Far-right sanctuary sues cloud giant for breach of contract after plug pulled on its server hosting Parler this week dropped its case against Amazon Web Services – and filed a fresh lawsuit claiming the cloud giant breached its contract by pulling the antisocial network's hosting.…
Wray debunked GOP conspiracy theories about the attack and disputed claims that the FBI failed to alert other agencies about the threat of violence.
If there were any doubts that Rishi Sunak wants to be prime minister one day, they were surely put to rest by the slick pre-Budget video that briefly set political Twitter alight on Monday.Big budget social media has become one of the chancellor’s calling cards, and suggests he understands the power of PR as much as Tony Blair did in the 1990s.But following the worst recession in 300 years and the biggest hole in the public finances since the Second World War, some wonder if the coronavirus chancellor will have to emulate that ex-PM’s political acumen if he wants to maintain his popularity as the crisis turns into recovery.Mistakes have already been made with the unravelling of Sunak’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme, and his lockdown scepticism being twice overwhelmed by events.And Tory MPs tell HuffPost UK they are expecting an “horrific” 18 months, once the chancellor’s almost universally welcomed support schemes like furlough end, and the economic impact of the pandemic starts to bite on businesses and jobs.The chancellor is now drawing flak from both Tory backbenchers and Labour for going into Wednesday’s Budget warning of tax rises, with government borrowing forecast to hit £394bn this month.Here’s What We Know So Far About Rishi Sunak’s 2021 BudgetBut while many expect him to put off the most difficult decisions until the autumn, Tories are keen for Sunak to set out his “grand plan” for the future.The path he chooses could be crucial in determining whether he remains the golden boy of the Conservative Party that holds his political fate in its hands.“The big strategic question for Rishi is: ‘who is he?’” one “blue wall” MP tells HuffPost UK.“Because lots of people project a lot of stuff on him and that’s fine to get you there – but at some point you have to decide what you are or you don’t achieve stuff.”Sunak’s friend and Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake believes the chancellor will be unfazed by the challenge ahead, and won’t be worrying about his personal ambitions.“Of course he’s going to have to come back and take tough decisions but that’s what politics is all about – to govern is to choose,” Hollinrake says.“And he feels that very strongly, he feels that you can’t just hospital pass to the next person, you have got to do the right thing.“He won’t shirk the challenge even if it does make him less popular.”MistakesThis time last year Sunak was a couple of weeks into the job of being chancellor and on the cusp of delivering a Budget that would become out of date within days, as the UK was plunged into lockdown.His initial response, a £330bn plan with the furlough scheme as its centrepiece, made Sunak an instant political star, seen as calm and competent in No.11, in contrast to his at-times chaotic neighbour Boris Johnson.The chancellor rode the wave of approval ratings of around +40 and, during the mirage of the semi-normal summer, he achieved what all politicians dream of – genuine cut through with the public.His Eat Out To Help Out scheme saw diners flock to restaurants in their millions in the height of summer in August, praising “dishy Rishi” as they paid for their half price meals.But the scheme unravelled in the months that followed, with studies suggesting it contributed to a rise in infections, while only having a “limited effect” on the embattled hospitality industry.Sunak has since described criticism of the scheme as “odd”, insisting that areas where it was used the most such as the south-west “were the slowest to see any rise and in fact had very low infection rates”, while other countries saw Covid cases rise over autumn and winter without operating similar schemes.There have been more errors – Sunak reportedly fought the hardest among the Cabinet to reject the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage)’s recommendation of a September circuit breaker lockdown.And he also managed to anger MPs in the “blue wall” of seats the Tories took from Labour in 2019 by initially resisting demands to maintain the £20 uplift in Universal Credit (UC) beyond March, a position that looks unsustainable going into Wednesday’s Budget.Tory MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the backbench 1922 Committee, sums up the UC error: “You’re using up political capital for no reason for something you’re obviously going to have to do (extend the uplift).“You should only announce something like that unless you are pretty sure you are going to make it stick.“He was never going to make that stick, there are too many people particularly in those ‘blue wall’ seats that were very unhappy about that.”Most Tory MPs forgive or even maintain support for Sunak’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme and lockdown scepticism.“If you’re looking at it from a party management perspective, he’s played a bit of a blinder because he’s not pissed off the mushy Lib Dems in the party and he’s shown a bit of ankle to those who think we should have been going quicker,” the “blue wall” Tory says.But the public have been less forgiving, with his approval rating halving from its summer high to around +20. That, however, still puts him way ahead of any other Westminster politician.A Tory insider says: “It’s still net positive because he’s not a dislikable individual and you feel that the decisions he makes are based on a balanced judgment of the facts that are in front of him.“So you can argue that he didn’t do it right but I don’t think anyone could say he was doing it for anything other than trying to do the right thing by his responsibilities.“Boris had that boosterism, optimism, not wanting to deliver bad news, you could easily read that from what Boris was trying to do.“But I don’t think you could say that with Rishi – that he’s doing this for an ideological reason.” ‘Moment of danger’So Sunak, despite some errors, has ended his first year as chancellor as the most popular politician in Westminster.But the “moment of danger” is approaching, according to Tory MPs who are braced for huge job losses in the months ahead.Several want to see him use Wednesday’s Budget to set out a financial road map to recovery to accompany Johnson’s own plan to lift lockdown.However, there are fears that Sunak will issue little more than a “holding statement”, with more pandemic-linked spending and a signal of future tax rises as a means of reducing the deficit, according to one Tory source.