State pension age changes: More women aged 60-64 are working after increases to the SPA, statistics show

The employment rate for women aged between 60 and 64 is higher than the proportion of those who are not seeking work for the very first time, new data has revealed.

Employment is up among both men and women aged 50 or over, but the largest increase is in the 60-64-year-old group, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

For women it is up from 24.3 per cent in 1999 to 51.4 per cent and for men it has risen from 47.6 per cent to 60.8 per cent, the fourth annual report on the economic labour market status for people aged 50 and over shows.

Women are likely to have been spurred on to find work because of changes to the state pension age. The original eligibility age of 60 has rapidly increased to 65 over the last decade to bring it in line with the state pension age for men. The Government is in the process of raising the state pension age further, to 66, for both genders.

Over the past few months, i has been speaking to women affected by the increases who have been forced to stay in work longer than expected and even accept zero-hour contracts.

Read more:

State pension age changes: At 63, I’m having to work 12.5 hour night shifts and I’m exhausted

State pension age changes: I’m educated and can’t get a blinking job – I’m stuck on zero-hour contracts

State pension age changes: ‘I’m an engineer who couldn’t get a job as a cleaner. I was feeling suicidal’

Same unemployment rate between older and younger people

The impact of the state pension age changes is further demonstrated by ONS statistics showing the unemployment rate for all individuals in the 50-64 age group and the 35-49 bracket is exactly same, at 2.6 per cent.

Age UK, the charity for older people in the UK, said while it was correct to conclude there is an upwards trend in employment for those aged over 50, “this does not tell the whole story”.

“The rising state pension age and changes to disability benefits have meant many people have needed to stay in work, while the average number of hours worked in this age group has dropped,” said charity director Caroline Abrahams.

She also pointed out that for older people remaining in employment, ageism remained a major concern.

A previous report from the charity found more than one-in-three 55-64 year olds believed they had been disadvantaged in the workplace because of their age.

“We need a concerted effort from Government and employers to help the UK’s line managers move beyond basing employment decisions on outdated stereotypes and to consign ageism to the history books where it belong,” said Ms Abrahams.

Some women have been forced to work longer because of the state pension age changes

Increase to age of stopping working

The ONS data showed the average age at which women leave the labour market is also likely to have been affected by the rising state pension age.

With a state pension age of 65 or 66, the average age of exit for women is currently 64.3 – up from 60.3 in 1986. When the state pension age was 62, the exit age was around 63 years old.

The average age of exit has risen for men, too, going from 63 in 1996 to 65.3 in 2019.

For both men and women, the employment rate decreases as age increases. The transition between the 60-64 age group and the 65-69 cohort – 65 is the current state pension age for both genders – has the greatest drop.

More on employment

The post State pension age changes: More women aged 60-64 are working after increases to the SPA, statistics show appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

General election: Tory rebels plan to get revenge on Boris Johnson ‘by running Remainer candidate against him in Uxbridge’

Rory Stewart has been asked to stand against Boris Johnson at the next general election as part of a plot to unseat the Prime Minister.

The plan has been devised by some of the 21 Tory rebels who were booted out of the party for voting against the Government to block a no-deal Brexit, according to The Sun.

It is likely to be seen as an act of revenge and another way to avoid Britain leaving the EU without a deal, which Mr Johnson has so far refused to take off the table.

Mr Stewart, the Remain-supporting former Tory leadership candidate, was one of the MPs who had the party whip withdrawn.

Running him against Mr Johnson could fracture the Conservative vote and hand the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency to Labour. This would mean that Mr Johnson not only loses his seat as an MP but also ceases to be Prime Minister.

‘I’m not trying to destroy the party’

However Mr Stewart has denied that he would ever run against Mr Johnson in his own constituency.

“I am hoping to bring the Conservative Party back to the centre ground. I remain loyal to it, I am not trying to destroy it,” he told the newspaper.

Responding to the reports on Friday morning, Mr Stewart reiterated he would not stand against Mr Johnson as that would “feel a little vindictive”.

“I could probably take enough votes, not to win the seat but to let Labour in. In a way I feel that would be a kamikaze move,” he told LBC radio.

However he said he understood that some people who strongly wanted Mr Johnson to leave would back the tactic.

While he said he could not see who would stand against the Prime Minister, he added that he would not rule out someone putting their name forward.

Boris Johnson is the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Photo: Reuters)

‘Nuclear option’

The Sun reported that the plot – described by a source as the “nuclear option” – would only go ahead if a no-deal Brexit is still an option going into the next election.

If Mr Johnson was unseated, the only way he could continue as Prime Minister would be if he appointed himself a lord.

But the move would be extremely controversial and he would likely face pressure to stand down. The third Marquess of Salisbury served as Prime Minister three times during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Whip removed

The 21 Tory rebels were stripped of the Conservative whip last week and barred from standing at the next general election. The Government’s decision was a move of retaliation against the MPs who refused to support Mr Johnson’s Brexit strategy and wanted to avoid Britain leaving the EU without a deal on 31 October.

Among the expelled MPs was former chancellor Philip Hammond and former business secretary Greg Clark.

Mr Johnson is facing calls to allow the MPs back into the party, although some have announced they plan to stand down at the next election.

More on no-deal Brexit

The post General election: Tory rebels plan to get revenge on Boris Johnson ‘by running Remainer candidate against him in Uxbridge’ appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Northern Ireland court says Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy will not damage peace process

A judge in Northern Ireland has dismissed a legal challenge that argued Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy would damage the peace process.

The ruling from Lord Justice Bernard McCloskey was delivered at Belfast’s High Court on Thursday about three joined cases against the Prime Minister’s handling of the UK’s departure from the EU.

It comes after a legal challenge in Scotland found that Mr Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament was illegal. The Government is set to appeal the decision at the Supreme Court next week.

But Lord Justice McCloskey decided not to consider the prorogation issue because the matter was already being dealt with.

Good Friday Agreement

The Northern Ireland cases centred on the argument that a no-deal Brexit on 31 October would undermine the Good Friday Agreement involving the UK and Irish governments.

The court cases centred on Boris Johnson’s handling of Brexit (Photo: Getty Images)

Lord Justice McCloskey dismissed that, and said in a written ruling: “I consider the characterisation of the subject matter of these proceedings as inherently and unmistakably political to be beyond plausible dispute.

“Virtually all of the assembled evidence belongs to the world of politics, both national and supra-national.

“Within the world of politics the well-recognised phenomena of claim and counterclaim, assertion and counter-assertion, allegation and denial, blow and counter-blow, alteration and modification of government policy, public statements, unpublished deliberations, posturing, strategy and tactics are the very essence of what is both countenanced and permitted in a democratic society.

Appeals process

Unlike Brexit-related challenges against the Government heard in England and Scotland, the Northern Ireland cases cannot leapfrog straight to the Supreme Court following the Belfast High Court judgement.

First, any appeal would have to be heard by the Court of Appeal in Belfast.

Judges have set aside time, and indicated a willingness to sit over the weekend, to fast-track the hearing of any appeal.

One of the Northern Ireland case was brought forward by high-profile victims’ campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 1997.

He attempted to have the prorogation issue heard at the High Court. He now intends to push forward with the issue at the Belfast Appeal Court, which means it could be heard at the Supreme Court next week.

The UK’s highest court will hear the Scottish and English cases on Tuesday.

Additional reporting by PA

More on Brexit

The post Northern Ireland court says Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy will not damage peace process appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Operation Yellowhammer: why it matters that no-deal Brexit report changed from ‘base case’ to ‘reasonable worst case scenario’

Documents revealing the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the UK have been released by the Government following a demand from MPs.

Operation Yellowhammer papers show that leaving the EU without a deal could result in medical shortages, food price rises and major cross-channel trade delays.

The information is referred to as “reasonable worst case planning assumptions”.

The papers are remarkably similar to documents previously leaked to The Sunday Times. However, at the time, they were marked as the “base case” scenario.

What do the documents say?

The five-page Yellowhammer report, released after a Commons motion, set out the impact of a no-deal Brexit on various aspects of life in the UK. Here are some of the key points:

There could be major hold-ups at channel ports

“Significant” electricity price rises

A return to a hard border in Northern Ireland

Fresh food supplies will decrease and “critical dependencies for the food chain” such as key ingredients “may be in shorter supply”

There will not be overall food shortages but availability and choice could be reduced and prices could go up

Price rises for food and fuel could disproportionately affect low-income groups

Flow of cross-Channel goods could be reduced to 40 per cent of current rates on day one, with “significant disruption lasting up to six months”

Impact to cross-Channel flow could affect the supply of medicines and medical supplies

Protests and counter-protests could take place across the UK

UK citizens travelling to and from the EU “may be subject to increased immigration checks at EU border posts”

A no-deal Brexit could result in a medicine shortage
A no-deal Brexit could result in a medicine shortage (Photo: AFP/Getty)

Is it similar to the leaked document?

Yes, very. The Government insisted the information leaked to The Sunday Times on 18 August was out of date and from Theresa May’s administration.

However the date on the documents released this week is 2 August – well after Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.

The leaked version was marked a “base case” scenario, which means the information was the expected outcome of a no-deal Brexit.

The Yellowhammer dossier dates back to 2 August
The Yellowhammer dossier dates back to 2 August (Photo: Screenshot)

Where the documents released by the Government differ is that they are now labelled a “reasonable worst case” scenario. This implies that the expected outcome of a no deal would actually be better than what is set out in the Yellowhammer papers.

The Government has been accused of attempting to deceive the MPs and the public about the impact of no deal by allegedly changing the labelling of the information.

But Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, who is in charge of no-deal Brexit planning, has maintained the marking of the newly released information is correct.

He accused The Sunday Times journalist Rosamund Urwin, who broke the original story about Operation Yellowhammer, of “persisting in an error”.

“Yellowhammer is a reasonable worst case scenario – which we have taken more steps to mitigate – worth checking out evidence to DEXEU select committee for full story,” he tweeted.

However, according to an evidence session in front of Exiting the European Union Committee on the progress of the UK’s negotiations on EU withdrawal from earlier in September, Mr Gove appeared to admit the term “base case” or “base scenario” was included in the Yellowhammer report.

Labour MP Hilary Benn, who is chair of the committee, asked Mr Gove: “All I need for the moment… is this. The words ‘base scenario’ do appear in the Yellowhammer report?”

Mr Gove replied, “Yes.”

The exchange between Hilary Benn and Michael Gove at the Exiting the European Union Committee evidence session
The exchange between Hilary Benn and Michael Gove at the Exiting the European Union Committee evidence session (Photo: Screenshot)

Commenting on the Goverment’s release of the documents, Mr Benn said: “If the Yellowhammer documents really represent the worst case scenario, then presumably there are other scenarios that have been drawn up. Why doesn’t the Government publish these so we can all see?”

What will happen now?

MPs are piling pressure on the Prime Minister to recall Parliament after it was prorogued earlier this week.

On Wednesday Scottish judges branded the suspension of Parliament “unlawful”.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: “These documents confirm the severe risks of a no deal Brexit, which Labour has worked so hard to block.

“It is also now more important than ever that Parliament is recalled and has the opportunity to scrutinise these documents and take all steps necessary to stop no deal.”

More on no-deal Brexit

The post Operation Yellowhammer: why it matters that no-deal Brexit report changed from ‘base case’ to ‘reasonable worst case scenario’ appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

EU Settlement Scheme: Lawyer who consulted on Brexit settled status process says it could ‘buckle under pressure’

The Government’s scheme to allow EU citizens to remain in the UK after Brexit could “buckle under pressure if there is a stampede of applications” in the run up to 31 October, according to a lawyer who was involved in the development of the system. 

EU citizens have until at least December 2020 to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme in the event of a no deal but Julia Onslow-Cole has said she expects more people will register before the exit deadline due to the uncertainty of leaving the bloc without a withdrawal agreement.

Ms Onslow-Cole, who was a member of the EU Settlement Scheme Employers Representative Stakeholder Group and consulted on the system, believes it is not tailored to deal with thousands of cases at a time and that it could result in the scheme’s site being out of service for short periods or in applications being delayed.

The partner at global immigration law firm Fragomen is calling for the Home Office to provide more clarification about what will happen to EU citizens in the event of a no deal.

What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

The scheme is for EU citizens currently living in the UK. It will allow them to stay in the UK after Britain leaves the EU.

Citizens of the EU, the European Economic Area or Switzerland and their families can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Applicants must prove their identity, show they live in the UK and declare any criminal convictions.

The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021 if there is a deal. It is December 2020 if there is no deal.

‘Blip in the system’

So far only 1.4 million of the 3.5 million EU citizens currently residing in the UK have applied for the EU Settlement Scheme.

The system was designed to take people through the [scheme] over quite a long period of time and in an even pattern. There is now quite a lot of [uncertainty] among EU citizens about their future,” Ms Onslow-Cole told i.

