Brexit

Express
TORY Brexiteers have rejected pleas from Theresa May to back her divisive deal – with prominent Leave supporter Sir Bill Cash making it his New Year’s Resolution not to back the Prime Minister’s terms. Mrs May used her New Year’s message to urge MPs to “put our differences aside and move forward together” by supporting her deal in the Commons. She said that accepting the Withdrawal Agreement when it comes before Parliament later this month would allow Britain to “start a new chapter” and see the country “turn a corner”. But her plea appears to have fallen on deaf ears among her pro-Brexit backbenchers as they restarted their opposition to the deal.

EU

Telegraph
Growing instability in the eurozone could trigger the break-up of currency bloc this year, a top think tank has warned. “Internal contradictions” would force the region to “integrate economically” or dissolve, the Centre for Economic and Business Research said in its annual predictions for 2019. “It is possible to defer the confrontation for a year or two but the boil will have to be lanced at some point since the Italians have clearly reached the point of austerity fatigue.” Meanwhile, the world’s largest asset manager said that European equities have not priced in the risk of a recession.

Labour Party

Telegraph
Tens of thousands of Labour members could be prepared to quit the party if Jeremy Corbyn does not back a second referendum, new research has found. Jeremy Corbyn is facing further pressure to back a second Brexit referendum after polling showed support among Labour members for another vote. The Labour leader has resisted calls from within his party to back a referendum, instead calling for a general election and promising to strike his own Brexit deal with Brussels. But a study of more than 1,000 Labour members found that 72 per cent want Mr Corbyn to throw his weight behind another referendum in Britain’s EU membership.

Express
PRESSURE is mounting on Jeremy Corbyn to throw his weight behind a second Brexit referendum after a new poll suggested nearly three quarters of Labour members are in favour of a ‘People’s Vote’.  A study of more than 1,000 members found that 72 percent want him to publicly support a re-run of the 2016 poll. And the research suggests that tens of thousands of Labour members could be prepared to quit the party over the leadership’s approach to leaving the EU. The results come as Mr Corbyn continues to resist calls from within his party to back a second referendum on Theresa May’s divisive deal ahead of a crucial vote later this month. The Labour leader is instead pushing for a general election and promised he would return to Brussels and strike more favourable divorce terms with the EU than those negotiated by Mrs May. But the poll suggests a majority of party members and non-members who have voted for Labour in the past are opposed to this stance.

Times
Three quarters of Labour members want Jeremy Corbyn to back a second referendum on Brexit, as a survey shows that the Labour leader has suffered a marked drop in his support over the past eight months. A YouGov poll of 1,034 Labour members, who pay annual subscriptions and can vote in leadership contests, found that 72 per cent supported a second referendum while 18 per cent did not. Six per cent said that they did not know. The poll for Queen Mary University of London and Sussex University was conducted between December 17 and 21 as part of a project by the Economic and Social Research Council on party members.

Independent
Labour members overwhelmingly back a fresh Brexit referendum, a new study has found, piling further pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to do the same. As many as 72 per cent of card-carrying party loyalists want the Labour leader to throw his weight behind a Final Say public vote – and 88 per cent would back Remain if it takes place. The researchers warned Mr Corbyn his own supporters would turn against him if he continued to oppose another referendum, as he did a few days before Christmas. Around 16 per cent said they had considered quitting Labour because of its pro-Brexit stance – a proportion equivalent to around 88,000 members, according to the analysis. “Our survey suggests Labour’s membership is overwhelmingly in favour of the UK remaining in the EU and badly wants a referendum to achieve that end,” said Professor Tim Bale, of Queen Mary University London. “Labour’s grassroots clearly hate Brexit and, although many of them still love Corbyn, he might not be able to rely for much longer on their support for him trumping their opposition to leaving the EU.”

Guardian
Labour members are significantly more opposed to Brexit than Jeremy Corbyn is, with 72% of them thinking their leader should fully support a second referendum, according to a study of attitudes in the party. The polling, part of an ongoing wider academic study into attitudes in various parties, found that only 18% opposed Labour campaigning for a second referendum, while 88% would then opt for remain if such a vote was held. Official Labour policy is that a second referendum could potentially be considered if there is not a general election. However, Corbyn is publicly lukewarm on the idea, and prompted dismay among some party activists last month by saying he expected Brexit to happen even if Labour won a snap election.

House of Lords

Mail
The House of Lords should reduce the number of peers who are ‘passengers’ and contribute little or nothing to politics, Norman Fowler has said. Lord Fowler – who as Lord Speaker chairs debates in the upper house – insisted the majority of peers are actively involved. But in scathing remarks, the former Tory cabinet minister said there were cases where new peers decided after a few days they were ‘in the wrong place doing the wrong thing’. Lord Fowler, who has been Lord Speaker for the past two years, is leading efforts to dramatically reduce the membership of the Lords. With nearly 800 members it is the second largest legislative assembly in the world, after China’s National People’s Congress. Members of the Lords can claim a £305 tax-free allowance each day just for turning up – even if they do not contribute.

