Politics

Today’s Political Headlines – 02 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including May’s cabinet reshuffle, David Davis saying the EU cannot cherry pick terms and rail fares.  

May plans new cabinet reshuffle with Boris Johnson leading a new Brexit ‘super-ministry’
Following reports over the last few days that the Foreign Secretary will now take on a new Brexit delivery role, The Independent reports David Davis’s role in the Cabinet will be further weakened if a looming reshuffle hands Boris Johnson a new job directly involved in the Brexit negotiations. The Telegraph reports that Mr Johnson could be asked to replace Greg Clark, the Business Secretary.

David Davis says EU cannot ‘cherry pick’ terms of free trade deal
As The Guardian reports, the Brexit Secretary has used the phrase of EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier to say UK wants ‘full sweep of economic cooperation’. The Daily Mail reports that David Davis warned of more ‘thunder and lightning’ to come in Brexit talks today – as he vowed that financial services must be covered by any deal with the EU.

Whitehall warned there can be no ‘excuses’ for going slow on Brexit preparations
The Telegraph have reported that Ministers have warned Whitehall that there can be no more ‘excuses’ for going slow on Brexit preparations, including readying the UK for the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal. The Times have reported that Senior government officials have accused Brussels of trying to undermine David Davis before the next round of Brexit negotiations.

Rail fares: unions and Labour condemn ‘staggering’ increase
Sky News are reporting commuters are being ‘priced out of going to work’ by the largest rail fare increase in five years, according to a campaign group. The Guardian reports that Labour and trade unions have condemned ‘staggering’ annual increases to rail fares, which come into force today, triggering protests at dozens of stations in England.

Theresa May is preparing to take international students out of immigration figures
The Independent reports that the Prime Minister is facing a humiliating climb down on including international students in official immigration figures. A new Immigration Bill to be brought forward this year will allow MPs to force – and almost certainly win – a vote on the controversy.

Priti Patel demands investigation of Remain campaign spending
The Times reports that former International Development Secretary Priti Patel is calling for an investigation into claims of unlawful co-ordination between the campaigns pushing Britain to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum campaign. She is writing to the Electoral Commission to urge an investigation into Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE), now Open Britain, over whether it breached the rules to get round strict spending limits.

Timewasting patients are costing NHS £1bn a year
The Times have reported that missed hospital appointments cost the NHS almost £1 billion a year and deprive patients of vital care. The article cites claims made by Jane Cummings, the chief nursing officer for England, who has called for the public to be more responsible about wasting time and resources.

300,000 jobless Britons not claiming benefits
The Guardian reports that many people are not claiming support they are entitled to, with about 300,000 people without jobs or on very low wages missing out on at least £73 a week.

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 22 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including the former police officers criticised over Damian Green leaks, Boris Johnson delivering a warning to Russia, Passports returning to the colour blue and Diane Abbott’s turned down requests to visit Yarl’s Wood.  

Former police officers criticised over Damian Green leaks
The Times reports that Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, has joined forces with Tory MPs to condemn the actions of former police officers Bob Quick and Neil Lewis in leaking details of the pornography found when Damian Green’s office was raided nine years ago. The leaks are now the subject of a criminal inquiry. The paper also says that Lewis has liked anti-Tory posts on Facebook.

Boris Johnson to deliver warning to Russia
According to the Guardian, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is to deliver a warning to Russia that the UK will retaliate if Russia continues to use cyber-attacks. He is the first Foreign Secretary to visit Russia for five years. The paper adds that ‘neither side expects any major breakthrough’.

Passports to turn blue post-Brexit
In an exclusive, The Sun broke the news that from October 2019 the Government is to produce passports in what it calls ‘the dark blue colour that was once famous across the globe.’ People will have the option of requesting that their existing burgundy passport is replaced by a blue one.

Diane Abbott request explanation over being denied access to Yarl’s Wood
Diane Abbott has written to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, after more than a dozen requests to visit Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre were turned down, the Guardian reports. In a statement, she said ‘It is of critical importance that we are able to scrutinise the conditions in which people are held, especially given the allegations of appalling treatment, abuse, and a lack of legal advice and medical support in this centre.’

Brexit sector reports released amidst criticism
The Guardian says that the Brexit sector reports, published in redacted form yesterday, have been ‘criticised for containing little more than padding, repetition and plagiarism’. Lord Jay, former Foreign Office head and acting chair of the Lords Brexit Committee described the reports as containing ‘little overarching analysis’ and being ‘inconsistent in approach and in the use of statistics’.

Mark Garnier cleared of wrongdoing
International trade minister Mark Garnier has been cleared of wrongdoing, as The Times reports. He had been accused of calling his secretary ‘sugar tits’ and asking her to buy him sex toys, but an inquiry by the Cabinet Office concluded that ‘that there was no evidence to suggest that Mr Garnier’s conduct as a minister since 2016 had breached the expected standards of behaviour’, Number 10 said.

EU preparing Canada-style deal for the UK
The Financial Times claims that the EU is preparing to present the UK with a Canada-style deal in early summer unless the UK is able to clarify its demands. As the paper reports, this would fall short of what Britain hopes for, as it will give only limited access for services.

Puppy farmers to be cracked down on
According to the Daily Mail, Theresa May has promised to ‘eradicate animal cruelty from our society’ by cracking down on puppy farmers. Proposals include forcing breeders to show puppies alongside their mother before selling them, ensuring sales are completed in the new owners’ presence, banning licensed breeders from selling puppies they haven’t bred, and regulation of adverts.

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 21 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including Damian Green’s ‘resignation’, the movable EU Withdrawal date, unfair leasehold practices and how Brexit is damaging the UK economy.  

Damian Green ordered to resign after Cabinet Office investigation
As The Times reports, Damian Green was ordered to resign as First Secretary of State last night, after a Cabinet Office investigation found that he had made ‘misleading and inaccurate’ statements about his knowledge of pornography found on an office computer during a police raid in 2008, while allegations of inappropriate behaviour made by Conservative activist and journalist Kate Maltby were ‘plausible’.

Government backs down on Brexit date amendment
The Guardian says the Government has accepted a compromise over its plans to set the Brexit date in the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. The Government had tabled an amendment setting the Brexit date (29 March 2019), but climbed down by also backing an amendment tabled by Oliver Letwin allowing this date to be changed by MPs with EU agreement. As a result, the Bill passed committee stage, and will move onto report stage in the new year.

Government goes further than expected in leasehold crackdown
The Government has gone further than expected in its plans to crackdown on unfair leasehold practices, The Times claims. Ground rents will be outlawed on newly built flats, it will be made easier and cheaper for leaseholders to buy out their freeholds and better information will be made available on redress for those facing the most onerous terms.

