No deal

The Mail carries an exclusive report suggesting the government could be accepting the fact that the UK won’t get a deal with the EU in the time allowed.

Ministers have quietly restarted No Deal planning meetings amid fears trade talks with Brussels will collapse, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Whitehall’s EU Exit Operations committee – dubbed XO and chaired by Michael Gove – met on Thursday to begin preparations for a ‘disorderly December’, should Brussels ‘fail to grasp we really are going at the end of the year’, said a Cabinet Minister who was present.
Our revelation comes after Dominic Cummings warned that Brussels has not yet ‘woken up’ to Britain’s negotiating position – and would not for several weeks yet.
The top No 10 aide told Government advisers at a meeting on Friday evening: ‘We are not bluffing on the no extension.’
The UK Government has insisted that the EU transition phase will end on December 31, but last week Ireland’s EU Commissioner Phil Hogan said that time frame was impossible.
Fears are mounting that Brussels’s intransigence and insistence on a settlement of fishing access rights before proper trade talks begin will push the negotiations to collapse.
In that scenario, the transition phase would end without new border rules in place – hence the Government’s reactivation of emergency planning.

Trade deals

Negotiations with the US to secure a deal will run alongside talks with the EU, says the Times.

Boris Johnson and his ministers have agreed a hardline stance on Brexit that will see them play Donald Trump off against EU leaders.
The prime minister has approved plans to go “hell for leather” for a trade deal with America, in an attempt to get leverage in talks with the EU.
The decision comes as Johnson tries to inject urgency into trade negotiations.

The Independent claims the PM is flexing his political muscles.

Boris Johnson has tasked negotiators to begin US trade talks in parallel with EU discussions as he seeks to stamp his authority on the critical next phase of Brexit.
Downing Street said the prime minister had told officials to start discussions with countries including the US, Japan, New Zealand and Australia as soon as the UK leaves the bloc on 31 January.
No 10 sources also made it clear Mr Johnson will be focused on his domestic agenda.

And the Express sets out the PM’s plans for trade deal around the world.

BORIS Johnson has revealed his bold new vision for Brexit Britain, with plans for trade deals around the world by the end of the year. The decision to press ahead with trade talks with the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand underlines the Prime Minister’s vision for a Global Britain.
But the move to access international markets worth almost £50trillion is a slap in the face for the EU – which wanted talks to be solely focused on Brussels. With Chancellor Sajid Javid confirming the UK will not agree to demands that Britain aligns with EU regulations, the prospect of a trade deal with the US will put pressure on Brussels to compromise.

Brexit Day

The PM’s plan to have Big Ben rung at the point of exit seems to have been a bit of a damp squib, says Breitbart.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office has revealed the plans to mark the UK leaving the EU at 11 pm on January 31st, 2020, but Big Ben ringing in the new era of British history is not amongst them.
On Friday, Number 10 confirmed that there will be a light display livestreamed during the count-down which will include a clock projected onto the walls of Downing Street with buildings around Whitehall being lit, as well. Union flags are to be flown on the flag poles surrounding Parliament Square, opposite the Palace of Westminster, while the prime minister will address the nation in the evening.

But there could be a clock made of light in Downing Street, says the Evening Standard.

The Government will project a clock onto Downing Street to count down the minutes until Britain leaves the EU – but Big Ben will not bong, according to government plans.
Boris Johnson appealed to the public on Tuesday to “bung a bob for a Big Ben bong” to mark the historic moment, but has since withdrawn his support for the bid after Commons authorities said they were unwilling to accept public donations.
Instead, a light show will be held around Whitehall on January 31, featuring a clock ticking down to 11pm GMT.
Union Flags will be flown on all the poles in Parliament Square and the Prime Minister will give a “special” address to the nation in the evening.

The Mail reports that there was a secret plan to stop the Great Bell ringing.

A Cabinet Minister secretly plotted with the Commons authorities two weeks ago to kill off the idea of Big Ben bonging for Brexit, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
As public pressure started to mount for the historic clock to break its silence on the evening of January 31, the senior Minister begged: ‘We have to find a way of stopping this. It will be too divisive, Remainers will hate it.’
Earlier last week, the House of Commons Commission effectively vetoed the plan, claiming it would cost more than £500,000 to interrupt huge repair works now under way on the clock and the historic Elizabeth Tower that houses it.
They also rejected offers of donations to meet the cost – to the fury of Brexiteers.


We will not be a rule-taker after Brexit, the Chancellor has told business, reports the Express.

SAJID JAVID has been praised for shutting down any hope of the government agreeing a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU in his latest announcement.
The Chancellor warned manufacturing leaders that there will be no alignment with EU regulations once Britain’s exit from the European Union is made official. The Treasury would not lend support to manufacturers that favour EU rules as the sector has had three years to prepare for Britain’s transition. Mr Javid told the Financial Times: “There will not be alignment, we will not be a ruletaker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union – and we will do this by the end of the year.
“We’re … talking about companies that have known since 2016 that we are leaving the EU.”
There is concern among some UK business sectors about leaving the current trading partnership without a new deal to reduce border friction.

