Labour leader

Political Headlines – Labour on Brexit, Heathrow expansion, Islamophobia and NHS funding

Today’s Political Headlines include Labour’s new single market proposal, Heathrow expansion plans, accusations of Islamophobia against the Conservatives and raising National Insurance to fund the NHS. 

Labour proposes new single market Brexit amendment
The Times says that Labour is proposing a new amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, calling for ‘full access’ to the single market and ‘shared institutions and regulations’. The paper says that while this would be ‘the softest possible Brexit’ outside membership of the single market, the proposal has left pro-EU MPs ‘unhappy’ and the EU ‘baffled’. Meanwhile, The Sun claims that Exiting the European Union Secretary David Davis has ‘threatened to humiliate Theresa May’ by asking the Cabinet to overrule a decision not to publish a white paper before a key summit later this month.

Heathrow expansion plans announced
As the Financial Times reports, the Government has put forward the final plan for a third runway at Heathrow, and it will be voted on within the next 21 days. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced £2.6bn in compensation for local residents and that planning permission would only be granted if air quality obligations were met. The paper expects the proposal to pass ‘fairly easily’ as it is supported by the Conservative and SNP leadership and many Labour MPs. Boris Johnson, who has opposed the proposal, is expected to be overseas.

Conservative Muslim Forum chair accuses party of not taking action on Islamophobia
According to the BBC, Mohammed Amin, chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum, has accused the party of failing to take action on Islamophobia and called for an independent inquiry. He said that the party is seen as ‘anti-Muslim’ and had not taken ‘decisive action’.

Most voters back National Insurance increase to fund NHS
The Mirror reports that a new poll has found that 82% of voters would be willing to pay 1p more in National Insurance if the money went directly to the NHS. The poll also finds that voters are more likely to back the party which pledges extra funds for health and social care at the next election.

Westminster should not ‘impose its will’ on Northern Ireland, Bradley says
The BBC says that Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has said that while she would personally like the abortion law in Northern Ireland to be changed, Westminster should not ‘impose its will’ and the matter ‘should be decided by the people of Northern Ireland’.

Deradicalisation programme found to be ineffective
The Times reports that a study for the Home Office has found that over 95% of deradicalisation programmes are ineffective. The study by the Behavioural Insights Team examined 33 schemes, mostly part of Prevent, and found that just two were effective, while some were counterproductive. The projects had claimed success rates of over 90%.

Poorer people eat fatty food for ‘comfort, solace and pleasure’, Gove says
The Daily Telegraph says that Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove told the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Environment that poorer people eat food which isn’t good for them because it gives them ‘comfort, solace and pleasure’. He said that the Government needed to be ‘more proactive’ and ‘more than a nudge’ was needed.

Military secondments to the EU will not be renewed
The Financial Times reports that the EU has told UK military staff that their secondments to Brussels will not be renewed after Brexit, while talks on security and defence co-operation have ‘proved much harder than expected’. The paper also reports that a threat by the UK to obstruct the procurement of the Galileo satellite navigation system has been neutralised after the EU agreed to take on the European Space Agency’s liabilities.

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brexit headline

Political Headlines – EU Withdrawal Bill, Northern Rail and Heathrow Airport

Today’s Political Headlines include amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill, Northern Rail chaos, and plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport. 

MPs to vote on amendments to EU Withdrawal Bill as Brexit white paper is postponed
The Times reports that the Government has scheduled votes by MPs on the House of Lords’ amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill for next Tuesday, giving it a week to win over potential rebels. The paper adds that the twelve backbenchers who are threatening to rebel on customs arrangements doubt that the Government will be able to reach a satisfactory compromise. The Financial Times claims that the Government has abandoned plans to publish a white paper on the future UK-EU relationship ahead of this month’s European Council meeting and it will now be published at a later date.

May under pressure over Northern rail chaos
The Guardian says that Theresa May is coming under further pressure to act on the rail chaos in Northern England, as 25 newspapers across the region united to call for an emergency summit to find a solution and a review of rail franchising. Facing questions from MPs yesterday, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced an inquiry into the problems.

Heathrow plans to be approved by cabinet sub-committee
The BBC reports that the Cabinet’s economic sub-committee is expected to approve plans for a third runway at Heathrow today. The plans will then be sent to full cabinet, with MPs expected to vote on them in ‘the coming weeks’. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has previously said that he would ‘lie down in front of bulldozers’ to stop the proposal.

Government announces action plan for carers
The Daily Mail says that the Government is to announce a series of measures to support informal carers today. The care action plan, published by six Government departments, includes flexible work hours, paid ‘carers’ leave’, and emotional support, and is being led by care minister Caroline Dinenage.

Government sells shares in RBS at £2.1bn loss
The Financial Times reports that the Government has sold a 7.7% stake in Royal Bank of Scotland, making a loss of £2.1bn, and that further shares could be sold later this year. Chancellor Philip Hammond has argued that public ownership is a drag on the firm, but as the paper adds, both Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable have criticised the Government for making a loss on the sale.

Government considers investment in Welsh nuclear plant
The Times reports that the Government is considering investing billions of pounds in a new nuclear plant in Wales, which could deliver cheaper electricity than Hinkley Point. Sources suggest that the Government could invest £1-2bn in the Wylfa plant, near Anglesey, with equal investments by Hitachi and the Japanese government, with the rest of the £15bn cost met by Government-guaranteed loans.

Committee criticises aid spending in China
The Daily Telegraph says that the Commons International Development Committee has released a critical report on aid spending in China. The committee warns that spending aid on projects to develop the Chinese film industry and reduce Chinese children’s salt intake risks ‘undermining faith in UK aid’.

Brown calls for NI increase to fund NHS
According to the Daily Mirror, Gordon Brown has made a ‘dramatic intervention’ in the debate about NHS funding, calling for a 1p increase in National Insurance to help meet funding pressures. He has warned that the service is currently in ‘mortal danger’.

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Home secretary

Political Headlines – Sajid Javid dominates the news

Today’s Political Headlines include Sajid Javid’s counter-terror plans, Sajid Javid’s challenge of Government policy and Sajid Javid’s part in the visa cap being lifted on doctors. 

Javid to announce new counter-terror plans
The BBC reports that Home Secretary Sajid Javid is to announce an update to the Government’s counter-terror strategy in a speech today. He will set out plans for MI5 to declassify and share information on citizens suspected of having terrorist sympathies across the Government, local authorities and the police. The Guardian adds that figures from the Sentencing Council show that the police and security services are facing a surge in convicted terrorists released from prison.

Two ministers challenge Government policy
The Times claims that Theresa May’s authority has been ‘dealt a blow’ after two ministers publicly challenged Government policy. Home Secretary Sajid Javid promised to review immigration policy, while Tobias Ellwood, the Minister for Veterans, called for a statute of limitations on offences committed by British troops in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

May planning to lift visa cap on doctors
The Daily Telegraph reports that Theresa May will lift the visa cap on doctors from outside the EU ‘within weeks’, in order to meet the demands of the NHS. According to the paper, discussions have reached a ‘fairly developed stage’ following interventions from Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

‘No strong business case’ for diverging from EU regulations, thinktank says
The Guardian says that the thinktank Open Europe, which it claims is one of the ‘closest to Downing Street’ has claimed in a report that there is ‘no strong business case’ for immediately diverging from EU regulations and that an ‘enhanced mutual recognition agreement’ should be agreed between the UK and the EU. The paper also reports that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called on MPs of all parties to support amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill put forward by the House of Lords.

