David Davis scrambles to salvage EU relations after ‘damaging trust’

From The Guardian: David Davis’s claim that the UK’s concessions in an agreement to move on the Brexit negotiations were merely a statement of intent has damaged trust and will see a hardening of positions in Brussels, the European parliament’s coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, has said.

The former Belgian prime minister claimed the Brexit secretary’s comments over the weekend were “unacceptable”, and undermined confidence in the British government’s trustworthiness.

The member states will now agree a tougher wording in their guidelines about the next stage of the talks, due to be signed off at a summit of leaders on Friday, Verhofstadt said.

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Philip Hammond: UK productivity rates low because more disabled people are in work

From Huffpost: Philip Hammond has been criticised after suggesting low productivity rates in the UK could be linked to the employment of more disabled people.

The Tory Chancellor made the claim while giving evidence to the Commons Treasury select committee on the 2017 Budget.

Asked about a fall in productivity rates earlier this year, he said: “It is almost certainly the case that by increasing participation in the workforce, including far higher levels of participation by marginal groups and very high levels of engagement in the workforce, for example of disabled people – something we should be extremely proud of – may have had an impact on overall productivity measurements.”

Anna Bird, director of policy and research at disability charity Scope, said: “These comments are totally unacceptable and derogatory.

[Read full article with video on Huffpost website…]

May’s weakness exposed as DUP derails Brexit progress

From The Guardian: Theresa May’s political weakness was brutally exposed to Brussels on Monday, as an agreement struck between Britain and the EU to solve the problem of the Irish border and move to the next phase of Brexit talks was torpedoed by a last-minute telephone call with the leader of the DUP.

Confidence early on Monday that an agreement was within reach came to nothing when, during a working lunch with the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, May was forced to pause discussions to take a call from Arlene Foster.

The unionist leader, whose party currently provides the Tories with a working majority in the Commons, told the British prime minister that she could not support Downing Street’s planned commitment to keep Northern Ireland aligned with EU laws.

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“Ignore Boris Johnson”, Foreign Office officials tell Irish government

From Sky News: Boris Johnson is being actively undermined by officials within his own department over Brexit negotiations, it can be revealed.

Sky News has learnt that Foreign Office officials told Ireland’s Government “not to listen to whatever he had to say” ahead of Mr Johnson’s visit to Dublin a few weeks ago.

Extraordinarily, officials in Whitehall were very open with their counterparts in the Irish capital to “ignore the public utterances” of Britain’s chief diplomat.

Ahead of the visit, Irish officials were told “not to mind a word of what he says” – implying the Foreign Secretary was not speaking on behalf of the UK Government.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg met Steve Bannon to discuss US-UK politics

From The Guardian: Jacob Rees-Mogg had a private meeting with former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon in London on Thursday to talk about how conservative movements can win in the US and UK, the Guardian has learned.

Rees-Mogg, a favourite among Conservative members to be the next party leader, spent more than an hour at the meeting in a Mayfair hotel with Bannon, who was at one point seen as Trump’s most influential adviser.

The American also met Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, and another Conservative MP during a short trip to the UK.

The meetings took place on the day of the diplomatic spat between Trump and Theresa May, after the US president retweeted anti-Muslim material from the far-right fringe group Britain First. Read more

Tory trade secretary: If UK trade figures are bad, it’s nothing to do with me

The quote used by The House magazine to promote their interview with Tory trade secretary Liam Fox is:

Tory trade secretary #LiamFox: If UK trade figures are bad, it's nothing to do with me.

Posted by Stop the Tories Channel on Saturday, November 25, 2017

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UK trade minister lobbied Brazil on behalf of oil giants

From The Guardian: The Tory government successfully lobbied Brazil on behalf of BP and Shell to address the oil giants’ concerns over Brazilian taxation, environmental regulation and rules on using local firms, government documents reveal.

Greenpeace accused the department of acting as a “lobbying arm of the fossil fuel industry”.

Rebecca Newsom, senior political adviser at Greenpeace, said: “This is a double embarrassment for the UK government. Liam Fox’s trade minister has been lobbying the Brazilian government over a huge oil project that would undermine the climate efforts Britain made at the UN summit in Bonn. Read more

Kensington Tories survey local residents to see if they’ve stopped caring about Grenfell yet

From Evolve Politics: Just five months after a catastrophic fire at Grenfell Tower claimed the lives of approximately 80 people, Kensington’s local Conservative party have been exposed conducting a survey asking local residents if they still cared about the tragedy.

In the letter, first published on the Guido Fawkes website, the Kensington, Chelsea & Fulham Conservatives survey asks residents ‘how important’ the Grenfell Tower tragedy was to them still. Read more

Fallon resigned for lunging at female journalist and trying to kiss her on the lips in 2003

From The Observer: The dramatic circumstances of Michael Fallon’s sudden resignation as defence secretary last week can be revealed by the Observer.

The cabinet heavyweight’s shock departure on Wednesday followed a phone call from the journalist, Jane Merrick, who informed Downing Street that he had lunged at her and attempted to kiss her on the lips in 2003 after they had lunched together.

The revelation was the tipping point for No 10, which the Observer understands had been compiling a list of alleged incidents involving Fallon since claims against him were first made. Read more

Tory MP Michael Fabricant says drunk MPs should not be accused of rape or sexual assault

From Evolve Politics: Michael Fabricant, the Tory MP for Lichfield, has controversially suggested that politicians who are drunk should not be accused of committing serious sexual assaults such as rape.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Fabricant said that people who commit acts of sexual assault should be considered ‘blameless’ if ‘everyone was sloshed at the time’.

Whilst admitting that ‘you sometimes get’ drunk people being accused of committing sexual assault, Fabricant went on to say ‘we’ve got to be very careful that we don’t get into that situation’ – blaming a ‘growing witch hunt mentality’ for the recent allegations of sexual assault.

The MP also dismissed recent allegations of sexual assault as just rumours.

[Read full article on Evolve Politics website…]

Tory defence secretary Michael Fallon quits over sleaze

fallon quitsFrom Metro: Tory Defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon has resigned, saying soldiers would not be allowed to behave in the way he has in the past. The minister was caught up in the sexual harassment scandal engulfing Westminster after it emerged he repeatedly put his hand on a journalist’s knee during a party conference dinner in 2002.

[Read full article on Metro website…]

Tory trade secretary wants chlorine-washed chicken in UK shops

fox chickens guardianFrom The Guardian: Tory trade secretary Liam Fox sees no problem with chicken being washed in chlorine before being sold to the public. He supports post-Brexit food standards being lowered to facilitate a trade deal with the US.

The practice has been banned in the EU, which believes it encourages farmers to relax overall hygiene standards and pursue industrial rearing practices such as battery farms that are bad for animal welfare.

“Some US abattoirs and processing plants rely heavily on chlorination because their other hygiene standards are so poor that they would be illegal in Europe,” said Simon Dawson, a lecturer in food safety at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

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