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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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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Today’s Political Headlines – 22 November 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including the big Budget day stories, Brexit divorce agreement deadline and Kezia Dugdale on ‘I’m a Celebrity’. 

Budget: Last minute briefing as Downing Street takes control
This morning’s Daily Telegraph reports that 10 Downing Street took control of a last minute Budget briefing, as it is worried that the statement will ‘fall flat’. The paper quotes a Cabinet source who described it as ‘the worst Budget build-up in history’, as the Treasury first issued an ‘uninspiring’ statement and claimed that no policy announcements would be made, before performing a U-turn over two hours later. According to The Sun, May cannot sack Philip Hammond as Chancellor as ‘she fears she is too weak’.

Budget: More funding for schools and house-building measures
The Times reports that schools are to be paid £600 for each extra pupil they persuade to sits Maths A-level, with teachers in poorly-performing areas to benefit from £1,000 career development grants. The paper also expects measures to increase house-building, including direct state intervention (including a land-buying programme) and loosened borrowing restrictions for councils.

Budget: Veterans to get funding from LIBOR fines
In an exclusive, The Sun says that the Chancellor is to announce that veterans will benefit from £4.5m of fines from bankers as a result of the LIBOR scandal. £1.5m will be allocated to fund a new support programme by the charity Help For Heroes, whilst the Scar Free Foundation Centre for Conflict Wound Research will be given £2.95m. In total, over £30m in funding from the fines will be allocated today.

EU and UK aim to reach Brexit divorce deal within three weeks
The UK and the EU are aiming to reach a Brexit divorce deal within three weeks, according to the Financial Times. Negotiators have apparently pencilled in the week of December 4 as a breakthrough moment, with senior EU diplomats suggesting that there is ‘now a better than even chance of agreement’ on ‘sufficient progress’ at the EU summit in December.

Kezia Dugdale avoids ‘I’m a Celebrity’ suspension
Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has avoided being suspended by her party, according to an article in The Daily Telegraph. The party’s MSP group ruled that Dugdale would not be suspended despite taking ‘an unauthorised leave of absence’ to appear on the TV show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and would instead be interviewed on her return.

Hinkley Point power station deal to hit poorest hardest, report says
The Guardian carries details of a report by the Public Accounts Committee, which has found that the price the Government has promised to pay for power from the new Hinckley Point C power station will add £10-15 to the average household energy bill, hitting the poorest households the hardest.

Brexit rebels force Government climbdown
The Times reports on the progress of the EU Withdrawal Bill through Parliament yesterday. Conservative rebels, led by Dominic Grieve, forced the Government to announce that it would attempt to find a compromise on plans to remove the right of citizens to sue the Government, and on protecting citizens’ rights outlined in the EU’s charter of fundamental rights.

Conservative claims over police budget protection ‘a lie’ says Mirror
The Mirror claims that Theresa May’s boast that the Government had ‘protected’ police budgets is ‘a lie’. It reports research by the House of Commons showing a £413m cut in police force funding. Labour’s Shadow Policing Minister Louise Haigh said the cuts were ‘a threat to public safety’, whilst the Government did not deny the accuracy of the figures.


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Today’s Political Headlines – 10 November 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines, including Penny Mordaunt’s appointment, the Brexit date, Northern Ireland’s status in the customs union and David Cameron’s lobbying. 

Penny Mordaunt appointed as International Development Secretary
Penny Mordaunt, previously minister for disabled people, has been appointed as the new International Development Secretary, following Priti Patel’s resignation. The Times says the appointment keeps the balance between leave and remain supporters in the cabinet, and suggests that it was a ‘consolation prize’ after Mordaunt emerged as a front-runner for the post of Defence Secretary last week.


European Commission calls for Northern Ireland to remain in customs union
The Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times break the story that a European Commission document shows that Ireland wants ‘concrete reassurance’ on the issue of the Irish border before the next EU leaders’ summit in December. It appears to require that the UK remains in a customs union with the EU, or that Northern Ireland has a special status and remains in a customs union, creating a trade border between the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland. A negotiator quoted in the Financial Times described Ireland’s stance as a ‘wild card’ factor.


