Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

8 August 2019
The Houses of Parliament

Complaints against MPs by members of the public have nearly tripled in the past 12 months, it has been revealed.

The latest report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, showed 2,456 complaints were submitted in 2018/19. That compares to 889 the year before. She blamed the rise of social media, as well as the Brexit debate, for the dramatic increase. "MPs and others would be well to bear in mind that while it is quick to post material on social media, but the repercussions can be long-lasting," she said. "These things have the potential to damage the reputation of MPs and of Parliament more generally." She warned MPs against “hasty remarks” on Twitter that go viral and generate a "large-scale response" to her office. The Commissioner's annual report, which was published last month, contained demands from some members of the public for Parliament to be dissolved and to “prosecute MPs as traitors”. Ms Stone said: “The controversy about Brexit has given rise to many of the emails and phone calls we have received during the year. “Members...
8 August 2019
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has refused to rule out staying on as Prime Minister even if he loses a vote of confidence.

The Prime Minister repeatedly sidestepped questions on his plans, insisting that he was focused on delivering Brexit on 31 October. Labour is expected to table a no-confidence motion when Parliament returns from its summer recess next month. If it were to win the backing of the Commons, there would then be a 14-day period in which attempts would be made to form a government which had the support of most MPs. It has been reported that if that were not possible, Mr Johnson would stay on as Prime Minister while the resulting general election takes place. As the date of the poll would be in his gift, it could take place after 31 October - ensuring the UK leaves the EU on that date. Asked by Sky News if that was his plan, Mr Johnson said: "We are going to leave the European Union on 31 October ... that is what I think the parliamentarians of this country should get on and do." Pressed again on whether he would effectively ignore the no-confidence vote, the Prime Minister said: "I think...
8 August 2019
Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson visit an NHS hospital.

Boris Johnson has pledged £250m to boost the use of artificial intelligence in the NHS.

The Prime Minister said the funding would be aimed at "freeing up staff to care for patients" and improving the detection of diseases such as cancer and dementia. The move represents the third NHS announcement from Mr Johnson in as many days - increasing speculation that the new government is laying the groundwork for an election in the autumn. A new national AI lab will be set up to lead research into improving patient care, overseen by a rebadged technology-focused wing of the health service called NHS X. Mr Johnson said the announcement was "not just about the future of care" and would have a knock-on effect for those working in the NHS. "It will also boost the frontline by automating admin tasks and freeing up staff to care for patients," he said. "My task is to ensure the NHS has the funding it needs to make a real difference to the lives of staff and patients. Transforming care through artificial intelligence is a perfect illustration of that." Health Secretary Matt...
8 August 2019
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson could face an election drubbing unless his government rejects a focus on “rampant individualism”, according to a new report.

The Conservatives could lose half their 2017 voters if they do not focus more on security and less on personal freedom, the study from centre-right think tank Onward said. The report, written by former Number 10 advisers Lord O’Shaughnessy and Will Tanner, urged Mr Johnson to build a "politics of belonging" by abandoning the party's “dogmatic obsession” with creating a small state. It comes after a poll of 5,000 voters found that 65% now wanted a society which “focuses on giving people more security” while only 35% are in favour of a focus on increasing individual freedoms. In his first speech as Tory leader, Mr Johnson had vowed to “energise” the economy and “ping off the guy ropes of self-doubt and negativity” as the UK sought to leave the EU. But according to the report, the party could lose almost 4 million voters to the Brexit Party, 1.5 million to the Liberal Democrats and a further 350,000 to Labour if “freedom fighters” within Mr Johnson’s Cabinet...
8 August 2019
John McDonnell and Richard Leonard

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has told John McDonnell that voters do not want a second independence referendum, amid open warfare in the party over a fresh poll.

Mr Leonard hit back after the Shadow Chancellor signalled a dramatic shift in Labour's policy on Tuesday when he told an event at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that the party "would not block" a new vote on breaking up the UK if the Scottish Parliament backed one.  Mr McDonnell then doubled down on Wednesday when he again made clear that a Labour government would not allow itself to be "set up" by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon by allowing her to say demands for a referendum were being snubbed by the "big bad English yet again". But Mr Leonard said he had made clear that the party's official policy was still to oppose a referendum. The Scottish Labour leader...
8 August 2019
Jeremy Corbyn and Queen Elizabeth II

Jeremy Corbyn would tell the Queen Labour is "taking over" if Boris Johnson lost a vote of no confidence, John McDonnell has said.