IMF: Brexit vote damaging UK economy
The International Monetary Fund has said that the UK’s vote to leave the EU is damaging the economy. As the Financial Times reports, the IMF’s report shows that economic growth rates have declined in the UK while they have grown in Europe, the US and Japan. The IMF’s UK growth forecast for the next year has been cut from 1.7% to 1.6%.

Gove: UK will not compromise with US food standards and will support hill farmers
The Guardian reports that Michael Gove told the Environment Select Committee that the UK will not compromise on ‘high animal welfare and environmental standards’, for example chlorine-washed chicken or use of neonicotinoid pesticides, when seeking to reach a trade deal with the US. The Times adds that Gove confirmed that hill farmers will continue to receive subsidies after 2022.

Barnier: Brexit transition must end in December 2020
EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said that it would be ‘logical’ for the Brexit transition period to end on December 31 2017, according to the Financial Times. The European Commission has published its directives for the negotiation. A spokesperson for No 10 said that the UK was looking at a period of around two years, adding that ‘The commission have said just over 21 months, but it’s a negotiation.’

UK building cyber deterrent
The annual report of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee reveals that the UK is building a cyber deterrent to ward off attacks from countries such as China, Iran and Russia. As The Daily Telegraph says, the report also raises concerns about so-called Islamic State’s ability to hack infrastructure using cyber weapons available for sale online.

Zac Goldsmith wished ‘cancerous new year’
Zac Goldsmith posted an image on Twitter of what he dubbed a ‘sweet Christmas message from a local Remain group’, The Daily Telegraph reports. The card carried a variety of abusive messages, including one wishing him a ‘cancerous new year’.

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 20 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including the removal of the council tax rise cap, criticism of the Government’s homelessness policy, the UK having no major warships overseas and Theresa May’s tour of Britain.  

Government breaks cap on council tax rises
The Daily Telegraph reports that Sajid Javid has announced the lifting of a cap on council tax rises, in a move that could increase household bills by up to £200. Councils will be allowed to raise bills by up to 6%, and police forces will be allowed to charge an extra £12 per household.

Government’s homelessness policy criticised
A report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee criticises the Government’s approach to tackling homelessness, according to the Guardian. Committee chair, Meg Hillier, said ‘The latest official figures hammer home the shameful state of homelessness in England and the abject failure of the government’s approach to addressing the misery suffered by many thousands of families and individuals.’

UK left with no major warships overseas
The Times claims that the UK has no major warships on operations anywhere in the world for the first time since the Royal Navy was formed around 500 years ago. A ‘senior serving military officer’ said that this was a ‘strategic embarrassment for the country and a strategic embarrassment for defence’, according to the paper.

May plans question and answer tour of Britain
Theresa May is planning a nationwide tour, the Daily Mail reports. The Prime Minister will revive the informal question-and-answer sessions run by David Cameron, as part of an attempt to ‘show off more of her personality and connect with voters’.

Gibraltar becomes latest Brexit sticking point
The Financial Times says that Brussels is pressuring the UK to resolve its dispute with Spain over the Rock of Gibraltar in order to secure a quick deal on the Brexit transition period. The paper reports that the European Commission will adopt a four-page mandate covering the second phase of Brexit negotiations on Wednesday, including a requirement for a UK-Spain bilateral agreement if Gibraltar is to be covered by the transition deal.

Department for Transport plans new rules for lasers and driverless cars
The Daily Telegraph reports that the Government is planning to introduce unlimited fines and prison sentences of up to five years for people who shine a laser at aircraft, cars or ships. The plans will be in the draft Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill, to be published by the Department for Transport. Another consultation by the department covers proposed changes to regulations which would allow cars to be parked remotely, according to The Times.

Subsidy for rural post offices and Universal Service Obligation for rural broadband
The Government is to announce a £160m fund to safeguard the future of rural Post Offices, The Daily Telegraph reports, with a further £210m to modernise branches. The move comes as the Post Office makes its first profit in 16 years. Separately, the Financial Times claims that the Government is to reject BT’s offer to connect 1.1m rural homes to superfast broadband and instead give rural homeowners the legal right to demand an upgrade through a Universal Service Obligation.

Guy Verhofstadt calls on May to condemn Poland
Guy Verhofstadt, head of the European Parliament’s Brexit working group, told The Daily Telegraph that Theresa May’s visit to Warsaw would be a ‘test’ of the UK’s commitment to European values. The European Commission meets today to decide whether to launch proceedings against Poland for violating commitments to democracy and human rights.

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 19 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including no special deal for the City, May’s third Brexit speech, Paradise Papers legal action and racial bias in the justice system.  

No special deal for the City
Featuring on the front page of the Guardian this morning is EU negotiator Michel Barnier’s ruling out of a special arrangement that would protect City firms. Barnier has warned that upon leaving the Single Market, the UK’s financial services sector will lose the right to trade freely.

Theresa May is preparing her third major Brexit speech
Theresa May has started preparing for her third major Brexit speech that will outline the UK’s future relationship with the EU. According to The Financial Times, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Environment Secretary Michael Gove, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson all back regulatory divergence from the EU as part of an ambitious trade deal.

Paradise Papers legal action condemned
Key media partners in the Paradise Papers investigation have spoken out against legal action that would force the BBC and the Guardian to disclose documents used by reporters. The Guardian has reported that the editor-in-chief of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung and the director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists have reacted to Appleby’s launch of breach-of-confidence proceedings against the BBC and the Guardian.

Government steps up to call to address racial bias in the justice system
Secretary of State for Justice David Lidington has today announced measures to implement recommendations made in David Lammy MP’s Government commissioned review of race disparity. The Guardian has reported that a pilot programme being considered by the Government could mean that prosecutions of suspects in London could be deferred or dropped.

Department for Transport has the widest gender pay gap in Government
The BBC has reported that the Department for Transport has the widest gender pay gap of any government department, with women earning on average 16.9% less than their male counterparts. According to new government figures, the Department for Culture, Media, Digital and Sport has the narrowest gender pay gap, with men earning 3% more than women.

Ministry of Defence confirms £3.1bn aircraft carrier leaks
Both the Guardian and The Financial Times have reported confirmation from the Ministry of Defence that the £3.1bn HMS Queen Elizabeth is leaking. After less than a month in service, the most expensive warship to ever be commissioned by the Royal Navy has a problem with a shaft seal.

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 18 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including the ‘Brexit Cabinet’, divisions in Labour, cold war relations and May being urged to remain as PM. 

May to hold a Brexit Cabinet meeting
Reuters reports that Theresa May will hold a meeting with her ‘Brexit Cabinet’, to discuss what the relationship between the UK and the EU should look like going forward. This could cause conflict as different members of May’s cabinet have very different ideas of the relationship that should be pursued.

