Newslinks

Conservatives retain Sleaford and North Hykeham. Ukip distant second. Labour now fourth

ballotbox‘The Conservatives have comfortably held the Sleaford and North Hykeham seat with Ukip the runner-up in the parliamentary by-election. Tory candidate Caroline Johnson will be the new MP after winning 17,570 votes, beating Ukip’s Victoria Ayling, who had 4,426. It was a bad result for Labour, slipping from second place at the 2015 general election to fourth, behind the Liberal Democrats. Consultant paediatrician Dr Johnson said her presence at Westminster would bolster Theresa May’s majority and support the Prime Minister on Brexit. In her acceptance speech, she said: “I look forward to strengthening the Government’s majority in Parliament so Theresa May, our Prime Minister, can get on with the job of triggering Article 50, leaving the European Union and building a country and economy that works for everyone.”’ – Daily Telegraph

  • Labour voters confused about its Brexit stance – The Times (£)
  • Squeeze on Labour’s ‘middle-England votes’ – Guardian
  • Ukip result could be key – FT

Comment:

  • Sleaford voters have been telling me that Brexit means Brexit – Joshua Neicho, Daily Telegraph
  • Labour’s dilemma – John Mills, The Times (£)

>Today: ToryDiary: In the Sleaford ‘Brexit by-election’, Brexit won hands-down

May’s spokeswoman ‘slaps down’ Johnson over his Saudi claims

BORIS Change Britain’Number 10 has slapped down Boris Johnson after he claimed that Saudi Arabia has been “playing proxy wars” and “puppeteering” in the Middle East. Theresa May’s spokeswoman said the Prime Minister has “full confidence” in the foreign secretary but added that his comments, made in a speech in Italy, do not reflect Government policy. She said that Mr Johnson will “have the opportunity” to set out the formal position on the UK’s relationship with its ally Saudi Arabia when he visits the country this weekend, in remarks which suggest the Prime Minister was left unimpressed by his intervention. Speaking in his role as a cabinet minister Mr Johnson said: “There are politicians who are twisting and abusing religion and different strains of the same religion in order to further their own political objectives. That’s one of the biggest political problems in the whole region.’’’ – The Times (£)

  • He was accused of ‘puppeteering’ – FT
  • This is an ‘unprecedented rift’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson’s comments were ‘not the government’s view’ – Guardian
  • His Commons allies support him – FT
  • He’s due in Saudi Arabia on Sunday – Independent

Comment:

  • The story behind May’s ‘punitive approach’ to Johnson – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph (£)
  • ‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ – Simon Tisdall, Guardian
  • We should admire Johnson for his honesty – Sean O’Grady, Independent
  • He was right – Jane Merrick, The Times (£) 
  • Diplomats should be so candid – Roger Boyes, The Times (£)

David Allen Green: Final day at the Supreme Court. A focus on ‘individual rights’ and devolution

EU Exit brexit’Today is the final day of this appeal hearing. So far the submissions have focused on matters of high constitutional law and practice: the prerogative power of the crown, the sovereignty of parliament, and the relationship of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom. This morning, the focus shifted to the individuals and their families who may be affected by the consequences of an Article 50 notification. One powerful set of submissions were made by Manjit Gill QC on behalf of EU citizens in the UK. He contended, with evident passion, that such citizens face deportation on Brexit. This, of course, would be the case unless, as is likely, arrangements were put in place: but this cannot be assumed. If Mr Gill is correct then there could be no doubt that rights, including the rights of children would be affected.’ – FT

  • It was devolution day – FT
  • Justices told not to ignore Commons vote – Daily Telegraph
  • They’ve now retired to consider verdict – Independent
  •  What we’ve learnt – Guardian

Comment:

David Lammy: Calling me an ‘enemy of the people’ is hateful and divisive

‘If this government is to be the one -nation government it claims to be, the personal attacks that fuel the abhorrent “enemies of the people” rhetoric that we have seen of late must stop. The Tory MP and former attorney general Dominic Grieve has warned that the “vitriolic abuse” hurled at anybody who says anything that counters the hard Brexit mantra is leading us to a very bad place. Time and time again, history has tried to warn us what happens when a democracy turns in on itself and becomes dominated by a vindictive, vicious tribalism. In publishing a video on the official Conservative Twitter account that describes certain Labour MPs, including me, as “standing in the way” of the British people, not only is the government failing to halt this descent into darkness – it is actively fuelling it.’ – Guardian

  • Ukip to target seats whose MPs ‘betrayed’ their voters on Brexit – Daily Telegraph

Davis told City meeting that he’s ‘not really interested’ in transitional deal

DAVIS David‘David Davis, Britain’s Brexit secretary, said he was “not really interested” in a transitional deal to cushion Britain from the effects of Brexit and that he would consider one only in order to “be kind” to the EU. Financial companies have pressed the government to agree a transition period after Britain leaves the bloc and before new trade terms are finalised, during which current arrangements remain in place. But speaking in mid-November, Mr Davis told a private meeting with the City of London Corporation that negotiating a transition, as recently championed by Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, would not benefit the UK and could delay the Brexit process.’ – FT

