Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

19 September 2019
City of London

A no-deal Brexit could plunge the UK into recession and wipe 3% off economic growth, according to a major economic think-tank.

The OECD said the effects of leaving the EU without an agreement with Brussels in place "would be costly in the near-term". Britain is due to quit the bloc on 31 October, and negotiations aimed at securing a new Brexit deal appear to be making little progress. Both sides remain at-odds over how to replace the backstop arrangement designed to guarantee a continued open border between Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland. In a report published on Thursday, the OECD said: "A no-deal exit would be costly in the near term, potentially pushing the UK into recession in 2020 and reducing growth in Europe considerably. “Even a relatively smooth no-deal exit, with fully operational border infrastructure, would have large costs. “GDP declines by close to 2% in 2020, pushing the economy into recession given the baseline projection, with the near-term costs continuing to rise in 2021-22.” According to the Paris-based body, Britain would come back out of recession and return to...
19 September 2019
David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon

A senior SNP MP has said it is a "massive scandal" that David Cameron asked the Queen to intervene for the pro-Union side during the Scottish referendum.

Joanna Cherry spoke out after the former PM made the admission in an interview for a BBC documentary on his time in office. Mr Cameron said he had made representations to the monarch after a shock poll put the Yes campaign in the lead shortly before the 2014 poll. Shortly afterwards, the Queen told well-wishers outside Crathie Kirk near Balmoral that she hoped "people would think very carefully about the future" when they voted. Mr Cameron said her comments “put a slightly different perception on things” ahead of the referendum, which the pro-Union side won by 55% to 45%. In the interview, Mr Cameron said: "I remember conversations I had with my Private Secretary and he had with the Queen’s Private Secretary and I had with the Queen’s Private Secretary, not asking for anything that would be in any way improper or unconstitutional...
19 September 2019
EU and UK flags

Ministers have sparked a fresh war of words with the EU by insisting they will not be rushed into revealing their plans for replacing the Irish backstop.

A spokesperson for the Government said they would not be forced to show their hand by "an articificial deadline" put forward by Brussels. The slapdown came after Antti Rinne, the prime minister of Finland, said the UK only had 11 days to bring forward its proposals for maintaining an open border in Ireland after Brexit or else the chances of agreeing a new deal were "over". Speaking after holding talks with French president Emmanuel Macron, he said: "We need to know what the UK is proposing. The UK should make its possible own proposals very soon if they would like them to be discussed. "We both agreed that it is now time for Boris Johnson to produce his own proposals in writing — if they exist. If no proposals are received by the end of September, then it’s over." The UK government spokesperson said they had submitted "non-papers" to the EU setting out ideas for replacing the backstop. However, sources also insisted that they did not necessarily represent the Government's actual...
19 September 2019
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan

Sadiq Khan has questioned Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to stay neutral in a second referendum saying Labour is “a remain party”.

The London mayor insisted they should campaign to stay in the EU, a day after the Labour leader said he wouldn’t pick a side if there was another vote on the UK’s membership. Mr Corbyn wrote in the Guardian: “A Labour government would secure a sensible deal based on the terms we have long advocated, including a new customs union with the EU; a close single market relationship; and guarantees of workers’ rights and environmental protections.  "We would then put that to a public vote alongside Remain. I pledge to carry out whatever the people decide, as a Labour prime minister." But asked on Thursday whether he supported Mr Corbyn’s comments, Mr Khan told Sky News: “I’m quite clear the Labour party that I belong to, the Labour party I’m proud to be a Labour mayor of, we should be a Remain party. “What we should be doing is...
19 September 2019
Boris Johnson at Whipps Cross University Hospital

Boris Johnson has said listening to the public's concerns is "part of my job" after he was confronted by an angry father who accused the Tories of "destroying" the NHS.

Omar Salem, whose daughter is a patient at Whipps Cross University Hospital, told the Prime Minister during a visit to a ward that she had "nearly died", before condemning waiting times in accident and emergency as "not acceptable". Mr Salem said: "The NHS has been destroyed, and now you've come here for a press opportunity." But Mr Johnson said it did not matter whether the two had competing views as he addressed the incident on Twitter on Wednesday night. He wrote: "I’ve been PM for 57 days, part of my job is to talk to people on the ground and listen to what they tell me about the big problems. It doesn’t matter if they agree with me." The Prime Minister added: "I’m glad this gentleman told me his problems. This isn’t an embarrassment this is part of my job." Mr Johnson initially responded to Mr Salem's criticism by saying that there had been...
19 September 2019
John Major

Boris Johnson suspended Parliament to deprive MPs of "a voice" over Brexit, Sir John Major is to tell the Supreme Court.

