Newslinks for Sunday 22nd September 2019

Gove: Fail to leave by the 31st, and the consequences for the Conservatives will be dire

‘If we can get Brexit done, and restore people’s faith in our democracy, we can see off those forces that feast on disaffection with our institutions, the populist challenge from the Brexit Party, and the hard-left insurgency led by Corbyn. But if we make the wrong decisions, we will see faith in our democracy damaged and confidence in the Conservative Party drain away. We are on the razor’s edge of peril. If we still find ourselves in the European Union after October 31, having accepted that we can only ever leave when the EU decides, and on terms it dictates, then we will see support for the Conservative Party collapse. When we failed to leave, as we had promised, on March 29, faith in our party, and our promises, evaporated. We dropped to 9% in the European elections and a brave and decent prime minister fell. We cannot disappoint the country again.’ – Sunday Times

>Today: John Baron on Comment: Johnson must keep calm, carry on – and reject the Withdrawal Agreement

Labour conference 1) Corbyn’s policy chief quits over ‘lack of professionalism, competence and human decency’

‘Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party was plunged into fresh chaos last night as it emerged that one of his closest aides has resigned, saying Corbyn, 70, will not win the general election. The Sunday Times has learnt that Andrew Fisher, head of policy and author of the party’s last election manifesto, walked out last Saturday, declaring: “I no longer have faith we will succeed.” In a caustic memo to close colleagues, seen by this newspaper, Fisher denounced the leader’s team for their “lack of professionalism, competence and human decency” and said he was sick of their “blizzard of lies and excuses”. He also claimed “class war” has gripped the upper echelons of the party — a dig at Seumas Milne, Corbyn’s senior aide, who was educated at Winchester and Oxford. Sources say Fisher’s departure prompted Corbyn to confront Milne in his office last Monday. Fisher’s departure comes amid claims that the Labour leader might also resign because he feels under “incredible pressure”.’ – Sunday Times

  • He accuses other aides of leaking his policy plans – Sunday Times
  • Labour plans free prescriptions in England – Sunday Times
  • But they’d add a tax for people who drive to hospital – The Sun on Sunday
  • Extinction Rebellion founder fights police ban on his conference attendance – The Observer
  • Yorke admits pollution hypocrisy – Sunday Times

Labour conference 2) They could go into the next election without backing Remain or Leave

‘The Labour Party could go into the next General Election without saying whether or not it will back remain or leave in the event of a second referendum. The revelations came in a new draft document submitted to the party’s governing body – the NEC – at its annual conference in Brighton which started today. The draft statement reads: ‘After three years of shambolic Tory (Conservative) negotiations and parliamentary deadlock, a Labour government will get Brexit sorted one way or another within six months of coming to power.’ The news will pile more pressure on Jeremy Corbyn who is already under fire for not making his mind up over the key issue of Brexit. The Labour leader has already said he will negotiate a new deal and put it to another vote if he becomes PM. But he sparked fury after hinting he would refuse to back Leave or Remain.’ – The Sun on Sunday

Labour conference 3) The Opposition leader pulls plug on Momentum’s attempt to get rid of Watson

‘The civil war at the top of Labour has undermined efforts to present the party as an alternative government, deputy leader Tom Watson has said – as he labels a bid to oust him as deputy leader a failed ‘drive-by shooting’. The plot to scrap Mr Watson’s position was spearheaded by Jon Lansman, the boss of the Corbyn-supporting Momentum group. After an intervention by party leader Jeremy Corbyn – with whom Mr Watson has repeatedly clashed – his post will instead be the subject of a review. Mr Watson, who was met by cheering supporters as he arrived at Brighton station for the Labour Party conference on Saturday afternoon, was scathing about Mr Lansman. ‘I think it says there are some people who don’t think clear-headedly, who risk us having a transformative government by playing sectarian games. I put Jon Lansman in that category.’ – Mail on Sunday

  • Inside the ‘planned and well-organised’ coup attempt – The Observer
  • An ‘unsuccessful drive-by shooting’ – Sunday Telegraph
  • Corbynites believed Watson was planning to become the Remain Alliance’s Prime Minister – Mail on Sunday
  • Falconer argues the closure of Labour’s student wing is ‘legally invalid’ – The Observer
  • The Party’s property firm hasn’t paid any tax since 2003 – The Sun on Sunday

