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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Boris Johnson

Political Headlines – Salisbury poisoning, North Korea, gender pay gap and policing Travellers

Today’s Political Headlines include the cross party divide on the Salisbury poisoning, North Korea’s missile threat, gender pay gap, and policing Travellers. 

Johnson and Corbyn trade accusations over Salisbury poisoning
According to The Daily Telegraph, Jeremy Corbyn has said Boris Johnson has ‘serious questions’ to answer after claiming that Porton Down scientists had told him that the nerve agent was made in Russia, a claim denied by the laboratory. In response, Johnson has accused Corbyn of playing ‘Russia’s game’. The Guardian adds that Russia is to attempt to discredit the UK’s international reputation at a UN security council meeting, while The Times claims that it has learnt that security services have pinpointed the location of the covert Russian laboratory which manufactured the nerve agent used in Salisbury.

North Korea could have missiles capable of reaching the UK, in 18 months
A report by the Commons Defence Committee has found that North Korea is almost certain to complete development of ballistic missiles capable of reaching the UK, within 18 months, The Guardian reports. The report adds that the ‘Ministry of Defence does not consider that the UK will be a target of North Korean nuclear missiles, as its regime does not believe the UK to be a threat.’

Gender pay gap figures revealed
The Guardian says that almost eight in ten companies and public sector bodies pay men more than women, as the deadline for publishing gender pay gap information passed. Sam Smethers of the Fawcett Society said this ‘forces employers to look at themselves and understand their organisations and it prompts employees to ask some hard questions’.

Consultation on tougher powers for policing Travellers
According to The Times, police could be given tougher powers to target Travellers and Gypsies, after almost 4,000 caravans were found on unauthorised sites across the country. A consultation, to be carried out jointly by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, will be launched today.

National Lottery giving less money to charity
A report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee says that the growth in popularity of scratchcards has led to the National Lottery giving less money to charity while the profits of the operator Camelot have risen, The Daily Telegraph reports. The committee describes the fall as ‘disastrous’ and warns that some projects will become ‘unaffordable’.

Jewish leaders to ask Corbyn to expel Livingstone
The Daily Telegraph says that Jewish leaders are to tell Jeremy Corbyn to prove his opposition to anti-Semitism by expelling Ken Livingstone from Labour. The Daily Mail adds that Corbyn wants to install Claudia Webbe as leader of the party’s disputes panel, despite the fact that she has previously defended Livingstone against anti-semitism charges.

Sutton Trust demands review of Sure Start cuts
The Times reports that the Sutton Trust has called for a Government review of the Sure Start children’s centre programme, after a review showed that the number of centres which have closed over the last eight years is around twice the amount claimed by the Government.

Sharp drop in number of plastic bags at sea following charge introduction
The Times reports that research by the Government’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) shows that the number of plastic bags in the seas around the UK has fallen sharply since the introduction of compulsory bag charges at supermarkets.

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Political Headlines – EEA membership, gender pay gap, Russia and Jewdas

Today’s Political Headlines include the Commons committee calling on the Government not to rule out EEA membership, the ‘burning injustice’ of the gender pay gap, May battling to preserve alliance against Russia and Corbyn defending his decision to attend the Jewdas event. 

Commons committee calls on Government not to rule out EEA membership
The Commons Exiting the European Union Committee has published a report calling on the Government not to rule out continued membership of the European Economic Area, the BBC says. The report outlines 15 tests for the Government to meet, based on pledges made by Theresa May and David Davis. The conclusions have caused a split on the committee, with Conservative Brexiteers led by Jacob Rees-Mogg voting against the report.

Prime Minister describes gender pay gap as a ‘burning injustice’
The Prime Minister has warned that the country’s gender pay cap is a ‘burning injustice’ which must be tackled, in an article for The Daily Telegraph. Today is the deadline for larger firms to publish the average pay gap between male and female employees. So far, 8,330 of the 9,000 businesses and public sector bodies required to publish their pay gap have done so, with an average median hourly gap of 18%.

May battling to preserve alliance against Russia
The Times claims that Theresa May is battling to preserve the alliance against Russia, after Gary Aitkenhead, head of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, said that he had not identified the ‘precise source’ of the nerve agent used in the Salisbury attack. Downing Street said that the Prime Minister had drawn on a ‘comprehensive intelligence assessment’ before she blamed Russia.

Corbyn defends decision to attend Jewdas event
According to the BBC, Jeremy Corbyn has defended his decision to attend a dinner organised by the left-wing Jewish group Jewdas, despite criticism from mainstream Jewish leaders. A spokesman said that Corbyn had attended the event in a personal capacity, and not on behalf of the party. The Times adds that Corbyn has accepted an invitation to meet the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish leadership Council.

Dan Jarvis can stay as MP if he is elected as mayor, Labour decides
The Financial Times says that Labour’s National Executive Committee has decided that Dan Jarvis can remain as an MP, even if he is elected as mayor of the Sheffield City Region next month. The NEC has granted him an exemption from a resolution passed last month which would have prevented party members from holding two elected positions.

Passport firm in Estonian security scandal over ID cards
The Daily Telegraph reports that Gemalto, the Franco-Dutch firm set to produce the new UK passports, is currently caught-up in a national security row in Estonia after hundreds of thousands of identification cards that it produced were found to be vulnerable to hackers.

UKIP saved from bankruptcy
According to The Guardian, UKIP has been saved from bankruptcy after it raised £175,000 to settle a bill for costs resulting from a libel action brought by three Labour MPs and an additional £350,000. To avoid the cost of another leadership election, the party is also planning on keeping interim leader Gerard Batten in place for the next year.

Increase in childcare costs outstrips wage growth
The Daily Mirror reports that analysis by the Labour Party has found that the cost of childcare has grown by up to 47% since 2010, but wages only grew by 17% over the same period. Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said this showed that the Government was ‘failing to deliver affordable, sustainable childcare for families across the country’.

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Jeremy Corbyn

Political Headlines – Corbyn, cancer detection, ivory sales and blue passports

Today’s Political Headlines include criticism of Corbyn’s Passover attendance, budget cuts failing cancer detection, tougher rules on ivory sales and challenging the passport contract. 

Corbyn criticised for attending Passover event with left-wing Jewish group
The BBC says that Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for attending a Passover event with Jewdas, a left-wing Jewish group which is critical of mainstream Jewish community bodies. Last week the group accused the Jewish Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and Jewish Labour Movement of ‘playing a dangerous game’.

