Theresa May says Farage should not be allowed to join Tory party – UK politics live

Theresa May says Farage should not be allowed to join Tory party – UK politics live

Liz Truss, have said Farage should be welcome in the party, and Farage himself has said he should be in the same party as people like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Suella Braverman. But May said Farage was not a Conservative. This is from HuffPost UK’s Kevin Schofield.

  • And May said she was opposed to the UK leaving the European convention on human rights. In 2016, before Brexit and before she became PM, May said the UK should leave the ECHR. As prime minister, preoccupied with EU withdrawal, she did not try to implement this. Arguably there is much more support for ECHR withdrawal in the party now than there was eight years ago. But May said the UK should remain in and focus on reforming it instead. This is from the Sun’s Harry Cole.

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But, in an interview with Beth Rigby from Sky News, when she put it to him that he had “junked pretty much every pledge” he was elected leader on, Starmer did not agree. Referring to the 10 pledges document, he said:

If you’ve got it in front of you Beth, you’ll know that for each of the 10 pledges, there’s about two or three sitting under them. That’s about 30 commitments, of which a few have been adjusted. The vast majority are in place, but I accept that some of them have been adjusted.

Starmer told Rigby that it was sensible to adjust promises when circumstances changed. He told her:

I came into politics late in life. I ran a public service. I operated in the private sector. And outside of politics, when the facts change, the circumstances change, good leaders know you have to adapt and change with it.

Asked if he was trustworthy, he replied: “Yes.” And asked why votes should view him as more trustworthy than Rishi Sunak, he replied:

Because I have delivered over and over again. I worked in Northern Ireland where we changed the Police Service of Northern Ireland for the better. I then was Director of Public Prosecutions for five years, where we brought about great change to improve the rights of victims. I’ve got a track record of leadership, but leadership requires absolute clarity of what you’re trying to achieve.

its draft revised guidance on sex education for pupils in schools in England. The government is consulting on it.

In her foreword to the document, Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, says children must get “the right information at the right time, so that they know about the risks and how to avoid them, but also making sure that they are not exposed to too much too soon, taking away the innocence of childhood”.

Liz Truss, have said Farage should be welcome in the party, and Farage himself has said he should be in the same party as people like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Suella Braverman. But May said Farage was not a Conservative. This is from HuffPost UK’s Kevin Schofield.

  • And May said she was opposed to the UK leaving the European convention on human rights. In 2016, before Brexit and before she became PM, May said the UK should leave the ECHR. As prime minister, preoccupied with EU withdrawal, she did not try to implement this. Arguably there is much more support for ECHR withdrawal in the party now than there was eight years ago. But May said the UK should remain in and focus on reforming it instead. This is from the Sun’s Harry Cole.

Labour event this morning was Rob Boughton, CEO of Thakeham Housing. His endorsement was significant because in the past Thakeham, which he founded, has been a significant donor to the Conservative party. According to the Electoral Commission, it donated more than £500,000 to the party between 2020 and 2022.

At the event, explaining why he was supporting Labour, Boughton said:

I’m pleased to be here today to support the first step towards the growth mission.

Recently my company welcomed Rachel [Reeves] and Angela [Rayner] to one of the communities we built. I was struck by how they understand the housing crisis and are committed to tackle it as part of the country’s economic growth. I support Rachel’s ambition to grow the economy and I am pleased to see Labour has put so much weight on economic stability which is so crucial, so businesses can plan ahead …

A successful country needs a clear plan, which is why I am encouraged to see Labour’s first steps being set out today. I support Rachel’s ambition to grow the economy, and keep taxes and inflation as low as possible. Key to this is delivering new, sustainable homes paired with the infrastructure needed to allow those communities thrive.

I welcome Labour’s plans to reform planning regulation to support homes and infrastructure fit for the needs of our growing population, at every stage of life – schools for our children, green spaces for families, local shops for our communities, and appropriate homes for those looking to downsize but remain at the heart of their communities. Stability, certainty, economic growth and housebuilding is a priority for Rachel, it’s a priority for me, and a mission we share.

Some reporters think he said “book your holiday”.

