Today’s Political Headlines – 6 February 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include Barnier telling the UK to make a choice, Trump’s NHS error, Theresa May marking the centenary of the suffrage act and the EU rules the UK could be forced to accept. 

Barnier tells the UK to ‘make a choice’
Visiting the UK yesterday, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned that future trade barriers are ‘unavoidable’ if the UK leaves the customs union. The Financial Times reports that EU officials believe that UK ideas are ‘unrealistic’, whilst Barnier said that it was time for the UK ‘to make a choice’ and that there was ‘not a moment to lose’. The paper also says that the EU is pressing for more clarity over the Irish border as it comes within weeks of publishing a legal text of December’s Brexit divorce agreement.

Trump rebuked over NHS claims
Following a tweet from President Trump, claiming that the NHS was ‘going broke and not working’, the BBC reports Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt hit back that he was ‘proud to be from the country that invented universal coverage’. Downing Street said that Hunt was speaking for the government, while NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens has invited Trump to visit a hospital on his trip to the UK later this year.

May marks suffrage act with vow to tackle abuse in public life
The Guardian says Theresa May is to mark the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act today by giving a speech in Manchester. May will address the topic of abuse in public life, and lay out steps to tackle it, including backing some recommendations from a Committee on Standards in Public Life report, publishing a social media code of practice and asking the Law Commission to review legislation on ‘offensive online communications’. The BBC reports that campaigners, including the Fawcett Society and Ruth Davidson, have called for convicted suffragettes to be given a posthumous pardon.

UK could be forced to accept 37 EU rules during transition
The Daily Telegraph has obtained a leaked Whitehall analysis that reveals that the UK could be forced to accept 37 EU directives during the transition period. It suggests that contentious measures include new recycling targets, giving Brussels the power to ‘mount a massive raid on the City of London’ and new renewable and energy efficiency targets.

Soubry tells May to expel hard Brexiteers
Anna Soubry told the BBC’s Newsnight programme that Theresa May needed to ‘get a spine’ and remove 35 ‘hard ideological Brexiteers’ from the Conservative Party, warning that by pandering to them she was forgetting a larger group ‘who are getting sick and tired’. She said that if Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg took over the party she would leave.

May’s mission statement criticised by ministers
An internal mission statement drawn up by Theresa May’s aides called ‘Building a Britain Fit for the Future’ has been criticised by ministers as ‘pathetic’ and ‘anaemic’, The Times says. The plan, first shown to the cabinet and ministers, was shared with MPs last week.

East Coast rail franchise may return to public sector
The Guardian reports that the East Coast rail franchise could return to the public sector, with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling telling MPs that Virgin Trains had breached its £3.3bn contract. Another option would be for the Government to offer Virgin Trains East Coast a ‘short-term, not for profit’ contract.

Rural MPs threaten to revolt over council funding cuts
According to the Financial Times, the Government is coming under pressure to increase funding to councils, following the imposition of spending controls on Northamptonshire County Council. The paper reports that ministers ‘have been locked in talks with MPs’ to secure the votes they need to pass the local authority funding settlement on Wednesday.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 5 February 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include Downing Street ruling out being part of a customs union, Westminster’s Freemasons’ lodges, the UK’s potentially painful trade concessions to South Korea and the warning against a bonfire of regulations. 

Downing Street rules out customs union
Downing Street has confirmed that the UK is to leave the customs union after Brexit, the BBC reports, quoting a source who said, ‘to put this to rest, we are categorically leaving’. Political correspondent Eleanor Garnier says that a bespoke deal could still involve some sort of customs arrangement. The Times adds that the Brexit ‘war cabinet’ is preparing a compromise with ‘a time-limited extension to elements of the existing customs union’.

Westminster Freemasons’ lodges revealed
The Guardian leads with the revelation that there are two lodges of Freemasons operating secretly at Westminster, one for politicians and one for journalists. The paper reports that the identities of the members are unknown, while the United Grand Lodge of England has insisted that there is no contradiction between being a Freemason and a journalist.

‘Painful concessions’ needed to agree South Korean deal
According to The Daily Telegraph, the UK may have to make ‘painful trade concessions’ to South Korea, in order to ensure continuity during the Brexit transition period. A ‘senior trade lobbyist’ told the paper that ‘worries are mounting’ about whether it will be possible to replicate existing trade deals.

Bank of England deputy governor warns against ‘bonfire of regulations’
In an interview with the Financial Times, Sam Woods, deputy governor of the Bank of England, warned against a ‘bonfire of regulations’ after Brexit. He pledged to ‘maintain standards of resilience in the financial sector at least as high as those we have today’.

Former civil service chief says Brexiteers are ‘selling snake oil’
Appearing on Peston on Sunday, Lord O’Donnell, the former head of the civil service, accused Brexiteers of ‘selling snake oil’, The Daily Telegraph says. He said that allegations by Jacob Rees-Mogg that the civil service were ‘fiddling the figures’ with regard to Brexit were ‘completely crazy’.

Hospitals cancel urgent operations
In an exclusive, The Guardian claims that hospitals have cancelled urgent operations for patients with cancer, heart disease and other life-threatening diseases, despite having been ordered not to do so. According to the paper, doctors’ leaders and the Patients Association have warned that people could die as a result.

Justice Secretary to review divorce laws
The Justice Secretary, David Gauke, has agreed to review divorce laws, The Times says. This follows a campaign by the newspaper for reforms, including no-fault divorce. He told the paper that he ‘will study the evidence for change’ but would not ‘rush to a conclusion’.

Lib Dems’ expert panel recommends dedicated NHS tax
A panel of health experts, convened by the Liberal Democrats, has recommended a new ring-fenced tax to fund the NHS, the BBC reports. The panel also recommends that the NHS should receive an extra £4bn on top of inflation in the next financial year and a cap on the amount paid for social care by individuals.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 2 February 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include the UK’s potential to stay in a customs union with the EU, Brexit migration figures, NHS spending on compensation and medicines under review and ‘Auntie May’. 

UK might stay in customs union with the EU
The Financial Times claims that Theresa May’s advisers are considering striking a customs union deal on trade in goods with the EU, which would allow the UK to strike trade deals on services (although the paper notes that ‘services-only deals are a relative novelty’). The Daily Telegraph reports that International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has ruled out such an arrangement, but the Prime Minister has been less clear.

Brexit economic analysis reveals that EU migration might fall by just 40,000
The Daily Telegraph claims that leaked Government economic analysis of Brexit reveals that ministers are planning for EU migration to fall by just 40,000 a year if the UK reaches a free trade deal with the EU. If the Government fails to agree a deal with the EU, the analysis expects EU migration to fall by 90,000. An estimated 230,000 immigrants migrated to the UK in the year to June 2017.

NHS spending on compensation and medicines under scrutiny
Two articles in this morning’s papers focus on high costs being incurred by the NHS. The Daily Telegraph says that health service leaders have written to the Justice Secretary David Gauke, claiming that unless victims of NHS errors receive less compensation, the service will be bankrupted. Meanwhile, an investigation by The Times finds that the NHS has been overcharged for thousands of drugs.

Labour considers new policy to cut house-building costs
A new policy to cut the cost of council house building is being considered by Labour and is detailed in The Guardian. The proposals, drawn up by Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey, would see an English Sovereign Land Trust established to buy land at its pre-planning consent value, cutting the cost of building 10,000 homes a year by £10bn.