Lord Lansley blames budget cuts for failure to detect his cancer earlier
The Times reports that Lord Lansley, the former Health Secretary, has said that budget cuts meant that doctors failed to detect his bowel cancer earlier. He criticised the Treasury for thwarting a screening programme called Bowelscope which he introduced in 2010 butwhich only covers 50% of the population owing to cuts to the Health Education England budget.

Government to introduce tougher rules on ivory sales
The Government is to ban the sale of most antiques made of ivory under Government plans to protect elephants from poaching, The Times says. Exemptions will apply for items with only a small amount of ivory, musical instruments and antiques over 100 years old and deemed important, and museums will still be allowed to buy ivory.

De La Rue plans legal challenge to passport contract
The Financial Times reports that De La Rue is planning a court challenge against the Government’s decision to award the contract to produce the UK’s new passports to the Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto. The British company is taking the first steps towards initiating a judicial review in the High Court.

Thousands of cancer operations cancelled over winter
The Guardian reports a poll of acute NHS trusts by the Health Service Journal, which found that hundreds of cancer operations were cancelled over winter. Macmillan Cancer Support has warned that the delays could have affected some patients’ survival chances. Separately, an exclusive in the paper finds that thousands of ambulances are being prevented from responding to 999 calls because they are tied up at A&E units.

European Central Bank warning puts thousands of City jobs at risk
The Times says that the European Central Bank has instructed financial companies to prepare for ‘a no-deal scenario leading to a hard Brexit with no transition’. City sources told the paper that the stance will automatically lead to the loss of 5000-10,000 jobs in the UK, and blamed France for the ECB’s stance, which is at odds with that of UK’s regulators.

Survey of teachers warns of rising child poverty
A survey of teachers by the National Education Union and the Child Poverty Action Group, reported by the Daily Mirror, has found that 87% think that poverty has a significant impact on learning, while 60% think that the situation has got worse since 2015. School leaders described pupils ‘turning up at school with grey skin and stuffing food in their pockets’.

At least two trade deals will be ready for end of Brexit transition
The Sun claims that internal Government forecasts show that the UK will have ‘at least two bumper free trade deals’ ready for implementation when the Brexit transition period ends, in rolling-over ‘dozens’ of the EU’s current free trade agreements. A source told the paper that deals with Australia and New Zealand would be the simplest to reach.

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Theresa May

Political Headlines – May’s trip, Corbyn crisis, exit checks and gender pay

Today’s Political Headlines include May’s community visit around the UK, a Corbyn ally quitting and the continuing antisemitism row, the Home Office criticised over exit checks and the gender pay gap. 

May to visit communities across UK to mark a year to Brexit
Theresa May is to visit communities across the UK, marking a year until Brexit, the BBC reports. She will promise to keep the UK ‘strong and united’ and ensure that ‘no new barriers are created within our common domestic market’. After Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said that if the Brexit deal was a ‘blah, blah, blah divorce’ it would pass Labour’s six tests for support, The Guardian says that Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has reassured MPs that the party is prepared to vote against the deal.

Corbyn ally quits after row over Holocaust hoax allegations
The Times says that Christine Shawcroft quit as head of Labour’s disputes panel last night after she was revealed to have defended a council candidate who posted an article calling the Holocaust a hoax. She claims that she had not seen full details of the complaint, and has apologised. In an interview with Jewish News, Jeremy Corbyn described antisemitism as a ‘cancer in our society’, while The Sun claims that MP John Woodcock is considering quitting the party over Corbyn’s stance on antisemitism, Russia and other issues.

Home Office criticised over exit checks
A report by the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, published yesterday, found that the Home Office’s system of exit checks is so unreliable that it does not contain departure records for 600,000 people who should have left in the last year, The Guardian reports. The Financial Times adds that this was one of just five critical reports of the Home Office to be published on the second-last day before Parliament’s Easter recess.

Only half of companies required to publish gender pay gap have done so
The Financial Times reports that only half of the companies required to publish their gender pay gap data have done so, despite the fact that only a week remains until the reporting deadline. The Government is also being criticised over the design of the reporting requirements and their effectiveness at addressing gender imbalances. Analysis by the paper suggests that the median gender pay gap so far is 9.7%.

Conservatives accused of breaching manifesto promise on broadband
According to The Daily Telegraph, the Conservatives are being accused of breaching a manifesto promise. The new Universal Service Obligation, under which households have the right to request a broadband connection with a 10mbps minimum speed, will not apply to households where installing the connection would cost over £3,400.

Parole system in crisis following Worboys ruling
The Daily Mail says that the parole system is in ‘crisis’ after three high court judges overturned the Parole Board’s decision to free the rapist John Worboys, citing ‘basic failures’ in the process. The board’s chairman, Nick Hardwick, has resigned and Justice Secretary David Gauke has ordered investigations into six other recent decisions, as the paper claims that he is ‘fighting for his job’.

Grayling accused of lying over rail electrification cancellation
The Daily Mirror says that the rail union Aslef has accused Transport Secretary Chris Grayling of lying over his decision to cancel electrification projects. While Grayling had claimed that improvements could be delivered sooner with ‘state of the art’ bi-mode trains, a National Audit Office report reveals that ‘the major reason for the cancellation was affordability’.

UK using aid spending as bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations
The Times reports that the UK is using the prospect of continued aid spending of over £1.4bn a year to secure a deal on security with the EU after Brexit. While May had hinted at this in a speech last year, the paper reports that it is now being treated as an explicit part of the UK’s negotiating position.

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Plastic bottles

Political Headlines – plastic bottles, NHS funding, antisemitism and referendum ‘fraud’

Today’s Political Headlines include a plastic drinks bottles deposit, extra funding for the NHS, Labour tackling antisemitism and the referendum that was won through ‘fraud’.  

Deposit for drinks bottles and cans to be introduced
The Government has announced that customers will have to pay a deposit when they buy drinks bottles and cans, the BBC reports. While the deposit will increase prices, customers will get their money back if the container is returned. Full details are subject to consultation, including the size of the deposit. Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove said, ‘We need to see a change in attitudes and behaviour. And the evidence shows that reward and return schemes are a powerful agent of change.’

Prime Minister indicates extra funding for the NHS is imminent
The Financial Times says that Theresa May has indicated that extra funding for the NHS is imminent. Giving evidence to the Commons Liaison Committee, the Prime Minister said that she was considering a ‘multiyear’ funding settlement and the NHS would not have to wait for next year’s spending review. She wants to develop a ‘long-term plan’ and ensure that it ‘is properly resourced’.

