Brexit

Express
BRITAIN will reject the European Union’s transitional deal offer as Theresa May will refuse to accept ongoing free movement from across the bloc and continual Brussels rule-making. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, ordered Britain to accept “all decisions” of the EU during a two-year transition period if it wanted a trade deal, but would have no say over any new and existing laws that are brought in. The bloc’s official negotiating stance, published on Monday and reportedly taking two minutes to complete, states that freedom of movement must continue until the end of the transition period, which the EU wants to end on December 31, 2020. Such a move would mean Britain will still be under the thumb of the European Court of Justice, with no powers to vote against new laws in the European Parliament.
Eurosceptics insist this would turn Britain into a “vassal state” of the EU during transition, and the Government’s negotiators will be told to reject both ideas when they begin talks on February 5.

Express
PHILIP Hammond is pushing “Project Fear Mark 2.0” and is hiding behind a cross-Government review to undermine the UK’s departure from the EU, according to furious Eurosceptic backbenchers. A controversial official report has been leaked claims the UK will be worse off outside the EU in every scenario has sparked a furious backlash. The leader of a group of Eurosceptic Conservative MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “It’s the thin gruel of Project Fear reheated and served back to the British people. “We wouldn’t eat it for breakfast and now we’re getting it for lunch. The Chancellor is continuing to freelance and being a more successful opponent of Government policy than Jeremy Corbyn.” 

Sun
GLOOMY leaked Brexit reports which say Britain will be worse off after Brexit are a bid to “undermine our EU exit” and are using predictions that are “always wrong”, a minister has stormed. Steve Baker lashed out after a Brexit impact assessment claims Britain will suffer in every scenario when Britain leaves the European Union – but that a US trade deal will boost growth. The Brexit minister said today that the work done so far was “not anywhere near being approved by ministers”. He told MPs in the Commons that it did not consider the “most ambitious trade relationship with the EU” the Government was seeking, and hit out at the media for putting the pessimistic leak out there.

Telegraph
A government minister launched an attack on his own civil servants today, accusing them of producing a substandard analysis of the economic impact of Brexit. In a statement to parliament, Steve Baker, the Brexit minister, revealed that he had not seen an internal government document, due to be presented to cabinet ministers, setting out the predicted effects of different models under which Britain could leave the EU. The document, which was leaked to BuzzFeed News, concluded that even if the UK was able to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, growth in the UK would be 5 per cent lower over the next 15 years.

Times
Brexiteer ministers last night accused Britain’s most senior civil servant of conspiring with the Treasury to produce an unauthorised and “flawed” analysis highlighting the risks of cutting economic ties with the European Union. In a public attack Steve Baker, the Brexit minister, disowned a leaked government document warning of the economic damage that would be caused by a “no deal” or limited free trade agreement with Britain’s biggest trading partner. He told the House of Commons that the paper, due to be briefed to cabinet ministers this week, required “significant further work” and was “not yet anywhere near being approved”.

Westmonster
Brexit legend Jacob Rees Mogg has rubbished leaked government forecasts that have been branded ‘Project Fear Mark 2’. Mogg brushed off the document, saying it was “simply wrong”. “You need to look at the record of these forecasters… the Treasury’s official forecast said that simply a vote to leave the European Union would lead to an increase in unemployment by 500,000-800,000.” “The Bank of England’s forecasts that David Davis went through at a recent meeting of the exiting the European Union select committee after the vote to leave, the immediate impact were wrong on every single count.” “This is a forecast for 15 years,” he says, adding: “based on a variety assumptions that have proven wrong in the past.” Mogg counters the document’s scaremongering by referencing Patrick Minford, an economist at Cardiff University who came up with “very different forecasts” based on the UK being able to open its markets and move to freer trade with the wider world, which he says will lead to a “huge opportunity for economic growth.”

