News review – Friday 12 July 2019

News review – Friday 12 July 2019

House of Commons

Huffington Post
Chancellor Philip Hammond expects MPs to stage a ‘sit-in’ to stop Boris Johnson from shutting down parliament to ram through a no-deal Brexit, HuffPost UK has learned. Hammond has told colleagues that Commons Speaker John Bercow and Opposition MPs are likely to insist on carrying on their duties as normal even if the new prime minister attempts to ‘prorogue’ parliament. Johnson has repeatedly refused to rule out effectively closing down the House of Commons and Lords if they look like preventing his pledge to get the UK out of the EU by October 31.has told colleagues that he is determined to do everything in his power to stop the “catastrophe” of a no-deal exit. The Tory leadership front-runner said this week that the drastic option – dubbed “dictatorial” by critics – should be “on the table” to ensure that Brexit happens by the Halloween deadline. Hammond, who has told colleagues that he is determined to do everything in his power to stop the “catastrophe” of a no-deal exit, is privately helping to draft amendments and coordinate fellow MPs to prevent the outcome.

iNews
MPs could mount a Commons “sit-in” in an effort to prevent Boris Johnson from forcing through a no-deal BrexitPhilip Hammond has told colleagues, can disclose. The Chancellor has emerged as the leading Tory opponent of any attempt by the next Prime Minister to lead Britain out of the European Union without agreement on 31 October. Mr Johnson, the favourite for the Tory leadership, has refused to rule out proroguing Parliament – suspending sittings – as a way of sidestepping the majority in the Commons against a no-deal Brexit.

Tory leadership

Telegraph
Boris Johnson looks to have won the Conservative leadership contest by a landslide, 12 days before the race is over.  According to a poll of 1,319 party members by ConservativeHome, 71 per cent said they had already voted, with 72 per cent backing Mr Johnson and 28 per cent, Jeremy Hunt. Paul Goodman, editor of ConservativeHome, said: “If the survey is accurate, it would be reasonable to assume, on the evidence available at the moment, that Johnson will win somewhere between 67 per cent and 72 per cent of the vote.”

Express
BORIS JOHNSON has already come out victorious in the Tory leadership race, it has been claimed after a poll has found 77 percent of Conservative members have already voted for who they want to become Britain’s next Prime Minister – and 72 percent of 200,000 members have reportedly backed the former London Mayor over Jeremy Hunt. A poll for the grassroots Tory website Conservative Home found nearly quarter of members have backed Mr Johnson over Mr Hunt, meaning the competition is already over.

Mail
Boris Johnson has already won the Tory leadership contest, according to a poll today – with three quarters of activists now having cast their votes. A survey for the grassroots ConservativeHome website found the overwhelming majority have sent in their postal votes.  Some 72 per cent also said they had either backed or planned to back Mr Johnson – suggesting he already has an unassailable lead with two weeks to go until the result it announced.

Evening Standard
Boris Johnson may already have won the race to be the next Tory leader and Prime Minister, a survey found. More than seven in 10 of 1,319 party members who responded to ConservativeHome said they had already voted in the Tory leadership contest. Some 72 per cent said they had backed Boris Johnson and 28 per cent supported Jeremy Hunt. The result will be announced officially on July 23. But if the ConservativeHome findings are accurate, and they broadly reflect other surveys, enough Tory members may have already voted to put former foreign secretary Mr Johnson into No 10.

iNews
Far fewer ballot papers have been returned to the Conservative Party’s central headquarters than expected, suggesting members are holding back on voting on their next leader, according to sources. Party bosses had anticipated around two-thirds of ballot papers to have been sent back by the start of the week after they hit members’ doormats earlier than scheduled. But grandees have said that the number of votes being returned was lower than expected.

Rudd

Guido
Big shift from outspoken Remainer and Hunt supporter Amber Rudd who told TalkRADIO this morning she accepted that No Deal is “part of the armoury” in trying to get a better deal with the EU. Rudd still insists to JHB that a deal would be “so much better” but it’s a far cry from when she was adamant no deal would be a “disaster”. Surely nothing to do with the fact that Boris has said that his cabinet will all have to be on board with his policy to leave the EU by 31st October, deal or no deal.