Shadow cabinet agrees Labour needs to change to tackle antisemitism
According to The Guardian the shadow cabinet has held a debate on Labour’s antisemitism crisis and agree that the party needs to make radical changes to deal with the problem. The paper says that informal agreement was reached to implement the recommendations from Shami Chakrabarti’s report into antisemitism and other forms of racism in full.

Referendum won through fraud, whistleblower says
The whistleblower Christopher Wylie has told MPs that the EU referendum was won through fraud, The Guardian says. He told the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that the pro-Brexit campaign had a ‘common plan’ to use a network of companies to get around restrictions. Vote Leave denies allegations of collusion and deliberate overspending.

UK to launch counter-propaganda war against Russia
The Daily Telegraph reports that a major overhaul of the UK’s security capabilities announced by Theresa May will include a counter-propaganda war against the Russians. The plan, known as the Fusion Doctrine, will tackle the threats of cyber warfare and fake news, as well as bombs. May will ensure that every Government department views national security as a priority. The plans are outlined in the new National Security Capability Review.

May hints that EU customs transition could be extended
The Times says that Theresa May suggested yesterday that the UK may not be ready to enter into a new customs arrangement with the EU when the transition agreement runs out. She was responding to comments made by HMRC officials who told the Commons Treasury Committee that it could take five years to set up a new customs partnership with the EU.

Committee to call for rent increases after fee ban to be stopped by Government
In an exclusive, The Sun reports that the Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee is to call for ministers to prevent landlords from increasing rents when tenancy fees are banned. Other recommendations by the committee include capping deposits at five weeks’ rent, forcing landlords to provide reasons for evictions, and giving Trading Standards the powers and resources to tackle revenge evictions.

Northern Ireland same-sex marriage bill to be introduced to Commons
The BBC reports that the Labour MP Conor McGinn is to introduce a bill to Parliament later today, calling for same-sex marriage to be made legal in Northern Ireland. The private member’s bill is to be laid as a ten-minute rule bill and there is no guarantee that it will get to its next stage. A similar bill has already been laid before the House of Lords.

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Political Headlines

Political Headlines – Vote Leave, antisemitism, safe spaces and credit cards

Today’s Political Headlines include potential criminal offences in Vote Leave, hundreds protesting antisemitism in Labour, universities as ‘safe spaces’ criticised and Stella Creasy attacking high cost credit cards. 

Vote Leave members may have committed criminal offences, lawyers say
The Guardian reports that lawyers advising the whistleblowers who worked for Vote Leave have said that members of the campaign may have committed criminal offences relating to overspending and collusion. The allegations will be debated in the Commons today, in an emergency debate secured by the Liberal Democrats. Yesterday, Theresa May defended her political secretary Stephen Parkinson, who faced criticism for outing a whistleblower as gay.

Hundreds protest about antisemitism in Labour
The Times says that John Mann, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism has warned Jeremy Corbyn that behaviour in some parts of the party is ‘rotten to the core’. Hundreds protested in Parliament Square about antisemitism in the Labour Party yesterday evening, and Corbyn said he was a ‘militant opponent’ of antisemitism.

‘Safe spaces’ criticised by parliamentary report
According to The Times, a new report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights tells universities they cannot be ‘safe spaces’ and must allow unpopular and controversial voices to be heard. The committee, chaired by Harriet Harmon, described the concept of ‘safe spaces’ as ‘too broad or very vague’ and warned that they impinged free speech.

Stella Creasy attacks high cost credit cards
The Guardian reports that the Labour MP Stella Creasy, who it credits with forcing the Treasury to cap interest rates and fees from payday loan providers, is calling for similar action on high-cost credit cards in order to protect vulnerable consumers. She is backing an amendment to the Finance Bill today, which could lead to a limit if successful.

Simon Stevens says £4bn cash boost would bring back post war NHS
The Daily Telegraph reports that Sir Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, has said that if Theresa May gave the NHS a £4bn cash boost to mark its seventieth birthday, it could return to being the ‘kind of health service we had for the post war period’. Also speaking to the Public Accounts Committee, Sir Andrew Dilnott, who conducted a review into social care, warned that the absence of a cap left pensioners ‘terrified’ about care costs.

New corporate governance code won’t cover executive pay
The Financial Times reports that James Wates, the businessman drawing up the Government’s corporate governance code for private companies, has said that the code will not cover executive pay, but ‘may not be a million miles away’ from that for listed firms.

Williamson condemns Russian use of Internet to spread propaganda
Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, has spoken to The Times about Russia’s use of troll and robotic accounts online to spread propaganda, branding them the ‘Lord Haw-Haws of the modern era’ and saying that they must be confronted. As the BBC reports, the USA and over 20 other countries have followed the UK’s lead by expelling Russian diplomats.

UK threatens to cripple EU satellite programme
In an exclusive, The Sun claims that the UK will cripple the global coverage of the EU’s Galileo satellite programme if it is excluded from it. The UK is to threaten to turn off key infrastructure for the programme on the Falklands, Ascension Island and Diego Garcia.

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Today's Political Headlines

Political Headlines – NHS Funding, Cambridge Analytica, ‘pockets of antisemitism’ and Brexit

Today’s Political Headlines include Jeremy Hunt’s call for increased NHS funding, May under pressure over Cambridge Analytica, Corbyn’s antisemitism apology and the UK ‘fighting’ to stay in the EU’s satellite programme. 

Jeremy Hunt in call for ten-year deal to fix ‘crazy’ health budget
The Times reports that Jeremy Hunt called health funding ‘crazy’, launched a ‘political offensive’ for a ten-year NHS spending deal and backed moves for a ring-fenced tax on Peston on Sunday. The paper describes this as a ‘direct challenge’ to Philip Hammond. The news comes as 98 MPs, including the chair of the Health Select Committee Sarah Wollaston and 20 other committee chairs, backed a call for a commission on increasing NHS funding.

May under pressure over Cambridge Analytica scandal
The Guardian claims that pressure is growing on the Prime Minister to investigate what members of her cabinet and staff knew about allegations regarding Vote Leave and Cambridge Analyticia. Pro-EU campaign group Best for Britain has written to Theresa May with a series of questions. The Times adds that the fate of May’s political secretary, Stephen Parkinson, will be decided today after it was claimed that he helped the campaign to cheat spending limits and outed a whistleblower as gay.

Corbyn apologises for ‘pockets of antisemitism’
Jeremy Corbyn has apologised for ‘pockets of antisemitism’ in the Labour party, The Guardian says. His apology follows an open letter from the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council accusing him of ‘siding with antisemites’. A protest is planned to be held outside Parliament later today.

