ARCH-Tory Remainer Oliver Letwin has reluctantly admitted Parliament has run out of options to prevent the next prime minister pushing through a no-deal Brexit. The former minister, who has been behind a series of failed cross-party moves to block a no-deal departure, said he could not think of any further parliamentary opportunity to intervene before Britain is due to leave on October 31. His belated admission came after the Commons narrowly voted on Wednesday to reject a Labour motion, backed by other opposition parties, which would have enabled MPs to take control of the business of the House on June 25.
MPs may have run out of possibilities to block a future prime minister pursuing a no-deal Brexit, a senior Tory has warned after an attempt to wrestle control of parliamentary business from the government was defeated. The remarks came as Conservative leadership contenders continued to insist they are willing to leave the European Union without a deal – despite a leaked document saying the UK will not be prepared for a no-deal exit by 31 October.
Reviving the campaign to prevent Britain making a clean break from the European Union after an attempt to use parliament to outlaw a full Brexit failed on Tuesday night, rebel members of the governing Conservative Party have said they would move to bring down the government altogether to stop Brexit. The threat to the next Prime Minister — today whittled down to a list of seven Conservative front-runners who will be voted on again next week — comes as several would-be leaders said they are determined to see Brexit happen in October, and some have even not ruled out suspending Parliament to prevent remain-supporting MPs from torpedoing an exit.
Before this Tory leadership election started, the party’s grandees and custodians were telling me party members MUST at all costs be given a choice of candidates to be leader and our next prime minister. Now they tell me Boris Johnson is so far ahead – both among MPs and seemingly among the membership – that it would politically insane to stick to the current timetable of two candidates beating each other up in public, in front of mostly retired white men, for four weeks.
RIVALS of Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson are attempting to force the leading Brexiteer to take part in a TV debate by rivals who hope he will make a mistake cutting support for his campaign. The former Foreign Secretary has faced criticism from his rivals, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Dominic Raab. The three will join Sajid Javid, Matt Hancock and Rory Stewart in a live debate on Channel 4 and the BBC.
Boris Johnson is under growing pressure to take part in televised debates for the Conservative leadership. Mr Johnson’s six remaining opponents have teamed up to write an open letter stressing their commitment to taking part in all the upcoming televised debates. So far, the former foreign secretary has only answered six questions from journalists during the whole campaign, but that hasn’t stopped him opening up a huge lead in the first ballot of the contest.
BORIS Johnson’s Tory leadership rivals ganged up on Thursday night to demand he join them in TV debates – as they scrambled to close the gap on the frontrunner. Left to a desperate battle for second place, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid, Matt Hancock and Rory Stewart said they were all committed to taking part in showdowns on Channel 4 and the BBC.
Boris Johnson‘s rivals last night piled pressure on the former foreign secretary to take part in a string of TV debates. Channel 4 News has proposed a programme on Sunday night featuring all seven remaining candidates. The BBC is also planning a debate on Tuesday – after the second round of voting by Tory MPs, which will see at least one other candidate eliminated.
Boris Johnson’s supporters have called on “vanity candidates” to drop out of the Tory leadership race to speed up the process of selecting the next prime minister. The former foreign secretary was backed by 114 Tory MPs in the first round of voting – 71 more than his nearest rival Jeremy Hunt. Seven of the ten candidates went through to the next round of voting, but with the four least popular of the remaining candidates only managing 89 votes between them, they were under pressure to pull out so that the field can be whittled down to the final two during the second vote on Tuesday.
Conservative leadership candidates are in talks about joining forces to provide the strongest challenge to Boris Johnson, who looks all but certain to be Britain’s next prime minister after trouncing rivals in the first MPs’ ballot. Johnson hoovered up the votes of 114 MPs, more than a third of the parliamentary Tory party, and enough backers to guarantee him a place in the final two, assuming he retains their support in later rounds.
Cabinet minister Rory Stewart has issued a stunning threat to “bring down” a Boris Johnson-led government – should his Tory rival suspend parliament in order to push through a no-deal Brexit. The international development secretary, who is competing against Mr Johnson for the Conservative leadership, told Sky News political editor Beth Rigby that his fellow candidate needed to “be straight with people”.
Tory leadership candidate Matt Hancock is understood to be considering pulling out of the race, as the remaining contenders consider how best to challenge frontrunner Boris Johnson. BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the health secretary could make a decision within hours, after getting 20 votes in the first ballot of Tory MPs. That left him in sixth place in the race, well behind Mr Johnson on 114.
Jo Brand is being investigated by police over an allegation of incitement to violence after she joked about throwing battery acid over politicians. The Metropolitan Police said they had received a complaint about the BBC Radio 4 comedy programme in which Brand made her comments. It came as Theresa May asked the BBC to explain why it had approved the joke for broadcast, suggesting that it “normalised” violence against politicians.
