Jeremy Hunt set the stage for a titanic battle with Boris Johnson for the keys to Downing Street today – as Cabinet heavyweights lined up behind him. The Foreign Secretary is looking like the ‘Stop Boris’ candidate after winning endorsements from both Amber Rudd and Penny Mordaunt. The backing – at a slick campaign launch in Westminster – comes as the contest stepped up a gear, with Tory rivals from all factions taking aim at front runner Mr Johnson.
Michael Gove challenged Boris Johnson to submit himself to full scrutiny as he battled to shift the focus from his admission that he had taken cocaine. The environment secretary was in combative mood at the launch of his campaign for the Tory leadership race, questioning his former ally’s self-belief. Mr Gove reiterated his regret when challenged over his drug use and allegations of subsequent hypocrisy.
Michael Gove has tried to claw his way back into the race to be Britain’s next prime minister with a pledge to govern for “overlooked families and undervalued communities” – and a series of personal attacks on frontrunner Boris Johnson. The environment secretary’s campaign was blown off course at the weekend after revelations about cocaine use. But on the day the Tory leadership contest launched in earnest, Gove insisted he was still “in it to win it”.
Michael Gove has mocked Boris Johnson telling him “whatever you do, don’t pull out.” The Environment Secretary launched a ferocious attack on the frontrunner is a bid to deflect from his own woes surrounding his drug taking 20 years ago. He goaded the former Foreign Secretary by reminding him of the circumstances surrounding Mr Johnson’s decision to quit the race last time round.
COKE-shame Tory Michael Gove tried to revive his leadership hopes yesterday — with a jibe about Boris Johnson’s sex life. Gove urged his rival: “Whatever you do, don’t pull out.” MPs said it was a dig at the collapse of Boris’s marriage and his relationship with a younger Tory activist. With his reputation damaged by his admission he took cocaine more than 20 years ago, Gove accused Johnson of being wrong on Brexit and dodging TV debates.
Reading Michael Gove’s candid cocaine taking confession and those that have followed hard on its heels from Rory Stewart’s to Andrea Leadsom’s you’d be forgiven for asking whether there is anyone left in the Tory Party who hasn’t taken drugs. It’s not surprising then that most of Mr Gove’s colleagues have avoided reacting to what had all the hallmarks of an unavoidable damage-limitation exercise. On Saturday’s BBC Today programme, Dominic Raab munificently opined on the principle of having a ‘second chance’. Mr Gove has since pleaded exactly for that.
Michael Gove was accused of “desperation” on Monday as he launched a highly personal attack on his arch rival Boris Johnson to deflect questions about his own cocaine abuse. The Environment Secretary’s hopes of succeeding Theresa May were fading fast after the official launch of his leadership bid was dominated by the issue of his past use of the class A drug. In a further blow to Mr Gove, Penny Mordaunt, the Defence Secretary, chose to back Jeremy Hunt instead of him, as the Foreign Secretary overtook Mr Gove as the main challenger to Mr Johnson.
MATT Hancock will vow to tax the nation’s bookies to raise at least £100 million a year to fight gambling addiction. The Tory leadership outsider will target the ‘moderate’ vote by aping Labour and promising to slap a minimum 1 per cent compulsory tax on bookies profits. The levy will pay for an increase in research and treatment for gambling addiction – working with charities.
Matt Hancock today insisted the next prime minister does not need to be a Brexiteer and declared: ‘We don’t need a leaver, we need a leader’. The Health Secretary has warned that the Tories ‘are finished’ if they try to ape Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, who want a No Deal Brexit on October 31. Mr Hancock launched his leadership campaign in Westminster today, backed by friend and TV star Judge Rinder, who he said was not a Tory member but was there as a friend.
Mark Harper, one of the candidates vying to succeed British Prime Minister Theresa May, said he would seek a new Brexit deal and could not promise the exit would happen by Oct. 31. “My preference is to get a new deal. However, no deal must not be ruled out, should we be faced with a choice between no deal and no Brexit,” Harper said, according to excerpts distributed by his office.
Jeremy Hunt has warned that the Tories will be “annihilated” in an early general election, in an attack on Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy. The foreign secretary issued the thinly-veiled criticism of his rival’s “empty rhetoric” over a no-deal Brexit, which he warned would trigger a general election and let Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street. Mr Hunt has swung to the forefront of the contest with the surprise backing of cabinet Brexiteer Penny Mordaunt, who boosted his Eurosceptic credentials by saying she “trusts” him to deliver on Brexit.
Boris Johnson is facing an onslaught of criticism from Tory rivals for No 10 after it was revealed his £10bn pledge to cut income tax would hand the biggest sums to rich pensioners – and £3,000 to himself. As the leadership race turned nasty, the frontrunner was also accused of a Brexit plan that would “annihilate” the party and put Jeremy Corbyn in power “by Christmas”, and of “hiding” from scrutiny.
Boris Johnson defied orders from Tory chairman Brandon Lewis not to use the Peterborough by-election as a vehicle for his leadership campaign, HuffPost UK has learned. The former foreign secretary and other contenders to replace Theresa May were told that to focus on anything other than helping local candidate Paul Bristow would be unhelpful.
