Government Announces Measures to End Homelessness

The Government has today announced a package of policies which aim to end homelessness by 2027 and halve it by 2022. The Government is spending £100 million on the strategy, which will aim to reduce the numbers forced to live on the street, provide help for those living on the street and increase the housing options available to those in need.

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said in a statement:

“Nobody should have to sleep rough, and that’s why we must do all we can to help the most vulnerable in our society get the support they need.

But we recognise this is a complex issue – as well as ensuring people have somewhere to live, we have to deal with underlying problems and ultimately help people turn their lives around.

The strategy launched today will help us act to prevent rough sleeping before it happens and make sure targeted support is reaching those that need it”.

John Healey, the Shadow Housing Secretary, criticised the lack of new money, saying that some has already been announced. In a statement he said:

“The Government’s rough sleeping plan has unravelled just hours after it was announced. It’s now clear there is no additional money for the Housing Department to tackle the crisis of rough sleeping. Rough sleeping has more than doubled since 2010 thanks to decisions made by Tory Ministers, but this feeble plan lacks any urgency. The next Labour Government will end rough sleeping within our first term in office, making 8,000 homes available for people with a history of rough sleeping”.

Calls for Boris Johnson to be Suspended from Conservative Party

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has today faced growing calls for Boris Johnson, the former Foreign Secretary, to be suspended from the Conservative Party over a newspaper article which has been called islamophobic.

Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney General, said that he would quit the Conservative Party if Johnson became the party’s leader. Brandon Lewis, the Conservative Party chairman, and Theresa May have both called for Johnson to apologise for his newspaper article, which he has refused to do.

Baroness Warsi, a former Conservative Cabinet Minister, who wrote:

“He set out a liberal position, but he did it in a very “alt-right” way. This allowed him to dog-whistle: to say to particular elements of the party that he’s tough on Muslims. Yet again, he’s trying to have his cake and eat it”.

Brandon Lewis is expected to make a decision later on in the week on what, if any, action should be taken on Johnson.

Prime Minister Welcomes British Divers to Downing Street

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has welcomed British divers to Downing Street who were involved in the rescue of Thai boys who got trapped in caves. May hosted a reception at Downing Street for the divers which was also attended by Pisanu Suvanajata, the Thai Ambassador.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“It’s a pleasure to welcome you to Downing Street today. This was an amazing rescue mission. On hearing about the boys who were trapped most people would have just stood by but you chose to go out there and do something about it.

The eyes of the world were on you and I think I can speak for everyone when I say a huge thank you. John [Volanthen] you have said that you’re not heroes…well to most of us you are. Sadly we know that a Thai diver, Saman Kunan, died during this mission. He lost his life saving the lives of others – a danger you also faced.

The Thai PM has written to me to say thank you for the fantastic job you did and I know that everyone in this country would agree. We are all very proud of you”.

Prime Minister Meets with Amir of Qatar

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has today met with the Amir of Qatar in Downing Street. They discussed trade, defence and security matters, as well as the current situation in Russia.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister held bilateral talks earlier today with the Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at Downing Street, covering mutual prosperity, defence and security cooperation, regional stability, and wider foreign policy issues.

They agreed that the trade and investment relationship between the UK and Qatar was already strong, welcoming the fact that half of Qatar’s 2017 £5 billion investment commitment had already been allocated to projects in the UK. They agreed a shared desire to see investment flows both ways continuing to grow, noting the significant commercial opportunities on offer for both countries across a wide range of sectors. The Prime Minister welcomed Qatar’s commitment to continue to invest not just in London but across the country.

They agreed the bilateral defence and security relationship was also strong and growing, noting the recent £6 billion Typhoon deal. They discussed how the UK could continue to support Qatar to deliver a safe and successful World Cup 2022, with the Prime Minister highlighting our particular expertise in this area. They agreed to intensify joint counter-terrorism work, recognising the importance of tackling the root causes of terrorism including the ideology that underpins it.

They discussed a range of regional security issues and the Prime Minister reiterated our strong desire to see Gulf Cooperation Council unity restored at the earliest possible opportunity, observing that Gulf security is our security.

They also discussed Russia, agreeing on the importance of continuing to approach Russia from a position of strength and unity. They noted the particular importance of the international community continuing to work together to stand firm against malign activity, and to protect the global rules and norms”.

Prime Minister Meets with German Chancellor

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has met with Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, in Berlin to discuss matters relating to Brexit, the European Union and NATO.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said in a statement:

“During the Prime Minister’s meeting with Chancellor Merkel in Berlin today, the two leaders held productive and positive talks across a range of topics.

Their talks began with a constructive discussion about the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. The Prime Minister confirmed that the Cabinet would tomorrow consider and decide a substantial way forward, which would enable the pace and intensity of negotiations to increase.

The Prime Minister updated Chancellor Merkel on the latest situation in Amesbury. The two also discussed the upcoming NATO summit, where the Prime Minister said it was vital for all countries to display solidarity and unity.

The Prime Minister also looked forward to welcoming Chancellor Merkel to next week’s Western Balkans summit in London and said the event would send a strong signal of our shared commitment to the region”.

Amber Rudd Resigns as Home Secretary

Amber Rudd has today resigned her role as Home Secretary following the Government’s treatment of what has become known as the Windrush generation. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, is expected to complete the reshuffle later today.

Rudd wrote to the Prime Minister:

“Dear Prime Minister,

It is with great regret that I am resigning as home secretary. I feel it is necessary to do so because I inadvertently misled the Home Affairs Select Committee over targets for removal of illegal immigrants during their questions on Windrush.

