Brexit

It seems that our present Chancellor has teamed up with his predecessor in an attempt to thwart Brexit, says the Sun.

TWO past and present Tory Chancellors were branded Brexit wreckers yesterday.
Philip Hammond was likened to the Grinch, the grouchy Christmas-hating film character, over his gloomy predictions.
His predecessor George Osborne also sparked anger after accusing Brexiteers of steering Britain to disaster.
It smashed a festive truce between Leavers and Remainers who will vote on Theresa May’s exit deal on January 16.
Mr Osborne, who quit as an MP last year, warned the Tory party it faced years in opposition unless “reckless” Brexiteers were stopped.
He said: “I don’t think the country voted to mobilise the Army, stockpile medicine, hoard food and go around the world buying every fridge available.
“That’s not what was offered and that is now what is happening.”
He praised Remainers including Mr Hammond for trying to prevent a no-deal Brexit and “pull the country back from this cliff-edge of the referendum result”.

The Times reports there will be test exercises, just in case.

Ministers are to stage emergency exercises at the border next month to see if ports and airports could cope with a no-deal Brexit. The plans, which will test Border Force computer systems and staff, could see people with fake passports or lorries of sheep used to check preparations. “We’ll be testing the border from end to end,” a cabinet minister said.
Ministers were informed of the plans at a no-deal Brexit cabinet meeting last week, when David Lidington, Theresa May’s deputy, brokered a compromise on preparations for leaving the EU. At his suggestion, ministers agreed that no-deal planning will be the “principal operational focus” of the government for the foreseeable future — with other manifesto commitments ditched.

The leader of the Commons insists that it’s the Chequers deal or no deal, says ITV News.

MPs who want to block a no-deal Brexit will have to either vote for Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement or a replacement to do it, Andrea Leadsom has warned.
The Brexiteer Commons Leader warned politicians lining up to block efforts to take the UK out of the EU in March without an alternative no-deal was the “legal default position”.
Her comments in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph came after she spoke in support of a “managed no-deal” as a possible alternative to the PM’s Withdrawal Agreement should it fail to pass the Commons in January’s planned vote.

The Telegraph claims an interview with the Leader of the House.

MPs cannot prevent the UK from leaving the EU without a deal if they fail to approve Theresa May’s plan or an alternative, Andrea Leadsom has warned.
The Leader of the Commons insisted the Government will not “down tools” on preparations for a no-deal Brexit even if MPs succeed in a bid to force them to do so.
Her intervention, which is likely to anger pro-Remain Cabinet colleagues,  comes in an interview with The Telegraph in which the former Leave campaigner also warns that those advocating a second referendum risk driving voters away from the Conservatives and sparking support for “extremist parties”.

Breitbart reports that the Russian president is gloating.

Russian president Vladimir Putin goaded British anti-Brexiteers campaigning for a re-run of EU referendum at his annual press conference in Moscow, asking: “Is this democracy?”
The 66-year-old strongman’s marathon televised press conferences have taken on a carnival atmosphere as they have become something of a yearly tradition, with dozens of journalists in attendance, some wearing flamboyant outfits or carrying eye-catching signs to capture their host’s attention.
It was likely inevitable that he would make some statement on Brexit, having been fingered as the chief culprit behind the 2016 vote to Leave the European Union by conspiracy theorists.

Westmonster reports the continued rise of the ‘no deal’ Parliamentary petition.

We at Westmonster are now fully in the Christmas spirit, so thank you all for your support and expect to see a slowdown over the holidays.
Just wanted to flag again the phenomenon that has brought some cheer for Brexiteers nationwide, with the No Deal petition having now cleared 269,000 signatures.
This big time surge has barely been covered by other media outlets. Wonder why? Don’t worry, you can always rely on Westmonster to stand up for Brexiteers.

Project Fear

Project Fear has reared its ugly head again, says the Mail.

Theresa May’s deputy has been accused of Project Fear ‘Mark Three’ for warning of a ‘slaughter of the lambs’ in a No Deal Brexit.
MPs say Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington privately raised the spectre of a mass cull of sheep destined for the vital EU market if No Deal border problems delayed their export.
They said ex-Europe Minister and Remain supporter Mr Lidington – the Prime Minister’s de facto number two – gave a ‘chilling warning’ about the impact of No Deal.
One MP said: ‘David was quite explicit. He said, “If there’s No Deal, we’ll have to prepare for the slaughter of every lamb in Britain destined for export.” ’
The EU is a vital market for the UK’s sheep industry, with 95 per cent of British sheep meat exports going to the Continent in 2015.
Brexiteer Tory MP Peter Bone seized on the reported warning, saying: ‘This is truly Project Fear gone “baa-nanas”! I thought the Remainiacs had given up on silly scare stories like this but with talk of mass killings of sheep on the motorways there’s a good chance they’ll be warning of plagues of locusts on the M20 next.’

EU

BBC News takes a look at the business relationship between the EU and the UK.

