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Fresh blow for Nigel Farage as Scotland’s only Brexit Party MEP quits

3 hours 10 minutes ago
Louis Stedman-Bryce
Louis Stedman-Bryce was elected as an MEP for Scotland in May of this year

A Brexit Party MEP has quit over its "failures" to represent Leave voters and because it had allowed a candidate who posted homophobic views online to run for next month's general election.

Louis Stedman-Bryce’s resignation comes a week after he quit as a general election candidate in protest at Nigel Farage's decision not to contest Tory-held seats.

The party's only MEP in Scotland, who was elected just six months ago, said he was "saddened" to be quitting but had been left with no choice.

“This is because I find myself in a situation where my personal values are in direct conflict with those of the party and this for me is an area where I cannot and will not compromise," he added in a video statement posted on Twitter.

“Almost a quarter of a million people in Scotland voted for the Brexit Party to represent them here in the European Parliament and to ensure Scotland had a voice in the Brexit debate.

“Unfortunately I feel the party has repeatedly failed to deliver on either of those promises.”

Mr Stedman-Bryce also spoke of feeling “betrayed” that the party had selected a “homophobic”general election candidate in Glenrothes.

That is understood to be a reference Victor Robert Farrell, who the party bosses were forced to distance themselved from over comments he apparently made on Facebook.

One said: “Western nations look at your hands. Young lesbians in parliament, old lesbians leading political parties. Perverts pushing sodomite rights. The aged living in fear...”

"LGBTQ - whatever you are. I now publicly confrim [sic] that in response to your never ending attacks. I am now AT WAR WITH YOU ALL."

Mr Stedman-Bryce added: "The Brexit Party’s recent decision to select a Scottish candidate who has openly posted homophobic views across social media is not only a betrayal of the LGBT community but also a betrayal of everyone who believes that such divisive and hateful views have no place in our society.

“While the Brexit party’s position on Brexit may have changed mine has not and I remain committed to Brexit and to the people of Scotland who voted for me and I will fight on unhindered as an independent MEP to ensure our voice is heard.”

Announcing his decision to quit as a general election candidate last week, the MEP said: "I joined the Brexit Party to change politics for good and uphold democracy and I do not trust Boris Johnson to deliver the type of Brexit I voted for.

"I believe that the deal he has proposed would be devastating to our country and our future prosperity.

"So it is with a heavy heart that I have taken the decision not to run in the upcoming general election. Whilst I supported a localised agreement with the Tories in Scotland to help prevent the onslaught of the SNP, I cannot support standing down PPC's across all Tory seats."

A Brexit Party spokesman said: "The Brexit Party cut ties with Victor Farrell almost as soon as his comments came to light.

"We are sad to see Louis Stedman-Bryce go and we will always oppose bigotry and fight for a proper Brexit."

Nicholas Mairs

Stephen Barclay accuses Donald Tusk of 'interfering' in election campaign as he blasts EU 'elite'

2 days 8 hours ago
Stephen Barclay
The Brexit Secretary said the comments by the outgoing EU council chief show 'where the EU elites’ real sympathies lie'.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has accused Donald Tusk of "interference" in Britain's general election campaign.

In an angry attack on the outgoing European Council president, Mr Barclay said Mr Tusk's opposition to Brexit had been a "badly kept secret" and accused him of pushing for a government led by Labour's Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Tusk used a speech this week to urge those battling Brexit not to "give up".

And he warned that quitting the EU would leave Britain as a "second-rate player".

"One of my English friends is probably right when he says with melancholy that Brexit is the real end of the British Empire," he told the Council of Europe.

Mr Tusk also said he had done "everything" in his power "to extend the time for reflection and a possible British change of heart" during Britain's extensions to the Brexit process.

But those comments were seized on by Mr Barclay, who said the comments revealed a "total disregard for democracy" among some EU leaders.

Writing for The Sunday Times, the Cabinet minister said he had been "dismayed" by Mr Tusk's comments, adding: "His disdain for Brexit is a badly kept secret. But at least no one can now be left in any doubt of his true motivations."

The Brexit Secretary said: "Fortunately I don’t think these views are widely held among member states, which are all democracies and know the importance of staying in step with public opinion.

"But what this speech does show is a total disregard for democracy from some of those at the top of the EU machine. Indeed it insults the intelligence of 17.4m leave voters to say that they did not know what they were voting for.

"This interference in our domestic election campaign shows where the EU elites’ real sympathies lie: with a Corbyn government which would renegotiate a deal and then campaign against it in another referendum, propped up by the SNP or the Liberal Democrats who would simply revoke article 50 without letting the British people have a say."

Mr Barclay's comments came as Boris Johnson revealed that every Conservative candidate running for the party at the general election has been asked to make a personal pledge to vote for the Prime Minister's EU withdrawal agreement if he achieves a Commons majority.

Matt Honeycombe-Foster

EU begins legal proceedings against UK over refusal to nominate new Commissioner

4 days 10 hours ago
EU and UK flags
The UK has not nominated a new EU Commissioner.

Brussels has begin legal proceedings against the UK after the Government failed to nominate a new EU Commissioner.

Ministers were accused of "breeaching EU Treaty obligations" by not coming up with a name.

The Government now has until 22 November "to provide their views" on the situation.

But Sir Tim Barrow, the UK's ambassador to the EU, said the general election campaign meant the UK could not put forward candidates for the EU institutions.

A government spokesperson said: "We have written to the EU to confirm that pre-election guidance states the UK should not normally make nominations for international appointments during this period."