May praised by Chinese state media and dubbed ‘Auntie May’
According to The Guardian, Chinese state-run media has praised Theresa May following her trip to the country. The Global Times reportedly said that she had ‘sidestepped’ issues including human rights and Hong Kong, and had sought ‘pragmatic collaboration’. The Times adds that young social media users in the country have dubbed her ‘Auntie May’ and says that she is set to announce £300m of commercial deals to export British cultural brands.

Groups opposed to hard Brexit join forces
The Guardian reports that groups opposed to a hard Brexit have coalesced under the leadership of Chuka Umunna. The groups, with over 500,000 members, will work together as the grassroots coordinating group (GCG). Other politicians involved include Anna Soubry, Caroline Lucas and Jo Swinson.

Unlimited fines for carmakers who cheat emissions tests
New Department for Transport proposals would see carmakers who cheat emissions tests faced with unlimited fines, The Times says. The proposals, which go beyond EU law, come after the scandal triggered by Volkswagen’s use of ‘defeat device’ software to beat tests.

Brexit minister admits making mistake
Yesterday, in the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg asked Brexit minister Steve Baker whether Treasury officials had ‘deliberately developed a model to show that all options other than staying in the customs union were bad’, attributing his claim to Charles Grant of the Centre for European Reform. Baker said that Rees-Mogg’s account was ‘essentially correct’, but later had to back down after an audio recording of Grant emerged. Baker will now apologise to Grant and ‘clarify’ his remarks to the Commons, as the BBC reports.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 1 February 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include the rights of EU citizens in the UK during the Brexit transition, the benefits of EU migrants compared to a US trade deal, May’s talks with China’s Xi Jinping and water companies criticised by Gove. 

May: EU citizens coming to UK during transition should not enjoy same rights
The Guardian says that Theresa May has ‘sparked a new clash’ with the EU, after she argued that EU citizens arriving in the UK during the transition period should not have the same rights as EU citizens arriving at present. The European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, told the paper ‘Citizens’ rights during the transition is not negotiable.’

Cost of cutting EU migration to UK revealed; EU strategy paper leaks
BuzzFeed News has released more details from the leaked Government Brexit impact analysis. The analysis reveals that the cost to the UK economy of cutting migration from the EU would be greater than the benefits of a trade deal with the US. The Government will now allow MPs and peers to view the document in a ‘secure reading room’. The Financial Times has obtained a leaked strategy paper, which shows the EU is threatening sanctions to stop the UK from undercutting the EU economy after Brexit.

May to hold talks with Chinese President
Theresa May is to hold talks with Xi Jinping, the Chinese President, later today. According to the BBC, the agenda will include trade and security issues, including the North Korean nuclear programme. The Prime Minister will also raise environmental concerns. Yesterday, May agreed a new trade and investment review with the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. The Guardian adds that Liam Fox admitted that a trade deal with China ‘may be some time away’, but that trade could be increased despite remaining in a customs union with the EU.

Water companies criticised by Gove
In a letter to Ofwat, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove has criticised water companies for using ‘opaque financial structures based in tax havens’ and making ‘excessive profits’, The Daily Telegraph reports. He has offered to give Ofwat new powers to reign in the companies.

MPs vote to move out of the Palace of Westminster to allow refurbishment
In what The Times calls a ‘surprise result’, MPs have voted to move out of the Palace of Westminster for at least six years to allow refurbishment work to go ahead. The ‘full decant’ is expected to start in 2025 at the earliest. A plan drawn up by Downing Street and Conservative whips to postpone the decision until 2022 failed, with an amendment by Meg Hillier succeeding. The move now needs the approval of the House of Lords.

Senior minister prepares to resign
In an exclusive, The Sun claims that a ‘senior minister’ is ‘close to resigning’, in a move which could lead to Theresa May’s ‘downfall’. The minister, who has been frustrated by the failure to promote younger MPs, would then call for a new direction from the backbenches.

‘Baby leave’ voting system for MPs likely to be approved
A system that allows MPs who have recently become parents to nominate a colleague to vote in Parliament on their behalf is likely to be approved today, The Guardian says. The proposal, put forward by Harriet Harman and Maria Miller, will be handed over to the Speaker, John Bercow, and the Procedure Committee to consider enacting, if it is approved.

£21bn hole in defence spending
The Ministry of Defence’s equipment plan is ‘not affordable’ according to a National Audit Office report, an article in The Times says. The department has a funding hole of £21bn over ten years, omitted the £1.3bn cost of five new frigates from the plan and experienced a £576m increase in the cost of four replacement Trident submarines.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 31 January 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include the continued controversy surroung the government’s leaked Brexit forecasts, Theresa May’s visit to China and the UK’s skilled immigration cap. 

Brexit analysis causes continued controversy
Brexit minister Steve Baker has claimed that Government economic forecasts are ‘always wrong’ and that the leaked Brexit forecast ‘is not yet anywhere near being approved by ministers’, according to The Daily Telegraph. A ‘Cabinet source’ told the paper that it was ‘Project Fear Mark II’. The Guardian suggests that Baker’s claim has ‘triggered a furious backlash’ and says that Labour is to try to force the Government to publish the analysis using the same procedure previously deployed to force the publication of the Government’s sectoral reports. Theresa May has told the Financial Times that economic assessments will be given to Parliament after the final deal has been agreed, but ahead of the vote on it, 

Theresa May: ‘I’m not a quitter’
The Times reports that Theresa May has told reporters that ‘I’m not a quitter, and there is a long-term job to be done.’ She refused to say if she would fight on in the event of a vote of confidence. May insisted that she had a plan to get ‘the best Brexit deal’ and that ‘we need to ensure that we do speak about the achievements that we’ve seen’. 

Theresa May: China should play by rules
Theresa May has written an opinion piece for the Financial Times ahead of her trip to China, in which she argues for ‘deepening co-operation’ but warns that the two countries ‘will not always see eye-to-eye’, raising issues such as steel overcapacity, intellectual property, and trade rules. The paper describes this as a ‘blunt warning’.

Housing developers to lose right to build
Housing developers should lose planning permission on unused land, if they fail to hit construction targets, a review into land-banking is expected to conclude in the spring, according to The Times. The paper has interviewed Sajid Javid, who said ‘We are on the side of people who want more homes.’

Inheritance tax gifting limit under review
Chancellor Philip Hammond has ordered a review into inheritance tax, The Daily Telegraph says. The review, to be carried out by the Office for Tax Simplification, could lead to an increase in the tax-free gifting limit, which has been frozen at £3000 since 1981. The paper says that the move would ‘help younger generations onto the property ladder’.

UK should add folic acid to flour, study says
The BBC reports on a new study in Public Health News, which suggests that adding folic acid to flour would prevent spina bifida in unborn babies and not harm the public. Ministers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have already backed the move.

Parliament could be ‘at risk’, Historic England warns
The Guardian has seen a Historic England briefing note, which warns that the Palace of Westminster could be placed on the ‘at risk’ register of historic sites. MPs have a free vote tonight on whether or not to delay making a decision on repairs until the end of parliament, or to set up a delivery authority to draw up options to be voted on in 18 months’ time. 

