The battle against Brexit has not ended with Boris Johnson’s emphatic general election victory, Liberal Democrat interim co-leader Sir Ed Davey has said. While accepting that the prime minister now has the votes in the Commons to get his withdrawal agreement through by 31 January, Sir Ed insisted that this will not mean Brexit is “done”. Johnson’s plans could still “implode” over the course of the coming year as the inconsistencies in his election promises come under strain in the struggle to get a trade agreement with Brussels by the extraordinarily tight deadline of December 2020, he said.
Lib Dem ex-leader Jo Swinson could be parachuted into the House of Lords after leading her party to general election humiliation. She claimed she could become Prime Minister on December 12 but instead she lost her own seat as the party sunk from 21 MPs to just 11. Acting party boss Sir Ed Davey said he wanted her “back in Parliament as soon as possible”. She could make a swift return to Westminster if the Lib Dems nominate her to become a Baroness in the Dissolution Honours List.
One of the MPs tipped to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader has been accused of calling northern voters “stupid” in a row over who was to blame for the party’s election defeat. Emily Thornberry, who represents a Remain-voting constituency next to Mr Corbyn’s in north London, is alleged to have told a fellow MP in a Leave-voting seat: “I’m glad my constituents aren’t as stupid as yours”. The claim, made by defeated Don Valley Labour MP Caroline Flint, was quickly denied by Ms Thornberry but it fuelled a growing row over Corbyn loyalists blaming the public for last week’s historic defeat.
Senior Labour figure Emily Thornberry has accused a party colleague of sharing a “total and utter lie” about her, as infighting broke out amid a race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as leader. The shadow foreign secretary, who is believed to be eyeing a shot at taking over the top job from her ally, was accused on Sunday of making a disparaging remark about voters. Former minister Caroline Flint, who lost her seat in the former stronghold of Don Valley during the catastrophic election for Labour, claimed Ms Thornberry had told a colleague: “I’m glad my constituents aren’t as stupid as yours”.
Emily Thornberry has denied a former Labour MP’s claim that she privately branded Leave voters “stupid”, describing it as an “utter lie”. A row erupted on Sunday morning when Caroline Flint lashed out at the shadow foreign secretary after she lost her Don Valley seat to the Tories in a 10 per cent vote swing. The Evening Standard understands that Ms Thornberry is now consulting lawyers to seek a retraction from Ms Flint. Addressing rumours the Labour front-bencher could run for Labour leader, Ms Flint told Sky News: “She said to one of my colleagues, ‘I’m glad my constituents aren’t as stupid as yours’. I’m sorry, it’s not acceptable.”
The starting gun has been fired on the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, as the party became engulfed in a bitter row about whether its Brexit position or leadership were mainly to blame for last week’s election disaster. Labour confirmed on Sunday night that Corbyn had asked for a leadership process to elect his successor by the end of March, meaning he will carry on in post and opposing Boris Johnson across the dispatch box for more than three months.
The Labour Party stands on the brink of civil war in the wake of its crushing election defeat, as MPs from the party’s centrist wing raise howls of protest against efforts to instal a new leader in the mould of Jeremy Corbyn. With senior figures on the Labour left coalescing around Rebecca Long-Bailey as the candidate to take the Corbyn project forward, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said that any likely contenders for the top job would be signed up to the policy programme put forward in the manifesto for this month’s election.
Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of trying to “stitch up” the selection of Labour’s next leader by limiting the group which will set out the process to a “cabal” of his supporters. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said the officers of the party’s National Executive Committee – a sub-group of senior members of Labour’s ruling body – will meet on Monday and decide the timetable for electing the new leader. It came as Lisa Nandy became the first Labour MP to say she is considering standing for leader. Mr McDonnell praised Rebecca Long-Bailey and Angela Rayner while shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said he would back Ms Long-Bailey as a candidate.
JEREMY CORBYN celebratory event JezzFest is making a return in February, despite the last rally flopping due to low crowds, and the Labour leader and his party taking a battering in the general election. The last Glastonbury-style festival to celebrate the Labour Party leader, dubbed JezzFest, took place in Tottenham, North London in June 2018. Plans for a JezzFest reboot come despite Jeremy Corbyn overseeing the party’s worst general election performance since the 1930s, and admitting he will quit in a matter of weeks.
Boris Johnson will meet the Tory MPs who smashed down Labour’s “red wall” on Monday to promise billions of pounds in Government spending to keep their seats Conservative. The Prime Minister has £78 billion at his disposal to plough into transformative infrastructure projects including major road and rail upgrades across the north and Midlands. Out of the 109 new Tory MPs who will meet Mr Johnson, 55 took seats from Labour, including some that had been held by Jeremy Corbyn’s party for more than 100 years.
