Dods at Party Conference 2018

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

12 December 2018
Lord Lester

An ex-Lib Dem peer who was facing a record ban from the House of Lords over sexual harassment allegations dramatically quit the Upper Chamber last night.

82-year-old Lord Lester, who denies a claim of misconduct 12 years ago, could have been booted out of the Lords for almost four years. He was suspended by the Liberal Democrats earlier this year after the allegation by author and activist Jasvinder Sanghera came to light. A House of Lords committee found Lord Lester “had sexually harassed the complainant, had offered her a corrupt inducement to have sexual relations with her, and had warned her of unspecified consequences if she did not accept his offer”. He is said to have told Ms Sanghera: “If you sleep with me, I will make you a baroness within a year.” The privileges and conduct committee recommended he be suspended until June 2022, but peers voted to send the decision back for a rethink amid claims the investigation was flawed. But the committee upheld its decision last month and peers were set to vote again in the coming days. Lord Lester instead said he was quitting the Lords with "immediate effect" since the probe had "taken a...
12 December 2018
Mohammad bin Salman

Ministers approved the sale of more than £2.5million-worth of snooping equipment to Saudi Arabia in the past year despite concerns over its human rights record, PoliticsHome can reveal.

New data released under Freedom of Information show that the Department of International Trade granted five export licenses for telecommunications interception equipment to the kingdom between September 2017 and September 2018 - in spite of the country being listed on the UK's human rights watchlist. Campaigners accused the Government of "empowering authoritarian agencies" by allowing the sales. The figures show that in late 2017 the department granted two temporary licenses worth £152,000 for equipment destined for use by a Saudi "law enforcement agency". Meanwhile, in April of this year, it signed off on three permanent contracts totalling £2.4m for use by the Saudi government. The department’s latest disclosure does not list a particular product type - but previous UK exports of spy tech have included controversial IMSI-catchers, which are capable of eavesdropping on telephone conversations, accessing private information stored on mobile phones and conducting indiscriminate...
12 December 2018
Kate Osamor

Former Labour frontbencher Kate Osamor has apologised for the "emotional outbursts" towards a journalist which led to her resignation from the Shadow Cabinet.

Ms Osamor quit as Shadow International Development Secretary earlier this month, a day after she allegedly threatened to smash the Times reporter's face in with a bat. She also reportedly told the journalist to “f*** off”, threw a bucket of water at him and called the police after accusing him of stalking. The incident came after the Edmonton MP was accused of misleading the public over her knowledge of her son's conviction for drug offences. Ishmael Osamor, who is employed by her as a communications officer, was handed a community sentence in October after being caught with drugs worth £2,500 at a music festival. He had pleaded guilty to four charges of possession with intent to supply cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine and cannabis, although the prosecution accepted he was holding the drugs for a friend rather than selling them. Ms Osamor was reported to parliament’s standards watchdog in early November by a Conservative MP for continuing to employ her son, despite his offences coming to...
12 December 2018
Pre-fabricated construction

New technologies such as off-site manufacture could considerably improve the productivity of the construction industry, says Lord Mair.

On 12 December there will be a House of Lords debate taking note of the Report from the Science and Technology Committee Off-site Manufacture in Construction – Building for change, published in July. The construction industry is worth around £100 billion per annum to the UK economy; the sector contributes 6% to the UK’s GDP. It is also vital to solving some of the pressing problems facing us: there is a lack of affordable housing, and we have ageing infrastructure that needs replacing or increasing in capacity. However the construction industry suffers from poor productivity. New technologies such as offsite manufacture could considerably improve the productivity of the construction industry.  The Government announced the Construction Sector Deal in November 2017 as part of its Industrial Strategy White Paper. This aims to transform the productivity of the sector, focusing on the building of houses, schools, hospitals and major transport projects. A key innovation contained in...
12 December 2018
Theresa May

Theresa May could face a challenge to her leadership within hours after Tory Brexiteers claimed they had collected enough letters for a confidence vote.

According to the BBC, Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, has sought a meeting with the Prime Minister amid mounting speculation that the 48 letter threshold has been reached. Under Tory party rules, that would trigger a formal no-confidence vote by Conservative MPs. If Mrs May won it, she could not be challenged again for at least a year. But if she lost, she would be forced to resign and a leadership contest would begin. Former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson became the latest Conservative MP to publically announce that he had submitted his own letter in which he claimed Mrs May had made a series of mistakes during the Brexit negotiations. According to the Telegraph, Mr Paterson's letter...
12 December 2018
Ian Paisley

Top DUP MP Ian Paisley has denied wrongdoing over claims his family enjoyed a free holiday in a luxury Maldives resort after he defended its government.

