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Cabinet 1) Patel teeters on the brink

‘Priti Patel is expected to become the second minister to be forced to leave the cabinet in less than a week after new allegations over secret meetings with Israeli officials. The prime minister was preparing to speak to the international development secretary, who is in Uganda on an official visit, amid growing signs that she would be sacked after her attempt to cover up the full extent of her meetings with senior Israeli officials in August. No 10 said that Ms Patel would not be leaving office last night, but would not comment on her fate today. However, Theresa May is understood to be deeply dismayed by the latest revelations. The Times reveals today that Ms Patel faces further accusations of a breach of the ministerial code over the role played by Lord Polak, a leading figure in a corporate lobbying group, who sat in on her secret meetings with members of the Israeli government.’ – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: The irony of Patel’s gambit. It harmed Israel’s interests.

Cabinet 2) Demands for Johnson’s resignation after partial apology for his Iran comments

‘He has faced calls to resign after he told the foreign affairs committee last week that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 38, had been training journalists in Iran at the time of her arrest last year. This is denied by her employer and her family…In a call to Javad Zarif, his Iranian counterpart, yesterday Mr Johnson said that there was “no justifiable basis” for further legal action against her. In the Commons he repeated his insistence that it was “simply untrue” that his remarks were linked to any developments in her case. Iran’s judiciary website made clear that it had taken notice of the foreign secretary’s intervention, however, in a press release entitled: “UK confirmed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was not in Iran for holiday”…Yesterday Mr Johnson told MPs that he “has no doubt that she was on holiday” and that was the sole purpose of her visit. After 40 minutes of questions he gave a partial apology, saying: “I’m sorry if any words of mine have been taken out of context and misconstrued to cause anxiety to Nazanin’s family.” He said that he would visit Iran soon.’ – The Times

>Yesterday: WATCH: Johnson concedes he “could have been clearer” about Nazanin Zagari-Ratcliffe

Welsh Government Minister, sacked over harassment allegations, is found dead

‘Labour’s Carl Sargeant killed himself after begging party chiefs to detail the sex pest allegations against him, sources say. Sargeant died at home four days after being sacked as a Welsh Government minister and suspended by Labour. The Sun can reveal solicitors acting for him wrote to Labour bosses over the weekend to warn he was suffering from distress and anxiety over not knowing details of the claims against him. A source said: “Labour were warned it was affecting his mental health”. All that tragic Mr Sargeant had been told on Friday was that the allegations centred on “groping, unwanted attention and inappropriate touching”. The shock death exploded the Westminster sleaze scandal that has rocked Parliament for the past two weeks.’ – The Sun

  • Social media mobs can have tragic consequences – The Sun Says
  • Former Special Adviser investigated over alleged sexual assault – The Times
  • The BBC is investigating 25 harassment accusations against staff – The Times
  • May meets Parliamentary staff to hear their concerns – The Guardian
  • Widdecombe calls for ‘a sense of proportionality’ – Daily Mail
  • Weinstein ‘used ex-Mossad agents to spy on his accusers’ – The Times

Opinion

>Yesterday: James Frayne’s column: Westminster’s reputation is already so poor that the harassment scandal won’t change voters’ opinions

Fox calls for ‘liberal and open’ Brexit

‘Britain should break free from EU regulations to help secure the best post-Brexit trade deals with other countries, Liam Fox has suggested. As he published a new Trade Bill, the International Trade Secretary called for a ‘liberal and open’ arrangement with Europe after we leave. That would provide Britain with the ‘maximum opportunity’ for new trade agreements with non-EU countries, he argued. The debate raging within Cabinet is how closely Britain should move away from single market rules post-Brexit. Chancellor Philip Hammond and others have argued for the UK to stay closely aligned to Brussels to help secure the best possible EU trade deal. But Leavers want a more flexible approach to give more leeway for deals with other countries.’ – Daily Mail

  • Scottish Tories call for compromise on regained powers – The Scotsman
  • How to avoid a devolution crisis over Brexit – Adam Tomkins, The Scotsman
  • Debate over trade defences – FT
  • It’s official – Britons feel happier since voting to Leave – The Sun
  • Soubry accuses the Government of ‘gross contempt’ for delaying publication of Brexit reports – The Times
  • May is messing up Brexit – Andrew Lilico, Daily Telegraph
  • Public faith in her handling of the negotiations is falling – Daily Telegraph
  • Exiled Catalan leader condemns the EU’s support for Madrid’s clampdown – Daily Mail

>Today: Rebecca Lowe Coulson’s column: Luther voted Brexit! And other errors about Britain and the Reformation.