May facing rebellion over Heathrow vote
The Daily Telegraph claims that the Prime Minister is facing a rebellion from Boris Johnson and other senior Conservative MPs over Heathrow expansion. Theresa May is reportedly considering imposing a three-line whip on the issue as she is worried that the Government may lose the vote and that allowing a free vote would set a dangerous precedent.

MPs call for companies to disclose climate risks
The Financial Times reports that the Commons Environmental Audit Committee has called on the Government to introduce new rules requiring pension funds and UK-listed companies to disclose climate-related risks. Mary Creagh, the committee’s chair, said that she also wanted pension trustees to ‘have a duty to consider long-term sustainability, not just short-term returns’.

Cross-party group seeks to up pressure over Northern Ireland abortion law
The Guardian reports that a cross-party group of MPs is to increase pressure on the Prime Minister to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland by demanding an emergency debate. MPs include Labour’s Stella Creasy and Lib Dem Jo Swinson hope to force the Government to come to the Commons and defend its position.

EU gives UK just weeks to agree dozens of trade deals
According to The Times, the UK will have just a matter of weeks to negotiate trade deals with over 40 countries including Japan and South Korea, as the EU has refused to assist with extending existing trade agreements until the Brexit treaty has legally been signed-off.

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Trade wars

Political Headlines – trade wars, Brexit in Northern Ireland and Conservative ‘hypocrisy’

Today’s Political Headlines include the trade war over steel, the new Northern Ireland plan, the anti-Brexit tour and Conservatives accused of hypocrisy over Russian donation. 

Fox calls on EU to step back from trade war as Trump imposes steel tariffs
The Times reports that International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has called on the EU to step back from embarking on a trade war with the USA, after President Trump imposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium from the EU. Fox said that he wanted ‘to avoid escalation’, but did ‘not rule out’ retaliatory measures or a legal challenge to the US tariffs.

David Davis devises new Brexit plan for Northern Ireland
According to an exclusive in The Sun, David Davis is drawing up a new plan to break deadlock in the Brexit negotiations. He is proposing that Northern Ireland would operate simultaneously under both UK and EU regulations, and that there will be a 10-mile-wide ‘special economic zone’ along the border. A source told the paper that ‘it will be very hard work’ to persuade the DUP and the EU to agree to the proposals.

Left-wing group to launch anti-Brexit tour
The Guardian says that a left-wing pro-EU campaign is to launch a summer tour of British cities. The Left Against Brexit tour will feature Manuel Cortes of the TSSA, Michael Chessum of Momentum, Labour MEP Julie Ward, Labour MP Catherine West, and Green Co-Leader Caroline Lucas. The group is not advocating a second referendum, instead arguing that Corbyn should make the case that a vote for Labour is a vote to stay in the EU.

Conservatives accused of hypocrisy over Russian donation
The Daily Mirror reports that the Conservative Party received a donation from the wife of a former Kremlin aide on the same day that Theresa May blamed Russia for the Salisbury poisoning. Lubov Chernukhin, wife of a former Russian finance minister gave the party a total of £100,000 in two donations in March. Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable and Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery accused the Conservatives of ‘hypocrisy’ over the donation.

Scottish Government faces £1.7bn shortfall
The Guardian reports that the Scottish government faces a £1.7bn shortfall in its finances. The forecast, which covers the next five years, was issued by the independent Scottish Fiscal Commission, which blames reduced wage growth for the projected fall in revenue from income tax. Derek Mackay, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, said that problem was a consequence of austerity, immigration policy and Brexit.

Lord Lawson denies accusations of hypocrisy
The Daily Telegraph says that Lord Lawson has denied accusations of being a hypocrite after he applied for a French residency card. He said that he was applying for a ‘carte de sejour’ because the French authorities had requested that he do so and that he was not applying for French nationality. Paul Butters of Best for Britain said that Lawson ‘looks like a hypocrite’.

Legatum criticised by Charity Commission over free trade report
The Financial Times reports that the Charity Commission has criticised the Legatum Institute thinktank for breaching its charitable objectives. According to the commission, a report by Legatum on the benefits of free trade after Brexit ‘failed to meet the required standards of balance and neutrality’.

Corbyn reminds Labour MPs not to employ unpaid interns after Umunna advert
The BBC says that Jeremy Corbyn has reminded his MPs not to employ unpaid interns. This follows the news that Chuka Umunna advertised for a student from Leeds University to work for him without being paid. Umunna said that as he was advertising for someone on a year in industry placement, they would be supported by their student loan.

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France

Political Headlines – Brexit security, NHS deficit, antisemitism in Labour and Islamaphobia in Conservative party

Today’s Political Headlines include France blocking a Brexit security deal, NHS hospital deficit, Jewish leader accusing Corbyn of antisemitism and Muslin Council of Britain calling for investigation into Conservative party Islamaphobia. 

French blocking Brexit security deal
According to The Times, France is blocking the UK’s attempts to reach a post-Brexit security deal. The country is objecting to the UK continuing to participate in the Prüm Convention, which allows for the sharing of DNA, fingerprint and vehicle information to identify criminals. Continued UK participation is reportedly backed by Germany.

NHS hospitals record deficit of almost £1bn
The Financial Times reports that NHS hospitals ended the year with a deficit of £1bn, almost twice the amount expected. Data released today by NHS Improvement shows that the service has been affected by a ‘surge in demand’ but the body claims that the figure is £1.5bn better than that for 2015-16. The Nuffield Trust, however, described the figure as ‘window dressing’ and claimed that ‘the true, underlying figure is much, much worse’.

Jewish leader accuses Corbyn of holding antisemitic views
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Jonathan Arkush, the outgoing president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn held ‘antisemitic views’ which had left Jews asking ‘do we have a future here?’ He also criticised the Archbishop of Canterbury for not speaking out with a ‘stronger, clearer voice’.

Muslim Council of Britain calls for investigation into Islamophobia in the Conservatives
As the BBC reports, the Muslim Council of Britain has called on the Conservatives to launch an inquiry into Islamophobia in their party. In an open letter to Brandon Lewis, the party’s chair, the council complains of ‘more than weekly incidents’ of Islamophobia and specifically cites the MP Bob Blackman.

Cleverly accuses Labour of playing party politics over Northern Irish abortion
The Guardian reports that James Cleverly, one of the Conservative Party’s Deputy Chairs, has accused Labour of exploiting the campaign to change abortion law in Northern Ireland for political gain. However, at least 13 female Conservative MPs back a change in the law, with a number backing a free vote on an amendment tabled by Labour’s Stella Creasy.

Former cabinet ministers trying to unite Tories behind ‘sensible Brexit’
The Times reports that former cabinet ministers Amber Rudd, Damian Green and Justine Greening are trying to unite Conservative MPs behind a ‘sensible Brexit’. The trio held a meeting with Theresa May yesterday, having consulted with backbench MPs, that a large majority of the parliamentary party was in favour of a compromise with the EU.

