McDonnell says general election ‘difficult to get’ but Labour could form minority government

John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, has said Labour should form a minority government if Theresa May’s Brexit plan fails to pass Parliament.

The PM has travelled to Brussels to strike a final deal with the EU today.

The Chancellor said the government is in disarray with its deal with the DUP in tatters and its Brexit deal unlikely to pass Parliament.

On Monday the deal between the Tories and the DUP looked like it had collapsed as the DUP abstained on key votes to the government’s finance bill and then went on to vote with Labour.

Yesterday this forced the government to accept all of Labour’s amendments to the bill.

McDonnell today stated:

“We just can’t go on like this. We just cannot go on with this instability, uncertainty that there is in government, day by day and sometimes hour by hour,”

McDonnell said if May’s deal was to fail after renegotiations with Brussels Labour should be given a chance to form a government.

McDonnell said the general election that most Labour supporters want is extremely difficult to get saying:

“If that’s denied us then we will be pressing for a general election, but as you know you need that two-thirds majority it’s very difficult to get. Anything could happen at that stage.”

At an event, McDonnell confirmed Labour would support a 2nd referendum if Labour is unable to force a General Election, going on to say there was no majority for a No Deal in Parliament. Labour are manoeuvring to prevent a No Deal via an amendment to bills in Parliament.

Analysis from Iwan Doherty- Editor in Chief

McDonnell is naive if he thinks Labour can hold a minority government together. If Conservatives are strugging to keep the DUP in line its nothing compared to Labour holding together every party bar the Conservatives. They’d need to offer some big Brexit incentives to the Remain parties. Labour should try for a general, and failing that a 2nd referendum.

DUP deal with Tories could be dead as Labour win victory in Commons

The DUP yesterday showed they are close to breaking their confidence and supply agreement with the Conservatives which today has forced the Tories to accept every single Labour Party amendment to a piece of crucial Finance legislation. The DUP yesterday abstained on a number of Conservative amendments to the finance bill and then went on to vote with Labour on an amendment.

Whilst the Labour Whips said the government has “in effect collapsed” the DUP say the party does not believe the move breached the confidence and supply arrangement as the amendments were “cost neutral” – and that is now over to the government to respond.

DUP Brexit spokesperson Sammy Wilson warned Theresa May needed to “keep her side of the bargain”.

“Since the government has not honoured its side of the bargain we tonight tried to spell out some of the consequences of that,”

The DUP has previously said it will review its deal with the Conservatives if the draft Brexit plan passes through Parliament but is clear at present the Conservatives do not have a working majority in the Commons even as a united force.

If May is unable to change the deal with the EU there is a real possibility that the confidence and supply arrangement could end. This would leave Theresa May’s government in an extremely precarious position and vulnerable to a vote of no confidence that would force a General Election. This means the Prime Minister would need to fend off votes of no confidence from both within the House of Commons and her own party.

Tonight John McDonnell revealed this evening that, rather than face defeat on the crucial ‘confidence’ legislation the government decided to accept every single Labour amendment.

Certain votes in the House of Commons are ‘effective confidence votes’ meaning that if they lose them they are effective votes of no confidence. Votes such as finance bills, budgets and the Queen’s speech are examples of such votes.

The DUP agreed on a confidence and supply deal with the Conservative following the 2017 snap general election but this defiance could end that deal. The DUP agreed to support the government in all votes on budgets and finance as well as voting against any no-confidence motions.

This rebellion is in response to Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal. The DUP believe it has crossed their red lines and will divide Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. With May being unlikely to be able to change these details it looks like the confidence and supply deal is dead, giving Labour a chance to win a no-confidence vote and force a general election.

Analysis from Iwan Doherty- Editor in Chief

Labour will try and spin this as the government collapsing and while it is an embarrassment that many Tory MPs will be infuriated by the government remains standing, just. Save the champagne for another day.

The DUP have voted with Labour as retribution for May’s draft deal with the EU, as they threatened to, the and it is unclear whether the confidence and supply agreement will last. Without the DUP support, the government is unable to pass any legislation without opposition support.

Labour bringing down the government over the Brexit impasse is a real possibility.

