Sunak 1) Just Stop Oil ‘will be tackled’ under new powers pledged by the Prime Minister on ConservativeHome

“Rishi Sunak will give police new powers to stop protesters from disrupting traffic in a move seemingly targeting eco-zealot group Just Stop Oil. The Prime Minister said the proposals would be set out…to prevent ‘a small minority’ disrupting the lives of the ‘hard-working majority’. It comes after Mr Sunak promised to give police chiefs ‘whatever they need’ to put an end to the disruptions…Parliament recently passed new legislation intended to restrict disruptive protests, but Mr Sunak has since indicated that yet more powers would be required. ‘Peaceful protest is a fine British, democratic tradition. But that must be balanced with the rights of everyone else to go about their lives freely,’ Mr Sunak wrote on the ConservativeHome website.” – The Daily Mail

  • He is preparing plans to also include guidance on how officers can better enforce existing laws – The Sun
  • An amendment is expected to be added to the Public Order Bill, which is going through parliament – The Times
  • Eco zealots’ disruptive protests have inflicted misery for far too long. Sunak’s new clampdown is long overdue. – Editorial, The Sun
  • How Sunak has sidelined the ‘idiot’s culture war’ to ‘ruthlessly’ prioritise key issues for voters – Arj Singh, The I
  • Great Britain is failing because it’s no longer behaving like a serious country – Sherelle Jacobs, The Daily Telegraph


Sunak 2) He is ‘willing’ to send battle tanks to Ukraine

“Britain is considering becoming the first country to send Western tanks to Ukraine in what would be a major stepping up of international support. Defence sources said the UK could supply Volodymr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, with Challenger II – the British Army’s main battle tank – to encourage other Western allies to follow suit and stop the war. Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, is understood to be supportive of efforts to send British tanks to Ukraine and spoke to Mr Zelensky last week. The move would bust the taboo that has prevented Western allies from sending modern tanks for fear of escalating the conflict with Russia since Ukraine was invaded in February last year.” – The Daily Telegraph

Sunak 3) He will sign an agreement with Japan to ‘strengthen military ties’ to counter China

“Britain and Japan are to sign an agreement that would remove obstacles to holding joint military exercises in either country, in the latest sign of deepening military ties with Tokyo. Besides its security treaty that allows US troops to be stationed on its territory, Japan currently only has a similar agreement with Australia. Fumio Kishida, the Japanese prime minister, will sign the Reciprocal Access Agreement with Rishi Sunak when he visits the UK this week, according to Japanese media reports. It is part of a strategic shift toward Asia by the UK amid the growing need to balance China’s influence. The UK is also working with Japan and Italy to develop next-generation fighter jets.” – The Daily Telegraph

Sunak 4) NHS strikes still going ahead despite Number 10 ‘u-turn’ on pay talks

“Strikes by paramedics and nurses will go ahead from this week despite Rishi Sunak’s major U-turn on allowing new pay negotiations, with unions frustrated at ministers for not yet making a concrete offer. The health secretary, Steve Barclay, has agreed to discuss the possibility of a lump-sum payment or backdating a future pay deal in order to end NHS strikes, according to multiple sources. Further talks are expected later this week…as well as negotiations between Barclay and the Treasury. Though health unions publicly attacked the talks as disappointing, both union and government sources acknowledged a significant change in approach, with ministers prepared to ease the pain staff were experiencing because of the cost of living.” – The Guardian

  • ‘Potential breakthrough in talks’ with plan to backdate next year’s pay rise to this month – The I
  • The Government ‘also agrees’ to look at making a one-off ‘cost of living’ payment to staff following talks with union chiefs – The Daily Telegraph
  • Solving UK strikes is not about winning the argument – Sarah O’Connor, The Financial Times
  • Sunak will make the same error as Johnson if he holds firm on strikes when a U-turn is inevitable – Hugo Gye, The I

Patients face ‘being treated in cabins at hospital car parks’ as Barclay eyes ‘radical scheme’ of rented ‘modular units’ designed to ease A and E congestion

