Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

18 March 2019

Chris Elmore MP, chair of the all-party group on social media and young people's mental health and wellbeing, says it is time for politicians to tackle a problem hiding in "plain site".

For most people in the country, social media now forms a central part of their daily lives. Be it baby pics and algorithm memories on Facebook, political pile- ons and group outrage on Twitter, the theoretical calm of Instagram or the baffling-for-over-20’s Snapchat, the rhythm of our work and personal lives are set online. For millions of people across the UK – and around the world – opening one of these platforms is the first thing they do when they wake, and the last before bed. Quietly, yet insidiously, social media has – quite literally – transformed the way we live our lives. As a society, we have barely begun to quite understand these radical lifestyle changes have had on us over the past decade. More dangerously, neither have we been quick enough in responding to the pressures and new challenges it presents to young people, the first generation for whom growing up online is the norm. Social media does, of course, have its positives; you only have to look at my Facebook and...
18 March 2019
Boris Johnson

MPs should reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a third time unless she secures “real change” to the Northern Ireland backstop, Boris Johnson has declared.

The leading Brexiteer said backing the agreement would open the door to a "greater humiliation" in the second phase of talks on Britain's EU departure. And he revealed that members of his own constituency association have, with "near unanimity", urged him to "stick to my guns" and continue his longstanding opposition to the deal. The Prime Minister will today hold last-minute talks with the Democratic Unionist Party in a bid to convince them to swing behind the agreement, which was rejected for a second time in the House of Commons last week. It is thought that any shift by the DUP could prompt Tory Brexiteers who voted against the deal to get behind it in a third vote pencilled in for either Tuesday or Wednesday this week. But Mr Johnson urged the Prime Minister to delay any vote until after the EU Council summit that kicks off on Thursday. And he called on Mrs May to use the gathering to once again demand changes to the Northern Ireland backstop, which Brexiteers fear would...
18 March 2019
EU and UK flags

Jeremy Corbyn is seeking talks with cross-party MPs in a bid to secure backing for Labour's plans for a soft Brexit.

The Labour boss has written to the leaders of other opposition parties, as well as Tory supporters of the Norway-style "Common Market 2.0" proposal, in a bid to come up with an alternative to Theresa May's deal. In the invite, Mr Corbyn said the starting point for discussions should be "Labour’s credible options" of a permanent customs union plus close ties to the EU's single market. The move comes as Theresa May desperately tries to secure enough backing for her own deal, which has already been comprehensively rejected twice by the Commons. Mr Corbyn said: "She cannot keep bringing back an unchanged deal. It is ridiculous. She has got to recognise that we’ve got to do something different. "That’s why I’ve written to colleagues across parliament and invited them to meet me, Keir Starmer and Shadow Cabinet colleagues to discuss our credible proposals of a customs union, market access and guaranteeing rights and environmental and consumer protections. "I look forward to those and more...
18 March 2019
Social media firms

Social media addiction may need to be classed as a disease to combat a "crisis" in young people's health, MPs have said.

In a hard-hitting new report, the all-party group on social media and young people's mental health and wellbeing warned that heavy users of sites like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube were putting themselves at greater risk of mental health problems. And they said that the current rules regulating big tech firms risked "failing" young people. The group has joined calls for ministers to impose a new "duty of care" on social media firms to force them to take the wellbeing of their users into account. And they have urged the Government to look into whether the "addictive" nature of social media sites means over-use should be officially classed as a disease by the World Health Organisation. Writing for PoliticsHome, Labour MP Chris Elmore, who chairs the group, said ministers were "only just facing up to" the problem of harm caused by social...
18 March 2019
22 Engineer Regiment homecoming

A new report has found that employers who have signed teh Covenant were more likely to understand the value a vertrans brings to their organization. MPs can play a role in ensuring more sign up, says Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock. 

When Forces in Mind Trust set up shop seven years ago, little was publicly discussed about the transition from military to civilian life, and the nascent Armed Forces Covenant was not much better known.  Leaps and bounds, leaps and bounds.  Currently underway are a UK governmental consultation on a ‘Strategy for our veterans’, active Defence select committee inquiries into veterans’ mental health services and the Covenant and an independent inquiry into Service families led by Andrew Selous MP.  That’s in addition to an encyclopedia of Ashcroft reports into transition. This body of work represents a genuine ramping up in the interest Parliament is taking in the treatment of ex-Service personnel and their families, the same population that Forces in Mind Trust was established by the recently re-branded National Lottery Community Fund to serve. Questions to Members (and their researchers) though – should they contribute, and if so how? The Armed Forces community, as...
17 March 2019
Philip Hammond

MPs will get a “final chance” to agree a Brexit deal next week or face a long delay to the UK's departure from the EU, Philip Hammond warned today.

