The rule of law is “under attack” from Boris Johnson’s internal markets plan for Brexit, according to the Law Society. The solicitors’ body said “we have a choice about what sort of country we want to be and what we want to be known for around the world”.
The controversial proposal to tear up part of the Brexit treaty with the European Union passed its second reading in the Commons on Monday by a majority of 77 despite a rebellion among Tory MPs.
Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer has called on the government to implement a targeted extension of its furlough scheme, as millions of job losses loom.
David Cameron drowned Brexit sorrows with ‘endless bottles of wine, whisky and brandy’ and a Cuban cigar, book claims
David Cameron reportedly drowned his sorrows after losing the Brexit referendum with a “lethal” negroni cocktail followed by wine, whisky and a “fat” Cuban cigar during a dinner with friends, Jon Sharman writes.
The chastened prime minister bolted from Downing Street to his home in Dean, Oxfordshire, on the day of his defeat, and asked the then Conservative MP Sir Hugo Swire and his wife, Sasha, to come along with “plenty of booze”.
The claims are published in The Times, which is serialising Lady Swire’s tell-all new book, Diary of an MP’s Wife: Inside and Outside Power.
A previous extract claimed that during a long coastal walk Mr Cameron asked Lady Swire to walk behind him, because “that scent you are wearing … makes me want to grab you and push you into the bushes and give you one”.
According to the book, Sir Hugo and Lady Swire arrived at the Cameron home days after the Brexit result, laden down with alcohol and top-end Cohiba cigars, to discover Samantha Cameron “devastated” by the result.
Lady Swire writes: “When Dave arrives, he makes a lethal negroni before we progress to endless bottles of wine, whisky and brandy. Over dinner, he is incandescent with anger, which is almost wholly directed against Michael [Gove].
“As for Boris [Johnson], he says that this whole episode was to do with his leadership ambitions and that he despised his lack of ideology, which is a tad ironic.”
Andy Gregory15 September 2020 17:22
Alex Salmond accuses Scottish Government of leaking information about him in ‘selective and deliberately misleading’ way
After the Daily Record reported that Alex Salmond blocked the release of government papers to the Holyrood inquiry into how complaints against him were handled, the former first minister’s lawyer has said the claim is untrue and that the information “can only have come from the Scottish Government”, based on a confidential letter.
Deputy first minister John Swinney has refused to provide some legal and court papers related to the Scottish Government’s unlawful investigation into harassment claims against Mr Salmond, telling a committee that an unnamed individual – reported by the Record to be Mr Salmond – has objected to the documents’ release.
Lawyer David McKie said the claim is untrue and that the “highly defamatory and misleading article” must have been based on information sent to Holyrood “in a letter marked ‘private and confidential’” and then leaked by the Scottish Government in a “clear data breach”.
Writing to the Scottish Government, Mr McKie said: “We are appalled that correspondence with the Scottish Government on matters as sensitive as those involved in this case cannot be sent with any confidence that they will be treated appropriately and in good faith.
“Furthermore, the breach appears to have been selective and deliberately misleading. It has resulted in a highly defamatory and misleading article being published about our client.
“That, doubtless, was the intention.”
The Scottish Government has not yet commented on the accusations.
Andy Gregory15 September 2020 16:54
Liberal Democrats plan to woo ‘soft conservatives’ repulsed by ‘thuggish’ Johnson Tories
The Liberal Democrats new campaigning chief has revealed the party is planning a four-year drive to woo “soft conservatives” repulsed by the “thuggish” values of the Tories under Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings, our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports.
Speaking to The Independent in an interview to announce her election as deputy to leader Sir Ed Davey, Daisy Cooper said that the route out of the Lib Dems’ current electoral trough could be found through appealing to voters who had always thought of themselves as conservatives but found the current government at odds with their values of competent governance, respect for the law, international alliances, civil liberties and protection of the environment.
Mr Johnson’s current threat to breach Britain’s obligations under international treaty law in his row with the EU was the latest in a chain of shocking acts which showed his party no longer represented the values of moderate voters, she said.
In a sharp change of tactics from former leader Jo Swinson’s approach in last December’s election – when she flopped after declaring herself a potential prime minister looking to win seats across the country – Ms Cooper made clear she will be tightly focusing on winnable Tory-held seats where she can deploy an army of activists in a long-term war of attrition.
Andy Gregory15 September 2020 16:24
Covid test centre shut down to make way for Brexit lorry park
A coronavirus testing centre in Kent has been shut down in order to allow preparations for a lorry park to deal with queues expected after the Brexit transition period ends.
The land by Ebbsfleet international railway station is understood to be earmarked as one of a number of inland facilities being prepared to handle delays for hauliers caused by Brexit.
