The government’s counter-extremism drive continues today, after David Cameron announced that £20m to help Muslim women integrate into British society by teaching them English. The Prime Minister also suggested that he would back public authorities that ban the veil, so long as they put “proper and sensible” rules in place. Ministers are now pledging to outlaw gender segregation in public meetings, we report this morning, while Nicky Morgan will unveil plans to force schools to help stop teenagers travelling abroad to fight alongside jihadists like Isil.
The Education Secretary will launch a new website “Educate Against Hate”, designed to help parents and teachers identify potential victims of radicalisation, and announce plans to ensure that schools register with local authorities any pupils that stop attending lessons. These announcements, she will say, will serve to send a “clear message to extremists: our children are firmly out of your reach”. The venue for her speech – the Bethnal Green Academy in East London – is noteworthy as it came to public attention last year when four of its pupils fled to Syria to become “jihadi brides”.
Few could object to Morgan’s plans, whereas the Prime Minister sparked a sharp response from Labour with his plans to help teach Muslim women English. “His own record doesn’t suggest he is able to follow through on this promise,” wrote Labour’s John Ashworth, accusing the government of “cutting budgets for, English for Speakers of Other Languages courses.” However, as Laurence Dodds and I point out, the truth is more complicated. The government hasn’t cut funding for English lessons, as further education colleges decide how to make savings. But it has forced them to make such choices by squeezing the overall budget for adult education, with it sliding by 20% in recent years. The Prime Minister’s promised £20 million will help soften that blow, but many are wondering if he is trying to subtly reverse his budget tightening of the last few years.
The Prime Minister’s move to teach Muslim women English has been billed as part of the government’s counter-extremism strategy, but James Kirkup argues it has a wider purpose. “Some British Muslim women don’t speak English and even more don’t have jobs,” he writes in today’s paper. “It’s a scandal because it leaves those women poorer and sicker and denied the chance to compete and make the most of themselves…Helping them to speak English is a first step to setting them free to make themselves rich: it is a very Conservative dream.”
“We should never give those who peddle extremist ideologies’ entry in to our schools or colleges” Nicky Morgan
An EU Vote In June?
David Mundell has become the first Cabinet minister to publicly back staging the EU referendum in June and argued there were no drawbacks to holding it sooner rather than later. This comes as Philip Hammond said Britain was willing to look at alternatives to a four-year ban on access benefits as long as they help to reduce EU migration to the UK. Meanwhile David Cameron has been accused of ignoring his Cabinet over his EU renegotiation, the Sun reports, as his special sub-committee on Europe hasn’t been convened for months. The two Leave campaigns also continue to fight, with Vote Leave rejecting a merger offer with Leave.EU, citing their “racist and homophobic jokes” online.
Labour Infighting Continues
One of Britain’s biggest trade unions will oppose Jeremy Corbyn’s plans to have Trident nuclear submarines that do not carry missiles, The Telegraph understands. This comes as a new survey has shown just 18 per cent of voters trust Jeremy Corbyn – half the number who had faith in his predecessor Ed Miliband. Meanwhile, the pro-Corbyn grassroots supporter network Momentum is reportedly divided, with its founder Jon Lansman at odds with younger activists – according to the Times – over how close to be to the Labour Party.
The Polling Post-Mortem Reports…
The failure of opinion polls to predict the result of last year’s general election was due to unrepresentative polling samples, an inquiry has found. The inquiry also said it could not rule out the possibility of “herding” caused by pollsters designing their surveys and weighting responses in such a way that their results were closely in line with those of rival organisations.
MPs Tackle Trump
A “whazzock”, a “poltroon”, a “buffoon” – these were just some of the attacks on Donald Trump from MPs as they debated whether he should be banned from Britain. Immigration minister James Brokenshire said Trump must “live up to” promises he made about investment in the UK, as MPs rejected a petition to ban him. “I don’t want to write off this festival of irrelevance completely,” says Michael Deacon. “Perhaps it will teach us something valuable: namely, how worthless petitions to Parliament are.”
A Big Stretch For Trade
The Government’s ambition of doubling UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020 is a “big stretch”, Lord Maude admits. He said UK Trade and Investment, the Government’s trade arm, was “too insulated” from the rest of Government and must work more closely with other departments to promote UK Plc abroad. Various trade bodies and business groups have in the past warned the Government is in danger of missing the target set by George Osborne in 2012.
New IPSA Chair Sought
The new chair of the watchdog set up to oversee MPs’ pay and expenses will be paid over £70,000 a year for just two days work, it has emerged. It means the new executive will be paid almost the same as politicians for less than half of their working week. The job advert states the new chair of IPSA will receive £700 per day for an average two day working week. Applicants are advised they must deal with a “demanding” environment and expect lots of public scrutiny.
A Brake On FOI Vetos
Government ministers must be stripped of their power to veto freedom of information (FOI) requests, an MP will demand in the House of Commons on Tuesday. In a move that has gained cross-party support, Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake will brand Tory attempts to water down the laws a “threat to our democracy” and demand the change.
Allan’s Regrets Over Bullying Scandal
Lucy Allan, the MP embroiled in a bullying scandal after shouting at her assistant in an employment dispute, has admitted she was “stupid” and that she “regrets” making the call. The Conservative MP told her local newspaper that she wants to move on following the bullying allegations.
The Spotlight Falls On Nick
The man who made baseless accusations of child abuse against Field Marshal Lord Bramall should no longer be allowed to “hide in the shadows”, the war veteran’s son has said. Nicolas Bramall suggested it was time for the “spotlight” to fall on “Nick”, the alleged victim whose “unsubstantiated and uncorroborated information” put Lord Bramall through a nine-month ordeal before he was cleared of wrongdoing last week.