From The Independent: Tory ministers have broken a promise to review the “pointlessly cruel” system for imposing sanctions on benefit claimants, a damning report by MPs warns.
From Evolve Politics: A list has emerged detailing a staggering number of MPs who have accepted lavish all expenses paid trips to the head-chopping state of Saudi Arabia.
Since 2015, the government of Saudi Arabia has spent at least £222,000 jetting UK MPs out to the oil rich middle eastern country.
Details of these trips are listed on the website of the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. The purpose of the register is to provide information of any financial interests or benefits an MP receives which could be seen as influential on their work as a Member of Parliament.
33 MPs have taken all expenses paid trips to Saudi Arabia since March 2015 – 29 of them Conservative.
Tory MP Leo Docherty seems to be a frequent flyer. He visited in 2015, 2017 and 2018. He is now a member of the Committees on Arms Export Controls.
For Docherty to even be appointed to that Committee is worrying in itself considering the high number of arms the UK licences for export to Saudi Arabia.
MPs’ interests in betting industry are the reason for Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals regulation delays, says former Tory minister
From the Morning Star: Tory ministers’ links with the betting industry are the reason for the delays in new restrictions being placed on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), says former sports minister Tracey Crouch.
The Chatham MP resigned from her post after Chancellor Philip Hammond said the cut in maximum stakes to £2 would not come into force until October 2019. Users can currently bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on the high-speed and high-stake electronic casino games.
She told BBC Radio 5 Live that it was a fact that some ministers are “very interested in the bookmaking industry.”
Ms Crouch said she had been working under the assumption that the new £2 maximum stake would be introduced in April 2019.
“There have been conversations that have taken place with many members of Parliament with different interests and, on this occasion, clearly I wasn’t as persuasive as some of my other colleagues,” she said.
Campaigners say FOBTs allow users to lose money too quickly, leading to addiction and social, mental and financial problems. Every day, two people will take their lives because of gambling-related problems, Ms Crouch noted in her resignation letter to Prime Minister Theresa May.
The machines generate £1.8 billion in revenue a year for the betting industry, according to the Gambling Commission.
From the Morning Star: Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson accepted £14,000 worth of hospitality from the Saudi regime, only days before Jamal Khashoggi’s death, it was revealed this week.
Andrew Smith, media co-ordinator of Campaign Against Arms Trade, said: “Politicians should not be taking money from authoritarian regimes or dictatorships like the one in Saudi Arabia, which has an appalling human rights record and has inflicted a humanitarian crisis on Yemen.
“The Saudi regime is not spending money on hospitality for Boris Johnson because it cares about his views on education. It is doing it because it knows that he’s got ambitions for Downing Street and it wants to buy influence.”
Labour’s shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett said it was another reminder of how far the Tories’ “cosy relationship” with the “murderous” Saudi regime extends.
From Daily Mirror: George Osborne has defended his brutal £12billion in welfare cuts that are still driving families to food banks.
From Daily Mirror: Theresa May’s claim to be “ending austerity” was blown apart today in a damning expert verdict on the 2018 Budget.
From The Independent: A leading economist has accused Theresa May of “lying” during Prime Minister’s Questions, claiming she deliberately misquoted him.
Tory Treasury minister demands more local police officers despite his department cutting budgets by 25%
From Daily Mirror: Tory Treasury minister Robert Jenrick has urged his Newark constituents to call for more police officers despite his own department cutting local police budgets by 25%.
From The Guardian: The minister spearheading the UK’s renewed push for fracking has admitted she has never been to a shale gas well.
In the week that fracking restarted in the UK for the first time in seven years, the energy minister, Claire Perry, revealed to a fellow Conservative MP that she had not yet had the chance to visit a shale site.
Perry has spent the past few days calling on the public to “trust the science of shale gas extraction” and insisted that fracking is compatible with tackling climate change.
But asked how many times she had visited a shale exploration site, she said: “I have had a number of meetings with stakeholders interested in shale gas exploration, but have not yet had an opportunity to visit a site.”
The written parliamentary answer came in response to a question by the Tory MP Lee Rowley, who has prospective shale sites in his constituency.
Rose Dickinson, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: “Unlike the local community who protest outside the Preston New Road site in Lancashire every single day, it is surprising that the minister has never even been curious enough to visit.
“That the minister can cheerlead this unpopular industry without meeting the people living next door – the people who have to put up with trucks, noise, and the industrialisation of their local countryside – is astounding.”
From Daily Mirror: Theresa May’s boast that she has ended austerity is a sham, experts have warned.
Tory Matt Hancock boasts he’s had ‘no letters’ about Universal Credit – just 3 days after mum’s e-mail
From Daily Mirror: A Tory minister who boasted he’s had “no letters at all” about Universal Credit was sent an e-mail about it by a desperate single mum just three days ago.
New minister for suicide prevention consistently votes for cuts in welfare for society’s most vulnerable
From Nursing Notes: The new Tory minister for suicide prevention has consistently voted for cuts in welfare for the most vulnerable in society.
Theresa May has announced the appointment of Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price to the new role minister for suicide prevention in order to tackle the stigma surrounding suicide.
The appointment came on World Mental Health Day when officials from more than 50 countries assembled in London for a summit.
According to the website TheyWorkForYou, Ms. Doyle-Price has consistently voted to reduce housing benefit, voted against raising benefits in line with inflation, voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability and voted forty-six times for an overall reduction in spending on welfare benefits.
Statistics show that those with long-term physical or mental health issues are significantly more likely to be dependent on the state for assistance with housing and living costs.
Social isolation, financial and health struggles are thought to be some of the leading risk factors for preventable suicide in the UK.
From Daily Mirror: Theresa May faces a furious new threat to topple her over Brexit by the end of the *month* as tensions boil over.
From Daily Mirror: Tory Lord Norman Tebbit has said the Nazis were left wing, denied that the man who murdered MP Jo Cox was a “far right terrorist”, and questioned whether right-wing extremism exists.
From Daily Mirror: The Tories have picked as their London mayor candidate Shaun Bailey, who has a track record of making offensive comments on a range of issues from race relations to single parenthood.
From Metro: Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg claims European Union citizens living in Britain will have no more rights after Brexit than those from other countries, and the 1.7m Britons who live in other EU countries will also lose their rights.
‘I do not believe there should be any special terms for EU migrants,’ he wrote to Labour peer Lord Adonis. ‘Once we have left the EU there will be no legal basis to treat them differently from migrants from non-EU countries.’
Treasury minister Liz Truss falsely claims government is not making cuts to councils, in BBC Newsnight interview
From The Independent: Treasury minister Liz Truss has falsely claimed that local councils are not facing cuts.
From BBC News: If you’re a student paying tuition fees, you might be surprised to find that the cost of going to university is being included as “spending” in the government’s defence of its record on school funding.
But when ministers faced accusations of under-funding schools in England, a figure they quoted widely as evidence of high spending has been found to include billions of pounds of university fees being paid by students, rather than only government spending.
School leaders have described this discovery as “shocking and disturbing”.
Last week, more than a thousand head teachers marched on Downing Street, protesting about school funding shortages.
The Department for Education rejected their claims, saying not only were record amounts going into schools but the “OECD has recently confirmed that the UK is the third highest spender on education in the world”.
The claim for world-beating spending was used repeatedly by the DfE, it was published on the department’s website and the Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb, used the same argument on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, in a debate over school budgets.
From Daily Mirror: Scottish Tories have launched a secret campaign codenamed “Operation Arse” to stop Boris Johnson becoming the party leader, it has been revealed.