UK to be offered ‘less privileged and more expensive’ deal on research after Brexit
In an exclusive, The Guardian claims that the EU is preparing to give the UK a ‘less privileged and more expensive’ deal on science and research collaboration than that offered to some non-EU countries, such as Israel. Instead, the UK will be offered the same deal extended to countries such as Canada and South Korea, but plans to try and change this through its participation in EU budget negotiations.

Businesses warn May that they won’t invest due to Brexit uncertainty
According to the Financial Times, when a delegation of European business leaders met the Prime Minister and David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, yesterday they warned them that they would not invest in the UK until the uncertainty of the negotiations were over. The group was led by Carl-Henric Svanberg, outgoing chairman of BP, and included representatives of Vodaphone, Nestlé, BMW, E.ON and others.

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Chancellor

Political Headlines – Philip Hammond, nuisance calls, Brexit vote and Caroline Lucas

Today’s Political Headlines include Philip Hammond’s call for capitalism to be reformed, directors made personally liable for nuisance calls, George Soros backing a campaign for second Brexit vote and Caroline Lucas stepping down as Green co-leader. 

Philip Hammond to call for capitalism to be reformed
According to The Daily Telegraph, Chancellor Philip Hammond is to use a major speech to argue that Thatcherite free market capitalism needs to be reformed in order to adjust to modern technology and win over millennials. Measures under consideration include greater state intervention to prevent near-monopolies such as Google and Facebook. Meanwhile, the BBC says that Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has called for migration targets to be dropped and for NHS spending to be prioritised over tax cuts.

Directors to be made personally liable for nuisance calls
The Times reports that the Government is to make the directors of firms which make nuisance calls personally liable for fines of up to £500,000. According to figures from the Information Commissioner’s Office, 46% of fines since 2010 have not been recovered owing to company liquidations.

George Soros backs campaign for second Brexit vote within a year
According to The Guardian, in a speech in Paris George Soros announced that the pro-remain Best for Britain campaign would launch within days. He said that the campaign aimed to secure a second referendum within a year to save the UK from ‘immense damage’ and that it would need to be won by a ‘convincing margin’. The group’s manifesto is expected to be launched on 8 June.

Caroline Lucas to step down as Green co-leader
The Guardian reports that Caroline Lucas will step down as co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales in September. She said that it was time to make ‘space for other people’, that a ‘far greater culture of professionalism’ had been introduced to the party and that she had no intention of standing for leader for a third time.

Sajid Javid halts removal of immigrants who altered tax returns
The Financial Times says that Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, has halted action against hundreds of immigrants facing extradition from the UK after they made changes to their returns. In addition, he has revealed that the Home Office is dealing with 226 inquiries from Commonwealth citizens with the right to remain in the UK who were denied the right to return after trips abroad.

HMRC fails to answer 4m calls a year
The Daily Telegraph reports that HMRC is failing to answer over four million calls a year, with over one in ten callers failing to speak to anyone – a doubling in the last year. Meg Hillier, Chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, said that the performance was ‘disappointing’ and accused HMRC of letting down self-employed taxpayers.

Commons committee recommends action on sugar
The Times says that the Commons Health and Social Care Committee will recommend that the sugar levy on soft drinks is extended to other products such as chocolate and puddings if sugar content is not reduced. It also recommends that social media firms ‘take responsibility’ for protecting children from junk food advertising and a 9pm watershed for junk food adverts on television.

Drone tests to be introduced
The BBC says that the Government is to introduce legislation to the Commons which would require drone users to pass online safety tests. There would also be a ban on flying drones within 1km of an airport or above 400ft. According to the aviation minister, Baroness Sugg, the measures will protect aircraft and passengers.

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Northern Ireland

Political Headlines – Northern Ireland, EU budget and NHS

Today’s Political Headlines include Theresa May challenged to ‘prove’ she is a feminist over abortion laws in Northern Ireland, Uk participating in EU budget negotiations, the Treasury and Bank of England at loggerheads and the NHS wasting resources. 

Prime Minister asked to back abortion law change in Northern Ireland
The BBC reports that Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti has challenged Theresa May to prove that she is a feminist by backing reform of abortion law in Northern Ireland and showing that she would ‘stick up for all women’. MPs from all parties have called on the Prime Minister to support a change in the law, following the successful referendum in Ireland.

European Commission and Brexiteers angry at UK participation in EU budget negotiations
The Times claims that the European Commission and Brexiteers are ‘united in anger’ after the European Council invited the UK to take part in negotiations to determine the EU’s budget up to 2027. The offer, which the UK has accepted, was made because the UK will still be paying into the budget after Brexit.

Treasury and Bank of England in post-Brexit regulatory clash
The Financial Times reports that the Treasury and the Bank of England have clashed over the regulation of the City of London after Brexit. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, wants to keep the UK close to the EU rule book, but the Bank of England does not want to become a ‘rule taker’. One source described relations as ‘very, very bad’ and another as ‘terrible’.

Senior doctor accuses NHS of wasting resources
The Daily Telegraph says that a senior doctor has accused the NHS of a ‘ridiculous waste of resources’. Writing for the paper, Professor Keith Willett, medical director for acute care, warns of the problems caused by a failure to tackle bedblocking, leaving ‘highly skilled surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses sitting around waiting for patients’.

Number of leave voters in Labour seats could be lower than thought
The Guardian reports that a new study by the pro-remain group Best for Britain has found that the number of Labour leave voters in each constituency might be lower than had previously been thought. It claims that this means that Labour MPs in pro-Brexit seats who fear being punished by their electorate unless they adopt a hardline stance on Brexit may be worrying unnecessarily.

Free schools programme to be redirected to the North East
The BBC reports that the Government is to redirect its free schools programme towards the worst-performing areas of England, especially the North East. The money forms part of £680m which the Department of Education has allocated to help create 40,000 more good primary and secondary school places by 2021.

‘Influential Tories’ call on Government to introduce online sales tax
According to The Sun, ‘influential Tories’ are lobbying the Government to introduce a 3% sales tax on internet firms such as Amazon, eBay and Google in order to create a level playing field. Neil O’Brien MP has claimed that as much as £500m could be raised through the tax and this could be used to cut business rates.

Government announces plans to extend badger cull
The Daily Mail reports that the Government has announced plans to ‘dramatically extend’ the badger cull, allowing farmers to kill badgers in areas where cows are at a low risk of bovine TB on a case by case basis. The paper adds that Natural England is facing two legal challenges over the programme.

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Brexit image

Political Headlines – Brexit, Boris Johnson and Mark Carney

Today’s Political Headlines include the UK’s negotiating tactics with the EU, Boris Johnson being prank called and Mark Carney issuing a warning over post-Brexit policy 

EU official says that the UK is ‘chasing a fantasy’
The Guardian reports that the EU has accused the Government of ‘chasing a fantasy’ and warned that it ‘doesn’t negotiate under threat’, following a suggestion that the UK would seek to recover over €1bn of contributions towards the Galileo satellite navigation programme. Disputes have also arisen over suggestions that the whole UK could remain partially inside the customs union or that the backstop could be timelimited.

