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10 September 2019

Five things you need to know: Boris Johnson suffers sixth defeat after MPs reject election

Plus, Theresa May denounced over honours for former aides, Liberal Democrats set to back revoking Article 50. 

By New Statesman

Parliament suspended as MPs reject early general election

Boris Johnson has lost his sixth vote in six days after MPs again rejected his attempt to trigger an early general election. Only 293 MPs voted for the move, far short of the two-thirds threshold required by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. Owing to parliament’s suspension until 14 October, the defeat means there cannot now be an election until mid-November at the earliest. As parliament was officially prorogued just before 2am, opposition MPs shouted “shame on you” at Conservatives, while others held up signs saying “silenced”. The Speaker, John Bercow, who has announced that he will resign on 31 October,  told the Commons “this is not a standard or normal prorogation” and that the move represented “an act of executive fiat”.

May denounced over resignation honours for former aides

Theresa May has been accused of “rotten” cronyism after handing out peerages, knighthoods and other honours to her closest aides. Those recognised in the former prime minister’s resignation honours list included former chiefs of staff Nicky Timothy and Fiona Hill, who received CBEs, director of communications Robbie Gibb, who received a knighthood, and Gavin Barwell, May’s chief of staff from 2017-19, who received a peerage. Three more of May’s long-term aides – Stephen Parkinson, Joanna Penn, Liz Sanderson and Joanna Penn – were also awarded seats in the House of Lords. The former PM once quipped that David Cameron’s award of a knighthood to Craig Oliver, his former communications director, made her want to be sick. 

Millions of adults risk addiction to prescription drugs 

Millions of adults in England risk becoming dependent on powerful prescription drugs, health chiefs have warned. A study by Public Health England found that half of the 12 million adults using such medicines for pain, depression or insomnia had been on them for a year or more, while more than a fifth had been on them for over three years. Officials said such long-term use could not be justified and argued that GPs should instead consider social prescriptions, such as talking therapies or joining a choir.

Liberal Democrats set to back revoking Article 50

The Liberal Democrats are set to support the revocation of Article 50 as they seek to position themselves as the most pro-EU political party. At present, the Lib Dems favour a second referendum in which they would campaign for Remain, But Jo Swinson, who became the party’s first female leader in July, said she now favours the outright cancellation of Brexit. “Whenever the election comes, our position is clear and unequivocal,” she said. “A majority Liberal Democrat government would not renegotiate Brexit, we would cancel it by revoking Article 50 and remaining in the European Union.”

North Korea launches projectiles after offering to restart nuclear talks

North Korea has launched two short-range projectiles towards the sea, hours after it offered to restart denuclearisation talks with the US. The launches were thought to be aimed at pressuring America to make concessions once the negotiations resume. North Korea is believed to want the US to provide security guarantees and extensive relief from sanctions in return for limited denuclearisation steps. Choe Son-hui, the country’s vice foreign minister, said North Korea was prepared to resume “face-to-face” talks at an agreed time and place in September. 

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