Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

15 March 2019
Esther McVey

Former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey has suggested that she will U-turn and back Theresa May’s Brexit deal when it returns to the Commons for a third time next week.

In a major boost for the PM, the former Cabinet minister - who quit in November over the agreement - said MPs would need to back it to see Brexit through. Speaking to BBC’s Nick Robinson’s Political Thinking podcast, the staunch Brexiteer heavily hinted that she will vote in favour of the deal, which she criticised on leaving her post as failing to honour the 2016 referendum result. She added that more Tory MPs are likely to “hold up their noses and vote”. “Yes they will, I don’t know what the number is, but they will have to do that if they therefore now want Brexit, because of what has happened," she said. “What happened in the House yesterday and the day before shows that without doubt we don’t have a Prime Minister who believed no-deal was better than a bad deal. “We’ve got a Prime Minister who’s saying a deal at any cost and that could be chucking Brexit under a bus.” Conservative colleague James Gray also told the BBC he will now endorse the...
15 March 2019
Brexit protest

Once they have been broken, Parliament’s conventions will be hard to repair. But what is happening now is extreme politics, and the madness will eventually pass, writes George Parker

This is not normal, as my esteemed Times colleague Matt Chorley would say. After a week that saw political conventions at Westminster not so much breached as ripped up and thrown in the bin, questions are being raised about when – or if – normal will return. When I started reporting at Westminster back in the 1990s, I imagined I would never witness again the kind of drama in the House of Commons associated with the downfall of Margaret Thatcher and the Maastricht rebellions, but Brexit proved me wrong. We all know how Brexit has fractured political parties and turned former party colleagues into ideological enemies, but this week proved again that normal conventions at Westminster no longer apply. Take Steve Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, who wound up Thursday’s Commons debate proposing an extension to the Article 50 exit process with the words: “It is time to put forward an extension that is realistic. I commend the government motion to the House.” He then voted against the motion...
George Parker
15 March 2019

The decision on Interserve’s future shows why we need to reform the procurement process from its foundations 

The primary concerns of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) is the supply chain and the thousands of workers who will be wondering if they still have a job on the morning of 18 March and in the months to come. The news regarding Interserve also highlights why reforming procurement is so vital. It also demonstrates the importance of using companies that win work on reputation and those that are engrained into their local supply chains. As with Carillion’s collapse, the NFB will be doing all it can to support members who are part of Interserve’s supply chain, as well as the many workers and apprentices affected by this decision. Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said: “This decision on Interserve’s future shows why we need to reform the procurement process from its foundations to ensure that more regional contractors can compete and win work, the damaging trend to work within wafer thin profit margins does not continue, and spread risk across fiscally responsible...
15 March 2019

Theresa May has urged social media sites to remove all footage and "propaganda" connected to the gunman who carried out the Christchurch terror attack.

Forty-nine people were killed and more than 20 others are seriously injured after at least one attacker opened fire on worshipers at a mosque in the New Zealand city. A suspect livestreamed the attack on social media, with footage subsequently spreading across a host of platforms. The alleged attacker also posted a 74-page manifesto outlining his far-right beliefs, which was published by several news sites. Facebook has since removed the video and deleted the suspect's account. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said: “Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other providers have taken action to remove the video and other propaganda related to the attack. “We are clear that all companies need to act more quickly to remove all terrorist content. “There should be no safe spaces for terrorists to promote and share their extreme views.” The call comes hours after Mrs May condemned the attack as a "sickening act of violence", while Labour leader Jeremy...
15 March 2019

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine is delighted to announce that Dr Katherine Henderson has been elected as its next president.

Dr Henderson, a consultant at St Thomas’ Hospital London and a former Registrar of the College, becomes the College’s first female President and will formally take up her post in October. Dr Henderson said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been elected by the fellows of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine. It is a huge privilege to become RCEM’s next President. While there are certainly challenging years ahead, I am eager to lead the College in facing these head on and will work hard to represent all members of our fantastic specialty. “The recent news of plans to replace or amend the four-hour target means that the work of the College has never been more important. “How we measure emergency care to ensure patient safety and drive flow is a key priority for me, but in addition to this I am determined to tackle the issue of corridor medicine, improve retention and enhance the value of College membership.” Outgoing President Dr Hassan added: “To us, patient safety is...
15 March 2019
Labour rosette

Labour have reinstated a councillor who made jokes about “Jew process” during a meeting on anti-semitism.

