Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

18 February 2019
If the Government cannot secure continued access to Erasmus and Horizon, it will be essential to establish alternative UK research and mobility schemes, writes Lord Jay

The UK should continue to take part in the EU’s Erasmus and Horizon programmes after leaving the European Union, writes Lord Jay 

Towards the end of 2018, the EU Home-Affairs Sub-Committee launched an inquiry to explore the implications of Brexit for UK participation in the EU’s flagship programme for research and innovation, Horizon 2020, and its international mobility programme, Erasmus+, which provides opportunities for young people and teaching staff to study, work, and train abroad. The inquiry found – no surprise perhaps – that the UK is a respected and important partner in both these programmes. It is a popular destination for mobility placements and a world leader in research, with an exceptionally strong science base. Participation in Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 provides clear benefits to the UK, including funding and access to networks, connections, and opportunities to collaborate with European partners built over decades of close cooperation. If the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement is ratified, UK participation in Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 would continue largely unchanged until both programmes draw to a...
18 February 2019
Labour rosette

A leading Labour backbencher has warned that the party is set to "splinter" as speculation mounts that some of its MPs are on the verge of quitting.

Stephen Kinnock - whose father was Labour leader for nearly 10 years - said it was "unlikely" that some of his colleagues will not resign the party whip amid mounting anger over Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. Critics are angry at Mr Corbyn's reluctance to back a second EU referendum, as well as the leadership's failure to deal with the anti-semitism row which has dogged Labour in recent years. Westminster has been abuzz with rumours of a breakaway centrist party for months, and there is speculation that some Labour resignations could even take place today. Leading moderate Chuka Umunna, who has been an outspoken critic of Mr Corbyn over Brexit and has claimed Labour is "institutionally anti-semitic" did not respond to calls over rumours that he could be first to go. Appearing on Radio Four's Westminster Hour on Sunday night, Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock said: "The talk has been going on so long that I say with great regret that yes, there probably will be some kind of splintering. "It...
18 February 2019
Environment Secretary Michael Gove

Councils could be forced to collect food waste bins every week under fresh plans to overhaul Britain's record on rubbish outlined by the Environment Secretary.

Michael Gove has launched a new consultation looking at separate weekly food waste collections for every household in England and Wales - with the Government also looking into free garden waste collections as part of plans to ensure "more reliable services for householders". The proposals form part of a fresh 12-week consultation on a wider shake-up of Britain's waste system. The Environment Secretary has also promised to look into plans to make packaging producers pay the full cost of processing their waste - up from the current ten percent. Meanwhile a deposit return scheme for cans and bottles could see shoppers refunded a proportion of the costs if they return packaging to recycling facilities. Officials estimate that such a scheme - which is already in force in countries including Sweden and Germany - could save some three billion bottles from incineration. Unveiling the new consultation, Mr Gove said the Government was "committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse...
18 February 2019
We must get serious about meeting the world need for affordable and reliable electricity while slowing down global warming before it’s too late, writes Trudy Harrison

Interest is growing in the potential for small modular reactors to provide low-cost, low-carbon energy – and Cumbria is well-placed to lead the charge, says Trudy Harrison

The global nuclear industry feels to me like it’s suffering a disease akin to gangrene, with bits dropping off. As a young girl I grew up in Seascale, the village closest to Sellafield, and it’s fair to say the reputation of the nuclear industry which put food on so many west Cumbrian tables was not good. Secrecy, Chernobyl, restrictions on the sale of local meat and dairy, and high-profile celebrity protests blighted my childhood. Fast-forward a few decades and times have changed – we now proudly call ourselves the Centre of Nuclear Excellence. We have a safe track record of operating the world’s first civil nuclear power station reactor, followed by a further six reactors, three different technologies and a plethora of other state-of-the-art processes. Sellafield, LLWR, the National Nuclear Laboratory, and West Lakes Science and Technology Park boast some of the biggest names in science, innovation and engineering. And of the 87,000-strong nuclear workforce in the UK, 27,000 live...
18 February 2019
A police officer extinguishes a flag set alight outside Parliament by protesters

At this defining moment in British history we must come together and ensure compassion is the bedrock of our politics, write Thangam Debbonaire, Heidi Allen and Jo Swinson

We represent three different parties, three different parts of Britain, and three separate political journeys but we share a common goal: to make compassion the bedrock of our politics in Britain. We see value in our differences, not a reason for hate, and where we disagree over methods, we find compromise and common ground to achieve a goal that is bigger than each of us as individuals. This is a call to our colleagues, at what is a defining moment in Britain’s history and future, to join us in that endeavour and in so doing to sow the seeds of a more cooperative, co-productive, and compassionate politics. What we are calling for is not some new utopia. In 1945 a consensus emerged amongst the main political parties that the only way out of the darkness of the devastating six years which had just passed was through mutual support, investment in services, and by inspiring public confidence in the vision of warm, open, and tolerant Britain that they could be proud of. With little...
18 February 2019

The UK & Europe CEO of one of the world’s most respected design, engineering and project management consultancies, reflects on falling UK productivity and how to address the decline.

