Liberal Democrats Surge Into Second Place in Witney By-Election

The Liberal Democrats have over-taken Labour in the Witney by-election, caused by the former Prime Minister David Cameron standing down from the House of Commons.

Robert Courts, a 37-year old barrister, held the seat for the Conservatives, with a strong increase in votes for the Liberal Democrats.

Robert Courts (Con) – 17,313 (45.02%)
Liz Leffman (Lib Dem) – 11,611 (30.19%)
Duncan Enright (Lab) – 5,765 (14.99%)
Larry Sanders (Green) – 1,363 (3.54%)
Dickie Bird (UKIP) – 1,354 (3.52%)
Dr Helen Salisbury (NHAP) – 433 (1.13%)
Daniel Skidmore (Ind) – 151 (0.39%)
Mad Hatter (Loony) – 129 (0.34%)
Nicholas Ward (Ind) – 93 (0.24%)
David Bishop (Bus Pass Elvis) – 61 (0.16%)
Lord Toby Jug (Eccentric) – 59 (0.15%)
Winston McKenzie (Eng Dem) – 52 (0.14%)
Emilia Arno (Love) – 44 (0.11%)
Adam Knight (Ind) – 27 (0.07%)

Inflation Figures Reach Two-Year High


The rate of inflation has risen to 1% in September, the highest figure since November 2014 and the biggest jump since June 2014. The ONS figures put much of the rise down to an increase in clothing costs, hotel rates and fuel costs.

Ben Brettell from the financial company Hargreaves Lansdown said:

“Inflation looks certain to rise further over the coming months, and could easily exceed the 2% target in 2017. This will undoubtedly be tough on those with low incomes, and it’s also not good news for savers who are losing money in real terms”.

Earlier in the week Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, warned that the bank may need to let inflation exceed its target in a bid to protect economic growth.

Prime Minister Confirms Support for Chancellor Philip Hammond


A spokesman for Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has expressed she still fully supports Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In a press briefing the spokesman said:

“The Prime Minister has full confidence in the chancellor and the work that he is doing”.

The comments came after revelations in Sunday newspapers that pro-Brexit Cabinet members had accused Philip Hammond of trying to delay the process of leaving the European Union. The anonymous briefings made against Hammond were made to the Sunday Telegraph.

The paper also reports that a number of Conservative MPs have called on Hammond to back the Prime Minister or resign from the Cabinet.

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, Warns of Difficult Times Ahead


Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, has said that there are “difficult times” ahead for the poorest in society because of inflationary pressures in the economy following the Brexit vote.

Carney said at an event in Nottingham:

“We’re willing to tolerate a bit of overshoot in inflation over the course of the next few years in order to avoid that situation, to cushion the blow”.

The abandoning of the inflationary target will put pressure on Theresa May, the Prime Minister, to spell out how the Government will deal with higher than expected inflation.

Jeremy Corbyn’s Reshuffle Criticised by Chairman of Parliamentary Labour Party


The shadow Cabinet reshuffle announced this week by Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has been criticised by John Cryer, the chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Referring to the request by Labour MPs to hold elections to the Shadow Cabinet Cryer said in a letter to every MP from the party:

“This led to negotiations involving myself and the then chief whip, Rosie Winterton, and people from the leadership team”.

He added:

“As far as Rosie and I were concerned, the talks were held in good faith with the aim of striking an agreement which would allow some places to be filled through elections while the leader would retain the right to appoint others. It now seems to me that the party’s leadership did not engage in the talks in any constructive way”.

Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, rejected the criticism and said:

“The problem is that on the one hand people criticise Jeremy for being weak and taking too long on his reshuffles and yet when he decides that he needs to do one in order to fill vacancies and reach out, people then criticise him for being too decisive and too strong”.

EU Migrants Likely to Get Permission to Stay in the UK


The Telegraph has reported that Home Office research has shown that five out of six EU migrants already have the right to remain within the UK following the departure from the European Union.

The paper quotes a Cabinet source saying:

“They will be allowed to remain in Britain. But it is important that reciprocal agreements are made with the EU to ensure that British people abroad get the same rights”.

