Brexit: Labour MPs in ‘show us the money’ row



John Mann: This is not transactional politics
John Mann: This is not transactional politics

Labour MPs have been warned by their party not to accept money for their constituencies in return for supporting Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

Labour chairman Ian Lavery said “taking such a bribe would be fool’s gold” given the Tories’ record on austerity.

John Mann has urged the PM to “show us the money” with “transformative investment” in areas that voted Leave.

But the Labour MP, who backed Theresa May’s Brexit deal, denied it amounted to “transactional politics”.

Writing on the Labour List website , Mr Lavery, the former general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers and a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, accused Mrs May of playing “divide and rule” over Brexit.

“If the prime minister wants to talk about ending austerity and protecting rights as we leave the EU, she should do so with the leader of the Labour Party and his team.

“Any Labour MP seriously considering discussions with the PM should remember her record and that of her party going back generations. Quite simply, taking such a bribe would be fool’s gold.”

The government is understood to be considering proposals from a group of Labour MPs in predominantly Leave-supporting constituencies, to allocate more funds to their communities for big infrastructure projects.

It is thought the MPs have urged the prime minister to consider re-allocating the EU’s regional aid budget away from big cities and local councils and to give the cash direct to smaller communities, often in former steel and coal mining areas.

John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw, a former coal mining area in Nottinghamshire, met cabinet office officials in Whitehall on Thursday and told reporters: “I want to see, when we leave the European Union, significant investment in new technologies, new jobs, science and industry in areas like mine and all the other areas in the country like mine.

“This isn’t transactional politics, this is about getting a national fund … the areas that voted Leave the most are the areas that have not had that investment.”

Is cash for constituencies wrong?

A couple of weeks ago, a Labour MP confessed quietly that they would vote for Theresa May’s Brexit deal in the end.

But they wanted something to show for it, suggesting, half-teasingly, that they wanted the PFI debt of their local hospital paid off.

That MP was frustrated that the government had taken so long, as they saw it, to try to reach out to get them on board.

But they predicted that we would soon see what they described as “transactional politics”, in a way that we haven’t seen before in this country.

With Number 10 in a frantic hunt for support, maybe that time has arrived.

It comes as ministers continue to try to win support for the withdrawal deal Theresa May has negotiated with the EU, which was rejected by a historic margin in a Commons vote more than two weeks ago. Mr Mann was one of only three Labour MPs to back the deal.

Downing Street says that ministers are looking at a programme of “national renewal” following Brexit, to tackle inequality and rebuild communities but has denied any funding amounted to “cash for votes”.

David Lammy
Tottenham MP David Lammy is part of the People’s Vote campaign for another referendum

Asked if the government was trying to bribe Labour MPs, Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “No it doesn’t work like that I’m afraid.

“What we are doing is looking at some of the drivers behind the Brexit vote.

“What was it that felt that made so many communities feel that they didn’t have a stake in the way our economy was operating?

“And making sure we are investing in, for example, former coalfield communities to ensure they can keep up with the changes that are happening across the economy and that they too can share in our future prosperity.”

But David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, in north London, tweeted his response to headlines suggesting the PM was preparing to “woo Labour MPs with cash to back Brexit” saying: “Cowards and facilitators. History will be brutal.”

And his colleague Chuka Umunna, who like Mr Lammy campaigns for another EU referendum, said on Twitter: “Government by bung is WRONG – whether involving DUP MPs or those from any other party.

“Funding should be based on the needs of the people not on the needs of an incompetent Tory PM to secure the votes of MPs for a deal which will make the UK poorer.”

Asked about Mr Lammy’s comments, the former Labour MP Frank Field, who now sits as an independent, said: “David would say that, he is in London. He isn’t going to get any money and they are well provided for by the amount of rates they get in most areas and the wealth the business community brings to London.”

The veteran MP for Birkenhead, on Merseyside, who backs Brexit, told BBC Newsnight Labour MPs representing Leave constituencies “should be fighting me to get to the front of the queue to get those funds”.

He added: “That’s how politics operates. The Tory party in government is very good at shoving money their way to their constituencies. I wish Labour were as effective.”

But Anna Turley, MP for Redcar, a Teesside coastal town, which voted to leave the EU, told the same programme she found the idea “appalling”.

“We have had nearly a decade now of austerity that has seen constituencies like mine absolutely hammered, £6bn has come out of public spending in the North by this government and if [there is] a programme or national renewal, I’m afraid it’s too little too late.”

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UK weather: Travel disruption continues with more snow expected



A car is driven along a slip road leading to the snow and sleet-covered A34 road a near Chievely, in Berkshire, west of London
Drivers in Berkshire faced treacherous conditions on Friday

Travellers are being warned of further disruption, with weather warnings issued for Friday evening and overnight.

