Political Headlines – breast cancer screenings, Windrush, Sajid Javid and the customs union

Today’s Political Headlines include breast cancer screening failures, Government blocking Windrush disclosures, Sajid Javid siding with the Brexiteers and May’s ultimatum over the customs union. 

NHS breast cancer screening error
In a statement made yesterday by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, it was announced that around 450,000 women in England missed out on breast cancer screening due to a technical error. The Telegraph has reported that a nurse has accused the NHS of a ‘cover up’ after she and thousands of others fell victim to the biggest cancer scandal in the health service’s history. 

MPs vote against Windrush disclosures
The Guardian reports that the Government has defeated a Labour motion in the Commons seeking access to documents laying out the policies behind the Windrush crisis. Labour had hoped to force the Government to release documents about its immigration policy relating to people who came to the UK from Commonwealth countries. The Financial Times reports that the Prime Minister has announced an inquiry into what went wrong with the Windrush scandal, promising a review with ‘full access to all relevant information in the Home Office’.

Sajid Javid sides with hard-Brexiteers over the PM’s customs union plan
New Home Secretary and Remain voter Sajid Javid has switched sides to join Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and other Brexiteers in arguing that Mrs May’s preferred option for a customs deal should be ‘killed off’. The Telegraph reports that Theresa May has conceded that her plans for a customs partnership with the EU are ‘dead’ after senior Cabinet ministers turned on her during a crunch Brexit meeting.

May is being given an ultimatum by MPs over customs union
Sky News is reporting that Theresa May is facing huge pressure from pro-Brexit MPs as her feuding Cabinet ministers prepare to meet in a ferocious showdown on Government policy on customs. The Prime Minister’s so-called ‘Brexit war cabinet’ is meeting to attempt to reach a deal on whether the UK should leave Europe’s customs union or enter a ‘customs partnership’.

May and Corbyn clash over council tax bills ahead of local elections
The BBC reports that the two party leaders clashed yesterday over council tax bills ahead of today’s local elections. At Prime Minister’s Questions, Jeremy Corbyn said residents ‘paid more and got less’ from Conservative councils. But May said some residents in Labour-run Lambeth were paying twice as much council tax as those living in neighbouring Conservative Wandsworth.

Sajid Javid challenges Corbyn to condemn hard-left activists 
The Telegraph reports that Javid has challenged Jeremy Corbyn to ‘stamp on’ racist abuse coming from the hard left after the new Home Secretary was subjected to racially-charged abuse following his appointment, including being called a ‘coconut’ and an ‘uncle Tom’. 

PM calls for an investigation into claims of bullying by House of Commons speaker John Bercow
The Guardian reports that John Bercow, has come under mounting pressure after the prime minister called for new claims of bullying against him to be formally investigated. Bercow’s former private secretary alleged in a TV interview that the Speaker was prone to angry outbursts and obscene language.

TSB chief Paul Pester to forfeit £2m bonus in wake of IT meltdown
The Independent has reported that the Chief Executive of TSB will forfeit a £2m bonus payment in the light of an IT failure that left thousands of customers locked out of their accounts. Pester, as well as the bank’s chairman Richard Meddings, appeared before the Treasury Select Committee saying that they had received 40,000 complaints about the outage but did not know exactly how many of the bank’s 1.9 million online customers had been affected.

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Political Headlines – Bercow accused of bullying, Government collapse, migration scandal and dirty money

Today’s Political Headlines include Bercow accused of bullying, rebels threatening Government ‘collapse’, May rejected Rudd’s plans to exclude doctors from migration quotas and dirty money. 

Bercow accused of bullying by former private secretary
Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Angus Sinclair, John Bercow’s former private secretary accused the Speaker of bullying. By speaking about his experiences, Sinclair was breaking the terms of a non-disclosure agreement signed in 2010, as part of a deal in which he was paid £86,250, but said that he felt that this was ‘in the public interest’. Bercow has denied the accusations, which follow similar ones about Sinclair’s successor, Kate Emms.

Eurosceptic MPs threaten Government ‘collapse’ over customs plans
The Daily Telegraph says that sixty Conservative MPs from the European Research Group led by Jacob Rees-Mogg have sent the Prime Minister a thirty page dossier opposing plans for a post-Brexit customs partnership with the EU, warning that the Government will ‘collapse’ if she continues with them. According to The Guardian, the Cabinet Brexit sub-committee will not decide on the policy today, in order to head off a rebellion.

May rejected plans to exclude doctors from migration quotas
The Financial Times reports that Theresa May rejected calls from Amber Rudd to exempt doctors coming to work in the NHS from quotas for highly skilled migrants and claims that the Home Office may have falsely accused up to 7,000 foreign students of faking their English proficiency and ordered them to leave the country. The Guardian says that Labour is to use a parliamentary procedure to try to force the Government to publish papers relating to the Windrush scandal, The Daily Telegraph raises fears of another scandal over the deportation of highly-skilled migrants for minor tax errors, and The Times reports that ministers are investigating claims that an official received a bonus for deporting illegal migrants.

Government backs down over ‘dirty money’ amendment
The Guardian says that the UK’s overseas territories will be forced to adopt public registers of company ownership by the end of the decade, after the Government conceded its support to a backbench amendment designed to hamper the flow of ‘dirty money’. The amendment was tabled by Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell and Labour MP Margaret Hodge.

Brexit thinktank founder accused of working for Russia
The Times reports that Bob Seely, a Conservative MP, has accused Christopher Chandler, founder of the pro-Brexit thinktank the Legatum Institute of being a suspected Russian agent. He cited security files, authenticated by French, British and American sources. The institute has dismissed the claims as ‘complete nonsense’.

Cabinet ministers warn that local elections could lock Tories out of London
According to The Daily Telegraph, cabinet ministers have privately warned that Thursday’s local elections could lock the Conservatives out of London ‘for a generation’, which could be ‘hugely damaging’ to Theresa May’s leadership. Conservative strongholds such as Westminster or Wandsworth could be lost, the paper suggests.

Hammond threatens to disrupt EU’s Galileo project
The Financial Times claims that Chancellor Philip Hammond wants to undermine the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation project by disrupting the transfer of encryption technology from the UK, following the EU’s decision to bar UK companies from sensitive parts of the project.

Home Office undermining modern slavery strategy, report says
The Times says that a Public Accounts Committee report finds that Home Office failings are undermining the Government’s modern slavery strategy. The report claims the department does not know if the strategy is working and is taking too long to turn it into action.

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Sajid Javid

Political Headlines – Sajid Javid, Brexit, trade tariffs and Netanyahu

Today’s Political Headlines include Javid’s Home Secretary debut, the Government’s Brexit defeat in the Lords, Trump postponing his trade tariff decision and Netanyahu’s accusations against Iran. 

Sajid Javid makes his debut as Home Secretary
Both the Guardian and The Times lead on Sajid Javid’s debut as Home Secretary, questioning the extent to which he may amend policy on immigration. The Times has reported that Javid has told the Home Office that he will ditch the policy of creating a ‘hostile environment’. He criticised the use of the term ‘hostile’, calling it ‘unhelpful’ and not representative of the UK’s values. The newspapers claim that Javid will consider the department’s structures, as well as reviewing individual policies in the upcoming weeks.

Lords defeat Government in Brexit vote
The Daily Mail’s front page features an editorial on the Lords’ Brexit victory yesterday. May was compared to Adolf Hitler during the debate last night as peers handed the Government another defeat over Brexit. The House of Lords voted in favour of giving Parliament powers to stop the UK from leaving the EU without a deal. 19 rebel Tories backed the amendment, which was passed by 335 votes to 244. If the amendment is not overturned by the Commons, May will lose the option of walking away with no deal. The Mail says that “the Remainer elite, in cahoots with Brussels, is fighting a guerrilla war against Brexit using any means it can”.

