Brexit

The fight to ignore the opinions of 17.4million voters continues, says the Sun.

PRO-EU ranter Lord Adonis pledged outright war on Brexit yesterday as he admitted he intends to “sabotage” our exit from the EU.
The unelected Labour peer pledged to unpick the UK’s vote to leave as he claimed civil servants believe ministers are “trashing the national interest” on Brexit.
His latest intervention comes days after he quit his post as Government infrastructure tsar and follows Tony Blair’s latest onslaught.
Despite insisting he was a “democrat” he told LBC radio: “I absolutely want to sabotage Brexit, but I do not want to do so in an undemocratic way because I am a democrat. I believe passionately in the workings of our democratic institutions.”
He insisted when people find out the terms of the deal are “less good than the status quo” campaigners will be able to halt Brexit.

And the oddly-named peer is backing the whoppers being expounded by a former Prime Minister, reports Breitbart.

Tony Blair claimed Friday that Brexit is already damaging Britain’s economy by hitting productivity – hours before new data revealed productivity growth has, in fact, hit a six-year high.
The former prime minister’s claim was included in a 32-page document arguing Brexit was harming the NHS, jobs, and living standards, likely designed to make the case for blocking Brexit by pushing for a second referendum in 2019, as he suggested  Thursday.
The document quotes the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), who in November 2017 reduced its forecast for productivity growth by 0.5 per cent per annum.
The renewed weakness of productivity growth over the first half of 2017 will almost certainly have been exacerbated by the Brexit Vote,” the Tony Blair Institute for Change quotes the OBR as saying.

Guido also report the country’s strong economic position.

Barely a week into 2018 the #DespiteBrexit crowd are already being confounded by strong economic indicators. First news from the ONS that hourly labour productivity showed its biggest increase since 2011, up 0.9% in the third quarter of 2017.  Remember that the next time a remainer lectures you on Brexit and the productivity crisis.
Meanwhile, London is enjoying a post-Brexit tech  boom after venture capital investment in the sector reached an enormous all-time high. London is beating its closest European rival, Paris, hands down: London tech firms on average receive four times as much investment cash as French companies. Total tech investment in London now stands at £2.9 billion, beating every other European city. That’s almost double the previous year…
Turns out yet another aspect of remain scaremongering was entirely wrong. Happy New Year!

Customs union

The Times reports the Prime Minister is to match the EU’s customs union.

Theresa May will give herself powers to create a near-identical customs union with the EU after Brexit under legislation to be considered next week.
The customs relationship with the EU could be one of the biggest political issues this year as Labour edges closer to pledging to stay in a union with the EU even if it stops Britain striking independent trade deals.
Mrs May has given herself maximum room for manoeuvre in a trade bill that will be debated in the Commons on Monday and Tuesday, in a move that could worry Brexit supporters.
Clause 31 of the bill allows the government to establish “a customs union between the UK and the country or territory”.

And the chancellor also has had something to say, which is reported in the Independent.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has refused to rule out being in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.
Mr Hammond was offered the opportunity to close down the option of the UK remaining in a long-term customs union with the EU during an exchange of letters.
Chair of the Treasury Select Committee Nicky Morgan who wrote to the Chancellor, said it proved the option was still on the table.
It comes as British negotiators prepare to hammer out details of how the UK’s transition period will be governed once the country’s EU membership ends, expected to be in March 2019.
Theresa May has said the country will leave the existing EU customs union at that point, with Brexiteers demanding the move to allow Britain to negotiate new trade deals.

The Guardian also reports the chancellor.

Philip Hammond has left open the possibility of Britain being part of a customs union with the EU after Brexit in a letter to parliament’s Treasury watchdog.
The chancellor, who is on the side of maintaining a close relationship with the bloc, said the government would be guided by what delivered the greatest economic advantage to the UK.
The final arrangement would also look at “three strategic objectives”, said Hammond. They are “ensuring UK-EU trade is as frictionless as possible; avoiding a ‘hard border’ between Ireland and Northern Ireland; and establishing an independent international trade policy”.
The chancellor gave the answer in reply to a letter from the Treasury committee, chaired by the Conservative MP Nicky Morgan, which asked him whether he would like to “explicitly rule out the UK participating in a customs union with the EU as part of its end-state relationship”.