It is expected that the British Government will allow all EU citizens to remain in the country, but a cut-off date is expected to be announced. Details of the plans are unlikely to be formally announced until the discussions with other EU countries begin after Article 50 is invoked.

Jeremy Corbyn Conducts Shadow Cabinet Reshuffle with Diane Abbott as Shadow Home Secretary


Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has reshuffled some members of the Shadow Cabinet, with further announcements expected later on.

Rosie Winterton has been sacked as the party’s chief whip after six years and will be replaced by Nick Brown, who held the role during Gordon Brown’s premiership. Diane Abbott has become the Shadow Home Secretary, replacing Andy Burnham who is running to become the Mayor of Manchester.

Baroness Shami Chakrabarti  becomes the Shadow Attorney General and Sir Keir Starmer becomes the new Shadow Brexit Secretary, despite Emily Thornberry trying to retain that as part of her role.

Sarah Champion becomes the Shadow Woman and Equalities Minister, Jo Stevens the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales and Jonathan Reynolds the Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury. Clive Lewis moves to become the Shadow Business Secretary, with his former role of Shadow Defence Secretary being taken by Nia Griffith.

Amber Rudd Forced to Deny Allegations of Racism as Business Leaders Criticise Home Secretary


Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, has defended her speech at Conservative Party conference after she was criticised for racism and xenophobia. Rudd controversially said that businesses should have to declare how many foreign workers they employed.

Rudd said:

“I don’t think we should have a situation where we can’t talk about immigration. We must not ignore the fact that people want to talk about immigration and if we do talk about immigration don’t call me a racist”.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, said:

“Conservative party leaders have sunk to a new low this week as they fan the flames of xenophobia and hatred in our communities and try to blame foreigners for their own failures.

Drawing up lists of foreign workers won’t stop unscrupulous employers undercutting wages in Britain. Shutting the door to international students won’t pay young people’s tuition fee debts, and ditching doctors from abroad won’t cut NHS waiting lists”.

Tim Farron, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats said:

“This is a nasty little policy that deserves to be thrown out on the rubbish heap”.

Adam Marshall, the Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Businesses shouldn’t be penalised or questioned for recruiting from overseas when they have specific skills needs. Many would be very concerned if their specific circumstances were boiled down to percentages, or used to suggest that they’re somehow not doing their bit here at home”.

UKIP Leader Stands Down After 18 Days


Diane James, the leader of UKIP, has announced that she is to stand down from her job after just 18 days. James, who is the MEP for South East England, she said that didn’t have “sufficient authority” to take on the role, but confirmed that she would continue in her role at the European Parliament.

In a statement James said:

“It is with great regret that I announce that I will not be formalising my recent nomination to become the new leader of the party with the Electoral Commission.

Having won the enthusiastic support of party members, I was nominated by them as the new leader at the recent Ukip Bournemouth conference.

Since that time I have been in discussion with party officers about the role. It has become clear that I do not have sufficient authority, nor the full support of all my MEP colleagues and party officers to implement changes I believe necessary and upon which I based my campaign.

For personal and professional reasons therefore, I will not take the election process further.

I will continue to concentrate fully on my activities and responsibilities as a Member of the European Parliament”.

Nigel Farage, the previous party leader, confirmed that he wouldn’t seek a return to the leadership role.

Anna Soubry Criticises Conservative Party’s Lack of Clarity over Brexit

CBI Conference

Anna Soubry, the former Minister of State for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, has criticised Liam Fox for a lack of clarity over Brexit.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper Soubry said:

“Liam Fox’s speech this week was very worrying; in fact, it was delusional. How can we have ‘freer’ free trade? Let’s get real, for God’s sake. It’s really worrying that these are the senior people who have the future of our country in their hands. May is the voice of sanity, and without her I don’t know where the three Brexiteers would take us.”

She added:

“It’s for her not to rely on Boris, Liam and David. She has to come forward and she has to tell us what those guiding principles, what the plan, is”.

Fox had the week before criticised the UK’s business sector, saying:

“This country is not the free-trading nation it once was. We have become too lazy, and too fat on our successes in previous generations”.