Budget crisis takes Northamptonshire council into uncharted territory

From The Guardian: The most high-profile symbol of the cuts in Northamptonshire to date has arguably the county’s 36 libraries, 21 of which the council wants to close or sell. There is popular outrage at this, not least in Northamptonshire’s more well-heeled rural areas, making its Tory MPs nervous. The proposal is being challenged in the courts.

Less well known is that 19 of the 21 libraries under threat host early-years children’s services such as mother-and-baby groups and health visitor sessions. These services were moved into libraries two years ago when an earlier round of cuts closed several SureStart centres. Where these services will go now is unclear.

Northamptonshire’s cuts will be felt in even its leafiest and most prosperous areas. Dig into the council’s cuts plans and you find an axe taken to highways budgets – less pothole filling, winter gritting and traffic light maintenance. The council expects legal challenges to these, too.

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Tory-led Northamptonshire county council imposes emergency spending controls for second time in six months

From The Independent: A Conservative-led council has taken the unprecedented action of imposing emergency spending controls for the second time in six months after projecting a budget shortfall of up to £70m.

[Read article on Independent website…]

Tory minister resigns after sending constituents explicit messages

From The Guardian: Andrew Griffiths, the minister for small business, has resigned from the government after being found to have sent more than 2,000 explicit messages to two women in his constituency.

The Conservative MP for Burton, and Theresa May’s former chief of staff, released a statement saying apologising for what he had done, after the texts were put to him by the Sunday Mirror.

In the statement, the 47-year-old junior minister said: “I am deeply ashamed at my behaviour which has caused untold distress to my wife and family, to whom I owe everything, and deep embarrassment to the prime minister and the government I am so proud to serve.

He said he would be seeking professional help to address his unacceptable behaviour sending sex texts. “I do not seek to excuse my behaviour and will be seeking professional help to ensure it never happens again.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Boris Johnson resigns as Foreign Secretary

From The Guardian: Boris Johnson has resigned as foreign secretary, becoming the third minister in 24 hours to walk out of the government rather than back Theresa May’s plans for a soft Brexit.

The prime minister hammered out a compromise with her deeply divided cabinet in an all-day meeting at Chequers on Friday, but after consulting friends and allies since, Johnson decided he could not promote the deal.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “This afternoon, the prime minister accepted the resignation of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary. His replacement will be announced shortly. The prime minister thanks Boris for his work.”

After the Chequers summit, it emerged that Johnson had referred to attempts to sell the prime minister’s Brexit plan as ‘polishing a turd’.

His resignation follows that of the Brexit secretary, David Davis, and his No 2 at the Department for Exiting the EU, Steve Baker.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Cabinet anarchy over Brexit

From The Guardian: A middle-ranking Tory minister stopped on his way to a meeting in the House of Commons and offered the following observations about the government in which he serves. “There is no discipline at all. Everyone thinks they can say just what they want. It is not good for anyone or good for the country.” Crucial decisions on Brexit had to be made within days, and time was running out, he said. But within the cabinet, disagreements were widening as the moment of truth approached. Ministers were briefing against one another in public, giving an impression that the ship of state was heading for the rocks just when the national interest required those steering it to pull together.

“She has to lead,” the minister added. “The can has been kicked into the corner on Brexit. It can’t be kicked any farther.” He then headed off, turning back for a second, to sum it all up as “midsummer madness”.

Normally ministers and senior MPs will show some caution when having private conversations with journalists at Westminster. They will at least make efforts not to be overheard. But these days they brief without fear on every corner, in every cloister. Soon after the minister departed, a former cabinet minister who has worked for the Conservative party for several decades strolled by and was happy to talk. The atmosphere was dreadful, he said, and Theresa May’s position was becoming more perilous by the day.

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Greg Hands quits as minister to vote against Heathrow third runway

From The Guardian: Theresa May is facing a fresh crisis after her international trade minister quit in protest at the proposed expansion of Heathrow days before a crunch vote on the issue.

Greg Hands, whose constituency lies under the flightpath, announced he would step down so he could vote against the government’s plans for a third runway in the Commons on Monday.

The announcement increased the pressure on the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, another staunch critic of Heathrow expansion, to stand by his principles and vote against the government’s plans.

The prime minister confirmed on Thursday that Johnson was scheduled to be out of the country next week, allowing him to escape having to choose between resignation and rebelling against May.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Let Trump Handle Brexit: A Leaked Recording of Boris’s “increasing admiration” for Trump

From Buzzfeed: “I am increasingly admiring of Donald Trump,” Boris Johnson said. “I have become more and more convinced that there is method in his madness.”

“Imagine Trump doing Brexit,” Johnson said. “He’d go in bloody hard… There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.”

[Read full article on Buzzfeed…]

Chris Grayling ‘passing the buck’ for trains chaos

From The Times: Industry sources have accused the Tory transport secretary Chris Grayling of “scapegoating” train firms and Network Rail, while failing to acknowledge his own department’s shortcomings may have contributed to the cancellation of thousands of trains.

[Read full article on The Times website…] [paywalled, but free registration allows access to two articles per month]

Jeremy Hunt: A commemorative video

From The Labour Party on Facebook: Jeremy Hunt is now the longest serving Health Secretary ever. Here’s a suitable commemorative video from the Labour Party.

Jeremy Hunt: Hall of Shame

5 years and 273 days ago, Jeremy Hunt became Health Secretary – that makes him the longest running Health Secretary in British history.We thought we’d mark the occasion by compiling just a few of his best bits…

Posted by The Labour Party on Sunday, June 3, 2018

David Schneider on DUP hypocrisy…

DUP on Brexit: How dare you contemplate Northern Ireland being different from the rest of the UK!DUP on abortion: How dare you not allow Northern Ireland to be different from the rest of the UK!

Posted by David Schneider on Monday, May 28, 2018

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