Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

18 September 2019

FMB comment on yhe Government’s response to the Select Committee’s report into Modern Methods of Construction.

The Government’s response to the Select Committee’s report that Modern Methods of Construction is just one part of the Government’s wider housing diversification strategy is a welcome recognition that it isn’t the silver bullet to the current housing crisis. What is needed is a more diverse house building industry which includes more SME housebuilders. One of the barriers for SME housebuilders is access to finance so it’s pleasing to see recognition in the Government’s response for the work the FMB has done with UK Finance to help SMEs improve access to finance. The FMB looks forward to continuing to work with the Housing Minister to help break down some of the other barriers SME house builders face such as access to land and blockages in the planning system.
18 September 2019
Michel Barnier and Boris Johnson

Michel Barnier has told Boris Johnson to stop “pretending to negotiate” over a new Brexit deal.

Speaking in the European Parliament, the EU’s chief negotiator said that Brussels prepared to work “day and night” to come up with a new agreement which could win the backing of MPs. But he insisted that time was running out for a deal to be struck ahead of the 31 October Brexit deadline. Downing Street sources have insisted that the EU has been shown the Government's alternatives to the Northern Ireland backstop, which the Prime Minister has said must be scrapped for a deal to be done. Mr Barnier told MEPs: “Almost three years after the UK referendum, I don’t think we should be spending time pretending to negotiate. “I think we need to move forward with determination.” He added: “If the UK leaves without a deal, I would recall that these questions don’t just disappear. “They have been regulated in the withdrawal agreement, they have been covered – but they still remain. Whether we’re talking about the peace in Ireland, citizens’ rights, budgetary issues, they would all need to...
18 September 2019
Home Office

The Home Office "rushed" to accuse international students of cheating in English language exams without checking whether the evidence against them was reliable, a scathing report by MPs has concluded.

The cross-party Public Accounts Committee said the department had shown a "staggering" lack of concern for the welfare of those affected by "systemic failure by a private company", as they drew parallels with the Windrush scandal. The latest report from the committee focuses on a crackdown launched by the Home Office in the wake of a 2014 BBC Panorama documentary which exposed cheating on the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC). The test - run at the time by the American firm ETS - was used to ensure those studying in the UK had a sufficient understanding of the English language, and the department took action against over 50,000 individuals following the documentary alleging wrongdoing. But the PAC found that hundreds and "possibly thousands" of those removed from the country by the Home Office "continue to protest their innocence", with 12,500 appeals heard by the courts since 2014 - 40% of which have been successful at tribunal. The committee said the way...
18 September 2019
US Ambassador Woody Johnson

Donald Trump's ambassador to the United Kingdom has accused the prime minister of Luxembourg of trying to "set up" Boris Johnson, amid a bitter row over Brexit. 

US ambassador Woody Johnson said his country would "stand with the people of the UK" as he argued that the treatment of Mr Johnson by Xavier Bettel during a trip this week showed why they had voted to leave the European Union in the first place. Mr Bettel on Monday pushed ahead with a press conference as he stood next to an empty podium meant for the UK Prime Minister following talks on Brexit. Number 10 said Luxembourg had refused requests for the event to be moved inside to avoid being drowned out by a noisy protest. The Luxembourg PM then tore into the UK's handling of Brexit and said European leaders would not accept any responsibility "for the mess we are in at the moment". But The Telegraph reports that Ambassador Johnson hit back at the Mr...
18 September 2019
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has called for a major overhaul of the criminal justice system, as he blasted the "outrageous" mismatch between the support given to victims and perpetrators.

The Prime Minister said victims of crime were too often left to fend for themselves and treated as "passive passengers", while criminals were offered "long-term support" by the state. Number 10 is promising to bring in a new 'Victims' Law' next year in a bid to boost the help offered to those who have suffered from crime, as well as making clear the obligation on the police and courts service to support them. The Prime Minister has also appointed charity boss Nicole Jacobs as the UK's first Domestic Abuse Commissioner, tasked with sticking up for victims of abuse. But Labour accused ministers of "recycling announcements", with Mr Johnson's intervention coming a year after Theresa May first launched her government's victims’ strategy. Writing in The Sun, Mr Johnson said victims of crime were too often abandoned after court cases, after being told: "Thanks, now you’re on your own." And he...
18 September 2019
Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has risked a fresh Labour row by signalling that he would stay neutral in a second Brexit referendum.

