Brexit

Telegraph
Boris Johnson will guarantee Britain fully leaves the EU with or without a trade deal by the end of 2020 as part of a beefed-up Brexit bill put to Parliament this week. The Prime Minister will use his huge majority to push through a radically altered bill that will prevent Parliament from extending the transition period beyond Dec 31 next year. Downing Street intends to hold a vote on the bill this Friday to give voters who backed the Tories an early Christmas present and keep up the momentum of last week’s landslide election win. It will also prove to voters that Mr Johnson has no intention of using his immense new power to pursue a softer Brexit, as some Leave campaigners had feared.

Independent
Boris Johnson has put the prospect of a no-deal Brexit firmly back on the table, by introducing a legal provision to bar him from extending negotiations on a trade deal with Brussels beyond the end of next year. The move was branded “reckless” by Liberal Democrat interim leader Sir Ed Davey, who warned it risked sending the UK “straight off the no-deal cliff”, threatening jobs, the environment and the NHS. The ban, to be included in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill tabled in parliament on Friday, will prevent the prime minister from buying extra time if trade talks are not completed within what most experts regard as an extremely tight timescale. Last week a leaked recording revealed  that Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, believed the timetable was “unrealistic”. He told MEPs: “We will not get everything done in 11 months.”

Guardian
Boris Johnson will attempt to mark his election promise to “get Brexit done” by writing into law that the UK will leave the EU in 2020 and will not extend the transition period. As MPs begin to be sworn in at Westminster on Tuesday, the prime minister’s team is working on amending the withdrawal agreement bill so that the transition, also known as the implementation period, must end on 31 December 2020 and there will be no request to the EU for a further extension.

Mirror
Boris Johnson will force MPs to keep a damaging “no deal” departure on the table when they vote for his Brexit plan this week.  The Prime Minister, who now has a Commons majority of 80, will legally ban the Government from asking for any extension. Although the divorce stage of Brexit will happen on January 31, the future relationship with the European Union is still up for discussion.

Reuters
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will use the prospect of a Brexit cliff-edge at the end of 2020 to push for the European Union to give him a comprehensive free trade deal in less than 11 months. In his boldest move since winning a majority in Thursday’s election, Johnson will use his control of parliament to outlaw any extension of the Brexit transition period beyond 2020. “Our manifesto made clear that we will not extend the implementation period and the new Withdrawal Agreement Bill will legally prohibit government agreeing to any extension,” a senior government official said on Tuesday.

Sun
BORIS Johnson will make it illegal to extend the Brexit transition period beyond the end of next year as he fired the opening salvo to the crucial trade talks with the EU. The PM will include the provision in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) when he brings it back to the Commons for the crucial vote on Friday. The WAB will finally implement Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal so Britain leaves the EU on January 31, triggering an 11-month ‘implementation period’ whereby EU rules will still apply here but the UK will have no role in making decisions.

Sky News
The Commons is sitting for the first time since the general election with Boris Johnson planning to beef up his Brexit legislation to outlaw a delay to the UK leaving the European Union. In a move that could make a no-deal Brexit more likely, the prime minister is radically altering the EU Withdrawal Bill to prevent parliament extending the transition period beyond the end of next year. After his thumping election victory, Mr Johnson now plans to use his huge majority to enshrine the 2020 Brexit date in law – with or without a trade deal – in the bill, which MPs will vote on this Friday.

Mail
Boris Johnson sent an emphatic signal to Brussels last night that he will not countenance any further delays to Brexit. Downing Street said the withdrawal legislation is being amended to rule out any extension of the transition period beyond December 2020. Officials also moved to scotch speculation that Mr Johnson could embrace a softer Brexit in the wake of his election landslide. His official spokesman said he would insist on a ‘Canada-style free trade agreement with no political alignment’ – abandoning the closer ties planned by Theresa May.

Times
Boris Johnson will redraw his Brexit bill this week to make it illegal for parliament to extend the transition period — a move that will put him in direct conflict with Brussels. In one of his first acts since the election, the emboldened prime minister will also drop concessions that he made to Remainers in the last parliament on areas including workers’ rights. But it is the new clause in the withdrawal agreement bill to outlaw an extension of the transition period beyond the end of next year that will be most eye-catching.

EU

Express
BORIS JOHNSON’S crushing general election win has sent warning signals across Europe ahead of crunch Brexit talks in the new year, a German MP has admitted. Franziska Brantne, spokewoman for Germany’s Green Party, has said the 80-seat majority win for the Conservatives has put British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a “strong position” and warned the bloc to be “prepared for the worst”.

Express
EUROPEAN UNION officials want to see the Brexit transition period pushed beyond the December 2020 deadline, arguing 11 months is simply not enough time to lay down the terms of a free trade agreement. The bloc’s stance is at odds with that of Boris Johnson, who has ruled out a longer timeframe and insisted the UK would have sufficient time to thrash out a deal with Brussels. Trade talks cannot legally start until the UK leaves the EU on January 31. This is looking more likely than ever due to the healthy majority secured by the Conservatives in last week’s election which paves the way for Mr Johnson’s deal to pass through Parliament.

