Labour Report the Foreign Secretary to the UK Statistics Authority

Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, has said that he has written to the UK Statistics Authority to question comments made by Boris Johnson relating to Brexit. Starmer said that the Foreign Secretary has made false claims regarding the UK’s financial contribution to the European Union.

Starmer’s letter reads:

“I am writing to seek clarification on comments made by the Foreign Secretary yesterday [15 January] about the UK’s financial contribution to the European Union (EU).

In an interview with The Guardian the Foreign Secretary said: “There was an error on the side of the [Vote Leave] bus. We grossly underestimated the sum over which we would be able to take back control.”

The newspaper reports that “Johnson argued that the UK’s EU contribution was already up to £362m per week for 2017-18 and would rise annually to £410m, £431m, and then to £438m by 2020-21 – ‘theoretically the last year of the transition period.’”

The £350m a week claim made by the Vote Leave campaign has been widely condemned as inaccurate and misleading. For example, in September of last year the Statistics Authority wrote to the Foreign Secretary saying, “it is a clear misuse of official statistics.” And yet, Mr Johnson has chosen to repeat this statement and expand on the claim even further. I do not believe this to be acceptable.

I would therefore be grateful if you could make a statement on the accuracy of the Foreign Secretary’s most recent comments”.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister rejected the claims and said:

“Does the amount of money which we send to the EU fluctuate? And the answer is, yes it does. Some years it is bigger, some years it is smaller. Those figures are published on the OBR website. The PM has said that once we leave the EU we will have significant sums of money which we will choose how that money is spent, and we can spend that on our priority areas”.

Prime Minister Pledges Action on Loneliness

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has said that the Government is focused on tackling issues relating to loneliness. She has also confirmed that the Government is to accept a series of recommendations which were made by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness which has recently reported back.

“For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life. I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones – people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with.

Jo Cox recognised the scale of loneliness across the country and dedicated herself to doing all she could to help those affected. So I am pleased that government can build on her legacy with a ministerial lead for loneliness who will work with the Commission, businesses and charities to shine a light on the issue and pull together all strands of government to create the first ever strategy.

We should all do everything we can to see that, in Jo’s memory, we bring an end to the acceptance of loneliness for good”.

Government Aims to Minimise Disruption as Carillion Enter Insolvency

The Government has said that it will attempt to minimise disruption following the announcement that Carillion is to enter insolvency. The Cabinet Office has confirmed that all public sector services operated by the now insolvent company will continue and measures will be introduced to protect workers and their pensions.

David Lidington, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, said in a statement:

“It is regrettable that Carillion has not been able to find suitable financing options with its lenders but taxpayers cannot be expected to bail out a private sector company.

Since profit warnings were first issued in July, the government has been closely monitoring the situation and has been in constructive discussion with Carillion while it sought to refinance its business. We remained hopeful that a solution could be found while putting robust contingency plans in place to prepare for every eventuality. It is of course disappointing that Carillion has become insolvent, but our primary responsibility has always been keep our essential public services running safely.

We understand that some members of the public will be concerned by recent news reports. For clarity – All employees should keep coming to work, you will continue to get paid. Staff that are engaged on public sector contracts still have important work to do.

Since its inception in the 1990s private finance has helped to deliver around £60 billion of much-needed capital investment in infrastructure in the UK across a range of projects and we will continue to maintain partnerships with responsible firms in future”.

Jon Trickett, the Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said that there should be an investigation into why Carillion were awarded more Government contracts. He said:

“Alarm bells have been ringing for over six months about the state of Carillion’s finances, so the government must come forward and answer questions on exactly what due diligence measures were undertaken before awarding contracts to Carillion worth billions of taxpayers’ money”.

Nigel Farage Faces £35,000 Fine After EU Mis-spending Fraud

Nigel Farage, the former leader of UKIP, has been fined £35,000 after being found guilty of mis-spending EU money. The European Parliament investigation found that Nigel Farage had employed a member of staff who was then not employed entirely on dealing with EU matters, which was a requirement of the funding.

The EU auditor discovered the discrepancy in Nigel Farage’s claims, but Farage said to the Daily Mail:

“It is guilty until proven innocent, they can do whatever they like. Since Brexit they are just being vindictive”.

Visit to UK by President Donald Trump is Cancelled

A planned visit to the UK by the US President Donald Trump in February 2018 has been cancelled the US confirmed. Trump was to have opened the new US Embassy in London but he said that he didn’t want to attend as the building was in “an off location”.

