Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

17 May 2019
Jeremy Corbyn

Militant group Hamas has said it "salutes" Jeremy Corbyn for his message of support for the Palestinian people at a mass rally.

A statement read out on behalf of the Labour leader at last Saturday's event in central London said his party was "united in condemning the ongoing human rights abuses by Israeli forces, including the shooting of hundreds of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza". In a move that sparked anger, Hamas - whose military wing has been proscribed by the UK government since 2001 - said they had received Mr Corbyn's message "with great respect and appreciation". The group said: "In his message, Jeremy Corbyn condemned the Israeli occupation forces' shooting at unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza who were calling for their rights to be recognised. He stressed that peace cannot be achieved with the continued illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. "This message expresses support and solidarity with the Palestinian people and their inalienable rights to freedom, independence and self-determination. It also condemns the ongoing occupation and its crimes against our people,...
17 May 2019
HS2

The costs for the controversial HS2 train line “appear to be out of control” according to a damning new report by peers.

The Lords Economic Affairs Committee (LEAC) argued the planned high speed rail link between London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds required a “major rethink”. It added that the north of the country was being “short changed” and lamented the state of rail connections between northern cities which it said should be first in the queue for funding. The verdict is a major blow for Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, who has insisted the major infrastructure project will stick within its latest expected budget. Former Cabinet minister Esther McVey piled in to say the "out of date and unpopular vanity project" should be scrapped altoghether. Ministers originally insisted the 360km-an-hour rail line would cost the taxpayer £30bn, but after delays and repeated recalculations the expected costs now stand at an eye-watering £56bn. The LEAC issued a report four years ago arguing rail links in the north should take priority over HS2 and that the train could save money by running more slowly, but...
16 May 2019
Jamal Khashoggi

The Government allowed exports of telephone hacking kit to Saudi Arabia in the months following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, PoliticsHome can reveal.

The Department of International Trade authorised a £53,000 sale of telecomms interception equipment to the Kingdom in December last year. Washington Post columnist Mr Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, was murdered in the country's consulate in Turkey on 2 October. The gruesome details of how he died were revealed before the DIT approved the sale. Saudi authorities initially denied any knowledge of the killing, but were later forced to admit involvement after a Turkish investigation concluded Mr Khashoggi had been strangled and dismembered during a visit to the diplomatic outpost. But despite vocal condemnation of the killing from the British government, ministers continued to allow exporters to provide the Kingdom with phone hacking equipment in the months following the murder. Figures from Liam Fox's department also showed £11m-worth of military equipment was sent to the Kingdom in the last quarter of 2018, including multiple licenses for...
16 May 2019
Martin Althorpe was elected as president of the British Plastics Federation

Martin Althorpe, Technical Director at Epwin Fenestration Division, was elected as president of the British Plastics Federation in succession to Bruce Margetts at the BPF’s AGM held on 15 May.

The official handover took place at the BPF’s offices in London, where the now Immediate Past President, Bruce Margetts, Managing Director of Bericap, was thanked for his two-years in the post. Mr Althorpe has been actively involved in the British Plastics Federation Windows Group since its formation in 1981, and has been the Windows Group Chairman since 2007. As Chairman, he has a distinguished track record helping to set industry standards and engaging with stakeholders to boost the industry’s standing. In his work with the BPF, he has amassed extensive experience presiding over sustainability initiatives to establish plastic's environmental credentials, whilst communicating these benefits to a range of audiences. Commenting on his appointment, Mr Althorpe said: “I am honoured to have been elected the President of the BPF. The industry has an impressive track record of producing innovations that have changed people’s lives for the better. It is crucial now that as an industry we...
16 May 2019
Theresa May

The first week of June is shaping up to be one of the maddest weeks yet in Westminster. Here is a detailed rundown of how each day is looking… and these are just the events we already know about.

JUNE 3 What better way to kick off a week of political chaos in the UK than by welcoming Donald Trump to our shores? The US president will arrive for his long-awaited state visit, with a lavish Buckingham Palace banquet set for the first night. The Don will realise his dream of meeting the Queen while Theresa May grits her teeth and waits for the whole thing to be over. Unfortunately she will have to look after Trump for three whole days - although he brings with him the benefit of overshadowing every other bad news story going. And there are a few. The opposition will be on hand to make life as difficult as possible for the PM while Trump is around. A Labour source said: “Theresa May should not be rolling out the red carpet for a US President who backs climate change denial and uses racist and misogynist rhetoric. We will take every opportunity to remind the Prime Minister and the public that instead of standing up to him like she should be, she's holding his hand every step of the...
16 May 2019
EU and UK flags

A minister has been left red-faced after telling MPs that the cost of the Government's planning for a no-deal Brexit was nearly £2bn less than the true figure.

