Justine Greening Announces £30 million of new funding to help refugees over winter

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Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for International Development, has said that the Government will be spending £30 million to help ensure that refugees can survive the winter months.

Greening said:

“As the humanitarian crisis in Syria continues, we will make sure we help refugees who have lost everything and desperately need our support.

We are helping people inside Syria, enabling millions to stay in neighbouring countries, and for those who have made the perilous journey to Europe, we are stepping up our support to ensure they can cope with worsening weather conditions.

Many children and their families have been left with nothing but the clothes on their back and are in desperate need of basic essentials. As the coldest months of winter are upon us, warm clothes, hot water and warm blankets will help protect the most vulnerable”.

The Government confirmed that the money will be spent in numerous ways including £2.75 million to UNICEF, £9.75 million to the UNHCR, £3 million to IFRC and £11 million to the StartFund. There will be an additional £3 million spent  on essential equipment such as clothing, blankets and shoes.

A report chaired by Grant Shapps recommends BT Openreach sell-off

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A report backed by 121 backbench MPs from across the political parties, and chaired by Grant Shapps, has recommended that BT should be forced to sell-off their Openreach service.

The report was led by Grant Shapps, the former Conservative Party Chairman, as part of the British Infrastructure Group which aims to promote infrastructure development in the UK. The report concluded:

“We deserve better. We should be leading the world on digital
investment and innovation. Instead we have a company that clings to outdated copper technology with no long term plan for the future.
We need to start converting to a fully fibre network so we are not left behind the other nations rushing to embrace digital advancement. But we will only achieve this by taking action to open up the sector and formally separate BT and Openreach. The benefits this will bring are potentially enormous”.

BT responded by saying that the report was “misleading and ill-judged”.

Sir Stuart Peach named as new Chief of the Defence Staff

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach KCB CBE ADC is to be appointed Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, in succession to General Sir Nicholas Houghton GCB CBE ADC in May 2013.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach KCB CBE ADC

Sir Stuart Peach has been named as the new Chief of the Defence Staff to take over from Sir Nicholas Houghton this summer.

In a statement David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said:

“I want to thank General Sir Nick Houghton for his many years of dedicated service to this country – especially the years he has led our armed forces in an ever more unstable world.

I’m confident that Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach is the right man to continue General Sir Nick Houghton’s great legacy. For over a decade Sir Stuart has delivered exemplary leadership of the armed forces, with an extraordinary record of achievement. His experience as Commander Joint Forces Command and Chief of Joint Operations will be invaluable as we continue to ensure our brave armed forces remain among the most capable and agile in the world”.

Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, said:

“I am delighted to announce that Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach will assume the role of Chief of the Defence Staff this summer when General Sir Nicholas Houghton retires.

Sir Stuart has been an outstanding VCDS and I look forward to working closely with him in taking the fight to Daesh and ensuring we have the best Armed Forces to keep Britain safe”.

Government Condemns Attack in Somali

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James Duddridge, the Minister for Africa and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has condemned an attack by Al Shabaab on Somali civilans.

The attack by the group took place at a beachside restaurant in Mogadishu. The number of deaths has yet to be confirmed and the Somali Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, called the attacks “barbaric”.

Duddridge said in a statement:

“I condemn this barbaric and indiscriminate attack on Somalis who were simply meeting with family and friends on Lido Beach. Our thoughts are with the people of Somalia, its government and the families of those injured and killed.

Attacks such as this are attempts to reverse the progress made by Somalia on its path toward peace and stability. The gains made so far in returning security to large parts of the country and in developing federal institutions within a federal state show how far Somalia has come. These are the foundation stones of a future Somalia that will provide the peace and prosperity that its people deserve. Elections in 2016 will further reinforce this progress.

The UK stands alongside Somalia as it confronts those who seek to destroy what has been achieved”.

Mark Carney Rules Out Short Term Interest Rate Rise

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Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, has ruled out any short-term increase in interest rates. In a speech he said that based on the evidence and global changes he didn’t feel that there were sufficient inflationary pressures at the present time.

Carney said:

“It is clear to me that, since last summer, progress has been insufficient along these dimensions to warrant a tightening of monetary policy. The world is weaker and UK growth has slowed. Due to the oil price collapse, inflation has fallen further and will likely remain very low for longer. This may mean modestly weaker cost growth through this year, with the likely path for inflation, both headline and core, softer as a result. In short, recent developments suggest that the firming in inflationary pressure we had expected will take longer to materialise”.

He added that:

“That means we’ll do the right thing at the right time on rates”.