Planning permission was granted to the site in September 2019 but works were put on hold when the coronavirus pandemic hit and the car park was employed as a testing site.
Here’s our political editor Andrew Woodcock with more:
Liam James15 September 2020 15:43
Latest government approval figures out
The latest YouGov polling data shows 51 per cent of people disapprove of the government, up by 1 per cent on last week’s figure.
The data, recorded up to 14 September, shows no change in the percentage of people saying they approve of the government (30 per cent).
Liam James15 September 2020 15:27
Outlaw ‘fire-and-rehire’ tactics, says Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer has called for the “fire-and-rehire tactics” used by some employers during the pandemic to be outlawed.
Addressing the Trades Union Congress conference, the Labour leader said firing and rehiring — when people are made redundant before being hired back on worse pay — was “against British values”.
The practice should be illegal, Sir Keir said, adding: “These tactics punish good employers, hit working people hard and harm our economy.”
He made specific reference to the use of the tactic by companies including British Airways and British Gas, both of which have been criticised for their treatment of workers during the pandemic.
“So, I’m calling on the Government to act now – introduce legislation to end fire and rehire,” Sir Keir said.
Liam James15 September 2020 14:52
No 10 warns peers not to block Brexit Bill
Downing Street has issued a warning to peers not to attempt to block the Internal Market Bill, which passed its first vote in the House of Commons yesterday.
“We would expect the Lords to abide by the Salisbury Convention,” a Downing Street spokesperson said, referring to a tradition whereby peers do not oppose government legislation set out in its manifesto at second or third reading.
“Guaranteeing the full economic benefit of leaving the EU to all parts of the United Kingdom and ensuring Northern Ireland’s businesses and producers enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK were clear Conservative manifesto commitments which this legislation delivers.”
The 2019 Conservative manifesto states: “Northern Ireland will enjoy the full economic benefits of Brexit including new free trade agreements with the rest of the world. We will ensure that Northern Ireland’s businesses and producers enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK and that in the implementation of our Brexit deal, we maintain and strengthen the integrity and smooth operation of our internal market.”
Liam James15 September 2020 14:14
No social care plan this year, minister admits
The government’s long-awaited and much-promised social care plan is set to be delayed until next year, peers have heard.
Lord Bethell, the health and social care minister, said he could not commit to a plan before the end of 2020.
At question time in the Lords, he said it would require a “huge amount of political collaboration” and was likely to take longer.
The minister was replying to Labour’s Baroness Thornton who asked him to commit to publishing a plan for the future funding and provision of social care by the end of this year “as the Prime Minister promised in January”.
She also called for a clear social care winter plan to ensure no one with Covid-19 was discharged from a hospital into a care home “to prevent a repeat of the terrible impact this had in the first months of this crisis”.
Lord Bethell said: “I cannot commit to a social care plan before the end of the year. This is something that will require a huge amount of political collaboration and I suspect it will take longer than the next few months.”
If you’d like a reminder about how the promises of a social care plan have panned out, here is a story from March:
Jon Sharman15 September 2020 13:45
Hancock pressured over ‘rule of six’ and children
Chris Grayling has called on the government to make the “rule of six” “fair” for families.
The Conservative former cabinet minister told MPs: “If you are lucky or unlucky enough to have four very young children, under these rules you’re not actually allowed to meet another household at all.
“And I do hope that the government will keep the rules under careful review and to look at every way possible of making them as fair as possible for every family.”
Matt Hancock replied: “Yes, I do understand, I do understand the point that [Mr Grayling] is making and we do understand the impact that these rules that we have to put in place have.
“It is the same around the world that the rules that needed to be put in place to deal with the pandemic are not pleasant ones or ones that anybody would want to have enforced, but they are unfortunately necessary to save lives.”
And Huw Merriman, another Conservative, told the Commons: “Many of my constituents are struggling to understand why they can play five-a-side football but two connected families of five each cannot meet.
“Can I ask the secretary of state whether he will look at flexibility when local rates permit and also excluding under 12s? Christmas is just around the corner, I know he has to think about the health of the nation but I really would urge some flexibility on the part of the government.”
The health secretary said children did transmit Covid-19 and that the rule in place was “as simple as possible” considering the risks, adding: “We do take an approach that’s different in different areas according to the extent of cases locally and that’s a very important part of one of the tools in our armoury.”
Jon Sharman15 September 2020 13:17
Average travel distance for Covid-19 test has fallen, says Hancock
The average distance travelled for a coronavirus test has fallen to 5.8 miles from 6.4 miles last week, Matt Hancock has said.
Jon Sharman15 September 2020 12:56