If he becomes the next prime minister Boris Johnson has promised to “retain” the £39 billion Brexit bill unless and until the EU agrees “greater clarity” about the future EU-UK trading relationship. This is a return to the position advocated previously by other leading Brexiteers, including two former Brexit secretaries, David Davis and Dominic Raab, but it is a position that has never actually held in the negotiation process itself. But – both legally and politically – could the UK really withhold its cash until it gets the deal it wants? Does Britain have a legal obligation to pay?
Boris Johnson amassed the most support of the Conservative leadership hopefuls at the 92 Group hustings on Monday evening. Johnson received 34 endorsements; Dominic Raab was second on 18 with Michael Gove and Esther McVey both on 6 votes respectively. The 92 Group is a faction of the Conservative parliamentary party whose aim is to “keep the Conservative Party conservative”.
BORIS JOHNSON sparked Tory civil war yesterday with his plan for a £10 billion tax giveaway for big earners. Rivals branded the pledge “unfair” on struggling Brits. And ex-Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said she doubted the plan would ever get through Parliament – given the Tories don’t have a majority. “In reality it will be impossible to actually get whole-scale tax changes through,” she said. The former Foreign Secretary stepped up his campaign for No.10 by vowing to increase the point at which people start paying the higher rate of income tax from £50,000 to £80,000.
Andrea Leadsom warned last night that the rising tide of violent crime in Britain has left members of the public ‘scared to go out after dark’. In an interview with the Daily Mail, the former Cabinet minister also said parents were increasingly ‘terrified about where their children are’. Mrs Leadsom, who will today launch her campaign for the Tory leadership with a pledge to crack down on violence, said she was ‘very concerned’ about spiralling knife and drug crime.
Dominic Raab has warned that he will refuse to appoint any cabinet minister who fails to sign up to leaving the European Union in October, with or without a deal, if he wins the Tory leadership. The former Brexit secretary said that his team would have to be “united” behind the policy, which has split the candidates in the race for No 10. Mr Raab, who is struggling to reignite a faltering campaign, also refused again to rule out proroguing parliament.
Tory leadership contenders are being accused by a rival candidate of making “reckless” spending pledges costing £84bn. The claim, by Rory Stewart, comes as he launches his leadership bid on day two of the campaign, along with Andrea Leadsom and Mark Harper. Mrs Leadsom is promising to tackle the climate change “emergency” and claiming she is an “optimistic yet realistic Brexiteer” who can restore trust in politics.
Rory Stewart has warned Tory leadership rivals against offering “cheap electoral bribes” to win support, saying party members who will choose the next PM are “smarter than this”. Rather than being “straight” with people, he said opponents had pledged “eye-watering” tax cuts worth £84bn. Boris Johnson kicked off his campaign by pledging an income tax cut for those who earn more than £50,000 a year. He has won the endorsement of former party leader Iain Duncan Smith.
Conservative leadership rivals attacked Boris Johnson yesterday for putting tax cuts for the rich at the centre of his leadership bid. In the first proper skirmishes of the campaign, the former foreign secretary was accused of allowing the Tories to be portrayed as the “party of privilege” as he announced plans to raise the threshold for higher rate income tax from £50,000 to £80,000.
Britain’s most senior civil servant will hold talks with the last two contenders in the Tory leadership race as Whitehall gears up for a change in the government’s Brexit strategy. Sir Mark Sedwill, the cabinet secretary, has received permission from Theresa May to hold discussions with the two candidates who reach the final Tory leadership election shortlist to discuss their priorities if they win. Sir Mark is understood to have already held informal talks with Boris Johnson and these will be formalised should he make the final two.
Brussels is preparing to deploy technology to keep trade flowing between Ireland and the EU via Britain under a No Deal Brexit. EU officials will use ‘IT systems’ so goods can continue across the sea from Ireland through the UK and on into France, according to a leaked document. The paper, which will be presented to EU leaders next week, ramps up No Deal warnings amid EU fears that a Brexiteer will win the keys to No 10. It says the fix to keep open the so-called ‘land bridge’ between the Republic and Northern Ireland can be ‘implemented swiftly in the event of No Deal’.
BRUSSELS is drawing up plans to use technology on the Irish border — despite rubbishing the idea when put forward by Brexiteers. Eurocrats will deploy “IT systems” to keep trade flowing between Ireland and the EU via Britain if there’s a No Deal Brexit. Yet their negotiators have repeatedly insisted tech was unable to solve the Irish backstop problem, one of the main sticking points in Theresa May’s doomed deal.
JEREMY Corbyn and his allies are considering sacking shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry from the Labour front bench for insisting the party must back a second Brexit referendum. Jeremy Corbyn is considering ousting Emily Thornberry from one of the top jobs in the shadow cabinet, amid allegations she has overstepped the mark on Brexit, senior figures in the Labour party claim. Ms Thornberry has ruffled feathers in Labour’s ranks after public criticising the party’s Brexit policy in the wake of Labour’s poor performance in the European elections, which she blamed on the failure to be “clear on the one thing people wanted to hear [a second referendum]”.