The Metropolitan Police is investigating Jo Brand over allegations of incitement to violence after she joked about throwing battery acid at Brexiteers. The 61-year-old comedian defended her remarks yesterday at Henley Literary Festival in Oxfordshire, where she was promoting her book, Born Lippy. She said that freedom of speech in comedy was “extremely important”.
JO Brand is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police after making a comment about throwing battery acid at politicians. The comedian made the joke on Victoria Coren Mitchell’s Heresy radio programme on Tuesday night, and was criticised by Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage among others. A police statement to the Press Association on Thursday said: “Police have received an allegation of incitement to violence that was reported to the MPS on 13 June.
BREXIT Party leader Nigel Farage said he fears being attacked in the wake of Jo Brand’s comments — adding that his security bill will have to increase. He told The Sun: “Because of the atmosphere engendered by people like her I already have to spend a lot of money every month making sure I’ve got security to protect me. I suspect after what she has done that bill has just gone up significantly.
Chuka Umunna has joined the Liberal Democrats days after quitting the party he founded. The MP for Streatham who quit the Labour party to form the Independent Group, which later became Change UK, in February, will become the Lib Dems’ twelfth MP. On Thursday Layla Moran tweeted: “So thrilled to welcome Chuka Umunna to team Lib Dems!”
Chuka Umunna is to join the Liberal Democrats, saying that he was wrong to believe there was a need for a new political party in the centre ground of British politics. The MP for Streatham, who briefly stood for the Labour leadership in 2015 and quit to sit as part of an independent group in the Commons in February, will become the Lib Dems’ 12th MP. Sir Vince Cable, the party’s outgoing leader, hailed him as a “formidable, serious political figure” who would be a positive addition.
CHUKA UMUNNA has joined the Liberal Democrats – less than two weeks after quitting newly-formed Change UK. The former Labour MP, who will become the Liberal Democrats‘ 12th MP, confirmed the move on his Twitter page, and said: “I’m delighted to say I’ve joined the @LibDems.” Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon Layla Moran tweeted: “So thrilled to welcome @chukaumunna to team @libdems!”
Ex-Labour and Change UK MP Chuka Umunna is joining the Lib Dems – just six years after he said you can’t trust them. The former shadow business secretary quit Labour in February this year to join the new Independent group, which became Change UK ahead of the European elections last month. Following disappointing election results, where Change UK failed to make major gains but the Lib Dems came second after the Brexit Party, Mr Umunna went independent.
Breakaway party Change UK has suffered fresh embarrassment after announcing it has been forced to change its name again. The struggling party – which endured a painful split nine days ago – said it was ditching its name under threat of legal action from the campaign organisation Change.org. “We are applying to register ourselves as ‘The Independent Group for Change’,” it said in a statement – having been born as the Independent Group at its launch in February.
Change UK has applied to change its name for a third time following a dispute with a petitions website. The political group, originally known as The Independent Group, was challenged over the similarity of its new title to Change.org. Now, the group has confirmed it will apply to the Electoral Commission to register as The Independent Group for Change. The party said in a statement: “Ahead of the European elections, lawyers for the organisation Change.org disputed our right to register as ‘Change UK’ with the Electoral Commission.
The number of knife crimes dealt with by the justice system has reached its highest level for nine years. More than 22,000 offences of possessing or making threats with a knife were dealt with by police and the courts in the year to March, an increase of a third in five years. In the first three months of this year, 5,759 offences were dealt with by the justice system compared with 5,285 in the same period last year.
Knife offences have hit a nine-year high following a nationwide surge in stabbings, official figures reveal. More than 22,000 cases were dealt with by the justice system last year – of which one in five involved children. But only a third of offenders went to jail. Sentences were so soft that even many of those with several previous knife convictions avoided being locked up. Yesterday’s figures showed 561 criminals were spared prison despite having committed at least three knife offences in the past.
Knife crime offences are at a nine-year high across England and Wales according to official figures released today by the Ministry of Justice, revealing the devastating effect the recent epidemic is having on Britain’s streets. Over 22,000 offences which involved the use of potential use of a knife were recorded in England and Wales in the year to March, 72% of which were committed by first-time offenders. Whilst the average sentence for knife-related crime has risen marginally since 2017-2018 from 7.1 months to 7.9 months, only 37.3% of offenders were handed an immediate custodial sentence.
Brussels was accused of ‘unacceptable greed’ last night as it emerged Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk are in line for nearly £440,000 in ‘golden goodbyes’. The Eurocrats, whose terms finish in November, are entitled to the bumper severance payments after leaving office. It means Mr Tusk, president of the European Council, is in line to rake in up to £288,000 for a ‘transitional allowance’, while European Commission chief Mr Juncker can pocket £144,000.