Independent
Amber Rudd has been accused of ditching her opposition to a no-deal Brexit in return for a job under Boris Johnson, after a carrying out a screeching U-turn. Last year – when a backbencher – the work and pensions secretary backed a Final Say referendum over crashing out of the EU, saying: “Is that preferable to a no-deal? Absolutely.” But Ms Rudd has now said she backs the argument put forward by Mr Johnson, and rival Jeremy Hunt, that the UK must leave on 31 October, on whatever terms necessary.

Mail
Amber Rudd yesterday dropped her opposition to a No Deal Brexit in a move that could see her appointed as Boris Johnson’s foreign secretary. The Work and Pensions Secretary – who led Cabinet opposition to leaving the EU without a deal earlier this year – said she now accepted it would be ‘part of the armoury’ in negotiations. The dramatic shift lifts the bar to her serving in a Cabinet led by Mr Johnson, who has said he will only appoint ministers to his top team if they are ‘reconciled’ to the possibility of a No Deal Brexit this autumn.

Guardian
Boris Johnson has begun receiving very public job applications from would-be cabinet ministers, with Liz Truss pitching to be a tax-slashing chancellor and Amber Rudd ditching her opposition to a no-deal Brexit in a bid to stay on as work and pensions secretary. With Johnson on the brink of No 10, senior Tories have begun laying out their credentials for positions in his potential cabinet – some with more hope than others.

Telegraph
Amber Rudd has dropped her opposition to a no deal Brexit in a move that could save her Cabinet career if Boris Johnson becomes prime minister. The Work and Pensions Secretary has been implacably opposed to no deal, and repeatedly argued against it in Cabinet meetings along with fellow Remain voters David Gauke and Greg Clark. But with Mr Johnson in a seemingly unassailable lead over Jeremy Hunt, Ms Rudd said she now accepted that a no deal Brexit had to be “part of the armoury” as the new leader tried to renegotiate a deal with the EU.

Conservative Party

Westmonster
44% of Conservative members would not vote Conservative in the next General Election if the UK does not leave the European Union on 31st October. Fresh polling from ORB International shows the desertion of traditional Conservative voters from the party in May’s European elections would not be a one-off if Brexit is not delivered. Full tables and charts here, here and here. If the next prime minister does deliver Brexit by Halloween, 92% of definite voters would flock back to the Tories at the next general election, with the Brexit Party receiving just 5% of the vote.

Labour Party

Express
JEREMY CORBYN could soon be ousted as Labour leader after bookmakers slashed the odds on him departing, following last night’s Panorama documentary into allegations of anti-Semitism within the Party. The explosive BBC show hit out at Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism claims, and senior figures were accused of interfering with the disciplinary process – something Labour has denied. The backlash has mounted pressure on Jeremy Corbyn, with PaddyPower stating it has received a “huge number of bets” on the Labour Party leader leaving this year, as the odds tumble from 4/1 to 6/4.

Mail
Tom Watson ignited Labour’s civil war last night as he accused one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest aides of going back on a vow not to delete evidence about anti-Semitism cases. A bombshell Panorama documentary on Wednesday revealed that an email about a disciplinary case from Labour general secretary Jennie Formby had been deleted. Mr Watson, the party’s deputy leader, accused senior Labour figures of ‘smearing’ former staffers who broke gagging orders to tell the BBC programme that Mr Corbyn’s aides had intervened in disciplinary cases.

Mirror
Labour’s General Secretary has hit back at Tom Watson as the row over the BBC’s Panorama programme on anti-Semitism within the party continues to escalate.  In a scathing letter Jennie Formby accused Mr Watson of “denigrating” progress made within the party in tackling the problem. She said to him: “By choosing to ignore the steps taken by this party, and commenting so uncritically about the Panorama programme, you are complicit in creating a perception that antisemitism is more prevalent in the Labour Party than wider society.”

