The Troika of the UK, the US and Norway, have released a joint statement on the current state of peace talks in Sudan.
The text of the statement reads:
“On December 10 the various Sudanese armed opposition groups met in Juba to resume peace talks. The success of these talks will be critical in Sudan’s journey towards ensuring lasting peace. The United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway (the Troika) welcome the resumption of these talks. It is our sincere hope that all interested stakeholders will join these talks and show a renewed spirit of cooperation, pragmatism, and realism to ensure these negotiations succeed. This is what the people of Sudan expect and deserve.
For too long, internal conflict was waged at the expense of Sudan’s most vulnerable people. Only lasting peace will ensure that the humanitarian and security needs of those in the areas affected by the conflicts can be met and for those marginalized areas to benefit from the changes ushered in by the creation of a civilian-led transitional government.
We urge all sides to support the formation of the Transitional Legislative Assembly and appointment of civilian governors (known as walis) by the end of December 2019. We furthermore encourage all sides to come to the talks without pre-conditions. Progress in the talks will maintain confidence in building a stable, secure, democratic and inclusive Sudan where all Sudanese are equal. It is vital that all sides demonstrate the political will to work together, and engage productively, to find solutions to out.”
Polling stations having opened across the United Kingdom with voters able to cast their vote at the election between 07:00 and 22:00 for who they want to represent them in the House of Commons. The first results are expected to be announced at around 23:00, with opinion polls suggesting that the General Election may be a close result.
The Conservative Party have issued a statement warning that Labour would set up 108 new quangos if they were to win power at this week’s General Election.
The party said in a statement:
“Pledges in Labour’s 2019 manifesto alone commit to the creation of at least 108 new quangos – unaccountable public bodies paid for by the taxpayer. The running costs of these new quangos will be a minimum of £1.86 billion per year – adding up to £9.32 billion over five years. This is on top of another £3.93 billion in upfront costs which will be required to set up and finance these quangos.”
Rishi Sunak, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, added:
“Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to set up over a hundred new quangos will hugely increase bureaucracy and waste in government. Corbyn’s new quangos range from the pointless and profligate to the deeply damaging and sinister. I am particularly concerned that they will hugely increase the power of their chums in the trade unions which will mean more strikes and more gridlock.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has confirmed that bird flu has been found at a farm in Suffolk.
The Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss, said in a statement:
“Low Pathogenic Avian flu has been confirmed on a commercial chicken farm in Suffolk. Immediate steps have been taken to limit the risk of the disease spreading and 27,000 poultry at the farm will be culled.
Public Health England has confirmed that the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.
Bird keepers should remain alert for any signs of disease, report suspected disease immediately and ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises.
We are urgently looking for any evidence of disease spread associated with this strain to control and eliminate it.”
Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, has said that the Labour Party would scrap car parking charges if they form the next Government.
Ashworth said in a statement:
“These car parking charges are a tax on the sick, their families and hard-working NHS staff. A Labour government will totally scrap parking charges, providing free hospital parking for patients, staff and visitors.”
Car parks at hospitals are mostly already free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but a spokesperson for NHS Providers said in a statement:
“All charges by trusts for parking cover the day-to-day running of car parking at the hospital, with any surplus reinvested back into wider services for patients or improving these facilities.”
Jo Swinson, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, has said that legislation to stop Brexit is ready to go should the party win the General Election.
Swinson, who is standing as the party’s candidate in East Dunbartonshire, said:
“We have legislation ready to go to secure a People’s Vote with the option to stay in the EU. As soon as Parliament returns, we would introduce two bills. The first would be a ‘Paving Bill’ to begin the referendum process with the Electoral Commission. The second would be on the referendum itself.”
Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, has apologised to Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, following leaked comments about him. Ashworth had been talking to a friend, Greig Baker, but was unaware that his comments were being taped.
Answering a question on whether Corbyn was a security risk, Ashworth said:
“I don’t know, on the security stuff, I worked in No 10, I think the machine will pretty quickly move to safeguard security, I mean the civil service machine. But it’s not going to happen. I cannot see it happening.”
Corbyn said that the recording was simply “bit of banter between two old friends” and said that he still had full confidence in Ashworth.
Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, has confirmed the appointment of Jon Wilks as the new Ambassador to Qatar. He will begin his new role in February 2020 and he replaces Ajay Sharma. From 2017 until 2019, Wilks was Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Iraq.
Frank Dobson, the Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras South between 1979 and 1983 and for the constituency of Holborn and St Pancras between 1983 and 2015, has died in York at the age of 79.
Dobson served as the Secretary of State for Health between 1997 and 1999, before standing down to prepare for a bid to become London Mayor. Dobson came third in the 2000 Mayoral elections following the decision of Ken Livingstone, previously a Labour MP, to stand in the election.
Tony Blair, the Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007, said in a statement that:
“Frank made an immense contribution to getting Labour back into power in the 1990”.
Sadiq Khan, the current London Mayor, posted on Twitter:
“So sad to hear the news about Frank Dobson. A hero of the London Labour movement – his kindness, commitment to reducing inequality, and unique sense of humour will be much missed. Sending love to his family.”
Nigel Farage, the Leader of the Brexit Party, has confirmed that the party will not be standing in constituencies which are held by Conservative MPs. The decision is a reversal from a previous announcement when Farage said that the party would be standing in every constituency.
Farage said in a statement:
“Now that the Prime Minister has said we we will not extend the transition beyond 2020, and he will go for a Canada-style free trade deal without political alignment. I have decided to put country before party and will not oppose Boris Johnson.
This ensures that the General Election will not result in a hung parliament and second referendum. We will target Labour and Remainer MPs and get a voice in Parliament to make the PM keep his promises”.