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3,500 troops on standby under new no-deal Brexit plans which become 'operational priority'

18 December

All UK citizens will be sent information about how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, as the government dramatically ramps up its contingency planning.

Downing Street revealed the "public communications" will be released alongside a "general advertising campaign", with 101 days until the expected divorce date.
Other measures revealed include:

  • 3,500 troops being "held at readiness" to help with any "contingencies"
  • Information packs being sent to business and traders about border changes
  • £2bn being allocated for Brexit preparations for all scenarios
  • Space being set aside on ships to ensure medical supplies continue as normal
  • Security and law enforcement being treated as a "priority issue"
  • COBRA meetings being held at required intervals
The decisions were made at a crunch cabinet meeting this afternoon, as ministers agreed to "fully" implement planning for a no-deal divorce on 29 March 2019.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay emerged after the meeting to declare the government's focus was on getting a deal negotiated with Brussels through parliament.
But he said a "responsible government" had to prepare for leaving the EU with no agreement and that had become its "operational priority".
Mr Barclay also blasted the idea of a "managed no deal" - floated by senior MPs like International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt - saying it was "not feasible".
Sky sources said discord broke out at the two-hour meeting when Justice Secretary David Gauke spoke up to call the idea of a "managed" no-deal "a unicorn that needs to be slaughtered".
They added he argued for the option to be able to block a no-deal Brexit nearer the deadline.
A cabinet source also said Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd spoke up to warn: "Just because you've put a seatbelt on, it doesn't mean you should crash the car."
Mrs May's spokesman said there were no rows, insisting it was the best cabinet meeting in a while.
He added all UK citizens will be sent information in the next few weeks about how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit - ruling out that the information will be sent on Christmas Day.
Later on Tuesday, the Treasury revealed how more than £2bn will be allocated across 25 Whitehall departments and other bodies for Brexit preparations for all scenarios.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said: "The PM's deal is the only way to deliver on the referendum while protecting jobs, businesses and prosperity.
"I've worked with departments so they have the resources to prepare as we leave the EU, including our borders, trade policies and support for businesses.
"But a responsible government prepares for all contingencies and that is why we're stepping up no deal planning.
"The Treasury has provided more than £4.2bn for Brexit preparations since 2016. We are now allocating over £2bn from that fund to continue and step up this work in 2019-20 as we leave the EU."
The biggest sums of cash have been handed to the Home Office (£480m), HMRC (£375m), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (£190m) and Department for International Trade (£128m).
Among other preparations, the money will be spent on 3,000 new HMRC staff, hundreds of new border officers and new border technology, and exploring a UK alternative to the EU's Galileo satellite navigation system.
A total of 106 technical notices and 320 "ongoing no-deal work streams" have so far been published on how the country should get ready for leaving without an agreement.
And a petition calling for the UK to leave the EU without a deal has reached 220,000 signatures - at one point garnering over 1,500 an hour.
Mrs May was earlier given a boost of support by backbench Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who vowed to "move on" after losing a bid to unseat her.
Mr Rees-Mogg, who was one of 117 Tory MPs to vote against the PM in a confidence vote, said he respected the result and was now backing her.
"I lost the vote last week - and if you lose, that is ultimately conclusive," he told Sky News.
"Events move on, they have moved on and I have therefore moved with them."
Labour is still threatening to call a vote of no-confidence in the government, which could force a general election if successful.
Downing Street sources said a no-confidence motion in the PM would not be granted parliamentary time for a debate this year.
The prime minister looks set to avoid any more major showdowns in parliament, with MPs breaking up for the Christmas holidays on Thursday.
Despite Labour not being able to debate its no-confidence motion in the prime minister, it will still push for one in the government in the new year.
Earlier, shadow housing secretary John Healey told Sky News it was a question of "when - not if" the push would come.
Jenny Chapman, Labour's shadow Brexit minister, said the no-deal planning move was "testament to the prime minister's failure in these negotiations".
"A no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for jobs, the economy and the border in Northern Ireland. It is simply not a viable option," she said.

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Labour whips 'furious' with Jeremy Corbyn over no-confidence 'omnishambles'

18 December

Labour whips are "furious" with Jeremy Corbyn's handling of an attempt to force a no-confidence vote in the prime minister, sources have suggested.

