Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

16 August 2019
Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has announced a "radical" plan to rejuvenate flagging high streets by seizing empty shops.

A Labour government would hand local authorities the power to reopen shops left vacant for more than 12 months in a bid to "revive Britain's struggling high street", the party said. The plans would see start-ups, co-operative businesses and community projects offered the empty retail units after new figures found 10% of town centre properties are currently sitting empty. The party has not outlined how they would acquire the properties, but vowed to establish a register of landlords of empty shops in each local authority. Speaking ahead of a visit to a high street in Bolton, Mr Corbyn said: "Boarded up shops are a symptom of economic decay under the Conservatives and a sorry symbol of the malign neglect so many communities have suffered. "Once thriving high streets are becoming ghost streets. "Labour has a radical plan to revive Britain's struggling high streets by turning the blight of empty shops into the heart of the high street, with thousands of new businesses and projects...
16 August 2019
Ken Clarke has served as a minister under three Conservative prime ministers during his 49-year career

A fresh Conservative row has erupted as veteran Tory Ken Clarke said he would be willing to head up a government of national unity if it was the "only way" to prevent Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.

Speaking out for the first time since Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson talked him up as a possible caretaker prime minister should Boris Johnson's government fall in a vote of no confidence, the former Cabinet minister said he "wouldn't object" to the proposal if he could command the support of MPs. But he was immediately blasted by one Brexiteer Tory colleague, who told PoliticsHome Mr Clarke was failing to "accept democracy". Ms Swinson has suggested that either Mr Clarke - known as the 'father of the House' because he is the Commons' longest-serving MP - or Labour grandee Harriet Harman would have a better chance of commanding the confidence of Parliament than Jeremy Corbyn if the Johnson administration fell amid a Brexit rebellion. Asked if he would be up for the job, Mr Clarke told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "If it was the only way in which the plain majority of the House of Commons that is opposed to a  no-deal exit could find a way... I wouldn't object to it if that...
16 August 2019
Len McCluskey and Jo Swinson

Unite boss Len McCluskey has accused Jo Swinson of practicing "playground politics" after she warned Jeremy Corbyn he does not have the parliamentary numbers to lead a government aimed at stopping a no-deal Brexit.

The union's general secretary - a key ally of the Labour leader - accused Ms Swinson of a "dishonourable, divisive and destructive" position, as she continued to float the idea of senior backbenchers Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman at the head of any caretaker administration. The comments came amid a deepening row between Labour and the Liberal Democrats over Mr Corbyn's call for opposition MPs and Tory rebels to back a "time-limited" government that would ask the EU for an extension to Article 50 and call an election before stepping aside. The Labour leader on Friday said it was "not up to" the Lib Dems to decide who should be Britain's next Prime Minister. And, in a fiery statement, Mr McCluskey - who long opposed calls for Labour to back a second referendum on Brexit - said Mr Corbyn had "done the absolutely correct and honourable thing, which...
16 August 2019
Peter Bone, Boris Johnson, Guto Bebb

Downing Street has been urged to make it "abundantly clear" that any Tory MP who backs Jeremy Corbyn to thwart a no-deal Brexit will be kicked out of the party amid calls for rebel Guto Bebb to lose the whip.

Conservative MP Peter Bone told PoliticsHome that Number 10 needed to act "swiftly and permanently" against colleagues considering the Labour leader's plea to a back him as head of "strictly time-limited" government which would extend Article 50 and trigger an election. The intervention came amid mounting pressure on party bosses to act against former minister Mr Bebb, after he called on no-deal opponents to "seriously" consider Mr Corbyn's offer. The former defence minister on Thursday said a short-term government led by Mr Corbyn would be “less damaging” than "the generational damage" of leaving the European Union with a deal. But that triggered an angry response from Mr Bone, a longstanding Eurosceptic backbencher, who said voters had "instructed Parliament to take the UK out of the EU". "Boris Johnson was elected as leader of the...
16 August 2019
Dominic Grieve

Jeremy Corbyn's hopes of forming a national unity government to block a no-deal Brexit have been dealt a blow as two more pontential Conservative rebels spoke out against the plan.

Former Cabinet ministers Dominic Grieve and David Gauke both distanced themselves from the Labour's leader's cross-party call to back him in leading a "strictly time-limited" government that would extend Article 50 and then call a general election. Mr Grieve - who on Thursday agreed to sit down for talks with Mr Corbyn - said he would "not facilitate" a government led by Mr Corbyn, according to a leaked email. The New Statesman reports that Mr Grieve, the former attorney general who has led backbench efforts to hand Parliament greater control of the Brexit process, repsonded to a highly critical email on the Labour leader's offer by saying he agreed "entirely". "I am not about to facilitate Jeremy Corbyn’s arrival in Downing Street," he said. Meanwhile, Mr Gauke, the former Justice Secretary who has long warned about the impact of a no-deal Brexit tweeted: "...
16 August 2019
Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson

Jo Swinson has come under pressure to take action against the “dinosaur-type behaviour” of a Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate who likened a rival to a “Barbie doll”.

