Bridgen becomes first Tory MP to appeal suspension in test case which could impact Boris

Andrew Bridgen has become the first MP to use a new appeal system to challenge a Standards and Privileges Committee decision to suspend him for five days from the House of Commons. The Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire’s appeal will now be a test case for other MPs who may wish to challenge decisions. This could include Boris Johnson if the Committee finds against him in the controversial investigation over whether he lied to the House of Commons over parties in Downing Street during lockdown.

Mr Bridgen was given a two day suspension for failing to properly declare an interest when he made representations on behalf of a constituent regarding a company called Mere Plantations which grows trees in Ghana.

He had taken a trip to Ghana, paid for by the company, to confirm the existence of the trees in a tax dispute with HMRC.

Even though he made an entry on his register of interests the MP was told he broke the rules because he did not put the interest in emails to ministers.

He was given another three days suspension for writing a private letter to the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone asking if it was true she had requested a peerage after her period of office comes to an end in January.

Even though the letter was private and not published by Mr Bridgen, the committee, made up of MPs and independent members, agreed that it appeared “to be an attempt to place wholly inappropriate pressure on the Commissioner.”

Mr Bridgen has declined to comment on his appeal which went in on the deadline yesterday Thursday November 24.

The appeal system was set up in the wake of the case involving Owen Paterson, who quit Parliament after being suspended but complained at the lack of a chance to appeal.

He also claimed that key evidence in his case was ignored by Ms Stone.

It is understood that Mr Bridgen was warned against appealing because his suspension could also be extended.

If he is suspended for 10 days or more he would be subject to a recall petition.

MPs have privately admitted that they are looking at how Mr Bridgen’s case is streated to see if it is worth using the appeal system or whether it is too much of a risk.

One Tory MP noted: “If Andrew Bridgen ends up with a longer suspension it will have an impact on Boris (Johnson) should the committee find against him .”

The appeal by Mr Bridgen was confirmed by the House of Commons.

A letter has been sent by Stephen Irwin, chairman of the independent expert panel, to Speaker Lindsay Hoyle informing him the appeal has been lodged and is being considered.

This is to prevent Sir Lindsay from calling for a vote on the floor of the House to confirm the suspension until the case has been considered.

A panel will now consider whether the appeal can go ahead and then whether the grounds submitted are sufficient to recommend the suspension is overturned, remains in place or is extended.

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While the grounds for Mr Bridgen’s appeal are currently confidential other MPs have speculated that he could refer to the rulings on other MPs who have been found guilty of breaches of standards by failing to declare interests properly but not been suspended.

In August Sir Keir Starmer was found to have failed to properly declare eight interests but Ms Stone concluded the inquiry and did not refer it to the committee.

She said that the “breaches were minor and/or inadvertent, and that there was no deliberate attempt to mislead”.

Also in August shadow foreign secretary David Lammy was found to have failed to declare 16 separate interests.

Again, Ms Stone did not refer the issue to the committee.

She concluded: “My decision was finely balanced, but I have decided the breaches were inadvertent. Therefore, a referral to the standards committee is not necessary, and I can resolve these breaches of the rules through the rectification procedure available to me under Standing Order No 150.”

This week, Tory MP David Warburton was found to have breached Parliament’s code of conduct over a £150,000 loan from a Russian-born businessman.

The Somerton and Frome MP avoided punishment by writing to the commissioner “acknowledging and apologising for the breach”.

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‘Doesn’t look happy!’ Gordon Brown appears gutted as England’s Three Lions smash Senegal
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  • 19 минут назад 05.12.2022Politics
    ‘Doesn’t look happy!’ Gordon Brown appears gutted as England’s Three Lions smash Senegal

    Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown looked gutted as England’s Three Lions smashed Senegal to reach the quarter-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Mr Brown, who was born in the Scottish town of Giffnock, watched England’s round of 16 clash alongside Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, Levelling-Up Secretary Lisa Nandy and West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin.

    The ex-Chancellor joined fellow Labour Party figures ahead of an event today with Sir Keir which will put forward ways to revamp the United Kingdom’s constitution, including on devolution and the House of Lords.

    A photo uploaded to Twitter by Ms Reeves showed Mr Brown slumped despondently in his chair at a hotel in Leeds while his Southside colleagues grinned with delight.

    Social media users were quick to take aim at Mr Brown, who is a Raith Rovers season ticket holder, over the image of him watching Gareth Southgate’s side.

    One social media, operating under the guise of fellow Scot Armando Iannucci’s The Thick of It spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, said: “Poor Gordon.”

    Another user, @SedgeDave, wrote: “Gordon Brown is every Scotsman right now.”

