POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Deputy Speaker Stands Aside. For Now.

06/05/2013 09:36 BST | Updated 06/05/2013 10:47 BST
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Deputy House speaker Nigel Evans gives a press statement at his home in Pendleton Lancashire, where he said today that allegations he raped one man and sexually assaulted another are "completely false".

The five things you need to know on (bank holiday) Monday 6 May 2013...

1) DEPUTY SPEAKER STANDS ASIDE. FOR NOW.

From the Guardian:

"Nigel Evans is to stand aside on a temporary basis as deputy speaker of the House of Commons as he fights 'completely false' allegations that he raped one man and sexually assaulted another.

Amid signs that the Commons Speaker John Bercow feared that he could inadvertently overshadow the Queen's speech on Wednesday, when the government's legislative programme is unveiled, it was agreed that the deputy speaker would be excused his duties on a temporary basis."

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that Evans was "interviewed by senior Conservatives four years ago about an allegation of 'inappropriate sexual behaviour'":

"The Tory MP, who was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of rape and sexual assault, was accused of making an unwanted advance on a man he had been drinking with in 2009.

"He was interviewed by Patrick McLoughlin, the then opposition chief whip who is now Transport Secretary, but the matter was not reported to police by either the Conservatives or the complainant.

"According to a friend of Mr Evans, the MP explained to the whips that the matter was a 'misunderstanding'. The friend said there was no 'verbal warning' but Mr Evans may have received some 'friendly advice'."

2) UKIP GO UP, TORIES GO RIGHT

Well, well, well. From the Independent:

"A Bill to curb migrants' rights and make it easier to deport foreign nationals will be at the heart of the Queen's Speech at the start of a new parliamentary session this week.

"Conservative ministers will trumpet the Immigration Bill as they try to reassure jittery Tory MPs worried about the success of the UK Independence Party in last week's local elections – and win back voters."

The Telegraph reports that the Queen's Speech will also include a bill to prevent "hundreds of thousands of people who live abroad and have never paid tax in this country" from continuing to claim UK state pensions worth up to £3,500 a year.

Over the weekend, plenty of commentators pointed out that the Tories' attempt to appease the Ukip minority won't work - and will leave Farage and co emboldened and demanding more. Tory high command, evidently, isn't listening. According to the Times, the prime minister is also under pressure to move on gay marriage and international aid:

"David Cameron has been told by his own MPs to junk the gay marriage Bill and cut overseas aid in an effort to halt the UKIP bandwagon.

"Tory MPs warned the Prime Minister that he must attend to the party’s 'home base' swiftly to prevent more core Conservatives deserting to Nigel Farage. Sir Gerald Howarth, the former Defence Minister, said that his constituents were 'fed up to the back teeth' with the government."

Cameron's Ukip headache continues. Poor Dave...

3) THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

From the Guardian's splash:

"The British government is negotiating payments to thousands of Kenyans who were detained and severely mistreated during the 1950s Mau Mau insurgency in what would be the first compensation settlement resulting from official crimes committed under imperial rule.

"In a development that could pave the way for many other claims from around the world, government lawyers embarked upon the historic talks after suffering a series of defeats in their attempts to prevent elderly survivors of the prison camps from seeking redress through the British courts.

"... In the case of the Mau Mau conflict, the secret papers showed that senior colonial officials authorised appalling abuses of inmates held at the prison camps established during the bloody conflict, and that ministers and officials in London were aware of a brutal detention regime in which men and women were tortured and killed.

The paper says "up to 10,000 former prisoners may be in line for compensation" which is "is likely to run into tens of millions of pounds".

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this video of a small dog trying to 'walk' a bigger dog... and not quite succeeding.

4) BLOWING A BUBBLE

Uh-oh. From the Times:

"The average price of a home in Britain could reach £300,000 by the end of 2015 because the Government's Help to Buy scheme risks inflating a new housing bubble.

"In a scathing attack on the Chancellor's plan, announced in the Budget, to get more people on to the housing ladder, a financial consultancy run by former Bank of England economists said that the scheme could push up prices by almost 30 per cent from the current average of £233,000.

"Fathom Consulting said that the fact that many people could not buy property was 'keeping a lid' on house price inflation.

"But the scheme, which will allow buyers to take a mortgage with a deposit of just 5 per cent, could change that if the supply of credit returns to levels seen prior to the financial crisis."

5) SLICE OF CAKE ALMOST KILLS MP

Yes, really. From the Daily Mail:

"An MP had to be given life-saving treatment after eating a cake that contained nuts.

"Doctors had to intervene after Jo Swinson, 33, who has nut allergies, suffered a severe allergic reaction and began struggling to breathe.

"Miss Swinson, parliamentary aide to Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, inadvertantly ate a piece of cake containing the ingredient while attending a Help for Heroes cake sale at a Guide hall in Bishopbriggs, near Glasgow on Saturday.

"She began to feel unwell and took an antihistamine, but around an hour later her condition worsened and she was taken to the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow with anaphylactic shock. Miss Swinson, Lib Dem MP for East Dunbartonshire, was kept in overnight for observation and returned to work yesterday."

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From yesterday's Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 40

Conservatives 30

Lib Dems 12

Ukip 11

That would give Labour a majority of 110.

140 CHARACTERS OR LESS

‏@StewartWood I agree with @grantshapps: it doesn't matter what school you went to. The problem is the PM's hiring policy suggests it matters a lot to him

@oflynnexpress If the euro dies what effect would it have in Britain? Could it help a party that said the euro would fail & should b broken up do ya think?

@Mike_Fabricant 18h

Half the male customers in Lichfield Waitrose are wearing shorts. #sunsout Now indulging myself with thick Federici Pistacchio ice cream.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Tim Montgomerie, writing in the Times, says: "UKIP is Cameron’s Frankenstein monster."

John Harris, writing in the Guardian, says: "If Boris Johnson is the answer to Ukip, Tories are asking the wrong question."

Kevin Maguire, writing in the Mirror, says: "Don’t get taken in by City boy Farage."

Plus, here's my column on Syria and whether or not we should arm the rebels: "If We Arm the Syrian Rebels, How Do We Stop British Bombs and Bullets Getting to Al Qaeda?"

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