Brexit

The disagreement between the Prime Minister and her Chancellor continues, says the Telegraph.

Theresa May must invoke the ­example of Margaret Thatcher to defy Philip Hammond in order to seek a “clean Brexit” and end the current “uncertainty”, a senior Tory has warned.
Writing for The Telegraph ahead of two crunch meetings of Mrs May’s Brexit war cabinet this week, Bernard Jenkin cites Mrs Thatcher’s dispute with Sir Geoffrey Howe over Europe and declares that the former prime minister only “won the battle of the rebate” by overruling civil servants and ministers.
He accuses ministers of being “vague” and “divided”, saying that while Mrs May “sticks to one policy”, Mr Hammond “keeps advocating ­another”.
Amid claims of a “middle way” being drawn up for discussion among senior ministers this week, ­Jacob Rees-Mogg, who leads the 60-strong European Research Group of backbenchers, insisted to The ­Telegraph: “I think the Treasury is ­trying to undermine both her and ­government policy.”

The Independent reports that the PM will meet Barnier this week.

Theresa May is set to meet the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator in London amid fresh splits over the transition period after Britain leaves the bloc.
The Prime Minister will see Michel Barnier when he attends a working lunch with David Davis on Monday ahead of the next phase of talks – in a rare example of the divorce discussions taking place outside of Brussels.
It comes as Ms May faced increasing pressure to set out her position on the UK’s long term relationship with the European Union in the face of growing dissatisfaction from both wings of the Conservative Party.
Mr Davis posted on Twitter: “Looking forward to welcoming Michel Barnier to London on Monday. Important next step in our work to build new partnership between UK and EU.”
Downing Street confirmed that Ms May would also meet Mr Barnier on the trip, which comes as officials were due to begin the next phase of Brexit talks, where the UK is expected to give an update on its plans for the future relationship.

The Sun reports a claim by experts about how the economy would be hit after Brexit.

FAILING to ditch EU regulations after Brexit could cost the economy £240 billion a year, experts warn today.
Excessive regulation costs the UK £120 billion annually but this could DOUBLE, according to forecasts by the Economists for Free Trade.
It comes as the Cabinet debate this week whether Britain should align or converge from EU rules after March 2019.
The intervention comes from the Economists for Free Trade which estimate current regulations cost 6 per cent of GDP.
Professor Patrick Minford says current rules “could just be the beginning” if Britain remains aligned and the EU becomes even more of a “federalist bloc.”
He said: “If Britain seizes the freedom to move away from EU regulations, the current 6 per cent cost could be cut by a third – boosting GDP by 2 per cent and our growth rate in line.”

The Times is one of the media reporting the prospect of a ‘dream team’ taking over if Mrs May quit.

Theresa May will face a coup that would install a “dream team” of “three Brexiteers” if she persists with plans to keep Britain in a customs union with the European Union, Tory MPs warned last night.
Eurosceptics contacted Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, on Friday and urged him to agree a pact that would see Michael Gove, the environment secretary, become his deputy prime minister and Jacob Rees-Mogg — the shop steward of the backbench Brexiteers — appointed chancellor if the prime minister is forced out.
While encouraging MPs to “rally round” May, Johnson also told one of the plotters that he would be “ready” for a future contest.

The Express also speculates on the move.

THERESA May could face a coup that will lead to Brexit “dream team” taking her place if she plans to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU, it has been reported.
Eurosceptic MPs have spoken to Boris Johnson in an attempt to ensure he agrees to a plan that would see Michael Gove become his deputy PM and Jacob Rees-Mogg become his Chancellor, it has been claimed.
The Foreign Secretary has reportedly told one plotter that he would be “ready” for a leadership battle.
Mr Johnson also has reportedly insisted that the “cavalry is coming” to stop plans to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU.
The news has come as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are reportedly set to next week warn pro-Remain Cabinet members against joining a post-Brexit customs union with the EU in what is expected to be a heated Cabinet meeting.
The confrontation will reportedly mark the first time senior Government members have debated the issue.

The Sun calls it a potential ‘coup.

THERESA May could face a coup that will bring in a Brexit “dream team” if she brings in plans to keep Britain in a customs union, it was claimed last night.
Eurosceptic MPs have been in touch with Foreign Secretary  Boris Johnson  demanding he agree a plan that would see  Michael Gove as his deputy PM and Jacob Rees-Mogg as Chancellor.
BoJo told one plotter he would be “ready” for a leadership battle and insisted the “cavalry is coming” to stop the customs union plan, it was reported.
Mrs May will discuss Britain’s future relationship with the EU with her top team this week.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has told colleagues  he is ready to walk out of government if the customs union arrangement is agreed.

And the Independent reiterates the allegation that pro-EU civil servants are not being straight about the cost of withdrawal.

Senior Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has accused Treasury civil servants of “fiddling the figures” on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, dramatically reigniting a row over allegations that officials are trying to undermine Brexit.
The chair of the pro-Brexit European Research Group suggested Treasury staff had produced “politically influenced” analysis and repeated his claim that officials are trying to sway policy to keep the UK in the EU customs union.

But the (pro-EU) Guardian reports that the Treasury is refuting the claims.