When I read last quarter’s productivity figures my heart sank. UK productivity has decreased; again. Our industry is patently aware of this issue – so why haven’t we fixed it?    In short, this isn’t something we can address under BAU. It has to be at the top of our agenda, and while we’ve all been focused on delivering major projects and navigating the uncertainty of Brexit, it has, in some cases, fallen to the bottom.    If we’re serious about tackling productivity, we need to focus on the areas that will have a transformational effect on how we perform. I’ve put some ideas under six headings below, which capture how we can become a more productive industry – I’ll be talking about each of these in more detail throughout the year.    1. Use technology, but focus on outcomes The industry needs to navigate an increasingly digital world. Most importantly, we need to make the best use of technology to deliver tangible, lasting and enriched outcomes...
18 February 2019
Tory rosette

Two more Conservative MPs - including a serving minister - are to face deselection votes led by Brexiteers in the coming weeks, it has emerged.

The Telegraph reports that both Sarah Wollaston, a vocal Tory champion of a second Brexit referendum, and Sir Alan Duncan, a Foreign Office minister who has regularly criticised top Brexiteers, are facing eurosceptic bids to oust them. The move follows a similar push against former minister Nick Boles, who has led Commons efforts to push for an extension to Article 50 and pursue a Norway-style softer Brexit. A letter signed by more than 50 members of Dr Wollaston's local party calls for an extraordinary meeting to oust her, and will be presented to the local party chairman on Monday. Local activist Rupert Hanmer Grant said members were calling for the vote of no-confidence because Dr Wollaston was "playing fast and loose with our constitutional arrangements" and "making a nonsense of the democratic process" with her support for a second referendum. Tory...
18 February 2019

A powerful committee of MPs has accused Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg of shirking leadership over fake news and disinformation on the social networking site.

The tech tycoon has failed to show the “personal responsibility that should be expected from someone who sits at the top of one of the world’s biggest companies,” the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee said. It made the comments as it called for a “radical shift in the balance of power between the platforms and the people” in a hard-hitting new report. The DCMS committee has spent months looking into targeted advertising on social media, fake news, disinformation and foreign interference in elections. It has probed the secretive data firms that played a pivotal role in the EU referendum and looked at how their wares have been used to target voters away from the scrutiny of the public eye. In its conclusions it called for a compulsory code of ethics for tech firms overseen by an independent regulator with the powers to take legal action when rules are breached. It also said electoral laws were “not fit for purpose” and demanded major reform by Government - including over...
17 February 2019
Tobias Ellwood

A minister has vowed to defy his own government by backing a Commons bid to rule out a “dangerous” no-deal Brexit.

Tobias Ellwood said quitting the EU in March without an agreement would be “catastrophic for Britain” and that the option needs to be taken off the table “very soon indeed”. The Defence Minister has been a vocal critic of a no-deal outcome, but today became the first frontbencher to openly admit he would be willing to rebel to stop it from happening. Mrs May was sent back to renegotiate elements of the Withdrawal Agreement she struck with the EU last month after it was comprehensively rejected by MPs. The Commons is expected either to vote on a tweaked deal or on the next steps if no concessions are secured by the end of February. Critics are expected to put forward their own proposals for Brexit - incuding one that would allow MPs to seize control of the parliamentary timetable in order to stop a no-deal departure. Mr Ellwood said the Prime Minister was aware that “many ministers” were in favour of backing that bid, when he appeared today on the Radio 5 Live show Pienaar's...
17 February 2019
Jeremy Wright

A Cabinet minister has risked angering anti-EU Tory MPs by admitting Theresa May might have to ditch a promise to re-open her Brexit deal.

The Prime Minister said she would fight to secure changes to the hated Northern Ireland backstop plan and get them written into the 500-page Withdrawal Agreement. But Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said the “mechanism” for securing those changes was unimportant - as he indicated a legal letter or add-on to the deal would be enough. MPs sent Mrs May back to Brussels last month when they voted overwhelmingly to reject her Brexit blueprint. They also later voted for the backstop plan to be junked. Pro-Brexit Tories in the hardcore European Research Group have insisted the only acceptable change will be to the Withdrawal Agreement itself, although the group is split on the issue. Deputy chair Steve Baker said in WhatsApp messages leaked to the Sunday Times that anything less than removing the backstop would see the Tories “grind towards a party split”. But Mr Wright told the BBC Andrew Marr Show: “I don’t think it’s the mechanism that matters, it’s the objective.  "If you can get to a...