    A third user photoshopped the image to show the former Prime Minister wearing Senegalese flag socks, while another account suggested Mr Brown was invited to the event as a supporter of the Lions of Teranga to provide “balance”.

    Twitter user @MikeHennessy13 also wrote: “Gordon Brown, almost exclusively, doesn’t look happy with England’s success?

    “Tomorrow, he will publish a Labour strategy for the future … England look out!”

    Despite appearing glum in Ms Reeves’ photo, a separate snap uploaded by Sir Keir showed the former Prime Minister applauding the Three Lions.

    Mr Brown also previously claimed that “two-thirds of all Scots want England to win” and even highlighted Paul Gascoigne’s skilful strike against the Tartan Army at Wembley Stadium in Euro 96 as a favourite.

    He said: “[I have been to] lots of England matches, but the most memorable were the Euro 96 game against Scotland, with Gazza’s great goal, and the 0-0 game in Rome the following year when England held on to qualify for France 98.”

    Alex Salmond, who was then SNP leader, said: “I can’t believe that any genuine Scottish football fan could believe that a goal scored against us was his most memorable moment.

    “Gordon Brown had better be careful with his recent spate of Union Jack-wearing comments, or real English football fans will begin to smell a rat.”

    England’s victory yesterday means Harry Kane will lead the Three Lions out against France at 7pm on December 10.

    The Spurs striker bagged his first goal of the FIFA World Cup during England’s 3-0 win.

    Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson and Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka also found the back of the net.

    France will go into the match against England after defeating Poland 3-1.

    Les Bleus beat Australia and Denmark to book a place in the knockout rounds but suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Tunisia in the group stage.

    Following England’s win, Mr Brown uploaded a post to social media in which he shared his “thoughts and prayers” with Chelsea talisman Raheem Sterling.

    Sterling, who played against Iran and the USA, rushed back to the UK from Qatar after armed intruders broke into his home while his family were in.

    Mr Brown said: “My thoughts and prayers are with Raheem Sterling and his family tonight after hearing the terrible news of the robbery that took place at his home.”

  • 2 часа, 19 минут назад 05.12.2022Politics
    Keir Starmer and Gordon Brown to launch constitutional reforms on Lords and devolution

    Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown will launch the Commission on the UK’s Future today, a report has revealed. The recommendations put forward by Mr Brown’s commission will look to address House of Lords reform, devolution of power and the future of the United Kingdom. Labour will consult on replacing the House of Lords, which it called “indefensible”, following the launch.

    However, according to the Guardian, Labour stopped short of committing to its abolition in the manifesto.

    The recommendations, which centre around transferring power from Westminster to local areas, come after Sir Keir complained: “The centre hasn’t delivered.”

    Mr Brown claimed that cultivating “300 emerging clusters of the new economy” and eliminating “Westminster and Whitehall bias and giving everywhere a fair share of our future prosperity”.

    Southside said that one of the former Prime Minister’s recommendations would be the abolition of the Lords.

    Labour also claimed Mr Brown hopes to put forward new rules to “end the undue influence of wealth and foreign money, and prevent MPs part-timing the job”.

    All 40 of Mr Brown’s recommendations will now be subject to consultation.

    The result of that further process will end up in Labour’s manifesto for the next general election.

    Despite proposing similar Lords reforms, Mr Brown and Sir Keir reportedly disagree over whether the move is deliverable in the first term of a Labour Government.

    Brown’s revamped upper chamber is expected to be called the Assembly of Nations and Regions.

    According to the Guardian, Sir Keir will say on Monday: “We have an unbalanced economy, which makes too little use of the talents of too few people in too few places.

    “We will have higher standards in public life, a wider spread of power and opportunity, and better economic growth that benefits everyone, wherever they are.

    “By setting our sights higher, wider, better, we can build a better future together.”

    In an interview with the Sunday Times, the Labour leader added: “The answer is that this is the bit of the discussion that comes after Monday, because that’s testing the propositions, refining them, and then crucially answering, thinking when and how this is implemented.

    “What will require legislation, what won’t require legislation, whether we want to do each of the steps.

    “The purpose of that is to craft a manifesto that says, ‘This is the overall project, these are the bits we intend to do in the five years, this is the delivery you can expect to see.’”

    However, proposing to abolish the House of Lords would likely lead to a backlash in the upper chamber.

    Lord Speaker and former Labour MP Lord McFall is expected to give a speech on Wednesday in which he will put forward consensus-based reform of the chamber.

    Another peer told the Observer: “It sounds a good idea but, in the past, attempts to reform the Lords have led into a political quagmire.”