The Tory ex-leader will make his intervention on the third and final day of the landmark case. In a written submission to the court, Sir John - who will be represented by his barrister - warned that if the judges did not rule against the Government, nothing could prevent a future Prime Minister from using prorogation "in any circumstances" - including to scrap the Army if they wished to. And he argued that Number 10's claim that prorogation was necessary to prepare for a Queen's Speech on 14 October "makes no sense and cannot be the true explanation". The Supreme Court is hearing appeals on two different rulings from courts in England and Scotland over the parliamentary shutdown. The High Court in London has said the issue is not a matter for the courts - but the Court of Session in Edinburgh found that the Prime Minister’s advice to the Queen to prorogue parliament was unlawful, following a case brought by 75 MPs. Citing a previous legal case in which an estate agent was found...
19 September 2019
Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees-Mogg has admitted it was a "mistake" to recline on the frontbench of the House of Commons during a major clash over Brexit.

The Leader of the House of Commons sparked an angry backlash earlier this month as he lay back on the green benches while MPs debated the Government's plans to leave the European Union. But, asked on Wednesday night if his behaviour was acceptable, Mr Rees-Mogg told an event organised by The Telegraph: "In hindsight I think not." While the Cabinet minister said he had been "restoring an ancient tradition" of ministers resting their feet during debates, he added: "I do accept it was a mistake." And Mr Rees-Mogg said his bid to get comfortable had not been  worth "distracting from the importance of what was going on". The Commons Leader was accused by Green MP Caroline Lucas of being "contemptuous of this house and of the people" over the move, while Labour's Anna Turley branded him the "physical embodiment of arrogance, entitlement, disrespect and contempt for our parliament". His comments on the row came as he heaped praise on Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and urged Tory...
19 September 2019
Chris Bryant MP

Chris Bryant MP writes that if elected Speaker, he would never seek to belittle a colleague and would put in place a "proper" Human Resources department to give MPs and staff advice and support when they need it.

I was already giving Twitter a two-month break for September and October when John Bercow announced his departure and since then I have turned down every radio and television request outside Wales, for the simple reason that I don’t think it’s the Speaker’s job to be a media celebrity. Less is more should be my motto, because it’s more important than ever at this stage that the next Speaker is an umpire not a player. Of course we need someone with enough of a sense of humour to defuse tensions and enough of a sense of occasion to keep good order, but above all they need enough common sense to know when to keep quiet.  That means short answers to Points of Order, few interruptions from the Chair and minimal addresses to the gallery.  Apart from ceremonial occasions when the Speaker speaks for the whole House, I will only speak from the chair when it is strictly necessary.  I say that because I’ve been a backbencher most of my eighteen years as an MP and a full minister...
19 September 2019
Jo Swinson

The Lib Dems have pushed Labour into third place after vowing to scrap Brexit if the party wins the next election, according to a new poll.

The latest YouGov survey for The Times put Jo Swinson's party on 23%, up four points on last week. At the same time, Labour has dropped back two points to 21%. But both parties still trail the Conservatives, who remain on 32%. Delegates at the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth agreed to change the party's policy to an overtly anti-Brexit stance. It means that if the party wins a majority at the next election, it would overturn the result of the 2016 referendum and revoke Article 50. But critics, including some Lib Dem MPs, have said the new approach is undemocratic and will completely alienate millions who voted Leave three years ago. Meanwhile, Labour is set for a Brexit clash of its own at its conference in Brighton next week.  The majority of members want the party to make clear it would campaign for Remain in any second referendum, but trade unions are urging Jeremy Corbyn to make clear a Labour government would not take a firm position. The Times also reports that Labour has...
19 September 2019
Food bank

Ministers have been urged to act on “shocking” figures which show a link between how long Universal Credit has been in place in an area and a rise in foodbank use.

Research by The Trussell Trust found that where the controversial benefits scheme has been in place for at least a year, foodbanks in its network had seen a 30% increase in demand. It also showed the figure rose to 40% over 18 months and then to 48% in areas with Universal Credit for at least two years. The charity called on ministers to end the five-week wait applicants face before receiving their payment from the system – which was designed to combine all legacy benefits into one but is yet to be rolled out in full. It said the stretch would see more claimants "plunged into poverty", and said that Government loans as a stopgap were “pushing more people into debt”. The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie said: “Universal Credit should be there to anchor any of us against the tides of poverty. But the five week wait fatally undermines this principle, pushing people into debt, homelessness and destitution. “In a society that...