Boris Johnson looks set to wield his new-found power to make sweeping changes to government. The Prime Minister is said to have plans to shake up the entire shape of some departments now he can stamp his authority with an 80-seat majority. And The Sunday Telegraph reports his top aide will begin examining “radical” civil service reforms – including reviewing the rules on hiring and firing public servants. In a move likely to alarm Whitehall union reps, it is said to be overseen by Dominic Cummings – who complained in 2014 that “almost no one is ever fired” in the civil service.
Boris Johnson’s most senior aide is to overhaul the way the Ministry of Defence spends billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money in a move expected to alarm military chiefs and mandarins. Dominic Cummings, regarded as a key architect of the prime minister’s election victory, will tackle military procurement as a priority for next year, allies have said. He is expected to audit recent purchases and review the development of costly military equipment, having previously described MoD procurement as “disastrous”.
Boris Johnson will put control of Britain’s borders, improvements to the NHS and spending in the North at the centre of a Government shake-up designed to ensure years more of Conservative rule. The Prime Minister will welcome 109 new Tory MPs to Westminster today with a message that addressing voters’ concerns now could see the Tories win a record fifth term in 2024 – and rule throughout the 2020s. He will carry out a minor reshuffle today to fill gaps left by the departures of former culture secretary Nicky Morgan and former Welsh secretary Alun Cairns.
BREXIT is back on the table again after the Conservative Party won an outright majority in the General Election, providing Boris Johnson with a new mandate to get his withdrawal agreement through the House of Commons. Since the election, the SNP has accelerated its demands for a Scottish independence vote. Brexit is now expected to happen in 2020, as Boris Johnson’s new-found majority should allow him to pass legislation through the House of Commons with ease. As the Conservatives vastly extended their reach in Parliament, another party followed and the SNP now claims it has its own mandate for an independent Scotland which could separately join the EU.
Michael Gove has said that the government “absolutely” will not allow a second referendum on Scottish independence within the next five years. Boris Johnson made clear in a phone call with Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon on Friday that he remains opposed to an IndyRef2. But SNP leader Ms Sturgeon said that Mr Johnson cannot “lock us in a cupboard and throw away the key” if Scotland wants independence. And the SNP’s leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, said that a letter demanding a referendum under section 30 of the Scotland Act will be sent to Mr Johnson by Ms Sturgeon in the coming week.
Scotland “cannot be imprisoned in the union against its will” by the UK government, Nicola Sturgeon has said. The Scottish first minister says the SNP’s success in the general election gives her a mandate to hold a new referendum on independence. However, UK ministers are opposed to such a move with Michael Gove saying the vote in 2014 should be “respected”. Ms Sturgeon told the BBC that if the UK was to continue as a union, “it can only be by consent”. She told The Andrew Marr Show that the UK government would be “completely wrong” to think saying no to a referendum would be the end of the matter, adding: “It’s a fundamental point of democracy – you can’t hold Scotland in the union against its will.”
Election results in Northern Ireland have raised hopes that devolved government could be restored at Stormont before the January deadline. Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith MP will meet the main parties on Monday for what has been described as “last-chance talks”. If parties fail to reach agreement by mid-January, he will have little option but to call a Northern Ireland Assembly election. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) gained two seats last week, meaning Northern Ireland now has more nationalist MPs than Unionist. But the DUP lost one in six voters, Sinn Fein one in four, putting pressure on both parties to compromise.
The European Union will not “cut its own throat” with a post-Brexit trade deal next year if Boris Johnson refuses to align Britain’s economy to single market rules, senior Brussels sources said yesterday. Michael Gove, the cabinet minister tipped to become Britain’s lead negotiator on a future trade deal in February, has committed the government to concluding it next year. “What I can absolutely confirm is that we’ll have an opportunity to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in relatively short order and then we will make sure that it passes before January 31,” he told Sky News yesterday. “We will have concluded our conversations with the EU about the new framework of free trade and friendly co-operation by the end of next year.”
Populist Italian Senator Matteo Salvini’s Identity and Democracy (ID) group in the European Parliament are set to gain MEPs as a result of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. After Britain leaves the political bloc, its 73 MEP seats will be split into one group of 27 which will be distributed in the parliament and 46 that will remain dormant and could be used for future enlargement of the EU, Il Giornale reports. Given that Salvini’s ID does not have a single British MEP, the group will not lose any seats in the parliament, but instead is expected to grow by three more MEPs — and will be larger than the Green group as a result.
A Labour MP has been criticised for an “appalling” speech in which he said his party would fight the Tories “in the streets”. Lloyd Russell-Moyle’s speech after his victory in Brighton Kemptown on Thursday was slammed by Conservative politician Sir Andrew Bowden. It came after Labour suffered its worst general election defeat to the Conservatives in more than 80 years. Mr Russell-Moyle, 33, told the crowd at the Brighton Centre: “The Conservative Party have an aim to break up our country. “They aim to destroy our NHS and we will say no.
