Rolling coverage of all the days political developments, as immigration causes the prime minister multiple headaches ahead of his weekly Commons questions
Quite a few people have reacted to our story that John Manzoni, the new chief executive of the civil service, is under fire from doctors and health charities over his job at drinks giant SABMiller. They are questioning why he should be allowed to keep the corporate second job, even though the Cabinet Office rushed out a statement late last night saying he would now do it unpaid, waiving a £100,000 salary (this is not what they were saying two weeks ago). He has put his shareholdings in a blind trust.
This is the reaction of John Holmes, an alcohol policy and public health researcher at University of Sheffield:
Manzoni will keep SAB Miller position but unpaid – not convinced that’s reassuring http://t.co/PmPaJeIdoW
Retaining shares doesn’t mean civil service CEO is ‘working for free’, still a dangerous conflict of interest http://t.co/30ee9EJHms
Can anyone explain how waiving salary, but still working for major drinks producer removes conflict of interest? http://t.co/E7UpKioW9s
If Manzoni doesn’t see why he shouldn’t do a part time job for the drinks industry he’s not fit to be CEO of civil service. @AndyBurnham
Stephen Tall, a prominent Lib Dem and editor of the Lib Dem Voice, has written an interesting article about half of those voting for the Greens having switched from Nick Cleggs party since 2010.
People always talk about local Ukip-Tory pacts but what about the Lib Dems and the Greens? Andrew George, a Lib Dem MP, has said that is well worth looking at.
But this has been roundly rejected by Tim Farron, the Lib Dem president, who said there should not be any such deals:
I want to compete with those different ideas in a polite way, not to concede to them.
Labour has sent out Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, to bat on the issue of the asylum backlog. He said the Government had a record of shame on asylum seekers. Challenged about Labours record, he gave a good answer:
I served in that government and nobody disputes that there were problems in relation to asylum seekers in past years and action that required to be taken. But what the prime minister couldnt run away from is the fact that the backlog has gone up and not down since 2010. He could not avoid the fact that actually just last year the home secretary, Theresa May, scrapped the UK Border Agency and assumed direct executive responsibility for enforcement on the border and since then backlogs have sharply increased.
An email pops into my inbox to announce that Baroness Anelay has just opened an event to mark 150 years of International Humanitarian Law.
Thats the day after it emerged she told peers the UK will be axing its contribution to international efforts to rescue migrants drowning in the Mediterranean.
The new line-to-take for Tory cabinet ministers appear to be that the UK has achieved significant reforms to the European Arrest Warrant and the government is now happy with it. That will not hold water with a large chunk of hardline Conservative backbenchers.
Justine Greening, the development secretary, told the BBCs World at One:
I think were happy to put it to a vote now in parliament because we feel we have got the reforms that are needed. There was a time when we had real concerns about how it was operating over recent years. One of those, as the PM set out today, was that people could be extradited from the UK for crimes that werent even crimes here. Those sorts of problems have now been fixed so were confident and indeed police inspectors around the country, chief constables, are saying that they need this in place and are confident that this is actually an important measure to combat crime.
At PMQs, Cameron slapped down Nicola Sturgeons calls for Scotland to have a separate say on its membership of the EU. The fear at Westminster would be that it would pave the way for another independence referendum if Scotland voted to stay and other UK countries wanted to leave.
My colleague Libby Brooks has written about the incoming first minister and SNP leaders speech:
Scotlands incoming first minister Nicola Sturgeon is calling for Scotland to have a veto over a future referendum on EU membership.
Describing the prospect of being taken out of the European Union against Scotlands will as democratically indefensible, Sturgeon, who will succeed Alex Salmond as leader of the SNP next month, says that her party will table an amendment to any bill on an in/out referendum requiring that all four nations of the UK have to agree to withdrawal.
The news from Scotland is that Neil Findlay, Labours Holyrood health spokesman, has entered the race to become the next leader.
These are the odds from Paddy Power (although Sarah Boyack is the only other to declare so far):
After Harriet Harmans appearance in a feminist t-shirt at PMQs, its worth reading the excoriating analysis of womens position in politics by my colleague Zoe Williams. This is an extract:
The UK is 74th of 186 in terms of female representation in parliament. We are below Sudan, where they operate sharia law; below China, where there is a government policy that coerces professional women to get married, called (yes, really) Leftover Women; below Belarus, which is a patriarchal dictatorship; and below Iraq. I hope I dont need to elaborate on the architecture of misogyny in Iraq. Lets just say its still possible to get stoned to death for being raped.