Boris Johnson taken in by hoax callers
As The Times reports, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been taken in by a Russian hoax-caller who pretended to be the new Prime Minister of Armenia. The callers, who have previously deceived Sir Elton John and President Erdogan, continued the conversation for 18 minutes and an investigation into the incident is now underway.

Mark Carney issues warning over post-Brexit policy
The Financial Times reports that Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, has warned that a ‘disruptive’ Brexit could lead to the institution having to choose between higher inflation or restricting economic activity. He said that ‘the bank is ready for Brexit’.

Home Office criticised over criminal record checks modernisation plan
The Guardian says that a report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee accuses the Home Office of a ‘masterclass in incompetence’ in its attempts to improve the Disclosure and Barring Service, which runs the criminal records checking scheme. The modernisation plan is over four years late and is expected to cost more that £229m more than expected.

Williamson warns that military cuts could lead to nuclear weapons being used
The Sun reports that Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has warned that the UK could be forced to use nuclear weapons if funding for conventional equipment was cut. Williamson told the RUSI’s Sea Power Conference that there needed to be funding for ‘conventional deterrence’. The paper suggests that Williamson is concerned about pressure to redirect conventional spending to cyber defence.

Hunt claims people want to pay more tax to fund NHS
The Daily Telegraph reports that Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Institute for Government that people recognise that they will have to pay more tax to fund the NHS last night, in what the paper claims is ‘a direct challenge’ to the Chancellor, Philip Hammond. It claims that the Treasury is ‘pushing back very hard’ against suggestions from Hunt and Theresa May that taxes should go up to pay for an increase in NHS funding.

Hague criticised for working for Putin-linked law firm
The Daily Mirror says that William Hague is ‘pocketing cash’ from Linklaters, despite the law firm being criticised by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee for its links to Vladimir Putin. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said that ‘Lord Hague has serious questions to answer’ and called on Theresa May to take ‘urgent action’.

SNP commission recommends income tax breaks for skilled immigrants
The Daily Telegraph says that a report by the SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission published today will recommend that giving skilled immigrants income tax breaks in order to encourage them to move to Scotland. Andrew Wilson, chair of the commission, said the Scotland’s ‘greatest national challenge’ was increasing its working age population.

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NHS Hospital

Political Headlines – NHS Funding, Galileo, Corbyn in Northern Ireland

Today’s Political Headlines include NHS Funding, the UK’s exclusion from the Galileo programme and Corbyn’s visit to Northern Ireland. 

Households need to pay £2000 a year extra to fund NHS, report says
The Guardian says that a new report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Health Foundation shows that British households will need to pay an extra £2000 a year in tax so that the NHS can cope with the country’s aging population. The report was commissioned by the NHS Confederation, which represents 85% of NHS bodies, and its Chief Executive, Niall Dickson, warned that ‘the current system and funding levels are not sustainable’.

Efforts to exclude UK from Galileo programme driven by ‘German-led clique’
According to The Times, the EU’s attempts to exclude the UK from the Galileo satellite navigation programme are being driven by a ‘German-led clique’ and have caused a rift between Germany and France, which has joined other countries in objecting to the policy. In an official document, the Government will today say that it will reopen the ‘divorce settlement’ if it is not allowed to participate.

Corbyn to visit Northern Ireland
The BBC reports that Jeremy Corbyn is to make his first visit to Northern Ireland as Labour leader today and will pledge that Labour will not support any Brexit deal which leads to a hard border. The Daily Telegraph adds that Corbyn has sparked anger among unionists by renewing his calls for a united Ireland.

UK to request second Brexit transition period
The Times claims that the Government is to request a second Brexit transition period until 2023 to avoid a hard border in Ireland. The proposal, which has not yet been put forward, would see UK maintain customs and regulatory alignment with the EU. Additionally, MPs will vote on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill next month, despite reports that this might be delayed.

Gauke to announce changes to prisoners’ education
The Daily Telegraph reports that Justice Secretary David Gauke is to announce changes to education and employment support for prisoners today. He will say that prisoners should be ready to enter work when they leave prison, as part of a plan to cut reoffending rates in which prison governors will be given greater freedom over education.

HMRC head claims that ‘max fac’ could cost businesses £20bn
The Financial Times reports that Jon Thompson, Head of HM Revenue & Customs, has claimed that the ‘max fac’ Brexit customs proposal could cost businesses up to £20bn a year in extra bureaucracy. He said that there would be negligible extra costs with the Prime Minister’s proposed customs partnership, but that the EU was unlikely to reciprocate it.

Pro-EU campaign’s plans leaked
The Daily Mail has obtained a leaked document from the pro-EU campaign group Best for Britain showing its six-month plan to stop Brexit. The group, backed by George Soros, aims to spend almost £6m on the campaign to get MPs to vote down the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal in October.The group’s plans include working with trade unions, a Labour against Brexit speaker tour, and advertising, social media and local campaigns.

Almost 300 schools not inspected for over a decade
The Independent says that a National Audit Office report has revealed that changes to school inspections introduced by Michael Gove have led to 296 schools not being inspected for over a decade, with over 1600 not having been inspected for at least six years.  Under the policy, which Ofsted wants to be changed, schools rated ‘outstanding’ are not routinely reinspected.

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Michael Gove

Political Headlines – Michael Gove, House of Lords, Galileo, Sajid Javid

Today’s Political Headlines include Gove’s leaked letter, public perceptions of the House of Lords and the role of the EU’s Galileo programme.

Gove criticises Hammond in leaked letter

The Daily Telegraph has seen a letter sent by Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove to the Chancellor Philip Hammond. In the letter, Gove accuses Hammond of being ‘short-sighted’ about Brexit and inflicting a ‘damaging blow’ to the Conservatives’ environmental credibility. He blames the Treasury for a defeat over environmental protections after Brexit last week and for blocking plans for give a new environmental watchdog the power to fine the Government and local authorities.

Lords of out tune with the will of the people, new poll finds

The Daily Mail says that a new poll has found that 76% of people agree that the House of Lords is ‘out of tune with the will of the British people’, with even more agreeing that it is an ‘outdated throwback’. Just 17% of respondents think that the House of Lords should be left untouched. Iain Duncan Smith said that peers should take the findings as a ‘warning’.

Galileo programme ‘key flashpoint’ in Brexit negotiations

The Daily Telegraph reports that the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation programme has become a ‘key flashpoint’ in Brexit negotiations this week. The UK has accused Brussels of not honouring promises made during the Brexit Bill negotiations by shutting British businesses out of the system, despite the UK having agreed not to demand its share of the costs back in return for continued access in the post-Brexit security partnership.

Javid promises new deal for police

The Sun says that Home Secretary Sajid Javid will promise ‘overstretched’ police chiefs a new deal when he addresses the Police Federation today. The paper says that this will mark a ‘seismic change of tone’ from that of Theresa May. An aide told the paper that while no new spending would be promised today, Javid wanted the Treasury to release more money.

Brexit leaves households £900 a year worse off, Bank of England says

The Times reports that the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, claimed yesterday that households were at least £900 a year worse off and the economy as much as £40bn smaller as a result of Brexit. Boris Johnson claimed that Brexit had ‘absolutely not’ damaged the country’s interests.

