Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

14 March 2019
John Bercow

John Bercow has come under fire after he snubbed an attempt by Brexiteers to torpedo the chances of a second referendum.

The Commons Speaker did not include it among the amendments he chose to be voted on by MPs on Thursday evening. More than 100 Tory, Labour and DUP MPs had signed the amendment, which called for the Government to rule out calling a so-called "people's vote". Mr Bercow's decision not to choose it drew a furious response from pro-Brexit MPs. Mark Francois, vice-chair of the European Research Group of Tory Brexiteers, said: “It had far more signatures than any other amendment on the order paper, and had three different parties supporting it." Senior Tory backbencher Sir Bernard Jenkin questioned if Mr Bercow’s personal views on Brexit had coloured his decision. "There might be some concern, Mr Speaker, that the selection of amendments do not reflect the will of the House,” he said "Because the will of the House cannot be expressed on an amendment… until there has been a vote on that amendment. Therefore, given that Amendment B expresses different matters that you’ve chosen...
14 March 2019

Parliamentary watchdogs could be on the verge of an embarrassing climbdown after they sparked outrage over pay rises for MPs' staff, PoliticsHome can reveal.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is discussing at an all-day board meeting today whether or not a pay hike for workers should be further increased. More than 160 MPs from across the political divide wrote to the parliamentary watchdog to complain after their workers were handed a below-inflation rise. Salaries for MPs will rise by 2.7% in the coming financial year to £79,468, but the allowance they get to pay their workers will only go up by 1.5% to £166,930 in London and £155,930 elsewhere in the country. Ipsa confirmed to PoliticsHome that the issue was on the agenda for the scheduled board meeting, which is taking place throughout today. It first revealed its plans in a letter to Labour MP Tracy Brabin, after she raised a point of order in the Commons complaining about the difference in pay rise between MPs and their staff. Ipsa chief executive Marcel Boo told her last Thursday: “Ipsa's board is meeting next week to discuss this issue, including your views.” Batley...
14 March 2019
European Union and UK flags

MPs are due to debate whether the Government should try to push back the UK's exit date beyond 29 March after giving the PM another shot to get her deal through next week. Members are once again hoping to throw a spanner or two in the works. Here are the bids that John Bercow has chosen to be put to a vote.

Here is a summary of the Government’s motion this evening 1: This House notes that MPs voted against the Prime Minister’s deal on Tuesday and voted to show they were opposed to leaving without a deal on Wednesday and therefore ministers will seek to agree an extension to Article 50. 2: Ministers will attempt to put forward Mrs May’s deal before the Commons again before 20 March, and if it passes, they will seek a one-off extension until 30 June to implement legislation. 3: But if MPs do not pass the deal it is “highly likely” that any extension will need a purpose to win the EU Council’s agreement, and that if agreed it could go on beyond 30 June, therefore requiring the UK to take part in EU elections in May. Here are the bids MPs will be asked to vote on, which is backed would change the Government’s motion... AMENDMENT E Labour’s frontbench would axe the second part of the amendment and replace it with an acknowledgement that MPs have already “decisively rejected” the PM’s...
14 March 2019

Despite reiterating that the economy remained “robust”, during the delivery of the Spring Statement on 13 March 2019, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond MP emphasised that the UK is currently shrouded in a “cloud of uncertainty”.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) remains unconvinced by the chancellor’s latest announcements on housing and planning which include an Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme and the use of the forthcoming Environment Bill to mandate biodiversity net gain for developments in England. As we approach the 2020 deadline by which the Government had pledged to deliver one million homes, including 200,000 starter homes, it is becoming increasingly clear that both targets will be missed. Now, it appears the Government’s solution is to throw money at the challenge – up to £3 billion for the delivery of 30,000 affordable homes through housing associations, to be precise. Firstly, those figures make no economic sense. If the Government, its agencies, such as Homes England, and planners had been developing sustainable relationships with lower volume house builders to deliver the numbers of homes we need, it would not be in a last-minute panic. Further, a stumbling block to increasing...
14 March 2019
Theresa May and Donald Tusk

The European Union is open to a "long" delay to Brexit to let Britain "rethink" its strategy, Donald Tusk has said.

The European Council president's comments come just hours before MPs vote on whether or not to order Theresa May to ask for an Article 50 extension after rejecting a no-deal Brexit in chaotic Commons scenes. Mr Tusk: "During my consultations ahead of European Council, I will appeal to the EU27 to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it." The intervention could heap pressure on Conservative Brexiteers to swallow their objections and back Mrs May's deal to avoid delaying Brexit. Any request to extend the Article 50 process would need the unanimous backing of the bloc's 27 member states. But key Brussels figures have hinted that they will only accept a delay to Brexit if the UK can produce a clear strategy to break the current parliamentary deadlock. Chancellor Philip Hammond on Thursday urged rebel Conservative MPs to get on board with the agreement or risk either a long delay or a softer form of Brexit...
14 March 2019

IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) has welcomed the Parliamentary vote opposing a no-deal Brexit. It has, however, warned that the self-employed and business more generally need a clear exit plan and real certainty from Parliament now.