Rudd presses to remove students from the net migration numbers

‘Amber Rudd, the home secretary, is leading a new cabinet push to remove students from the government’s immigration targets, in a move that will delight universities but put her on course for a clash with the prime minister. Theresa May is said by one minister to be “in a minority of one” in the cabinet in believing that students must be counted in the target, and she has been implacable in her resistance to any change in policy. But Ms Rudd believes that unless the prime minister changes her position in the coming weeks, the government will suffer a humiliating defeat early next year when the Commons considers a bill to set up a post-Brexit immigration regime. One ally of the home secretary said it was certain that there would be an attempt to amend the Immigration bill: “We’re going to have to do something about this ourselves, or we will be forced into doing it.”’ – FT

  • Migrant criminals might not face records checks – Daily Mail
  • EU citizens will face tougher deportation laws – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Brandon Lewis on Comment: Our immigration policy. Taking back control with compassion.

Wallace: The Conservatives have allowed Labour to dominate the economic debate

‘So much effort is taken up by Brexit…and the management of a minority Government, that nothing is left for good policies. Even if new ideas were conjured up, May dares not offend even a single MP on her own benches. The results are depressing, with the Tories trailing a far bolder Labour Party. Attempts to look generous by loosening the purse strings a touch are swamped by Labour’s free-spending pledges. May’s promises to make unpopular utilities behave better are overwhelmed by muscular threats to renationalise everything in sight…As the Conservatives fail to fight back against Corbyn, they let him keep making the running. Businesses are already happy to court him, giving the leader of the opposition as much time as the PM on stage at the conference – bolstering his image as a PM in the making. If the Tories can only offer Corbynism-lite, voters will conclude they might as well choose the real deal.’ – Tim Wallace, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Ideas for the Budget 3) Fiona Bruce: It should start to reduce the huge costs of family breakdown

Labour-run councils use offshore firms to avoid millions in tax

‘Labour councils are using offshore companies to avoid paying millions of pounds in tax, The Times can reveal. Jeremy Corbyn was accused of hypocrisy yesterday after an investigation found that two authorities controlled by his party avoided paying more than £12 million in stamp duty on the purchase of commercial properties. On Monday Mr Corbyn hinted that the Queen should apologise if the offshore investment of £10 million of her personal wealth — as revealed in the leaked Paradise Papers — was designed to avoid tax. Yet in May Sefton council in Merseyside bought the New Strand shopping centre in Bootle via a Luxembourg-registered company for £32.5 million, saving £1.6 million in stamp duty. The council also bought insurance against the possibility that the taxman might chase it for payment.’ – The Times

Portas’s Save The High Street campaign has failed

‘Mary Portas’ “Save the High Street” campaign has failed, figures show, as the towns under her watch have lost nearly a thousand shops in five years. The Government-backed program saw 12 towns handed a portion of a £1.2 million grant and support from the retail guru and Ministers, in a bid to transform them into thriving retail hubs. But since its launch in 2012 the towns have lost nearly one in five of their shops, the Local Data Company has found, around the same rate of decline as the rest of the country. Following the disclosure Portas has accused the Government of using her campaign as a PR exercise. She claimed it was used to create the impression that efforts were being made to revive Britain’s high streets, when in fact no policies were created at all. And last night the self-proclaimed “Queen of Shops” renewed calls for Phillip Hammond to scrap business rates.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • 600,000 small firms could face a rate hike – Daily Mail

Ashcroft: We salute a centenary of service by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

‘In May 1917, the Imperial War Graves Commission was established by Royal Charter with the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII) as its President and Ware as its Vice Chairman. Three eminent architects, including Lutyens, were commissioned to design the cemeteries and memorials, and Rudyard Kipling was appointed as literary adviser to propose inscriptions. The principles of the organisation — renamed the CWGC in 1960 — are that each of the war dead should be commemorated by name on a headstone or memorial, and that these should be permanent. Furthermore, headstones should be uniform with no distinction made on account of military or civil rank, race or creed…Typically, the remains of 20 to 30 soldiers are still found each year in Western Europe, usually owing to new construction projects or farm work. Once discovered, the CWGC immediately sends out a specialist team to recover both the body parts and anything that is found with them.’ – Lord Ashcroft, Daily Mail

  • Have I Got News For You bans Letts from wearing a poppy on air – Daily Mail
  • All hail the last Dambuster – The Sun Says
  • Australia raises concerns about plans for a wind farm on a First World War battlefield – Daily Telegraph

Worst rail strike in 20 years

‘Commuters are today facing the worst rail strike in decades, with staff from five major operators walking out over driver-only trains. Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on Southern, South Western Railway and Greater Anglia will strike today and tomorrow while a 24-hour walkout will be held at Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North today. Hundreds of services will be cancelled, replacement buses will be laid on and services that do run will be busier than normal, passengers have been warned. The strike comes despite a proposed agreement to increase pay by 28.5 per cent over the next five years. Drivers’ union Aslef were keen for its members to accept the deal, but the conductor-heavy RMT union rejected it. Many passengers took to Twitter to vent their fury at the strike and disruption it is causing, as services were cancelled and running late.’ – Daily Mail

  • It’s just the start – FT

News in Brief

13 comments for: Newslinks for Wednesday 8th November 2017

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