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May proposes new rules to protect Parliamentary staffers from harassment

‘Mrs May wrote yesterday to the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, calling for tougher rules to protect MPs’ staff from harassment. In a letter copied to Jeremy Corbyn and other party leaders she called for a cross-party effort to establish a “mediation service backed by a contractually binding grievance procedure”. She said that the voluntary rules for dealing with allegations of abuse lacked teeth. “I do not believe that this situation can be tolerated,” she wrote. “It is simply not fair on staff, many of whom are young and in their first job.” She faced growing calls to go further and suspend the Tory whip from Mr Crabb. Jess Phillips, the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, writes in the Red Box email: “Theresa May must put her money where her mouth is and investigate Stephen Crabb while his whip is removed.”’ – The Times

  • Tory aides compile list of 36 sitting MPs accused of inappropriate behaviour – Daily Mail
  • Cabinet Office to investigate whether Garnier broke ministerial code – Daily Mail
  • Corbyn’s office has received an abuse complaint about a sitting Labour MP – The Sun
  • Cable: Allegations against Rennard prevented his return to the Lib Dem front bench – The Sun

Opinion

Editorials

>Yesterday:

Budget 1) Hammond urged to abolish stamp duty

‘The Adam Smith Institute said the ‘damaging’ tax – which raised £11.7billion last year – stopped Britons moving jobs and kept them in houses too large for their needs. By penalising older people for downsizing, stamp duty makes the number of larger homes on the market for growing families even smaller. Meanwhile, ahead of the November 22 Budget: it was reported that Mr Hammond was set to unveil a U-turn on the Government’s controversial Universal Credit welfare policy; Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed yesterday that the Treasury was looking at a possible pay rise for NHS workers; [and] a leading think-tank warned Mr Hammond he would have to abandon plans to eliminate the deficit if he wanted to put more cash into public services.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: Nadhim Zahawi’s column: Javid is right. Hammond should borrow more to invest in infrastructure.

Budget 2) The Chancellor’s calls to allow building on the green belt are rejected by the Prime Minister

‘Theresa May is resisting calls from Philip Hammond to free green belt land for housing as he seeks radical cost-free measures for the budget. The chancellor wants to use next month’s statement to continue to tackle Britain’s poor productivity, and the lack of housing in high-demand areas is regarded as a key factor. His allies were buoyed when Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP for North East Somerset, joined calls for a review of the green belt. Mr Hammond has been arguing within the cabinet for months that some of the protected countryside should be reclassified as part of a housing package that could allow extra borrowing to fund house building. A senior ally of Mrs May has insisted that the green belt is not on the agenda for the budget.’ – The Times

Budget 3) ‘Rock and a hard place’ pits spending demands against deficit targets

‘Philip Hammond is stuck “between a rock and a hard place” as he prepares his first autumn Budget, facing the prospect of either abandoning his fiscal targets or ignoring growing demands for more public spending, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. In a new report published on Monday, researchers at the think-tank set out the challenges for the chancellor as the outlook for the economy weakens. Despite the government’s existing plans to continue squeezing public spending over the next four years, lower productivity growth is expected to push up forecasts for public borrowing. That poses a dilemma for Mr Hammond, who would struggle to balance the needs of the economy and strains on public services with his desire to cut government borrowing and debt. When he took the job last year, the chancellor set himself the target of reducing public borrowing to less than 2 per cent of national income by 2020-21 and eliminating borrowing altogether by the mid-2020s.’ – FT

Brexit talks delayed due to concerns about stalemate

‘Brexit negotiations have hit a fresh stalemate with the UK stalling on signing up to “pointless” further talks. Britain’s negotiating team are yet to agree to the timetable for new face -to-face rounds amid fears they would go in circles without movement from Brussels. Officials are concerned that talks ending in stalemate again would kill any the “new momentum” after Theresa May’s Florence speech and last week’s better than expected meeting of EU leaders. Despite promises to “speed up” the process after this month’s EU Council, a new wall has been hit over how many talks to have before the next meeting of EU leaders in mid-December. UK negotiators believe no further progress can be made at any such talks without our future trade agreement with the EU also being on the table. Negotiators on both sides are currently locked in bitter dispute over the size of the so called “Brexit bill” and whether European judges will have any say over EU citizens living in the UK after we leave.’ – The Sun

>Today: James Arnell on Comment: Ready on Day One for Brexit. 1) Money. If there’s no deal, and the EU fails to play fair, we shouldn’t pay it a penny.