She claimed her firm had already noticed the system struggle with a surge in applications after Home Secretary Priti Patel’s said freedom of movement would end on midnight on 31 October in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Priti Patel’s announcement that free movement would end on 31 October is though to have caused a surge in applications (Photo: Getty)

The Government later U-turned on this, but Ms Onslow-Cole said: “We did notice, for a very short period of time, there was a blip on the system on the app but that recovered very quickly. But we believe that was because so many people were logging on after that announcement [from Ms Patel]. People were having difficulties logging on. It lasted [around] 24 hours.

Read more:

EU citizens after Brexit: how the UK’s new immigration system will work and what it means for Settled Status applications

“These pull factors are creating a momentum amongst EU citizens and they feel they have to make an application.”

Ms Onslow-Cole pointed out that many of the easier EU Settlement Scheme applications were likely to be out of the way, while the more complicated cases would put increased pressure on the Home Office.

“The people, generally speaking, applying first are those who are employed and they have an easy job of showing their residence in the UK because they can show it through their NI number. The people coming after are the more difficult applications.

“It’s partly because the pilot scheme, which preceded the application system, was tailored for people who will find it easier to apply – it didn’t include, for example, dependents. But it’s also partly because employers have been very active in sponsoring their employees so the people who are more vulnerable, will naturally always go towards the end.”

‘Positive things’

However, the lawyer said the Government had done a lot of “positive things” to help EU citizens such as spend millions on marketing the scheme and give funds to voluntary organisations to aid the application process.   

Read more:

Brexit: EU citizens using Windrush application process to stay in the UK because they don’t trust EU settlement scheme

“To be frank, the system is amazing and simple to use. But it’s simple to use if you’re used to using your phone and technology, it really couldn’t be easier,” said Ms Onslow-Cole. “And the Home Office should be applauded for that but there are older people and people with disabilities and they will find it difficult. That’s why there is all the support. If you match that with the fact there is this concern of people wanting to apply, that’s when the system is quite vulnerable.”

There have been reports that some EU citizens have been struggling with the complexity of the online scheme and so have resorted to using the simpler paper application system designed for the Windrush generation.

A poster, aimed at EU citizens living in the UK, encouraging EU nationals to apply to the Government’s post-Brexit EU settlement scheme, is pictured through a carriage of a London Underground tube train (Photo: AFP/Getty)

Ms Onslow-Cole said: “I’m not saying the system has fallen down now, I’m just warning about it being a perfect storm with the fact there are number of people left to apply, that the more difficult applications are coming towards the end and the Government is doing a great job but this is difficult.

“There is a genuine concern among clients to register under the scheme now.”

Read more:

EU Settlement Scheme: Home Office advert banned for confusion over documents required

‘Applying for settled status here is an inhuman process – I don’t feel welcome in the UK’

During the development stage of the EU Settlement Scheme, Ms Onslow-Cole said there was agreement among stakeholders that a system where the number of people of applying could be regulated was needed. 

“It’s still the intention. All I’m saying is because of all the uncertainty, if suddenly everybody wanted to apply at one time and there were lots of difficult cases it would put a lot of pressure on the Home Office.

“I think that the Home Office is in a difficult position. I think the more communication that’s given to people, the better… One of the things that would give a lot of assurance is more detail of exactly what is going to happen after 31 October in case of a no deal,” she added. 

A Home Office spokesperson said: “EU citizens have until at least December 2020 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and it continues to perform well.

“We received 50,000 applications in the first weekend and we are currently processing up to 20,000 applications per day. In total over 1.4 million people have applied to the Scheme.”

More on Brexit

The post EU Settlement Scheme: Lawyer who consulted on Brexit settled status process says it could ‘buckle under pressure’ appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Prisoners have turned old uniforms from Virgin Trains staff into scarves and blankets for homeless people

Prisoners have made scarves and blankets for homeless people this winter using old uniforms worn by Virgin Trains staff.

Tired and worn-out coats, shirts and trousers have been given a renewed purpose by inmates at HMP Northumberland at its onsite textile factory.

The train company said the upcycled items would give “warmth and comfort” to those who really need it during the upcoming cold weather but added it was also a socially responsible way to handle waste.

Uniforms turned into dog coats

All of the uniforms reused by offenders are at least six years old and are not currently being worn.

They have also transformed some clothing items, which could not be turned into scarves and blankets, into unbranded dog coats for homeless people who own pets.

Old uniforms will also be used to make dog coats
Old uniforms will also be used to make dog coats (Photo: PA)

Virgin Trains will hand out the new items at major stations and to homeless charities.

Staff will be able to take home branded dog coats in return for a charitable donation.

‘Rewarding’

The initiative follows a partnership between Virgin Trains and social enterprise Change Please Coffee, which trains people who have experienced living on the streets to become baristas.

“We set ourselves the challenge to be creative and socially responsible with disposing of these old uniforms. It’s also a smart and socially responsible way to handle our waste,” said Virgin Trains community manager Jo Buckley.

Read more:

Big Issue sellers to accept contactless payments across the UK

What to do if you see a homeless person sleeping rough in the freezing weather

Scottish homeless will be limited to seven days in temporary accommodation – before councils have to home them

“It’s so rewarding to see the re-purposed uniform benefiting those who really need a little warmth and comfort during the winter months and we’re so proud to play a small part in helping the homeless alongside our work with our partners Change Please Coffee.”

A spokesman for the firm said the project is not in response to the upcoming end of its franchise.

HMP Northumberland inmates previously upcycled Virgin Trains uniforms through an initiative with a London-based charity. They were given to The Albert Kennedy Trust and to Rethink Mental Illness.

The prison’s textile workshop also produces catering coats, food service aprons, shirts, bedding and towels. Providing work for inmates improves their skills and can lead to better employment opportunities upon release and reduce the risk of re-offending.

More UK news

The post Prisoners have turned old uniforms from Virgin Trains staff into scarves and blankets for homeless people appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Speaker of the House of Commons: What the Speaker actually does, how they’re elected and what power they have

The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow has announced he is standing down on 31 October, the current deadline for Brexit, unless an election is called before that date.

He also said he would stand down as an MP.

“At the 2017 election, I promised my wife and children that it would be my last,” he said during an impassioned speech in the House of Commons.

“This is a pledge that I intend to keep. If the House votes tonight for an early general election, my tenure as Speaker and MP will end when this Parliament ends.

“If the House does not so vote, I have concluded that the least disruptive and most democratic course of action would be for me to stand down at the close of business on Thursday, 31 October,” he said.

The announcement leaves the chair of the Speaker open to other MPs to throw their hat into the ring.

This is what you need to know about the Speaker of the House of Commons: 

What does the Speaker do?

Speaker John Bercow looked up to the public gallery as he paid tribute to his wife and children (Photo: PA Wire)

The Speaker’s main role is to chair debates in the Commons Chamber and keep order, using the often heard phrase “Order, order!” They also call on MPs to speak during debates.

It is a powerful role. The Speaker ensures MPs follow the rules of the House of Commons by asking them to be quiet while others are speaking, directing a member to withdraw remarks if they are deemed to be abusive and suspending the sitting of the House if there is judged to be serious disorder. They can also choose between amendments and make decisions on whether conventions are being broken.

Read more:

Who will be the next Speaker of the House of Commons? John Bercow’s potential replacements – and how likely they are

The Speaker is the chief officer and highest authority of the House of Commons and whoever holds the post must remain politically impartial at all times, according to Parliament’s website.

Dr Louise Thompson, a senior lecturer in politics at the University of Manchester says “the role of Speaker is always an incredibly important one”.

“It’s the role of the Speaker not just to officiate over proceedings in the chamber, calling MPs to speak and announcing the next business, but he is the final arbiter of all procedural issues and questions,” she previously told i.

“The current Speaker has been very clear about standing up for the rights of MPs, particularly backbenchers, and had instigated changes to help strengthen these rights, such as extending the length of PMQs on Wednesdays to ensure backbench voices are heard.”As an MP, they must still deal with their constituents’ problems.

Do Speakers stand at elections?

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 21: Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, David Leakey (R) walks with Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow (L) across the Central Lobby of the Palace of Westminster after listening to the Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament on June 21, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. This year saw a scaled-back State opening of Parliament Ceremony with the Queen arriving by car rather than carriage and not wearing the Imperial State Crown or the Robes of State. (Photo by Niklas Halle'n - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Speaker during the State Opening of Parliament in June 2017 in London (Photo: Getty)

Yes, but at general elections, the main political parties tend not to challenge the Speaker.

This originates from the presumption that since he or she is “above party in the Commons, then he or she should not fight on a party label at a general election,” Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London, previously told i.

They do not campaign on political issues. Rather they stand as “the Speaker seeking re-election”, according to the Parliament website.However, over the weekend the Conservatives broke convention and announced they would field a candidate against Mr Bercow in his Buckingham constituency at the next election.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom accused him of breaking the rules of Parliament by allowing MPs to take control of Commons business to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

How is the Speaker elected?

John Bercow announces the result of the Brexit vote
John Bercow said he will resign at the end of October (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

MPs put themselves forward as candidates for Speaker and fellow MPs elect who they want to sit in the chair using a secret ballot system.

According to the Parliament website, if an individual receives more than 50 per cent of the votes, “the question is put to the House that he or she takes the chair as Speaker”.

In a situation where no candidate receives at least half of the vote, those with the fewest and those with less than five per cent are eliminated.

MPs then take to the ballot again with the shortened list. They continue voting until one person receives more than half the votes.

What power does the Speaker have?

Read more:

John Bercow could be denied peerage: here are his most controversial moments as Speaker

As the highest authority in the chamber, the Speaker has the power to intervene when they feel it is necessary.

Mr Bercow demonstrated this back in March when there was speculation over a third meaningful vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

He cited the Commons rulebook Erskine May – the authoritative book on parliamentary law and practice – as he set out a convention dating back to 1604 that a defeated motion cannot be brought back in the same form during the course of a parliamentary session.

His ruling indicated that Mrs May cannot bring her EU Withdrawal Agreement back before MPs unless it is substantially different from the package which was decisively defeated last week.

Dr Thompson said that given the power the Speaker has, it is inevitable the role will bring controversy. “The current Speaker has had to oversee a very contentious legislative and political period which his immediate predecessor did not have to. He’s in the unenviable position of having to be the one to interpret parliamentary rules during a fractious parliament.”

More on Politics

The post Speaker of the House of Commons: What the Speaker actually does, how they’re elected and what power they have appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Universal Credit: Parents still have to pay childcare costs up front – but the DWP is extending the claims period by a month

Parents on Universal Credit will now have an extra month to claim back hundreds of pounds of childcare costs, the Government has announced.

From 3 October, claimants will have two months to apply for reimbursement to avoid being up to £1,100 out of pocket.

The announcement from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) comes amid complaints that forcing parents and guardians to pay for childcare upfront and receive the benefit in arrears is plunging families into poverty.

Charities said that while the measure was welcome, it did “little to strike at the heart of the issues in our childcare system”. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Turn2Us told i ministers urgently needed to provide parents with advance support for childcare costs.

‘Determined to support families’

The DWP said the new measure took into account the busy lives of parents and was aimed at making the benefits system simpler. “Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, and that’s before something unexpected happens like a trip to the hospital or having to stay late at work,” said employment minister Mims Davies.

“We are determined to support families to balance work-life and parenthood. Allowing an extra month-long assessment period for people to report their childcare costs means people shouldn’t have to worry about missing out on crucial payments they are entitled to,” she said.

Up to 85 per cent of childcare costs can be reimbursed through Universal Credit. The childcare element of the benefit is worth up to £646.35 per month for one child and up to £1,108.40 for two or more children. Previously, the costs had to be reported in the Universal Credit assessment period in which they were incurred. The circumstances and income in an assessment period ultimately determines the award a claimant will receive.

Universal Credit payments may arrive early rather than late due to the August bank holiday (Photo: Getty)
The Government said it wanted Universal Credit to be more flexible (Photo: Getty)

‘Right this wrong’

Despite the new flexibility, childcare costs might still be a barrier for parents who want to get back into the job market because the fees need to be paid in advance.

“It is wrong that, despite record levels of employment in our country, the lack of affordable and good quality childcare is trapping families in poverty,” the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an independent social change charity, told i.

“Although the Government is right to provide parents with a longer period of time in which to claim support, this measure will do little to strike at the heart of the issues in our childcare system,” said Helen Barnard, deputy director of policy and partnerships at the foundation.

“In a country like ours parents should not be held back from taking on more hours or progressing in their careers because of nursery fees.

“Too many families on low incomes are being pulled further into poverty and debt because they are being forced to pay expensive childcare fees they simply cannot afford. The Government must urgently right this wrong by providing parents with upfront support for childcare costs and make sure that the support available is enough to cover the fees parents have to pay.”

‘Tinkering around the edges’

Matthew Geer, campaigns manager at Turn2Us, said: “We welcome this change to potentially help more claimants, however this is only tinkering around the edges.

“If the DWP are serious about encouraging parents into work they should pay childcare costs upfront.

“As it stands, Universal Credit is not flexible enough to the real lives of financially vulnerable people. Moving forward we want to see the DWP consult people claiming benefits to understand more of their issues.”