Labour divided over second referendum policy
Diane Abbott insisted a second EU referendum is not the policy of the Labour Party. The Guardian reports on this in the interview Abbott conducted on the Andrew Marr Show. The same article also looks at remarks Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson made on Pienaar’s Politics where he said backing for a second referendum could not be ruled out.

A return to Cold War relations
The Independent reports on remarks made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, who said relations between Russia and the West have not been so bad since the Cold War. He went on to accuse Russia of undermining democratic elections. These remarks come ahead of Johnson’s visit to Russia where he will hold talks with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov. Johnson said collaboration is needed with Russia.

May urged to stay on as PM
The Times has reported that Theresa May is being urged by cabinet ministers and senior backbenchers to stay on as leader of the Conservative Party until 2021 to avoid conflicts within the party during a time of essential trade talks with the EU. This contrasts with suggestions that the Prime Minister would struggle to remain in the job beyond Christmas after losing a Commons vote last week.

Damian Green to learn inquiry outcome
Damian Green will likely learn the outcome of the inquiry into allegations against him regarding misconduct in the next couple of days. The Telegraph suggests the outcome will focus on Green’s denial that pornography was found on his work computer. It has been suggested that Green will likely be cleared as the incidents under investigation took place when he was not a minister.

Cable accuses Corbyn of deceit
The Daily Express reports that Vince Cable has accused Jeremy Corbyn of deceiving young people over his true feelings regarding Brexit. Cable also went on to say that there is no chance of him aligning in a coalition with Corbyn in the future. Cable’s remarks come after Nigel Farage claimed Corbyn hid his true Brexit beliefs due to pressure from his party.

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 15 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including Theresa May at the European Council summit, Government to drop the Brexit date amendment, the threat of Russian cyber attacks and the Scottish government increasing income tax. 

May lobbies for swift transition agreement at European Council summit
As the Guardian reports, Theresa May lobbied for a swift agreement on a transition period at the European Council summit last night. Leaders are due to agree today that sufficient progress has been made in the first part of the talks, while Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister said that talks about the new trading relationship would have to wait for another three months.

Government to drop Brexit date amendment
The Times claims that the Government is to drop its amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill setting the date of the UK’s departure from the European Union, as it aims to avoid a second defeat in the House of Commons. Dominic Grieve, who has received death threats for his role in this week’s backbench Tory rebellion, has said that he believes more MPs are prepared to oppose this amendment. The paper also says that May is planning to create more Conservative peers ‘within weeks’, improving the Government’s position in the Lords.

Russian attack could disrupt the UK’s internet access
The Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach has said that Russia’s navy has the ability to disrupt the UK’s internet access, The Daily Telegraph says. He has called for naval forces to be strengthened to combat the threat. Peach’s intervention comes amid an effort by the Ministry of Defence to secure more funding from the Treasury.

Scottish government increases income tax
The Guardian reports on the decision by Derek Mackay, Scottish finance secretary, to make use of the Scottish Government’s recently-strengthened tax powers. He will increase the higher and top rates of tax, whilst introducing a new starter rate for low earners, freezing the basic rate, and introducing a new intermediate rate. This will fund pay increases for public sector workers, and £400m extra for the NHS.

Northern transport needs £60bn over 30 years
Transport for the North has announced that it will unveil its 30-year plan in January, according to the Financial Times. The body’s chair has said that for its plans to succeed, Government transport spending in the region would have to increase by a third, whilst fixing the transport system will cost at least £60bn over 30 years.

Government targets for gender and ethnic diversity in quangos
A report in the Guardian says that the Government is to set targets for the proportion of women and people from ethnic minority groups across all public appointments. Within five years, half should be women, and 14% from ethnic minorities. The paper also reports that the only female Downing Street communications director since 2010 was paid £15,000 less than the three men who held the position in that time.

442 civil servants paid more than the Prime Minister
The Sun reports that 442 civil servants are paid more than the Prime Minister. The Network Rail chief Mark Carne topped the list, earning £750,000. 50 of those on the list work for HS2, which The Times says is to be accused of covering-up unauthorised redundancy payments, in a Commons Public Accounts Committee report today.

‘Youthquake’ is the word of the year
The Daily Telegraph reports that Oxford Dictionaries has picked ‘youthquake’ as the word of the year, in reference to Jeremy Corbyn’s youthful supporters in the general election. The word apparently saw a 400% increase in usage between 2016 and 2017.

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 14 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including the Government’s Brexit vote defeat, a push for trade talks, David Cameron’s concerns about Trump and underachieving schools. 

Government defeated: Parliament will get a vote on the final Brexit deal
The Government was defeated last night when 11 Conservatives joined opposition MPs to vote for an amendment guaranteeing Parliament a vote on the final deal. As The Daily Telegraph reports, one of the rebels, Stephen Hammond, was immediately sacked as vice-chairman of the Conservative Party. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the result as ‘humiliating’ for Theresa May. The paper suggests that the defeat will ‘sour’ May’s visit to Brussels today.

UK in last ditch appeal for trade talks with the EU before March
The Guardian says that the UK is making last-minute efforts to persuade the EU to state willingness to hold trade talks before March. A draft statement suggests that talks can only happen once the EU has published its own plan for the future. However, the Financial Times claims that May is stalling for time over European pressure to spell out the UK’s preferred future relationship because there is no cabinet consensus.

David Cameron: Trump’s ‘fake news’ attacks are dangerous
David Cameron has described Donald Trump’s attacks on the media as ‘dangerous’, according to the Guardian. The former prime minister addressed a Transparency International conference in his first British public lecture since leaving office and warned of ‘Russian bots and trolls targeting your democracy’.

130 schools are persistently underachieving
The Financial Times highlights remarks made by Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, at the launch of the regulator’s annual report. She warned that there are 130 schools in England which have not been rated ‘good’ in over a decade. However, there has been ‘continued steady improvement in average school performance.’

Greening launches national strategy to close the attainment gap
The Guardian reports that education secretary Justine Greening will today launch a national strategy aiming to close the attainment gap between rich and poor children. Measures to be introduced include £50m for new nursery places, £23m for a future talent fund, and closer co-operation with businesses on apprenticeships and technical qualifications.

Peers reject attack on press freedom
The Times says that MPs rejected an amendment to the Data Protection Bill, which would have tightened an exemption for journalists who handle personal data to expose wrongdoing in the public interest. Baroness Hollins, who had promoted the amendment, agreed to withdraw it after a series of peers warned that it would cripple investigative journalism.

UKIP faces data tribunal over EU referendum campaign
According to the Guardian, UKIP is to face a tribunal over its use of analytics during the EU referendum, after it refused to co-operate with an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office. It also emerged that the office and British Columbia’s office of the privacy and information commissioner are both investigating the Canadian firm AggregateIQ, which received millions of pounds from the leave campaign.

