Dods at Party Conference 2018

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

15 February 2019
It is obviously positive that the government have taken the FGM bill on themselves. But once again, this was only because the subsequent media storm forced their hand, writes Wera Hobhouse

The Government could take action if they really wanted to stop MPs from repeatedly obstructing popular legislation, writes Wera Hobhouse

Once again, Tory arch-dinosaur Christopher Chope reared his head last Friday afternoon to do what he has become infamous for: callously blocking yet another private Members’ bill protecting the vulnerable. In this case, the bill he blocked sought to protect potential victims of female genital mutilation (FGM). It would have given judges and courts more authority to protect girls who are at risk of FGM.  On the same day that Chope blocked my Private Members’ Bill making ‘upskirting’ a specific criminal offence last year, he also blocked a bill seeking free parking for carers at hospitals, and another making it illegal to harm police dogs.  It really beggars belief that anyone could be so out of touch with reality. I am pleased that these examples have helped shine a spotlight on the little-known topic of private Members’ bills. For every ‘FGM’ or ‘upskirting’ media storm, there’s a mountain of other equally important bills that never see the light of day. The current...
15 February 2019
Lord Ahmed

A peer has been accused of exploiting his role in order to pursue sex with vulnerable women who approached him for help.

Lord Ahmed of Rotherham is alleged to have become engaged in a sexual relationship with Tahira Zaman when she was in a vulnerable state. She told the BBC's Newsnight programme that she felt exploited by the peer because she was suffering from anxiety and depression at the time. Another woman, meanwhile, claimed that the former Labour peer asked her to spend the evening with him at his London home, which she interpreted as a proposition for sex. Lord Ahmed denies any wrongdoing and Ms Zaman’s complaint to the Lords Commissioner for Standards, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, was dismissed. The 43-year-old approached the peer in February 2017 through a mutual friend in a bid to get the authorities to look into a Muslim faith healer who she felt was a danger to women. Ms Zaman said Lord Ahmed told her he had written to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick on her behalf, but then repeatedly asked her for dinner before the pair eventually went on to have a sexual relationship. She accepts...
15 February 2019
Jeremy Corbyn

Deepl splits within the Labour party over Brexit erupted once again as MPs defied Jeremy Corbyn to back an extension to Article 50.

A total of 41 Labour MPs ignored their party whips to vote for an unsuccessful SNP attempt to delay Brexit past 29 March. The rebellion is the latest sign of the tensions within the party over their leader's approach to Britain's exit from the European Union. It came amid mounting speculation that some Labour MPs are preparing to quit the party over their frustrations at Mr Corbyn's Brexit stance, as well as his attempts to tackle anti-Semitism among its membership. The rebels included noted Corbyn critics Mike Gapes, Ian Murray, Luciana Berger and Chris Leslie. Mr Leslie, who was Shadow Chancellor when Ed Miliband was Labour leader, made clear his frustation at Labour's refusal to back a second referendum during Thursday's Brexit debate in the Commons. He said: "The idea that the Labour party is not together and arguing against this disaster is for me entirely heartbreaking.  "I certainly feel that we are being played for fools by the leadership of the Labour party on this particular...
15 February 2019
Theresa May

A no-deal Brexit has been made more likely by the Government's latest defeat on Brexit, Theresa May has warned.

The Prime Minister pointed the finger at Jeremy Corbyn despite the fact that a major Tory rebellion led to the 303 to 258 vote loss in the Commons. Members of the hardline European Research Group of Conservative MPs abstained abstained on a government motion endorsing “the approach to leaving the EU” backed by the Commons on 29 January. They claimed that appeared to endorse MPs' vote that night to rule out a no-deal Brexit. Thursday night's vote was the 11th time the Prime Minister has been defeated by the Commons over her approach to Brexit, and threw her attempts to re-negotiate a deal with Brussels into chaos. In a statement afterwards, a spokesman for Number 10 chose to blame Labour for the latest defeat, and insisted it would not alter the Government's attempts to seek changes to the Irish backstop. He said: "Jeremy Corbyn yet again put partisan considerations ahead of the national interest – and yet again, by voting against the Government’s motion, he is in effect voting to make...
15 February 2019
A run down part of Yorkshire

Ministers must take “urgent steps” to protect the poorest people in Britain from any possible financial hit after Brexit, major charities have warned.

In an open letter to MPs, a coalition of campaign groups said the “economic uncertainty” and cost of living hikes that could result from leaving the EU at a time when 14 million are already living in poverty risked “pushing more people into hardship”. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Shelter, Trussell Trust and Barnardos are among those urging ministers to up their contingency planning, especially in the case of a no-deal exit. It comes as ministers continue to push the EU for concessions on the controversial Irish backstop - which seeks to keep an open border on the island of Ireland in the event an alternative is not hammered out. Fears are growing that without a deal the Commons can support the UK could crash out with nothing on 29 March. The charities said Chancellor Philip Hammond must end the freeze on working-age benefits and tax credits that has been in place since 2016 at next month’s Spring Statement. They cited Bank of England figures showing that maintaining...
15 February 2019
stents that are subsequently to be subjected to a quality inspection

Owen Smith MP writes for PoliticsHome, calling for an end to the prioritisation of commercial interests over patient safety in the regulation of medical devices.