May fights to stay in EU’s satellite programme
The Financial Times reports that Theresa May is trying to prevent the EU from leaving the UK out of the €10bn Galileo satellite project. The next round of contracts is expected to be awarded in June, but British companies will be excluded in order to protect the security elements of the programme. A senior official described the EU’s approach as ‘outrageous’.

Labour plans to amend Brexit bill to give Parliament more say
According to The Guardian, Keir Starmer will use a speech in Birmingham today to announce that Labour is to table amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill which would prevent the UK from leaving the EU without a deal if Parliament rejects the outcome of the Brexit talks. Instead, MPs could pass a motion setting out the next steps, including resuming negotiations.

‘Damning report’ on Government childcare schemes
The Financial Times says that, in a ‘damning report’ published yesterday, the Commons Treasury Select Committee pressed the Government to reform childcare rules in order to boost productivity and to increase the take-up of tax-free schemes. The report also criticised problems with the Government’s tax-free childcare website.

Trump to expel Russian diplomats following spy poisoning
The Daily Telegraph reports that Donald Trump is set to expel more than 20 Russian diplomats from the USA, following the poisoning in Salisbury in a move that the paper describes as ‘a significant boost for Theresa May’. Up to 20 European nations may also follow the UK’s lead and expel Russian diplomats.

Councils spend £43m in compensation for injuries caused by damaged roads
The Times says that councils have spent over £43m over five years in settling legal claims brought by people injured on the country’s deteriorating roads. The figures were obtained by the charity Cycling UK, which warns that cyclists are being put at serious risk ‘due to years of persistent underinvestment in our rotting local road networks’. The Government has announced a further £100m will be given to local authorities for maintenance.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 23 March 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include the EU recalling its ambassador from Moscow, the agreement of the transition period, Owen Smith calling for a referendum on the Brexit deal and the continuation of the passport row. 

EU recalls ambassador from Moscow as it agrees Russia ‘highly likely’ to be behind attack
As The Times reports, the EU has recalled its ambassador from Moscow after leaders agreed that it was ‘highly likely’ that Russia was behind the nerve agent attack in Salisbury. In a statement, the leaders said that there was ‘no plausible alternative explanation’. At least five EU countries are prepared to follow the UK’s lead and expel Russian diplomats.

EU leaders to agree on transition period today
The Financial Times says that EU leaders will agree on the transition period at the European Council today and are expected to approve guidelines on negotiating the future relationship. Yesterday, Theresa May told leaders that ‘considerable progress’ had been made in the Brexit negotiations. At home, The Daily Telegraph reports that the UK has taken delivery of the first of five gunboats to protect the UK’s fishing waters after Brexit.

Owen Smith calls for referendum on Brexit deal
Owen Smith, the Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, writes in The Guardian that Labour should ‘keep asking if Brexit remains the right choice for the country’ and campaign for a referendum on whether to accept the terms of the Brexit deal. The paper says that Smith’s ‘intervention will reopen the split in Labour ranks’.

Passports row continues
The row over the awarding of the contract to produce the new British passports to a foreign firm continues. The Guardian reports the decision to choose the Franco-Dutch firm Gemalco will save taxpayers about £120m and will create around 70 new jobs in the UK. The Daily Mail urges ministers to ‘stand up for Britain’, claims that the current producer, the British firm De La Rue, is threatening to take the Government to court, and alleges that the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, approved the deal without knowing the winner’s identity.

May refuses to intervene over cancer bill
According to The Guardian, Theresa May has refused to intervene in the case of Albert Thompson, who has been asked to pay £54,000 for cancer treatment despite living in the UK for 44 years. He has been unable to provide documentary evidence that he has lived in the UK since he arrived from Jamaica as a teenager. The paper claims that there could be tens of thousands of people in a similarly uncertain immigration position.

Committee backs Heathrow’s third runway, but only with safeguards
The Financial Times has details of a report by the Commons Transport Committee on Heathrow expansion. While the committee backs the third runway, it argues that it should only be approved by Parliament if the Government imposes strict conditions relating to costs, noise and air quality. It also called for more information on the project’s costs.

Political parties grant themselves exemption from new data protection laws
The Independent says that political parties are about to grant themselves special powers to use personal data to find out how people are likely to vote, despite the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The exemption from new data protection laws has been agreed by all the main political parties as it clarifies their right to canvas voters in order to target likely supporters.

May sets up committee to boost female entrepreneurs
The Daily Telegraph reveals that Theresa May is setting up a Downing Street committee to increase the number of women starting businesses, following a campaign started by the paper. The taskforce, which will meet fortnightly, will ensure all Government policy considers the impact on women and increases their role in politics, business and society.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 22 March 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include uniting against Russia, Tory party donors revealed as investors of Cambridge Analytica, blue passports being made by a Franco-Dutch firm and the dismantling of the Department for Exiting the European Union. 

May to warn EU summit about Russian threat, with decision on Brexit transition due
The BBC reports that Theresa May is to tell a summit of EU leaders in Brussels to remain united against Russia’s threat to all European democracies. The European Council summit will also decide whether or not to approve the terms of the Brexit transition period unveiled this week, with Spain raising concerns about Gibraltar.

Cambridge Analytica linked to Conservative donors
The Guardian reports that Conservative Party donors are amongst the investors in SCL Group, the parent of controversial firm Cambridge Analytica. Theresa May said yesterday that the Government had no current contracts with the company. The paper adds that Commons Home Affairs Committee Chair Yvette Cooper has called for a full investigation after it emerged that SCL Group had been granted permission to access secret documents by the Ministry of Defence, allowing it to work on two projects.

New blue UK passport to be produced by Franco-Dutch firm
The Daily Telegraph reports that Gemalto, a Franco-Dutch company, is expected to win the contract to produce the new blue UK passport. It undercut other bidders, including the British firm De La Rue, by around £50m. Sir Bill Cash, Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee, described the decision as ‘completely wrong and unnecessary’.

Whitehall discusses the Department for Exiting the European Union’s future
According to the Financial Times, talks about dismantling the Department for Exiting the European Union after March 2019 have begun in Whitehall. The Cabinet Office, Foreign Office, Department for International Trade and Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are debating which functions they will take over, including talks on UK-EU trade. It is assumed that David Davis will retire from the Cabinet after Brexit happens.

Lords committee says that Government is failing on rural policy
The BBC says that a report by the Lords Committee on the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 claims that the Government is failing on rural policy. It suggests that the policy area should be transferred to the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government, and claims that Natural England has become ineffective.

Boris Johnson and Theresa May row over stop-and-search
The Sun claims that Boris Johnson and Theresa May rowed about stop-and-search policy at Cabinet. Sources said that Johnson suggested the police should carry out more checks, but May, who cut the use of stop-and-search when she was Home Secretary because it unfairly targeted young black men, said that the police had all the powers they needed.