BBC News
Labour’s general secretary, Jennie Formby, has accused deputy leader Tom Watson of being “irresponsible” for criticising Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism claims. Mr Watson criticised Labour and Ms Formby, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, following a BBC Panorama investigation. Ms Formby said he risked “exacerbating” fears in the Jewish community.

Guido
A fresh video has been unearthed of Jeremy Corbyn apparently speaking at a Labour event last October. Corbyn gives his response to “some criticisms made of us in the right-wing media over the last Summer”. As in, the massive anti-Semitism and IHRA storm that raged around him all of last summer and has not gone away: “It doesn’t bother me. Nothing keeps me awake at night anyway, I frankly don’t care.”

Guardian
More than 30 whistleblowers including current members of staff will submit evidence to the equalities watchdog’s examination of Labour antisemitism, amid warnings that the party had failed to grasp the seriousness of the investigation. The revelation comes after eight former members of staff went public in a BBC Panorama programme alleging consistent interference in the disputes process by senior Labour aides.

Breitbart
A BBC report that outlined systemic antisemitism within the left-wing UK Labour Party has been greeted with dismay by party members and local Jewish leaders alike. Labour has insisted the claims made in Wednesday’s Panorama were inaccurate and the party is free of any and all allegations Jewish members are discriminated against and complaints are hushed up or ignored.

Bullying

Times
John Bercow could face an inquiry into allegations of bullying in the autumn after Theresa May moved to open the Commons complaints system to historical allegations in one of her final acts of office. The announcement coincides with the publication of an independent report exposing alleged sexual assaults by MPs against staff and “unacceptable” levels of bullying at Westminster.

Mail
Speaker John Bercow was last night told by Theresa May to ‘respond fully and promptly’ to a new report that concluded the staff of MPs face ‘an unacceptable risk of bullying and harassment’ in Parliament. The hard-hitting independent investigation heard that some people who work for MPs have to cope with ‘very serious sexual assault’ and having heavy objects thrown at them in bouts of ‘uncontrollable rage’.

Telegraph
He has branded Gemma White’s findings “deeply shocking” and suggested the worst allegations of bullying and sexual harassment in Westminster should be reported to the police. Yet in calling out the “unacceptable” nature of MPs’ behaviour, John Bercow’s own conduct towards his staff is likely to come under greater scrutiny as parliament prepares to vote next week on widening the investigation to cover historic complaints.

Mail
Putting up with sexual harassment in Parliament is a ‘necessary evil’ which must be endured by ambitious young staff who want to progress, a bombshell inquiry has been told.  A new report into inappropriate conduct in Westminster concluded the staff of MPs face ‘an unacceptable risk of bullying and harassment’.  It contained claims that some staff had been the victim of unwelcome sexual advances involving ‘breasts being grabbed’ and ‘buttocks being slapped’.

Independent
MPs are ignoring training to stamp out bullying and sexual harassment of their staff, which remains at an “unacceptable” level, a damning report finds today. Just 34 out of the 650 MPs have joined a course to enforce a new “behaviour code”, introduced one year ago, says a QC asked to investigate the “Pestminster” scandal. Her alarming report highlights how MPs routinely “shout at, demean, belittle and humiliate their staff on a regular basis, often in public”.

Terror attack

Sun
ISIS has threatened to blow up Big Ben in their latest poster depicting the Houses of Parliament in flames. The terror group manipulated the image to show smoke billowing from the Elizabeth Tower, which houses Big Ben, as the rest of the iconic building is on fire. Big Ben has clear debris flying from it, as if an explosion had detonated.

NHS

Telegraph
Most patients who want to see their own GP can no longer get an appointment with them, according to new figures suggesting the days of the family doctor are over.  The statistics show record numbers of patients struggling to even get through on the telephone, and increasingly long waits for an appointment.  For the first time, the majority of patients who wanted to see a particular doctor were unable to do so, the survey of more than 770,000 patients shows.