There had been increasing expectations that Trump would cancel his visit to the UK following anger at his policies which led to a number of MPs saying they would boycott his visit. A petition signed by 1.8 million people also urged the Government to ban Trump from entering the UK.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said in a statement:

“Many Londoners have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda. It seems he’s finally got that message”.

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary and former Mayor of London, said in a Tweet:

“The US is the biggest single investor in the UK – yet Khan & Corbyn seem determined to put this crucial relationship at risk. We will not allow US-UK relations to be endangered by some puffed up pompous popinjay in City Hall”.

Peter Schofield Appointed as the Next Permanent Secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions

Peter Schofield has been appointed as the next Permanent Secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), replacing Sir Robert Devereux who is retiring in late January 2018. Schofield is the current Finance Director General within the department, a role which he has held since July 2016.

Esther McVey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:

“I look forward to welcoming Peter Schofield as DWP’s new Permanent Secretary and to working with him on ensuring we continue to deliver a welfare system that supports people when they need it, and helps them fulfil their potential – no matter who they are or where they come from”.

Schofield said in a statement:

“The DWP is a remarkable organisation – in scale, reach, ability to deliver change, and the motivation and pride of my 80,000 colleagues providing high quality support to over 22 million citizens. It is a huge honour to be given the opportunity to lead DWP and support the new Secretary of State and her ministerial team, and to build on Robert’s outstanding leadership over the last 7 years. I can’t wait to start”.

Fire Causes Significant Disruption at Nottingham Station

A large fire has caused what is thought to be considerable damage to Nottingham Railway station, although there are no injuries reported. The fire was reported earlier this morning and the station is closed with all train services cancelled.

Jo Johnson, the new Minister of State for Transport, is to visit the station today and he said in a statement:

“This has clearly been a devastating incident and my thoughts are with all those affected. I am grateful for the courage of both the emergency services who tackled this fire and those staff who evacuated the station and kept the public safe. Thankfully it appears that nobody was injured but it is clear that this will have a disruptive effect on passengers who use Nottingham station”.

A spokesperson for the British Transport Police said:

“Our officers have been on the scene at Nottingham railway station all morning supporting Nottinghamshire fire and rescue firefighters as they deal with the large fire. Cordons remain in place around the area with nearby roads closed, and trains are not running. It is likely the station will remain closed all day. Fortunately, we have not had any reports of any injuries as a result of the fire”.

Prime Minister Meets with Finance Executives to Discuss Brexit

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has met with a number of financial executives to discuss the current situation with Brexit and its implication on the financial sector. There will be representatives of companies including Barclays, HSBC and Goldman Sachs, amongst others.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“This afternoon the Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the senior executives from some of the world’s leading financial institutions to discuss the opportunities and challenges for the financial sector posed by Brexit.

The Prime Minister gave an overview of the UK’s position and updated on Brexit negotiations – including the UK’s aim to agree an implementation period by the end of March. The Chancellor emphasised the need to make the interests of consumers and taxpayers central to the future regulatory relationship between the UK and EU.

The business leaders were united in emphasising the need for as much certainty as possible. The conclusion of phase one talks were deemed to have provided reassurance and the business leaders gave their views on how to maximise the benefits of an implementation period.

The Chancellor said that the UK’s financial services sector was an enabler of the real economy across Europe and that any moves to undermine it risked undermining Europe’s economies. There was agreement that fragmentation of the European market would likely benefit centres outside of Europe.

In her closing comments the Prime Minister asked that in their conversations in European capitals, the attendees emphasise the benefits for Europe as a whole of the UK’s financial centre”.

Dominic Chappell’s Found Guilty of Failing to Provide Documents to the Pensions Watchdog

Dominic Chappell, the former owner of BHS, has been found guilty of failing to provide documents to the Pensions Watchdog. William Ashworth, the judge in the case, said that Chappell was “not credible” in his evidence and he could now be subject to a large fine.

Chappell rejected the court’s decision, saying in a statement:

“As you can imagine, I’m extremely disappointed and annoyed about the outcome. It’s not the one we were looking for. I’ve instructed my legal team to put in an immediate application for an appeal on this case. We feel that this case has not been treated fairly and we will look deeply into this”.

BHS went bankrupt under Chappell’s ownership and 11,000 jobs were lost throughout the country. There were a number of serious allegations made against Dominic Chappell, but his defence lawyer said that he has been made a “scapegoat”.