Brexit date to be set in law
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Theresa May has announced an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill, setting the date and time of the UK’s departure from the European Union as March 29, 2019 at 11pm GMT. Looking ahead to the next stage of the bill’s scrutiny in the House of Commons, she promises to listen to MPs who suggest improvements.


Budget news: Hammond refuses to loosen the purse springs, plans NHS spending increase and taxes on diesel cars
According to the Daily Mail, the Chancellor is refusing release billions of pounds for investment and won’t compromise on plans to eliminate the budget deficit by 2025, causing frustration for the Prime Minister. The Times reports that Hammond is planning to include more funding for the NHS in the budget. It says that the Chancellor is considering both ‘a cash injection’ and a pay boost for frontline workers. The Financial Times says that higher taxes will be placed on sales of new diesel vehicles, either by increasing VAT or creating a new levy.


Calls for cabinet reshuffle, amid ‘fierce debate’ in Downing Street
A story in The Guardian claims that senior figures in the Conservative party are calling for a ‘bold reshuffle’ of Theresa May’s cabinet, arguing that a ‘new generation’ of Conservative MPs need to be promoted. Others, including civil servants and whips, are warning that this might cause instability.


David Cameron lobbied China over planned investment fund
The Times reveals that David Cameron discussed a ‘UK-China fund’ being set up by figures including Lord Chadlington, a Conservative peer, with Chinese vice-premier Ma Kai during a visit to the country. If the fund is set up, the paper reports that Cameron is considering taking a role. As the fund does not currently exist, he did not need to seek official clearance.


Carwyn Jones may face investigation over handling of harassment allegations
The Guardian says that Carwyn Jones, the Welsh First Minister, may face an investigation over his handling of the allegations against Carl Sargeant, who was found dead after being sacked last week. Separately, The Daily Telegraph reports that John Bercow, the Commons speaker, has said that Charlie Elphicke, the suspended Tory MP, should be given the details of the allegations against him.


Metropolitan police chief calls for tougher sentences for young offenders
The Daily Mail carries remarks made by Cressida Dick, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, in which she called for tougher sentences for young offenders, which would ‘actually deter people’. She was speaking to the Howard league for Penal Reform, whose Chief Executive, Frances Crook said that ‘it is unusual for a police officer to comment on areas outside their expertise, like sentencing’.


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Today’s Political Headlines – 9 November 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines from the UK’s media, including Priti Patel’s resignation, a Brexit ‘crisis’, the sexual harassment scandal and Corbyn’s call for sprinklers. 

Priti Patel resigns amid unauthorised meetings scandal
Yesterday evening Priti Patel resigned as International Development Secretary, having been summoned back to London by Theresa May following further revelations about her authorised meetings with Israeli officials. The BBC explains the scandal, whilst The Times says that friends of Patel believe that the story was leaked by the Foreign Office to kill off an attempt by her to change Government policy towards Israel. The Daily Telegraph reports that allies of Patel claim that she is ‘livid’ and ‘could do some pretty hard damage’ to the Government from the backbenches.


EU leaders fear Government instability could lead to Brexit crisis
The Times says that ‘fears are growing in Brussels’ that instability in the British Government could lead to a new Prime Minister or new elections, resulting in a Labour victory. Brussels is therefore planning for a disorderly ‘no deal’ exit or even for the UK to decide to stay in the EU. The Financial Times reports that the UK will offer more clarity on budget commitments if the EU simultaneously outlines a transition deal, but that the EU will only do this the UK makes ‘sufficient process’ on financial issues, quoting a diplomat who described this as a ‘chicken and egg’ dilemma.


Sexual harassment scandal: bar manager speaks out and Welsh First Minister criticised
Alice Bailey, a former bar manager at Parliament’s Sports & Social Bar spoke to The Sun about her experiences of harassment by MPs whilst working at the bar. When she asked bosses about reporting one incident, in which an MP followed her onto her bus home, she was told that she would not be believed. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports calls for Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones to resign as a result of his handling of allegations against Carl Sargeant, who was found dead earlier this week having been sacked from his cabinet post.


NHS Chief Executive warns of soaring waiting lists
The Guardian reports that Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, has called for NHS England to be given at least £4 billion more in 2018-19, and for the Government to emulate German, French and Swedish levels of health spending. He warned that waiting lists could reach 5 million if action wasn’t taken.