Businesses fear economic effect of a Corbyn government
An article in The Times claims that businesses are worried about the impact of a Corbyn government. A director of two financial services companies told the paper that the UK would ‘be bust’ after three years of a Corbyn government, whilst Credit Suisse warned that public finances would ‘deteriorate sharply’.

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 13 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including David Davis’ effort to save relations with Brussels, May’s attempt to see off Brexit rebellion and Anne-Marie Morris’ reinstatement. 

David Davis in effort to save relations with Brussels
The Guardian reports that Brexit Secretary David Davis is attempting to salvage the UK’s relationship with the EU, after his claim over the weekend that last week’s agreement had no legal status. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said that he ‘would not accept any backtracking’ and rejected Davis’s claim that a trade treaty could be signed the day after the UK leaves the EU. Meanwhile, The Times breaks the news that European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker has been embroiled in a criminal investigation over ‘tampered’ evidence about wiretapping.

May aims to see off Brexit rebellion by promising clarity
The Daily Telegraph says that the Government is planning to offer ‘greater clarity’, in a bid to see off a revolt by Tory backbenchers. Dominic Grieve said that there was a ‘real possibility’ that the Government could be defeated with an amendment requiring the final deal with the EU to be approved by a separate act of Parliament. Fellow backbencher Heidi Allen has written in the paper supporting the amendment.

Anne-Marie Morris reinstated, whilst Damian Green may be cleared
Anne-Marie Morris, who had the Conservative whip suspended after a recording of her using a racist remark was release, has been reinstated, reports The Times. Morris apologised and said that she had ‘learnt from this experience’, but Labour’s Jon Trickett described the decision as a ‘disgrace’. According to The Guardian, friends of Kate Maltby, who accused Damián Green of inappropriate behaviour, fear that he may be cleared of wrongdoing because the alleged behaviour took place before he was a cabinet minister.

Investigative journalism under threat
The Daily Telegraph warns that proposed amendments to the Data Protection Act in the House of Lords could restrict press freedom. The amendments would limit journalists’ public interest exemption and effectively require newspapers to join an officially recognised press regulator. The Government opposes the amendments, but Labour plans to support some of them, meaning that they might pass.

Ruth Davidson refuses to rule out standing for Westminster
Scottish Conservative Leader, Ruth Davidson, has refused to rule out standing for selection as an MP, The Sun reports. However, she said that she would only consider it if she failed to be elected as First Minister of Scotland in 2021.

May to use foreign aid cash to reduce plastic waste
The Daily Mail reports that Theresa May pledged to use cash from the UK’s foreign aid budget to tackle plastic pollution at a climate change summit in Paris. The paper claims that the environment has been put at the heart of attempts to rebrand the Conservatives as ‘the caring party’.

Public inquiries are a waste of time and money
A new report by the Institute for Government will claim that public inquiries are a waste of time and money, The Times says. £639m has been spent on 68 inquiries since 1990, but many recommendations have not been implemented.

Tory MP’s aide on trial for rape
The BBC reports on the trial for rape of Samuel Armstrong, who was chief of staff for Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay. He is accused of raping a woman who also worked in Parliament in the MP’s office after an evening of drinking last October.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 12 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including disagreements in both parties on Brexit, new reforms announced by Michael Gove and Labour MP Clive Lewis cleared of sexual harassment allegations. 

Social media firms should be prosecuted over abuse, May told
The Times reports that the Committee on Standards in Public Life is to advise the Prime Minister that social media companies should face fines or prosecution if they fail to remove racist, extremist or child sex abuse content. The committee is to recommend laws to shift liability for illegal content to social media firms, making them publishers, not platforms.

Corbyn refuses to agree more detailed Brexit plans
The Guardian says that Jeremy Corbyn is resisting pressure to add more detail to Labour’s Brexit plans, as the shadow cabinet meets today. Whilst some members have signalled a shift towards a closer future relationship with the EU, Corbyn’s team reportedly believe that a more specific position could alienate key groups of voters.

Brexit: May unites party for now
The Financial Times claims that May managed to unite her party yesterday in support of her deal with the EU, aided by the Government making a concession on the ‘Henry VIII powers’ which would have reduced the amount of parliamentary scrutiny of the implementation of Brexit. However, the paper says that this unity could be short-lived, and warns of splits over the details of a future UK/EU trade deal.

Gove: new rules on animal sentience & spend aid cash on plastic pollution
Michael Gove is the focus of two stories in today’s Times. He is pressing for more of the UK’s overseas aid budget to be spend on reducing plastic pollution of the oceans, after a new report found that 90% of the waste came from ten Asian and African rivers. Separately, new animal cruelty legislation to be unveiled today by Gove will ‘bind the government to consider “the welfare needs of animals as sentient beings”’.

Hammond sides with EU to demand Trump drops tax reforms
Philip Hammond has sided with four other European finance ministers to warn Donald Trump that his proposed tax reforms could prompt a trade war, The Daily Telegraph reports. The ministers have joined together to warn that the proposed changes might contravene World Trade Organisation rules, whilst the paper reports that the Government is increasingly worried by signs of protectionism in the US.

NHS ‘bloody stupid’ to expect £4bn cash injection, says former NHS Improvement chief
Jim Mackey, the former head of NHS Improvement, has said that NHS bosses were ‘bloody stupid’ to expect a £4bn cash injection in the budget, The Guardian says. He warned that statements made by NHS bosses will have alienated ministers, and that the amount given by the Government was ‘not enough’.

Tom Watson: ‘embrace an android’
Labour’s Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, is to mark the final report of the Future of Work Commission today by giving a speech in which he will call on people to ‘embrace an android’, according to The Mirror. The report will conclude that ‘mass technological employment is highly unlikely.’

Clive Lewis cleared by Labour investigation
The Guardian reports that Labour MP Clive Lewis has been cleared of allegations of sexual harassment, following a party investigation. He had been accused of grabbing a female party member’s bottom at the party’s conference, but an internal investigation has dismissed the claim. Lewis said that he was ‘pleased’ to have been cleared.

 

 

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 11 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including the Ireland’s Brexit warning, Labour’s Brexit stance, chemical and pharma companies desiring EU rules and ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. 

Ireland in Brexit deal warning
The Times warns that Theresa May’s Brexit deal is in danger of ‘unravelling’, after Ireland and the EU questioned the Government’s commitment to it. This followed the appearance of David Davis on television yesterday, describing the deal as a non-legally enforceable ‘statement of intent’ and insisting that the divorce bill would only be paid if a trade deal was secured. The paper reported that a Government source ‘appeared to contradict’ these claims.

Labour in favour of a ‘Norway style agreement’ with EU
The Guardian reports that Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has set out his party’s vision for Brexit. Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show, Starmer said that Labour was prepared to consider ongoing payments to the EU, accept the ‘easy movement’ of workers, wanted continued alignment of regulations and standards, and was seeking a ‘Norway style agreement for the 21st century.’