In a statement, the European Commission said: "As the guardian of the treaties, the European Commission has sent a letter of formal notice to the United Kingdom for breaching its EU treaty obligations by not suggesting a candidate for the post of EU commissioner.

"The UK authorities have until 22 November at the latest to provide their views. This short time period is justified by the fact that the next commission must enter into office as soon as possible."

Caroline Voaden, leader of the Lib Dem MEPs, said: “Under Boris Johnson, Britain’s reputation in Europe lies in tatters. We should be leading in Europe, not leaving.

"A UK commissioner would ensure we are treated as equal partners as an EU member state and fully represented in Ursula von der Leyen’s new commission.

"Boris Johnson should urgently consult with other parties and propose a candidate capable of furthering the interests of the EU as a whole."

Asked about the row earlier this week, a Downing Street spokesman said: "The UK will meet its legal obligations and officials remain in regular contact with the [European Commission] president-elect’s team."

Kevin Schofield

Boost for Tories as Brexit Party candidate pulls out of key Labour marginal

4 days 23 hours ago
Rupert Lowe
Rupert Lowe (centre) when he was chairman of Southampton.

A Brexit Party candidate in a key Labour marginal has dramatically stood down in order to improve the chances of the Conservatives winning the seat.

In a major boost for Boris Johnson, Rupert Lowe announced he would no longer be running in Dudley North just minutes after the close of nominations.

He said he was putting "country before party as it is highly conceivable my candidacy could allow Corbyn’s Momentum candidate to win".

Ian Austin retained the seat for Labour by just 22 votes at the 2017 general election.

The former minister has since quit the party and last week urged its voters to back the Tories.

Announcing his decision to pull out of the seat, Mr Lowe - a former chairman of Southampton Football Club - said: "I believe that if the Labour Party were to be elected in the forthcoming election, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell with Momentum behind them will devastate Britain and destroy all that decent people have achieved through their hard work and enterprise."

His decision increases the chances of the Conservatives winning the seat for the first time.

The announcement is also a blow for Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who had insisted that they would contest every Labour-held seat in the country, and is due to speak in Dudley on Friday morning.

Mr Farage has already performed a huge U-turn by announcing his party would not stand in the 317 seats the Tories won in 2017, having previously insisted they would run in every seat in England and Wales.

Kevin Schofield

People's Vote campaign urges election candidates to step aside in 100 seats to avoid splitting pro-referendum support

5 days 9 hours ago
People's Vote
The People's Vote campaign urged rivals with little chance of winning to make a "huge personal sacrifice".

Campaigners for a second Brexit referendum have urged rival candidates to step aside in a bid to maximise the number of pro-EU MPs elected on 12 December.

People's Vote is calling on MP hopefuls who back a second referendum but are unlikely to win to make a "huge personal sacrifice" and stand down in seats where they have no chance of winning.

The party has unveiled a list of 100 pro-referendum Liberal Democrat, Labour and independent candidates who it says have the best chance of winning in crucial target seats.

And they are urging rivals in each seat to move out of the way in a bid to counter Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage's decision not to run any candidates in Conservative-held seats.

"This election is the most important election of our lifetimes," a spokesperson for the campaign said.

"It will decide our country’s future for decades to come. It will either result in a Parliament that supports a People’s Vote or one that backs Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit. 

"Now Nigel Farage has stood down Brexit party candidates in 317 seats, it is more important than ever for those on our side of the argument to show willingness to put party politics aside for the greater cause."

The campaign is urging candidates to follow the example of Tim Walker, who stood aside as a Liberal Democrat candidate in the Tory-Labour marginal of Canterbury to avoid splitting the local vote and risking the defeat of Labour incumbent Rosie Duffield.

The Lib Dems have vowed to find a new candidate for the seat despite Mr Walker's move, although that has sparked a major backlash in the local party.

The People's Vote campaign said: "We applaud the initiative taken by Tim Walker, the former Liberal Democrat candidate for Canterbury, who made the courageous decision to step aside, and encourage others to do the same.

"Wherever possible, pro-people’s vote candidates who have the best chance of success, should be unopposed by others who share their commitment to a final-say referendum. 

"We appreciate this would involve a huge personal sacrifice, but this is an opportunity to save our country from a disastrous deal and give the people the final say on Brexit. The stakes have never been higher."

The campaign - which has been dogged by its own divisions in recent weeks - said it would be writing to rival candidates "asking them to prioritise a final-say referendum over party politics".

Matt Honeycombe-Foster

Former Tory minister David Gauke says Boris Johnson majority will lead to no-deal Brexit

6 days 8 hours ago
David Gauke
David Gauke was Business Secretary under Theresa May.

A Boris Johnson majority government will lead to a no-deal Brexit and devastate large parts of the UK economy, a former Tory Cabinet minister has warned.

David Gauke spoke out as he confirmed that he will stand as an independent against the Conservatives in the South West Hertfordshire seat he has held since 2005.

The former Business Secretary called on the Lib Dems to stand aside in the seat to give him the best chance of winning it - and also revealed that he now supports a second EU referendum.

Mr Gauke, who quit the Cabinet when Mr Johnson became Conservative leader in July, told Radio Four's Today programme: "This pains me to say it, but a Conservative majorty after the next general election will take us in the direction of a very hard Brexit and in all likelihood at the end of 2020 we will leave the implementation period without a deal with the European Union on WTO terms, in effect on no-deal terms, and that I believe would be disastrous for the prosperity of this country.

"Whole sectors would become unviable, our agriculture sector, our manufacturing industries will be in a very difficult position, if we go down that route.

