Cross party talks
Theresa May has been told by Cabinet ministers that she should end talks with Labour “immediately” and focus on overhauling her Brexit deal and winning round the DUP. Ministers including Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, and Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, are said to have warned that the talks are “damaging” the Government and the party. The Prime Minister defended the continuing talks with Labour, saying that while many in Cabinet disagreed with the ongoing discussions “we have to govern in the national interest” and “this course of action is what the country expects of us”.
THERESA May yesterday accused Labour of deliberately dragging out cross-party talks being held to try to find a consensus on the way forward for Brexit. In a sign that the discussions have hit an impasse, the Prime Minister told her Cabinet that the timetable for the UK’s departure from the EU had become a key sticking point between the two sides. She is also understood to be concerned Labour will wreck crucial Brexit legislation in the Commons to block her EU withdrawal deal for a fourth time.
Theresa May is preparing to challenge Labour to support the legislation needed to achieve Brexit if cross-party compromise talks break down. In a high-risk strategy, the prime minister is considering introducing the bill that would give effect to Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union within weeks. The move would effectively decouple the withdrawal agreement, which Labour largely supports, from the plan for a future relationship, to which it is demanding changes.
Theresa May has accused Labour of dragging its heels in the bid to find a cross-party compromise to deliver Brexit, even before the talks resumed after Easter. “The discussions with Labour have been serious but had also been difficult in some areas, such as in relation to the timetable for the negotiations,” the prime minister told her cabinet. No 10 fears Jeremy Corbyn does not share Ms May’s desire to avoid next month’s European parliament elections – which would require an agreement within days.
THERESA MAY will return to Parliament today to kickstart talks with the Labour opposition in hopes to break the Brexit deadlock before the forthcoming European elections. The Prime Minister has struggled to reach an agreement in cross-party talks, and faces increasing pressure from MPs to secure a Brexit deal before the European elections on May 23.
EU COMMISSION President Jean-Claude Juncker warned of “fake news” around next month’s European elections as he revealed his fears for the upcoming vote. The EU boss claimed there were moves from member states and countries outside the bloc to manipulate the May elections where eurosceptics are expected to gain ground. Mr Juncker told German newspaper Funke Mediengruppe: “I can see an attempt to rig the European Parliament elections.
Theresa May is planning to bring her Brexit deal back for another vote – even as Tory MPs plan to change the rules of their party’s leadership elections so they can oust her. The 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs met last night but discussions on whether a time limit banning successive leadership votes should be changed from a year to six months was said to be was ‘inconclusive’.
CABINET ministers are urging Theresa May to abandon Labour talks and force a fourth Commons showdown on her Brexit deal next week instead. Time is running out for the PM to avoid having to hold euro elections, with the poll to elect MEP on May 23 – four weeks tomorrow. As cross party talks to pass the EU agreement began again yesterday after the Easter break, frustrated Mrs May accused Labour of dragging its feet.
Theresa May is preparing to give MPs a vote on the key piece of legislation enacting Britain’s exit from the European Union next week, as negotiations with Labour continue. The prime minister will discuss Brexit with her cabinet colleagues, with government sources suggesting one likely way forward is to table the withdrawal and implementation bill (WAB) in the next 10 days.
THERESA MAY ‘loyalists’ launched a fierce bid to save her from the sack yesterday as rebel Tory MPs called for her head. Livid Ministers tore into senior Tories on the powerful 1922 backbench committee over their demand to rip up party rules to force a new no confidence vote in the PM this June. The demand was due to be voted on at a crisis meeting of the 18-strong Committee late last night. Brexit-backing 1922 executive Nigel Evans said he would be “delighted” if the PM quit NOW given the Brexit chaos – and said there was a growing “clamour” for her resignation.
EMBATTLED Theresa May was facing a triple assault on her leadership today amid growing dismay over her handling of Brexit. She is expected to be told she must step down as Prime Minister by the end of June or Conservative MPs will change the party rules and force her out. Mrs May could also be challenged with an unprecedented vote of confidence this week as Tory grassroots anger boils over.
Pro-Brexit Conservatives are continuing to up the pressure for Theresa May to go sooner rather than later. Though we’ve been hearing this for a while, surely she must go soon? Dinah Glover, a Tory Chairman in the East End of London, has told ITV News: “She does need to go now. And we need to reset the negotiations, set a different course. We do have an extension until the end of October which actually could be used positively. “But I think with Mrs. May its not going to be used positively.”
A VOTE of no confidence has been tabled in Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, with MPs accusing him of not being impartial during the Brexit process. Furious Conservative MP Crispin Blunt tabled the motion after writing to all MPs asking for support, adding he would not publish the names of backers unless they hit three figures in order not to expose them to “retribution” by the Speaker.