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “It’s good to see Government help parents on Universal Credit, who will now have more time to claim childcare costs. This kind of flexibility needs to be applied to more of the new benefits system.

“Our evidence shows some people are having difficulty meeting the upfront costs of childcare, which can run hundreds of pounds on already tight budgets.

“To really make sure parents can get the support they need on Universal Credit, the Government should look at paying childcare costs in advance or direct to providers.

She added: “Many people on Universal Credit are struggling to get by. Half of those we help on the new benefit have gone without food or lost sleep because of their finances.

“Universal Credit should be a financial safety net for those who need it.”

More on Universal Credit

The post Universal Credit: Parents still have to pay childcare costs up front – but the DWP is extending the claims period by a month appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Worcester Park fire: Residents ‘lose everything’ after blaze rips through south-west London block of flats

Residents of a four-storey block of flats in south-west London have described losing “everything” after a fire tore through their homes in the middle of the night.

Only a blackened shell remained of the building, which contained 20 flats, on Monday morning.

A total of 125 firefighters and 20 fire engines arrived at the scene in Worcester Park’s Sherbrooke Way, Sutton, shortly before 1:30am to find all floors and the roof of the building alight.

They worked to get the “intense” fire under control by 6:30am. No one is believed to have been injured in the blaze, the cause of which is under investigation.

Firefighters are expected to remain at the block on Monday.

‘Fire! Fire!’

Handout photo supplied by London Fire Brigade showing a four-storey block of flats engulfed in flames in Sherbrooke Way, Worcester Park (Photo: London Fire Brigade/PA Wire

Residents recalled the panic they felt as word of the fire spread during the night.

“I was woken up by my missus at about 1.20am, screaming and shouting: ‘Fire! Fire!,'” said Stephen Nobrega, a father of three children aged between eight months and 13 years old.

“I heard a lot of residents outside and by that point somebody was already banging on my window and pressing my buzzer, so I knew it was quite serious.

“I got out of bed, got what you see me wearing on, got the kids with something on and managed to get us all out safely, which is the main thing.”

Mr Nobrega, who lives in a part-owned, part-rented two-bedroom flat on the ground floor, told PA it was “heartbreaking” to lose all of his possessions.

“The most important thing is everyone’s alive, there are no fatalities to my knowledge. But everything we had in there – from simple things like clothes to sentimental stuff which you’ll never get back – I’ve got photos of the kids on family holidays, sentimental bits and pieces gone forever… it’s heartbreaking.”

‘Plume of smoke’

irefighters at the scene of a fire at a four-storey block of flats in Sherbrooke Way
No injuries have been reported following the blaze (Photo: PA)

Describing how the fire quickly took hold and spread, he said: “I could hear alarms going off but it was only when I was outside and could see the plume of smoke coming out… The top-right corner is where the fire started, in that area.

“Within about 20 minutes, fairly quick, it started ripping through, going from apartment to apartment, right to left, and then it started going down and caught alight on the other side.

“Speaking to one of the firefighters down there, he said my apartment seems to have survived, but the water damage is horrendous. It’s gone.”

Dean Fowler, who lives on the building’s top floor with his family, said he woke up in the middle of the night because someone was banging on his door.

“I then heard someone screaming, ‘There’s a fire, get out’, and I just got my boys and went,” he told the BBC.

Mr Fowler also said he had lost everything, but added: “We’re alive, we’re breathing, that’s all that matters.”

The fire was described by London Fire Brigade station manager Graham Adams as “challenging”.

“Firefighters will remain on scene for a number of hours and we would urge people to avoid the area if possible,” he said.

The service said 999 control officers had received 29 calls about the fire.

‘No injuries reported’

The London Ambulance Service tweeted: “Our crews are still on scene responding to a fire in [Worcester Park]. No injuries reported but we remain on scene as a precaution.”

Mr Nobrega said he “took his hat off” to the emergency services.

“Fair play to them, I’ve never seen so many fire engines turn up.

“It’s taken them all night to bring it under control, but, to see it at its full rage, it’s a job and a half. I take my hat off to them.”

More UK news

The post Worcester Park fire: Residents ‘lose everything’ after blaze rips through south-west London block of flats appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

UK weather forecast: Met Office predicts changeable weekend – but Hurricane Dorian will ‘stay well away’

The UK can brace itself for changeable weather over the weekend and early next week with forecasts of sunny spells, showers and even a touch of frost, according to the Met Office.

However Britons can rest assured that Hurricane Dorian is not expected to strike as the storm is currently moving up the Eastern Seaboard of the US where it will bring life-threatening storm conditions.

Sarah Kent, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said the forecasts for the UK was in line with autumnal weather and “nothing exceptional… for the time of year”.

Sunny spells and showers

Saturday is set to be a dry day with some sunny spells. “The only exception will be coastal areas where there will be a few showers,” said Ms Kent.

Read more:

UK storm names 2019-20: Met Office list in full, from Atiyah to Willow

Temperatures are expected to be mild with 19C or 20C in London, 17C in Birmingham and Manchester and dipping slightly to 16C in Belfast and 15C in Edinburgh.

It will be a colder start to the day on Sunday with “a touch of grass frost in northern rural areas and some patchy mists elsewhere,” according to Ms Kent.

“A classic autumnal morning. For the rest of the day on Sunday… [there will be] afternoon clouds in the west and rains spreading into Northern Ireland, Scotland and western Wales.”

Locally heavy rain is predicted for some areas on Monday but they will clear eastwards during the day, followed by sunshine and isolated showers.

Temperatures will be slightly cooler than those at the weekend with 18C in London and 16C across Birmingham and Manchester. People in Belfast and Edinburgh can expect temperatures around 15C.

Some people might see some frost over the next few days
Some people might see some frost over the next few days (Photo: AFP/Getty)

Low pressure weather systems

Tuesday will continue to be a changeable day weather-wise. “After a chilly start to the day with bright or sunny spells, [there will be] scattered showers in the east. Rains will spread into western and north-western parts through the afternoon,” said Ms Kent.

This weather system is linked to low pressure systems in Iceland which originated from Hurricane Dorian.

Ms Kent explained: “As Hurricane Dorian moves north it will weaken and lose its hurricane status. What does remain are areas of low pressure [which] move northeast, up past Greenland and towards Iceland.”

While Dorian “stays well away from the UK,” it does “help push some weather system fronts across on Tuesday or Wednesday,” she said.

Wednesday looks set to be a mix of sunshine and showers with some windy weather in the north.

More on UK weather

The post UK weather forecast: Met Office predicts changeable weekend – but Hurricane Dorian will ‘stay well away’ appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Brexit bill: block on no-deal passes Parliament as House of Lords give their approval

A bill designed to block the Government from forcing through a no-deal Brexit on 31 October will become law after receiving the approval of the House of Lords.

Peers passed the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill, or Benn bill, at its third reading without a formal vote on Friday afternoon.

The legislation requires Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline beyond 31 October unless a withdrawal agreement is approved or Parliament agrees to leaving the EU without one by 19 October.

What is Royal Assent?

Royal assent is a formality. It means getting the monarch’s agreement to make the bill into an Act of Parliament, or law.

Royal Assent

After sailing through its final stages in the Lords without amendment, it is now expected to receive Royal Assent on Monday, thereby completing all stages required to become law.

There has been pressure on Parliament to pass the law before prorogation begins next week.

The bill made its way through the House of Commons successfully on Wednesday. There had been fears the legislation could have been stalled in the Lords with Eurosceptic peers using the technique of filibustering to delay its progress.

But the strategy was abandoned after the Government admitted defeat over the bill.

‘Hugely important moment’

Figures opposed to a no-deal Brexit praised the progress of the legislation.

“I am pleased that this vital bill has now cleared the House of Lords – a hugely important moment in the fight to stop a catastrophic no-deal Brexit,” tweeted Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. “The Bill must now receive Royal Assent on Monday and the Government must agree to abide by it.”

The group of Liberal Democrat Lords said the passage of the bill in the chamber was “a key step in preventing a disastrous no-deal Brexit”.

Some have expressed concern about whether Mr Johnson will comply with the legislation. On Thursday, he said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask the EU for a further Brexit delay.

Earlier on Friday, during his visit to Scotland, the Prime Minister declined to rule out resigning if he fails to deliver Brexit on the current deadline.

“That is not a hypothesis I’m willing to contemplate. I want us to get this thing done,” Mr Johnson said.

Additional reporting by PA

More on no-deal Brexit

The post Brexit bill: block on no-deal passes Parliament as House of Lords give their approval appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Nicki Minaj retires: rapper’s fans devastated as she announces retirement to ‘have my family’

Nicki Minaj, one of the world’s most famous female rappers, has shocked her fans by announcing she is retiring from the music industry to focus on having a family.

In a message to her 20.6 million Twitter followers, the 36-year-old said: “I’ve decided to retire [and] have my family. I know you guys are happy now.

“To my fans, keep reppin me, do it til da death of me… Love you for LIFE.”

Minaj, whose hits include Super Bass and Starships, is believed to be in a relationship with Kenneth Petty with some speculating they may be married. It is not known if she is expecting a baby. The tweet has since been deleted.

‘Never left us so hurt’

Read more:

Nicki Minaj cancels concert in Saudi Arabia following backlash

Fans of the 10-time Grammy Award-nominated musician did not take the news well, with one person writing online: “Can u please just address this retirement thing. You… never left us so hurt your entire career.

“We’re just hurting Nicki… it’s US it’s the barbz plz.”

Responding directly to the post, Minaj, whose online fans refer to themselves as Barbz, apologised for her “insensitive” announcement and promised she would give them more information about her plans.

“I’m still right here. Still madly in love with you guys and you know that. In hindsight, this should’ve been a Queen Radio discussion and it will be. I promise u guys will be happy. No guests, just us talking about everything. The tweet was abrupt and insensitive, I apologize babe.”

Queen Radio is the name of her show on Beats 1, a 24/7 music radio station owned by Apple.

Another fan said: “Like yea it might be a bit dramatic but a lot of barbz are really shaken by this. I just need her to talk to us about it or something.”

Minaj responded by saying: “I will babe. I promise. I love you so much.”

Trinidadian-US rapper Nicki Minaj poses backstage with her awards during the MTV Europe Music Awards at the Bizkaia Arena in the northern Spanish city of Bilbao on November 4, 2018.
Nicki Minaj with her awards during the MTV Europe Music Awards at the Bizkaia Arena in the northern Spanish city of Bilbao in 2018 (Photo: AFP/Getty)

Career history

Minaj, whose real name is Onika Tanya Maraj, was born on the Caribbean dual-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago but grew up in New York.

Read more:

Nicki Minaj cancels concert in Saudi Arabia following backlash

How the Cardi B and Nicki Minaj feud developed – and what happened in their ‘fight’

She has been producing music since the early 2000s but rose to fame after signing with Young Money Entertainment, the record label founded by rapper Lil Wayne.

Her first studio album, Pink Friday, was released in 2010 and reached number one on the US Billboard 200.

She has won six American Music Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards and five MTV Europe Music Awards.

Alongside her successful music career, Minaj has featured in films such as The Other Woman and Barbershop: The Next Cut. She lent her voice to animated film Ice Age: Continental Drift.

Minaj’s fourth album, Queen, was released in 2018. It was received positively by critics but failed to reach number one in the US Billboard 200.

She lashed out at fellow rapper Travis Scott after his album, Astroworld, pipped hers to the top spot.

“I put my blood sweat and tears in writing a dope album only for Travis Scott to have Kylie Jenner [his girlfriend] post a tour pass telling ppl to come see her & Stormi [their daughter],” Minaj wrote on Twitter. “I’m actually laughing. #Queen broke the record of being number 1 in 86 countries”.

More on Music

The post Nicki Minaj retires: rapper’s fans devastated as she announces retirement to ‘have my family’ appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Chuka Umunna to stand as Lib Dem candidate in Cities of London and Westminster to fight Tories in general election

Chuka Umunna will attempt to fight the Conservatives at the next general election by standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Cities of London and Westminster constituency.

The area is currently represented by Tory MP Mark Field but Mr Umunna suggested he was a better option for the constituency because of his “liberal values” and opposition to Brexit.

“I relish the prospect of ensuring the constituency – which is a global symbol for open, liberal values – is represented by a party and an MP who will be true to those values,” he tweeted.

Read more:

‘I’ll vote for whoever the Labour candidate is’: Chuka Umunna’s constituents react after he quits for Independent Group

Streatham up for the taking

The announcement means the constituency of Streatham, a Labour stronghold which Mr Umunna won in 2010, is up for the taking at the next election. There is already a Lib Dem candidate for Streatham.

More than 70 per cent of constituents in the Cities of London and Westminster voted for Remain in the EU referendum but it is considered an important seat for the Tories in the capital.

Mr Field held on to it with 46.6 per cent of the vote at the 2017 election – a majority of around 3,000. Labour received 38 per cent of the vote while the Lib Dems trailed behind with 11 per cent.

The former Foreign Office minister was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when footage emerged of him pushing a female climate change protester against a column before physically removing her from a dinner event.