Trump postpones decision over EU trade tariffs
The Guardian has reported that Donald Trump has postponed a decision on the introduction of EU trade tariffs. The White House has extended the EU’s exemption from tariffs on steel and aluminium, which was due to expire today. In March, Trump imposed a worldwide 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminium, granting temporary exemptions to Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the EU. The White House has announced that, in addition to those involving the EU, negotiations with Canada and Mexico have also been extended.

Israeli Prime Minister accuses Iran of lying about weapons programme
The Daily Telegraph devotes its front page to the television broadcast delivered last night by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing Iran of lying about its weapons programme both before and after the 2015 nuclear deal. Netanyahu claimed that Israeli spies had obtained ‘half a tonne’ of confidential documents proving that Iran’s leaders had failed to provide a full account of their past nuclear activities and that they were maintaining the expertise to build a bomb in the future. Netanyahu declared ‘the nuclear deal is based on lies. It is based on Iranian lies and Iranian deception’.

Theresa May faces mounting pressure to resign
The Daily Mirror’s front page features the headlines ‘Mayday Mayday’, referring to a ‘Prime Minister in Crisis’. The story reports on the mounting pressure on Theresa May to resign over the Windrush scandal. The newspaper speaks of May being left exposed to attack, after the resignation of her close ally Amber Rudd and criticism from new Home Secretary Savid Javid over her previous ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy.

The UK faces a care crisis
The Daily Express leads with two stories that it claims highlight a ‘caring crisis’. One is about a man suffering from Parkinson’s who was reportedly beaten in a care home, while the other story is about a terminal cancer patient’s 16-hour wait for a hospital bed.

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Political Headlines – Rudd’s resignation, better roads, debt trap and David Davis

Today’s Political Headlines include Rudd’s resignation, utility companies avoiding roads, capping interest payments and David Davis backlash. 

Rudd resigns, having ‘inadvertently misled’ Parliament
Home Secretary Amber Rudd resigned last night, admitting that she ‘inadvertently misled’ MPs over targets for removing illegal immigrants, the BBC reports. The BBC expects her successor to be announced ‘within hours’. Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said that Amber Rudd had ‘done the right thing’, but that as ‘architect of the crisis’ Theresa May must come before the Commons to explain what she knew.

Government plans to order utility companies to avoid roads
The Times reveals that the Government intends to order utility companies to put new pipes or cables under pavements and verges under plans to cut congestion and reduce potholes. The paper has conducted an investigation into British roads, which also finds that they are 27th for quality in the world, the use of variable speed limits will be cut and that local councils are using bureaucratic measures to avoid repairing potholes.

Labour announces plans to cap interest payments and overdraft fees
The Financial Times reports that Labour is to announce plans to cap the total amount that can be paid in overdraft fees or interest payments in order to help those caught in a ‘debt trap’. The party proposes that the cap on charges by payday lenders should be extended by the Financial Conduct Authority to cover the cost of overdraft borrowing.

Davis faces backlash after urging Prime Minister to ignore top Brexit civil servant
According to The Daily Telegraph, Brexit Secretary David Davis is facing a backlash over claims he told the Prime Minister to ignore a customs partnership plan backed by Oliver Robbins, her top Brexit civil servant. Writing in The Sun, Davis warns that a bid by the House of Lords to let Parliament control the negotiations would lead to a major constitutional crisis. The paper also claims that a senior cabinet minister has told it that May’s favoured customs plan ‘would be a disaster’. DUP leader Arlene Foster has told the BBC that Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, does not understand the unionist stance on Brexit.

McDonnell dismisses Russian Twitter bot claims
According to The Guardian, John McDonnell has said that claims made by The Sunday Times that Labour was supported by Russian Twitter bots during the general election are similar to smears against Neil Kinnock before the 1992 election. He dismissed the assertion that 6,500 suspect accounts published pro-Corbyn, anti-Conservative messages as ‘ludicrous’.

£15 congestion charge may be imposed at Heathrow
The Daily Telegraph reports that Heathrow may impose a £15 congestion charge on 82 miles of road surrounding the airport in a bid to meet emissions targets. The airport is consulting on the plans, which it views as a ‘last resort’, but according to ‘Whitehall sources’ Transport Secretary Chris Grayling believes they are the only realistic way to meet emissions targets.

Hancock to hold talks with FA over Wembley sale
In an exclusive, The Sun reveals that Culture Secretary Matt Hancock is to hold talks with the Football Association to ensure that Wembley remains England’s base ‘for generations to come’. The paper claims that ministers are ‘furious’ that the FA did not give the Government a warning about how advanced talks to sell the stadium were.

Politicians call for Sainsbury’s-ASDA deal to be investigated
As the BBC reports, senior politicians have called for an investigation into the deal between Sainsbury’s and Walmart-owned ASDA. Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable warned that local monopolies would be created, while Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey expressed concern about the impact on suppliers.

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Amber Rudd

Political Headlines – Rudd (again), rail franchising, customs plans and shock collars

Today’s Political Headlines include Rudd accused of muddying the Brexit waters, the Committee report criticising rail franchising, May warned to abandon customs plans and Gove stands down in shock collar row. Oh, and Trump is visiting. 

Rudd accused of widening tensions over Brexit and abandons immigration targets
The Times says that Amber Rudd has been accused of deliberately widening Conservative tensions over Brexit by saying that she was ‘not going to be drawn’ over whether the UK would stay in a customs union with the EU. It also reports that she has promised to end immigration removal targets, having previously denied their existence, and that new statistics show that knife crime has increased 22% in the last year.

Committee report heavily criticises rail franchising
The Guardian carries details of a report on rail franchising by the Commons Public Accounts Committee. The report finds that the current system is broken, with passengers carrying the cost. It accuses the Government of ‘completely inadequate’ management of two franchises, of failing to learn from its mistakes, and of being too ambitious. The Government has described the report as imbalanced and disappointing.

May warned to abandon Brexit customs plans
The Times claims that Theresa May has been warned to abandon her plans for a ‘blue skies’ customs deal with the EU after both remain and leave supporting Conservative MPs rejected it, with ‘senior Government figures’ expecting the plan to be dropped before a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The Financial Times says that the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, told a financial conference that claims that ‘the EU desperately needs the City of London’ were false. The Daily Telegraph reports that Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has accused Nicola Sturgeon of rejecting the Governments EU (Withdrawal) Bill for ‘nationalist’ reasons.

Gove stands down in shock collar row
The Times reports that Michael Gove has stood down in a row over shock collars for pets, limiting proposals for a ban to those used to train animals as opposed to those used to contain them. The move was confirmed in what the paper calls ‘a carefully scripted exchange’ with former Conservative minister John Hayes.

New poll puts Labour on 51% in London
The Sun reports on a new poll, showing that Labour has the support of 51% of voters in London ahead of the local elections next week, compared to 29% for the Conservatives. The paper warns that this would mean that Labour would not gain control of Wandsworth and Westminster councils, with its support having dropped 3% since February.

Starmer attacks Len McCluskey in antisemitism row
The Times says that Sir Keir Starmer has attacked Len McCluskey, after the general-secretary of Unite accused ‘Cobyn-hater’ Labour MPs of presenting the party as a ‘morass of misogyny, antisemitism and bullying’. However, Starmer said that the party’s antisemitism problem was ‘obvious’ and those who denied it were ‘part of the problem’.