It sounded like a hint that the election will be in November – which is assumed to be his preferred date anyway. But that is based on the assumption that Sunak was assuming that Love would want her holiday to coincide with the election.

Political journalists don’t want the election to clash with their holidays, and most of us have not booked any time off in November at all.

10.12am) as too timid. A spokesperson said:

Britain has big problems, and they require big solutions. Sadly, these fixes fall desperately short of the bold policies needed to fix the Tories’ broken Britain, from mass building council housing to renationalising our public services. Worse still, Starmer is failing to break with the Conservatives’ disastrous austerity dogma.

Faced with similarly huge challenges in 1945, the post-war Labour Government brought sweeping change and investment to a country on its knees. Britain needs a real Labour alternative today, too.

And, echoing the attack line used by the Tories and the SNP (see 1.08pm), the spokesperson also said that Starmer could not be trusted to keep his promises. Referring to the 10 pledges Starmer made during the Labour leadership contest four years ago, the spokesperson said:

From raising taxes on the wealthiest to renationalising our public services, Keir’s leadership pledges are more popular and urgently needed than ever. Yet Keir broke his promises and today instead of transforming Britain, he offers minor tweaks to a failed Tory settlement.

a leak to the Guardian.

This morning she was giving evidence to the UK Covid inquiry in Belfast, in her capacity as the former permanent secretary at Northern Ireland’s Department of Finance during the pandemic and, at least according to the PA Media write-up, quite a lot of her evidence related to leaks.

When Gray was in Northern Ireland, she was asked to investigate leaks from meetings of the Northern Ireland executive. The inquiry has been told that some key executive meetings were in effect live tweeted by journalist, who were being fed information in real time.

Gray told the inquiry she was struck by the difference between the culture in Whitehall, where for most of her career she was a civil servant, and at Stormont. She said:

I’m not going to say that everything is perfect there [at cabinet in London] but, you know, people do respect the process and [at] cabinet – often issues get resolved in cabinet committees, not always at cabinet – but you don’t read about [them], you occasionally read about differences of views, but there tends to be a certain discipline.

Gray said at Stormont, where there is a power-sharing executive, there are no defined rules around collective responsibility, as there are in London.

She said that even when the Tories were in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, collective responsibility was maintainted. She said:

I think they demonstrated great leadership in how they handled those issues, it didn’t break down in trust because actually it was a very honest and open and frank process.

As PA Media reports, Gray accepted the mandatory coalition system in Northern Ireland was different, pointing out that when she was working at Stormont there were five parties in the administration. But said she believed a similar process could be made to work in the region.

Gray was asked to give evidence to the inquiry as the only senior civil servant who had worked for both the devolved administration in Northern Ireland and the UK government during Covid.

Labour election pledges this morning.

Boots has 2,000 stores and pharmacies right across the country, and just over 50,000 team members.

Rachel [Reeves, the shadow chancellor] has asked me to share some of the things I think that are incredibly important to a business like Boots – for me, first and foremost, it’s stability. A stable economy provides the right platform for sustainable economic growth. And it’s that real focus on economic growth that is going to be so important in the next few years. The second thing is government and business really listening to each other and working together to grow our economy.

We need an industrial strategy that helps us plan for the long term, helps us to anticipate changing landscapes, emerging sectors, new skills, new technologies.

Another thing that I think is incredibly important is employment. Having a government that works with business to help get people up and down the country in some of the most deprived areas of our great nation, into work, and keep them in work. That ranges from having apprenticeship schemes properly helping business to re-skilling mature workers.

Now I must mention something close to my heart, Keir came to one of our Boots stores earlier in the year and we talked about the importance of looking after our high streets.

There is a Boots on almost every high street but high streets are not just a place that people come to shop, it’s a place of work – in some small towns, the only place of work. It’s a place to meet, to connect, to get health advice from your pharmacist, it’s the heart of our towns, and a thriving high street helps to build communities. And I think that’s going to be a really important gamechanger in the next few years. We need to invest in it, connect it to our digital worlds and look after it.

And finally, the cost of living – our customers are telling us that the pressures remain. We of course welcome these sensible fiscal measures to help put more money in people’s pockets and grow the economy, and that’s what I hope is going to happen.

