Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

20 May 2019
Harlow College

Education Select Committee Chair Robert Halfon & Committee member Lucy Powell write in support of the 'Love Our Colleges' campaign which highlights the under-funding of colleges, and makes the case for much-needed investment.

When delivered well, skills, education and apprenticeships provide a ladder of opportunity that allows anyone, no matter what their background, the opportunity to secure jobs, prosperity and security for their future. This is important for two reasons: to address social injustices in our society and to boost productivity in our country. Getting this right benefits everyone, and colleges are the vanguard in our fight to achieve this. As MPs with top colleges within our constituencies – The Manchester College and Harlow College respectively – we have the genuine pleasure of seeing the life-changing and life-enhancing opportunities that these important community institutions provide. We are very grateful for the amazing work that FE Colleges are already doing, despite the pressures they face, and have been working closely with the Association of Colleges to fight for more resources as part of our School and College Funding inquiry. Despite delivering fantastic...
20 May 2019
Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage has urged Boris Johnson to ditch his backing for Theresa May's EU deal in exchange for an election tie-up between the Conservatives and the Brexit Party.

The former Ukip leader, whose new party is currently well ahead in the polls for Thursday's European elections, said he had a "real problem" with the Tory leadership hopeful's decision to vote for the Prime Minister's deal in March. Mr Farage has previously held out the prospect of an electoral pact with any new Conservative leader who backs leaving the European Union without a deal. Asked by The Telegraph whether the next Tory leader would have to ditch support for the current Withdrawal Agreement to win his party's backing, Mr Farage said: "Of course. Absolutely. "If a new Conservative leader said ‘we are leaving on WTO terms on Hallowe’en Day’ then that would be a great step in the right direction but would they actually stick to it? How could we trust them? That is the problem. "Everyone keeps shouting Boris’s name at me - Boris voted for the...
19 May 2019
Margaret Hodge

Labour party grandee Margaret Hodge should "consider her position" in the party after making remarks about pro-EU tactical voting, frontbencher Sue Hayman has said.

Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman said Labour members "deserved better" from the Barking MP after she urged voters to support pro-EU candidates in the European elections, even if it meant voting against her own party. In a leaked recording from a think tank event last week, Dame Margaret was heard disagreeing with a panellist who urged party members to avoid voting tactically and instead support their local Labour candidates. According to The Sunday Times, Dame Margaret said: "I think taking whatever action you need, within your locality, that gives you the best likelihood of electing somebody who will be a pro-European MEP, I think is the way you should go, I really do." "I know that's controversial but sometimes we allow the tribalism of politics to override the values and judgement we need to take on particular issues." But speaking to the BBC's...
19 May 2019
Ian Lavery

Labour chairman Ian Lavery has hit out at second referendum campaigners - including his own Shadow Cabinet colleagues - for using the term "confirmatory ballot".

Mr Lavery said the phrase, which has been used by fellow Labour frontbenchers Tom Watson and Sir Keir Starmer in recent weeks, was an attempt to call a second vote on Brexit "something it isn't". Sir Keir, among the leading advocates for a second referendum in Labour's top team, last week warned that it was "impossible" to see how any deal could pass the Commons without including a so-called "confirmatory vote". Tom Watson, the party's deputy leader, meanwhile said a Brexit deal "ought to be subject to the lock of a confirmatory vote" to get through Parliament. The party's MPs were also whipped to back a Commons amendment from backbenchers Pete Kyle and Phil Wilson back in March which called for a "confirmation ballot" on any EU deal. But Mr Lavery told the Financial Times he was "not sure" why the term was now being used by other senior Labour figures, and said the party leaders had never endorsed the...
19 May 2019
Rory Stewart

The Government is still in the "territory" of a Brexit deal with "sensible, moderate" Labour MPs despite the collapse of cross-party talks, Cabinet minister Rory Stewart has insisted.

The International Development Secretary said the two sides were "about half an inch apart", just days after Jeremy Corbyn pulled the plug on talks with a blast at the "increasing weakness and instability" of Theresa May's government. The embattled Prime Minister - who has promised to quit within weeks - on Sunday pledged to make a "bold new offer" to MPs to get behind her deal, although she stopped short of setting out any details of that plan. There is speculation that the move could include fresh protections for workers' rights or further movement on a customs union, Labour's central demand in the talks. Mr Stewart told the BBC's Andrew Marr show that ministers should keep reaching out to Labour MPs who might be willing to back the Withdrawal Agreement Bill when it comes to a Commons vote in June. "The Labour and Conservative positions are about half an inch apart,” he said. And the frontbencher said he did not "believe there’s anything that Jeremy Corbyn or we want that’s that...
19 May 2019
Chuka Umunna

A fresh split has opened up between pro-EU Change UK and the Liberal Democrats as Chuka Umunna called for campaigners to revoke Article 50 instead of pushing for a second Brexit referendum.

