Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

20 April 2019
Theresa May

Conservative activists are refusing to campaign in the European Parliament elections as the party faces the prospect of a drubbing at the hands of Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party.

One Tory council leader told said they would not try to rally support for their party in poll, currently slated to take place on 23 May. In comments reported by The Times, Barry Lewis, leader of the Conservative group on Derbyshire County Council, said there was mounting anger over the fact that Britain had not left the EU on 29 March as repeatedly promised. "The prime minister said we would be out by that date countless times, so did many others in government and yet here we are racing towards the end of April and facing an increased prospect of participating in a European election in May that should not be happening," he said. "More significant for our residents and local businesses is the fact that the uncertainty continues.” The backlash came as a series of polls made for grim reading at Conservative HQ ahead of the  planned European...
20 April 2019
John Bercow

Commons Speaker John Bercow has been urged to let US President Donald Trump address Parliament if he visits the UK this summer.

Mr Bercow has previously hinted that he could block an address to MPs by the controversial US commander-in-chief, saying it was "not an automatic right, it is an earned honour". But defence minister Tobias Ellwood said Britain should be allowed to "leverage" a visit by Mr Trump, who could head to the UK for a state visit this summer as part of D-Day commemorations. "D-Day represents the bedrock of our international relationships," Mr Ellwood told the Telegraph. “As we pay tribute to a generation of brave veterans who sacrificed their lives to defend our values, we can reaffirm our commitment to step forward with our closest of allies and most crucially the US to defend those same values once again under threat. "The special relationship matters. It is greater than any one individual, however controversial. "So we should leverage the US President’s state...
20 April 2019
Carl Benjamin, centre, Gerard Batten, right.

UKIP’s deputy, Mike Hookem, has criticised leader Gerard Batten for defending a rape remark made by one of his party’s election candidates.

 

Earlier this week, YouTuber-turned-UKIP candidate, Carl Benjamin stood by a 2016 Twitter post saying he "wouldn't even rape" Labour's Jess Phillips. Appearing at the party's campaign launch, Mr Benjamin doubled down on the comments and branded Ms Phillips a "b*tch* - while Mr Batten downplayed them as "free speech". But, in a post on Facebook, Mr Hookem said that "with free speech comes responsibility and accountability" and said he was "greatly disturbed" by defenders of the rape comment. Mr Hookem said: "Rape is a heinous crime - often used as a weapon against its victims - that destroys the lives of the men and women who suffer it. "It is not something that should ever be satirised or joked about, and it is certainly not in my concept of free speech to do so. "I would like to see those involved drop the pretence, take responsibility which comes with free speech, and admit they were wrong." Three female MEPs - Jane Collins, Jill Seymour and Margot Parker - quit UKIP over the...
20 April 2019
Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott has apologised after a picture emerged of the Shadow Home Secretary drinking a cocktail on her commute.

 

The Sun’s website published a picture of the Labour frontbencher drinking a canned Marks and Spencer cocktail while riding on a London Overground train, despite a decade-long ban on drinking on the capital's services. Writing on Twitter last night, Ms Abbott said: "A photo of me drinking a can of M&S mojito on the Overground has been circulated. I'm sincerely sorry for drinking on TFL."  Responding to her Twitter apology, fellow Labour MP, David Lammy, said: “Sorry for what? Why wasn’t the rum Jamaican.” The frontbencher recieved other supportive messages with one person writing: "I've never felt more represented." Boris Johnson was responsible for banning alcohol on TfL services in 2008 when he was mayor of London. At the time he said: "I firmly believe that banning the drinking of alcohol on London's public transport will create a better travelling environment for all...
20 April 2019
Jeremy Hunt

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has sent a message of solidarity to persecuted Christians around the world to mark the end of Lent.

The cabinet minister wrote 40 letters to church groups and leaders under attack around the world, and pledged his support for persecuted religious groups. On average, 300 Christians a month are killed because of their faith, according to the Foreign Office.  Mr Hunt's first letter has been sent to 90-year-old Dutch missionary Brother Andrew, founder of Christian group Open Doors. Mr Hunt said: "As a man of faith, free to practise in line with my conscience, I am appalled at the plight of the 245 million Christians worldwide currently facing persecution as a result of their belief. "I want you to know that the UK stands in solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world. “Freedom of Religion or Belief is a human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It must be respected. People from all faiths or none should be free to practice as they wish.  “I will continue to make this case for the millions who suffer as a result of their...
19 April 2019
Petrol bombs are thrown at police in Creggan, Londonderry.

