Dods at Party Conference 2018

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

18 November 2018

Top Tories are plotting a “fallback plan” to keep the UK in the EU single market if MPs vote down the deal struck by Theresa May, it has been reported.

Senior figures are in talks with opposition MPs over a Commons amendment that would see the UK remain in the European Economic Area - the so-called Norway option - the Sunday Telegraph says. It comes as the withdrawal agreement the Prime Minister hammered out with the EU looks increasingly unlikely to pass the so-called “meaningful vote” in parliament in the coming weeks. MPs from across the political divide have condemned it, with the Labour party and the DUP - whose 10 MPs prop up the PM in her minority administration - vowing to vote against it. But influential former ministers such as Nick Boles believe their proposal for a Norway-style model is the only route that could win a majority in parliament, the Sunday Telegraph says. They believe it could gain support from some 70 pro-EU Labour MPs if they first fail to secure backing for amendments calling for a second EU referendum. Mr Boles told the paper: “We are in discussion with Labour MPs...
18 November 2018

Theresa May has warned Tory critics threatening to topple her that they could end up throwing Brexit away.

The Prime Minister said the process of quitting the EU could be “delayed or frustrated” if restless backbenchers trigger a vote of no confidence in her leadership. She made the comments as it was confirmed the 48 letters of no confidence required to trigger a vote that could bring her down had not yet been submitted. Tory MPs angry that her draft withdrawal agreement with Brussels risks leaving the UK locked in a customs plan with the EU to protect the Northern Ireland border have said she must be replaced. More than 20 have gone public to say they have submitted their letters to chair of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady - with speculation mounting that the crucial number will be reached next week. But the PM told the Sophy Ridge show on Sky News today: “A change of leadership at this point isn’t going to make the negotiations any easier and it’s not going to change the parliamentary arithmetic. “What it will do is bring in a degree of uncertainty - that’s uncertainty for...
18 November 2018

Jeremy Corbyn today admitted he does not know how he would vote if the country faced a second EU referendum.

The Labour leader said another vote could be an “option for the future” but said it was unclear what the referendum question would be. And he refused to say whether or not Brexit could be stopped - arguing only that Labour did not have the numbers in parliament to block it alone. Mr Corbyn has resisted calls to back a vote on the final Brexit deal Theresa May brings back from Brussels - although Labour has refused to rule one out. Asked  by Sophy Ridge about the possibility on Sky News today, he said: “I think it’s an option for the future but it’s not an option for today.  "If we had a referendum tomorrow what is it going to be on - what is the question going to be?” Asked how he would vote if the issue was put to the public again, he said: “Well I don’t know how I’d vote. What would the options be at that time? "But I wanted us to Remain in the EU, that was my vote in that referendum.”  Mr Corbyn insisted Labour could not support the draft Brexit plan Theresa May agreed this week -...
18 November 2018

Support for the Tories has plummeted after the agreed Brexit plan put forward by Theresa May sparked a civil war in the party, new polls have suggested.

Two surveys carried out during the height of the bitter Tory in-fighting this week saw the party lose between three and five points, giving Mrs May her worst polling numbers since she became Prime Minister.  Labour snatched leads over the Conservatives after the Brexit showdown saw two senior Cabinet members and a number of other senior figures quit the Government in opposition to the draft deal. A ComRes poll for the Sunday Mirror and Sunday Express saw Tory support fall 3 points since September - from 39% to 36%. Labour has remained steady on 40%, giving Jeremy Corbyn a four-point lead. Meanwhile, an Opinium poll for the Observer found the Tories had slumped five points to 36%, handing a lead to Labour after the party jumped two points to 39%. The fall was driven by Leave voters deserting the party in droves, with 10% now saying they would no longer vote for Mrs May’s Conservatives in a general election. But the poll also found the draft withdrawal deal failed to command...
18 November 2018

Theresa May today issued a thinly-veiled slapdown to Cabinet colleagues who argue her Brexit agreement can still be negotiated.

The Prime Minister said her focus between now and when the draft withdrawal plan gets the rubber stamp from EU leaders was the future trading relationship with the bloc. She made the comments after reports Andrea Leadsom was leading five Cabinet members in a push to secure changes to the plan to protect the Northern Irish border in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Pro-Brexit figures in the party have been left outraged that the so-called ‘backstop’ proposal could see the UK locked in a customs arrangement with the EU unless the bloc agrees to release it. Ms Leadsom told the BBC yesterday the withdrawal agreement could be “improved” - and is thought to have Michael Gove, Liam Fox, Penny Mordaunt and Chris Grayling backing her. But Mrs May told Sky News today ahead of the crucial European Council summit next Sunday to lock in the deal: “The focus this week will be on a future relationship.” But in a threat to the EU, she added: “There is indeed more negotiation taking place and...
18 November 2018

A leadership contest in the Conservative party would "not be helpful" to the Brexit negotiations, according to the MP who would announce a vote of no confidence in Theresa May.

