Project Fear

The Prime Minister is still trying to persuade her MPs to back her, says the Telegraph.

Theresa May has been accused by senior Tories of trying to scare MPs into backing her EU Withdrawal Agreement with an “apocalyptic” vision of what would happen in a no deal Brexit.
In a report aimed at debunking “myths” about leaving the EU on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms, Lord Lilley, the former trade secretary, said the Government was trying to “play up the supposed horrors” of leaving the EU ahead of this month’s Parliamentary vote on the deal.

And following a truce over the holiday period, things are back to normal in Parliament, reports the Sun.

HARDLINE Tory Brexiteers binned a Christmas truce with Theresa May by accusing No.10 of talking up the “horrors” of a No Deal to spook MPs into backing her.
Lord Lilley – knighted by the PM last year – said Government was being “extraordinarily irresponsible and self-contradictory” in a staggering attack backed by Eurosceptic backbenchers.
It came as Theresa May spoke with European Commission chief Jean Claude Juncker in a desperate bid to prize concessions out of Brussels ahead of a crunch vote on her Brexit deal on January 15th.

She is still trying to sell her deal, reports the Mail.

Theresa May is set to offer MPs a ‘double lock’ on her Brexit deal in a last-ditch bid to reassure them the UK could not be trapped in a customs union indefinitely.
The Prime Minister is pursuing two safeguards designed to ensure the controversial Irish ‘backstop’ could not last for more than 12 months.
The drive is the focus of efforts to turn around a massive Tory rebellion ahead of a crunch vote this month on the PM’s Brexit deal.
But Government sources last night acknowledged the initiative would require more EU concessions than Brussels has so far been willing to grant.

A suggestion that MPs could vote, vote and vote again on the PM’s deal until they approve it could be quashed by the Speaker, claims the Express.

JOHN Bercow could sabotage Theresa May’s Brexit deal if it fails in the Commons, it has been revealed.
In less than two weeks, MPs will be voting on a crunch Commons vote on the PM’s deal, with allies warning Parliament will be made to vote “30 times” until they pass the deal.  However, many opposed to the deal are urging the Speaker to prevent a second Commons vote on the deal from happening if it doesn’t pass. The Commons rulebook states MPs should not be made to vote again on a question that is “substantially the same on which their judgement has already been expressed”.

The Guardian reports a conversation between the PM and the president of the European commission, but without any details.

Theresa May has spoken to Jean-Claude Juncker as part of her effort to obtain further written reassurances that the Irish border backstop in her Brexit deal would never come into force.
The phone call between the prime minister and the European commission president on Friday was described by Brussels as “friendly” but Downing Street refused to provide any further details, as May struggles to break the Brexit impasse.
She is still hoping to obtain additional clarifications over the backstop before MPs vote on the deal in the week of 14 January.

She may get minor ‘assurances’ says the Times.

Cabinet ministers have been told that EU countries are likely to provide assurances to Theresa May over her Brexit deal, but these have been referred to as “operation figleaf” by Whitehall officials.
Downing Street hopes that the clarifications from the EU over the  Northern Ireland backstop will come in the week before a vote on her withdrawal agreement, which will be either on January 15 or 16.
These could include a promise that the EU does not want to keep Britain in the backstop permanently and that it is “not the desired outcome” or that it will be “only for a short period”.

The Express claims Juncker will help her win over her MPs.

THERESA May has stepped up her push for fresh assurances from the EU about her Brexit deal amid reports Brussels chiefs are ready to help her win a crunch Commons vote.
The Prime Minister spoke to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker about possible clarifications to the controversial backstop mechanism. Their telephone conversation followed reports that Cabinet ministers are expecting the EU to offer a guaranteed limit on the backstop before the so-called “meaningful vote” at Westminster in the week beginning January 14.

WTO rules

The pressure on the PM to leave the EU without a formal deal is highlighted in the Huffington Post.

An increasing number of Tory MPs and voters are coming round to the idea of backing a no-deal Brexit, several party sources have told HuffPost UK, in a shift which could have serious implications if Theresa May’s deal is blocked.
With the prime minister struggling to wring concessions from a reluctant EU on her Brexit deal, MPs who oppose it have seen little over Christmas to win them over to backing the deal.

DUP

Mrs May still has to convince the Irish that the deal is the right one, says the Mirror.

The DUP’s Brexit chief has said people should be ‘totally relaxed’ about no deal as he insisted the Northern Irish party would not back Theresa May’s deal.
Sammy Wilson said Northern Ireland farmers and businesses should be more concerned by the Prime Minister’s deal than crashing out with nothing in place.
He said: “They should be more worried about this deal because this deal is going to keep them tied to EU regulations, it’s going to cut them off from the GB market where we send 60% of our exports and it’s going to stop us participating in UK trade deals in the future.”

BBC News also reports the DUP’s comments.

There is “no way” the Democratic Unionist Party will back Theresa May’s Brexit deal, a leading figure has said.
Sammy Wilson told the BBC he was “more alarmed” than ever about what the deal would mean for Northern Ireland.
The DUP, which props up Theresa May’s government, has held talks with the PM in recent days as she tries to persuade MPs to back the deal later this month.