“Patients could be treated in cabins in car parks under plans to beat overcrowding and improve ambulance response times. Health Secretary Steve Barclay said hospitals would be given £50million to rent or buy temporary ‘modular units’ to boost capacity within weeks. The NHS has a list of approved ‘modular unit’ suppliers, one of which is Portakabin. They became a fixture of school playgrounds in the 1970s and 80s to accommodate space for extra pupils. Units will be fitted with additional beds or chairs where patients can be treated and observed or wait to be seen or sent home. It is hoped the move will make it easier for doctors to admit patients and free up space in A&E so paramedics are not forced to queue for hours to drop off new arrivals.” – The Daily Mail

Keegan warned it is ‘now or never’ to avoid a teaching strike and school closures

“Teaching unions warned Ministers yesterday that it was “now or never” to avoid strikes.  Education Secretary Gillian Keegan begged them not to walk out and said kids have suffered enough. Gillian Keegan said children’s learning saw “significant disruption” during the pandemic as she tried to stop schools closing. Three teaching unions in pay disputes will announce the results of industrial action ballots in the coming days. Ms Keegan opened a 1.5-hour meeting brandishing the letter unions sent her when she started the job – a demand for £2billion extra which she later won from the Treasury. The Education Department said it was a “constructive meeting” which began discussions on next year’s pay review.” – The Sun

Cleverly’s Brexit progress ‘boosts hopes’ of Northern Ireland deal

“Britain and the European Union have taken a step towards a Brexit deal over Northern Ireland and hailed it as a “new basis” for talks. James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, and Maros Sefcovic, his EU counterpart, said they had reached an agreement in London on sharing customs data, which they described as a “critical prerequisite” to a deal. Whitehall sources said that while there were still “difficult issues” to address things were “moving in the right direction”. The two men are to meet again next Monday after what are expected to be intense discussions at official level this week. The effective sharing of customs data is seen as key to reforming the Northern Ireland protocol because it could remove the need for checks on goods crossing the Irish sea…” – The Times

Ministers announce energy support scheme for UK businesses set for ‘big cut’

“The British government is slashing the support it gives companies with their energy bills, but extending it for another year from April at a cost of £5.5bn, ministers announced on Monday. The new package will ensure that all companies receive discounts on their electricity and gas bills and will offer more generous support for those businesses classified as “energy-intensive users”. It is the latest attempt by ministers to prevent companies collapsing as a result of high global energy prices caused primarily by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago, even though the pressures have eased in recent weeks as wholesale prices have fallen. But business groups warned that the flat-rate per-unit discount on bills would not give sufficient protection to companies…” – The Financial Times

  • Fears expressed that reduced support ‘will kill off small firms’ – The Times
  • End the myth of energy quick fixes – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph


Prince Harry should ‘ditch his royal titles’ and use the name ‘Mr Windsor’ if he continues to attack his family, says Seely

“Harry should give up his royal titles and ‘become Mr Windsor’ if he continues to lash out at the monarchy, says a Tory MP. Bob Seely, who has already criticised the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s ‘Netflix narcissism’, will press ahead with an attempt to pass legislation to allow their royal status to be downgraded. He plans a Private Member’s Bill that would allow a vote on amending the 1917 Titles Deprivation Act. The act was used to strip the German royal family of their UK titles during the First World War. ‘If he hates the institution so much, why doesn’t he… set an example and become Mr Windsor,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour… Mr Seely said his planned amendment would hand the Privy Council…the power to strip the Sussexes of their titles.” – The Daily Mail

  • The Duke of Sussex’s self-pitying whinge must not overshadow the coronation – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph

Bridgen to be suspended over ‘cavalier’ approach to lobbying rules

“The Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen has been suspended from the House of Commons for five days after being found to have breached rules on paid lobbying and declaring interests. The MP for north-west Leicestershire was found to have repeatedly broken the MPs’ code of conduct by a cross-party committee, which endorsed findings from Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards. He was unsuccessful in an attempt to overturn the recommendation in December and a motion was approved by parliament on Monday. The suspension is due to start on Tuesday 10 January, and will run for five sitting days. Bridgen was found to have approached ministers and officials on behalf of a forestry company, Mere Plantations…” – The Guardian