The Met Office yellow warnings for snow and ice cover several areas of the UK, while a separate warning for ice is in place for southern England.

Hundreds of schools across Wales and southern parts of England were closed for the day due to the conditions.

UK weather: Warnings upgraded as heavy snow forecast

The airport advised passengers to check flight information with their airline but said they expected a normal service on Saturday.

Flight disruption at airports in Cardiff and Bristol affected rugby fans heading to Paris ahead of Friday evening’s France v Wales Six Nations opener, with ex-Wales captain Sam Warburton among those caught up in the chaos.

Some Eurostar services were also cancelled on Friday .

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Meanwhile, the Met Office has warned of “treacherous driving conditions” in some southern areas.

Highways England warned of delays on the M3, A303 and A34 in Hampshire and Wiltshire because of “challenging” weather conditions.

It said there was only one lane open from J6 to J7 on the M3 westbound near Basingstoke due to multiple stranded vehicles.

Salt-spreaders covered 80,000 miles of England’s motorways and major A roads through Thursday night to keep traffic moving, Highways England said.

Cars stuck in traffic on Ringway West in Basingstoke due to snowfall in the area on Friday 1 February
Drivers faced delays on Ringway West in Basingstoke on Friday evening because of snow

On the trains, Transport for Wales said services were now running as normal after some disruption in the morning, while Great Western Railway – which earlier warned of disruption until 12:00 – said a near-normal service had resumed.

Port Vale v Tranmere Rovers was the first of the weekend’s English League fixtures to be postponed because of a frozen pitch, while five Scottish League One and Two matches were also postponed.

Several of Saturday’s matches will be subject to pitch inspections in the morning but fans heading for matches can check for the latest updates on postponements on the

BBC Sport website

In East Ham, east London, a baby girl was found abandoned in a shopping bag in park in near-freezing temperatures on Thursday evening.

Ovidijus Zvaliauskas found the baby with his mother, who was walking her dog.

He told BBC News it was so cold the baby had frost on her head. “There’s no words for it. It’s terrible,” he said.

The newborn girl was taken to hospital and is said to be in a stable condition. Medical staff have been calling her Roman, as the play area she was found was situated just off Roman Road.

Picture of the baby released by police
The baby girl was discovered in a shopping bag next to a park bench

South-west England was worst affected on Thursday night, with snow depths of 12cm (5in) recorded in Bodmin, the Met Office said.

Parts of Cumbria saw 8cm of snow, while there was 7cm recorded in Inverness-shire and 5cm in Powys.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited the Bristol Old Vic theatre

Sledging in Poundbury
Children in Poundbury. Dorchester took advantage of the snowfall

Drivers trapped on A30 in Cornwall
Drivers were stuck on the A30 in Cornwall overnight

Jamaica Inn
The Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor was forced to set up makeshift dormitories

Temperatures fell to their lowest level this winter, with Braemar, Aberdeenshire, dropping to -15.4C (6F) in the early hours of Friday.

This is the lowest in the UK since 2012 – when temperatures fell to -15.6C in Holbeach, Lincolnshire.

The cold start to the day saw hundreds of school closures in different parts of the UK. More than 500 schools were shut in Wales, with about 200 in Berkshire, 250 in Wiltshire and 300 in Buckinghamshire also closed.

Three easy tips for driving in the snow
Three easy tips for driving in the snow

What’s the forecast?

Wintry showers will continue for eastern areas and northern Scotland into the evening with light rain or sleet expected in south-east England.

Travel disruption is likely throughout Friday and into Saturday due to lying snow and ice.

It will remain cold on Saturday but wintry showers will become increasingly confined to the eastern coast of the UK, leaving some spells of sunshine.

What warnings are in place?

There are yellow warnings for snow and ice covering northern Scotland, most of Northern Ireland, the eastern coast of England and the west coast of Wales until 12:00 GMT on Saturday.

They warn of some snow showers, with heavier accumulations of up to 5cm possible in northern Scotland and up to 10cm over higher ground.

There is also a yellow warning for snow, covering parts of south-east England, between 16:00 GMT and 20:00 GMT on Friday, with accumulations of 2-3cm likely and up to 7cm possible over higher ground.

A separate warning for ice is in place for southern England until 11:00 GMT on Saturday, as Friday’s snow gradually eases during the evening.

Yellow warnings are issued for low level impacts including some disruption to travel. People should check the latest forecast and check how they might be impacted.

You can read the Met Office guide to its warnings here or watch our handy breakdown.

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This temperature comparison tool uses three hourly forecast figures. For more detailed hourly UK forecasts go to BBC Weather .

If you can’t see the calculator, tap here .

