Illegal immigrants

Times
Scores of migrants were arrested on suspicion of working illegally in the UK during a crackdown targeting nail bars. Almost 100 people, including migrants from Vietnam, Mongolia and Ghana, were detained during a week-long operation last month. Fourteen migrants were identified as being at risk of modern slavery, including one 18-year-old youth found working illegally in Edinburgh. Two 17-year-old Vietnamese people also working unlawfully in the nail bar were referred to social services. In another raid in Greenford, west London, seven Vietnamese people and a Pakistani citizen, aged between 16 and 39, were found to have no right to work in the UK.

Mail
Nearly 100 people have been arrested in a crackdown on illegal foreign workers in nail bars. Some 97 men and women were seized during a blitz on salons that employ non-EU citizens who do not have permission to be in Britain. More than a dozen of those rounded up during a series of swoops were suspected of having been trafficked by organised gangs into modern slavery. A total of 68 businesses were warned that they face fines of up to £20,000 for every illegal worker. The majority of people arrested were Vietnamese. Others came from Mongolia, Ghana, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and India. A spate of recent cases have also shown how Vietnamese gangs use nail bars as a convenient legal ‘front’ for their activities including prostitution and cannabis cultivation.

Sky News
The UK Government and the country’s law enforcement agencies have vowed to make tackling modern slavery a top priority in 2017. More than £40m is being made available to fight a crime which is estimated to have 13,000 victims in the UK alone. In recent weeks, authorities have stepped up enforcement raids, targeting more than 280 nail bars across the UK. Andy Radcliffe, assistant director at the Home Office Immigration Enforcement Agency, said: “We know from intelligence that in nail bars there is a high instance of illegal working within these businesses. “This is in common with other cash rich sectors of the economy.” Mr Radcliffe said the raids lead to 97 arrests, with more than 60 businesses being served with notices warning them they now face fines. 
“Also, more importantly, we identified 14 individuals who may have been the subject of modern slavery,” he said.

Guardian
Nail bars have been targeted by immigration officers, leading to dozens of arrests as part of an operation last month, the Home Office has announced. Robert Goodwill, an immigration minister, revealed there has been a week-long operation that saw 97 people held, 68 businesses warned they could face fines and 14 people identified as potentially at risk of modern slavery. The majority of the people arrested were Vietnamese nationals, but there were also people from Mongolia, Ghana, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and India. The Home Office said those who are potential victims of trafficking will be offered support, while those who have no right to be in the UK will be removed.

Brexit

Express
HARDLINE EU bosses who want to “punish” Britain for Brexit have been made to look like fools after business leaders around Europe were invited to start talks with the UK. The campaign group Leave Means Leave has written to the Chambers of Commerce in all 27 other EU members to open up post-Brexit trade talks. t follows the former head of the German version of the CBI – Hans-Olaf Henkel – using an interview with the Daily Express to attack German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Commision President Jean-Claude Juncker for threatening to raise trade tariffs with the UK. He warned that tariffs will harm Germany and the EU more than Britain because the bloc risks losing a £30 billion trade surplus. In its Leave Means Leaves calls on the Chambers of Commerce to give their backing for a “sensible agreement regarding the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU”. The group will be embarking on a tour of many of these Chambers of Commerce in Europe in the New Year to reinforce the message that a zero tariff deal is mutually beneficial and that British businesses are partners in commerce.

BBC News
Campaigners for an early Brexit have asked business groups across Europe to put pressure on their governments for a free trade agreement with Britain. Leave Means Leave has written to the chambers of commerce in all the other 27 EU states, asking them to call for a “sensible agreement regarding the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU”. The letter warns that trade barriers would have a “detrimental effect”. It also calls for uninterrupted trade as well as near-zero tariffs. John Longworth, the former director general of the British Chambers of Commerce and co-chair of Leave Means Leave with his co-signatory of the letter, Richard Tice, said there are “many important elections taking place in EU member states” next year. “Businesses across Europe will want trade with the UK to continue as usual after Brexit and any hint of trade barriers by the European Commission will be rejected,” he claimed.

Mail
Theresa May could face another legal challenge to triggering Brexit unless she allows the House of Lords to vote on the issue. Gina Miller, who helped bring the case that saw the High Court rule the Commons must vote on invoking Article 50, said the Lords also needs a ‘proper debate’. Ms Miller said that if the Supreme Court rejects the Government appeal against the High Court ruling, Mrs May should not try and bypass the Lords. She told The Telegraph: ‘[There needs to be] proper debate in both houses and an act of Parliament. A resolution or a motion wouldn’t be debated in both houses.’ Such a move could present a major headache for Mrs May as the Government does not have a majority in the Lords. 
The Supreme Court is expected to announce its Article 50 ruling early in January. Any further legal move after that could impact on Mrs May’s plans to formally begin the Brexit process before the end of March.

Independent
The UK economy could benefit by £24bn a year – more than £450m a week – by leaving the European single market and customs union, a pro-Brexit pressure group has claimed. The Change Britain group said that the option – which it describes as “clean Brexit” – is likely to deliver annual savings of almost £10.4bn from contributions to the EU budget and £1.2bn from scrapping “burdensome” regulations, while allowing the UK to forge new trade deals worth £12.3bn. The group said its estimate was “very conservative” and that the benefits of withdrawal from the single market and customs union could be as much as £38.6bn a year. Even the lowest forecast within its range of likely outcomes was a boost of £20bn.

