Brexit

The Brexit department is to be renamed, says the Telegraph.

Boris Johnson is to take personal charge of the negotiations over the UK’s future relationship with the EU, as he prepares to rebrand his Brexit unit “Taskforce Europe”.
After the planned closure of the Department for Exiting the European Union at the end of January, David Frost, Mr Johnson’s Europe adviser, will lead the team responsible for implementing the Withdrawal Agreement and conducting negotiations for a free-trade agreement.
The name given to the unit, which Mr Johnson will oversee, mirrors the EU’s rebranding of its Brexit negotiations team.
Michel Barnier’s Taskforce 50 has become “The Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom”, as the two sides prepare to thrash out a trade deal once the UK’s divorce agreement is passed by Parliament.

And the Times reports that the PM has banned the use of the ‘B’ word.

The “B-word” has become so taboo for the Tories that Boris Johnson is removing “Brexit” from the name of the taskforce that will negotiate the UK’s future relationship with the European Union.
In a sign of the prime minister’s determination that next year must not be dominated by Brexit, as this year has been, the new negotiating team — led by the prime minister’s Europe adviser, David Frost — will be called Taskforce Europe.
It will be based in No 10 from the end of January. The Department for Exiting the European Union (DexEU) will cease to exist once the UK finally leaves the bloc.

The Mail says he’s determined to challenge Brussels.

Boris Johnson has signalled his determination to face down Brussels in 2020’s crunch post-Brexit talks by setting up a new Downing Street unit to spearhead negotiations.
The establishment of Taskforce Europe is at the top of the ‘to do’ list being drafted by Mr Johnson from the beaches of Mustique where he is spending the New Year as he prepares for Brexit next month and – he has promised – a trade deal with the EU by December.
Also high on Mr Johnson’s list are a Budget which could lead to a hike in Capital Gains Tax, a radical reorganisation of Whitehall departments and a mass Cabinet cull expected to lead to Michael Gove being given overall charge of global trade talks.

But the Guardian claims we’re not over the crisis yet.

The next year will see a fresh Brexit crisis, parliament sidelined and a renewed threat to the union – but there is still hope for supporters of progressive politics, according to some of the leading figures who took on the government over Brexit.
The 80-strong majority secured by Boris Johnson at the election ended the parliamentary stalemate that left the prime minister unable to push through his  Brexit deal. The election also ended the tenures of key figures responsible for leading the battle to oppose his plans.
The Observer spoke to David Gauke, who quit the cabinet; Sam Gyimah, who defected from the Tories to the Lib Dems; Anna Soubry, who set up a new party; and Dominic Grieve, who helped lead the fight against Brexit in parliament, about the crucial year ahead. They pointed to key contradictions in Johnson’s plans that could lead quickly to a Brexit crisis – and predicted he would not pivot towards securing a soft Brexit trade deal with the EU.

The Express says Boris will not extend the trade talks deadline.

BORIS JOHNSON has slapped down EU Chief Ursula Von der Leyen after she warned Brussels may need to extend the deadline for talks about a new trade relationship the UK.
Britain has set a hard deadline of December 2020 for reaching a new trade deal with the EU. But the European Commission President said both sides needed to seriously think about whether this is enough time to negotiate a new trade deal and work out agreements about a series of other issues. Ms Von der Leyen told French daily newspaper Les Echos: “It would be reasonable to evaluate the situation mid-year and then, if necessary, agree on extending the transition period.”

EU

It may be that the bloc is beginning to realise its intransigence is not a good idea, says the Express.

THE EU “will be the loser” if the European Commission fails to make a trade and security deal with Britain by the end of 2020.
The stark warning from two senior European politicians is the first crack in the united front presented by the 27 members ahead of negotiations. The senior ministers in the Hungarian government have also warned that attacks on Boris Johnson’s Brexit policy by EU leaders are “unacceptable” because the will of the British people needs to be respected.

Blair

The Telegraph exposes the two faces of the former Prime Minister.

Tony Blair was bidding for contracts with the European Union for his “institute for global change” as he publicly campaigned to overturn Brexit, The Telegraph can disclose.
Documents obtained by this newspaper show that the former prime ­minister held talks with officials about striking a funding agreement between the European Commission and the not-for-profit Tony Blair Institute (TBI).
The officials included Ana Gallo-Alvarez, who was previously seconded to Mr Blair’s Middle East envoy office as deputy head of mission.

Labour Party

Her Majesty’s opposition is still in turmoil, reports the Telegraph.

Labour risks becoming a “third party” in the Commons if it fails to drop Jeremy Corbyn’s brand of politics before the next election, two former ministers have warned.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester and former health secretary, said Labour was on course to become a “shrunken political party” or “red version of the Liberal Democrats” unless it returned to “credible” policies that appeal to working class voters.

And the Times speculates on who will succeed Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn’s allies are divided over who should succeed him amid concern that the frontrunner, Rebecca Long Bailey, is an unknown and lacks broad appeal among party members.
Ian Lavery, the former miner and pro-Brexit chairman of the party, has told friends that he is considering a leadership challenge but is waiting for Long Bailey to set out her vision first.
His candidacy would split Corbyn’s inner circle and enhance the prospects of a more moderate candidate such as the shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer.