May under growing pressure over customs union from Brexiteers

The Guardian claims that Theresa May is facing ‘growing pressure’ from Brexiteers to fully leave the customs union. Boris Johnson said that the UK should leave it with ‘confidence and brio and zap and dynamism’, Michael Gove said that the backstop should only be in place for a ‘short time’ and Jacob Rees-Mogg questioned if the Government ‘really wants to leave at all’. Separately, the BBC reports that Philip Hammond told the CBI’s annual dinner that staying in the customs union was not necessary.

Boris calls for ‘Brexit plane’

According to the Daily Mirror Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has ‘sparked outrage’ by calling for a private jet. Speaking on a trip to South America, Johnson complained that the plane shared by the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and the royal family ‘never seems to be available’ and agreed with a reporter’s suggestion that he needed a ‘Brexit plane’.

UK becoming Europe’s cocaine capital, minister warns

The BBC reports that Security Minister Ben Wallace has said that the UK ‘is fast becoming the biggest consumer of cocaine in Europe’. Speaking during a debate on the Government’s serious violence strategy, he said that he wished he had more money and promised to bring forward new measures to crack down on knife possession and extend stop and search powers within weeks.

 

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Michael Gove

Political Headlines – Michael Gove (twice), NHS, Ken Livingstone and Grenfell Tower

Today’s Political Headlines include clean air, scrapping NHS reforms, Ken Livingstone resigning and Grenfell Tower.

Clean air strategy to be launched
The Daily Telegraph says that Michael Gove, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, and Jeremy Hunt, the Health and Social Care Secretary, are to announce a new clean air strategy today. Wood burning stoves are to be targeted, having been identified as the ‘UK’s biggest environmental threat to human health’. Writing in the paper, the ministers claim that the UK will set a ‘gold standard’ for air quality after Brexit, going ‘further and faster’ than proposed changes to EU regulations.

Government considers scrapping some of the 2012 NHS reforms
The BBC claims that the Government is considering scrapping some of the controversial reform to the NHS in England introduced in 2012. The Prime Minister has committed to a better deal for the health service, but the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, has been told that extra funding would come with more reform attached.

Ken Livingstone resigns from Labour
As The Guardian reports, Ken Livingstone has announced his resignation from the Labour Party. He said that issues surrounding his suspension for antisemitism had become ‘a distraction from the key political issues of our time’ and that he would continue to work towards achieving a Corbyn-led Government.

Grenfell Tower inquiry opens with tributes to victims
The Times reports on the opening of the inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower. Families of six of the 72 victims paid tributes, with the remainder to follow over the next two weeks. The inquiry’s chair, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, said that the tributes were an ‘integral part of evidence for this inquiry’.

Gove in gaffe at thinktank launch event
The Daily Mirror says that Michael Gove made a gaffe at the launch event for the new thinktank Onward, aimed at attracting young people to the Conservatives. He compared himself to Ike Turner (described by the paper as an ‘infamous wife-beater’) and joked about Meghan Markle’s ‘exotic’ heritage. The Sun adds that Ruth Davidson used the event to call on the Conservatives to ‘speak to the entire nation’.

Theresa May: customs union backstop would only apply in ‘very limited’ circumstances
The Guardian says that Theresa May has claimed that her backstop plan to keep the UK aligned to the customs union post-2020 would only apply in a ‘very limited’ set of circumstances and that ‘nobody wants this to be the solution that is achieved’. The Financial Times reports that the Government has published a plan to be implemented if there is disruption at channel ports after Brexit, involving closing 13 miles of the M20 to hold lorries.

Nuclear defence programme will cost £50.8bn over next decade
The Financial Times reports that the National Audit Office has assessed the cost of the nuclear defence programme over the next decade for the first time. The total cost is £50.8bn from 2018 to 2028, with a £2.9bn shortfall predicted if cost-cutting is delivered.

Northern Ireland Secretary urged to ‘redouble’ efforts to restore devolution
The BBC carries details of a new report by the Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, which calls on Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley to ‘redouble’ her efforts to restore devolution. It also calls on her to outline how ‘urgent’ decisions will be made in the interim.

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Russia

Political Headlines – Russian money, AI, Johnson’s warning and Galileo rival

Today’s Political Headlines include turning a blind eye to Russian money, AI to save lives, Johnson’s warning and the UK’s Galileo rival.

Government criticised for turning ‘blind eye’ to Russian money
The BBC says that a new report by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has found that London is being used to hide ‘corrupt assets’ of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies, with the UK turning a ‘blind eye’ to ‘dirty money’. Ben Wallace, the Security and Economic Crime Minister, has cast doubt on the report’s findings because he was not called to give evidence to the committee. Separately, the Financial Times reports that the UK has not renewed the visa of Russian oligarch and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, leading him to miss the FA Cup final.

May pledges to use artificial intelligence to save lives
The Times reports that Theresa May is to deliver a speech today in which she will promise to use artificial intelligence to study patient data to stop cancer or dementia before people know that they have it. She will say that this new technology is key to national prosperity and will save tens of thousands of lives a year within fifteen years.

Johnson delivers ‘thinly-veiled warning’ over customs union
The Guardian claims that Boris Johnson has ‘delivered a thinly-veiled warning’ to the Prime Minister that he still expects her to deliver a deal which would avoid a backstop keeping the UK aligned to the customs union after 2020. He said that ‘Brexiters fearing betrayal over the customs backstop must understand that the PM has been very clear that it is not an outcome we desire; we want a deal with the EU and she will deliver it.’

UK may partner with Australia to deliver Galileo rival
According to the Financial Times, the UK is aiming to launch the first tenders for a satellite navigation system to rival the EU’s Galileo project later this year, and hopes that Australia will become a partner in the programme. The BBC adds that Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, is to launch the UK’s first space strategy today, claiming that the UK needs to be ready to counter ‘intensifying threats’ in space, such as the ‘jamming’ of satellites.

Johnson visits Argentina
The Daily Mail reports on Boris Johnson’s visit to Argentina, the first by a British Foreign Secretary for 22 years. He laid wreathes with his Argentinian counterpart Jorge Faurie at a ceremony at the Monument to the Fallen in the Falklands, commemorating the Argentinian troops who died in the Falklands War. Argentina’s chief of the council of ministers, Mercos Pena, will reciprocate this gesture at St Paul’s Cathedral next month.

Gove and Davidson launch new thinktank
The Guardian says that Michael Gove and Ruth Davidson are to launch a new Tory thinktank, called Onward. Gove argues that his party ‘is at its best when it appeals beyond its core vote and puts forward a reforming, forward-looking agenda that responds to the concerns of the entire nation.’ Writing in the paper, Davidson calls on Conservatives to embrace the country’s ‘open liberal outlook as a positive – and not a threat.’

MPs criticise Motability over pay and reserves
The BBC reports that a report by the Commons Treasury and Work & Pensions Committees has found that the £1.7m paid to the chief executive of the Motability scheme is ‘totally unacceptable’, while funds of £2.4bn were being needlessly hoarded. The Government has said that the National Audit Office will look into the issues raised in the report.

Remainers accused of exploiting Irish border issue
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, former Conservative Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson and DUP Brexit Spokesman Sammy Wilson accuse remainers of having ‘cynically and recklessly exploited’ the Irish border issue. A new report released by Queen’s University Belfast finds that just one in five Northern Irish residents supports a united Ireland.