UK hits skilled immigration cap
The Financial Times reports that the UK has hit the cap for skilled non-EU migrants for two months in a row, attributing this to companies being ‘forced to look further afield to make up for falling numbers of European immigrants.’ The NHS is amongst those being forced to turn away potential workers, whilst the Institute for Directors described it as a ‘particularly big concern’ for businesses.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 30 January 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include BuzzFeed’s scoop on the state of the UK economy after Brexit, Tory donors calling on May to quit and all PIP claims to be reviewed following a court ruling. 

Brexit impact assessments leak, as May rejects the EU’s transition terms
BuzzFeed News has obtained a copy of the Government’s economic analysis of Brexit. It suggests that the UK would be worse off outside the EU in every scenario modelled. The news comes as The Daily Telegraph reports that Theresa May is to reject the EU’s proposed transition period terms over free movement and ‘rule taking’, and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox tells The Sun that Eurosceptics will have to ‘live with disappointment’. The Guardian says that a new report by Open Britain and the Labour Campaign for the Single Market argues ‘there is no leftwing case for leaving the single market and the customs union’. The paper also reports that the German ambassador has ascribed British Euroscepticism to a sense of national identity built around the Second World War.

Tory donors call on May to quit
The Times claims that displeasure with Theresa May ‘boiled over’ at a Conservative fundraising event on Thursday. An account of the event that suggests around a quarter of the 50 donors attending called for May to go has been circulating amongst pro-Brexit MPs.

PIP claims to be reviewed following court ruling
The BBC reports that the Department for Work and Pensions will review the claims of every person receiving Personal Independence Payments (PIP) – a total of 1.6m claims. This follows the Government’s decision not to challenge a court ruling that PIP changes were unfair to people with mental health conditions.

MoD housing deal cost taxpayers £4bn
A report by the National Audit Office suggests that British taxpayers could have lost as much as £4bn because of a 1996 Ministry of Defence property deal, The Daily Telegraph says. In the deal, the MoD sold around 55,000 houses and then leased them back.

Robert Halfon suggests referendum on NHS spending increases
Conservative MP Robert Halfon has called for a referendum on raising NHS spending, The Guardian reports. He has suggested the Government should legislate for a referendum every ten years on how much to increase NHS spending, and consider a new hypothecated ringfenced tax for health and social care spending.

China ‘baffled’ over May’s delay in visiting
As Theresa May prepares to leave for her first trade mission to China, The Times reports that the Chinese are ‘baffled’ that it has taken her 18 months to visit. The Financial Times suggests May will not endorse China’s Belt and Road initiative in which it invests in Asian and central and eastern European infrastructure during the visit. The Guardian says that Brexit ‘has severely eroded’ the UK’s negotiating position and its value to China.

Gavin Williamson under pressure over defence spending
The Times says that Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson came ‘under renewed pressure’ when three former security chiefs – Lord Ricketts (Former national security adviser), Sir John Sawyers (former MI6 head) and Robert Hannigan (former GCHQ director) – criticised the removal of defence from the national security capability review as a ‘backwards step’, driven by politics.

MPs could lose seats for sexual harassment or bullying
The Financial Times has seen a copy of draft plans, expected to be published later this week, under which MPs found to have engaged in sexual harassment or bullying could be suspended by the parliamentary commissioner for standards and trigger a recall process.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 29 January 2018

Today’s Political Headlines are dominated by Brexit – with a ‘coordinated attempt’ to discredit the Chancellor and civil servants; the potential transition deal delay; and the Lords committee’s criticism. 

Brexit: Brexiteers in ‘co-ordinated attempt’ to discredit Chancellor & civil servants
According to this morning’s Times, Brexiteers are on ‘a co-ordinated attempt to discredit Philip Hammond and senior officials’. Key cabinet members are to be shown government economic impact assessments for different Brexit options this week, the paper reports. The Daily Telegraph has obtained a WhatsApp message in which energy minister Claire Perry claims that the ‘sell out traitor mob’ who criticised the Brexit bill are the ‘swivel-eyed few’.

Brexit: Transition deal may be delayed over law vetting demand
The Financial Times warns that the UK could be on a ‘collision course’ with the EU over demands to vet new EU laws agreed during the transition period. According to the paper, senior officials on each side are worried that the disagreement could delay reaching a deal. Meanwhile, The Times says that EU negotiators expect the UK to request an extended transition period, but that this will be kept secret to avoid a rebellion by Eurosceptics.

Brexit: Lords committee criticises Withdrawal Bill
The House of Lords Constitution Committee has criticised the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill ahead of the start of debates this week, The Guardian reports. The committee says that ‘the bill risks fundamentally undermining legal certainty’, criticising the ‘overly broad’ powers and the failure to secure agreement from the devolved governments.

Social media firms called on to do more about grooming
The Times dedicates its front page to a call for social media firms to crack down on online grooming. According to the paper, the NSPCC is calling for the Home Office to put pressure on social media companies to use artificial intelligence to block predatory behaviour online. The charity says that the Government’s new voluntary code ‘does not go far enough’.

Pensions Regulator criticised for failure to act over Carillion
The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee has criticised the Pensions Regulator for allowing Carillion to defer pension deficit contributions in September, according to The Guardian. Frank Field, who chairs the committee, said ‘It’s clear that Carillion has been trying to wriggle out of its obligations to its pensioners for the last 10 years.’

Tory peer and Church of England call for Government action over gambling adverts
A study commissioned by the Conservative peer Lord Chadlington has found that 65% of teenagers think that television channels carry too much advertising for gambling, the Daily Mail reports. He is calling for the Government to ban gambling advertising during sporting events. Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans, told The Daily Telegraph that advertising for gambling was ‘an increasing moral crisis for us as a society.’

Increased automation may deepen the UK’s economic divide
The Financial Times has details of a report by the Centre for Cities think-tank, which suggests ‘the rise of the robots’ will deepen the UK’s economic divide, with a third of jobs in some northern and midlands cities vulnerable to automation and globalisation. The centre’s chief executive, Andrew Carter, has called for more devolution.

Labour would buy 8,000 properties for the homeless
Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pledged to provide 8,000 homes ‘immediately’ to house people with a history of rough sleeping, should his party enter government. He described the scale of homelessness as ‘disgusting’ and ‘wholly unnecessary’.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 26 January 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include Brexit news, with May, Hammond and Davis; Lord Mendelsohn who has been ‘effectively sacked’ for attending the Presidents Club dinner; Gavin Williamson warning of a Russian attack; and Donald Trump visiting the UK. 

May rebukes Hammond for Brexit claims and tones down Davis speech
Theresa May rebuked the Chancellor last night, The Times claims, after he predicted ‘very modest’ changes in the UK’s relationship with the EU after Brexit in a speech to the CBI at the World Economic Forum. The Daily Telegraph adds that Downing Street has toned down a major speech by David Davis today so that it focuses on negotiating trade deals during a transition period, rather than on managing expectations and selling the transition period as the price to pay for Brexit. The paper also reports that Jacob Rees-Mogg, chair of the European Research Group, has said that the Government’s tone on Brexit needs to ‘fundamentally change’. The Sun suggests that Downing Street ‘fears a vote of no confidence’ after at least three more Tory MPs said that they planned to call for May to go.