“They need us more than we need them,” has been a recurrent theme in the Brexit debate.
After the referendum, the idea has been used to suggest the government could have taken a tougher line in the negotiations over the terms of the UK’s departure from the European Union.
Before the vote, it was used to suggest that the UK would have no difficulty retaining full access to the EU market, because it was in the EU’s interests to allow it.
German carmakers were often invoked as likely allies in achieving that goal.
In early 2016, David Davis, then a Conservative backbench MP who was later the Cabinet Minister for Brexit, said: “Within minutes of a vote for Brexit the chief executives of Mercedes, BMW, VW and Audi will be knocking down Chancellor Merkel’s door demanding that there be no barriers to German access to the British market.”

Threats that planes might not fly on No Deal have receded, says the Times.

Travel industry bosses say they hope to escape lightly from a no-deal Brexit after the European Commission guaranteed flights to some of Britain’s most popular holiday destinations.
The confirmation that direct flights from Britain to Europe will operate as normal, even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, provided a boost for the industry, which said bookings were higher for summer holidays than at the same time last year.
Noel Josephides, chairman of the Sunvil travel company, said families could book their holidays with confidence, but urged ministers to “get a grip” and resolve Brexit quickly to ensure bookings did not slump.

There’s still unrest on the Continent, says the Times.

As officials depart Brussels for the traditional two-week sojourn, many will do their best to avoid thinking about Brexit. It is the least of their worries.
On Budapest’s freezing pavements, thousands of protesters lobbed streams of lavatory paper at the presidential palace on Friday night and threatened a general strike. In France, hardcore demonstrators in hi-vis vests manned the barricades once more. In Belgium, violent protests fuelled the collapse of the coalition government on Tuesday and it is now limping towards elections.

Conservative Party

In a report claimed as an exclusive, the Sun reports a ministers’ plot to keep the PM in post.

CABINET Ministers are plotting to keep Theresa May in Downing Street for at least TWO more years, we can reveal.
The embattled PM would be given time to deliver Brexit and bring through the next generation of talent under the plan.
Senior figures who have discussed the blueprint want her to hand over the keys to Number 10 in late summer 2021.
The next Prime Minister would then be given around nine months to prepare their new team ahead of the next general election – scheduled for 2022.
But the succession plan will cause uproar among Eurosceptics who want Mrs May to depart shortly after the UK formally leaves the EU in March next year.

The Times has picked up the story.

Theresa May’s allies are plotting to keep her in Downing Street for at least another two years amid growing confidence that she will get her Brexit deal through parliament.
Her supporters in cabinet have been buoyed by what they believe to be a substantial shift in political arithmetic in the Commons. This follows secret talks between May’s chief Brexit negotiator Ollie Robbins and his European counterparts last week.
Plans being floated by a prominent cabinet minister would see May hang on to power until the autumn of 2021 when she would hand over the keys of No 10 to a new Conservative leader.

The Mail claims new ‘talent’ is needed.

Cabinet ministers want to keep Theresa May as Prime Minister until 2021 to bring through a new generation of talent, it has been claimed.
Sources in Whitehall say senior figures in the Government want Mrs May to deliver Brexit before she steps down and they are keen to give her an opportunity to ‘slay the old guard’.
Those at risk could be Chancellor Philip Hammond, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Business Secretary Greg Clark.
But it would cause outrage among Eurosceptic MPs who want her out of Number 10 when the UK formally leaves the EU next March.

Labour Party

Corbyn is not out of the Brexit woods yet, says the Guardian.

Jeremy Corbyn is facing a storm of criticism from Labour activists and MPs after suggesting he would press ahead with Brexit if the party won a snap general election.
In a sign that he is losing backing among overwhelmingly pro-Remain Labour supporters, Corbyn was also accused of betraying the party membership by appearing reluctant to back the idea of supporting Remain in a second referendum.
The first signs of a serious internal revolt from party members on the left, who helped propel him to the leadership, came after Corbyn gave an interview to the Guardian in which he suggested he thought Brexit should go ahead and said EU state-aid rules would prevent a Labour government intervening to support UK industries.
His anti-EU tone drew immediate criticism from party supporters and members who had successfully persuaded the leadership to back the possibility of a second referendum at Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool in September.

Do members of his party agree with him?  ITV News says they do not.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has taken a stance “so completely at odds with the will of members” by saying the party would continue with Brexit should they win a snap election, a critic has said.
Mr Corbyn also said he would advocate Britain leaving the European Union in any second referendum and hit out at EU laws on state aid which he said blocked investment.
Labour passed a motion at its party conference in Liverpool in September that it would seek a general election as its first choice, but left open the option of supporting a second referendum.
Michael Chessum, who worked on Jeremy Corbyn’s successful 2016 leadership campaign and served on Momentum’s first steering committee, was among those expressing dissent at his support for Brexit.

GE

The Guardian reports the possibility of a snap General Election next year.

