Sarah Wollaston Joins the Liberal Democrats

Sarah Wollaston, the former Conservative MP for Totnes, has joined the Liberal Democrats. Wollaston resigned from the Conservative Party in February 2019 to join what became Change UK and has now joined Chuka Umunna, a former Labour MP who made a similar transition.

Wollaston said in a statement:

“After very careful thought, I have come to the conclusion that I can best serve the interests of my constituents by joining the Liberal Democrats. Brexit has not only sucked all the political oxygen from government over the past three years, but it has also consumed the funding and energy that should have been invested in local communities, tackling climate change and supporting the workforce and infrastructure of our NHS, schools and transport.”

Umunna said in a statement:

“Absolutely delighted that the wonderful Dr @SarahWollaston- hugely respected across the House of Commons and the country – has joined the  @LibDems family! This underlines that we are the biggest and strongest #Remain party in the UK.”

Boris Johnson Speaks to Prime Minister of New Zealand

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has spoken to Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, by phone to discuss matters of interests to the two countries, including trade, climate change and Brexit.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The leaders discussed their shared commitment to an ambitious free trade agreement between the UK and New Zealand at the earliest opportunity.

Prime Minister Johnson and Prime Minister Ardern also discussed other issues of shared importance, including climate change and maintaining momentum in tackling terrorist use of the internet.

Prime Minister Johnson also updated Prime Minister Ardern on developments in the UK’s exit from the European Union. He confirmed that we want to leave the EU with a deal but we are committed to leaving on 31 October whatever the circumstances.”

Boris Johnson Speaks to Portuguese Prime Minister

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has spoken to António Costa, the Prime Minister of Portugal, by phone to discuss matters of interests to the two countries such as Brexit, innovation and international security.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said in a statement:

“Prime Minister Johnson spoke about how Portugal is one of the UK’s oldest allies and both leaders agreed that they have a strong relationship to build on, including cooperation on defence, science and innovation.

On Brexit, Prime Minister Johnson set out that whilst we want to leave with a deal, it will require compromise from the EU to change the Withdrawal Agreement, which has been rejected by Parliament three times. He said that he will energetically pursue a deal, but any deal must abolish the backstop. Prime Minister Johnson also explained that the UK will continue to fully prepare to leave the EU on 31 October, whatever the circumstances.

Prime Minister Johnson also acknowledged the valuable contribution of Portuguese nationals who live in the UK and stressed that their rights will be protected after Brexit. He welcomed Portugal’s commitment to do the same for UK nationals living there.”

Boris Johnson Speaks to Belgian Prime Minister

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has spoken to Charles Michel, the Prime Minister of Belgium, by phone to discuss matters relating to the countries such as Brexit, NATO and security.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“Prime Minister Johnson began by reiterating his commitment to strengthening the excellent bilateral relationship between the UK and Belgium, including in key areas such as security, trade and counterterrorism. He said that he looked forward to welcoming Prime Minister Michel for the NATO Leaders’ Meeting on 4 December.

On Brexit, Prime Minister Johnson set out that the existing deal has been rejected three times by Parliament and must change. He reiterated that the UK stands ready to negotiate an alternative to the backstop in good faith, but if the EU continue to insist on no changes to the Withdrawal Agreement then we will have to leave without a deal on the 31 October.

On citizens’ rights, Prime Minister Johnson thanked Prime Minister Michel for the positive approach of Belgium, which has legislation in place to protect the rights of UK nationals. He reiterated the UK’s commitment that the rights of the 3.2 million citizens, including Belgian citizens now living and working in the UK, are protected whatever the circumstances.

The leaders finished the call by discussing how the UK and Belgium will continue to have a close relationship and work together on the important issues that face our continent.”

New UKIP Leader Says the Distribution of the Qur’an Should be Banned

Richard Braine, the new leader of UKIP, has reportedly said that the distribution of the Qur’an should be banned in the UK under terrorism laws. Braine had been elected as the new UKIP leader at the weekend, beating three other candidates for the position.

The Guardian reported that Braine said a few weeks ago that:

“We have laws against incitement, and yet there are people handing out Qur’ans in Leicester Square off a trestle table – a book which tells people to kill us to please God. We’ve got to stop incitement in public places like that. We’ve got to stop bigamy, welfare abuse. We’ve got to educate people in this country so they understand what the Qur’an says, what Islam really is, so they understand that it contains a hundred instructions to maim and slaughter innocent people – homosexuals, the infidel, women, apostates. So we need to understand what is in that book, we need to educate ourselves and our children about that.”