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Eric Pickles

Political Headlines – Lord Pickles, Afghanistan, Bercow and Leadsom, and betting machines

Today’s Political Headlines include Conservative peers potentially including Eric Pickles, troops to Afghanistan, Bercow calling Leadsom a ‘stupid woman’ and betting machine stakes delayed by two years. 

May to use royal wedding to distract from announcement of new peers
The Daily Mirror claims that Theresa May is using the royal wedding as a distraction from the announcement of ten more Conservative peers. A source in the Cabinet Office told the paper that it would be ‘a good time to bury bad news’, with potential candidates being former MPs Sir Eric Pickles, Peter Lilley, Sir Edward Garnier, Julian Brazier and Andrew Tyrie. New Labour peers are expected to include Martha Osamor and Iain McNicol, while former DUP MP William McCrea is also expected to join the House of Lords.

UK considers sending hundreds more troops to Afghanistan
According to The Times, the Government is considering sending hundreds more troops to Afghanistan following pressure from President Trump. An announcement is due to me made at a Nato summit in July, with one plan under consideration being for around 400 additional personnel to be deployed as part of a Nato training mission, almost doubling the number of UK troops in the country.

Bercow accused of calling Leadsom a ‘stupid woman’
The Daily Telegraph reports that Commons Speaker John Bercow has been accused of calling the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, a ‘stupid woman’ in what the paper calls a ‘foul-mouthed tirade’ on Wednesday. The Speaker’s Office claimed that it was ‘an unusual and controversial day’ on which ‘some strong and differing views were expressed on all sides’.

Cut to betting stakes may be delayed by two years
The Times claims that the cut on the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2 may not be implemented for another two years, with the Treasury advocating that the measure comes into force in 2020. Tracey Crouch, the minister responsible, told the Commons that bookmakers would be given a ‘reasonable’ time to adjust.

Government set to ban flammable cladding
The Daily Mail reports that the Government is set to ban flammable cladding on tower blocks, following an angry reaction to Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of fire safety rules which did not back a wholesale ban of the material. Despite her recommendation, Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary told the Commons that the Government would consult on introducing a ban.

Greg Clark asks CMA to consider Sainsbury’s-Asda deal’s impact on suppliers
The Financial Times reports that Business Secretary Greg Clark has written to the Competition and Markets Authority to insist that its inquiry to the proposed takeover of Asda by Sainsbury’s examines the implications for supermarket suppliers. He wrote that this issue had been raised as part of his engagement with the sector.

Varadkar says that UK must keep somes ties to single market to avoid hard border
The Daily Mail says that the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has warned that the UK must keep some ties to the single market after Brexit in order to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland. He met Theresa May yesterday, cautioning that addressing the border issue would ‘require more than just customs’. The Sun claims the EU believes that a proposed ‘max fac’ customs system would not be ready for decades, with an official sarcastically suggesting that it might not be ready until 2085.

Neil Hamilton ousted as leader of UKIP in the Welsh Assembly
The BBC reports that Neil Hamilton has been ousted as leader of the UKIP group in the Welsh Assembly. His replacement is Caroline Jones, who won a vote held by the group yesterday afternoon. She said Hamilton had ‘done a good job’ and would be ‘difficult to follow’.

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betting machines

Political Headlines – betting machines, customs union, Brexit and East Coast

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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Brexit secretary

Political Headlines – Brexit white paper, illegal customs plan, Carillion collapse and Windrush

Today’s Political Headlines include the promise of a Brexit white paper, a potentially ‘illegal’ customs plan, the Carillion collapse and the Windrush scandal. 

Government promises ‘significant’ Brexit white paper
The BBC reports the Government has claimed a new white paper on Brexit to be published before the EU summit in June will be its most significant publication on the EU since 2016. David Davis has told colleagues that it will include ‘detailed, ambitious and precise explanations of our positions’.

Customs partnership plan might be illegal
The Times claims that David Davis has told Theresa May that her preferred plan for a customs partnership with the EU could be illegal under international trade law. The Attorney-General will provide an urgent legal opinion to the Prime Minister before the Cabinet makes its final decision and will also consider the alternative ‘max-fac’ proposal, which critics have claimed the WTO might also challenge.

Carillion collapse blamed on ‘rotten corporate culture’
The BBC says that a report has blamed the collapse of Carillion on a ‘rotten corporate culture’ for which its board is culpable. The report by the Commons Work and Pensions and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committees also calls for the break-up of the ‘big four’ audit firms.

63 wrongful removals linked to Windrush scandal
The Guardian reports that Home Secretary Sajid Javid told the Commons Home Affairs Committee yesterday that his department had identified 63 cases of wrongful removal connected to the Windrush scandal, and that this number could increase.

Scotland denies consent for EU (Withdrawal) Bill
As the Financial Times reports, yesterday the Scottish Parliament voted to deny consent for the Government’s EU (Withdrawal) Bill. Government compromises were enough to win support for the bill in the Welsh Assembly. The Government has made clear its intention to override Scottish objections.

Committee reports criticise Government energy policy
The BBC says that two committees have criticised the Government’s energy policies. The Commons Environmental Audit Committee found that investment in clean energy has dived, while the Commons Public Accounts Committee has found that policies to encourage clean heat have failed and often produce dirty heat.

Gove says that Conservatives need to find new economic arguments
The Daily Telegraph reports that Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove told a Centre for Policy Studies event that the Conservatives need to find new economic arguments to win over young people, rather than relying on Thatcher’s reforms and comparing Corbyn to Venezuela.

Johnson claims Iranian nuclear deal still ‘has value’
According to The Sun, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson claimed last night that the nuclear deal with Iran still ‘had value’, as he held crisis talks with European and Iranian counterparts in an attempt to save the agreement after the USA pulled out.

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Jacob Rees Mogg

Political Headlines – Rees-Mogg, Labour’s Brexit and the Home Office

Today’s Political Headlines include May’s confrontation with Rees-Mogg, Corbyn ruling out a Norway-style Brexit, MSPs to vote against Brexit and the Home Office accused of shambolic incompetence. 

May confronts Rees-Mogg at customs meeting
The Times claims that Theresa May ‘confronted’ Jacob Rees-Mogg at a meeting about customs after Brexit. The Prime Minister was meeting backbench Conservative MPs to outline the options for customs post-Brexit when the clash happened, with one Conservative MP saying that May ‘slapped him down very hard’. The Daily Telegraph claims that May admitted to MPs that negotiations have reached an ‘impasse’ as neither of her customs plans will work, increasing Eurosceptics’ fears that the transition period will be extended. As the BBC reports, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has warned that Brexit talks have made ‘little’ progress since March.

Corbyn rules out Norway-style Brexit
The Guardian says that Jeremy Corbyn has told Labour MPs that the party cannot consider a Norway-style Brexit, which would leave the UK as a ‘rule taker’. John Mann, who warned that Labour would lose seats such in his Bassetlaw constituency if it ‘watered down’ its Brexit position, said that the strength of feeling from other Labour MPs had killed off the EEA option. However, The Sun claims that Shadow International Development Minister Preet Gill has ‘risked the sack’ by calling for a ‘people’s vote’ on the final deal.