In other words, women in far more oppressive regimes than ours, in democracies far less mature, still manage more equal representation.
Here is the spat between Cameron and Miliband on immigration, in which they both pointlessly demanded apologies from each other.
First, the Labour leader demanded answers about chaos in the aslyum system:
Can you explain why the number of asylum applicants awaiting a decision has risen by 70% in the last year?
Let me just say this: we inherited from Labour a complete and utter shambles. A department that wasnt fit for purpose, computer programmes that wouldnt work and an immigration system that was a complete mess.
Before you ask your next question, you might want to apologise for the mess Labour made.
On this day of all days, there is only one person who should be apologising on immigration and its you for your total failure.
Youre not making it right, youre making it worse. Since 2010, the backlog has gone up, not down, they (the Government) have wasted a billion pounds on failed IT projects and they have lost track of 50,000 people.
What was your promise before the election? You said you would reduce net migration to tens of thousands a year. What is net migration now?
Downing Street aides have now stressed that no date has yet been set for a Commons vote on the European Arrest Warrant.
It will have to take place by December 1 to meet the re-adoption deadline but surely the PM cant really want to do it before the Rochester & Strood byelection is over on November 20?
It will happen before the byelection. We are quite close. Theres been a long negotiation and there is one particular part that is yet to fall into place.
Here is the key PMQs exchange on the European Arrest Warrant. The main point is that Cameron will hold a vote about opting into the controversial EU measures before the Rochester & Strood byelection.
This move is likely to incur the wrath of dozens of Tory backbenchers, who claim it allows Brits suspected of crimes to be unfairly sent abroad to face trial in other EU countries.
A vital tool that has helped to bring murderers, rapists and paedophiles to justice is the European arrest warrant. Why are you delaying having a vote on it?
Im not delaying having a vote on it, there will be a vote on it. We need in order to have a vote on it the small matter of a negotiation to take place within Europe which up to now the Spanish have been blocking.
I think the Spanish will shortly remove their block and at that moment we will be able to have a vote.
We all know the reason you are not having a vote – its the by-election in Rochester and Strood.
You are paralysed by fear of another backbench rebellion on Europe.
So I want to make an offer to you: we have got a Labour opposition day next week. We will give you the time for a vote on the European arrest warrant and we will help you get it through… All I can say is I look forward to us walking through the lobby together to vote for the European arrest warrant, two parties working together in the national interest. Or maybe, given your backbenchers, one and a half parties working together in the national interest.
Let me add some detail on the vote on the European Arrest Warrant, because this is an important issue.
What we have achieved with the justice and home affairs opt-out is the biggest transfer of power from Brussels back to Britain as we have opted out of over 100 measures.
But it is important we take action to keep Britain safe, particularly from serious criminals and terrorists, and the European arrest warrant offers the best way of doing that.
I would stress to those who are concerned about this, the European arrest warrant is very different from the arrest warrant first introduced under the last Labour government.
You cannot now be extradited for something that isnt a crime in Britain, judges are able to reject European arrest warrants and they have done so in many, many cases.
And you cant be extradited if there is going to be a long period of detention. These are all important considerations.
Im sure you are looking forward to walking through the lobbies with somebody because youve had rather a lonely week with the loss of your leader in Scotland, the total shambles in Yorkshire and all the other problems you have got.
John Mann, Labour MP, is asking the Commons why the CEOs of Twitter are not being held to account over the anti-semitic abuse of his colleague Luciana Berger online.
An internet troll was was sentenced to four weeks in prison at Merseyside magistrates court over the abuse this week.
Lib Dem MP Andrew George is now trying to make a point of order about money resolutions. He was not granted one by the Tories, stopping his bill on the bedroom tax from progressing as talks (see earlier the row over the EU Referendum Bill). He is not getting anywhere with the speaker.
Joan Walley, Labour MP, is asking about the long waits for speech and language therapy for stroke victims.
Cameron says we need to do better in terms of treating the consequences of strokes.
Lib Dem MP Martin Horwood has a theory about why Labour is on the attack over immigration:
Ed Miliband’s #PMQs questions seem calculated to help UKIP win Rochester by-election. Suicidal strategy?