A row is brewing between Downing Street and the BBC, after Tory sources said they intended to “withdraw engagement” from Radio 4’s flagship Today programme. Ministers were pulled from Saturday’s edition of the radio show, with a No 10 source saying there had been a “failure” by senior management during the course of the general election. The broadcaster has faced criticism over alleged bias in its coverage, which included an on-air monologue from Andrew Neil criticising Boris Johnson for his refusal to be interviewed. A No 10 source called on the BBC to mount an internal investigation into its output over the campaign, saying: “The BBC speaks to a pro-Remain metropolitan bubble in Islington, not the real world represented by Wakefield and Workington.
Downing Street is squaring up to the BBC, threatening a boycott of Radio 4’s Today and a review of the licence fee as Conservatives fume about the broadcaster’s coverage of the election. The government confirmed yesterday that it had launched a review into decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee as punishment for what the Tories see as pro-Remain bias. The BBC denies accusations of bias. Opponents of the government are likely to argue that attacks on the corporation are an attempt by a government to undermine its independence.
Downing Street is threatening the future of the BBC by insisting it is seriously considering decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee, while boycotting Radio 4’s Today programme over the broadcaster’s supposed anti-Tory bias. No 10 pulled ministers from Saturday’s edition of the Today programme and sources said it intended to “withdraw engagement” from the show in future. The row is seen as an ominous sign of Boris Johnson’s willingness to bypass independent scrutiny and follows criticism of the BBC’s election coverage from both left and right. No 10 pointed to Andrew Neil’s on-air monologue in which he lambasted Johnson for his refusal to be interviewed, and the BBC’s “extensive coverage” of a four-year-old boy with suspected pneumonia forced to sleep on a hospital floor – as supposed evidence of anti-Tory, pro-remain bias at the corporation.
BBC BOSSES are facing another impartiality row after more than 12,000 furious viewers complained about Andrew Marr’s TV interview with Boris Johnson earlier this month. The corporation’s latest complaints bulletin showed a record-breaking 12,172 people felt the encounter on Mr Marr’s BBC One show on 1 December was biased against Mr Johnson. The BBC tried to defend itself by insisting the interview was part of the “cut and thrust” of politics and “would be the case whoever Andrew was facing”. Mr Marr and Mr Johnson frequently talked over each other during the broadcast.
Cases of flu could peak at Christmas as children give it to elderly relatives, doctors say after delays in the delivery of vaccines meant that uptake among two and three-year-olds was lagging behind previous seasons. The delay has been resolved and the NHS is urging parents of children with medical conditions to arrange for a vaccination that comes as a nasal spray. There are signs that the vaccinations available this year are well matched to the main strain of flu. Uptake by people over 65 at about 69 per cent has passed last year’s levels. The proportion of pregnant women and two and three-year-olds having the vaccination were far lower, at 39 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.
Senior doctors have urged parents to vaccinate their ‘super-spreader’ children against flu as vital NHS services have been flooded with patients this winter. Medical professionals have said jabs are the ‘best defence’ against the highly-infectious disease which has hit the UK earlier than usual. More people over the age of 65 have been vaccinated this year compared with 2018 but less than one third of two and three-year-olds have had their jab. The number of patients booking doctor’s appointments with flu-like symptoms has increased by 24 per cent in the last week, according to the latest data from Public Health England. NHS National medical director Stephen Powis urged the 25 million Britons eligible for the free vaccination to ‘get your jab now’.
A UN climate summit is at risk of collapsing today after all-night negotiations between countries left them more divided than ever over on how to fight global warming and pay for its ravages, having already gone into overtime for the talks. Delegates from across the world have been in Madrid for the COP 25 conference for nearly two weeks attempting to work towards a deal for countries to commit to new carbon emissions cuts by the end of 2020. Diplomats from rich nations, emerging giants and the world’s poorest countries – each for their own reasons – found fault in a draft agreement put forward by meeting host Chile in a botched attempt to strike common ground.
The longest U.N. climate talks on record came to a disappointing end Sunday in Madrid, with delegates from almost 200 nations at odds over how to address climate change and postponing debate about rules for international carbon markets for another year. The talks stretched well beyond Friday’s scheduled close of the two-week event. In the end, negotiators endorsed a general call for greater efforts to tackle climate change and several measures to help poor countries respond and adapt to its impacts. The final declaration cited an “urgent need” to cut planet-heating greenhouse gases in line with the goals of the 2015 Paris climate change accord, but it fell far short of demanding explicitly that countries submit bolder emissions proposals next year.
BRITS will be plagued by 12 days of Christmas travel chaos with roads and railways to be brought to a standstill by works. An eye-watering 18 million cars will take to the roads on December 20 – dubbed Frantic Friday – as major routes are set to be choked up by more than 2,000 roadworks. Schools breaking up later this week will trigger 60 minute-plus getaway jams and will peak on Friday. Some rail journey times will almost quadruple with Network Rail is set to spend more than £100million on 386 Christmas projects. Four million Brits will flee the country abroad – but they to face delays with Heathrow Express trains scrapped, Gatwick Express cut by half and the possibility of massive security queues.