As mentioned earlier (see 12.40pm), James is, or at least was, a very close friend of David Cameron. The Independent has written this up as “David Cameron’s Bullingdon Club pal endorses Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour”.

a report on the Nation.Cymru news website which featured a message posted to a ministerial group chat in August 2020 by Gething, stating that he was “deleting the messages in this group”.

Gething previously told the UK Covid-19 Inquiry that lost WhatsApp messages were not deleted by him, but by the Welsh parliament’s IT team during a security rebuild.

He told plenary last week that the leaked message was from a section of an iMessage group chat with other Labour ministers and related to internal discussions within the Senedd Labour group.

Gething denied the message contradicted the evidence he had given to the inquiry, adding that the message did not relate to pandemic decision making but “comments that colleagues make to and about each other”.

In a statement issued on today, Gething said: “Having reviewed the evidence available to me regarding the recent disclosure of communication to the media, I have regrettably reached the conclusion I have no alternative but to ask Hannah Blythyn to leave the government.

“I’d like to record my gratitude for the work the member has done to date, including her leadership through the fire and rescue services review, outstanding work leading the LGBTQ+ Action Plan For Wales and invaluable work on the Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Act.

“It is of vital importance we are able to maintain confidence amongst government colleagues so that we work as one to focus on improving the lives of the people in Wales.

“Given Hannah’s talents and experience, I have been clear there is a route back for her to take up a government position again in future.

“The government has offered ongoing support to the member.”

But Blythyn said: “I am deeply shocked and saddened by what has happened today. I am clear and have been clear that I did not, nor have I ever leaked anything. Integrity is all in politics and I retain mine.

“For a kid from Connah’s Quay, it is an immense privilege to serve the community that shaped me, let alone to have served in my country’s government. I will say no more at present.”

Keir Starmer on the grounds that he can’t be trusted because he has gone back on too many promises. Here is the official SNP response, in a statement from Mhairi Black, the SNP deputy leader at Westminster.

Sir Keir Starmer’s speech was full of broken promises and empty slogans – demonstrating why voting SNP is the only way to stand up for Scotland, protect our NHS, and advance our journey towards independence.

On the biggest issues damaging the UK, from austerity cuts to Brexit, the Labour party is wedded to the same reckless policies as the Tories.

You can’t stabilise the economy if you are trashing it with Brexit, and you can’t deliver strong public services if you are imposing billions of pounds of cuts to our NHS, schools and police.

The problem for Sir Keir is that he has U-turned on nearly every policy he has ever promised – so it’s little wonder the public don’t trust a single promise he now makes.

And with no mention of Scotland throughout his speech, it’s clear that Sir Keir Starmer intends to be prime minister for England only.

Labour pledge card launch this morning, Richard Holden, the Conservative party chair, said Keir Stamer could not be trusted to keep his promises. He said:

Today’s speech was devoid of any plan for Britain. Sir Keir Starmer is a serial promise breaker who doesn’t have the courage or conviction to stick to a single a pledge he has ever made – just look at his last pledge card, which he abandoned the second he got the chance. His unfunded spending, higher taxes and amnesty for illegal migrants would take Britain back to square one.

Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives are sticking with the plan to build a brighter future for British families, with inflation down from 11.1 per cent to 3.2 per cent, the economy growing and £900 back in hard-working people’s pockets – as well as a fair immigration system with boat crossings down.

to a letter by the MPs, John McDonnell, David Davis, Caroline Lucas and Jeremy Corbyn (pdf).

The intervention comes as a four-year legal saga surrounding US attempts to extradite Assange could enter their final phase next Monday when the court of appeal rules on whether or not to accept US assurances on how he will be treated if sent across the Atlantic.

The MPs point to emails released under the Freedom of Information Act to the Italian investigative journalist, Stefania Maurizi. They indicate that the Swedish authorities were eager to give up the case four years before they formally abandoned proceedings in 2017 and that the CPS dissuaded them from doing so. Other emails which the CPS should have retained were also deleted.