Theresa May has condemned the "shocking and truly senseless" killing of a 29-year-old investigative reporter in what police have called a "terrorist incident" in Derry.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland confirmed on Friday that a murder inquiry had been launched after Lyra McKee died following a night of disorder in the Creggan area of the city. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: "Unfortunately, at 11pm last night, a gunman appeared and fired a number of shots towards police and a young woman, Lyra McKee, 29 years old, was wounded. "She was taken away in a police Land Rover to Altnagelvin hospital but unfortunately she has died there. We have now launched a murder inquiry here in the city. "We believe this to be a terrorist act, we believe it has been carried out by violent dissident republicans. "Our assessment at this time is that the New IRA are most likely to be the ones behind this and that forms our primary line of inquiry." Police are now searching the area for firearms and explosives after more than 50 petrol bombs were thrown at officers and cars were set on fire in a night of unrest. Responding to the news, the Prime...
19 April 2019
Independent Group MP Chris Leslie

Change UK's Chris Leslie has all-but ruled out forming an electoral alliance with other anti-Brexit parties and trained his fire on the Liberal Democrats.

In an interview with Business Insider, the former Labour MP hit out at the fellow pro-EU party - and said a formal pact had never been "on the agenda". The comments came as the newly-formed centrist bloc prepared to field candidates in next month's planned European elections. A YouGov poll released this week put Change UK - also known as the Independent Group - on 6% support ahead of the Europe-wide vote. Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable - whose party garnered 9% in the YouGov study - has previously hinted at an official pact between his party and the fledgling group. But Mr Leslie told Business Insider that the Lib Dems had "fallen below a critical mass" and "haven't had the drive to get out of that for a long time". He added: "We [Change UK] are starting afresh and don't come with that baggage. "They don't have any MEPs apart from one in...
19 April 2019
Petrol bombs are thrown at police in Creggan, Londonderry.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has said she is "shocked and saddened" following the death of a 29-year-old investigative reporter in what police have called a "terrorist incident" in Derry.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland confirmed on Friday that a murder inquiry had been launched after Lyra McKee died following a night of disorder in the Creggan area of the city. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: "Unfortunately, at 11pm last night, a gunman appeared and fired a number of shots towards police and a young woman, Lyra McKee, 29 years old, was wounded. "She was taken away in a police Land Rover to Altnagelvin hospital but unfortunately she has died there. We have now launched a murder inquiry here in the city. "We believe this to be a terrorist act, we believe it has been carried out by violent dissident republicans. "Our assessment at this time is that the New IRA are most likely to be the ones behind this and that forms our primary line of inquiry." Police are now searching the area for firearms and explosives after more than 50 petrol bombs were thrown at officers and cars were set on fire in a night of unrest. Responding to the news in a...
19 April 2019
Theresa May

Theresa May has risked fresh Conservative anger over her departure plans after telling ministers to sign-off on proposals for another Queen's Speech.

The Times reports that Government departments have been told the Prime Minister will "actively consider" ideas for the set-piece event, which kicks off a new session of Parliament and spells out the Government's legislative programme. The move comes despite Mrs May telling Tory MPs she will not lead the party into the next phase of Brexit talks. According to The Times, Downing Street will consider ministers' plans for the next session of Parliament when MPs return from their Easter recess on Tuesday. But any attempt to open a new session could prompt renewed anger from Conservative MPs keen for Mrs May to spell out her departure date. It will also require the backing of the Democratic Unionist Party, who have supported the Government as confidence-and-supply partners since 2017, but repeatedly voted against Mrs May's Brexit deal. Former Tory...
19 April 2019
Boris Johnson

Conservative Brexiteer Boris Johnson has nabbed a much-sought-after office in the House of Commons as allies talked up his chances of becoming the next Prime Minister.

Former minister Mike Penning told The Independent that he had agreed to swap his prime Portcullis House office with the Tory leadership hopeful to help him network with MPs and build a winning campaign. "If Boris is going to run for the leadership, then he needs to have a full team around him and he needs the office to allow him to do that," Mr Penning said. "He could well be the next prime minister, so it needs to be a credible office at the heart of Westminster – not a box in some annexe away from where MPs are most of the time." The former policing minister - who has not yet declared his support for Mr Johnson - said it was "pretty obvious from my offer that I am minded to do that". "He is a winner, as he showed in London," Mr Penning added, pointing to the ex-Cabinet minister's eight-year stint as London mayor. The boost...