The then prime minister Theresa May suspended him from the ministerial post and he referred himself for investigation. In July it was announced new Prime Minister Boris Johnson had ended the enquiry.

Conservative MP Mark Field tackled a Greenpeace climate protester at a dinner at Mansion House
Conservative MP Mark Field tackled a Greenpeace climate protester at a dinner at Mansion House (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

‘Fight tooth and nail’

Mr Umunna, who is foreign affairs spokesman for the Lib Dems, told the Evening Standard: “I worked as a solicitor in the City and West End and I know they are the last places that should be represented by one of Mr Johnson’s MPs who has just voted to enable a no-deal Brexit.

Read more:

Boris Johnson ‘would rather be dead in a ditch’ than miss Halloween Brexit deadline

What’s going on with Brexit? The week in politics summarised in less than 60 seconds

“The City is the centre of international values, while the West End is home to our greatest creative industries. These centres are telling us that Brexit will be bad for them.”

He told the Standard it was important to win seats from the Tories.

“I will fight tooth and nail to take this battle to Mr Johnson and his ‘Vote Leave’ government and ensure it is represented by a Remainer committed to stopping Brexit.

“I resigned from Labour primarily because of the party’s failure to oppose Brexit. Whilst it is important to win seats from Labour, it is also vital we win seats from Mr Johnson’s populist nationalist Tory party in order to stop Brexit and build a more liberal and inclusive Britain.”

Mr Umunna defected from Labour earlier this year to become an independent MP over the party’s handling of Brexit. He later joined the Independent Group, which then became known as Change UK, a centrist party.

But following a disappointing showing at the EU elections, Mr Umunna parted ways with Change UK to become an independent again. In June, he announced he was joining the Liberal Democrats because it was “at the forefront” of “a progressive and internationalist movement”.

More on Chuka Umunna

The post Chuka Umunna to stand as Lib Dem candidate in Cities of London and Westminster to fight Tories in general election appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

UK storm names 2019-20: the Met Office list in full, from Atiyah to Willow

The first storm to hit the UK this winter will be named Atiyah, it has been revealed.

A new list of storm names for 2019-20 has been chosen by the weather services for the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands, and aims to reflect the diversity of the three nations.

Other monikers to feature on the list include Ciara, Francis, Gerda, Maura, Noah, Piet, Samir, Willow and Olivia, which is the most popular name for girls in England and Wales for the third year running, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data last month.

The list comes after the Met Office and Met Eireann, Ireland’s weather service, issued a public call-out for ideas for names through its fifth Name Our Storms campaign. But it appears some popular suggestions such as Boris, Brexit and Fortnite have not made it to the final list.

Netherlands joins storm names campaign

For the first time, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), the Dutch national weather forecasting service, joined the campaign.

Storms are not confined to national borders, so it makes sense to give common names to such extreme weather events,” said Gerard van der Steenhoven, director general at the KNMI.

“As many people are travelling – sometimes on a daily basis – between our countries, the use of common names will make it a lot easier for them to appreciate the hazards represented by a large storm system.”

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the impact of severe weather before it hits. Giving storms names eases communication of the weather to the media and government agencies.

It also means the public can take action to look after themselves and their businesses.

The full list of storm names for 2019-20:

Atiyah, Brendan, Ciara, Dennis, Ellen, Francis, Gerda, Hugh, Iris, Jan, Kitty, Liam, Maura, Noah, Olivia, Piet, Roisin, Samir, Tara, Vince and Willow.

‘Public better prepared’

Derrick Ryall, head of public weather services at the Met Office, said: “We were delighted with the public response to our call for names earlier this year and are really pleased storm naming has been embraced by press, media and public to better communicate the potential impacts of severe weather, so people are better prepared when it matters.”

A girl stands in the pouring rain near the London Eye on August 14, 2019
The Name Our Storms campaign takes place every year (Photo: Getty)

Evelyn Cusack, head of forecasting at Met Eireann, said: “The naming of storms by National Met Services as well as colour coding weather warnings provides a clear, authoritative and consistent message to the public and prompts people to take action to prevent harm to themselves or to their property.

“We are overwhelmed with the huge response to our public call for storm names – please don’t be too disappointed if your name hasn’t been used as you will get another chance next year.”

Storms are only named if they meet certain criteria. In the UK, they have to have the potential to cause disruption or damage.

They usually have an amber warning, indicating possible delays, road closures and power cuts, or a red warning, meaning there could be a risk to life. The impact of wind is the main factor taken into account but the Met Office also considers any associated rain or snow.

The alphabetical list of names skips Q, U, X, Y and Z to comply with international storm-naming conventions and to maintain consistency for official storm naming in the North Atlantic.

More on storms

The post UK storm names 2019-20: the Met Office list in full, from Atiyah to Willow appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Tory rebels: the MPs who have lost the whip, defected or said they won’t stand in the next general election

The Conservative Party appears to be going through turbulent times as the Government tries to press on with Brexit.

Differing views on Boris Johnson’s approach to leaving the EU have resulted in the party whip being withdrawn from some MPs, including those considered grandees.

Twenty-one MPs were suspended from the party after they rebelled against the Government and voted to block a no-deal Brexit. They have been told they will not be able to stand as a Conservative candidate at the next election.

Others have announced they are going to stand down at the next poll, whenever it may be. Given the leadership’s hard line on Brexit, and if an election is imminent, it seems anyone wishing to become a Tory MP will have to fully support the possibility of a no-deal exit from the EU to stand a chance.

The MPs who have lost the whip

Ken Clarke: The veteran MP for Rushcliffe since 1970, is a former chancellor, home secretary, justice secretary, health secretary and education secretary and the Father of the House.

Philip Hammond: Theresa May’s chancellor until July, and previously foreign secretary, defence secretary, and  transport secretary. The MP for Runnymede and Weybridge promised the “fight of a lifetime” if the leadership tried to block him from standing as the Tory candidate at the next election.

David Gauke and Philip Hammond had the whip removed (Photo: Reuters)

David Gauke: He was justice secretary under Mrs May, and previously held Cabinet roles as work and pensions secretary and Treasury chief secretary. MP for South West Hertfordshire.

Greg Clark: MP for Tunbridge Wells, he served in the Cabinet under Mrs May and David Cameron as communities secretary and then business secretary.

Sir Oliver Letwin: MP for West Dorset, one of the leading figures in the rebel group. He played key roles in the Cameron government as Cabinet Office minister and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Justine Greening: Putney MP, former education secretary, international development secretary and transport secretary. She told PA: “For me no-deal was always the most profoundly un-Conservative policy you could possibly have.”

Dominic Grieve: Beaconsfield MP and former attorney general. The legal brain behind a series of rebel moves to block a no-deal Brexit.

Rory Stewart: Penrith and The Border MP and former international development secretary. Stood against Mr Johnson in the Tory leadership race.

Sir Nicholas Soames: MP for Crawley from 1983 to 1997 and for Mid Sussex since then. Grandson of Winston Churchill, former defence minister and shadow defence secretary.

Nicholas Soames has also been expelled. (Photo: Simon Dawson/Reuters)
Nicholas Soames has also been expelled from the party (Photo:Reuters)

Alistair Burt: North East Bedfordshire MP, well-respected former Foreign Office minister. Told PA it was a “policy of insanity” to strip the whip from so many senior Conservatives.

Sam Gyimah: East Surrey MP, former education minister. He told PA: “I’ve enjoyed being a Conservative member of Parliament but voting to stop a no-deal was the right thing to do.”

Stephen Hammond: Wimbledon MP, former health minister.

Guto Bebb: Aberconwy MP, former defence minister.

Richard Benyon: Newbury MP, former minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Steve Brine: Winchester MP, former junior health minister.

Richard Harrington: Watford MP, held a series of junior ministerial roles, most recently in the Business Department.

Margot James: Stourbridge MP, former digital policy minister.

Anne Milton: Guildford MP, former minister for women and education minister.

Caroline Nokes: MP for Romsey and Southampton North, was immigration minister in Mrs May’s government.

Antoinette Sandbach: Eddisbury MP, the only one of the rebels not to have held a frontbench position.

Edward Vaizey: Wantage MP, culture minister under Mr Cameron.

The MPs who are standing down

Jo Johnson

Jo Johnson, brother of the Prime Minister, is standing down as MP for Orpington and universities minister. He notably returned to the universities brief in his brother’s government after initially quitting over Theresa May’s Brexit plans.

He said he was resigning now because he was torn between “family loyalty and the national interest”.

Boris Johnson (R) pictured with his brother Jo Johnson, who has said he would be quitting (Photo: Getty)

Justine Greening

Before she had the Tory whip removed for rebelling against the Government, Justine Greening said she would not stand as a Conservative candidate at the next election.

Ms Greening, who supports a second EU referendum, expressed concerns the party was morphing into Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

Dame Caroline Spelman

The Meriden MP, who came into office in 1997 and used to be the Conservative party chair, said it was time for someone new to represent her constituents.

Earlier this week she voted in favour of the bill to block a no-deal Brexit. She has previously expressed concerns about the impact leaving the EU without a deal would have on the car industry firms in her constituency.

Michael Fallon

Michael Fallon, a former defence secretary and deputy chairman for the Tories, announced he was standing down as an MP after 31 years at the next general election. He currently serves the constituency of Sevenoaks but previously represented Darlington.

He voted for Remain in the EU referendum.

Sir Nicholas Soames

Sir Nicholas Soames has had the whip removed and cannot stand as an election candidate under the Conservative Party. He has confirmed he will not stand as an independent either.

In a statement, chairman of the Mid Sussex Conservative Association Charles Worsley, said: “Sir Nicholas has served Mid Sussex diligently since 1997, and has been a Member of Parliament since 1983. He has had the support of his association during this time.

“His hard work and dedication to public life has been greatly appreciated by all those who have worked with him and he will be greatly missed. Sir Nicholas had previously intimated that he would not wish to stand in 2022 General Election.

“The association has now started the process to select a new candidate for Mid Sussex. We wish Sir Nicholas and his family well for the future.”

Richard Benyon

Richard Benyon, the MP for Newbury since 2005, is not seeking re-election at any forthcoming election. He had the whip removed for rebelling over Brexit.

“As you know I was fully aware of the implications of voting the way I did last week and was not surprised when the whip was removed following the vote on Tuesday evening,” he wrote in a letter to the Chair of West Berkshire Conservatives. “I recognise that I cannot stand as a Conservative candidate unless the whip is restored. That said, I have received many calls from colleagues saying that there are plans emerging for a ‘path back’ for the so-called rebels.

“I have been giving much thought to how that could be achieved but feel now that I should let you know my clear intentions. I do not seek to be the candidate at the forthcoming election whenever it is called.

“With an election looming I don’t think it is fair to the Association to continue the uncertainty about my being eligible to stand, let alone my willingness.”

Mr Benyon said it had been “the greatest privilege… to be elected four times as MP” for Newbury. “I hope my successor is able to appreciate how lucky they are to represent an area of great opportunity filled with some of the most decent and kind people you could meet anywhere.”

Mark Prisk

The MP for Hertford and Stortford, who was once the Minister of State for Housing and Local Government, said he had made the “difficult decision” to not seek re-election.

But he said the choice was “personal” and not a reaction to Brexit. “At 57 I feel now is the time for me to move on to the next phase of my life and a new career.”

The MP who defected

Dr Phillip Lee

Dr Phillip Lee crossed the floor of the House of Commons to join the Liberal Democrats. The move left Mr Johnson without a majority ahead of a crucial vote on Brexit, which the Government ultimately lost.

“This Conservative Government is aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways,” said Dr Lee.

Phillip Lee sitting next to Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson (Photo: PA)

The MP who resigned the whip

Amber Rudd

Amber Rudd, the MP for Hastings and Rye, quit her Cabinet role as Work and Pensions Secretary and the Conservative Party whip to become an independent.

Referring to her colleagues who had the whip removed, she said: “I cannot stand by as good, loyal moderate Conservatives are expelled.

“I have spoken to the PM and my Association Chairman to explain. I remain committed to the One Nation values that drew me into politics,” she said.

More on the Conservatives

The post Tory rebels: the MPs who have lost the whip, defected or said they won’t stand in the next general election appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Boris Johnson’s weak defence of his racist comments about Muslim women is galling

People make slips of the tongue. They may say something inappropriate and without malice. They may simply know no better and hold antiquated views that are dismissed because of their age or upbringing.

But, if we’re honest, there are no real defences for racist comments. 

The remark didn’t say itself. It has to come from somewhere. From an attitude of superiority, of intolerance, of prejudice. It may be so deeply-seated that the individual doesn’t even know they have it. 

Even if something is said as a “joke,” it comes from a place where supposedly superior people are allowed to mock those they deem inferior.  

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi speaking at Prime Minister's Questions
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions (Photo: Parliament)

In dramatic scenes in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Boris Johnson was asked by Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the first Sikh MP to wear a turban in the chamber, to apologise for “racist” comments he wrote in an article for The Daily Telegraph before he became Prime Minister. 