Electoral reform

Mail
Three-quarters of Labour members want the party to support electoral reform and adopt proportional representation (PR) as a policy, new polling shows. A survey by YouGov found that 76 per cent supported the change, with just 12 per cent opposed and a further 12 per cent who said they did not know. The finding comes after the Conservatives won a large majority in last week’s general election with 43 per cent of the vote. Labour leadership hopefuls to replace Jeremy Corbyn will be laying out their policy stalls in the coming weeks and months.

Labour Party

Buzzfeed
Labour staffers are planning a bid for industrial action if Corbyn’s top aides are still in place in the new year. Party staffers are furious that some of Corbyn’s closest allies — including communications director Seumas Milne and Karie Murphy, who was seconded from the leader’s office to HQ to oversee the general election campaign — are still in place. Under the proposed timetable to replace Corbyn, a new leader would not be in place until the end of March, and party employees believe this means his staff will also stay on the payroll for another three months.

iNews
Labour was gripped by infighting over the party’s future direction as Jeremy Corbyn faced bitter recriminations following its general election drubbing. He has indicated he will stay for another three months until his successor is chosen, but is facing growing pressure to step down immediately. A deep split is also emerging over his successor with allies pressing for Rebecca Long-Bailey to become Labour’s first permanent woman leader – but opponents warned against picking a candidate who was “Corbyn without a beard”.

Scotland

Times
Scotland does not need the Westminster government’s permission to hold a second independence referendum, according to a senior nationalist MP. Stewart Hosie, the former SNP deputy leader, disputed the widely accepted notion that the Scottish parliament requires a transfer of power under Section 30 of the Scotland Act to hold an independence referendum. “We don’t need a Section 30 order to have a referendum but the Section 30 order is important because it then commits both sides to accept the result,” he told Sky News.

Mail
Nicola Sturgeon‘s strengthened SNP today flexed its muscled in Westminster as the party’s 47 MPs demanded a second referendum on Scottish independence. The SNP won 35 seats in 2017 but managed to secure 12 more at the general election last week – a surge which has bolstered Ms Sturgeon’s calls for a second breakaway ballot.   The party’s new group of MPs met this afternoon for a photograph and to send a clear message to Boris Johnson that they will not accept his refusal to allow another vote on splitting up the UK.

BBC News
Nicola Sturgeon will warn of the “new danger” posed by Boris Johnson’s government when she makes a statement at Holyrood later. She will urge those who oppose the Tories to “come together” in pressing for another independence referendum. This week the Scottish government will publish the “democratic case” for the transfer of power to hold such a vote. UK ministers are opposed to such a move and have said the 2014 vote should be “respected”. On the day of his election victory Mr Johnson told Ms Sturgeon he had an “unwavering commitment” to the union, while at the weekend Michael Gove insisted there was “absolutely” no prospect of a referendum in the next five years.

Guardian
A short walk from the Houses of Parliament, Scotland’s newest MPs gathered on Monday afternoon to celebrate another Scottish National party landslide. Many of the 47 MPs wore the party’s logo on their lapels, and others the party’s bright yellow on coats and scarves. “We stood on a clear and unequivocal platform of rejecting Brexit and giving the people of Scotland a choice over their future – ensuring Scotland’s future is in Scotland’s hands,” said Ian Blackford, their Westminster leader.

ITV News
Nicola Sturgeon will make the case for another vote on Scottish independence in response to the “new danger” posed by Boris Johnson’s government in a statement at Holyrood on Tuesday. The First Minster will invite people in Scotland to come together to back another referendum, for which she will tell MSPs there is growing support. This week will see the publication of the “democratic case” for the transfer of power to hold such a vote, as a number of Scottish Labour figures publicly questioned the party’s opposition to a second independence referendum.

Northern Ireland

Sky News
Health workers demanding pay parity with their counterparts across the UK are piling pressure on Northern Irish parties to restore devolution. “Less pay? No way!” was the chant outside Stormont as politicians made a fresh attempt to restore power-sharing government today. Three years after the collapse of the administration, the health service is in crisis with nearly 300,000 people on the waiting list for a consultant.

Yahoo News
The ongoing failure to restore powersharing in Northern Ireland is a shame on all the region’s politicians, Arlene Foster has said. The DUP leader urged rivals to come together to strike a deal to resurrect the devolved executive ahead of another round of talks in Belfast. The DUP and Sinn Fein go into the negotiations on the back of disappointing election results – with many interpreting the General Election as the public passing judgment on the parties’ failure to restore the Assembly. Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith will hold a round of bilateral meetings with the DUP, Sinn Fein, UUP, SDLP and Alliance Party at Stormont House on Monday morning, with a roundtable session with all the party leaders due later in the week.