Order-Order
The new Treasury-led Brexit forecasts have to be read in the context of their record at predicting what would happen in the immediate aftermath of a Leave vote. The HMT prediction for GDP 3 months after the referendum was that 
“the UK economy would fall into recession” and contract up to -1%. It grew +0.5% in this period. The Treasury told us: “The analysis shows that immediately following a vote to leave the EU, the economy would be pushed into a recession, with four quarters of negative growth.” The reality has been positive growth every single quarter since. HMT forecast that in the two years following a Leave vote GDP would fall between -3% and -6%. GDP grew by 1.9% in 2016 and 1.8% in 2017, with better than expected growth in the final quarter. There is now no recession forecast.  On unemployment, they infamously said it would rise by between 500,000 and 820,000 in the immediate aftermath of the referendum. Unemployment fell again last week to a four-decade low.

Telegraph
A controversial Brexit forecast by senior officials makes “astrology look respectable”, a senior minister has said as Philip Hammond and the Britain’s most civil servant were accused of orchestrating the gloomy analysis. An official report which found that Britain will be worse off outside the EU in every scenario modelled was leaked, prompting a  furious backlash from Eurosceptic MPs and ministers.  The cross-Whitehall analysis found that economic growth would fall by 5 per cent over the next 15 years if the UK left with a free trade agreement and 8 per cent if the UK left without a deal. It stated that even if the UK retains access to the Single Market, growth would still be 2 per cent lower. 

Independent
Theresa May has promised she will publish an economic impact analysis of the final Brexit settlement she agrees with the EU, so that Parliament is “fully informed” before voting on the deal. The Prime Minister made the pledge after a leaked document indicated the UK will be worse off outside the European Union with or without a trade deal, than it would if it stayed in. Speaking to reporters on the way to an important trade visit to China, Ms May argued the leaked paper was a “very preliminary” analysis and had not tested the specific scenario she is seeking. Asked by 
The Independent if she accepted it showed Britain would be worse off outside the EU under every scenario tested, Ms May said it would be wrong to describe the document as “the” Brexit impact assessment.

ITV News
The leaking of economic analysis that showed Brexit will leave the UK worse off no matter what future deal is struck with the EU was “an attempt to undermine Brexit”, a government minister has said. Steve Baker said the leaked report, seen by 
BuzzFeed News, was “not what is formerly known as an impact assessment”. The government has faced calls to publish the analysis, with Labour’s shadow Brexit minister Keir Starmer raising the issue as an urgent question on the issue in the House of Commons. Prime Minister Theresa May sought to play down the leak, telling the weekly meeting of Cabinet that the paper represented “initial work” by officials which had not been signed off by ministers. 

Breitbart
Pro-Brexit MP Philip Davies has just laid into the pro-EU establishment, hitting out at “London-centric Remoaners” who are now “regurgitating some dodgy figures in order to try and reverse the result of the referendum”. It comes after some highly-questionable Brexit economic forecasts, branded ‘Project Fear Mark 2’ were conveniently leaked to BuzzFeed. Davies has hit back, saying in Parliament: “We have here some London-centric Remoaners which could be a way of describing the Shadow Secretary of State who…in the civil service didn’t want us to leave the European Union in the first place and put together some dodgy figures to back up their case, who still don’t want us to leave the European Union and are regurgitating some dodgy figures in order to try and reverse the result of the referendum.” 

Mail
A Tory former Cabinet minister has spoken of his ‘horror’ over Brexit and warned the EU was ‘devouring’ his party as Remainers railed against the flagship EU bill during the first day of a marathon 48-hour debate. Arch Europhile Lord Patten of Barnes slammed his hand down and declared ‘I hate referendums’, branding them ‘appalling and a sin against parliamentary democracy’. He said the EU referendum had been triggered to ‘manage’ the Tory party and it ‘blew up’ in the Government’s face. Lord Patten said the ‘great sphinx’ of EU membership was making ‘a pretty good job of devouring the Conservative Party’. 