Social Mobility Commission needs extra resources, MPs say
The Guardian says that the Commons Education Committee’s report on the Social Mobility Commission (SMC) has called for the Government to give the SMC additional resources and increased powers, to rename it the Social Justice Commission and to appoint a Cabinet Office minister with specific responsibility for social mobility.

Scottish Brexit Bill expected to be referred to the Supreme Court
The Daily Telegraph reports that a row over the SNP’s Brexit Bill is expected to end up in the Supreme Court after it was passed by the Scottish Parliament. Adam Tomkins, a Conservative MSP, challenged the Lord Advocate to refer the bill to the Supreme Court to rule on whether or not it was within the Scottish Parliament’s powers. If he refuses, the paper reports that the UK Government will do so.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 21 March 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include abandoning the NHS staff pay cap, where is Mark Zuckerberg?, May steps back from further Russia reprisals and the Government suffers defeat on Eurotom. 

NHS staff pay cap abandoned
The Guardian reports that the Government has abandoned plans which would have seen 1 million NHS staff give up a day’s holiday for a salary increase. Under the deal, staff will see their pay increase by 6.5% over three years, with full details of the package expected to be announced today, marking the abandonment of the pay cap in place since 2010.

Zuckerberg asked to give evidence as Cambridge Analytica scandal deepens
The Guardian reports that the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has written to Mark Zuckerberg, asking him to give evidence on the use of data by Cambridge Analytica. The paper carries further revelations from Channel 4’s investigation of the firm, including boasts about helping Donald Trump’s campaign and using ‘unattributable and untrackable’ advertising. The Times accuses the firm of offering the leader of the opposition in St Kitts and Nevis a bribe in 2010 in an attempt to swing an election and the BBC adds that the firm’s chief executive, Alexander Nix, has been suspended.

May steps back from further Russia reprisals
The Financial Times reports that Theresa May has ‘backed away’ from further reprisals against Russia, preferring to target Putin’s associates in the UK and adopting a longer-term approach. Hopes of uniting the west have suffered setbacks after both President Trump and President Juncker congratulated Putin on his election victory.

Government suffers defeat on Euratom in Lords
As the BBC reports, the Government was defeated last night when the House of Lords voted to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill so that the UK cannot leave Euratom until a replacement deal is in place. The BBC also carries details of a new report by the Commons Home Affairs Committee, which claims that the transition period may need to be extended to guarantee continued security cooperation. Meanwhile, the Financial Times claims that the EU will offer the City of London ‘appropriate’ market access after Brexit, but only on its terms.

Sick and disabled underpaid benefits
As the Daily Mirror reports, a new report by the National Audit Office has found that the Department for Work and Pensions has been underpaying benefits to sick and disabled people by up to £20,000 per person, with an average loss of £5000. Around 70,000 people were underpaid when they moved onto Employment and Support Allowance.

Northern Powerhouse too focused on Manchester, minister says
The Financial Times says the Jake Berry, the Northern Powerhouse Minister, has said that the policy’s efforts are too focused on Manchester and other large cities and need to be extended to smaller cities and towns in a move which he called ‘Northern Powerhouse 2.0’.

Hunt sets out seven principles to transform social care
Jeremy Hunt gave his first speech since taking control of social care yesterday, outlining seven principles to transform care for the elderly, the Daily Mail reports. A green paper will be published before the summer, but Hunt confirmed that there would be a cap on care costs and suggested an end to the ‘lottery’ which sees dementia patients face higher costs.

Jennie Formby becomes Labour’s new General Secretary
The Guardian reports that Jennie Formby, the Unite candidate, has been appointed as Labour’s new General Secretary. She was selected from a shortlist of two, after Momentum founder Jon Lansman pulled out of the race last week. She was backed by Jeremy Corbyn and the paper says that her victory ‘cements’ his control over the party’s senior posts.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 20 March 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include the Cambridge Analytica story, the Brexit transition period, Corbyn could ‘do business’ with Putin, and the Tories outspending its rivals in the last election. 

Cambridge Analytica boasted about swinging elections to undercover reporters
As The Guardian reports, executives from Cambridge Analytica, the firm at the centre of the Facebook data breach, ‘boasted of using honey traps, fake news campaigns and operations with ex-spies to swing election campaigns around the world’ to undercover reporters from Channel 4. The broadcaster moved in after months of investigation by The Observer.  The Information Commissioner is applying for a warrant to examine the firm’s activities, but the company denies any wrongdoing.

UK reaches agreement with EU on Brexit transition period
The UK obtained conditional agreement on the Brexit transition period by ‘offering the EU concessions over sovereignty’, the Financial Times reports. The progress will be acknowledged at the EU summit on Friday and new guidelines for negotiating the future relationship will be adopted. A colour-coded draft text of the withdrawal agreement show that progress still needs to be made on issues including governance and the Irish border. The Daily Telegraph adds that Jacob Rees-Mogg is to protest the ‘abject betrayal’ of the fishing industry by throwing fish overboard from a boat outside Parliament.

Corbyn would ‘do business’ with Putin
Jeremy Corbyn has told the BBC that he would ‘do business’ with Putin, but would challenge him on human rights and act in an ‘assertive’ and ‘demanding’ way with Russia. However, he also called for ‘an absolutely definitive answer’ over the source of the nerve agent used in the Salisbury attack and suggested that the Russians should be given a sample.

Conservatives outspent Labour and Lib Dems combined at last election
The Financial Times reports that the Conservatives spent more than Labour and the Liberal Democrats combined in the 2017 general election. The Tories spent £18.6m, while Labour spent £11m and the Lib Dems spent £6.8m. Detailed analysis revealed that the Tories spent four times more on Facebook advertising than Labour, and twice as much on Google adverts.

Council tax should be scrapped, thinktank says
The Guardian says that a report by the Resolution Foundation calls for council tax to be scrapped and replaced by a progressive levy on property. The think tank claims that in some areas council tax had ended up resembling the poll tax and is highly regressive.

UKIP ‘on brink of bankruptcy’
According to The Guardian, UKIP is ‘teetering on the brink of bankruptcy’ after being presented for a legal bill of £175,000 following a libel action brought by three Labour MPs. If it does not appeal, it will have to find the money in the next fortnight, with the party’s finances reportedly being ‘in a perilous condition’.