"And what we've seen in the last few days, with the choreographed, co-operation between Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, is it is very clear that the Government is now boxed in to refusing to extend the implementation period."

The Prime Minister has insisted that the Government would be able to negotiate a free trade deal with the EU before the end of next year, but Mr Gauke said that was impossible.

"At the very least it will take three years to negotiatie a comprehensive free trade agreement," he said.

Asked whether the Lib Dems should stand aside in his seat, as they have agreed to do for his former Tory colleague Dominic Grieve, Mr Gauke said: "It would obviously make my life easier if they were to do that but that is a decision for them and I hope that they will do so.

"In many places, traditional Conservative voters like me should lend their support to the Liberal Democrats."

On a second referendum, he said: "I have reluctantly come to the view that whereas I thought the best outcome for this country was to unite behind some kind of soft Brexit, that option I don't believe is there any more.

"My view is that the way forward is now to have a confirmatory referendum on Boris Jihnson's deal, now that we know what it is ... and a choice between that and remaining in the European Union.

"I think because the consequences of Boris Johnson's deal are so significant, we do need to check back in with the British people."

Kevin Schofield

Lib Dem row erupts as party candidate steps aside for Labour to avoid splitting Remain vote

6 days 9 hours ago
Lib Dem rosette
Tim Walker said he had been left in an 'invidious situation' in the Canterbury seat.

A furious row has erupted in the Liberal Democrats after the party's candidate in a key marginal seat announced he was stepping aside to boost Labour's chances of winning it.

Tim Walker - who had been due to stand for the Lib Dems in Canterbury - said he was making way because he wanted "no part" in allowing a Brexit-supporting Conservative to claim the seat.

But the decision was not signed off by his party bosses - who have now vowed to find another candidate, despite opposition from local Lib Dems.

Mr Walker announced his decision in an article for The Guardian, as he spoke of his fear of letting in Conservative rival Anna Firth and defeating Labour's Rosie Duffield, who won the seat by just 187 votes in 2017.

He said: "I don't trust Corbyn on Brexit, but I share with many members of my party locally a visceral dread of the Commons being filled with people like Firth.

"Trying to stop that happening is now more important than ever given Nigel Farage's unholy alliance with Johnson.

"I've therefore asked that my local party withdraw my nomination papers to stand for Canterbury."

Mr Walker, a journalist who writes for the New European, added: "Politics does not always have to be grubby and small-minded; sometimes it's possible to acknowledge that what's at stake is more important than party politics - and personal ambition - and we can do what's right.

"In this invidious situation, both standing and not standing could be interpreted as weakness.

"But the nightmare that kept me awake was posing awkwardly at the count beside a vanquished Duffield as the Tory Brexiter raised her hands in triumph. I wanted no part in that."

While the Lib Dems have signed up to a 'Unite to Remain' pact with the Greens and Plaid Cymru in a string of seats across the country, they are not involved in any tie-up with Labour.

A Lib Dem spokesperson said: “We will be announcing a candidate in due course to contest the seat of Canterbury.”

The party now has until Thursday to find another candidate for the seat.

But it is understood that Mr Walker's decision has been supported by local party members, who are not willing to take his place on the ballot paper.

Matt Honeycombe-Foster

Boris Johnson vows to end Brexit 'groundhoggery' as he mounts fresh election attack on Jeremy Corbyn

6 days 10 hours ago
Boris Johnson
The Prime Minister will make his first stump speech of the election campaign.

Boris Johnson will promise to end the UK's Brexit "groundhoggery" and accuse those pushing for a second referendum of "political self-obsession and onanism".

In his first stump speech of the general election campaign, the Prime Minister will reiterate Conservative pledges to boost NHS spending and cut crime - while hitting out at the prospect of a coalition between Labour and the SNP leading to new referendums on Brexit and Scottish independence.

Speaking in the West Midlands later, the Tory leader will say: "The UK is admired and respected around the world but people are baffled by our debate on Brexit and they cannot understand how this great country can squander so much time and energy on this question and how we can be so hesitant about our future. 

"If we can get a working majority, we can get Parliament working for you, we can get out of the rut. We can end the groundhoggery of Brexit."

The Prime Minister will meanwhile pitch the election as an "historic choice", arguing that voters "can either move forwards with policies that will deliver years of growth and prosperity" or let Britain "disappear into an intellectual cul-de-sac of far left Corbynism".

"We can honour the wishes of the people, or else we can waste more time, at the cost of a billion pounds per month, and have two more referendums, one on Scotland and one on the EU – an expense of spirit and a waste of shame, more political self-obsession and onanism," he will add.

The PM's use of the word 'onanism' - another term for masturbation - has already raised eyebrows, with a Labour source telling The Independent: "We’re not bothered by Johnson’s obscure, crude insults because we’ve got our eyes on the prize - real change for the many not the few."

In a further attack on his Labour opponent, Mr Johnson is expected to say: "This is why I urge everybody undecided how to vote – imagine waking up on Friday 13 December after the election to find the Corbyn-Sturgeon coalition in Downing Street.

"They will ruin 2020 with two referendums, they will ruin the economy with out-of-control debt, they will put taxes up for everyone and, instead of an Australian points system, we’ll have uncontrolled and unlimited immigration."

POLL BOOST

The Prime Minister's speech, in which he will also vow to unleash a "clean energy revolution" after Britain leaves the EU, comes as a YouGov poll for The Times showed the Conservatives have opened up a 14-point poll lead over Labour.

