Politics | The Guardian

Latest Politics news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

25/06/2018 02:10 PM
Johnson criticised over decision to miss crunch Heathrow vote

Fellow Tory MPs say foreign secretary should resign over opposition to third runway

Boris Johnson is facing growing criticism from fellow Conservative MPs over his decision to miss Monday night’s crunch vote on Heathrow despite his claim that resigning over his opposition to a third runway would achieve “absolutely nothing”.

The foreign secretary, who is on a visit to Afghanistan, said he would continue to oppose the £14bn third runway with his ministerial colleagues behind closed doors.

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25/06/2018 02:02 PM
Boris Johnson flies to Afghanistan to avoid voting on Heathrow expansion - Politics live

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen

So, Boris Johnson is in Afghanistan. This is from the Afghan foreign ministry.

ملاقات معین سیاسی و سرپرست وزارت امور خارجه با وزیر امور خارجه کشور شاهی بریتانیا https://t.co/CBJjZyITlk pic.twitter.com/EiRXvFkeTD

Greg Hands, who resigned as an international trade minister last week so that he could vote against a third runway at Heathrow, told the World at One that he chose to resign, instead of doing what Boris Johnson is doing and finding an excuse to be away, because he made an explicit promise to his constituents at the election that he would vote against the plan.

He also said that until recently he thought government MPs would be given a free vote, which may help to explain why he was so specific in the promise he made to his constituents.

I wrote to the PM earlier this week on how I will honour these 2017 General Election pledges to the people of Chelsea & Fulham and vote against the Heathrow 3rd runway on Monday. pic.twitter.com/Mtad84N3Zx

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25/06/2018 01:39 PM
No plans to change law on single-sex spaces, government confirms

Confirmation follows remarks in support of trans community by Penny Mordaunt last week

The government has confirmed it has no plans to change the law to allow transgender people to use single-sex spaces such as changing rooms and toilets.

The equalities minister, Penny Mordaunt, last week told a committee of MPs that the trans community faced “discrimination and bigotry ... very much like what gay men went through in the 1980s” after some people self-defining as a gender different from their biological sex were turned away from single-sex spaces.

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25/06/2018 12:14 PM
Heathrow airport: how MPs are likely to vote on the third runway

The positions of parties and key players before the Commons vote on expansion

On Monday evening MPs will vote on whether or not Heathrow airport should have a third runway. It is a deeply factious issue and, not unexpectedly, the divisions are complex.

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25/06/2018 12:05 PM
Grenfell fire chief had no training in 'stay-put' policy, inquiry told

First incident commander on scene was not trained in how to re-evaluate advice to residents

The first fire brigade incident commander at the Grenfell Tower fire received no training in how to reverse the “stay-put” policy or in how to get children, old people and the infirm out of high-rise residential fires, the public inquiry has heard.

Occupants of the 24-storey block who called 999 were advised to stay in their flats long after the fire had started spreading through the facade. But Michael Dowden, a firefighter for 14 years and watch manager at North Kensington fire station, told the inquiry he had never been trained into how to re-evaluate the advice that was offered to people stuck in the block nor received any training in how to change that advice to a full evacuation.

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25/06/2018 10:33 AM
Jeremy Hunt name curse strikes again at BBC

Yet another broadcaster replaces crucial consonant in health secretary’s surname

It is a verbal landmine that has gone off at Sky News, BBC Television and the BBC’s flagship morning radio show.

And once again, Jeremy Hunt’s name has been taken in vain, with a presenter on the Today programme mispronouncing his surname by replacing a crucial consonant.

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25/06/2018 07:30 AM
Commons people: why parliament's 'evidence week' is a national victory

Parliament is supposed to be alive to shifting public concerns and new sources of information. But it doesn’t always work like that

Owen Riches has supported Ipswich Town since he could first stand. Or rather sit. It was being made to sit that launched him, aged 17, into an investigation of safe standing at football that has landed him in a parliamentary debate this week.

Riches looked at the evidence from the German Bundesliga league and the safety record of Celtic, where safe standing is allowed, and started a No 10 petition that passed 100,000 signatures. As a result, there will be a debate in parliament on Monday, with safe standing championed by opposition MPs and the government benches already indicating that they are coming around to the evidence.

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25/06/2018 06:00 AM
Where’s Jeremy Corbyn? Lost in a rose-tinted vision of Labour’s past | John Harris

Labour must stop talking in terms of 1945 and all that, and engage with today’s big issues – Brexit foremost among them

The best politicians inspire, but part of their job is also to orientate: to survey an often confounding set of national circumstances, and tell us not just where we all are, but also what our position means and where we need to go next. A year on from that remarkable general election result, this is the challenge facing Jeremy Corbyn and the people at the top of the Labour party – a difficult but urgent task in increasingly trying times.

