Cabinet reshuffle

Theresa May’s hopes of asserting her authority with a Cabinet revamp fell flat after senior ministers derailed her reshuffle by refusing to budge from their jobs. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, successfully faced down the Prime Minister when she asked him to become business secretary, forcing Mrs May to tear up her plans to promote or move other ministers who were already pencilled in. Then Justine Greening, who had been asked to become the new Work and Pensions Secretary, dug in her heels during two and a half hours inside Downing Street, refusing the new role before finally announcing she was quitting the Government altogether. Mrs May’s inability to impose her will on her ministers was openly mocked as “embarrassing” by some of her own MPs, with one Government source describing the day’s events as “the night of the blunt stiletto”.

Justine Greening quit in protest at her demotion from education secretary last night as a shambolic reshuffle laid bare Theresa May’s lack of authority and revived questions over the competence of her administration. Ms Greening turned down the prime minister’s offer of the post of welfare secretary and walked out of government after more than two hours of wrangling in Downing Street. Earlier Jeremy Hunt resisted pressure to become the new business secretary, persuading Mrs May to allow him to remain as health secretary with a brief expanded to include social care. The prime minister’s allies said that Mr Hunt had not refused to move but had made a “passionate” case to be allowed to remain.

Theresa May’s bid to renew her Government with a Cabinet reshuffle fell flat on Monday after key minsters refused to be moved from their jobs and one walked out of her Cabinet. The Prime Minister had wanted to keep Justine Greening in her top team, but failed to stop her quitting with the former education secretary rejecting a transfer to another department. Ms May’s authority was further called into question after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt not only rebutted an attempt to move him, but managed to secure an enhanced role in his current post. One senior Conservative MP said: “If this was meant to show she has the power to reshuffle her Cabinet, it has shown the complete opposite.”  

Theresa May‘s New Year reshuffle unravelled last night, denting her hopes of putting the disasters of 2017 behind her. She had hoped to use a shake-up of her leadership team to stamp her authority on government. But the plans were torpedoed when senior ministers refused to move. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned Mrs May he would rather quit than accept a move to the business department – forcing her to back down. And, following talks lasting more than two hours, the Prime Minister was forced to sack Justine Greening when she refused to move from education to work and pensions. Whitehall sources said Mrs May had also ditched plans to axe her former leadership rival Andrea Leadsom as Commons Leader.


THE SNP is preparing to host a cross-party summit at the Houses of Parliament aimed at building support for Britain to remain in the customs union and single market after Brexit. Despite the Government repeatedly ruling out the prospect of keeping Britain’s customs union and single market membership after Brexit, the Scottish Nationalists want to bring the idea back to the negotiating table and are looking to other opposition parties to support them. The talks, co-ordinated by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, will involve the leaders of the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens, the party said. Altogether the four parties have just 52 MPs – less than one-sixth of the 316 Conservative MPs. The SNP has said there is a chair waiting for Jeremy Corbyn at the round-table meeting if he chooses to attend, but the Labour leader is believed to have indicated he would not turn up.

BBC News
Holyrood’s constitution committee has backed the Scottish government’s refusal to put Brexit legislation to a consent vote unless changes are made. Scottish ministers want the EU Withdrawal Bill amended before they put it to MSPs for legislative consent. The committee, which includes Tory MSPs, agreed that, as it stands, the bill is “incompatible with devolution”. Scottish Secretary David Mundell has promised to bring forward changes to the disputed part of the bill. Meanwhile, MSPs are to debate Brexit on their first day back at Holyrood after the festive break, while the SNP’s Westminster group leader Ian Blackford is to meet with leaders from the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Greens to discuss a common approach to backing single market membership. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn declined an invitation to take part in the summit, calling the group’s approach “flawed”, and the Scottish party’s leader Richard Leonard said the SNP could not be trusted on Brexit.


Jean-Claude Juncker has dashed remainers’ hopes of a second Brexit referendum and warned EU countries they will have to pay extra billions to plug the hole left by the UK leaving. The European Commission president told a conference of EU officials and national ministers “not to believe” politicians such as Tony Blair or Sir Nick Clegg who are campaigning to reverse the 2016 vote. “I don’t think Brexit can be put to the voters again. I don’t believe it,” he said. Mr Juncker, 63, warned that when Britain left, national contributions for the EU’s 27 remaining countries would have to rise to fill a shortfall of more than €18 billion annually, based on this year’s spending figures.

The president of the European Commission has warned against believing claims that Brexit will not happen and that Britain will remain in the EU. Speaking at a discussion of the next EU budget in Brussels Jean-Claude Juncker said the Commission’s “working hypothesis” would be that “our British friends will be leaving us” and that future spending had to be planned accordingly. Mr Juncker said the loss of the UK, a net contributor, from the EU budget, meant other EU countries would have to contribute more. “We need more than 1 per cent [increase in spending] if we are to pursue EU policies and fund them adequately,” the Commission President said. “Don’t believe those who say [Brexit] is not going to happen. Our working hypothesis is that our British friends will be leaving us. 
Between now and then we need to find the means of reacting to the loss of a significant number of billion of euros when a net contributor goes.”

BRUSSELS boss Jean-Claude Juncker last night insisted Brexit will go ahead next year regardless of the opposition from Remainers. And the European Commission chief  said  those claiming otherwise are deluded. His remarks comes as a major rebuke to Remainers who want to reverse Brexit such as Labour peer Lord Adonis and former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg. The pair are among those pushing for a second referendum on the deal Theresa May secures with EU leaders. Mr Juncker told a conference in Brussels: “Don’t believe those who say that it’s not going to happen and that people have realised their error in the UK. 
I don’t think that that’s going to be the case. Our British friends will be leaving us on the 30th of March 2019.”