The latest study, the first since Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage confirmed that he was standing down candidates in Tory-held seats, put the Tories on 42 percent, with Labour on 28 percent and the Liberal Democrats on 15 per cent.

It marks the first time the Conservatives have enjoyed a rating of more than 40% in a nationwide YouGov survey since the launch of the Brexit Party in February.

The Liberal Democrats meanwhile tore into the Prime Minister ahead of his speech, with the party's Ed Davey questioning Mr Johnson's ability to resolve the Brexit deadlock.

He said: "Why can’t you tell the truth for once, Prime Minister? Voters face years more of Brexit with Johnson’s plan but he hasn’t the guts or honesty to admit it.

“Johnson’s plan means either years more negotiations or a disastrous No Deal Brexit in a year’s time - yet the Prime Minister peddles yet another deception by pretending Brexit could soon be all over if people vote Tory."

Matt Honeycombe-Foster

ANALYSIS: Nigel Farage’s humiliation may not deliver his intended result

1 week ago
Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage has pledged not to stand Brexit Party candidates in Tory-held seats.

Take anything Nigel Farage tells you with a mountain of salt.

We know this because last week, he declared that the Brexit Party would stand candidates in every seat in England and Wales unless Boris Johnson dumped his Withdrawal Agreement.

And yet, despite the Prime Minister refusing to budge, Farage has now confirmed that the party he leads will not contest the 317 seats the Tories won in 2017.

Desperately trying to present this humiliating U-turn as a positive, Farage claimed that this magnanimous gesture guaranteed the death of the People's Vote dream.

"I think our action prevents a second referendum from happening and that to me is the single most important thing in our country," he told supporters in Hartlepool.

This is where that mountain of salt comes in.

Because if Farage was truly serious about helping to get Johnson back to Number 10, he would also be ordering his troops to stand aside in a swathe of Labour-heald seats which the Tories must win in order to get a majority.

Chris Curtis, YouGov's political research manager, said: "Whilst this will help them in the seats they currently hold, the Brexit Party will still be standing in the seats the Conservative Party hopes to gain from Labour in order to gain a majority.

"The most important swing to look at in the polls is the swing between Labour and the Conservatives. Despite a move away from two party politics since the last election, it is still the case that most marginal seats are Labour / Conservative battles and this is the most important dynamic in deciding who will be celebrating Christmas in 10 Downing Street.

"On current polling we have seen around a 4% swing from Labour to the Conservatives, which would mean the Tories gaining a large chunk of seats off Labour, potentially in places like Barrow and Furness, Great Grimsby, Workington, Bridgend, Gower, and Stoke-on-Trent Central, whilst Labour will win few, if any, seats from the Conservatives.

"Given this, Farage’s decision to stand aside in current Conservative-held seats and not in Labour-held seats that the Tories will be looking to gain will likely make very little difference."

By standing against the Tories in the above seats, the Brexit Party risks splitting the Leave vote, allowing Labour to come through the middle and denying Boris Johnson the majority he craves.

How ironic would it be if, having cashed in what was left of his political capital, Farage still ended up killing off the Brexit dream?

Kevin Schofield

British public more bothered about sorting Brexit than keeping Northern Ireland in the UK, poll finds

1 week 1 day ago
Northern Ireland border
The future of the Northern Ireland border has been the subject of intense debate.

A majority of Britons would not mind if Northern Ireland left the UK so long as they got their preferred Brexit outcome, a new poll has found.

A fresh study by YouGov finds that four in ten mainland Brits (41%) say they "don't care very much or at all" about the fate of Northern Ireland, despite months of wrangling over its fate after the UK leaves the EU.

An identical figure of 41% meanwhile say they "wouldn’t be bothered if Northern Ireland left the UK", although a further 41% said they "would be upset if it broke away".

Given the choice, 58% of those asked said they would choose their preferred outcome on Brexit to Northern Ireland staying in the Union.

Just 18% of those polled chose Northern Ireland staying in the UK over their Brexit option.

The figures are similar regardless of where voters sit on the Leave-Remain divide.

More than half (58%) of 2016 Remain voters said they would rather have their way on Brexit than maintain the Union, while just under two-thirds (64%) of Leave voters said the same.

The figures come despite just one in seven Brits telling the polling firm that they had never met someone from Northern Ireland.

A major row over the fate of Northern Ireland has dominated Brexit talks between Britain and the European Union in recent months, with Boris Johnson staking his premiership on ditching the so-called 'backstop' arrangement negotiated by his predecessor Theresa May.

The pro-union DUP ditched its support for Mr Johnson after it warned that his renegotiated agreement would damage Northern Ireland's economy and "undermine the integrity of the Union".

YouGov spoke to 1,641 adults in Great Britain between October 23-24 for its survey.

Matt Honeycombe-Foster

Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid agree 60-seat 'Remain alliance' election pact

1 week 5 days ago
Jo Swinson
Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said she was 'delighted' with the anti-Brexit arrangement.

The Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens have agreed to step aside for each other in 60 seats in a bid to boost the chances of pro-Remain candidates being elected.

The three parties have signed off on the tie-up, which covers 49 seats in England and 11 in Wales, after months of talks aimed at thrashing out an anti-Brexit pact.

The agreement was struck under the 'Unite to Remain' banner, led by outgoing Liberal Democrat MP Heidi Allen.

The former Conservative told The Guardian: "With a single Remain candidate in 60 seats we will return a greater number of Remain MPs to Parliament. This is our opportunity to tip the balance of power away from the two largest parties and into a progressive Remain alliance."

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said she was "delighted" that an agreement had been struck.

"We would like to thank Unite to Remain for making this possible," Ms Swinson added.

