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Tag Archives: deal

Uncertain future

Sky NewsImage copyright Getty Images

Walt Disney’s agreement to buy most of 21st Century Fox’s business for $52.4bn (£39bn) has raised further questions about the Sky News channel’s future.

Before news of the deal, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox had been trying to buy the 61% of satellite broadcaster Sky that it does not yet own.

That attempt attracted the scrutiny of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is investigating it.

But of all the channels that Sky has in its portfolio, including sports and movies, it is the ownership of its news channel that raises the most difficulties.

Last month, Sky sent shivers down the spines of Sky News journalists by threatening to close the channel if it proved to be an obstacle in Mr Murdoch’s takeover bid.

Now it seems that Sky News could fall into Disney’s hands as a result of this latest piece of corporate wheeler-dealing.

After all, Fox’s efforts to take over Sky become less politically sensitive if the Murdoch family’s existing 39% stake in Sky has been sold to Disney, making it more likely that the takeover will go ahead.

Heavy losses

So now the question is: will Disney want to keep pumping money into a loss-making news channel that serves only the relatively small UK market?

Claire Enders, founder of research firm Enders Analysis, points out that we may not know the answer to that for another 18 months, since the Disney-Fox deal will itself have to clear regulatory hurdles and is likely to come under close scrutiny from EU competition authorities.

Image copyright Getty Images

However, she is sceptical about Sky News‘s ultimate fate.

She told the BBC: “Inherently, Disney is not a company that engages in political investment. It runs businesses that make profits and that’s one of the reasons why it’s thought of as one of the best companies in the world.

“Sky News loses £40m a year and has absorbed $1bn of investment. It’s very hard to make money out of news in a small market like the UK.”

Media plurality

Former ITN chief executive Stewart Purvis, who is also a former senior executive at regulator Ofcom, is less pessimistic about the channel’s future.

He points out that there are a number of issues to consider, including the possibility that Disney might not wish to go ahead with acquiring the remaining 61% of Sky, even if the CMA approved it.

In fact, the UK’s Takeover Panel says Disney has told it that if Mr Murdoch fails to buy the rest of Sky before the Fox takeover deal goes through, it will not feel obliged to make a full bid for the satellite broadcaster.

Mr Purvis adds that it would be “slightly perverse” if Sky News were closed down over concerns that the various deals would lead to an unreasonable concentration of media power, because its absence “would actually reduce media plurality”.

After all, the outcome would be to leave the BBC News channel unchallenged as the only dedicated UK television news service.

However, he adds: “I’ve never found Disney to be very interested in news. It’s an entertainment company and maybe being in news is more trouble than it’s worth.”

Political kudos

Disney owns the ABC television network in the US, which includes its news service.

But as Mr Purvis says, ABC News is safe because it makes money.

“The way that networks look at their news programmes is that they look at the cost compared with advertising revenues within those programmes,” he says.

“By that measure, ABC News is profitable. Good Morning America is the leading breakfast programme in the US. There’s no way Disney would shut that down.”

Sky News, of course, does not enjoy that kind of status. But Mr Purvis says Disney would have to balance that against other factors, including the “political kudos” that owning Sky News would give it in the UK.

“We don’t know the outcome of that kind of consideration,” he says.

News loses?

In the US, analysts are concerned that Disney’s existing news interests might suffer from the merger, let alone Sky News.

“I would not look to the Disney-Fox merger to bolster the fourth estate,” Ben Gomes-Casseres of the Brandeis International Business School told the Washington Post.

“Whether ABC News will be affected in this way, as a side-effect, is also anyone’s guess, but there is no doubt that ABC as a TV channel will decrease in importance in the Disney group.”

For the moment, Disney is taking a positive attitude towards Sky News.

Disney chairman and chief executive Bob Iger was asked on Bloomberg TV whether the channel had a future after his company completed the Fox deal.

He replied: “Absolutely. All of Sky has a future.”

Cynics might reply that at this stage in the proceedings, he could hardly say he was going to close the channel. But if he does so once the deal has gone through, he may find that his assurance will come back to haunt him.

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How a performance poet won chance to be first UK Muslim in space

A POET and campaigner who is now training to be an astronaut after winning a trip to space visited students at Bradford College.

Hussain Manawer, 26, gave a lecture on different topics – including how he could become the UK’s first Muslim in space.

