Henry Bolton Sacked as UKIP Leader

Henry Bolton, the leader of UKIP who refused to stand down despite having lost a vote of no confidence from the national executive committee of the party, has been sacked by party members after a vote. Bolton, who was appointed leader in September 2017, received only 37% support from members.

Gerard Batten will take over as the party’s temporary leader and he said in a statement to the party members:

“I believe that you have made the best decision that you could in the circumstances”.

Prime Minister Congratulates Cyril Ramaphosa on His Appointment as President of South Africa

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has congratulated Cyril Ramaphosa on his recent appointment as the new President of South Africa. Ramaphosa is the fifth President of the country and he replaces Jacob Zuma who resigned following a series of controversies.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister called President Cyril Ramaphosa this afternoon to congratulate him on his recent appointment. Ramaphosa welcomed the call which followed their short discussion at the World Economic Forum, and the Prime Minister extended an invitation for him to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April.

President Ramaphosa confirmed that he looked forward to attending and using the opportunity to discuss deepening the UK-South Africa relationship, including by building on trade ties and working together on South Africa’s transformation agenda”.

Prime Ministers Calls Representatives from Sinn Fein and the DUP After Talks Collapse

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has contacted representatives from Sinn Fein and the DUP following the collapse of power sharing talks in Northern Ireland. Despite hopes for an agreement there is limited hope of any substantial progress being made in the near future.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister spoke to the leaders of Sinn Fein and the DUP on the phone earlier this evening about the recent phase of political talks in Northern Ireland. In both phone calls the Prime Minister expressed her disappointment that an agreement had not yet been reached despite recent progress being made by everyone involved.

She reiterated how the government remains absolutely committed to restoring an Executive and that it is still her firm belief that restoring devolved government – so that democratically elected politicians can make locally accountable decisions – is in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister was clear that she still believes the basis for an agreement exists and recognised the leadership both parties had shown over past weeks and months. She urged them both to reflect on the recent phase of talks in order to find the best way forward.

On next steps, the Prime Minister was clear that the UK government has a responsibility to consider what needed to be done to protect the interests of Northern Ireland in the ongoing absence of an Executive. She added that the Northern Ireland Secretary would continue to work closely with the parties, and the Irish Government in accordance with the three stranded approach, to support that process”.

British Chambers of Commerce Warn of Brexit Recruitment Crisis

Adam Marshall, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, has urged the Government to urgently deal with the recruitment crisis which is being driven by Brexit. In an article for the Guardian newspaper the business leader said that the Government needed to urgently clarify its position on a post-Brexit migration strategy.

In the article Marshall wrote:

“You might not know it, but a crisis is looming on the business parks, industrial estates, construction projects and farms of Britain. As the Brexit process dominates politics – and diverts Westminster’s energy away from virtually every other issue – businesses are struggling to fill vacancies and to find the people they need in order to grow.

In some sectors firms report that labour shortages have reached critical levels. A combination of record employment levels for UK-born people, significant falls in immigration following the devaluation of sterling in 2016, and the total absence of job candidates in some areas is biting hard. British Chambers of Commerce surveys show nearly three-quarters of firms trying to recruit are experiencing difficulties – this is at or near the highest levels since our records began more than 25 years ago”.

He added:

“A failure to act swiftly would hamstring UK firms’ competitiveness, and even send some to the wall. It’s not just about “the best and the brightest” coming to work in the City, our universities and the creative industries. If ministers wish to avoid the sight of unfinished urban buildings, fruit rotting in Herefordshire fields, and care homes and hotels from Bournemouth to Inverness shutting their doors, as well as manufacturers investing in their overseas operations instead of here at home, the time to act is now”.

Jeremy Corbyn Alleged to Have Met Communist Spies

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, has been accused by a former Czech spy of meeting with him during the Cold War. Corbyn has denied the allegations which are based on the publication of declassified Czech records.

Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Defence, said about Corbyn:

“Time and time again he has sided with those who want to destroy everything that is great about this country, whether it is sympathising with terrorists, backing rogue regimes, or cosying up to those who want to inflict pain and misery on the British people. That he met foreign spies is a betrayal of this country. He cannot be trusted”.

Jeremy Corbyn rejected the allegations and said in response to Williamson:

“Gavin Williamson should focus on his job and not give credence to entirely false and ridiculous smears, which as we know from Darren Osborne, can have a potentially deadly effect. Jeremy has consistently made the correct calls in the interests of security and peace, including on the Libyan intervention and his opposition to the disastrous Iraq war that has caused catastrophe in the region and made us less safe at home”.

Government Announces 2,000 Prison Officers Have Been Recruited After Campaign

The Government has said that over 2,000 prison officers have been recruited following a campaign to encourage more people to enter the profession. The announcement comes after prison officer trade unions have expressed concern about the number of attacks on staff in prisons, and have called for increases in staffing.

There were 17,955 prison officers in December 2017, which is an increase of 1,970 officers since October 2016. Officers are also being given additional training in suicide and self-harm in an effort to reduce the number of incidents involving prisoners.

David Gauke, the Secretary of State for Justice, said in a statement:

“I want to commend our hard-working prison officers who do a vital job in protecting the public every day, often in very challenging, difficult and dangerous circumstances. These figures show we are on target to recruit 2,500 additional prison officers.

I am determined to tackle the issues in our prisons head on and I am committed to getting the basics right so we can focus on making them safe and decent places to support rehabilitation. Staffing is the golden thread that links the solutions we need to put in place to drive improvement, so I am delighted our recruitment efforts are working”.

Boris Johnson Makes Controversial Speech on Brexit

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has launched an attack on the European Union in a keynote speech on Brexit. Johnson criticised the negative manner in which Brexit was being cast and said that it could be a “national success”.

Johnson said in the speech:

“If we get the right deal on aviation and on visa-free travel – both of which are in our mutual interest – this expansion of UK tourism will continue, not just beyond the EU, but within the EU itself; and we will continue to go on cheapo flights to stag parties in ancient cities where we will, I’m sure, receive a warm welcome and meet interesting people, fall in love, struggle amiably to learn the European languages – knowledge of which, by the way, has suffered a paradoxical decline during our membership of the EU”.

Keir Starmer, the Shadow Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, said in a statement:

“This speech underlined the Government’s real intentions; a Brexit of deregulation, where rights and protections are casually cast aside and where the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union are ignored. Nobody will be fooled or reassured by the Foreign Secretary’s empty rhetoric. His insistence on deregulating our economy is the opposite of what businesses and trade unions want to hear. Instead of building the consensus we need, the Government’s approach will only further divide the country and put jobs, rights and living standards at risk”.

Tom Brake, the Brexit spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats said:

“If this speech was supposed to offer an olive branch to Remainers, Boris must have picked up the other version. A clear majority of Remain and Leave voters oppose the damaging hard Brexit Boris so vigorously advocates. They do not want job cuts triggered by tougher trading conditions with our largest export market or life-threatening uncertainty at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Boris’s antipathy towards the common rules and standards which apply within the EU, and to trade within the EU, is in stark contrast to Brexiters head-long rush to adopt common standards with the US which would require the UK to accept chlorine-washed chicken, hormone-fed beef, GMO products and potentially open up the NHS to US private health companies.

If Boris is seeking to establish himself as the standard bearer of liberalism, he should dump plans to come out of the Single Market and Customs Union and campaign to stay in the world’s largest free trade area. He could also bolster his liberal credentials by giving people a vote on the deal and an exit from Brexit”.

Northern Ireland Power Sharing Talks Collapse

Attempts to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland have today collapsed without a deal being obtained. The failure to reach agreement comes after over a year of talks and is thought to have been based around disagreements over the Irish language and same-sex marriage. Northern Ireland will continue to be governed directly from Westminster until a settlement can be found.

Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, said:

“For almost four weeks, we have been engaged in intensive negotiations with Sinn Féin. We have attempted to find a stable and sustainable basis for restoring devolution. Those discussions have been unsuccessful. Despite our best efforts, serious and significant gaps remain between ourselves and Sinn Féin, especially on the issue of the Irish language”.

Michelle O’Neill, representing Sinn Fein, blamed the DUP, saying:

“We had reached an accommodation with the leadership of the DUP. The DUP failed to close the deal. They have now collapsed this process”.

Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said in a statement:

“Both parties have conducted discussions seriously and in good faith. While substantive progress towards an agreement has been made, it appears that this phase of talks has reached a conclusion. I would urge everyone to reflect on the circumstances which have led to this and their positions, both now and in the future.

The position of the UK Government remains the same: devolved government is in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland and is best for the Union. I believe the basis for an accommodation still exists. As the Prime Minister said during her visit on Monday, we are ready to bring forward legislation to enable an Executive to be formed.

We will continue to work with everyone to make sure we do deliver this. We now need to consider practical steps. In the continued absence of an Executive, other challenging decisions will have to be taken by the UK Government. I will update Parliament when the House returns from Recess next week”.

Owen Smith, the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said:

“This is desperately disappointing news, especially as there had been widespread hope last week that a deal might be reached. It seems clear, however, that the cause of the breakdown was the DUP’s unwillingness to accept legislation to support the Irish language or marriage equality. Their lack of leadership on these issues, despite their powerful position in Stormont and Westminster, leaves Northern Ireland without an accountable government or a voice in the Brexit negotiations.

Karen Bradley will now have to explain how she hopes to get the DUP back to the table, and if that proves impossible, how she is going to take forward issues such as equal marriage, as well as dealing with tough decisions on health, education and infrastructure that have been left unresolved for over 400 days”.

Government Announces Support Package to Businesses Affected by Carillion’s Liquidation

Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has announced that there will be £100 million of lending made available to smaller businesses adversely affected by the liquidation of Carillion. The money is being funded by the British Business Bank, which is wholly owned by the Government, in conjunction with high street lenders.

Clark said in a statement:

“We want to signal very clearly to small and medium sized businesses who were owed money by Carillion that they will be supported to continue trading. The banks have responded to my request by agreeing to support businesses and individuals affected. This further guarantee will help those businesses who may not be able to provide the usual security for a loan. I will continue to work closely with business organisations, trade unions and banks to actively support those affected by Carillion’s insolvency”.

Politicians From Across Political Parties Condemn Attack on Jacob Rees-Mogg

Politicians from across the political parties have condemned individuals who attempted to attack Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP for North East Somerset, during a meeting at the University of West England. The individuals broke into a private meeting but Rees-Mogg attempted to engage with them before the situation deteriorated.

Rees-Mogg said:

“They shouted at me, but they weren’t going to hit me. They didn’t want to talk about politics, they just wanted to stop the event. I’m of the sticks-and-stones school of thought. I wanted to stop anyone being hit because the whole thing would have degenerated. I didn’t think anyone was going to hit me so I felt quite safe intervening. I spoke afterwards; I was there for ages”.

Chris Bryant, the Labour MP for the Rhondda, said:

“I nearly always disagree with Jacob Rees-Mogg, but politics must be based on respect. Violence has no place”.

Angela Rayner, the Labour MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, said on Twitter:

“My politics are not those of @Jacob_Rees_Mogg however l utterly condemn the behaviour of those tonight who tried to attack him whilst he was due to speak at an event he was invited to. It’s extremely intimidating for any MP who travels alone to an event to be treated like this”.

Conor Burns, the Conservative MP for Bournemouth West, said on Twitter:

“Free speech is the corner stone of a free society. That and exchange of ideas should thrive on any University campus. What was done to @Jacob_Rees_Mogg today by masked moronic hoodlums was an attempt to silence free speech and should be condemned by all in politics”.