Prime Minister Theresa May postponed a vote on key bit of Brexit legislation to avoid a humiliating Commons defeat over rules governing tax havens.
Labour grandee Dame Margaret Hodge had tabled a cross-party amendment to the Financial Services Bill, which would have compelled UK overseas territories to be more transparent about business ownership.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said it “smacks of desperation from a government reduced to bribing MPs to vote for their damaging flagship Brexit legislation”.
Beleaguered transport secretary Chris Grayling also came under fire on Monday for failing to personally answer questions from MPs about the botched Brexit ferry contracts.
Labour’s shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: “He leaves a trail of destruction in his wake, causing chaos and wasting billions of pounds yet he shows no contrition… the transport secretary has become an international embarrassment.”
Here's how the day unfolded:
May accused of 'bribing' Labour MPs with £1.6bn for deprived townsThe government has been accused of “bribing” MPs to back Theresa May‘s Brexit deal after announcing a new £1.6bn fund to help deprived towns.The “Stronger Towns Fund“ will offer investment to places that have not benefited from economic growth as much as other parts of the country, ministers said. The government said the money would be used to create jobs, train local people and boost investment, but critics said it was an attempt to convince Labour MPs in Leave-voting areas to back Ms May’s withdrawal agreement, and was not enough to offset the impact of Brexit.£1bn of the funding will be allocated to areas across the country, with more than half going to towns in the north of England. The other £600m will be available for local authorities to bid for.
MPs urge government to end benefits freeze early to stop ‘destitution’The government should lift 200,000 people out of poverty by ending its controversial benefits freeze a year earlier than planned, an influential committee of MPs has said.The Commons work and pensions committee urged ministers to use an expected budget surplus to scrap the policy this year, rather than next year as expected.The MPs want Philip Hammond, the chancellor, to announce the change in his spring statement later this month, saying it is needed to prevent further "destitution".
Responding to the prime minister's £1.6bn fund, Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “This towns fund smacks of desperation from a government reduced to bribing MPs to vote for their damaging flagship Brexit legislation.
“The reason our towns are struggling is because of a decade of cuts, including to council funding and a failure to invest in businesses and our communities.
“Labour pledged in 2017 that we will establish a network of regional development banks that will be dedicated to delivering the finance that our small businesses co-operatives and innovative projects need across the whole country. No Brexit bribery, stable investment where it’s most needed.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on the £1.6bn fund, the communities secretary James Brokenshire rejected the money, which will be made available over a six-year period, was a "bribe".
He said: "This funding is there regardless of the outcome, but obviously we want to see a deal happening, we believe that is what is in the best interests of our country.
"But there is no constitutionality in that sense, this funding is there to see that towns grow and that we are actually looking at what we need to do, which is seeing those areas really prospering and following through on what the prime minister has really believed in, that sense of leaving no part of our UK behind and how this will help support that."
Here is some reaction from Labour MPs on Theresa May's £1.6bn fund for left behind towns. Critics say the money has been made available in a bid by Downing Street to win support for the prime minister's deal from MPs representing Leave seats across the country. But that bid has not gone down too well...
In other news, a man has been charged with assault after Jeremy Corbyn was attacked with an egg during a visit to a north London mosque.
Labour voters in party's heartlands back fresh Brexit referendum, poll findsJeremy Corbyn’s decision to support a fresh Brexit referendum enjoys the overwhelming backing of Labour voters in Leave-voting areas, new research has found.Only 21 per cent of those in the north and the midlands who voted Labour at the last election said they opposed the dramatic policy shift – a figure dwarfed by the 66 per cent in favour.In a further boost for Mr Corbyn, 35 per cent said it made them feel more favourable towards Labour, compared with just 14 per cent who said it made them feel less positive.Peter Kellner, former president of YouGov, said the survey scotched “the myth” that the Labour leader would pay a heavy price for the move, pointing out that Labour voters in Leave areas now back Remain by a margin of more than three to one.
Senior Tory Brexiteer says he is ready to back Theresa May's dealTheresa May has received a major boost after an influential Tory backbencher said he was ready to back her Brexit plan.Sir Graham Brady, who chairs the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs, previously voted against the prime minister’s deal in January but said he was likely to support a revised version.The influential MP urged his colleagues to “pull together behind the prime minister” when her deal returns to the Commons.
Another Labour MP - Chris Bryant - reacts to the PM's fund for left behind towns. Fair to say he's not totally on board.
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