  • 4 часа, 18 минут назад 05.12.2022Politics
    Hundreds of military personnel in training to deal with strike chaos

    Around 2,000 troops and civil servants could be drafted on to the frontline as strikes grip the country, the Cabinet Office said yesterday.

    Conservative Party chairman Nadim Zahawi said: “It is the right and responsible thing to do to have contingency plans in place.

    “We have a very strong team at Cobra (civil contingencies committee) who are doing a lot of the work in looking at what we need to do to minimise the disruption to people’s lives.”

    Speaking on Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday, Mr Zahawi insisted it was up to union leaders to call off the strikes and suggested they were playing into the Russian president’s agenda as he uses high energy prices fuelling inflation as a “weapon” in his war against Ukraine.

    Zahawi said the government needed to show discipline in not raising public sector pay in line with inflation, which could fuel inflation further. He estimated meeting all the pay demands would cost £28bn.

    Urging unions not to proceed with strike action, he added: “This is a time to come together and to send a very clear message to Mr Putin that we’re not going to be divided in this way … Our message to the unions is to say ‘this is not a time to strike, this is a time to try and negotiate’.”

    Downing Street said the troops formed part of a “range of options available” if strikes go ahead but no decisions have been taken yet on their deployment.

    The Cabinet Office said: “The priority over the coming weeks is to protect the public who may need access to emergency services support, and limit disruption as much as possible, particularly at a time when increased numbers of people will be travelling for the festive period and NHS services are under huge pressure due to the impact of Covid.”

    Britons have been warned of a “winter of discontent” which could see rail workers, nurses, ambulance staff, postal workers, teachers and university lecturers walk out.

    Ministers bracing for a wave of industrial action have trained up to 600 armed forces personnel and 700 staff from the Government’s specialist Surge and Rapid Response Team as well as other civil servants as part of the contingency plans. Some could be deployed are ports and airports in the event of strike action by Border Force staff.

    Soldiers were previously drafted to deliver Covid jabs during the height of the pandemic.

    Unions across public services are preparing to carry out strike action or ballot their members over pay as they attempt to soften the squeeze on living standards from soaring inflation.

    Nurses in England and Wales will strike on 15 and 20 December in what is set to be their biggest walkout in the NHS’s history.

    David Davis, Tory MP for Haltemprice and Howden, called it “vital” that health unions’ strikes do not threaten Britons’ lives.

    He said: “The ambulance union Unison made the rather implausible claim that their strikes would not create a risk to lives. The Government is now in intensive talks to avoid just that. It is vital the health unions’ strikes do not jeopardise the lives of citizens.”

    Paramedics, call handlers and other staff at half of England’s ambulance services have also voted to take strike action over pay.

    Workers at Royal Mail have held eight strikes since August and have more days of action scheduled before December 25, including Christmas Eve.

    Meanwhile, rail strike dates have been announced in the run-up to Christmas, following months of disruption. Thousands of RMT members across 14 train operators and Network Rail are due to stage two 48-hour strikes later this month.

    The Rail Delivery Group yesterday (SUN) said it offered the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) union a pay rise of eight per cent over two years with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies to April 2024 in a bid to head off fresh strikes.

    Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, warned walkouts in the run-up to Christmas could be the “final nail in the coffin” for Covid-battered businesses.

    She said: “It’s going to have an absolutely devastating impact. Our workers won’t be able to get into work. Our customers won’t be able to visit. Businesses that are struggling so much as a result of two years of Vocid and lost Christmas sales will face another disrupted year of income which could be the final nail in the coffin for many of them.

    “Christmas is disproportionately important to hospitality businesses because it is such a busy trading period. It is the time of year when we generate a third of all of our profits and therefore to have strike action impacting those days means businesses will be severely impacted.”

    Mr Zahawi said that while he was “absolutely conscious” of how difficult it was for many workers, the country simply could not afford inflation or above-inflation pay awards.

    He said rising prices were being driven by higher energy costs due to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, as he appealed to unions to drop their demands.

    Mr Zahawi added: “This is not a time to be divided. We have to come together to, I hope, send a very clear message to Mr Putin that he can’t use energy as a weapon in this way.”

    “If you chase inflation or above-inflation pay then you will embed inflation for longer and hurt the most vulnerable. This is not a time to strike, this is a time to negotiate.”

    “To ask for a 19 percent pay rise (for nurses) which would cost the NHS £10 billion I think is the wrong thing to do right now.”

    “If you accept all the inflation-level pay rises, that is about £28 billion. It would cost every household just short of £1,000. That is unsustainable when we are trying to be fiscally disciplined.”

