Brexit

We haven’t won yet, folks.  The Guardian reports further plots to delay Brexit.

Senior Tory and Labour MPs are planning to force the government to delay Brexit by several months to avoid a no-deal outcome if Theresa May fails to get her deal through parliament in January, the Observer has been told.
Cross-party talks have been under way for several weeks to ensure the 29 March date is put back – probably until July at the latest – if the government does not push for a delay itself. It is also understood that cabinet ministers have discussed the option of a delay with senior backbench MPs in both the main parties and that Downing Street is considering scenarios in which a delay might have to be requested from Brussels.
One senior Tory backbencher said: “I have had these discussions with ministers. They will not say so in public but of course the option of a delay has to be looked at in detail now. If we are determined to avoid a no deal, and the prime minister’s deal fails, we will have to ask to stop the clock, and that will give time for us to decide to go whatever way we decide thereafter.”
The Conservative MP and former attorney general Dominic Grieve said he believed that even if May got her deal through, there would probably be insufficient time to push all the necessary legislation through parliament to allow Brexit to happen smoothly and that a delay might well be necessary. But if her deal were voted down, the need to take up the option of a delay would become a “certainty”. He said: “I think that if she does not get her deal passed, a delay would be inevitable to give more time to avoid a no deal, and also there is the possibility that there would be a referendum, so this would allow for that.”

Even the trade secretary says Brexit is not a done deal, says the Express.

BRITAIN’s trade minister Liam Fox has said said there is a “50-50” chance that Brexit may be stopped if parliament rejects the government’s divorce deal with the European Union next month.
Mr Fox, a leading supporter of leaving the EU, told the Sunday Times, said: “If we were not to vote for that, I’m not sure I would give it (Brexit) much more than 50-50.” With three months left until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, May’s Brexit deal is floundering, opening up a range of possibilities from a Brexit without a trade deal to calling Brexit off. Earlier this month, May pulled a planned vote on her deal after admitting parliament would reject it.
Lawmakers are set to vote on the deal in the week starting January 14.

BBC News also pushes MPs towards accepting May’s deal.

Senior Brexiteer minister Liam Fox says he believes there is a 50-50 chance the UK will not leave the EU on 29 March if MPs reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal next month.
The international trade secretary told the Sunday Times it would only be “100% certain” if MPs back the deal.
He said if the deal is rejected, that “would shatter the bond of trust between the electorate and Parliament”.
The vote on the withdrawal agreement is planned for the third week of January.
The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.

He called it a matter of honour in the Telegraph.

The odds of Britain leaving the European Union are “50-50” if parliament rejects Theresa May’s Brexit deal, Liam Fox warned last night.
The International Trade Secretary said that the only way to be “100 per cent certain” that Britain will leave the EU is if MPs vote for the Prime Minister’s withdraw agreement.
“If we were not to vote for that, I’m not sure I would give much more than 50-50,” he told The Sunday Times.
He said that it was a “matter of honour” for Conservative MPs to back Mrs May and that parliament must respect the referendum result.
“Parliament cannot now, with any honour renege on that result.”

It seems January 14 is crunch time, says the Mail.

The chances of Brexit will be no more than 50-50 if MPs vote down  Theresa May‘s withdrawal deal, pro-Leave minister Liam Fox has said.
The Commons will vote on the deal in the week beginning on January 14 after Mrs May, expecting to lose, delayed the ‘meaningful vote’ earlier this month.
A defeat for Mrs May could lead to a no-deal Brexit, a confidence vote in the Commons or a possible general election.
The International Trade Secretary told The Sunday Times it was a ‘matter of honour’ for MPs to back the PM’s deal.
Dr Fox, who backed Leave in 2016, warned fellow MPs that failure to pass Mrs May’s deal would be ‘incendiary.
Having given the public the right to decide on EU membership in a referendum, ‘Parliament cannot now, with any honour, renege on that result’, the Cabinet minister said.

And the Times claims the deal is on a knife edge.

Brexit is on a knife edge and the chances of Britain leaving the European Union are “50-50” if MPs reject Theresa May’s deal, the international trade secretary says.
Liam Fox, a leading Brexit supporter, believes the only way to be “100% certain” Britain will depart is if MPs vote for the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement, adding: “If we were not to vote for that, I’m not sure I would give it much more than 50-50.”
His comments, in an interview with The Sunday Times, come amid claims that Julian Smith, the chief whip, has raised pressure on Conservative MPs over Christmas. Today Fox weighs in as he warns colleagues it is a “matter of honour” to back May. Failure would be “incendiary”.