A Bradford College spokesperson had contacted him via Twitter and he gladly accepted – even promising everyone who attended the lecture a Nando’s, which unfortunately he couldn’t buy after becoming stuck in traffic.

During the talk he explained how he had entered a global competition held in association with One Young World – a platform for 18 to 30-year-olds – which posed the question ‘how would you change the world’?

He created a piece of performance poetry about young people and mental health, for which he is an active campaigner.

Mr Manawer was among 30,000 applicants from 90 different countries. He was shocked to make the final 300, then the 30-strong shortlist and the final three: “little me from Ilford”.

He competed against a doctor and a humanitarian in the finals, held in Bangkok in 2015.

“I never win anything in life,” said Mr Manawer, whose prize was to travel beyond the 100km mark in XCOR Aerospace’s Lynx spacecraft , a visit to the United States and then NASA.

The date for the trip has not yet been confirmed but Mr Manawer will be the first UK Muslim to breach the atmosphere.

He said he was amazed by meeting astronauts – “imagine that, I speak to astronauts, people who have left the planet” – then going back to having casual conversations about hip-hop artist Stormzy on iMessage while sending GIFs and memes.

Mr Manawer’s training started last year when he visited an XCOR Aerospace training facility in Holland for G-force aerobatic flight training. “I never threw up – just many burps!” he said.

After the lecture at the college he walked down to City Park and shared his thoughts on the city: “Bradford actually really nice, innit!” He also compared Bradford, with its diverse population, to his home town of Ilford.

Mr Manawer’s ultimate aim is to be the head teacher of his own school. He also plans to further his campaign to help young people deal with mental health. “I want to change the world,” he said.

Sky and BT sign deal to share each others channels

Manchester City v Manchester UnitedImage copyright PA

Sky and BT have have signed a deal to sell their channels on each other’s platforms.

Under the deal, BT will now supply its sports channels – which show UEFA Champions League and Premier League football – to Sky.

In addition, BT will be able to sell Sky’s Now TV service – which includes Sky Sports, Sky Cinema and the Sky Atlantic channel – to its customers.

The new services will be available to customers from early 2019.

BT has spent more than £3.5bn on Champions League and Premier League football rights since 2012 in an attempt to compete with Sky.

Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT, said: “This is an important day for BT and for our customers, who will be able to enjoy a whole range of Sky’s sport and entertainment programming on their BT TV boxes.

“This is the next logical step for our TV and content strategy. We feel that now is the right time to broaden the ways in which we distribute BT Sport.

Sky boss Jeremy Darroch said: “This is great news for Sky customers who will be able to access all matches on Sky and BT channels from the Premier League, UEFA Champions League and Europa League directly with a single Sky TV subscription and with the great customer service that we provide.”

Richard Broughton, research director at media analysts Ampere, said the deal was “certainly very unusual”.

“It is a consequence of increasing sports rights,” he said.

“The new rights are up for renewal very soon and this is a pre-emptive shot from both companies to limit their exposure to damage should they not get key rights and also allow them to be a little less aggressive in their bidding.

He added that online giants such as Facebook and Amazon were the “unknown factor” in what they might go for.

Helping young children to read is vital to improving schools

A NEW report by education watchdog Ofsted this week highlighted the fact that more than 130 schools have failed to make any significant progress in more than a decade.

Worryingly for children and parents in this region, 32 of them – the largest number – are in Yorkshire, the Humber and the North-East.

Very often when such statistics are released, under-achieving schools will point to high levels of disadvantaged pupils in their catchment areas as a major cause of their difficulty in showing improvement.

This time, however, Her Majesty’s new chief inspector of education, children’s services and skills, Amanda Spielman, got her response to such arguments in first, warning that the background of children should not be used as an excuse by under-achieving schools.

Ms Spielman said: “There is no doubt that the leadership challenge facing some schools is great.

“But progress is possible and we should all be wary of using the make-up of a school community as an excuse for under-performance.

“I do find myself frustrated with the culture of ‘disadvantage one-upmanship’ that has emerged in some places.”

The report shows that more than 500 primary schools and around 200 secondaries across the country were judged as requiring improvement or being satisfactory at their last two inspections.

Of those inspected in 2016/17, 135 – including around 80 primary and 50 secondary schools – have failed to record a good or outstanding Ofsted inspection since 2005, despite receiving “considerable attention and investment”.

Ms Spielman, who called for more support for struggling schools, said they often had unstable leadership, problems recruiting staff, and high proportions of deprived students.