And Breitbart reiterates the party’s position.

Sammy Wilson MP has said that there is no way the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will support Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, which Members of Parliament are due to vote on next week.
The conservative, unionist party had been adamant that it would not support the deal, which includes the Irish backstop that could keep the British province in regulatory alignment with the European Union in order to allegedly fulfil Good Friday Agreement terms to stop a so-called ‘hard border’ with the Republic of Ireland.

EU

The Eurozone is in trouble, reports the Mail.

Brexit uncertainty dragged down optimism about Britain’s dominant services sector in the final months of 2018 but this was as nothing when compared to downbeat readings from the eurozone.
The single currency has surprised us all by its durability and celebrated its 20th birthday this week.
But by no stretch of imagination can it be considered a triumph. The best thing that can be said is that it took the United States almost half a century of booms and busts to fully establish the dollar and the authority of the Federal Reserve, so the euro area still has time to overcome shortcomings.

Cap X reports Juncker’s claim that the euro is doing well.

History may or may not repeat itself, but hubris certainly does. In April 2008, as the euro approached its tenth birthday, Joaquín Almunia, the EU’s then Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs,  recalled  how its construction had been accompanied by “dissenting voices”. “One economist” had jeered that it was “at best, an act of uncertain merit”. Another had denounced it as a “great mistake”. Fools! Almunia bragged that “the euro [had] proved an economic success”.  Within 18 months Greece was in crisis.
Earlier this week Jean-Claude Juncker marked the euro’s 20th anniversary of with words seemingly so far removed from reality that not even sciatica could explain them away: “The euro has become a symbol of unity, sovereignty and stability. It has delivered prosperity and protection to our citizens…”

Conservative Party

May is still trying, reports the Times.

Theresa May will invite Tory opponents into Downing Street for drinks on Monday and Wednesday as she faces an unprecedented digital grassroots campaign cementing opposition to her Brexit deal among MPs.
The prime minister will meet members of the European Research Group and other opponents to discuss her deal, which is due to be put to the Commons the following week.
She held a pre-Christmas meeting with Jacob Rees-Mogg, the European Research Group leader, and Bernard Jenkin, among ten Tory MPs invited to discuss the Tory party’s future as part of Mrs May’s “masochism strategy”.

UK

Despite Brexit, our country is doing well, says Euro-Guido.

The UK has been ranked the world’s second most powerful nation despite Brexit. The Henry Jackson Society‘s Audit of Geopolitical Capability used a model involving four attributes, 33 indicators and 1240 potential data observations and placed the UK after the US but slightly ahead of China.
The Audit’s Chief Analyst, James Rogers, said that the UK voting to leave the EU “has had no discernible impact on the UK’s fundamental ability to apply itself around the World”, but does recommend increased R&D spend and armed forces’ projection capacities to prevent the UK falling behind, particularly in light of China’s naval buildup. Politicians who like to call Britain a small island in the North Atlantic would do well to read the report in full

Bercow

Dogged by allegations of bullying, the Speaker is not yet off the hook, says the Times.

MPs are poised to approve conduct rules that could lead to investigations into past allegations of bullying that may trigger an inquiry into John Bercow, the Speaker.
On Monday MPs will debate the changes recommended in a report by Dame Laura Cox, a retired High Court judge, into bullying and harassment in Westminster.
One Commons source said that the changes should go through on the nod. “I’d be surprised if there was a vote. Imagine trying to justify voting against it.”

The Mail says he’s very close to being kicked out of office.

John Bercow is ‘one false move’ away from being ousted, a cabinet minister has warned, amid fury over his handling of Westminster bullying allegations and Brexit.
The Commons Speaker avoided a bullying probe last year after a parliamentary committee said the claims were too old.
But senior Tories angered by his conduct are now poised to report even the most minor transgression to the new Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, which has the power to investigate and sanction all MPs – including Mr Bercow.

Foreign aid

Our money is still being wasted, says the Times.

Britain made the false claim that it had enabled tens of millions of people in developing countries to leave poverty as MPs were being urged to enshrine an aid spending commitment into law.
The figure was trumpeted by Justine Greening as international development secretary when David Cameron’s government was persuading parliament to enforce a pledge to spend 0.7 per cent of Britain’s income on aid.
The Department for International Development (Dfid) later dropped the claim.

And the overseas corruption continues, says the Mail.

British aid to the world’s most corrupt countries leapt by more than 12 per cent last year, despite warnings much of it will be wasted, stolen or even seized by terrorists.
Analysis of official figures reveals the UK handed more than £1.53billion to the world’s 20 most corrupt countries – up from £1.36billion the previous year.
The £170million – 12 per cent –increase comes despite a string of aid money scandals. UK aid to the most corrupt nations has almost doubled in five years, rising from £814million in 2012.

