Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen
The Northern Ireland secretary was told off by Speaker John Bercow for informing the media about the salary cut for Stormont assembly members before it was read to the Commons.
She apologised to the House, and claimed the premature release of the information was a “genuine mistake”.
Paul Davies, the Welsh Assembly member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, has been elected as the new leader of the Welsh Conservatives.
He beat fellow remainer and his namesake Suzy Davies, to succeed Andrew RT Davies.
Salaries of Stormont Assembly cut
“While Assembly members continue to perform valuable constituency functions, it is clear that during any such interim period they will not be performing the full range of their legislative functions.
“So, in parallel, I will take the steps necessary to reduce Assembly members’ salaries in line with the recommendations made by Trevor Reaney.
The Welsh Conservatives are due to name their new assembly group leader in the next few 30 minutes or so.
Paul Davies and Suzy Davies, both Remainers, are competing to succeed Andrew RT Davies, who stepped down in June amid criticism over his vocal pro-Brexit stance.
We’ll be broadcasting live from Ffos Las, Carmarthenshire at 11.40 a.m. for the declaration of the count of the new Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the National Assembly for Wales. Watch along here: https://t.co/1DltXIsaLh
Frank Field, who resigned the Labour whip last week, is urging the Archbishop of Canterbury to intervene in the administration of Wonga to ensure that poor people are not ripped off.
The Wonga loan book will be sold and, if past record is any guide for the future, they will be sold at knockdown rates. Within these loan books will be some I assume devoted exclusively to their exploitation of the poor.
“Is there a possibility please of you asking the Church Commissioners quickly to assemble a consortium of good people with money who will attempt to buy those poor people’s loan books at a knockdown price?”
As he mentioned, Andrew is popping away from the blog this morning for a meeting. I’m going to try to keep things ticking over while he’s away.
Here’s one I prepared earlier on Matt Hancock’s disclosure that the government is in discussion with pharmaceutical companies about the cost of stockpiling medicines as part of its no-deal Brexit contingency planning.
ConservativeHome, the well-regarded website for Conservative activists, has published its latest survey of party members on the party membership. Their surveys are seen as reliable guides to party opinion, and they are closely watched by Tories. And today’s, perhaps, more than most; it shows Boris Johnson soaring ahead as favourite for next leader.
Here is an extract from Paul Goodman’s write-up of the results.
Last month, Boris Johnson topped the poll with 29 per cent of the vote, and Sajid Javid was second with 19 per cent. This month, the former Foreign Secretary consolidates his position to take 35 per cent, and Javid drifts down a bit to 15 per cent.
And that’s it in a nutshell. Johnson’s resignation – plus his seniority, relative youth, the recognition factor and his Eurosceptic record – has given him the freedom to speak out and lent wings to his potential candidacy.
Here are three interesting Brexit blogs around today that are worth reading.
I hear from Sunday onwards we should expect several days of carefully planned announcements, almost like a government grid perhaps, where the Brexiteers, with their eyes ruthlessly on their short term prize of “chucking Chequers”, will lay out an alternative.
A roll out of written papers will begin over the weekend, with a big event expected in Westminster on Monday which, if it comes off, would just by chance coincide with Boris Johnson’s next newspaper column …
[Tory Breixiters from the European Research Group] tell me that the ONLY way [May] can survive in office is to ditch Chequers and revert to a version of the Canada-plus free trade agreement that Davis was designing till he quit as Brexit secretary in July.
And if that sounds like a threat, that is is because IT IS a threat.
“In the end this autumn, we just need to scrape through with the completed withdrawal bill and with sketchy outlines of a future relationship that everyone can live with,” one high-level EU source told me …
With so many political opponents circling back in the UK, Brussels thinks Mrs May might choose to present parliament with a final hour, take-it-or-leave-it-and-face-no-deal-chaos agreement, produced after an all-nighter at a special Brexit summit in November.
In the House of Commons yesterday, as she was making her statement about the decision to identify two Russian military intelligence officers suspected of carrying out the novichok poisoning attack in Salisbury, Theresa May was asked if she was saying that President Putin was directly responsible. She refused to go that far. When she said that the attack was “approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state”, what she meant was that the attack was approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state, she explained.
This morning, Ben Wallace, the security minister, was less circumspect. Putin was to blame, he told the Today programme. When asked if Putin did bear responsibility, Wallace replied:
Ultimately he does insofar as he is the president of the Russian Federation and it is his government that controls, funds and directs the military intelligence – that’s the GRU – via his minister of defence.
The GRU is a military intelligence unit. Soldiers are supposed to to be disciplined. They will follow orders. I don’t think anyone can ever say Mr Putin is not in control of his state. He takes pride in surrounding himself by serving and former intelligence officers, the siloviki as they are called in Russia.
We do all the time, but we retaliate in our way. We are not the Russians, we don’t adopt the sort of thuggish, destructive and aggressive behaviour that we have seen.
We choose to challenge the Russians in both the overt and the covert space, within the rule of law and in a sophisticated way.