Labour will need to win a vote of no confidence to bring down the government and while the DUP clearly want to warn the government about the consequences of their Brexit deal it is unclear whether they will get into bed with Labour when it is led by 2 supporters of Irish republicanism.

Labour will most likely wait till after May’s Brexit deal is voted down before calling a vote of no confidence, this is when they have the highest chance of succeeding. A successful vote with no following confidence vote would send the UK to the polls for the 2nd time since Article 50 was triggered without a deal with the EU.

Theresa May pleads to business leaders for Brexit support

Speaking at the annual CBI conference in London, May told business leaders she is determined to deliver her Brexit plans.

She said: “We’ve worked hard to deliver a deal that puts jobs and livelihoods, prosperity and opportunity first.

Adding: “EU citizens will no longer be able to jump the queue ahead of engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi.”

May is trying to drum up business support for her controversial Brexit withdraw plan after a hammering last week. Several junior and senior ministers resigned including Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions secretary, Esther McVey over the deal which sets out the terms of the UK’s departure, including how much money will be paid to the EU, details of the transition period, citizen’s rights and the Northern Ireland issue.

Members of the Eurosceptic ERC headed by Jacob Rees-Mogg slid a leadership content into motion by filling letters of no confidence to the 1922. As of now only 23 letters  have been submitted to committee chair, Graham Brady with 48 needed to force a contest, though reports suggest the full set could be in by the end of the day.

Speaking on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Theresa May warned internal critics against a bid, she said: “It is not going to make the negotiations any easier and it won’t change the parliamentary arithmetic.”

Asked if she had considered stepping down, May said: “No, I haven’t. Of course, it has been a tough week. Actually these negotiations have been tough right from the start but they were always going to get even more difficult right toward the end when we are coming to that conclusion.”

Ministers from the remaining 27 EU countries are meeting in Brussels to draft a political declaration setting out their future relationship with the UK, ahead of the deal being finalised on Sunday.

BREAKING: Russian money-laundering probe was ordered to stop.

Jon Betton has shockingly alleged that he was told to stop an investigation into a £23 Million Russian money-laundering scheme. He alleges that a senior officer who had links to the Foreign Office ordered him to halt the probe.

This comes after TPN revelations earlier in the month that Theresa May moved to block an investigation to the financier of the Brexit campaign, Arron Banks.

More information as we get it.

Steve Barclay appointed new Brexit secretary

Steve Barclay, Minister of State at Department of Health and Social Care, has been appointed new Brexit secretary following the resignation of Dominic Raab.

Amber Rudd has been appointed the new secretary of state for work and pensions following the resignation of Esther McVey.

Barclay has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for North East Cambridgeshire since May 2010 and formerly served in the armed forces as Second Lieutenant with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

He spent his first four years in Parliament as a member of the Public Accounts Committee. He became a Government Whip in 2015 and then he was appointed Economic Secretary to the Treasury responsible for financial services in 2017.

Rudd is back in the Cabinet only a few months after being forced to resign for misleading Parliament & presiding over a policy of a hostile environment.

More follows

Comment from Editor in Chief- Iwan Doherty

These are weak appointments. Barclay is a nobody and a clear yes man in there to be a stooge of the PM. Rudd’s appointment should set alarm bells ringing. A disgraced ex-Minister being invited back into the cabinet shows May has very few senior friends left.

UN Report, says Universal Credit is ‘wreaking havoc’, and austerity is ‘mean-spirited and callous.’

A damming United Nations report has heard how austerity is destroying people’s lives, this comes after an investigation from the organisation to understand the extreme poverty that has become a stain on our national identity.

Philip Alston, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and extreme poverty had announced earlier in the year that he would visit the UK to understand the challenges facing the poorest citizens. This comes after a previous report by the UN revealed that the UK government’s austerity measures and social security reform are in breach of their obligations to human rights.

“Government policies have inflicted great misery unnecessarily, especially on the working poor, on single mothers struggling against mighty odds, on people with disabilities who are already marginalised, and on millions of children who are locked into a cycle of poverty from which many will have great difficulty escaping,” – Philip Alston

This comes after several other warnings to the Conservative government including an exclusive that the Guardian revealed yesterday, where Gateshead council found that the Universal Credit system was linked to higher levels of suicide, depression and anxiety. Council after council, report after report is submitted showing the detrimental effect of Universal Credit and of austerity but to no avail, this Tory government is insistent on causing havoc in peoples’ lives.