Andy Chamberlain, IPSE’s Deputy Director of Policy, commented: “Last night’s commitment not to leave the European Union without a deal is welcome news for the self-employed – especially with our research showing 81 per cent of the sector oppose a no-deal Brexit.  “The reality is, however, that the self-employed and all businesses need more than platitudes: they need real certainty and a definite plan. Last night’s vote shows Parliament does not want to leave without a deal, but that’s still a definite risk if it cannot agree a credible plan. “Confidence in the economy is now at an all-time low, and government – and Parliament – must act now to lighten this gloomy picture. Freelancers and all businesses urgently need agreement and an end to the uncertainty.”
14 March 2019
Boris Johnson

Children's charities and abuse support groups have torn into Boris Johnson after he claimed that money spent investigating historical sex crimes was being "spaffed up the wall".

The NSPCC branded the former Foreign Secretary's remarks "an affront to victims", while Offside, set up to help survivors of child sexual abuse in football, said he had caused "untold upset and offence among survivors". The Tory heavyweight made the claim during a discussion with LBC about police resources. He said: "Keeping numbers high on the streets is certainly important. But it depends where you spend the money and where you deploy the officers. "And one comment I would make is I think an awful lot of money and an awful lot of police time now goes into these historic offences and all this mullarkey. "You know, £60m I saw was being spaffed up a wall on some investigation into historic child abuse." It is not clear what the £60m figure Mr Johnson raised was referring to. But the NSPCC said investigating past cases of abuse was vital...
14 March 2019
Labour MP Mike Amesbury

Labour frontbencher Mike Amesbury has apologised for sharing an "appalling" anti-semitic image on Facebook.

The Shadow Employment Minister said he was "mortified" to realise that he had posted the offensive image from conspiracy website in 2013. The picture showed a hook-nosed and bearded Santa Claus rubbing his hands together next to the caption: "Remember to support the banks and corporations this Christmas in their continued efforts to enslave mankind, by spending money you haven’t got on things you don’t need." Mr Amesbury initially denied sharing the image, which was posted before he became an MP, saying he had not posted the "vile nonsense and never would". He had added: "The profile picture is of me and my son when we as a family went to Barcelona in 2015, curious that this claims to be from 2013." But the frontbencher has now issued a statement apologising "unreservedly for this terrible error" after social media users pointed out that the post could still be seen on his Facebook wall. "I genuinely don’t recall sharing this image and I’m mortified that...
14 March 2019

A cross-party band of Brexiteers will today launch a Commons bid to kill off the chances of a "divisive and expensive" second EU referendum.

More than 100 MPs have backed an amendment to today's motion on delaying Brexit seeking to stop a so-called "people's vote" from ever taking place. Tabled by Tory eurosceptic Lee Rowley and backed by DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds and Labour MPs Gareth Snell and Caroline Flint, it asks the Commons to endorse the view that "the result of the 2016 EU referendum should be respected and that a second EU referendum would be divisive and expensive, and therefore should not take place". The bid comes as MPs prepare to vote on whether to ask the European Union for permission to delay Brexit beyond the planned departure date of 29 March. In a night of high drama, the Commons on Wednesday voted to reject leaving the EU without a deal under any circumstances, inflicting a further humiliating defeat on the Prime Minister. Today's motion says...
14 March 2019

Experts at the professional services firm KPMG analyse the Spring Statement.  

The Chancellor’s pre-Brexit gift from the OBR won’t go far Yael Selfin, Chief Economist at KPMG in the UK  “Despite the downward revision to GDP forecasts, the Chancellor was given an additional £11bn headroom today to spend, thanks to better revenue forecasts by the OBR. “The larger war chest of £26.6bn will not go far enough in the event of a No-Deal Brexit, as the economy will require a significant boost to counter the shock. “The much anticipated Spending Review will have room for governmental spending to rise by 3% if Brexit goes smoothly and if the Chancellor decides to spend all of his savings pot. That will be better than he’s promised so far, but may not be enough to address UK twin challenges of low productivity and inequality completely.” No Digital U-turn Melissa Geiger, Head of International Tax and Tax Policy at KPMG in the UK “As expected there were no major tax announcements in the Spring Statement, the Chancellor preferring to keep his head under cover amid...