United Kingdom

ANNA MIKHAILOVA: Labour MP spent £39k last year on grace-and-favour flat

How piquant that the MP leading Labour’s charge to keep the £20 Universal Credit uplift topped the charts for spending the most taxpayer cash last year – £39,225 – on a grace-and-favour flat.

The £3,269-a-month rent is enough to let Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds and his family live in the poshest parts of London. So much for his common-touch image.

The 40-year-old has been the MP for Stalybridge and Hyde since 2010, with a career that has included being parliamentary private secretary to Ed Miliband when he was Labour leader.

How piquant that the MP leading Labour’s charge to keep the £20 Universal Credit uplift topped the charts for spending the most taxpayer cash last year – £39,225 – on a grace-and-favour flat

And he doesn’t just limit his expenses to rent. He’s also in the top six per cent of all MPs by total expenses and allowances to the taxpayer – £221,548 last year.

Incidentally, in 2019, close behind in the list for biggest accommodation bill was ex-Tory MP Charlie Elphicke, who swapped his £34,000 public-funded flat for cheaper digs at Her Majesty’s pleasure, after he was found guilty of sexual assault.

Ricci-style abuse cases are here too, says MP Jess

Christina Ricci’s abuse case has highlighted one of the darkest sides of the pandemic.

Christina Ricci’s abuse case has highlighted one of the darkest sides of the pandemic

The Hollywood actress was granted a restraining order from husband James Heerdegen after she alleged he began abusing her in December 2019.

Court papers showed Ricci, right, told him she wanted a divorce but the process was delayed last March because of the pandemic, and she ‘found herself trapped in a house with a violent abuser’ – and was then attacked twice while quarantining in June. Heerdegen denies all allegations of abuse.

Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence Jess Phillips tells me the case illustrates the risk Covid backlogs in the courts can have, putting victims at greater risk. Phillips has just been told that her own harassment case against an alleged stalker will not come to court until December 13. Phillips said the man sent her death threats and ‘really awful’ abusive messages, including about gang rape. The court date will be nearly two years since she started proceedings and, she points out that, as a prominent MP, she has likely been fast-tracked.

The MP says there will be ‘plenty of cases’ like Ricci’s in the UK, and is urging the Government to put in better safeguards. ‘They’ve got to accept that in a delay, there will be repeat incidents,’ she says.

What of the cross-government charm offensive using Zoom calls to repair the bruised egos of Tory MPs since Cabinet enforcer Dominic Cummings exited stage right?

Ministry of Defence officials organised such a call with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to hear about the Army’s role in the vaccine rollout. He was mid-schmooze when screens went black.

Not Russian or Chinese hackers – turns out the MoD (annual budget £40 billion) hadn’t coughed up for a Zoom subscription past the free 40-minute limit, leaving some MPs wondering if officials were making a case for a bigger departmental budget.

Sunak told pupils at Oughtibridge Primary School in Sheffield that becoming Chancellor a year ago was ‘scary’ and had been a ‘complete surprise’

Has fretting about whether to impose big tax rises been keeping Rishi Sunak awake at night? In a call with schoolchildren the Chancellor, below, said he was sleeping ‘six to seven hours, which is not too bad’ but still ‘not enough’.

Perhaps he should copy his boss Boris and have afternoon naps, something that the PM’s aides revealed last week happens quite often.

Sunak told pupils at Oughtibridge Primary School in Sheffield that becoming Chancellor a year ago was ‘scary’ and had been a ‘complete surprise’.

One of these two descriptions will also apply to the tax hikes he no doubt has in store for us to pay for the pandemic.

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