It is telling that Jacob Rees-Mogg called the UN Report, a ‘Waste of money.’

Mr Alston has seen the full impact of austerity and the full impact of 8 years of Tory rule, where people have recalled how they have turned to sex work, or rely on food banks for their next meal.

Research from the Trussell Trust shows the top reasons for people going to food banks, 28.4% say it was because of low income, followed closely by benefit delays on nearly 24% and in third place benefit changes on over 17%. All 3 reasons are avoidable if the Government was willing to stop the roll-out of Universal Credit and force employers to pay the National Living Wage.

Analysis from Editor – Seb Chromiak

Writing this piece earlier today, I was furious but as the old cliche goes I was overcome with embarrassment and shame. A top International Organisation has criticised the UK for its record on human rights, its treatment of the poorest in our society, this is a national day of shame. It is hardly surprising that the number of times TPN has covered similar stories is un-quantifiable, these policies are no longer justified, I would call on the chancellor to rethink and truly bring an end to austerity.

These are human lives we are talking about, they’re not just a statistic, people’s lives are being ruined through mental health problems including, through low-esteem and the worthlessness that the Tory government assigns them. To the people of Great Britain, I would ask that you wake up, otherwise, we will become accustomed to such reports.

Cabinet backs draft Brexit agreement

The cabinet has backed a draft withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU.

The PM said it had been agreed after a “long, detailed and impassioned debate”  in a 5-hour cabinet meeting.

She said it was a “decisive step” and would allow the deal to be finalised in the coming days.

Conservative Brexiteers have already attacked May for what they believe to be in the deal.

May will now have to get Parliament to vote for the deal.

In a letter to other MPs Jacob Rees Mogg unleashed his dissatisfaction with the deal and urged other MPs to vote against it.

More follows

BREAKING: Brexit divorce deal to be signed off tomorrow

A cabinet source has told both The Sun and the BBC that the Brexit withdrawal agreement has been approved ‘at a technical level’ by officials from both sides. Cabinet ministers will meet with the Prime Minister one by one tonight ahead of a full meeting ‘early tomorrow afternoon’.

Former BBC political editor Nick Robinson described this evening as a ‘now or never’ moment for Brexit supporting MPs who have threatened to quit over the deal.

The full withdrawal agreement is reportedly over 400 pages in length, and ministers will be given the opportunity to scrutinise it before the meeting tomorrow. An EU source confirmed that a “stable text” had been sent to London, but officials were not calling it a deal, saying full agreement at political level was still needed: “It is now about seeing if this sticks”

The future of the Irish border had been the final issue needing to be resolved, and it would appear that has now been done. If approved tomorrow, the cabinet will commence their plan to sell the deal to the public and other MPs.

If the deal is agreed by Cabinet she will need to persuade Parliament to vote for it. A significant number of Tory MPs have already pledged to vote against it, if it resembles her Chequers’ proposal, and Labour have also pledged to vote against it if it does not meet their 6 tests.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, has put out a statement about the developments:

“We will look at the details of what has been agreed when they are available. But from what we know of the shambolic handling of these negotiations, this is unlikely to be a good deal for the country. Labour has been clear from the beginning that we need a deal to support jobs and the economy – and that guarantees standards and protections. If this deal doesn’t meet our six tests and work for the whole country, then we will vote against it.”

Brexit set for further delays as May abandons November summit

Brexit negotiations will likely drag into December as key divisions on the Irish border continue.

Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, had previously set November 21st as the date for a deal but EU ministers have dismissed the chances of a breakthrough this month.

Speaking with reporters in Brussels, Belgian Foreign Minister, Didier Reynders, said: “we are waiting for new news from London

“We have time, but not so much. For this month, it’s very difficult to make real progress, but before Christmas I’m hoping that it will be possible”

Theresa May has stated she will not accept any deal which excludes Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. Though, in a letter leaked to the Times May did not rule out the idea of Northern Ireland continuing to align with some single market rules if a backstop is activated.

