Customs union

The row threatening Brexit rumbles on. The Telegraph reports:

Theresa May faces being publicly denounced by her Cabinet’s most senior Brexiteers if she steamrolls their objections to her favoured plans for
 a customs deal with the EU, senior 
figures have said.
Cabinet sources warned the Prime Minister not to attempt to force through a “hybrid” proposal which they said would fail to meet promises made during the referendum campaign and in the Tories’ 2017 manifesto.
Senior figures also warned that Britain was “losing time” in the negotiations both because of the delay in Mrs May making a final decision on a plan for future customs arrangements, and as a result of No 10 putting off a Commons vote on keeping the UK in the tariff-free customs union.

The Independent claims an exclusive in its report that Tory MPs could force the Prime Minister to keep us in a customs union, thereby thwarting Brexit.

Rebel Tory MPs believe they now have sufficient support to force Theresa May  into effectively keeping the UK in the single market.
Conservatives have told 
The Independent there would be enough of their party’s MPs to lock in full single market access after Brexit, as long as Labour also backs it.
But in a move set to enrage Labour politicians,  Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench will on Tuesday refuse support for just such a proposal in the Lords – preventing it from being voted on in the Commons.
Mr Corbyn is now being warned he risks a major internal row and must explain to pro-EU party members why he is “throwing away a clear opportunity” to defeat Ms May’s plans to abandon the single market.

The Times reports a potential challenge to the PM.

Two Tory MPs boasted last week that they were prepared to trigger a challenge to Theresa May’s leadership amid growing fury that the prime minister plans to railroad her party into backing a customs deal with Brussels.
Sources in the European Research Group of hardline Brexiteers say the MPs showed drafts of the “salty rhetoric” in letters calling for a vote of no confidence.
The Brexit war cabinet rejected May’s plans for a new customs partnership with Brussels last Wednesday, with Boris Johnson yelling, “It’s 6-5!” when the casting vote came in.

But the PM is determined to get us out of the EU, reports the Sun in an exclusive.

THERESA May has vowed to get Britain out of the EU Customs Union as quickly as possible.
She brushed off fears she has gone soft on Brexit — and told of her “absolute determination” to get out by the end of 2020.
But worried Brexiteers fear she will try to strong-arm ministers into backing a slightly tweaked version of the same deal.
The PM only needs to win over three members of her team to get it through a crunch Cabinet committee next week.
Brexit cheerleader Jacob Rees-Mogg warned: “It is nonsense to suggest we must find a compromise.

ITV News has picked up the story.

Theresa May insisted she had the “determination to deliver Brexit” as she came under pressure from both wings of the Tory party to change course.
Eurosceptics urged the Prime Minister to drop the proposal for a “customs partnership” which they fear would tie the UK too closely to Brussels.
But pro-EU Tories pushed for Mrs May to abandon her red lines and keep the UK in the single market, claiming she would have cross-party support in the House of Commons for such a move.
Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn also risked unrest within his party over Labour’s position on Brexit ahead of a Lords vote on the issue.

Bercow

The little squeaker has come under further pressure in the Times.

John Bercow has been reported to the standards watchdog over allegations he bullied members of his staff, as a cabinet minister warned the harassment scandal surrounding the Commons Speaker had left a “cloud hanging over parliament”.
Andrea Leadsom, leader of the House of Commons, said she had been “embarrassed” by the claims of bullying being made by parliamentary staff.
Her comments come days after Angus Sinclair, 65, Bercow’s former private secretary, told BBC2’s Newsnight that he had also been bullied by the Speaker.

And in an exclusive story, the Sun reports the comments of a former Black Rod.

JOHN BERCOW was likened to disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein yesterday.
A former House of Commons official says the Speaker had “stepped over the line”.
Mr Bercow is resisting calls to step down over bullying allegations which he denies.
Former Black Rod David Leakey — who worked with him — said: “John Bercow is not an altogether bad Speaker. But then Harvey Weinstein is not an altogether bad film mogul.
“He ran a fantastic film studio but he stepped over the line and had to stand down. There needs to be checks and balances for people in public office.
“There can’t be one rule for others but not for Mr Bercow.”

A cabinet minister also speaks out against Bercow in the Express.

A CABINET Minister with “firsthand evidence” of John Bercow’s “bullying” is preparing to speak to the parliamentary watchdog about his behaviour. The Speaker’s future was hanging in the balance after Downing Street’s decision to recommend an investigation into his treatment of a former secretary.
And it emerged last night that a senior government figure had heard him “bellowing and being aggressive” towards a female member of Commons staff. This comes after a series of bullying claims were made against Mr Bercow by former private secretaries, all of which he denies.

Labour Party

Labour aren’t doing much better, with the Shadow Chancellor claiming Marxism is great in the Mail.