Leading Brexiters who accuse civil servants of sabotaging Britain’s exit from the EU are adopting dangerous tactics similar to those of rightwing German nationalists between the two world wars, a former head of the civil service has warned.
In a stark assessment of the acute tensions developing over the issue, Andrew Turnbull, who led the civil service under Tony Blair, said that Whitehall officials had become the victims of “pre-emptive scapegoating” by Brexiters who feared they were losing the argument.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the new leader of the European research group of Eurosceptic Tory MPs, has suggested that Treasury officials could be deliberately trying to frustrate Brexit. Yesterday he repeated a claim that the Treasury was “fiddling the figures” to emphasise the downside of a “hard” Brexit in which Britain would leave both the single market and customs union.

The Mail reports a comment by Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Tory Brexit cheerleader Jacob Rees-Mogg last night warned  Theresa May she would be making a ‘grave error’ if she failed to deliver the ‘hard Brexit’ he favours.
And he failed to kill off claims that he could replace her in No 10 if she defies his hard-line stance by saying he was ‘flattered’ by claims he had overtaken Boris Johnson as the leadership frontrunner.
He also compared himself to Michael Heseltine, who famously denied planning to challenge Margaret Thatcher – before doing precisely that.
According to bookmakers, City tycoon and devout Catholic Mr Rees-Mogg is strong favourite to be the next Tory leader, with his reputation enhanced by his cool response to protesters who disrupted his speech in Bristol.

And the ex-Attorney General has issued a warning, says the Independent.

Dominic Grieve has warned the public it is running out of time to change its mind on Brexit, saying the next few months are “decision time”.
The former Attorney General told 
The Independent it would soon be too late to reverse the decision to leave the EU, and urged people to make their minds up in the next six months.
“The six months we have between now and the autumn are so important,” he said. “It is going to be decision time. And decision time in the sense of what happens in the next six months being a final decision.
“If people do want to change their mind, and they could if they wanted to, the time is now. It cannot be after 29 March 2019, and frankly it cannot be after the end of the autumn of this year.”

Labour Party

The Independent claims the Labour leader is about change his mind over the customs union.

Jeremy Corbyn will change tack and pledge to keep the UK in the  EU customs union, the Welsh First Minister has said.
Carwyn Jones said he had discussed the issue with Mr Corbyn and Sir Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, and believed a policy change was likely “in the next few months”.
Urging his party leader to “keep all options open” and “be guided by what is best for working people”, Mr Jones said  Labour should reject the “wrong option” of leaving the customs union.
The comments are some of the strongest from a senior Labour representative in favour of remaining in the bloc and add to the growing clamour among Labour figures for the party to change its approach,
Last week, some of Mr Corbyn’s MPs urged him to “get off the fence” and stop “hedging bets”.

And it seems there could be a coalition between the minor parties to defeat the government, says the Independent.

The leaders of four opposition parties have written to  Jeremy Corbyn  urging him to “rethink” his stance on  Brexit and work with them to keep the UK in the EU single market and customs union.
In a joint letter, the SNP, Liberal Democrat, Green Party and Plaid Cymru leaders called on Mr Corbyn to join forces with them “in opposing the Tories’ damaging plans”.
The Labour leader has previously refused to engage with other parties that are campaigning against the Government’s plans for a hard Brexit.
The latest attempt to encourage Mr Corbyn to cooperate comes as he faces mounting pressure from within his own party to soften his stance on Brexit and commit to keeping the UK in the single market and customs union.

The Times reports a move by Momentum to purge moderates.

Hard-left activists are demanding “all-member” votes to elect council leaders in a move that could usher in a wave of Haringey-style purges of traditional Labour councillors in favour of Momentum candidates.
Supporters of the hard-left campaign group Momentum are plotting to hijack Labour’s “democracy review” to tighten their stranglehold on the party.
Its members say the review is an opportunity to “fundamentally remake” the party by making it more “accountable” to its hard-left base. A document circulating among Momentum members online calls for co-ordinated submissions to the review demanding “all-member” votes to elect council leaders and deputy leaders.

NHS

The Independent reports yesterday’s large march in support of the service.

Thousands of campaigners have marched on Downing Street to protest NHS  funding shortages, as the health service suffers its worst ever winter crisis.
Protesters carrying placards with the words “kick the Tories out”, and “more staff, more beds, more funds”, gathered in central London in large numbers in support of fixing what they say is a “crisis” in the NHS.
“Keep your hands off our NHS,” they chanted as they marched towards Downing Street.
The demonstration, called “NHS in crisis: Fix it now”, was organised by the People’s Assembly and Health Campaigns Together.
Among the demonstrators was Jamie, a disability rights advocate who was attending the march in his wheelchair.
He was injured in a serious car crash 21 years ago. “I owe my life to the NHS,” he said.

The Guardian also reports the demo.

Thousands of people joined a demonstration in London ending at Downing Street on Saturday in protest at what they say is the crisis facing the NHS.
Bearing placards with slogans including “more staff, more beds, more funds”, and “Saving lives costs money, Saving money costs lives”, they chanted “Keep your hands off our NHS” as they set off from Warren Street at lunchtime. The demonstration, called “NHS in crisis: Fix it now”, was organised by the People’s Assembly and Health Campaigns Together. Marchers were addressed by speakers who outlined their experience of the pressures facing the NHS. One mother told how her daughter died after she had been allowed out of psychiatric care too soon.