MSPs set to vote against EU (Withdrawal) Bill
The BBC reports that MSPs are set to formally refuse to give the Scottish Parliament’s consent to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. The SNP are expected to be backed by Labour, Green and Lib Dem MSPs in the vote against the bill. The UK and Scottish Governments have been unable to reach an agreement over devolved powers after Brexit.

Home Office accused of ‘shambolic incompetence’
The Guardian claims that the Home Office has been accused of ‘shambolic incompetence’ after letter written by Caroline Noakes, the immigration minister, appeared to contradict what she told the Commons Home Affairs Committee about when she became aware of problems faced by highly skilled migrants. She claimed that the issue had been flagged up ‘two working days’ ago, but the letters suggest she was aware of the problem in February.

UK could withhold security clearance for firms working on Galileo
According to the Financial Times, the UK Space Agency has written to 13 British companies working on the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation system, warning them that the Government could withhold their security clearance to work on the project. The letter described the move as ‘a necessary consequence of the position taken by the European Union’.

Leaked letter shows incentive for benefit assessors to squeeze in more sessions
The Daily Mirror reports on a leaked letter which shows that disability benefit assessors employed by Atos have been given £50 rewards for fitting extra sessions into their day, which MPs fear could lead to tests being hurried and poor quality. Frank Field, Chair of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, had written to the firm, asking it for more details.

Lords vote to start second part of Leveson inquiry
The Daily Telegraph reports that peers have voted to order the start of the second part of the Leveson inquiry of press standards, defying a vote by MPs last week. As a result, MPs will have another chance to vote on the issue, which the paper claims may be as soon as next Tuesday.

East Coast rail franchise to be terminated ‘in days’
The Financial Times reports that the Government will terminate Virgin and Stagecoach’s contract to operate the East Coast rail franchise ‘in days’, following heavy losses. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has the option of temporarily nationalising the line, or negotiating a not-for-profit management agreement with the existing operator.

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BBC

Political Headlines – Tessa Jowell, customs plans, MI5 and Russia

Today’s Political Headlines include tributes to Tessa Jowell, doubts around May’s customs plans, MI5 chief condemning Russia and a new Windrush-style scandal. 

Politicians pay tribute to Tessa Jowell
The Guardian reports that politicians from across the political spectrum have paid tribute to Tessa Jowell following the announcement of her death yesterday. The Government has announced it will double its investment in brain cancer research to £40m and introduce a new test for brain cancer in all NHS hospitals, an issue Jowell focused on in the last months of her life, and spoke about to the BBC.

Gove casts doubts on May’s customs plans
Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove, cast doubt on Theresa May’s proposed post-Brexit customs partnership, which he said had ‘flaws’ and had questions about its ‘deliverability’. Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer told the programme that a customs union was the only solution. The Daily Mirror reports that David Miliband will share a platform with Nicky Morgan and Nick Clegg today, calling on MPs to vote down the Brexit deal if it is not good enough.

Head of MI5 to condemn Russia in speech today
The Times says that the head of MI5 is to deliver ‘Britain’s strongest condemnation yet of Russia’. Addressing European security chiefs in Berlin today, Andrew Parker, Director-General of the Security Service, will criticise the country for its ‘flagrant breaches’ of international law, blame it for the Salisbury poisonings and condemn its disinformation campaign. He will also call for a continued UK-Europe security partnership after Brexit.

Khan warns of new Windrush-style scandal
The Guardian reports that Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has warned that the Government may face another Windrush-style scandal, with children and teenagers born in the UK being left without access to education or employment owing to a £1,000 fee to gain citizenship. Khan has commissioned research to understand the scale of the problem and called for the Government to streamline the application process and waive the fees.

Erdogan calls UK a ‘valuable and reliable’ ally
The Times reports that President Erdogan of Turkey has called the UK a ‘valuable and reliable’ ally. He is in London for one of just two foreign visits while he campaigns for elections next month, and has promised to ‘co-operate more with the UK post-Brexit in every field’. He will meet the Queen, speak at Chatham House and meet investors.

Carillion used small suppliers to prop it up, MPs say
The Financial Times says that MPs investigating Carillion’s collapse have revealed new evidence showing that the firm used suppliers to ‘prop up its failing business model’. The final report is due to be published on Wednesday by the House of Commons Work and Pensions and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committees.

Lords warned off attempts to resurrect Leveson
According to The Daily Telegraph, MPs have warned that attempts by the House of Lords to resurrect a second Leveson inquiry would breach the constitution and intensify calls for reform. Jacob Rees-Mogg has claimed that efforts by the Lords to salvage the inquiry would breach a convention which stops peers from ‘wrecking’ Government legislation.

Gyimah calls for the UK to rediscover its ‘spark of genius’
Writing for The Daily Telegraph, Universities and Science Minister Sam Gyimah has called for the UK to rediscover its ‘spark of genius’ and become a ‘science and technology superpower’. Today he, together with Business Secretary Greg Clark, will launch UK Research and Innovation, the new funding agency.

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Schooling

Political Headlines – grammar school, Brexit, Ministry of Defence and Leave.EU’s breach of election law

Today’s Political Headlines include grammar school expansion, May’s two Brexit groups, Ministry of Defence spending plans and Leave.EU’s breach of election law. 

Government announces funding for grammar school expansion
The Daily Telegraph reports that Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, will announce today a £50m Selective Schools Expansion Fund, allowing grammar schools to create up to 16,000 extra places over the next four years. He told the paper that grammar schools will be allowed to set lower pass marks in their entrance exams for disadvantaged children and that he was making money available to create new Voluntary Aided faith schools.

May divides Brexit sub-committee into two customs working groups
The Times reports that Theresa May has divided her Brexit cabinet sub-committee into two groups: one working on her favoured customs partnership plans, and one working on the ‘max-fac’ plan favoured by Brexiteers. The Financial Times adds that the Prime Minister has postponed Brexit legislation over fears that she could be defeated and does not expect a breakthrough on customs and border issues next week. The Guardian says that Labour backbenchers are keeping up their fight for Jeremy Corbyn to reconsider his opposition to EEA membership, as new polling shows majority support for a vote on the deal.

Ministry of Defence spending plans criticised by MPs
The BBC says that the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has criticised the Ministry of Defence’s spending plans for being unrealistic, warning that they could be more than £20bn over budget. The Ministry of Defence claimed that MPs were highlighting an ‘unlikely worst-case scenario’. According to the Financial Times, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is to call for foreign companies to be blocked from a £1bn Royal Navy contract, which the paper warns ‘could push up costs for the stretched Ministry of Defence’.

Leave.EU fined for breaching election law
The BBC reports that Leave.EU has been fined £70,000 for breaching election law during the referendum on EU membership. The group failed to report at least £77,380 it spent and a senior figure has been referred to the police. Co-founder Arron Banks has claimed that this is a ‘politically motivated attack’.

Blair called on to apologise for rendition of dissident to Libya
The Times says that Tony Blair is being called on to apologise for the rendition to Libya of Abdul Hakim Belhaj, an opponent of the Gaddafi regime, and Fatima Boudchar, his pregnant wife, in 2014. Yesterday, Theresa May formally apologised to the couple as part of an out-of-court settlement.