Jo Bird was suspended by the party earlier this month when a recording of her comments was published by the Jewish Chronicle. The Wirral councillor, who is Jewish, had talked about the “privileging of racism against Jews” over other forms of discrimination at a meeting of Labour activists. Councillor Bird, who is a member of pro-Jeremy Corbyn group Jewish Voice for Labour, called for disciplinary hearings into cases of anti-semitism to be put on hold "until a due process has been established". To laughter and applause from some of those in attendance she added: "It's what I call a Jew process." She added: "One of the things that does worry me is the privileging of racism against Jews, over and above - as more worthy of resources than other forms of racism." Later in the recording, Ms Bird was heard reciting her own version of the post-Holocaust poem,“First they came for…”, which she had adapted to focus on Labour’s battle with anti-semitism. She said: "They came for the anti-zionists...
15 March 2019
House of Lords

Brazen peers sparked fury today as they prepared to sabotage a move that would stop seats in the House of Lords from being passed down through families.

Two peers tabled more than 60 wrecking amendments to a bill that would kill off the hereditary peerage system for good. Lord Grocott, who tabled the bill, said his colleagues were “bringing the House into disrepute by trying to preserve an indefensible system”. Under current rules 92 hereditary peers hold seats in the Upper Chamber. When they die or retire a vote of other hereditary peers is held so another title-holder can take their place. The bill by Lord Grocott, set to be debated today, would end those hereditary by-elections, meaning the number of peers allowed to take their seats by birth would dwindle to nothing over time. But other Lords have tabled dozens of amendments to thwart his bid - including 49 tabled by Lord Trefgarne and 16 tabled by the Earl of Caithness. Lord Grocott fumed: “These peers should stop bringing the House into disrepute by trying to preserve an indefensible system of ludicrous by-elections, and by abusing procedure to thwart the wishes of the House.”...
15 March 2019
Lord Steel, Nick Clegg, Paddy Ashdown

The Liberal Democrats have suspended former party leader Lord Steel after he admitted "assuming" Cyril Smith had abused boys in the 1960s.

The party grandee made the comment while giving evidence to the Inquiry into Sexual Abuse on Wednesday. The peer, who led the Liberal Party from 1976 until it merged with the SDP in 1988, said he had confronted former Rochdale MP Mr Smith in 1979 over a story in Private Eye which alleged he had spanked young boys and conducted intimate medical examinations at a hostel in the town. “He accepted the story was correct,” he said. “Obviously I disapproved but as far as I was concerned it was past history.” Mr Smith added that he “assumed” Mr Smith had committed the offences, but did not raise his concerns again, adding: “It was nothing to do with me”. In a statement, the Scottish Liberal Democrats said they would be launching a formal investigation into the peer. "Following the evidence concerning Cyril Smith given by Lord Steel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse on 13th March 2019, the office bearers of the Scottish Liberal Democrats have met and agreed...
15 March 2019
Jeremy Corbyn

Five of Labour's frontbench team have quit their posts after defying Jeremy Corbyn over a second EU referendum.

The Labour leader had ordered his MPs to abstain in a vote on an amedment calling for Brexit to be delayed so there can be a so-called "people's vote". But the five rebels - Ruth Smeeth, Justin Madders, Yvonne Fovargue, Stephanie Peacock and Emma Lewell-Buck - broke the party whip to either vote for or against another poll. Ms Smeeth, who was parliamentary aide to deputy leader Tom Watson, was the first to announce her departure. The Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove MP said: "I've resigned from Labour's front bench this evening in order to vote against a second referendum. This was a difficult decision but I have a duty to support the will of my constituents." Mr Watson said: "Ruth is as good a colleague and friend as I could wish for. She is a leading young light in our party and has served on the front bench with distinction. I wish her well and respect her decision." Amy Jackson, Mr Corbyn's political secretary, texted the other four rebels asking them to resign, which they did....
15 March 2019
Geoffrey Cox

Theresa May's hopes of securing Commons backing for her Brexit deal have been dealt a blow after a team of eurosceptic lawyers rejected Geoffrey Cox's latest attempt to end the impasse.

Legal advice prepared by the Attorney General states that the UK could use the Vienna Convention to unilaterally exit the Irish backstop. Mr Cox said that if it was shown that the backstop - an insurance policy to avoid a hard border in Ireland - was having a "socially destabilising effect on Northern Ireland", then Article 62 of the convention could apply, allowing the UK to leave it. His legal advice, seen by the Daily Telegraph, says: "It is in my view clear and undoubted in those exceptional circumstances that international law provides the [UK] with the right to terminate the Withdrawal Agreement." But a "star chamber" of Brexiteer lawyers, including DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds and veteran Tory eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash, said the Attorney General's advice was "badly misconceived". They pointed out that the Vienna Convention can only be used "in extreme...