Top story: Brexit secretary risks contempt of parliament
Good morning, it’s Warren Murray back with you for the rest of the week.
There is fury among MPs this morning after the Brexit secretary appeared to flout a binding vote of parliament by handing over edited-down reports about the impact of Brexit on the economy. David Davis may face contempt of parliament proceedings as a result – MPs will take up the matter this morning with Hilary Benn, chair of the Brexit select committee.
Davis has confirmed the documents do not give the full picture, saying the information was withheld because he had “received no assurances from the [Brexit] committee regarding how any information passed will be used”. But even the staunch Tory Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg was unable to defend the government’s position, saying it was “in serious constitutional waters if it doesn’t provide the full information”. The shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, said: “If the government has failed to comply with this ruling then we will not hesitate in raising this matter with the Speaker.”
The Brexit secretary might be off your Christmas card list as well after a survey found festive dinner will cost 18% more this year. Good Housekeeping has determined that because of inflation and the Brexit-hit pound, the cheapest possible set-piece meal, including 11 ingredients from turkey to fresh vegetables and cranberry sauce, has risen from £2.48 a head to £2.94. Not sure if that is included in the economic effects that Davis wants kept under the rug …
Wedding in the offing – It would be surprising if you had not heard by now that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are going to get married. We will leave the gushing to certain of the newspapers, which are reviewed further down. Of course, we have the video of “Markle and Spencer”, as they have been cleverly dubbed in some quarters, sweetly finishing each other’s sentences while they explain how the proposal was made and accepted over a partly roasted chicken.
The upcoming nuptials have got Los Angeles neighbours of the future duchess talking: “I think they’re a respectable family …”; “Is that the one with the red hair?” It’s a good time to reflect on the prince’s transition from playboy prince to a military man, charitable campaigner and husband-to-be. With Harry a distant prospect of ever sitting on the throne, our editorial rates the wedding: “Fascinating, yes. Delightful, yes. Significant, not very.”
‘Deeply unfortunate’ – Calling someone “Pocahontas” at a ceremony to honour Native American war veterans might seem a gaffe worth of Harry’s paternal grandfather. But in the case of Donald Trump, it was a deliberate dig. The president used the ceremony in the Oval Office to roll out his taunt about the Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren, one of his chief critics. Trump has questioned Warren’s past citing of Cherokee heritage. The “Pocahontas” jibe might have won applause and cheers from partisan crowds at his campaign rallies but fell flat with his audience of Navajo Indian code talkers on Monday.
New Profumo intrigue – John Profumo, the Tory minister of the eponymous 1960s sex scandal, was also involved with a Nazi spy, newly released MI5 files reveal. Gisela Winegard met Profumo in Oxford in 1936 and they kept in contact for at least 20 years, during which time she was a Nazi agent in occupied Paris. British security agencies thought that after the war she even tried to blackmail Profumo. Profumo was most notorious for becoming entangled with Christine Keeler, who was the ex-mistress of a Soviet military intelligence officer in London – sparking widespread speculation that Profumo, then secretary of state for war, might have let himself become a security leak.
‘Barbaric’ – Graphic footage of Japanese ships hunting whales in the Southern ocean has been released after Sea Shepherd won a years-long battle with the Australian government. The video was taken in 2008 by Australian customs officers but kept secret for fear of damaging international relations. It shows Japanese boats in Antarctic waters harpooning the whales, dragging them exhausted and dying through the sea, then winching their bodies out of bloodied waters on to a factory ship. Sea Shepherd managing director, Jeff Hansen, said the Australian government had “chosen to side with the poachers instead of defending the whales”, which were killed in a designated sanctuary. The conservation group has waged a 12-year battle against the hunt in the Southern ocean, claiming success in saving thousands of whales.
Rug up – Just before the official start to winter, Britain is forecast to be colder than Reykjavik and Helsinki. Into Thursday and Friday, “pretty much everywhere in the UK will be within touching distance of freezing”, says Grahame Madge of the Met Office. The weather office is warning of -10C in the Scottish Highlands while by comparison, the capitals of Iceland and Finland will bask in temperatures of between 3C and 7C. Public Health England appealed for people to check that the elderly, very young and the ill are well cared for. It’s better to wear layers than one thick garment, and heating your home to at least 18C is recommended. Icy patches are expected on some Scottish roads, while some rail services are warning of disruption throughout the week.
Lunchtime read: The fake US embassy that never was
Yes, there were fake passports, and fake stamps to go with them. But a fake American diplomatic mission in Ghana, painted pink, brazenly flying the stars and stripes from the balcony, and selling counterfeit visas for those hoping to make it into the US?
It never happened, writes Yepoka Yeebo, who has unearthed how, one year ago, creative misuse of the facts led to the US state department becoming a purveyor of fake news – producing a bogus story that raced around the world.
In his first interviewing confirming he is gay, former Olympic swimmer Mark Foster admits he has spent years hiding his sexuality, and that this probably had a negative impact on his career in the pool. Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua heads a 12-strong shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award that contains nine reigning British world champions from sports as diverse as taekwondo, speed skating and motorcycling.
Ben Stokes was spotted at Heathrow airport on Monday evening, complete with cricket kitbags among his luggage, but the all-rounder will be spending time with family rather than joining the England Ashes squad. Brighton and Crystal Palace will meet for the first time in the top flight in 36 years on Tuesday, rekindling a fierce rivalry that exists despite no real geographical proximity between the two. Finally, Giles Richard rates how each of the Formula One drivers performed in 2017.
Asian shares have been mostly lower following a sluggish post-Thanksgiving trading session on Wall Street. Japanese reports that North Korea may be readying another missile launch also weighed on sentiments in the region. Investors also will have their eye on departing US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s remarks before Congress and a possible vote in the Senate on its version of a tax overhaul bill.
The pound has been trading at $1.333 and €1.119 overnight.
If you’re a reader in search of a souvenir edition and/or multipage supplement on the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, you’re in luck. The Mirror (souvenir pullout), the Daily Mail (24-page supplement), the Telegraph (16 pages in the regular paper, plus a pullout) and the Sun (25 pages AND a poster) compete for the attention of royal fans, while Metro gives over only its first 11 pages to the story and the Daily Express a mere seven.
Elsewhere, the Times reports that so-called hard-left supporters of Jeremy Corbyn are “forcing out” moderate candidates ahead of next year’s local elections. The Guardian leads on the backlash against Brexit secretary David Davis after his department handed over heavily edited reports on the impact of Britain leaving the EU.
Only the Financial Times front page is entirely royal-free, focusing instead on news that Bitcoin has hit a record high.
For more news: www.theguardian.com
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