UK Quarter Growth Increases by Just 0.1%

The Office for the National Statistics, the ONS, has said that UK growth increased by only 0.1% over the last quarter, increasing fears that Brexit has caused damage to the economy.

The ONS said:

“The preliminary estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) shows that the UK economy grew by 0.1% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2018, the weakest quarterly growth since Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2012. The weak growth in Quarter 1 2018 was driven by a sharp fall in construction output and a sluggish manufacturing sector, while growth in services also slowed. Today’s figures suggest that the overall impact from the recent snow and adverse weather conditions across the UK was relatively small”.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said that the figures were “disapppointing”.

John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:

“It’s clear to everyone except Philip Hammond that our economy is in need of increased investment and working families are struggling with the cost of living and the burden of increasing household debt”.

Foreign Secretary Welcomes North and South Korea Agreement

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has welcomed news that the North Korean and South Korean Governments have reached agreement to get rid of their nuclear weapons.

Johnson said in a statement:

“I welcome the announcement that the two Koreas will work towards the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea, improve bilateral ties and reduce border tensions.

This historic summit is not the end in itself. There are still many questions to be answered. Kim Jong Un’s commitment to halt all nuclear and intercontinental and intermediate range ballistic missiles tests is a positive step. We hope this indicates an intention to negotiate in good faith and that Kim has heeded the clear message to North Korea that only a change of course can bring the security and prosperity it claims to seek.

The UK will continue to work with our international partners to strictly enforce existing sanctions until such time that North Korea turns its commitments into concrete steps towards denuclearisation”.

Donald Trump, the President of the United States, said on Twitter:

“KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!”.

Marc Wadsworth Expelled by Labour Party

Marc Wadsworth has been expelled from the Labour Party after it was agreed by the National Constitutional Committee that he had brought the party into disrepute. Wadsworth had caused Ruth Smeeth, the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, to be reduced to tears after he had accused her of working with the Daily Telegraph.

Smeeth said in a statement:

“Abuse, bullying and intimidation have no place in our movement, as today’s announcement has proven. I hope that this decision represents the first step towards a return to the values of decency and respect throughout the Labour Party”.

Wadsworth rejected the party’s decision, saying:

“We all know that there’s been a concerted effort by disgruntled elements within the parliamentary Labour Party that will simply not accept Jeremy Corbyn as their leader”.

Donald Trump Confirms Date of Visit to the UK

Donald Trump, the President of the United States, has confirmed that he will be visiting the UK on Friday 13 July 2018. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister has said that more details about the visit will be announced in due course.

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said on Twitter:

“FANTASTIC news that President @realdonaldtrump will at last come to Britain on 13 July. Looking forward to seeing our closest ally and friend on the GREATest visit ever”.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, also said on Twitter:

“If he comes to London, President Trump will experience an open and diverse city that has always chosen unity over division and hope over fear. He will also no doubt see that Londoners hold their liberal values of freedom of speech very dear”.

HM Queen Confirms the Appointment of 4 New Privy Counsellors

HM Queen has confirmed the appointment of four new privy counsellors.

The four individuals appointed are:

Sir Peter Coulson – an appeal court judge.

Robert Goodwill MP – the Conservative MP for Scarborough and Whitby and a Minister of State at the Department for Education.

Sir George Andrew Midsomer Leggatt -a Lord Justice of Appeal.

Kevan Jones MP – the Labour MP for North Durham.

Statue of Millicent Fawcett Unveiled by the Prime Minister

The first statue of a female in Parliament Square had been unveiled by Theresa May, the Prime Minister. The statue is of Millicent Fawcett, a suffragist leader, with the unveiling designed to mark 100 years since women obtained the vote.

Politicians at the unveiling included Sajid Javid, Sadiq Khan, Harriet Harman and Jess Phillips. The Prime Minister also made a speech during the unveiling of the statue, saying:

“The struggle to achieve votes for women was long and arduous. Dame Millicent was there from the beginning, and devoted her life to the cause. As a teenager, she collected names for the first pro-Suffrage petition even though she was too young to sign it herself.

As a young woman she overcame a dislike of public speaking and took to the platform at the first women’s suffrage meeting to be held in London. For decade after decade, in the face of often fierce opposition, she travelled the country and the world, campaigning not just for the vote but on a whole range of issues”.

Labour Party Remove Mandy Richards as Candidate for Worcester

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party has decided not to endorse the candidature of Mandy Richards as the Labour candidate for Worcester following a series of allegations which have been made against her. The NEC had met in an urgent meeting yesterday evening and confirmed that the candidate would no longer be sanding for the party.

Richards had made comments which questioned the Manchester bombing, as well as the murdered Labour MP, Jo Cox. It has also transpired that she had been banned from bringing certain cases to court, without having declared that to the Labour Party whilst making her application.

UK Government Says it has Reached Agreement with Welsh Government on Brexit

David Lidington

David Lidington, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has confirmed that the UK Government has reached agreement with the Welsh Government on the European Union Withdrawal Bill. The Government has though still to reach agreement with the Scottish Government on the bill, although talks are expected to continue.

Lidington said in a statement:

“I am very pleased that the many months of detailed negotiation have got us to a point where we have now reached an agreement with the Welsh Government on changes to the Bill. This is a significant achievement that will provide legal certainty, increase the powers of the devolved governments and also respect the devolution settlements. The UK Government has made considerable changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill to address issues that have been raised in Parliament and by the devolved administrations

It is disappointing that the Scottish Government have not yet felt able to add their agreement to the new amendments that Ministers and officials on all sides have been working on very hard over recent weeks. I thank them for that effort and hope that they may still reconsider their position. All governments agree that it would be best for all parts of the UK if we had an agreed way forward on the EU Withdrawal Bill”.

Bank of England Governor Says Brexit May Slow Interest Rates Rise

Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, has said that he expects interest rates to rise this year, but that they may be slower because of the impact of Brexit. The markets are expecting a 0.25% rate rise in May, but Carney warned that this wasn’t inevitable.

Carney said:

“The biggest set of economic decisions over the course of the next few years are going to be taken in the Brexit negotiations and whatever deal we end up with. And then we will adjust to the impact of those decisions in order to keep the economy on a stable path”.

Interest rates are currently at 0.5%, but a rise to 0.75% is expected by the end of 2018 in a bid to keep control of inflation. The bank increased interest rates from 0.25% to 0.5% in November 2017, the first increase in a decade.

Prime Minister Meets with Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has today met with Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore, in London. They discussed the trade relationship between the two countries as well as sharing ideas before the CHOGM meeting starting today.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“This afternoon the Prime Minister held bilateral talks with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

The leaders agreed that the Commonwealth was a unique and diverse institution, capable of delivering real change through practical action. They both noted the importance of the Commonwealth’s youth to its future success.

They agreed that the UK-Singapore trade and investment relationship was strong and would continue to grow, noting the potential for an even stronger future bilateral trade and investment partnership between our two countries as we leave the European Union. They welcomed the approach agreed at the March European Council to provide continuity during the implementation period for international agreements, which could be swiftly transitioned into new bilateral agreements once the implementation period ends.

They agreed the attack in Salisbury had been an outrageous act, and agreed on the importance of upholding the global norm against chemical weapons use, including in the context of Syria. They discussed the importance of tackling Russian disinformation and of preserving the rules-based international system.

They also discussed evolving challenges on cyber security and noted increasing UK-Singapore co-operation in this area. The leaders agreed that they were looking forward to working together more closely in this area after the two governments signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on the matter earlier this week”.