"This is a significant moment for all people who want to support Remain candidates across the country."

The Unite to Remain group will unveil details of the seats covered by the new tie-up at a press conference on Thursday.

The arrangement is modelled on the Brecon and Radnorhsire by-election, which saw both Plaid and the Greens step aside and Liberal Democrat Jane Dodds defeat the Conservatives.

 

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Matt Honeycombe-Foster

John Bercow: Brexit is 'biggest foreign policy mistake' since Second World War

1 week 6 days ago
John Bercow
John Bercow made the comments just days after stepping down as Speaker

John Bercow has branded Brexit the "biggest foreign policy mistake" since the Second World War in an explosive intervention just days after stepping down as Speaker.

He said he thought it would be better for the UK to remain in the EU "power bloc".

The comments are likely to provoke fury from Conservative Brexiteers who repeatedly clashed with Mr Bercow in the Commons over his rulings, accusing him of giving pro-Remain MPs the opportunity to scupper Brexit.

In his first comments since quitting as Speaker and an MP, Mr Bercow told the Foreign Press Association:"I'm no longer the Speaker, so I don't have to remain impartial now. 

"But if you ask me, honestly, 'do I think that Brexit is good for our global standing?', my honest answer is 'no, I don't'. 

"I think that Brexit is the biggest foreign policy mistake in the post-war period. That is my honest view."

In comments first reported by La Repubblica, Mr Bercow added: "I respect Prime Minister Boris Johnson but Brexit doesn't help us. It's better to be part of the [EU] power bloc."

But the former Conservative MP hit back at suggestions he showed bias during his decade in the role, saying "it was Parliament" which was responsbile for the Brexit delay, "not me".

He added: “I respect the Prime Minister and he has the right to do what he did also in the House of Commons. 

"But my job was to stand up for the rights of the House of Commons. No apology for championing the rights of parliament.”

Mr Bercow's impartiality was repeatedly called in to question during the campaign to find his replacement, with his former deputy Eleanor Laing accusing him of "loading the dice" over Brexit.

Meanwhile, his successor Lindsay Hoyle pledged in his first speech as Speaker to "once again" make Parliament the "envy" of the world.

"We've got to make sure that tarnish is polished away," he told MPs.

"That the respect and tolerance that we expect from everyone who works in here will be shown and will keep that in order."

He added: "I want to hopefully show that the experience that I've shown previously will continue, as I promised I will be neutral, I will be transparent. 

"I think this House, we can do more to ensure that that transparency continues."

John Johnston

Jeremy Corbyn: Boris Johnson wants Brexit to deliver 'Thatcherism on steroids'

2 weeks ago
Margaret Thatcher
Mr Corbyn will also pledge that a Labour government would "get Brexit sorted" within six months

Boris Johnson wants to deliver Brexit so he can "unleash Thatcherism on steroids", according to Jeremy Corbyn.

The Labour leader will use a major speech to claim that the Tories plan to sell off the NHS, slash workers' rights, reduce food standards and water down environmental protections after the UK leaves the EU.

He will claim that the moves are necessary in order to agree a free trade deal with Donald Trump's White House.

Mr Corbyn will also pledge that a Labour government would "get Brexit sorted" within six months of being elected by holding a second referendum with Remain on the ballot paper.

Speaking at an election campaign rally in Harlow, Essex, the Labour boss will say the Prime Minister "is trying to hijack Brexit to sell out our NHS and working people by stripping away their rights".

"Given the chance, they’ll run down our rights at work our entitlements to holidays, breaks and leave," Mr Corbyn will say.

"Given the chance, they’ll slash food standards to US levels where 'acceptable levels' of rat hairs in paprika and maggots in orange juice are allowed and they’ll put chlorinated chicken on our supermarket shelves.

"And given the chance, they’ll water down the rules on air pollution and our environment that keep us safe.

"They want a race to the bottom in standards and protections. They want to move us towards a more deregulated American model of how to run the economy.

"In the US, workers get just 10 days holiday a year, big business gets free rein to call the shots and tens of millions are denied healthcare.

"What Boris Johnson’s Conservatives want is to hijack Brexit to unleash Thatcherism on steroids.

"Margaret Thatcher’s attack on the working people of our country left scars that have never healed and communities that have never recovered. The Conservatives know they can’t win support for what they’re planning to do in the name of Thatcherism. So they’re trying to do it under the banner of Brexit instead."

Mr Corbyn will say that by contrast, a Labour government would negotiate a "sensible" Brexit deal which would maintain close economic and regulatory ties with the EU, which would then be put up against Remain in a new referendum.

"So if you want to leave the EU without trashing our economy or selling out our NHS you’ll be able to vote for it," he will say. "If you want to remain in the EU, you’ll be able to vote for that. Either way, only a Labour government will put the final decision in your hands.

"And we will immediately carry out your decision so Britain can get beyond Brexit."

'COME CLEAN'

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has demanded Mr Corbyn "come clean" about his Brexit plans ahead of the general election.

The Labour leader has said he would renegotiate the current deal within three months, with a fresh referendum on it three months later.

But in a letter to his rival, the Prime Minister said that "will result in years' more expensive delay and will prolong the divisions in our society".

He said: "I am clear about my Brexit policy  and how we will help this country move on – it is time for the Labour Party to be clear too. We cannot afford to spend 2020 fighting two more referendums offering the public more of the same confusion and indecision that have plagued the last three years."