Ruth Davidson announces pregnancy
As the BBC reports, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has announced that she is three months pregnant. She and her partner Jen Wilson are expecting their first child in October, following IVF, and she has confirmed that she will be taking some time off for maternity leave.

Date for Trump visit set
The BBC reports that President Trump is to visit the UK on Friday 13 July, after previously cancelling a trip. It will not be a state visit, although the BBC understands that an invitation for one still stands. He will hold talks with Theresa May and is likely to meet the Queen.

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EU UK boxing gloves

Political Headlines – Brexit, migrant targets, Dominic Raab and Tory rebels

Today’s Political Headlines include the UK attempting to outmanoeuvre the EU, Home Office migrant targets, Raab’s aide selling sex and Tory rebels forcing the Government to be more transparent. 

UK to try to outmanoeuvre EU on post-Brexit relationship
The Sun says that the Government has agreed a ‘high-risk’ plan to publish a post-Brexit trade deal wish list. It will publish the draft text of the political statement on the future relationship in a bid to outmanoeuvre the EU. The Daily Mail warns that British citizens may have to pay £6 every time they visit the EU after Brexit, while The Daily Telegraph says that the DUP has threatened to bring down the Government if the UK stays in the customs union or single market after Brexit, ahead of a symbolic vote by MPs on the customs union today.

Home Office had migrant removal targets
The BBC reports that immigration enforcement teams had been set targets to remove people with no right to stay in the country. Giving evidence to MPs over the Windrush scandal, Home Secretary Amber Rudd had denied that targets were currently in use, but a report shows that they existed in December 2015.

Raab aide caught selling sex online, sparking security fears
In an exclusive, the Daily Mirror reveals that an aide to Housing Minister Dominic Raab has been caught selling sex to ‘sugar daddies’, telling an undercover reporter that ‘I know everything about him. I know his every move’. The paper calls this a ‘huge potential security breach’ as it makes the aide a possible blackmail target.

Tory rebels to force Government to make overseas territories more transparent
The Times claims that new laws forcing the UK’s overseas territories to improve transparency and expose ‘corrupt Russian oligarchs’ are to be forced on the Government. A coalition of Tory rebels, Labour, the SNP and other opposition parties will challenge the Government next week. Andrew Mitchell, leader of the rebels, said that he had the backing of 19 Conservative backbenchers.

£300m investment in AI in new sector deal
The Financial Times reports that the Government is to invest £300m into artificial intelligence research in a bid to fend off competition from France and Germany. The new AI sector deal will be jointly overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Food and drink firms join forces to eliminate plastic
The Daily Mail says that 42 of the UK’s supermarkets and food and drink firms have joined forces to create the ‘UK Plastics Pact’. They have agreed to eliminate non-reusable packaging by 2025, in a move backed by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

Task force to support veterans will be announced today
The Sun says that the Government is to launch a task force of ministers from every department to support veterans. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson will launch the Veterans Strategy today at a meeting of the Ministerial Covenant and Veterans Board.

Heidi Alexander may quit Commons to work for Mayor of London
According to The Guardian, Labour MP Heidi Alexander is considering leaving the House of Commons in order to work for the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in a ‘prominent role’. The Lewisham East MP quit the frontbench in protest in 2016 and co-chairs Labour’s campaign for the single market.

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Labour leader

Political Headlines – antisemitism, junk food, illegal immigrants and a customs partnership

Today’s Political Headlines include Labour’s promise to settle antisemitism cases, action on junk food, amnesty for illegal immigrants and the completely cretinous customs partnership. 

Labour promises to settle antisemitism cases by July
The BBC reports that Labour has promised to settle the ‘vast majority’ of antisemitism cases by the end of July, following a meeting between Jeremy Corbyn, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. The organisations said that the talks were a ‘disappointing, missed opportunity’ and that a plan of action was not agreed, although Corbyn claimed that the meeting was ‘positive and constructive’.

Opposition parties offer support for Government action on junk food
The Times reports that buy-one-get-one-free deals on junk food will be banned, with action to combat unhealthy lifestyles due to be announced before the end of June. Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party have written to the Prime Minister in a joint letter co-ordinated by Jamie Oliver, warning that she must not backtrack on the measures and offering their support for ‘bold action’.

Johnson challenges May to introduce amnesty for illegal immigrants
The Daily Telegraph claims that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson challenged the Prime Minister to introduce an amnesty for illegal immigrants at a meeting of the Cabinet, providing that they are ‘squeaky clean’ and don’t have criminal records. Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that the number of cases of Home Office mistreatment of non-Caribbean Commonwealth-born citizens is increasing.

Rees-Mogg describes ‘customs partnership’ plans as ‘completely cretinous’
The BBC says that Conservative backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg has described Theresa May’s plan for a ‘customs partnership’ with the EU after Brexit as ‘completely cretinous’. Speaking at an event organised by the thinktank Open Europe, he said that Theresa May’s attitude to Brexit was ‘enigmatic’ and that ‘it’s hard to read what level of enthusiasm she has for it’.

UK and Welsh Governments reach agreement over post-Brexit powers
The BBC reports that the UK and Welsh Governments have reached agreement over changes to devolved powers in the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, with Welsh Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford saying that powers in areas ‘currently devolved remain devolved’. However, the Scottish Government has rejected the latest offer.

Greg Clark under pressure to review takeover rules
The Daily Mail says that Business Secretary Greg Clark is under pressure to review takeover rules after the Government approved Melrose’s takeover of engineering firm GKN. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has secured a veto on the sale of sensitive parts of the business by Melrose to protect the UK’s national security.

Record number of EU nurses leave UK
The Guardian reports that record numbers of nurses and midwives from EU27 countries left the UK last year, which it says fuels ‘fears that a Brexit brain drain will deepen the NHS’s already chronic staffing crisis.’ The number of EU nurses and midwives arriving to work in the EU has also fallen to its lowest level.

UK exploring launch of rival to EU’s Galileo system
According to the Financial Times, the Government is exploring plans to launch its own satellite navigation system as a rival to the EU’s Galileo system, while Business Secretary Greg Clark is also taking legal advice on whether the UK will be able to reclaim the €1.4bn it has invested in the project since 2003, after the EU’s decision to exclude the UK from secure parts of the project.

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Political Headlines – Home Office culture, Corbyn meeting Jewish leaders and Brexit

Today’s Political Headlines include Rudd vowing to change the Home Office culture, Corbyn meeting Jewish leaders, Government suffering Brexit defeat in the Lords, and the border issues. 

Rudd vows to change Home Office culture
The Times says that Amber Rudd has promised to change the culture of the Home Office, amid concerns that the Windrush scandal could lead the Tories to lose ethic minority support. An emergency package of measures announced by the Home Secretary will see every Commonwealth citizen who arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1988 offered citizenship or settled status. According to the Financial Times, she has also claimed that the post-Brexit registration system for EU nationals will be ‘as easy to use as setting up an online account at LK Bennett’.

Corbyn to meet Jewish leaders
The BBC reports that Jeremy Corbyn is to meet the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies of British Jews today to discuss the steps he has taken to address antisemitism in the Labour Party. The bodies want disciplinary cases to be sped up and elected officials to be thrown out if they share a platform with offenders.

Government suffers third Brexit defeat in Lords
The Guardian reports that the Government was defeated on the EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Lords yesterday, with peers voting by a majority of 77 to keep the fundamental charter of EU rights in force after Brexit. The Government also lost a series of other votes that could have given ministers the power to restrict the use of EU law principles to challenge the Government, but won a vote on public health protection.