But, she said: “Schools with all ranges of children can and do succeed.

“Fixating on all the things holding schools back can distract us all from working on the things that take them forward.”

By way of proof, the report highlights improvements at two schools, one of which is Dixons Kings Academy which, as Kings Science Academy, was judged to require improvement in December 2014.

It joined Dixons academy trust in September 2015 and, the report says, its leaders have been “relentless in their pursuit of excellence.”

When the school was reassessed by inspectors in January this year, it was judged to be outstanding.

One factor that emerged clearly from the report is that education has to start early and language skills are right at the top of the list.

All the nursery schools that recorded an “outstanding” inspection rating in 2016/17 had “a very strong focus on early reading, phonics and literacy”.

Among the schools at primary and secondary level that consistently under-performed, “weaknesses in developing literacy across the curriculum” were among their biggest failings, says the Ofsted report.

So where does that leave a district like Bradford, where new research by a literacy charity showed that an estimated 7,800 children aged eight to 18 do not own a single book?

It is no coincidence that the findings, by the National Literacy Trust (NLT), showed that the children most likely not to have a book were from deprived backgrounds. Whether they are from the same deprived backgrounds as the ones being used, as Ofsted puts it, as an “excuse” for some schools’ under-performance, is impossible to work out without a great deal more research but it seems highly likely that this is the case.

In common with other studies, the NLT research suggested that children who don’t own a book do significantly less well on reading tests and are nearly four times less likely to read below the average expected for their age.

Not surprisingly, they also have poorer educational outcomes.

The trust, which has a hub in Bradford where it works with a range of partners to improve literacy levels in the city, has now launched a campaign to help provide the country’s poorest children with their first book this Christmas (see literacytrust.org.uk/donate).

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the Trust, said: “Books have the power to transform children’s lives, which is why it is so alarming to discover that more than 7,000 school children in Bradford don’t have a single book to call their own.

“By donating to the National Literacy Trust this Christmas, you could help give a disadvantaged child their first ever book and set them on the path to a brighter future.”

Such an important initiative clearly deserves widespread support but it’s one thing to own a book, it’s another to learn how to read it.

A YouGov survey in September this year showed that a fifth of parents with children at primary school do not spend any time at all reading with them and more than half of parents with children aged five to 11 spend less than an hour a week reading to them.

All of which begs two big questions: if the Government wants to improve school performance, why doesn’t it give free books to every disadvantaged child? And why doesn’t it do more to educate parents in the vital importance of helping their children to read?

Surely, in the long run, it would be a cheaper and more effective way to provide a better education for our children than the millions spent trying to catch up when they’re older….

Russia a ‘risk’ to undersea cables, defence chief warns

Fibre cablesImage copyright Science Photo Library

The UK‘s most senior military officer has warned of a new threat posed by Russia to communications and internet cables that run under the sea.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, the chief of the defence staff, said Britain and Nato needed to prioritise protecting the lines of communication.

He said it would be an “immediately and potentially catastrophic” hit to the economy if they were cut or disrupted.

The cables criss-cross the seabed, connecting up countries and continents.

Speaking to the Royal United Services Institute defence think tank, Sir Stuart said the vulnerability of undersea lines posed a “new risk to our way of life“.

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Media captionSir Stuart Peach: Russia poses a “new risk” to economy and ways of living.

“In response to the threat posed by the modernisation of the Russian navy, both nuclear and conventional submarines and ships, we along with our Atlantic allies have prioritised missions and tasks to protect the sea lines of communication,” he said.

“This sounds like a re-run of old missions, actually as I’m about to say, it is very, very important that we understand how important that mission is for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“Because Russia in addition to new ships and submarines continues to perfect both unconventional capabilities and information warfare.”

The UK and its allies needed to “match and understand Russian fleet modernisation”, he added.

“There is a new risk to our way of life, which is the vulnerability of the cables that criss-cross the seabeds,” he said.

“Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted, which would immediately and potentially catastrophically affect both our economy and other ways of living.”

Rishi Sunak MP warned earlier this month that a successful attack on the UK’s network of undersea communications cables could deal a “crippling blow” to the country’s security and economy.

What Question Time made of Brexit vote defeat

Isabel Oakeshott, Robert Winston, Rebecca Long-Bailey, David Dimbleby, Nicky Morgan and Geoff Norcott

The last Question Time of the year saw Conservative Nicky Morgan and Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey joined on the panel by Professor Robert Winston, comedian Geoff Norcott and journalist Isabel Oakeshott in Barnsley. So what happened?