Lord Mendelsohn ‘effectively sacked’ for attending controversial dinner
Lord Mendelsohn has been ‘effectively sacked’ from his role as a Labour party spokesperson on business and international trade for attending the controversial Presidents Club dinner, The Times reports. The Financial Times adds that the Attorney-General has said that it is possible that criminal offences were committed at the event and that the Bank of England is investigating the regifting of tea with its Governor, Mark Carney, to the event’s auction.

Gavin Williamson warns of Russian attack, admits affair
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has warned that Russia could kill ‘thousands and thousands and thousands’ of people in the UK, with an attack on infrastructure and energy supply, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph. He has also been speaking to the Daily Mail, admitting to an affair that happened before he became an MP.

Donald Trump will visit the UK, apologises for Britain First tweets
The Times reports that President Trump is to make a working visit to the UK in the summer, which is likely to include meeting the Queen. The visit’s outline was agreed when Trump met with Theresa May at Davos yesterday. The news comes as Trump tells Piers Morgan, in an interview for ITV, that he ‘would certainly apologise’ for retweeting Britain First.

Tessa Jowell calls for global cancer co-operation
The Guardian reports that Baroness Jowell received a standing ovation in the House of Lords yesterday. Jowell, who has a high-grade brain tumour, used her speech to promote the Eliminate Cancer Initiative, which links patients and doctors globally through a clinical trials network, and which is building a global database.

Companies prepare for no-deal Brexit
According to the Financial Times, a majority of UK companies are preparing for a no-deal Brexit, as time runs out for clarity on the transition period. A survey by the CBI has found that over 60% of companies have implemented contingency plans, or intend to do so.

Minister boycotts John Humphry’s interview
In an exclusive, The Guardian reports that minister Tracey Crouch refused to be interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme after presenter John Humphrys was recorded joking about his colleague Carrie Gracie’s fight for equal pay. The paper claims that other female MPs ‘are using informal parliamentary networks to encourage a potential boycott.’

Sadiq Khan launches legal action over Worboys release
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has applied for judicial review of the Parole Board’s decision to release the rapist John Worboys, The Guardian says. In a statement, Khan described it as ‘an astonishing and deeply concerning decision’.


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Today’s Political Headlines – 25 January 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include the Presidents Club debacle, Theresa May addressing Davos, the 1922 Committee Chair begging MPs not to trigger a challenge against the PM and Ministerial turnover putting projects at risk. 

Presidents Club closes down, as minister faces calls to quit
The fallout from the Financial Times’s exposé of sexual harassment at the Presidents Club dinner has continued. The club is to be wound up and charities have returned donations. David Meller, a chair of the club, has resigned from the board of the Department for Education, while Theresa May has come under pressure to sack Nadhim Zahawi, the minister for children and families, who attended the event. Mark Carney and Boris Johnson have said that they did not authorise meetings with them being auctioned at the event.

May to tell investors to put pressure on social media firms over content
When she addresses the World Economic Forum in Davos today, the Prime Minister will call on investment companies to put pressure on social media providers to remove terrorist and extremist content, The Times reports. She will tell attendees that ‘No one wants to be known as the terrorists’ platform or the first-choice app for paedophiles’.

1922 Committee Chair begs MPs not to trigger challenge against May
An exclusive in The Sun reveals that Sir Graham Brady, the Chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, has begged MPs not to trigger a challenge against Theresa May. A no confidence vote would be automatically triggered if he receives 48 letters. He apparently declined to comment on the claim.

Ministerial turnover putting projects at risk
The unusually high turnover of ministers – more than two-thirds have been appointed since June – is putting Government projects at risk, according to the Institute for Government. The thinktank’s findings are reported by the Financial Times. Sir Richard Mottram, former Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary said that ‘The system incentivises short-termism and eye-catching initiatives.’

Sara Khan appointed to head Commission for Countering Extremism
Sara Khan has been appointed to head the new Commission for Countering Extremism, the BBC reports. The campaigner promised that the commission will challenge ‘extremism in the name of our shared values, fundamental freedoms and human rights’. However, Baroness Warsi has accused Khan of being a Home Office ‘mouthpiece’.

Theresa May’s relationship with Donald Trump under the microscope
Two different accounts of Theresa May’s relationship with Donald Trump are being reported today, ahead of their meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The Daily Telegraph says that Trump compared May to Winston Churchill during a phone call in December, with a source saying that the pair ‘have a surprisingly warm relationship’. However, Bloomberg News claims ‘May finds it almost impossible to make headway and get her points across’.

Department for International Trade criticised
The Guardian says that the Department for International Trade has been criticised by the National Audit Office. The department is apparently struggling to meet deadlines, to recruit specialist staff, and to retrain its workforce. A departmental spokesperson said that ‘Overall, our plans are on track and we have met every EU exit delivery milestone to date.’

Prisons minister says that he will ‘get back to basics’
The Daily Mail reports on evidence given to the Justice Select Committee by the new justice minister, Rory Stewart. Following reports about poor conditions in prisons, Stewart said ‘My instinct is we need to get back to basics. We need to absolutely insist that we are going to run clean, decent prisons.’


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Today’s Political Headlines – 24 January 2018

Today’s Political Headlines include the Johnson backlash, allegations over the Presidents Club Charity Dinner, a new defence review and the UK opposing EU recycling targets. 

Johnson faces backlash at Cabinet meeting
The Times says that Boris Johnson received a ‘brutal rebuff’ in yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, but that this has not deterred him from laying out his vision of a ‘liberal case’ for Brexit next month. The paper adds that at least eight cabinet ministers criticised Johnson yesterday, in an operation apparently ‘authorised and led by the prime minister’. The meeting concluded with Theresa May criticising those who leaked cabinet discussions.

Allegations about charity dinner lead to calls for changes to the law
An investigation by the Financial Times into the Presidents Club Charity Dinner, at which, the paper says, ‘many hostesses — some of them students earning extra cash — were groped, sexually harassed and propositioned’, has resulted in calls for changes to the law. The Guardian says that Maria Miller, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee suggested that ‘perhaps it’s time the government gives the Equality Act some real teeth?

New defence review announced
As The Daily Telegraph reports, a new defence review has been announced, giving Gavin Williamson another five months to make the case for increased military funding. The review will be controlled by the Ministry of Defence, having been spun-off from Sir Mark Sedwill’s cross-Whitehall security capability review, which had drawn up a programme of cuts.

UK opposing new EU recycling targets
In an exclusive, The Guardian claims that confidential documents show that the Government is opposing strong recycling targets across the EU, despite recently pledging to develop ‘ambitious new future targets and milestones’. The UK Government is opposing a target to recycle 65% of urban waste by 2035, according to a record obtained by Greenpeace.

New unit to combat ‘fake news’ will be created
The UK is to create a new unit to counter ‘fake news’, the BBC reports. According to a spokesperson for the Prime Minister, the ‘dedicated national security communications unit’ would be responsible for ‘combating disinformation by state actors and others’. The creation of the unit was agreed at a meeting of the National Security Council.

Channel 4 to air allegations about three former ministers
A controversial episode of Channel 4’s Dispatches, which alleges that three former Conservative ministers, Andrew Lansley, Andrew Mitchell and Peter Lilley, were willing to sell their services to a fake Chinese business will be shown next week, following a review by senior executives at the broadcaster, The Guardian says. The three men deny wrongdoing.

