Politics

Today’s Political Headlines – 9 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including Theresa May’s reshuffle under attack, Toby Young quitting the Office for Students, Davis consults lawyers over EU no-deal and the truth about Australian flu.   

Theresa May’s reshuffle under attack
This morning’s big political story is the continuing reshuffle. Yesterday saw the Cabinet being reshuffled, and the reaction from the press is less than positive. The Times calls it ‘shambolic’, The Daily Telegraph says it was ‘chaotic’, whilst the Guardian opines that May was ‘thrown off course.’ As The Times explains, May’s lack of authority was ‘laid bare’ when Jeremy Hunt resisted efforts to make him business secretary and Justine Greening left the Government rather than become welfare secretary, while the mistaken announcement of Chris Grayling as party chairman added to the chaos. The Sun suggests that at least a dozen MPs from the 2015 intake will be promoted today, while the Daily Mail expects ‘significant numbers of female and ethnic minority MPs’ to join the Government.

Toby Young quits the Office for Students
Toby Young, the controversial appointee to the board of the Office for Students, resigned from his post this morning. Writing in The Spectator, Young said that he appointment had ‘become a distraction’, adding that ‘some of the things I said before I got involved in education, when I was a journalistic provocateur, were either ill-judged or just plain wrong – and I unreservedly apologise.’

Davis consults lawyers over EU no-deal plans
According to a report in the Financial Times based on a letter from David Davis to the Prime Minister seen by the paper, Davis has consulted lawyers over the EU’s preparations for a no deal Brexit, claiming that the EU is harming British business and breaching the UK’s rights as a member state.

No major outbreak of ‘Australian flu’ – just NHS underfunding, says virologist
The Guardian reports that John Oxford, emeritus professor of virology at the University of London, has said that the NHS’s problems are not being caused by an outbreak of ‘Australian flu’ but that ‘there is a lack of investment, there are not enough doctors or nurses, and politicians are trying to blame the situation on influenza.’

Health minister: Seats were available at hospital
The Mirror says that health minister Philip Dunne provoked anger when he answered questions about patients sleeping on hospital floors by saying that ‘There are seats available in most hospitals when beds are not available.’ Justin Madders, Labour’s shadow health minister, described this as ‘an appalling and ignorant remark’.

Juncker: Brexit will go ahead
The Sun says that Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, told a conference, ‘Don’t believe those who say that it’s not going to happen and that people have realised their error in the UK.’ Labour MP Ben Bradshaw accused Juncker of being out of touch.

UK to mitigate VAT damage
The Financial Times reports that the UK is to ‘mitigate’ potential damage to 130,000 companies which face having to pay VAT upfront on goods imported from the UK post-Brexit. The Treasury said it would ‘look at options to mitigate any cash flow impacts’.

Corbyn: UK cannot remain in single market
Jeremy Corbyn has said that the UK cannot remain in the single market after Brexit, disappointing pro-EU MPs, The Guardian reveals. A ‘senior Labour source’ told the paper ‘The single market is not a membership club that can be joined so we seek through negotiation to retain the benefits of the single market.’

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 8 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including the expected cabinet reshuffle, a cabinet minister for no deal, May on Marr and the UK’s hopes for EU medicine regulation after Brexit.  

Cabinet reshuffle expected
Today’s main political story is that Theresa May is expected to reshuffle the cabinet today, with junior ministerial appointments to be announced on Tuesday. The Times reports that May will dismiss Sir Patrick McLoughlin, replace Justine Greening and move Greg Clark, while a new First Secretary of State will be appointed. However, Boris Johnson, Amber Rudd, Philip Hammond and David Davis are all expected to retain their roles. The paper identifies junior ministers Anne Milton and Dominic Raab as being likely to be promoted.

New cabinet minister for no deal Brexit
The Daily Telegraph claims that Theresa May is to create a ‘cabinet minister for no deal’. Whilst the minister would have a ‘significant budget’ and attend cabinet, they would not be a secretary of state. The paper suggests that Steve Baker, currently a minister at the Department for Exiting the European Union is ‘widely expected’ to be given the role.

May on Marr
Yesterday, Theresa May appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. She defended funding of the NHS and rail fare increases, pledged to bring ‘greater openness’ to the parole system, set out plans for a new Northern Forest, warned Toby Young about his language, dropped her pledge to hold a vote on the fox-hunting ban, confirmed that Donald Trump is to visit the UK, and said that she wanted to fight the next general election.

UK hopes for EU medicine regulation after Brexit
The Financial Times claims that it has been told by ‘three senior government figures’ that the UK hopes to continue to be regulated by the European Medicines Agency, after Brexit. This would break one of May’s red lines, European Court of Justice jurisdiction, but the paper adds that this has become less ‘rigid’ since Nick Timothy’s departure as chief of staff.