While attempting to stand up for the right of Muslim women to wear burkas and speak out against a complete ban on religious wear, in the same breath Johnson said they looked like bank robbers and letter boxes. The comments were widely condemned when they were published last year. 

Confronted with the remarks again during an impassioned speech from Dhesi, who said he understood the “hurt and pain felt by Muslim women,” Johnson inexplicably tried to defend himself.

‘The Prime Minister is implying he understands what it feels like to be a minority like Dhesi. He really doesn’t. He has no lived experience of being a person of colour’

The column, he said, had been a “strong, liberal defence… of everybody’s right to wear whatever they want in this country”.

“I speak as somebody who is not only proud to have Muslim ancestors but to be related to Sikhs such as himself,” he added. 

His response is galling. By saying he has Muslim ancestors – his great-great-grandfather was from Turkey – the Prime Minister is implying he understands what it feels like to be a minority like Dhesi. He really doesn’t. He has no lived experience of being a person of colour. He has no idea what they may have to go through on a daily basis. 

Johnson’s life has been one littered with privileges that can only be associated with being white. If Dhesi did or said half the outrageous things Johnson has, he would never have become an MP, let alone the leader of the country.

Boris Johnson's words as Prime Minister have never mattered more
Boris Johnson’s words as Prime Minister have never mattered more (Photo: Getty)

As to the second part of his comment, it feels like an extension of the myth that an individual cannot be racist because they have friends or family who are people of colour. How dare he use such a weak and clichéd defence?

Saying you have friends or relatives who are people of colour does not provide immunity for disparaging comments. We treat the people we know and care about in a certain way. They are not one of the masses, they are like us.

But that doesn’t necessarily change the way an individual feels about a certain group to which they bear no relation. They may not express blatant racism but then the issue is far more insidious than just shouting out slurs. It’s about microaggressions and stereotypes.

‘Being in a position of power does not mean you’re above basic decency. In fact, he has a responsibility to lead the way. He should do as Dhesi asked: apologise’

We already know Boris does not fully understand Sikhism. He once offended the community by talking about drinking in a temple when consuming alcohol is prohibited under some teachings. 

It’s also worth pointing out that Johnson’s comments were written and published in a national newspaper. It’s one thing to say something offensive but to write it requires a level of premeditation. He knew what he was doing and did it anyway. 

Johnson’s comments were inexplicable when he was a backbench MP. But as a Prime Minister, his words have never mattered more. 

Some may think he cannot apologise because, let’s be honest, where would he stop? He’s the Prime Minister and cannot admit to failure. 

But being in a position of power does not mean you’re above respect and decency. In fact, he has a responsibility to lead the way. He should do as Dhesi asked: apologise. 

More from Opinion

The post Boris Johnson’s weak defence of his racist comments about Muslim women is galling appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

How to register to vote: application and deadline explained in case there is a snap general election

Speculation of an imminent general election has resulted in a dramatic rise in the number of people seeking to register to vote.

There has been a particular surge in the number of young people who have put their name on the electoral role to have their say on Brexit, according to figures released by the Government.

Applications to register to vote have more than trebled, from a daily average of 21,598 through August to an average of 66,445 on each day this week.

There has been an increase among all age groups but people aged 34 and younger are leading the way. They make up 58 per cent of the 199,335 applications received in the first three business days of this week.

Early election

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would call an early election to allow the Government to progress with its Brexit plans. But his idea was scuppered after he failed to get enough support from MPs on Wednesday.

Although Labour has been pushing for a snap election for months, leader Jeremy Corbyn said his priority was to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

It has been reported that the party has been connecting with groups to push voter registration drives over the past few months.

Speculation is mounting that Boris Johnson will call a snap election over the no-deal Brexit
Speculation over a snap election has been mounting (Photo: AFP/Getty)

Do I need to register to vote?

First things first, you may already be registered to vote. You only need to register once, not separately for each election.

But you will need to register again if you have moved home since the last election or if you have changed your name. If you haven’t moved since the 2017 election or changed your moniker, you’re probably sorted.

To check whether you’re already registered, contact your local Electoral Registration Office. You’ll need your postcode.

If you live in Northern Ireland, contact the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland.

How do I register?

The public can register to vote in a general election online
People only need to register once for the election (Photo: Getty)

The quickest way to register is online. You will need you National Insurance number to hand.

If you’re a British citizen living abroad, and you want to vote in England, Scotland or Wales, you will need your passport, too.

Head to the Government’s registration page. The process should only take about five minutes.

Alternatively, you can register to vote by post. Either print off a form and send to your local Electoral Registration Office or ask the office to send the form on your behalf.

If and when an election date is announced, you might find you want to pick your MP by postal or proxy vote. Deadlines for these options would have to be announced.

Can anyone vote?

For a general election, you can vote if you are 18 or over (on the day of the election), a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen and a resident at a British address. If you are a British citizen living abroad, you have to have been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years.

Note, the requirements are different for other types of election.

There are separate methods to register to vote if you are a Crown servant or British Council employee, or if you are a member of the armed forces.

Is there a deadline to register?

Numbers of 'attainers' registering to vote have dropped by one quarter (Getty)
For a general election, you can vote if you are 18 or over (on the day of the election), a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen and a resident at a British address (Getty)

There will be. But we do not know the date yet because there is not a date for the election itself.

The deadline is usually at least two weeks beforehand. In 2017, polling day fell on 8 June and the deadline for registration was 22 May.

Other than that, you can register to vote at any time during the year.

Who would I be voting for?

In a UK general election, the public votes for the MP they want to represent the constituency in which they live – not the person they want to be Prime Minister.

The candidate with the most votes will become the MP. The party with the highest number of MPs will take control of the Government with the leader becoming Prime Minister.

Find out who your local MP is here.

More on Politics

The post How to register to vote: application and deadline explained in case there is a snap general election appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

House of Lords abandon filibuster attempts as Government admits defeat over no-deal Brexit bill

A bill designed to block a no-deal Brexit on 31 October is set to make swift progress to becoming a law after the House of Lords abandoned attempts to delay its passage.

It comes as the Government admitted defeat over the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill, or Benn bill, after rebel MPs voted against the Prime Minister to back the draft legislation in the House of Commons on Wednesday. The Government has said the bill is set to receive Royal Assent before Parliament is suspended next week.

After making its way through the Commons successfully, it was the Lords turn to scrutinise the bill. There had been fears the legislation could have been stalled with peers using the technique of filibustering to delay its progress.

The Lords began debating a timetable motion for the Benn bill on Wednesday evening but at 1.30am on Thursday, the Conservative chief whip in the chamber, Lord Henry Ashton of Hyde, announced all stages of the bill would be completed by 5pm on Friday.

‘You should be ashamed’

“We have… received a commitment from the chief whip in the House of Commons that Commons consideration of any Lords amendments will take place on Monday and it is the Government’s intention that the Bill be ready for Royal Assent,” he said.

Earlier, Labour peer and leading lawyer Baroness Helen Kennedy of The Shaws accused Tory peer Lord Nicholas True, who had submitted a raft of amendments to the motion, of time-wasting.

“You are filibustering. You are preventing us reaching a bill of importance to this country and you are doing it because you are wanting to waste time. It’s disgraceful… you should be ashamed.”

Peers had been preparing for a marathon session with Richard Newby, Leader of Lib Dem group in House of Lords, arriving to work on Wednesday with a duvet.

On Thursday morning, he tweeted: “Peace has broken out in the Lords. Filibuster called off. Original planned deadline for getting Bill through Lords – 5pm Friday remains. Duvet back in suitcase.”

Day of high drama

Wednesday marked a day of high drama in Westminster with Mr Johnson suffering two major defeats over the backbench bill to delay Brexit and a plan for a snap general election.

Mr Johnson had called for a poll to be held on 15 October but failed to gather enough support.

The Prime Minister needed the support of two-thirds of MPs to call an early election but Labour and other opposition MPs refused to back the bid while the risk of a no-deal remained.

Boris Johnson has lost a number of votes in the early days of his premiership (Photo: Reuters)

The Government was defeated by 298 voted to 55 – 136 short of the number needed.

Indicating he had not completely dropped his plans to force an early election, Mr Johnson issued a direct plea to Jeremy Corbyn’s MPs as he accused him of being “the first Leader of the Opposition in the democratic history of our country to refuse the invitation to an election”.

“I urge his colleagues to reflect on what I think is the unsustainability of this position overnight and in the course of the next few days,” Mr Johnson said.

The Labour leader had said the Benn bill must be passed through the Lords and have received Royal Assent before he would consider a general election.

More on Politics

The post House of Lords abandon filibuster attempts as Government admits defeat over no-deal Brexit bill appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Filibustering: How the strategy to stop the no-deal Brexit bill in the House of Lords works

MPs are set to debate the Benn bill to prevent a no-deal Brexit on Wednesday. But for the bill to become law, it first needs to face further scrutiny in the House of Lords.

It appears the majority of MPs are against Britain leaving the EU on 31 October without an agreement, but the view among peers might be slightly different.

There have been suggestions that Eurosceptic lords could use the technique of filibustering to put off votes on the bill and essentially stifle its progress to becoming a law.

What is filibustering?

This is a word for the political procedure in which MPs or peers deliberately waste time during a debate by making overly long speeches or raising unnecessary procedural points, according to the Parliament website.

Filibustering means progress on a bill or motion cannot be made within the allocated time, halting its progress to becoming legislation. This is referred to as the bill or motion being “talked out”.

What is the history of filibustering?

The technique of filibustering is often attributed to Cato the Younger, the Roman senator whose real name was Marcus Porcius Cato. It is believed he would talk until official Senate sessions ended – at sunset – to avoid votes.

Roman statesman Marcus Porcius Cato (95 - 46 BC), circa 46 BC. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Roman statesman Marcus Porcius Cato (95 – 46 BC), also known as Cato the Younger (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty)

According to the US National Constitution Centre, one of his most notable filibusters involved trying to block Julius Caesar’s return to Rome in 60 BC. However, Caesar found a way around the filibuster and ultimately entered Rome.

In modern times, former Labour MP Andrew Dismore set a record for filibustering. He spoke for more than three hours – 197 minutes to be precise – to block a Conservative Private Member’s Bill on how much force a householder can use against intruders. However there were multiple interventions from other MPs so the actual time Mr Dismore spoke for would be far less than recorded.

How could filibustering affect the Benn bill?

What is the Benn bill?

It refers to the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill 2019, which is a Private Member’s Bill.

The legislation has been put forward by a cross-party group of MPs led by Labour MP and Brexit Select Committee chairman Hilary Benn and Tory former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt.

Essentially, the bill requires a delay to Brexit unless a deal is secured or Parliament backs leaving the EU without one by 19 October.

Under its terms, the Government must ask the EU for a delay to Brexit until 31 January 2020 if no agreement has been reached and MPs have not agreed to a no-deal exit.

If the European Council proposes an extension to a different date then the Prime Minister must accept that extension within two days, unless the House of Commons rejects it. 

MPs are set to debate and vote on this bill on Wednesday. If it passes, it will go through the House of Lords where peers will scrutinise it.

The process usually takes weeks, but it could be rushed through in as little as three days to be passed before Parliament is prorogued next week.

If the bill is approved by the Lords, it will receive Royal Assent and will become law. However, some peers who favour a no-deal Brexit might attempt to stall the process.

Dr Jack Simson Caird, a senior research fellow in Parliaments at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, previously told i: “There is no limits on the number of amendments that can be debated or voted in the Lords.

What is a Private Member’s Bill?

This is a type of public bill that is introduced by MPs and Lords who are not Government ministers. They tend to have a smaller chance of becoming law and a higher chance of being filibustered.

“This means peers could table a large number of amendments and insist they are debated and voted upon in order to delay the Bill’s progress.”

Dr Louise Thompson, a senior lecturer in politics at the University of Manchester, previously said Private Member’s Bills like the Benn bill are always at risk of filibusters in the Commons and in the Lords.

“In the Lords this is even more so because of its self-governing procedures and the difficulty in putting an end to deliberate time wasting. Ordinarily with Government legislation the threat of the Parliament Act means that the Lords isn’t so much of a threat, but when it comes to non-government legislation such as this one, a filibuster can be even more potent.

“Given that the Government does not have a majority in the Lords, it makes it difficult for the Government to stop a bill through votes alone, but a handful of peers intent on a filibuster can make a difference.”

If peers amend the Benn bill, it will return to the House of Commons. What ensues is a process called “ping pong” in which the bill bounces back and forth between both chambers until both agree on the exact wording. At this point it can receive Royal Assent and become law.

What do peers think?

Baroness Angela Smith of Basildon, shadow leader of the House of Lords, has tabled a business motion to ensure an “orderly debate” on the Benn bill, which means she is trying to stave off filibuster attempts. The motion says the bill needs to be dealt with before 5pm on Friday. 

However, more than 85 amendments have been tabled by Conservative peers to the timetable motion in what appears to be a mass filibustering attempt to slow down progress of the Benn bill. 

It means the proceedings are likely to go on into the early hours as each amendment will be debated and voted on.