Coming the day after Theresa May’s first Commons defeat as prime minister on a key Brexit vote, it came as no surprise that the first question of the night was about whether “some MPs” were “trying to subvert the will of the British people” on Brexit.

The lengthy exchanges over the significance of Wednesday’s vote – which demanded MPs get a legal guarantee that they will get a vote on any Brexit deal – went on to dominate much of the programme.

Ms Morgan, one of the Conservative rebels, and Labour’s Ms Long-Bailey both found themselves on the receiving end of barracking from some members of the audience.

Ms Morgan says there has to be a proper debate about the “divisive” subject of Brexit. She set out her position:

But journalist Isabel Oakeshott, a Brexit supporter, said she had “humiliated” the prime minister and undermined her negotiating position.

Ms Long-Bailey – whose party joined with Tory rebels to vote against the government on Wednesday – said the government’s handling of Brexit had been “shambolic” and she was refusing to give them a “blank cheque”.

But they were accused of political naivety, of increasing the prospect of a “no deal” Brexit and of weakening the hands of the UK‘s Brexit negotiators by some in the audience. Ms Morgan points out that the European Parliament will also have a vote. “You are killing it by committee,” an audience member says.

Others were more supportive and said MP should get a vote: “That’s why we elect people.”

‘We are leaving’

Prof Robert Winston says the rebels had ensured “the sovereignty of the British Parliament” with the vote.

But Labour’s Ms Long-Bailey got an earful from a man who accused the party of betraying the working class by supporting the single market. She replied that the party wants similar benefits to the single market, without remaining in it.

Host David Dimbleby asks Professor Robert Winston whether he believes the vote was the beginning of a movement that may lead to the UK not leaving the EU – and notes he does not say “no”. The scientist says “It could just possibly but I think it’s very very unlikely.”

Tory rebel Ms Morgan says not: “It’s going to happen, we are going to leave the European Union,” she tells the audience.

But comedian Geoff Norcott says it is “the death of Brexit by 1,000 amendments” and Isabel Oakshott claims that powerful “vested interests” will “stop at nothing” to keep the UK in the EU. She quotes former Labour minister Lord Adonis who tweeted after the vote: “First step towards defeat of Brexit.”

So is it a way to “see off” Brexit? No, says Rebecca Long-Bailey – but it puts pressure on the PM to listen to concerns and “deliver the best deal possible”: “Nobody wants to vote against a deal and nobody that I have spoken to… the vast majority don’t want no deal,” she says.

Oh, and one other thing. David Dimbleby may be on the next series of Love Island…

Brexit: UK in Erasmus student scheme until at least 2020

University graduatesImage copyright PA

The UK will continue to take part in the Erasmus student exchange programme until at least the end of 2020, the prime minister has said.

Theresa May praised Erasmus+ and confirmed the UK would still be involved after Brexit in March 2019.

Whether it is involved long term is among issues likely to be discussed during the next stage of negotiations.

Erasmus+ sees students study in another European country for between three and 12 months as part of their degree.

The prime minister is in Brussels where she will have dinner with EU leaders on Thursday.

On Friday, without Mrs May, they are expected to formally approve a recommendation that “sufficient progress” has been made in Brexit negotiations so far to move them onto the next stage.

Mrs May agreed a draft deal with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker last week which would mean the UK would continue its funding of EU projects, including Erasmus, until the end of this EU budget period in 2020.

If EU leaders approve the draft deal, Brexit negotiations can begin on the next phase, covering the future relationship between the UK and EU and a two-year transition or implementation deal from March 2019. It is not clear whether this would include Erasmus+.

Mrs May said that British students benefitted from studying in the EU while UK universities were a popular choice for European students.

Speaking during a discussion on education and culture at the summit in Brussels, she added: “I welcome the opportunity to provide clarity to young people and the education sector and reaffirm our commitment to the deep and special relationship we want to build with the EU.”

‘Remarkable’ 33% increase in visitors to National Science and Media Museum

THE National Science and Media Museum, which faced closure four years ago, has seen visitor numbers rise by a third in the past year.

The centre welcomed 362,000 people through its doors between April and December 2017, which is 90,000 more visitors than it saw for the same period in 2016.