The Times reports it could be a young woman.

In the days after Labour’s crushing election defeat, John McDonnell summoned several young activists to discuss what had gone wrong. But as the group completed their post-mortem examination, they alighted on an arguably far more pressing problem.
Rebecca Long Bailey, McDonnell’s protégée and known by him as “My Becky”, has long been touted as heir apparent to Jeremy Corbyn. Yet to many on the left, the shadow business secretary is an unknown — and neither popular nor dynamic enough to preserve the left’s control over the party.

But there’s still antisemitism in the party, reports the Guardian.

Accusations of cronyism at the top of the Labour party and a “repeated unwillingness to stand up to the stain of antisemitism” must be confronted if it is to learn from its “catastrophic” election loss, a group of defeated MPs and candidates have warned.
The group says that Labour needs to go “way beyond a simple review” of its election performance if it is to understand why it fell to such a heavy defeat, which left it with its lowest number of seats since 1935. In a letter to the Observer, they say the issue of antisemitism was “constantly relayed back to us on the doorstep”.
The intervention will be seen as an attempt by figures on the centre and right of the party not to allow Labour’s poor performance to be underplayed.

Judiciary

Our Supreme Court judges have been criticised by a former barrister, says BBC News.

Former Tory leader Michael Howard has said judges sometimes “distort” the law they are interpreting “to reach the result they want to achieve”.
Lord Howard, a former barrister, criticised the Supreme Court for ruling that Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was unlawful.
On Friday, outgoing Supreme Court President Lady Hale insisted judges were not “politically motivated”.
But Lord Howard questioned whether unelected judges should make the law.

iNews also reports the claims that the judges ‘distorted’ the law.

The former Tory leader, Michael Howard, has claimed judges sometimes “distort the law” to achieve their own desired outcomes.
Lord Howard of Lympne, a former barrister, argued judges in cases such as the Supreme Court ruling on Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament had shown clear bias in interpreting statute to “reach they result they want to achieve”.
In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said that under the current legal system judges had been allowed to “increasingly substitute their own view of what is right for the view of Parliament and of ministers”.
Lord Howard also questioned whether it should be elected politicians or unelected judges who make the law, arguing an urgent change to the system is needed.

There’s a claim that the judges have been politicised in the Guardian.

The former Tory leader Michael Howard has criticised the supreme court for ruling that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament was “unlawful” and called for a reform of the judiciary.
Judges in England and Wales have long been permitted to interpret law on a case-by-case basis, although they are bound by precedent, but Howard claimed that they sometimes “distort” law to “reach the result they want to achieve”.
In comments which will be seen as part of growing calls for judicial reform within the Conservative party,  Lord Howard of Lympne – a former barrister – alleged that judges have “increasingly substituted their own view of what is right for the view of parliament and of ministers”.

The retiring president says she is not politically motivated, in Breitbart.

Retiring president of the Supreme Court Brenda Hale has claimed that she and her colleagues — who overturned Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament — are not “activists” and are “not politically motivated”.
The UK’s Supreme Court has come under the spotlight in recent months after in September it ruled in favour of anti-Brexit activists Gina Miller and Joanna Cherry MP by ruling Prime Minister Johnson’s prorogation (suspension) of parliament was  “unlawful”.

New Years honours

Revenge has been taken on the former speaker, reports the Sun.

JOHN Bercow has been snubbed in the New Year’s Honours list – after Boris Johnson vowed revenge for his Brexit-blocking bias.
The former Commons speaker is the first Speaker in 230 years not automatically offered a peerage after he finally stepped down last month.
Boris is understood to have ignored the custom after  Bercow repeatedly tore up the Parliamentary rulebook to block his Brexit deal.
Staunch Remainer Bercow allowed backbenchers to take control and pass a law delaying Britain’s exit from the EU ahead of the General Election.
The decision to not elevate Bercow to the upper chamber after he resigned has been welcomed due to his “anti-Brexit bias”.
A Government source told the Mail Online: “No one in this Government will be rushing to give Bercow a peerage. He likes to think of himself as a reforming Speaker, yet he’s been dogged by scandals and given up any pretence he is impartial.

The Mail says he’s been snubbed.

John Bercow has been snubbed in the New Years honours, as it is believed he will not be automatically offered a peerage, after finally stepping down last month.
Sources suggest Boris Johnson had planned to exact revenge on Mr Bercow for his ‘bias’ over Brexit by denying him a seat in the Lords.
Allies of the Prime Minister said he would rip up the convention that Commons Speakers are automatically elevated to the upper chamber when they resign, in the same way Mr Bercow repeatedly ignored parliamentary precedent when dealing with Brexit.

But there’s been a major security leak, reports the Independent.