Since appearing before the select committee, I have reviewed the advice I was given on this issue and become aware of information provided to my office which makes mention of targets. I should have been aware of this, and I take full responsibility for the fact that I was not.

The Windrush scandal has rightly shone a light on an important issue for our country. As so often, the instincts of the British people are right. They want people who have a right to live here to be treated fairly and humanely, which has sometimes not been the case. But they also want the government to remove those who don’t have the right to be here. I had hoped in coming months to devise a policy that would allow the government to meet both these vital objectives – including bringing forward urgent legislation to ensure the rights of the Windrush generation are protected. The task force is working well, the residence cards are being issued well within the two weeks promised, and the design of the compensation scheme is making good progress.

The Home Office is one of the great offices of state and its job is to keep people safe. It comes with the responsibility to fight terrorism, support and challenge the police and protect people against the abuse, as well as manage migration.

It has been a great privilege to serve as your home secretary. I have seen first-hand the second to none commitment and bravery of our police, fire and intelligence services, they truly are the best in the world and we should rightly be extremely proud of them.

I have been particularly pleased that we were able to set up the first Global Internet Forum for Counter Terrorism which has led the way with encouraging social media sites to go further and faster in taking down radicalising and terrorist material, which plays such a dangerous part in increasing extremism.

Setting out new laws to tackle the scourge of knife crime and acid attacks and helping to steer our young people away from a life of crime and violence by providing them with credible alternatives have been particularly important to me.

Opportunities to work on issues that safeguard the vulnerable, champions women and make a lasting impact on people’s lives particularly stand out for me. New policies to fight domestic violence and abuse against women are out to consultation, and will lead this country to taking a new approach. Helping to bring thousands of refugees, including child refugees from both Calais and the Middle East region, and meeting some of the families who fled the terrible situation in Syria and have now been given a chance to rebuild their lives here in the UK in safety and security is something we can be proud of.

It has been an honour to work on a new security treaty with the EU as part of our new partnership going forward and to participate in your Brexit sub-committee helping to ensure that we have the best possible EU deal for our economy, businesses, jobs and people across the UK.

The new Economic Crime Centre that i launched with the first use of unexplained wealth orders will be important to the confidence of London as a financial centre.

I will continue to support the Home Office ministerial team whenever possible on all these important subjects, supporting the government from the back benches and continuing to work hard for my constituents of Hastings and Rye.

Best wishes,

Amber Rudd”

The Prime Minister replied:

“Dear Amber,

Thank you for your letter of this evening tendering your resignation as home secretary. I was very sorry to receive it, but understand your reasons for doing so.

When you addressed the House of Commons and the Home Affairs Select Committee last week on the issue of illegal immigration, you answered the questions put to you in good faith. People who have entered the United Kingdom illegally or overstayed here should expect to face the full force of the law and know that they will be removed if they will not leave this country voluntarily. Just as importantly, people who have come here legally and enriched the life of our country should not expect the state unreasonably to challenge their presence here; rather, it should help them prove their right to continue living here and contributing to the life of our nation.

Under your tenure, the Home Office has been working to enforce a firm but fair immigration policy – working to increase the number of illegal migrants we remove, while ensuring that we continue to recognise the huge contribution of everyone who has come to the UK legally, and remain open to the brightest and best from across the globe.

When you spoke in the House of Commons, you said that you had not agreed specific removal targets, but that the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement command had been using local targets for internal performance management. You also said that you were not aware that those operational targets had been set.

I understand why, now that you have had chance to review the advice that you have received on this issue, you have made the decision you have made and taken responsibility for inadvertently misleading the Home Affairs Select Committee.

I am very sorry to see you leaving the Home Office, but you should take great pride in what you have achieved there – working with internet service providers to set up the first Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism and take extremist and terrorist content offline; countering the cyber threat to British families and businesses; standing up for the victims of crime, abuse and domestic violence; offering shelter to refugees from Syria and elsewhere; and advancing the cause of equality as minister for women and equalities.

This comes on top of the considerable contribution you have made to Government since 2012 – first as a whip, then as minister and subsequently secretary of state at the department for energy and climate change – as well as the devoted service you have always given, and will continue to give, to your constituents in Hastings and Rye.

As a former home secretary myself, I appreciate the particular demands of that great office of state. You should take great pride in the way you have led the Home Office and its dedicated public servants through a number of serious challenges, including five terrorist incidents and other complex national events. You have done so with great integrity, compassion, and selflessness – notwithstanding the personal and political challenges you have faced during this period.

I know that you have a great contribution still to make to national life, and look forward to seeing you do so.

Yours,

Theresa.”

Theresa May Speaks with German and French Leaders over Iran Nuclear Deal

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has spoken to Emmanuel Macron, the French President, and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, by phone regarding the Iran nuclear deal.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister held separate phone calls with the French President Emmanuel Macron and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday and this morning.

They discussed the importance of the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) as the best way of neutralising the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, agreeing that our priority as an international community remained preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

They agreed that there were important elements that the deal does not cover, but which we need to address – including ballistic missiles, what happens when the deal expires, and Iran’s destabilising regional activity.

Acknowledging the importance of retaining the JCPoA, they committed to continue working closely together and with the US on how to tackle the range of challenges that Iran poses – including those issues that a new deal might cover.

They also noted the vital importance of our steel and aluminium industries and their concern about the impact of US tariffs. The leaders pledged to continue to work closely with the rest of the EU and the US Administration with the aim of a permanent exemption from US tariffs.

Finally, they all agreed on the value of continued engagement in the E3 format (Britain, France and Germany) to advance our shared interests and our security”.

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”.

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”.

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”.