Rachel Johnson could become the fourth member of the Johnson family to become an elected politician after she was unveiled on Tuesday as a Change UK candidate at the European Parliament elections. The national newspaper columnist and former reality television personality could follow her Conservative MPs brothers Boris and Jo Johnson, as well as her father Stanley – a former Conservative MEP – into elected office.
Boris Johnson’s sister, a former BBC broadcaster and John Major’s health secretary will all stand for Change UK in next month’s European elections, but the party’s launch yesterday was marred when one of its candidates was forced to stand down within hours over comments about Romanians. The pro-Remain party announced its MEP hopefuls from almost 4,000 applicants at a campaign launch in Bristol yesterday. Rachel Johnson, Gavin Esler, a former Newsnight presenter, and Stephen Dorrell, a cabinet minister from 1994 to 1997, were among dozens of candidates on the stage.
Boris Johnson‘s sister Rachel and ex-BBC star Gavin Esler today revealed they will stand for Britain’s new remain party in the European elections next month. Heidi Allen, interim leader of Change UK, set up by The Independent Group of MPs known as the TIGgers, launched their EU campaign in Bristol today. Rachel Johnson will stand in the South West region – where Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sister Annunziata will represent Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party – and has already taken a veiled swipe at her Brexiteer brother, who wants to be the next Tory leader.
New centrist party Change UK could back the government in a no-confidence vote to avoid a damaging general election, its interim leader has said. Former Tory MP Heidi Allen said an election was “absolutely the last thing” the country needs during the Brexit chaos, as she launched the party’s campaign for the upcoming European Parliament elections, Her comments came as Theresa May faced pressure to name her departure date from frustrated Tory MPs after promising to resign once she had overseen the first stage of the Brexit process.
GAFFE-PRONE centre party Change UK has scuppered its claim to represent a new politics by choosing Boris Johnson’s sister as a candidate for the European elections, Labour MPs have said. Change UK – The Independent Group announced today that Rachel Johnson would stand for the party in south-west England next month. Ms Johnson cemented her super-posh credentials by editing The Lady, a women’s magazine popular with aristocrats, where she often wrote about her love of Agas – a brand of luxury cooker.
Change UK has launched its campaign for the European Parliamentary elections, with 70 candidates including journalist Rachel Johnson – sister of Tory MP and leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson. The party – formerly known as The Independent Group – is made up of 11 MPs who quit Labour and the Tories. They are preparing for the European election as the latest Brexit delay means the UK may have to take part.
The anti-Brexit party Change UK has launched its European elections campaign, revealing a slate of 70 candidates that includes Boris Johnson’s sister, seasoned politicians disillusioned with their parties, and people completely new to politics. Rachel Johnson said she was standing to make sure Brexit did not wreck the chances of a bright future for her children and other young people, and that her decision to stand was not an attack on her Brexiter brother.
Heidi Allen MP launched the “Remain alliance” Change UK (CUK) party Tuesday, heralding the string of MEP candidates “from every background” including a yoga instructor, a former BBC journalist, and top politician Boris Johnson’s sister. One notable member of the new MEP candidates for the anti-Brexit party is Jessica Simor QC, who worked in the legal team that forced the Government to seek Parliament’s permission to invoke Article 50, the mechanism for leaving the EU.
The Brexit Party
Nigel Farage has seized on the words of a prominent Labour peer who wants to stop Brexit as he targets Labour heartlands with his new Brexit Party. The former Ukip leader said yesterday that he would repeat “every day” the words of Lord Adonis, a former cabinet minister and adviser to Tony Blair who is now standing for Labour in the European elections. Mr Farage pointed out that Lord Adonis had said: “If you’re a Brexiteer, I hope you won’t vote for the Labour Party”.
Ann Widdecombe has defected from the Conservatives to Nigel Farage‘s Brexit Party. The former minister has been a member of the Tory party for 55 years, but has been put her retirement on hold to ‘campaign vigorously’ for Farage’s party in the upcoming European elections in May. Widdecombe was earlier rumoured to be considering leaving the party after she campaigned hard for Brexit and was appalled by the failure to deliver on the Article 50 commitment to leave on March 29.
Conservative Party stalwart Ann Widdecombe has sensationally quit – to rejoin frontline politics with the Brexit Party. The 71-year-old has been a staunch Tory for 55 years – serving as Shadow Health and Home secretary. But now she has joined Nigel Farage’s fledgling party on a mandate to hurry up and get Britain out of the EU. Ms Widdicombe told the Express: “The public needs to send a very clear message and that is we expect the vote to be respected so just get on with the job of getting us out of the EU. “If I am elected in Brussels my message to (Jean-Claude) Juncker and company will be very simple, very loud and very clear. Nous allons (we go).”
Nigel Farage sent another strong message to establishment Labour and Conservatives today as his new Brexit Party unveiled their latest candidates for the European Elections including a nurse, a veteran, and a businessman. Mr Farage spoke at the event, during which five new MEP candidates were announced, saying how much the Brexit Party has grown since its launch on Friday, April 12th. The party now reports having over 67,000 registered supporters, with a registration fee of £25-a-head meaning the party may now be holding as much as £1.5 million in membership subscriptions alone.
