Dods at Party Conference 2018

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

16 February 2019
Theresa May meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman

Britain is on "the wrong side of the law" by continuing to sign-off arms exports for Saudi Arabia to use in the bloody war in Yemen, ministers have been warned.

A new report by the cross-party House of Lords international relations select committee calls on the Government to immediately halt some export licenses to the Kingdom, warning that they are "highly likely to be the cause of significant civilian casualties" in the conflict. The United Nations estimates that the three-year war in Yemen - which pits a Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels who ousted a Riyadh-backed government in 2015 - has killed at least 10,000 people and left millions more facing famine in one of the Arab world's poorest countries. PoliticsHome revealed last month than £4.5m-worth of arms and defence exports were given the green-light between July and September 2018, including components for mortars, turrets, projectile launchers and body armour. The report by the influential group of peers takes aim at the Government's...
16 February 2019
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney launches the Bank's hunt for the face of the new £50 note.

Ministers have called on the Bank of England not to choose a white person as the face of the new £50 note in a bid to improve the representation of black and minority ethnic people in Britain.

Exchequer Secretary Robert Jenrick has thrown his weight behind a campaign to try and make the country's currency more diverse. He told the Telegraph: "The new £50 note should symbolise our values as a country." And he added: "Bank notes are symbols of identity and project our country and values to the world, so they should reflect all of our people, our history and our future as a great open and diverse nation." The intervention comes after Tory MP and former minister Helen Grant wrote to Bank of England governor Mark Carney urging him to address "the lack of representation of ethnic minorities on British banknotes". Mr Carney will this summer reveals who has been chosen to feature on the new £50 note, after whittling down nearly 1,000 names - including former prime minister Margaret Thatcher - who are still in the running. Ms Grant told the governor...
16 February 2019
Labour rosette

Labour has come under fire after a member's claim that the "Jewish community plans to attack" the party was not deemed to have been anti-semitic under its complaints process.

MPs and campaigners hit out at the party's "appalling" handling of complaints against Sir Duncan Michael over remarks he made at a meeting of the Wimbledon Constituency Labour Party last August. According to Sky News - which has obtained a recording of the meeting - Sir Duncan described the row over the party's handling of anti-Jewish racism as a "storm that started straight after we elected Jeremy". And he added: "Attacking Corbyn failed. He passed three democratic tests and so the Jewish community plans to attack our party." He is also said to have told the meeting that the furore over anti-semitism in Labour was being led by a "very undemocratic elite from within our party" because of Mr Corbyn's "kindly" position on Palestine. Following the meeting, several formal complaints were lodged against Sir Duncan by those present. However, Sky News...
16 February 2019
Angela Rayner

A Labour government overhaul of the universities sector would mean institutions could no longer fall into bankruptcy, Angela Rayner will say.

The Shadow Education Secretary will announce plans to "unwind" a series of Conservative reforms to Britain's "not fit for purpose" higher education regulator. In a speech to the University and Colleges Union’s annual conference she will say that under Labour the Office for Students would be given the power to hand out emergency loans to keep institutions afloat. And to ensure there was no rewards for failure, ministers would slap sanctions on those who “regularly” required such intervention. It comes after Universities Minister Chris Skidmore earlier this week said there was “an expectation” that some providers could “exit the market altogether as a result of strong competition”. Reports in November of last year suggested that at least three British universities are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Ms Rayner will say: “These are not profit-making private companies that can simply be left at the mercy of market forces. Ministers cannot simply bury their heads...
15 February 2019
Sir Philip Green

Pressure is mounting for retail tycoon Sir Philip Green to be stripped of his knighthood after senior MP Frank Field called for the Queen to get involved.

Mr Field has written to the head of Whitehall's Honours Forfeiture Committee - which can urge the Queen to strip someone of their award - demanding action to show that "huge wealth" cannot shield the under-fire businessman from scrutiny. The call comes after Sir Philip dropped a legal battle with the Daily Telegraph newspaper, allowing it to report on a series of non-disclosure agreements he had in place with former employees. The Topshop tycoon has faced claims that he groped a female employee and used a racial slur at another worker. He has vigorously denied the allegations and any suggestion of unlawful conduct. Mr Field - who chairs the cross-party Work and Pensions Committee - has previously clashed with the retail boss over his handling of employees' pension schemes at the BHS chain of stores. MPs backed a non-binding vote in 2016 for Sir Philip to lose his knighthood after the firm went bust with a £571m scheme deficit. Mr Field has now written to Sir Jonathan Stephens,...
15 February 2019
Theresa May and Donald Trump

Theresa May has been handed a boost by Donald Trump as the US President promised to "very, very substantially" increase trade with the UK after Brexit.

