Newslinks for Sunday 16th December 2018

Barwell and Lidington are alleged to be preparing a second referendum

‘Theresa May’s chief of staff has triggered a civil war in Downing Street by telling Cabinet Ministers that a second EU referendum is the only way to break the Brexit deadlock. Gavin Barwell, the Prime Minister’s most powerful and influential adviser, is understood to have decided that plans should be drawn up for another public poll. But his incendiary suggestion has been greeted with fury from Brexiteers in the Cabinet. Meanwhile, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Mrs May’s deputy, David Lidington has held a series of secret meetings with Labour MPs to build a ‘coalition of the willing’ to force a new EU vote…Sources say that Mr Barwell has told the pro-Remain ‘gang of five’ Cabinet Ministers – Mr Lidington, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Justice Secretary David Gauke and Business Secretary Greg Clarke –that a second vote is ‘the only way out of this’…Mr Lidington has led the secret efforts to drum up support for a second poll by meeting senior Labour figures such as former Europe Minister Chris Bryant…Labour MPs have made clear that the price of their support would be including Remain as an option.’ – Mail on Sunday

  • Majority of supposedly neutral campaigners actually want Brexit cancelled – Sunday Telegraph
  • The Prime Minister has discussed her options with Cameron – Sunday Times
  • Senior Tories reportedly want it to be a free vote – The Observer
  • Labour rebels could even keep a post-DUP Conservative government in power – The Sun on Sunday
  • Chief whip accused of ‘freelancing’ with Labour MPs – Sunday Telegraph
  • Helping the Conservatives deliver Brexit would put Labour into third place, poll suggests – Sunday Times
  • No Deal planners propose warning people not to book holidays for April – Sunday Times
  • The EU draws up its own plans – Sunday Times

Editorials

Opinion

>Today: ToryDiary: How May’s Conservatives could morph into SDP Two – realigining British politics from the top down

Hunt: Britain would ‘flourish and prosper’ in the event of No Deal

‘Mr Hunt’s words are likely to be welcomed by Leavers who insist that a no-deal scenario – the default position if an agreement is not struck by March – would be better for the country than Mrs May’s current agreement. He acknowledges that the deal on the table risks “anchoring Britain indefinitely in the customs union”. He adds: “I’ve always thought that even in a no-deal situation this is a great country, we’ll find a way to flourish and prosper. We’ve faced much bigger challenges in our history. “But we shouldn’t pretend that there wouldn’t be disruption, there wouldn’t be risk, and there wouldn’t be impact and that’s why as a responsible government we have to make all the preparations necessary.”’ – Sunday Telegraph

>Today: Sheila Lawlor on Comment: Even with an exit clause from the backstop, this deal would be unacceptable

>Yesterday: Esther McVey on Comment: Delivering Brexit from here. We must prepare properly for no deal.

Even amid seemingly endless crisis, the Prime Minister keeps on going

‘May’s capacity for soaking up punishment may not have led to discernible political success, but it has turned her into an icon of obstinacy. Her refusal to admit defeat has infuriated and awed her adversaries. “She is astonishing,” another aide added. “She doesn’t get any credit for it, but I honestly don’t know what keeps her going and makes her want to get up in the morning.” When May flew to Argentina for the G20 meeting last month, she knew that her days as prime minister might be numbered, yet she spent part of the 14-hour flight signing Christmas cards and doing a sudoku puzzle, seemingly unperturbed by the Brexit storms that were brewing… The latest word in Westminster circles is that May is “bunkered down” with two favoured aides, cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill and chief of staff Gavin Barwell. Other advisers have been frozen out.’ – Sunday Times

Ministers consider changing the law to give grandparents the right to see their grandkids

‘Heart-broken grandparents could be handed a legal right to see their grandkids after a family split, we can reveal. A revamp of divorce law is being considered by Ministers to ensure visiting rights are allowed following a painful divorce…Tory MP Nigel Huddleston last night said: “There are many innocent parties who bear the cost of a divorce. It’s right that Ministers are seriously looking at ensuring grandparents and grandkids can keep that tight bond despite a break-up.” Campaigner Esther Rantzen last night said: “There is an emotional deprivation for grandkids when they no longer have that unconditional love present. It can be like a living bereavement for the kids.”’ – The Sun on Sunday

