Boris Johnson is considering proposals to shrink the size of the Cabinet after key backers urged him to slim down the Government if he becomes prime minister. Mr Johnson has already voiced a desire to merge the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office, but supporters are encouraging him to go further by reviewing the future of seven or more other departments to save billions of pounds. The departments for Justice, Business, Culture, International Trade, Work and Pensions, Transport, and Brexit could all be abolished or merged with other departments under plans being championed by members of Mr Johnson’s team. Among those backing Mr Johnson’s campaign who are in favour of cutting the number of departments are Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary, Andrea Leadsom, the former leader of the house, Chris Heaton-Harris, the former Brexit minister, Liz Truss, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and Priti Patel, the former international development secretary.
BORIS Johnson could be set to slash the Cabinet in half by scrapping whole government departments in a bid to save £8bn if he is elected Prime Minister. The Tory leadership hopeful is reported to be considering a move to abolish or merge departments such as Justice, Transport and Work and Pensions. The former Foreign Secretary has already said he wants to merge the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office. It is thought combining the Departments for International Trade and International Development with the Foreign Office would save £1 billion.
Jeremy Hunt was accused of “spouting macho nonsense” yesterday after he threatened to cancel civil service leave next month if Whitehall cannot convince him that it is prepared for a no-deal Brexit. The Tory leadership contender and foreign secretary said that, if elected, on his first day in office he would order government departments to present their plans for leaving the EU without an agreement on October 31. He warned that all August leave would be cancelled unless permanent secretaries confirmed to him in writing that their department’s plans were “on time and on track”.
TORY leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt has distanced himself from Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, suggesting he argued against the inclusion of the backstop plan for Northern Ireland. Meanwhile Labour’s hard-left faction Momentum is to target Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat in a bid to remove him as MP at the next election – even if he does succeed Theresa May as Tory leader and Prime Minister. Speaking on Sky News, Mr Hunt vowed to take a “different approach” to Brexit negotiations – despite having been at PM Theresa May’s side throughout the process of previous talks with the EU.
Conservative leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson has said he would increase stop and search powers in a bid to tackle rising knife crime in the UK. Answering questions from Tory members over the phone, Johnson admitted extra funding was needed to support police in order to beat the “nightmare” issue. “But it’s also about giving police the political cover and support they need to do stop and search and to come down hard on those carrying knives,” he said.
Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt has unveiled his 10-point plan to handle a no-deal Brexit, vowing to “cease all discussions” with Brussels on 30 September if the EU fails to budge. He also claimed to have been told by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, that she would be willing to look at any new Brexit the next British PM comes up with. It came as his rival, Boris Johnson, was heckled at a garden centre and accused of misrepresenting the ideas of a 14th century Tunisian scholar after claiming he could cut taxes and increase revenue.
John Bercow has blocked a fresh attempt to prevent no deal Brexit. The speaker put a stop to the amendment masterminded by Dominic Grieve and Dame Margaret Beckett which planned to deprive key public services of funding if there was a no-deal Brexit. The pair wanted MPs to vote to stunt funding to the Department for Education, Department for Work and Pensions, Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, as well as the Department for International Development, if the UK crashed out of the EU with no deal. Mr Bercow’s rejection of the amendment makes it the second failed attempt in recent time by the Commons to stop No Deal.
MPs plotting to stop a no-deal Brexit have suffered a setback after the Speaker of the Commons killed off a radical move to stage a US-style ‘shutdown’ of government. Veteran MPs Dominic Grieve and Dame Margaret Beckett had tabled an amendment aimed at stopping new Whitehall spending on overseas aid and education. Under the plan to hijack the so-called annual ‘Estimates’ votes due this week, the grandees wanted to halt all flows of cash if a new prime minister went ahead with a no-deal exit. But John Bercow announced on Monday that he was not selecting the key amendment.
A PLOT to stop a No Deal Brexit by cutting off schools spending came to grief when the Speaker rejected the move. It was the second failed attempt in a fortnight to use Parliamentary mechanisms to block the possibility. But Remainer MPs will try the same ruse today, putting forward another amendment that would cut-off funding for government departments in charge of pensions, housing and local government. Yesterday’s move, by leading Tory Remainer Dominic Grieve and Labour grandee Dame Margaret Beckett, would have stopped crucial money going to schools if No Deal went ahead.
IAIN DUNCAN SMITH has outlined 11 facts about GATT 24 which he claims means a no deal Brexit wouldn’t be a complete disaster for the UK. GATT 24 is Article 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and is a piece of World Trade Organisation (WTO) law which allows for tariff-free trade for up to 10 years while a permanent trade agreement is negotiated. It only applies to goods and has no impact on the trade in services or on issues such as regulations and standards. Now Mr Duncan Smith has joined prominent Brexiteers including Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg in touting GATT 24 as a means to safely deliver a no deal Brexit.