The Labour leader tabled a non-binding no-confidence motion in Theresa May late on Monday, but the government refused to grant parliamentary time for a vote, describing it as a "stunt".
Downing Street instead challenged Mr Corbyn to table a more meaningful no-confidence motion aimed at the government as a whole and under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.
Sky News understands Labour's chief whip Nick Brown had earlier told his party's MPs that the government would be obliged to grant Mr Corbyn's motion under parliamentary rules and, if it was refused, the Labour leader would immediately escalate his motion to one with legal weight in an effort to force a general election.
In discussions with parliamentary colleagues on Tuesday, Mr Brown is understood to have been "contrite", acknowledging his guidance on parliamentary rules had not been accurate.
However, a number of other Labour whips are said to be "furious" with Mr Corbyn's office for sending out inconsistent messages about their intentions.
One senior backbench figure said many Labour MPs shared a "considerable frustration" with the handling of the no-confidence motion, as well as the lack of clarity about whether Mr Corbyn would escalate his motion to one of no confidence in the government as a whole.
Another backbencher said the last 24 hours had been an "omnishambles" of the party leadership's making.
Had a full no-confidence motion in the government passed, it would have triggered a process under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act that could have resulted in a general election if a government was unable to win a second confidence vote within 14 days.
But House of Commons Speaker John Bercow confirmed to MPs on Tuesday that the government was not under any obligation to grant parliamentary time to the motion as tabled by Mr Corbyn because it amounted to an issue of censure not confidence.
Mr Bercow said: "For the avoidance of doubt, and in the name of better public understanding of our procedures, I should make it clear that there is a strong convention that the government provides time at the earliest possible opportunity for a no confidence motion in Her Majesty's government, if tabled by the official opposition.
"However no such convention applies in relation to this particular motion, which is not a conventional no confidence motion."
Following the Speaker's intervention, Tory grandee Sir Edward Leigh accused Mr Corbyn of holding back because he feared having to put Labour's backing to a second EU referendum.
"The problem for the leader of the Labour Party is that he does not want an immediate motion of no confidence because if, as is likely it was lost, he would be forced by his party to go for a referendum, so he was playing games", said Sir Edward.
The DUP, who provide Mrs May with a working majority in parliament, confirmed on Monday night they would not support Labour's call of no confidence in the prime minister.
This was despite the party's Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson suggesting the DUP would be prepared to back a censure motion in Mrs May last week.
Without DUP support, or significant numbers of Conservative rebel MPs, any confidence motion is unlikely to succeed.
A Labour spokesman insisted no pledge to immediately escalate to a binding motion of no confidence in the government had been made, saying instead that the party "reserved the right" to make that move.
On Tuesday night, other opposition parties sought to put further pressure on Labour by tabling their own no-confidence motion in the government.
The cross-party bid was supported by the Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green Party.
The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: "Opposition leaders have taken the decision to table a vote of no confidence in the UK government under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act - something Jeremy Corbyn has failed to do.
"Labour has failed to hold the UK government to account over their shambolic Brexit negotiations.
"Their motion of no confidence in the prime minister on Monday was a gimmick - we attempted to strengthen it with our own amendment and it's regrettable it was not offered time for debate in parliament.
"By tabling our motion on Tuesday evening, we hope to be afforded time by the UK government to debate it before parliament closes for the Christmas recess."

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Manchester United sack manager Jose Mourinho in face-to-face meeting

18 December

Jose Mourinho has been sacked as Manchester United manager in a face to face meeting Sky News understands.