“If you were spending as much as he’s been spending and you weren’t popular, it would be quite extraordinary,” they say.“He’s still a fairly unknown quantity“The actual difficult stuff is still to come.“I’ve not really seen anything from him beyond writing massive cheques so far. “Where is his vision for growth?“At the moment it just seems like he is only interested in deficit reduction.”A 2019 intake MP says: “The next 18 months are going to be horrific for the country economically and it’s going to be horrific for the Conservative Party.“We are going to take a lot of brickbats, I don’t think people appreciate how bad the economy is.“The Budget needs to have a plan to get us through that.”Clifton-Brown agrees: “It’s very easy to be popular when you’re handing out money and the problem is we’ve been handing out so much that we’ll be paying it back for a long time to come.“The economy can’t keep bailing people and businesses out once the lockdown is over.“That’s the real moment of danger, when you have to stop furlough and businesses have to really think whether they want to take all those people back on their books.“I think we will see some fairly horrific unemployment figures in the autumn.”The 2019 MP hopes Sunak can maintain his own and the government’s popularity by making the case for balancing the books while imposing tax rises.They went on: “It’s going to be a rocky 18 months for everyone and for the Conservative government because people won’t like things, but it’s necessary medicine.“If you look at austerity in 2010, people understood it even if they didn’t agree to the extent of it.”But unlike in 2010, when Labour allowed David Cameron and George Osborne to define the deficit reduction argument, Keir Starmer’s party is taking it on this time by arguing that tax rises will choke off the Covid recovery.They also believe Sunak will attempt to chart a kind of cake-and-eat-it approach which seeks to balance the books while allowing the government to claim it is ploughing ahead with its high-spending levelling up agenda.A senior Labour source says: “He wants to go back to the outdated and tired debate of: how quickly can you cut or raise revenue – treating the economy like a household budget.“And while we’re not going to necessarily actively have a war on that, it’s about framing the fact that he will try and do it in a way he’s not admitting.“It won’t be the same as 2010-15, they will try and spin it in a way that makes them look in the red wall like they are keeping to their levelling up agenda, it won’t be a living within our means type message.“But this is about exposing it for what it is and taking some of that sheen away from him.” PR blitzVanity of vanities, sayeth the preacher; all is vanity. https://t.co/FLxPanhf9x— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) March 1, 2021Perhaps wary that he will have to deliver bad news soon, Sunak is planning a PR blitz around this week’s Budget.For the first time ever, the chancellor will host an evening press conference on Budget, giving journalists and MPs only around four hours to find the hidden nasties in the red book that sometimes take days to emerge.He will also appear on the Martin Lewis Money Show on Thursday.And he has rolled the pitch for the statement to come with a glossy six-minute video which sparked accusations of “vanity”.Tories however welcome Sunak’s ability to communicate, believing it has been crucial in maintaining the government’s economic reputation amid chaos elsewhere in government.“It will have a shelf life,” the “blue wall” Tory says.“But his ability to package policies and sell them is a real asset given some of the clusterfucks we’ve had in the last year.“The washing powder he is selling is pretty popular, so he’s had a bit of a head start there, but his ability to sell it is positive and one of the reasons why he’s so senior.“But he will have to make sure the formula doesn’t become stale.”Charm offensiveThe media blitz also comes after a months-long charm offensive of Tory backbenchers which Sunak will hope helps maintain his status as Johnson’s most likely successor as he makes the tough calls.The chancellor has been peeling backbenchers off into groups of five MPs, put together if they share similar ideas, for hour-long meetings.“We submit in advance our ideas for the Budget, and it can be everything from what we want to do with the high street to particular tax rises or cuts, and then we have an open and frank discussion,” one says.“He gives a decent length of time, makes sure our voice is heard and listens.“He’s done an amazing job with that and he’s done it for the last few months.”It’s an approach which has left some wondering if Sunak could mimic the non-ideological pragmatism of the Blair years, of being “all things to all people” as the ex-PM once said, or whether he will eventually have to stop being “everybody’s friend”.The “blue wall” Tory says: “He’s got two challenges – he’s going to have to stop splurging the cash at some point so he will have to take some difficult decisions which will demonstrate how politically adept he is at that - I think he will do better than some people fear.“But underneath he will have to decide what his ideology is.“I think he probably knows it, but he has sort of nodded to everybody, so the question is: where does he actually stand on this stuff in the long-term?”They went on: “I think people would naturally say he’s like them because he’s so nice and so adept at the politics that he’s everybody’s friend - everybody thinks he thinks like them.“But I don’t know.“Maybe he doesn’t have to decide, Blair never properly decided but he created a lot of political capital he didn’t use up.“At some point he will have to put a marker down.” The 2019 Tory agrees: “Everyone appreciates what he has done in the pandemic and the way he’s dealt with things.“But we now need to see what his grand plan is.From private conversations – he’s a proper low tax conservative, freedom of private enterprise.“But let’s just see that in legislation. Let’s get the economy pumped up and going.”Related...Rishi Sunak Says It's 'Odd' To Blame Eat Out To Help Out For Covid SurgeRishi Sunak Says 'More' Financial Support To Come In BudgetRishi Sunak ‘Risks Sparking ERG-Style Tory Rebellion’ If He Delays Tax Hikes
David Cameron has admitted the government failed to properly prepare for Covid-19 and should have learned from the Sars outbreak. The former prime minister, who was in power from 2010 to 2016, said that ministers focused too heavily on a possible influenza pandemic. Instead, they should have broadened preparations to include all respiratory illnesses, saying “more should have been learned” from Sars in 2002. Like Covid, Sars was a new contagious coronavirus. Influenza is also a contagious respiratory illness, but of a different family of virus. The government has repeatedly been criticised for not preparing the UK for a new and unknown disease. Speaking to the national security strategy committee, Cameron said: “I think the mistake that was made was that in thinking about future pandemics, the focus was very much on influenza rather than on respiratory diseases and I think that is where, and I am sure there will be a big inquiry into what we learn and all the rest, but I think there was a pretty good flu pandemic plan but it was a flu plan rather than a respiratory illnesses plan.” Cameron said his government had “set up a unit in the Cabinet Office to do sort of global virus surveillance” but he was “not quite sure what happened to that”. He added: “But [...] more should have been learned from the experience with Sars and the respiratory diseases in terms of our own preparedness. But I wouldn’t blame the national security architecture for that. The architecture was there.” A 2016 drill, called Operation Cygnus, was aimed at testing UK resilience. It exposed how hospitals and care homes faced being overwhelmed should a new virus hit the UK.It was criticised for failing to check up on supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), capacity for testing and the number of ventilators. MPs also uncovered last year that that it failed to make any recommendations to Treasury or business officials. Amid rumours that former US president Donald Trump was considering a return to politics, Cameron was also asked if he would consider a comeback. Former prime minister David Cameron tells a committee of MPs that the Brexit referendum “was properly thought through” and not an “afterthought”.Get the latest news and headlines here: https://t.co/TVxfGKeZcapic.twitter.com/hCrnOPXKO7— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 1, 2021“No,” he said. “Thinking about Donald Trump making a comeback is enough to keep us all spinning over.”Cameron also defended holding the 2016 Brexit referendum, which ended his premiership, saying it was “properly thought through” before the 2015 general election. The ex-PM also used his appearance to criticise decisions taken on security and aid by his successors.He said Theresa May made a “very bad mistake” allowing the role of cabinet secretary and national security adviser to be merged, with Mark Sedwill holding both roles during her tenure in Downing Street.“I think it was for instance a very bad mistake combining cabinet secretary and national security adviser – they are two jobs,” he told the committee.“For one person, even if you were a cross of Einstein, Wittgenstein and Mother Teresa, you couldn’t possibly do both jobs and I think that temporarily weakened the National Security Council.”On Boris Johnson’s decision to scrap the Department for International Development (DfID), Cameron said: “I think abolishing DfID is a mistake too for all sorts of reasons but one of which is actually having the Foreign Office voice around the (National Security Council) table and the DfID voice around the table I think is important – they are not necessarily the same thing.“Can you really expect the foreign secretary to do all of the diplomatic stuff and be able to speak to the development brief as well? That’s quite a task, so I think it is good to have both.”Related...Rishi Sunak ‘Risks Sparking ERG-Style Tory Rebellion’ If He Delays Tax HikesRevealed: Tory-Linked Private Firm Awarded Government Hotel Quarantine ContractRevealed: The MPs Who Refused To Back Boris Johnson's Brexit Trade Deal
With the real unemployment rate hovering near 10% and lockdowns in place, the Treasury market is expecting a rapid return to pre-pandemic strength.
Soaring unemployment figures for Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers holds “up a mirror to structural racism” in the UK labour market, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has said.Unemployment among BAME workers has increased at more than twice the speed of the rate for white workers, a new study suggests, with analysis revealing that one in ten women from minority ethnic backgrounds are now unemployed. The BAME unemployment rate “shot up” from 5.8% to 9.5% between the final quarter of 2019 and the same time last year, said the report.Over the same period, the unemployment rate for white workers rose from 3.4% to 4.5%, according to the study.Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), published on Tuesday, shows that the unemployment rate for Black people, at 13.8%, is triple that of white people at 4.5%. The new analysis comes as unions, charities and campaigners have signed a joint statement calling on the prime minister to take action to end structural racism and inequality.TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the pandemic had “held up a mirror to the structural racism in our labour market and wider society.”She added: “BME workers have borne the brunt of the economic impact of Covid-19, losing their jobs twice as quickly as white workers.“When BME workers have held on to their jobs, we know that they are more likely to be working in low-paid, insecure jobs that put them at greater risk from the virus.“This is evidence of the structural discrimination which has led to a disproportionate BME death rate from coronavirus.“This crisis has to be a turning point. As we emerge from the pandemic, we can’t allow these inequalities in our workplaces, and our society, to remain.“Ministers must stop delaying and challenge the systemic racism and inequality that holds back BME people.”A government spokesman said: “Before the pandemic we had made solid progress on lifting the employment rate to a record high for Black, Asian and ethnic minority people, and we remain committed to these efforts.“Our Plan for Jobs will play an important part in giving people from all backgrounds a good start on their journey back to employment by increasing work coaches to 27,000 and investing £2 billion on the Kickstart scheme to create opportunities for young people as we build back fairer.”Related...Ethnic Groups Worst Hit By Covid Are Also Lowest PaidRishi Sunak ‘Risks Sparking ERG-Style Tory Rebellion’ If He Delays Tax HikesOpinion: Universities Are Facing Pressing Issues. ‘Free Speech On Campus' Isn’t OneThis Was Meant To Be A Stop-Gap Job. Covid Might Mean It’s Forever
Miller's husband admitted to the Daily Beast that the truck belonged to him but denied affiliation to the group.
McConnell told Fox News' Bret Baier that he would "absolutely" back Trump if he won the 2024 Republican nomination.
Labour leader Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds during a visit to the Portsmouth Gin Distillery in Southsea, Portsmouth." src="https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/603830763f0000ea03a3f089.jpg?ops=scalefit_630_noupscale" />You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.It’s February 2021 and Jeremy Corbyn is prime minister, leading the UK’s fight against the Covid pandemic. John McDonnell is chancellor, sitting in his Treasury office and putting the final touches to his spring Budget, aka The People’s Budget.That budget has at its centrepiece the second of the socialist Labour government’s rises in corporation tax, taking it from the 19% inherited from the Tories (the fourth lowest among the world’s richest nations) to 24%. Another hike is planned for next year, part of a policy to raise a huge £23.7bn from companies.Treasury officials, who under Philip Hammond had secretly looked at raising corporation tax as a “low hanging fruit” to get the public finances back in order, are relaxed about McDonnell’s latest move. The chancellor even has on his desk a copy of the Little Red Book he once flung at George Osborne, the man whose deep cuts to the tax had given Labour an easy way to raise cash.Yes, it’s a parallel universe that requires some suspension of disbelief. But many Tory backbenchers can now be forgiven for rubbing their eyes, blinking and seeing the prospect of Rishi Sunak doing exactly what McDonnell planned. Leaks, so far strangely not denied, suggest Sunak will next week set out a “pathway” towards jacking up corporation tax over the next few years.To make matters even more surreal, if any such increase were included in the coming Budget, it looks like Labour would whip its MPs to vote against it. So we would be likely to see a Tory rebellion against the tax rise, and could see a Labour rebellion in favour of the tax rise. And both sets of rebels would say they were being true to their party’s manifesto promises in 2019. Welcome to pandemic politics.As it happened, Hammond popped up on the BBC to warn Boris Johnson that he must risk popularity and tell some “difficult home truths” about how he would balance the books. The problem with that is the public don’t really seem to be listening. I’m told that Tory party HQ has been taken aback by focus groups that show the voters really don’t care yet about repayment of loans by business let alone the state reducing borrowing.While Hammond jibed that “as a populist government, giving money away is always easier than collecting it in”, it seems the punters really do believe in the Magic Money Tree that Theresa May once used to patronise a nurse in the 2017 election (before losing her majority). Boris Johnson himself often appears to splash the cash, and not a Commons statement goes by without him smiling kindly on pleas from Red Wall Tories for a new school, hospital wing, railway station or bypass in their constituency. But plenty of other Tory MPs certainly are worried about borrowing and debt and think that cutting spending not whacking up taxes is ultimately the only way to do it. As former Treasury aide Sonia Khan predicts on our podcast, it may not be long before there’s a fiscal equivalent of the ERG (the FRG?). And its first cause celebre would be a corporation tax hike. Which brings us back to Labour and Keir Starmer. There is a growing unease among Labour MPs, not all of them Corbyn supporters, at the idea that the party would vote against a rise in taxes it had in its last manifesto. But it’s the Left that is certainly most public, with former chair Ian Lavery telling HuffPost UK today it would be “grotesque” to whip its MPs against the rise.In yet another twist to this story, Starmer’s position is backed up by David Cameron, who told CNN that “piling taxes” onto a fragile economy “wouldn’t make any sense at all”. Indeed this is the orthodoxy among think tanks like the IFS and others. A senior Labour source tells me: “Right now is not the time for tax rises, which would choke off the recovery before it has even started. That is the consensus of all major economists.”That phrase “right now” is of course the crux of the matter. Many in Labour suspect Sunak is merely testing the water with those Budget leaks and don’t expect an actual corporation tax rise before the autumn if at all. The party won’t even say it would agree to tax rises once the economy has recovered from the pandemic, because judging exactly when that point is reached is very difficult indeed.Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds however made clear in a Q&A today that Labour was certainly not ruling out corporation tax hikes in future years. “If we’re talking about a longer term trajectory, let’s have that discussion, let’s make sure that we do have that more effective tax system,” she said. A new poll tonight found that voters in every demographic group support a corporation tax rise. Across all voters, 67% support a rise and 10% oppose it.So why is Starmer so insistent on his ‘no tax rises now’ policy? Well, first he and Dodds have spent months trying to get across this message on council taxes and other hikes. Second, this is all about saying Labour has changed. At his 2019 manifesto launch, Corbyn relished the opprobrium, saying. “I accept the opposition of the billionaires...I accept the hostility of the bad bosses”. In his recent speech, Starmer said business should not be “tolerated or taxed” but should be a partner of government.And unlike the Biden administration, which is in power and can enact a huge spending stimulus matched by corporation tax hikes, Labour strategists think the very fact they are in Opposition restricts their room for maneouvre, especially off the back of that disastrous 2019 election result when few promises are believed any more.Starmer has quietly led a 21st century equivalent of the “prawn cocktail offensive” that Gordon Brown used to get business and the City on board with New Labour in the 1990s. Finance firms and others have been impressed with him, and all the links he built up as shadow Brexit secretary with the CBI, Federation of Small Business and lots of sectoral players have built his reputation. Even this week, shadow City minister Pat McFadden went down very well indeed at the ABI’s annual conference. Ultimately, Starmer’s bet is that the voters will see his party no longer looks trigger-happy about tax rises and would only enact them where absolutely necessary. Similarly, he wants to reassure them that their own taxes will be spent well and not wasted. But above all, he wants to embellish his reputation for credibility and competence.Note too that this talk of partnership with business is not a ruse. It’s a break not just with Corbynism but Milibandism and its pantomime “predators and producers” rhetoric. I’m told that the Labour leader is heavily influenced by the factory his father worked in, which was a small firm at the heart of a community. Its demise is seen as yet another example of governments failing to work with business.Starmer sounds serious about his business partnership. When the UK furlough plan was drafted, one option considered by the Tories was a Germany-style short-working to keep people in post rather than fire them. It foundered because the UK simply lacks the close trade union-state-business relationship found in Germany, where short working kept many in work during the financial crisis. Some Starmer supporters think a Labour government could reshape our economy by being more German (on skills, manufacturing too).One senior party source tells me: “The approach being advocated by Ian Lavery and Richard Burgon is an unintended argument for austerity because it suggests you can fiddle with taxes and spending to pay off debt accumulated in an economic downturn. It’s the mirror of the argument George Osborne made a decade ago.” “Labour must be far more ambitious – we should be the party focused on working with business to grow the economy and tackle the long-term weaknesses of our unequal and insecure economy, which is the way Britain will balance the books,” they add. Ironically this idea of “the proceeds of growth” being the answer to the tax/spend problem is exactly what Cameron and Osborne espoused in Opposition before the financial crash.Back in 2006, the modernising Tories were terrified of being seen as “pro cuts” (hard to believe now, I know). Starmer, who wants to shrug off the image of being “pro taxes”, is opting for his own proceeds of growth policy too. The danger is that just as the Conservatives proved they were “the same old Tories” on austerity, Labour would risk being seen as reverting to type with any major tax hikes at the next election.And that’s the real challenge for Starmer: being consistent. Just as the Tories veered between “Demon Eyes” (too dangerous) and “Bambi” (too soft) attacks on Tony Blair, the party still hasn’t quite found a way to damage Starmer in the eyes of the voters. Johnson again this week tried to paint his opponent as a “vacillator” who changes his mind (having tried and failed to make stick the line he’s a jobbing lawyer who easily changes briefs). If Starmer can persuade the public there’s a right and a wrong time to hike taxes, he could avoid the charge of inconsistency. It won’t be easy, with attacks from left and right. But he clearly thinks it’s a prize worth winning.Related...Ex-Labour Chair Says Starmer's Plan To Oppose Corporation Tax Rise Is ‘Grotesque’Rishi Sunak ‘Risks Sparking ERG-Style Tory Rebellion’ If He Delays Tax HikesOpinion: Starmer Must Dive Headlong Into Britain’s Challenges, Not Simply Dip A Toe
A Scottish Conservative MP has asked members of a parliamentary committee not to refer to his party as the “Tories” – even though the shorthand is used in one of the party’s official Twitter accounts.At a session of the Scottish affairs committee on Thursday, an exchange over the correct names of political parties took place between chairman Pete Wishart, a Scottish National Party MP, and Andrew Bowie, a Conservative MP who sits on the committee. Wishart moved to make a correction when another committee member referred inaccurately to the “Scottish Nationalist Party”.Wishart conceded the error was probably “totally inadvertent”, but added: ”I don’t think it helps anybody to misname political parties on this committee, and I’m sure (Iain Stewart, junior minister for Scotland, who was being questioned) would never think about doing this.“I know we’re having to correct the prime minister all the time on this. Parties have particular names.”Scottish Conservative Andrew Bowie asks not to be called a Tory after the SNP complain about being called the ‘Scottish nationalist party’....just another normal day on @CommonsScotAffspic.twitter.com/qKcJBOH8PJ— Dan O'Donoghue (@MrDanDonoghue) February 25, 2021The comment prompted an intervention from Bowie, one of six Scottish Conservatives who serves in Westminster.He said: “Chairman, can I just cut in there. I completely agree we should get the names of political parties absolutely right.“So can we make sure we use the name ‘Conservative and Unionist Party’ for the name of our party as we move forward, and not the ‘Tories’ as is sometimes used in conversation.”To which Wishart replied: “Sometimes you refer to yourself as such, Andrew, though we will try to do our best.”But, as one Twitter user highlighted, the handle @ScotTories is used by the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party for its official account.Maybe take it up with HQ? https://t.co/ZHvQ8YOEMQpic.twitter.com/fvs1mYuz0a— Joshua Morrison (@JoshuaM1994) February 25, 2021The Scottish Conservatives' Twitter homepage with the @ScotTories handle." src="https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/6037f93b26000038007f75dd.png?ops=scalefit_630_noupscale" /> A BBC feature in 2015 raised the issue of whether it was appropriate to use the term “Tory” as some feared it was deployed as an insult.Ex-Labour Cabinet minister David Blunkett said he used “Tory” to portray his opponents as “backward-looking, negative and reactionary”.But Conservative MP Peter Bone was relaxed, adding “Tory is quite handy if you’re tweeting”. Related...Rishi Sunak ‘Risks Sparking ERG-Style Tory Rebellion’ If He Delays Tax HikesEx-Labour Chair Says Starmer's Plan To Oppose Corporation Tax Rise Is ‘Grotesque’Why Tory MPs' Plan To End Lockdown By May Won't Work
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Delaying tax rises to the autumn risks giving Tory rebels time to “get some wind behind them” and build an ERG-style low tax movement, a former Treasury special adviser has warned.Sonia Khan told HuffPost UK that Rishi Sunak has a “real challenge” ahead of next week’s Budget amid reports that he may look to hike taxes to fill the huge black hole the coronavirus pandemic has blown in the public finances.Tory MPs are believed to be considering rebelling against plans reportedly under consideration by the chancellor to hike corporation tax from 19% to 24%, with borrowing forecast to hit £394bn in March.But MPs have been warned by Downing Street that they could be sacked from the party if they vote against the Budget, because it would be seen as a confidence issue by the government.Khan said Sunak may choose to delay tax rises to his autumn statement because HM Revenue and Customs would not be able to implement any announced next week in time for the new financial year from April 1 anyway.But this could create problems for Sunak as it would allow low-tax campaigns to “get some wind behind them” and potentially build a backbench faction in the mould of the insurgent hard Brexit ERG (European Research Group), she warned.Khan, who was an adviser to chancellors Philip Hammond and Sajid Javid, told HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast: “One of his big challenges is, I think firstly, you’re not going to get any new taxes between now and April because the turnaround time is just too short and HMRC will never be able to implement them. “So maybe we’re sort of looking at the autumn Budget as the tax Budget.“But that gap means you are leaving space where the people in your party who feel like they are not represented, they are sort of these fiscal conservatives who believe in low tax, free market and whatever else, to sort of galvanise a bit of a campaign and get some wind behind them.” She went on: “You can see the development of another ERG, but an economic research group, (with) partnerships with the think-tanks, making the case for the competitive economy.“So he’s going to have a real challenge when he starts to come to make some of those harder decisions if he does defer them to November, possibly.” Tory grandees on Thursday clashed over what approach Sunak should take.Lord Hammond urged Boris Johnson to risk unpopularity by telling the public “some difficult home truths” about the damage the coronavirus pandemic has caused to the economy.But former prime minister David Cameron warned that tax rises “wouldn’t make any sense at all” as the nation opens back up from lockdown.Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also said “now is not the time” for tax increases, raising the prospect of low-tax Tories and the opposition joining forces to vote against Wednesday’s Budget.Cameron, who is no longer a Conservative MP, warned against tax rises as he defended his own austerity policies, telling US broadcaster CNN: “Today we do face very different circumstances.“So piling, say, tax increases on top of that before you’ve even opened up the economy wouldn’t make any sense at all.“I think it’s been right for the government here in the UK and governments around the world to recognise this is more like a sort of wartime situation.”Hammond urged the prime minister to level with the public amid rising unemployment and the economy being hit by the biggest annual decline on record.He told the BBC: “My fear is that, as a populist government, giving money away is always easier than collecting it in.”The Conservative life peer, who resigned as chancellor when Johnson became prime minister, urged ministers to focus on growth and to ditch “very extravagant” promises from the manifesto.“Not all of those commitments can now sensibly be delivered on and that’s going to be a big challenge for a government that regards its short-term popularity as very, very important,” he said.But Hammond added he was “not sure” the “top leadership” has the “appetite for being unpopular, in order to do the right thing”.The prime minister’s press secretary Allegra Stratton responded: “I don’t recognise the picture the former chancellor makes.”She cited “difficult” policy decisions made by Johnson, including to cut foreign aid, and to order people to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic.“This is a prime minister who is prepared to take difficult decisions and is weighing up very hard choices at the moment,” Stratton added.She insisted “we are committed to the manifesto” but declined to comment on specifics until the Budget.Related...Ex-Labour Chair Says Starmer's Plan To Oppose Corporation Tax Rise Is ‘Grotesque’Opinion: Labour Voting Against A Tax Rise For Big Business Would Be GrotesqueUK’s Covid Alert Level Should Be Lowered, Say Chief Medical OfficersTory Leavers Call For Key Brexit Deal To Be Scrapped – Despite Voting For It
Former Labour Party chair Ian Lavery has warned Keir Starmer to ditch “grotesque” plans to vote against corporation tax rises in the Budget.Writing for HuffPost UK, Lavery said that it is “mind blowing” to even think that his party would oppose a hike in taxes on company profits.Chancellor Rishi Sunak is widely expected to signal next week moves to increase the tax to help foot the bill of the Covid pandemic.Treasury officials are considering putting up corporation tax from its current 19% rate to as high as 25% over the next few years, generating billions of pounds for the public coffers.But even though a pledge to raise the tax was a centrepiece of Labour’s 2019 manifesto, Starmer has suggested his party would oppose any tax rises “right now” because of the fragility of the economy.One senior Labour backbencher said that if Starmer imposed a three line whip on his MPs “there would be a sizeable rebellion”, and some shadow frontbenchers have expressed deep unease at the idea.Lavery, a key figure under Jeremy Corbyn’s reign, said that party activists were already wondering when its new leadership would throw off its “timidity”.“Many people are already questioning what Labour stands for, the much-trumpeted relaunch has not provided an answer,” he said, a reference to Starmer’s big speech on the economy last week when he called for a new partnership with business.“If the rumours are correct and we end up with the grotesque sight of Labour whipped into voting alongside right wing Tory rebels, to defeat a meagre corporation tax rise that would only affect those who’ve done well out of the pandemic, then I fear for the future.”Lavery added that his own “No Holding Back” group had recently proposed Labour should be going further than a corporation tax rise, and pushing a “Covid profiteering tax” and an “outsourcing tax” to tackle head on those who have exploited the crisis for financial gain.“A Labour Party comfortable in its own skin would have no hesitation in backing the taxation of high level spivvery, to fund a better future. To think we are potentially lining up to vote down an even milder measure is mind blowing.