Terror attacks

Star
BUCKINGHAM Palace will be given extra security measures during tomorrow’s Changing of the Guard following the Berlin terror attack. A no-drive zone will be extended as soon as tomorrow to protect the thousands of spectators who flock to watch the event, as well as the military personnel involved. Metropolitan Police said a start date for a three-month trial period of measures had been brought forward to tomorrow in light of the attack in Berlin. A suspected terrorist is on the run after ploughing a HGV into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital, killing 12 people and injuring dozens more.

Sky News
One of London’s most popular tourist attractions will be protected by strict road closures as police in the UK react to the attack in Berlin. Twelve people died after
a lorry ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital on Monday night in what is assumed to be a terror attack. It came just hours after Russia’s ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was shot dead at a photography exhibition in Ankara. On Tuesday evening, London’s Metropolitan Police announced that planned road closures for the Changing of the Guard outside Buckingham Palace would take place from Wednesday.

Telegraph
An intense manhunt was underway on Tuesday night for the perpetrator of the Berlin terror attack, as police warned he was still at large and could be armed and dangerous. Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) claimed responsibility for the attack in which a lorry ploughed through a crowded Christmas market in the heart of the city, leaving 12 dead and 49 wounded. The claim came less than two hours after the sole suspect in the case was released without charge as police admitted they had arrested the wrong man. A day that had begun with the killer believed to be in custody ended with the city on edge and heavily armed police patrolling the streets.

Breitbart
Many Christmas markets are closed in Germany today and police in the UK, France, Norway, Austria, Denmark, Italy, and other European nations are tightening security at festive events, with the terror threat at its highest level across much of the continent. At least 12 people died and dozens more were injured after a truck smashed its way through a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, last night in a suspected terror attack. A similar attack in Nice, France, in July saw 86 killed. Since then, security experts warned that Christmas markets were easy, soft targets with added symbolic value for jihadists. Just weeks before the Berlin attack the U.S. government warned its citizens in Europe it had “credible information” Islamic State and al-Qaeda were planning to attack Christmas celebrations on the continent.

Mail
Within the hallowed grounds of one of the most famous Christian buildings in England, the traditional Christmas nativity scene should have been a place of peace and tranquillity. But yesterday crowds who gathered to appreciate the sacred scene at Canterbury Cathedral were confronted by the fearful sight of armed police bearing assault rifles patrolling the manger where the figure of Baby Jesus lay. The extraordinary image offers a chilling glimpse of Britain braced for a possible terrorist attack just days before Christmas in the wake of atrocities in Berlin and Turkey. Security was stepped up dramatically around the UK yesterday after a total of 12 people were killed and 58 injured when a truck was driven into crowds at a Christmas market in Berlin, hours after a Russian Ambassador was assassinated in Turkey on Monday night.

Brexit

Independent
Theresa May has signalled some backing for a transitional period which allows business in the UK to adjust to Brexit. But the Prime Minister indicated that such an arrangement must not be used to delay Brexit or undertake further negotiations. Ms May told MPs on the Liaison Committee that she expects to complete withdrawal negotiations and set out future trading arrangements with the EU within two years after triggering Article 50. She also refused to explicitly commit at the hearing to giving Parliament a vote on the final Brexit deal that she negotiates. Asked about potential transition arrangements, she said: “When people talk about transition, often different people mean different things by transition. “There are some people who will talk about transition as a deliberate way of putting off actually leaving the European Union.

Express
MPS AND peers will not be allowed to block Britain’s final Brexit deal, Theresa May signalled last night. In a forthright warning to Remain campaigners, the Prime Minister refused to guarantee a parliamentary vote on the EU departure terms, expected to be agreed with Brussels over the next two years. Instead, the Commons and Lords will get opportunities to “discuss” details of the exit arrangements but not vote on them, she indicated. Her warning was another massive blow to diehard opponents of Brexit still clutching at hopes of halting the departure process at the 11th-hour. But it also means that, while MEPs in the European Parliament will get a chance to veto the final deal, MPs at Westminster will not.

