation now with the WTO and what it will be like once the Brexit process is complete. He argued leaving the European Union would help the UK get “our vote and our voice” as well as more power.  Mr Redwood: “Sometimes I think the opposition doesn’t seem to understand that we are in the WTO through the EU anyway. “All of the EU is governed by WTO rules and the WTO court. “Yet they say we would be sacrificing control to go into the WTO. “That bit of it already applies to us! “What we get is our vote and our voice so we actually get some power.”

Sun
BORIS Johnson refused to budge on his trade deal red lines as he met the new EU chief for the first time yesterday. The PM told European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen there was no chance of Britain extending the transition period beyond 2020. Hours earlier she had said it would be “impossible” to seal a full trade deal this year. Mr Johnson said fishing rights would not be on the table, he would not sign to any partnership involving European courts, nor compromise on freedom of movement. At their No10 meeting, the PM also said Britain would not sign up to any deal that aligns the UK with EU regulations, though he did say we would not lower food or environmental standards post-Brexit.

Telegraph
Boris Johnson has said he is ready to negotiate a Canada-style Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. The Prime Minister met Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, in Downing Street on Wednesday, and said Britain is ready to start negotiations “as soon as possible” after Jan 31. It came hours after Ms von der Leyen warned it would be “basically impossible” to negotiate as close a relationship by the end of the year and that the two sides “will have to prioritise” objectives. In a speech at the London School of Economics morning she said there are “tough talks ahead” and added: “The truth is that our partnership cannot and will not be the same as before. And it cannot and will not be as close as before – because with every choice comes a consequence.

Guardian
Boris Johnson and the new European commission president have had a positive first meeting about the next round of Brexit talks in which they discussed their aspirations for a deal based on friendly cooperation, shared history and interests and values, Downing Street has said. Both sides made a concerted effort to put the bitter divisions of the past three years aside, with Ursula von der Leyen describing the meeting as the start of a new era of “old friends and new beginnings”. She called on both sides to focus on mutual interests and both leaders agreed there could be common ground on climate change, human rights and security.

Express
BORIS JOHNSON clashed yesterday with the European Commission’s new president as he warned her a Brexit trade deal with Brussels must be sorted by the end of the year. The Prime Minister told Ursula von der Leyen in Downing Street that he would not extend negotiations under any circumstances.  And he insisted a future trading partnership with the EU must not involve any kind of alignment or European Court of Justice jurisdiction.  Mr Johnson said the UK would also insist on maintaining control of UK fishing waters and immigration rules.

Times
Britain will find it impossible to negotiate a comprehensive and close future relationship with the EU by Boris Johnson’s  December deadline, the new head of the European Commission said yesterday. In a stark message to the prime minister, Ursula von der Leyen warned that the price of a clean-break Brexit  would be a distant partnership with the EU and new barriers to trade. She added that even this would be difficult to achieve without an extension to the transition period, which has been ruled out by Mr Johnson.

Express
NIGEL FARAGE has warned Ursula von der Leyen “the battle lines are set” after the European Commission President threw into doubt the possibility of a free trade deal between the UK and the European Union. The Brexit Party leader slammed the new EU chief after Ms von der Leyen indicated a free trade deal would only be available if the freedom of movement of EU citizens continued after Brexit. Speaking ahead of her meeting with Prime Minster Boris Johnson in Downing Street, the European Commission president suggested there would not be time to agree everything “without an extension of the transition period beyond 2020”. A furious Mr Farage, wrote on Twitter: “Von der Leyen has just made it clear the EU wants continued free movement of people and a ‘level playing field’ on regulations for any Free-Trade Agreement. “Boris wants ‘no alignment’. The battle lines are set. We must be tough this time.”

Sky News
Boris Johnson has told the new European Commission chief he will not extend the transition period beyond the end of the year in their first face-to-face talks. The prime minister sat down with  Ursula von der Leyen who took over the role from Jean-Claude Juncker last year, after she made a speech warning it would not be possible to sort out every aspect of Britain’s future relationship with the EU before the current deadline. Mrs von der Leyen warned that both sides will have to “prioritise” which elements are negotiated before the end of December 2020. This is when the Brexit transition period – the timeframe which both sides will use to try to strike a free trade deal – comes to an end.

Evening Standard
Boris Johnson was warned of Brexit‘s “consequences” while discussing the possibility of a free trade deal with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.  The prime minister has steadfastly stuck to his vow of attaining such an agreement – though Ms von der Leyen insisted “regulatory divergence” would hamper access to the EU’s internal market. After the pair met in Number 10 today, Mr Johnson tweeted: “When we leave the EU on January 31st, we will negotiate a new free trade agreement with our European partners and continue to work together as friends and sovereign equals to tackle the world’s greatest challenges.”