Cameron has just launched into a barrage of insults against Labour, Flashman-style:
They are melting down in Scotland, theyve got a crisis in south Yorkshire… nobody trusts the leader
Cameron is talking about devolution, saying if we are going to have it in Scotland then we should have it in the rest of England as well. He corrects himself to say that it will definitely go ahead in Scotland. Then he goes on to attack Labour for having given up on getting a cross-party agreement for English devolution:
For some reason, when it comes to England, they have absolutely nothing to say.
Now Cameron is being attacked over the governments failure to meet A&E targets.
The PM says he would like to meet the targets every day of the year but the system is under pressure from more than a million extra patients.
Heres a bit of reaction to Milibands decision to take on Cameron over immigration:
No score draw at #pmqs on immigration… Will be analysing it on Sky News shortly
‘You can’t control immigration!’ ‘No, YOU, can’t control immigration!’ Somewhere, Nigel Farage is lighting a cigar #PMQs
Cameron wrong to claim Ed Mili didn’t mention immigration in his Labour conference speech. He did… er, once #PMQs
Two weak spots for PM today – EAW/immigration – but still Miliband doesn’t really land blows. #PMQs
Ian Austin, a senior Labour MP, also tackles Cameron on immigration, saying people in his Dudley constituency do not think the current system is fair, particularly child benefit being sent to the children of immigrants abroad.
Conservatives are collapsing in mock laughter. Cameron says he does not want to be uncharitable but he does not remember Austin making these points under the last government.
Liam Fox, former defence secretary, is up now condemning the preposterous EU demand for £1.7bn and calls the eurozone a failing area. He says:
It is the European economic horror version of the Emperors new clothes
Ed Miliband is not letting up on immigration. He says the government is combining callousness with incompetence, and brings up our story in the Guardian about the UK axing support for migrant rescue in the Med.
For a second time, Cameron brings up an old comment about Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, suggesting the country should send out search parties to look for new migrant. It seems oddly irrelevant to todays issues.
Lots of observers are pointing out Tory backbench unhappiness about the governments decision to keep in the EAW. They had been buoyed by suggestions that Michael Gove, the chief whip, was mooting the idea of a u-turn.
It’s all gone quiet on government benches as Cameron waxes lyrical about the European Arrest warrant #pmqs
Miliband has now moved on to the chaos in the asylum system, pointing out that the backlog of cases has gone up, not down. He also points out Camerons failure to bring down net migration to tens of thousands a year.
The PM resorts to blaming the last government, saying he is happy to contrast our record any time on immigration.
Cameron insists he will have vote on the EAW before the Rochester byelection and signals the government still wants to opt in – despite the prospect of a Tory backbench rebellion. He says the EAW is important to keep Britain safe. The backbenchers dont sound happy as he adds:
To those who are concerned about this, it is very different from the warrant introduced under the last government.
Ed Miliband has gone on the attack over the European Arrest Warrant, challenging Cameron to have a vote on the issue before the Rochester byelection.
He says the PM is paralysed over Europe by his right-wing backbenchers.
Cameron dismisses the idea of allowing Scotland to effectively have its own referendum on Britains membership of the EU, which Nicola Sturgeon has demanded.
He said there will be one in-out referendum for the UK decided on the number of people who vote.
Were off…. with Ian Lucas, Labour MP for Wrexham, who says he has seen an increase in people sleeping rough on Victoria Street. How can the government explain this failure?
David Cameron points to figures showing there is lower worklessness.
Almost time for PMQs! Heres the order paper from the BBCs Peter Henley:
Ukips only MP Douglas Carswell is getting cocky about a Mark Reckless victory in the Kent constituency of Rochester & Strood:
The news from #Rochester is good. For my new party, that is. Come and help us make history!
Lets have a closer look at this row over the Conservatives failed attempt at bring in an EU Referendum Bill, which would have promised a poll by the end of 2017.
You might remember a previous version of this, brought forward by young Tory backbencher James Wharton in the last session. The Liberal Democrats would not sign up to joint coalition legislation, so it was in the strange position of being a backbench bill supported by the Tory frontbench but not the government. Eventually, it was killed off by the Libs and Labour in the Lords when it ran out of the time.
The Tories put forward a proposal they know for certain will be turned down by the Lib Dems a completely unfair deal.