    Labour’s education secretary Bridget Phillipson could not confirm whether her party would increase pay in line with inflation in the public sector. The frontbencher said her party wants a “fair deal” for workers.

    Asked whether salary increases in the public sector were affordable, she said: “I’m not going to make promises to you this morning that I don’t feel confident I can deliver – I think that’s been what’s so corrosive to our politics in recent years.”

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who took office about just over a month ago, is grappling with a wave of strike action, a recession predicted to last at least a year and a migrant crisis.

    The Conservative Party’s rating in polls has slumped well below those of Labour, whose candidate won a by-election in Chester with a large majority earlier this week.

    When asked about the result, Mr Zahawi said there was “no shying away from the fact that the internal challenges of the Conservative party has probably led to the gap in the polls”.

    John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The economic backdrop is bad for everyone – there are of course workers in the public sector who are struggling as a result, but it’s unfortunately the same across the board. “

    “Workers in the private sector are getting a raw deal as it is, and shouldn’t be held to ransom.”

    “In all the disputes over pay, it’s often forgotten that public sector workers receive pensions which private sector workers could only dream of.”

    The Rail, Maritime and Transport union last night rejected an offer from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) aimed at heading off more strikes, the union announced.

    Rail employers made an offer to the biggest union in the industry in a bid to resolve a long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

    The RDG said it has offered the RMT a pay rise of eight per cent over two years with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies to April 2024.

    RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “We have rejected this offer as it does not meet any of our criteria for securing a settlement on long term job security, a decent pay rise and protecting working conditions.”

    “RMT is demanding an urgent meeting with the RDG tomorrow morning with a view to securing a negotiated settlement on job security, working conditions and pay.”

    TSSA organising director Luke Chester, said: “I am glad that the Government has finally given authority to the employers to make offers in an attempt to resolve our dispute.

    “We are considering the detail of these offers very carefully and will be consulting our reps tomorrow.”

    “The RDG offer, in particular, contains more strings than a harp, including some which have never previously been discussed.”

    “Today’s RDG offer also omits significant points that had previously been negotiated.”

    “There is nothing in the offer for either managers or controllers in train operators, and our union would expect any serious offer to include all those staff covered by the dispute.”

    “I have requested an urgent meeting with the RDG on Monday to understand their rationale behind making these last-minute changes and seek to address our concerns.”

  • 4 часа, 18 минут назад 05.12.2022Politics
    Nadhim Zahawi sparks backlash after claiming Christmas strikes ‘play into Putin’s hands’

    Nadhim Zahawi repeatedly told broadcasters this morning that those going on strike this winter were playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands. The Conservative Party chairman told nurses to accept a lower pay rise “to send a message” to President Putin. The remarks sparked a backlash, with several nurses who were not going to strike claiming that Mr Zahawi’s remarks had changed their minds.

    This comes as nurses, among other public sector workers, are threatening Christmas chaos by going on strikes this month.

    The Tory chairman claimed that nurses going on strike would expose a “divided” UK when a united front is needed over Russia’s “illegal war”.

    Mr Zahawi said this morning: “They should reflect on this because that is exactly what Putin wants to see – that division. Let’s not divide, let’s come together.

    “I hope to send a very clear message to Mr Putin that he cannot use energy as a weapon in this way.”

    One nurse, Sara, told LBC after the remarks that she “wasn’t going to strike” until Mr Zahawi’s made remarks trying to “guilt trip” NHS workers out of striking.

    She said: “I am absolutely incensed. I have worked as a nurse for 38 years. I was not going to strike, I’ve been in turmoil about it.”

    Sara added: “Listening to Zahawi confirmed to me that I will be out on the strike line.

    “What they are trying to do by blaming it on the war is cover up for their years and years of total incompetence.”

    Another caller, Pete, told LBC that Mr Zahawai was “disgraceful” and should “resign” for saying nurse strikes are playing into President Putin’s hands.

    Up to 100,000 nurses plan to walk out on December 15 and 20 if the Government refuses to revisit its three percent pay rise at a time when inflation is running at 11 percent.

    The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is demanding an above-inflation pay rise of 19 percent for its workers.

    Pat Cullen, general secretary of the RCN, said using Russia’s war in Ukraine as a justification for a real-terms pay cut for nurses was “a new low for this Government”.

    Christine Jardine, the Liberal Democrat Cabinet Office spokesman, claimed it was “ludicrous and insulting to suggest Vladimir Putin is responsible for nurses going on strike”.

    Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, added: “Nadhim Zahawi’s allegation that Britain’s nurses, ambulance drivers, and teachers are allies of Vladimir Putin is as ridiculous as it is disgraceful.”