In their letter to Sir Bob Neil, Chair of the justice select committee, the MPs argue that the records released under FoI provide evidence that the Crown Prosecution Service helped create what they desribed as a “legal paralysis and diplomatic quagmire” surrounding Assange. They say:

Given the significance of the case of Julian Assange in relation to journalistic freedoms and the widespread public interest in the case, it is critically important that all the public bodies dealing with the case are seen to be acting in the public interest and acting appropriately.

Labour will view it as a success. It is rare for any political event aimed at the media to last more than an hour (they assume, rightly, that journalists have short attention spans), but this one zipped along nicely and after more than 90 minutes it still wasn’t gettting dull. We did not get anything new in terms of policy, and all the detail about the pledges (or “first “steps” as Labour calls them, at the risk of making Starmer sound like a toddler) was released under embargo yesterday. But there were two significant reveals.

First, the endorsements. No one will admit that they are going to change the way they vote just because X said they should, but endorsements can matter a lot because they signal to voters the X is a safe choice. Neil Basu used to be a very senior office in the Metropolitan police, and appears on the media a lot, and yet he has never endorsed Labour so obviously in the past. His appearance today was a surprise. But the more significant endorsement was from Seb James, the Boots CEO. He is not just head of a leading British business. As my colleague Jessica Elgot points out, he is (or at least was?) a very close friend of David Cameron.

Second, the positioning. Many of the questions from the media were about the pledges not being ambitious or leftwing enough, and Starmer responded quite confidently. His argument was that they were just a start, and that there was more to come. What was striking, though, was that he seems unperturbed by this line of attack, and that is because it reinforces what seems to be the more important message he wants to convey – that Labour is now firmly aligned with mainstream public opinion. (See 11.34am.) That is where he wants to be because that is where he thinks parties win elections.

In his foreward to the 1997 manifesto Tony Blair said “New Labour is the political arm of none other than the British people as a whole.” Starmer has dropped the term “New Labour”, but otherwise his message this morning was much the same (although expressed in less hubristic language).

And the contrast with the Conservative party’s main campaign event this week was striking. Starmer’s speech was more impressive than Rishi Sunak’s on Monday, and it is hard to imagine the Tories unveiling any surprise endorsements during the election campaign likely to impress the media.

The launch went down well with journalists. This is what some of them are saying.

From my colleague Jessica Elgot

This is – by some measure – the most impressive event this Labour leadership has ever assembled. Guests inc CEO of Boots, senior counter terror officer, a terminal cancer patient… each one linked to a key offer to the public.

It’s a big contrast to Sunak’s speech on Monday..

Sunak’s speech was at a Westminster thinktank, watched only by journalists and Tory MPs and was overshadowed by a minor minister who was (inexplicably) speaking at the same time about banning lanyards she doesn’t like.

From Beth Rigby from Sky News

Labour’s ’first steps’ campaign event at a GE-style rally. Six pledges. Starmer on stage using each guest that’s spoken at the event to try to hammer home the message of “change”. Change change change on repeat

From the Telegraph’s Ben Riley-Smith

This Labour pledge card launch feels like a mini party conference. Key shad cab ministers speaking. Endorsements. Big stage festooned with slogans. Very different feel to Rishi Sunak’s think tank campaign framing speech on Monday.

From James Ball from the New European

The contrast is quite stark – it’s not just that Sunak’s delivery lacked any energy, but the whole framing of the speech was enervating. It was in London, at a think tank, with no guests or anything to mark it.

From Jack Elsom from the Sun

Aside from the massive land grab on traditional Tory turf, it’s really notable how much Starmer has developed as a public speaker in the past few years. I went to the initial missions launch early last year and it’s just another level.

But Elsom was not impressed by Starmer’s answer to his question about sex education.

Starmer dodges question over whether he would keep or scrap the govt’s new sex education guidance, including the ban on teaching of gender identity.

Says he hasn’t looked at it yet, despite leading news agenda for days…

From Zoë Grünewald from the Lead

Starmer says his initial 2023 missions still apply, but these steps are the ‘first downpayments’ or ‘initial deliverables’ on those. I wonder if people will distinguish the difference. Because there is a danger it looks like he’s scaling back.

Aside from that, I think a decent speech well delivered. But notably missing building, tackling poverty and worker’s rights. A lot of people want to hear about housing. I’ll be on @bbc5live to talk about it shortly.