Kevin Schofield

Jean-Claude Juncker accuses Boris Johnson of telling Brexit 'lies' in 2016 EU referendum

2 weeks 1 day ago
Boris Johnson and Jean-Claude Juncker
Boris Johnson and Jean-Claude Juncker

Jean-Claude Juncker has accused Boris Johnson of telling "so many lies" during the 2016 EU referendum campaign.

The outgoing European Commission president told Der Spiegel that politicians should have done more to "counter" untruths about the EU in the run-up to the vote for Brexit.

And he revealed that the Commission had decided not to wade into the fierce debate over Britain's future on the advice of the then-Prime Minister David Cameron.

"So many lies were told, including by current prime minister, Boris Johnson, that there needed to be a voice to counter them," he said.

The Brussels boss - who is soon to be succeeded by Ursula von der Leyen - also hit out at successive generations of British politicians, including his "friend" Tony Blair, for failing to talk up anything other than the economic benefits of EU membership.

"I have been involved in European politics since December 1982 and have seen time and again that the British have operated on the premise: We are only in the EU for economic reasons," he said.

"When it came to the political union, to moving closer together, they wanted nothing to do with the EU. That was even the case with my friend Tony Blair.

"If you stick to that narrative for over 40 years, it should not come as a surprise when people remember it during the referendum."

Mr Juncker also revealed that he had warned Mr Cameron - who campaigned to Remain in the EU - that he would lose the 2016 referendum.

The Brussels chief said: "When then-Prime Minister David Cameron told me on the sidelines of the 2014 G-20 summit in Brisbane that he really wanted to hold a Brexit referendum, I told him: 'You're going to lose it.'

"I made a bet with the European commissioner of British nationality at the time, Jonathan Hill: I get a pound from you if the Remainers lose, you get a euro if you win. I have that pound today."

The outgoing European Commission chief has had a stormy relationship with British leaders since he took on the job in 2014.

Mr Cameron staunchly opposed the appointment of Mr Juncker, a former prime minister of Luxembourg, to the top post arguing that he had been "at the heart of the project to increase the power of Brussels and reduce the power of nation states for his entire working life".

His successor as European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, was originally due to take up post on 1 November, but her appointment was delayed after the European Parliament rejected nominees in her top team.

Matt Honeycombe-Foster

Tory Eurosceptic Steve Baker tells Nigel Farage he risks 'throwing away Brexit' over election plan

2 weeks 1 day ago
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage (pictured) came under fire from European Research Group chairman Steve Baker.

Top Tory eurosceptic Steve Baker has warned Nigel Farage that he risks becoming "the man who threw away Brexit" over his opposition to Boris Johnson's EU deal.

The European Research Group chair said the former Ukip boss was wrong to stand hundreds of Brexit Party candidates in next month's election.

He said that increased the chances of a hung Parliament and could put Brexit at risk.

Mr Baker meanwhile described himself as "flabbergasted" by Mr Farage's decision not to mount an eighth bid to become an MP.

The Brexit Party leader has branded the Withdrawal Agreement the Prime Minister struck with the EU last month a "gigantic con", and insisted the UK should instead leave the bloc without a deal.

He has given Mr Johnson two weeks to abandon his deal or face a challenge from the Brexit Party in every seat in England, Wales and Scotland.

But Mr Baker told The Telegraph: "Whilst there are some compromises people like me have to swallow, Boris’s deal is a path to a great future.

"But we will not succeed if Nigel Farage creates a hung parliament by dogmatically pursuing purity."

He said Mr Farage risked "being the man who hands Boris a weak and indecisive Parliament" by splitting the pro-Leave vote on 12 December.

And he added: "Whatever Nigel’s motives, he risks being the man who threw away Brexit."

Mr Farage announced on Sunday that he would not stand for election in the upcoming poll, instead arguing that he would better "serve the cause" of leaving the EU by campaigning "across the United Kingdom" instead of being focused on one seat.

But Mr Baker said that if Mr Farage was "serious about getting us out of the EU he would stand for Parliament".

And he added: "I am flabbergasted he is not standing."

Jeremy Corbyn also took a swipe at Mr Farage over the confirmation he would not run for election.

The Labour leader said: "It’s a bit weird to lead a political party that is apparently contesting all or most of the seats up in the election and he himself is not offering himself for election.

"He’s obviously very comfortable on his MEP’s salary."

The attacks on Mr Farage come after he claimed that he had twice been offered a peerage by the Conservatives in an effort to get the Brexit Party to step aside in key seats.

The former Ukip leader has been urging the Tories to consider a pact with his party, but Boris Johnson has ruled out any form of electoral alliance with the fledgling party, which topped the European elections in May.

The Prime Minister on Sunday argued that a vote for the Brexit Party would make a Parliament featuring "a chaotic constellation of other parties" more likely.

Matt Honeycombe-Foster

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage confirms he will not mount eighth bid to become an MP

2 weeks 2 days ago
Nigel Farage
The Brexit Party leader said his time would be better spent campaigning across the country.

Nigel Farage has confirmed that he will not mount an eighth bid to become an MP in December's snap election.

The Brexit Party leader - who has previously hinted that he could stand for election - said he could better "serve the cause" of leaving the EU by campaigning "across the United Kingdom".

The MEP has failed to be elected to the Commons on seven separate occasions since the 1990s, most recently as Ukip leader in the 2015 poll.

He told LBC earlier this year that he was "going to have to" stand at the next election out of a sense of "duty".

But, speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday, Mr Farage said: "I've thought very hard about this: how do I serve the cause of Brexit best?

"Because that's what I'm doing this for, not for a career. I don't want to be in politics for the rest of my life. 