Moves to withhold Whitehall spending if the UK leaves the EU without agreement collapsed yesterday, prompting warnings that MPs are unlikely to get another chance to stop a no-deal Brexit until the autumn. Margaret Beckett, the former Labour foreign secretary, and Dominic Grieve, the Conservative former attorney-general, had laid amendments to Commons votes due today or tomorrow on the so-called estimates which provide parliamentary approval for government spending. If successful they would have constrained the next prime minister from delivering a no-deal Brexit, a threat both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt insist is necessary to reach a better agreement with Brussels.
MPs’ hopes of stopping a no-deal Brexit have suffered a further blow after an expected showdown on Tuesday evening was blocked by John Bercow. A controversial amendment – to cut off funding to vital departments if the UK crashes out of the EU without an agreement, to make the outcome untenable – was not selected by the Speaker. It is the second failed attempt by the Commons to stop a no-deal within a month, with some MPs increasingly gloomy that a way will be found with the clock ticking down to the 31 October deadline.
The government urgently needs to legislate to protect elections from online interference, senior politicians have said. British authorities are failing to respond to serious dangers posed by the internet and could be allowing future referendums and other votes to be compromised by foreign actors, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has warned. MPs on the committee said the government was not focused enough on the issues raised by its “online harms white paper”, which aims to make sure tech giants behave responsibly and regulate the content they share.
The government is ignoring calls to protect future elections from foreign interference online, MPs say. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee said it was disappointed by the lack of focus on the issue in the online harms white paper, which aims to make tech giants more accountable for the content on their platforms under the observation of a regulator. New legislation to address the matter should be introduced within six months, the committee said in its report. It also demanded it be granted statutory veto powers for the appointment and dismissal of the chief executive of the new regulator.
A furious Emmanuel Macron criticised the “profoundly tainted” EU on Monday, after divided leaders failed to break the deadlock over who should succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission president despite 20 hours of intense overnight negotiations. “We ended the day on what we can call a failure. It’s a very bad image we are giving of the Council and Europe, no one can be satisfied with what happened over so many hours,” the French president said. “Our credibility is profoundly tainted with these meetings that are too long and lead to nothing, we give an image of Europe that isn’t serious,” he told reporters at the Brussels summit as he openly vented his frustration at the deadlocked process.
The prospect of a deeply divided and weakened EU unable to deal with Brexit forced Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macon into a climbdown over the top Brussels jobs. The French and German leaders backed off from imposing their preferred candidate, Frans Timmermans, 58, a Dutch socialist, as the next president of the European Commission because of fears that it would leave the EU too divided to face the British prime minister this autumn.
Theresa May was forced to hold a dead-of-night meeting with Donald Tusk today before catching a brief nap in a pokey office in Brussels because of squabbling EU leaders. The Prime Minister’s long-arranged bilateral meeting with the European Council president finally took place at 3am as politicians failed to agree on a new head of the European Commission after marathon talks lasting 20 hours. She then had a few hours respite in the UK delegation’s office in the Brussels machine before the back-and-forth started again – before breaking off without agreement.
Labour is considering restrictions on the owners of buy-to-let properties to try to rein in house prices. The party said it was looking at capping rent rises at inflation – with the abolition of tax breaks for those charging ‘excessively’. And it wants to see tighter controls on the ability of landlords to evict renters ‘on spurious grounds’. This could include ending a property owner’s automatic right to sell. The ideas are contained in a radical report, commissioned by the party, which calls on Labour to try to stabilise house prices.
LABOUR’S nationalisation plans will clobber 300,000 former workers from the coal and steel industries. The pension pots of mineworkers, staff at British Coal and British Steel include investments in the energy, water and PFI sectors targeted by Jeremy Corbyn. Both he and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell have repeatedly warned shareholders will not be fully compensated. Analysis shows retired workers from Labour-dominated councils ranging from Greater Manchester to Brent in North London would also suffer.
Momentum has launched a bid to make Boris Johnson the first sitting Prime Minister to lose his seat. The former Foreign Secretary’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat is precarious, with his majority having halved at the last election. And now the Jeremy Corbyn-supporting campaign group has launched a mass canvassing and social media campaign to unseat him altogether. Johnson has a majority of just 5,034 – and if selected as Prime Minister would have the smallest personal majority of any candidate since Ramsay MacDonald in 1924.
Lib Dem leadership hopeful Jo Swinson could lead her party back into coalition with the Tories, she admitted. The bookies’ favourite to succeed Sir Vince Cable also left the door open to a pact with Labour . But her confession she could once again help prop up a Conservative government will revive memories of the Lib Dems’ student tuition fees’ betrayal during five years of austerity-fuelled power. She said: “I have not said never in any future scenario, where things are different.”