LUXEMBOURG Prime Minister Xavier Bettel has given German Chancellor Angela Merkel a glowing endorsement in the hope she will become the future president of the European Commission. Mr Bettel told CNBC the German politician would be a “dream candidate” for the coveted role after Jean-Claude Junker steps down. He said: “I love that idea, I’ve asked Angela Merkel several times. She would be a perfect candidate for the Council, for the Commission.
France’s Marine Le Pen unveiled a new far-right group in the European Parliament on Thursday, uniting eurosceptics from across the continent who aim to devolve power from Brussels back to capitals. Calling itself the Identity and Democracy (ID) group, the new alliance brings together Le Pen’s National Rally, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini’s League party and Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AfD) plus nationalists from Austria, Finland and Denmark, among others.
The European Union’s Budget Commissioner has admitted that “there’s not really a court to settle the dispute” if the next British Prime Minister refuses to hand over the £39 billion Brexit bill. Gunther Oettinger said yesterday that: “Mrs. May’s government accepted the payment of that amount so we expect that, no matter which government will be our negotiating partner in the future. We expect them to accept that bill.
Almost three quarters of NHS hospitals take more than two months to start patients’ cancer treatment, figures have revealed. Hospital trusts in England are supposed to begin treatment within 62 days of a GP’s referral in 85 per cent of cases. But last year only 37 out of 131 managed to hit that target, with 94 keeping seriously ill patients waiting longer. In the worst performing health systems, almost 40 per cent of people had to wait longer than they should, while that figure was less than five per cent in the best.
The NHS waiting list has reached a record high for the second month in a row, according to official figures. There are now 4.3million people waiting for hospital treatment and 140,000 people were added to the list between January and April this year. Record numbers of people are being treated by NHS surgeons and specialists but more of them are having to wait longer than four-and-a-half months. The waiting list figures were released alongside other data revealing May was the second busiest month on record for A&E departments in England.
Cancer patients in three-fifths of NHS trusts in England are waiting too long for treatment and the devastating effects of delays are being “ignored” by ministers and health service chiefs, MPs have said. A damning report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the government and NHS England must regain control over “unacceptable” waiting lists. It also criticised the “troubling” lack of interest in those left for months without treatment.
A smuggling ring thought to have made millions sneaking more than 300 migrants into the UK has been smashed by police. Officers in Romania and France arrested 11 gang members suspected to be part of a major international smuggling operation made up of 59 mainly Romanian truck drivers, middlemen and leaders. It is believed the gang, who are suspected of transporting 308 migrants to Britain, made £3million charging £9,700 to £12,800 for a passage through the Eurotunnel or ferries across the Channel.
Ofsted has warned parents cannot have confidence in some outstanding-rated schools because they have not been inspected for so long. Until last year, 296 schools had not been visited by the schools inspectorate for more than a decade because they had the highest possible rating. But this academic year, the watchdog has launched a crackdown over fears that standards were slipping in those schools.
Ofsted has issued a warning over “outstanding” schools as the number retaining their status has halved, new data has revealed. This academic year only 16 per cent of schools retained their “outstanding” status following re-inspection compared to 33 per cent last year, official figures showed. Schools rated as “outstanding”, the highest Ofsted grade, are highly sought after by parents and often drive up nearby house prices as families flock to the local area so that they qualify for the school catchment area.
One in five children missed out on their first choice secondary school this year following a rise in applications caused by a baby boom. New government statistics show 19.1 per cent lost out this year, a rise on the 17.9 per cent who were disappointed in 2018. The squeeze on places was due to a rise in applications of around 20,000 – or 3.7 per cent – to 604,500, following a similar rise the previous year.
Parents have been told that many “outstanding” schools are no longer worthy of the accolade after more than four in five of those re-inspected in the past year were downgraded. The proportion keeping the top rating after the latest inspection has halved since last year. Inspections are being stepped up amid fears that many ratings, which can raise house prices as families compete for places, are invalid. At present one in five schools is judged to be outstanding.
Boris Johnson has suggested that he will drop his longstanding opposition to a third runway at Heathrow if he becomes prime minister. The frontrunner to succeed Theresa May refused to reassure campaigners against the runway earlier this week that he would cancel the scheme. Four years ago Mr Johnson vowed to his constituents that he would “lie down with you in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that third runway”.
Britain’s weary travellers took a record 1.76billion trips by train last year, amid widespread overcrowding and rampant delays. Despite commuters enduring the least punctual service in 13 years, statistics published yesterday by the Office of Rail and Road show the number of trips made in the 12 months to March was up 51 million – 3 per cent – on the previous year. The rail industry said the increase was fuelled by thousands of extra services being laid on, but the figures have fuelled concerns about overcrowding.