Dods at Party Conference 2018

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

19 September 2018
Dominic Raab

Labour has blasted Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab for “wasting time” when he should be negotiating with Brussels.

The Cabinet minister was mocked after he wrote a letter to Keir Starmer demanding Labour lay out its position on quitting the bloc. He demanded “urgent clarification” on reports Labour could call for the suspension of the two-year Article 50 process with a view to calling another referendum. Mr Raab said: “More than two years on from the referendum, with the right deal within our reach, the vast majority of British people will see that instead of trying to make Brexit a success, Labour are only interested in trying to frustrate the process.” But a Labour source shot back: “Labour respects the result of the referendum and is not calling for a second referendum. “With only weeks of Brexit negotiating time to go and no progress in sight, people would expect Dominic Raab to be getting on with the job of negotiating for Britain, not wasting time writing letters to the opposition.” Meanwhile Labour MP Ben Bradshaw ridiculed the Brexit Secretary for writing “silly letters”. You would have...
19 September 2018
Andrew Murray and Jeremy Corbyn

A top adviser to Jeremy Corbyn has suggested the intelligence services are working to prevent him ever becoming Prime Minister.

Andrew Murray said his suspicions were raised by recent newspaper reports about his failure to get a security pass for Parliament nearly a year after applying. The Mail on Sunday also reported that he has been banned from entering Ukraine for allegedly being part of Vladimir Putin's "global propaganda network". Mr Murray, who was in the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Communist Party of Britain before joining Labour in 2016, said he believed the "manoeuvrings of what is now called the deep state" could be behind it. Writing in the New Statesman, he strenuously denied any links to the Russian regime and added: "Call me sceptical if you must, but I do not see journalistic enterprise behind the Mail’s sudden capacity to tease obscure information out of the SBU (Ukrainian security services). "Yes, they got a copy of an SBU letter allegedly banning me back in June, although it is...
19 September 2018
Donald Tusk

Theresa May’s Brexit proposals must be "reworked and further negotiated" before a final deal can be agreed, European Council President Donald Tusk has said.

Appearing ahead of a crunch summit in Salzburg, the Brussels chief urged the Prime Minister to tweak her current proposals on the contentious Northern Irish border issue and confirmed that an emergency Brexit summit will take place in mid-November. While he welcomed a "positive evolution" in the UK's stance in recent months, Mr Tusk warned: "On other issues, such as the Irish question, or the framework for economic co-operation, where the UK proposals will need to be reworked and further negotiated. "There is more hope but there is surely less and less time, every day left we must use for talks." The intervention is a blow for Mrs May as she prepares to urge the EU to drop its "unacceptable demands" on Northern...
19 September 2018

Shadow Business Minister Bill Esterson MP has spoken to The House magazine about setting up an agency which will offer loans and advice to small and medium-sized (SME) businesses to help them expand.

Inspired by a US system set up by President Eisenhower, Labour hopes it will shake off its image as an anti-business party. The National Federation of Builders (NFB) welcomes the focus on SMEs and is encouraged to see more politicians attuned to understanding the key role of SMEs in fuelling the local and national economy. SMEs account for 99% of Britain’s businesses and employ 60% of the private sector’s workforce. With a fifth of them operating in construction, SMEs are the lifeblood of the regional and national economy. In the construction industry, 66% of apprentices are trained and retained by SMEs who normally operate within 15 miles of their head offices. However, large companies remain frontrunners in securing procurement contracts and getting planning permission for new homes. If the Labour Party wants to offer meaningful loans and advice to SMEs, it needs to first understand the environment in which they operate. For example, SME house builders often struggle to secure...
19 September 2018
Newspapers

Journalists from The Sun have been banned from attending a festival organised by the pro-Jeremy Corbyn campaign group Momentum.

The World Transformed event is taking place alongside the Labour party conference in Liverpool next week. But in a statement, Momentum said the paper had "smeared" victims of the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster - in which 96 Liverpool fans died - and it was backing a long-running boycott of the title in the city. A Momentum spokesperson said: "This year's festival is in Liverpool where there is a 23-year-long campaign to boycott the Sun after they smeared Liverpool fans in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster, falsely claiming that they 'picked pockets of victims', 'urinated on brave cops' and 'beat up PCs giving the kiss of life'. "We stand with the people of Liverpool and all of the families who lost loved ones in the disaster and are still fighting for justice. This is why the boycott of The Sun extends to The World Transformed." In 2012 The Sun issued an "...
19 September 2018
Mel Stride

Tory MPs planning to torpedo Theresa May’s Chequers deal could be paving the way for a second Brexit referendum, a Conservative minister has warned.

