Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

17 February 2019
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell

Labour MPs who quit the party in protest against Jeremy Corbyn could install the Tories in Government for a decade, John McDonnell has warned.

The Shadow Chancellor said those who stand against Labour MPs at the next general election would split the vote like those who quit the party to join the SDP did in the 1980s. “It basically installed Mrs Thatcher in power for that decade,” he argued. Around six Labour MPs who back a second EU referendum are said to be mulling whether they should resign the whip and form a new centrist movement. They are also said to be angry at the handling by the party of its anti-Semitism crisis, as well as the general direction under Mr Corbyn. But Mr McDonnell argued the names in the frame were “Labour through and through” and argued there was no need “for anybody to split from the party”. Appearing on the BBC Andrew Marr show, he added: “It would be like the 1980s. In my constituency in Hayes and Harlington we had a Labour MP join the SDP and we lost the seat to the Conservatives. “And it basically installed Mrs Thatcher in power for that decade. “I don’t think any of the people who have even...
17 February 2019
Dame Margaret Beckett

A former interim Labour leader has urged anti-Jeremy Corbyn MPs said to be on the brink of quitting the party to think again.

Dame Margaret Beckett - who led Labour for a brief period after former leader John Smith died in 1994 - said a split would be a “big mistake”. Around six Labour MPs who back a second EU referendum are said to be mulling whether they should resign the whip and form a new centrist movement. They are also said to be angry at the handling by the party of its anti-Semitism crisis, as well as the general direction under Mr Corbyn. Dame Margaret told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "There are people who have been working desperately hard - people outside the Labour party - who have been working hard for years to try to persuade the Labour Party to split. I think it's a big mistake. "I hope none of my colleagues take that advice because it's the worst possible advice they can have. At the most basic and brutal: If you want to change an organisation you don't change it by leaving it. It wouldn't be good for them or for the party." Names frequently in the frame for a possible split include...
17 February 2019

Almost a dozen peers have been punished over claims of bullying or harassment over the past six years, it has emerged.

Allegations of racism, bullying, sexual harassment and religious discrimination have led to 11 members of the House of Lords being censured, the Sunday Telegraph reported. Some were given written warnings, while some were told to undertake “awareness training”. Among the 11 was Lord Lester, who resigned from the Upper Chamber last year after author Jasvinder Sanghera accused him of sexual harassment - which he denied. But the names of the others on the list were not revealed to the paper due to data protection laws. Between the years 2000 and 2018 there were 54 allegations of abuse made against peers and staff members, the Telegraph discovered through Freedom of Information requests. Maria Miller MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, said: “Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords have positions of significant power - the way we...
17 February 2019
Michael Dugher

Former Labour vice chairman Michael Dugher last night revealed he is set to quit the party, saying it has become "institutionally anti-Semitic".

The ex-shadow transport minister, who stood down as MP for Barnsley East in 2017, said the party he joined nearly three decades ago “no longer exists” and he could not justify paying the membership fee. The announcement comes days after Labour revealed it had received 673 allegations of anti-Semitism by its members over the past 10 months, resulting in 12 individuals being expelled. Mr Dugher, who served as vice chair from 2011 to 2014 under Ed Miliband's leadership and was an aide to Gordon Brown in No 10, accused Labour of repeatedly failing to “adequately tackle” its problem of anti-Jewish racism.  "I will continue to have lots of dear friends in the Labour party, including many talented MPs and hard-working local councillors who are fantastically dedicated public servants,” he wrote in the Sun on Sunday. “Yet in all good conscience, I can no longer justify paying subs to a...
17 February 2019
Philip Hammond and Gavin Williamson

Philip Hammond will not visit China in the coming days amid reports that Beijing pulled out after Gavin Williamson threatened to deploy a warship in the Pacific.

The Chancellor was expected to meet the country’s vice premier, Hu Chunhua, for trade talks but the plans are thought to have been scuppered by the Defence Secretary. Mr Williamson last week said HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first operational mission will take in the Pacific region, where Beijing has been involved in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea. In a speech about the future of UK defence, he also painted China as a threat when he noted it was "developing its modern military capability and its commercial power". It has been reported that the Chinese ambassador raised the apparent threat in a call with the Foreign Office. An MoD source has denied the visit was scrapped because of the speech, according to the BBC, while a Treasury spokesperson said: "No trip was ever announced or confirmed." Former Chancellor George Osborne last week criticised the “mixed messages” from the Government on China. He said Mr...
17 February 2019
Theresa May

Theresa May has urged her warring Tory MPs to unite and warned them “history will judge us all” if the party makes a mess of Brexit.