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Clive Swift: Keeping Up Appearances star dies at 82



Clive Swift with Patricia Routledge in Keeping Up Appearances
Swift spent six years playing Richard to Patricia Routledge’s Hyacinth

Actor Clive Swift, known to millions as Hyacinth Bucket’s hen-pecked husband Richard in BBC One’s 90s sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, has died aged 82.

Swift, who spent 10 years at the RSC before breaking into television, also acted in such series as Peak Practice, Born and Bred and The Old Guys.

He spent six years playing Richard opposite Dame Patricia Routledge.

The role saw him patiently tolerate her ham-fisted and invariably thwarted attempts at social climbing.

Off-screen he co-founded The Actors Centre, a meeting place for members of his profession in central London.

Clive Swift with Roger Lloyd Pack in The Old Guys
He went on to appear with Roger Lloyd Pack in The Old Guys

Born in Liverpool in 1936, he had three children with his ex-wife, the novelist Margaret Drabble.

Swift’s many roles included a part in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1972 film Frenzy and as King Arthur’s adopted father in 1981 film Excalibur.

Many years later, he would play Hitchcock in a BBC radio play called Strangers on a Film.

Swift made a number of appearances in Doctor Who, most recently in the 2007 episode Voyage of the Damned.

According to his agent, the actor died at his home on Friday after a short illness, surrounded by his family.

FGM: Mother guilty of genital mutilation of daughter



The Old Bailey
The woman and her Ghanaian partner were on trial at the Old Bailey

A woman who mutilated her three-year-old daughter has become the first person in the UK to be found guilty of female genital mutilation (FGM).

The 37-year-old mother from east London wept in the dock as she was convicted after a trial at the Old Bailey.

Spells and curses intended to deter police and social workers from investigating were found at the Ugandan woman’s home, the trial heard.

Her 43-year-old partner was acquitted by the jury.

Prosecutors said the mother “coached” her daughter “to lie to the police so she wouldn’t get caught”.

The defendants, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, denied FGM and an alternative charge of failing to protect a girl from risk of genital mutilation.

Mrs Justice Whipple warned of a “lengthy” jail term as she remanded the woman into custody to be sentenced on 8 March.

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FGM – intentionally altering or injuring the female external genitalia for non-medical reasons – carries a sentence of up to 14 years in jail.

During the trial, the woman claimed her daughter, then aged three, “fell on metal and it’s ripped her private parts” after she had climbed to get a biscuit in August 2017.

Medics alerted police to the girl’s injuries after they treated her at Whipps Cross Hospital, in Leytonstone.

She “lost a significant amount of blood as a result of the injuries they had delivered and inflicted on her”, jurors were told.

‘Sickening offence’

While the parents were on bail, police searched the mother’s home and found evidence of witchcraft.

Prosecutor Caroline Carberry QC said two cow tongues were “bound in wire with nails and a small blunt knife” embedded in them.

Forty limes and other fruit were found with pieces of paper with names written on them stuffed inside, including those of police officers and a social worker involved in the investigation.

“These people were to ‘shut up’ and ‘freeze their mouths’,” Ms Carberry said.

“There was a jar with a picture of a social worker in pepper found hidden behind the toilet in the bathroom,” she added.

Campaigner Aneeta Prem believes more people will now come forward to report cases
Campaigner Aneeta Prem believes more people will now come forward to report cases

It is only the fourth FGM prosecution brought to court in the UK. The previous cases led to acquittals.

FGM campaigner Aneeta Prem, from Freedom Charity, said convictions were hard to secure because cuttings were “hidden in secrecy”.

“People are scared to come forward, professionals are scared to come forward to report this,” she told the BBC.

“The fact that we have a conviction today is a really historic moment.”

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said FGM was a “medieval practice”.

“We will not tolerate FGM and not rest until perpetrators of this horrific crime are brought to justice,” he added.

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Lynette Woodrow, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said the “sickening” offence had been committed against a victim with “no power to resist or fight back”.

“We can only imagine how much pain this vulnerable young girl suffered and how terrified she was,” she said.

“Her mother then coached her to lie to the police so she wouldn’t get caught, but this ultimately failed.”

Ms Woodrow said FGM victims were often affected physically and emotionally for “their entire life”.

line

Female genital mutilation

  • Includes “the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”
  • Practised in 30 countries in Africa and some countries in Asia and the Middle East
  • An estimated three million girls and women worldwide are at risk each year
  • About 125 million victims estimated to be living with the consequences
  • It is commonly carried out on young girls, often between infancy and the age of 15
  • Often motivated by beliefs about what is considered proper sexual behaviour, to prepare a girl or woman for adulthood and marriage and to ensure “pure femininity”
  • Dangers include severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility and increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths

Source: World Health Organization

line

The mother was born in Uganda but has lived in the UK for a number of years. FGM is banned in both countries, the CPS said.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the conviction sent “a clear message to those who practise this barbaric act”.