Migrants

At last! There’s a possibility that those trying to cross the English Channel could be sent straight back, reports the Mail

Channel migrants could sent straight back to France under EU rules even if they are picked up in UK waters, it emerged today.
Sources at the Home Office revealed talks are underway to exploit the so-called Dublin regulations that police asylum claims across Europe.
They say even if someone has been in an EU country for three months, the state they claim asylum in can send them back – potentially meaning Britain can return those who successfully sail across the Channel to France.

The Times reports the use of additional technology to spot the small boats.

French police are to use drones and thermal imaging cameras to detect migrants setting off for the UK in boats.
The measures are part of a plan announced by Christophe Castaner, the French interior minister, who said that the UK had agreed to pay for some of the equipment, which also includes radars and CCTV equipment.
There will also be increased sea patrols by naval ships and helicopters. Mr Castaner has demanded round-the-clock surveillance of the Channel, suggesting that this had not been the case until now.

And the Mail reports that the Home Office could be forced to pay the MOD for a naval ship.

Sajid Javid could be forced to pay the Ministry of Defence up to £1million for using a Royal Navy ship to patrol Britain’s coastline.
The Home Secretary signed off a £20,000-a-day bill for the use of HMS Mersey to help find migrants crossing the Channel from France.
It came after alleged wrangling between him and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson over which department should foot the bill.
The 1,700-tonne vessel made its way into position in the Dover Straits yesterday, where it will remain until it is replaced with two Border Force cutters – HMC Seeker and HMC Protector.

Education

In other news, the Times reports an easing of difficulty in international exams.

International GCSE exams favoured by many private schools are easier than the reformed GCSEs, analysis by a think tank suggests.
Critics say that IGCSEs are not graded as severely, a theory backed in research by Education Datalab showing that it is easier to get an A* or A.
Last year 91 per cent of IGCSE entries in core subjects such as English, maths and the sciences were from independent schools. Critics said this was unfair because state schools were no longer allowed to offer them.

The Mail reports a drop in teacher numbers.

Teacher numbers have fallen for the first time in six years amid complaints that low staff morale and inadequate pay are putting people off the profession.
Figures show the number fell by 1.2 per cent between 2016 and 2017 – the latest year for which data is available.
It is the first time there has been a year-on-year decrease since 2011.

And the Times claims some universities are paying for police protection for their students.

Twenty-seven universities are paying for police officers to protect students from criminals in fear that they have become easy targets, The Times can reveal.
A fifth of all universities are spending millions of pounds to fund officers, including dedicated patrols amid concerns that campuses have become a “magnet” for thieves and drug dealers.
According to data obtained under freedom of information laws, the 27 universities are contributing to police budgets in exchange for protection.

Health

The ‘nanny state’ is alive and well, says the Times.

Patients who drink too much will be swooped on by NHS alcohol squads within a day of going into hospital under plans to help them to cut down.
Teams of specialist doctors and nurses will review all patients admitted to hospital for signs of alcohol abuse and give them a half-hour chat about the risks and offer advice.
Smokers will also be targeted after local schemes showed that intensive help cut admission rates for drinking and tobacco-related illness.

The Mail claims hospital staff will also be alert for heavy drinkers or smokers.

Hospital staff will be urged to look out for patients who drink heavily or smoke in an NHS drive to prevent ill health.
Doctors and nurses are to be on alert for suspected ‘problem drinkers’ among casualty cases or those in wards or clinics.
Patients could be referred to specialist ‘alcohol care teams’ if health workers think they may have an issue with booze.
Smokers who end up in hospital will be encouraged to quit with the offer of prescription drugs or counselling.

Coal

And the Morning Star claims there are plans for a new coal mine.

PLANS to sink the first new deep coal mine in Britain for decades are being backed by the National Union of Mineworkers.
The support comes in the face of intense opposition from environmental campaigners, who will protest tomorrow in the Cumbrian town of Workington against the proposal to drive into coal reserves beneath the Irish Sea.
West Cumbria Mining wants to establish the new mine, Woodhouse Colliery, on a former industrial site at Whitehaven.
If the plan goes ahead, the mine will produce three million tonnes of coal a year – roughly the same as the amount produced at Britain’s last deep coal mine, Kellingley colliery in Yorkshire, which closed in December, 2015.

US

Over the pond, the President is still fighting for money to build his wall.  The Telegraph reports:

Donald Trump has warned that the government shutdown could last for more than a year as he doubled down on a pledge to block any deal that does not include US-Mexico border wall funding.
The US president confirmed during a press conference after closed doors White House talks with leading Democrats on Friday that he had made the threat.
“I did. Absolutely I said that. I don’t think it will [last that long] but I’m prepared,” Mr Trump said.

The Sun says he’s actually boasting about it.

DONALD Trump says he would be “proud” to shut down the US Government for months or even YEARS after rivals refused to fund his Mexico wall.
Chuck Schumer, Senate minority leader, revealed his plan at a press conference and said the President was being held “hostage” over the border.
Trump later confirmed it, saying: “I did. I did. I did say that. Absolutely, I said that. I don’t think it will, but I am prepared.”

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