Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

18 February 2019
A group of MPs who have quit Labour

Seven MPs have left the Labour Party to sit in the House of Commons as independents. PoliticsHome has the full resignation statements from Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Ann Coffey, Mike Gapes and Chuka Umunna.

Luciana Berger My name is Luciana Berger and I am the Labour… I am the MP for Liverpool Wavertree. This morning we have all now resigned from the Labour Party. This has been a very difficult, painful but necessary decision. We represent different parts of the country. We are of different backgrounds. We were born of different generations, but we all share the same values. From today, we will all sit in Parliament as a new independent group of MPs. For my part, I have become embarrassed and ashamed to remain in the labour party. I have not changed. The core values of equality for all. Opportunity of all. And anti-racism against all. And social justice. The values I hold really dear, and which led me to join the Labour party as a student almost 20 years ago, remain who I am. And yet, these values have been consistently and constantly violated, undermined and attacked as the Labour Party today refuses to put my constituents and our country before party interests. I cannot remain in a...
18 February 2019
Leadsom, Lidington and May

Ultimitely, the House decides on its procedures, not the government. If there is the political will, the Commons can overhaul private members’ bills and neutralise the pantomime villain Sir Christopher Chope, writes Tony Grew

Sir Christopher Chope has become something of a pantomime villain in recent months. The Bill Killer has angered his colleagues by objecting to several pieces of legalisation introduced by backbench MPs that were seen as very important, on up-skirting and more recently on FGM. There have been significant levels of pearl-clutching about his dastardly behaviour, but will any good come of it? Members of the procedure committee may be moved to take action and properly reform Friday business. Alison Thewliss warned on social media that Sir Christopher has “had his fun”. Chris Elmore suggested his call for a review of standing orders to make them gender neutral could be widened to “review archaic rules” that allow one MP to scupper a bill. The committee chair Charles Walker, after Sir Christopher’s latest act of Commons sabotage, declared that the whole private members’ bill process brings the House into disrepute and called for a meeting with the leader of the House to ensure Fridays “sell...
Tony Grew
18 February 2019
Climate change march

The government talks a good game on climate change but the UK is on track to miss carbon reduction targets. Action needs to be ramped up across all departments, say Anna McMorrin and Darren Jones

Ministers, civil servants, analysts, advisers and politicians are all caught up in the chaos that is Brexit. A farcical soap opera played out for the world to see but with devastating consequences for those who are in need of a focus elsewhere – from the victims of knife crime, to the rising homelessness we see every week in our constituencies. It also means that we’re ignoring the most significant and fundamental threat we face: climate change. Global temperatures have been rising for over a century, noticeably speeding up over the last few years, and are now the highest on record. We’re told that we have just over a decade to radically change the way we run the economy and live our lives. We’ve seen increasing amounts of extreme weather around the world, from record-breaking highs causing forest fires to record-breaking freezing temperatures, with the associated deaths and devastation to communities. And we’re informed the UK government is a world leader in tackling climate...
Anna McMorrin MP and Darren Jones MP
18 February 2019
Luciana Berger

Seven Labour MPs have dramatically quit the party to set up a new bloc called 'The Independent Group', as they took aim at Jeremy Corbyn's handling of anti-semitism and Brexit.

MPs Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes and Anne Coffey all confirmed that they were resigning the Labour whip at a dramatic press conference in Westminster on Monday morning. Ms Berger said: "This morning we have all now resigned from the Labour Party. This has been a very difficult, painful but necessary decision. "We represent different parts of the country. We are of different backgrounds. We were born of different generations, but we all share the same values. From today, we will all sit in Parliament as a new independent group of MPs." The move follows months of bitterness in the Labour Party over Mr Corbyn’s position on Brexit and claims that the leadership has been too slow to deal with members accused of anti-Jewish abuse. The Labour leader said he was "disappointed" at the seven MPs'...
18 February 2019
Jeremy Corbyn

The seven Labour MPs who have quit to form an independent bloc in Parliament should resign and test their support in by-elections, party insiders have said.

A Labour source said Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey should do the "right and democratic thing" - as Jeremy Corbyn said he was "disappointed" at the seven MPs for quitting. In a direct challenge to the new group, a party source said: "All these MPs stood under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership on a manifesto that the whole party united around and all saw their votes increase. "Now they are standing for different policies and on a different platform, they should resign and put them to the test in a by-election. That is the right and democratic thing to do." The seven MPs used a Westminster press conference on Monday morning to announce that they were breaking away to form a new bloc dubbed 'The Independent Group'. And they accused Labour of becoming "institutionally anti-Semitic" and "hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left" under Mr Corbyn's leadership. But Mr Corbyn said his party's platform had "inspired...
18 February 2019
James Brokenshire is Secretary of State for Housing

The government’s rough sleeping strategy is seeing results, but the ambition is to eliminate it altogether and that needs a cross-departmental approach, says James Brokenshire

