Today’s Political Headlines include the cut to betting machine stakes, staying in the customs union beyond 2021, the Government’s 15th defeat on Brexit Bill in the Lords and the nationalisation of East Coast rail.
Government cuts betting machine stakes
As the BBC reports, the Government has announced that the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals is to be reduced to £2 from £100 under new rules. Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said that the change would ‘reduce harm for the most vulnerable’, but bookmakers have warned that the move could force them to close thousands of outlets
UK to tell EU it is prepared to stay aligned to customs union beyond 2021
The Daily Telegraph claims that the UK is to tell the EU that it is prepared to stay aligned to the customs union as a time-limited ‘backstop’, if new border technology is not ready by 2021. The plans were agreed at a meeting on the Brexit ‘war cabinet’ on Tuesday, despite objections from leading Brexiteers. Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned against creating ‘a position that is more attractive than a permanent deal’.
Lords inflect fifteenth defeat on Brexit bill
The Guardian says that the House of Lords has inflicted its fifteenth defeat on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, with the Government losing a vote on an amendment on increasing environmental protection after Brexit by 294 votes to 233. The Government now has to decide when to bring the bill back to the House of Commons to try to undo the changes.
East Coast rail franchise taken under state control
The Financial Times reports that the East Coast rail franchise has been taken under state control for the third time in twelve years. The line is to be rebranded as London & North Eastern Railway, with a public-private partnership expected to run the franchise from 2020. Despite stripping them of the franchise, the Government has admitted that Virgin and Stagecoach are a ‘probable future bidder’ for this partnership.
Review will not recommend cladding ban
The BBC reports that a review of building regulations being carried out by Dame Judith Hackitt following the Grenfell tragedy will not recommend an outright ban on flammable cladding. Instead the review will call for a new building safety management system and criticise the current building regulations for being complex and not fit for purpose.
Police chiefs consider arming rural officers
The Times claims that the National Police Chiefs’ Council is considering plans to arm frontline police officers to cope with terrorist threats in rural areas. As the paper notes, the move ‘will be seen as controversial’ given the UK’s tradition of unarmed policing, but a spokesman said that the move was being considered in areas where having fully trained units on standby was too expensive.
UK should spend as much on defence as NHS, minister claims
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood claimed that the UK should spend as much on the armed forces as it does on the NHS, warning that the UK is taking its ‘security for granted’. Health spending currently makes up 9.8% of the UK’s national income, compared to about 2% for defence spending.
Commons committee votes against Bercow investigation
The Guardian reports that an inquiry into allegations that John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, bullied member of staff has been blocked by MPs. The probe by the parliamentary commissioner for standards, requested by Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, was rejected by the Commons Standards Committee, by three votes to two.
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