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Milburn and his fellow Social Mobility Commissioners resign

Shield‘After a year of dealing with Theresa May’s Downing Street, he has had enough. Milburn and his three fellow commissioners are resigning in protest at the government’s refusal to support their work and — perhaps more seriously — his growing belief that ministers are too busy with Brexit to help the disadvantaged communities who voted to leave the EU. “Theresa May has a history of adopting rather unfashionable but just causes like modern slavery, and mental health services. But the ability to do anything is zero. I see precisely no chance of making progress on the issues of the day. They are so concerned with Brexit that there is no bandwidth to focus on any of this stuff.” The paradox is that Milburn believes that failing to deal with social mobility will only fuel the populist forces that led to Brexit in the first place.’ – Sunday Times

Brexit 1) Fears grow that May is planning to let the ECJ keep control

‘Sir Richard Aikens, a Court of Appeal judge until 2015, told the Prime Minister that a proposed “compromise” on oversight by the European Court of Justice was “dangerous” and would be “tantamount to reversing the result of the 2016 referendum”. His warning comes amid a growing Cabinet row over the plans. In an article for the Telegraph, Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader and one of the party’s most influential Eurosceptics, agrees with Sir Richard and warns that the move could lead to European judges overseeing trade disputes. Mrs May is facing mounting protests over the plans from within her Government, with Michael Gove and Boris Johnson understood to be among at least four senior ministers opposing the proposed offer to Brussels. Damian Green, her embattled First Secretary, is said to be pushing for the move, which senior Tories fear could be offered to the EU as soon as Monday.’ – Sunday Telegraph

>Yesterday: Daniel Kawczynski on Comment: Britain should support Polish demands for reparations from Germany

Brexit 2) Boulton: Eurosceptics will accept even a costly deal

‘The UK is on course to violate each of the four red lines laid out by Johnson in his defiant speech, delivered through the pages of The Daily Telegraph, before the Tory conference. Yet last week the foreign secretary and the rest of the cabinet welcomed the progress that had been made. Calm reigned at Westminster as MPs meekly debated the budget, which many had predicted would finish off Philip Hammond the remainer. Instead the latest report from the Department for Exiting the EU agreed with the chancellor that no deal would be “a very, very bad outcome” — not better than a bad deal, as the prime minister has insisted. Nor were the voters “going bananas” about the bill. A straw poll of 1,300 party members by ConservativeHome found that 55% of respondents favoured a payment of £20bn or above, though only 35% went above £40bn. A broader study of the general public’s attitudes by Anthony Wells, the YouGov political director, concluded: “The absolute number probably doesn’t matter that much . . . What will matter is expectation management.”‘ – Adam Boulton, Sunday Times

Police watchdog: Officers accusing Green are breaching confidentiality and harming trust

‘Sir Tom Winsor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, spoke out as the de facto Deputy Prime Minister fought to avoid the sack over ‘smears’ about indecent images being found on his Commons computer during a 2008 raid…Sir Tom warned that officers must not divulge confidential information gathered during investigations. He said: ‘The obligation of confidentiality, and the duty not to break trust, is an enduring one. It does not end when an officer retires. ‘The public need to know that when information about their private lives comes into the possession of the police, and that information is irrelevant to the work of the police, its confidential nature will be respected in perpetuity. If public confidence in this respect is damaged, and people do not believe they can trust the police, great harm may be done. Such violations may have a chilling effect on the willingness of victims and witnesses to co-operate, and that will be at the expense of public safety and justice. Almost all officers, serving and retired, would deprecate actions which flagrantly violate the trust every citizen should have in the police.’ – Mail on Sunday

>Friday: ToryDiary: Whether Green did what is alleged or not, the behaviour of the police in his case is appalling

Hunt: My plan to improve mental health care for children and young people

‘Today, the Government is delivering on its commitment and launching a new £300 million plan to improve support for children and young people’s mental health. First, we want to change the way schools and colleges support young people BEFORE they become seriously unwell – an important part of our work to improve standards in our schools, so our young people have the skills they need to get on in life…Second, by recruiting thousands of professionals to form new mental health support teams, we will dramatically expand the range of treatments that can be offered in or near schools and colleges…And third, for those with serious mental health problems we are pledging faster access to high quality NHS services…On their own, these measures won’t protect our children and young people from the pressures of modern life. But they will make sure that, if they do experience mental ill health, there’s plenty of support around to get them back on their feet.’ – The Sun on Sunday

