Conservatives condemned by Muslim Council of Britain after party rules Boris Johnson burqa comments were ‘respectful’

From The Independent: The Conservatives have been accused of “giving a license to bigotry” by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) after the party ruled Boris Johnson’s comments on Muslim women wearing burqas were “respectful and tolerant”.

[Read article on Independent website…]

Tory MP Nicholas Soames shouts at SNP Commons leader, “Go back to Skye”

From The Herald: Unrepentant Tory MP Nicholas Soames has told the SNP leader at Westminster to “grow up” in the wake of a row over Soames’ “go back to Skye” comment at the start of an emergency Brexit debate.

Sir Nicholas responded with a lengthy Twitter hashtag saying: “Oh grow up, ten minutes before we had a very jolly talk in the tearoom. Complete fake outburst.”

"Go back to Skye".Before he could even speak during an emergency debate in the Commons on Brexit, the Scottish National Party (SNP)'s Ian Blackford MP was heckled by a Conservative MP.

Posted by Channel 4 News on Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Sir Nicholas has previously had to apologise for heckling an SNP MP.

In January 2017, he made a ‘woof’ noise at Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.

He said: “I thought that in her question to the Foreign Secretary she snapped at him a bit at the end, so I offered her a friendly canine salute in return.”

[Read full article on The Herald website…]

Rise in homelessness not result of our policies, says housing secretary

From The Guardian: Rising rough sleeping in Britain is not the result of government policy… the housing secretary, James Brokenshire, has claimed.

The number of people sleeping rough has more than doubled since 2010 to 4,751 according to the government’s own figures. The homelessness charity Crisis believes that this is a fivefold underestimate and that 24,000 people will be sleep on the streets, in cars and in tents. Sofa-surfers make up a further 68,000, according to Crisis.

But Brokenshire insisted the growing problem is not a political failure, even though charities which run hostels and advice lines believe that caps on housing benefit and welfare sanctions introduced as part of austerity policies have been key factors driving rises in homelessness every year since the Conservatives took office in 2010.

“I don’t see it in those terms,” Brokenshire said.

[…] Highly visible increases in tents in shop doorways in towns and cities and hidden rural homelessness mean this year’s government figures, taken during a census last month, are likely to show an eighth consecutive annual rise in homelessness in England.

[…] The prisons minister, Rory Stewart, also conceded that “far too many” inmates released after short sentences are struggling to find housing, with over a third of rough sleepers in London known to have been in jail.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]


Nine jobs George: Osborne adds new role at venture capital firm

From The Guardian: George Osborne has added a ninth job to his already bulging portfolio, joining his brother’s Silicon Valley venture capital fund.

The former chancellor and current editor of London’s Evening Standard newspaper has been appointed as an adviser to 9Yards Capital.

Osborne’s brother, Theo, is a founding partner at the firm, which is based in the San Francisco Bay area. It specialises in “multi-stage venture capital” and “long-term, patient and strategic capital”.

Osborne has taken on a host of jobs since leaving parliament in May 2017, after declining to stand again as an MP in the general election. Theresa May sacked him as chancellor after she was appointed Conservative party leader following the EU referendum in 2016.

Alongside editing the Evening Standard since March 2017, Osborne is also an adviser to the world’s largest investment firm, Blackrock, an adviser to Exor, the Italian holding company which owns Juventus and stakes in Fiat Chrysler and Ferrari, and chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a thinktank.

Osborne has been well remunerated for his time, earning £650,000 a year for the Blackrock role, and hundreds of thousands of pounds for speeches since leaving government.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Theresa May confirms she will not lead Tories into next election

From The Guardian: Theresa May confirmed she will not lead the Conservatives into the next general election as she arrived in Brussels to rescue her Brexit deal.

She refused to give a date for her departure from Downing Street, but made public her promise to MPs ahead of Wednesday’s no-confidence vote that she would quit before the next poll in 2022.

“Yes, I’ve said that in my heart I would love to be able to lead the Conservative party into the next general election, but I think it is right that the party feels it would prefer to go into that election with a new leader,” May said. “People try to talk about dates; what I’m clear about is the next general election is in 2022 and I think it’s right another party leader takes us into that general election.”

The prime minister survived by a margin of 200 votes to 117 in the party confidence vote, but is still facing calls to resign from senior figures on her backbenches, including Jacob Rees-Mogg.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Brexit in chaos as Tory MPs trigger vote of no confidence in Theresa May

From The Guardian: Conservative MPs have triggered a vote of no confidence in Theresa May, plunging the Brexit process into chaos as Tory colleagues indicated they no longer had faith in the prime minister to deliver the deal.

Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee, has received at least 48 letters from Conservative MPs calling for a vote of no confidence in May. Under party rules, a contest is triggered if 15% of Conservative MPs write to the chair of the committee of Tory backbenchers.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Boris Johnson apologises to MPs for failing to declare income in time

From The Guardian: Boris Johnson has offered MPs a “full and unreserved apology” over the late declaration of more than £52,000 in income.

He made the apology to the House of Commons having been told to do so after he repeatedly failed to register payments from his newspaper column and books within the set time limit.

In a report, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone, said that the former foreign secretary admitted he had failed to register payments in time on nine occasions in the previous 12 months.

The report recommended that Johnson make an apology to the Commons on a point of order.

Stone said that while the Conservative MP had fully cooperated and promised to address the issue, the amount of money registered late – almost £53,000, or about 70% of his MP’s’ salary – and the number of times it had happened “suggested a lack of attention to the house’s requirements, rather than inadvertent error”.