George Osborne has said a general election is “an under-reported likelihood for 2019” as the government grapples with delivering on its promise to take the country out of the EU.
The former chancellor, who has moved on to several lucrative private sector jobs since the Brexit referendum, including editor of London’s Evening Standard, said he believed the cabinet could even be considering a second referendum.
“I think we are heading towards a confrontation between leaving the European Union without a deal and either a delay or a return to the public on the question on Brexit, and that return to the public can either be a referendum or a general election,” Osborne said.
“In my view, a general election is at the moment an underreported likelihood for 2019, because in the British system the simplest way to resolve political impasses has been to return to the public at a general election.
“There is a way, of course, for the government to avoid that – the Conservative government is of course terrified of an election – they can themselves embrace a referendum, and that’s clearly under discussion in Downing Street even though it’s denied.”

Cocaine

The Star reports on a potential drugs problem.

ALBANIAN gangs are flooding the UK with “high-grade” cocaine.
It comes as deaths from the drug hit record levels. So-called “champagne” powder, which is up to 85% pure, is being smuggled in.
Traffickers in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool have cashed in on a seasonal surge in demand, selling coke at up to £100 a gram.
In 2017, a record 432 cocaine users died – almost four times the number in 2012. But the risks have not dampened demand.
A source close to a Manchester gang known as “the Albanians” told us: “They used to run things in London, but now they run things here, in Liverpool, and all the big cities.
“They have access to the purest stuff and they know how to take over. They have the muscle and they have the firepower.

NHS

Our health service has been told to get itself together for Brexit, says the Times.

The government has ordered NHS chiefs to “review” the holidays of more than 1m staff as it urges hospitals and GP practices to “ramp up no-deal preparations” for Brexit.
Every NHS organisation has been told to appoint a senior official responsible for contingency planning “as soon as possible”, according to guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care. They have also been instructed to see how many operations are planned for the final weekend of March and “be ready for further operational guidance”. The 34-page document, seen by The Sunday Times, is stark and detailed. It sets out action that NHS service providers should take to prepare for a no deal — in areas including staffing, regulation, finance and the supply of medicines.

But there is still a lot of sickness among staff, says the Mail.

Nurses took more than a million days off sick due to stress last year, official figures show.
The staggering number equates to every NHS nurse in England taking an average of two days off as a result of stress, anxiety or depression.
In total, nurses actually took almost 4.75 million days off in 2017 – the equivalent of ten each. Of those, 1,070,841 were due to stress or related problems
Stephanie Aiken, deputy director of nursing at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said many of her colleagues were exhausted by relentless strain.
‘It is a sad reflection of chronic nursing shortages across the country that nurses are becoming overwhelmed, stressed and burnt out,’ she said.
‘As demand for NHS services increases, nurses find themselves fearful of being blamed for errors.
‘This is physically and emotionally exhausting, while the resources which could address workforce shortages are lacking. The effect on health can be significant.’

And patients are not getting the treatment they need, says the Times.

Millions of patients face long waits in accident and emergency units, with three in five already in the “red zone” before Christmas. Doctors say Britain’s emergency care system is in “the worst condition we’ve ever seen”.
Crowded hospitals are failing to see people within four hours, and 82 A&E departments are classified as red, the highest level of risk for patients.
The proportion of A&Es in the red zone — a classification triggered when fewer than 85% of emergency patients are seen within four hours — has doubled in just three years.
Tens of thousands of patients are also being forced to wait in the back of ambulances while overstretched hospital trusts struggle to cope with soaring demand for treatment.

Security

We are being warned of further terror attacks in the Times.

Al-Qaeda is resurgent and seeking to carry out new terrorist atrocities against airliners and airports, the security minister Ben Wallace warned last night.
The terrorist group behind the 9/11 attacks in 2001 poses a growing threat that is keeping ministers “awake at night”, he told The Sunday Times.
Wallace said intelligence had revealed that al-Qaeda was developing technology to bring down passenger jets. Whitehall officials say that could include miniaturised bombs. Islamists have also plotted to use drones packed with explosives to blow up key targets.
The disclosures will hasten the security crackdown under way at airports following three days of chaos at Gatwick which was brought to a standstill by rogue drone operators.

Drones

And a potential repeat of the chaos at Gatwick is being addressed, says the Times.

Police officers at Britain’s biggest airports are to be armed with bazookas that trap rogue drones in nets to prevent a recurrence of last week’s attacks at Gatwick that ruined the Christmas travel plans of about 140,000 people.
Shoulder-launched drone-catchers are being tested by the Metropolitan police at Heathrow and could be deployed across the country as the government scrambles to protect airports from the threat of marauding drones.
Gatwick was shut for more than 36 hours last week after at least 50 sightings of drones near the airport. The chaos, which saw about 950 flights cancelled over three days, cost Gatwick and airlines that use the airport around £20m.

Education

Health and wellbeing could come under the Ofsted umbrella, says the Telegraph.

Ofsted is considering a new assessment to ensure schools are looking after pupils’ mental health and wellbeing, The Sunday Telegraph understands.
The move would be part of a wider shake up of the school inspection framework which will be unveiled by Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools, next month.
Under the new “personal development” category, schools could be marked on whether they have adequate provisions in place to promote the mental health and wellbeing of their pupils.
Ofsted officials have held meetings in recent weeks with mental health charities to discuss how this might take shape.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email