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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 5,973

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Home Office chief Sir Philip Rutnam quits over Priti Patel 'bullying'

Rutnam announces plans to sue government for constructive dismissal over ‘vicious and orchestrated campaign’ against him
Rutnam was emotional as he said he would step down after 33 years because he had become the “target of vicious and orchestrated campaign against him,” which he accused Patel of orchestrating.
Rutnam made clear his anger in his statement on Saturday, which he read to the BBC outside an address in north London. He said he had received allegations that Patel’s conduct had included belittling people and making unreasonable demands.

He said: “One of my duties as permanent secretary was to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our 35,000 people. This created tension with the home secretary and I have encouraged her to change her behaviours.

“I have received allegations that her conduct has included shouting and swearing, belittling people, making unreasonable and repeated demands – behaviour that created fear and that needed some bravery to call out.”

He claimed the Home Office offered him a financial settlement to avoid his public resignation, and he said he hoped his stand “may help in maintaining the quality of government in this country”.


The Tories' house rag, The Telegraph, has wasted no time launching a counter-spin operation, hot from the desk of Stephen Pollard:

Sir Philip Rutnam’s real agenda was surely ousting Priti Patel

This briefing war is just the latest battle in a long history of civil servants v Home Secretaries

The knives were out for Priti Patel from the moment she was appointed Home Secretary last July. Ms Patel is not one of those ministers who puts her head down, keeps quiet and does what she’s told. She makes waves – and enemies – wherever she goes.

None of us really knows what transpired between Ms Patel and Sir Philip Rutnam, her now departed permanent secretary. Sir Philip has taken the extraordinary step of making his grievances public. According to him, Ms Patel is an all-round monster, responsible for days of hostile stories about the department. He says he will now sue the government for constructive dismissal. Needless to say, Ms Patel denies these allegations....


The rest of the Telegraph's story fades into blah behind a paywall, but you no doubt get the drift.

It remains to be seen whether another of the Telegraph's better-known and more colourful columnists will be able to find the time to drag himself away from not holding COBRA meetings about widespread flooding, instead understandably preoccupied with singing onstage at a Tory party fundraiser, to offer his view on the kerfuffle in the Home Office.

Pentagon reveals deal with Britain to replace Trident

MPs dismayed after US defence officials leak news of nuclear weapons deal before parliament is told

Britain has committed itself to buying a new generation of nuclear warheads to replace Trident, which will be based on US technology. The decision was revealed by Pentagon officials who disclosed it before an official announcement has been made by the government.

The revelation has dismayed MPs and experts who question why they have learned of the move – which will cost the UK billions of pounds – only after the decision has apparently been made. It has also raised questions about the UK’s commitment to staunching nuclear proliferation and the country’s reliance on the US for a central plank of its defence strategy.

Earlier this month, Pentagon officials confirmed that its proposed W93 sea-launched warhead, the nuclear tip of the next generation of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, would share technology with the UK’s next nuclear weapon, implying that a decision had been taken between the two countries to work on the programme.

In public, the UK has not confirmed whether it intends to commission a new nuclear warhead. The Ministry of Defence’s annual update to parliament, published just before Christmas, says only: “Work also continues to develop the evidence to support a government decision when replacing the warhead.”

But last week Admiral Charles Richard, commander of the US strategic command, told the Senate defence committee that there was a requirement for a new warhead, which would be called the W93 or Mk7. Richard said: “This effort will also support a parallel replacement warhead programme in the United Kingdom, whose nuclear deterrent plays an absolutely vital role in Nato’s overall defence posture.”


Brexit - UK loses 6.6 billion a quarter since referendum, S&P says

LONDON (Reuters) - The United Kingdom has lost £6.6 billion in economic activity every quarter since it voted to leave the European Union, according to S&P Global Ratings, the latest company to estimate the damage from Brexit.

In a report published on Thursday, the ratings agency’s senior economist, Boris Glass, said the world’s fifth-biggest economy would have been about 3 percent larger by the end of 2018 if the country had not voted in a June 2016 referendum to leave the EU.
“Immediately after the referendum, the pound fell by about 18 percent. This was the single most pertinent indicator of the impact of the vote and the drag it created, via inflation, has been spreading through the economy,” he said.
The estimate is slightly lower than an assessment by Goldman Sachs earlier this week, which pegged the cost to the economy at about 600 million pounds per week. That equates to 7.8 billion pounds a quarter, according to Reuters calculations.