Guardian
A pressure group backed by a string of former Vote Leave campaigners from Michael Gove to Gisela Stuart has claimed that exiting the EU with a “clean Brexit” could save the country £450m a week. During the referendum campaign, Vote Leave controversially argued that leaving the EU would leave an extra £350m a week to spend on the NHS. But research from Change Britain goes a step further by arguing that a complete break with the EU could be even more beneficial. The group includes some former remain supporters but its founding members are largely made up of those involved in the Brexit campaign, including Tory former chancellor Nigel Lawson, Tory donor Peter Cruddas, Digby Jones, who is a former head of the CBI, and David Owen, the former Labour foreign secretary who went on to help found the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary and leading figure in Vote Leave, recorded a video supporting the group’s launch, although he is not formally affiliated.

Armed forces

Telegraph
The Armed Forces have begun secretly preparing for another round of defence cuts despite the recent boost in funding, The Daily Telegraph can reveal. 
Senior defence sources have disclosed that there is not now enough money available for the various spending commitments already made and therefore more savings are necessary. Last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which was supposed to fix defence plans for the rest of the decade, may have to be effectively reopened. David Cameron pledged to increase defence spending to the equivalent of two percent of GDP to meet Britain’s Nato commitments. However, the “increase” also meant that certain expenditure including pensions and UN peacekeeping are now included in the two-percent commitment – a move described as “creative accounting” by senior Mps. The fall in the value of sterling compared to the dollar has also meant that new American-sourced equipment, which has already been ordered, is significantly more expensive to buy.

NHS

Times
NHS hospitals earned millions of pounds more from car park charges last year despite a government pledge to crack down on trusts that profited from vulnerable patients. Hospitals across England made a record £120,662,650 from charging or fining patients, staff and visitors in their car parks in 2015-16. This is 5 per cent more than the year before and includes more than £600,000 in fines. Of the 89 trusts that responded to a Freedom of Information request, 27 gave details of fines, saying that they made £2,300,208 in penalty charges alone over a four-year period. Almost half of NHS trusts charged disabled people for parking in all or some of their available spaces, according to the Press Association research.

Sky News
NHS hospitals made more than £120m from car park charges in the past year, according to new figures. The Press Association asked 120 NHS trusts across England to give figures on parking charges and fines – 89 provided responses. 
More than half of those trusts are making more than £1m in car park fees every year, with almost half of them even charging disabled people to park in disabled spaces. Overall totals are likely to be higher, however, as some of the largest trusts did not provide figures for the 2015-16 year. These include Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which made £3,728,000 in 2014-15 and Royal Surrey, which raked in £1,421,172 during the same year. Many trusts said that some or all of the money was put back into patient care or spent on maintaining car parks or grounds.

Mail
Bedblocking is costing the NHS half a billion pounds a year, figures reveal. 
The rate at which patients are becoming trapped in hospital because of a lack of care at home has more than doubled since 2010. At the most recent count there were as many as 4,568 mostly elderly patients stuck on hospital wards. In 2015/16, bedblocking patients who were well enough to be discharged spent a total of 1,489,575 days in hospital. Each day costs an average of £306, meaning the NHS spent a total of £455,809,950 looking after these patients. Figures analysed by Labour show this money could have paid for 10,775 nurses at a cost of £42,300 a year, including salary and admin fees. Alternatively it could have funded 450,000 cataract operations, 41,000 hip replacements or 28,000 breast cancer treatments. The crisis is being blamed on a lack of social care funding which is causing councils to slash services such as home help, meals on wheels and nursing home provision. This is leading to elderly patients becoming trapped in hospital as they cannot be discharged until they can cope on their own.

Rail

Mail
The great Christmas shutdown on Britain’s railways looks set to continue into the new year, bringing more than a week of travel chaos to long-suffering rail users. The closures have already left Christmas shoppers facing frustration and high streets looking starkly empty on what is traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year. National Rail has scheduled more than 200 engineering works, with line closures on lines to major cities, including London, Manchester and Cardiff, with some set to last until January 2. Parts of the Tube will also shut down for repairs, and rail users in the south east will continue to be blighted by the ongoing Southern strikes. It could leave millions left stranded after visiting friends and family, with many organisations re-opening for business on Thursday after the final Christmas bank holiday on Wednesday.

North Korea

Star
KIM Jong-un’s killer nukes could be able to smash the US within just 12 months, according to shocking reports. The North Korean dictator has been beefing up his nuclear weapons, with experts debating how far they can travel. Daily Star Online exclusively revealed his nukes can hit Europe, as the world’s worst fears about the secretive state were confirmed. In October, North Korea carried out its sixth nuclear weapon test, just a month after sparking an earthquake by launching its biggest missile yet. The trigger happy ruler has sent nuclear fears around the world as satellite images emerge of intense activity around their underground test sites. According to the hermit state, its Musudan missiles has a maximum range of 4,000km — and would be able to smash the US homeland of Guam. 
More worryingly, analysis site 38 North claims the missile could be fully operational within a year.

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