The Lib Dem leader is facing calls to respond in the wake of controversial remarks made by Jonathan Wallace, who unsuccessfully stood in the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election in July and is now the party’s MP hopeful for Blaydon. HuffPost UK reported that Mr Wallace took aim at the winning Labour competitor in a Youtube video filmed from his car. “The other three candidates were lightweights at best,” he said. “The Labour candidate was little more than a Barbie doll reading from a script.” He added: “We now have a new police commissioner, Kim McGuinness, barbie doll as she is dubbed by many.” Labour’s shadow policing minister Louise Haigh challenged Ms Swinson to take action against the candidate. She told...
16 August 2019
Dave Prentis and Jeremy Corbyn

The boss of Britain's biggest trade union has warned Jeremy Corbyn against “trading” seats earmarked for women candidates in order to let “favourite sons” run for the party.

In a hard-hitting letter to the Labour leader, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said a “back-room stitch-up” could lead to the party “flipping” seats where an all-women shortlist (AWS) for Labour candidates currently applies. All-women shortlists were first used by Labour in 1997, in a bid to drastically boost the number of female MPs. But, in his letter to the Labour leader, Mr Prentis warned: “It has been the position of the Party for many years that where a woman is standing down, that seat remains an All Women Shortlist. "In recent weeks, however, I am aware of discussions and ‘negotiations’ around the existing seats that seek to overturn that practice, flipping AWS seats and trading them around for what appears to be favourite sons taking up the safest seats. “This I find deeply concerning and wish to flag up the inherent risks and dangers of meddling with a process that has served us reasonably well to date.” PoliticsHome has been told that the row partly concerns the...
16 August 2019
Officers attend the scene where a police officer was killed at a reported burglary in Berkshire

Boris Johnson has said he is “shocked and appalled” as he led tributes to a police officer who was killed while attending a reported burglary.

A murder investigation has been launched into the death of PC Andrew Harper, who was killed in Berkshire on Thursday night. According to Thames Valley Police, ten males aged between 13 to 30 have so far been arrested on suspicion of murder. The Prime Minister said: “I am deeply shocked and appalled by the death of a brave officer on duty in Thames Valley last night. “My thoughts are with PC Harper’s family, friends and colleagues at this terrible time. “It is the most powerful reminder that police officers up and down the country put themselves at risk every day single day to keep us safe. “They have my absolute support.” Home Secretary Priti Patel added: “My thoughts are with the family of PC Andrew Harper who was killed in the line of duty last night.” PC Harper served in the Roads Policing Proactive Unit, based at Abingdon Police Station. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile condemned the incident as “appalling”. He said: “Sending my condolences to PC Andrew Harper’s...
16 August 2019

Largest public petition of its kind calls on Prime Minister to end the crisis in care – Alzheimer’s Society comments.

More than 150,000 members of the public and more than 50 health leaders are calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take action now to address the escalating crisis in care. In what is believed to be the largest petition of its kind, the Prime Minister is urged to end the swingeing cuts in social care that have left around 1.4 million older people in England unable to access the care and support they need.   Jeremy Hughes, CEO of Alzheimer’s Society, said: 'The Prime Minister has a chance to end decades of underfunding and make a difference for the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today. There have been years of talk about fixing the social care system, and people with dementia and their families demand urgent action.' 'We completely welcome the Health for Care letter - with their pledged support and calls for cross party consensus, immediate funding increases in the spending review and genuine long term reforms. The social care crisis will continue to...
16 August 2019
Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has slammed Conservative and Liberal Democract ministers after a "disastrous" cut to a flagship Labour insulation scheme resulted in soaring energy bills.

The Labour leader said almost five million households had faced a £755 hike in their energy bills as a result of the coalition government's decision to scrap the Warm Front Scheme. The programme, established by former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2000, had provided grants to fuel-poor families to fund energy efficiency projects, including fitting new heating systems and loft insulation. Over two million households had benefited from the programme before it was replaced by the Green Deal in 2013. But a fresh Labour analysis claimed a total of £3.7bn had been added to energy bills by 2017 as a result of the "disastrous" change. Meanwhile, the party said an extra 14.6m tonnes of CO2 - the annual equivalent of 8.6m more cars on the road - had been released into the environment over the same period. Speaking ahead of a visit to the Centre for Alternative Technology, Mr Corbyn blasted ministers as he accused them of contributing to climate "destruction". "The...