Ann Widdecombe will attempt a return to Westminster as a Brexit Party MP almost a decade after she left. The former Conservative minister, 71, who was last a member of parliament in 2010, was elected to the European parliament in May after defecting to Nigel Farage’s new party. Now she and more than a dozen other Brexit Party MEPs have their sights on a Commons seat. She is one of more than a hundred candidates for the next general election whose identity the party had tried to keep shrouded in secrecy, despite parading many of them on stage behind Mr Farage at a mass rally in Birmingham at the weekend.
THE Brexit Party has 100 MP candidates ready to field every Westminster constituency in a general election, Nigel Farage announced on Sunday. So which marginals will they have their eye on? Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage unveiled the new candidates at a 5,000-strong rally in Birmingham on Sunday. He declined to name the would-be MPs, but said they included teachers, an economist and a forklift driver. Mr Farage said his new outfit would be ready to field candidates in every Westminster constituency within days. And party chairman Richard Tice said they would have enough candidates to contest all seats within days.
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party unveiled the start of their domestic agenda in Birmingham yesterday, saving billions by ditching HS2 and instead pledging to ‘invest in the rest’ with a huge regional investment program. At a packed out rally that drew thousands of supporters yesterday, the party pledged to cut the £14 billion foreign aid budget in half, refuse to hand £39 billion to Brussels and shelve the incredibly costly High Speed 2 project. This would allow for a £200 billion ‘Brexit booster’ plan that would see mass investment in areas outside of London that have been forgotten about.
NIGEL Farage’s Brexit Party has revealed plans to get ready for an election in weeks as it announces its policies to halve foreign aid, write off student dent and give free Wi-Fi to everyone. At a packed party rally in Birmingham Farage unveiled his blueprint for Brexit Britain – and vowed to target every seat. And he revealed the Brexit Party has already chosen 100 candidates to fight seats for it at the next general election – but didn’t release their names. The list includes two ex-cops, ten who were in the military and a forklift driver. Several doctors, teachers and nurses are in the mix too. All the names will be revealed next month, party sources said.
Twenty-six “Muslim scholars” based in Britain have called for “fascist” Israel to be returned to the Arabs, and expressed their hope that “Jerusalem will be the capital of the Islamic Caliphate when it returns, Allah willing.” 5Pillars, which describes itself as “The largest *regulated* Muslim news site in Europe & the Americas” — but has been described by Lead Commissioner for the Commission for Countering Extremism Sara Khan as “Islamist” — published the open letter on its website, and invited “Any Muslim scholar who would like to sign this open statement” to get in touch. The statement, which 5Pillars say was “spearheaded by Shaykh Asrar Rashid from Birmingham”, asserts that the signatories “do not recognise ‘Israel’ as a legitimate state.”
One in three councils fear they will run out of funding to provide vital services such as child protection and care for the elderly within three years. A survey found that town hall leaders believe they will not be able to provide the services they are bound to provide by law by 2022/23. These include adult social care, protecting children and preventing homelessness. The shocking survey by the Local Government Association also reveals that two thirds of councils believe they will run out of funding to meet their legal obligations by 2024/25.
Eleven thousand patients a year may be dying as a result of NHS blunders amid a “blame game” culture between staff, health chiefs have warned. A new safety strategy says thousands of lives may be being lost – with older patients most likely to fall victim – because errors are being repeated as medics “close ranks”. NHS leaders will on Tuesday unveil plans to save 1,000 lives a year within five years, under a radical strategy to ensure all staff – however junior – are trained to act if they spot risks. Officials will say that conservative estimates suggest that 11,000 lives a year may be being lost across the country, as a result of safety failings – at an annual cost of £1 billion.
Doctors have been treated to gifts including tickets to Wimbledon and England cricket matches by private hospitals eager to get business from their NHS patients, an investigation has found. Seven private hospital firms paid about £1.5 million in gifts and hospitality to consultants who referred patients to them in 2017 and last year, according to a report by the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI). One company, Spire Healthcare, gave away hospitality worth almost £1 million in the two-year period, including a £1,068 ticket for one consultant to watch an England cricket match against the West Indies.
A LONG-term NHS plan aims to see 55,000 more people a year surviving cancer for five years by 2028. Health Secretary Matt Hancock outlined the blueprint for the future to MPs yesterday. Speaking in the Commons, he said the NHS will focus on a radical overhaul of screening programmes, new state-of-the-art technology to make diagnosis faster and greater investment and innovation. The roll-out of rapid diagnosis centres across England will begin later this year following a pilot scheme with Cancer Research UK. The Government hopes three-quarters of cancers will be spotted at stage one or two by 2028. Mr Hancock said: “Early detection and diagnosis are essential to improving a person’s chance of survival.