They know we are not about to sign up to their bill being given government time when it is neither the Liberal Democrats position, nor the Coalition Governments, especially when they are not prepared to offer anything in return. The Coalition Government is a two-way street.
With Bobs Bill coming third in the ballot, it was always going to be very difficult to pass it. But until now we had hoped that our Liberal Democrat colleagues would play fair by granting this Bill the critical money resolution it needs to proceed into committee as they did for James Whartons Bill last year. We also hoped that they might make the Bill a government Bill which would have guaranteed its safe passage through the Commons a second time. The Liberal Democrats refused.
They asked instead that we give them permission to go ahead with a measure the Affordable Homes Bill which would cost up to £1 billion and unravel our welfare reform programme. We could not support this because it would have meant more borrowing, more debt and more people on benefits rather than in work.
Ukip have yet another opportunity to kick the Westminster parties tomorrow at the elections for the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner.
Nigel Farages team has been heavily campaigning against Labour, accusing the party of turning a blind eye to child abuse by men of mostly Pakistani origin because of cultural sensitivities. Shaun Wright, Labours PCC, was in charge of childrens services in Rotherham from 2005 to 2010. He triggered the fresh election by resigning three weeks after a damning report revealing the scale of child sex abuse in the town, which led to widespread calls for him to quit.
Labour MP John Spellar makes a partisan but valid point about Theresa May here:
asylum backlog soars 70% , when will Theresa start doing her job? http://t.co/MsjnXFYzn2
Our political editor Patrick Wintour reports on remarks by Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, at a Progress event last night. The top line is his call for inspections of religious education in faith schools but the shadow cabinet minister also makes an interesting comparison between Labour and a beheaded monarch from the 17th century:
There is a particular challenge for the Labour party. We are the last party of the union. We are the last United Kingdom political party, rather like poor King Charles and the three kingdoms trying to hold Great Britain together, dealing with the Irish, Scottish and English when each one of them is pulling in different directions. For the Labour party we face the challenge of the SNP in Scotland and Ukip in England. We are unique in facing these political challenges in different parts of the UK while remaining a strong unionist party.
We have reached the end point of what began in 1950 when 98% of the public were voting either Tory or Labour and we are now at this point of multipolar politics. Everything the Scottish referendum threw up in terms of visceral dislike of Westminster, visceral dislike of politicians, the move from class identity to national identity, the end of distinctive party affiliations, we are seeing in our politics now. Our challenge is that voters have become shoppers and are much more consumerist, but they also want authenticity and beliefs.
It looks like Harriet Harman will put David Cameron on the spot later over his refusal (five times) to wear a t-shirt for Elles womens right campaign, unlike modern men Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg:
The immigration debate has now spilled over into the area of education policy this morning. Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Ofsted chief inspector, has told LBC Radio:
Schools need the resources to deal with that. When theyre faced with an influx of children from other countries, they need the resources and capacity to deal with it and if those resources arent there, thats a big issue for Government. Thats the first thing and well be producing reports on this quite soon.
Britain needs to do more to work with France to tackle the problem of migrants waiting in Calais for the chance to enter Britain illegally, Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said earlier. These are the quotes from her appearance on Good Morning Britain:
The Labour government worked with the French government to get Sangatte closed, to get that problem sorted out, to get people moved on and problems dealt with. Refugees should be dealt with in the country that they arrive in, thats not happening at the moment. People who are here illegally or in France illegally should have been deported. Again, thats not happening. Im not going to pretend to you that everything was right in the past, clearly it wasnt.
But there are areas where action is taken to sort problems out, and its just not being done now. I think it says it all that Home Office ministers, Theresa May, wont even come and talk to you about the failings on immigration. I think she should answer for the decisions that shes getting wrong and get the system sorted out so that it is fair.
Could this be a clue about what Ed Miliband wants to challenge David Cameron about later? Or is he just backing up Emma Reynolds, the shadow housing minister, who on Monday revealed a collapse of nearly 50% in the number of affordable home ownership properties built since the coalition came to power.
David Cameron has presided over the lowest level of house building in peacetime since the 1920s. Are you affected? http://t.co/BjoTqmaI7o
It sounds like there was an interesting clash over the direction of the Tory party between Tim Montgomerie, who used to edit ConservativeHome, and Matthew Parris, the former MP, at the Times offices last night. They disagree in particular over how to respond to fears about immigration. This is what Parris, a former aide to Margaret Thatcher, wrote in his column (£):
I know a bit about swamping. I was the clerk handling Margaret Thatchers general correspondence in 1978 when she was opposition leader. We had been averaging 500-700 letters a week when, discussing immigration in a TV interview, Mrs Thatcher used the word swamped. In the following week she received about 5,000 letters, almost all in support, almost all reacting to that interview.