At least Brexiteers have support in the foreign secretary, says the Mail.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt today burnishes his ‘born again Brexiteer’ credentials by calling for the UK to emulate the ultra-low tax example of Singapore in our post-EU future.
Mr Hunt – who is understood to be Theresa May’s preferred choice as successor when she leaves Downing Street – uses an article in today’s Mail on Sunday to pay tribute to the ‘dynamic’ Asian country beloved by pro-Brexit MPs, while dismissing the option of a second referendum and rowing back on remarks which suggested he was relaxed about a No Deal Brexit.
His confident vision of the UK’s future comes as his main Cabinet rival for No 10, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, is perceived to have been damaged by his handling of the Channel migrant crisis.
And it comes as allies of the Prime Minister say that they are increasingly confident that Brussels can be persuaded to shift position sufficiently on the controversial Northern Ireland ‘backstop’ to win the delayed Commons vote on her Brexit deal.

EU

A report suggests the EU is untrustworthy, says the Express.

FEWER than half the European Union’s citizens trust Brussels, according to research.
Only 40 per cent gave it a vote of confidence, against 48 per cent who did not, the European Commission study showed. Yet the 40 per cent figure was still heralded by the EU Barometer, a poll of all 28 member states, as its highest approval rating since 2010. The two-yearly surveys also found that most EU citizens want to stop any further expansion, flying in the face of the bloc leader’s dream.
In his state of the union address this year, EC president Jean-Claude Juncker declared: “There can therefore be not a moment’s respite in our efforts to build a more united Europe.”
Trust in the EU was highest in Lithuania (65 per cent), Denmark (60 per cent) and Sweden (59 per cent).
At the other end of the scale, only 36 per cent of Italians trust Brussels, while in France, where President Emmanuel Macron admitted last year that most would choose to quit the EU, it was just one in three (33 per cent).

And the Express also blames the bloc for making the Tories look bad.

TORY chiefs have condemned the EU for making the Conservative Party look like “baddies” for failing to secure UK citizens’ rights after Brexit.
James Cleverly took to Twitter to remind followers the UK Government has worked endlessly to secure residency rights of Europeans living in Britain before pointing out that, despite the remaining EU member states not doing the same for British expats, the Tories are perceived as “the baddies”. He said: “The UK has unilaterally guaranteed the residency rights of people from the EU who have chosen to call this home. “The EU27 have not reciprocated for UK nationals living in the EU, yet somehow we’re the baddies.”

Migrants

Several of the media report on the growing numbers of immigrants trying to get across the English Channel.  The Telegraph reports pressure on the Home Secretary.

Sajid Javid was last night under pressure to “get a grip” on the migrant crisis in the Channel after he admitted that the Home Office’s response had been ineffective.
The Home Secretary cut short a family holiday and was due to fly back to the UK on Sunday, as he was accused by his own MPs of demonstrating “a lack of leadership”.
The apparent bungling of the situation – which has seen 90 migrants rescued in the English Channel since Christmas Day – led to warnings that it could derail Mr Javid’s hopes to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister.
Mr Javid has so far resisted calls for Royal Navy boats to be deployed  to protect the border.

He cut short his holiday, says ITV News.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is under pressure to “get a grip” on the issue of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel amid criticism over the Government’s response.
Mr Javid has cut short his Christmas break and is returning to Westminster to deal with what he described as a “major incident” unfolding in waters off the south coast of England.
The Home Secretary has promised to do more to tackle the issue, saying it is of “grave concern” that people are attempting the perilous crossing.

And the Times also reports on the backlash.

Sajid Javid was last night forced to abandon his family holiday at a luxury safari hideaway in South Africa’s Kruger National Park after a growing backlash over his handling of the migrant crisis.
The home secretary came under fire after he declared a “major incident” over the surge in Channel boat migrants while he was staying at one of the most luxurious safari lodges in sub- Saharan Africa.
Javid, his wife and children were staying over Christmas at Dulini, a lodge that charges £840 per person per night. It offers guests private plunge pools and in-room massages to relax after game drives spotting leopards, lions and elephants by the water hole.

There are still calls to bring in the military, reports Sky News.

The home secretary is cutting short a family holiday to deal with the rising number of migrants trying to cross the English Channel in small boats.
Sajid Javid is facing calls to send in the Royal Navy after he declared the situation in the world’s busiest shipping lane a “major incident”.
Mr Javid said he was seeking an urgent call with his French counterpart, after holding talks with Border Force officials and the National Crime Agency, to address the problem following a spate of attempts by migrants to cross to the UK from France in vessels such as dinghies.
Immigration minister Caroline Nokes said: “I can’t comment on his whereabouts for security reasons, but he is on his way back and he will be at his desk on Monday.

And the Mail compares his actions so far to ‘Dad’s Army’.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid was last night forced to cut short a safari in South Africa amid a growing outcry over his ‘Dad’s Army’ handling of the Channel migrant crisis.
Mr Javid bowed to pressure to abandon his luxury break after MPs from his own party lined up to demand action – with one calling for the seizure of the French boats that migrants are using to reach Britain.
Mr Javid was yesterday packing his bags at a £840 per person per night resort in Kruger National Park to race to London for a series of emergency Whitehall meetings.