The European Commission ignored scientific advice when it allowed the use of electric shocks to catch fish in British waters, an investigation shows. Foreign trawlers using electric pulses end up killing cod and other species they are not hunting when using the devices. British fishermen have reported that the sea is a “graveyard” after a visit by the overseas boats. They tow electrodes that fire bursts of electricity into the seabed to force out sole and plaice from the mud. Pulse fishing is illegal in EU waters but the commission has granted exemptions, partly for research, to about 100 trawlers. Most are Dutch-owned and operate mainly in the UK North Sea. The government has ordered an investigation into the practice.

Some 290 migrants have been rescued from the Mediterranean Sea as they tried to reach Europe according to Libyan authorities. The migrants, including 53 women and 57 children, were rescued from two stranded vessels which suffered engine troubles during the crossing on Sunday. They were rescued off the coast of Garabulli, 30 miles east of Tripoli, then taken to the capital, naval officer Meftah al-Zlitni said. The bodies of two female migrants were found on one of the vessels, a statement from the navy added. The rescue took place one day after 64 migrants are believed to have drowned when a smugglers’ rubber dinghy sank in the same area of the Mediterranean. The boat started sinking due to a puncture off the coast of Libya. Italian coast guard eventually rescued 86 people, and retrieved the bodies of eight dead women.


Wild animals will be banned from circuses in England under plans reportedly due to be announced by Environment Secretary Michael Gove. The move follows a public consultation in which 94.5 per cent of the public said they would support such a ban. Animals in circuses are often subject to brutal and degrading treatment at the hands of circus masters – frequently beaten, starved and keep in unsanitary conditions while they are made to perform for crowds. Scotland passed legislation to ban wild animals at the end of last year and over half of local authorities in the UK already refused to allow these types of circuses to perform in their boroughs.  Similarly more than 40 different countries around the world, including most of Europe, Latin America and several Asian countries, have already outlawed the practice. But the Government has been dragging its heels on the subject in recent years even though former Prime Minister David Cameron promised to ban the practice in the Conservatives 2010 manifesto. A bill was introduced by Mr Cameron’s 2015 Government which received widespread support from MPs and was expected to reach its second reading last year but the legislation fell after the snap election in the summer. 


Today, I was granted an audience with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator. I requested this appointment after Sir Nicholas CleggLord Adonis and Ken Clarke  were able to see the great man in Brussels in October. Not unreasonably, I thought Barnier might be interested in hearing a different point of view about the future of our country to that offered up by this Remain obsessed trio – one that more accurately represents the 17.4m people who voted Leave. Brexiteers do make up the clear majority in Britain, after all. Securing this encounter was not easy, however. Initially, Barnier’s office suggested we meet in the members’ bar of the EU parliament. Finally, he agreed to see me in a formal setting. And so I walked through the doors of the EU Commission in the freezing cold Belgian capital this morning.

Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage has revealed the details of his meeting with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, in an exclusive interview with 
Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM. Breitbart London Editor in Chief Raheem Kassam asked Farage to recap his encounter with Barnier, who has hosted many Remainer and Opposition politicians since the Brexit negotiations began but was reluctant to meet the former UKIP supremo. “I had a suspicion that the real views of 17.4 million people had never quite been put to him,” explained the veteran MEP, referring to the referendum voters who triggered Brexit by voting to Leave the European Union in June 2016. “So, the first question I asked — and by the way, I went out to the public, and asked, ‘Please, send me your questions, and I’ll ask them’, and people duly obliged — the first question I asked him, was did he understand why Brexit had happened? “And it was very interesting: he thinks it’s because people were lied to.

NIGEL Farage has demanded that immigration is put at the heart of the Brexit negotiations after a top level meeting with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier. In a scathing attack on the UK Government and European Commission, the former Ukip leader attacked the “deeply worrying” failure of European Union exit talks to address border controls after a meeting with Brussels’ chief Brexit negotiator. He claimed that Mr Barnier does not understand at all that immigration fuelled the vote to leave and believes the result was down to the promise of extra cash for the NHS.  But Government sources told the Daily Express that the senior Ukip MEP is just experiencing the devious negotiating tactics used by the European Commission.  The meeting took place after Mr Barnier had agreed to meet Remainer delegations led by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and separately by former Lib Dem deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.  

Sky News
Nigel Farage has warned that the UK still faces a tough road ahead in Brexit talks, following a meeting with the EU’s chief negotiator. Mr Farage, a UKIP MEP, had 
offered the public the chance to suggest questions to be asked of Michel Barnier when the two met in Brussels earlier. The questions were:
:: Does Michel Barnier understand why Britain voted for Brexit?
:: What happens to the EU’s economy if there’s no trade deal with Britain?
:: How does Michel Barnier view mass immigration into the EU coming across the Mediterranean and elsewhere?
After his meeting, Mr Farage told Sky News that the most “illuminating” question had been the first, saying: “(Mr Barnier) rather takes the view… it was because people had been promised a lot of money for the health service. “What he really didn’t understand at all was that open door immigration within the EU had been an absolute key driver of this. “The most disappointing thing is that it’s pretty clear in the talks that have happened so far that immigration hasn’t even been discussed. We haven’t even begun to talk about how we’re going to put some proper controls in place.”