Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

As it happenedended1522173556

Westminster today: Theresa May faces senior MPs questions over Cambridge Analytica and Vote Leave row - as it happened

Follow for the latest updates from Westminster

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
,Benjamin Kentish
Tuesday 27 March 2018 14:00 BST
Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: If we allow any amount of cheating in a democratic election, the problem will snowball

Whistleblower Christopher Wylie has appeared before MPs to discuss his work at scandal-hit Cambridge Analytica, as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg turned down an invitation to give evidence to Parliament on the row.

Mr Wylie sparked an international outcry when he revealed the firm had harvested Facebook data from more than 50 million users, which was used to influence voters in Donald Trump's 2016 presidential run.

​Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appeared before MPs this morning following news of the mass expulsions of Russian spies from the US and other allies, to show their support for Britain over the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

Theresa May, meanwhile, was grilled about the Cambridge Analytica row and Brexit during an appearance in front of the Liaison Committee. She announced a new funding model for the NHS will be introduced within the next year.

As it happened...


Welcome to The Independent's politics liveblog, where we will be bringing you the latest updates throughout the day.

Lizzy Buchan27 March 2018 08:26

More than 100 Russian diplomats have been hit by a wave of expulsions across Europe and North America in response to the poisoning of a former spy in Salisbury. ​

More here:

Lizzy Buchan27 March 2018 08:43

Australia has become the latest country to expel Russian diplomats following the nerve agent attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury earlier this month in a gesture of solidarity with Britain.

​Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the poisoning, which left Skripal and his daughter Yulia critically ill in hospital, “disgraceful” and “brazen” and said his country “cannot and will not stand by and watch when the sovereignty of our allies and partners is threatened”.

Story here: 

Lizzy Buchan27 March 2018 09:06

Labour needs to bring in a "political education programme" to combat anti-Semitism in its ranks, a senior frontbencher has said.

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey defended Jeremy Corbyn's stance on anti-Semitism but insisted the party needs to do more to deal with the problem.

Ms Long-Bailey said that demonstrations outside Parliament by Jewish groups protesting against Mr Corbyn's handling of anti-Semitism within the party had been "devastating".

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It was devastating for every single Labour MP to realise that the Jewish community had lost faith in our approach to anti-Semitism going forward. But ... we do take a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitism, but has that been enforced as effectively as it should have been?

"I think there is a lot more that needs to be done and I think Jeremy addressed that clearly yesterday. He has always been a militant opponent of anti-Semitism.

"But too often, I think, the issue has been dismissed as a few bad apples when we needed to take very serious root-and-branch action to root out the cause of the problem.

"There will be clear efforts now to roll out a political education programme specifically to make sure that every single person in the Labour Party is aware of all forms of anti-Semitism.

"And even down to branch level within constituencies it can be enforced by the relevant officers to make sure that nobody suffers in the way that they have done."

Lizzy Buchan27 March 2018 09:16

Lawyers acting for Brexit whistleblowers have handed a 50-page evidence dossier to the UK’s election watchdog, claiming it indicates Vote Leave acted illegally during the referendum.

Chris Wylie and Shahmir Sanni both worked with Vote Leave as it fought the 2016 campaign, but now say an urgent probe is needed into key figures in the group – two of which have since become Downing Street advisers.

Wylie is due before the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee at 10.30am, while MPs have secured an emergency debate on the Vote Leave spending allegations.

More here:

Lizzy Buchan27 March 2018 09:31

Jewish community leaders held a demonstration outside Parliament in protest at antisemitism in the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s response to it. 

My colleague Ben Kentish takes a look at what the row is all about here:

Lizzy Buchan27 March 2018 09:42

Busy day today in the Commons, starting with Foreign Office questions at 11.30am.

Lizzy Buchan27 March 2018 09:55

Theresa May has refused to sack an aide blamed for outing as gay a whistleblower who claimed the Brexit campaign broke strict spending rules – insisting he “does a very good job”.

The Prime Minister was challenged in the Commons over a statement made by Stephen Parkinson, a senior figure in the Vote Leave campaign, about Shahmir Sanni. 

Story here:

Lizzy Buchan27 March 2018 10:10

Mark Zuckerberg has refused Parliament's request to be questioned by MPs over data abuse. The Facebook boss will send one of his senior deputies instead, the company said.

Damian Collins – who leads the digital, culture, media and sport select committee – had had written to Mr Zuckerberg directly requesting that he appear.

Lizzy Buchan27 March 2018 10:35

Here is the letter from Facebook UK's head of public policy Rebecca Stimson to Damian Collins, chair of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

26 March 2018

Dear Mr Collins

You wrote to Mark Zuckerberg on 20th March requesting that a senior Facebook executive appear before the Committee to give evidence in relation to the use of Facebook users data, stating that in your view this should be Mr Zuckerberg himself.

Facebook fully recognizes the level of public and Parliamentary interest in these issues and support your belief that these issues must be addressed at the most senior levels of the company by those in an authoritative position to answer your questions. As such Mr Zuckerberg has personally asked one of his deputies to make themselves available to give evidence in person to the Committee.

Mike Schroepfer is Chief Technology Officer and responsible for Facebook's technology including the company's developer platform. Chris Cox is Facebook's Chief Product Officer and leads development of Facebook's core products and features including News Feed. Both Chris Cox and Mike Schroepfer report directly to Mr Zuckerberg and are among the longest serving senior representatives in Facebook's 15 year history. Both of them have extensive expertise in these issues and are well placed to answer the Committee's questions on these complex subjects. One of them can be made available to the Committee straight after the Easter Parliamentary recess, depending on the Committee's preferred timing. We look forward to working with the Committee to confirm exact timings in due course.

Meanwhile work is continuing across the company on the issues raised by recent events, you will have seen last week we announced a number of immediate steps. These steps can be summarised as the following:

1. Review our platform. We will investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform in 2014 to reduce data access, and we will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity. If we find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them from our platform.

2. Tell people about data misuse. We will tell people affected by apps that have misused their data. This includes building a way for people to know if their data might have been accessed via "thisisyourdigitallife." Moving forward, if we remove an app for misusing data, we will tell everyone who used it.

3. Turn off access for unused apps. If someone hasn't used an app within the last three months, we will turn off the app's access to their information.

4. Restrict Facebook Login data. We are changing Login, so that in the next version, we will reduce the data that an app can request without app review to include only name, profile photo and email address. Requesting any other data will require our approval.

5. Encourage people to manage the apps they use. We already show people what apps their accounts are connected to and control what data they've permitted those apps to use. Going forward, we're going to make these choices more prominent and easier to manage.

6. Reward people who find vulnerabilities. In the coming weeks we will expand Facebook's bug bounty program so that people can also report to us if they find misuses of data by app developers.

I would like to take this opportunity to also share with the Committee the outcome of our further analysis of the countries affected by Professor Kogan's app. We are working with our regulators in countries around the world to give them data on the number of people in their country who arc affected. We are working hard to make sure that data is as accurate as it can be. There will be two sets of data. The first is people who downloaded the app, and the second is the number of friends of those people who had their privacy settings set in such a way that the app could sec some of their data. This second figure will be much higher than the first and we will look to provide both broken down by country as soon as we can. We can now confirm that around 1% of the global downloads of the app came from users in the EU, including the UK.

Yours sincerely

Rebecca Stimson

Lizzy Buchan27 March 2018 10:45

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in