Times
Patients are finding it increasingly difficult to see their family doctor as the NHS struggles with record waiting lists and under-pressure A&Es. A third of patients have a problem getting through on the phone to book GP appointments and less than half are able to see their preferred doctor, according to the annual GP Survey of 770,000 patients, which also found that just 57 per cent saw a doctor at a time they wanted to or sooner.

Prison

Times
Prisoners are to get the keys to their own cells under a new incentive scheme to improve behaviour in jails. Governors will be able to reward prisoners with the privilege of being able to lock their cells for more privacy, the Ministry of Justice has said. Inmates who meet standards of behaviour should also be allowed to cook their own meals, take showers when they want and receive higher rates of pay.

Education

Times
Universities have been told to take action within a year to stamp out grade inflation after figures showed that first-class degrees were awarded to almost three graduates in ten last summer. The proportion of students attaining a top degree in England has nearly doubled since 2011, from 15.7 per cent to 29.3 per cent, and increased by 2.1 percentage points in a year. Most of the increase could not be justified by changes in students, such as whether they achieved higher grades at A level, analysis by the Office for Students (OfS) found.

Mail
The proportion of students in England who achieve first-class degrees has risen by 80 per cent over the last decade, new analysis reveals. The Office for Students reported that more than 40,000 more students graduated with firsts in the 2017-18 academic year than in 2010-11.   Across 148 providers considered by the data, 13.9 percentage points’ worth of first class degree attainment was said to be ‘unexplained’ by changes in graduate population.

Times
Ministers have been urged to abolish the “EBacc” GCSE programme after less than a quarter of pupils were found to pass the exams, with no prospect of any improvement. Since reforms introduced by Michael Gove as education secretary in 2010, secondary schools have been incentivised to get as many pupils as possible studying a core set of GCSE subjects — maths, English language and literature, the sciences, history or geography and a language — known as the EBacc.

Air travel

Mail
Easyjet passengers have been warned to expect summer ‘chaos’ at Stansted after a union announced 17 days of strikes over low pay. Unite said 43 staff who work on the budget airline’s check-in desks voted unanimously for the walkouts. The union represents staff employed by Stobart Aviation Services, which runs the Easyjet contract at the Essex airport.  It claimed the workers are paid less than counterparts employed by other airlines based at Stansted.

US ambassador

Telegraph
Theresa May appeared to back down on Thursday in her fight to choose Britain’s next ambassador to the US after her foreign minister hinted that an early appointment was unlikely. Although a Downing Street spokesman would only confirm that Sir Kim Darroch’s replacement would be announced “in due course”, Sir Alan Duncan admitted: “We do really want to make sure we get the very best person and I think it’d be a pity if in the interests of alacrity we chose a number two rather than a number one.”

Independent
Boris Johnson will choose the next US ambassador if elected as Tory leader, rather than Theresa May, a senior minister has said. Liz Truss, the chief secretary to the Treasury, warned Ms May that appointing the next envoy was a job for her successor amid claims Ms May was “in denial” over handing over power. The prime minister is under pressure to allow the next Tory leader to pick a replacement for Sir Kim Darroch, who resigned after the leak of diplomatic cables detailing criticisms of Donald Trump’s administration.

Iran

Telegraph
The British government raised its security warning for shipping in Iranian waters to its highest level as the Royal Navy was forced to fend off the attempted obstruction of a British oil tanker by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. British flagged ships were notified at the beginning of this week that Iranian waters were considered a level three, or “critical” security environment, the Telegraph understands.

Times
All British merchant vessels in the Gulf were put on a state of heightened alert today after a Royal Navy warship came close to a confrontation with Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels that moved against a BP-owned oil tanker. HMS Montrose, a Type 23 frigate, “turned its guns” on three Iranian patrol boats which intercepted British Heritage, an Isle of Man-registered, UK-flagged oil tanker owned by BP Shipping. The three Iranian boats approached the tanker off the island of Abu Musa and attempted to “disrupt it” and “get in its way, get it to change course”, according to a Ministry of Defence (MoD) source.

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