Electoral fraud

Times
Voters will have to bring proof of their identity to polling stations for the first time next year as part of the government’s efforts to tackle electoral fraud. Pilot schemes in various areas of the country will require voters to show a driving licence, passport or utility bill before they can cast a vote. The plan, to be announced in the new year, follows a report by the former communities secretary Sir Eric Pickles. He claimed that “politically correct over-sensitivities about ethnicity and religion” had led to the state turning a blind eye to fraud in elections.

Mail
Voters will need ID to vote for the first time next year as part of a crackdown on electoral fraud. Downing Street has backed a report which warned that a culture of political correctness had led to the state turning a blind eye to abuses. In response to the inquiry by anti-corruption tsar Sir Eric Pickles, pilots will be set up in which voters will have to produce a document such as a driving licence, passport or utility bill to prove their identity. Sir Eric said it was ‘ridiculous that it is harder to take out a council library book than to pick up a council ballot paper’. The plans will be unveiled by the Cabinet Office early next year, Whitehall sources said.

Independent
From next year you will need to bring identification to the polling station in order to cast your vote, following the adoption of recommendations to crack down on electoral fraud. Traditionally, voters bring a polling card posted to their address, but a pilot scheme will be introduced next year in which a driving licence, passport or utility bill will also be required. Earlier this year, former cabinet minister Sir Eric Pickles produced a report into electoral fraud, following widespread corruption in Tower Hamlets, and concluded abuse of Britain’s electoral system was widespread.
Sky News reported that many of the recommendations in Sir Eric’s report will be adopted, with an announcement coming in the next few days.

Sky News
Voters will have to bring identification to polling stations for the first time next year, as part of a crackdown on electoral fraud. Sky News understands a series of pilots will be set up in which voters will have to produce a document such as a driving licence, passport or utility bill to prove their identity. Ministers have decided to adopt a series of recommendations contained in a hard-hitting report by former cabinet minister Sir Eric Pickles, who said he feared abuse of Britain’s electoral system was widespread.
Sir Eric said this summer that it was time for ministers to consider voter ID rather than relying on trust, saying it was “ridiculous that it is harder to take out a council library book than to pick up a council ballot paper”. The Cabinet Office will announce in the coming days that it will adopt many of his 50 recommendations. Voter identification is slated to be the centrepiece of the announcement, according to sources.

EU

Express
BRUSSELS officials have dismissed calls to tighten up checks on how MEPs spend taxpayers’ cash because it would be “too expensive”. Eurocrats said they cannot afford to hire the extra pen pushers to make sure that parties in the European Parliament are following spending rules. The shock admission will heighten anger over the EU’s chronic waste at a time when European populations have endured almost a decade of public spending cuts and wage freezes. It came to light after Danish MEP Rina Ronja Kari lifted the lid on the stunning largesse enjoyed by Brussels representatives, revealing how she alone costs taxpayers £560,000 a year. On top of her £83,000 basic salary the MEP receives £79,000 in food and travel allowances, £226,000 to pay her office staff and an eye-watering £113,000 to “promote her work at the EU” to voters back home.

Scotland

Express
NICOLA STURGEON today presented her Brexit proposals for Scotland ahead of the UK’s divorce talks with the EU. In a 50-page document titled “Scotland’s Place in Europe”, the Scottish Government has proposed a “differentiated” Brexit arrangement from the rest of the UK. The First Minister has insisted this will “respect the voice and protect the interests of Scotland” after 62 per cent of Scots voted to Remain in the EU on June 23. But what exactly is in Ms Sturgeon’s plan? The Scottish Government has insisted the “best option” for Scotland and the UK is remain in the EU but notes the “UK Government’s current position is to take the UK out of the EU”.

Star
NICOLA Sturgeon today insisted Scottish independence “must remain on the table” as she set out her demands for Scotland to defy Brexit. The First Minister claimed Scotland’s “best option” was to become “a full member of the EU as an independent country”. She called for the UK to stay in the single market and avoid a clean departure from the EU. The nationalist even blasted the government for being “intent on cutting immigration” despite the Prime Minister’s argument that there is a clear message from voters to tackle it. “There must be no Westminster power grab,” Ms Sturgeon warned as she outlined her paper on “Scotland’s Place in Europe”. “The proposals in this paper are detailed, serious and reasonable.