EU note suggests their border plan may not work
The Times has seen a ‘confidential diplomatic note’ in which the European Commission and other EU negotiators admit that their ‘backstop’ plan to prevent a hard border in Ireland after Brexit will not work, as Northern Ireland could become a loophole in the single market.

May urged to confront pro-EU rebels
According to The Sun, Theresa May is being urged by her allies to confront pro-EU rebels with a vote in the Commons, with the paper reporting that May will instead tell ministers to stay away from a debate on the customs union on Thursday. Allies have apparently warned May that avoiding confrontation is ‘emboldening Brussels negotiators’.

MPs launch inquiry into hand car washes
The BBC reports that the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has launched an inquiry into hand car washes, investigating concerns that they are damaging the environment and exploiting workers. Committee chair Mary Creagh said that though the washes were ‘cheap and convenient’, prices may be ‘too good to be true’.

Food banks hand out record number of meals
The Daily Mirror reports that the Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest food bank operator, handed out nearly 12 million meals in the last year, a record number and an increase of 13% on the last year. The trust called on the Government to increase benefits in line with the cost of essentials and said that some claimants had been ‘let down’ by the Universal Credit rollout.

Government nearing deal over plans to cut gambling machine stakes
The Times says that the Treasury has now signalled that a deal has been reached on plans to cut the maximum stake on highly addictive gambling machines to £2. Allies of the Chancellor said that an agreement with Culture Secretary Matt Hancock was ‘very nearly there’ and that levies on other forms of gambling would increase to replace lost revenue.

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Political Headlines – UK leaving the customs union, Windrush and children of alcoholics

Today’s Political Headlines include the UK leaving the customs union, the hostile environment made for Windrush generation, help for children of alcoholics and Hammond blocking the betting machine curb.  

Government insists that the UK will leave EU customs union
The BBC reports that the Government has insisted that the UK will not be in a customs union with the EU, ahead of a symbolic vote of the issue this week. The Times reveals that Brexit-supporting cabinet ministers are to call on Theresa May to abandon her proposals for a customs partnership with the EU, which they view as unworkable, and urge her to focus on an option which minimises but does not eliminate checks. The paper reports that May will respond by telling ministers that the Government needs room for manoeuvre on the issue.

Letter shows Government knew that ‘hostile environment’ hurt Windrush generation
According to The Guardian, a May 2016 letter from James Brokenshire, the then immigration minister, shows that the Government has known about the impact of its ‘hostile environment’ policy on the Windrush generation for years. The paper says that Home Office sources have indicated that legislation could be rushed through Parliament to give those affected, citizenship.

£6m to help children of alcoholics
The BBC reports that the Government has announced £6m to help children with alcoholic parents get support and advice, including fast access to mental health services and programmes to treat addiction. The move, announced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, has been welcomed by Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth, who grew up with an alcoholic father and says that the plans ‘would have made a tremendous difference to my childhood.’

Hammond blocks curb on betting machines
The Times claims that Philip Hammond has prevented a cut to the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals, with the Treasury refusing to sign off a decision as it is not confident that lost tax revenues would be replaced. The issue has reportedly been left until after the local elections, with bookmakers hoping to reach a ‘backroom deal’ with ministers.

Labour to make St George’s Day a national holiday
The Independent reports that Labour would make St George’s Day a national holiday, with the plan to be announced in a speech by Jeremy Corbyn today. He will say that it will be a day to ‘celebrate our country’s tradition of fairness, inclusivity and social justice’. UK-wide public holidays would also be held on St David’s Day, St Patrick’s Day and St Andrew’s Day.

Labour to force vote on Office for Students
The Guardian reports that Labour is to force a final debate and vote on the Office for Students tonight. If the vote was lost, the watchdog would not have powers enabling it to regulate universities. Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said that the regulator had become ministers’ ‘puppet’ and was not pursuing ‘the sector’s best interests’.

Firms to be forced to publish pay ratios
The Financial Times says that legislation to be put forward next month will force companies to publish the ratio of their chief executive’s salary to that of their average worker. The move forms part of a wider programme of corporate governance reforms, which will introduce several other reporting requirements.

Labour to consult local leaders over £250bn infrastructure plan
The Guardian says that Labour is to open a series of consultations with regional mayors and councils over its plans for £250bn of transport and infrastructure spending, promising to prioritise projects to productivity and help the rest of the country catch-up with London.

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Ireland border

Political Headlines – Irish border, immigration, Windrush and Brexit bill

Today’s Political Headlines include the EU rejecting the UK’s border proposals, Cabinet split over post-Brexit immigration, Rudd passing blame over Windrush and Brexit bill still uncertain. 

EU rejects UK’s border proposals, while three Conservative MPs back customs union
The Daily Telegraph reports that the EU has rejected the UK’s proposals for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland, in what a source called a ‘systematic and forensic annihilation’. The paper says that the Prime Minister may now have no choice but to stay in a customs union with the EU if she wants to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. The EU has also suspended its internal discussion on the EU-UK trade deal, pending a resolution to the ‘impasse’, while Theresa May is to hold weekly meetings of her Brexit ‘war cabinet’. The Guardian says that three Conservative select committee chairs have signed a motion urging the Government to remain in a customs union with the EU.

Cabinet split over post-Brexit immigration policy delays
The Times claims that the Cabinet is split over delays to the country’s post-Brexit immigration policy, with Home Secretary Amber Rudd being urged to speed up the bill by Brexit-supporting ministers. The bill is currently scheduled to be introduced early next year and Brexiteers are concerned that it has been delayed so that preferential access for EU workers can be part of the Brexit negotiations.

Union chief accuses Rudd of blaming staff over Windrush scandal
The Guardian says that Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union has accused Amber Rudd of blaming civil service staff for the Windrush scandal in an attempt to deflect from the Government’s hostile policies, a claim which has been backed by Nick Clegg. The paper adds that official accounts appear to contradict the claim of Theresa May’s former advisor Nick Timothy that May attempted to block the controversial ‘go home’ vans.

Brexit bill still uncertain according to NAO
The BBC reports that a National Audit Office report has found that the total cost of the Brexit ‘divorce’ bill is still uncertain. It said that the Government’s figure of £35-39bn was a ‘reasonable estimate’ but that it could increase or decrease as a result of ‘relatively small changes’ to things such as inflation, the exchange rate and the UK’s economic performance.

McDonnell says Labour less of a threat to the City than the Conservatives
The Financial Times carries details of a speech by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell yesterday, in which he told the City of London that the Conservatives’ ‘mishandled Brexit’ posed more of a threat than Labour’s plans for higher taxes and more intervention in business. He told City executives that they would have ‘a seat at the policymaking table’.

Commonwealth meets to determine whether Prince Charles will succeed the Queen
The BBC says that Commonwealth leaders are to meet behind closed doors later today to decide whether Prince Charles will succeed the Queen as head of the Commonwealth. Yesterday the Queen said that it was her ‘sincere wish’ that he would take over ‘one day’.

Cable calls for tech firms to be broken up
The Guardian reports on a speech by Sir Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats. He called for the large tech firms, such as Google, Amazon and Facebook, to be broken up. He suggested that the EU was better placed to do this than national governments and that it was worth considering whether the public should be paid for the use of their data.

Jowell becomes first patient to give data to new global cancer database
The Daily Mirror reports that Baroness Tessa Jowell is the first patient to give her medical data to a new global cancer database. Her daughter, Jess Mills, says that Jowell ‘feels a deep sense of responsibility’ to give a voice to patients and help other cancer sufferers.