Lawson calls time on parliamentary career

“Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former tax-cutting chancellor described as a “revolutionary” by Margaret Thatcher, has retired from the House of Lords, ending a parliamentary career stretching back nearly five decades. The peer, 90, served as Baroness Thatcher’s chancellor from 1983 to 1989. He made his name at the Treasury, cutting the basic rate of income tax from 30 per cent in 1983 to 25 per cent by 1988. That same year, he slashed the top rate from 60 per cent to 40 per cent. The news comes after Lord Tebbitt, another Thatcherite Cabinet minister, quit the Lords last year. Lord Young of Graffham, who as Sir David Young helped run Baroness Thatcher’s state privatisation programme, died last month.” – The Daily Telegraph

Labour 1) Ex-minister Perry O’Neill quits ‘self-obsessed’ Conservatives and ‘praises’ Starmer

“A former Conservative minister has quit the party and lavished praise on Sir Keir Starmer. Claire Perry O’Neill, who was part of Theresa May’s cabinet and an MP from 2010-19, said the Conservatives were irredeemably overcome by “ideology and self-obsession”. Perry O’Neill was the energy minister for the final two years of May’s government. When Boris Johnson became prime minister in 2019 he asked her to lead Britain’s preparations for the Cop26 summit and be its prospective president, but in February 2020 she was sacked and replaced by Alok Sharma. Perry O’Neill said that she had quit the Conservatives earlier this month and praised Starmer for his “sober, fact-driven, competent political leadership”.” – The Times

Labour 2) Opposition MPs ‘to lobby’ their leader to put green policies at the heart of their manifesto

“Labour MPs have set up a lobby group in an attempt to push Keir Starmer into making nature and climate a key part of his election manifesto. Previous Labour nature policies have been “trite”, MPs have said, arguing that the social justice case for climate and nature needs to be made more clearly by the party. The Labour Climate and Environment Forum (LCEF) launches on Tuesday in parliament and is now signing up MPs. The group argues “that tackling the climate and environment emergency is an issue of social justice and economic prosperity that should sit comfortably at the heart of the movement as a core Labour value”. Members plan to write open letters to the Labour leadership on environment policy, and organise backbenchers to have coherent messaging.” – The Guardian

Labour 3) ‘Obscure’ firm ‘handed’ £340,000 gift to Cooper, Jarvis, and Streeting

“An obscure company has handed more than £340,000 to three senior Labour figures. Analysis of political funding has revealed that MPM Connect Ltd has been the third-biggest donor to MPs since the general election. It has given £183,317 to shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, £100,000 to former South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis and £60,000 to health spokesman Wes Streeting. Despite being set up back in 2010 and having more than £13 million in investments, according to its latest accounts, the firm has zero public presence with no office, website or phone number. The only address registered for the firm at Companies House is that of its accountants, who are based in a small building in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire.” – The Daily Mail

  • ‘Recruitment mogul’ donated over a million to the opposition party over the past decade – The Financial Times


Labour 4) Jobcentres should help over-50s backs to work, says Ashworth

“Jobcentres should encourage thousands of early retirees to rejoin the workforce by helping them to find flexible or part-time opportunities, Labour has said. Jon Ashworth, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said that the centres needed to offer more options to people seeking work who do not want to claim benefits. He also unveiled plans to encourage people on disability and sickness benefits to enter the workforce by assuring them that they would still be able to return to the same package of benefits if a job did not work out. This is Labour’s response to the economic inactivity puzzle which is the subject of close discussion at the top of government. About 630,000 people have left the workforce since 2019…” – The Times

Sturgeon says Scotland’s hospitals are ‘almost completely full’

“Nicola Sturgeon has admitted Scotland’s hospitals are “almost completely full”, but her plan to solve the NHS crisis with extra call centre staff and care home beds has been criticised as inadequate by doctors. At a press conference in Edinburgh on Monday, the First Minister said the health service was under “truly unprecedented” pressure, while one of her senior officials acknowledged that the turmoil was costing lives. However, doctors’ leaders warned that a package of measures unveiled to ease the crisis, including funding more care home beds to free up hospital capacity, were unlikely to be enough to stop the “harrowing” situation that had developed on wards and in A&E departments. Political opponents accused Ms Sturgeon of seeking to dodge blame…” – The Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Prince Harry saves his toughest treatment for Camilla – Kara Kennedy, The Spectator 
  • Scotland’s gender reforms will spark a constitutional crisis – Joan Smith, UnHerd 
  • A pantomime of womanhood – Anne McGovern, The Critic 
  • Royal drama is a respite from the catastrophes on the news – Rachel Cunliffe, The New Statesman

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