Government urged to introduce personalised road charging
The BBC says that a new report by the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) suggests that the Government should charge drivers for using the road network, based on their individual circumstances, including the type of road, time of day, congestion levels, and their personal financial situation.

Labour’s National Executive Committee sides with ‘hard left’ in Haringey dispute
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party intervened in a dispute surrounding the Haringey Development Vehicle, a housing scheme run by the council in partnership with a private company, The Times reports. The scheme, backed by the council’s leadership, has been opposed by left-wing councillors, Momentum, and trade unions, as well as local Labour MPs, whose side the NEC has now taken.


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Today’s Political Headlines – 23 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, which includes Boris Johnson’s plea for more NHS funding, Gove’s warning of a ‘VHS economy’, the City of London being left in the dark and a major cyber attack on the UK being a matter of when, not if. 

Boris Johnson to use Cabinet meeting to call for NHS funding boost
The Times claims that Boris Johnson is to demand a £5bn annual cash injection for the NHS from next year at today’s Cabinet meeting. He will apparently frame his argument in terms of taking on Jeremy Corbyn, rather than his claims from the referendum. The paper says that the ‘timing and manner of his intervention will strain relations with the prime minister’.

Gove warns of ‘VHS economy’ as he calls for ‘clean Brexit’
The Daily Telegraph reports that Michael Gove has told Theresa May that the UK risks becoming a ‘VHS economy’, claiming that business organisations such as the CBI which is lobbying against a ‘clean Brexit’, represent companies which may be eclipsed by new technologies.

Financial services Brexit position paper may never be published
The Financial Times says the Government has been accused of leaving the City of London in the dark, as it emerged that its position paper on financial services and Brexit may never be published. According to the paper, the cabinet has been unable to agree the details of a proposed settlement on financial services, while some officials don’t want to show their negotiating hand.

Major cyber-attack on the UK a matter of ‘when, not if’
Ciaran Martin, the head of the National Cyber Centre, has said that a major cyber-attack on the UK is a matter of ‘when, not if’, The Guardian reports. During an interview with the paper, Martin said that the UK had been ‘fortunate’ to have avoided one so far.

Sir Nick Carter warns of Russian threat, as senior figures call for more defence spending
As the Daily Mail reports, the Chief of the General Staff, Sir Nick Carter, has warned that Russia could start hostilities against the West ‘sooner than we expect’. The paper adds that Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, is due to meet Chancellor Philip Hammond this week to ‘clear the air’ over defence funding. In a speech last night, The Sun says, former Defence Sectary Michael Fallon called for increased defence spending, a call echoed by former Foreign Secretary William Hague in The Daily Telegraph.

Apprenticeship providers rated inadequate, while Ofsted struggles to cope
The Times warns that figures from Ofsted show that nearly half of the registered apprenticeship providers it inspected last year were inadequate or require improvement, while Ofsted has also admitted that it will struggle to cope with the large number of new institutions created after the introduction of the apprenticeship levy last May.

Theresa May to announce plans for the ethical oversight of AI
According to The Daily Telegraph, Theresa May is to use her keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday ‘to discuss the opportunities and ethical challenges presented by the rise of artificial intelligence.’ She will announce a Centre for Data Ethics.

UKIP leader pledges to ‘drain the swamp’ in his own party
Speaking in Folkestone yesterday, UKIP leader Henry Bolton said that he would not standing down as UKIP leader, despite a vote of no confidence by the party’s National Executive Committee, which he described as ‘not fit for purpose’, and the resignation of 14 ‘senior figures’, the BBC reports. He pledged to ‘drain the swamp’ and end factional infighting.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 22 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, which include the UKIP leadership crisis, MPs opinions on free movement, more money for the NHS and the ‘threat’ of Russia. 

UKIP Leadership Crisis
The BBC reports that the deputy leader of UKIP, Margot Parker has resigned and is calling for UKIP leader Henry Bolton to do the same. Yesterday the party’s national executive committee backed a vote of no confidence in Bolton. This vote comes after reports relating to Bolton’s personal life, Bolton has said he will not resign as he feels he is the person to bring success to the party. UKIP’s national executive committee does not have the power to remove Bolton so the members of the party will now be given a vote on Bolton’s future. John Bickley has also resigned from his position as the party’s immigration spokesperson.

Conservative MPs want free movement to end during the transition period
The Huffington Post claims that 75% of Conservative MPs want free movement to end during the transition period despite Theresa May saying the current state of play will continue for about two years after Brexit. With strong backbench influence, May will have to find a way to appease her MPs. May is not the only leader to be staring down a confrontation with backbench MPs as the same survey finds 90% of Labour MPs feel membership of the single market and Brexit are compatible. This would indicate that Labour MPs are more representative of the party membership than the leadership on this issue.

Extra £100m a week for the NHS?
Theresa May will face calls from senior members of the Cabinet to give the NHS £100m extra a week according to The Sun. Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Chris Grayling will all try to persuade the Prime Minister to make this commitment. This would contribute to the £350m mentioned in the referendum campaign.

The threat of Russia requires more spending on defence
The Guardian reports on the anticipated intervention by Sir Nick Carter, Chief of General Staff, into the debate into defence spending. Carter will warn that Russia is spending more on defence than the UK and this should be a concern. Carter does not feel that the threat coming from Russia takes a traditional form and in a speech, will warn of the unorthodox threats we face. The Ministry of Defence wants more spending on the army, navy and air force as the Government becomes more and more focused on counter-terrorism.

Abuse of pensions to come to an end
Executives who give themselves higher pay at the expense of workers’ pensions will be facing tougher sanctions, according to the Financial Times. A white paper to be published in March will set out new rules for directors who take risks with workers’ pensions. This commitment comes after 28,000 people face cuts to their retirement benefits since Carillion went into liquidation.

Councils can fix the housing crisis
The Telegraph suggests how councils can fix the housing crisis, the Treasury select committee wants the cap on how much councils can borrow to build to be abolished. History shows that when house building was at its highest, councils were building roughly half the homes. With the current borrowing cap the number of homes being built is severely restricted and the Government are being called on to address this.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 19 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, which include French/UK relations, the Boris Bridge, the continuation of the Carillion chaos, the tuition fee review and funding for underperforming schools. 

May and Macron agree new treaty, but Boris’s bridge suggestion dominates headlines
Yesterday saw the summit between Theresa May and the French President Emmanuel Macron, which has sparked a range of stories. The Times says that May has agreed to fast-track asylum claims from Calais migrants, as the two leaders signed the new Sandhurst Treaty, and the Financial Times claims that Macron ruled out a special deal for the City in the Brexit agreement. However, the headlines have been dominated by Boris Johnson’s suggestion of a new bridge between the UK and France, as The Daily Telegraph reports.

Carillion pled for Government support, while Corbyn pledges to take back control
The Financial Times reveals that Carillion begged the Government for a £150m short-term loan as it tried to avert collapse. Senior figures at the company said they believed the Government turned down the request because of pressure from Vince Cable and reaction to the bailout of the East Coast rail franchise. However, Government sources insisted that there was never a ‘significant chance’ of this. Jeremy Corbyn has told The Guardian that Labour would ‘rewrite the rules to give the public back control of their services’.