Politicians back The Sun campaign to cap credit fees
The Sun reports that politicians from across the spectrum are backing its call to ‘end rip-off doorstep lending fees and rent-to-own credit agreements’. The paper cites support from politicians including Lib Dem leader Vince Cable, former pensions minister Ros Altman, Tory backbencher Robert Halfon, Labour’s Stella Creasy, and the co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Debt, Yvonne Fovargue and Jonathan Edwards.

One in eight local roads could close within a year due to backlog of repairs
Research by the Asphalt Industry Alliance published today, warns that as many as one in eight local roads could be closed to traffic within a year because of a huge backlog of pothole repairs, The Times says. While Government funding is at its highest level in a decade, the paper says that this is considered ‘too little, too late by some’.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 19 March 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include Davis in Brussels, the betting machine cap, Momentum ‘radically transforming’ Labour and Facebook’s data issue. 

Davis in Brussels for transition talks amid fears over Irish border pressure
The Financial Times reports that Brexit Secretary David Davis is holding urgent talks in Brussels today to secure a transition deal. Aides say that he is ‘confident’, but there are fears that the UK may be pressured to make new commitments over the Irish border. According to The Guardian, the UK has already abandoned plans to repatriate control of fisheries during the transition period. In The Daily Telegraph, Jacob Rees-Mogg warns that the UK risks becoming a ‘joke nation’ if it cannot sign trade deals during the transition.

Betting machine wagers should be cut to £30 or less, Gambling Commission says
The BBC reports that the Gambling Commission has called for the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT) to be cut to £30 or less, with the maximum stake on ‘slots games’ £2. The advice is part of the Government’s review of gambling machines, with a decision due in the coming weeks.

Momentum ‘radically transforming’ Labour
An investigation by The Guardian reveals that Momentum is ‘radically transforming’ Labour. The paper finds that local branches of Momentum are ‘challenging party orthodoxies, flouting national membership rules and fighting to get their activists selected’. The paper also says that there are signs of a fightback against the organisation, with Momentum backed candidate only winning a third of parliamentary selections.

Cambridge Analytica and Facebook under fire over data leak revelations
The Times reports that MPs have called for the privacy regulator to be handled stronger powers to investigate technology companies, following the leaking of the personal data of millions of Facebook users. Damian Collins, chair of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has accused Cambridge Analytica of lying to Parliament, and Facebook of misleading MPs.

Johnson under ‘growing pressure’ over garden bridge
The Guardian says that Boris Johnson is under ‘growing pressure’ over the scrapped garden bridge project. Labours’ Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne has written to the Foreign Secretary, asking him to provide evidence for his assertion that the journalist Will Hurst criticised the project because he disliked the bridge’s designer.

A&E wait length masked by official figures
The Times reveals that tens of thousands more patients spent more than 12 hours in A&E waiting for a bed last year than revealed by official figures. The discrepancy is because official figures only record the time from a doctor deciding to admit a patient, not from the patient arriving at A&E. Sarah Wollaston, Chair of the Commons Health Committee, warned that long waits raised concerns about patient safety.

Labour to offer ‘more generous’ social care cap
The Daily Mirror reports that Shadow Care Minister Barbara Keeley will pledge to outflank the Tories on social care, implementing ‘a maximum limit on care costs at a more generous level than currently set in the Care Act regulations’. This might include widening the scope of the cap to include costs such as accommodation.

£26m to be spent on breakfast clubs
According to The Sun, ministers are to invest £26m in breakfast clubs at 1770 schools around the country. Two charities, Family Action and Magic Breakfast, will be responsible for running the clubs, funded by the new soft drinks levy and due to start this spring.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 16 March 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include Corbyn defending his position over the Salisbury poisoning, Google funding supportive think thanks, business leaders demanding a Brexit transition agreement and stay at home mums denied the right to a full state pension. 

Corbyn defends response to Salisbury poisoning
Jeremy Corbyn has written in The Guardian, defending his response to the Salisbury poisoning, warning Theresa May against ‘rushing way ahead of the evidence’. The paper says that there appear to be divisions on the issue in the shadow cabinet, with Emily Thornberry and Nia Griffith taking tougher stances. Yesterday, as the BBC reports, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said that Russia should ‘go away and ‘shut up’. The Times reports on the ‘unusual joint statement’ made by the French, German, American and British leaders, condemning Russian for ‘an assault on UK sovereignty’.

Google spends tens of millions of pounds funding think tanks
A report seen by The Times, shows that Google has spent tens of millions of pounds funding think tanks that published papers supporting its policy interests. The US Campaign for Accountability report examined five institutions in the UK and Europe, including Nesta’s Research Alliance for a Digital Economy (Readie).

Business leaders stress urgent need for Brexit transition agreement
The Financial Times reports that business leaders highlighted the urgent need for a finalised Brexit transition deal when they met the Prime Minister yesterday, adding that the Irish border remains the biggest remaining obstacle to reaching a transition deal next week. The Guardian claims that the Government has been asking businesses to sign secrecy agreements when they discuss border issues with it, including no-deal Brexit scenarios.

50,000 stay at home mothers denied right to full state pension
Nicky Morgan, chair of the Commons Treasury Committee, has written to officials, raising concerns that 50,000 stay at home mothers may miss out on a full state pension as a result of changes to the state benefit system, owing to what The Daily Telegraph calls a ‘Government blunder’.

Grenfell Tower doors could only hold fire back for half the intended time
Investigators have found that doors in Grenfell Tower were only capable of holding back flames for half of their intended time, as an article in The Sun says. Sajid Javid told the House of Commons that there was ‘no evidence’ that this was a ‘systematic issue’ and that further updates would be provided by the end of April.

Cambridge Analytica pitched illegal offer targeting foreign donors to Leave.EU
The Guardian reports that documents released by the Commons Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee show that Cambridge Analytica proposed raising money form foreign supporters on behalf of Leave.EU, in breach of UK election law. However, Leave.EU did not take up the offer. The documents were supplied to the committee by Arron Banks, the campaign’s backer, to rebut claims made by Cambridge Analytica’s chief executive.

Javid becomes fifth MP to receive ‘Punish a Muslim’ package
The Times reports that Sajid Javid has become the fifth MP to receive a suspicious package and a letter calling for a ‘Punish a Muslim’ day. The letters are currently being investigated by counterterrorism police. The other recipients have been Rupa Huq, Rushanara Ali, Mohammad Yasin and Afzal Khan.

GMB criticises reliability of green power sources
The Sun carries details of a report by the GMB, which claims that on 65 days last year, turbines supplied less than 10% of their potential for at least half a day, leaving the UK reliant on gas, nuclear and coal. The union’s national secretary, Justin Bowden, said, ‘It is the facts, not the hype, which should determine the UK’s energy policy decisions.’

