Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

9 June 2019
Michael Gove

Michael Gove has dismissed accusations of hypocrisy for writing an anti-cocaine article despite having used the drug himself.

The Tory leadership hopeful was forced to issue another apology for his use of the substance as he admitted he was “fortunate” not to be jailed for taking the drug on several occasions over two decades ago. On Sunday, Mr Gove said he “deeply regretted” taking the Class A while working as a journalist, but batted away claims he was wrong for writing the piece in which he defended the UK’s drug laws. Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, he said: “I think anyone can read the article and make their own minds up. The point that I made in the article is that if any of us lapse sometimes from standards we uphold, that is human. “The thing to do is not necessarily to say the standards should be lowered, it should be to reflect on the lapse and to seek to do better in the future.” He added: “I believe every life is precious and that everyone has worth and that whatever people have done in the past, we should look for the treasure in the heart of everyone man, and give everyone the chance to...
9 June 2019
James Cleverly

Former Tory leadership hopeful James Cleverly has given his backing to Boris Johnson's campaign to become the next Prime Minister.

The party’s ex-deputy chairman became the first candidate to drop out of the race to replace Theresa May after he said it was “highly unlikely” he would win enough support from Conservative MPs. But speaking to Sky’s Sophie Ridge, Mr Cleverly said he had decided to throw his weight behind the former London mayor’s campaign, saying he would "move heaven and earth" to deliver Brexit. “I’ve worked with him in London, I have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him on two election campaigns, both in 2008 and 2012,” he said. “I have seen him reach out to audiences and voters that the Conservative Party would not normally expect to be onside and I know he can run a successful executive operation because I was part of the team who did that in London for eight years, so that is why I am going to support him for leader.” Brexit minister Mr Cleverly said in a statement last week that his Conservative colleagues had been unwilling to take a “leap of faith” and vote for him as a “relatively new MP...
9 June 2019
Karie Murphy and Jeremy Corbyn

Labour have been plunged into another row over its handling of harassment after an top aide allegedly played down allegations of sexual misconduct.

Jeremy Corbyn’s chief of staff has come under fire after leaked emails appear to show her refusing to launch a formal probe into senior activist Pete Willsman following complaints from a young female staffer. Mr Willsman, a close personal friend of Mr Corbyn and member of the party’s ruling executive committee, was suspended from the party last month after he was recorded saying the Israeli embassy had “whipped up” the anti-semitism scandal which has engulfed the party. But according to the Sunday Times, Mr Willsman was accused by a female staff member in 2017 of asking her where she lived, sending her text messages saying he was in his pyjamas and “refusing” to leave her alone. Emails leaked to the paper show Ms Murphy suggested someone “have a word” with Mr Willsman rather than refer him to the party’s official complaints procedure. In the internal email chain, she...
9 June 2019
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, speaks during the Conservative Party annual conference

Michael Gove has pledged to scrap VAT in order to give the UK economy a boost after Brexit.

The Environment Secretary said he would replace VAT with a “lower, simpler” alternative if he is elected Prime Minister in a bid to counter Jeremy Corbyn’s “Marxist” economic message. Writing for the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Gove unveiled his “pro-business economic plan”, including a pledge to cut business rates and halt construction on the controversial High Speed Rail 2 project. He said: “My economic plan is driven by the need to increase investment, productivity and wages across the country, with a special focus on helping those areas and regions where productivity is lower. “It would mean reducing the regulations which hold business back, cutting and reforming taxes - such as business rates - which put pressure on small businesses and undermine our high streets, using the opportunity of life outside the EU to look to replace VAT with a lower, simpler, sales tax...
9 June 2019
Ruth Davidson

Ruth Davidson has broken cover in the Tory leadership contest to back Sajid Javid.

The Home Secretary’s bid to become Prime Minister has been given a major boost after the powerful Scottish Conservative leader branded him "the real deal" . Writing in the Scottish Mail on Sunday, Ms Davidson said Mr Javid, who is among 11 candidates battling to take over from Theresa May, embodied "aspiration, education, opportunity, hard work and just reward". She said he had “worked his way to a better life for himself and his family before walking away from a lucrative career in order to give back in public service to the country he loves and which offered his immigrant parents a home.” Ms Davidson, who has been credited with reviving the Conservative Party north of the border, said she also backed Mr Javid's unionism and “in the secure knowledge he will defend Scotland’s interests". Responding to the comments, Mr Javid said: “Ruth knows a winner when she sees one.” He added: “So proud to have Ruth’s backing. There’s nobody like her. Together, we’re going to show...
9 June 2019
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has said he will refuse to hand over the £39bn EU divorce payment until the bloc offers better terms, if he becomes the next Prime Minister.