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Plastic bans

Political Headlines – plastic, housing, Brexit and Windrush

Today’s Political Headlines include banning plastic items such as cotton buds, Labour’s housing policy, Government’s defeat in the Lords and the continuing chaos around Windrush. 

Straws, plastic stirrers and cotton buds to be banned
The Times reports that the Government is to ban plastic stirrers and cotton buds, alongside straws, and that the measure could come into force as early as next year. Michael Gove writes in the paper that they have been targeted ‘because they are already available (or can be developed) in alternative forms but when discarded they remain a polluting presence for hundreds of years.’ In the Daily Mail, Theresa May writes that she will use the Commonwealth summit to encourage the other member countries to join the campaign against plastic pollution, and that the UK is ‘leading by example’.

Labour to launch housing policies
The Guardian says that Labour is to launch its plans for housing today, publishing a report called Housing for the Many. Jeremy Corbyn will accuse ministers of stretching the definition of affordable housing, and pledge to replace it with a measure linked to people’s incomes. Labour would create a Department of Housing and an independent watchdog, end the right to buy, and lift the cap on borrowing by local authorities, so they can build social housing.

Government defeated by Lords over customs union
As the BBC reports, the Government has been defeated in the House of Lords over the issue of the UK staying in a customs union with the EU. Lords voted by 348 to 225 in support of a plan which requires ministers to report on steps to negotiate a continued customs union. Lord Callanan signalled that the Government would seek to overturn the amendment at a later stage.

Government ‘in chaos’ over Windrush crisis
The Guardian claims that Theresa May’s ‘attempt to get a grip on the Windrush crisis’ has descended into chaos. The paper reports that May promised that a man denied cancer treatment despite living in the UK for 44 years would now be treated, but he was not aware of this decision. It adds that May attempted to blame Labour for the decision to destroy landing card slips, but one of the decisions to do so was actually made when she was Home Secretary. Separately, The Times reports that the Government has been accused in a House of Lords report of overcharging for citizenship applications.

Davis urges May to publish detailed plan for the future UK-EU relationship
The Financial Times reports that Brexit Secretary David Davis is urging Theresa May to ‘get ahead of the EU’ by publishing detailed proposals for the UK-EU relationship, rather than waiting for the EU to move first. The proposal is that the UK produces a document setting out detailed plans, but there are concerns that this may break the Cabinet truce.

Johnson calls for more use of stop and search, and for a ‘liberal’ migration policy
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson has warned against ‘going soft’ on knife crime, calling for increased use of stop and search powers. He said that the approach worked when he deployed it as Mayor of London. He also called for a ‘liberal’ approach to migration, claiming that ‘a society that isn’t open to talent will die’.

Modi pledges closer India-UK ties after Brexit
The Sun says that Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, has pledged that India will be a closer partner to the UK after Brexit, which he described as an opportunity to ‘further increase trade ties’ between the UK and India. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he wanted the current Canada-EU trade deal ‘to flip over the day after Brexit’.

Rogue landlords should have their properties confiscated, MPs says
The Times carries details of a report by the Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee that recommends that rogue landlords should have their properties confiscated. The report says that there is a ‘clear power imbalance’, which deters tenants from complaining about problems, and calls for greater legal safeguards.

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Political Headlines – Windrush, Labour antisemitism, Syria and Brexit

Today’s Political Headlines include the destruction of Windrush documentation, Labour antisemitism, Parliament backing May on Syria and Arron Banks staff working on Brexit. 

Labour calls on Government to explain the destruction of Windrush landing cards
The Guardian reports that Labour is calling on the Government to explain the destruction of thousands of landing cards containing information about the Windrush migrants. David Lammy said that the problems being faced by the Windrush generation were ‘a direct result of systemic incompetence, callousness and cruelty within our immigration system.’ The Home Office said that the cards did not provide ‘reliable evidence’ and that their retention could have breached ‘data protection’ principles.

Antisemitism in Labour raised in Parliamentary debate
The Times says that Labour’s antisemitism row intensified after three of the party’s Jewish MPs received standing ovations in the Commons after attacking the way it had handled the issue. Jewish leaders have also said that they will boycott a meeting with Jeremy Corbyn next week after it emerged that a hard-left group which denies that Labour has a problem with antisemitism had also been invited.

Parliament backs May on Syria, as NAO warns armed forces ill-equipped to handle cyber-attacks
The Times reports that Theresa May has received backing from the Commons for her decision not to consult Parliament for missile strikes on the Syrian regime, with a vote freeing Theresa May’s hands for future intervention. The Daily Telegraph adds that a report by the National Audit Office claims that the UK’s armed forces are ill-equipped to handle the increasing threat of cyber-attacks from Russia and a new era of ‘electronic warfare’.

Staff employed by Arron Banks worked on Brexit campaign
The Guardian reports that a former Cambridge Analytica employee has told the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee that insurance companies owned by Arron Banks, the key backer of Leave.EU, were used as part of the Brexit campaign. Brittany Kaiser, the former business development director, said that she saw employees staffing a Leave.EU call centre.

EU takes action to prepare for no-deal Brexit
The Financial Times claims that the European Commission is to issue dozens of legal proposals over the next ten weeks to prepare the EU for a no-deal Brexit. Diplomats have been told that the measures will cover a wide range of areas. Separately, the paper also reports that the Government has asked the Supreme Court to rule on emergency Brexit legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.

Senior police officer says police ‘too slow to change’ after Lawrence death
The Guardian has interviewed Chief Constable Jon Boucher, the national police chiefs’ lead on race and religion to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Stephen Lawrence. He told the paper that the police had been too slow to improve their record on race and that he was challenging his fellow leaders to do more.

Gove calls on Premier League to lead fight against plastics
Environment Secretary Michael Gove is to call on Premier League bosses to lead the charge against plastics, The Sun reports. He will be meeting sports leaders on a warship as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, suggesting measures such as giving fans cashback when they return used cups.

De La Rue abandons plan to appeal passport decision
The BBC says that De La Rue has abandoned its plan to appeal against the Government’s decision to award a contract to make the UK’s new passports to the Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto. The firm had originally described the decision as ‘shocking’ but said that it had ‘submitted the highest quality and technically most secure bid’.

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Political Headlines – Windrush, Syria debate, generation rent and voter targeting

Today’s Political Headlines include Amber Rudd’s apology over the Windrush fiasco, MPs debating the Syrian intervention, millennials renting until retirement and voter targeting in the EU referendum. 

Rudd apologises over Home Office’s treatment of Windrush generation
The Guardian reports that Home Secretary Amber Rudd has issued an ‘unprecedented apology’ for the actions of the Home Office towards Windrush-era citizens, admitting that the department had ‘lost sight of individuals’. She has announced the creation of a new team to resolve cases, while Theresa May will meet Caribbean leaders to discuss the issue. Rudd was responding to an urgent question from David Lammy, who criticised the Government for its ‘inhumane and cruel’ treatment of those affected.

MPs debate Syrian intervention as GCHQ warns of Russian cyber-attack
The BBC says that MPs are to consider Parliament’s role in approving military action in Syria today, after Jeremy Corbyn secured an emergency debate. Last night, Theresa May defended her position during six hours of debate. The Daily Telegraph reports on a warning from GCHQ and the FBI that Russia is targeting the home internet networks of tens of thousands of British households to spy on them and mount cyber-attacks.

Third of millennials will rent into their retirement
The Financial Times says that research by the Resolution Foundation has found that half of millennials will rent homes into their forties, with one-third renting into their retirement, unless there are radical changes to taxation, new funding for public housing and a reform of the private sector.