John McDonnell has called Marxism ‘a force for change today’ and one of the biggest influences on  Jeremy Corbyn‘s Labour Party.
The Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer gave a strident defence of Marxism at an event in  London to commemorate 200 years since Karl Marx’s birth.
Mr McDonnell called Britain’s capitalist system ‘crisis-ridden’ and people were flocking to Marxist ideology as an alternative.
‘There’s a significant revival of the question who really owns our society,’ he said at the Marx 200 conference held at SOAS University of London on Saturday.
The 66-year-old then flagged a government takeover of private infrastructure and services under a Corbyn Labour government, according to people in the audience.

And the party’s former spin-doctor has also criticised Labour in the Sun.

A JEREMY Corbyn-led Labour party is a “long way from where we need to be” to win a general election, according to Tony Blair’s ex-spin doctor.
Alastair Campbell hit out as “huge swathes of the country” can’t accept “this Labour Party” in Number 10.
In a hard-hitting speech to centre-left pressure group Progress, he said: “If we cannot beat this shambles of a Tory party, we don’t deserve to be in the game.”
His comments came after a mixed night of results for Labour in the local elections taking control in Plymouth but failing to take Barnet.
He also described his “revulsion” that anti-Semitism has been allowed to “fester” in the party.

As one would expect, the Morning Star talks up the party.

LABOUR’S political and media opponents portray the party’s performance in the English local council and mayoral elections as disappointing, but it captured more seats and defended more than any other party.
Labour certainly did not capture some of its prime target councils, although its achievements in winning Kirklees or pushing Tory Trafford into no overall control should not be underestimated.
Nor should progress it made in Westminster and Wandsworth be downplayed, gaining seats in the former where Labour has never won control and the latter — Tory for over four decades — in which just 150 votes borough-wide kept the Tories in control.

The Guardian reports an attack on Corbyn.

Labour peers launched an attack on the party leadership last night, accusing it of “paralysis” and “cowardice” over Brexit policy, as bitter recriminations over disappointing  local election results burst into the open.
The row exploded as calls grew for a full post-mortem into why Labour failed to make more decisive progress in key council battlegrounds and lost control in others, despite the Conservatives being mired in crises over immigration, Brexit and the NHS. Although the party performed better in London than at any time since 1971, it was unable to take Tory strongholds in the capital, including Wandsworth, and fell short in several councils where it hoped to make gains, failing to win in Nuneaton, Derby and Basildon. 

The Times claims the result of the local elections do not suggest Labour could win a General Election.

Labour’s net gains in the local elections do not point to a win over the Tories at the national level, while the Lib Dems continue their long climb back to relevance.
The local elections last week were notable more for what did not happen than for what did, with none of the main parties managing to deliver a decisive blow.
In particular, there was little sign of either Labour or the Tories making a move into the other’s electoral territory.
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, had to travel to Plymouth to celebrate the only council where his party took control directly from the Tories. The prime minister, Theresa May, toured London simply to mark the successful defence of councils such as Barnet and Wandsworth, which have been in Tory hands for at least 40 years.

And the Mail reports the cancellation of a planned visit.

Jeremy Corbyn has cancelled a visit to Barnet after the council fell to the Tories amid widespread anger among the area’s Jewish population about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.
A mixed set of results left both Labour and the Tories claiming success, with the Conservatives holding on to ‘crown jewel’ authorities in  London  including Wandsworth and Westminster.
The Labour leader claimed the local election results left Labour ‘well placed’ to win the next general election despite the party’s failure to capture key targets from the Tories.

More criticism appears in the Telegraph.

Labour risks being shut out of government for almost a decade if it continues to be seen as “too Remain”, an ally of Jeremy Corbyn has said, as a pro-Europe former minister warned that the party must “heed the warning” from the local elections.
Steve Howell, Mr Corbyn’s former deputy director of strategy, said “Brexit is undoubtedly a big factor in how some people voted” in Thursday’s poll, which saw Conservatives make gains across the country.
His comments came as Caroline Flint, the Labour ex-Europe minister, warned that the party risked “alienating many traditional Labour voters” if it “fails to stand by the 2016 vote”.

Immigration

In what could turn out to be another scandal, the Mail reports on the relatives of the new Home Secretary.

Two uncles of new Home Secretary Sajid Javid have been accused of running a ‘cash for visas’ scam targeting migrants who wanted to get into Britain.
His relatives are alleged to have conned people in  Pakistan out of money after promising to obtain documents which did not materialise.
One of the uncles is also understood to have offered to help Pakistanis enter Britain by arranging marriages for cash.
Last night, those who handed over money for visas told The Mail on Sunday they had not received the documents – with one saying he was given fake papers instead. 

NHS

Junior doctors have had their job applications withdrawn, says the Telegraph.

The recruitment of junior doctors has been thrown into chaos after hundreds of young medics were told to reapply for jobs they had been due to start in only a few months.
Hospital positions for junior doctors in their third year of specialist training have been withdrawn after a major blunder was discovered in the recruitment process.
That means the process will have to be run all over again, leaving as many as 1,500 junior doctors unsure about where they will be this August, when they were due to start their new positions.
Many have already arranged accommodation, putting deposits down on flats and giving notice to existing landlords.