Tuition fees to be reviewed
According to the Daily Mail, the new universities minister, Sam Gyimah, has said that officials would investigate whether the highest tuition fee of £9,250 ‘works across the system’. This would form part of a wider inquiry into tertiary education, but he refused to give a timetable or the review’s terms of reference.

Damian Hinds announces funding for underperforming schools
The new Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, has written in The Times, calling for ‘an ambitious culture in all our schools’, announcing over £45m for the best academies to improve underperforming schools, and pledging to reduce teachers’ workload and to continue supporting established professionals to enter the profession.

Trump to snub May at World Economic Forum
The Daily Telegraph claims that President Trump ‘is poised to snub Theresa May for the second time this month’, as he has no plans to meet her at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos. The Prime Minister had apparently been hoping for a ‘clear the air meeting’.

Aircraft carrier and jet programme puts defence projects at risk, report says
A report by the Public Accounts Committee warns that the Ministry of Defence’s aircraft carrier and jet programme is leaving it ‘financially exposed’ and putting other defence projects at risk, the BBC says.

Prison crisis revealed by new reports
The Independent has details of reports that reveal ‘the crisis at the heart of the prison service’. Inspectors described HMP Liverpool’s conditions as the ‘worst they have ever seen’, whilst an ‘urgent notification’ has been issued for the first time following a not-yet-published inspection of HMP Nottingham, which found that it was ‘fundamentally unsafe’.

Repairs to Westminster could be delayed
The Guardian reports concerns that the restoration of the Palace of Westminster could be delayed. MPs are to be given a vote on a motion authorising work to go ahead, but with a review before the end of 2022 on whether comprehensive works were needed. If not agreed, MPs can decide to vote for an independent body to examine the issue. The Government is refusing to allow amendments to the motions.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 18 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, which include doubts over PFI benefits, more funding for Calais, the continuing Carillion fallout and the Brexit Bill’s journey to the Lords. 

NAO report casts doubts on PFI benefits
A report by the National Audit Office casts doubt on the benefits of using PFI, The Guardian says. According to the report, the cost of using private finance for public projects can be 40% higher than using Government money, while the deals will force taxpayers to pay out £200bn over the next 25 years.

Macron to demand more funding for Calais when he meets May
Theresa May is to announce £44.5m to improve border security when she meets President Macron today, The Times reports. However, Macron is expected to demand more money to improve the Calais economy, that the UK takes more child migrants and that the UK speeds up asylum claims.

Fallout from Carillion collapse continues
The Guardian reports that trade unions are angry with the Government’s attempts to reassure workers following the collapse of Carillion, with the GMB calling for ‘proper guarantees’. The Financial Times adds that Carillion bosses have been stripped of bonus and severance payments following a public outcry, and that work has been ‘paused’ on building projects.

Brexit Bill leaves Commons and heads to Lords, whilst Labour MPs rebel
As The Daily Telegraph reports, last night the EU (Withdrawal) Bill passed its final stage in the House of Commons, meaning it is now headed for the Lords. Forty-eight Labour MPs rebelled against their frontbench to back an amendment that would have kept the UK in the single market and the customs union. The Guardian adds that Justine Greening used the debate as an opportunity to make her first backbench intervention, claiming that young people could undo Brexit.

Power-sharing talks to restart in Northern Ireland
The new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, has announced that power-sharing talks are to restart in Northern Ireland on 24 January, The Guardian says. Bradley, who meets the Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney in Belfast this morning, said that ‘one last opportunity to reach agreement remains.’

New Lord Chancellor on ‘charm offensive’
The Times has interviewed the new Lord Chancellor, David Gauke, and describes him as being on a ‘charm offensive’. He apparently signalled his concern over ‘the “crisis” in judicial morale and recruitment’, pledged to champion the legal services industry, and defended his decision to seek advice over a potential challenge to the release of John Warboys. Separately, the paper warns of a ‘£30m bonanza for consultants’ as part of the courts modernisation programme.

Facebook to expand Russia investigation
Facebook has agreed to expand its investigation into alleged Russian intervention during the EU referendum, the Financial Times reports. This follows pressure from the Commons Digital, Media and Sport Committee, which said the firm’s previous efforts had been inadequate.

Further remarks by Ben Bradley cause controversy
More comments from blogposts by the new Tory Vice-Chair for Youth, Ben Bradley, have come to light, The Times says. In the remarks, he claims that ‘police brutality should be encouraged’. He has apologised.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 17 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, which are still dominated by Carillion. The press has also covered Macron’s Bayeux Tapestry offer, the minister for loneliness and the Government’s risk of missing carbon targets. 

Carillion collapse affects 30,000 firms
As The Guardian outlines, 30,000 firms could be owed money by Carillion, while the Government has ordered investigations to be fast-tracked. The Financial Times says that Jeremy Corbyn has called for ‘an end to the rip-off privatisation policies’.

Macron to announce loan of Bayeux Tapestry to the UK when he meets Theresa May
According to an exclusive report in The Times, French President Emmanuel Macron is due to announce the loan of the Bayeux Tapestry to the UK when he meets Theresa May on Thursday. This would be the first time the tapestry has left France in 950 years, subject to safety tests. The paper also reports on a speech given by Macron in Calais yesterday, in which he outlined the immigration issues that he hoped to discuss with May.

May appoints a minister for loneliness
Today’s Daily Mail reports that Theresa May has given Tracey Crouch, already Minister for Civil Society and Sport, ministerial responsibility for loneliness. The move, which had been recommended in a report by the Jo Cox Commission for Loneliness, will see Crouch draw together different Government departments, announce new funding, and ask the Office for National Statistics to devise a means of measuring loneliness.

Government at risk of missing carbon targets
The Committee on Climate Change has warned that the UK will miss its legally-binding carbon targets if the Government does not take urgent action, The Guardian says. However, it has also praised the Government for its Clean Growth Strategy. The Committee’s Chair, Lord Deben, said ‘even if they do all the things they say they are going to do, to the maximum, there will still be a gap.’

New Tory vice-chair called for vasectomies for the unemployed
The Mirror has the news that the Conservative Party’s new vice-chair for youth, Ben Bradley, called for the unemployed to have vasectomies. Bradley made the comments in a blogpost in 2012. Bradley has now deleted the posts and apologised for the remarks, with the paper claiming that Theresa May is now under ‘huge pressure’ to sack him.

Johnson warns May that she must make NHS funding commitment
The Daily Telegraph claims that Boris Johnson has warned Theresa May that the Government must make a public commitment to giving the NHS an extra £100m a week after Brexit. An ‘ally of Mr Johnson’ told the paper ‘Boris thinks that for the Tories to beat Corbyn it is fundamental that the government delivers on NHS funding and he will continue to make this argument until it happens.’

Rees-Mogg elected to lead influential Brexit group
As The Daily Telegraph reports, Jacob Rees-Mogg has been elected unopposed as Chair of the influential European Reform Group of pro-Brexit Conservative MPs. He said ‘As Chairman I intend to be helpful, vigorous and supportive towards Government policy of making a success of Brexit.’

Unprecedented life expectancy falls in some regions
The Times says that life expectancy has fallen by more than a year since 2011 in parts of the country, according to official figures. Theories for the fall include economic stagnation, cuts to services, rates of obesity, smoking and drinking, loneliness and lack of care. Experts say that the falls are unprecedented in peacetime and are urging ministers to investigate.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 16 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including the Carillion collapse, Labour MPs threatening to leave the party, the EU toughening up its Brexit position and Boris’ claim that £350m was too low.   

