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Cabinet 1) Patel admits secret meetings in Israel, which she previously denied

‘Priti Patel issued a grovelling apology today after admitting she held secret talks with the Israeli PM while on a ‘family holiday’. The International Development Secretary blamed her ‘enthusiasm to engage’ for her failure to tell Theresa May and Boris Johnson about a dozen high-level encounters, including with Benjamin Netanyahu. As well as saying sorry for the extraordinary breach of protocol, Mrs Patel was also forced to make an humiliating ‘clarification’ of comments last week in which she appeared to deny there were any more meetings to disclose. The startling admissions immediately raised doubts about whether Mrs Patel can continue in her role – with Labour calling for her to quit and some senior Tories saying she would be ‘toast’ under normal circumstances. But Downing Street appeared to have left her off with a public rebuke, saying Mrs May had pulled her into No10 and ‘reminded her of the obligations’ under the ministerial code.’ – Daily Mail

Cabinet 2) Johnson’s error undermines British woman’s defence case in Iran

‘Boris Johnson faced cross-party condemnation last night after being accused of an error that could result in a British mother spending five more years in an Iranian prison. Downing Street refused to back the foreign secretary’s handling of the case as it emerged that he had erroneously suggested that Nazanin Zaghari- Ratcliffe, 38, may have been training journalists in Iran when she was arrested last year. This has always been denied by her employer and family. Mr Johnson’s comments, made to a parliamentary committee last week, led to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe being brought back to court at the weekend on charges of “propaganda against the regime”, with the threat of five more years in prison. Iran has accused her of spying but offered no evidence. The Iranian judiciary cited Mr Johnson’s remarks as evidence that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe had lied in her original defence by claiming that she was on holiday.’ – The Times

May holds all-party talks to agree new harassment rules

‘Theresa May sat down face to face with every other party leader tonight to strike an agreement for a new ‘grievance procedure’ for MPs’ staff harassed by politicians. Mrs May said the agreement was an ‘important step forward’ following the talks in Parliament as a sex scandal threatens to engulf politics. The Prime Minister was sat face to face with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and was joined by politicians from the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, DUP and the Greens. Speaking after the meeting Mrs May said party leaders also agreed to upgrade an existing complaints hotline to a face-to-face human resources service. The latter will be introduced by the end of the month and the new grievance procedure should be in place in next year, Mrs May told reporters.’ – Daily Mail

  • The Prime Minister hints that more allegations are yet to become public – The Guardian
  • Rape allegation levelled against ‘senior Tory’ – The Sun
  • Former Miliband staffer says she was assaulted by one of his aides  – The Times
  • Lib Dems accused of trying to ‘hush up’ allegation of rape – Daily Mail
  • The scandal could push May to an early exit – Rachel Sylvester, The Times
  • Peers warn limits to press freedom could make allegations harder to publish – The Times

Editorials

Wallace: Tantrums, throwing shoes at staff…bullying will be the next Westminster scandal

‘Most MPs are good, if demanding, bosses. Many provide great opportunities and interesting work to bright and driven young employees. The best know that they and their staff can prosper together, in a campaign of mutual advancement.
But some are, frankly, appalling employers. ..The details of what goes on in the privacy of some parliamentary offices are shocking. In the last few days, I’ve spoken to staffers who recall MPs suddenly breaking out into tearful, screaming tantrums over issues as petty as what food their staff have bought them for lunch. Another tells of a prominent parliamentarian who would refuse to talk to her staff at all for days on end – eight hours a day in a small shared office – as a punishment for some perceived slight. The MP’s silence would only be broken by bouts of swearing, or throwing objects – phones, books and even handbags – at their unfortunate researcher. The list goes on.’ – Mark Wallace, the i paper