The Labour leader has been urged by senior figures in the party to explicitly back staying in the EU in its next general election manifesto. Party members are also expected to launch a fresh attempt to shift its Brexit policy to an explicitly pro-Remain stance at next week's annual conference in Brighton. But, writing in The Guardian, Mr Corbyn dropped his clearest hint yet that he would stay above the fray in a second referendum.  "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,” he said.  "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." The stance puts him at odds with members of...
18 September 2019
Scottish Independence

Reflecting five years on from the referendum on Scottish Independence, Ian Blackford MP writes that "the people of Scotland deserve the choice of a better future than the Brexit chaos being imposed on us by a broken and bleak Westminster system".

Today marks the 5th year anniversary of the referendum on Scottish Independence – and what a five years it has been. So much has changed. In 2014 people in Scotland were told by the Better Together campaign that the only way to guarantee Scotland’s place in Europe was to reject independence. How hollow that claim now rings as Scotland faces being dragged out of the EU against its will by an extreme Tory government at Westminster that we didn’t elect. Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, a majority of Scotland’s MPs have voted against a no deal Brexit, as have a majority of MSPs at Holyrood. Yet, despite that, Scotland’s voice has counted for nothing as the UK Government ploughs on ahead, taking us closer and closer to the cliff edge of a no deal Brexit, which would be a catastrophe for Scotland and the whole UK.  It is clearer than ever that the Tories think they can do whatever they want to Scotland and get away with it. But they will have to face the verdict of...
18 September 2019
Scottish and union flags

A clear majority of Scots would vote to "remain" in the UK if there was another referendum on independence, according to a new poll.

The survey, commissioned to mark the fifth anniversary of the first referendum, showed that 59% of voters north of the Border would reject leaving the UK if that was the question on the ballot paper. Meanwhile, only 41% said they would vote "leave". The pro-Union side won the 2014 vote by 55% to 45%, when the question asked was "Should Scotland be an independent country". Nationalists insist that the same question should be put again if another referendum takes place. But their opponents say that in any new poll, the question should reflect the Remain/Leave options presented to UK voters in the 2016 EU referendum. The latest poll was carried out by Survation on behalf of the Scotland In Union group, whose chief executive Pamlea Nash said: "Just five years on from the referendum that Nicola Sturgeon promised was a ‘once-in-a-generation’ contest, this landmark poll shows that 59%of people in Scotland want to remain in the UK. "People are seeing the chaos that Brexit has brought, and...
18 September 2019
Robots manufacturing cars

British businesses face being unable to compete with firms from other major economies unless they increase the number of robots in the workplace, MPs have warned.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee accused ministers of allowing G7 rivals to “steal a march” in the fourth Industrial Revolution. They said ministers need to draw up a "robot and artificial intelligence strategy" so the UK can take full advantage of the developing technology. And the MPs warned there was a danger that “too few” robots in the workplace could hold back the economy and future jobs growth. Committee chair Rachel Reeves said: “The switch to automation brings challenges for businesses and for workers, with fears for livelihoods or disruption to job roles coming to the fore. “The real danger for the UK economy and for future jobs growth is, however, not that we have too many robots in the workplace but that we have too few. “For all the potential of the UK, and despite our excellent tech and research base, the fact is that we are lagging behind our international competitors in our adoption of robot and automation...
18 September 2019
Gas Hob

The Big Six energy companies have come under fire once again this week, following a new report that UK households overpaid by £2.2bn on energy this year. Dods Monitoring's Alexandra Goodwin looks into what's going on. 

The Big Six energy companies have come under fire once again this week, following a new report from Bulb that UK households overpaid by £2.2bn on energy this year, despite the introduction of Ofgem’s energy price cap in January. Varying responses have been mooted, with Labour’s nationalisation plans countered by demands for greater regulation of the ‘oligopolistic’ market. Are markets oligopolistic? The Big Six currently maintain a 75 per cent market share for electricity and 73 per cent for gas, with the collapse of small energy companies such as Solarplicity and Our Power, highlighting a classic market oligopoly. The Competition and Markets Authority, amongst others, have raised concerns over increased barriers to the market, with cartel-like behaviours pushing up prices and reducing consumer choice. In turn, energy prices in the UK have become unaffordable to many. In England, more than one in 10 households live in fuel poverty, but this dramatically worsens in other regions. A...