  • A memo of what he said – FT

More Brexit

  • McDonald’s moves headquarters to Britain – Daily Mail
  • Which is a ‘vote of confidence’ in Britain – The Times (£)
  • The Government’s charm offensive – FT
  • MPs’ immigration tour – The Sun
  • Surprisingly, vice-chancellors say universities could ‘thrive’ after Brexit – The Times (£)
  • But Cambridge warns of plummeting numbers of foreign students – FT
  • EU agrees visa-free travel for Georgians and Ukrainians – Daily Express
  • Carwyn Jones says May should only allow EU immigrants with job offers – The Times (£)
  • Farage goes to Trump party – The Times (£)

Comment:

  • May’s Brexit demands turn out to be simple – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • Torrington gave refugees jumpers rather than grief – Mark Steel, Independent
  • It’s time to make best of Brexit – Philip Collins, The Times (£)

>Yesterday:

Pressure on Patel over how aid is spent

PATEL October 2016‘Britain has poured hundreds of millions of pounds from its poverty relief fund into Pakistan’s version of Amazon, Chinese restaurant chains, online gambling websites, five-star hotels and luxury shopping malls, The Times can reveal. CDC Group, the government’s private equity division, claims that it “makes a lasting difference to people’s lives in some of the world’s poorest places” by investing in local businesses that then create jobs. … The revelations will put pressure on Priti Patel, the international development secretary, to justify plans to quadruple the amount of aid money flowing through CDC from £1.5 billion to £6 billion — a move criticised by an MP last month as “an ideological attempt to privatise our aid”. Last night Theresa May urged Ms Patel to clamp down on how aid is spent after The Times revealed that the Department for International Development (Dfid) was spending £1 billion a year on consultants and had handed tens of thousands of pounds to hire TV stars. Ms Patel is to review all Dfid aid contracts and will force contractors to publish salary figures, but she remains steadfast in her support for CDC.’ – The Times (£)

Northern Irish police deny plans for Troubles inquiry

‘Police in Northern Ireland have no plans to launch a fresh inquiry into killings carried out by British troops during the Troubles. The force issued the statement after a front-page report in the Sun said officers would reinvestigate all 302 killings carried out by British troops. The paper said at least 500 ex-servicemen, many now in their 60s and 70s, would be “viewed as suspects” during the process. The move was described to the Sun as a “brand new witch-hunt” by Conservative MP Johnny Mercer, a former army officer.’ – Guardian

  • May needs to offer ‘real leadership’ on Troubles investigations – Tim Collins, Daily Telegraph (£)

Editorial:

  • The ‘witch hunt’ must end – Daily Mail
  • Government must scrap IHAT – The Sun

More Government

>Today: 

Cameron uses first speech to defend holding referendum

David Cameron 16-06-16‘David Cameron has used his first major speech since resigning in June to explain why he felt people voted for Brexit – and defend his decision to hold the referendum. Mr Cameron, speaking at DePauw University in Indiana, also spoke of similarities between the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump – and he used his platform in the United States to urge Mr Trump to respect the “incredibly precious” American values of freedom, tolerance and outward-looking policies. In a wide-ranging address – funded by former students Sharon and Timothy Ubben, who since 1986 have invited Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Benazir Bhutto and Mikhail Gorbachev to speak – the former prime minister warned against being seduced by “so-called strongmen” leaders, such as Vladimir Putin. And he said that he did not think other European countries would follow Britain’s lead and leave the EU – although he had deep fears for the future of the euro.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • He calls Brexit part of ‘movement of unhappiness’ – Guardian
  • And talks of existential threat to Euro – Daily Express
  • And blames populism for his downfall – Daily Mail
  • He watched basketball with Bush – The Times (£)

MI6 chief’s speech warns of IS cell planning British attacks

‘A highly organised Islamic State cell in Syria is actively planning attacks against Britain and its allies, the head of MI6 warned today. Alex Younger, in an unprecedented speech within MI6 headquarters in London, indicated that his agency has infiltrated the terrorist group. These MI6 agents, who risk death if caught, have helped MI5 and the police to identify and stop threats to the UK and elsewhere, he said. A total of 12 terrorist plots in the UK alone have been disrupted since June 2013. The spy chief said that the scale of the threat from terrorism is unprecedented but he also warned about the “increasingly dangerous phenomenon” of hybrid warfare, such as cyber attacks and propaganda operations by hostile countries such as Russia.’ – The Times (£)

  • State-sponsored propaganda is a ‘fundamental’ threat – FT
  • Russia and Assad are fueling terrorism – Independent
  • Younger talks of cyber threats – Daily Telegraph 
  • And dismisses James Bond – Guardian

News in Brief