Chemical and pharmaceutical industries want to retain EU rules
According to the Financial Times, the chemicals and pharmaceuticals industries have written to Michael Gove urging the Government to let them remain within EU rules. A Government spokesperson said that it was working ‘to ensure a smooth transition for the chemical industry’.

‘Light at the end of the tunnel’ for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British mother being held prisoner in Iran, has expressed hope after a trial scheduled for Sunday was postponed, after Boris Johnson met the country’s President, as The Daily Telegraph reports.

Labour considers moving Bank of England to Birmingham
Consultants commissioned by John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, have recommended moving some functions of the Bank of England to Birmingham, the Financial Times says. The report says that co-locating these functions with Labour’s planned National Investment Bank and Strategic Investment Board would ‘create a new ‘economic policy’ hub.’

Calls for Government to ban pension cold-calls
The Work and Pensions Select Committee is to call on the Government to fast-forward legislation to halt the use of cold-calling by scammers targeting people’s pension pots, The Guardian reports. The committee is to publish its report on pensions freedoms today. The paper reports that almost £5m has been lost to fraudsters in the first five months of 2017, but a ban is unlikely to come into effect before 2020.

Ministers back straight civil partnerships
The Times says that the Government is to back a proposed change in the law to allow straight couples to enter civil partnerships. The paper reports that a private members’ bill by Tim Loughton has gained support from ministers, and that ‘it’s just a question of getting wording sorted out’.

AA calls for parking fines cap
In an exclusive, The Sun says that the AA is demanding a cap on the level of parking fines a council can issue each month, as well as more lenient treatment for first-time offenders. The organisation is launching a campaign ‘asking for Government intervention to restore fairness.’

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 8 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including the Brexit deal that’s been reached, universities criticised by the National Audit Office and Momentum under investigation for election spending. 

Brexit deal reached
Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker announced this morning that a deal had been reached on ‘sufficient progress’, allowing the opening of trade negotiations subject to the approval of the European Council meeting on 14-15 December. The Times reports that May said that there would be no hard border in Ireland and that the Good Friday agreement would be honoured. The DUP claimed that it had obtained ‘substantial changes’ to the agreement it rejected earlier this week.

Universities criticised by National Audit Office
A new National Audit Office report has criticised universities, The Guardian reports. The NAO’s head has claimed that if universities were banks, they would be investigated for mis-selling. The report says that the Government needs to do more to help ‘vulnerable’ students make better course choices and provide better oversight of value for money.

Momentum under investigation for election spending
The Daily Telegraph says that Momentum, the Jeremy Corbyn supporting group, is to be investigated by the Electoral Commission, after it claimed to have spent just £39,000 on the general election campaign. A spokesperson for the campaign said that the investigation related ‘to a series of administrative errors that can easily be rectified.’

Boris Johnson to visit Iran for talks to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Boris Johnson is to visit Iran this weekend, The Daily Telegraph reports. Talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Zarif are expected to cover Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (the charity worker imprisoned the country), bilateral relation, wars in Yemen and Syria, and the Iranian nuclear deal.

Prince Charles admits lobbying Alex Salmond
According to an exclusive in The Guardian, Prince Charles has admitted to lobbying Alex Salmond to promote the charity Teach First. The Scottish Government had refused to release the papers in question, until the paper lodged an appeal with the Scottish information commissioner.

NHS emergency winter fund to be spent by end of month
The Times reports that the NHS will spend its £350m emergency winter fund by the end of the month because it has to overpay for drugs, with medicine wholesalers summoned to the Department of Health. Supply problems affecting at least 100 drugs have forced the NHS to approve temporary price rises of up to 4000%. Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called for ‘a serious and open investigation’.

Corbyn to criticise tax avoidance in UN speech
Jeremy Corbyn is to highlight four main threats to humanity in a speech at the UN headquarters in New York today, according to The Guardian. These are concentrated wealth and power (exacerbated by tax avoidance), climate change, the refugee crisis and a ‘bomb first, think later’ approach to resolving conflicts.

Primark one of 260 under-paying employers
The Government has named 260 employers which paid staff less than the minimum wage, the Financial Times says. Among the firms named are the retailers Primark and Sports Direct, and the football club Wolverhampton Wanderers. Minister Margot James said that there was ‘no excuse’.

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 7 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including several Brexit issues, supporters of David Davis to oust May by Christmas and Hammond’s remarks. 

Brexit: 48 hours to agree deal
According to The Guardian, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has told member states that the UK has just 48 hours to agree to a text on a potential deal, or negotiations will not move on to the next stage. A DUP source told The Sun that there would be no deal on the Irish border this week, saying that ‘This is a battle of who blinks first, and we’ve cut off our eyelids.’ The Daily Telegraph adds that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has indicated his willingness to continue discussions into next week.
Brexit: Davis admits impact assessments don’t exist
The Financial Times reports that David Davis has avoided being censured for alleged contempt of parliament by the Brexit select committee, after admitting that ‘There’s no sort of systemic impact assessment.’ Critics have suggested that this contradicts statements made by him in the past. Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse said ‘Whether it is through incompetence or insincerity, David Davis has been misleading parliament from the start.’
Brexit: Article 50 extension amendment attracts Conservative rebels’ support
The Times says that as many as 24 Tory MPs are prepared to rebel against the Government next week, in support of an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill, allowing MPs to seek an extension to Article 50 negotiations if there is no satisfactory trade agreement by March 2019. Tory MP Anna Soubry and Labour MP Chukka Umunna have written an article for the paper supporting the amendment.
Supporters of David Davis plot to oust Theresa May ‘by Christmas’
An exclusive in The Sun claims that supporters of David Davis are plotting to out Theresa May as Prime Minister. His ally Andrew Mitchell is organising drinks evenings with Davis and the new generation of Tory MPs, whilst an ally said that May will ‘be gone by Christmas’.
Hammond causes a storm with remarks on defence, disability and Brexit
The Guardian reports that remarks made by Philip Hammond to the Treasury select committee have offended disabled groups, after he claimed that the UK’s low productivity could be attributed to disabled people in the workforce. The Daily Telegraph reported that the Chancellor said that Cabinet members still have not been allowed to discuss the end state of Brexit. The Times adds that Hammond told the committee he’d welcome a chance to discuss the defence budget with new Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson once Williamson had got ‘his head around the defence budget’.
Drug shortage causes patients to wait
The Times also reports that a shortage of drugs is causing patients with cancer and severe mental illness to go without essential medicines. The shortage has cost the NHS £180m in six months, with ministers now investigating fears that the market is being manipulated.
Labour Lords’ chief whip to stand down over expenses claims
Steve Bassam, Labour’s chief whip in the House of Lords is to stand down in early 2018, following questions about his expenses, The Guardian reports. He has offered to repay the claims in question, but insists that he has not breached parliamentary rules.
Gavin Williamson interviewed by the Mail
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has claimed that British citizens who fought for Islamic State should not be allowed to return to the country in an interview with the Daily Mail. He told the paper that ‘Quite simply, my view is a dead terrorist can’t cause any harm to Britain.’