The Muslim Council of Great Britain said in a statement:

“UKIP’s continued descent into even greater depths of bigotry is only matched by its growing irrelevance and obscurity. Virulent Islamophobia was not a successful tactic under the previous UKIP leadership, and will not be this time. Our nation knows better.”

UKIP Select Richard Braine as the New Party Leader

Richard Braine has been elected as the new party leader of UKIP, taking over from the current leader Gerald Batten. Braine has been the chairman of UKIP in West London and was also second on the party list for the London constituency in the 2019 European Parliamentary elections.

In the election there were 5,539 votes, which represented a turnout of 19.1%.

The results were:

Richard Braine – 2,935 votes (52.9%)

Freddy Vachha – 1,134 votes (20.5%)

Ben Walker – 753 votes (13.6%)

Mike Hookem – 717 votes (13.0%)

There were also 194 spoilt ballots.

Foreign Secretary Speaks to Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong

Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, has spoken by phone to Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. They discussed the current political protests in Hong Kong and the future of the former British colony.

A spokesperson for Raab said:

“The Foreign Secretary has called Carrie Lam to discuss his concerns about the situation in Hong Kong, and the protests there. The Foreign Secretary underlined the strength of the relationship between the UK and Hong Kong, noting our support for Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy as provided for in the Joint Declaration and our commitment to the principle of ‘One country, Two systems’.

The Foreign Secretary condemned violent acts by all sides but emphasised the right to peaceful protest, noting that hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong people had chosen this route to express their views. He underlined that the violence should not cloud the lawful actions of the majority.

The Foreign Secretary emphasised the need to find a way forward through meaningful political dialogue, and a fully independent investigation into recent events as a way to build trust.”

UK Economy Shrinks for First Time in Seven Years

Sajid Javid

The UK economy shrank in size between April and June 2019, the first fall since 2012. The news came as a surprise to the markets and if a second quarterly fall is confirmed later in the year then the UK economy would technically be in a recession.

Sajid Javid, the Chancellor of the Exchequer,  rejected any notion of a second quarterly fall, saying:

“I am not expecting a recession at all. And in fact, don’t take my word for it. There’s not a single leading forecaster out there that is expecting a recession, the independent Bank of England is not expecting a recession. And that’s because they know that the fundamentals remain strong.”

John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:

“Today’s dismal economic figures are a direct result of Tory incompetence. The Tories’ Brexit bungling, including Boris Johnson now taking us towards no-deal, is breaking the economy. The Tories are responsible for tumbling business investment and stagnating productivity – and that, along with nine years of austerity, has contributed to GDP contracting today.”

Prime Minister Meets with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has today met with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan at Downing Street. They discussed with the situation in the UK and Jordan, as well as the links between the countries.

A spokesperson said for the Prime Minister:

“The Prime Minister met with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan in Downing Street today for talks and a working lunch. The leaders reflected on the close bilateral relationship and longstanding friendship between our countries.

They noted the positive impact of the Jordan Growth and Opportunity Conference earlier this year. The Prime Minister welcomed the King’s progress in delivering economic reforms and urged continued momentum.

The leaders also acknowledged Jordan’s important role in maintaining regional stability and the Prime Minister thanked the King for the part Jordan continues to play in hosting Syrian refugees.”

Frank Field to Stand as a Social Justice Candidate

Frank Field, the former Labour MP who has represented Birkenhead since 1979, has confirmed that he will contest the next General Election as a Social Justice candidate. Field quit the Labour Party in 2018 and said that the party now had a “culture of intolerance, nastiness and intimidation”.

The manifesto for The Birkenhead Social Justice Party are listed on their web-site as:

  • Abolish child poverty in Birkenhead
  • Eliminate youth unemployment and deliver Birkenhead’s homegrown strategies for local industry and the environment
  • Build the safe, secure, and affordable housing that Birkenhead needs
  • Fight back against crime and antisocial behaviour in Birkenhead
  • Gain the public transport network that Birkenhead deserves
  • Protect every worker in Birkenhead against low pay and insecure work
  • Introduce a more compassionate benefits system for disabled people in Birkenhead that protects their dignity, while ensuring the system protects Birkenhead’s pensioners
  • Defend the living standards of Birkenhead’s pensioners
  • Strengthen Birkenhead’s health and social care services