Labour conference 4) Abolish Ofsted (and replace it with…something else)

‘Labour is pledging to abolish Ofsted and end “high stakes” school inspections as part of radical plans drawn up before a possible snap election. Announcements on education, health and care are expected to be at the heart of Labour’s pitch to voters at its annual conference in Brighton this week. With Labour’s leadership still under pressure over its ambiguous position on Brexit, senior figures hope that announcing eye-catching policies can refocus a coming election on its plans for public services. The Observer also understands that the party is seriously considering a plan that would make care services for the over-65s free at the point of use, excluding accommodation costs… Pledging to scrap Ofsted will cause huge debate. While some teaching unions have campaigned for the move, the inspectorate has denied a claim by Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, that it is biased against schools with more socially deprived intakes. In an interview with the Observer today, Rayner said that England’s schools inspectors were fuelling a crisis in teacher recruitment and failing to give parents an accurate account of school standards. “We would abolish Ofsted and we would replace it with a different system,” she said.’ – The Observer

Labour conference 5) Members’ ‘extremist’ views revealed

‘Labour Party members want to sack the Queen, abolish Britain’s borders and the nuclear deterrent, and support a general strike to bring down the government. They also blame Britain, rather than the IRA, for terrorist attacks in Northern Ireland and dislike the national anthem, according to a poll that reveals the prevalence of extremist views in Labour ranks. Most of the 1,100 members surveyed by YouGov believe the antisemitism crisis that has ripped the party apart is mostly the fault of the media or Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents. Just 15% are “proud” of Britain’s history, with 43% saying they are “ashamed”.’ – Sunday Times

Economic confidence ‘at lowest rate since the financial crisis’

‘Business and consumer confidence is at its lowest level since the British economy was mired in the global financial crisis, according to a leading economic consultancy. Fathom Financial Consulting’s economic sentiment indicator for the UK, which is derived from a range of survey measures of confidence, dropped to -0.2% last month. That was its lowest point since September 2009, when the UK was just beginning to emerge from its deepest recession in the post-war period. “The drop was driven by expectations,” said Ritush Dalmia, an economist with Fathom. “Business and consumer confidence continues to suffer from Brexit uncertainty, with business confidence in particular falling to levels last seen on the eve of the crisis.” Surveys show that confidence among both companies and consumers has waned in the period since Theresa May stepped down as prime minister.’ – Sunday Times

Plans drawn up to repatriate Thomas Cook holidaymakers

‘Sources close to the debt-laden firm say it will not be able to settle hotel bills, which are typically paid in arrears, if it collapses into administration. Crunch talks about the company’s future will be held in London today. “These hoteliers need to be paid,” said one source. “The minute they see Thomas Cook has gone into administration they’re going to turf everybody out and say, ‘No more all-inclusive for you.’” Another said: “It’s going to look terrible if there are elderly people who end up sleeping on the beach.” A £100m flight operation to repatriate more than 150,000 British tourists, called Operation Matterhorn, is ready to be launched by the government today if last-ditch talks fail. Thomas Cook executives believe the government will also have to pay millions of pounds in hotel bills if it wants to avoid holidaymakers being ejected onto the streets…The costs of the financial collapse have been estimated at £600m, but government sources say they do not believe the costs of a repatriation operation would exceed £100m.’ – Sunday Times

Trudeau’s voters may ‘shrug off’ racist fancy dress scandal

‘The timing could not have been worse: less than a month before Canada’s general election, its prime minister Justin Trudeau, 47, was outed last week for using blackface make-up as a young man — not once but three times. Yet while his political opponents called for his head to roll and political pundits screeched about hypocrisy, there has also been a more surprising collective shrugging of the nation’s shoulders. The two separate photographs and the video were a “non-issue”, according to many voters. “This is the fixation of a small part of the elite, essentially the people who are ‘woke’,” said Robert Bothwell, a professor of Canadian history at Toronto University. “This is a pseudo-scandal that doesn’t have legs.” Polling in the aftermath of last week’s debacle did not show any serious fall in support for Trudeau’s Liberal Party, said the Canadian pollster Nik Nanos.’ – Sunday Times

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