 

 

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Politics

Today’s Political Headlines – 6 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including pressure on Theresa May, the Chancellor’s MoD ban and MI5 foiling a plot to assassinate the PM. 

Growing Brexit pressure on Theresa May
The Guardian claims that Theresa May is facing ‘mounting pressure’ to secure a breakthrough in negotiations with the EU, after the DUP expressed shock at the handling of the border issue and Brexit-supporting Conservatives said that it was time to walk away from the talks. The paper also says that parliamentarians have criticised the tight security around access to the Brexit analyses, claiming that their content is ‘little more’ than what is already in the public domain.

 

Chancellor banned from using Ministry of Defence planes
The Times reports that the MoD has banned Chancellor Philip Hammond from using its planes, until the Treasury settles a bill of six figures, covering past flights. This comes as Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson prepares to fight the Treasury for up to £2bn per annum in extra funding for the armed forces.
MI5 foils plot to assassinate Theresa May
The Daily Telegraph says that MI5 has stopped a plot to assassinate Theresa May. Islamic extremists planned to use an improvised explosive device to blow up Downing Street’s gates, before entering No 10. Cabinet members were told of the plot yesterday by MI5’s head, and two men have been charged with terror offences.
Security services ‘missed vital clues’
The Daily Mail carries the news that clues were missed in the lead up to the attacks in Manchester, London Bridge and Westminster. A review to be published today claims that an investigation into the Manchester bomber Salman Abedi would have been opened ‘had its true significance been properly understood’.
Gig economy reforms to be delayed
According to The Guardian, reforms to the gig economy which would improve employment rights for 1.1m people are to be delayed until next year, amid concerns that they might be opposed by the right wing of the Conservative party. Matthew Taylor, who led the Government’s review of the gig economy, said ‘I would rather it was later and stronger rather than earlier and weaker.’
Highest reading standards for a generation
The Times says that improvements in reading standards by boys have put the UK joint eighth in the world in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study results, up from tenth in 2011. Schools minister Nick Gibb attributed the success to the use of phonics, which he said had been prevented from use by ‘dogmatic romanticism’ before 2010. However, the paper points out that phonics programmes were announced by Ed Balls in 2008.
Ministers threaten to change the law to force Channel 4 to leave London
The Government is planning to change the law in order to force Channel 4 to relocate away from London, if it won’t do so voluntarily, according to The Times. The broadcaster has claimed that moving would be ‘highly damaging’, but a Whitehall source told the paper that the firm’s new management had until the new year to agree.
Tory peer planning to move into home owned by offshore trust
The Mirror reveals that the Conservative peer Michelle Mone is planning to move into an £11m home owned by an offshore trust linked to her boyfriend, Doug Barrowman. The paper claims that he may have avoided around £1m in tax by using the trust rather than a company, leading Labour MP John Mann to say that ‘using a loophole like this isn’t acceptable.’

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Politics

Today’s Political Headlines – 5 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including the lack of Brexit deal, Philip Hammond’s army views and the abandoned ‘workers on boards’ plan. 

No Brexit deal yesterday
Despite expectations that Theresa May would secure a Brexit deal in Brussels yesterday, she has returned empty-handed. As the Financial Times puts it, her plan was ‘in effect blocked’ by Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, over concerns about proposed ‘regulatory alignment’ between Northern Ireland and Ireland. The Sun suggests that the UK and the UK had also failed to reach agreement on the role of the ECJ in citizens’ rights.
Chancellor: army only needs 50,000 troops
The Sun, in an exclusive, reveals that Philip Hammond told the Prime Minister that the Army only needs 50,000 troops, which the paper claims would make it the smallest since the time of the French Revolution, as well as leaving it smaller than those of France, Italy, Spain and Germany. Conservative MP Johnny Mercer suggested that Hammond was ‘deluded’.
May’s pledge to put workers on boards abandoned
The Guardian reports that the Government appears to have abandoned Theresa May’s plans to put workers on boards. Proposals to be published today would not force firms to put workers on boards, instead giving them a choice in how they intend to listen to employees’ views.
Robert Halfon calls for earnings cap reduction
Robert Halfon, chair of the education select committee, has called for the earnings cap below which parents are eligible for 30 free hours a week of childcare for three- and four-years olds to be reduced, according to the Daily Mail. The money saved would be diverted to unemployed parents, currently only entitled to 15 hours.
Biggest rail fare increase for five years
The Telegraph has details of the largest rail fare increase for five years. From January 2, average ticket fare will go up by 3.4% – the largest increase since 2013. Passenger watchdog Transport Focus described the news as a ‘chill wind’ but the Rail Delivery Group said that over 97p in the pound was spent on running and improving the railway.
Former Metropolitan Police officers commended over Damian Green claims
Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has said that former police officers who have spoken publicly about allegations of pornographic material being found on the computer of Damian Green, now First Secretary of State, could be prosecuted, The Guardian reports. She said that she condemned what they had done, and that her professional standards department was reviewing it.
Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham Conservatives under investigation
The Times says that the Conservatives are investigating their Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham branch amid complaints about its deselection of six councillors, including the only black Conservative on Kensington and Chelsea council, and ‘autocratic’ leadership.
Adam Afriye being sued over discrimination claims
The Daily Mail reports that Conservative MP Adam Afriye is being sued over allegations that he discriminated against a disabled staff member. He has not commented on the allegations.

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 4 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including Brexit, child and pensioner poverty and the NHS. 

