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Ministers ‘divided’ over process for testing Brexit options

Image copyright PA Image caption Mrs May could put her deal to MPs again but, crucially, allow other options to be voted on as well The cabinet is divided over how to handle the process of asking MPs to vote on alternative Brexit plans. The government has promised to give the Commons the chance to vote on different versions of Brexit if the prime minister’s deal is rejected again. But the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said it had not been decided in government whether the votes should be binding or not…

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Heads angry at minister’s school funding ‘snub’

Image copyright PA Thousands of head teachers in England are warning about a “school funding crisis” and say they are angry that the education secretary has “snubbed” them. More than 7,000 heads have written a joint letter to 3.5 million families, warning of worsening budget shortages. They say requests to talk to Damian Hinds have been turned down because his time is too “pressurised” to meet. But the Department for Education said it was “fundamentally untrue” to say funding was not a priority for him. A department spokesman said he…

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News Daily: Cardinal Pell convicted, and ministers’ Brexit ‘revolt’

If you want to get this briefing by email, sign-up here Image copyright AFP Cardinal Pell guilty of sex offences Australian Cardinal George Pell has been found guilty of sexual offences – the most senior figure in the Roman Catholic Church to be convicted of such crimes, Pell, 77, had pleaded not guilty to abusing two choir boys under the age of 16 in 1996, but was convicted by a jury in December. Details of the guilty verdict could not be reported at the time for legal reasons. Pell is…

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Brexit: Gove warns ministers over delay

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionGove: “I will do everything I can to persuade colleagues to stay in government.” Environment Secretary Michael Gove has urged his colleagues not to back a Commons vote on delaying Brexit. Mr Gove said it would be the “wrong thing to do” if cabinet ministers Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Gauke supported the bid, which would push back the UK’s exit date of 29 March. Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Mr Gove refused to say whether they could keep their…

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Ministers spend £100m on Brexit consultant contracts

Image copyright Getty Images The government has agreed contracts worth £104m for outside help on Brexit, according to analysis for the BBC. Since the EU referendum, Whitehall has hired companies to do consultancy work to prepare for the UK’s EU exit. Companies with the most valuable Brexit contracts include Boston Consulting Group, PWC and Deloitte, according to analysis firm Tussell. Departments drawing on the advice of external specialists was “standard”, a government spokesman said. Six companies each received a contract worth £10m for “Cabinet Office Consultancy Support for EU Exit”.…

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Ministers accused of pressure over teacher recruits

Image copyright Getty Images Teacher training providers have accused the government of “lowering the bar” on teacher recruitment to beat England’s shortage in the classroom. Teacher trainers have come under pressure from officials to “justify” decisions to reject candidates. Emma Hollis, head of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers, said making it easier to get into teaching was not the answer. The government said that recruitment requirements had not changed. It stressed that all those who go on to get qualified teacher status must be judged by the provider…

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Brexit: Ministers back my plan to block no-deal – Nick Boles

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionPolitical Thinking with Nick Robinson A Tory MP who has put forward a plan to block a no-deal Brexit says ministers have told him they will quit, if they are ordered to vote against it. His cross-party bill would force Theresa May to request an extension of Article 50 if she can’t get a deal approved by MPs by the end of February. Mr Boles told the BBC his bill had a “broad base” of support from different sides of the Brexit…

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Ministers consider ending jail terms of six months or less

The Ministry of Justice is considering banning prison sentences of less than six months in England and Wales. Ministers argue that short jail terms are less effective at cutting reoffending than community penalties. Prisons minister Rory Stewart told the Daily Telegraph that such sentences were “long enough to damage you and not long enough to heal you”. If such jail sentences were to be scrapped it is thought it could free up thousands of prison places. Some burglars and most shoplifters are among those who could be spared jail terms…

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Speaker’s Brexit ruling ‘extremely concerning’, say ministers

Image copyright HOC Image caption The government lost by 11 votes John Bercow has been accused of “unilaterally changing” parliamentary rules in the wake of a row over a government Brexit defeat in Parliament. Critics of the Commons Speaker say he broke with precedent and ignored the advice of officials when he approved a vote on the PM’s “Plan B” response, which ministers lost by 11 votes. Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said his actions were “extremely concerning”. Mr Bercow said he had made an “honest judgement” in the interests of…

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Technology 

Ministers to discuss Gatwick drone drama as suspects released

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Flights were suspended for more than 36 hours when a drone was first spotted The Gatwick Airport drone drama which grounded hundreds of flights will be discussed by ministers in a Christmas Eve conference call. Sussex Police insisted it was not “back to square one” after releasing an arrested man and woman without charge. It said it was investigating 67 drone sightings but had earlier raised the possibility there may have been no drone at all. Gatwick said there had been “multiple sightings” of…

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