DUP leader Arlene Foster reacted angrily and in response tweeted:

“The PM’s letter raises alarm bells for those who value the integrity of our precious union & for those who want a proper Brexit for the whole UK. From her letter, it appears the PM is wedded to the idea of a border down the Irish Sea with NI.”

A potential compromise would involve a UK-wide customs union until a free trade deal can be reached agreed.

Speaking to journalists as he arrived in Brussels for further talks, Brexit minister, Martin Callanan, said: “We’re working hard for a deal. There are a number of important issues we still have to get bottomed out.

“But we can’t rush it. We have to get the right deal. This is an agreement that will endure for many years.”

There are EU summits scheduled for the 13th and 14th of December which would leave little time for a parliamentary vote before the Christmas leave.

EXCLUSIVE: Gaps in Government statistics on LGBTQ prisoners.

TPN brings you an exclusive article on a new Freedom of Information request into the state of British prisons. The FoM relates to the number of people that identify as LGBTQ currently being held in our institutions, the request relates to violence and uncovers that the data is lacking, as there currently no statistics being collated on if LGBTQ people are suffering from targets acts of violence. It draws the question, how safe are our prisons?

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) now collects data on Her Majesty’s Prison’s, and in the spring of 2017, it was decided that data relating to whether a person identified as LGBTQ should be collected in line with new guidance on care and management of transgender people. Currently there are 82,000 men in our prison’s with 18,5000 women behind bars. 2.6% of the prison population is supposedly LGBTQ people, but this figure may be up for dispute.

The Prison Service acknowledges this is a low estimate of LGBTQ numbers as some inmates would not disclose their sexual orientation and those who have successfully transitioned and have a full gender recognition certificate are not included. Of the 124 public and private prisons, 47 state they have at least one transgender inmate of the 125 recognised by the prison system.

The prison system appears to want to be seen to be moving in response to public concern and acting in tandem with public awareness in relation to rise of Transgender Activism. However LGBTQ are not included in the statistics of this latest report in which the prison service confirms a staggering 11,008 prisoners were injured during incarceration in just one 12 month period.  Last year, 332 men and 222 women died in jail. Self- harm figures are also shocking despite the fall in the female prison population. Women who self- harm account for 10% of the entire prison population according to reports. Interestingly there has been a 34% fall in the number of prisoners under 25 years old and a 40% increase in men over 50. Women make up 18,500 of prisoners and 1,954 are happy to state they are LGBTQ, yet there are no statistics to break down violence based on their sexual orientation. Perhaps they have something to hide?

Failing Government policy.

Mark Day, who is head of policy at the Prison Reform Trust says the dramatic increase in violence within the prison service especially in the period 2010 -2015 can be attributed to severe cuts in staffing levels. This under staffing has led to a substantial loss of experienced middle ranking officers with prisoner knowledge and the skills of assessing and intervening when violence looms on the horizon. Mark Day and the Prison Reform Trust have welcomed the Government’s fresh investment in prison staff whilst at the same time acknowledging it will take a while for these new officers to gain the experience of the 25% of officers that were previously cut from the service. 
The Prison Reform Trust believes that the Government needs a new total compliance review of all aspects of sentencing as the only way forward to decrease the violence and death in UK jails. The increase in staffing levels must continue alongside working to reduce the prison population to a sustainable level. The hope is that in the 2019 spending review the prison service will recognise the important role of continuing investment and the thought that is required to maintain a safe environment.
The perception that the public care little for the welfare of prisoners has allowed Government to make cuts without much thought or real consultation during a period of austerity. However many would argue that as a direct result of these cuts to the Prison Service hundreds of inmates have died and tens of thousands suffered injuries as a direct result of this policy decision. Should we care as these prisoners did break the law? Yes we must care. Our prisons must keep the public safe however they also need to be a safe place for prisoners, too. Further still, there should be statistics on violence by sexual orientation in order to keep the Government accountable.

Tickets for ‘Liberty’ – Rays New critically acclaimed new stage play about how the LGBTQ & the Civil Rights Movement was founded in 1930’s Britain can be found here.