Mirror
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has issued a stern warning that the UK will lose full access to the single market after Brexit – without big concessions from Boris Johnson. She also spoke of the “very, very tight deadline” for any agreement during a speech in London indicating the UK would have to “prioritise”. But the European Commission indicated it was willing to offer “zero tariffs, zero quotas, zero dumping” but it would require compromises from the UK. A No. 10 spokesman said last night that the PM will reiterate his wish for an “ambitious” free-trade deal which can be concluded by the end of the year.

Telegraph
A new year, a new round of Brexit negotiations – only this time it is for real. That was the message from Ursula von der Leyen, the new European Commission president as she held her first meetings with Boris Johnson. The former German defence minister was not unfriendly, not at all, but she exuded none of the bibulous, backslapping bonhomie of her predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker.  If the previous rounds of negotiations have always been an act of deferral then, Ms Von der Leyen made clear, the next phase requires a series of real-world choices, with real-world impacts for both sides.

Express
BRITONS are livid at Guy Verhofstadt who launched a final desperate bid to wreck Brexit with a demand for Brussels to leverage power over Britain indefinitely. Furious voters took to special media to condemn the EU’s Brexit coordinator, who has made relentless attempts to not only derail Brexit but mock Britain’s bid for freedom from the bloc since the 2016 EU referendum. Today, it has been revealed the Belgian Eurocrat will use an MEPs vote on the withdrawal agreement to demand for Brussels to leverage market access in order to maintain freedom of movement between the UK and EU. Brexiteers took to Facebook to launch a scathing attack on him. One said: “They will try anything to keep our money rolling in. Well Boris if this is the way they want to treat us walk away on WTO. NO CONCESSIONS.”

Brexit

Independent
Boris Johnson‘s Brexit legislation is poised to clear its Commons hurdles on Thursday after months of knife-edge votes and parliamentary turmoil. Armed with an 80-strong majority, Mr Johnson decided to fast-track the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) through its remaining stages in the Commons in just three days, where it has faced little substantial opposition. If MPs vote to pass the bill unamended, as expected, the legislation will move to the House of Lords where the government has no majority – and could face a rougher ride from pro-European peers. The prime minister’s decision to strip out commitments in the bill to allow child refugees to reunite with their families has been branded disgraceful by opposition MPs, and is likely to prove a crunch point for peers. Labour peer Alf Dubs, who fled the Nazis on the Kindertransport when he was 6-years-old, had urged Tory MPs to back efforts to reinstate the protections in the Brexit legislation.

Labour Party

Mirror
Police have handed files to prosecutors in five alleged cases of Labour anti-Semitism, the head of Scotland Yard has revealed. The Crown Prosecution Service is probing the claims to decide whether to charge anyone with a criminal offence. The latest step emerged some 16 months after Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick was handed a dossier of alleged cases by LBC Radio. Reports at the time suggested the documents included details of 45 cases, including one which allegedly read: “We shall rid the Jews who are a cancer on us all.” Two men in their 50s and a woman in her 70s were arrested in March 2019, followed by a 44-year-old man in April.

Times
Sir Keir Starmer has won the endorsement for the Labour  leadership from Britain’s biggest trade union in a significant blow to Rebecca Long Bailey, his main rival on the left of the party. Unison, which has 1.3 million members, said that Sir Keir, 57, could bring Labour “back to the winning ways of the past”. Unite, the second-biggest union, is expected to endorse Ms Long Bailey, 40, posing a split over who should lead the party. The announcement came hours after Sir Keir, with the support of 23 MPs, became the first candidate to enter the next round of the leadership election. Candidates require the backing of 22 MPs or MEPs by Monday to make it to the second phase.

Guardian
Keir Starmer’s Labour leadership campaign has received a boost after he won the backing of the UK’s biggest trade union, Unison, and became the first person to get more than the 22 MPs required to become a candidate. The shadow Brexit secretary is all but certain to be one of the names put to a vote of the Labour membership, after Dave Prentis, the Unison general secretary, declared the union would be endorsing him. In another statement soon afterwards, Prentis said his union would back Angela Rayner to be the deputy leader, cementing her status as the favourite to win that role.

Independent
Keir Starmer has leapt into a big early lead in support from fellow Labour MPs in the party’s leadership race. The shadow Brexit Secretary has already secured 23 nominations – enough to put him on the ballot paper – leaving rival Rebecca Long Bailey  trailing badly with just seven. The leading leftwing candidate has only one more MP signed up than Jess Phillips (6), with Lisa Nandy (2) and Emily Thornberry (1) also struggling. The sixth candidate – another leftwinger, Clive Lewis – has yet to secure a single nomination, the first list released by the Labour party showed. The level of support at Westminster is not necessarily the best guide to who emerges as Labour leader – as Jeremy Corbyn’s astonishing grassroots triumph in 2015 proved.