Corbyn calls for high rises to be fitted with sprinklers
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is to call for £1 billion to be set aside in the budget in order to fit all social housing blocks with sprinklers, starting with those over 30m (ten storeys), to prevent a repetition of the fire at Grenfell Tower, The Mirror says.


Gove backs ban of neonicotinoids
The Guardian reveals that Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove is to back a proposed ban of neonicotinoids across the European Union. In an article for the paper, Gove writes that ‘the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood’.


Iranian prisoner’s husband asks to accompany Boris on Iranian visit
The husband of the Iranian prisoner Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has told The Sun that he will ask if he can accompany Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson when he visits Iran. Richard Ratcliffe told the paper that he had not seen his wife for 18 months and that Johnson had repeatedly turned down requests to meet. The Foreign Office told the paper that Johnson would meet Ratcliffe and try to arrange a family reunion.


Leading US General warns against cuts to the UK’s armed forces
Lieutenant-General Ben Hodges, who commands the US Army in Europe, has told the BBC that if the British armed forces ‘got any smaller’, the UK’s position as a US ally and leading NATO member would be at risk, and the country would struggle to meet is global commitments.


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Today’s Political Headlines – 8 November 2017

A round-up of the latest political headlines from the UK’s media, including Priti Patel, Brexit, Paradise Papers and the NHS. 

Priti Patel returns to London amid further accusations
Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, is flying back to London, following further revelations about unauthorised meetings in Israel. The Times reports that she breached Government protocol by visiting the Golan Heights, had further unauthorised meetings after returning, and that Lord Polak, ‘a leading figure in a corporate lobbying group’, sat in on meetings. The Daily Telegraph claims that Priti Patel departed for Uganda earlier than originally planned yesterday, missing questions in Parliament.

Brussels says that the UK needs to concede to secure trade talks, banks warn of job moves and Government handling of negotiations faces public disapproval
The Guardian has been told by Brussels officials that there is less than a month for the UK to make a concession to secure trade talks. The Financial Times says that a group of large financial institutions warned the US commerce secretary that slow progress with Brexit planning and an unstable government may force them to move thousands of jobs out of London. The Daily Telegraph has a poll showing that the Government’s handling of Brexit negotiations has a 66% disapproval rating.

Paradise Papers revelations continue
The BBC and Guardian are continuing to publish revelations from the ‘Paradise Papers’. Recent revelations include that the Prince of Wales has a ‘conflict of interest’ (according to Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life) between his investments and his environmental lobbying, and the use of the Isle of Man as a tax haven, with Margaret Hodge suggesting that Lewis Hamilton should not receive a knighthood. The Times has revelations about the use of tax havens by Labour councils.

NHS will need £24bn more funding by 2022
The Guardian reports that Jim Mackey, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement, told the NHS Providers conference that the NHS in England could need as much as £24.2 billion more funding than currently pledged by 2022, or it will have to scale back services. A report produced by the King’s Fund found that ‘there will be a significant and growing gap between the resources given to the NHS and the demands it faces’.

Corbyn aide suspended
The Mirror says that David Prescott, Jeremy Corbyn’s aide and son of the former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has been suspended ‘amid the sexual harassment crisis’. He has not commented on the allegation, and the Labour Party would not comment on this specific case.

Carl Sargeant, former Welsh minister, found dead
Carl Sargeant, former Welsh communities secretary was found dead yesterday, after being sacked from his job and suspended from the Labour party on Friday following accusations about his behaviour. The BBC reports that Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones, is facing criticism about his handling of the situation.

Johnson says words were ‘taken out of context’ in Iranian prisoner remarks
The BBC reports on Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s said that his remarks about Nazanin Zagheri-Ratcliffe, currently imprisoned in Iran, were ‘taken out of context’ and that he intends to visit Iran to discuss the case before the end of the year. Her husband said that Johnson’s clarification was a ‘good thing’.

IFS warns of uncertainty surrounding Scottish income tax increases
According to The Daily Telegraph, research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s planned tax increases could backfire, with there being ‘a lot of uncertainty’ over whether more money would be raised. The Scottish Government said that it had considered ‘a range of potential revenue impacts’.

