5 bits of bad news that got buried by Britain's Brexit chaos this week

It has been another week of high drama for Brexit as Theresa May brought a form of her deal back to the Commons.

She split the Withdrawal Agreement from the Political declaration in the hope it could limp over the line.

But her tactic conclusively failed and the PM suffered another humiliating defeat as she lost by a margin of 58.

Away from the Commons there have been a number of pieces of bad news that got overshadowed by the Brexit furore.

1. Vote Leave quietly dropped its appeal against its EU referendum spending fine

Vote leave have quietly dropped the appeal


Vote Leave has quietly dropped its appeal against a £61,000 fine for electoral spending offences – on what would have been Brexit Day.

The Electoral Commission announced that the official Brexit campaign had today “withdrawn its appeal and related proceedings” against the watchdog. 

It comes eight months after the campaign was fined £61,000 for breaking electoral law in a long-awaited watchdog report.

An Electoral Commission spokesperson said: “Vote Leave has today withdrawn its appeal and related proceedings against the Electoral Commission’s finding of multiple offences under electoral law, committed during the 2016 EU referendum campaign.

“We have been advised that Vote Leave has paid its £61,000 fine and look forward to receiving the sum in full.”

A statement released on behalf of Vote Leave said: “For almost three years, Vote Leave has successfully fought back against numerous allegations and conspiracy theories, spending almost £1 million in the process.

“Since July 2018, we have been preparing our Appeal against the Electoral Commission’s unwarranted and unsubstantiated finding and fines.

“Sadly, we now find ourselves in a position that we do not have the financial resources to carry forward this Appeal, even though we are confident that we would have prevailed on the facts in Court.”


2. Grim new figures revealed failures in the Tories’ flagship childcare policy

It’s bad news for parents


Parents are paying the price for the government’s underfunding of the 30 hours free childcare.

A new Department for Education report on nurseries’ finances shows that the hourly fee charged by nurseries for three- and four-year-old places is on average 58p higher than what they receive in funding.

This means that hard-up families are being charged the difference making a mockery of the claim that the government gives families the free hours.

Private providers are charging £1.10 more per hour for three- and four-year-olds than the funding they receive, the report finds.

Voluntary providers’ fees are around 48p higher than the funding they receive, 37p higher for childminders and 49p higher for nursery classes.

However, the fees charged by maintained nursery schools is very close to the funding rate.

3. Housebuilding in England is flat – despite Theresa May’s ‘mission’

Housebuilding has been flat


Housebuilding slowed in the final three months of 2018 and was flat for the whole of 2018.

Figures released by the housing ministry showed building work began on 40,580 homes in England during the final quarter of 2018 – 8% down on the previous three months.

During the whole of 2018, work began on 165,160 new-builds, which was almost exactly the same as the 2017 total.

Only the number of completed homes rose in the past calendar year, up 1% to 165,090. It comes despite Theresa May ’s promise to make a personal mission to oversee an increase in housebuilding.

4. An aristocrat joined Parliament for life on the votes of 18 other aristocrats

An aristocrat has won a House of Lords seat for life after winning an “outrageous” election with just 18 votes.

Daniel Mosley, an engineer whose great-grandfather was the late British Union of Fascists leader Sir Oswald Mosley, can now claim £305 a day until he dies or resigns after triumphing in a “hereditary peer by-election”.

Only hereditary peers could stand in the all-male election, and only 31 hereditary peers already sitting in the Lords could vote.

The 37-year-old Lord Ravensdale won 18 votes from fellow peers in the first round after vowing to share his “expert knowledge of engineering and industry”.

Willie Sullivan, Senior Director of the Electoral Reform Society, said: “The word outrageous doesn’t come close.”


5. Damning new figures showed 4.1million kids in poverty

The figures were truly shocking


Tory ministers were accused of presiding over a “national scandal” after damning new figures revealed 4.1million children are in poverty.

Stagnant wages and the cruel benefit freeze mean the huge total refused to fall – despite Theresa May’s pledge to fight “burning injustices” on her first day in Downing Street.

Annual Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures show 4.1million children were living in relative poverty after housing costs in 2017/18, around the same as the year before.

More than 2million (53%) are under five, up from 51% a year earlier. 700,000 children in “severe” poverty, up from 600,000. And the number of children in absolute poverty, a different measure, rose by 200,000 to 3.7million.

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, said: “It is surely wrong, in a just and compassionate society, that so many children are growing up in poverty.”


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