ITV News also has the story.

Hundreds of junior doctors offered hospital positions have had their job offers rescinded after a mistake was discovered in the recruitment process.
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said it would have to rerun the offers process, blaming human error and branding it a “dreadful situation”.
Junior medics entering their third year of specialist training now face losing the positions they had originally been offered, with many having already made plans to start the jobs in just a few months’ time.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said it was “appalled” to discover the blunder, and that it had caused “extreme anxiety” for trainees.

Education

The Independent reports a potential crisis in school leadership.

Three in 10 new school leaders quit within five years, new analysis of Government data shows.
As a result Labour has warned that schools could face a leadership crisis if more action is not taken to retain headteachers.
Government figures show that three in 10 new headteachers and deputies who took up leadership posts between 2011 and 2015 have not been retained.
The shortages are even more acute in secondary schools where more than one in three teachers in leadership posts have already moved on.
And the situation is likely to get worse as the Government continues to miss its teacher recruitment targets and high workload is still driving many teachers out of the profession, Labour has argued. 

The Guardian reports an attack on the government by Labour’s education secretary.

The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, has attacked the government’s record on schools, telling a conference the Tories “wouldn’t survive their own Ofsted inspection”.
Rayner, who left school pregnant at 16 with poor grades, told the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) annual conference that the government’s record on education has meant   targets for teacher recruitment had not been met for five years.
She said more teachers were now leaving than joining the profession and 500,000 children were in “supersize” classes, while teachers have had their pay capped.

ID cards

Police are being allowed to see driving licences, says the Mail.

Frontline police officers are to be given instant access to every motorist’s driving licence in a move that has prompted accusations of ID cards being brought in by stealth.
PCs armed with hand-held computers will be able to look up the names, addresses and photos of anyone they stop on the street.
The new National Law Enforcement Data Programme will combine data on motorists, criminals and vehicles from the DVLA database, the Police National Computer and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems, according to the Home Office.
And the scheme could be extended to include the entire database of UK passport holders. 

The Morning Star claims voters were disenfranchised.

MORE than a fifth of polling stations involved in yesterday’s controversial anti-fraud pilot scheme turned away voters because they did not have required ID, researchers reported today.
Labour is demanding that the government drop the scheme urgently as it overwhelmingly affects disadvantaged people.
The Democracy Volunteers group deployed observers in five council areas — Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking — where the scheme was being tested.
It found that voters had been refused a ballot paper in 21 per cent of polling stations, and nearly one in 60 voters across the five areas were unable to vote because they did not have the required documents.

And the Express claims the scheme will be expanded.

MINISTERS will push ahead with plans to make voters supply ID nationwide after Tory MPs denied claims that 4,000 people were turned away from polling stations last week.
They claimed the true figure was more likely to be in the low hundreds and most of those affected did vote successfully in local elections after returning with proper identification.
In Swindon, one of five test areas, just 60 people were refused a ballot paper, 35 of whom came back. In Gosport, Hampshire, 116 voters were stopped at the first attempt but 72 later returned with identification.
Similar results in other areas would mean the total number was under 400. Voters in Bromley, south-east London, Woking, Surrey, and Watford also took part.
The Electoral Reform Society released analysis of electoral observer data on Friday estimating that nearly 4,000 would-be voters were rejected. 

 Social care

Pensioners working beyond retirement may have to pay national insurance contributions, says the Times.

Nearly 1.3m “silver strivers” — those working beyond the state pension age — would have to start paying national insurance to prop up the social care system, under plans being considered by the government.
At present, people stop paying national insurance when they reach state pension age. But under the proposed “care tax”, the 12% charge would continue to be levied, raising about £2bn a year.
The measure is one of a range to be published next month by Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, in a green paper on care and support for older people, to meet a huge shortfall in funding. The care tax will also be backed in a report by the Intergenerational Commission to be published on Tuesday.

Divorce

Divorce could be made easier, says the Times.

It is meant to be a lifelong commitment by two people who love each other — but it can now all come to an end with just a few clicks of a computer mouse.
The new “click to split” system, which is being launched nationwide from this week, is intended to reduce the stress of separation and speed up divorce, which can rumble on for years.
Ministers hope the new service — part of a £1bn programme to modernise the court system — will save £250m a year by reducing paperwork and processing time. It follows a successful pilot scheme that saw more than 1,000 divorce petitions lodged, with 91% of people saying they were satisfied.

The Sun has picked up the story.

COUPLES will soon be able to apply for divorce at the click of a mouse.
A new online service will remove the need to fill in forms or go to court.
Estranged partners can complete the process at home.
The system offers prompts and guidance and uses clear, non-technical language.
Four in ten applications are rejected at the first stage as the forms are filled in wrongly or documents are missing.
Court staff waste 13,000 hours a year dealing with complex paperwork so the system is expected to save taxpayers’ cash.

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