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


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”.

David Cameron says he is hopeful of an deal by February


David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has said that he is hopeful that a deal can be reached with other European countries within the next month. There will be a referendum on UK membership of the EU by 2017 at the latest, but it is expected to be held this year.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the Prime Minister said:

“That is what I would like to see, is a deal in February, then a referendum that would follow”.

He added:

“The idea that Europe must add to our competitiveness, not take away from our competitiveness, making sure this isn’t just a single currency club but it is flexible enough for countries like Britain with our own currency. And then dealing with this issue of the abuse of free movement and the pressure of migration from the EU on Britain by amending welfare rules”.

If an agreement is reached by February it is expected that the referendum would be held in around June of this year.


Government Agrees to Fund new Tadcaster Bridge

Robert Goodwill
Robert Goodwill

The Government has confirmed that it will fund the cost of the new Tadcaster Bridge, expected to be around £3 million. It has also agreed to fund the cost of a temporary footbridge to cross the River Wharfe.

The historic bridge which dated from the eighteenth century had been seriously damaged during the floods over the New Year period and divided the town of Tadcaster in two.

Robert Goodwill, the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, said:

“The floods in Yorkshire have been devastating for residents and businesses across the county and we have seen the partial collapse of the Tadcaster bridge split the community in two.

We have made the repair of the bridge a national priority and I am pleased to announce that today we are providing £3.3 million to restore this important route. I am determined to ensure I do everything I can to help and this is an important step in keeping the recovery effort on track in Yorkshire”.

Jeremy Corbyn calls for unity as fourth Labour MP quits their post


Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has called for unity in an article for the Guardian newspaper. The call has been over-shadowed by the resignation of Alison McGovern, the Labour MP for Wirral South, who has quite the party’s policy review group.

Corbyn said in the article:

“My election as Labour leader represented a deep-seated desire for change and for a new direction in our politics. It’s hardly surprising if some find that shift difficult to adjust to. But we will maintain a broad-based leadership, with space for a wide range of views and all the talents.

In reality, there is in fact now a greater Labour consensus on domestic and economic policy than at any period in my lifetime. Even on foreign and security policy, where differences have been sharper, the Syria debate last month showed there was a clear majority in every part of our party for opposition to Cameron’s bombing campaign”.

The Leader of the Opposition has yet to comment on the resignation of Alison McGovern. She told BBC’s Sunday Politics:

I’m there waiting to meet [John McDonnell] to talk about [child poverty and inequality] and all the while he’d gone to the TV studio to call the organisation that I am chair of ‘hard-right Conservative’, of having a hard-right Conservative agenda. That’s not OK. We are all Labour members and we believe in having a Labour government – that’s what we are, nothing more nothing less”.

Ken Livingstone Criticises Jeremy Corbyn on Defence


Ken Livingstone, the co-chairperson of Labour’s defence review, has snubbed the view of Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, that the party’s review shouldn’t consider Britain’s membership of NATO.

Livingstone has earlier in the week said that the question of NATO membership would be considered but this was immediately rejected by Jeremy Corbyn. A spokesman for the Labour leader said on Thursday that:

“We will not look at our membership of NATO”.

The Daily Telegraph is today reporting that Livingstone rejected this saying that “we are going to review”.


David Cameron meets with Queen Rania of Jordan


David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has met with Queen Rania of Jordan. Born in 1970 the Queen married Abdullah bin Al-Hussein, a then Prince, in June 1993. Since then she has taken an interest in women’s and children’s rights around the world and has supported numerous United Nations programmes.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister held talks with Her Majesty, Queen Rania of Jordan this afternoon.

They discussed the need for a comprehensive approach to the Syrian humanitarian crisis, and agreed that as well as substantially increasing humanitarian aid, countries must seek to address the longer term needs of refugees through education and employment, to enable them to return to Syria and rebuild its economy once the conflict has ended.

Queen Rania thanked the British people for their generosity in providing support to Syrians, and said countries in the Middle East and Europe should work together to respond to the challenges of so many refugees.

The Prime Minister and Queen Rania discussed the forthcoming Syria Pledging Conference, and agreed education was vital to securing a bright future, reiterating their commitment to ensuring greater access to education for all children in Syria and its neighbouring countries”.

BNP Reapply for Electoral Commission Registration


The BNP have been deregistered as a political party by the Electoral Commission after they failed to re-register their party under the Political Parties and Referendums Act 2000.

In a statement the Electoral Commission said:

“The Electoral Commission has today removed the British National Party (BNP) from its register of political parties in Great Britain for failing to confirm their registration details with the Commission – a legal requirement that must be submitted annually”. 

Adam Walker, the Chairman of the BNP, said in a statement:

“Owing to an unforeseen error, this routine registration fee has, at this point, not been processed for 2016. This minor technical issue is being put right as we speak.

We can assure all members, supporters and voters that the BNP will be re-registered within a matter of days ready for our big push for the May elections.

In a communication this afternoon, the Electoral Commission has set out in writing the fact that the BNP is protected by law, and the simple re-registration currently underway cannot be sabotaged by hostiles”.

BBC Reject Complaint from Labour over Stephen Doughty Resignation


The BBC has rejected a complaint from the Labour Party over how it handled the resignation of Stephen Doughty. Doughty was one of three Labour MPs who resigned from the Shadow Ministerial team earlier in the week in protest over the sackings of Shadow Cabinet Ministers by Jeremy Corbyn.

Seumas Milne, Labour’s Director of Communications, complained that the MP’s resignation was broadcast live on air before Doughty had tendered a letter of resignation to Jeremy Corbyn. Doughty said that he sent the letter to Corbyn before the interview but was concerned that he would be smeared by senior Labour figures so didn’t allow time for a response. Hours later John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, referred to Doughty as “part of a right-wing clique”.

Robbie Gibb, the editor of the Daily Politics, replied:

“As you know it is a long standing tradition that political programmes on the BBC, along with all other news outlets, seek to break stories. It is true that we seek to make maximum impact with our journalism which is entirely consistent with the BBC’s editorial guidelines and values”.

National Audit Office queries cost of Disability Benefits Tests

2015 General Election - Cabinet

The National Audit Office has said that the cost of disability benefit assessments, also known as fit-to-work tests, have increased to £579 million per year.

The announcement puts pressure on Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to review the cost of the process. The cost of each individual test has increased from £115 to £190 with the total cost of the assessments nearly doubling.

The National Audit Office research also showed that the private operators running the tests were not meeting the conformance standards which had been set by the Government.

Meg Hillier, the Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, said:

“The department needs to do more to ensure private providers deliver a better deal for sick and disabled people as assessments have a huge impact on their ability to access vital cash to live with dignity”.