The North Antrim MP took his wife and two sons to the tropical archipelago for five nights at full board in October and November 2016, shortly after a controversial parliamentary visit there, the BBC says. Evidence seen by the broadcaster suggests the trip was requested by the Maldivian government and facilitated by the resort owner, who is said to have political links. It comes after Mr Paisley was slapped with a record 30-day ban from Parliament after it was discovered he failed to tell Commons watchdogs about two luxury family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. The MP never listed the holiday to the Maldives in his register of interests - which parliamentarians have to do when other people pick up the bill for their travels. Mr Paisley said part of the trip was paid for by a friend who he refused to identify - with the other part paid by himself. However he insisted the person was unconnected to and...
11 December 2018
Theresa May

As rumours swirl that Theresa May could be facing an imminent test of her leadership, here's our read-in-a-minute guide to how it could all play out under Tory rules.

How would a no confidence vote start? To kick off the process of ousting Mrs May, 48 Tory MPs incensed about her handling of Brexit would need to send a letter of no confidence to the chairman of the party's 1922 backbench committee, Sir Graham Brady. Under Conservative party rules, a challenge is triggered if 15% of Tory MPs who don't have a Government job put in their no confidence letters - hence the 48 number everyone is banging on about.   So what happens then? If the crucial threshold is reached, we'd expect an announcement from Mr Brady about an impending vote, which should take place "as soon as possible in the circumstances prevailing" under party rules. Once that gets underway, all Tory MPs would be balloted to vote for or against Mrs May.   What if she wins it? Conservative rules state that Mrs May would need only a simple majority of her MPs to back her in order to stay on. And if she wins that ballot by as little as a one vote, she cannot face...
11 December 2018
Denis Skinner sits stony-faced as the SNP's Stewart McDonald raises a point of order.

Veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner called an SNP MP "a piece of sh*t" after he criticised Jeremy Corbyn.

The Bolsover MP hurled the term at Stewart McDonald during a debate on Theresa May's decision to cancel a vote on her Brexit deal. Mr McDonald, the MP for Glasgow South, complained about Mr Skinner's behaviour in a point of order. But Commons Speaker John Bercow opted to stay out of the row, saying he held the Labour MP in the “highest esteem” while reminding all MPs to conduct themselves “agreeably”. The flare-up came when Mr McDonald urged Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to “answer the question” during the debate. The SNP MP told the Speaker: “It then prompted the honourable gentleman from Bolsover to turn around to me and call me a piece of sh*t. Mr Speaker, he then on went to defend that, telling a journalist that he was just ‘putting me in my place’.” He added: “Now, as you know, Mr Speaker, I’ve no desire to raise this formally with you... I’d hoped to deal with it informally as you’d suggested Mr Speaker. "But given he shows no sign of having any regret about it, can you just...
11 December 2018
Theresa May arrives for talks with Angela Merkel

Former Cabinet minister Nicky Morgan today became the latest Conservative MP to suggest a government of "national unity" as Theresa May raced to make changes to her Brexit deal.

The Treasury Select Committee chair told MPs they could either “carry on re-running the same debates” or “see how we build a consensus and move forward as a parliament” after Mrs May shelved a crunch Commons vote on her agreement and kicked off face-to-face talks with EU leaders. Ms Morgan - who backed Remain in the 2016 referendum - is the third Conservative to publicly float the idea after former minister Anna Soubry and Tory grandee Sir Nicholas Soames both backed the plan. Speaking in an emergency debate on Mrs May’s decision to pull her Commons vote, the ex-education secretary said: “The time for talking is over. The time for action by members of this House to avoid a no-deal is here." She added: "I don't know how we test the parliamentary opinion if we don't have a vote. Maybe we need to put together a special select committee of senior members of parliament to hammer out what we mean. Maybe it's time for some sort of government of national unity. "Maybe it's time for a free...
11 December 2018
John Major

John Major has said Article 50 must be "immediately" revoked to give politicians time to find a solution to the Brexit crisis.

The former Prime Minister - who campaigned for Remain in the EU referendum - said "the clock, for the moment, must be stopped" after Theresa May pulled the vote on her Brexit deal. Mrs May has embarked on a frantic spell of shuttle diplomacy across Europe in an attempt to get more concessions on the backstop arrangement designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland. Speaking in Dublin, Sir John said: "We need to revoke Article 50 with immediate effect. The clock, for the moment, must be stopped. "It’s clear we now need the most precious commodity of all: time. Time for serious and profound reflection by both Parliament and people. There will be a way through the present morass, there always is." The former Conservative leader, whose time in Downing Street was scarred by vicious Tory battles over Europe, has previously hinted that he could support a second referendum as a way of breaking the ongoing deadlock. He spoke out after the European Court of Justice this week ruled that the UK...