Today’s Political Headlines include key meetings on Brexit, the EU’s power to punish, May’s press review and the Government overhauling employment rights for millions.
May prepares to chair key meetings on Brexit
Theresa May is to chair the first of two meetings of her Brexit cabinet committee today, the BBC reports. Today’s meeting will focus on Northern Ireland and immigration, while tomorrow’s will focus on trade. As the BBC notes, the meeting comes as the British Chambers of Commerce criticised the Government for ‘continued division’ and warned that businesses’ ‘patience is wearing thin’. The Guardian says that the Public Accounts Committee has found that the Government has been ‘too slow’ at making preparations for Brexit, and that a University of Sussex report suggests that manufacturing exports could be cut by a third.
EU will have power to punish UK at will during transition, leaked document shows
The Guardian reports that a leaked document shows that the EU will be able to punish the UK at will during the transition period, by closing access to parts of the single market. This would allow the EU countries to act against the UK without having to go through the European Court of Justice.
May pledges review of the press, criticises online abuse of politicians
As The Guardian says, Theresa May has announced a review into whether state intervention is needed to preserve local and national newspapers, calling the decline in local journalism a threat to democracy. The review will examine the rise in ‘clickbait’ news. The announcement was made in a speech marking the enfranchisement of women in which, The Times reports, May criticised online abuse of political candidates and representatives, and praised the ‘heroism’ of the suffragettes.
Government to overhaul employment rights for millions
The Government has promised to overhaul employment rights for millions of workers, including those in the gig economy, the BBC says. Nearly all of the recommendations of the Taylor review into working practices are to be adopted, but unions warn that the plans will still leave 1.8m workers without key rights. Quoted in The Daily Telegraph, the Institute for Directors claims the Government has missed an opportunity to reform National Insurance.
Boris plans Valentine’s Day Brexit speech
The Daily Mail claims that Boris Johnson is planning on making a major speech on Brexit on Valentine’s Day to set out his vision of a ‘liberal Brexit’. Allies of Johnson told the paper that no date or venue had been set, and the paper claims that ‘the intervention will inevitably be interpreted as a bid to push his own credentials to take over from Theresa May.’ Meanwhile, The Times suggests that senior Conservatives are searching for a candidate to prevent Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg winning a sudden leadership contest.
Jack Sargeant elected for his father’s old Welsh Assembly seat
Jack Sargeant has been elected as the new Welsh Assembly Member for Alyn and Deeside. As the BBC reports, he will be following in the footsteps of his father, Carl Sargeant who died in November, having apparently taken his own life, causing the by-election.
Treasury planning loan to bail out Ministry of Defence
According to an exclusive in The Sun, the Treasury is offering to meet the Ministry of Defence’s funding shortfall through a loan until the next spending review in 2020. This would have to be repaid by cutting troops or selling off assets. The paper expects this to ‘spark another major Cabinet row’ between Philip Hammond and Gavin Williamson.
Carillion chief executive admits board should have asked more questions
The Financial Times reports that Keith Cochrane, Chief Executive of Carillion when it collapsed, admitted to MPs in an evidence session yesterday that the board should have asked ‘more probing questions’. Former Finance Director Emma Mercer suggested that her predecessor Zafar Khan and former Chief Executive Richard Howson had been ‘aggressive’ with how contracts were accounted for, a claim Khan denied.
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