Theresa May in crunch Brexit meeting
Theresa May is in Brussels today to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for crucial Brexit talks. The Irish cabinet will also meet this morning to discuss Brexit. The papers have varying assessments of May’s likely success. The Times claims that a deal is ’85-90 percent there’, the Financial Times says the UK and the EU are on the ‘brink’ of a deal, but according to The Daily Telegraph the Government is ‘highly pessimistic’ about its chances of success and may might ask for an extension.
Increase in child and pensioner poverty
The Guardian reports research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which found that almost 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners in the UK were living in poverty than in 2012-13, in the first sustained increase in 20 years. The foundation blamed the increase on ‘political choices, wage stagnation and economic uncertainty’ and called for benefits to be unfreezed, training increased, and a more-ambitious house-building programme.
NHS to rule out more ‘poor-value’ treatments
The Times reports that the NHS is to rule out more poor-value treatments, as it comes under pressure to find more savings. The chief executive of NHS Clinical Commissioners told the paper that ‘There are a range of interventions that we shouldn’t be doing because they don’t work, […] We are now starting a piece of work to bring that all together and we hope there will be significant savings.’
Syrian aid programme suspended after allegations that it funded jihadis
The Guardian reports that a foreign aid scheme funded by the Government has been suspended following allegations to be made in a BBC Panorama documentary this evening. The scheme, intended to fund a civilian police force through a programme run by Adam Smith International, allegedly saw money being channelled to jihadi groups.
Social Mobility Commission chair who resigned was due to be replaced
The Daily Mail says that Alan Milburn, who quit as chairman of the Social Mobility Commission because he had ‘little hope’ May could deliver change had already been told that May planned to replace him. A Whitehall source said ‘Milburn was sacked and is now having a rant on his way out the door.’
Cabinet split over Damian Green’s future
The Times has details of a cabinet split over the future of Damian Green, the First Secretary of State. Apparently, May’s team of staff are also split, with her chief of staff Gavin Barwell wanting Green to resign, whilst her director of communications, Robbie Gibb thinks he should stay.
Funding for ‘mini nuclear power stations’ to be announced
The Government is expected to announce up to £100m of funding for small nuclear power stations this Thursday, says The Guardian. The competition to find the best value ‘small modular reactor’ has been delayed, leading to lobbying by firms.
Jeremy Hunt: social media sites should limit access by the young
The Daily Mail reports comments made by Health Secretary that social media sites should limit access by vulnerable youngsters. He said that sites should monitor whether young people are putting their mental health at risk by spending too much time online.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 1 December 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including DUP’s Irish border deal warning, calls to cancel Trump’s visit and the £1bn care home funding gap. 

DUP in Irish border deal warning
The Financial Times says that the DUP has warned that if the Government treats Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the UK in Brexit negotiations, it will withdraw its support. However, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkhar is maintaining his instance on Northern Ireland remaining part of the EU customs union, and avoiding a hard border.

Calls to cancel Trump visit
The Times reports that President Trump is still expected to visit the UK in February in order to open the US embassy, despite criticism from MPs and other politicians, including Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn. However, The Daily Telegraph claims that US diplomats have ‘dropped plans’ for Trump’s visit and that it has been ‘pushed into the long grass’.

Warning over £1bn care home funding gap
According to the Financial Times, the UK’s care home sector has a £1bn annual funding gap. A report by the Competition and Markets found that the ‘current model of service provision cannot be sustained without additional public funding’. The Labour Party called for an end to cuts to local authorities, but the Government pointed to increases in social care spending.

Corbyn: ‘we’re a threat’ to banks
The Guardian reports Jeremy Corbyn’s response to a warning from investment bank Morgan Stanley that he poses just as much of a threat to business as Brexit. In a video, he said ‘So when they say we’re a threat, they’re right. We’re a threat to a damaging and failed system that’s rigged for the few.’

Damian Green faces ‘desperate fight’ to save job
In an exclusive, The Sun says that the Cabinet Office’s investigation into First Secretary of State Damian Green’s conduct ‘will say it is unclear whether he broke the ministerial code, which is a sackable offence.’ Having seen the initial findings, the paper claims that Downing Street has been working on ‘a desperate plan’ to save Green’s job.

Record migration fall after Brexit vote
The Times has details of the largest ever annual fall in net migration ever recorded. Overall net migration fell by 106,000 to 230,000 in the year after the vote to leave the EU. Immigration minister Brandon Lewis said, ‘With more Europeans continuing to arrive than leave, these figures show that claims of a ‘Brexodus’ are misguided.’

NHS patients to face treatment rationing and longer waits
Simon Stevens, the NHS England Chief Executive, has announced plans to ‘make taxpayers’ money go further’, drawing up a list of 36 conditions which don’t need treatment, and saying that new guidance expected from NICE could not be implemented without advance funding agreement. According to The Times, Government sources dismissed this as ‘grandstanding’.

Changes to ‘snooper’s charter’ see police lose powers
A series of changes to the ‘snooper’s charter’ will see senior police officers ‘lose the power to self-authorise access to personal phone and web browsing records’, The Guardian reports. A consultation paper published by the Home Office makes it clear that the changes, being made to comply with a European court ruling, will limit access to personal communications data by the police and other bodies to crimes with a prison sentence of six months or more. Labour’s Tom Watson said the proposals were ‘flawed’ and didn’t go far enough.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 30 November 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including the Trump’s twitter spat, the Irish border deal, May’s vision of the UK in the Middle East and Boris Johnson’s opinion that £50bn is worth paying for Brexit. 

President Trump in Twitter spat with Theresa May
Yesterday, US President Donald Trump shared a number of anti-Muslim videos posted on Twitter by the deputy leader of the far-right group Britain First. As The Times reports, this prompted criticism from Theresa May. Trump responded by tweeting that May should ‘focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom.’

UK ‘close to Irish border deal’
The Times claims that the UK and EU are close to reaching a deal on the Irish border, which could lead to the offer of a two-year transition deal as soon as January. The British Government is understood to have committed to work towards ‘avoiding regulatory divergence’ in Ireland by devolving a package of powers to Northern Ireland.

May outlines vision of the UK’s role in the Middle East
The Guardian says that May is to set out her vision for the UK’s Middle Eastern role today, as she completes her trip to the region. She will speak about the UK’s efforts against Islamic State and its wider help on economic and social reforms in a major speech in Jordan, in front of an audience which will include the country’s prime minister, Hani al-Mulki.

Boris Johnson: £50bn Brexit bill worth paying
The Daily Telegraph reports remarks by Boris Johnson, in which he said that a £50bn Brexit bill would be worth paying to get ‘the ship off the rocks’. He described the potential agreement on the financial settlement as ‘a fantastic opportunity now to get going’.

Government set to lose £800m on student loan sale
The Government will lose £800m on its latest privatisation of student loans, according to analysis by the Financial Times. The paper warns that this raises ‘questions over the valuation of tens of billions of pounds of remaining graduate debt.’ The Government refused to comment.

First year of school ‘a waste of time’ Ofsted warns
The Daily Mail has details of a new report by Ofsted, warning that the first year of school is a ‘false start’ for many children because basic reading and maths are not being taught well. As a result, children face ‘years of catching up’, with a third not having ‘essential knowledge’ when they move into Year One, rising to nearly half of disadvantaged children.

East Coast rail franchise ‘bailout’
According to The Guardian, Labour has accused the Government as using its new rail strategy as a ‘a total smokescreen’, as ‘the East Coast franchise has failed again and the taxpayer will bail it out.’ The strategy will lead to the termination of the franchise, held by Stagecoach and Virgin Group, three years early and its replacement by a new partnership model. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has denied that the franchise is being bailed out.