The Chancellor argued it was now “physically impossible” to leave the EU on 29 March as originally planned, but said MPs had to choose between a short delay of a few weeks or a much longer wait. However, he noted it was not certain that Theresa May would even put her deal to Parliament for the third time next week - arguing it would depend on whether the Government expects to win enough support for it. The Prime Minister is expected to hold a fresh ‘meaningful vote’ on her agreement after it was defeated in the Commons a second time on Tuesday. She is battling to secure support from eurosceptic Tory MPs as well as the DUP - which props up her minority Government and is thought to be the key to securing a deal. Mr Hammond today warned those who might be wavering: “It’s the final chance to do this deal without having to have a long extension of the Article 50 period - I’m clear about that.” His comments, on the BBC Andrew Marr show, suggest there will not be a fourth vote on the deal...
17 March 2019
Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has said he could vote to leave the European Union in a second Brexit referendum if a “good deal” was on the table.

The Labour leader said an agreement with Brussels that would allow for a “dynamic relationship” with the bloc could pose a way to unite the country. Meanwhile, he said Labour will demand a no-confidence vote in the Government if Theresa May loses a crucial vote on her Brexit deal next week. Labour has set out its own plan which seeks to create a Customs Union with the European Union, allow single market access and guarantee consumer and environmental protections. Mr Corbyn said a deal along those lines could offer a "credible choice" to put to the public in a referendum. Asked how he could vote in a fresh public poll on Brexit, Mr Corbyn told the Sophy Ridge programme on Sky News: “It depends what the choice is in front of us. “If we’ve got a good deal in which we can have a dynamic relationship with Europe then that might be a good way forward that unites the country. And asked if he was enthusiastic about the prospect of a second referendum he would only say: “I...
17 March 2019
Esther McVey

Esther McVey has said she will vote for the Brexit deal Theresa May brought back from Brussels in a big boost for the Prime Minister.

The former Work and Pensions Secretary - who quit the Government last year in protest at the blueprint - said she and other pro-Brexit MPs would “hold our nose” and back the “bad” agreement with Brussels. She also said she would be willing to stand for the Conservative leadership when Mrs May steps down “if there were enough people who supported me”. Ms McVey stormed out of the Cabinet in November over the backstop plan that could see the UK tied to EU rules indefinitely to ensure the Northern Irish border remains open after a no-deal Brexit. She said at the time: “The British people have always been ahead of politicians on this issue, and it will be no good trying to pretend to them that this deal honours the result of the referendum when it is obvious to everyone it doesn’t. “We have gone from no deal is better than a bad deal, to any deal is better...
17 March 2019
Conservative MP Nick Boles

Conservative MP Nick Boles has split from his local party amid an ongoing row over the handling of Brexit.

The Grantham and Stamford MP had clashed with local members over his refusal to back a no-deal exit and his preference towards a softer departure from the bloc. Amid deteriorating relations last month, activists triggered a deselection process in a bid to stop Mr Boles running in the constituency at the next election.   In his resignation letter, seen by the BBC, the former minister said he was resigning with immediate effect. He said: “I regret that my relationship with you should end in this way. But a politician without principles is worthless. "I am in no doubt about my duty, which is to be true to my convictions and to dedicate the rest of my time in Parliament to the best interests of the people I was elected to serve." Mr Boles said he wanted to continue to “take the Conservative whip” in Parliament if it is offered on “acceptable terms”. In an article in the Times on Saturday, the MP...
17 March 2019
Burgers and chips

Junk food advertising on TV and online could be banned before 9pm in a bid by the Government to crack down on childhood obesity.

The Department of Health and Social Care has begun a public consultation for the new watershed plan as part of efforts to tackle the growing "epidemic". The number of children classed as seriously overweight is at a record high, while one in three youngsters leave primary school obese, according to the department. Ministers expect up to 1,000 more children a year to need treatment for obesity-related problems such as diabetes and asthma by 2022-23. Public Health Minister Steve Brine said: “The NHS is already preparing to treat more and more children for the serious effects of extreme obesity in the future, so we have a duty to address the underlying causes because we believe passionately in our NHS.” Adverts for foods containing high levels of fat, sugar and salt will be consulted on, with the proposed ban hitting TV shows, online streaming and social media companies. Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas have both backed the measure, with Ms...