"Do I find a seat try and get myself into Parliament, or do I serve the cause better traversing the length and breadth of the United Kingdom supporting 600 candidates. And I've decided the latter course is the right one."

Asked to confirm he would not be standing in the 2019 election, Mr Farage said: "No. It's very difficult to do both. Very difficult to be in a constitutiency every day and at the same time be out across the United Kingdom."

The comments came after Mr Farage claimed that he had twice been offered a peerage by the Conservatives in an effort to get the Brexit Party to step aside in key seats.

The former Ukip leader has been urging the Tories to consider a pact with his party, this week giving Boris Johnson a two-week deadline to rip up his EU withdrawal agreement or face a challenge in every seat in England, Wales and Scotland.

"I've wanted for months for there to be a Leave alliance," he told Andrew Marr.

"It seems obvious to me that no one party can own Brexit voters. There are Tory Brexit voters. There are Brexit Party Brexit voters, and a lot of Labour Brexit voters.

And I always thought that to win an election, get a big majority so we can get a proper Brexit, a coming together would be the objective. I still hope and pray it happens but it doesn't look like it will."

Mr Johnson on Sunday again ruled out any form of electoral pact with Mr Farage's fledgling party, saying such a tie-up would not be "sensible" and would only serve to boost Labour.

"We’re proud of our beliefs, we’re proud of our One Nation Conservatism," he told Sky's Sophy Ridge.

"We know what we want to achieve and all I can say, respectfully, to the leaders of all other parties is, alas, the only likely consequence of voting for them rather than for us as Conservatives... is that you’re making it more likely that you will, thereby, get Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party and, sort of, a chaotic constellation of other Parties with, with nothing but dither and delay."

Matt Honeycombe-Foster

Boris Johnson rules out election pact with Nigel Farage as he defends his ‘proper Brexit’ deal

2 weeks 3 days ago
Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage
Boris Johnson has rejected Nigel Farage's offer of a "non-aggression pact"

Boris Johnson has ruled out a general election pact with Nigel Farage and insisted that his withdrawal agreement would deliver a “proper Brexit”.

The Prime Minister said his deal presents “exactly” what Britain voted for in 2016 following the Brexit Party leader’s barb that it amounted to a “sellout”.

The MEP insisted that his outfit would be prepared to stand down dozens of its candidates in Conservative target seats for the 12 December poll if Mr Johnson agreed to dump the deal.

Addressing the PM at his party's campaign launch, Mr Farage said: "Drop the deal. Drop the deal because it is not Brexit. Drop the deal because as these weeks go by and people discover what it is you've signed up to, they will not like it."

He added that he would back a "Leave alliance" if the PM pursued "a genuine free trade agreement" with the EU, and ditched the "continued jurisdiction of the ECJ".

But hitting back at the former Ukip chief, Mr Johnson told Sky News: "I've ruled out a pact with everybody because I don't think it's sensible to do that."

"We're proud of our beliefs, we're proud of our one nation conservatism."

In a separate interview with the BBC, he added on his deal: "It is a proper Brexit. It delivers exactly what we wanted, what I wanted, what I campaigned in 2016 to come out of the European Union."

"It takes back control of our money, our borders, our laws. It enables us to do proper all singing all dancing free trade deals around the world - but as one whole United Kingdom - so it's got everything that you could possibly want and... it is ready.”

When pressed on whether there were any circumstances under which he would work with Mr Farage, he responded: "I will be very, very clear that voting for any other party than this government, this Conservative government, this One Nation Conservative Government is basically tantamount to putting Jeremy Corbyn in… there are lots of reasons why I think that's a disaster - but on the Brexit front what it means is that suddenly you're back into a renegotiation."

The PM also refused to be drawn on Donald Trump’s suggestion that the withdrawal agreement could block a trade deal with the United States.

The President told Mr Farage on his LBC show that he was concerned about "certain aspects" of the deal and that Mr Johnson needed "to be very careful" so as not to rule out an agreement being struck.

Mr Johnson responded: "Well, I don't wish to comment on what he may or may not have... what I'm telling you is what everybody can see from the terms of the deal that we did, which is a great deal, not just for business and for families but it gives this country certainty, it means that if we can get it over line by, with this election, in the middle of January, then we'll have it done."

Nicholas Mairs

Antoinette Sandbach becomes latest Tory Brexit rebel to defect to the Liberal Democrats

2 weeks 4 days ago
Antoinette Sandbach
Antoinette Sandbach was first elected in 2015.

Antoinette Sandbach has become the latest Tory Brexit rebel to defect to the Liberal Democrats.

The Eddisbury MP surprised Westminster by announcing that she will contest the seat for her new party at next month's general election.

Ms Sandbach was one of the 21 Tories sacked by Boris Johnson in September for voting to stop a no-deal Brexit.

She joins Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston, Philip Lee and Sam Gymah as former Tory MPs who have jumped ship to the Lib Dems.

Former Labour MPs Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger and Angela Smith have also joined the party in recent months.

Announcing her decision on Thursday night, Ms Sandbach, who was first elected to the Commons in 2015, said: "This general election will be the most important in my lifetime. People have a very clear choice, the Conservative Party offers years of uncertainty whilst the Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit.

"I’m so proud to stand alongside other Liberal Democrat candidates across the country to fight for a brighter future with Jo Swinson, our candidate to be Prime Minister.

"I will stand on my strong local record, helping to secure local investment, fighting for fair funding for our schools and to secure additional funding in local health services.

"Our country deserves so much better than Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. I can’t wait to get to work, win this election and then deliver for my constituents and our country."