The frontrunner to succeed Theresa May said he thought it was “extraordinary” that ministers had agreed to the payment before the Brexit deal had been finalised and added that “money is a great solvent and a great lubricant” in getting a good deal. “I think our friends and partners need to understand that the money is going to be retained until such time as we have greater clarity about the way forward,” he said in an interview with the Sunday Times. Putting forward his pitch, the ex-foreign secretary said that the UK must leave the EU with or without a deal on 31 October and that only he could see off the twin threat of Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage. Referring to Greek mythology, he said: “I truly believe only I can steer the country between the Scylla and Charybdis of Corbyn and Farage and onto calmer...
9 June 2019
Rory Stewart and Boris Johnson

Rory Stewart is tied at the top of a poll with Boris Johnson on who the public think would make the best next Prime Minister.

In a boost for the International Development Secretary, who has been seen as an outsider in the race, both he and the ex-foreign secretary were ranked at 4.5 out of 10 on whether they would make a good PM. The pair are followed by Dominic Raab, who scored 4.4, Sajid Javid on 4.3, Jeremy Hunt and Andrea Leadsom on 4.2, Mark Harper on 4.1 and Michael Gove, Matt Hancock and Esther McVey each with a score of 4. Mr Johnson is seen as the frontrunner among his 11 colleagues vying for the job, ahead of Tory MPs casting their votes to narrow down the options, before a ballot of the final two candidates is put to Tory members next month. Of the voters who had heard of Rory Stewart when asked for the Opinium poll, he is seen as determined (+10%), competent (+7%) and as saying what he means (+7%). He is not perceived as being good on the world stage however (-16%), or in “standing up for people like me” (-13%). Responding to the poll, Mr Stewart said: "This is very encouraging. There are...
8 June 2019
Richard Leonard

Scottish Labour has broken ranks with Jeremy Corbyn by backing a second referendum in all circumstances and pledging to campaign for Remain if one takes place.

The party's ruling executive north of the border agreed to the major policy shift at a meeting on Saturday. The dramatic change of heart comes just two weeks after Scottish Labour came fifth in the European elections and lost all of its MEPs.  Speaking after the new position had been agreed, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: " I am pleased that Scottish Labour’s executive committee has endorsed my call for the party to back a confirmatory vote on any Brexit deal with Remain as an option on the ballot paper. "Scottish Labour will wholeheartedly campaign for a Remain victory in such a vote. Only Scottish Labour is building a radical platform for investment in people and communities, our industries and our public services." However, PoliticsHome understands that Shadow Scottish Secretary Lesley Laird - who is a member of Mr Corbyn's Shadow Cabinet at Westminster - had argued against the change. Previously, Scottish Labour had stuck rigidly to the UK party's line that a second...
8 June 2019
LGBT protest

A prominent Labour MP will today urge the Government to crack down on “aggressive activists” who protest against LGBT relationship education at school gates.

Wes Streeting will argue parents and children should not be “forced to run the gauntlet against a barrage of homophobic barracking, placards or literature”. The MP for Ilford North, who is gay, will also hit out at the Department for Education for faililng to provide better guidance for teachers on sex and relationship education. Parents have staged protests outside primary schools in Birmingham against lessons incorporating same-sex relationsihps, with some removing their kids from the classes. A High Court was forced to ban protests outside one school, the Anderton Park Primary School, after the council decided the risk to children from angry demonstrators had become “too serious to tolerate”. The injunction remains in place until 10 June, when protest leaders will get to make their case to a judge. But addressing an LGBT conference of Labour activists today, Mr Streeting will argue it is "unacceptable" for the council to be locked in a legal battle about keeping the children safe...
8 June 2019
Andrea Leadsom is running to be Conservative leader for the second time

Andrea Leadsom has insisted that she has enough backing from MPs to get into the first round of the Tory leadership contest.

With nominations due to close on Monday, Ms Leadsom only has three declared supporters. But the former Commons Leader told an ITV News podcast that she had "good support amongst colleagues" and would get the eight nominees required. Ms Leadsom, who quit Theresa May's government over Brexit last month, insisted she had a "very clear set out" plan to leave the EU which is the "only workable" solution on offer. The first part of the plan is "to introduce a second reading of a citizen's rights bill in the Commons, something that would protect UK and EU citizens," she said. Then she would "ramp up preparations for no deal because we have to be ready for the end of October, come what may." Ms Leadsom said following that she would "lead a...