NIGEL Farage yesterday vowed to go after voters in the Labour heartlands as he unveiled his star line-up of MEP candidates. War hero James Glancy and former Tory aide and smoked salmon millionaire Lance Forman are among the five hopefuls running for the Brexit Party. Mr Farage tore into Britain’s MPs for “betraying” the referendum and warned his new party will rock Westminster, as he addressed the launch in London.
Nigel Farage has said his new Brexit Party could thwart a second referendum if it is successful in the upcoming European elections. The former Ukip leader made the threat as he unveiled a fresh slate of candidates for next month’s poll, which includes a former communist and an ex-commando, who has fought in Afghanistan. The leading Brexiteer also vowed to target Labour voters in the party’s heartlands in south Wales, the midlands and the north of England, where he hopes to capitalise on Jeremy Corbyn’s equivocation over Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
More than 50 MPs from seven parties have formed a group to tackle issues “ignored” because of Brexit. The More United network includes Nicky Morgan, the Conservative former cabinet minister; Jo Swinson, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats; and David Lammy, a Labour former minister. It “is not and will not become a political party”, it said. The organisation was established after the EU referendum in 2016 with the backing of Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, the former Lib Dem leader, to support politicians regardless of affiliation.
More than 50 MPs have launched a cross-party movement to work together on “issues ignored because of Brexit”. The ‘More United’ group, dubbed ‘politics for the Netflix generation’, features politicians from seven different political parties, including Labour, Tory, SNP, Lib Dem, Green, ChangeUK and Plaid Cymru. The new network, which includes leading MPs David Lammy, Nicky Morgan, Jo Swinson and Caroline Lucas, will help fund candidates who campaign on poverty and homelessness, responsible technology, mental health and urgent climate dangers.
St George’s Day
Politicians from all sides dutifully wished the nation a happy St George’s Day yesterday, but there was one snag. They all got the date wrong. The Church of England has confirmed that the feast has been pushed back to next Monday because of a clash with Easter week. April 23 is the usual date each year for the feast of St George, the patron saint of England, but church rules state that no feast days should be marked during Easter week. If a saint’s day falls during Easter week, it is “translated” to the following week.
The Labour Party has been left red-faced after posting a St George’s Day message on the wrong date. The official Labour Party Twitter account posted “Happy St George’s Day! With the next Labour government, we’ll celebrate the patron saint with a bank holiday — and bank holidays for St Patrick, St David and St Andrew too” a day early, on April 22nd. Clearly realising their error it was soon taken down, only to be reposted earlier today.
The home secretary, Sajid Javid, is under mounting pressure to head off an immigration scandal that MPs have warned could be “bigger than Windrush”. About 34,000 foreign students have had their visas cancelled or curtailed and more than 1,000 people were forcibly removed from the UK as a result of the English language testing scandal, which involved the government accusing tens of thousands of students who sat a Home Office-approved test of cheating. The Guardian understands that students who took the test of English for international communication (Toeic) five or more years ago are still being targeted by immigration enforcement officers and being taken to immigration detention centres ahead of enforced removal from the UK.
Theresa May has given the green light to a Chinese telecoms giant to help build Britain’s new 5G network despite warnings from the US and some of her most senior ministers that it poses a risk to national security. The National Security Council, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, agreed on Tuesday to allow Huawei limited access to help build parts of the network such as antennas and other “noncore” infrastructure.
Theresa May has defied security warnings from senior Government ministers and allowed controversial Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to help build Britain’s new 5G network. The National Security Council, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, yesterday gave the green light to give Huawei limited access to help construct sections of the network such as antennas and non-essential infrastructure.
One in ten road building schemes promised as part of the biggest upgrade of the network in a generation could be scrapped for financial reasons. Highways England said that plans to improve 11 main roads would be paused indefinitely because the investment could no longer be justified. A third of the upgrades would be delayed, possibly for five years, for fear of overloading the network with too many works at the same time.
Standing on long train journeys will be effectively banned under radical proposals by Virgin Trains to force all long-distance passengers to book a seat before boarding. Train companies are currently often obliged to accept walk-up fares, meaning they have no control over the number of people getting on a particular train unless it is deemed unsafe. But under the plans for airline-style fares with one fare available at any given time for any one service, walk on tickets and open returns will be phased out.
Rail passengers should not be allowed to board long-distance trains without a reservation, according to Virgin Group. The firm said inter-city services should use Eurostar’s model of requiring customers to book a ticket and a seat for a particular train. Operators are often required to accept walk-on fares meaning they have little control over passenger numbers. Companies are also obliged to stick to rigid timetables which results in them running trains even when demand is low.