Carillion collapse raises questions
Yesterday’s collapse of Carillion dominates the headlines today. As the Financial Times reports, the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee is to open an inquiry into government sourcing; Labour has questioned why the firm continued to be awarded contracts after issuing a profit warning; and former pensions minister Steve Webb has questioned the company’s decision to continue to pay dividends. The paper also analyses the reasons for Carillion’s collapse, describing outsourcing as a ‘messy business with little margin for profit’, and Carillion as ‘a lawful sort of Ponzi scheme’.

Labour MPs threaten to leave party if deselected
The Times claims that moderate Labour MPs are threatening to quit the party if they are deselected, and would instead sit in the Commons as independents. Fears of deselection have been intensified by the victory of three Momentum candidates in elections of the party’s National Executive Committee, including the organisation’s founder Jon Lansman.

EU stance on transition period toughens, as Cabinet is split on future trade deal
The Financial Times reports that the EU has toughened up its conditions for a transition deal, including on free movement, maintaining trade agreements, and fishing quotas. The paper also has details of a split in the Cabinet over the direction of trade talks, with Philip Hammond favouring a ‘top-down’ approach and Boris Johnson a ‘bottom-up’ one.

Boris claims that £350m figure was actually too low
In an interview with The Guardian, Boris Johnson has suggested that the Vote Leave campaign’s claim that the EU costs the UK £350m a week was too low, and that the true figure is £438m. He told the paper that when the cash becomes available to spend ‘the NHS should be at the very top of the list.’ The paper says that the claim is ‘likely to provoke some remain supporters’.

Plight of the Rohingya people raised by select committee report
A report by the House of Commons International Development Committee raises concerns about the plight of Rohingya people being returned to Myanmar, as detailed by the BBC. The report calls the situation a ‘huge human tragedy’ and warns of ‘prospects of it becoming a powder keg of radicalisation’. While the report welcomes the Government’s plan, it says that it faces ‘substantial challenges’.

Select committee demands action on white goods electrical safety
The Guardian reports that the Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has criticised the Government for being slow to overhaul ‘slow and poorly resourced’ safety procedures which led to 1m potentially dangerous tumble dryers being in use in the UK.

Explanations demanded over release of cancer data
According to The Daily Telegraph, ministers are seeking explanations from Public Health England over the decision to hand over medical data to a firm working to tobacco giant Philip Morris. The Commons Health Committee is due to question the body today, and its chair Sarah Wollaston said that she wanted to see evidence of ‘due diligence’.

Hard Brexit could cost Scotland £12.7bn a year
Analysis by the Scottish Government has found that Brexit would cost the Scottish economy £12.7bn a year, the BBC reports. Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, said that keeping single market membership would be ‘least damaging’, but the Scottish Conservatives dismissed the analysis as ‘completely over-the-top scaremongering’.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 15 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including questions over Carillion’s liquidation, on-the-spot fines for hiring fly-tippers, scrapping the immigration target and Penny Mordaunt addressing ‘public concerns’ about aid spending.   

Carillion enters liquidation as ministers face questions
Construction firm and public sector contractor Carillion collapsed into liquidation this morning, following talks with its lenders and the Government. The Times says that ministers, including Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, are facing questions over their decision to continue to award the firm contracts while it issued a series of profit warnings. The Government is the firm’s biggest client, paying it around £1.7bn a year.

£400 on-the-spot fines for householders who fail to stop fly-tipping
The Daily Telegraph reports that the Government is considering giving councils the power to issue £400 on-the-spot fines to householders who do not check if a business is licensed to transport waste, if it ends up being fly-tipped. The paper says, ‘the move is likely to spark fears that the fines could be abused and used as a way of generating income for cash-strapped councils.’

Immigration target should be scrapped, select committee says
An article in the Financial Times says the Home Affairs Select Committee has released a report calling on the Government to scrap its immigration target, replacing it with a three-year plan set out and overseen by the independent Migration Advisory Committee

Mordaunt pledges to address public concerns about aid spending
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt makes five pledges which will ensure that money spent on foreign aid cannot be ‘better spent’, including to ‘not invest when others should be putting their hands in their pockets’ and that ‘our focus will increasingly be on helping developing countries stand on their own feet’.

Sexual harassment – Guardian
The House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee is to launch a formal inquiry into the laws around sexual harassment, The Guardian claims. The committee’s chair, Maria Miller, told the newspaper, ‘I think it’s clear that the current system is broken’, while Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, said, ‘The government has removed protections from women and they have made it harder for women to get justice.’

Andrea Leadsom describes John McDonnell as ‘truly evil’
Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons, has described Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell as ‘truly evil’, The Daily Telegraph says. The remarks come in the context of a dispute over comments he made in 2014 and 2015 about the new Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey. Asked about the remarks, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said, ‘I would rather stick to where I disagree with somebody on their policies.’

UK and France in danger of drifting apart
Lord Ricketts, UK ambassador to France from 2012 to 2016, has warned that the two countries are in danger of drifting further apart. The Guardian reports that the claim is contained in a report for the Royal United Services Institute. Ricketts says that co-operation has ‘become even closer in response to recent terrorist attacks. It is crucial that Brexit does not adversely affect this.’

British favour ‘European-style market economy’, Hammond says
The Times has details of an interview with Philip Hammond by the German newspaper Welt Am Sonntag. He said the British, ‘have a strong attachment to a European-style market economy’, that the UK wanted certainty on the transition period before the European Council summit on March 22, and there would be no deal that did not include services.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 12 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including Trump cancelling his visit to the UK, Nigel Farage’s second Brexit referendum, Government ordering illegal migrants’ accounts to be closed, and a threat to the Royal Marines and paratroopers. 

Trump cancels UK visit
This morning’s Daily Mail revealed that President Trump has cancelled his visit to the UK. He was expected to visit next month, but has not offered a new date. According to a senior source, Trump cancelled ‘because he was unhappy about the arrangements and the scale of the visit’. However, he tweeted last night that he cancelled the trip because he was unhappy with the deal that led to the new embassy being built.

Nigel Farage floats the possibility of a second Brexit referendum
The Guardian reports that Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader, told Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff that ‘maybe, just maybe, I’m reaching the point of thinking that we should have a second referendum on EU membership’ in order to kill off arguments about Brexit. In this morning’s Daily Telegraph, Farage rows back on this stance, claiming instead that he is ‘beginning to fear that a second plebiscite may well happen anyway.’

Government to order banks to close illegal migrants’ accounts
The Daily Telegraph says that the Government is to hand banks a list of illegal migrants suspected of hiding in the country, and order that their accounts be closed. New immigration minister Caroline Noakes argues in the paper that innocent people have nothing to fear.

Merger threat to Royal Marines and paratroopers
According to The Times, defence secretary Gavin Williamson has been presented with three sets of defence cuts, cutting armed forces numbers by more than 14,000 and combining paratrooper units and the Royal Marines in order to save money. The cuts could leave the armed forces with fewer troops than at any point since the Napoleonic era.

