Published:

Tories rebel over vote to block MP’s suspension

“Boris Johnson has been accused of a “colossal misjudgment” after 51 Tory MPs rebelled over his decision to block the suspension of a senior Tory MP who broke lobbying rules. Owen Paterson, a former cabinet minister, had faced a six-week suspension after parliament’s standards committee found that he had breached lobbying rules on behalf of two companies, which between them were paying him more than £100,000 a year. The government whipped MPs yesterday to back an amendment to pause Paterson’s case and convene a new select committee to set up an independent appeals body, in a significant overhaul of the standards system. The amendment passed by 18 votes after 13 Tory MPs opposed it and a further 38 abstained in one of the biggest rebellions of Johnson’s premiership. One of those who abstained, Angela Richardson, suggested that she had been sacked as parliamentary private secretary to Michael Gove as a result.” – The Times

  • Parliament’s chief sleaze inquisitor must quit, says Paterson – Daily Telegraph
  • She refuses – Daily Mail
  • Johnson accused of creating ‘dark day for democracy’ after tearing up anti-sleaze rules – The Sun
  • Paterson: his claims and how they stack up in analysis – The Guardian

>Yesterday:

Reform of Commons standards watchdog in tatters after opposition parties threaten boycott

“The Conservatives succeeded on Wednesday night in an attempt to overhaul the system of scrutiny of MPs – but their plans for a new watchdog were left in turmoil after the other major parties staged a boycott. In an unprecedented move, MPs voted not to back the cross-party Standards Committee’s call for a six-week ban from Parliament for Mr Paterson, after it found he repeatedly lobbied ministers and officials for two companies paying him more than £100,000 per year. Instead, MPs backed an amendment calling for a review of his case and wider reform of the standards system after Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, questioned whether the investigation into Mr Paterson was fair. However, by Wednesday night there was a large question mark over the reforms after Labour, the SNP and Liberal Democrats all said they would not cooperate with a cross-party select committee that has now been set up to draw up a new way of policing MPs’ behaviour.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Labour will boycott sleaze commission, says Starmer – The Guardian
  • Whittingdale is MPs’ favourite to set up new conduct watchdog – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Johnson’s plan for dealing with the Paterson case has failed. His choice now is: back down – or risk real damage.

Paul Goodman: Do we trust MPs? They’re about to find out

“I can’t prove a link between a broad sense among MPs of all parties that they are being treated unfairly by voters and a narrower one among Tory backbenchers that Paterson was treated unfairly by the commissioner (or, even if they are not sure that he has been, that a system which comes for him today may come for them tomorrow). But the stabbing to death of a popular MP may have contributed to a resolve among some Conservative MPs to make a stand against arrangements they see as biased against them. What do they want instead? The answer isn’t hard to conjure. They yearn for a Commons with a more relaxed culture, lower turnover and (maybe) more able people standing for parliament: one in which MPs have more of a say in policing themselves and others less. Are voters really ready to back such a view and give MPs the benefit of the doubt? As I say, it’s possible. But very unlikely.” – The Times

  • Dangerous proof this overmighty government will twist rules to suit its own grubby interests – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • A shameful day for British politics – Robert Shrimsley, FT

>Yesterday: Anthony Mangnall MP in Comment: It’s time to overhaul Parliament’s out-of-date standards procedures

Kwarteng describes coal deal as ‘milestone moment’

“Ministers claimed the ‘end of coal’ was in sight last night after unveiling a major new agreement to phase it out – but they failed to win any movement from big polluters like China. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said 190 world leaders and bodies had agreed to stop using coal power and would end funding for new plants. And the UK, USA, Poland, Vietnam, Egypt, Chile and Morocco were among more than 40 countries who signed up to a separate commitment to end investment in coal power plants at home and abroad. Mr Kwarteng said it represented a ‘milestone moment’ and that coal had ‘no part to play’ in future power generation. But, crucially, the new commitments did not include major polluters like China, India, Russia and Brazil.” – Daily Mail

  • We’re all Swampys now, says Sharma as finance world goes green – The Times

More:

  • UK industry hits out at government silence on helping big energy users – FT
  • Sunak ‘handed keys’ to £2.5BN lithium market as ‘record’ deposits found – Daily Express

>Today: John Hartley in Local Government: How we are responding to the climate crisis in Wychavon

>Yesterday:

UK set to take inflexible line over Brexit fishing row in next talks

“The British government has played down hopes of a breakthrough in a row with France over post-Brexit fishing licences, despite European perceptions of a “constructive” spirit and “positive dynamic”. The French transport minister, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, said he had spoken to his UK counterpart on Tuesday evening. “The spirit is a constructive one,” he said, noting that French fishers had been granted 49 more licences on Monday. But a UK government spokesperson said the Brexit minister, David Frost, would “reaffirm our existing position” when he meets France’s Europe minister, Clément Beaune, in Paris on Thursday to discuss the issue. Tensions could be eased, however, by a French court ruling on Wednesday that a British scallop dredger seized by French authorities last week could leave immediately with no requirement to pay a €150,000 (£127,000) deposit.” – The Guardian

  • Frost is set to lay down the law to President – Daily Mail
  • ‘Sulking’ Macron left COP26 summit after being snubbed by Johnson – The Sun

More:

  • Arrests in Belfast after police attacked in Brexit protocol unrest – The Guardian
  • EU challenges UK to game of chicken over Article 16 – Daily Express

>Today: Stephen Booth’s column: Macron, fishing – and the existential Brexit angst of the French establishment

>Yesterday: Profiles: Emmanuel Macron, grandstander over fishing. A campaigner of genius – but not a man to be taken literally.

Cash-strapped councils must sell off town halls and public toilets, warns minister

“Two struggling councils have been warned they face government intervention unless they selloff publicly-owned assets, including town halls, public toilets, leisure centres and libraries, and push ahead with further cuts to services. The threat by local government minister, Kemi Badenoch, followed publication of reviews into the two councils’ finances which concluded both ran the risk of failing to balance their budget – effectively going bankrupt – without urgent action. Badenoch told Peterborough city council, which is run by the Conservatives in alliance with independents, and Wirral council – run by a minority Labour administration – they must set out plans within 30 days to balance the books or face possible intervention.” – The Guardian

NHS staff will not have to be vaccinated this winter

“NHS workers will not be forced to have a Covid jab this winter under plans being considered by ministers, despite warnings that rising cases could see the public put under greater restrictions. Compulsory vaccinations for NHS staff are expected to be announced next week, but The Telegraph understands that, under the proposals, the rules will not be enforced until March 31. Earlier this year, the Government launched a consultation on making vaccines mandatory for NHS staff. It said such a move would protect patients and doctors in the winter. Such rules have already been introduced for care homes and will come into force next week. The climbdown on NHS vaccinations comes amid growing concern over the faltering booster jabs programme.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Javid’s hard line on making NHS staff in England get jabbed may pay off – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Robert Halfon MP’s column: How my new Bill can protect millions of pupils and students from the disaster of future school shutdowns

Starmer left red-faced as thousands of members’ personal data affected in ‘significant’ cyber breach

“Labour was today forced to admit thousands of members’ personal details have been affected by a “significant” cyber breach. Security experts are investigating after an IT firm which handles data on the party’s behalf was compromised. The full scale of the incident is being investigated but Labour’s own data systems were unaffected. Bigwigs urged all members and supporters to be “especially vigilant” against fraud attempts over the next few days. It’s not the first time the party has been hit by a cyber attack, and the incident will prove embarrassing for its leader. A Labour spokesman said they were informed of the breach on October 29 by the IT firm, which has not been named… Labour is “working closely and on an urgent basis” with the IT firm in order to understand the full nature, circumstances and impact of the incident.” – The Sun

SNP accused of ‘cynical’ waste of £200,000 of taxpayers’ money

“SNP ministers have been accused of squandering public money after almost £200,000 of taxpayers’ cash was spent on a “cynical” legal fight over legislation that exceeded devolved powers. Supreme Court judges last month ruled decisively in favour of the UK Government, which challenged two Holyrood Bills designed to enshrine treaties on children’s rights into Scots law, on the basis that they overstepped the limits of devolution. Nationalist ministers had refused to change the legislation, despite being warned by the Scottish Secretary that it was flawed, and then attempted to turn the row into a political issue ahead of May’s Holyrood elections. Information released under the Freedom of Information Act shows that, as of early October, the Scottish Government had spent £97,850 on legal costs related to the Supreme Court case.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Johnson wants net zero by 2050. Are his voters behind him? – Tim Bale, The Loop
  • Patience with Protocol negotiations is wearing thin – Owen Polley, CapX
  • The Republicans’ shock win in Virginia proves Bidenism is dead – Joel Kotkin, UnHerd
  • Biden’s plummeting presidency – Freddy Gray, The Spectator
  • Welcome back, feminists – David Starkey, The Critic