Conservative Party Restores the Whip to Anne Marie Morris

The Conservative Party has restored the whip to Anne Marie Morris, the MP for Newton Abbot since 2010, who was suspended from the party following comments made in a speech.

Morris said in a statement:

“I have learned from this experience and have a new determination to uphold the highest possible standards in public life. I feel proud and privileged to be a member of parliament and I will continue to serve my community and my country to the best of my ability”.

UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia and USA Issue Joint Statement on Yemen

Foreign Ministers from the UK, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the United State have agreed a joint text on their policy towards Yemen. The text comes following a meeting of the ‘Quad Group’ on 10 December 2017.

The Ministers said that the countries:

“They expressed outrage at reports of indiscriminate killings and intimidation by the Houthis in Sana’a, including against members of the GPC and their families. They called upon the Houthis to cease actions to suppress or eliminate other political parties in Sana’a.

In the context of a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation, the members discussed means of providing greater assistance to the Yemeni people, and facilitating the entry of humanitarian and commercial goods. The members agreed to enhance their efforts to prevent weapons smuggling into Yemen.

The members urged all Yemeni parties to unify their efforts in search of responsible solutions for a stable and united Yemen. They agreed to meet frequently to monitor this concerning situation”.

Brexit Secretary Calls for “Canada Plus Plus Plus” Deal

David Davis, Brexit Secretary

David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, has said that the Government favours a “Canada Plus Plus Plus” trading deal with the EU. He added that the Government wanted a close working relationship with the EU and for financial services to be included in a tariff-free deal.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme Davis said:

“What we want is a bespoke outcome. We’ll probably start with the best of Canada and the best of Japan and the best of South Korea and then add to that the bits missing which is the services”.

Keir Starmer, the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, said on the same programme:

“I mean, what are the benefits of the single market and the customs union? They are no tariffs and they are alignment of regulations and standards. And that means that for goods and services we can trade successfully in the future. That’s what we want, that’s what we mean by the benefits. And to some extent the model doesn’t matter, it’s what are the outcomes”.

Chancellor in Visit to Saudi Arabia

Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is visiting Saudi Arabia today to discuss trading issues between the two countries. During the Chancellor’s visit he is expected to meet King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the Ministers of Finance, Energy, and Economy and Planning.

Hammond said in a statement:

“Saudi Arabia is a key partner for the UK and we are offering ongoing support as it progresses with its ambitious economic reform plan, Vision 2030. We will work closely with Saudi Arabia as it modernises and its economy diversifies, ensuring that both our nations benefit from the growing trade and investment opportunities”.

Christine Middlemiss Appointed as UK Chief Veterinary Officer

The Government has confirmed that Christine Middlemiss will be appointed as the UK chief’s veterinary officer, replacing Nigel Gibbens who has held the role over the last decade. She will start the role on 1 March 2018 and will be instrumental on advising Ministers on animal welfare matters during the process of leaving the European Union.

Gibbens said:

“I would like to congratulate Christine on her success against a strong field of candidates and I am certain she will be a great addition to the department. Her breadth of experience from work within Government and in the private sector will enable her to provide excellent veterinary leadership to the Defra group to deliver government’s ongoing commitment to maintaining our high animal health and welfare standards and to represent the interests of the whole of the UK internationally”.

Middlemiss said on her new appointment:

“I am delighted to have been appointed and it will be a privilege to lead my veterinary colleagues to support our farming and food industry in this hugely important role.

I am very much looking forward to working again with the team at Defra, its agencies, the devolved administrations and all the individuals and groups which will contribute to meet future challenges across animal health and welfare.

The UK Government has made no secret it wants to cement its place as a world-leader on animal welfare as they leave the European Union, and I’m delighted to have an opportunity to play a part in that”.

David Davis Denies Brexit Talks are in Trouble and Says a Deal is Near

David Davis, Brexit Secretary

David Davis, the Secretary of State for Brexit, has denied that the latest round of talks with the EU are in trouble and has confirmed that a deal is near to being agreed. If a deal could be agreed then it would allow the Brexit negotiations to move on to the details of a future trading agreement between the EU and the UK.