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Engaging with new MPs after #GE2017

So, on the 8th of June, there’ll be some brand new faces sitting in Westminster. Knowing who they are, their political interests and, most importantly, the best way to engage with them is crucial to the success of your public affairs strategy in the coming parliament.


If you want to keep ahead of the game why not tune into our upcoming webinar ‘’Engaging with new MPs after #GE2017’’ for a complete guide to identifying, engaging and influencing the new MP intake which takes place on Tuesday 20 June at 11:00 am BST.

During the webinar we’ll be covering everything from:

  • Identifying the right MPs to engage with based on their political interests, such as select committee membership.
  • Access over 4,000 political contacts including MPs’ staff– the most effective way of reaching MPs.
  • Achieving ROI on your engagement with email tracking and comprehensive reports that measure the success of your campaigns.

Save your spot now on our up and coming webinar to see how our political database can help you!

Introducing the all new integrated database from Vuelio

George Osborne’s appointment as editor of the Evening Standard showed just how easy it is for the worlds of politics and the media to collide.

That’s why we’ve integrated our media and political contacts on one platform, giving you full insight from across the stakeholder community.

So whether you need to contact journalists, MPs or other stakeholders, you’ll have all the information you need, in one place.

Our new integrated database allows you to:

  • Categorise your engagements by campaign or issue – for all your media and public affairs outreach in one place
  • Achieve ROI from your communications with graphs and analytics to measure and evaluate all your stakeholder activity
  • Stay on top of your conversations with a searchable, real-time overview of interactions with MPs, the media and other stakeholders


Political and Media Database


‘’The media contacts database has been really helpful in creating media campaigns and the political monitoring and contacts database have ensured we have covered off all bases when organising events or targeted stakeholder work.”

Kirsty McCaskill-Baxter, Communications and Public Affairs Manager


It’s the full package, and we’d like to show you how it works – request a demo here


Are you struggling with public affairs?

If you want to ensure your organisation influences the political agenda, a public affairs strategy will be crucial to your wider stakeholder engagement. And if you’re struggling to identify who to engage with and how, our upcoming webinar ‘’Influencing Public Affairs’’ will give you the full toolkit for success.

InfluencingPublicAffairs_Lionel Zetter

Our guest speaker, Lionel Zetter, is the former President of the CIPR and the CIPR Government Affairs Group, and is the current Chairman of the PRCA Public Affairs Group. Lionel will explore the fundamentals of public affairs and show you how to achieve tangible results from your political engagement.

Save your spot to see how our public affairs tools can help you:

  • Target your outreach by tracking your open rates and logging engagements with MPs and their staff
  • Stay on top of your team’s external interactions with a searchable, real-time overview of conversations
  • Measure the impact of your activities and see ROI from your public affairs by organising, sharing, tracking and evaluating all your stakeholder activity

The webinar will take place on Tuesday 25th April at 11:00. Make sure you Register now! 

Supercharge your public affairs strategy- engage with MPs

Engaging with MPs is a vital part of any public affairs strategy, but it’s also one of the biggest challenges that public affairs professionals will face. Identifying who to approach is one thing, but getting your voice heard is another. How do you stand out, given the huge number of emails landing in MPs’ inboxes every day?

  • Be clever with contact. Once you’ve identified the parliamentarians you want to engage with, it may be tempting to jump straight in and email the MP directly. However it’s rare that they will be the first to read their emails, and the high volume of correspondence that is sent to their main address may limit the impact that yours has. A far more effective way of getting to MPs is through contacting their staff – an event invitation sent directly to a parliamentary assistant will have far greater chance of being seen by the right person.
  • Do your research. A successful public affairs strategy will have a foundation of engaged MPs who you can work with to inform the political debate. To build this base, you need to identify the right MPs to engage with based on which select committees they sit on, which APPGs they’re part of, and which issues they speak out on during debates. Social media is also a great way to keep track of interests which MPs may not necessarily list officially, but which could be a key part of your engagement strategy. This could be which sports team they support, their favourite charity or recent events they’ve attended.
  • Never lose track of your interactions. This is crucial, as the last thing you want to do is duplicate efforts across your team or engage with a new staff member when your organisation already has strong relationships with another. By tracking and saving all communications taking place across your team, you can rest assured that no one is left out of the loop.

Find out more or request a demo of the Vuelio political database here.