Sunak 1) A ‘defiant’ Prime Minister insists ‘the fightback starts here’ despite Labour’s poll lead and ‘a host of domestic woes’

“Defiant Rishi Sunak vowed the ‘fightback starts here’ as it emerged wavering voters could turn their backs on Sir Keir Starmer before the next election. The Prime Minister issued the rallying cry despite Labour’s substantial poll lead…[In] a letter to donors and supporters – reflecting on the Tories being in power since 2010 – he says: “This is every challenge of the last twelve years rolled into one.” He adds: “This is a challenging time for our country and our party – and we’ve got less than two years to turn it around. Not every measure we take will be popular. But I can promise that they will all be made with one goal in mind: to build a country that our children and grandchildren will be proud of.”” – The Sun

  • The Prime Minister has his work cut out to beat Labour – Editorial, Daily Express
  • Sunak can still break Labour’s fragile lead – Editorial, The Daily Mail
  • The Prime Minister must be a leader, not just a manager – Harry Cole, The Sun

Sunak 2) He ‘could push’ for a vote on anti-strike laws ‘within days’

“Rishi Sunak is considering putting anti-strike laws before MPs for a vote as soon as this month, amid warnings that rail strikes could last until June. As many as 80,000 trains will be cancelled this week as a result of two unions striking over five days, the new year offering no respite from the industrial action sweeping Britain. Passengers have been advised to travel only if absolutely necessary, to allow extra time and check departures. The disruption could give impetus to the prime minister’s determination to introduce legislation to curb strikes. A bill containing proposals for minimum staffing levels during strikes in public services could be voted on this month. Should he wait longer, a bill might incorporate further-reaching proposals, potentially including a ban on strikes.” – The Times

Sunak 3) He shelves ‘big bang’ childcare reforms

“Rishi Sunak has shelved plans for a major overhaul of the childcare system aimed at saving parents money and helping them back into work. Liz Truss had been looking at increasing free childcare support by 20 hours a week and ending mandated staff-child ratios in what her team described as a “big bang” shake-up of the system. But The Telegraph understands the policy drive has been postponed indefinitely, with the scale of reforms now being considered expected to be much smaller. Any proposed changes to the rules around childcare provision are not expected for months…Some Tory backbenchers have privately voiced surprise that proposals to help families with childcare costs have been given less emphasis since Mr Sunak took over.” – The Daily Telegraph

Sunak 4) He hopes firms’ health perks ‘can revive’ workforce

“Companies that provide employees with occupational health benefits could be handed tax breaks under plans being considered by ministers to get thousands of Britons back to work. Rishi Sunak is determined to boost the economy by bringing back some of the 630,000 people estimated to have left the workforce since 2019. Days after entering office, he tasked one of his closest allies, Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, with conducting a review into why these people dropped out. One early conclusion from Stride’s review is that companies that provide employees with extensive occupational health support have better retention rates because they lose fewer staff to ill health or related problems.” – The Times

Sunak 5) Nick Timothy: Only by channeling Mrs Thatcher can the Prime Minister save the Tories

“Sunak will need to decide who his party is for; explain the values that guide him; give the country his analysis of the challenges we face; set out his programme to put things right; and hope he has time to start delivering before the election. He will need to lead, as Tony Benn said Margaret Thatcher did, by teaching. Yet the Tories have an impossibly muddled story, confused by their many changes of leader since 2010. David Cameron brought austerity; Theresa May promised active government; Johnson offered spending without tax rises; Truss attempted deficit-funded tax cuts; Sunak has provided stabilisation. There is no single story to be told of the last decade or so that offers a continuity of values, policy direction or coalition of supporters.” – The Daily Telegraph

Hunt ‘considers taxpayer rescue’ of British Steel blast furnaces

“Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, is considering whether to launch a taxpayer rescue of British Steel’s two blast furnaces, whose closure would inflict a strategic blow to the UK economy and cause heavy job losses. Hunt is being urged by Michael Gove, levelling up secretary, and Grant Shapps, business secretary, to consider a subsidy of £300mn to the Chinese-owned company to keep the furnaces open, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. Talks between the government and British Steel…are under way. Hunt is considering the case, allies of the chancellor told the Financial Times. However, they said that Hunt wanted to look at broader support for the industry to help the transition to green technology…” – The Financial Times

  • Double knighthood given to senior ex-Treasury official ‘controversially axed’ by Truss – The I

NHS 1) Unions warn that Barclay’s plans for 2 per cent pay rises next year could mean more strikes

“NHS strikes could continue for many months amid anger at UK government plans to raise staff salaries by only 2% next year, which health unions have condemned as more “real-terms pay cut misery”. Ministers have asked the NHS pay review body to cap the increase in frontline health workers’ pay to 2% in 2023-24 to help the government achieve its ambition to curb soaring inflation. But the attempt by the health secretary, Steve Barclay, to cap the annual salary rise at such a low level could lead to the NHS facing prolonged industrial action, health service bosses are warning. The 2% is barely a third of the estimate by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) that inflation as measured by the CPI index will average 5.5% during 2023-24.” – The Guardian