The Change UK spokesperson claimed there was not enough time for a second referendum to be held before the UK's October exit date as he called for the Brexit process to be stopped in order to avoid the "national emergency" of a no-deal exit. But Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable said revoking Article 50 would not be the "best outcome" and insisted a so-called 'People's Vote' could still be organised before the current October deadline for Britain's exit. Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme, Mr Umunna said he had decided to back the controversial plans after the Prime Minister announced she would be bringing back her withdrawal agreement for a Commons vote in early June. He said: "There are two very important things that have happened. First of all, at the beginning of these European election campaigns, we had time to provide for a People's Vote on what happens on Brexit, which would take at least five to six months. "We now no longer have the time to do that by the 31st of...
19 May 2019
Jeremy Corbyn

Labour's pledge to end free movement of people after Brexit would be "open for negotiation" if the party took charge of negotiations, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

The ability to live and work freely between European Union member states is a key principle of the bloc, and Labour's 2017 election manifesto said: "Freedom of movement will end when we leave the European Union." But the Labour leader told the BBC's Andrew Marr show that any Brexit negotiations led by his party would seek to recognise the need for "a great deal of movement of workers" in sectors including agriculture and education. Asked whether his party was "staunchly against" EU free movement, Mr Corbyn said: "Our manifesto said that the European system would obviously not apply if you're not in the European Union. "But I quite clearly recognise there has to be a lot of movement of workers... Ask any company in manufacturing or any other sector how much they need and rely on workers from Europe and indeed the other way around." And he added: "It would be open for negotiation, the level of movement of people between Europe and this country if we were a non-member of the EU."...
19 May 2019
Gerard Batten

Ukip leader Gerard Batten has said place as leader would become "untenable" if he loses his seat in the European elections.

The Ukip boss said he was waiting to see the outcome of the EU-wide vote before deciding on his future with the party, but admitted it would difficult to stay on as leader if he lost his London MEP seat. Speaking to Sky's Sophie Ridge, Mr Batten dismissed recent polling showing support for his party sitting on 3% saying: "The poll I will believe will be the one on Thursday". Instead, he said backing for Nigel Farage's Brexit Party - which is currently leading the polls - was being "bigged up" because the group did not present a "domestic threat" after the European elections. He added: "Much of this is designed to be a self-fufilling prophecy. I don't actually believe the polls." But he admitted that his own tenure as leader could be at risk if he fails to retain his seat later this week. "I think if I lost my seat in London it would be untenable for me to continue as leader. "But I won't make a decision on what I am going to do until after the European elections," he said. "I...
19 May 2019
Amber Rudd

A new group of pro-Remain Conservatives is set to try and block any Tory leadership candidate who backs a no-deal Brexit, it has emerged.

The One Nation Caucus, which is being spearheaded by Cabinet minister Amber Rudd, will reportedly issue a manifesto-style "declaration of values" on Monday that it hopes will shape the election of a new Tory leader once Theresa May steps down. According to the Sunday Telegraph, the new group will take aim at Conservative leadership hopefuls, including Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab, who back a no-deal exit from the European Union, a move which is also being touted by the new Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage. A source told the paper that the new 60-strong Conservative caucus would work to "stop any leadership candidate who endorses a 'Nigel Farage no-deal Brexit' which would damage the economy and make it harder to release public funds". Ms Rudd, one of those in Cabinet being talked up as a potential leadership contender, meanwhile warned that the "old...
19 May 2019
Geoffrey Robinson

A Labour MP has fiercely denied allegations he was involved with Czechoslovakian security services during the 1960s.

One of the party's most senior politicians, Geoffrey Robinson, said claims he passed confidential information to communist agents during the height of the Cold War were a "lie". According to leaked intelligence documents seen by the Mail on Sunday, it is alleged that Mr Robinson passed 87 pieces of intelligence about the UK's nuclear deterrent to a Czeckoslovakian spymaster in the years before he became an MP. The documents allegedly claim Mr Robinson described himself as a "Leninist" and that he was one of Czechoslovakia's "most productive sources" in the UK between 1966 and 1969. The paper adds the information handed over by Mr Robinson during 51 meetings with a Czecholslovakian handler included leaked Nato briefing documents, and details about the UK's polaris missile programme. The Labour grandee, who has been the MP for...