Davis said in the Commons today:

“Negotiations regarding our exit from the European Union are on-going as we speak and indeed we are in the middle of an on-going round. We held further talks in Brussels over recent days and progress has been made. We’ve not yet reached a final conclusion. However, I believe that we are now close to concluding the first phase of the negotiations and moving on to talking about our future trade relations”.

Davis also rejected that the Government had offered a different regulatory regime in Northern Ireland, saying:

“The presumption of the discussion was that everything we talked about applied to the whole United Kingdom. Alignment isn’t harmonisation. It isn’t having exactly the same rules. It is sometimes having mutually recognised rules, mutually recognised inspection – that is what we are aiming at”.

Sir Keir Starmer, the Shadow Secretary of State for Brexit, said:

“What an embarrassment – the last 24 hours have given a new meaning to the phrase ‘coalition of chaos'”.

Starmer also suggested that the Labour Party would consider supporting the UK remaining in the single market and the customs union.

Cressida Dick, Scotland Yard Chief, Says Former Officers Could Face Investigation After Damian Green Revelations

Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has confirmed that former police officers could face investigation following the leak of information about Damian Green. Neil Lewis and Bob Quick, both former police officers, gave public statements about investigations and they could face a probe by the Metropolitan Police.

Dick said to the Evening Standard:

“We have got the Cabinet Office inquiry and that must be allowed to run its course, we have been assisting with that but given what has happened in recent weeks my professional standards department will be reviewing the events and seeing how information has been handled and seeing whether anyone has committed any criminal offences in which case we will investigate them. We will go where the investigation takes us”.

It was reported that David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, said that he would resign if Damian Green was forced out on the allegations made by Lewis and Quick, and a number of MPs have expressed concerns about the behaviour of the former police officers.

Barry Gardiner, the Shadow International Trade Secretary said:

“I think the police officers who seem to have blown the gaff on this have behaved disgracefully”.

Tom Winsor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, also expressed concern:

“Such violations may have a chilling effect on the willingness of victims and witnesses to cooperate with the police, and that will be at the expense of public safety and justice. They should never occur”.

Damian Green Claims Progress Made Between Scottish and Westminster Governments on Brexit

Damian Green, the First Secretary of State, has said that progress has been made between the Scottish and Westminster Governments on the matter of Brexit. His comments come after a meeting between Green and David Mundell MP and Scottish Government Ministers John Swinney MSP and Michael Russell MSP.

Green said in a statement:

“We have come a long way in a few months. The two governments are now making real progress in ensuring that all parts of the UK are ready for the extra powers that are coming back from the EU to the UK.

We all accept that UK frameworks will be required in certain areas to protect the vital advantages of the UK domestic market. Ministers and civil servants on both sides are now getting into the deep detail of how we put in place the best arrangements for the day we leave the EU. I am confident we can keep up this momentum and have a successful Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) with all the devolved administrations in London next month.

The UK and Scottish Government ministers met in Edinburgh in August, then again in London on 25 September, where they discussed a set of principles to guide the discussions. These principles were agreed at a meeting of JMC (EN) on 16 October, and the Prime Minister and First Minister held a constructive meeting on 14 November”.

Russell agreed that progress had been made, but added in a statement:

“It is extremely important that the UK government continue to engage with the devolved administrations so we can find a path that works for all the nations of the United Kingdom”.

Theresa May Joins Condemnation of Donald Trump’s Twitter Posts

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has joined other politicians in criticising Donald Trump, the US President, for retweeting posts from a Britain First member. She confirmed though that the state visit planned for next year would still go ahead and that the invite to Trump hadn’t been cancelled.

May said:

“The fact that we work together does not mean that we’re afraid to say when we think the United States has got it wrong, and be very clear with them. And I’m very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do”.

Donald Trump refused to apologise and instead snubbed May on Twitter in what some observers was a threat to the special relationship between the UK and the US. Trump, who initially used the wrong Twitter handle, said on the site:

“Theresa_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!”.