Plastic waste highlighted in Daily Mail campaign
The Daily Mail dedicated its front page to its campaign to reduce plastic waste. It announced that the volume of rubbish found on the country’s coasts had risen by 10% in the last year according to the Marine Conservation Society, whilst Iceland and the Co-op have joined calls for a deposit and return scheme for disposable bottles. The paper adds that there are ‘signs’ that Waitrose and Marks and Spencer are also ‘coming round to the idea’. The Government confirmed that it was launching a call for evidence on the scheme and would be working with industry to explore further reductions in single-use plastics.

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Today’s Political Headlines – 29 November 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including the Brexit divorce bill, a new rail strategy, a 50-year citizen threatened with deportation and David Davis accused of contempt. 

Britain settles EU divorce bill
In an exclusive, The Daily Telegraph revealed that the UK has agreed to a financial settlement with the EU. Two sources told the paper that terms were agreed last week following back-channel discussions led by Oliver Robbins, the UK’s chief negotiator. The final figure will be between €45bn and €55bn, with a gross settlement (before deductions) of €100bn. This leaves just two major obstacles before the meeting of the European Council on December 14-15: the role of the European Court of Justice in governing citizens’ rights and the Irish border. May will deliver an offer covering all three areas on December 4.

Government unveils new rail strategy
The Times has spoken to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, who unveils his new rail strategy today. Headline measures include re-opening some lines closed in the 1960s Beeching cuts to unlock housing development, grow business or relieve overcrowding. Other reforms include breaking up large franchises, joining-up Network Rail and train operators to co-ordinate disruption and engineering work, setting a deadline for the introduction of smart card and contactless payments, and creating a new independent rail ombudsman.

Woman threatened with deportation, despite living in the UK for 50 years
The Guardian tells the story of 61-year-old Paulette Wilson, who was detained at Yarl’s Wood detention centre and then nearly deported, despite having lived in the UK since she was ten. The paper says that migrants’ rights charities are ‘increasingly’ coming across similar cases, where people have no documents proving their right to live in the UK because they moved before there was a legal need to apply for leave to remain.

Davis accused of contempt over Brexit impact papers
The Financial Times reports on Brexit Secretary David Davis’s decision not to hand over unredacted versions of the Government’s Brexit impact analyses to Parliament. Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary, Keir Starmer said ‘Whether he is in contempt of parliament is a matter we will come to at a later date but he is treating parliament with contempt. This is not a game.’ Commons Speaker John Bercow has told Davis to explain himself to MPs.

Damian Green to stand in at Prime Minister’s Questions
First Secretary of State Damian Green is to stand in at today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, The Daily Telegraph says. Theresa May is visiting the Middle East to champion women’s rights, but said that Damián Green, currently under investigation following allegations into his behaviour towards women, would do a ‘good job’.

Universal Credit hotline to close over Christmas
The Mirror reports on a letter to Theresa May written by Frank Field, chairman of the Commons Work and Pension Committee. He highlights the fact that the Universal Credit hotline will be open fully for just two out of ten days this Christmas, and told the paper that he was ‘fighting against hunger’.

MPs attack NHS over data loss
The Daily Mail has details of a report by the Public Accounts Committee on the NHS’s response to the loss of almost 900,000 medical documents by a private firm. 18 months after the scandal was revealed, the NHS still can’t say if any patients were harmed. Meg Hillier, the committee’s chair, said ‘we are far from confident health officials are on top of the issues.’

Tulip Siddiq makes ‘threatening’ remark to journalist
The Telegraph reports that Tulip Siddiq told a Channel 4 journalist to be ‘very careful’ and told a pregnant producer ‘Hope you have a great birth, because child labour is hard.’ The journalists were questioning her about human rights in Bangladesh, where her aunt is prime minister.

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 23 November 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including Hammond eases off austerity, a Budget that tries to fix the housing market and gloomy fiscal outlook.

Budget: ‘Hammond eases off austerity’
According to The Times, Philip Hammond used yesterday’s Budget as a ‘£25 billion giveaway’. The paper points out that the sums, including spending on housing, Brexit, and the NHS, only add up because of ‘accounting changes, stealth business taxes, optimistic estimates on tackling tax evasion and new sales of state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland shares’.

Budget: Hammond tries to fix the housing market
The Financial Times choses to focus on Hammond’s efforts to fix the housing market. He unveiled a £44bn package of investment, loans and guarantees, and aims to reach 300,000 homes being built in each year by the middle of the next decade. Other measures include cuts to stamp duty for first-time buyers. According to the paper, allies of Theresa May described Hammond as having done a ‘good job in difficult circumstances’.

Budget: Gloomy fiscal outlook
The Guardian alleges that Hammond’s new measures are an attempt to ‘mask Britain’s gloomy fiscal outlook’. The paper choses to highlight forecasts by the Office for Budget Responsibility which cut the UK’s growth rates in the years up to 2022 by a quarter, with unemployment growing. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said it was ‘a nothing-has-changed budget from an out-of-touch government with no idea of the reality of people’s lives and no plan to improve them’.

Budget: Tory Eurosceptics urge Hammond to spend Brexit cash
The Daily Telegraph reports that Conservative Eurosceptics are urging Philip Hammond to spend some of the £3 billion he set aside for Brexit preparations in the Budget immediately. Half the money is not planned to be spent until next year, whilst the rest will only be released in 2019-20 (after the UK has left the EU). David Jones MP argued that ‘We need to show the EU that preparations are being made and also need to give reassurance to business.’

Poll shows Tories four points ahead
The Daily Mail carries news of a new poll which shows that the Conservatives are four points ahead of Labour. The poll, carried out before the Budget, puts the Tories on 42% and labour on 38%. The paper places this in the context of the sex harassment scandal and the loss of two Cabinet ministers, suggesting that ‘Brits not stuck in the Westminster bubble have not paid much attention to these Tory travails.’

Remove abortion jail risk, medical professionals say
The Times has details of a campaign by the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health, whose council is expected to vote in favour of decriminalising abortion following a survey of the group’s members. It warns that the country is ‘reaching a crisis point in abortion provision’, with legal restrictions putting trainees off and inhibiting care.

Damian Green inquiry to finish ‘within days’
The Cabinet Office’s inquiry into allegations against First Secretary of State Damian Green is to finish ‘within days’, The Guardian says. This comes after a series of interviews over the claims that Green harassed a young Conservative activist and downloaded pornography to a work computer. Green denies both allegations

New rules on broadband advertisingMirror
The Daily Mail announces new rules on broadband advertising, drawn up by the Committee on Advertising Practice. Under current rules, firms can advertise speeds that only 10% of households can achieve. Under the new rules, advertised speeds must be attainable by 50% of customers at peak times. Digital Minister Matt Hancock said ‘We have been fighting for this for some time now, and it’s a great victory for consumers.’

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