Writing on Twitter, the Labour Lords team said: “Looks like Lord Phil E. Buster [and] his many chums will be out in force later today/tonight/tomorrow to try [and] prevent us from defending the primacy of the elected House (key principle of UK constitution). A [no-deal Brexit] must really matter to some of them.”

Some peers have prepared for a very long session. Dick Newby, leader of Lib Dem group in House of Lords, said his colleagues had put forward what he called “86 wrecking amendments” and arrived to work on Wednesday with a duvet.

Labour lord Stewart Wood has suggested he is taking a slightly different approach to filibustering attempts.

Peers who oppose a no-deal Brexit plan to keep voting to pass the motion by Saturday, according to the BBC. The Benn bill itself can be dealt with on Sunday to ensure it received Royal Assent before prorogation begins next week.

Other examples of filibustering?

In December 2016, Tory MP Philip Davies spoke for 78 minutes in his attempt to block a Private Member’s Bill requiring the Government to ratify a treaty for tackling violence against women. He was among two MPs to oppose the bill.

Christopher Chope, a Tory MP, filibustered a bill on making upskirting illegal in the Summer of 2018. The 71-year-old shouted “object” when the title of the Private Member’s Bill was read out, meaning its progress was halted. The Government were furious with Mr Chope and backed the bill.

In December 2018, Tory minister Alan Duncan was accused of filibustering to buy the Government time to respond to an announcement that it could be held in contempt of Parliament over refusing to publish Brexit legal advice. Mr Duncan spoke for 48 minutes to yawns from his colleagues.

More on Brexit

The post Filibustering: How the strategy to stop the no-deal Brexit bill in the House of Lords works appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Nine-month-old baby and mother egged in ‘nasty’ racially aggravated assault, say police

A mother and her nine-month-old baby were allegedly egged in a racially aggravated assault, police have said.

The child sustained reddening to their face but was otherwise unharmed after the incident on Tuesday morning in the West Midlands city of Worcester.

The mother, who is in her thirties, did not suffer any injuries.

West Mercia Police said the “nasty and unprovoked assault” had left both victims “understandably shaken”.

Officers have launched an investigation into the case and are appealing for witnesses to come forward with any information.

Read more:

‘I was racially assaulted on the Tube – what shocked me most was the bystanders who did nothing’

Maajid Nawaz: LBC radio presenter ‘racially attacked’ outside London theatre

Two people arrested in Manchester for ‘racially abusing’ a taxi driver in connection with the Christchurch attack

Eggs thrown from vehicle

The mother had been crossing the road with her baby in a push-chair, close to the Pizza Hut restaurant in the Shrub Hill Retail Park, when an unknown suspect is alleged to have thrown eggs at her and her child from their vehicle.

“We’re particularly concerned that the motivation for this is believed to be racial – there is no excuse for this type of behaviour and we will not tolerate it,” said Sergeant Paul Smith.

“While no arrests have been made, investigations are ongoing and we are currently reviewing CCTV footage to try to identify the vehicle involved.”

Police say they will be looking at CCTV to identify the vehicle involved in the incident
Police say they will be looking at CCTV to identify the vehicle involved in the incident (Photo: Getty)

Concern in the community

Mr Smith said officers were treating the attack very seriously.

“We realise this incident will cause concern amongst the community and want to reassure the public that we take reports of this nature very seriously and will continue to patrol the area.

“I would appeal to anyone who may have witnessed the incident or saw anything suspicious in the area at the time of the incident to please get in touch,” he added.

The suspect has been described as a white male. Anyone with any information can contact West Mercia Police or Crimestoppers.

More UK news

The post Nine-month-old baby and mother egged in ‘nasty’ racially aggravated assault, say police appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Rory Stewart says he had the Tory whip removed by text ‘minutes before receiving GQ’s Politician of the Year award’

Former Tory leadership candidate Rory Stewart has claimed he was sacked from the party by text message.

In an ironic twist, he is understood to have received the message minutes before being given an accolade for Politician of the Year at the GQ Awards on Tuesday night, the magazine reported.

The former international development secretary was one of 21 Conservative MPs who rebelled against the Government in a crunch vote to prevent a no-deal Brexit on Tuesday night, and later had the Tory whip withdrawn.

It means the MPs are suspended from the party and blocked from standing in the next general election as party candidates.  

Read more:

What is the whip, and what does it mean to have the party whip withdrawn? The 21 Tory rebel MPs’ punishment explained

‘Astonishing moment’

The MP for Penrith and The Border called his suspension from the party an “astonishing moment” given he had been a candidate in the Tory leadership race and a Cabinet member just weeks ago. 

Discussing having the whip removed on BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme on Wednesday morning, Mr Stewart said: “It feels a little bit like something that one associates with other countries – one opposes the leader, one loses the leadership race, no longer in the Cabinet and now apparently thrown out of the party and out of one’s seat too.”

He said at least 30 or 40 MPs in the party agreed with rebels but did not vote against the Government “partly because the threat that’s being made here is terrible for people”.

“People feel deeply loyal towards the Conservative Party, they want to give the Prime Minister a chance… but the truth is there has absolutely never been any majority either in the country or in Parliament for no deal.”

‘Divide this country’

Rory Stewart MP leaves the Houses of Parliament on September 3, 2019
Rory Stewart MP leaves the Houses of Parliament after the vote, ahead of the GQ Awards (Photo: Getty)

Boris Johnson’s tactics could “divide this country” for more than a generation if he continues to push through leaving the EU without Parliament’s consent, he said.

“One of the strongest reasons why this is the wrong thing to do is because to deliver Brexit like this is to create a poison pill which for 40 years will divide this country straight down the middle. If you are going to deliver Brexit at all, try to do it legally, constitutionally and with consent.”

Mr Stewart said the decision on who should be a Tory candidate should rest with local associations.

“This really should be a choice for local Conservative associations and not a central decision. This is not a Conservative way of behaving.”

‘Special evening’

Accepting his prize at the GQ Awards less than an hour after rebelling against the Government, Mr Stewart said: “Politics is at an all time low at the moment, all over the world.

“And it is great that you continue to take an interest in it. We have a lot of work to do to regain anybody’s trust. But I want to finish just by saying this is a pretty special evening in may ways. Because when I voted against the Government this evening, I heard that my whip has been removed.

“It’s likely tomorrow that there’s going to be an election and I’m not going to be able to stand as a member of Parliament because Boris has decided he doesn’t want me in the party. So I’m very proud to take the award as Politician Of The Year on the evening of which I cease to be a politician.”

The Prime Minister has said he will seek to trigger an early election after MPs successfully seized control of Parliament to press on with plans to block a no-deal Brexit.

More on Brexit

The post Rory Stewart says he had the Tory whip removed by text ‘minutes before receiving GQ’s Politician of the Year award’ appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Keir Starmer says Labour won’t support a general election yet: here are the reasons why

The Labour Party has said it will not “dance to the tune” of the Prime Minister by voting for a snap general election because its priority is to stop a no-deal Brexit.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the opposition would reject Boris Johnson’s efforts to trigger an early election after the Government lost a crunch Brexit vote on Tuesday night.

The Prime Minister’s motion would require the support of two-thirds of MPs under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. But if the Labour leadership instructs its MPs to vote against it, Mr Johnson stands little chance of succeeding.

‘Not going to fall for trap’

“We’re not going to vote with him,” Sir Keir told BBC News on Wednesday morning. “We’re not going to dance to his tune. We’ve just got sufficient control of Parliament to get this bill through before Friday. 

“We are not going to fall into the trap of handing control back to Johnson… so that we can’t complete on that task.”

The Commons has wrestled control from the Prime Minister
The Commons has wrestled control from the Prime Minister (Photo: UK Parliament/Roger Harris)

On Tuesday night, a cross-party group of MPs succeeded in seizing control of the parliamentary agenda and can now push through legislation to block Britain leaving the EU without an agreement on 31 October.

The legislation, led by the Labour MP and Brexit Select Committee chairman Hilary Benn and Tory former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt, would require a delay to Brexit unless there was a deal or Parliament explicitly backed leaving the EU without one by 19 October. MPs are set to debate the bill on Wednesday.

‘On verge of preventing a no deal’

When asked why Labour, which for months has been pushing for a general election, was going to ignore this chance from Mr Johnson, Sir Keir said: “We’ve said we want a general election and we want to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Read more:

Brexit vote result: Government defeated 328-301 as rebels win right to bring bill blocking no-deal Brexit

Boris Johnson says he will seek snap election – but Labour want no-deal Brexit ruled out first

“We are on the verge of stopping a no-deal Brexit. If we can get this bill through, we have succeeded in an insurance policy by Friday. Johnson is setting a trap which says, ‘Vote for it today and then I can knock you off course and then you fail in your task.’ We’re not going to fall for that.”

Sir Keir, MP for Holborn and St Pancras, said Labour could return to pursuing a general election at any time by lodging a vote of no confidence in the Government, which is one method of calling an election other than at five-year intervals.  

“That’s a judgement call for the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, and he’ll make that judgement call when he thinks it’s the right time and we can win it.

“But as he said last night, it’s a very simple proposition, we intend to keep our focus on the task in hand. We’re not going to be diverted by Johnson who is just playing another game, setting another trap. We’re going to complete on this task,” he added. 

Why is Labour keen to delay an election?

Labour’s current stance may seem confusing given the party has long insisted an election would be the only way to solve the Brexit impasse.

But as Dr Simon Usherwood, a reader in politics at the University of Surrey, points out: “This has now got caught up with the efforts to avoid a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

Keir Starmer, a former lawyer, has a working relationship with Dominic Grieve (Photo: PA)

“Because of the short amount of time until then, and because of a lack of trust in the Government’s intentions, Labour seems to have finally made the decision that their priority has to be the passage of the Benn Bill today.”

Dr Usherwood confirms that without Labour’s support, there will not be enough votes in the Commons to trigger a snap election. “So the party is hoping it can use that to help speed the passage of the bill, and then move to a quick election.

“This would allow them to say that they have taken action to avoid a no deal, and to offer a new approach to the public at a point when voters might be tried of the Tories’ infighting.”

But this approach would not necessarily result in success for Labour. “The main danger in this is that Labour doesn’t have an obvious solution to Brexit, having repeatedly rejected the deal negotiated under Theresa May, and having no policy to remain in the EU: success in a general election therefore won’t really change the basic problem: none of the options looks good,” adds Dr Usherwood.

More on Politics

The post Keir Starmer says Labour won’t support a general election yet: here are the reasons why appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Mont Blanc: French mayor attacks British tourist who abandoned a rowing machine on Europe’s highest mountain

A French mayor has lambasted a Royal Marine veteran for leaving a rowing machine near the summit of Mont Blanc.

Matthew Disney, from Lancashire, attempted to climb the highest mountain in western Europe with the exercise device strapped to his back on 30 August to raise money for veterans.

However the 36-year-old had to retreat due to bad weather conditions and was forced to leave the 26kg machine on the mountain. He has said he always intended to retrieve it.

But the mayor of Saint-Gervais Les Bains, Jean-Marc Peillex, launched a scathing attack and referred to Mr Disney as one of the “wackos” who obstructed access to Mont Blanc.

Blistering open letter

In a blistering open letter, he said the machine would need to be removed by helicopter and that he would be sending the bill to the British embassy in Paris.

The removal operation will reportedly cost more than £1,600, reported the BBC.

According to quotes in the media, Mr Peillex wrote in the letter: “If the British want to leave Europe, first they have to settle their debts.”

Referring to Mr Disney’s surname, he was quoted as saying: “With a name like that, you’d think he thought he was at an amusement park.”

Mr Peillex urged French President Emmanuel Macron to pass laws to punish climbers who misuse the mountain to “restore peace to Mont Blanc”.

There has been an incident in which climbers landing a plane on the mountain and another in which a tourist tried to do the hike with his dog.

Blown out of proportion

But Mr Disney denied he made a “mockery of the mountain,” saying he thought the mayor had blown the situation out of proportion.

“I’ve been to 13 countries’ highest mountains with the rowing machine. I have appreciation for nature and mountains as a whole… My intentions were to raise awareness of causes for veterans,” he said, according to the BBC.

He said he was confident he could retrieve the machine himself but that he had found a team who could also bring it down.

Before he began his trek, Mr Disney said he wanted to carry the 2.5m-long rowing machine on his back up Mont Blanc to raise money for Rock 2 Recovery and RMA, the Royal Marines Charity.

He intended to carry it to the summit from where he would row the mountain’s height – a distance of 4,810m.

Poor weather

But poor weather was affecting Mr Disney’s visibility when he reached a shelter at 4,418m.

“I spoke to others and I then turned around. Safety is paramount to me. Even more so for others and the fact that I was carrying the rowing machine. I made a decision that the safety of others’ lives was more paramount. I went down to place the rower in the shelter,” he said.

According to the BBC, he climbed the summit without the machine and then told the manager of the shelter about his decision to drop the challenge. The rowing machine was not obstructing the shelter, he said.

This summer Mr Disney climbed Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon with the machine on his back.