Sky sources say he was dismissed at the club's Carrington training ground by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward on Tuesday.
The club said he had left with immediate effect, adding they "would like to thank Jose for his work during his time at Manchester United and to wish him success in the future".
A new caretaker manager will be appointed until the end of the current season, while the club searches for a new full-time manager.
Sky Sports News understands Manchester United coach Michael Carrick will take charge for the next 48 hours, after which an external appointment will be made for the caretaker manager post.
Manchester United have made their worst start to a league season since 1990-91 and sit sixth in the Premier League.
Mourinho's side lost 3-1 to Liverpool on Sunday, as two deflected Xherdan Shaqiri strikes ensured the Reds remained top of the table.
The result left United 11 points off the top four and 19 points behind Liverpool.
The Portuguese, 55, was in charge at Old Trafford for two-and-a-half years and won the EFL Cup and Europa League in his first full season.
Despite this, he rarely appeared settled and lived in a city centre hotel throughout his tenure.
The team, which is expected to at least challenge for the league title every season, finished second last season but were 19 points behind rivals Manchester City.
In January, Mourinho signed a new two-year contract committing him to the club until 2020, but over the summer his relationship with the United board began to disintegrate.
Despite being allowed to spend more than £300m on players up to that point, he complained about not being backed in the transfer market.
He had wanted at least one new centre-back but did not get one, with the club signing £50m midfielder Fred, Porto youngster Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant as a backup goalkeeper.
Former United defender and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville said the writing was on the wall over the summer after the board "failed to back him over a couple of signings".
"At that point you're finished as a manager," he added.
Mourinho's failure to get the best out of record signing Paul Pogba began to affect the rest of the squad as United started this season with a run of two defeats in the first three matches.
Mourinho reportedly called the World Cup winner a "virus" after the side's 2-2 draw with Southampton earlier this month, while he has also publicly criticised several other players including Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford.
Midfielder Pogba posted a picture of himself soon after Mourinho's sacking, with a half smile on his face and the message: "Caption this".
The post was quickly deleted.
Several leading football voices criticised Mourinho's time in charge, with Gary Lineker and Michael Owen saying his departure was "inevitable".
Former Red Devil Rio Ferdinand said it was time for "fresh ideas" while ex-striker Louis Saha said he thought Mourinho did not "communicate correctly" with players.
Despite the criticism, the players hailed his achievements along with a string of others, including Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp, who said his now former rival was "an outstanding manager".
Among those being tipped for the top job is Mauricio Pochettino - but the Tottenham boss played down the suggestion.
He told reporters: "I cannot answer this type of question. These type of rumours happen in this business, in football.
"A lot of rumours happen, but it is not my business what happened at another club. I am so focused in trying to deliver my best job at this football club.
"I want to send my best wishes to him [Mourinho]. I feel so sorry, because I know him very well, I have a very good relationship with him. He is a very good friend. It is sad news what happened today."

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'You sold your country out': Judge hits out at Trump's former adviser Michael Flynn

18 December

A judge has delayed the sentencing of Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn after telling him: "You sold your country out."

Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Sergei Kislyak, the-then Russian ambassador in Washington.
The White House has said in a statement after the hearing that it still "firmly believes" the FBI broke protocol when they "ambushed" Flynn.
The statement added that there is "certainly a concern" that the former national security adviser lied but it will "let the courts determine that".
Flynn's lawyers had requested the sentencing in Washington be postponed to allow him to continue co-operating with the investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian agents.
District Judge Emmet Sullivan said Flynn's actions bordered on treason and threatened the decorated former Marine general with a stiff prison sentence.
Judge Sullivan said he could not "hide my disgust, my disdain" for the crime, but later clarified that he was "not suggesting" Flynn committed treason.
He said Flynn committed a "very serious offence" by lying to the FBI on the premises of the White House.
The judge continued: "You were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the national security adviser to the president.
"Arguably, this undermines everything this flag over here stands for.
"Arguably, you sold your country out."
The judge later admitted that he was mistaken in his remark that Flynn had been an unregistered agent.
The retired lieutenant general did however operate as an undeclared lobbyist for Turkey while working on Mr Trump's election team.
Special counsel Robert Mueller, head of the Russia probe, had recommended Flynn should not serve prison time because of his "substantial" co-operation with the investigation.
The judge did not set a new date for sentencing but asked Mr Mueller's team and Flynn's attorney to give him a status report by March 13.
Flynn admitted on Tuesday that he knew lying to the FBI was a crime as he stood by his guilty plea.
In a filing before the hearing in December, a lawyer for Flynn noted that he was not warned during his FBI interview that lying would be a crime.
But an attorney said during a sentencing hearing on Friday that the former national security adviser was not entrapped.
Hours before Flynn's sentencing, Mr Trump tweeted: "Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn.
"Will be interesting to see what he has to say, despite tremendous pressure being put on him, about Russian Collusion in our great and, obviously, highly successful political campaign.
"There was no Collusion!"
Before the hearing, the federal judge made sure Flynn had entered his guilty plea knowingly and voluntarily.
Flynn told investigators in January 2017 that he had not discussed US sanctions against Russia with the diplomat, when according to his plea agreement he had.
Lying to the FBI carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison.
However, Flynn's plea agreement stated he is eligible for a sentence of between zero and six months and can ask the court not to impose a fine.
Prosecutors said Flynn had already provided most of the cooperation that he could to the Russia probe, but it was possible he might be able to help investigators further.
In a separate development on Tuesday, Flynn's former business partner Bijan Rafiekian pleaded not guilty after being charged with unregistered lobbying for Turkey.
Prosecutors say the lobbying effort was aimed at having the United States extradite a Muslim cleric who lives in America.
Rafiekian's trial date is 11 February and Flynn is expected to testify in that case.

