Dods at Party Conference 2018

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

20 November 2018
Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve BakerJacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker

History tells us that any MPs plotting to bring down a Prime Minister had better make sure they have their ducks in a row before they launch a coup.

It appears to be a lesson that Jacob Rees-Mogg forgot. Alongside European Research Group fixer Steve Baker, Rees-Mogg staged an astonishing press conference last week to declare he was submitting a letter of no-confidence in the PM and urging other Tories furious about her Brexit plans to do the same. Speculation was rife that the 48 letters required to trigger a vote of no-confidence could be in the hands of 1922 Committee chair Graham Brady by the end of the day. And then… nothing happened. On Friday, Baker began rolling back - saying he had no idea where the numbers were at, despite having previously suggested the 48 was a dead cert. Over the weekend, Brady confirmed the numbers required were still not in the bag, and revealed on the radio that he was even being asked about the state of play in the supermarket. Which rather begged the question, where does he do his shopping? Tories who were mulling handing in a letter consulted with their local parties to gauge the feeling about...
20 November 2018

A Labour government would drop requirements for ‘irrelevant’ academic qualifications for people applying for jobs in the civil service, the party is set to announce.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner will argue the move would help drive “snobbery” out of the recruitment process and create “genuine parity of esteem” for applicants. The party says ditching requirements for educational qualifications, including degrees and A-levels, unless they are “genuinely relevant” to the role would improve diversity within Whitehall. Speaking to the Association of Colleges of Birmingham, Ms Rayner will call for a “deep-seated culture change” in the civil service. “We will end the snobbery that underpins attitudes towards different types of qualification and end the assumption that academic qualifications should be a basic entry requirement for jobs in Whitehall, limiting them to where they are necessary,” she will say. According to Labour, only 4% of those chosen for the civil service fast stream programme have parents who work in routine or manual jobs, compared to 80% for those with parents working in senior managerial, administrative or...
20 November 2018
Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt

Brexiteers plotting to unseat Theresa May could inflict “appalling chaos” on Britain, damaging its international standing, Jeremy Hunt has warned.

The Foreign Secretary’s intervention came after mounting speculation that Tory Eurosceptics were poised to force a vote of no confidence in Theresa May, in protest against her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. The head of the European Research Group, Jacob Rees-Mogg, last week signalled that a coup could be imminent after announcing that he had written to 1922 committee chair Graham Brady demanding Mrs May’s removal. However, despite claims over the weekend that the 48 letters necessary to trigger the process would be on Mr Brady’s desk on Monday, the group failed to hit the threshold. One source told the Telegraph last night: “Today was supposed to be the day we finally got the 48 letters needed to force a no confidence vote but some people didn’t turn up to be counted. “There is a lot of frustration, especially with some of the big names who haven’t yet put letters in.” Speaking during a visit to Tehran, Mr Hunt rebuked the plotters and defend Mrs May, saying she had “...
20 November 2018
Theresa May and Arlene FosterTheresa May and Arlene Foster

The DUP has delivered a stark warning to Theresa May after it failed to back the Government on a series of Budget votes.

In an apparent break with the confidence and supply deal they struck with the Conservatives after the election, the Northern Irish unionist party abstained on a number of amendments to the Finance Bill. And the DUP even voted with Labour on one amendment on child poverty, which the Government ended up winning by just five votes. Under ther terms of the pact they agreed with the Tories, the DUP is supposed to support the Government "on all motions of confidence; and on the Queen’s Speech; the Budget; finance bills". But speaking last night, DUP MP Sammy Wilson said the Prime Minister's proposed Brexit deal broke the "funamental" promise from Mrs May that Northern Ireland would not see any diveregence from the rest of the UK. He told BBC’s Newsnight, he said: "We had to do something to show our displeasure. All of (the votes) were designed to send a message to the Government: ‘Look, we have got an agreement with you but you have got to keep your side of the bargain otherwise we don’t...
20 November 2018
EU and UK flagsEU and UK flags

Ministers will be forced to publish a report on the impact of Theresa May's Brexit plan after a Tory rebellion forced a Commons climbdown.

The Conservatives were facing a Parliamentary defeat over calls by supporters of a second referendum that the Government make public its assessment of the benefits of the Prime Minister's blueprint compared to what the UK gets from EU membership. But during a Commons debate last night, Treasury minister Robert Jenrick said ministers will bring the document forward to allow MPs to read it. Among the Conservatives who had been gearing up to rebel was Jo Johnson, who quit as rail minister in protest at the Prime Minister's Brexit plans. He said: "If we have learned anything from the chaos of the past 30 months, it is that facts are sacred. "This debate has been characterised by falsehoods and misinformation from day one. It is extraordinary that we have now had to force the Government, at this relatively late stage, to publish the vital information necessary for an informed public debate. Some may say that this horse has long bolted, but I say it is better late than never." Labour MP...
20 November 2018
Gavin WilliamsonGavin Williamson

Plans to create a European army to rival Nato are “crazy and dangerous” and would undermine international security, Gavin Williamson has said.