Just over a week ago, I was among the 3,000 or so people who spent an overcast Saturday in north London, at the celebration of politics and music branded  Labour Live. Whatever its detractors claimed, it was a well-intentioned, creative event – but the sparse crowd and rather wearied atmosphere highlighted issues far beyond the organisers’ control.

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25/06/2018 06:00 AM
Brexit allows us to have a national debate about healthy farming | Catherine Broomfield

We all have a vested interest in how we balance the need for food with preserving the natural world. It’s too important to leave to farmers only

Even for those who do not share the Brexiteers’ lust for life unshackled from Europe, there is, as with any divorce, something enticing; a frisson of illicit excitement in the prospect of once again being single.

Reasons for the breakup are many, but the common agricultural policy must be near the top of the list. For 40 years Britain has been subject to its perversities, inefficiencies and unintended consequences, creating bafflement, distrust and a generally dysfunctional relationship between farmers and the public. If there is a prize to be garnered from Brexit, it is in resetting this relationship, so fundamental to the health and wellbeing of people and planet.

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25/06/2018 06:00 AM
Pro-Corbyn group to launch drive for public vote on Brexit deal

Leftwingers shut out of cross-party campaign, says group aiming to change Labour policy

A pro-Corbyn group is to launch its own drive for a “people’s vote” on a final Brexit deal, with the aim of persuading leftwing Labour members concerned about backing a cross-party campaign.

Related: ‘EU referendum was a massive decision and people were lied to’

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25/06/2018 12:03 AM
Jeremy Hunt hits back at Airbus over Brexit warnings on jobs

Minister says comments from businesses risk undermining Theresa May in talks with EU

Jeremy Hunt has called warnings from Airbus about the UK’s Brexit strategy “completely inappropriate”, saying the government should ignore “siren voices”.

In the most bullish comments from a cabinet minister since the intervention by the aerospace company’s chief executive, Hunt said businesses sounding the alarm about job losses risked undermining the government at a key moment in the negotiations.

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25/06/2018 12:01 AM
Ministers shake up contract bidding rules

Government moves to rebuild trust and address criticism following Carillion collapse

Measures to make it easier for small businesses, charities, co-operatives and social enterprises to bid for government contracts will be unveiled by ministers on Monday in an attempt to rebuild trust, following the collapse of Carillion.

In the wake of criticism of the government’s handling of the outsourcing company, ministers plan to change the rules so that when companies are bidding for contracts, their “social values” will be taken into account, as well as whether they provide value for money for the taxpayer.

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25/06/2018 12:01 AM
Buy-to-let has skewed housing market and must be curbed, says thinktank

Tory MP says tax breaks for landlords have helped price younger people out of the market and calls for stronger role for councils

Private landlords have put home ownership beyond the reach of at least 2 million families, research shows, while Britain has built only half as many new homes as France over the same period.

The radical report from the new Conservative thinktank Onward recommends ending or severely curtailing tax breaks for buy-to-let and private landlords, a stronger role for local councils and major reform of the planning system to allow communities rather than developers to lead the process.

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25/06/2018 12:01 AM
Grayling accused of 'running scared' after pulling out of northern transport summit

Transport secretary chooses to attend Heathrow vote instead of Manchester conference

Chris Grayling has been accused of “running scared” after he pulled out of a key transport summit in Manchester because it clashes with a House of Commons vote on Heathrow expansion.

The transport secretary had been due to appear at the Place North West conference on Monday alongside political leaders from across the region following weeks of rail misery for commuters.

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24/06/2018 07:09 PM
'A money-making machine': families struggle to pay Home Office charges

Peter, a father of three from Trinidad, had to choose between accommodation and trying to stay in the UK

Imagine having to choose between paying for accommodation to keep a roof over your head and putting your savings towards an application to stay in the country you call home.

This is the decision Peter, 57, had to make in 2016 when his family were made homeless for a month because their landlord wanted the property back. They struggled to find someone else who would rent to them, given their short-term visa at the time. They were forced to use the savings they had for their Home Office fees to find daily accommodation.

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24/06/2018 07:09 PM
Slash 'obscene' Home Office fees, say MPs and campaigners

Call comes as inquiry begins into charges that soared under hostile environment policy

MPs and campaigners have called for urgent action to reduce Home Office fees as the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration launches an inquiry into the charges.