This week, I led a debate in the House of Commons calling for reform of the licensing and regulation of our medical devices. Medical devices are an important and growing part of medicine, they have saved and transformed the lives of millions of patients over many generations. However, when faulty or poorly designed, they have also damaged and ended the lives of many thousands of patients around the world. The term “medical devices” refers to everything from bandages to syringes through to heart pacemakers and artificial joints. My concern is that more high-risk, implantable devices are developed without any real clinical trials, and without the randomised controlled clinical trials we are familiar with in respect of medicines. The regulatory system for medical devices in our country, and across the wider world, is simply not fit for purpose and must be properly reformed. Here in the UK, a recent investigation revealed the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)...
14 February 2019
Richard Harrington

A government minister has accused Tory Brexiteers of "treachery" and called on them to join Nigel Farage's new anti-EU party.

Richard Harrington said members of the hardline European Research Group who celebrated defeating Theresa May's Brexit deal last month were "not Conservatives" and should quit. The business minister also said he was "very disappointed" that the Prime Minister was still refusing to rule out the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. And he dismissed the so-called "Malthouse Compromise", which Mrs May is considering as a potential way of breaking the Brexit deadlock, as "fanciful nonsense". Mr Harrington's comments, in an interview with The House magazine, came as the ERG tonight rebelled against the Government to inflict another Brexit defeat on Mrs May. Last month, ERG chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg was criticised when it emerged he had held a champagne party at his home when the Government's Brexit deal was defeated by a record-breaking 230 votes. Mr...
14 February 2019
Jacob Rees-Mogg is chair of the European Research Group

Businesses are in ‘despair’ at the prospect of a hard Brexit, BEIS minister Richard Harrington warns. The Tory MP tells Kevin Schofield why he’s urging the prime minister to take no-deal off the table and end the uncertainty

In normal times, it would be highly unusual for a minister to be openly critical of the government while sitting in a room with a journalist and a tape recorder. But these are pretty far from normal times. So when Richard Harrington is asked what he makes of Theresa May’s decision to essentially kick the Brexit can down the road for another fortnight, he is refreshingly candid in his reply. “I’m very disappointed because we were told that the prime minister would be coming back to the House of Commons and there would be a statement and an amendable vote after that,” he says. “I took that, as someone who is very concerned about the effects of not ruling out a hard Brexit, to mean we would have a deal or outline deal to discuss and the option of looking at that. “We’re now told it will be in another two weeks’ time so, being very conscious of the damage that not ruling out a hard Brexit is having on business and industry, I’m concerned that it’s going to drag on. “What concerns me...
14 February 2019
Theresa May

Theresa May has been dealt another huge blow after a rebellion by Tory eurosceptics saw her defeated again over Brexit.

In yet another humiliation for the embattled Prime Minister, the House of Commons voted 303 to 258 against a government motion on her strategy for leaving the European Union. Members of the hardline European Research Group abstained on the motion, which endorsed “the approach to leaving the EU” backed by the Commons on 29 January. In a vote that that night, MPs backed calls to replace the Irish backstop with "alternative arrangements", but they also said a no-deal Brexit should be ruled out. The ERG demaded that the wording of the motion be changed to make clear that leaving the EU without a deal remained on the table, but the Government refused. Although the motion was non-binding and the vote has no practical effect, it is still a huge blow for the Prime Minister as she tries to win concessions from the EU on the Brexit deal. Earlier, a spokesman for Mrs May had made a last-ditch plea for Tory MPs to rally behind her in order to "send another clear message to Brussels". Instead, she...
14 February 2019
Clive Lewis

Labour risks being “utterly, comprehensively destroyed” like the Liberal Democrats if Jeremy Corbyn ushers in a “Tory Brexit”, frontbencher Clive Lewis has warned.

The shadow Treasury minister said it was “not the job of the Labour Party” to help the Conservatives take Britain out of the EU, as Mr Corbyn’s top team continues to hold talks with Theresa May in a bid to break the parliamentary deadlock over her Brexit deal. Labour’s 2017 manifesto committed the party to delivering Brexit, with Mr Corbyn saying they could back the Prime Minister’s beleaguered deal if she gives in to his demands for a permanent customs union. But in outspoken comments, Mr Lewis said Labour was now sending “mixed messages” on Brexit - and he warned that the party could suffer a similar fate to the Lib Dems, who lost scores of their MPs at the 2015 election after five years of coalition government with the Conservatives. The Norwich MP said: “We actually understand what needs to happen to bring our country together. “But my fear is this: we saw what the Tories did to the Liberal Democrats. Everyone knows what to expect from a Tory government. They're rotters....