Director Jo Quinton-Tulloch said the turnaround in the museum’s fortunes felt “amazing” and added that it is partly down to the “passionate and determined” staff.

She said: “We are delighted. We were expecting it to be a good year but we have exceeded expectations.

“So many people are coming back to the museum and having a good time while they are here.”

She added that data shows that the site has seen an increase in new visitors as well as regular and lapsed visitors.

Arts Minister John Glen MP took a tour of the museum yesterday and congratulated Ms Quinton-Tulloch on the centre’s “fantastic success”.

He said: “I think a lot of work has been done to restore the reputation and credibility of this museum and by refocussing it around science and media they have achieved a great deal.

“The visitor numbers speak for themselves. To increase by a third in a year is remarkable and a tribute to the 80 members of staff who work here.”

Mr Glen looked around the exhibitions and said one of this favourite attractions was the interactive sound bite, where visitors can bite a metal rod while putting their fingers in their ears and hear a tune through the vibrations on their teeth.

After having a go himself, he added: “For young people, that is really inspiring.

“It’s nice to see a museum with such a range of exhibitions.

“I’m impressed with the imaginative and clever way that the director here has put together some very interesting collections on subjects everybody is interested in.”

Mr Glen added that he enjoyed the photography exhibition and said the partnership with the BFI allows students to view archive material that is not available on the internet.

He said the city can look forward to exciting future developments and revealed that he has already been “lobbied hard” by Shipley MP Philip Davies for the area to benefit from the £15million Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.

The museum hosted Tim Peake’s Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft until November, which Ms Quinton-Tulloch said had helped boost visitor numbers.

She added that there has also been an increase in school trips to the centre.

Concern over ‘remote supervision’ of offenders by phone

The inside of a prisonImage copyright PA

Thousands of offenders given community sentences are being supervised via a phone call every six weeks, the chief probation inspector has said.

In a report, Dame Glenys Stacey said widespread use of the practice in England and Wales was “not acceptable”.

The findings also revealed some junior probation officers had 200 cases at once. Dame Glenys said poor supervision was “a risk to the public”.

The government said supervision by phone was only for low-risk cases.

But it acknowledged that improvements were needed to raise the standard of probation services.

The government’s probation reforms, known as Transforming Rehabilitation, launched three years ago and split offender supervision between a state-run service and 21 privately-operated companies.

It created the National Probation Service (NPS) to deal with high-risk offenders, while Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) were assigned low and medium-risk cases.

‘Two-tier system’

An offender given a community sentence may be required to undertake unpaid work or attend a government-sanctioned programme.

In her annual report, Dame Glenys said the government’s probation reforms had created a “two-tier and fragmented” system in which the private companies were “struggling” and she questioned whether the probation system could “deliver sufficiently well”.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Dame Glenys Stacey became the chief probation inspector in March 2016

It revealed some offenders were only met once before being placed on “remote supervision” by private probation providers.

That could amount to no more than a telephone call every six weeks, with no further face-to-face meetings taking place.

Inspectors said the calls were little more than “checking in” and made it difficult to assess any change in the risk posed to the public.

These arrangements are allowed under the terms of the contracts, but the report emphasised that face-to-face work was vital.

It also found that inexperienced probation staff were responsible for monitoring 200 offenders each, when the recommended maximum number is 60.

Dame Glenys said: “I find it inexplicable that, under the banner of innovation, these developments were allowed.

“We should all be concerned, given the rehabilitation opportunities missed, and the risks to the public if individuals are not supervised well.”

Jacob Tas, chief executive of social justice charity Nacro, said there had been almost daily reports of problems and called for the government to act “urgently” to address failings.

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Analysis

Image copyright Getty Images

By BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw

It is hard to see this report as anything other than a damning indictment of the probation reforms introduced in 2014, by Chris Grayling, when he was justice secretary.

The 113-page document details how the privatised part of the new system simply is not functioning properly, with unmanageable caseloads and supervision-by-phone the most glaring examples.

The significance of these failings should not be under-estimated.

Successful rehabilitation hinges on having a relationship of trust between offender and probation officer. That is exceptionally difficult if they are not in regular face-to-face contact.

The findings will also do little to inspire confidence in community sentences at a time when the government is encouraging judges and magistrates to consider non-custodial alternatives to the more costly option of imprisonment.