David Bolt issued a call for evidence as he started work on an inspection of the Home Office’s charging for asylum, immigration, nationality and customs services. Bolt said it would look at the rationale for the fees, including the amounts charged.

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24/06/2018 07:08 PM
Ben Jennings on the government's strategy to cut obesity – cartoon
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24/06/2018 06:05 PM
The Guardian view on hyper-populism: it’s infecting politicians and technocrats | Editorial

We need a society to encourage dissent so that individuals can resist the challenge of undemocratic thought. This means giving people a voice as well as a vote

It was Michael Gove who before the Brexit referendum said “people in this country have had enough of experts”. The highly educated Mr Gove was mining a rich seam of voters fed up with, and disregarding of, expert opinion. Brexiters have continued in this pejorative style. Only last week the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, reportedly gave a terse and pungent imprecation to diplomats who raised the issue of companies doubting his wisdom about the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal. “Fuck business,” Britain’s top diplomat replied undiplomatically.

In fact both rabble-rousing Brexiters and experts have more in common than either would admit. Populists claim to have a special insight into the will of the people, able to dispense with debate and discussion. Hence Mr Johnson warning prime minister Theresa May against a “bog-roll Brexit” that was “soft, yielding and seemingly infinitely long”. Technocrats also argue it’s necessary to insulate policies from political challenge. They want more independent agencies to take over arms of the state. This unfortunately has captured thinking in the UK, where the last few decades have seen a steady growth in the number of agencies, commissions and regulators which draft legally binding rules. These bodies provide a way for politicians to look as if they are doing something while allowing them to duck tough decisions until they cannot. Just look at public sector pay, which could only apparently be raised via independent pay review bodies – until politicians under pressure decided they were unnecessary.

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24/06/2018 06:05 PM
The Guardian view on privatising probation: ideology over facts | Editorial
Chris Grayling was a justice minister who preferred to keep faith in privatisation even when his changes were failing some of the most vulnerable in our society. He ought to be accountable

In any ideology faith replaces sight. Blind obeisance means giving up on evidence, on the ability to learn and to correct one’s course and instead be willing to look like a fool. This was the approach the government took when it privatised chunks of the probation service in 2015 – saying it would inject dynamism, deliver improved outcomes and that contracts would link the arms of the criminal justice service. This was firmly contradicted last week by parliament’s justice committee which issued a scathing report on the reforms, saying they had failed to deliver promised improvements and MPs doubted they ever would. Left to look asinine is Chris Grayling, the justice secretary behind the changes.

Probation services are meant to oversee the rehabilitation and resettlement of prisoners. Yet the committee found the impact on reoffending rates has been “disappointing”. The much-hyped, enhanced role for voluntary organisations has not only not materialised – the sector’s involvement has actually decreased. The basic design is flawed. The categorisation of its 264,649 offenders (90% of them men) as either low, medium or high risk makes no allowance for the fact that levels of risk can change. The justice department negotiated the contracts poorly, and has had to revisit them and top up funding as a result. A “through the gate” service that promised to help former prisoners reintegrate turned out to mean that everyone would get a leaflet. Morale is at an all-time low.

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24/06/2018 04:02 PM
Durham police chief calls for legalisation of cannabis in UK

Mike Barton says ban on drug is damaging public safety and market needs to be regulated

A chief constable has called for the ban on cannabis to be scrapped, arguing that it damages public safety, puts users in more danger, and gives millions of pounds to organised criminals.

Mike Barton, who leads the Durham police force, said people growing a couple of plants for personal use would not be subject to raids in his jurisdiction. Durham police are rated as outstanding in their effectiveness by the official police inspectorate.

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24/06/2018 03:04 PM
Gavin Williamson allies reject reports of threat to topple Theresa May

Sources say despite UK defence secretary’s request for more funding, he remains loyal

Allies of Gavin Williamson, the UK defence secretary, have moved to quash reports that he had threatened to topple the prime minister unless defence spending was increased, but warned there was significant backbench anger over Theresa May’s refusal to confirm the UK would remain a “tier one” military nation.

Williamson is scheduled to meet Philip Hammond in the next fortnight in a attempt to secure concessions ahead of a Nato summit in Brussels in July, following a tense meeting with May and the chancellor last Tuesday, which ended without any promise of further funding.

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24/06/2018 08:35 AM
Hardline Tories tell May: get ready for no-deal Brexit

Ex-cabinet ministers among those who say leaving EU with no trade deal must be an option

Theresa May has been urged by hardline Brexiters to speed up preparations for a “no-deal” Brexit to put pressure on Brussels during withdrawal negotiations.