The Morning Star lauded the marchers.

GREETINGS to the tens of thousands of marchers gathering in London today to answer the joint call by the People’s Assembly and Health Campaigns Together to save the NHS in England.
Health services in Wales and Scotland are not without their problems, but the biggest of these is the Tory government’s squeeze on finance to the devolved administrations.
England is unique in having the hands of Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt personally clasped round the throat of NHS services.
He has presided over a healthcare regime he proclaims as driving efficiency savings but staff and patients perceive clearly as inflicting death by a thousand cuts.

The Telegraph has an alarming story about cancer testing.

Up to 60,000 cancer test results may have to be reviewed after women were found to have been wrongly given the all-clear, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.
The failings by NHS screening services could mean more than 1,000 women have been given the wrong result, after errors in one laboratory.
NHS screening services have begun reviewing a sample of cervical cancer screening results, after inspectors raised fears that mistakes were being made.
So far checks on 900 samples have found 17 cases where women were incorrectly told their results were negative.
At least two have so far been found to have cancer, while other women have been told they need further checks, because results were unclear, or missed signs which could signal pre-cancerous cells.
Screening services have begun checking 2,500 samples taken at a laboratory in Basildon, in Essex, between April 2016 and September 2017, sending letters to patients  when mistakes were uncovered.

Immigration

Thousands of migrants are still heading for Europe, says Breitbart.

Since last summer the number of migrants crossing from Libya greatly declined, but new figures show that the number is rising once again as Libya becomes increasingly unstable.
According to newly released statistics, 3,580 migrants made the voyage from Libya to Italy in the first three weeks of January, with 850 being picked up by naval authorities in one weekend alone, German broadcaster NTV  reports.
The number of migrants is higher than the same time period last year fueling speculation that it could rise even further.
According to an Italian journalist who spoke to the German broadcaster, the situation in Libya has changed as a rogue general named Khalifa Haftar is vying for power with UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj.

Education

Schools are under severe financial pressures, reports the Guardian.

Operators of dozens of academy schools are having to rely on emergency handouts from the taxpayer as a result of mounting deficits that threaten to put some out of business.
In the latest sign of the financial pressures now on the nation’s schools, the auditors of one operator that oversees 21 schools raised concerns over its ability to keep operating after it posted a £2.5m loss last year.
The revelations follow an investigation in last week’s
Observer that found that more than half of the biggest multi-academy chains (MATs) had issued warnings about funding, citing pay, staffing levels, building maintenance and mounting deficits. It has now emerged that some smaller trusts have had to ask for cash advances from the state to stay afloat.

And Breitbart reports that a major producer of educational guides has gone politically correct.

Announcing an ‘LGBT-inclusive’ update to all of its products, education giant Pearson has launched a guide to pushing ‘social justice’ activism in every part of the school curriculum.
‘Creating an LGBT-Inclusive Curriculum’ was produced by LGBT activist group Stonewall and is sponsored by Pearson, which owns the exam board Edexcel and publishes thousands of school textbooks as one of the UK’s biggest education companies.
Claiming an inclusive curriculum is “a crucial part of tackling” homophobic bullying in schools, the  handbook  advises ways in which teachers can alter lessons across the syllabus so LGBT pupils “see themselves represented in what they’re learning”.
Writing about the need to stamp out anti-LGBT bullying in a foreword to the guide, the senior vice-president for schools at Pearson UK, Sharon Hague, said: “LGBT students will only feel comfortable to be themselves if they also get to see themselves in their classrooms.”

Car insurance

The Telegraph has a worrying story about motor insurance.

Thousands of motorists could be unwittingly driving around without valid car insurance, police have warned after identifying a worrying new scam known as ‘ghost broking’.
With premiums soaring, fraudsters have been taking advantage of car owners’ desperation to find the best deal.
Using popular social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram, they pose as legitimate brokers working for reputable insurance firms, and contact motorists directly, offering to save them hundreds of pounds on their renewal.
But the policy documents they produce are worthless and many victims only becoming aware they have been duped, when they have an accident and attempt to make a claim.
To their horror they then discover they are liable for the entire cost of the accident, which can run into many thousands of pounds.

New Earth

There may be millions of ‘little green men’ out there, says the Times.

We are (almost certainly) not alone. Surveys of our galaxy suggest Earth has at least 100bn neighbouring planets, with at least a quarter orbiting potentially life-giving stars similar to the sun.
The number is based on combining surveys for “exoplanets” — those outside our solar system — orbiting thousands of stars. Nearly 4,000 such planets have been found with thousands more unconfirmed candidates.
“On average, there’s at least one planet for every star in the Milky Way galaxy, meaning over 100bn planets in our galaxy alone,” Aki Roberge, a Nasa astrophysicist, will tell next week’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “Even better, the exoplanets are surprisingly diverse, with exotic types that we don’t have in the solar system.”

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