Oliver Letwin Apologises Over 1985 Advice

Oliver Letwin
Oliver Letwin

Oliver Letwin, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has apologised over advice which he gave following the 1985 Broadwater Farm riots. The advice was given in conjunction with Hartley Booth when they worked in Downing Street as political advisers.

Part of the advice they offered included the line:

“Lower-class unemployed white people had lived for years in appalling slums without a breakdown of public order on anything like the present scale; in the midst of depression, people in Brixton went out, leaving their grocery money in a bag at the front door, and expecting to see groceries when they got back”.

With reference to the possibility of making business grants available to minorities the pair wrote that these “new entrepreneurs will set up in the disco and drug trade”.

Letwin said in a statement:

“I want to make clear that some parts of a private memo I wrote nearly 30 years ago were both badly worded and wrong”.

Earlier on a spokesman for the Cabinet Office said:

“We remain thoroughly committed to helping the most vulnerable and ensuring that nobody is confined by the circumstances of their birth”.

Government Announces an Additional £50 million to Help Flood Victims

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Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has announced today an additional £50 million in funding to help councils deal with flood victims.

The money can be used by local authorities to help support local householders and businesses deal with some of the worst flooding seen over recent years. Clark said in a statement:

“No-one could fail to be moved by the scenes of devastation left in the wake of storm Eva – we’re determined to ensure all those affected get the support they need quickly.

That’s why today we’re extending government support to those communities by £50 million, matching the funding already announced for areas affected by storm Desmond.

As part of this, councils facing clean-up costs can be confident they will get the support they need through the extension of the Bellwin Scheme”.

Jeremy Corbyn challenges the Prime Minister to an Annual Debate

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Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has offered David Cameron, the Prime Minister, an annual televised debate to discuss the state of the nation.

Talking to the Independent newspaper Corbyn said that such debates would “engage more in politics in way that has been shown to be effective”.

Tim Farron, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Nicola Sturgeon, the Leader of the SNP, both said that they would be interested in taking in such a debate. A spokesman for David Cameron said that they would consider any proposals which were made.

COBRA to meet over flooding crisis

Liz Truss
Liz Truss

Downing Street has confirmed that the COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Room – used in situations of crisis) will meet again tomorrow (Sunday 27 December 2015) to discuss the flooding crisis which has affected much of northern England as well as some parts of Scotland and Wales.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, wrote on Twitter:

“My thoughts are with people whose homes have been flooded. I’ll chair a COBRA call tomorrow to ensure everything is being done to help”.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, said on Twitter:

“Heart goes out to the tens of thousands affected by the floods and huge gratitude to incredible efforts of army, firefighters and volunteers”.

Tim Farron, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said on Twitter:

“The Government must look again at the swingeing cuts to departments like DCLG and DEFRA that will be needed to help communities back onto their feet. I want to pay tribute to local councils, the Army, emergency services, Environment Agency and everyone else who is working to hard to help people”.

 

Elizabeth Truss, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said in a statement:

“Over the past 24 hours we have seen very high levels of rainfall on already saturated ground in Yorkshire and Lancashire. This has resulted in rivers rising to historically high levels and severe flood warnings being issued.

I chaired COBR meetings on Christmas Day and this morning to ensure that the best possible preparations were made and that local authorities, emergency services, the Environment Agency and the armed forces were working together to respond.

Late on Christmas Day it became clear that the majority of the rain was likely to fall in Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Therefore the Environment Agency and the army worked through Christmas evening and overnight to move temporary defences, pumps and personnel to those areas.

In both Lancashire and Yorkshire, emergency services and armed forces personnel from 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (2LANCS) have been working round the clock to warn, inform, to protect lives and properties and to evacuate vulnerable communities.

This work continues as we expect further impacts tonight and into tomorrow and beyond.

This is clearly a particularly terrible time of year for flooding to take place and families and business to suffer. I have every sympathy for their situation and I am determined to ensure that affected communities get all the support they need.

I am travelling to affected areas tonight with the Cabinet Office Minister, Oliver Letwin and Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, to ensure that those working on the ground have all they need. A further COBR will be held tomorrow morning”.

40 Year Old Father Dies following IRA Bombing in 1996

Stuart Packard, a 40-year old father of two who was living in Essex, has died from cancer which is thought to be linked to the 1996 IRA bombing in Manchester. Mr. Packard had worked as a security guard at the site for around three weeks after the bombing and it is thought that he may have been exposed to asbestos.

