Daily Summary

26 January 2017

The Headlines 

  • Prime minister says US election and Brexit have renewed hope
  • May makes U-turn and agrees to Brexit white paper
  • Labour and SNP MPs vow to re-write Government's bill
  • Whitehall straining under added Brexit workload

Inside the Papers   

Theresa May’s trip to the US dominates many of today’s front pages with The Times reporting that a “bullish” May will tell President Donald Trump that the UK and the US can “lead together again”. The paper says May will hail Trump's election as a moment of “renewal”, but also notes that a year earlier she described his campaign rhetoric as “divisive, unhelpful and wrong”. The Guardian adds that May will embark on a “charm offensive” and deliver a “warmly-worded” message for the two countries to work closer together post-Brexit. “As we end our membership of the European Union…we have the opportunity to reassert our belief in a confident, sovereign and global Britain, ready to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike,” May will say.

Today’s papers also focus on May's decision to publish a White Paper policy document on the government's plans to leave the EU. For the Daily Telegraph, the decision is a straightforward and sensible move with the announcement welcomed by pro-Remain MPs. The Sun sees the political logic of the White Paper, but worries that the prime minister’s Labour opponents and Tory rebels will not hesitate to push for more. Meanwhile, the Guardian feels the document will be a fairly minimalist statement of the government's Brexit aims with the paper urging May to outline how she wants to take the devolved governments into account. During yesterday’s PMQ’s, the prime minister promised to fight for a good deal for the UK in EU negotiations and vowed that British values and interests would always be put first with regard to food imports and regulation.

In other news, Britain’s civil service will reportedly “struggle with the workload of Brexit” after a 19 per cent fall in its staff since 2010, according to a report published by the Institute for Government. Covered in the Financial Times, the Institute warns that navigating Britain’s exit from the EU has been made even harder because ministers are refusing to reduce the number of projects that are unrelated to Brexit but remain on Whitehall’s “to-do” list. The analysis by the institute found that the creation of two Brexit departments had also led to a “lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities”. While there was evidence that the new arrangements had begun to “settle down”, it added, existing departments that faced major challenges over Brexit also had to cope with deep budget cuts.