Sixty former cabinet ministers, MPs, economists and business figures signed a letter to the prime minister urging her to issue orders to departments to accelerate planning for Britain to operate under World Trade Organization rules if a deal cannot be done.

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24/06/2018 07:59 AM
There’s a huge hole in Theresa May’s spending pledge for the health service | Andrew Rawnsley

Every other government department is already cut to the bone, so just where will that £20bn a year for the NHS come from?

One of the more sensible things that the Tories did during their otherwise terrible general election campaign last summer was not to make too many promises about tax. Though they never explicitly acknowledged that taxes might have to go up during this parliament, Theresa May and Philip Hammond signalled this could be so when they dropped many of the pledges inherited from David Thingy and George Whatnot. Anyone with a basic diploma in political semaphore could intuit that this meant that there was a strong possibility that taxes would rise.

Possibility has turned into racing certainty. That is one conclusion we can draw from Mrs May’s announcement that there will be £20bn extra per year for the NHS by 2023. Even the magic money tree can’t produce that kind of cash without some watering by the taxman. This is more than the chancellor wanted to sign off on before Jeremy Hunt, the wily survivor as health secretary, managed to persuade the prime minister that money would be the most popular 70th birthday present for the NHS.

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24/06/2018 06:00 AM
Don’t ignore the migrant boats just because they’re not landing here | David Miliband

Britain has a responsibility to refugees and Brexit won’t change that

It’s not Portsmouth or Dover where the Aquarius, the Lifeline and other rescue ships are attempting to dock. It’s not happening in Britain and Brexiters would argue that soon Britain won’t even be part of the political union that has to deal with them.

But Brexit does not alter our geography or international legal responsibilities of states towards refugees and migrants. As EU leaders meet in Brussels to discuss migration, it’s in Britain’s interest that the EU finds a solution and incumbent on Britain to do the right thing – on substance and rhetoric.

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23/06/2018 08:47 PM
‘EU referendum was a massive decision and people were lied to’

Veteran demonstrators, children and even Thatcherites on march that crossed the political divides

Thirty-five years ago, David Anderson marched with his father in protest against Britain joining the common market. Yesterday, he travelled down from Rugby to stand beside his daughter and call for Britain to stay inside the European Union.

“I’ve gone full circle,” he said. “I think it’s so important for this generation, and the one after them. The referendum was a massive decision and people were ill-informed. They were lied to.”

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23/06/2018 08:22 PM
Huge anti-Brexit demonstration throngs central London

More than 100,000 people march down Whitehall to demand a second referendum

At least 100,000 people took to the streets yesterday as part of the largest ever demonstration of support for a new referendum over Britain’s final Brexit deal.

With more businesses poised to issue dire Brexit warnings this week and senior Tories already drawing up plans to soften Theresa May’s exit proposals, organisers of the march on Sunday said it showed Britain’s departure from the European Union was not a “done deal”.

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23/06/2018 07:00 PM
Caroline Lucas tells anti-Brexit rally: 'we must be different to win'

Green party’s co-leader, Vince Cable and David Lammy, all spoke at ‘People’s Vote’ event

Caroline Lucas, Vince Cable and David Lammy were among the speakers that argued the case for Britain to remain in the EU at a rally in London, after an estimated 100,000 people marched to Parliament Square calling for a “People’s Vote” on the final Brexit deal.

Lucas, the Green party’s only MP, said a new political consensus needed to be built around the campaign to remain in the European Union.

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23/06/2018 05:22 PM
Anti-Brexit People's Vote march in London – in pictures

EU supporters, calling on the government to give Britons a vote on the final Brexit deal, march through London

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23/06/2018 04:51 PM
About 100,000 people fill streets in central London for anti-Brexit march – video

Tens of thousands attended the demonstration marking the second anniversary of the EU referendum. Some marched in the hope of stopping Brexit, some just wanted to have a second referendum on the final deal, but young and old, Labour and Tory, they were all united in their pro-European passion

Anti-Brexit protest: estimated 100,000 march two years after vote

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23/06/2018 03:50 PM
'Where's Jeremy Corbyn?': anti-Brexit protesters chant in London – video

Thousands of pro-EU campaigners have marched from Pall Mall to parliament to demand a referendum on the terms of Brexit, two years on from the leave vote. The People’s Vote protest comes as pro-leave cabinet ministers push for a hard Brexit

Thousands take to streets in London on anti-Brexit march

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23/06/2018 02:01 PM
Anti-Brexit protest: thousands march two years after referendum

People’s Vote demonstration in London culminates with speeches in Parliament Square

A roar of pro-European chants rose up above Pall Mall and across the royal parks as tens of thousands attended an anti-Brexit march marking the second anniversary of the EU referendum.