Sky News reports that he told businesses that they’ve had enough time to adjust.

The chancellor has told businesses there will not be alignment with EU rules after Brexit and urged them to “adjust” to the new reality.
Sajid Javid delivered a tough message to businesses, saying: “There will be an impact on business one way or the other; some will benefit, some won’t.”
In an interview with the Financial Times he also said that manufacturers seeking to stay in step with EU regulations would not receive support from the treasury.

The anti-Brexit BBC News says there could be a rise in food prices.

Businesses have warned that food prices may rise and jobs may be affected after the chancellor vowed to end alignment with EU rules after Brexit.
Sajid Javid told the Financial Times the UK would not be a “ruletaker” after Brexit, urging businesses to “adjust”.
The Food and Drink Federation said the proposals were likely to cause food prices to rise at the end of this year.
The Confederation of British Industry said for many firms, keeping existing EU rules would support jobs.

And the Express reports that the PM has been advised to ignore the European president.

BORIS JOHNSON has been urged to ignore Ursula von der Leyen’s fear-mongering about the December 31 2020 Brexit deadline by a think tank expert.
The UK is due to leave the EU on January 31 but will enter a transition period until the end of the year to allow time to strike a free trade deal. The Prime Minister has insisted he will not push back the December 2020 deadline despite the European Commission President warning it would be “impossible” to reach a comprehensive agreement by then.


Several of the media report that the House of Lords could be moved north.  The Times says it could relocate in York.

Boris Johnson is planning to move the House of Lords permanently to York, The Sunday Times can reveal. The city has emerged as the frontrunner to host the new second chamber, with Birmingham also in the running.
The prime minister last week ordered work to begin on the practicalities of a move, in further evidence that the Conservatives are serious about cementing their gains in what were once Labour’s heartlands.
Disused government-owned land close to York railway station has already been identified as a prime site to build a new second chamber.

The Express says it could be Birmingham.

BORIS JOHNSON is planning to move the House of Lords to York with Birmingham also in the running.
According to The Sunday Times, Mr Johnson last week ordered work on the practicality of such a move as an attempt to solidify gains in Labour heartlands. A government owned plot of land, next to York’s railway station, has been identified as a potential site, and would mark the first time York has been a centre of political power since the English Civil War. Birmingham is also thought to be in the running to become the new home of the House of Lords.


Boris has plans immediately after Brexit, says the Telegraph.

Boris Johnson is preparing to impose new restrictions on low-skilled migrants moving to Britain on the first day after the Brexit transition period ends in December, the Telegraph can disclose.
Under radical new plans being drawn up by the Prime Minister’s aides, the Government would effectively bring forward its post-Brexit immigration shake-up by two years – removing a temporary extension of the current rules until 2023, that had been demanded by business groups and promised by Theresa May.


The fabled ‘white elephant’ is still under threat, reports the Telegraph.

Boris Johnson is being urged to find the “courage” to cancel or dramatically scale back plans for HS2, with a former head of the civil service and a retail tycoon warning against “throwing good money after bad”.
Lord Turnbull, who was also permanent secretary at the Treasury, and Lord Wolfson, the chief executive of Next, told the Telegraph the rail line represented poor value for money and urged the Prime Minister to redirect funds in ways that would provide more benefit to everyday commuters.
Their interventions came after Mr Johnson was confronted over the issue at a meeting with peers earlier this month, at which he is said to have indicated that he was reluctant to scrap the entire project.  

The Times reports the opposing view.

Boris Johnson is under growing pressure to approve the government’s flagship high-speed rail project, with political leaders from the party’s new heartlands demanding he must “unleash the potential” of the regions.
Amid growing anxiety that Johnson is preparing to scrap or scale back HS2, Conservative and Labour civic leaders from the Midlands and north of England have joined forces to call on the prime minister to deliver for the people in their areas who helped propel him to power.


With the refusal of the (Tory) Prime Minister to nominate the former speaker for promotion, the Times reports that the Labour leader has done the deed.

Jeremy Corbyn has nominated John Bercow, the former Commons Speaker, for a peerage, The Sunday Times can reveal.
Bercow, a former right-wing Conservative MP who helped resist Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy in parliament, became the first holder of his role in 230 years not to be offered a House of Lords seat upon resigning last year.
Tom Watson, Labour’s former deputy leader, and Karie Murphy, Corbyn’s chief of staff, also appear on a leaked list of nominees ahead of the upcoming dissolution honours.


There are continuing problems over the Chinese IT company, reports the Times.