Treasury Minister Mel Stride told Sky News that voting down the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan in the Commons could prompt a second vote and risk the UK “not leaving the EU altogether”. Hardline Tory MPs have condemnded the blueprint - arguing it leaves Britain too closely tied to the bloc - with some vowing to reject it when it comes before the Commons.  But Mr Stride said: “When we have a firm deal on the table I suspect that those to the right of the party, the pro-Brexit wing, will be very concerned that if that deal doesn’t prevail then we’ll end up in a situation where we could end up with a second referendum and we could end up not leaving the EU altogether. “So, there’s a danger of that happening if Chequers doesn’t prevail.” Treasury minister @MelJStride suggests there could be another referendum if the prime minister's Chequers proposals are rejected by the Commons: ...
19 September 2018

Freelancers will feel the latest inflation rise particularly badly compared to employees, IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) has warned.

The warning came after it was revealed that inflation had increased to 2.7 per cent in August – the highest level in six months. Jordan Marshall, IPSE’s Policy Development Manager, commented: “Freelancers will be especially hard hit by this jump in inflation not only because, unlike employees, they pick up their own business costs, but also because they travel more to win and work on different contracts. They will particularly feel the effect of the 13.5 per cent jump in air fares, because many of them take up contracts overseas and travel long distances in the UK. “Like a lot of people in today’s labour market, many freelancers will struggle to ensure their earnings keep pace with the rising cost of living. “On top of this, the UK’s 4.8 million self-employed also fear extra costs if the Government confirms its damaging changes to IR35 tax.   “Rising inflation also makes it more likely that the interest rate will be raised, potentially hurting self-employed people with...
19 September 2018

Funding to support Artificial Intelligence (AI) in drug discovery takes a significant step forward today as Optibrium, Intellegens, and Medicines Discovery Catapult secure a grant from Innovate UK to fund a £1 million project.

The program will see Optibrium, which creates software to improve the efficiency and productivity of drug discovery, and Intellegens, a spin out from the University of Cambridge which is focused on a specific form of AI called ‘deep learning’, work with Medicines Discovery Catapult over the next two years. The aim is to harness the power of AI to learn from complex data and guide scientists in the design and testing of potential new drugs. Drug discovery generates a huge quantity of complex biological, chemical, clinical and safety information that needs to be collected, analysed and presented in a way that it can be best used to make evidence-based decisions. The research partners are seeking a means of providing better insights into how a drug interacts with the body, improving the efficiency and productivity of drug discovery. The project will use novel deep learning methods to create a next generation platform that will better predict the absorption, distribution, metabolism,...
19 September 2018

Prime Minister Theresa May will tell the National Housing Federation (NHF) that £2 billion of new cash will be available for housing associations from 2022 to build and manage tens of thousands of properties.

The prime minister will also tell the NHF that social housing is not the tenure for second class citizens and that housing associations have the tools to build homes and take on major developments themselves, rather than acquiring a proportion of properties that commercial developers build. The Labour Party has said that the promises fall short and that, if the Conservatives are serious about fixing the housing crisis, they should back Labour plans to build a million genuinely affordable homes. The National Federation of Builders (NFB) welcomes the extra funding, but thinks that the country cannot afford to wait until 2022. In addition, the NFB is sceptical that the language used focuses on major developments but not the broken planning process. Housing associations play a key role in diversifying the housing market, as well as delivering a wide range of sites. However, typically partnering with small and medium sized builders (SMEs), they experience many of the same barriers to...
19 September 2018
Diane Abbott MP

Shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, looks at a new report from the Fire Brigades Union on Grenfell and what needs to be learned from the background of an atrocity.

I recently spoke at the launch of the Fire Brigades Union’s report Background to an Atrocity. This report provides an exhaustive history of where government policy has gone wrong over the past 30 years culminating in the Grenfell Tower fire. The report makes clear that the FBU has been warning about the danger of a Grenfell like incident for years and nobody has listened. Specifically, the FBU was warning as long ago as 1999, in the House of Commons itself, that certain flammable cladding was a threat to life, after a tower block (Garnock Court, a 14-storey block of flats in Irvine, Scotland) caught fire. Cladding was a significant factor in the spread of the fire. William Linton was killed in the fire and five others injured. As a result building regulations were strengthened in Scotland but not in England. At the time, the FBU said cladding could act as a “vehicle for assisting uncontrolled fire spread” which “poses a threat to the life safety of the residents” above the fire...