Brexit VAT
The Times says the companies may be forced to pay VAT upfront after Brexit on goods imported from the EU, bringing them into line with imports from elsewhere. Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury Select Committee has written to HMRC to ask for clarity, whilst the British Retail Consortium has expressed concern.

Grenfell inquiry cancels KPMG contract
The Guardian reports that the Grenfell Tower inquiry has cancelled its contract with KPMG, after an open letter signed by 70 individuals and organisations called on Theresa May to cancel the appointment. KPMG’s appointment had proved controversial because it audits the parent company of Celotex (which manufactured the building’s insulation), the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Rydon Group (which refurbished the building).

Centre for Policy Studies calls for NHS Royal Commission
According to The Daily Telegraph, the Centre for Policy Studies thinktank has called for a Royal Commission on the NHS, which would investigate improvements in productivity and clinical outcomes – potentially worth an extra £5.6billion.

Labour launches new community unit
The BBC says that the Labour Party is launching a new community unit today, aiming to target seaside towns and traditional Labour heartlands where the party needs to rebuild support. The unit will help constituency Labour parties and trade unions build alliances outside the party and campaign on local issues. Jeremy Corbyn said that following this approach ‘we can make real, practical differences to people’s lives’.

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 5 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including the release of John Worboys, the Latte Levy, Theresa May’s apology for cancelled operations and students being removed from migrant figures.  

Controversy over rapist’s release
The decision to release John Worboys, who The Times says is ‘believed to be Britain’s worst sex offender’, after serving ten years in prison has been heavily criticised. The paper reports that the roles of Baroness Scotland of Asthal (then Attorney-General, now Commonwealth Secretary-General) and Sir Keir Starmer (then Director of Public Prosecutions, now Shadow Brexit Secretary) are being questioned. In the i paper, the Secret Barrister explores how the sentence was reached, pointing out that Warboys was only convicted of 19 offences.

‘Latte levy’ recommended
The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has recommended a 25p ‘latte levy’ on throwaway coffee cups, the Daily Mail reports. The levy could raise £438m and lead to a 30% reduction in use of coffee cups. Government sources said that they were ‘open’ to the idea, with a Government review due to report at the end of the month.

Prime Minister apologies for operation cancellations
The Guardian says that Theresa May has given an ‘unprecedented apology’ to the tens of thousands of people affected by NHS England’s decision to postpone non-urgent operations and outpatient clinics until the end of January. The Times adds that Tory MPs have called for new taxes to fund the NHS, and the Daily Mail reports that Jeremy Corbyn has been criticising the Government whilst holidaying in Mexico.

Student migrants should be removed from figures, Tory rebels say
The Guardian claims that high-profile Tories have called on Theresa May to remove international students from immigration figures. Home Secretary Amber Rudd is said to fear that there are enough rebels to defeat the Government on the issue.

Defence review to be broken up
According to the Financial Times, the Government is planning to break up its national security and defence review. It is looking at publishing the security elements of the review as soon as possible, but pushing back armed forces decisions to later in the year. A final decision has not yet been taken, and the Government refused to comment on ‘speculation’.

US calls on the UK to change or axe food regulations to enable post-Brexit trade
The Financial Times says that the US undersecretary of agriculture for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, Ted McKinney has called on the UK to remove or change ‘some of the sanitary and phytosanitary burdens’ in order to enable trade with the USA. The Sun reports that Michael Gove, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, has said that genetically modified animals could be sold in the UK after Brexit.

Research reveals Tory dependence on group of rich male donors
Research by Labour, reported by The Mirror, reveals that the Tories are dependent on a small group of rich donors. The 64 donors who attended ‘Leader’s Group’ dinners hosted by Theresa May in the first half of last year, 62 of whom are men, were responsible for over a third of the reported donations to the Conservatives in 2017.

Corbyn accused on ‘hypocrisy’ over peers
The Times says that Jeremy Corbyn is being accused of hypocrisy as he expected to create three new Labour peers, despite earlier pledges not do so, which he has already broken by ennobling Shami Chakrabarti. The new peers may potentially include Murad Qureshi (chair of the Stop the War Coalition), Martha Osamor (a black rights activist) and Tony Woodley (former Unite general secretary).

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 4 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including Michael Gove’s farm subsidy U-turn, the Government has been accused of failing to stop the NHS crisis, Labour’s minimum wage increase could lead to job losses and money from dormant bank accounts being spent on good causes.  