Commons committee raises concerns over voter targeting in EU referendum
The Guardian reports that the Commons Digital, Media, Culture and Sport Committee has published experts from interviews with individuals connected to Leave.EU and SCL which it claims raise concerns about the targeting of voters in the EU referendum. In one clip, the founder of SCL compares Donald Trump’s campaign strategy to that of Adolf Hitler. The Daily Mirror reports that Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s communications director, has been recorded saying that they used propaganda techniques similar to those of the Nazis.

Lords committee calls for stricter regulation of polling
The Times says that a report by a House of Lords committee has called for stricter regulation of polling firms during elections, with mandatory disclosure of survey funders. The British Polling Council should regulate media coverage, and ‘name and shame’ examples of poor reporting of polls, complaining to Ipso or Ofcom in the case of ‘significant misreporting’.

Theresa May announces funding to increase female education in the Commonwealth
The BBC says that Theresa May is to call for ‘concrete measures’ to ensure that girls in Commonwealth countries spend at least twelve years in education. The UK is to pledge £121m more funding, allowing around one million more girls to go to school. The Times reports that the Prime Minister supports Prince Charles succeeding the Queen as head of the Commonwealth, despite criticism from Jeremy Corbyn.

Number of nurses leaving NHS per year increased by 17% over last five years
The Daily Mirror reports that 159,134 nurses have left the NHS over the last five years, with the number leaving each year increasing by 17% in that period. Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said that ‘The Government’s disregard for nurses and years of squeezed wages are forcing good people out.’

Merging NHS quangos could save £800m, report claims
The Sun has details of a report by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which claims that merging NHS quangos could save £800m. The report proposes reducing the number of NHS management bodies from 19 to seven, and suggests modelling NHS England on the BBC or the Bank of England, with ministers setting budgets but not interfering in day to day management.

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Prime Minister Syria

Political Headlines – Syria questions, personal health budgets, Commonwealth meeting and Windrush issues

Today’s Political Headlines include Theresa May facing questions on Syria, the rise of personal health budgets, the meeting of the Commonwealth heads and the Government’s rejection of a Windrush issues discussion. 

Theresa May to face MPs’ questions over Syrian air strikes
The BBC says that Theresa May is to face questions from MPs today about her decision to authorise air strikes against the Syrian government. Opposition parties have criticised the decision not to consult MPs, with Labour calling for a change in the law. The Daily Telegraph reports that Russia has launched a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign against the UK and the US in retaliation, with Whitehall sources citing a 20-fold increase in Russian disinformation online.

Personal health budgets to be available to more patients
The Times reports that the Government wants to increase the number of people with ‘personal health budget’ from 23,000 to 350,000. Under the scheme, people will have the right to select and pay for treatments they want, so long as they are approved by a doctor. The scheme will be widened to include people with mental health problems, dementia, physical and learning disabilities, army veterans and wheelchair users.

London set to host Commonwealth meeting for the first time in 20 years
As the Financial Times reports, London is hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting for the first time in twenty years. Theresa May is to use the opportunity to pledge to put the 52 other Commonwealth nations at the heart of ‘global Britain’. The Daily Telegraph says that Theresa May is establishing a £7m fund for female entrepreneurs in the Commonwealth, and that Jeremy Corbyn has said that the Prince of Wales should not automatically succeed the Queen as head of the organisation.

Government rejects request to discuss Windrush generation immigration issues
The Guardian says that Downing Street has rejected a formal diplomatic request from representatives of 12 Caribbean countries to discuss the immigration problems being experienced by some Windrush-generation British residents. Officials have said that there will be ‘a number of opportunities’ for the matter to be raised with the Prime Minister at the Commonwealth meeting.

NHS Digital criticised over data protection
The Financial Times carries details of a report by the Commons Health and Social Care Committee, which finds that NHS Digital ‘appears unable to protect patient data’. The committee expressed concern that personal non-medical information had been shared with the Home Office in order to trace illegal immigrants.

Pro-EU MPs launch campaign for a ‘people’s vote’ on the deal
The Guardian reports that MPs and celebrities have launched a campaign for a ‘people’s vote’ in the final Brexit deal. The MPs involved in the campaign include Anna Soubry, Chuka Umunna, Caroline Lucas and Layla Moran. Separately, the Financial Times expects the House of Lords to vote to remain in a customs union with the EU this week.

Lords report recommends sharing public datasets
The Times says a report by the House of Lords Artificial Intelligence Committee has recommended that data held on people by the NHS and other public institutions should be made available to artificial intelligence firms to counter giant US technology committees. The Daily Telegraph focuses on the report’s suggestion that ‘killer robots’ could become reality unless the Government improves its regulation of artificial intelligence.

Suspended Conservative MP interviewed by police
According to The Times, police have interviewed Charlie Elphicke, an MP suspended by the Conservative Party in November, over alleged sexual offences. He denies any wrongdoing and says that he is ‘completely confident I will be able to prove my innocence’.

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Political Headlines – Syria, Jeremy Hunt, ex-colonies and UK Aid

Today’s Political Headlines include the Cabinet’s decision on Syria, Jeremy Hunt breaking money laundering rules, apologising to ex-colonies and UK Aid. 

Cabinet agrees military action in Syria is needed
The BBC reports that the Cabinet has agreed ‘on the need to take action’ in Syria in order to prevent the further use of chemical weapons. No details of any UK military involvement in Syria had been given by the Government, and MPs from both the Conservative Party and opposition parties have called for a vote in Parliament before any action is taken.

Jeremy Hunt admits breaking money laundering rules
In an exclusive, The Daily Telegraph reports that Jeremy Hunt has admitted breaching the Government’s anti-money laundering legislation when he set up a company to buy seven luxury flats, as he didn’t declare his 50% interest in the firm. The Cabinet Office found that he did not breach the Ministerial Code of Conduct, but he could still be investigated by a House of Commons committee.

Emily Thornberry says UK should apologise to ex-colonies
According to The Times, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry has called on the Government to use the upcoming meeting of the Commonwealth to apologise for Britain’s past mistakes, including over the Chagos Islanders and apartheid. The paper adds that Shadow International Development Secretary Kate Osamor has said that Prince Charles is not suitable to succeed the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth.

Penny Mordaunt describes UK Aid as shield
The Guardian says that International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt described UK Aid as a ‘shield’ against pandemics, poverty, organised crime and terrorism in a speech yesterday. However, the paper adds that the speech was ‘short on detail, but long on colour and allusion’ and a planned question and answer session was cancelled.

OPCW confirms nerve agent analysis
The BBC says that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has confirmed the UK’s analysis of the type of nerve agent used in the Salisbury poisoning. Russia has called the allegations an ‘anti-Russian campaign’ but Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said there was ‘no alternative explanation’ and ‘only Russia has the means, motive and record’.

Arlene Foster gives evidence to RHI inquiry
As The Guardian reports, giving evidence to the inquiry into the renewable heat incentive, Arlene Foster said that she deeply regretted its spiralling costs. However, she also claimed that Sinn Fein’s protests over the scheme had been a pretext to bring down the executive.

Councils run down financial reserves as funding is cut and costs increase
The Financial Times reports that almost half of councils in England have run down their financial reserves over the last two years, as they struggle with cuts in funding from central government and increases in social care costs. The councils whose reserves have increased are largely small district councils which do not handle social care.

Norman Lamb suffers stroke due to long working days
The Sun says that the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb suffered a stroke a fortnight ago, which he has attributed to long hours and a lack of sleep. He now plans to make changes and ‘work smarter’, saying that he was lucky not have received any lasting damage.