“The country depends on Labour to argue for and point the way to a better future. Quite simply this must be built on a partnership with society, paid for by taxation not a partnership with business, paid for by society.”The backlash against Starmer came as Downing Street warned Conservative MPs they could be stripped of the Tory whip if they vote against the government at next week’s Budget.Asked if the votes will be considered a confidence issue for Tory MPs, the prime minister’s press secretary, Allegra Stratton, said: “Yes.”Several backbenchers have been highly critical of the plan to raise corporation taxes, particularly as former chancellor George Osborne steadily cut the rates and many Brexiteers hope for further cuts to help the UK attract investment.Starmer has tried to pivot from the Corbyn era by opposing tax rises of all kinds, focusing on council taxes and business rates ahead of the local elections but also other levies during the pandemic.Yet while think tanks like the Institute of Fiscal Studies have also said higher taxes would choke off any recovery, several Labour MPs including supporters of Starmer are pointing to the US where the Biden administration is looking at hiking corporation tax to raise cash.Starmer raised the issue in prime minister’s question time this week, stressing: “Now is not the time for tax rises on families and businesses.”Soon afterwards, shadow Treasury minister James Murray told BBC’s Daily Politics that his party would not back any tax rises. “We’re in the middle of an economic crisis, and this is not the time to do it,” he said.Grassroots pro-Corbyn group Momentum pounced on the remarks. “During the pandemic big corporations like Amazon have cashed in while working people struggle to get by. Labour should support both raising corporation tax and a special Covid-19 windfall tax for sectors that have made super profits,” a spokesperson said.A party source appeared to leave open the option for Labour to support corporation tax rises later in the parliament, while stressing that “right now” was the wrong time.They told HuffPost UK: “The Chancellor is flying kites in the media on tax to see how they land, but Labour is clear that right now is not the time to be hitting families and struggling businesses with tax hikes.“We’ll need to see what comes out of the Budget, but we already know the Chancellor is hitting families up and down the country with a triple hammer blow to their pockets of council tax rises, cuts to Universal Credit and pay freezes.“The problem for businesses right now isn’t corporation tax, it’s business rates. That’s why the shadow chancellor is calling for the government to ensure its much-delayed review of business rates leads to wholesale reform so that high street shops compete on a level playing field with their online competitors.“And that we end the gulf between how businesses based in bricks and mortar are taxed compared with those based largely on the internet”.Related...Opinion: Starmer Must Dive Headlong Into Britain’s Challenges, Not Simply Dip A ToeWhy Teachers Won’t Get Fast-Tracked In Boris Johnson’s Covid Vaccine RolloutPublic Don't Want Matt Hancock To Resign, Says Keir Starmer
Voters in “Red Wall” seats strongly support green policies and defy stereotypes that they aren’t interested in the environment, a new study shows.Polling by YouGov for the Centre for Towns think tank found that people in villages, communities and small towns are just as likely to say protecting the planet is important to them personally as people in cities.Some 94% said that the issue was very or fairly important to them, and support for policies to tackle climate change and cut waste have increased markedly in the past five years at the same rate in both towns and cities.Backing for new “green jobs” and energy efficient infrastructure stands at 79% for big cities, only narrowly ahead of the 75% support in small towns.Support for more wind and solar power to replace coal, gas and and oil is fractionally higher in small towns (86%) than it is in cities (85%).And even when given a choice between the options of protecting the environment versus economic growth and creating jobs, support was similar between cities 63%) and small towns (58%).The report also found high levels of support for a tax on carbon emissions by business, with backing marginally higher in villages and small towns (88%) than in core cities (84%).Support for limiting the number of times people can fly each year is almost equal in small towns (39%) and cities (40%), with highest backing in rural villages (45%).However, the one area of real difference between towns and cities was on plans to tax car use, with less metropolitan areas having much less access to public transport.And on the government’s policy of ending the sale and use of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, people in villages, communities and small towns (32%) are less likely to support the idea compared to those in cities (44%).The study suggests that Boris Johnson will get support electorally in seats he won from Labour in the 2019 election if he pursues green policies that some had assumed would not be popular in working class areas.Sir David Attenborough is also a unifying figure across different parts of the country and different classes, and support for the conservation charity the National Trust is similar too in all areas.As the UK prepares to chair the global climate change talks this year, Johnson has already pledged that wind power could power every home by 2030 and has put investment in green jobs like insulation and turbine manufacture at the heart of his “levelling up” agenda.Analysing British Election Study statistics, the think tank found that around 60% of the public felt that measures to protect the environment had not gone far enough, levels that have nearly doubled since 2015 in all areas.When asked specifically to name the most important environmental issue ‘climate change’ was the second ranked issue, with 60% of respondents naming it as one of four most important issues, narrowly behind ‘the growing amount of waste we produce’ (on 61%).“The high level of public concern about waste is notable, and may reflect the aftermath of Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series in 2018, which highlighted the highly damaging environmental impact of plastic pollution,” the report says.Attenborough is trusted across all areas, often four times more than groups like Extinction Rebellion.Shadow cabinet minister Lisa Nandy, who co-founded the Centre for Towns, writes in the forward to the report: “Despite frequent suggestions to the contrary, environmentalism is not the preserve of our “woke” cities – it matters to us all.“We hope this report will be both a call to arms and a wake-up call for those who make stereotypical, wrongheaded assumptions about the views of people in our towns and cities, finding divisions where none exist.”But Nandy added: “The consensus breaks down in one area: transport. Campaigns that fail to take into account the reality of life in towns where buses are scarce and alternatives are lacking may prove counter-productive. Being radical is no substitute for being relevant.”The study states that on average, people who live in towns in England tend to be more socially conservative, relatively uncomfortable with social change and are more likely to identify as English, while city-dwellers tend to be more socially liberal on issues such as same-sex marriage or immigration.The report’s author Will Jennings, Southampton University’s professor of political science, said: “Despite a growing electoral divide between our towns and cities, there are many areas of consensus on environmental issues and signs that the divide between voters on green issues may be shrinking.” * The survey of 1,721 UK adults was conducted online by YouGov between 25th and 29th June 2020.Related...Attenborough Warns UN 2021 Is Last Chance To Save Planet From 'Runaway' Climate ChangeWant To Live A Greener Lifestyle? These 10 Top Brands Can Help2020 Broke All These Climate Records – Despite The Pandemic