James Cleverly was forced to backtrack after announcing the erroneous amount in the Commons. He told MPs that ministers had spent £2.4bn preparing for the possibility of the UK leaving the European Union without a deal. However, the Brexit minister was forced to issue a correction admitting the real figure is £4.2bn. Labour MP Pat McFadden, whose question to the minister led to the gaffe, told PoliticsHome: "The Prime Minister has now applied for two extensions to the Article 50 period in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit yet the Government continues to spend huge amounts of taxpayers’ money on this. "The minister has now confirmed that the total amount allocated is £4.2bn and not £2.4bn as he said in the chamber. "A difference of £1.8bn isn’t a rounding error.  It’s a huge amount of money and it could make a real difference to the fight against knife crime, to school budgets and a number of other urgent needs rather than being squandered on an idea the Prime Minister doesn’t even...
16 May 2019
Theresa May

Theresa May has agreed to stand down as Tory leader within weeks following a crunch meeting with senior backbenchers.

The Prime Minister will finalise the timetable for her departure from Number 10 once MPs have voted on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at the beginning of June. It means that regardless of whether the Commons approves her Brexit deal or not, Mrs May's time in Downing Street is now nearing the end. The announcement came following a "frank" 90-minute meeting between the PM and the execuive of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs. In a statement following the meeting, committee chairman Sir Graham said: “The Prime Minister is determined to secure our departure from the European Union and is devoting her efforts to securing the 2nd Reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the week commencing 3rd June 2019 and the passage of that Bill and the consequent departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union by the summer. "We have agreed that she and I will meet following the 2nd Reading of the Bill to agree a timetable for the election of a new leader of the Conservative and Unionist...
16 May 2019
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has confirmed that he will run to be the next leader of the Conservative Party once Theresa May stands down.

The Brexiteer has been touted among the favourites to take over from the Prime Minister, who he has been a staunch critic of since resigning as Foreign Secretary nearly a year ago. Mrs May has confirmed that she will stand aside once she has delivered the first phase of the Brexit negotiations, which is currently deadlocked after the Commons failed to back her withdrawal deal on three occasions. Rebel Tory MPs, including Mr Johnson, have refused to row behind her agreement, citing the unacceptability of the backstop arrangement – which would keep the UK tied to a customs union with the EU until an alternative solution on keeping an open border in Ireland is found. Asked at a business event in Manchester if he would be a candidate, the former London mayor replied: "Of course I'm going to go for it." Last month, a Conservative Home poll of Tory members on their preferred successor to Mrs May showed Mr Johnson had an eighteen-point lead over his nearest rival, the ...
16 May 2019

Lord Fox, Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the House of Lords, has highlighted the concerns surrounding the apprenticeship levy. He focussed especially on the quality of apprenticeships, excessive bureaucracy and limited flexibility.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) welcomes Lord Fox’s perceptive comments but can identify other issues that must be tackled such as how we spend the levy and how we measure success and retain staff. Larger companies can pass 25% of their levy vouchers to their supply chain but, with small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) training four in five of all construction apprentices, they should be able to pass a greater percentage. This would particularly help companies who cannot spend their vouchers because there is a delay in approving apprenticeship standards. The Government’s push for reforming apprenticeships started off on the wrong foot by focussing on numbers rather than on quality. The aspiration was to recruit 3 million new apprentices by 2020. However, the goal of employers is to recruit and retain high-quality staff. Unless our focus is on quality and on apprenticeships completion rather than staff, it will be a lot harder to raise standards. Enforcing late payment...
16 May 2019
EU and UK flags

A dossier of internal NHS planning documents has revealed fears of staff shortages in the health service and a hit to medicine supplies after Brexit.

Pro-EU campaign Best for Britain found that almost all of the 35 Trusts which provided communications about the risks of Britain quitting the EU said staffing levels were a worry. A shortage of medicines and uncertainty around future research projects were also among the main concerns uncovered by the Freedom of Information requests. Their findings revealed that at least four trusts saw Brexit as a strategic risk to their workings, with The Dudley Group branding a possible no-deal departure “catastrophic”. The same Trust said critical medicine shortages had already grown since the beginning of the year, with 100 drugs and a product used to diagnose Parkinson's Disease at risk of delivery delays. Elsewhere, the director of pharmacy at the Midlands Partnership Trust voiced fears in an email chain about the need for a civil contingencies medicines stockpile. Meanwhile, Derbyshire Community Health Services said they were looking into the...