THE Trump administration’s threat to sabotage Jeremy Corbyn has been slammed by activists who said it was “frightening” and displayed a “pernicious contempt for democracy.” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made sinister remarks in a private conversation that was leaked to the Washington Post. He was asked by a Jewish group in New York how he would respond to a Corbyn election victory and if he would be “willing to work with us to take on actions if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the UK?”
GRASSROOT Conservatives have developed a mood of “simmering rage” at their party’s failure to implement Brexit and want out of the EU, with or without a deal, on October 31. Around 160,000 Tory Party members will decide Britain’s fate in Europe next month, in one of the most important leadership contests in living memory. However, in the Tory heartland of Kent, many of the voters have become disillusioned.
THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS could be set to welcome MPs defecting from Labour and the Conservatives, leadership candidate Sir Ed Davey has sensationally claimed. Mr Davey, who is battling with Jo Swinson for the party leadership, made the revelation after speaking to the i. The former Energy and Climate Change Secretary told the paper: “There are some Conservative MPs who are thinking the unthinkable and there are some liberal Labour people who are thinking the unthinkable.”
THE BREXIT PARTY’s Richard Tice has vowed to donate his entire MEP salary to charity, beginning with helping ex-offenders getting back into work. Brexit champion Richard Tice made the announcement on Twitter as he arrived at London St Pancras International ahead of his first appearance as an MEP. Mr Tice was elected as an MEP in the East of England region during last month’s elections as the Brexit Party stormed to victory in their first national campaign.
The Brexit Party may have lost the Peterborough by-election but it’s winning the battle of ideas. Just look at the effect it is having on the Conservative leadership contest. You could call it the Farage Effect. For the first time in what seems like millennia, Conservatives are advocating recognisably conservative policies again. Michael Gove says he wants to scrap HS2, replace VAT with a ‘lower, simpler’ alternative, cut business rates and introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system.
The BBC is to means-test free television licences for the over-75s, restricting them to those who receive pension credit. An estimated three million households will now lose their free licences. The new scheme will cost the corporation an estimated £250 million a year, while maintaining universal free licences would have cost £745 million. It will come into force in June 2020 and around 1.5 million households will be eligible. The BBC Board said it is “the fairest option to help the poorest pensioners” and “the fairest option for all licence fee payers, as this means everyone will continue to receive the best programmes and services that the BBC can provide.”
Up to 3.75 million pensioners will be stripped of the right to a free television licence next year after the BBC decided to means-test the benefit. From June 2020 only those over-75s who claim pension credit will be eligible for a free licence. All other pensioners will have to pay the full cost, now £154.50 a year. The BBC’s decision to axe universal free licences for over-75s was condemned by No 10 and age charities, who said that the unexpected bills would cause anxiety and distress.
The BBC has earned a reputation for being profligate over the years, lurching from spending scandal to spending scandal. Last year alone it spent £148million on presenter pay, with Match of the Day host Gary Lineker topping the bill by taking home £1.8million. It also lavished licence fee payer cash on behind-the-scenes staff. More than 100 of them are paid more than the Prime Minister, according to the most recent annual report. Some of its biggest earners have such nonsensical job titles, that most members of the public will have little idea of what they actually do.
Commuters have been warned of severe travel disruption on Tuesday as parts of the M25 were closed in both directions because of two sinkholes. Kent Police said they were responding to a traffic accident between junctions four and five when they discovered the holes in the central reservation. Highways England said the road near Sevenoaks would remain closed through the morning rush hour “due to the serious road defect” and told motorists to follow diversions.
THE M25 was forced to close overnight after two sinkholes opened up due to torrential downpours that have lashed the UK. Kent Police revealed an accident between junctions four and five led to the discovery of a pair of sinkholes near Sevenoaks. Highways England said the M25 would be closed this morning as teams assess a “serious road defect”. The organisation then advised drivers to find alternative routes and to follow diversions.
Commuters face another miserable journey to work this morning after flash flooding hit south east England, sending the M20 underwater, with more torrential rain on the way today. Police in Kent urged drivers to slow down and only to travel unless completely necessary, after officers received countless calls of roads being flooded. Traffic officials have been forced to close the M25 after a crash revealed two sinkholes on the central reservation, with fears the motorway could remain shut well into morning rush hour.
An area of forest twice the size of the UK has been destroyed since 2010 to create plantations that supply some of the world’s leading food companies, according to a Greenpeace report. The rate of forest loss has increased since 2016, meaning that pledges by Nestlé, Mondelez and other companies in 2010 to end deforestation by 2020 may not be met, the group said. Forests in Brazil, Indonesia and African countries in the Congo basin are among the worst affected, with vast areas cleared to create palm oil and soya plantations and grazing for cattle.
The photo of Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron planting an oak tree in the garden of the White House symbolized the friendship shown by the two leaders. But relations between them have since frayed – over issues ranging from Iran to trade – and the tree, a diplomatic source said this week, did not survive.