  • ‘A and E’ delays are ‘killing up to 500 people a week’ warns ‘senior medic’ – The Times
  • The NHS is ‘seriously compromised’ by gender ideology which ‘harms women’s rights’, according to Policy Exchange report – The Daily Mail


NHS 2) Work has only started on seven of 40 new promised hospitals by Johnson

“Work has only started on seven of the 40 new hospitals promised by Boris Johnson, The Telegraph can disclose. Delays to projects and problems finding appropriate sites could result in the Government not achieving the flagship policy on time. In their 2019 election manifesto, the Conservatives included a pledge to build 40 new hospitals by 2030. However a parliamentary question tabled by the Liberal Democrats has revealed that so far only two have been completed…Freedom of information requests submitted by the Lib Dems to NHS trusts which have been promised a new hospital have raised further doubts about whether the policy will be delivered on time.” – The Daily Telegraph

  • Face it, only Johnson can save this beaten Tory Party – Alex Story, Daily Express


NHS 3) Tory voters believe the Government ‘has failed’ on the NHS, education, and austerity, poll suggests

“Conservative voters overwhelmingly believe their party has failed in its management of the NHS during their time in Government, a poll suggests. A vast majority (73 per cent) said they thought NHS management had been a failure in the last decade, compared to just 16 per cent who said it had been a success, according to the Opinium survey for Compassion In Politics, shared exclusively with i. Of voters who backed the Tories in 2019, more also believe their party’s austerity policies have been a failure (47 per cent) than those who believe they were a success (16 per cent). Underlining the grim electoral situation facing Rishi Sunak, more Tory 2019 voters believe education reform has been a failure (46 per cent) than a success (22 per cent).” – The I


Gove ‘poised to launch’ £700 million fund to ‘rebuild poorer areas’

“The UK government is expected to launch a £700mn fund early this year that will provide long-term cash to rebuild some of the most deprived parts of Britain, as it looks to bolster its levelling-up policy. The community wealth fund will be created from the proceeds of forgotten bank accounts and operate independently of Whitehall…It will be targeted at so-called “left behind” areas, which have traditionally struggled to win state grants and other charitable funding. If confirmed, the CWF would represent a victory for more than 600 charitable organisations, MPs and leading metro mayors in Manchester and Birmingham who have lobbied for the scheme for several years…[The] agenda is being driven by levelling-up secretary Michael Gove.” – The Financial Times

Ministers are ‘studying plans’ for UK ‘child-specific’ terrorism orders

“New legal terrorism orders specifically for children should be brought in to tackle the growing numbers being arrested, the official adviser on terrorism law has told the government. Ministers are studying plans that would result in children being compelled to accept help or face jail, devised by Jonathan Hall KC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. The move comes as the number of children arrested has increased, mainly for lower-level terrorism offences, such as sharing propaganda or downloading material. The rise has been fuelled by growing internet use and an increase in terrorist propaganda available online, with children as young as 13 being arrested.” – The Guardian

Starmer ‘to demote’ MPs who ‘failed to shine’ in Shadow Cabinet

“Sir Keir Starmer is mulling over a new year reshuffle as he seeks to cement Labour’s advantage in the polls and prepare for government. Though buoyed by a year in which the party surged far ahead of the Conservatives in polling, some in the Labour leader’s team still question whether he has the right shadow cabinet in place to entrench his commanding position. There is frustration that the party relies on a relatively small trusted circle of MPs to sell Starmer’s message to the public even though there are 30 people in the shadow cabinet. Senior Labour figures believe that some shadow ministers have failed to make inroads in their briefs even amid a year of unprecedented turmoil in the Conservative Party.” – The Times

  • The Labour leader ‘wants to convince voters’ that he ‘represents hope and change’ while the Tories ‘offer failure and decline’ – The Huffington Post
  • Labour has made big strides in the polls primarily because of Conservative disarray. It must now offer positive reasons why voters should trust it – Editorial, The Times
  • Starmer’s rare character and smart moves transformed a broken Labour Party – Ayesha Hazarika, The I

Welsh Labour ‘is readying for snap general election’, says Drakeford

“The Welsh first minister has told the Labour party in Wales to be prepared for a general election in the new year, believing the UK government could be months away from sudden collapse. Mark Drakeford claimed the Conservative government in Westminster was “staggering”, and that at any moment it could be “overwhelmed” and forced to call a snap UK election. In an interview with the Guardian, the first minister said the UK government had tarnished the reputation of the union …Although Welsh Labour is on a general election footing, Drakeford said his government would continue to push its “radical” agenda rather than waiting for the UK Labour leader, Keir Starmer, to win at the polls.” – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • Fusion energy and the coming fight for the Moon – Lewis M. Andrews, The Spectator 
  • How Brexit exposed the Westminster elite – Aris Roussinos, UnHerd
  • Will the real historical Jesus please stand up? – Bethel McGrew, The Critic 
  • Don’t deny that Pelé was the greatest footballer – Dom Smith, The New Statesman 
  • Inequality might be going down now – Noah Smith, Noahpinion 

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