Express
UNELECTED peers are trying to undermine democracy and stop Brexit by opposing the EU Withdrawal Bill, a member of the Lords warned yesterday. Fears were raised about the intentions of the Remainer-dominated Upper House as members debated the second reading of the Bill.  With 190 peers listed to speak, only a handful supported Brexit, while senior Labour peer Lord Foulkes revealed plans to ignore the will of the people in the historic EU referendum vote.  He said: “I make no apology for restating what I have said before that I Lord Adonis is a leading Remainer do not accept in a parliamentary democracy that an advisory referendum is binding.”  

EU

Telegraph
Germany is greatly understating the true size of its current account surplus in order to deflect mounting global criticism, according to an exposé by German economists. The annual surplus in ‘real’ terms – the figure that matters in trade relations – may be as much as €80bn (£70bn) higher than the sum declared by the statistics office and submitted to international bodies. “They’re cooking the books so that the surplus does not look as if it is increasing. What they are doing is a form of ‘political smoothing’, but very few people understand this,” said Professor Heiner Flassbeck, Germany’s former state-secretary of finance and now at Hamburg university. 

Mail
Baffled Brexiteers slammed the German ambassador today after he claimed Britain voted to quit the EU because it was obsessed with World War Two. Tory MP Henry Smith told MailOnline he had never heard anyone who campaigned for Brexit mention the war.  Germany’s outgoing ambassador Peter Ammon, who leaves his post in London this week, made the bizarre claim in a newspaper interview.  Mr Ammon claimed Brexit was fuelled by the image of the British standing alone against the Nazis during the Second World War. Mr Ammon said the decision to leave the EU was ‘a tragedy’ – and warned that Britain had ‘illusions’ about what could be achieved in negotiations with Brussels

Pollution

Independent
A Government minister has received an in-person dressing down from Brussels over the UK repeatedly breaking the law by failing to crack down on deadly air pollution. The UK was one of nine polluting countries summoned to the EU capital on Tuesday to explain to commissioners why they had continued to let unsafe levels of pollution strangle their cities. Recent studies have found that around 40,000 early deaths are caused by air pollution in Britain every year, with some streets reliably breaching their annual pollution limit every year in the first few days of January. 

Mail
Ministers have been told by Brussels they must draw up plans to reduce air pollution within days or face legal action. The EU rebuked Britain yesterday for failing to improve air quality in cities and warned that more deaths will occur without urgent action. After years of falling short of safety standards, the UK was given a ‘final chance’ along with eight other countries. Environment Secretary Michael Gove will be expected to present solutions to the EU by February 5. Brussels said a case would be sent to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) if the response is deemed weak, potentially leading to a large fine. Nitrous dioxide fumes, predominantly from diesel vehicles, are linked to an estimated 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK as well as health problems such as heart disease. 

Labour Party

Mail
Union baron Len McCluskey said Labour MPs should vote against any Brexit deal in a bid to topple Theresa May‘s government. The Unite leader, known as ‘Red Len’ for his hard-left views, suggested the national interest in getting a good deal should be sacrificed in the scramble for power. Mr McCluskey, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, said he hoped the Brexit deal will be voted down by MPs this autumn, triggering a fresh election. He said this would allow Labour to swoop in and seize control of No10 and usher in a totally new era of politics.  Speaking at a Resolution Foundation event in London today, he said: ‘The one important thing for me, the one thing I think all progressive left people should be concentrating on is removing this government. ‘That should concentrate all our minds. How quickly can we remove this Government?

Development

Times
Property developers are set to lose planning permission on unused land if they fail to hit construction targets under moves to kickstart housebuilding. Britain’s biggest developers, nimbys and landowners can expect a “muscular” approach to drive up the supply of new homes, including greater use of compulsory purchase powers, Sajid Javid, the housing secretary, said. A review into land-banking is expected to recommend “use it or lose it” planning permissions in the spring. It could also open the way for new charges on land that rockets in value after being approved for development. 