More World news

The post Mont Blanc: French mayor attacks British tourist who abandoned a rowing machine on Europe’s highest mountain appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

What is a snap election? How calling a general election works under Fixed-term Parliaments Act – and when it’s happened

In the last nine years, Britain has had three general elections. And it could be in for another one very soon.

Boris Johnson has threatened rebel MPs with an election on 14 October if they attempt to block a no-deal Brexit.

The poll is being referred to as a “snap election”.

Here is everything you need to know:

How often are elections held?

The rule, according to the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, is that a general election is to be held every five years on the first Thursday of May.

Before this, prime ministers called elections when they wished. They tended to be every four or five years.

“It used to be that the timing of general elections was very largely in the hands of the Prime Minister: they would have a lot of freedom to set a date that best served their chances of success,” says Dr Simon Usherwood, a reader in politics at the University of Surrey.

“However, since the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, that power is much reduced.”

The last election was in 2017, which means the next one, technically, should take place in 2022.

Despite the act, it doesn’t mean that a poll can’t be called earlier than at five-year intervals.

Read more:

What is the whip, and what does it mean to have the party whip withdrawn? Boris Johnson’s threat to Tory MPs explained

No-deal Brexit: How MPs are planning to stop Boris Johnson taking the UK out of the EU without a deal

What is a snap election?

A snap election basically refers to a poll that is called earlier than expected.

How are snap elections called?

There are two circumstances in which a snap election can be called.

The first, and what would need to happen for Prime Minister Johnson to call one now, is that two-thirds of MPs would need to back a motion for a general election. With 650 seats in the House of Commons, 434 MPs would need to support the formal proposal.

Alternatively, an early election can be called if a motion of no confidence is passed in the Government by a simple majority and 14 days elapses without the Commons passing a confidence motion in any new Government formed.

So when could a snap election be held?

The date of 14 October appears to have been earmarked.

Parliament will be dissolved automatically 25 working days before to make way for campaigning. Dissolution would need to begin on 9 September.

During this time, MPs effectively stop being MPs representing their constituents until after the election. They will need to decide whether they wish to stand again. Tory MP Justine Greening has said she will not stand in the next election over the party’s stance on Brexit.

Government ministers, however, do not resign during dissolution and remain heads of their departments.

Have we had a snap election before?

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip at her local constituency polling station to vote in the European Elections
Theresa May called an early election in 2017 (Photo: Getty)

Yes. As mentioned previously, Britain has had three elections between 2010 and 2019.

The 2010 general election, in which David Cameron formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, was one year before the Fixed-term Parliaments Act was passed, stipulating elections are to be held every five years.

So, under the new rules, the next general election was held in 2015, in which the Conservatives won with a slim majority.

After Mr Cameron resigned over the EU referendum result, his successor Theresa May decided to call a snap election in 2017.

In April 2017, 522 MPs – more than two thirds – voted for the motion to allow an early general election. The election took place on Thursday 8 June 2017.

How would the Prime Minister do in a snap election?

A snap election does hand some control to the Prime Minister but it doesn’t always play to their favour.

Mrs May’s decision to call an early election resulted in her “political undoing, partly because she hadn’t got her own party ready to contest that vote,” says Dr Usherwood. “When you hold the power to control the timing, it makes sense to use that to try and catch your opponents off-guards.

“With that in mind, Mr Johnson is unlikely to benefit much from a sudden decision to move to an election. Firstly, he might be prevented from having it at all, should opposition parties decide they want to tie his hands on avoiding a no-deal Brexit first. Secondly, an autumn election has long been predicted by the main parties, so everyone is ready to go on the campaign trail.”

Dr Usherwood adds: “And finally, the timing of a vote is closely bound-up with the Brexit process itself, which might not serve his interests well, especially if Parliament forces him off his promise to leave the EU on 31 October, ‘do or die’.”

More on Politics

The post What is a snap election? How calling a general election works under Fixed-term Parliaments Act – and when it’s happened appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Booker Prize shortlist 2019: Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie in the running to win prize for a second time

Sir Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood are in the running to win the prestigious Booker Prize for the second time after both authors made it to the final six.

They will be vying for the coveted annual literary honour alongside Lucy Ellmann for Ducks, Newburyport, Bernardine Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other, Chigozie Obioma for An Orchestra of Minorities and Elif Shafak for 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World.

Sir Salman, a British Indian writer, won the Booker Prize in 1981 for Midnight’s Children, a novel about Indian independence and partition. He has been shortlisted this year for his newly released novel Quichotte, which is inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’s classic Don Quixote.

Booker chairman Peter Florence said of the author’s ambitious take: “You better push the boundaries of fiction. You better have something to say about the contemporary world. Rushdie is tilting at Cervantes.”

NDAs for Atwood’s book

Canadian author Atwood has been shortlisted for The Testaments, a sequel to her 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale, that will be published next week.

Mr Florence, founder of the Hay Festival book event, said the novel resulted in an “extraordinarily complex” process of non-disclosure agreements in order for the judging panel to be able to read it.

They were forced to keep their watermarked copies in safe spaces to ensure details were not leaked before the publication date.

“The fact there is a book that generates this extraordinary amount of care in the reading world is something to be treasured,” said Mr Florence.

Atwood won the Booker Prize in 2001 for The Blind Assassin. The writer also made the shortlist with The Handmaid’s Tale in 1986.

 Honoree Margaret Atwood speaks onstage during Equality Now's Make Equality Reality Gala 2018
Margaret Atwood’s book The Testaments has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize (Photo: Getty)

Long-list of 13

As the shortlist was revealed on Tuesday at the British Library in London, Mr Florence said: “There are strong cases to be made for all of these books. I would be happy to announce any of these the winner. They all have novelty, they are genuinely novel.”

But the announcement was not without controversy. Organisers of the prize were forced to deny nepotism played a part in the selection of the final six books after concerns were raised about the presence of a publisher on the judging panel who had worked with some of the shortlisted authors.

Liz Calder previously worked with Sir Salman and Atwood.

Booker literary director Gaby Wood responded to concerns about impartiality, saying: “I want to reassure you about the ethics of the process. Nepotism, favouritism, is absolutely not on.”

The final six was cut down from a long-list of 13 novels, which included The Man Who Saw Everything and My Sister, The Serial Killer. 

Booker Prize long-list

Margaret Atwood (Canada), The Testaments
Kevin Barry (Ireland), Night Boat to Tangier 
Oyinkan Braithwaite (UK/Nigeria), My Sister, The Serial Killer 
Lucy Ellmann (USA/UK), Ducks, Newburyport 
Bernardine Evaristo (UK), Girl, Woman, Other
John Lanchester (UK), The Wall
Deborah Levy (UK), The Man Who Saw Everything
Valeria Luiselli (Mexico/Italy), Lost Children Archive
Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), An Orchestra of Minorities
Max Porter (UK), Lanny
Salman Rushdie (UK/India), Quichotte
Elif Shafak (UK/Turkey), 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World
Jeanette Winterson (UK), Frankissstein 

The winner of the Booker, which will be chosen by a panel including Ms Calder, novelist and film-maker Xiaolu Guo, writer and former barrister Afua Hirsch, and composer Joanna MacGregor, will be announced on 14 October.

What is the Booker Prize?

The Booker Prize for Fiction was known as the Booker–McConnell Prize between 1969 and 2001. It then became known as the Man Booker Prize until earlier this year.

Every year the literary prize is awarded for the best original novel written in the English language and published in the UK.

In 2018, Anna Burns became the first Northern Irish winner of the Booker for her work on societal coercion of women, Milkman.

More on Books

The post Booker Prize shortlist 2019: Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie in the running to win prize for a second time appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

John Worboys victim forced to give evidence as ‘black cab rapist’ tries to avoid life sentence

One of the victims of John Worboys has been forced to give evidence in court as the serial sex attacker attempts to avoid a life sentence.

The 62-year-old, who came to be known as the black cab rapist, was jailed indefinitely for the public protection with a minimum of eight years in 2009 for sex assaults on 12 women who hailed down his taxi in London. He drugged them before carrying out the attacks.

After admitting to four more similar attacks dating back as early as 2000 earlier this year, he was expected to be jailed at the Old Bailey on Monday.

However Worboys, who now goes by the name John Derek Radford, claims the first offence occurred on a much later date. High Court Judge Maura McGowan must make a ruling before sentencing him on 4 November.

The decision could mean the difference between a life sentence and a much shorter prison term for Worboys. This is because a longer period of offending could require a lengthier sentence.

Read more:

Former Tory aide Carrie Symonds reveals she was targeted by black cab sex attacker John Worboys

Dispute over attack date

Giving evidence in court, the victim said she was attacked in 2000 or 2001, after getting into his cab when she left a wine bar in Dover Street, in Mayfair. But Worboys claims the incident happened after 1 January 2003.

She was not questioned about the attack itself.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she came forward after reading that Worboys was due to be released last year. “I thought it was my duty really to give my statement. I thought that would just be it,” she said.

A Parole Board hearing in 2018 ruled that he should remain in prison and was not suitable for release after an earlier decision that he should be set free was overturned.

Worboys, who is said to have a hernia, appeared in court on Monday by video-link from Wakefield Prison.

John Worboys is believed to have carried out more than 100 rapes and sexual assaults in London (Photo: Met Police)

Offered champagne

At an earlier hearing, the circumstances of the victim’s attack were described. Prosecutor Johnathan Polnay said Worboys had told her he had won money on the horses and was celebrating.

Claiming he had been a stripper with the Chippendales, he offered her champagne and she agreed to celebrate with him.

“This defendant pulled over on a side road off the A40 served an alcoholic drink in a plastic cup, which she drank. That is her last memory that evening,” said Mr Polnay.

“She woke up the next day, naked, with her clothes left in a trail on the way to her bed.”

It is believed Worboys may have carried out more than 100 rapes and sexual assaults in London between 2002 and 2008.

He used to pick up his victims in the West End and give them with champagne laced with sedatives, saying he was celebrating some sort of win.

Regarding the four attacks Worboys admitted earlier this year, the women made their allegations in early 2018.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of administering a stupefying or overpowering drug with intent to commit rape or indecent assault. He admitted two further charges of administering a substance with intent to commit a sexual offence under the Sexual Offences Act.

Additional reporting by PA

More crime

The post John Worboys victim forced to give evidence as ‘black cab rapist’ tries to avoid life sentence appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Hurricane Dorian latest: at least five dead as powerful storm continues to batter the Bahamas

At least five people have died and 21 others have been injured as Hurricane Dorian causes “unprecedented” devastation in the Bahamas.

The victims were airlifted from the north-eastern Abaco Islands, which were hit by 185mph winds and gusts up to 220mph on Sunday, to the capital Nassau by the US Coast Guard, Bahamas officials said.

The storm, the most powerful to ever hit the Caribbean archipelagic state, has caused major flooding on some islands and has destroyed thousands of homes.

Dorian is continuing to batter the Bahamas this week but is expected to move to the east coast of the US. It had been hovering over Grand Bahama Island for 24 hours on Monday night, flooding the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, before finally shifting in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

A road is flooded during the passing of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas,
A road is flooded during the passing of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas (Photo: AP)

‘Midst of tragedy’

Read more:

Will Hurricane Dorian affect UK weather? Category 5 storm won’t hit Britain, but it could spark unsettled conditions

Hurricane Dorian latest: Bahamas lashed by 185mph winds as category 5 storm bears down on Florida

Hurricane Dorian path: latest Florida weather forecast and US advice after category 5 storm hits Bahamas

“We are in the midst of an historic tragedy,” prime minister Hubert Minnis said. “The devastation is unprecedented and extensive.”

Jeff Masters, meteorology director at Weather Underground, echoed the leader’s words, saying: “This is unprecedented. We’ve never had a Category five stall for so long in the Atlantic hurricane record.”

By Tuesday morning, the storm’s winds had dropped to 120 mph, making it a Category three hurricane, but it remained almost stationary. It was centered 25 miles northeast of Freeport, the main city on Grand Bahama.

Hurricane Dorian is later expected to hit the US. Hundreds of thousands of people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were ordered to evacuate before the storm rolls up the Eastern Seaboard, bringing the possibility of life-threatening storm-surge flooding even if the storm’s heart stays offshore, as forecast.

Several large airports announced closures and many flights were cancelled for Monday and Tuesday.

Flooded homes

This GOES-16 satellite image taken Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, at 16:40 UTC and provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Hurricane Dorian, left, churning over Bahamas. Hurricane Dorian hovered over the Bahamas on Monday, pummeling the islands with a fearsome Category 4 assault that forced even rescue crews to take shelter until the onslaught passes.
This GOES-16 satellite image taken 2 September shows Hurricane Dorian, left, churning over Bahamas (Photo: NOAA/AP)

Bahamian officials said they received a “tremendous” number of calls from people in flooded homes. Abaco and Grand Bahama, neither much more than 40 feet above sea level at their highest points, are home to some 70,000 people.

One radio station said it received more than 2,000 distress messages, including reports of a five-month-old baby stranded on a roof and a woman with six grandchildren who cut a hole in a roof to escape rising floodwaters. At least two designated storm shelters flooded.