The American commander-in-chief, who has previously taken potshots at the agreement the Prime Minister thrashed out with the EU, said ties between the two countries would be "strengthened further" after the UK leaves the bloc. His comments came as the US and UK struck a deal to preserve some £12.8bn worth of trade ties once Britain leaves the EU. The new agreement will keep in place “all relevant aspects” of the United States’ current trade tie-up with the European Union after Brexit, with ministers boasting that the pharmaceuticals, technology and telecoms sectors will be the biggest beneficiaries of the pact. Speaking outside the White House as the agreement was signed off, President Trump dropped a hint that the US was likely to ramp up its trade ties with Britain post-Brexit. "You know all of the situation with respect to Brexit and the complexity and the problems," he told reporters. "But we have a very good trading realtionship with the UK and that's just been strengthened...
15 February 2019
Theresa May and Jean Claude Juncker

Conservative hard Brexiteers have inflicted another humbling defeat on Theresa May. But Downing Street insiders insist that in the end the PM will emerge from the political rubble clutching a Brexit deal, writes George Parker

The Members’ lobby, that glorious ante room to the House of Commons chamber, remains the best place for a journalist to pick up the mood at Westminster and – let’s face it – the atmosphere is pretty vitriolic at the moment. Some lobby correspondents nowadays favour Portcullis House as their preferred place for intelligence gathering, figuring that you can combine political gossip with a decent latte. The area near the escalators isn’t a bad place to loiter. But we old timers still fall back on the Members’ lobby, where high level, off-the-record intrigue is exchanged under the watchful gaze of Thatcher, Attlee, Lloyd-George and Churchill on the usual lobby terms. The best time to be there is after a crucial vote, especially after a government defeat, when emotions are running high and MPs and ministers are all too willing to vent their anger, frustration or joy – depending on your viewpoint. I spent hours in the Members’ lobby during the Maastricht votes of the early 1990s, but...
George Parker
15 February 2019
Dominic Grieve

A dozen ministers could resign unless Theresa May rules out a no-deal Brexit by the end of this month, Dominic Grieve has claimed.

The former attorney general said they would include as many as six members of the Cabinet as the fragile Tory truce over Brexit collapsed. Mrs May has pledged to give MPs another vote on Brexit on 27 February, when they will have the option of backing an attempt by Labour MP Yvette Cooper to extend the Article 50 process to give the Government more time to agree a deal. The Prime Minister has repeatedly insisted that the Government is prepared to quit the EU on 29 March without a withdrawal agreement in place.  Speaking on Radio Four's Today programme, Mr Grieve said he knew of ministers who were willing to stand down in order to back the Cooper amendment. He said: "I'm always hesitant to speak on behalf of colleagues, but I think we are talking of up half a dozen [in Cabinet]. My understanding is that many of them have made representations directly to the Prime Minister indicating their concern and telling the Prime Minister that if by the end of February there is no deal that has...
15 February 2019
School pupils protesting over climate change

Theresa May has taken a swipe at young people who have gone on strike from school to protest about a lack of action on tackling climate change.

Students across Britain walked out of classrooms en masse at 11 o’clock this morning as part of a global youth movement calling for a better response to the problem from politicians. The UK Student Climate Network, which has organised the protest, is calling on ministers to declare “a climate emergency” and inform the public about the seriousness of the situation. They also want the “the ecological crisis” to be recognised as an educational priority and for the voting age to be lowered to 16 across the UK to give young people more of a say in decision-making. But asked whether the Prime Minister supported the strike, a spokeswoman said: “Everybody wants young people to be engaged with the issues that affect them most so that we can build a brighter future for all of us. “But it is important to emphasise that disruption increases teachers' workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for. “That time is crucial for young people, precisely so that they can...
15 February 2019
Melanie Onn is a minister in the shadow housing team

We expect politicians to make decisions of great magnitude without complaint. But we would do well to acknowledge the task at hand for many MPs across the House, writes Sebastian Whale

“I suspect that people would anticipate, given we’ve talked about March being the date that we leave, that to renege on that would be something very difficult to get their head around.” I first sensed that Melanie Onn would not support pushing back Article 50 when I visited her in Grimsby over the summer. I was in north east Lincolnshire for a feature on whether the local fishing industry was in line for a post-Brexit renaissance. The constituency voted overwhelmingly (70%) for Leave at the referendum, and Onn sensed Grimbarians would not stomach postponing the exit date. “I think that they would smell a rat, yes.” On 29 January, Onn was one of 10 Labour MPs to abstain on the Cooper amendment, which would have seen Article 50 delayed to allow more time to prevent a no deal Brexit. Fellow frontbenchers Gloria De Piero and Tracy Brabin also abstained, along with Judith Cummins, Yvonne Fovargue, Mike Kane, Emma Lewell-Buck, Jim McMahon, Ruth Smeeth and John Spellar. For a time in the...