Labour Publish Report into 2015 General Election Loss

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The Labour Party have published a report into why they lost at the 2015 General Election and how to repeat mistakes in the future. The report was written by Dame Margaret Beckett, the former Foreign Secretary.

Beckett said in a statement about the report:

“The reaction to the 2015 result was inevitably an emotional one for Labour because it was such a surprise. There was certainly no complacency in the Labour ranks, but the polls showed us neck and neck with the Tories, when clearly we weren’t.

There are certainly lessons to learn from defeat. This report has been a key part of recognising areas we need to improve on and building on aspects of our campaign that performed well.  Labour gained votes in the 2015 election both in the UK as a whole and in England and Wales. There was a small swing to Labour, 1.5 per cent. This was the first election since 1997 when Labour’s share of the vote went up.  However, we know this was not enough to deliver a Labour Government.

As part of this reports’ process, we have consulted far and wide. We have had responses from tens of thousands of party members, we have spoken with many political figures and those who were closely involved in the campaign, and we have taken input from pollsters, pundits and academics.

The road to re-election is a marathon, not a sprint. If we learn the lessons of defeat in 2015, we can take the steps needed to rebuild a society in which the common good, and greater prosperity for all go hand in hand, and elect a Labour Government”.

In the report she wrote:

“We have consistently heard four reasons for our defeat both from pollsters and from those on the doorstep:

 – Failure to shake off the myth that we were responsible for the financial crash and therefore failure to build trust in the economy

 – Inability to deal with the issues of ‘connection’ and, in particular, failing to convince on benefits and immigration

 – Despite his surge in 2015, Ed Miliband still wasn’t judged to be as strong a leader as David Cameron

 – The fear of the SNP “propping up” a minority Labour government.”

Kate Osamor, Labour’s Shadow Equality Minister, criticised for seeking unpaid staff member

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Kate Osamor, the Shadow Equality Minister and Labour MP for Edmonton, has been criticised for seeking unpaid help for her constituency office.

Osamor advertised the role on w4mp (work for an MP) and the job entailed working on community based projects, gathering data, presenting findings, general office support and learning about aspects of support in a constituency office.

The role stipulated that it would be “voluntary” and “expenses only”. The role also required a degree or equivalent and commitment for the length of the role.

After complaints Osamor withdrew the advertisement and said “it was a mistake”.

Shami Chakrabarti to stand down from his role as Director of Liberty

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Shami Chakrabarti has announced that she is to stand down as the director of Liberty, the independent human rights organisation which was also known as the National Council for Civil Liberties. She has held the role for 12 years and has appeared regularly in media interviews during this time.

After a period working at the Home Office Chakrabarti joined Liberty on 10 September 2001 as an in-house legal counsel. She took over the role as director of the organisation in September 2003. She will remain in post until a suitable successor is found.

In a statement said on her departure:

“It has been the most enormous privilege to lead Liberty for the past 12 years. With members, colleagues, lawyers, journalists and politicians from across the spectrum, we have held three Prime Ministers and six Home Secretaries to account.

Liberty’s first President E.M. Forster rightly called defending civil liberties ‘the fight that is never done’. I leave Liberty secure in the knowledge that we’re stronger and more ready for that fight than ever.

Human rights belong to everyone. Today we begin our search for someone ready to defend these values well into the future”.

Catherine McKinnell Quits Shadow Cabinet over Corbyn’s “negative path”

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Catherine McKinnell, the Shadow Attorney General, has resigned from the Labour Shadow Cabinet, days after a call for unity from senior figures.

McKinnell wrote to Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, saying:

“As events have unfolded over recent weeks, my concerns about the direction and internal conflict within the Labour Party have only grown, and I fear this is taking us down an increasingly negative path”.

McKinnell will be replaced by Karl Turner, the MP for Kingston-upon-Hull East.

Bob Kerslake, former senior Civil Servant, questions Government’s Trade Union Reforms

Bob Kerslake, the former Head of the Home Civil Service, has questioned the Government’s Trade Union Bill and also suggested that the Government has an authoritarian streak.

Writing in the Guardian newspaper Kerslake said:

“Taken with the other measures being put forward by the government – curtailing the powers of the lords, watering down the the Freedom of Information Act, cutting the so-called ‘short money’ to support the opposition parties – they demonstrate a worryingly authoritarian streak in this government that is not comfortable with scrutiny and challenge”.

He added:

“The issues at stake here go beyond the immediate concerns of the trade unions themselves, or indeed one political party. They go to the heart of what we mean by an open society and balanced, proportionate government”.