HoL

Telegraph
Boris Johnson is planning to beef up the House of Lords with Brexit supporting experts to create a ‘working’ upper chamber, according to Tory insiders.  Lawyers, trade specialists and environmental gurus are expected to be elevated to the peerage in the coming days and weeks as the government seeks to strengthen its hand before passing more Brexit legislation through both Houses of Parliament. Among those tipped for promotion are Zac Goldsmith, the former Tory MP who lost his Richmond seat to the Liberal Democrats on Thursday, trade expert Shanker Singham, Brexit lawyer Martin Howe QC and Johnny Leavesley, a businessman who chairs the Conservatives’ Midlands Industrial Council donor group.

Farage

Con woman
IF WE leave the EU next month, as the Prime Minister promises, it is Nigel Farage who should take the credit. He is more responsible than anyone or anything else for this colossal achievement. Not since the ‘wind of change’ has the course of British political history been so changed by one man. Such thoughts are too easily forgotten after these last weeks when Johnson and Cummings ruthlessly took advantage of Farage’s principled decision to stand down half his candidates, giving the Conservatives a free run and securing their victory.

NHS

Express
THE CONSERVATIVES won large majority in the election on Friday, meaning Boris Johnson will remain as Prime Minister and the Tory manifesto will be implemented, but what does this mean for the NHS? As election results poured in through the early hours of last Friday morning, it became clear the Conservatives had won with a large majority. Boris Johnson’s party claimed 365 seats in the election, more than the 326 need for a majority.

Workers’ rights

Independent
Boris Johnson has fuelled fears that workers’ rights and environmental safeguards will be ditched after Brexit after the government watered down a promise to enshrine them in law. Downing Street suggested that the prime minister is no longer committed to pledges, made to MPs before the general election, to guarantee that standards will not be weakened when Britain leaves the EU. A promise that MPs would be given a vote on whether or not to extend the transition period at the end of 2020 to avoid leaving the EU without a trade deal has also been ditched and will not be included in a key Brexit bill to be reintroduced this week.

Defence

Times
Senior Conservative MPs have thrown their support behind a Downing Street plan to overhaul defence spending policies, declaring that the system is in need of a profound shake-up. Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s senior adviser, has told allies that he will make the complete reform of Ministry of Defence procurement a priority next year, The Times reported yesterday. He has described the ministry’s equipment acquisition processes as disastrous and criticised “mediocre” officials and alleged corruption. He has focused his criticism on the development of two aircraft carriers, deriding the £6.2 billion programme as a farce.

Mail
Boris Johnson‘s maverick aide Dominic Cummings is targeting a major overhaul of military spending, it emerged today. The Ministry of Defence’s procurement is expected to be a priority for next year after Mr Cummings previously described the systems as ‘a farce’. In blogs before he worked for the PM, Mr Cummings has bemoaned ‘mediocre’ officials at the department and criticised the £6.2billion cost of two aircraft carriers. He branded the project a ‘farce’ saying it had ‘has continued to squander billions of pounds, enriching some of the worst corporate looters and corrupting public life via the revolving door of officials/lobbyists’.

Education

Times
Universities have ignored calls from the government and regulators to stop making “conditional unconditional” offers, which are now given to one in four applicants. Although such offers are initially conditional on A-level results they become unconditional if the applicant makes that university their firm choice, meaning that the pupil does not need to achieve particular A-level grades. Ucas, the admissions service, said that 64,825 students, or 25.1 per cent of applicants, received at least one “conditional unconditional” offer this year, up from 53,355 (20.9 per cent) last year.

Mail
A record one in four university applicants was given an unconditional offer with ‘strings attached’ this year in a clamour to get them through the doors. Data from admissions body UCAS shows the proportion getting such offers rose by four percentage points – despite calls for their use to be curbed. The practice involves offering a pupil a guaranteed place regardless of A-level performance, provided the university is listed as first choice. It removes the incentive for pupils to work hard in their exams, and has led to accusations of ‘dumbing down’.

Climate change

Times
Britain’s success in phasing out coal to tackle climate change will be eclipsed by the expansion of coal-fired power in Asia over the next five years, according to the global energy watchdog. Coal will remain by far the biggest source of power supply worldwide in 2024, the year before Britain is due to close its last coal-fired power station. The global decline in coal-fired power this year was unlikely to be repeated in the next five years because of demand for cheap energy in Asia, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.

Times
Petrol and diesel cars will be completely banned from a city centre road under plans for Britain’s first 24-hour zero-emission street. Drivers of pure combustion engine cars will face £130 fines for entering the road in the City of London where levels of toxic air regularly exceed the legal limits. Electric and hydrogen vehicles that do not release any tailpipe emissions will be permitted. Hybrid vehicles that run on both a combustion engine and battery power will also be allowed provided they are capable of being driven in zero-emission mode for at least 20 miles.

Mail
The UK is set to get its first ever 24-hour zero-emission street. Transport chiefs in the City of London have backed plans to fine drivers of petrol and diesel cars £130 – although this could be reduced to £65 if paid within two weeks. The rules will be enforced on a 350-metre (383 yards) stretch of Beech Street – much of which runs under the Barbican Estate, pending approval by Transport for London. The route will be restricted to zero-emissions vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.

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