Michael Gove in farm subsidies U-turn
The Times reports that Michael Gove, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, will announce a U-turn, maintaining farm subsidies until March 2024. Gove has criticised the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy for paying farmers according to the amount of land they own, but is expected to admit that reforms, such as linking subsidies to wildlife protection, will be delayed. However, the largest landowners may see payments capped before 2024.

Government accused of failing to stop NHS crisis
The Guardian reports on claims that the Government is failing to stop a growing crisis in the NHS, with at least 21 hospital trusts on black alert. John Kell, the Patients Association’s head of policy, said: ‘The policy decisions that have left the NHS in this position are taken by the government’. The Daily Telegraph adds that some hospitals have called on families to look after elderly patients at home, and that Prime Minister Theresa May said, ‘The NHS has been better prepared for this winter than ever before, we have put extra funding in.’

Labour’s minimum wage increase could lead to job losses
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has concluded that Labour’s minimum wage increase could put jobs at risk, The Daily Telegraph says. As workers become more expensive to employ, low-paid jobs could be replaced by robots and automation, but it is not clear where the tipping point is. However, the analysis also says there is a case for a higher minimum wage, but that it should be based on evidence rather than a ‘political bidding war’.

Money from dormant bank accounts to be spent on good causes
The Financial Times reports that up to £330m from dormant bank and building society accounts will be spent on ‘a fairer society’. Money from accounts that have been unused for 15 years will be spent by the Big Lottery Fund, Big Society Capital, and local charities.

Government defends appointment of Toby Young
The Department for Education has defended the appointment of Toby Young to the board of the new Office for Students. The appointment had been criticised over comments he has made about women, working class people and eugenics, according to The Guardian. Young has deleted tens of thousands of his old tweets, whilst a departmental spokesman said that he had ‘expressed his regrets’.

Tony Blair: Labour will become ‘the handmaiden of Brexit’
Tony Blair has warned that Labour risks becoming ‘the handmaiden of Brexit’ if it continues to be timid over the issue, in an article on his own website. He argues that the party should ‘be on the high ground of progressive politics, explaining why membership of the European Union is right as a matter of principle, for profound political as well as economic reasons.’ Separately, The Times reports that Blair warned Donald Trump’s aides that British intelligence may have spied on them during the election.

Research on political party members published
Queen Mary University of London has published research on the members of different political parties. The Guardian claims that Conservative members are ‘a breed apart’, with stronger tendencies towards socially illiberal and authoritarian attitudes, and different views on Brexit.

Anti-slavery tsar under investigation
The Times reports that Kevin Hyland, appointed as anti-slavery commissioner when Theresa May was Home Secretary, is under investigation after Unseen, the charity that runs the modern slavery helpline, raised ‘serious concerns’ about his conduct.

 

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Today’s Political Headlines – 3 January 2018

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including the UK’s talks to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Chris Grayling defending his Qatar trip and only minor changes to Theresa May’s Cabinet.  

UK takes part in talks to join a trans-Pacific trade group
As reported today in the Guardian, the Department for International Trade is believed to be taking part in talks on the UK’s potential membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership after its departure from the European Union. The partnership currently consists of 11 members, including Australia, Mexico, Singapore and Canada. It lost its largest member, the US, last year.

Chris Grayling defends himself following criticism over his trip to Qatar
Chris Grayling has reportedly defended his trade mission in Qatar, telling The Times that he was negotiating two big contracts for British companies, including the construction of a new airport. Grayling became the focus of criticism as his trip to Qatar coincided with the biggest rail fare rise in five years.

Theresa May plans few Cabinet changes in minister re-shuffle
The Sun has reported that despite planning big changes to junior ministers, Theresa May plans to make only minor changes to the Cabinet. These plans come as a result of pressure to introduce new talent into the Government following the disappointing election result and the poor performance at the party conference. The Sun reports that several 2015 Conservative MPs could be offered promotions.

The US threatens to stop aid to Palestine over Jerusalem row
The BBC has published a story following Donald Trump’s comments on Twitter that the US may put a stop to aid payments to the Palestinian Authority until it is willing to recommence peace talks. The President’s comments came following US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s statement that the US would cut funding to the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees unless the Palestinian Authority resumed negotiations.

Non-urgent NHS operations to be delayed
The BBC has reported on the planned delays to non-urgent operations and procedures. Due to a ‘winter crisis’, hospitals have been ordered to postpone delay routine outpatient appointments in order to concentrate on emergency care.

DfE’s defence of Toby Young’s suitability for watchdog job put into question
New questions have been asked over whether Toby Young should be allowed to sit on the board of the Office for Students, the Guardian reported. It recently emerged that the Government had exaggerated Young’s qualifications, casting doubts on Young’s suitability to sit on the board of the universities regulator.

 

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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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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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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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