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Brexit: Johnson to push for ‘yes or no’ vote on deal as Labour woos rebel Tories – live news | Politics

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A local branch of Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru has announced it will contest Labour MP Chris Bryant’s seat if he succeeds in becoming Speaker, in a departure from parliamentary convention.

In a statement, Rhondda Plaid said: “The Rhondda is not Buckingham, the constituency of the current Speaker John Bercow. The Rhondda has some serious social issues that need sorting out and need the attention of a dedicated, full-time MP. The Rhondda can ill-afford to be represented by a Parliamentarian more concerned with pomp than poverty.

“The people of the Rhondda should not be denied a say on who represents them at Westminster while so many levers of powers are retained by the UK government. The Rhondda deserves to choose who their next MP is; Plaid Cymru will ensure that there is a choice at the next general election if Chris Bryant is elected as Speaker in the House of Commons.”

House of Commons convention dictates that Speakers are elected unopposed, however the Conservative Party recently announced it would contest the seat of John Bercow in Buckingham if he remained in the role going into the next election there is a creeping erosion of respect towards some parliamentary traditions.

Bryant, MP since 2001 for the Rhondda Valley, a former coal mining area in South Wales, has a 14,000 vote majority in the seat over Plaid Cymru, which came second in 2017. The former junior minister is not considered the frontrunner for the role, with former deputy prime minister Harriet Harman highly tipped, but he has been attempting to woo colleagues.

Over the weekend, he declared the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority should consider financial provisions to cover childcare costs for MPs when they have to attend parliament on a Saturday, when the Commons nursery is closed.

Chris Bryant will stand in the race to be the next House of Commons speaker.

Labour MP Chris Bryant will stand in the race to be the next House of Commons speaker. Photograph: STRINGER/Reuters




Lord Pannick: the PM did not act unlawfully “on this occasion”









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DUP to return to Stormont to protest against abortion rights | Politics

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Members of Northern Ireland’s assembly are due to return to the mothballed chamber on Monday for the first time in almost three years to protest against the extension of abortion rights to Northern Ireland.

The Democratic Unionist party (DUP) and other anti-abortion members will stage what is expected to be a largely symbolic recall of the assembly at Stormont.

The region’s near-blanket ban on abortion is due to end at midnight on Monday after a historic vote in the House of Commons last July to bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.

Last week the anti-abortion campaign group Both Lives Matter said 31 members of the legislative assembly (MLAs), including 27 from the DUP, signed a petition to force a recall to discuss a motion to put abortion rights back in the hands of local politicians.

However to block the law the special sitting will need to elect a speaker and form an executive, which would require Sinn Féin’s support. Sinn Féin – along with the Alliance party – said it would not participate, leaving the anti-abortion gathering devoid of power.

Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, said the recall would allow MLAs to register opposition to the law. “Hopefully we will be able to debate the issue,” she said.

Several unionists from other parties backed the petition: Jim Allister of Traditional Unionist Voice, alongside Robin Swann, the leader of the Ulster Unionist party (UUP) and his party colleagues Robbie Butler and Roy Beggs.

The initiative came from former police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan, who wrote a letter to Julian Smith, the Northern Ireland secretary, requesting a recall before the abortion law change.

Same-sex marriage is also due to become legal on Tuesday after a separate Westminster vote in July. The first weddings can take place on Valentine’s Day next year.

Non-unionist parties criticised the recall. A Sinn Féin spokesperson called it “a pointless political stunt which has literally no impact, unless its business is to appoint an executive who does have the power to effect legal change”.

Colum Eastwood, the SDLP leader, also called it a stunt and said the legislation on abortion and same-sex marriage would take effect. Eastwood did not indicate whether the party would attend. One SDLP MLA, Daniel McCrossan, said he would attend.

Stephen Farry, an Alliance party MLA, told the BBC: “I’m profoundly uncomfortable that the first time people are making an effort to have the assembly reconvened is to discuss how we can deny people rights.”