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Political Headlines – Syria response, free bus travel, NHS funding and EU citizens

Today’s Political Headlines include the UK’s Syria response, free bus travel, NHS funding and vulnerable EU citizens.  

May summons cabinet to decide Syria response
The BBC says that Theresa May has summoned the cabinet to discuss the UK’s response to the suspected chemical weapon attack in Syria, with the Government considering backing military action threatened by the USA and allies. It adds that Jeremy Corbyn has called for Parliament to have a say in the decision and warned about the risk of a ‘hot war between the US and Russia over the skies of Syria’. The Daily Telegraph reports that Theresa May has order British submarines to move within missile range of Syria with strikes potentially beginning tonight, subject to ministerial approval.

Labour pledges free bus travel for under-25s
The Guardian reports that the Labour Party has promised to introduce free bus travel for under-25s, paid for by ring-fencing road tax. The funds would be given to councils who moved to introduce public ownership of bus services or franchising, incentivising councils to create municipally-owned bus companies.

Most voters now back tax increase to fund NHS
According to a poll published in The Times, most voters now back tax rises to fund the NHS, with a significant swing in support of the policy from supporters of the Conservatives. Almost three times as many voters think that the state of the NHS has deteriorated as think that it has improved.

Report warns that vulnerable EU citizens at risk of not securing right to remain
The Guardian reports that Oxford University’s Migration Observatory has warned that vulnerable EU citizens are particularly at risk of failing to secure the right to remain in the UK after Brexit. The paper also carries details of a report by Friends of the Earth, which warns of declining protections for the environment after Brexit. The Times reports that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has offered an ‘upbeat assessment’ of a trade agreement with the UK after Brexit, but India has been less positive.

UK aid budget set for big overhaul
The Financial Times claims that the UK’s aid budget ‘is set for its biggest overhaul in years’, with the Government planning to use development spending to encourage exporters and pension funds to invest in the poorer parts of Africa and Asia. Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary is due to give a speech on the topic today.

Universal Credit unfairly treating self-employed people, charity says
The Daily Mirror has details of analysis by the charity Citizens Advice which shows that Universal Credit is punishing self-employed people, leaving them hundreds of pounds worse off that directly-employed workers earning the same amount. The charity has called on the Government to ‘look again at the design of the benefit’.

Hancock threatens Facebook over data privacy
The Guardian says that the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Matt Hancock has warned Facebook that it is not above the law and could be subject to further regulation is it does not protect users’ data more effectively. Hancock held a meeting with the firm, which sources described as ‘robust but constructive’.

Ministers considering chemical castration for sex offenders
The Daily Telegraph reports that ministers are exploring the use of chemical castration on sex offenders, following trials at six prisoners across the country. A source says that as many as 120 serious offenders have already accepted the treatment, with the paper revealing that the rate of reoffending for sexual offenders has risen by 34% in four years.

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Political Headlines – Syria, Barry Gardiner, British Gas and David Davis

Today’s Political Headlines include the Syrian chemical attack, Labour’s Barry Gardiner, British Gas price rise and Davis’ internal victory.  

UK and allies agree that international community must respond to Syrian chemical attack
The BBC reports that Theresa May has agreed with her counterparts in the US and France that the international community must respond to an alleged chemical attack in Syria, and that those responsible must be ‘held to account’. A report in The Times suggests that Theresa May has rejected a swift retaliation, telling the US that the UK needed more evidence. The paper adds that Julian Lewis, Chair of the Commons Defence Committee, has said that the UK should not take action without the approval of the House of Commons.

Barry Gardiner ‘fully supports’ Labour policy on Brexit, despite calling it ‘bollocks’
Labour has claimed that its Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner ‘fully supports’ the party’s policy on Brexit, The Guardian reports, despite it having emerged that he described one of Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer’s six tests for judging the final deal as ‘bollocks’.

Energy Minister criticises British Gas price rise
The Daily Mail reports that Energy Minister Claire Perry ‘savaged’ British Gas last night, telling customers to switch providers, after the firm announced a 5.5% rise in the cost of gas and electricity which she said was ‘unjustified’. Separately, The Sun says that Environment Secretary Michael Gove has been asked for stronger powers by Ofwat in order ‘to get the water sector back in balance’.

Davis wins internal battle over Brexit negotiations
The Times says that David Davis has won an internal battle with Oliver Robbins, Theresa May’s chief Brexit negotiator, over how much the UK could realistically agree with Brussels before October. Robbins was pushing for ‘a broad, high-level document’ agreeing the principles for the future EU-UK relationship, similar to the approach put forward by the European Commission, while Davis argued that it was possible to ‘get pretty substantively close to a free trade agreement by October’. The paper adds that a study of 23 sectors by the CBI has found that 18 ‘favoured complete alignment with European rules and regulations’ after Brexit. The Daily Telegraph says that EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has demanded the UK signs a ‘non-regression clause’, pledging not to undercut standards.

Bill Clinton praises Good Friday Agreement, as Blair warns of Brexit challenge
Former US President Bill Clinton has called the Good Friday Agreement a ‘work of genius’ at a conference to mark its 20th anniversary, the BBC reports. The Guardian adds that Tony Blair has said that the UK and Ireland would have to ‘overcome the challenge’ posed by Brexit, and urged Northern Irish leaders ‘not to cast aside’ the gains from the agreement.

Rudd to announce £9m fund to tackle dark web
According to The Sun, Amber Rudd is to announce a £9m fund to ensure that every UK police force has a dedicated cyber crime unit, to tackle the ‘sickening shopping list of services and products’ available on the dark web. She will also ask tech and social media firms to do more to help authorities to capture criminals.

New centrist party claims to have links to Tony Blair and son
The Guardian claims that the new centrist party being funded by Simon Franks has told potential recruits that it has links to Tony Blair and his son Euan. One person was told that Euan Blair sat on the board and that Tony Blair had recommended potential donors. Euan Blair has not commented, while Tony Blair denied having direct involvement.

Israeli Labor Party cuts ties with UK Labour Party
The BBC reports that Israel’s Labor Party has suspended relations with the UK’s Labour Party over claims that Jeremy Corbyn has allowed ‘anti-Semitic statements and actions’ and exhibited ‘very public hatred of the policies of the government of the state of Israel’.

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Good Friday Agreement

Political Headlines – Good Friday Agreement, Syria strikes, serious violence strategy and the war on prostate cancer

Today’s Political Headlines include the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, May under pressure to join US strikes, the serious violence strategy and May’s £75m prostate cancer strategy.  

Good Friday Agreement anniversary marked, but Gardiner and Davis criticise Irish government over its Brexit stance
The BBC reports that former US President Bill Clinton is visiting Northern Ireland to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and will speak at a conference also featuring Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern. The BBC adds that Barry Gardiner, Labour’s Shadow International Trade Secretary is facing criticism after he suggested that the Irish government and Sinn Fein have ‘played up’ concerns about the impact of Brexit on the agreement, while The Times says that David Davis has accused the Irish government of bowing to political pressure from Sinn Fein and adopting a hardline stance on Brexit.

May under pressure to join US strike against Assad regime
According to The Times, Theresa May is under pressure from ministers and allies to join a US-led military strike against the Assad regime in Syria. Officials have suggested it is unlikely that MPs will be recalled from their Easter break in order to authorise action, but a senior military source told the paper that options are being examined and that a parliamentary vote is not necessary.

Serious violence strategy overshadowed by row over impact of police numbers
The Guardian reports the Government’s new serious violence strategy claims that tackling serious violence is not a law enforcement issue alone and fails to discuss the impact of police levels, despite a leaked Home Office report having linked the two issues. The paper claims that the leak ‘threatened to overshadow the broader findings of the strategy, such as the impact of drug markets, social and economic disadvantages and social media’.