MPs to debate votes at 16
The Daily Mail reports that MPs will debate a bill put forward by Labour MP Peter Kyle this morning, which would lower the voting age to 16 and put a polling station in every school. The paper reports that a growing number of Conservative MPs support the measure, with British Youth Council figures showing it has the backing of at least 314 out of 650 MPs.

Hunt and Hammond arguing about NHS budget increase
According to The Guardian, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Chancellor Philip Hammond are in dispute over a funding increase for the NHS. Hunt wants the NHS budget to grow by at least £5.2bn a year but Hammond favours an increase of around £3.25bn. The Prime Minister is expected to announce an increase around 7 July, the NHS’s 70th birthday.

Prime Minister ‘blasted’ by Grenfell families
The Daily Mirror says that families of those who died in the fire at Grenfell Tower have ‘blasted’ the Prime Minister following a meeting. The relatives want new members to be added to the panel leading the public inquiry, with a petition on the topic to be debated by MPs on Monday. However, Theresa May refused to commit herself either way in the meeting.

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Brexit

Political Headlines – Brexit deadline, NHS data sharing, Leveson II defeated and BoJo’s commitment to Iran deal

Today’s Political Headlines include extending the Brexit deadline, NHS data sharing, Leveson II defeated and Johnson commits to Iran deal. 

Brexiteers suggest extending transition to break customs deadlock
The Sun claims that Brexiteers, including Theresa May’s former special adviser Nick Timothy and allies of Michael Gove, are suggesting extending the Brexit transition period to break deadlock over customs plans. This would give more time for their preferred ‘maximum facilitation’ plan to be implemented. May was reportedly planning to use a meeting of the Cabinet’s Brexit subcommittee on Tuesday to adopt an amended version of her plans for a customs partnership, but the paper claims that signs of a compromise are emerging.

Government stops forcing NHS to share data with Home Office
The Guardian reports that the Government has suspended arrangements under which the NHS shared patients’ data with the Home Office so that it could identify people breaking immigration rules. Opponents had warned that the policy was scaring some people away from seeking NHS care. The change was announced during a debate on the Data Protection Bill, with the Government accepting an amendment tabled by Conservative Dr Sarah Wollaston (Chair of the Health Committee) and Labour’s Dr Paul Williams.

Labour attempt to launch part two of Leveson defeated
The Guardian reports that the Government managed to narrowly defeat a Labour attempt to start the second phase of the Leveson inquiry in a House of Commons vote yesterday. Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Matt Hancock hailed ‘a great day for a free and fair press’ but Ed Miliband accused the Conservatives of breaking a pledge to phone-hacking victims and of giving the DUP what it has called ‘a Leveson for Northern Ireland’.

Johnson pledges UK commitment to Iran deal
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the House of Commons yesterday that the UK has ‘no intention of walking away’ from the Iran nuclear deal, despite the USA having pulled out. As the BBC reports, Sir Michael Fallon, Defence Secretary when the deal was signed, said that President Trump’s criticism of the ‘rather flimsy agreement’ was justified.

Tory MPs call for House of Lords to be overhauled
The Daily Mail says that ‘leading Tory MPs’ including Iain Duncan Smith, Bernard Jenkin, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Daniel Kawczynski have called for reform of the House of Lords after it amended the EU (Withdrawal) Bill 14 times. Duncan Smith called for a ‘complete and total overhaul’ while Rees-Mogg said that peers ‘are completely obsessed by the European Union.’

Williamson criticised over leak
According to The Times, ‘senior Conservatives’ and Number 10 have criticised Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson accusing him of playing politics with the Northern Irish peace process and leaking plans to set up a historical murders unit. The Daily Mail reports that service records of troops who served in the province are to be handed over to police.

May to face criticism over Erdoğan visit
The Financial Times says that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will start a three-day visit to the UK on Sunday, meeting both the Queen and Theresa May. The paper says the Prime Minister is likely to face criticism as the visit will be during snap elections which have been criticised by opposition and human rights groups.

Grayling announces digital railway overhaul
The BBC reports that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is to announce a digital overhaul of the rail network. Network Rail will aim for 70% of journeys to benefit from digital technology by 2033, with new signalling improving frequency and capacity and reducing failures.

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Parliament

Political Headlines – defeat in the Lords, Iran, Windrush and Northern Ireland

Today’s Political Headlines include Government defeat in the Lords (again), the Iran deal, Windrush errors and clashes over Northern Ireland. 

Government defeated by peers in single market vote
The Guardian reports that a shock defeat for the Government in the Lords will lead to MPs voting on remaining in the European Economic Area. 83 Labour peers voted against the party’s whip on an amendment for continued membership of the EEA. The Times says that Boris Johnson has dared Theresa May to fire him, with friends indicating that he has no intention of resigning despite describing the Prime Minister’s favoured customs plan as ‘crazy’. The Daily Telegraph suggests that May could bypass deadlock over this plan by putting it to the full Cabinet, rather than its Brexit sub-committee. According to the Financial Times, the Department for International Trade will get an additional £10m to prevent the loss of trade promotion jobs.

UK remains committed to Iran deal, despite US withdrawal
The BBC reports that the UK has insisted that it remains committed to the Iran nuclear deal, despite the decision of US President Donald Trump to abandon it. In a joint statement with France and Germany, the Prime Minister said that the agreement ‘remains important for our shared security’. Labour accused the President of a ‘reckless, senseless and immoral act of diplomatic sabotage’.

Home Office warned about Windrush errors five years ago
According to The Guardian, the Home Office was warned that Windrush generation residents had been incorrectly classified as being in the country illegally as long ago as 2013. The paper says that this undermines claims made by the department that it had thought that only a small number of people were affected by the scandal.

Cabinet clashes over plans to investigate killings by troops in Northern Ireland
The Sun claims that Cabinet ministers have clashed over plans to set up a new investigation unit into all 302 killings by troops during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The plans, put forward by Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley, will now be decided on by the Prime Minister after they were attacked by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Brexit Secretary David Davis.

Hugh Grant urges MPs to vote for press reforms
The Daily Telegraph says that Hugh Grant has been persuading Conservative MPs to vote for Labour amendments which the paper claims amount to ‘curbs on press freedom’. Grant held a series of one-on-one meetings, and ten Conservative MPs are considering rebelling against the Government. Writing in the paper, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Matt Hancock claims that the measures would ‘undermine the freedom of our press’.

Abrahams ousted from Labour’s frontbench after bullying investigation
The BBC reports that Debbie Abrahams has been sacked as Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary following an investigation into claims of workplace bullying. Abrahams, who was suspended from the role earlier this year, claims that the probe was ‘neither thorough, fair, nor independent’ and ‘strongly refutes’ the claims.

Heidi Alexander quits as MP
As The Guardian reports, Heidi Alexander is to stand down as the Labour MP for Lewisham East to take up the role of London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, replacing Val Shawcross. The paper suggests that the Labour candidacy will prompt a battle between Momentum, trades unionists and Labour centrists, who control the local party’s executive.

Security firms could be banned from helping EU with Galileo programme
The Times claims the Government is investigating ways of banning technology companies from transferring sensitive information to Europe, if the EU blocks the UK from the Galileo satellite navigation system. The paper claims that there is ‘growing alarm in Westminster’ that the EU’s approach could threaten the future defence and security co-operation treaty.

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