Stormont collapsed in January 2017 amid disputes between the DUP and Sinn Féin, leaving a political vacuum. Despite mounting frustration efforts to revive it have failed.

Long campaigns by equality campaigners culminated in two Labour MPs, Stella Creasy and Conor McGinn, tabling amendments on abortion and same-sex marriage to an otherwise technical government bill connected to budgets and elections for the defunct assembly. In free votes, because they were viewed as matters of conscience, the Commons voted overwhelmingly for both.

On the eve of this week’s vote on Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, Creasy accused Downing Street of preparing to hand back control of abortion rights to Stormont to help curry favour with the DUP. If there was such a plan it failed: the DUP rejected Johnson’s deal.

Grainne Teggart, Northern Ireland campaigns manager for Amnesty UK, said using abortion rights as a bargaining chip to restore devolution was appalling.

She said: “Abortion rights have been long and hard fought for and we will not accept them being sacrificed for political expediency. It would be foolhardy of any political party to think otherwise.”

Smith is continuing efforts to revive Stormont, where he has spent the week meeting political leaders. All sides agree the vacuum has damaged public services and trust in politics.



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More charges could be coming in college admissions scandal

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The additional charges, which are said to include bribery, could be filed as early as Tuesday, according to the official.

“Nothing has changed,” attorney Stephen Larson said.

“My clients continue to rely on their constitutional right to a trial and will not be bullied into a plea on the threat of additional charges for exactly the same conduct,” attorney Tracy Miner said.

An attorney for Amy Colburn and Gregory Colburn, two parents both charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud as well as money laundering conspiracy, said they won’t be changing their not guilty plea either.

“Adding new charges at this time seems to be vindictive and intended to discourage our clients and others from exercising their constitutional right to a fair trial,” attorney Patric Hooper said.

The possibility of future charges may explain why three parents who initially pleaded not guilty agreed late last week to plead guilty.

Douglas Hodge, Manuel Henriquez and Michelle Janavs have each agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to the US Attorney’s Office in the District of Massachusetts. All three have plea hearings for Monday.

The threat of future charges reflects prosecutors’ carrot-and-stick approach to this case as they use potential charges to try to get defendants to plead guilty.
“The carrot is, ‘Take a quick plea and get your best shot at a lower sentence,'” CNN legal analyst Elie Honig told CNN in April. “And the stick is, ‘We have additional charges that we’ll bring if you don’t plead by that date.'”
Prosecutors initially charged more than 30 parents with conspiracy fraud in March. Those who fought that charge, including actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, were then charged with a count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in a superseding indictment in April.

At least 50 people involved in the case

Federal prosecutors say at least 50 people were involved in a nationwide fraud to get students into prestigious universities, including wealthy parents, Hollywood actresses, coaches and college prep executives. Ten parents have been sentenced, including actress Felicity Huffman.
Lori Loughlin and her husband appear at hearing in college admissions scam
Hodge, the former CEO of the Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO), is accused of agreeing to pay $200,000 to facilitate his daughter’s admission to the University of Southern California as a soccer recruit and submitted false soccer credentials on her application. He allegedly paid Rick Singer — the alleged mastermind of the scheme — another $325,000 to help his son get admitted to USC as a purported football recruit, prosecutors said.
Henriquez, the former CEO and founder of Hercules Capital, and his wife Elizabeth are accused of participating in the test-cheating aspect of the scheme four separate times for their two daughters. They also are accused of conspiring to bribe Georgetown’s tennis coach to get their daughter into the university as a tennis recruit. Elizabeth Henriquez is still listed as pleading not guilty, according to the website of the US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
Janavs, a former food executive whose family’s company invented Hot Pockets, is accused of paying to cheat on her daughter’s ACT and of conspiring to bribe USC to get her daughter admitted as a beach volleyball recruit.

CNN’s Josh Girsky and Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report.



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