Strikes

Telegraph
Four thousand soldiers are standing ready to drive rail replacement buses during Southern Rail strikes as the Government prepares to circumvent union disruption. Ministers have been lobbied by Tory MPs whose constituents have been worst affected by the strikes to deploy soldiers to help drive commuters to work. Conservatives believe the move would be similar to the “green goddess” fire engines that were used in the past when fire-fighters went on strike. Tens of thousands of commuters could also be offered free car parking to compensate them for the financial impact of disruption, The Telegraph understands. Currently commuters who drive to the station are forced to pay up to £13 a day to park even if their trains are delayed by hours because of strikes.

Times
A strike set to cause misery for thousands of Christmas air passengers was called off last night, but rail commuters are being threatened with further walkouts in the new year. The RMT, one of the unions behind the cancellation of Southern Rail services, is threatening walkouts on London Underground early next year as a result of a dispute over job cuts. However, a proposed strike by baggage handlers and check-in staff at 18 airports across Britain was cancelled last night. The walkout was due to take place for 48 hours from Friday. About 1,500 members of the Unite union employed by Swissport were planning the action in protest at a pay offer of 4.65 per cent over three years.

ITV News
A wave of strikes by thousands of workers, hitting the rail, post and airline industries in the run-up to Christmas, are taking place for the second day. A strike at Crown post offices closed about 50 High Street branches on Monday, while action by Southern Railway staff continues. A series of disputes have flared over issues including jobs, pay, pensions and safety involving some of the country’s biggest trade unions. British Airways have said it plans to run a full service on Christmas Day and Boxing Day despite the impending strike by cabin crews.

Guardian
Conservative MPs have piled pressure on Downing Street to consider tougher action to end the strikes on Southern rail, with one politician tabling legislation that would change the rules governing industrial action. Chris Philp has submitted a private member’s bill that says strikes on critical national services, including rail, buses and the NHS, should have to be “proportionate and reasonable” in the view of a high court judge. The MP for Croydon South has argued that it is unfair for a dispute, which he describes as being about whether train conductors or drivers press a button that opens the doors, to have affected 300,000 commuters for a number of months. He has also suggested provisions that exist in Spain, Italy and Canada for services that means they will continue to operate at a 50% level during a dispute.

Foreign aid

Mail
More than £185million from Britain’s controversial overseas aid budget was lavished on India last year, it can be revealed – as ministers hand over another £54million. The world’s fastest-growing economy has sent a mission to Mars, boasts more billionaires than Britain and hands out millions to needy nations itself. But latest figures show India was given a staggering £185.4million by the UK last year. Some £53.8million is set to be handed over this year, with at least a further £64.8million in the following two years. Despite promises to concentrate UK aid on the poorest nations, India received Britain’s ninth-biggest handout. It comes after it emerged the UK gave China, the world’s second-largest economy, more than £44.6million last year. The row over foreign aid has re-ignited amid calls for the money to be spent on our social care crisis.

Guardian
A number of companies working on UK aid contracts have been told they have 30 days to provide details of their spending and tax status,
and set out how they comply with conflict-of-interest regulations, in a move designed to appease increasingly vocal overseas aid critics. The demands in a letter from the international development secretary, Priti Patel, come after one of Britain’s biggest aid contractors orchestrated the sending of supportive statements to MPs scrutinising their work. However, Patel was accused of double standards at an appearance before the Commons international development committee on Monday when she ruled out subjecting CDC, the controversial private sector arm of the UK’s aid programme, to the same set of demands on transparency and issues around executive pay.

Super volcano

Times
For palaeontologists, Lake Avernus is the broken heart of a 39,000-year-old supervolcano that left a crater eight-miles wide and may have helped to kill off the last of Europe’s Neanderthals. For Giovanni Chiodini and his colleagues it is something more troubling. They see signs that the long-dormant forces beneath it may be stirring once again 15 miles to the west of Naples. While the eyes of the world have been clapped on Vesuvius, 20 miles away on the other side of the Neapolitan sprawl, a caldera volcano known as the Phlegraean Fields could unleash a far more savage explosion.

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