Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:
Reported by Nathan Gore
Troubled travel company Thomas Cook is in £750m rescue talks with banks and its largest shareholder, Fosun.
The measures, which have not been finalised, would see the Chinese investor buy the firm’s 178-year-old package holiday business.
The company confirmed on Friday it was in “advanced discussions” to secure new funding from its banks and the Shanghai-based conglomerate Fosun, which owns Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and the holiday resort chain Club Med.
Thomas Cook’s chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, said the proposal was “not the outcome any of us wanted” but insisted it was “pragmatic”.
He told the BBC that customers did not need to worry because their holiday bookings were “secure”.
Fierce competition from online rivals, together with one-off factors such as last summer’s heatwave and Brexit uncertainty, have hindered the debt-laden tour operator’s recovery from near-collapse in 2011.
Reported by Nathan Gore
Much controversy has been generated by suggestions that the next PM could ‘prorogue’ Parliament in order to push through a no-deal Brexit. Proroguing could be actioned by the Government, as is in effect a ‘shutdown’ of Parliamentary business – with no laws being able to pass during this time.
With no laws being passed during this time, this would prevent any potential opposition to a no-deal Brexit, as no laws could be passed or motions tabled. The controversy is down to two reasons. Firstly, this is seen as an ‘undemocratic’ way of forcing through a no-deal Brexit, especially with the current situation with a majority of MPs opposed to it. Secondly, it would make any efforts to prepare for a no-deal Brexit that much harder, with no reactive laws to ease the burden that it will place being passed.
Sir John Major, the former Conservative Prime Minister, has already threatened to use the courts to try to prevent this happening. Now, he is joined by Gina Miller, an anti-Brexit campaigner who has already won one legal battle against Government ministers.
Ms Miller, who’s previous legal victory over the Government came in a case concerning whether the Government needed Parliamentary approval in order to start the Article 50 process. Both her and Sir John Major join a mounting group of opposition to any attempts to subvert Parliament and push through any no-deal Brexit.
Often portrayed as being very anti-Brexit, she recently told Sky News she wanted to “defend Parliamentary sovereignty”, not stop Brexit.
Jeremy Hunt has recently taken the step of ruling out any use of this process to achieve Brexit, whereas his rival in the Conversative leadership race Boris Johnson has refused to do so.
Reported by Sarah Mullane
According to an official report into the culture in the House of Lords, employees have faced a culture of abuse and harassment, with a constant fear of reprisal preventing those being bullied from speaking out.
The seven-month enquiry, headed by Naomi Ellenbogen QC, concluded this week that members of staff in the House of Lord were repeatedly bullied by peers, with a set number of known offenders showing “unacceptable behaviour” which had simply been tolerated by all involved. The investigation, which was launched in 2018, came as a result of repeated claims that Parliament hosted a myriad of unacceptable behaviour between staffers and peers.
Lord Fowler, the Lords Speaker, responded by stating that bullying and harassment had “no place” in the House, whilst Ellenbogen stated that cultural issues had enable “abusive behaviour to flourish over a sustained period”. Not only was it determined that staff were bullying and harassing other staff, but that Members were also being accused of playing party to the unacceptable behaviour. The report states that staffers subjected to bullying decided not to complain due to a fear of “reprisal” or that no action would be taken, and as such “staff [became] institutionalised”, meaning that bad habits “can become entrenched [and] poor behaviour can go unchecked”.
Unsurprisingly, according to Ellenbogen, several of the 180 contributors to the inquiry named the same members of staff as repeat offenders, with one describing a peer as “awful to the staff – hideous, rude and haranguing over basic information”. Within these claims, staff members also claimed that “clerks were favoured over other members of staff and were able to behave inappropriately without repercussions”.
In total, around twenty percent of staff reported that they had experienced either bullying or harassment at work, with several complaining of sexual harassment, such as a peer grabbing their bottom or trying to kiss them. The results are higher than those of the House of Commons and highlight that the House of Lords has “not been conducive to an open and supportive culture to ensure that all those working there are treated with dignity and respect”.