GCHQ, Britain’s largest intelligence agency, is concerned about the imminent decision to hand a leading Chinese company access to the UK’s sensitive new telecoms network.
Senior officials from the agency are worried about the risks of opening up Britain’s 5G network to Huawei, a technology firm with close links to Chinese intelligence.
Sources at GCHQ believe the decision, to be taken by Boris Johnson and the National Security Council (NSC) this month, is a “foregone conclusion”, despite the alarming results of tests on Huawei devices that have been conducted at a secure government facility in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

Child grooming

The horrific tales of paedophilia continue in the Times.

A large gang of paedophiles identified in a report into how dozens of children in care were failed by authorities “may still be at large and offending”, according to Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester.
Last week, a report told how up to 100 members of the gang, mainly of Pakistani heritage and operating in south Manchester, were able to abuse children under the noses of police and council workers.
The review, commissioned by Burnham, examined how the authorities dealt with child sexual exploitation in the city. It found police and social workers were aware of a gang of men working in takeaways and restaurants who preyed on girls in south Manchester, usually those living in local authority care homes.

South Yorkshire Police have been slated in the Mail.

A woman whose sexual exploitation as a child was ignored by police over fears of increasing racial tensions in Rotherham has said the force ‘aided and abetted’ the abuse of hundreds of children.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) upheld six complaints against South Yorkshire Police by a woman abused as a child for several years, starting in 2003.


A lung disease is ravaging the Chinese, reports the Telegraph.

It is the mystery new disease that has put authorities around the world on high alert. Already, two people have died and 43 others have been infected after contracting a never-before-seen pneumonia.
The disease, which emerged in China, has already crossed borders and tests have confirmed the presence of a novel coronavirus – one of a family of viruses which have proved particularly deadly over the last 20 years, infecting more than 10,000 people and killing around 1,600.

And is being covered up, alleges the Times.

Concerns of a possible cover-up of the extent of a mysterious new respiratory virus in China emerged yesterday as three US airports began screening arrivals from Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak, and hundreds of millions of Chinese prepared to travel this week for lunar new year celebrations.
The British government said it had no plans to introduce screening.
The coronavirus is related to Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which killed 774 people worldwide in 2002. It is believed to have jumped to humans from infected animals at a seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan last month.


Cases of prostate cancer are bucking the downward trend, reports the Telegraph.

The medical and scientific community has made enormous progress in its war on cancer, with survival rates improving across the board as a generation of targeted therapies begin to have an impact. So, last week’s news that deaths from prostate cancer are on the rise – exceeding 12,000 in one year for the first time, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – has come as a disappointment.
And it gets worse. Angela Culhane, Chief Executive of Prostate Cancer UK, said: “By 2030, prostate cancer is set to be the most diagnosed of all cancers in the UK.” Awareness of male cancers has never been higher – thanks to global campaigns like Movember and Men United, and the testimonials of high-profile sufferers such as former BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull, who in 2018 revealed he was living with advanced prostate cancer.

And the Mail reports a rise in the treatment of the effects of cocaine on the over-50s.

The number of hospital admissions for people aged over 50 needing treatment for cocaine poisoning has risen tenfold in a decade, astonishing new figures reveal.
Statistics from NHS Digital show that there were 268 admissions of over-50s using the drug last year, compared with just 27 cases in 2009-2010.
There were four times as many admissions involving people aged over 40 for the drug last year as were ten years ago. A decade ago there were 209 admissions for over-40s but that rose to 982 last year.
The figures also reveal there were 41 cases last year of cocaine-poisoning admissions of those aged over 60, including six patients aged 90 or more.


The Iranian government has been trying to develop nuclear weapons, says the Mail.

A never-seen-before secret Iranian government document proves the regime was trying to build a nuclear weapon as far back as 2002.
It shows scientists outlining their proposals for a ‘warhead’, which are given the green light by Tehran’s top nuclear official.
The document was seized as part of a raid by Israeli  intelligence agents on a compound in Tehran in 2018, and is now being exclusively revealed to the world by MailOnline.
The damning nuclear blueprint forms the centrepiece of a soon-to-be published report by the Friends of Israel Initiative (FOII), a group of foreign policy experts including several former presidents and prime ministers.
As part of a fact-finding mission to the country led by Canada’s former foreign minister John Baird, they were given exclusive access to the haul of documents stashed in the Tehran hanger.

The Sussexes

The media are full of the new plans for Harry and Meghan.  The Telegraph reports:

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will no longer use their HRH titles or formally represent the Queen, Buckingham Palace has announced as the Royal Family severed all official ties with the couple.
A seismic statement following days of frantic negotiations, revealed that the Sussexes’ departure from public life would be much more dramatic than previously thought.
The couple will repay the £2.4mllion of taxpayer’s money used to refurbish Frogmore Cottage, their Windsor home, and will pay commercial rent on the property, which they will continue to use as their UK family base, it was confirmed after five days of tense negotiations.

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