“Every woman and girl should be safe and feel safe wherever they are in London, and we will continue our fight to end FGM with every power we have,” he added.

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U.S. should counter Russia and China hacking with its own influence operations, think tank says.


THE KEY

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Jan. 30. (Maxim Shemetov/AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Jan. 30. (Maxim Shemetov/AP)

A right-of-center Washington think tank has a novel recommendation for how the Trump administration can push back on Russian and Chinese hacking and disinformation campaigns: Strike back with its own information warfare operations.

The United States could hack and release embarrassing information about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal wealth, for example, as a bargaining chip to convince him to halt digital attacks against the United States, David Maxwell and Annie Fixler with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told me.

U.S. officials could also release information about corrupt business practices by Chinese Communist Party officials or Iran’s theocratic rulers with similar goals, Maxwell and Fixler said.

“This generated from our thinking about where our adversaries are weak and we’re strong,” Fixler told me.

The idea, which comes from the think tank’s “Midterm Assessment” of the Trump administration’s foreign and national security policies, is aimed at giving the United States more leverage in cyberspace where it is routinely pummeled by adversaries that are highly aggressive and don’t fear U.S. retaliation. 

The report may also may hold sway with the Trump administration. The Midterm Analysis includes a foreword by Trump’s former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who says the report “transcended the vitriolic and shallow partisan discourse that dominates much of what passes for commentary on foreign policy and national security.”

Yet the United States has not previously used hacking and information operations as a tool to shame adversaries — or at least, it hasn’t publicly acknowledged releasing hacked information about other leaders in the way the researchers describe. Doing so would mark a major escalation from typical U.S. responses to hacking campaigns,which have focused on escalating sanctions, indictments and calling out foreign government-backed hackers on the world stage.

Those diplomatic and law enforcement responses have the benefit of giving the United States a clear moral high ground about what is and isn’t acceptable in cyberspace.

But they haven’t actually deterred U.S. adversaries from playing dirtier, the researchers note. With Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean hackers unbowed two years after Russian hacking upended the 2016 elections, it’s time for a bolder response, Fixler and Maxwell told me. 

The non-profit think tank is known for its focus on robust American engagement abroad. Funded by conservative luminaries includingcasino magnate Sheldon Adelson, it employs numerous former Republican officials including John Hannah, who advised former vice president Dick Cheney on the Middle East. McMaster is now chairman of its board of advisers at their center on military and political power. 

Hacking and releasing compromising information about adversary nations’ leaders plays into U.S. adversaries’ weaknesses, Fixler and Maxwell told me. Unlike U.S. citizens, Russians, Chinese and Iranians aren’t used to a free press that publishes lots of detailed and often embarrassing information about their leaders, they said.

“We can use that to our advantage by providing more information to their public about corruption, about where their leaders have money, things that can be very damaging for authoritarian countries,” Fixler told me.

That idea carries its own set of dangers, cautions Chris Painter, the former State Department cyber coordinator under former president Obama who’s now a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation— especially if the United States falls into a tit-for-tat exchange releasing hacked information with a far more unscrupulous adversary.

“The worry is you have this escalating cycle with false and manipulated information that Russia has shown a great proclivity and ability to use,” Painter said. “But, on the other hand, they’re using it anyway, so we need to counter that.”

U.S. officials should make clear that the ultimate goal of any information operation is to make cyberspace more peaceful rather than simply to punch back in anger, Painter said. “You need to communicate very clearly that we’re using these tools and we’ll stop using them when you stop what you’re doing,” he told me.

Still, the idea of using information operations against adversaries is not a novel concept. U.S. intelligence officials considered but rejected such a plan to release damaging information about Russian officials, including bank account data, in response to Russia’s release of Democratic political emails before the 2016 election, according to a New Yorker report. And similar plans were widely discussed by analysts outside government after the election. 

Fixler and Maxwell aren’t advocating releasing false or misleading information like Kremlin operatives did before the 2016 elections, they were quick to note.

They also don’t want the United States to abandon other methods of punishing adversaries that hack U.S. targets and launch disinformation campaigns, such as sanctions and indictments targeting companies and individuals that benefit from those operations.

But, so far, those methods have done little to change the willingness of Russia, China and Iran to hack U.S. targets or to engage in disinformation operations.

Just Thursday, in fact, Facebook and Twitter removed thousands of malicious accounts originating from Russia, Iran and Venezuela that spread false information about the 2018 U.S. election. On Wednesday, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team revealed a Russian disinformation effort using documents the team shared with a Russian company that it had indicted on a charge of 2016 disinformation operations.

“What we’re saying is that, to date, [U.S. adversaries] haven’t felt the pain and we need to demonstrate that there’s a real cost to these actions that will change their calculations,” Fixler told me.

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