    Also in his interviews, Mr Zahawi confirmed that the Government has contingency plans in place to reduce the disruption across the public sector.

    He said that the military would be on standby to drive ambulances.

    Earlier today, the RMT union rejected an offer from the group representing train companies that sought to stop strikes in the run-up to Christmas.

    The latest round of strikes by RMT members at Network Rail and 14 train companies is due to begin in nine days.

  • 4 часа, 18 минут назад 05.12.2022Politics
    ‘Dominic Cummings has just one setting… divide and destroy. He wanted me to fail’

    And in his latest instalment married father-of-three Mr Hancock, who quit after his affair with an aide was exposed, took aim at spin chief Mr Cummings whom he said was “itching for me to fail” over a promise to hit a Covid testing target.

    He said the Vote Leave guru “rules through fear and intimidation, squashing those who dare to challenge him or get in his way”.

    At the height of Covid when Britain was effectively under house arrest Mr Cummings was wheeled out to face the TV cameras to answer questions on his own lockdown law breaking.

    The scandal saw him flee to Durham from London, and later claim he had driven to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight.

    When Mr Cummings tried to defend himself, Mr Hancock said, he looked like a “sulky teenager who’d been sent outside to do his work for disrupting the class”.

    He added: “I found myself feeling strangely sorry for Boris Johnson. Cummings has only one setting – divide and destroy – and now the boss is having to say some pretty stupid things as he machetes his way through the resulting mess.”In a diary entry marked Monday April 20, 2020, Mr Hancock wrote: “Crunch week for hitting my testing target of 100,000 by May 1. There’s an uncomfortable amount of speculation about my career depending on it. Cummings is itching for me to fail.”

    He later writes: “We did it, and with a very comfortable margin. 122,347 tests. Let the naysayers put that in their pipe and smoke it! I’d be lying if I didn’t say I enjoyed my moment, given how desperately certain people were willing me to fail.”

    In the wake of his affair with aide Gina Colangelo, 45, being made public Mr Hancock told his wife Martha their 15-year marriage was over.

    Mr Hancock has recently returned to represent his West Suffolk constituents after appearing on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! where he appeared for a £400,000 fee and an opportunity to “seek forgiveness”.

    His diaries are being published on Tuesday.

  • 4 часа, 18 минут назад 05.12.2022Politics
    HS2 cost could soar by tens of billions as Sunak urged to scrap major transport project

    Transport experts warned the spiralling prices in the construction industry means the true cost of the high speed rail line could balloon above £100 billion.

    Ministers will assess a business case by HS2 Ltd, the company in charge of the project, and recalculate its cost to factor in spiralling prices in the sector.

    The current total price estimate of the project is between £72 billion and £98 billion, based on 2019 prices.

    Andrew Gilligan, a former Downing Street transport adviser, warned this would rise “very significantly” when the figures are updated.

    The official government review of the prices will take into account inflation in the infrastructure construction sector, which was 18.1 percent in September, according to the Office for National Statistics.

    MPs who oppose the project have urged Rishi Sunak to scrap the second phase of HS2, which would link the West Midlands to Manchester.

    Critics believe the costs cannot be justified when the tax burden has risen to the highest level in decades.

    Chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirmed in his Autumn Statement last month that it would continue with the project as planned.

    He said he would “not cut a penny from our capital budget” and would continue with major projects.

    But a number of Tory MPs warned before the statement they would not support any tax rises unless the Government scraps HS2.

    Michael Fabricant, Tory MP for Lichfield, said it was “a national disgrace” to proceed with HS2 when tax rises and spending cuts had been brought in by the Chancellor in his latest Budget.

    He said: “I, and others, continue to press the Government to consider using these vast sums of money to support the NHS, education, and other services which our nation so needs instead of this failing project.”

    Conservative former cabinet minister and Express columnist Esther McVey said the new high-speed railway is an “unnecessary vanity project”.

    Mr Hunt, who spoke with site engineers and apprentices during a visit to the line’s interchange station in the West Midlands, said: “We could have balanced the books with big cuts to capital projects, but better transport connections spread wealth and opportunity – so we are proud to back HS2.”

    HS2 has been criticised for years over its spiralling budget, lengthy delays and the damage it has caused to the environment.

    A Department for Transport spokesman said: “HS2 will bring transformational benefits and is currently supporting 29,000 jobs. We’re committed to delivering it as set out in the Integrated Rail Plan, and construction is under way and within budget.”

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Politics Bridgen becomes first Tory MP to appeal suspension in test case which could impact Boris