And the Express claims the chancellor’s words will irritate fellow members of the Cabinet.

PHILIP Hammond has risked irritating hard-line Brexit supporters by refusing to rule out Britain staying in a customs union with the EU.
In a letter to a cross-party committee of MPs, the Chancellor backed any arrangement with the bloc that would allow the “freest and most frictionless trade”.
His remarks are likely to deepen the Cabinet rift over Britain’s future relationship with Brussels.
Euro-sceptic Tories have accused the Chancellor, a Remain supporter in the run up to the 2016 EU referendum of resisting a clean break with the bloc.
Some fear that remaining in a customs union with the EU could curb Britain’s opportunities of signing new free trade deals with countries outside Europe.

Labour Party

The official opposition party is in disarray over Brexit, reports the Independent.

Labour frontbencher has resigned after defying his party over keeping Britain in the customs union after Brexit.
In a sign of continuing tensions over Labour’s position on Europe, Alex Cunningham has stepped down from his role as shadow pensions minister after rebelling against orders to abstain on a crunch Commons vote on the future relationship with the EU.
Mr Cunningham was among 62 Labour MPs to back an amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill tabled by former minister Chris Leslie in December, which called for Britain to remain in the customs union when it leaves the bloc.
However Jeremy Corbyn had ordered his party to abstain, as Labour’s position is that a future  customs union should be part of the Brexit negotiations.

The Express also has the story.

LABOUR’S bitter divisions over Europe deepened today when it emerged a frontbencher had quit over Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit stance.
Alex Cunningham resigned his post as shadow pensions minister after a clash with the party’s hard-Left leader over whether the UK should stay in the EU’s customs union.
He was understood to have stood down before Christmas but the reason for his exit was only revealed today.
Mr Cunningham, who had been in his frontbench post for 15 months, defied Labour whips to vote in favour of Britain remaining in the EU customs union after Brexit.
He was among 64 Labour MPs who ignored their leader’s instruction to abstain in a Commons vote on the issue last month.

Conservatives

The Tories are not doing much better, says the Telegraph.

Theresa May is considering delaying a promotion for  Jeremy Hunt when she reshuffles her Cabinet next week because of the worsening winter crisis in the NHS, The Daily Telegraph understands.
Mrs May wants the Health Secretary to take over the role of de facto deputy prime minister vacated by  Damian Green last month but has been warned that the timing could not be worse.
She will spend the weekend deciding whether to keep Mr Hunt in his post until the spring, rather than moving him as part of a reshuffle aimed at refreshing the public face of the Government.
Other Cabinet “big beasts”, including Chancellor Philip Hammond, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis are expected to stay in post, as Mrs May wants to avoid “destabilising” the Government.

EU

Meanwhile, across the Channel, MEPs are getting tough, says the Independent.

The Conservatives’ right-wing allies in Europe have kicked off the New Year by calling for a ban on new mosques, urging military action against a fellow EU  member state, and opposing moves to combat domestic violence.
The European Conservatives and Reformists group was set up by David Cameron in 2009 as a home for Tory MEPs in the European Parliament – but the extreme views of the other parties willing to follow the Tories into their new group have long proved embarrassing.
On Thursday the Danish People’s Party, which sits in the ECR with the Conservatives, unveiled a policy calling for a ban on the construction of new mosques, as part of a plan to tackle “ghettos” in the country. Other measures unveiled in the package include an 8pm curfew for young people.

And Blair has stuck his oar in again, warning that the bloc could collapse, says the Sun.