Some marched on Saturday in the hope of stopping Brexit, some just wanted to alter the “mood music” to help change the direction of government travel, but young and old, Labour and Tory, they were all united in their pro-European passion.

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23/06/2018 01:00 PM
Thousands take to streets in London on anti-Brexit march

As Boris Johnson heaps pressure on Theresa May for ‘full British Brexit’, Westminster protest aims to force second referendum

Thousands of pro-EU marchers have begun a walk from Pall Mall to parliament to demand a referendum on the terms of Brexit two years on from the vote.

Related: Airbus plans UK job cuts amid fears of hard Brexit impact

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22/06/2018 06:18 PM
More firms may follow Airbus in Brexit threat, says CBI

Lobby group says lack of government clarity is forcing companies to prepare for no deal

The European aircraft maker Airbus could be the first of many firms to threaten to end its investment in Britain, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk, if the government cannot provide urgent clarity on Brexit, the leading business lobby group has warned.

The CBI said a growing number of companies were making plans based on the assumption that Theresa May’s government would fail to strike a deal with the EU. The French-based aerospace giant Airbus, which employs 14,000 people in the UK, confirmed on Friday it was preparing to drop its UK investment plans as it started to “press the button on crisis actions”.

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22/06/2018 03:24 PM
Magid Magid, Sheffield’s lord mayor: ‘I’ve had a lot of stick, but I don’t care’

The 28-year-old former refugee has become a viral sensation since being appointed to the role – and has won over his critics. ‘I decided to be myself,’ he says

Magid Magid was in his local Sainsbury’s recently when a shopper asked him to pose for a picture by squatting. The 28-year-old cheerfully obliged, crouching on the supermarket floor “with a loaf of bread in my hand”. Today, our photoshoot takes for ever, because as soon as we leave the town hall he keeps being stopped in the street. But his fame extends far beyond his home town of Sheffield. A Jordanian friend told him his mum had seen him on the news in Amman. “I’m like: ‘What the heck?’ I didn’t expect this much attention,” he says.

Magid has become a global celebrity since being elected lord mayor of Sheffield in May. His elevation was reported as good news all over the planet and when we meet in his office – the lord mayor’s parlour, to be precise – he can’t stop smiling. But, in fact, his appointment was not celebrated with universally excited fandom at first.

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21/06/2018 12:59 PM
UK unveils post-Brexit EU citizen settlement scheme

Home Office promises online fast-track registration process with staff available to help

The government has promised to fast-track the registration process for EU citizens who want to stay in the UK after Brexit, with decisions on applications to remain in the country reduced from six months to “a matter of days”.

Unveiling details of the “settlement scheme” for EU citizens, the Home Office promised that the application process would be “short, simple and user friendly” with a default position of accepting rather than rejecting applications.

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20/06/2018 06:41 PM
The art of the U-turn: May scrambles to avoid Brexit bill defeat

The prime minister’s heavily dented authority takes yet another dink

Another day, another Commons confrontation flunked. Theresa May has turned the last-minute swerve into an art form – and by persuading Dominic Grieve, if not all of his band of followers, to swing behind the government on Wednesday, she avoided yet another much-anticipated showdown.

As so often in recent days, both sides of the Brexit civil war now raging in the Tory party declared victory.

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05/05/2016 01:35 PM
Britain remaining in EU is 'better for the world', says Japanese prime minister

Shinzo Abe says Brexit could lead to withdrawal of Japanese companies from UK, as they often see UK as gateway to European markets

Japan’s prime minister has warned British voters that leaving the European Union could threaten investment by his country and put more than 100,000 jobs at risk.

Speaking in Downing Street after a meeting with David Cameron, aimed at laying the groundwork for a G7 summit in Japan later this month, Shinzo Abe said more than a thousand companies from his nation invest in Britain — and they do so because it is the gateway to the EU.

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11/12/2010 10:00 PM
Jeremy Hunt: why I don't mind 'scum' and other 4-letter words
But when Radio 4's James Naughtie uttered his spoonerism, the culture minister winced

Conservative politicians rarely take comfort in being called "Tory scum" by a braying mob. But when the insult was hurled at Jeremy Hunt by student protesters it was something of a relief.

It happened as the culture, media and sport secretary was returning to Westminster last Thursday afternoon, on foot, from a meeting at Buckingham Palace where he had been discussing next year's royal wedding. But as he approached Parliament Square he saw the crowds. If he was to get to the Commons vote on tuition fees on time, he knew he would have to fight his way through the angry protesters.

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