Guardian
The House of Lords needs to reduce the number of “passengers” who contribute little to the upper house, an issue caused in part by the mass creation of life peers under Tony Blair and David Cameron, the Lord Speaker, Norman Fowler has said. The Thatcher-era cabinet minister who has been Speaker for the past two years is at the centre of efforts to slim down what he believes is a bloated chamber, from its current near-800 to a planned ceiling of 600. In an interview with the Guardian, Fowler said that while the majority of peers contributed significantly to the chamber, factors such as a lack of screening for political appointees meant some new arrivals had little idea of what their role entailed.

Trade

Telegraph
Britain might not have an empire but its critics should stop “under-estimating” its global influence as the country prepares to leave the European Union, Jeremy Hunt will say in a major speech in Singapore. The Foreign secretary will say that the UK will open a new mission in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta to promote trade links with countries in the Far East as it engages more with countries outside the EU. Mr Hunt, a contender to succeed Theresa May as leader, will stress that the UK needs to be “realistic about our global position”.  However he will add: “That means not overestimating our strength but not underestimating it either. We are not a superpower and we do not have an empire.

English Channel

Telegraph
The UK Border Force is risking collisions in the Channel, say experts, as it is claimed their vessels are acting in an “unseaman-like” manner by turning off tracking systems. Merchant shipping operating on autopilot in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes often rely on the location devices as their “only means of anti-collision”. The Border Force cutters operating off the Kent coast have potentially risked collision by failing to use the internationally-recognised Automatic Identification System (AIS), which alerts fellow seafarers and coastal authorities of their location, route and other safety-related information to aid safe passage at sea.

Sun
SEVENTEEN Iranians were being quizzed by French police last night after they tried to steal a fishing boat to sail to Britain. The group, including a woman and her two young children, broke into the bridge of the trawler and tried to hotwire it. They were seen at around 9.30pm on New Year’s Eve in Boulogne sur Mer, 20 miles from Calais. Extra patrols and CCTV had been installed around the harbour after owners reported an increase in boat thefts in recent days. A police spokesman said: “The group were trying to start the engine and it’s obvious they wanted to get to Britain.

Times
French police caught 14 migrants trying to steal a trawler in Boulogne on New Year’s Eve, prompting calls from Conservative MPs for ministers to put pressure on the French authorities to do more to prevent Channel crossings. Sajid Javid, the home secretary, will go to Dover this week to take charge of the situation. He has recalled two Border Force cutters from Gibraltar and the Aegean to patrol the Channel but it is expected to be weeks until they can get there. The migrants, who were said to be helped by people smugglers, were “busy breaking into the trawler” when harbour authorities called the police, Pascal Marconville, the state prosecutor, said.

Mail
French police caught 14 migrants trying to steal a fishing trawler in the Channel port of Boulogne, a local prosecutor said Tuesday. The group of migrants were said to have broken into the boat, called the ‘Caprice des Temps’, and attempted to hotwire it at around 9.30pm on New Year’s Eve. It was the latest in a string of incidents in which migrants have tried to use French vessels to attempt the Channel crossing to England. ‘Those seeking to help them on their way were busy breaking into the trawler’ to let them aboard when harbour authorities called police, Pascal Marconville told AFP.

Forced marriage

Times
Young women who are sent abroad by their families for forced marriages are charged by the Foreign Office for the cost of rescuing them, The Times can reveal. The department helped to repatriate 27 victims of forced marriage in 2017 and 55 in 2016, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show. British victims who call for help are told that they have to find hundreds of pounds for their flight home, basic food and shelter. Any who are over 18 and cannot pay are made to sign emergency loan agreements with the Foreign Office before boarding their flight home and have their passports confiscated until they repay.

Sun
YOUNG women sent abroad by their families for forced marriages are being charged up to £740 by the government to be rescued, a disturbing investigation has revealed. British survivors are being told by the Foreign Office that they will have to stump up the money for their flight home, as well as for basic food and shelter. Figures released under Freedom of Information show the the department helped to repatriate 27 victims of forced marriage in 2017, and 55 in the previous year. Despite the help, an investigation by The Times reveal how victims were on occasions left “destitute” once back in Britain. Four young British women sent by their parents to a “correctional school” in Somalia were charged £740 each to come home after they were chained to walls, whipped with hosepipes and told they would be forced to get married. Of these four, two were living in refuges, and two have become drug addicts since returning to the UK while unable to pay back the fines.

Sky News
Young women rescued by the Foreign Office after being sent abroad for forced marriages have found themselves having to pay hundreds of pounds in costs linked to their return to the UK. Victims must pay for their plane ticket, food and shelter themselves – or, if they are over 18 – they can take out emergency loans from the government, according to an investigation by The Times. Women who have taken out loans have had their passports cancelled, and were told they cannot get a new one until the debt is repaid. A 10% surcharge is also added if the emergency loan is not repaid within six months.

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