Mr. Packard died in November and had been diagnosed with mesothelioma in March of this year. A claim is being considered by his family as it may be that he wasn’t offered sufficient protective equipment at the time.

The Provisional IRA took responsibility for planting the bomb in June 1996 which injured over 200 people and caused over £1 billion of damage. The IRA were condemned by the British, Irish and American Governments in what was the largest bomb on English soil since the Second World War.

Pressure on Conservative MP Lucy Allan Increases after deleted post

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Lucy Allan, the Conservative MP for Telford, has deleted a post on her web-site about bullying allegations shortly after she posted it earlier today.

 

Allan has been under pressure over bullying allegations from her former staff after a recording was made of the MP. In her, now deleted post, Allan criticised a staff member for contacting the Conservative Party about her actions saying:

“I do not know why Arianne contacted the Conservative Party and the media about the allegations”.

Allan made a statement to the London Evening Standard last week saying:

“Arianne Plumbly was dismissed from her employment with Lucy Allan, MP in Telford, after four months’ employment, for gross misconduct following misuse of the Parliamentary email system, persistent unauthorised absenteeism, refusal to follow a reasonable instruction and rudeness to residents”.

The Conservative Party has said that the matter will be fully investigated.

Michael Heseltine warns of Tory arguments over Europe

Michael Heseltine, the former Conservative Party Deputy Prime Minister, has warned of splits in the party over the upcoming referendum on UK membership of the European Union.

Talking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Heseltine argued that David Cameron, the Prime Minister, would be “a laughing stock” if he allowed a free vote for Cabinet members on the referendum.

Heseltine added:

“To have a civil war within the Conservative Party at that time, in the belief that the referendum having been determined, the participants in the civil war are going to sit around the table and happily smile together, is, I think, rather naive”.

Labour MP Jess Phillips Says She Will Knife Corbyn in the Front

Jess Phillips, the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, has said that she “knife Jeremy Corbyn in the front rather than the back” if she thought he was damaging the party’s chances of electoral success.

Phillips was speaking in an interview with Owen Jones when she said she didn’t believe Labour would win a General Election if it were held today. She added:

“I would do anything that I felt was going to make the Labour party win the general election because if I don’t have that attitude then all I’m doing is colluding with the Tories”.

When asked about Corbyn’s electoral chances she said:

“I would do whatever I could to make Jeremy Corbyn more electable, but you’ve got to give me something to work with, mate”.

Jeremy Corbyn’s office refused to comment on the interview.

Commons European Scrutiny Committee Says Cameron Would Need Treaty Change

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The House of Commons’s European Scrutiny Committee has said that David Cameron, the Prime Minister would need treaty change to deliver substantial reforms to the European Union.

The Prime Minister had support for his reforms at a summit to be held this Thursday but the Committee said that formal treaties would be needed to guarantee these changes were implemented.

Bill Cash, the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, said “there is no certainty that they will be delivered to the British people” without treaty change. A referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union is expected to be held in 2017 and treaty changes would likely be impossible before this date.

Cash added that “this is a historic referendum that will determine the future of our country. We have to warn the voters”.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister has been clear that the reforms we are seeking will need to be legally binding and irreversible, and that some will require treaty change. His position hasn’t changed”.

David Cameron Meeting With Nicola Sturgeon

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David Cameron, the Prime Minister, and Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, met at Downing Street earlier today to discuss matters of interest to both countries.

The issue of terrorism and security was discussed including ways in which the security services shared information with the Scottish Government. Lord Dunlop, the Scottish Office Minister said:

“The Prime Minister and the First Minister enjoyed a constructive meeting and much progress was made on security and intelligence co-operation, particularly around the sharing of information to help counter the terrorist threat across the country. The UK government is absolutely committed to working together with the governments of our devolved nations on security and counter-terrorism matters, and today’s discussions reflected that.

Put simply, every citizen in every part of the United Kingdom must have the same level of safety and security.

What we need to see now is wide support for our legislative efforts to allow the police and security services to keep the UK safe in the 21st century. The Investigatory Powers Bill is a vital piece of legislation if we are to prevent Daesh-inspired terrorists from having safe spaces in which to communicate in our country.

I hope that when the Commons debates this in the new year, we will see support from MPs from across all parts of the UK”.