Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

17 May 2019
Tory rosette

Equalities watchdogs have demanded information from the Conservatives about complaints of Islamophobia within party ranks.

In a letter to the party, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said the Tories have one month to respond to the request for details, ITV news first revealed. The Conservatives have been under fire in recent months over alleged incidents of Islamophobia in the party, with Tory chiefs forced to suspend dozens of members for abuse. It is understood the correspondence follows a standard process as part of the watchdog’s complaints procedure. A Conservative party spokesperson said: “The Conservative party will always be happy to work with organisations who support equality, tolerance and human rights.” On Wednesday, MPs attacked the Government after it refused to adopt a definition of Islamophobia recommended by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims. The definition has been formally...
17 May 2019
Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May

Jeremy Corbyn has written to Theresa May to pull the plug on the cross-party Brexit talks. Read his letter in full below. 

Dear Prime Minister   I am writing to let you know that I believe the talks between us about finding a compromise agreement on leaving the European Union have now gone as far as they can.   I would like to put on record that the talks have been conducted in good faith on both sides and thank those involved for their efforts to find common ground.   The talks have been detailed, constructive and have involved considerable effort for both our teams.   However, it has become clear that, while there are some areas where compromise has been possible, we have been unable to bridge important policy gaps between us.   Even more crucially, the increasing weakness and instability of your government means there cannot be confidence in securing whatever might be agreed between us.   As I said when we met on Tuesday evening, there has been growing concern in both the Shadow Cabinet and parliamentary Labour party about the government's ability to deliver on any compromise agreement.   As you have...
17 May 2019
A street in London

Just 43 days as a new Minster at DWP, Will Quince MP announces the development of new statistics to measure poverty.

The British social reformer Charles Booth was born in the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign; yet his new approach to collecting data is still considered of relevance today. He is well known for critiquing the existing data on poverty in the late 1800s and popularising the concept of the poverty line. But he’s perhaps most remembered for his extensive research into the lives of Londoners on low incomes, using statistics and qualitative methods which were groundbreaking at the time. Tackling poverty is a priority for this Government and me personally, and I share the obvious commitment Booth had to understanding the complexities of disadvantage so we can develop policy to help people improve their lives. That ambition is one of the main reasons I came into politics. When I was on the back benches, I co-chaired the All Parliamentary Group for ending homelessness and campaigned for radical solutions to end rough sleeping and address homelessness focusing on support for vulnerable...
17 May 2019
Paul Masterton

Marie Le Conte speaks to Parliamentarians to find out more about the human side of politics. This week, Conservative MP Paul Masterton on his biggest regret, hip-hop-aoke and his childhood dream

What were you like at school? Quite geeky. I had a really great time at school – I wasn't one of those people that was miserable going in every day. I was quite fortunate because I went to a really good school and was always really encouraged to push myself and go on and I had good friends. I was the normal side of geeky. I was geeky, but not weird. What's your earliest childhood memory? I have a really clear memory actually, of standing on a ball in my hallway, and falling off and splitting my head on the side of the radiator. I think I must have been about three. Oh, and I don't remember this but my mum always tells a story of the time I went to get my dad's pack of cigarettes and I ate a full cigarette. And that was the first time I had to go to the hospital. I think I was about two. What did you want to be when you grew up? I have always wanted – and this is still my dream – to have some kind of food outlet. So either a sandwich shop, or like a crepe van somewhere nice. It...
Marie Le Conte
17 May 2019
Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May

Jeremy Corbyn today pulled the plug on the cross-party Brexit talks with Theresa May, telling the Prime Minister the discussions had gone “as far as they can”.

In a letter to the Tory leader, Mr Corbyn said the “increasing weakness and instability of the Government” had made it impossible to reach a deal. Mrs May requested the talks with Mr Corbyn in April in a bid to find a Brexit compromise that Labour could support and secure a Commons majority for a way forward. But they hit the rocks after the two sides were unable to come to an agreement on customs, among other things, and have been dragging on without progress for weeks. This morning, Mr Corbyn wrote to the Prime Minister calling an end to the talks, saying despite some areas of compromise they had been “unable to bridge important policy gaps between us”. He added that Labour had little confidence in a future Tory leader honouring any deal, after the Prime Minister announced she would lay out a timetable for her departure in early June. He wrote that “the talks between us about finding a compromise agreement on leaving the European Union have now gone as far as they can”. “It has...
17 May 2019
Liz Truss and James Brokenshire cumulatively have five ovens