Just before Christmas, I spent time with a rough sleeping outreach team to see first-hand the work undertaken to help people off the streets. Walking the streets of London underlined to me the stark picture of people living rough, and the individual stories of those living in the cold. In 2019, this simply does not reflect the country we should be. That’s why ending rough sleeping in its entirety is my priority as communities secretary. The government is investing £1.2bn to tackle homelessness, and just last summer I announced our £100m rough sleeping strategy which sets out how we will reach our ambition to eliminate rough sleeping for good. And this money is starting to have an effect. Figures published last month show the number of vulnerable people sleeping on the streets has fallen for the first time in eight years. Councils across the country have used funding to create an additional 1,750 beds for those sleeping out in the cold and employ an extra 500 rough sleeping support...
18 February 2019
Labour MP Paul Flynn

Jeremy Corbyn has led tributes to Labour MP Paul Flynn after he died at the age of 84.

The veteran MP, who had represented Newport West in the Commons since 1987, announced in October that he would be standing down for health reasons. In a statement released on Twitter on Sunday night, his local Labour association said: "It’s with great sadness that we let you know that our MP, Paul Flynn, has died today. "Paul is a hero to many of us in the Newport Labour family and we mourn for his family’s loss. "We would ask that the privacy of Paul’s family is respected at this difficult time." Labour leader Mr Corbyn hailed his "good friend", who briefly stepped up to the Shadow Cabinet in 2016 following an exodus of Labour frontbenchers. "I’m very sad at the passing of my good friend Paul Flynn," Mr Corbyn said. "He had such love for Newport, knowledge of radical South Wales history and a dry wit. "He was an independent thinker who was a credit to the Labour Party. He will be greatly missed." Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said the late MP had been a "giant of...
18 February 2019
Housing First pilots are being trialled in Greater Manchester, Liverpool and the West Midlands

The Housing First principle to tackling homelessness has seen success in countries such as Finland, Canada and the United States. With three pilots being rolled out in England later this year, could this be the route to solving the country’s rough sleeping crisis? Sebastian Whale spends time with workers on the SIB project in Greater Manchester to see how it works

A crumpled McDonald’s coffee cup is slowly filling up with coins. It is positioned about a foot in front of Paul, who is sat cross-legged with his hands clasped in his waist underneath an overpass. He is wearing a beanie and has a blue blanket wrapped around his lower half. The worst of the cold weather has mercifully passed, but a chilling wind still swirls around the centre of Manchester. Charlotte, an engagement worker at Shelter, kneels beside him. She has some good news. A place has been found for Paul to live in Moston, a district to the north-east of the city. Initially, he seems slightly unsure. He doesn’t know the area very well. As it sinks in, a broad smile breaks out on his face. “Ah, that’s great,” he says. The timing couldn’t be better. Today, it turns out, is Paul’s 38th birthday. Charlotte later returns with a cake. Paul was part of a travelling community in Northern Ireland, where he worked under conditions that qualified as modern slavery. After fleeing he was put...
18 February 2019
Melanie Onn is a shadow minister for housing

Melanie Onn has lived experience of being homeless from when she was in her late teens. Now a shadow minister for Housing, the Great Grimsby MP is determined to change perceptions of those without a place to call their own. She speaks to Sebastian Whale

Show a journalist a glimmer of colour and they will latch onto it like a feeding shark. Backstories that were previously unknown will become ubiquitous; sons of bus drivers, former soldiers, left-wing shadow chancellors who own a boat called the Morning Star. These insights will come up time and again because, well, we hacks love a good tale. This fate has unfortunately befallen Melanie Onn, the Shadow Housing Minister who at the age of 17 became homeless after falling out with her aunt with whom she had been living. “Yes, I am bored,” the typically humorous MP replies when I ask if she’s growing weary of talking about the experience. But talk about it we do as homelessness and rough sleeping falls under Onn’s jurisdiction in the Shadow Housing team, which she has been a part of since July 2017. The Great Grimsby MP, who grew up in the constituency, turned to local charity Doorstep for help while still studying at college. How does she think she would have fared today? “It would...
18 February 2019
A homeless man on the street outside the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham last year

Birmingham MP Liam Byrne has spent time on the frontline with those tackling the homelessness crisis and is challenging the government to do more to fix this “moral emergency”

I thought he was about to die. It was just after ten on a freezing cold morning, and I was out with the Community Street Kitchen team in Birmingham city centre. There, in an underpass that stank of urine, we found a disabled gentleman – ashen grey, crying in pain, next to his wheelchair. Still dressed in his hospital gown, with a hospital tag on his wrist, he’d been there for three days. It took us two hours to get him an ambulance. This isn’t some tale of the bad old days. It was last Sunday, in the second city of the fifth richest country on the planet. That’s why I’ve said to the prime minister that the homelessness crisis today is a moral emergency. Since I lost my father to a lifelong struggle with alcohol in 2015, I’ve been doing whatever I can to shine a light on the way twists of fate can now knock someone from a decent life on to the pavement. I couldn’t save my dad from drinking but at least I could make sure there was a loving family to be on hand when crisis struck....