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Penny Marshall: Laverne & Shirley actress and Big director dies aged 75

18 December

Actress-turned-filmmaker Penny Marshall, who directed Tom Hanks in the family favourite comedy Big, has died aged 75.

She died at her home in Hollywood Hills on Monday due to complications from diabetes, her publicist Michelle Bega said.
Before she went behind the camera, Marshall was best known for starring alongside Cindy Williams in the hit ABC sitcom series Laverne & Shirley.
The show - a spin-off of Happy Days - aired from 1976 to 1983 and saw Marshall net three Golden Globe nominations for best actress in a TV comedy or musical.
She also directed several episodes during its seven-year run, which inspired her to pursue the role full-time and eventually move into film.
The first film she directed was Jumpin' Jack Flash in 1986, which featured a cover of the hit Rolling Stones song of the same name performed by the late Aretha Franklin.
But it is her work with Oscar-winning actor Hanks that will be remembered most fondly - first Big in 1988, a story about a boy who grows to adulthood overnight, and then A League Of Their Own in 1992.
Big was a huge success and became the first feature film directed by a woman to gross more than $100 million.
Comedy baseball movie A League Of Their Own was another critical and box office hit and was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry in 2012 for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
In between her collaborations with Hanks, Marshall - who was the first-ever celebrity guest star on The Simpsons, playing a bitter babysitter in the first season finale - directed Awakenings.
The 1990 drama, starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams, saw Marshall become only the second woman to be nominated for the best director gong at the Academy Awards.
She later directed 1996 film The Preacher's Wife, starring Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston, and her final film was the biopic Riding In Cars With Boys in 2001.
Her brother Garry Marshall, the co-creator of Happy Days, died in 2016.
Tributes from the world of entertainment poured in following news of Marshall's death.
In a tweet, Hanks said: "Goodbye, Penny. Man, did we laugh a lot! Wish we still could. Love you. Hanx."
Actress and singer Bette Midler wrote: "The Marshall family grieves again as the great #PennyMarshall dies at age 75. What an extraordinary family they were and continue to be, and how much love and sympathy my family and I send their way. The end of an era."
Gladiator actor Russell Crowe tweeted: "Penny told me the story of Jim Braddock, which became the movie Cinderella Man. She was kind, she was crazy,so talented and she loved movies. RIP."
Robert De Niro said: "Penny will be missed. May she rest in peace."
Danny DeVito paid tribute, tweeting: "Penny Marshall was a sweet woman. I was very fortunate to spend time with her. So many laughs. She had a heart of gold. Tough as nails. She could play round ball with the best of them."
William Shatner described her as a "true treasure", Billy Crystal said she was a "great comedienne, a terrific director and a dear friend", and Rosie O'Donnell, who starred in A League of Their Own, said she was "simply heartbroken".
Director Ron Howard tweeted: "She was funny & so smart. She made the transition from sitcom star to A List movie director with ease & had a major impact on both mediums.
"All that & always relaxed, funny & totally unpretentious. I was lucky to have known & worked with her."
And filmmaker Ava DuVernay - the first black female director to be nominated for an Oscar for historical drama Selma - tweeted: "Thank you, Penny Marshall. For the trails you blazed. The laughs you gave. The hearts you warmed."

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