Sir Graham Brady said not enough Tory MPs had submitted letters of no confidence to trigger a challenge - and said he was offended by accusations he could try to delay a vote. More than 20 Tories angry at the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan have gone public to say they have submitted letters of no confidence to the 1922 Committee of backbenchers, which he chairs. Exactly 48 letters - or 15% of the parliamentary party - are required to trigger a challenge. Rumours had been circulating that the threshold had been met and a vote could take place early next week. But Sir Graham said he was yet to receive the 48 letters – and noted that even his wife Victoria had no idea how many were in his desk drawer. He also warned fellow backbenchers that a vote of no confidence in the PM “probably wouldn’t be” helpful to the Brexit negotiations. “We are now coming to the end game of a very serious, very difficult negotiation,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “And for the Conservative party to be plunged...
18 November 2018

Theresa May faces a fresh wave of Tory anger amid claims Brussels will demand a further £10bn from the UK if Brexit is delayed.

The Prime Minister said last month that the post-Brexit transition period could be extended by “a matter of months” if more time was required to reach a deal and protect the Northern Ireland border. She argued a delay could stop the backstop proposal to keep the border open - which has been heavily criticised by pro-Brexit figures in her party - ever having to be triggered. But according to the Observer, the EU will insist that any extension to the transition must last at least a whole year - adding a £10bn bill on top of the £39bn the UK has already agreed to hand to Brussels. Tory MPs already angry about paying the multi-billion pound divorce settlement will be outraged at a further payment and at being tied to the bloc for another 12 months. The EU will demand that the maximum length of time for an extension is confirmed this week, according to the Observer, ahead of a crunch summit of EU leaders, during which the draft withdrawal agreement...
17 November 2018
jennyjonesjennyjones

Two female peers have hit out at fellow Lords for their “cruel” attitudes in a debate on claims of sexual harassment against Lib Dem peer Lord Lester. 

The House of Lords voted by 101 to 78 to delay a decision by a Parliamentary watchdog to hand Lord Lester a mammoth near-five-year ban over allegations he tried to get a woman to have sex with him in return for a peerage. Lord Lester has maintained that the claims - made by author and campaigner Jasvinder Sanghera about events said to have taken place 12 years ago - are "completely untrue". But Barroness Jones, of the Greens, told the Guardian she was so shocked by the debate on his ban that she left the chamber.  She said: “I actually walked out of the debate at one point because I was so shocked at the things that were being said…  “So mysogynistic [and] victim-blaming.  “I couldn’t believe this was happening in 2018. It was so archaic and, honestly, cruel.”  Meanwhile fellow Lib Dem peer Baroness Hussein-Ece said she had become “...
17 November 2018
Angela SmithAngela Smith

A moderate Labour MP has condemned a "cabal of hard-left members" after losing a vote of no confidence in her performance by local party members.

Actvists in the Penistone and Stocksbridge constituency Labour party said they were unhappy with Anegla Smith's criticism of Jeremy Corbyn. The motion of no confidence was passed by 27 votes to 20 at a meeting of the CLP's general management committee on Friday night. It is understood local Labour officials will now write to Nick Brown, the party's chief whip at Westminster, asking for Ms Smith to be kicked out of the party. In a statement, the MP said: "I take my responsibilities as a member of parliament very seriously and my first priority is always to do my job, to the best of my ability. "It is frankly astonishing that a cabal of hard-left members have absorbed everyone's precious time and energy on a divisive motion of no confidence. "Given that the country is facing its biggest crisis since Suez, one would have thought their attention would be better focused on the huge decision facing the country, a decision that will affect the lives of every one of my constituents for years...
17 November 2018
michael-govemichael-gove

Michael Gove and four other Cabinet ministers will try to force Theresa May to change her plan for Brexit in exchange for their loyalty, according to reports.

The "gang of five” is said to consist of Eurosceptics Gove, Andrea Leadsom, Chris Grayling, Penny Mordaunt and Liam Fox. According to the Telegraph, the ministers have “made it clear” they would not hesitate in following Dominic Raab and Esther McVey in quitting if their demands are not met.  It is understood the group want Britain to have the option of pulling out of the Irish border “backstop” agreement unilaterally, rather than with the EU’s consent as it currently stands.  The five ministers, who have all attended Ms Leadsom’s “pizza nights” to thrash out strategy in the past – as well the likes of Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt – believe their changes could help Mrs May avoid a no confidence vote from her MPs. But key EU figures have made it clear that they are unlikely to allow changes to the draft agreement, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel...