Theresa May dodge early no confidence vote attempt
Theresa May has survived an attempt to change the rules of the Conservative party in order to push forward an early motion of no confidence in her leadership.
After surviving a vote of no confidence in December, according to current Tory party rules the prime minister cannot be challenged for another year. However, hard Brexiteers in the party sought to change the rules in order to allow for an early challenge to her leadership.
In the end, it was decided by the ruling 1922 Committee that the rules should not be changed. However, the committee chairman, Sir Graham Brady has already said that May should set out her timetable for departure, ideally before the end of June.
Speaking outside the meeting on Wednesday, Brady said: “Following the prime minister’s decision to set out a schedule for her departure as leader of the party should the withdrawal agreement pass, we seek similar clarity from her in other circumstances.”
“We should have a clear roadmap forward”, he added.
Sturgeon: Scotland should get independence vote by May 2021 if Britain leaves EU
Nicola Sturgeon has said that the Scottish government will push for an independence vote by May 2021, if Britain remains on course to leave the European Union.
The SNP leader made a statement on Brexit and Scottish Independence to MSPs on Wednesday, where she made the case for another Scottish vote – an independence vote was held in 2014, with 45 percent of voters answering “Yes” to independence and 55 percent answering “No”.
Speaking on Wednesday, Sturgeon said: “Brexit has exposed a deep democratic deficit at the heart of how Scotland is governed. And, whatever our different views on independence, it should persuade all of us that we need a more solid foundation on which to build our future as a country,”
“With all of our assets and talents, Scotland should be a thriving and driving force within Europe. Instead we face being forced to the margins – sidelined within a UK that is, itself, increasingly sidelined on the international stage. Independence, by contrast, would allow us to protect our place in Europe.”
Theresa May’s spokesman rejected the idea of another independence referendum, saying: “As we have been repeatedly clear, Scotland already had an independence referendum in 2014, and voted decisively to remain in the UK. This should be respected.”
Labour pledges extra £1.3bn for buses
Jeremy Corbyn has put forward his party’s pledge to give an extra £1.3bn a year to support bus routes which have been “devastated by nine years of austerity”.
In a pitch ahead of next week’s local elections, the Labour party leader announced the extra funding aimed at reversing cuts to 3,000 bus routes in England and Wales. Labour’s own analysis shows £645m per year of real terms cuts to public transport funding since 2009/10.
In addition, figures released by the Campaign for Better Transport show that more than 3,000 bus routes have been cut back or withdrawn in England and Wales in the past eight years.
Speaking on Wednesday, Corbyn said: “Bus services have been devastated by nine years of austerity. Thousands of routes have been axed, fares have soared and passenger numbers are in freefall.
“Local services are a lifeline for many, particularly the elderly and those in rural areas. Cuts have had disastrous consequences for our towns and city centres and for air pollution and the environment.
“Bus networks are essential for towns and cities and for tackling rural poverty and isolation, which is why Labour is committed to creating thriving bus networks under public ownership.”
Report claims free license fees should be scrapped to close age gap
The House of Lords committee on intergenerational fairness and provision has claimed that free TV licences for over-75s should be scrapped, the age threshold for free bus passes raised, and triple lock pensions abolished, to close the gap between young and old.
The committee said that “outdated” age-related benefits were no longer justified due to the improvements in the incomes of many pensioners.
The BBC is looking into options for alternative options for free licences – the broadcaster will take responsibility for the licences from the government in 2020.
However, many charities in England and Wales have claimed that scrapping free TV licenses could push 50,000 older people into relative poverty.
“We are calling for some of the outdated benefits based purely on age to be removed,” said Lord True, the Conservative peer who chairs the committee.
“Policies such as the state pension triple lock and free TV licences for the over-75s were justified when pensioner households were at the bottom of the income scale, but that is no longer the case.”