May to set out £75m prostate cancer strategy
The Daily Mail says that Theresa May is to set out a ‘five-year campaign to wage war on prostate cancer’ today. She is to announce £75m of spending to help spot the disease earlier and improve treatment, with the amount spent on research to be roughly equal to that spent on breast cancer.

Norway offers to roll-over trade deals, as Denmark warns of post-Brexit bureaucracy
The Financial Times reports that Norway has signalled that it will co-operate with the UK’s desire to roll over trade agreements with non-EU countries in the post-Brexit transition phase. However, The Guardian says that the Danish Prime Minister said, following talks with Theresa May, that while he was in favour of ‘an enhanced trade agreement’ between the EU and the UK, there will be more bureaucracy after Brexit.

UK one of just five countries to meet foreign aid target
The Daily Telegraph reports that the UK is now one of just five countries which meet the UN’s foreign aid target of 0.7% of GDP. The UK is bound by law to keep the target, and gives almost double the average of all countries according to new figures from the OECD. The UK is responsible for £1 of every £8 given by developed countries.

Gove considers banning live animal exports
According to The Times, Environment Secretary Michael Gove is considering a ban on the export of live animals for slaughter abroad after Brexit. A call for evidence has been issued by the Government today, with animal welfare groups warning that travel can be stressful for animals and that some foreign abattoirs have lower standards.

Social media junk food adverts face ban
The Times reports that junk food adverts are to be banned on social media, with ministers examining the possibility of identifying social media users by age and banning targeted advertising accordingly, under plans to combat obesity, with minister considering whether to force restaurants to label unhealthy foods as they finalise a strategy before the summer.

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Police cuts

Political Headlines – police cuts, new centrist party, immigration and Badenoch

Today’s Political Headlines include the leaked Home Office police cuts document, the new centrist party, criticism of the Government’s immigration policy and Badenoch’s apology to Harman over hacking.  

Leaked Home Office documents link violence increase to Government cuts
Leaked Home Office documents obtained by The Guardian reveal that Government cuts to the police ‘may have encouraged’ violent offenders and ‘likely contributed’ to a rise in serious violent crime. The paper adds that Jeremy Corbyn is to put increasing levels of violent crime and housing issues at the heart of Labour’s local election campaign. Meanwhile, the i has details of a new Serious Violence Strategy, backed by £40m of funding, to be launched by Home Secretary Amber Rudd in a speech today.

Labour figures criticise new centrist party
The Times reports that senior Labour figures have criticised a new centrist political movement set up by former donor Simon Franks, with access to up to £50m. Lord Hattersley said that ‘third parties all end in fiascos’, while John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, dismissed it as ‘A party of the rich, by the rich, for the rich. A party for the few not the many’.

Report criticises Government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy to immigration
A report by groups including Liberty, the National Union of Students and the Migrants Rights Network claims that the Government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy towards immigration has encouraged ‘discriminatory’ and ‘racist’ behaviour, The Guardian says. The report asserts that the policy encourages discrimination against black and ethnic minority people and disproportionately affects people who are young, homeless, or on lower incomes.

Badenoch apologises to Harman over hacking
The BBC reports that Harriet Harman has accepted an apology from the Conservative MP Kemi Badenoch for hacking into her website over ten years ago. Badenoch became an MP last year and the Conservative Party’s vice-chairwoman for candidates this January.

Outsourcing firms have wider gender pay gap than Government
A report in The Times claims that outsourcing companies used by the Government have worse gender pay gaps than the civil service. 18 out of the 27 ‘strategic suppliers’ have wider disparities than the Civil Service. Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Jon Trickett said ‘Public money should be used for the public good, not to hold people back.’

Housing Minister claims immigration increased house prices by 20% over 25 years
Housing Minister Dominic Raab has claimed that immigration has increased house prices by 20% over the last 25 years, The Times reports. He has passed his concerns to the Migration Advisory Committee, but according to the paper a leading expert has cast doubt on them and urged him to publish the Government’s analysis.

Two thirds of child refugees questioned over age are actually adults
The Sun claims that an official report has revealed that two-thirds of child refugees quizzed over their real age are actually adults. Overall, one in seven refugees who arrive in the UK claiming to be under 18 are revealed to be adults following checks of documentation.

NHS spends £40m a year on useless back pain injection
The Times reveals that tens of thousands of patients a year are being given a useless injection for back pain, costing the NHS almost £40m, despite doctors having been told to stop using it. The health service has promised to crack down on use of the treatment.

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Political Headlines – Russia, London murders, benefits and sugar tax

Today’s Political Headlines include Russia accusing UK of creating a fake story, Lammy’s criticism of the Government, Labour’s warning over benefit changes and the sugar tax. 

Russia accuses UK of creating a ‘fake story’
The BBC says that Russia has accused the UK of inventing a ‘fake story’ and ‘playing with fire’ over the Salisbury poisoning at a UN Security Council meeting. Former foreign secretary Sir Malcom Rifkind has accused Russia of an ‘attempt to obfuscate’. The Times reports that British intelligence has identified the source of the nerve agent as Russia’s Shikhany facility, in a briefing used to persuade allies that Russia was the source.

Lammy criticises Government over London murders
The Guardian reports that Labour MP David Lammy has accused the Prime Minister and Home Secretary of abdicating responsibility over a ‘culture of violence that’s now becoming endemic’. The Daily Telegraph says that Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Chief Commissioner, has vowed to use Al Capone tactics to target violent gang members, while The Times claims that use of stop-and-search has fallen, despite Dick endorsing the tactic.

Labour warns that benefit changes may lead to vulnerable people struggling to pay mortgages
The BBC carries details of a warning by Labour that benefit changes may lead to vulnerable people struggling to pay their mortgage. Around 90,000 people on some benefits claim support for mortgage interest, but this is being replaced by Government loans from today.

Sugar tax on soft drinks comes into force
As the BBC reports, the sugar tax on soft drinks has come into force in the UK. Treasury estimates suggest that 50% of manufacturers have reduced sugar content ahead of the change, but some experts warned that consumer’s response to the levy was uncertain. Public health Minister Steve Brine described the levy as ‘a ground-breaking policy’.

Peers write to police to report antisemitic abuse
The Guardian says that a cross-party group of peers, including Lord Sugar, have written to the Metropolitan Police, reporting antisemitic abuse on pages backing Jeremy Corbyn. The Times adds that Joshua Garfield, a Jewish Momentum official in Newham, has quit his post after witnessing ‘more antisemitism in the past week’ than in eight years as a party member.

Justice Secretary on the side of homeowners who defend their property
According to The Daily Telegraph, Justice Secretary David Gauke has said that he is on the side of homeowners who defend their property, following the arrest of a pensioner on suspicion of murdering a man following a burglary. Former justice minister Mike Penning said that the decision appeared ‘heavy-handed’.

Momentum founder outlines plans to make it easier to oust MPs
The Daily Mirror has obtained a recording of Momentum founder Jon Lansman, in which he outlines a plan to make it easier for Corbyn supporters to force out MPs who oppose the Labour leadership, and to curb the power of the unions. The Times reports that the party’s new General Secretary Jennie Formby has placed two senior staff members, the head of the compliance unit and the secretary of the parliamentary party, on gardening leave.

Thirty organisations under investigation by ICO
The Daily Mail reports that thirty organisations, including Facebook, are being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office as part of its probe into the use of personal data and analytics for political purposes. Other organisations include Cambridge Analytica and Aggregate IQ.

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