NHS

Guardian
The Conservatives should promise a referendum on raising NHS spending so the public can say how much more they are willing to pay for health services, the former deputy chair of the party, Robert Halfon, has said. Halfon, who sat in cabinet under David Cameron, suggested Theresa May could legislate for a public poll on NHS funding every 10 years to determine how much to increase spending on healthcare above inflation. His intervention comes as May faces growing calls from Conservatives to deal with the intense pressure on the NHS which is causing strain on beds, waiting times and ambulance services across the country.

Telegraph
The NHS will put its most vulnerable patients on digital ‘suicide watch,’ as part of a national mission for “zero suicides” in hospitals. The Health and Social Care Secretary will today outline new plans to improve patient monitoring, and ensure faster action when warning signs are detected, in a bid to tackle the leading cause of death in young men. Jeremy Hunt said every mental health trust will be instructed to draw up detailed plans to achieve zero suicides, starting with those inpatient settings, as part of a £25m drive. One in four suicides in England occurs among those in contact with mental health services.

Mirror
The Tories have officially backed a controversial report which critics fear could lead to the biggest sell-off of NHS property in history. The Naylor Report recommended selling around £2billion of “surplus land” owned by the health service to build 26,000 homes. It attracted grave concern from campaigners when Theresa May suggested she would back it last summer. And today, health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy gave the report the official government seal of approval. Nearly a year on from its publication, the Tory peer said today: “The Government welcomes the review and its recommendations, which we will implement in conjunction with national partners and the NHS.”

Times
Gangs have bribed or tricked chemists into pushing tens of millions of prescription medicines onto the black market, an investigation has found. Drugs worth between £115 to £200 million were diverted from Britain’s protected prescription system over three years and sold mostly online, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said. Forty-one people have been arrested in investigations by the drugs regulator, including five pharmacists who have been suspended from practice. Criminals are believed to have posed as genuine dealers and in some cases offered money for pharmacists to order them drugs which can only legally be sold by specialists. The agency was alerted to significant diversion of the drugs in 2016 and had 19 active investigations last year.

Mail
Thousands of British cancer patients are dying early because  NHS  survival rates are trailing behind the rest of the world, a report has found. The largest study of cancer survival ever conducted puts the UK towards the bottom of global league tables for several common cancers. Health charities last night called for urgent action to close the ‘appalling’ and ‘unacceptable’ gulf with other nations, blaming slow diagnosis and poor treatment. While British cancer survival has improved slightly over the past 20 years, the country is being left behind by huge advances in other countries. The study, published in The Lancet medical journal, analysed the records of 37.5million patients with 18 of the most common cancers, comparing survival rates for 71 countries.

Times
Britain has failed to narrow a cancer survival gap behind the best in the world, according to a global study that suggests that thousands of lives are being lost to mediocre care. Despite improvements in survival rates over the past 15 years, British patients still die of cancer earlier than those in other rich countries that are improving just as fast, according to data on 37 million patients in 71 countries. As well as trailing the world leaders in Scandinavia, the US, Canada and Australia, for some cancers Britain is doing worse than Latin American countries such as Brazil and Costa Rica. A shortage of doctors, technology and money still hold the NHS back while repeated reorganisations mean that the health service struggles to focus.

Inheritance tax

Telegraph
Parents and grandparents who want to help younger generations on to the property ladder could receive a tax break after the Chancellor ordered a review into inheritance tax.  The review by the Office for Tax Simplification could lead to a radical shake-up of the inheritance tax rules and dramatically lower the age at which people tend to inherit life-changing sums.  At present annual sums of £3,000 can be gifted tax free, but money given away which totals more than this could be subject to 40 per cent inheritance tax.   This threshold has been frozen since 1981 when it would have been comfortably covered the deposit on a first house. Today it would take more than seven year’s worth of tax-free lifetime gifts to fund an average deposit. 

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