  • The Health Secretary speaks of the impact of a father’s testimony on NHS reform – Sunday Times
  • He praises Princes’ work on mental health – Sunday Times
  • The UK has the third-lowest number of doctors in the EU – Sunday Times

The Treasury takes a dislike to the Defence Secretary

‘Allies of Chancellor Philip Hammond have accused Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson of stirring up a ‘bogus’ war on defence cuts to win over Armed Forces chiefs. In an extraordinary attack – just days before the two meet to discuss the defence budget – they blamed Mr Williamson for a backbench rebellion, which they said was designed to distract attention from the row over his fast-track promotion to the Cabinet. One source ridiculed Mr Williamson’s lack of defence experience, saying: ‘When Williamson is in with all these grizzled old Forces types he just sits there looking like Private Pike from Dad’s Army.’ But last night a friend of Mr Williamson hit back, saying Mr Hammond had left the Forces in a ‘parlous state’ during his own time as Defence Secretary. Mr Williamson is due to hold talks with Mr Hammond and Theresa May later this week to thrash out how to fill a £2 billion hole in the Ministry of Defence budget.’ – Mail on Sunday

  • Grieve demands greater scrutiny of Special Forces – Sunday Times
  • General warns that cuts could cause helicopter crashes – The Sun on Sunday
  • Whitehall cautioned about Kremlin-linked antivirus firm – The Observer

Hattersley: Fight against Momentum to save Labour’s future

‘Momentum does not disguise how it will use the power which domination of the party machine guarantees. The shift to the left will begin with a revision of Labour rules and continue with the replacement of moderate MPs and councillors with Momentum nominees. The threat to Labour’s future is real and obvious. Yet, not one of those who resigned from the shadow cabinet in protest against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, has publicly condemned what amounts to a takeover. In almost every constituency Labour party, there are men and women who stand ready to challenge the subversion. Indeed, many of them are already fighting lonely battles. They need politicians of principle to defend their aims and values and make plain that moderate democratic socialists have a clear vision of the better Britain which they hope to build. Thirty years ago, moderates won the battle against Militant by taking the campaign to the country and demonstrating that genuine democratic socialism was worth fighting for. Now Momentum is winning by default.’ – Roy Hattersley, The Observer

Survation poll gives Labour an eight-point lead

‘Jeremy Corbyn has stretched his lead over the Tories to eight points – the largest gap in any poll for five months. The poll by Survation, which was the only company to accurately forecast June’s General Election result, puts Labour on 45 per cent, with the Conservatives trailing on 37 per cent. The findings will be greeted with dismay inside No 10, which had taken heart from the fact that despite Theresa May’s multiplying political problems – her disastrous conference speech, the loss of Sir Michael Fallon from her Cabinet in the sex harassment furore and the pornography row hanging over First Secretary Damian Green – it had not fed through into a significant lead for Mr Corbyn.’ – Mail on Sunday

Trump tax plan is passed by the US Senate

‘Donald Trump celebrated the first big legislative victory of his presidency yesterday even as the looming shadow of the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia fell on his inner circle. In an ominous development for Trump, his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI as part of a plea deal to co-operate with the special counsel, Robert Mueller. Mueller’s staff released a statement linking Flynn’s dealings on Russia to a “very senior official” on Trump’s transition team last year. He has been identified by multiple sources as Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who is a top White House adviser. Some Republicans predict that Kushner, whose influence with his father-in-law appears to be on the wane, could be forced to leave the White House to concentrate on his legal defence. For the time being, however, Trump sought to bask in the glow of victory in the Senate, which passed the most sweeping tax rewrite in decades early yesterday.’ – Sunday Times

Concern over MPs ‘marking their own homework’

‘Half of the members of a sifting panel for the appointment of a new Commons sleaze watchdog were MPs who have themselves broken parliamentary rules, the Telegraph can disclose. A four member committee that whittled down 81 candidates for the next Standards Commissioner included Sir Kevin Barron and Sir Paul Beresford, both of whom have been previously found by the current watchdog to have breached the Commons code of conduct. Last night the disclosure prompted fresh concerns about the appointment process for the role and the principle of MPs “marking their own homework.”‘ – Sunday Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Accused, but not charged. Suspended, with no appeal. The limbo existence of Charlie Elphicke.

6 comments for: Newslinks for Sunday 3rd December 2017

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