Harriet Harman Enters Race For Commons Speaker
Labour MP Harriet Harman has announced plans to run for the role of the Commons Speaker. Harman announced her candidacy yesterday after the serving Speaker, John Bercow, confirmed he would be standing down by 31st October. Harman, who has been dubbed ‘Mother of the House’ as the longest continuously serving female MP, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme she would be “a champion for parliament,” should she be elected to the position by the Commons. Harman has also insisted she would “ensure parliament can have its say” while remaining “scrupulously neutral” on debates.
The Labour MP’s comments follow criticism levelled at the current Speaker by Brexiters, some of whom have questioned Bercow’s impartiality on the subject of Britain’s EU membership. Other candidates in the running to replace Bercow include Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh, Labour MP Chris Bryant and SNP MP Pete Wishart. Commons Speakers are elected by their fellow MPs using a secret ballot system. Although the Speaker does stand in general elections, the main parties traditionally do not challenge their seat as MP. However, this convention was broken over the weekend after the Tories announced now-redundant plans to field a candidate against Bercow in his Buckingham constituency.
NORTHERN IRELAND BOMB WAS 'ATTEMPT TO KILL POLICE'
A bomb found in a parked vehicle in Northern Ireland was designed to attack police, detectives have said. The device, which was operated using a command wire, was discovered by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in Derry. Officers uncovered the improvised device during a search for bomb-making equipment in the area of Creggan Heights on Monday, prompting the evacuation of 15 nearby households. The searches were launched following the recovery of a dissident republican mortar bomb in Strabane, Co Tyrone, over the weekend. The mortar was aimed at a nearby police station and is believed to be the seventh attempted murder bid against the PSNI this year.
Detectives believe the explosive discovered in Creggan Heights also belonged to the dissident republican New IRA. Assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton described the device as a “viable bomb” capable of killing or maiming anyone near it when detonated. The incident showed the New IRA had “no regard for the lives of anyone living in Creggan,” Hamilton added. Detectives believe the device was to be used by dissidents to target a police patrol. PSNI officers were attacked by crowds with petrol bombs as they attempted to carry out the bomb searches in Creggan Heights. At least two people involved in the disorder suffered burn injuries as a result, police have said.
Geoffrey Boycott defends his knighthood after the decision to award him the honours was criticised by domestic abuse charities. The former England cricketer was convicted of assaulting his then-girlfriend Margaret Moore in 1998. He has always denied the charge. Adina Claire of the charity Women’s Aid has described the decision to award Boycott a knighthood as “extremely disappointing” and said it sent “a dangerous message” that domestic abuse is not taken seriously.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday, Boycott hit back at Claire’s comments, saying: “Most people in England don’t believe it. I didn’t do it. Move on.” He has insisted he “doesn’t give a toss” about critics of his knighthood and has thanked Theresa May for the award. Boycott is not the only name on May’s resignation honours list to face criticism. The former prime minister has also been accused of “rotten” cronyism after handing CBEs to her controversial former advisors Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, who left No 10 amid accusations of bullying.
In other news...
MILLIONS USING POTENTIALLY ADDICTIVE DRUGS
A government review has revealed almost 12m people are using potentially addictive medicines to treat pain, depression or insomnia – amounting to roughly one in four adults in England. Public Health England has warned this figure is too high, with more than a fifth of those prescribed potentially addictive medication continuing to use the drugs for over three years. Uncovering widespread use of opioid painkillers, sleeping pills and benzodiazepines, the government review said the prescribing of such drugs must change. It has recommended the increased use of social prescriptions by GPs, including activities such as group gardening and talking therapies. Prescribed opioid drugs – used by half a million people in England to treat chronic pain – have been deemed particularly concerning. Experts believe paracetamol and ibuprofen can be just as effective without causing dependence.
UK WAGE GROWTH CLIMBS
Pay in Britain has risen at its fastest rate in more than 11 years, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). ONS data has recorded an annual rate of wage growth at 4% in the three months to July – up from 3.8% last month. The increase amounts to the 18th consecutive month in which wage growth has outstripped the pace of inflation and boosted consumer spending power. ONS figures have also shown a fall in unemployment, with 11,000 new employees entering British workforces. Discussing the new figures, Tej Parikh, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said: "At a testing time, the labour market is surpassing expectations… as so many people have entered work, there has been an uplift to household incomes which has helped to keep consumers ticking.”
JAPAN STRUGGLES TO STORE RADIOACTIVE WATER
Japan’s environment minister has warned that the operators of the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant may be forced to dump radioactive water directly into the Pacific Ocean. Over 1m tonnes of contaminated water has amassed at the power station since 2011 when the Tōhoku tsunami struck Japan’s eastern coast. Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has struggled to deal with the build-up, as technology does not yet exist to remove all radioactive isotopes from water. Tepco expects to run out of tank space to store contaminated water by 2020. Environment minister Yoshiaki Harada has warned the “only option” will be to drain the water into the sea “and dilute it”. The Japanese government is expected to discuss the proposals after receiving the advice of an expert panel.
UK FARMS UNVEIL 'CARBON NEUTRAL' PLANS
The farming union NFU has launched new plans aimed at making British agriculture carbon neutral within the next 20 years. The NFU said UK farming is capable of reducing its greenhouse gases to almost zero by 2040 – ten years ahead of the government’s wider zero emissions target. The plans largely focus on improved productivity, such as increasing the number of trees and hedges on farmlands to improve CO2 capture and using farming chemicals more precisely by utilising satellite technology. However, environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth said the plans had fallen short by failing to consider a reduction of livestock farming. “Eating less but better meat would free up much more land for woodlands and agroforestry,” Friends of the Earth campaigner Guy Shrubsole said.
ISLE OF BUTE KILLER HAS SENTENCE CUT
The teenager who abducted, raped and murdered six-year-old Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute has had his jail sentence reduced. Aaron Campbell was 16 when he was sentenced to a minimum of 27 years imprisonment for killing MacPhail in July 2018. Last month, Campbell’s lawyer argued to the Edinburgh Court of Criminal Appeal that the sentencing was excessive in light of the teenager’s age. The court has now ruled Campbell’s sentence be reduced by three years, stating: "A punishment part in excess of 20 years was plainly merited. We have concluded that a punishment part of 24 years would be appropriate to reflect the appellant's youth.” The sentencing remains the longest jail term ever imposed on a juvenile offender in Scotland.
Kylie Minogue’s legend-slot show has become the most-watched Glastonbury performance ever, according to new figures from the BBC. An average audience of 3.2m people tuned in to watch Kylie’s set – which encompassed her decades-spanning greatest hits – beating previous viewing records held by Ed Sheeran and Adele. The viewing figures peaked during the singer’s final tracks, Dancing and Spinning Around, reaching an audience of 3.9m people.