Dods at Party Conference 2018

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

19 January 2019
Keir Starmer

Labour must not rule out backing a second referendum if it fails to force a general election, Keir Starmer has insisted.

Jeremy Corbyn has appeared reluctant to back the policy, despite a Labour conference motion committing the party to supporting a "public vote" if all other options are exhausted. But speaking at a Fabians conference in London, Sir Keir said the pledge was "a very important commitment ... and it is one that we will keep". The Shadow Brexit Secretary said: "Securing a general election is - and always will be - our priority as it’s the only way to deliver the radical change this country needs, but we are now at the third phase of our policy. "Our conference motion states that if we cannot get a general election Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote. "That is a very important commitment. It’s a commitment to you, our members and our movement. And it is one we will keep." Sir Keir added: "I know there is significant support for this in our membershi, in many trade unions, among a number of Labour MPs in this city and, most likely, ...
19 January 2019
Tom Watson

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson will today call on his party not to fail Britain at a "great moment of change" and urge the party to "engage intelligently" with Theresa May.

His comments, at a Fabian Society speech in London today, come after Jeremy Corbyn declined to meet the Prime Minister for Brexit talks earlier this week unless she took the default option of a no-deal departure "off the table". According to The Guardian, the frontbencher will say: “The country needs the leadership that only we can give. Let’s make sure we do not fail them.” Although the deputy leader does not mention his party leader directly, his speech will be seen by some as a thinly-veiled swipe at Mr Corbyn. Mr Watson said his party had a duty to “engage intelligently” with the government, adding: “The prime minister must create the conditions for that engagement. And I fear her inflexibility and lack of imagination will mean she is unable to do so.” He will also encourage Labour to appeal to those who have voted for other parties, rather than rely on...
19 January 2019
Andrea Leadsom

MPs who want to stop Britain leaving the European Union without a deal "think they know better" than voters, a top Cabinet minister has claimed.

Andrea Leadsom accused those attempting to block a no-deal scenario of “conveniently ignoring” the legislation passed by Parliament which means the UK will default to leaving the EU in March if no alternative plan is backed. The Commons Leader told The Telegraph: “The will of the people is not something that should be redefined by parliamentarians who think they know better and want to pursue their own agenda. Anyone who wants to cheer the optimistic future we have ahead of us is worthy of our support, not our derision.” Her comments come after several ministers including Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Justice Secretary David Gauke and Business Secretary Greg Clark have publicly called for a no-deal Brexit to be stopped. Yesterday, Amber Rudd shared a warning on Twitter from the Confederation of British Industry who called a no deal “unmanageable...
19 January 2019
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

A senior doctors' group has urged the government to be “transparent” about the availability of key drugs in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP), which represents tens of thousands of doctors in the UK, said it was most concerned about the availability of medicines that are already in short supply or require refrigeration, such as insulin. The Guardian reports that patients are already stockpiling drugs and ordering some medicines from abroad, despite official guidance that this is no necessary. Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the RCP, told the paper: “Faith in the system will be created by openness and regular updates to trusts and clinicians; this will allow clinicians to reassure patients.” The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), which represents pharmacies, has meanwhile warned that the prices of generic drugs are “seeing another surge” amid market shortages and Brexit fears. Generic drugs are usually bought through set national...
18 January 2019

Ministers have been blasted for allowing more than £4.5m-worth of arms and defence exports to Saudi Arabia to go ahead in spite of the Kingdom's fierce war with Yemen.

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith branded the move "simply unacceptable" after new figures revealed the Government signed off on millions of pounds-worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the third quarter of 2018, despite growing international concern about the humanitarian situation in Yemen. A Saudi-led coalition has been battling Yemeni rebels since they ousted a Riyadh-backed government in 2015. The fighting – which has left more than 10,000 dead and an estimated 22m in need of assistance – is described by the United Nations as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. But despite concerns, new figures released by the Department for International Trade show that it has continued to green-light arms exports destined for Saudi forces. The latest figures from the Department show that, between July and September 2018, over £4.5m worth of equipment and armaments – including components for mortars and turrets – were cleared for export. Other licences for targeting...
18 January 2019
Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott has accused the BBC of "legitimising" racist abuse after the Labour frontbencher was barracked on Question Time.