>Yesterday: WATCH: Paterson says an assumption that we’re leaving the EU on WTO terms would be “prudent insurance”

Johnson: My vision for Israel and Palestine

‘For Israel, the birth of a Palestinian state is the only way to secure its demographic future as a Jewish and democratic nation. For Palestinians, a state of their own would allow them to realise their aspirations for self-determination and self-government. Achieving this goal will require painful compromises from both sides. In the words of Amos Oz, the Israeli novelist, the tragedy of the conflict is not that it is a clash between right and wrong, but rather a “clash between right and right”…There must be security arrangements that, for Israelis, prevent the resurgence of terrorism and deal effectively with all threats, including new and significant threats in the region; and, for Palestinians, respect their sovereignty, ensure freedom of movement, and demonstrate that occupation is over. There needs to be a just, fair, agreed and realistic solution to the Palestinian refugee question, in line with UN Resolution 1515.’ – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

Afolami says Labour members are trying to target his family

‘Bim Afolami, 31, alleged on Twitter that some members in his constituency of Hitchin and Harpenden, Hertfordshire, were trying to find out where his two young sons went to school. They are in fact too young to attend. Mr Afolami said that he had contacted police and also made the parliamentary authorities aware of the allegations. However, he has not made a formal complaint. The former City lawyer tweeted: “I have been informed that certain (by no means all) members of local Labour Party are seeking to harass my family. Unacceptable to conduct politics this way. And this is one of the main reasons why many good ppl [people] are put off entering public life. Police and parliamentary authorities have been informed and I know they are taking these things seriously.” The Labour Party said that it would investigate any evidence presented that the harassment took place.’ – The Times

  • Low-income voters are abandoning Corbyn’s Party – The Sun

MPs’ anger at plan to allow prisoners to vote

‘Ministers have spent more than a decade fighting a ruling won by axe killer John Hirst that the current blanket ban on prisoner voting was unlawful. But yesterday it emerged that Justice Secretary David Lidington had put forward plans to let inmates take part in elections – but only those on day release who are still on the electoral roll…However, Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, said: ‘I find this totally unacceptable. People who are in prison for breaking the law shouldn’t be voting for the people who set the law. It doesn’t matter if it just affects a few hundred inmates, they’re still prisoners. If being able to vote was so important to them they shouldn’t have committed the crime that saw them jailed in the first place.’ Peter Bone, the Tory MP for Wellingborough, added: ‘I’m not in favour of letting prisoners vote.” – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Remaining in the ECHR is a cost of leaving the EU

Amphibious assault cuts would threaten the UK’s NATO role, defence sources warn

‘Britain’s ability to support Nato operations will be damaged if military chiefs scrap their only two amphibious assault ships to save money, Whitehall sources warned last night. Bilateral partnerships and accords with other groups of countries, including a joint expeditionary force with six European states, could also be hurt if HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion are ditched as part of a defence review and concurrent funding crisis, they said. Another option is cutting 1,000 Royal Marines, a threat that has already prompted a US Marine Corps colonel to warn that such a move would be bad for UK-US military ties.’ – The Times

  • Eighty sailors kicked out of the Navy for using drugs – Daily Mail

Support rises for electing the Lords

‘Two thirds of people now believe the Lords should be elected following a series of scandals, it can be revealed. Support for voters having a say in picking peers has surged by nearly a third since David Cameron was accused of packing the upper house with cronies. The polling comes ahead of a key report tomorrow when the Lords will set out plans for reform. A committee of peers is set to recommend that new appointments will be limited to 15 years in the Lords, but they are expected to duck making more radical changes such as introducing a compulsory retirement age. A survey of 1,500 adults found support for overhauling the second chamber has soared over the past two years, from 48 per cent backing a partially or fully-elected upper house in 2015, to 63 per cent now.’ – Daily Mail

Brown: I failed as Prime Minister because I was too reserved

‘Mr Brown, 66, also admits that he ‘failed to rally the nation’ around his plans to beat the financial crash by boosting public investment, describing this as his ‘biggest regret’ of his premiership. He said he now accepted that in a media-conscious age he should have ‘lightened up’. But he said he did not believe it was right for politicians to expect they could win votes by simply turning on the emotion and saying ‘I can feel your pain’. He said: ‘What mattered, I thought, was how others might benefit from what I did for them as an active politician – not what I claimed to feel. If in my political career I was backward in coming forward, my failure was not so much a resistance to letting the public in – I never shrank from that – it was resisting the pressure to cultivate an image that made the personal constantly public. Reticence was the rule.” – Daily Mail

  • He feared he was going blind – The Sun
  • McCluskey predicts Corbyn will be in Downing Street by 2019 – The Times

News in Brief

15 comments for: Newslinks for Monday 30th October 2017

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