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Today’s Political Headlines – 15 March 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include the USA’s support of the UK, signing trade deals during Brexit transition, the Good Friday Agreement under threat and the UK’s poisonous air. 

USA expresses ‘solidarity’ with UK over nerve agent attack
The BBC reports that the USA has expressed its ‘solidarity’ with the UK, following the Prime Minister’s decision to retaliate against Russia following the use of a nerve agent in Salisbury. 23 diplomats have been expelled, amid other measures. The Daily Telegraph adds that the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson will use a speech today to unveil new measure to tackle chemical and biological warfare. The Daily Mail says that backbench Labour MPs have rounded on Jeremy Corbyn after he failed to condemn Russia.

UK will be able to sign trade deals during Brexit transition
According to The Times, the UK will be free to sign trade deals during the Brexit transition period without needing to get permission from the EU, a climbdown from the EU’s previous position. Talks on the transition period are expected to be finished by Monday at the latest so that the details can be signed off at a summit of EU leaders on Thursday.

Brexit threatens Good Friday Agreement, Taoiseach says
The Guardian says the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has warned that Brexit threatens the Good Friday Agreement and could ‘drive a wedge’ between his country and the UK. He also sought to reassure unionists that he does not have a ‘hidden agenda’ for a united Ireland. He was speaking at an event in Washington to mark the 20th anniversary of the agreement.

Four committees criticise the UK’s ‘poisonous air’
A joint report from the Commons Environment, Health, Transport and Environmental Audit committees demands an end to the UK’s ‘poisonous air’, the BBC reports. It calls for a new Clean Air Act, faster phasing-out of petrol and diesel cars, and a motor industry financed clean air fund. The Government has promised to publish a clean air strategy later this year.

Bercow stands aside from commission to allow bullying probe to go ahead
The Daily Telegraph says that the Speaker, John Bercow, is standing aside as chair of the House of Commons Commission in order to allow it to conduct a probe into bullying allegations. MPs had warned him that staying in place would be a ‘clear conflict of interest’.

300,000 more university places needed by 2030
The Sun reports that analysis by the Higher Education Policy Institute shows that universities and colleges will need to find 300,000 new places by 2030 as the number of 18 year olds is set to rise by almost a quarter. Up to half a million places will be needed, the institute argues, if social inequality is to be fixed.

Taxes would have to be raised by £40bn to eliminate deficit by 2025
The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that Philip Hammond will have to raise taxes by £40bn in order to eliminate the deficit by 2025. The Times reports that the think tank’s deputy director, Carl Emmerson, said that he ‘would be surprised’ if that target was met.

May saves 1p and 2p coins
The Sun says that Theresa May ‘rushed to save 1p and 2p coins’ yesterday, after a Treasury consultation suggested that they might be withdrawn. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said the ‘early reaction’ made it clear that the public wished to keep the coins.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 14 March 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include measures against Russia, an ‘easing of austerity’, an integration green paper and corrupt countries that ‘should not’ receive aid. 

May due to announce measures against Russia
As the BBC reports, Theresa May is expected to announce a series of measures against Russia later today, after the country missed her deadline to explain the use of a nerve agent to poison a former double agent. The Prime Minister received the backing of President Trump in a phone call, while the leaders of Germany and France have also offered their support.

Spring statement ‘signalled an easing of austerity’
The Financial Times says that Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement ‘signalled an easing of austerity’. Hammond described himself as being ‘positively Tigger-like’, but the paper reports that official forecasts leave the UK near the bottom of the Group of Seven economic powers in terms of growth. The Sun claims that the Chancellor has been ‘blasted’ over proposals to scrap 1p and 2p coins in a consultation released alongside the statement.

Integration green paper launched
Sajid Javid (the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government) is to launch a £50m green paper on integration, The Guardian says. He told the paper that there were 770,000 people living in England that speak little or no English. The Times reports that the proposals will also mandate that Sharia weddings must be registered in law.

Corrupt countries should not receive aid, Cameron says
According to The Daily Telegraph, David Cameron has suggested that corrupt countries should be stripped of aid money. Appearing before a US congressional committee, the former prime minister said that countries who didn’t meet ‘basic norms of governance’ should not receive funding as this is ‘not fair on our taxpayers’.

Government agrees ‘major climb-down’ on transition period
In an exclusive, The Sun reveals that Theresa May’s Brexit committee has agreed the terms of the Brexit transition phase. A ‘major climb-down’ has been agreed, keeping borders open for EU citizens until 2021 and accepting the EU’s proposed exit date at the end of 2020.

May to meet devolved leaders
Theresa May is to hold meetings with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones later today, in an attempt to end deadlock over Brexit, the BBC reports. Sturgeon has said that she does not expect to reach a deal over devolved powers after Brexit today, although all sides agree that progress has been made.

University strike deal fails
The Times says that final year exams at over 60 universities will be ‘severely disrupted’ after a deal to end a strike by lecturers was rejected. Preparations are now being made for 14 days of strikes during May and June, with lectures and classes not being rescheduled.

Childcare voucher changes delayed
The Guardian reports that Labour has pushed the Government into agreeing to extend the workplace childcare voucher system following a vote yesterday. Labour whips are predicting that the delay could lead to the plan to abolish the vouchers being abandoned.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 13 March 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include Russia’s midnight deadline(!), today’s Spring statement, Karl Turner accused of sexual harassment and the £2bn cost of Brexit preparations. 

Russia given midnight deadline to explain its actions
The Times reports that Theresa May has given Russia until midnight to account for its actions in the poisoning case. If there is ‘no credible response’, retaliatory measures might include a cyberattack, and the Prime Minister has hinted that the Government will drop its opposition to the ‘Magnitsky amendment’, which would make it easier to confiscate the assets of human rights abusers. The BBC reports that Jeremy Corbyn’s response has been controversial, as he criticised Conservatives for accepting donations from ‘Russia oligarchs’.

Spring statement to contain overhaul of VAT statement
The Daily Telegraph claims the Philip Hammond will announce an overhaul of the VAT system to benefit small traders and entrepreneurs in the spring statement today. The Times reports that other consultations will be on technology companies and plastics. The Guardian says Iain Duncan Smith has called on the Chancellor to reverse cuts to Universal Credit.

Karl Turner accused of making sexual remarks to cancer victim
The Times says that the number of Labour MPs facing bullying and sexual harassment allegations grew to six after Karl Turner was accused of slapping and making crude comments to a cancer survivor. The Daily Telegraph claims Speaker John Bercow is under pressure over claims that he used taxpayers money to suppress allegations against him.