NHS

Elsewhere, the Times reports that patients are at risk because of a lack of experience of medical staff.

The safety of hospital patients is at risk because inexperienced junior doctors are being drafted into unfamiliar departments to help ease winter pressures, a junior doctors’ leader has warned.
Staff shortages and a surge in demand for treatment have left trainees looking after patients whose conditions they are not qualified to treat, Jeeves Wijesuriya, the British Medical Association’s junior doctors committee chairman, said.
“We’re taking risks with the safety of those patients,” said Wijesuriya. “If you’re a surgical trainee who does knee surgery, and you’re seeing a pregnant mum, that’s not right.”

The Times claims patients are dying at an alarming rate.

Almost 90 people a day died while waiting for care to be arranged for them at home, according to new figures.
Data published for the first time by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) shows that in the past year 32,115 adults died before they could get the care they required.
Many are likely to have had illnesses such as terminal cancer, dementia or motor neurone disease that left them housebound and dependent on help.
Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, said: “It’s very sad that so many older people died before they received the social care they had asked for and it makes you wonder what their quality of life was like as they approached the end of their lives.

And the Guardian reports on the state of maternity services.

Ministers are to order an expansion of staff in maternity services and more recruitment of expert neonatal nurses and specialists in the hope of making the NHS “the best place in the world to give birth”, the health secretary Matt Hancock will say on Sunday.
The proposals will be contained in the government’s new 10-year plan for the NHS, expected to be published in the second week of January. Maternity services in England will undergo a digital revolution which will see every child’s health record – the so-called “red book” – made available on a parent’s phone.
The announcement is one of many NHS funding pledges expected to flow from the service’s long-term plan, which has already been delayed as a result of the intense political infighting over Brexit.

Patient safety has been put at risk due to cost cutting, says the Times.

Hazardous syringe drivers linked to large numbers of NHS patient deaths stayed in use because Whitehall officials feared the “cost implications” of replacing them, it can be revealed.
The admission is in a new Department of Health and Social Care report drawn up after The Sunday Times found the “dangerous” devices were used until 2015, two decades after it was known they had caused fatalities in British hospitals.
Graseby drivers discharged painkillers into the blood of mostly elderly patients, but design faults and confusing labels led to the accidental rapid infusion of drugs and an unknown number of deaths.

Military

The defence secretary is talking up Britain’s global military presence in the Telegraph.

Britain will open two new military bases in the Caribbean and South East Asia as the country looks to step up its military presence overseas after Brexit, Gavin Williamson has revealed.
The Defence secretary urges Britons to stop downplaying the country’s influence internationally and recognise that the UK will stand tall on the world stage after leaving the European Union.
In an interview with The Telegraph in his Ministry of Defence office, Mr Williamson says: “We have got to be so much more optimistic about our future as we exit the European Union.

The Independent also has the story.

The UK could become a “true global player” after Brexit by opening new military bases in the Caribbean and Far East, the defence secretary has claimed.
Gavin Williamson said he was looking into new opportunities for the  armed forces as he described leaving the EU as ”our biggest moment as a nation since the end of the Second World War”.
He did not identify any locations but a Sunday Telegraph report suggested the possibilities included Singapore or Brunei in the South China Sea and Montserrat or Guyana in the Caribbean.
The defence secretary also downplayed the significance of his announcement that 3.500 troops were being put on standby, describing it as “good sensible planning to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible”.

Education

Parents who volunteer to help out at schools are being targeted, says the Telegraph.

“Unprecedented levels of surveillance and control” are deterring parents from volunteering to help out at their child’s school fair or a book sale, a report has found.
The study by the Manifesto Club campaign group has laid bare how tens of thousands of parents were checked for criminal history after they volunteered for activities including listening to reading, assisting on a school trip or helping at the school disco.
Criminal records checks on volunteers have increased four-fold from 211,000 in 2002/3 when they were first introduced to 875,000 in 2017/18.

And some pupils’ exams are easier than others’, claims the Guardian.

Tory education reforms are giving private school pupils a huge additional advantage in the hunt for university places and jobs by allowing them to sit easier GCSEs than the more rigorous exams that are being forced upon state schools, new official figures suggest.
Data released in parliamentary answers, and research into the exams chosen by private schools, shows the extent to which the independent sector is still opting for less demanding, internationally-recognised GCSEs (IGCSEs), which state schools are progressively being barred from using.
Last night the Labour MP Lucy Powell, a former shadow education secretary, who received the data after tabling a parliamentary question, said it was now clear that reforms of the GCSE system had put state school pupils at a disadvantage compared with their private school counterparts.

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