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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