  • Dramatic video shows Rosindell’s hero assistant chasing thug – Daily Mail

US Commerce Secretary cautions against letting Brussels set the terms of Brexit

‘Britain must avoid too much compromise with the EU over the Brexit divorce deal if it wants a speedy free trade agreement with the US, one of President Donald Trump’s most senior advisers has said. Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, said that a trade deal with Britain could be signed within months of Brexit, brushing aside claims that it could take 10 years for an agreement to be reached. But Mr Ross said there would be problems if the UK retained the current EU-wide bans on chlorinated chicken and genetically-modified food. Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference, Mr Ross said his trip to the UK allowed him to “address with the UK some concerns we have that they may be tempted to include (provisions) in their agreement with the European Commission (EC) that could be problems for a subsequent FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with the US”.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • Ross urged the UK to keep financial passporting rights – The Times
  • And suggests EU food regulations are a potential stumbling block – The Sun
  • DIT prepares measures to maintain free trade deals – The Times
  • Ireland calls for five-year transition – FT
  • Trying to stop Brexit would unleash hell – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • No, Brexit was not down to Russian dark arts – FT
  • German army trains for the breakup of the EU – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Our survey and Brexit. Party members divide down the middle about bringing a halt to the talks.

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: May is right to call for rational optimism, not blind faith, about Brexit

Major backs increased taxpayer funding of political parties

‘In a speech on the state of British democracy yesterday, the former prime minister said increased state funding for parties could well be the “least bad” means of reducing the influence of interest groups and individuals. “In my experience, many donors are altruistic and give money simply to support their party; but others may seek to exact a price,” he told an audience at Westminster Abbey last night. “Whether that price is a policy promise, an appointment, or an honour — it is undesirable. “An alternative is more funding through the public purse. This would be deeply unpopular and I share the general distaste for it. Nonetheless, it may be the least bad option.”’ – The Times

CBI bosses applaud Corbyn

‘Jeremy Corbyn was applauded by business chiefs despite setting out his Marxist agenda, which would see taxes rocket. Labour’s leader told the CBI annual conference his plans would involve raising taxes and nationalising key parts of the economy. And he said workers should get pay rises after years of incomes being squeezed.Corbyn told the conference that it would mean having to “raise some taxes to pay for it.” But he insisted: “This isn’t a throwback to a bygone era. It’s in step with what is happening in the rest of the world.” But Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “It is clear that competitive markets are the best way to improve people’s lives. Abandoning this model will hurt those who need help most and make the UK a laggard in the global race for investment.”’ – The Sun

  • The CBI itself rejects his approach – Daily Telegraph
  • If they think he would be anything but a disaster, they need their heads examined – The Sun Says

May rejects calls for offshore trust register

‘Theresa May rejected Labour’s demand for greater transparency around investments as the European Union suggested that it may revive plans to crack down on tax avoidance. The prime minister refused to commit to an inquiry on tax avoidance after the so-called Paradise Papers leak or to introducing a public register of who owns offshore companies and trusts in British tax havens. Mrs May only went so far as to say that people should “pay the tax that is due”. She said that £160 billion had been collected by HM Revenue & Customs since 2010 through measures already introduced to stop on avoidance, evasion and non-compliance. Downing Street confirmed yesterday that the prime minister did not have any direct offshore investments and that her assets were held in a blind trust, which is regarded as customary practice for ministers.’ – The Times

Editorials

>Yesterday: Diego Zuluaga on Comment: The Paradise Papers. The rich are paying more tax than ever – and tax havens are a force for good

Trump visits South Korea

‘Donald Trump will head to South Korea on Tuesday waving a red, white and blue cape in the direction of a North Korean bull who has a nuclear goring on his mind. And some in Seoul can’t wait for it to be over. Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in could hardly be more like a chili-oil-and-water mix, especially when it comes to dealing with the belligerent communist state that invaded southward in 1950 and has never stopped threatening its neighbor despite a tense armistice. The U.S. president has called dictator Kim Jong-un ‘Little Rocket Man’ and threatened publicly to ‘totally destroy’ his country if he makes a menacing move toward American allies, including South Korea and Japan. On Monday in Tokyo he branded North Korea a ‘menace’ and said the U.S. stands against the rogue regime’s ‘dangerous aggressions.’ ‘Some people said that my rhetoric is very strong. But look what’s happened with very weak rhetoric over the last 25 years. Look where we are right now,’ the president said.’ – Daily Mail

  • China could get dragged into a new Korean war – Gideon Rachman, FT
  • Trump’s deficit folly threatens trade in Asia – FT Leader
  • Texas church gunman appears to have been targeting his mother-in-law – The Times
  • British mosque leader appointed to Hamas’s politburo – The Times

News in Brief

16 comments for: Newslinks for Tuesday 7th November 2017

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