Brexit preparations to cost Government £2bn
Institute for Government analysis suggests the Government is likely to have spent £2bn on Brexit preparations by the time that the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, with 10,000 extra roles being created in six core Whitehall departments, the Financial Times reports.

Home Office keeping torture victims in detention
The Guardian says that an inspection report into Harmondsworth immigration removal centre shows that the Home Office is detaining torture victims despite accepting evidence of their vulnerability. Concerns were also raised about security, safety and respect.

Brexit negotiators ‘closing in on securing a deal on the transition period’
According to The Daily Telegraph, Brexit negotiators ‘are closing in on securing a deal on the transition period’, and aiming for agreement at the March 22 European Council summit. Sources said that the European Commission was ‘impressed’ by the British negotiating team.

University strike may be called off
The Guardian says that strikes by university staff could be called off after a revised pension reform proposal was agreed by employers and union officials. It will be considered today by the University and College Union’s higher education committee and branch representatives.

Military childcare scheme to be axed
The Daily Mirror reports the Government is planning to axe a childcare scheme used by around 10,000 military personnel, alongside other ‘childcare vouchers’ and replaced by ‘tax-free childcare’, which the paper says is ‘less generous’. A vote will be held today.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 12 March 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include May on the verge of blaming Russia for spy attack, the Debbie Abrahams bullying claims, the most inactive parliament for two decades and Vince Cable under fire. 

May ‘on the verge of publicly blaming Russia’ for attack
The Times reports that Theresa May is ‘on the verge of publicly blaming Russia’ of the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, with an official announcement possible after a meeting of the National Security Council today. Retaliatory measures under consideration include expelling diplomats and cancelling visas, financial curbs, withdrawing all official World Cup representation, an international statement of condemnation, and/or boosting military deployments in Eastern Europe.

Debbie Abrahams steps aside over ‘workplace issue’
Debbie Abrahams, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, has stepped aside following a ‘workplace issue’ according to the party, understood to be allegations of bullying, The Guardian reports. Abrahams rejects the claims.

Current parliament most inactive for over two decades
Analysis by The Times shows that the current parliament is the most inactive for at least two decades, which the paper attributes to ‘ministerial panic’ about potential defeats over both Brexit and domestic policy caused by the Government not having a working majority. Legislation on post-Brexit customs arrangements has been repeatedly delayed, while half of the eight Brexit bills originally envisaged have not been introduced.

Cable under attack over remarks about older Brexit voters
The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Vince Cable, claimed at his party’s conference yesterday that many older Brexit voters were driven ‘by nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white and maps were coloured imperial pink’. The BBC reports that Cable’s remarks have come under attack from Conservative politicians.

Global Britain strategy attacked in new report
In a new report, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee claims the Government’s Global Britain strategy risks damaging UK interests by becoming a ‘superficial branding exercise’. As the Financial Times says, the report complains that no minister could give a ‘definitive explanation’ of the policy and there are no new resources to support it.

Motion of no confidence in Bercow to be tabled
According to The Guardian, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, is to face a motion of no confidence today, tabled by a Conservative MP. Andrew Bridgen has said that either he, or another MP, will table an Early Day Motion expressing no confidence, following last week’s bullying allegations. As the paper notes, few EDMs are actually discussed.

Hammond to hint at public spending increases in spring statement
When Philip Hammond gives his spring statement tomorrow, he will reassure Conservative MPs that he is planning ‘significant public spending announcements’ for the autumn budget following better than expected public sector finance figures, with NHS spending taking precedence, The Times claims. According to The Daily Telegraph, a consultation on a new ‘litter levy’ will be introduced in the statement.

University course rankings to be published
The Government has announced that 50 institutions are taking part in a project to publish teaching ratings for different university subjects, the Financial Times says. Sam Gyimah, the universities minister, has announced a consultation on the plans today.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 9 March 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include Newsnight’s bullying investigation in Parliament, the full spectrum response to Russia, NHS staff offered a pay rise and ministers rejecting the latte levy. 

Investigation into bullying in Parliament accuses three MPs, including John Bercow
An investigation by BBC Newsnight into harassment and bullying of clerks in Parliament has made accusations against three MPs. Those accused are Labour’s Paul Farrelly, the Conservative Mark Pritchard, and the Speaker, John Bercow. All three deny the allegations, but Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson has called for a ‘thorough independent investigation.’

May draws up ‘full spectrum’ response to Russia
In an exclusive, The Sun reports that Theresa May is drawing up a ‘full spectrum’ response to alleged Russian involvement in the poisoning of a former Russian spy. Measures will include expelling diplomats, cancelling visas, freezing assets, a joint international statement of condemnation, and increased military deployments in Eastern Europe.

NHS staff to be offered pay rise in return for losing holiday
According to The Guardian, the Government is to offer NHS staff a 6.5% pay rise over the next three years, so long as they give up a day’s holiday. This would be the first ‘meaningful’ pay rise since 2010, the paper claims, with unions ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the deal.

Ministers reject ‘latte levy’
The Government has rejected calls from the Environmental Audit Committee to introduce a ‘latte levy’ on disposable coffee cups. The BBC says that ministers have instead suggested shops introduce their own voluntary charges, annoying committee chair Mary Creagh.

Johnson promises ‘very, very minimal controls’ on Irish border
Speaking at an event held by The Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson promised ‘very, very minimal controls’ at the Irish border and that a no deal Brexit would have no ‘terrors’ for the UK. The Financial Times says that Donald Tusk, the European Council President, has said that Ireland must be dealt with ‘first’ in talks. The Daily Telegraph also reports that the Government is to go ahead with its proposals for devolution after Brexit, despite failing to secure approval from the devolved administrations.

Tories ‘clamouring’ for public spending increase
The Financial Times says that Conservative MPs are ‘clamouring’ for the Chancellor to increase public spending at the Spring Statement. The Daily Mirror reports that John McDonnell is to say the Conservatives are ‘blind’ to the ‘pain and misery’ of austerity.

Government to publish ‘humiliating’ Universal Credit reviews
The Daily Mirror says the Government confirmed yesterday that it was to give up its two-year battle to keep its ‘humiliating’ reviews of Universal Credit secret. The Government had been due to defend the non-publication of the reviews at a forthcoming tribunal.

Government considers fines for motorists who pass too close to cyclists
The Times reports that the Government is to publish a call for evidence as part of a review of cyclist and pedestrian safety, including possible fines for drivers who pass cyclists too closely. Legal advice advocating a new offence of dangerous cycling will also be published.

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