Crisis talks held over Carillion
The Financial Times reports that senior Government ministers including David Lidington (Cabinet Office minister), Greg Clark (business secretary), Jo Johnson (transport minister), Liz Truss (chief secretary to the Treasury) and Rory Stewart (justice minister), as well as ministers from five other departments, met yesterday for talks about the future of Carillion, a major Government contractor that the paper says is ‘close to collapse’.

Theresa May meets financial leaders, whilst EU ambassadors debate transition extension
Details of a meeting between Theresa May and representatives of the financial services sector are reported in the Financial Times. She said that financial services would be ‘at the heart’ of a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU. However, The Times says that Downing Street has disputed Philip Hammond’s suggestion that the UK could keep paying into the EU budget after Brexit in exchange for privileged access for British banks to the EU market. Separately, the Financial Times also claims that EU ambassadors have begun debating whether the transition period can be extended and, if so, what price should be attached.

Chris Williamson resigns as shadow fire minister
Chris Williamson, Labour’s shadow fire minister, has resigned after he said that council tax should be doubled on high-value homes. The Guardian says that Williamson is now ‘expected to act as a leftwing outrider for the Labour leader from the backbenches’ and that Jeremy Corbyn is expected to announce a series of junior frontbench appointments today.

Peter Bone leaves wife for physio
The Sun’s front page story today is that Tory backbencher Peter Bone, famous for mentioning his wife in Parliament, has left her for a married physiotherapist and former Conservative candidate, Helen Harrison.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 11 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including the Government’s environment strategy, Hammond calling on the EU to help with Brexit, Sadiq Khan’s warning that ‘no-deal’ could cause half a million job losses and the possible future leaders of the Tory party.   

Environment strategy unveiled
Theresa May will announce the Government’s environment strategy in a major speech today, the Daily Mail reports. The 25-year strategy will target the elimination of all ‘avoidable’ plastics, with calls for supermarkets to create ‘plastic free aisles’, a consultation on a levy on single-use plastics, extending the 5p carrier bag charge to all retailers, phasing out plastic cups and cutlery from Whitehall, a £10m scheme for schoolchildren to visit wildlife sites, and using the £13bn foreign aid budget to clean up oceans.

Hammond calls on EU to help with Brexit trade deal
The Financial Times says that the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has called on the EU to give a signal as to the type of future relationship it wants with the UK. Hammond also called on the EU to abandon any ‘narrative of punishment’. The Daily Telegraph adds that Hammond has refused to rule out making substantial payments to the EU in order to secure access for UK-based financial services firms. The Times says that this approach was being considered by countries including Germany, although it had not yet been approved by Angela Merkel.

No-deal Brexit could cause half a million job losses, Sadiq Khan says
An economic forecast for the Mayor of London says that a no-deal Brexit could cause the UK to lose half a million jobs and nearly £50bn investment by 2030, The Guardian says. The report concludes that ‘the harder the Brexit, the more severe the economic damage could be’.

Gove: Future Tory leadership election could be between Williamson and Hinds
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has said that a future Conservative leadership election could be between Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and new Education Secretary Damian Hinds, The Times reports. In The Daily Telegraph, May’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy also tips Hinds as a future leader and says that Justine Greening blocked tuition fee cuts.

Hospital bosses tell Hunt to spend more on the NHS
NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, has written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to tell him that the NHS will be unable to meet its constitutional care standards without tens of billions of extra funding, The Guardian says. Yesterday, Hunt told MPs that the NHS would need ‘significantly more funding’ over the next decade. The Mirror has an article by an A&E doctor, who tells the Government ‘Don’t forget us. Defend us. Please.’

Government accuses Lords of voting to restrict press freedom
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has accused the House of Lords of voting to restrict the freedom of the press, after Labour and Liberal Democrat peers voted to force the Government to launch either a new investigation into alleged breaches of data protection law or the second stage of the Leveson inquiry. Another amendment would require all publishers which are not part of Impress to pay the cost of data protection legal actions, The Times reports. Hancock has vowed to reverse the changes in the Commons.

John McDonnell to visit World Economic Forum
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell is to attend this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, according to The Times. A spokesman said he would ‘use the opportunity to set out why it is vital we rewrite the rules of the global economy’.

Tim Farron regrets saying that gay sex is not a sin
Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron told Premier Christian Radio that he regrets saying that gay sex was not a sin, the BBC reports. Current leader, Sir Vince Cable has said that Farron’s personal views do not represent party policy.


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Today’s Political Headlines – 10 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including women and minorities promoted in the second day of the reshuffle, the confusion around no no-deal minister, an extended plastic bag charge and Germany’s opposition to a bespoke Brexit trade deal.   

Reshuffle: Women and minorities promoted
Theresa May concluded her ministerial reshuffle yesterday by ‘axing a string of white men in their 50s and 60s while promoting a number of younger, female and minority ethnic MPs’, as the Guardian reports. However, according to Sutton Trust analysis, the Cabinet is more privileged than before. The Times quotes Theresa May as saying that the Government ‘looks more like the country it serves’.

Reshuffle: no no-deal minister leaves Brexiteers ‘dumbfounded’
The Daily Telegraph says that Brexiteers have been left ‘dumbfounded’ after the Government abandoned plans for a no-deal minister to attend Cabinet, despite having promised them several months ago that this would happen. A Number 10 source told that paper that Brexit ministers ‘will be invited to come where relevant’.

New environment strategy will extend plastic bag charge
The Daily Mail reports that that the English 5p plastic bag charge will be extended to cover all shops (retailers with under 250 employees are currently exempt). A new 25-year environment strategy is to be unveiled tomorrow, with a deposit scheme for plastic bottles and new taxes on throwaway plastics apparently both under consideration.

Germany opposes bespoke Brexit trade deal as ministers visit
The Daily Telegraph claims that German opposition could prevent a bespoke Brexit trade deal. Angela Merkel is opposed to the British proposal for ‘managed divergence’ from the EU. The news emerges as Philip Hammond and David Davis visit the country on what the paper calls a ‘joint charm offensive’. The paper also reports that Brexit supporters, led by Steven Woolfe MEP, are to meet Michel Barnier today, presenting him with a hamper of English produce, which would ‘help illustrate our rich cultural and commercial offering’.

EU warns UK companies of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit
The Financial Times carries details of legal notices issued by the European Union to around 15 regulated industries in November and December, calling on UK companies to be ready for the UK to become a third country on 29/03/2019, with no right to operate in the single market. The memos warn of lapsing operating licences and the need to create EU entities. The documents have caused complaints from Brexit secretary David Davis.

Labour to commit to staying in EU customs union
According to The Times, Labour is to commit to staying in a modified version of the customs union by the spring. Whilst the policy is not yet confirmed, and still faces obstacles, sources have told the paper that such a move is likely. Labour would ask the EU to give the UK a seat when negotiating future trade agreements.

Government’s management of UK’s largest rail franchise criticised
The National Audit Office has ‘severely criticised’ the Government’s management of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise, the Guardian reports. It found that Department for Transport decisions had ‘negatively impacted on passengers’.

Prime Minister will survive Brexit vote, says John Curtice
The Guardian has details of new claims made by elections expert John Curtice. He has said that Theresa May will survive the final Commons vote on Brexit, and that there is no evidence that enough leave voters now want to remain in the EU to force the prime minister to reverse Brexit, although polling carried out by NatCen has found that leave voters increasingly think that the Government is mishandling the negoticreations.


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