  • Warning that domestic reform is being held up due to Brexit deadlock – The Observer

UK aid is still funding Palestinian hate education

‘British taxpayers are still funding ‘lessons in hate’ at Palestinian schools more than a year after ministers were told they could be inciting violence against Israel. It emerged last year that the Department for International Development has helped pay the salaries of officials who drew up a new curriculum that teaches kids the virtues of becoming a jihadi. Plays put on at schools and summer camps have even included pupils staging mock executions. One in Hebron featured a child draped in Palestinian colours ‘shooting’ another dressed as an Israeli soldier…despite promises earlier this year that the curriculum would be reviewed, the books are still being used by the ministry of education on the West Bank, activists revealed. Joan Ryan MP, chairman of the Labour Friends of Israel, said aid to the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, should be suspended until the books are removed.’ – Mail on Sunday

Specialist health provision to create a ‘National Heroes’ Service’

‘A new crisis service will be launched to help vulnerable ex-servicemen and women battling booze, drug or mental health problems. NHS England boss Simon Stevens will announce £10 million worth of specialist support for the armed forces to create a National Heroes’ Service. It will include veteran friendly GP surgeries and hospitals to make sure former soldiers, sailors and RAF personnel are given treatment and back-up tailored to meet their needs. The action is being drawn up as part of the 10-year plan for the NHS ordered to ensure the £20billion of extra funding is properly spent. Mr Stevens has told The Sun on Sunday of his determination to ensure those who put their lives on the line are properly cared for when they return home.’ – The Sun on Sunday

Gilligan: London suffers under Mayor no-Khan-do

‘When historians come to write about the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan — assuming any would bother — they could do worse than look at the month of June 2018. We now know this was when a 51-page report from the consultants Jacobs was completed, detailing cost overruns on Crossrail, the capital’s new east-west railway, and speaking for the first time of the risk that it might “open late”: problems that have since grown to a year or more’s delay, and a deficit of more than £2bn. On the streets, June was the month that new figures showed a 30% annual rise in robberies including muggings and an 18% increase in knife crime, with about 90 people stabbed or slashed every week. At City Hall, however, they were busy with something different: launching Khan’s urgent initiative to recruit more female Wikipedia editors. As a press release explained: “Sadiq has brought together secondary school girls from across London . . . in a series of dedicated edit-a-thons [to] tackle the gender imbalance in Wikipedia pages and to encourage more women to edit entries.”’ – Andrew Gilligan, Sunday Times

Gender identity to become a census question

‘Everyone aged 16 and over will be asked in the 2021 census if they wish to declare their gender identity. There will also be a new voluntary question about sexual orientation. The move comes after the Government Equalities Office said no robust data on the UK transgender population existed. It estimates the number at between 200,000 and 500,000. Since the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, 4,910 trans people have been issued with a gender recognition certificate confirming a change to their legal gender.’ – Sunday Times

Labour’s lorry tax threatens to push up food prices

‘Labour will cripple Britain’s supermarkets and drive up the cost of food with a £6 billion stealth tax on hauliers, campaigners have warned. Clive Lewis, a key lieutenant in the Shadow Treasury team, is pushing to dramatically put up lorry taxes by up to £12,096 a year per truck. But last night he was warned this would spark chaos for shoppers as it risks bankrupting the country’s 496,000-strong haulage industry, which moves 98 per cent of all goods consumed in the UK…His incendiary comments prompted the Road Haulage Association to brand them ‘naive’ and ‘beyond belief’. RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: ‘It is clear from his comments that Clive Lewis, sees our industry as the bad guys – the emission bandits. Nothing could be further from the truth. ‘What is even more shocking is the cavalier approach of Mr Lewis, who is content to ‘see HGV businesses go out of business’ as a direct consequence of this tax hike.” – Mail on Sunday

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