I had to read them. We were swamped indeed: swamped by racist bilge. Its the things people confide in you when they think youre one of them that can be so revealing. She was uncomfortable about that interview. I was only 28 and shocked at the response. Todays scared politicians gibbering about it not being racist to talk about immigration are averting their eyes from something big. It need not be racist to talk about immigration but many who do are. Michael Fallon knows this. He knew hed cause a stir, and did. This was disreputable.
Matthew worries that some in UKIP want a country where everyone looks the same. I worry that Matthew wants a party where we all think as he does. He is that very modern phenomenon that is very powerful in the Liberal Democrats an illiberal liberal who will tolerate anyone as long as they agree with him. Just as some in UKIP hate the diversity of modern Britain, Matthew Parris and certain modernisers are in danger of becoming haters, too. Hating the politics of places like Clacton. Accusing all people who worry about immigration of being racist. Deciding that anyone who questions David Cameron is an extremist.
The Conservative Party becomes a broad church again or, quite simply, it ceases to be the great electoral force that it once was. Forever.
Its PMQs later today. What will Ed Miliband lead on? The obvious topic would be various aspects of the immigration and Europe debate, with Cameron on the backfoot over chaos in the asylum system, the mayor of Calaiss remarks about Britain being a magnet for those seeking benefits, the failure of the EU referendum bill, the decision to axe help for migrants in the Mediterranean and resistance in Brussels to the UKs calls for tighter immigration restrictions, highlighted by Boless comments. There is certainly plenty for Miliband to go at from whichever angle he chooses.
However, that might be a bit outside Milibands comfort zone, giving Cameron the opportunity to repeat his old taunts about about the last government on immigration. I wonder whether instead the Labour leader might play to his partys strengths and talk about the NHS again. There is a damning report out from Dame Julie Mellor, the Health Service ombudsman, saying she is concerned by a lack of care and compassion and basic mistakes in the health service following her report into 126 investigations of NHS complaints.
To deny that this particular litany of failings is significant is to add insult to the injury already caused. A patients poor experience of care is far too often compounded by the NHSs failure to take an ensuing complaint seriously, thus compounding the pain, frustration and grief. This recurring inadequacy, vouchsafed in painful detail in recent years by compelling reports from the Patients Association and Healthwatch, is so familiar as to now be above dispute. Too often patients affected by poor care encounter a closed, self-serving system that is neither responsive nor effective.
Heres a quick aside from immigration matters to alert you to an interesting sort-of u-turn: Nicky Morgan, the education secretary and equalities minister, has (probably) changed her mind about gay marriage. A committed Christian, she voted against it just last year.
Since then, Morgan has been elevated to the cabinet, taken on the equalities portfolio, hired an adviser from Stonewall, and done some thinking.
I had a lot of constituents who asked me to vote in a particular way and I listened to them and it was an issue of conscience too, but I have certainly learnt an awful lot doing this job…
I think I probably would [vote in favour of gay marriage]. But at the end of the day, as a member of parliament, Im also here to represent my constituents…I wish that people had come forward earlier to say actually, wed like you to support it.
This is a longer extract from the Nick Boles interview about EU immigration:
We have taken some pretty draconian steps to control the [level of] immigration we do have the power to control, but all that has done is reveal to people that theres another big chunk of it that we cant control, and that troubles them…
We may never be able to control it entirely, because its a fundamental principle of the EU, but it will be very hard for the British people to accept that, for as long as Britain remains the most dynamic economy in the EU, were going to be the net recipient of a very large amount of immigration every year.
I do not believe and did not say that we cannot seek changes to the way immigration works within the EU. Quite the contrary, I think it is essential that we do so.
Candid? Absolutely. Correct? People seem to think so. Nick Boles’ comments to me on immigration are making headlines http://t.co/YVt0C5c635
Morning everyone. This is Rowena Mason standing in for Andrew Sparrow on Wednesday, 29 October.
We are swamped by immigration (and related Europe) stories today, with five national newspapers splashing on the subject.