The latest Commons gossip from Emilio Casalicchio

Parliamentary staffers eyeing up a more lucrative move into the private sector were given second thoughts this week as an internal email from the boss of a major advisory firm did the rounds. He told his troops – in the understatement of the year – that the party-til-you drop behaviour in the office had been “getting out of hand”. Among the list of grievances included one worker who left a “poo in the shower” and another who “mess[ed] their underwear and [left] it for the cleaner”. Staff were warned: “Please treat this place properly or we’ll have to withdraw the showers and stop the bar.” Suddenly the Palace of Westminster looks like a safe haven. --- Ambitious former defence secretary Gavin Williamson was meanwhile spotted working his fireplace salesman magic this week with a key Tory big beast. The ex-Cabinet minister dined with erstwhile party donor Lord Ashcroft at the Northall, where a main course can cost up to £45. Hopefully Williamson was not footing the bill on his...
17 May 2019
Children in a classroom

With rise of automation and AI, it is the uniquely human qualities central to oracy that will have sustained value in the competitive global economy, writes Emma Hardy

Walking around Westminster, you cannot escape the constant chatter of MPs at work. As politicians we deliberate, debate, discuss and hopefully (although probably not enough) listen. Here talk is valued – it is our lifeblood; what we say and how we say it matters. But can the same be said of talk in schools? How much do we care about the development of students’ speaking skills compared to the taught and tested reading, writing and maths?   Spoken communication is as vital in the corridors and classrooms of our schools as it is in the committee rooms and chambers of Westminster. But it is currently overlooked and undervalued in our education system. These concerns were shared by Schools Minister Nick Gibb recently when he stated in a speech that “little attention has been paid to the important role of oracy”.    This is why the Oracy All Party Parliamentary Group is launching a new inquiry Speak for Change to investigate the provision of oracy education in the UK...
Emma Hardy
17 May 2019
Philip Lee

A former minister has claimed the Conservatives are being infiltrated by right-wing Brexiteers after a vote of no confidence was called in him by local party members.

Dr Philip Lee accused opponents who only joinef the Tories last year of trying to "intimidate" him in an attempt to force him to change his anti-Brexit views. The Bracknell MP - who quit as justice minister last year over the Government's Brexit strategy - said the confidence vote, which will take place on 1 June, was "an unpleasant sideshow with zero practical effect". The GP blamed the attempts to oust him on "entryism" by anti-EU campaigners who he said would ensure the Tories are never in power again unless they were stopped. "I regret that this vote has been called - in reality it’s an unpleasant sideshow with zero practical effect because nothing happens as a result," he said. "I’m the Conservative MP for Bracknell now and I’ll still be the Conservative MP for Bracknell afterwards. "It is part of a broader, coordinated campaign by wealthy individuals and organisations in this country and around the world to manipulate democracy for their own ends. For many months I have warned...
17 May 2019
Arron Banks and Nigel Farage in 2014

Business tycoon Arron Banks allegedly spent nearly half a million pounds funding a lavish lifestyle for Nigel Farage in the year following the 2016 referendum result, according to a Channel 4 News investigation.

A £4.4m home in Chelsea, a £30,000 car and driver, a private office in Westminster and personal assistant, as well as hundreds of thousands splashed on promoting “Brand Farage” in America are listed as some of the expenditure gifted to the now Brexit Party leader. The plush three-bedroom property in West London is estimated to have cost £13,000 a month, while Mr Banks also bought furnishings ranging from chairs and crockery to a shower curtain. The revelations come after invoices, emails and other documents were seen by Channel 4 News. Mr Banks, who is under investigation by the National Crime Agency over EU referendum spending, is said to have spent the money after Mr Farage announced he was standing down as Ukip leader in the wake of the EU referendum. Mr Farage, who continued to pocket a 100,000 euro salary as a sitting MEP,  denies insurance millionaire Mr Banks has donated to the Brexit Party - which is on course to win next week's European...
17 May 2019
Labour negotiators

Talks between the Government and Labour aimed at agreeing a joint approach to Brexit are set to break up without a deal, PoliticsHome understands.

The negotiations, which have been going on since the end of March, could break down as early as Friday. Senior Labour sources said on Thursday that they were not going to walk away "imminently" - leaving the door open to the party pulling the plug at some point in the next few days. If the talks do end without a deal, MPs are likely to be given a series of so-called "indicative votes" on different Brexit options in the hope of securing a Commons majority for one of them. Numerous meetings have taken place between officials and senior frontbenchers on both sides over the past six weeks, but major differences remain. In particular, the Government refused to agree to Labour's demand for a permanent post-Brexit customs union with the EU. Theresa May has also rejected calls for a so-called "confirmatory ballot", effectively a second referendum, to be held on a final Brexit deal. Labour negotiators had also insisted that any deal agreed with the Government - which they also...