Prime minister Minnis said many homes and buildings were severely damaged or destroyed, but it was too early to say how much the rebuilding effort would cost.

Dorian killed one person in Puerto Rico, at the start of its path through the Caribbean.

Moving west

The US National Hurricane Centre said Dorian was expected to start moving slowly to the west-northwest overnight while continuing to pound Grand Bahama Island into the morning.

The Centre said the track would carry the storm “dangerously close to the Florida east coast late on Tuesday through Wednesday evening and then move dangerously close to the Georgia and South Carolina coasts on Wednesday night and Thursday”.

Scientists say climate change generally has been fuelling more powerful and wetter storms and the only recorded storm more powerful than Dorian was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 190mph winds, though it did not make landfall at that strength.

Additional reporting by Reuters and PA

More World news

The post Hurricane Dorian latest: at least five dead as powerful storm continues to batter the Bahamas appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

What is the whip, and what does it mean to have the party whip withdrawn? The Tory rebel MPs’ punishment explained

The whip, a whip, three-line whips and whipping in general are terms we often hear in relation to voting and Parliament.

Most recently, the Prime Minister warned Tory rebels that they faced losing the whip if they voted against the Government to block a no-deal Brexit.

And he was true to his word, removing the whip from 21 MPs including former chancellors, secretaries of state and the grandson of Wintson Churchill, Sir Nicholas Soames.

The whipping system is generally about discipline but, unhelpfully and confusingly, the same term is used to refer to different aspects of system.

What exactly is the whip? And who is a whip? Here is everything you need to know:

Who is a whip?

This job is essentially about discipline.

Each party appoints MPs or Lords as chief whip or whip with a remit to ensure the maximum number of party members vote in the way the party wants. This might be to pass or amend a law, or indeed, the party might not want a bill to be turned into legislation at all.

The chief whip’s role is to oversee and administer the whipping system. They have been known to use intense persuasion or even blackmail against MPs to ensure they stay in line.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: A bell rings and 'Division' during parliamentary voting is seen on a screen in the room as the Muslim Aid parliamentary reception takes place at House of Commons on April 3, 2019 in London, England. The reception saw multi faith leaders and politicians addressing guests at the Muslim Aid event, in discussions surrounding the recent events of the Christchurch terror attacks.
Chief whips ensure MPs vote in a certain way (Photo: Getty)

Whips are particularly important if the government’s majority is small, which means it can more easily lose in major votes if politicians are not given strict instructions.

Chief whips

Conservative – Mark Spencer

Labour – Nick Brown

Chief Whip Mark Spencer
The Tory Chief Whip is Mark Spencer (Photo: Getty)

What is the whip?

When you hear about “the whip,” people tend to be referring to a document which is sent to MPs and peers from the whips (MPs) and highlights upcoming parliamentary business. It contains official instruction from leaders about how to vote on legislation, such as whether they should vote for or against a bill or an amendment.

They might even say that MPs and Lords must vote, but they can vote in any way they choose. This is known as a “free vote”.

Divisions, where MPs vote on debates, are listed in order of importance by the number of times they are underlined.

One/single-line whip

Politicians do not have to attend a vote but if they do, they should vote with how their party wants.

Two-line whip

MPs and Lords must attend a division and vote in a particular way unless they give notice about why they can’t be there.

Three-line whip

Divisions that are considered important, such as second readings of significant bills, are underlined three times. Politicians must attend and vote as required. Defying a three-line whip has serious consequences. It can result in the having the whip withdrawn.

What does having the whip withdrawn mean?

Losing the whip, or having it withdrawn, is very serious business. It effectively means that an MP or peer is expelled from their party because they have not followed strict instruction from the leadership.

However they do not lose their seat. Until the whip is restored, they sit as an independent in their chamber.

Read more:

No-deal Brexit vote: This is what happens now rebel MPs have taken control of Commons business

Boris Johnson’s threat came ahead of a crunch Brexit vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday night. Cross-party opponents of a no-deal Brexit wanted to seize control of the parliamentary agenda to prevent Britain leaving the bloc without a deal on 31 October.

Tory whips warned grandees such as Philip Hammond and David Gauke to back the Government by voting against the motion or they would be booted out of the party.

But in a night of high drama, the Government lost by 328 votes to 301 after MPs staged a Brexit rebellion and successfully gained control of the agenda to push forward legislation to block a no deal.

Twenty-one Tories have been stripped of the Conservative whip and effectively barred from standing at the next general election in retaliation for rebelling over Brexit.

Who lost the whip?

Kenneth Clarke: The veteran MP for Rushcliffe since 1970, a former chancellor, home secretary, justice secretary, health secretary and education secretary and the Father of the House.

Philip Hammond: Theresa May’s chancellor until July, and previously foreign secretary, defence secretary, transport secretary. MP for Runnymede and Weybridge, he promised the”fight of a lifetime” if the leadership tried to block him from standing as the Tory candidate at the next election.

David Gauke: He was justice secretary under Mrs May, and previously held Cabinet roles as work and pensions secretary and Treasury chief secretary. MP for South West Hertfordshire.

Greg Clark: MP for Tunbridge Wells, he served in the Cabinet under Mrs May and David Cameron as communities secretary and then business secretary.

Sir Oliver Letwin: MP for West Dorset, one of the leading figures in the rebel group. He played key roles in the Cameron government as Cabinet Office minister and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Justine Greening: Putney MP, former education secretary, international development secretary and transport secretary. She told the PA news agency: “For me no-deal was always the most profoundly un-Conservative policy you could possibly have.”

Dominic Grieve: Beaconsfield MP and former attorney general. The legal brain behind a series of rebel moves to block a no-deal Brexit.

Rory Stewart: Penrith and The Border MP and former international development secretary. Stood against Mr Johnson in the Tory leadership race.

Sir Nicholas Soames: MP for Crawley from 1983 to 1997 and for Mid Sussex since then. Grandson of Winston Churchill, former defence minister and shadow defence secretary.

Alistair Burt: North East Bedfordshire MP, well-respected former Foreign Office minister. Told PA it was a “policy of insanity” to strip the whip from so many senior Conservatives.

Sam Gyimah: East Surrey MP, former education minister. He told PA: “I’ve enjoyed being a Conservative member of Parliament but voting to stop a no-deal was the right thing to do.”

Stephen Hammond: Wimbledon MP, former health minister.

Guto Bebb: Aberconwy MP, former defence minister.

Richard Benyon: Newbury MP, former minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Steve Brine: Winchester MP, former junior health minister.

Richard Harrington: Watford MP, held a series of junior ministerial roles, most recently in the Business Department.

Margot James: Stourbridge MP, former digital policy minister.

Anne Milton: Guildford MP, former minister for women and education minister.

Caroline Nokes: MP for Romsey and Southampton North, was immigration minister in Mrs May’s government.

Antoinette Sandbach: Eddisbury MP, the only one of the rebels not to have held a frontbench position.

Edward Vaizey: Wantage MP, culture minister under Mr Cameron.

Mr Johnson was condemned over the decision.

More on Politics

The post What is the whip, and what does it mean to have the party whip withdrawn? The Tory rebel MPs’ punishment explained appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Greta Thunberg describes her Asperger syndrome as ‘a superpower’

The teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg has described her Asperger syndrome as a “superpower” but also admitted it had limited her in the past.

Greta, who last week completed a two-week voyage by boat to New York, has previously been mocked over her diagnosis, with one critic calling her “deeply disturbed”.

Responding to her detractors, the 16-year-old said her condition, which is a form of autism, meant she was “sometimes a bit different from the norm”.

“And – given the right circumstances – being different is a superpower.”

‘Sat alone at home’

Greta UN climate summit racing yacht
Greta Thunberg sailed to New York to attend the climate summit (Photo: Greta Thunberg/Facebook)

The Swedish youngster, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s four years ago, said before she began environmental campaigning, she had no friends and “sat alone at home”.

“I’m not public about my diagnosis to ‘hide’ behind it, but because I know many ignorant people still see it as an ‘illness,’ or something negative. And believe me, my diagnosis has limited me before.

“Before I started school striking I had no energy, no friends and I didn’t speak to anyone. I just sat alone at home, with an eating disorder. All of that is gone now, since I have found a meaning, in a world that sometimes seems shallow and meaningless to so many people,” she said.

Earlier this year, Australian columnist Andrew Bolt wrote in the Herald Sun: “No teenager is more freakishly influential than Greta Thunberg, the deeply disturbed messiah of the global warming movement.”

He also said: “I have never seen a girl so young and with so many mental disorders treated by so many adults as a guru.”

In response, Greta tweeted: “I am indeed ‘deeply disturbed’ about the fact that these hate and conspiracy campaigns are allowed to go on and on and on just because we children communicate and act on the science. Where are the adults?”

UN meetings in New York

The teenager, who spearheaded the school strike for climate movement which saw pupils across the world walk out of class to demand action to prevent climate change, decided to sail to the US to ensure the journey was carbon-neutral.

While in New York she will attend climate change meetings at the United Nations.

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, left, meets with U.N. General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garces, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019 at United Nations headquarters. Thunberg is scheduled to address the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23.
Greta Thunberg meets with UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garces (Photo: AP)

She is set to speak at a climate summit on 23 September during the annual gathering of world leaders for the UN General Assembly.

“Everyone who cares about our future should join and strike on 20 and 27 September,” she said after arriving on 28 August.

“I think this summit needs to be some kind of breaking point, tipping point, where people start to realize what is actually going on,” Greta told UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés on Friday.

“We have high expectations in you too, and all member states to deliver. And we are going to try to do our part to make sure that they have all eyes on them and they have put the pressure on them so they can’t continue to ignore it.”

More on Greta Thunberg

The post Greta Thunberg describes her Asperger syndrome as ‘a superpower’ appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More

Benefits freeze: Nearly half of claimants have struggled to pay for essentials like rent, bills and food

Nearly half of claimants affected by the benefits freeze have gone without food and struggled to cover their household bills and rent, a charity has found.

Data published by Citizens Advice showed the situation was worse for Universal Credit claimants, with 55 per cent surviving without everyday essentials such as food and toiletries.

One in four people who claim benefits are left with less than £100 at the end of each month after paying for rent or their mortgage and bills, said the advice charity, which is calling for more financial support for claimants and for the Government to end the benefits freeze.

It said it is “totally unacceptable that our benefits system is not providing the financial safety net that people need,” adding that people with disabilities or children are more likely to have gone without essentials.

Impact on wellbeing

The extent of the financial difficulties for benefits claimants is having a serious effect on wellbeing with over a quarter of people saying their worries have made them feel lonely or isolated, said Citizens Advice, which surveyed more than 2,750 working adults in the UK.

Nearly 30 per cent said it had affected their mental health while more than half of people on Universal Credit said they had lost sleep over financial problems.

Universal Credit payments may arrive early rather than late due to the August bank holiday (Photo: Getty)
A Universal Credit claimant said the system caused her stress while she was ill (Photo: Getty)

Mother-of-two Danielle said Universal Credit caused her great stress while she ill.

“I have been through so much in the past year. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went through chemotherapy and now I am in remission and healthwise am doing so much better.

“Universal Credit during this time added so much stress that I did not need. My payments were delayed when I went from being self-employed to being off due to needing chemotherapy,” she said.

“Thankfully I have family who were able to help me to make sure my rent was paid. And I repaid them when I received my Universal Credit payments. But the stress of thinking I might not be there for my children and how I would pay my bills was at times unbearable.”

Benefits freeze

Citizens Advice said that although the benefits system was designed to help people with their finances in times of need, too often our frontline staff and volunteers saw “a different story”.

Read more:

Families likely to be ‘pulled into poverty’ by benefits freeze continuing for another year

The benefits freeze saved the Government £2.5 billion this year, while pushing families into destitution

“We’ve found people are losing sleep and unable to afford essential things like food and housing while receiving Universal Credit. It is totally unacceptable that our benefits system is not providing the financial safety net that people need,” said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.

“The Government needs to take urgent action in this week’s spending review by reducing the five-week wait for Universal Credit and ending the freeze on benefit rates.”

As the cost of living increases, the rate of most working-age benefits, including Universal Credit, Tax Credits, Jobseeker’s Allowance and some components of Employment and Support Allowance have been frozen since April 2016.

Waiting five weeks for their first Universal Credit payment often leaves claimants falling behind on their rent and bills and struggling to pay for food.

Government priority

A Government spokesman said: “Tackling poverty will always be a priority for this Government. There are no current plans to extend or maintain the benefit freeze after March 2020.

“Income inequality and absolute poverty are lower than in 2010, but we know some families need more support, which is why we continue to spend £95 billion a year on working-age benefits.

“Universal Credit is supporting more than two million people and it’s working for the vast majority. Advance payments provide money urgently for people if they need it, and there are measures in place to ensure repayments are affordable.”

More on Universal Credit

The post Benefits freeze: Nearly half of claimants have struggled to pay for essentials like rent, bills and food appeared first on inews.co.uk.

Read More