TONY Blair has warned the EU it could collapse if it fails to reform as he claimed populist uprisings like Brexit will spread to other countries.
The former Prime Minister said the “anxieties” which led to Brexit are “not confined to Britain” and urges Brussels to “to deal with those underlying issues”.
He was speaking to a German newspaper a day after he was warned he risks sparking riots on the streets after not ruling out holding a third referendum if a second one still sees us vote to leave the EU.
Mr Blair continued his anti-Brexit crusade by suggesting to the BBC that Brits could put a stop to our exit from the bloc it in a special general election on the issue.
But he was criticised for suggesting the public should be entitled to “think again”, with presenter John Humphrys saying he threatened to create “civil disobedience”.

Education

The Times highlights the shortage of teachers.

Teachers say that they are being asked increasingly to take classes outside their specialism to plug gaps in the workforce.
Head teachers struggling to fill some specialisms have to rely on staff from other departments, unqualified teachers or supply teachers to tide them over.
The number of unqualified teachers has risen by almost 20 per cent in the past three years, government figures show. More than a fifth of secondary maths teachers and a third of physics teachers do not have a relevant qualification beyond A level.

ITV News has a story about a range of government measures which could improve literacy.

Phonics roadshows and English hubs are among a range of measures announced by the Government in a bid to improve child literacy.
The programmes will form part of the drive to tackle inequality and ensure “every child will get the best literacy teaching”, Education Secretary Justine Greening said.
The Department for Education said a £7.7 million curriculum fund will aim to encourage the development of high quality teaching resources, while it is hoped a £5.7 million investment will help boost literacy and numeracy skills in 469 schools around the country.
Thirty-five English hubs across the country will be set up by a new Centre of Excellence for Literacy Teaching, to focus on raising standards in schools, while language development at home will be the focus of a fund trialling approaches across the north of England.

NHS

Winter pressures on the service are highlighted in many of the media but Breitbart dares to ask the question why.

BBC Newsnight yet again did a report on the NHS failing to cope with the ‘wave of demand’…but didn’t mention mass immigration.
There’s been a 40% rise in demand since Gordon Brown left office – while the report mentioned a lack of investment in the health service, it was eerily quiet when it came to the sheer volume of people it was now having to cater for.
The NHS has had to cancel some 50,000 routine operations and turn non-urgent patients away from A&E.
250,000 more people are using the NHS every month compared to 2010 and the UK population is rising by around 500,000 every year.
It’s not rocket science – until mass immigration is cut, the NHS will continue to buckle under the pressure. But of course you won’t hear that on the Beeb…

Bolton

The fallout over our leader’s choice of partner continues in the Telegraph.

The wife of Ukip’s new leader has accused him of lying over the claim their marriage was already over when he began an affair with a 25-year-old model more than half his age.
Henry Bolton, 54, a former British Army officer elected Ukip leader in September, has insisted his wife was “fully aware” of his new relationship with Jo Marney and that their marriage was over when they met.
But Tatiana Smurova-Bolton, 42, has broken her silence to complain that Mr Bolton’s version of events was not correct.
Mrs Smurova-Bolton told the Daily Telegraph: “All I can say at the moment is that the reports that have emerged are untrue. However my focus right now is on my children and at the moment I won’t be commenting further.”
Asked if that meant Mr Bolton had lied about the timings, she replied: “Not only” implying that her husband may have been deceitful on more than one count.

China

Are Chinese troops on a war footing? The Express reports.

XI JINPING has told his military not to fear death as thousands of Chinese troops put on a stunning display of military strength in a major warning to the world.

Xi, reaffirming his status as China’s most dominant leader since Mao Zedong, told around 7,000 troops they should fear “neither hardship nor death” in a sabre-rattling speech in the northern province of Hebei.
The 64-year-old wore military uniform as he addressed the troops, who were positioned in front of dozens of military tanks to listen to the president’s speech.
He said the military should “create an elite and powerful force that is always ready for the fight, capable of combat and sure to win in order to fulfill the tasks bestowed by the Party and the people in the new era.
The military at all levels should strengthen military training and war preparedness, unswervingly place military training at a strategic position and effectively implement military training as its central task.”

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