Under parliamentary rules, MPs are allowed to earn money beyond their official duties but authorities must be notified within 28 days so it can be entered into the register of MPs’ financial interests.

Read more

Corbyn exposes May’s hypocrisy over withholding Brexit legal advice

From the Morning Star: Jeremy Corbyn exposed Theresa May’s hypocrisy in her withholding of Brexit legal advice yesterday by surprising her with a letter she had sent to the last Labour government that demanded they publish the legal advice they had received over the Iraq War.

During Prime Minister’s Questions the Labour leader urged the PM to reveal to MPs the “warts and all” legal advice on her unpopular Brexit deal so that they can make an informed decision over whether to let it pass through parliament on December 11.

He said she should “practise what she preached” and told MPs that she, as shadow leader of the Commons, had written to the then PM Gordon Brown in 2007 to demand the legal advice on invading Iraq.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Tory MP Johnny Mercer says there’s ‘nothing wrong’ with killing for what you believe in

From The Independent: A Tory MP has prompted an angry debate after suggesting killing people for what you believe in is acceptable.

He said: “The application of violence to defeat the enemies of the nation has become worryingly unpopular. Nothing wrong with fighting (yes killing) for values/what you believe in. The oppressed/bullied/tormented/voiceless deserve it. Join the fight; best thing you’ll ever do.”

[Read article on Independent website…]

Theresa May accused of giving knighthood to buy MP’s Brexit silence

From The Guardian: Theresa May has been accused of bringing the honours system into disrepute after handing a knighthood to a former minister known to be wavering on whether or not to support her Brexit deal.

Downing Street announced the award had been granted to John Hayes MP, a junior minister to May when she was the home secretary, on Friday afternoon.

“People will rightly look at this knighthood and wonder how it relates to the looming Brexit vote in the Commons,” said a spokesman for the Scottish National party leader, Nicola Sturgeon. “That ‎brings the honours system into disrepute. But, more fundamentally, it exposes how broken the whole Westminster system is.”

The shadow cabinet secretary, Chris Matheson, also criticised the move, saying it would be a “spectacular act of desperation for Theresa May to be giving away knighthoods in a bid to win votes for her botched Brexit deal. This stinks of cronyism from the prime minister. We need to know if anything has been promised in exchange for this honour.”

Chris Green, a Conservative MP who followed the former Brexit and foreign secretaries, David Davis and Boris Johnson, in resigning from his Department for Transport job over May’s Chequers plan in July, told the Financial Times: “They will use whatever patronage is available to them. They are feeling the heat.”

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Tory minister faces questions over landlord donor

From the Morning Star: Tory Scottish Secretary David Mundell has trousered almost £40,000 in donations from a Singapore-based businessman who hailed the last recession as a “massive wealth-building opportunity in disguise”.

Mundell is facing questions after he provided property magnate Brian Gillies with a business reference which praised his “integrity and personal probity.”

Three companies linked to Mr Gillies, a wealthy Scot who relocated to the Far East, have donated £38,500 to Mr Mundell’s office and local Conservative association since 2011.

In an interview with the Scotsman’s business section in 2009, Mr Gillies said: “A recession is a massive wealth-building opportunity in disguise. What you can do now is take advantage of a market where you can buy the properties you want to buy and you can buy them very cheaply.”

Labour shadow Scotland secretary Lesley Laird branded Mr Gillies’s comments “absolutely sickening.”

In a reference published on business website GlobalEye, Mr Mundell said: “I have known [Mr Gillies] personally for three years and I have found him to be a person of the highest integrity and personal probity.” Mr Mundell said Mr Gillies had “a significant involvement with the Conservative Party”.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Transport secretary accused of suffering from ‘tin ear’ over rail in North

From the Morning Star: Transport Secretary Chris Grayling was accused of suffering from “tin ear” and “memory loss” when he told the Commons that rail services in northern England were improving.

Mr Grayling said northern rail networks were delivering “more services rather than few,” despite one of the worst weeks of rail chaos in the north since new timetables were introduced in May.

He was responding to Mary Creagh, Labour MP for Wakefield in West Yorkshire, one of the areas affected, who accused him of “showing a bit of a tin ear to the lived experience” of her constituents.

She said it took one constituent six hours to complete a 75-mile rail journey in Yorkshire — “a feat that with a good wind I could have achieved on a bicycle in the same amount of time.”

Rail union RMT northern organiser John Tilley told the Morning Star: “Not only is Chris Grayling tin-eared to the plight of rail passengers in the north, he is also losing his memory.” He said Mr Grayling had cancelled northern rail investment projects such as electrification of the Trans Pennine route and two extra platforms at Manchester Piccadilly station.

“To be telling the House of Commons that there are more trains to run in the north, in the same week that we are witnessing another meltdown of services, and on some lines in the north, where all trains are cancelled with a full week of bus replacements, is breathtaking,” Mr Tilley added.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

DWP minister suggests families affected by benefit cap could ‘move house’ or ‘take in a lodger’

From The Independent: Government minister Justin Tomlinson has been criticised after he suggested poor families could “move house” or “take in a lodger” to ease financial pressures caused by the benefit cap.

Labour MP Ruth George said: “Take in a lodger? These are large families, they’ve often got three children in one bedroom. How are they going to take in a lodger? Just look at reality here.”

[Read article on Independent website…]

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