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May heads to Brussels after EU vote loss

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Media captionThere were cheers from the opposition benches as the result was announced

The prime minister is due in Brussels on Thursday, hours after Conservative rebels in the Commons defeated the government in a key Brexit vote.

MPs backed an amendment giving them a legal guarantee of a vote on the final Brexit deal struck with Brussels.

One rebel, Stephen Hammond, was sacked by Theresa May as Conservative vice chairman in the aftermath of the vote.

Other EU member states could decide to move forward to trade talks with the UK at their two-day summit.

The negotiations are first expected to focus on agreeing a temporary arrangement that will kick in as soon as the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

On the eve of the summit, Mrs May suffered her first Commons defeat as prime minister by just four votes, as MPs backed an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill by 309 to 305.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was a “humiliating loss of authority” for the prime minister.

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Media captionIs it game over for Brexit?

Unless it is overturned by the government at a later stage, it means MPs will get to vote on the final deal reached with Brussels before it is ratified.

The government had previously offered a vote. But critics wanted a guarantee that this would be “meaningful”, claiming the bill gave ministers the power to bypass Parliament in implementing the withdrawal agreement.

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Media caption“I’m in parliament to do my duty by my constituents and by my country” said Tory rebel Dominic Grieve

Dominic Grieve MP, who tabled the amendment, said the bill “couldn’t be allowed to stay in the condition it was in”.

The former attorney general, told BBC One’s Newsnight: “The right thing is carrying out Brexit in an orderly, sensible way, which has a proper process to it.”

He said Parliament’s ability to interfere with Brexit negotiations was “limited”, adding: “I’ve been studious in not trying to interfere with the government’s negotiating strategy, I’ve hardly asked a question.”

The government said in a statement: “We are disappointed that Parliament has voted for this amendment despite the strong assurances that we have set out.

“We are as clear as ever that this Bill, and the powers within it, are essential.

“This amendment does not prevent us from preparing our statute book for exit day. We will now determine whether further changes are needed to the Bill to ensure it fulfils its vital purpose.”

Speaking after the vote, ministers said the “minor setback” would not prevent the UK leaving the EU in 2019.


What does it mean?

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg

It’s the first time that Theresa May has been defeated on her own business in the Commons. She has to front-up in Brussels tomorrow with other EU leaders only hours after an embarrassing loss in Parliament.

Beyond the red faces in government tonight, does it really matter? Ministers tonight are divided on that. Two cabinet ministers have told me while it’s disappointing, it doesn’t really matter in the big picture.

It’s certainly true that the Tory party is so divided over how we leave the EU that the Parliamentary process was always going to be very, very choppy.

But another minister told me the defeat is “bad for Brexit” and was openly frustrated and worried about their colleagues’ behaviour.

Read the rest of Laura’s blog


The EU Withdrawal Bill is a key part of the government’s exit strategy.

Its effects include ending the supremacy of EU law and copying existing EU law into UK law, so the same rules and regulations apply on Brexit day.

MPs have been making hundreds of attempts to change its wording – but this is the first time one has succeeded.

Unless the government manages to overturn it further down the line, it means a new Act of Parliament will have to be passed before ministers can implement the withdrawal deal struck with Brussels.

Ministers had made several efforts to placate the Conservative rebels, and argued that Mr Grieve’s amendment would put unnecessary time pressure on the government if talks with the EU continued until the last minute.

And minutes before the vote, they offered a last-minute promise of action at a later stage of the bill’s journey through Parliament.

Some Conservatives said this had changed their minds. But Mr Grieve said it was “too late”.

Image copyright House of Commons
Image caption During the debate Conservative MPs from both sides of the Brexit debate clashed

There was an often heated debate in the Chamber before the crunch vote on the amendment.

Critics said the rebels were trying to “frustrate” Brexit and tie the government’s hands.

After the result was announced, one of the rebels, former cabinet minister Nicky Morgan, tweeted: “Tonight Parliament took control of the EU Withdrawal process.”

But other Conservative MPs reacted angrily, with one, Nadine Dorries, saying the rebels should be deselected.

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The Tory rebels were Mr Grieve, Heidi Allen, Ken Clarke, Jonathan Djanogly, Stephen Hammond, Sir Oliver Heald, Nicky Morgan, Bob Neill, Antoinette Sandbach, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston.

Another Conservative MP, John Stevenson, abstained by voting in both lobbies.

Two Labour MPs, Frank Field and Kate Hoey, voted with the government.