In a letter to the 317 Conservative representatives in Parliament, she called on critics of her deal with the EU to “sacrifice if necessary our own personal preferences” in order to prevent a no-deal Brexit or no Brexit at all. She made the plea as she scrambled to secure tweaks to her Brexit deal that the Commons can support, amid deadlock over the controversial backstop plan to keep the Northern Ireland border open. Mrs May was sent back to the negotiating table in Brussels when the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration she struck with the EU were comprehensively rejected by MPs last month. The divisions in the Tory party were again laid bare on Thursday when pro-Brexit Tory rebels inflicted a fresh Commons defeat on the Government over a row about a meaningless Commons motion. A vote on a tweaked deal, or on the next steps if no concessions are secured, is now planned for 27 February - but Mrs May issued a desperate plea to her MPs to compromise. “History will judge us all...
16 February 2019
Dame Carol Black

Dame Carol Black advises how to create a wellbeing culture in the workplace in three new films produced by the British Safety Council.

Recent research by the British Safety Council identified significant levels of uncertainty in the UK about wellbeing at work. Its report Not just free fruit: wellbeing at work, found that employee wellbeing is often ignored or misunderstood, with employers unsure how to define it or how to improve staff wellbeing, what priority to give it and how to measure the effectiveness of wellbeing interventions and programmes.    Professor Dame Carol Black, expert government advisor on health and work and a passionate campaigner for better mental health and wellbeing, has agreed to share her expertise in a series of film interviews recorded by the British Safety Council. She not only suggests the simple steps that can be taken to create a wellbeing culture in every organisation, but she also explains the reasons why it should be done as soon as possible: improved welling in the workplace can improve productivity by up to 25%.    At a time of high job insecurity and the...
16 February 2019
Theresa May meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman

Britain is on "the wrong side of the law" by continuing to sign-off arms exports for Saudi Arabia to use in the bloody war in Yemen, ministers have been warned.

A new report by the cross-party House of Lords international relations select committee calls on the Government to immediately halt some export licenses to the Kingdom, warning that they are "highly likely to be the cause of significant civilian casualties" in the conflict. The United Nations estimates that the three-year war in Yemen - which pits a Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels who ousted a Riyadh-backed government in 2015 - has killed at least 10,000 people and left millions more facing famine in one of the Arab world's poorest countries. PoliticsHome revealed last month than £4.5m-worth of arms and defence exports were given the green-light between July and September 2018, including components for mortars, turrets, projectile launchers and body armour. The report by the influential group of peers takes aim at the Government's...
16 February 2019
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney launches the Bank's hunt for the face of the new £50 note.

Ministers have called on the Bank of England not to choose a white person as the face of the new £50 note in a bid to improve the representation of black and minority ethnic people in Britain.

Exchequer Secretary Robert Jenrick has thrown his weight behind a campaign to try and make the country's currency more diverse. He told the Telegraph: "The new £50 note should symbolise our values as a country." And he added: "Bank notes are symbols of identity and project our country and values to the world, so they should reflect all of our people, our history and our future as a great open and diverse nation." The intervention comes after Tory MP and former minister Helen Grant wrote to Bank of England governor Mark Carney urging him to address "the lack of representation of ethnic minorities on British banknotes". Mr Carney will this summer reveals who has been chosen to feature on the new £50 note, after whittling down nearly 1,000 names - including former prime minister Margaret Thatcher - who are still in the running. Ms Grant told the governor...
16 February 2019
Labour rosette

Labour has come under fire after a member's claim that the "Jewish community plans to attack" the party was not deemed to have been anti-semitic under its complaints process.

MPs and campaigners hit out at the party's "appalling" handling of complaints against Sir Duncan Michael over remarks he made at a meeting of the Wimbledon Constituency Labour Party last August. According to Sky News - which has obtained a recording of the meeting - Sir Duncan described the row over the party's handling of anti-Jewish racism as a "storm that started straight after we elected Jeremy". And he added: "Attacking Corbyn failed. He passed three democratic tests and so the Jewish community plans to attack our party." He is also said to have told the meeting that the furore over anti-semitism in Labour was being led by a "very undemocratic elite from within our party" because of Mr Corbyn's "kindly" position on Palestine. Following the meeting, several formal complaints were lodged against Sir Duncan by those present. However, Sky News...