In a fierce broadside against the corporation, a spokesperson said the Shadow Home Secretary had been "jeered at and interrupted more times than any other panellist", including by the show's new host, Fiona Bruce. They also said that Ms Abbott had been targeted "as a black woman in public life". Audience members claimed on social media that Ms Abbott had been singled out during the warm-up for the show as well as when it was being recorded - allegations which the BBC has denied. Jyoti Wilkinson, who works for Labour MP Chris Williamson and was in the audience, accused Ms Bruce of making references to Ms Abbott's "relationship" with Jeremy Corbyn before the show began. He said: "This level of deliberate antagonism from the BBC is a disgrace, and the institution now desperately needs to be held to account." Critics also pointed to a part of the show when Ms Abbott was challenged by Ms Bruce when she claimed Labour is "kind of level-pegging" with the Tories in the opinion polls. The host...
18 January 2019
Jeremy Corbyn

A Labour frontbencher has heaped fresh pressure on Jeremy Corbyn by urging him to become a "leading voice" in the campaign for a second Brexit referendum.

Shadow Sports Minister Rosena Allin-Khan broke ranks to call on the Labour leader to "show leadership", amid reluctance from some senior party figures to throw their weight behind a new public vote. Labour's official policy is to first try to unseat Theresa May in a general election, but it has said that "all options" remain "on the table, including campaigning for a public vote" if such a bid fails. Ms Allin-Khan told the Evening Standard: "Millions of voters have been left feeling politically abandoned because of Brexit. "Labour members and supporters are looking for Labour to show leadership. Jeremy Corbyn can become the leading voice in the campaign for a public vote, really shaping what the referendum would look like." The MP, who represents the heavily pro-Remain seat of Tooting in London, warned that Labour risked being...
18 January 2019
Lord Boswell warns a no deal Brexit would have a profound effect on Gibraltar

The government’s preparations for a ‘managed no deal’ leave many questions unanswered, writes the chair of the Lords EU Committee Lord Boswell

This week has been yet another momentous one for Brexit, Parliament and the government. While the dust settles on the House of Commons rejection of the government’s Withdrawal Agreement, the date on which the UK is scheduled to leave the EU moves ever closer. While some commentators have said the Withdrawal Agreement defeat (and the earlier regret motion in the House of Lords) mean that a no deal Brexit is less likely than it was a week ago, it remains a fact that under both UK and EU law the UK will leave the EU on the 29 March, even if there is no deal in place. Indeed, tweets from both Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker after Tuesday’s vote suggested that on the other side of the channel the feeling was that the chances of ‘no deal’ had increased rather than reduced. So, it is important to understand how prepared the UK is for a no deal Brexit, and part of the role of the EU Committee, which I chair, is to scrutinise those preparations on behalf of both the House of Lords, and...
18 January 2019
Theresa May

Downing Street has flatly denied that Theresa May is planning to call a fresh general election, as speculation mounted about a snap poll.

The New Statesman on Friday reported that at least nine government ministers - including three at Cabinet-level - have told their constituency associations to start preparing for a snap vote as the Prime Minister struggles to break the deadlock over her Brexit deal. According to the title, four of those ministers have named 28 February as the date for a new poll. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reported that Britain's top civil servant Sir Mark Sedwill has told senior departmental officials to be ready for an early election. But in a briefing with journalists this morning, Mrs May's official spokesperson was specifically asked whether the Prime Minister is "ruling out a snap general election". The...
18 January 2019
The Liaison committee is launching an inquiry into the select committee system

Select committee, scrutinise thyself – that’s the message from the Liaison Committee as it launches a major inquiry into select committee influence and effectiveness. Chair Sarah Wollaston looks at why, in this 40th anniversary year of the ‘departmental’ system, it is time to take stock

At a time when politics can feel fractious and tense, select committees often show a more positive side of parliament. Select committees are where MPs sit around a table, engaged on a joint enterprise and are at their best when party politics is largely left to one side. MPs work together with an evidence-led approach and seek to reach a consensus where they can make a positive difference. They hold the government and others to account, propose forward policy solutions to difficult issues, and listen to a range of voices to inform debate. They can show the House of Commons at its best. The existing departmental select committee system is celebrating its 40th anniversary in June. Departmental committees mirror each government department, and other committees consider wider issues across government, such as public administration and environmental audit; others deal with the internal and domestic matters of the house. As chair of the Liaison Committee, the committee of all the...