The Defence Secretary made the comments after French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both expressed their hopes of creating a new EU military force. Mr Williamson told the Daily Mail: “You can absolutely rest assured that Britain will never become part of a European army on my watch. “It is an absolutely crazy idea. Nato has delivered European security for the last 70 years and we should feel very proud of it. “Should we undermine that by forming a separate military force? Absolutely not. “To begin discussing a new EU army is dangerous and undermines the security that Nato underwrites.” Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg last week. Ms Merkel said: “Europeans now have to really take our fate fully into our own hands if we want to defend our community… “We have to work on a vision of one day...
19 November 2018
The coastal communities that struggle are part of a bigger problem, writes Lord BassamThe coastal communities that struggle are part of a bigger problem, writes Lord Bassam

The decline of the British seaside is far from inevitable or a permanent feature. But we need to invest in better connectivity and a more inclusive economic model that spreads wealth and opportunity, writes Lord Bassam 

We all have a fascination for the British seaside and all that goes with it; no other nation quite reveres the seaside like we do. The advent, however, of cheap charter flights and cut-price package holidays from the 1960s onwards cast a long shadow over the Victorian and Edwardian legacy of the seaside as a holiday destination of choice for UK residents. Slow to respond, many of our premier resorts went into sharp decline. In recent years the British seaside has begun to recover its interest and allure for visitors, tourists and day trippers alike. In truth, we Brits never fell out of love with our coastline. So as a timely reminder of this, the House of Lords decided to establish one of its year-long ‘task and finish’ select committees to look at what works to regenerate seaside and coastal economies. We report next March – just in time to face the new economic realities of post-Brexit Britain. So how is seaside Britain faring? Although too early to be definitive, it is clear that...
19 November 2018
Jeremy CorbynJeremy Corbyn

Brexit can be "a catalyst" for radically transforming Britain's economy, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

In comments which risk angering pro-EU Labour MPs, he said leaving the bloc could lead to the industrial and economic renewal of the UK's nations and regions. Addressing business leaders at the CBO conference, Mr Corbyn also said "the rules of the game need to change" if Britain's wealth is to be shared more fairly around the country. Mr Corbyn said the 2016 vote to leave the EU had been caused in part by the rising levels of poverty caused by the financial crash a decade ago. "It could not be clearer, business as usual isn’t working," he said. "And when the rules of the game aren’t working for the overwhelming majority, the rules of the game need to change. "That means a new settlement for business and a stronger say for the workforce where government will drive a higher rate of investment in infrastructure, education, skills and the technologies of the future and the largest businesses that can afford it will pay a bit more towards the common good. "To meet the greatest challenges...
19 November 2018
UK border signUK border sign

SNP MP Patrick Grady writes ahead of his House of Commons Adjournment debate on UK entry visas.

Universities, music festivals, churches, businesses, campaign groups and more are all reporting increasing frustration at delays and denials of visas for visitors from overseas. The UK Government needs to consider how policy and practice can be improved so that we don’t lose out on the expertise that short-term visitors can bring to our economy and society. Throughout the summer of 2018, the media was full of reports of festivals disrupted by the denial of visas to artists from different parts of the world.  The Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival described the problems faced by over a dozen authors as “humiliating”. Peter Gabriel, the founder of WOMAD, expressed alarm after at least three acts were unable to perform, saying “our UK festival would now have real problems bringing artists into this country, many of whom no longer want to come to the UK because of the difficulty, cost and delays with visas, along with the new fear that they will not be welcomed...
19 November 2018

The Liberal Democrat Lords Digital Spokesperson writes ahead of a debate today following the Select Committee report'Artificial Intelligence AI in the UK: ready, willing and able?'

Is artificial intelligence a force for good or evil? Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX boss, thinks that it is more dangerous than nuclear weapons. Mark Zuckerberg, on the other hand, is “excited about all the progress here and it’s potential to make the world better”.   The House of Lords Select Committee on AI has looked beyond the eye-catching predictions – from forecasts of doom or unwavering optimism, – to consider the “economic, ethical and social implications” of this new technology. We published our report in April, and a debate on the Government’s response takes place in the Lords today.   The Committee’s central finding was that the UK has a unique opportunity to shape AI positively for the public’s benefit and to lead the world in developing ethical standards for its use. We are aware of the risks posed by the widespread use of AI, but the evidence led us to believe that these risks can be avoided or mitigated. Doing so requires us to actively ensure an ethical approach...