You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.“I won’t be buccaneering with people’s lives,” Boris Johnson said. Well, it’s taken 11 months, three Covid waves and more than 100,000 deaths, but he got there in the end. He won’t bucc it up this time, will he?With nearly every word of his latest No.10 press conference, the PM stuck to the new script. Careful, evidence-based caution had finally replaced the boosterish overpromising and blithe complacency that dominated so much of his response to the pandemic last year. The new “roadmap” is so eminently sensible that Keir Starmer couldn’t really find much to disagree with. At the heart of the strategy were the five-week pauses between stages, key periods to assess, reassess and deliberate the impact of each relaxation. Four separate reviews will, equally sensibly, take time to look at the data on social distancing, overseas travel, vaccine passports and open-air events.And although the political catastrophe of a fourth lockdown is obviously a powerful incentive for the PM, overall the Downing Street briefing seemed to confirm that chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientist Patrick Vallance had finally won the battle for Johnson’s heart.For possibly the first time in months of these “three amigos’” events, there wasn’t the slightest hint of difference of opinion. On everything from school reopening to vaccination, you couldn’t get a wafer-thin lateral flow test between them. Whitty talked about Covid being with us for “the next few winters”, but only in a way that flu has been for decades.It may be that this famously unreflective PM has finally also looked into his own soul in recent weeks. Perhaps the most startling thing written about him last week was Fraser Nelson’s Telegraph column suggesting he has “started to blame himself” for delaying the first lockdown by a week: a decision that Imperial College London has claimed cost 21,000 lives. Whether he’s feeling guilty about locking down late this January too is an open question.Yet while it will hearten many that Johnson has finally ditched his chaotic crisis management mode of governing, there lingers an unnerving thought: if even this optimism-biased prime minister has started to be cautious, the scientists’ warnings must be pretty worrying. And indeed, the Sage minutes and documents today confirmed just that.The sheer precariousness of our current position, even with an amazing vaccine rollout, was laid bare in those Sage papers. Lifting restrictions by the end of April, as some Tory lockdown sceptics had demanded, would spark a huge new fourth wave of infections and risk doubling the death toll, they forecast.Just as worrying were the minutes of the February 4 meeting that stated: “Relaxation of a significant number of restrictions over three months starting from the beginning of April could lead to hospital occupancy higher than the January peak whereas relaxation over nine months would result in a much smaller peak.” Relaxation over three months from April, doesn’t that sound like, er, the roadmap?That same meeting also advised “an ‘adaptive management’ approach, responding to data, for example setting levels of infection or hospitalisation that would need to be reached before making changes”. “This makes it more likely that the epidemic can be kept under control,” it said. But the PM clearly felt that was a bit too sage of Sage because his roadmap lacks any such figures or numbers to measure progress. Instead, we got a series of tentative dates for each stage of unlockdown. So we didn’t get the data points, but we did get the dates. Which wasn’t really the soundbite promised.Johnson was honest enough to stress to MPs that lifting lockdown will lead to more deaths, partly because even among those vaccinated there will be a “large minority” who remain insufficiently protected. Add in the uncertainty about the impact of the vaccines on stopping transmission and that looks even more candid.Despite all the uncertainty, Johnson couldn’t at times hide his own desperation for certainty. In his Commons statement, he said he believed his roadmap was “a one way road to freedom”, that “will guide us cautiously but irreversibly” (he said the i-word three times). Yet when asked by SkyNews’ Sam Coates if he would resign if there was a fourth lockdown, the PM wriggled for some wriggle room, saying it was only his “intention” that this was a one-way roadmap.He was similarly shifty when asked about financial support, even though his own plans would seem to imply that Rishi Sunak will next week have to announce furlough is extended through May and possibly until June 21, when hospitality firms can fully reopen and make a profit. Despite a small change to isolation support for parents of kids with Covid, there was nothing to match Jeremy Hunt’s call for an isolation salary replacement scheme.There was even a hint of a throwback to our old friend “Whackamole” from some in government today, as we learned that new outbreaks of new variants could lead to local lockdowns. While there will be no return to tiers over the next few months (amid fears the dominant strain travels just too fast), there will be flexibility to crack down in some places.In fact, I suspect it will be the lack of regional tiering that most triggers the next Tory rebellion. Notwithstanding recent drops, some regional admissions rates are stubbornly higher than others (the midlands are double the rates of London and the south east). If any of those five-week pauses produces data that suggests different outcomes for different areas, there could be trouble ahead. For now at least, the PM has a plan. Let’s see if he really has changed, and sticks to it.Related...Relaxing Lockdown As Planned Could Trigger Worst Hospital Peak Yet, Sage WarnsMajority Of Covid Restrictions Could End On June 21, Boris Johnson AnnouncesHow Boris Johnson Will Lift The Coronavirus Lockdown
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"Gentlemen we are heading to DC pack your s---!!" one of the defendants wrote in a December Facebook message, prosecutors said.
According to the affidavit, Secor's hateful views towards immigrants and Jews were well-documented by student groups during his time on campus.
"This will get me in trouble, but I don't care," Johnson said, adding that "groups of agitators" and not Trump supporters caused the Capitol mayhem.
Nancy Pelosi said the commission would "investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021 domestic terrorist attack."