The government accidentally published the home addresses of more than 1,000 New Year Honours recipients.
The list included celebrities such as Elton John as well as some of the country’s most senior police officers and politicians.
The list was briefly posted to a government website, allowing anyone who visited the page to download it as a spreadsheet.
The file contained postcodes and house numbers of nearly every person recognised in the list. It included celebrities such as TV chef Nadiya Hussain and cricketer Ben Stokes, senior politicians including Iain Duncan Smith, as well as senior police officers.
The Cabinet Office said it had referred itself to the Information Commissioner’s Office and would be contacting anyone involved.

BBC News reports that the government had said it was sorry for the breach.

The government has apologised “to all those affected” after it accidentally published addresses of more than 1,000 New Year Honour recipients online.
The file – which included details of senior police officers and politicians – was uploaded to an official website on Friday evening and removed Saturday.
The Cabinet Office told the BBC it was “looking into how this happened”.
Among the addresses were those of Sir Elton John and former director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders.
Also on the list of 1,097 honours recipients were high-profile names such as cricketer Ben Stokes, former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, TV cook Nadiya Hussain, and former Ofcom boss Sharon White.
The data breach was described as “farcical and inexcusable” by privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch.

The Mail calls it ‘shocking’.

The home addresses of celebrities, counter-terrorism experts and senior police on the New Year’s Honours List have been exposed in a shocking security blunder by the Government.
It is feared that the ‘disastrous’ breach of confidential information could be exploited by kidnappers, spies and terrorists.
The home details of more than 1,000 people who are due to be honoured were accidentally put up online by the Cabinet Office. Pop star Sir Elton John, Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain and England cricket hero Ben Stokes are among those affected. As the serious error yesterday sent shockwaves through Whitehall, it emerged that: Experts involved in the response to last year’s Salisbury poisonings had their addresses published, putting them at risk of Russian retaliation; Police are preparing to give security briefings to those feared to be most at risk; Former Cabinet Minister Iain Duncan Smith branded the error a ‘disaster’ after his home address was published; The Government could be hit by a huge fine by the Information Commissioner’s Office for the data breach.

BBC

One of its own guest editors has pointed out the BBC’s bias, reports the Mail.

The BBC has been accused of being biased on topics such as climate change and Brexit by its own Radio 4 guest editor.
Charles Moore, who edited Saturday’s edition of the flagship show, accused the BBC of being ‘biased’ on climate change and promoting ‘alarmism’ about its consequences.
Mr Moore said he also faced ‘obstacles’ from within the corporation to getting science writer Lord Matthew Ridley onto the show.
The Conservative peer has said that the risks of climate change are ‘greatly exaggerated’ and that the BBC regularly gives airtime to ‘doomsday cultists’ who make over the top predictions, according to The Telegraph.

NHS

Poor hospital food could be hindering patients’ recovery, says the Times.

Prue Leith, the chef and Bake Off judge, has warned that the cheap, inedible food served up in too many hospitals is stopping patients getting better.
Leith, who is an adviser on a government overhaul of hospital food due to be published early next year, said too many sick people were being dished up “awful cheap gloop” that was hindering, rather than helping, their recovery.
When her mother was in hospital two years ago in north London, she was served “a grey mess on her plate. The slosh was overflowing. She put the top back on it. I said, ‘What is it?’ She said lamb korma but it could be chicken à la king.”

HS2

There’s still a question over the future of the future of the high speed rail line, claims the Telegraph.

Pushing ahead with HS2 could undermine the “infrastructure revolution” that Boris Johnson has promised to unleash across the UK, a former government aide has warned.
Bob Seely, who resigned from his official post in July to speak out against the proposed rail line, warns that while the scheme “has worth” it could leave too much money and “industry capacity … focused on one project which won’t deliver for the best part of 15 years.”
In an article for telegraph.co.uk, Mr Seely, a member of the new HS2 Review Group of Tory MPs, urges Mr Johnson to prioritise the northern rail projects that are due to link cities including Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, and to start building HS2 only once they are completed.

Rail travel

There have been a lot of train cancellations over Christmas, reports the Times.

Some of Britain’s busiest stations have been running with less than half the usual number of trains over the Christmas period, as new figures reveal the full extent of rail misery over the festive season.
The poor service comes just days before passengers are hit with an average fare increase of 2.7% on January 2, meaning many commuters will pay at least £100 more for their annual season ticket.
A continuing strike and emergency timetable at South Western Railway has left 25 stations running with less than half the usual number of trains, including the country’s busiest station, London Waterloo. Just 18% of the trains that usually pass through Farnham in Surrey have done so.

Stock market

Money has started flowing into the stock exchange, says the Telegraph.

Almost £4bn has been ploughed back into funds that invest in London-listed shares since the election was called, in the biggest wave of money since prior to the EU referendum.
Recovering investor confidence after Boris Johnson’s decisive victory in the election has driven billions back into UK stock funds in recent weeks.
About £3.8bn returned to the UK’s “unloved” stock market during the campaign and the week after the prime minister’s triumph, according to data firm EPFR Global.
Money had been leaking out of UK equity funds for most of 2019 but London’s market has seen the strongest inflows since the second half of 2015 during the recent reversal.
Investors have piled into UK assets after Mr Johnson’s victory brightened the outlook for the economy by removing the uncertainty plaguing businesses.

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