Ms Swinson said she was "delighted to welcome Antoinette to the Liberal Democrats".

"She is a passionate campaigner, and will be a fantastic candidate at the general election and a great addition to our party," she said. "Her defection clearly shows that the Liberal Democrats are the strongest party of Remain and attracting support from right across the political spectrum.

"Antoinette is one of the millions of people who are tired of the two old parties, led by people who will take our country backwards, not forwards. It is only the Liberal Democrats that will stop Brexit and build the brighter future that our country deserves."

Ms Sandbach's defection means the Lib Dems now have 20 MPs, eight more than they managed to elect in 2017.

However, she faces an uphill task if she is to retain her seat for her new party.

At the laast general election, she won it with a majority of nearly 12,000 from Labour, with the Liberal Democrats a further 14,000 votes back in third place.

Kevin Schofield

Donald Trump warns Boris Johnson his Brexit agreement means he ‘can’t do’ trade deal with US

2 weeks 4 days ago
Boris Johnson and Donald Trump
Donald Trump backed Boris Johnson but criticised his Brexit deal.

Donald Trump has warned Boris Johnson his Brexit agreement could prevent the UK striking a free trade deal with America.

In a major blow for the Prime Minister, the US president said he was concerned about "certain aspects" of the accord struck with Brussels earlier this month.

Speaking to Nigel Farage on LBC, he also suggested that the Conservatives should agree an election pact with the Brexit Party.

And he mounted an outspoken attack on Jeremy Corbyn, who he said would be "so bad for your country" if he became PM.

Mr Johnson defied expectations two weeks ago by securing a new Brexit agreement after successfully removing the Irish backstop from the deal struck by his predecessor, Theresa May.

Giving his first assessment of the deal, President Trump said: "He’s in a very difficult position, and I think he’s doing what nobody else was willing to do.

“I also think he’s looking at the United States because we can do much more on trade.”

He added: “We want to do trade with UK, and they want to do trade with us.

“And to be honest with you under certain aspects of this deal, you can’t do it, you can’t trade.”

The president went on: “We can’t make a trade deal with the UK.

“I think we can do many times the numbers that we’re doing right now, and certainly much bigger numbers than you’re doing under the European Union.

“Boris wants to be very careful with that, because under certain ways we’re precluded, which would be ridiculous."

However, President Trump did dismiss Labour claims that American firms would be given access to the NHS under any UK-US trade deal.

He said: “Its not for us to have anything to do with your healthcare system. We’re just talking about trade.

"I don’t even know where that started. I think Corbyn put that out here, it was never even mentioned. I’d never even heard it until I came over."

Brexit Party officials have suggested an election deal with the Conservatives would help to deliver a comfortable Commons majority for Mr Johnson.

Although that has beenn repeatedly ruled out by the PM, the president suggested that any such agreement would have his support.

He told Mr Farage: "I have great relationships with many of the leaders, including Boris who's a fantastic man - I think he's the exact right guy for the times.

"I know that you and him will end up doing something that could be terrific - if you and he get together it's [an] unstoppable force.

"And Corbyn would be so bad for your country, he'd be so bad, he'd take you in such a bad way.

"He'd take you into such bad places. But your country has tremendous potential, it's a great country."

The Brexit Party is expected to give more details of its election strategy on Friday, amid speculation it could stand aside in hundreds of seats to give Tory candidates a better chance of winning.

Kevin Schofield

EXCL People's Vote campaign in crisis as Open Britain board call on Roland Rudd to quit

2 weeks 5 days ago
Roland Rudd
Roland Rudd (second from left) at the launch of the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign.

Roland Rudd has been urged to resign as chair of Open Britain by the pro-EU campaign group's own board, PoliticsHome can reveal.

The top advertising executive has been at the centre of a storm since sacking People's Vote chiefs James McGrory and Tom Baldwin.

Staff at the campaign for a second EU referendum have been in open revolt since Mr Rudd announced the pair's dismissal in an email on Sunday night.

Dozens have refused to turn up for work in the last two days, while they also passed a motion of no confidence in him and Patrick Heneghan, People's Vote's new chief executive, at a heated meeting on Tuesday.

Open Britain is one of five separate organisation's which makes up the People's Vote campaign.

Board members Peter Mandelson, Will Straw, Joe Carberry and Mr McGrory met on Wednesday morning and agreed a statement in which they said Mr Rudd's behaviour was "unforgivable" and demanded that he quit as chairman.

It said: "We are appalled by the recent actions of Roland Rudd as chair of Open Britain. The intimidation of staff, threatening letters, and sackings are totally unjustified given the extraordinary work that the People's Vote campaign and its staff has done over the last 18 months in galvanising significant public and parliamentary support for a public vote on Brexit. 

"Mr Rudd's timing, in the week that a general election is called, is unforgivable. He has plunged the campaign into crisis at precisely the moment when millions of supporters around the country were looking for leadership.

"He has treated hard working staff as pawns in his own power games. Ultimately, he has made Brexit more rather than less likely."

They said changes made to Open Britain's constitution by Mr Rudd meant decisions on the group's future now rest with a company called Baybridge 2019 Ltd, of which he is a director.

Calling for Mr McGrory and Mr Baldwin to be reinstated, the Open Britain board added: "We would also call on Roland Rudd to step down as Chair of both Open Britain Ltd and Baybridge 2019 Ltd with immediate effects as his position has become untenable."

People's Vote has been approached for comment.

Kevin Schofield
Submitted by itops on Tue, 11/14/2017 - 11:47