The Shadow Chancellor said the Labour leader would be heading to Buckingham Palace "in a taxi" to ask to form a government if Mr Johnson is defeated in the Commons. “I don’t want to drag the Queen into this but I would be sending Jeremy Corbyn in a cab to Buckingham Palace to say we’re taking over," he told an audience at the Edinburgh festival. The comments came as Mr McDonnell again rejected calls for Labour to join a government of national unity in the event of a no confidence vote - and said the Prime Minister's top adviser Dominic Cummings was "wrong" to suggest Mr Johnson could stay in office after losing one. Jeremy Corbyn this week said Labour would call a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson's government at an "appropriate very early time" following the summer recess. Spelling out Labour's plans if such a vote proved successful, Mr McDonnell said: "We then have two weeks in which the existing Prime Minister or anybody else can determine whether they can secure a...
8 August 2019
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson could face an election drubbing unless his government rejects a focus on “rampant individualism”, a new poll has found.

The Conservatives could lose half their 2017 voters at a general election unless they focus more on security and less on freedom, according to a new study from centre-right think tank, Onward. The report, written by former Number 10 advisers Lord O’Shaughnessy and Will Tanner, urged Boris Johnson to focus on building a "politics of belonging" by abandoning the party's “dogmatic obsession” with creating a small state. It comes after a poll of 5,000 voters found that 65% now wanted a society which “focuses on giving people more security” while only 35% are in favour of a focus on increasing individual freedoms. In his first speech as Tory leader, Mr Johnson had vowed to “energise” the economy and “ping off the guy ropes of self-doubt and negativity” as the UK sought to leave the EU. But according to the report, the party could lose almost 4 million voters to the Brexit Party, 1.5 million to the Liberal Democrats and a further 350,000 to Labour if “freedom fighters” within Mr...
7 August 2019
Dominic Cummings Dominic Grieve

This autumn, politics is going to be dominated by two very different men both called Dominic, as the battle for Brexit draws closer to the 31 October deadline.

The first, Dominic Cummings, is Downing Street's most powerful aide, drafted in by Boris Johnson to help him drag the UK out of the EU by Hallowe’en by whatever means necessary. His adversary is Dominic Grieve, a former Attorney General who is determined to make sure the new Prime Minister cannot take the UK out with no-deal and, ideally, halt Brexit altogether. Cummings thinks there is no way of stopping the Government pursuing no-deal, but Grieve is confident there are mechanisms Parliament can use to prevent it. The future of the country rests on which one of them is right. So who will win the battle of the Doms? ‘A CAREER PSYCHOPATH’ After a spell away from frontline politics, 47-year-old Cummings has exploded back onto centre stage as potentially the most powerful man in Westminster, his boss included. A former special advisor to Michael Gove and campaign director for Vote Leave, he is now the most senior aide in Downing Street, seen as a Rasputin-like figure...
7 August 2019
John McDonnell

John McDonnell has sparked a furious backlash from Labour colleagues after he again insisted the party would not block a second independence referendum.

The Shadow Chancellor initially signalled the dramatic shift in Labour policy during an appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe on Tuesday. Mr McDonnell said: "The Scottish Parliament will come to a considered view on that and they will submit that to the Government and the English Parliament itself. "If the Scottish people decide they want a referendum that's for them." He added: "We would not block something like that. We would let the Scottish people decide. That's democracy. There are other views within the party but that's our view." Mr McDonnell was slapped down by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, who said another referendum was "unwanted by the Scottish people". Meanwhile, a dozen Labour candidates who are lined up to contest Scottish seats at the next general election also signed an open letter opposing "indyref2". They said: "We want to make it clear: we oppose another independence referendum; we are against the uncertainty and economic upheaval that leaving the UK...
7 August 2019
HM Treasury

Running to be Treasury Select Committee Chair, Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake writes that his non-partisan, robust, Yorkshire straight-talking approach would be an advantage in winning over Labour colleagues and holding HMT to account.

Parliament is a better place when it is made up of people who have experience of the real world. Business people, lawyers, farmers, doctors, nurses and teachers can all bring their own first-hand knowledge to debates and the decision-making processes needed to help create the strong economy and fair society that we were elected to deliver. That is exactly the reason why I have thrown my hat in the ring for the key role of Chair of the Treasury Select Committee. I know what it is like to work night and day to set up a company from scratch and for it to be within a hair’s breadth of collapse. It happened at the height of the financial crisis as my estate agency, Hunters, came close to failing, principally due to the widespread economic malaise and the catastrophic impact that has on businesses like ours. My businesses close collapse was also due to the lack of patience and increased charges we faced from our bankers. I’m happy to say that, thanks to the combined efforts of all the...