And now the good news:

HS2 go-ahead controversial and difficult, admits Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that the controversial HS2 high-speed rail link will be built.

The first phase of the route will travel between London and Birmingham, with a second phase going to Manchester and Leeds.

"It has been a controversial and difficult decision," Mr Johnson said.

The prime minister added he was going to appoint a full-time minister to oversee the project and criticised the HS2 company's management of the scheme.


The identity of the minister is as yet unknown, but Chris Grayling has to be in the running.

Meanwhile, Johnson seems intent on spaffing £20 billion and counting on a bridge from the middle of nowhere to the middle of nowhere (with apologies to those who live in the middle of nowhere, as I've done at various times in my life).

Slated to link Portpatrick in south-west Scotland and Larne on the east coast of Northern Ireland as the currently favoured route, the progress of the bridge (or tunnel, tunnel/bridge, details, details ...) will apparently be unhindered by the facts that the infrastructure at either end as it stands would have no chance of coping with increased traffic flows by road, the Irish and mainland UK rail gauges are incompatible, the current ferry services seem to have no problem coping with traffic, and whatever might eventually be cobbled together would have to span Beaufort's Dyke - a 30-mile by 2-mile chasm up to 1,000 feet deep that's been used in the past as a messy and ill-bounded massive dumping ground for incalculable amounts of surplus munitions (MoD estimates run at a million tons or more, but record-keeping has been patchy to non-existent), nuclear waste and anything else governments of the time felt like ditching out of sight and out of mind, which periodically throws up items such as old incendiary bombs to litter the Irish and Scottish coasts.

Evidence to the Scottish Parliament in 2000 found that:

exhaustive investigations into exactly what munitions were present eventually revealed that alongside the everyday variety of bombs, grenades, rockets, bullets and explosives might lie a bewildering cocktail of canisters of sarin, tabun, mustard gas, cyanide, phosgene and anthrax. Phosphorus bombs abound and, in June 1997, it was finally revealed that radioactive waste containing both caesium 137 and radium 226 had been systematically dumped in Beaufort's dyke in the 1950s. It has now been freely admitted that some of that waste was thrown overboard in 40-gallon steel drums encased in concrete.

Now that's what I call Project Fear.

Sajid Javid's At War With Dominic Cummings Over The "Control Freakery" Of Boris Johnson's Top Aide

Allies of Javid have accused Cummings of plotting to get him sacked at the looming cabinet reshuffle — expected in the next seven days — and replaced with a more junior minister such as chief secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak, or another figure more amenable to Johnson’s senior aides.

The attempt failed and the prime minister has privately assured the chancellor that his position is safe, with Johnson and Javid maintaining a strong personal and working relationship, a Whitehall source said.

The bruising fight between the chancellor and Johnson’s chief aide — and Cummings’ struggle to convince the prime minister, cabinet and senior civil servants of the merits of some of his proposals — have been the early themes behind the scenes in Downing Street since the Tories won an 86-seat majority in December.

BuzzFeed News can also reveal that:

* Javid’s allies have complained that Johnson’s advisers were responsible for “poison pen” briefings to the newspapers criticising the chancellor, as Number 10 aides blasted Treasury officials for unauthorised briefings against them.

* A longtime friend said Javid’s relationship with Cummings had broken down “irrevocably”.

* Ministers worried about losing their jobs during the reshuffle have been holding “new pizza club” meetings to discuss how to combat the “control freakery” of Johnson’s de facto chief of staff.

* Even some of Cummings’ closest allies have started to question his decisions, in the first sign of dissent among the Vote Leave faction of advisers.

* Number 10 aides have lost internal arguments on a range of decisions from High Speed 2 to knocking down walls inside Downing Street.


Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

During the election, the very reasonable assumption was that anything reported by Laura Kuenssberg et al. as coming from a "No. 10 source" was something Cummings wanted reported. That may no longer be such a certainty, judging by a comment later in the article:

"One minister told BuzzFeed News that they have been playing a game where they send journalists anonymous quotes in the unique style of Cummings in order to see if they can make him look ridiculous in the media."

Maybe they've been at it for ages, because I've always thought Cummings has looked ridiculous in the media.

The article goes on to point out that there are ministerial concerns that there's been a lot of hot air from the government so far, but very little of the sort of "substantive activity" that might be expected with such a sizeable majority. I'm not sure I'm unhappy about that, given what they could get up to.
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