Guardian
John McDonnell has been accused of using “Machiavellian” tactics to secure influence over the future of the Labour party after he rejected Rebecca Long Bailey’s preferred choice for deputy leader. McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, announced his decision on Wednesday to back Richard Burgon over Long Bailey’s ally Angela Rayner, despite being said to be Long Bailey’s mentor. Long Bailey, a contender for leadership of Labour, and Rayner, are flatmates and running on an unofficial joint ticket; both formed part of Corbyn’s inner circle and describe themselves as socialists. While McDonnell had said he would nominate Long Bailey for leader, his decision to back Burgon, the shadow justice secretary – who, like Long Bailey, is on the left of the party – has been described by one Labour source as a “slap in the face” for the latter.

HS2

Mirror
Boris Johnson is coming under growing pressure to push ahead with the controversial HS2 rail project – as long as he opens a high speed trans-Pennine line at the same time. Former Tory chancellor George Osborne – now a newspaper editor – said yesterday the major North-South line “must go ahead”. But he urged the Prime Minister to go further and sign off HS3 – a fast route connecting Northern cities from east to west. It comes amid fears that HS2 – which has ballooned in cost to £88bn – could be ditched after Mr Johnson called for Cabinet ministers to review spending.

Police

Times
Police are failing to comply with evidence disclosure rules in 80 per cent of cases, a watchdog has revealed, highlighting continuing concern over potential miscarriages of justice. The latest report from HM Inspectorate for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) found that although the police “almost always” used the correct disclosure forms, they were completed in full in only about 20 per cent of cases. Lawyers described the findings as a demonstration of “ongoing failings in core evidence-gathering and analysis”.

NHS

Telegraph
Patients are going blind because of long waits to see eye doctors, NHS investigators have warned, after a 34-year-old woman was left unable to ever see her baby. Watchdogs warned that 22 people a month are suffering severe or permanent sight loss, amid as the health service struggles to cope with rising demand.  The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) said delays across the NHS were having a “devastating” impact. Its report highlights the case of a mother of three, who was unable to properly care for her young children – and never saw her baby.

Sun
HUNDREDS of patients are being left to go blind due to long NHS delays, a damning report warns. A health watchdog claims 22 people a month are suffering sight loss waiting for critical eye treatment. The report by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch claims the NHS is struggling to deal with the growing number of patients with conditions such as glaucoma. It highlights the case of a 35-year-old mum-of-three who went blind after she suffered repeated appointment delays over 13 months. The unnamed woman has never seen her youngest daughter’s face and is unable to properly care for her children. But the NHS admits timely intervention to treat her glaucoma would have stopped her going blind.

Rail travel

Times
The prime minister criticised Britain’s underperforming rail network yesterday by suggesting that another private operator could lose its contract. Boris Johnson said that the “bell is tolling” for West Midlands Trains, which runs metro and intercity services. Andy Street, the Tory mayor of the West Midlands, said last week that he had lost all faith in the operator after delays, overcrowding and cancellations. West Midlands, which is run by the Dutch state-owned operator Abellio, has frozen fares this year to compensate passengers for poor performance. The government has already promised to terminate the contract held by Northern Rail, which is run by the German company Arriva, over timetabling problems and the late introduction of new trains.

Sun
BORIS Johnson has threatened to axe rail companies which fail to improve ailing services. The PM promised the bell was “tolling” for firms that have brought misery to ­millions of passengers. He warned that under-performing outfits could be stripped of their franchises. Mr Johnson said Northern Rail and “woeful” West Midlands Railway were in his sights after botched timetable changes led to cancellations and delays. He hit out after Labour MP Yvonne Fovargue urged him to strip Northern of its franchise. She said its “appalling catalogue of delays, overcrowding, cancellations and disruptions” had gone on “far too long”.

Mail
The Government is drawing up contingency plans to replace Northern Rail amid widespread traveller fury it its poor performance.  The Prime Minister revealed his ministers are looking at reforming the nationwide franchise system amid ongoing anger at high ticket prices in return for poor services. And Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to announce that Northern has officially breached its agreement with the Government –and could now be brought under the control of ministers.  It came as senior managers from Northern, TransPennine Express, Arriva and First Rail, which run services across the north of England, apologised for their recent performance.

BT

Times
The telecoms regulator has called on BT to commit to accelerating the introduction of faster broadband networks after it issued long-awaited proposals to increase competition in the industry. Ofcom yesterday launched a consultation on plans to encourage investment in full-fibre broadband infrastructure as it seeks to meet Boris Johnson’s election pledge to connect all the country’s homes “to gigabit speeds” by 2025. The consultation, which ends in April, will regulate BT’s Openreach broadband infrastructure network for the five years from April next year.

NATO

Times
President Trump won a pledge from Nato to consider a greater role in the Middle East yesterday as he looked to scale back US involvement after ruling out a military response to Iranian missile attacks. Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary-general, said in a phone call with Mr Trump that the 29-member alliance “could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism”, a Nato spokesman told The Times. The US president demanded in a televised address to the nation that Nato step up. He has pulled back from the brink of war with Iran after the rising tensions of the past fortnight.

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