Former Labour Cabinet Minister Frank Dobson Dies at Age of 79

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.”

Brexit Party Won’t Stand in Conservative Seats

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”.

Ed Vaizey Stands Down from the House of Commons

Ed Vaizey, the Conservative MP for Wantage, has confirmed that he will not be standing at the 2019 General Election. Vaizey had lost the party whip in September 2019 when he voted against the Government on a Brexit vote, but the whip had been restored and it had been thought that he would stand again.

Vaizey said in his resignation letter to Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister:

“I believe now is the right time to move on because I am passionate about the arts, our creative industries and technology and I want to specialise in these sectors. They will, I believe, play an ever more important role in our national life and it is here that I want to focus my energies.”

He added:

“Let me make one thing clear. I am and will remain an enthusiastic supporter of you as our Prime Minister.”

Broadland MP Keith Simpson Confirms Constituency Association Knew About Nick Conrad’s Past

Keith Simpson, the out-going Conservative MP for Broadland, has said that the local party and members were aware of past comments made by Nick Conrad before he was selected by the party to stand in the constituency at the General Election. Simpson also said that Conrad had been asked to step down by the Conservative Party.

Conrad,  a professional broadcaster, justified rape on a radio show, saying:

“Women also have to understand that when a man’s given certain signals he’ll wish to act upon them and if you don’t wish to give out the wrong signals it’s best, probably, to keep your knickers on and not get into bed with him.”

Simpson said in an interview with the EDP:

“There is no doubt in my mind that Nick was told he must stand down. It was the accumulation of several bad headlines at the start of the campaign on other issues and of course Boris Johnson’s problem with women.”

Simpson added:

“When Nick stood I thought back to what had been said five years ago but my view was that he had apologised profusely and the BBC had not sacked him of course. He was asked about the comments and replied very well.”

Conrad said in his resignation statement:

“Five years ago I made ill-judged comments during an on-air radio discussion for which I made a genuine and heartfelt apology. Last night I was honoured to be made the Conservative candidate for Broadland and had hoped to become the MP for a constituency which is close to my heart. However it has become clear to me that the media attention on my previous comments have become a distraction.”

Jess Phillips, the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, said:

“It’s best to keep your knickers on to avoid rape according to this dude. I find it’s best avoided by never coming in to contact with misogynistic men who have no understanding of consent.”

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, also condemned the comments which Conrad had made, saying that they were “completely unacceptable”.

Tom Watson Quits Parliament and Deputy Leadership of Labour Party

Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, has unexpectedly stood down from the role and confirmed that he won’t be standing at the 2019 General Election. Watson said that he would continue to campaign for the Labour Party, saying “after 35 years in full-time politics, I’ve decided to step down and will be campaigning to overcome the Tory-fuelled public health crisis. I’m as committed to Labour as ever. I will spend this election fighting for brilliant Labour candidates and a better future for our country.”

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, posted on Twitter:

“Thank you @tom_watson for your service to our party and your constituents. I know you’ll continue to take on the vested interests of the Murdoch empire, big sugar companies and the gambling industry. This is not the end of our work together.”

Watson has held the deputy leadership role since 2015 and he has represented the constituency of West Bromwich East since 2001, securing a majority of 7,713 in 2017.

Philip Hammond to Stand Down from House of Commons

Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer under Theresa May’s leadership, has confirmed that he will not be standing in the 2019 General Election. Hammond has represented the constituency of Runnymede and Weybridge since it was created in 1997.

Hammond said on Twitter:

“It is with great sadness that I am today announcing my decision to stand down as Member of Parliament for Runnymede & Weybridge at the forthcoming General Election.”

UK Lowers Terrorist Threat Level

The Government has today lowered the risk of a terrorist threat from severe to substantial, meaning that an attack is still likely. The decision to lower the level was made by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) and is the first time it has been lowered to this level since August 2014. JTAC was established in June 2003 and is based in MI5’s headquarters at Thames House in London.

Head of Counter Terrorism Policing, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, said in a statement:

“The reduction to ‘Substantial’ indicates positive developments in reducing the threat from terrorism but still means an attack is likely. Counter Terrorism Policing has around 800 live CT investigations nationally and 24 attack plots have been thwarted since the atrocity in Westminster in March 2017. So it is vital that we all maintain a high level of vigilance and continue to invest in strong protective security measures to deter future attacks.”

Zarah Sultana, Labour Candidate for Coventry South, Admits Hate Speech

Zarah Sultana, the newly selected Labour candidate for the constituency of Coventry South, has admitted and apologised for hate speech which she posted on-line.

Four years ago, Sultana posted on social media:

“Try and stop me when the likes of Blair, Netanyahu and Bush die”.

The Jewish Chronicle also reported that Sultana has previously called for violence by Palestinians when she corrected a post saying that instead of “non-violent resistance”, she meant “violent resistance”.

Sultana admitted the hate posts, but added:

“This was written out of frustration rather than any malice”.

The Labour Party has yet to comment on whether Sultana will be deselected.

Lindsay Hoyle Elected as New Speaker

Lindsay Hoyle has been selected by MPs as the new Speaker of the House of Commons, following four ballots. Hoyle, who was previously the Deputy Speaker, won the final ballot against Chris Bryant by 325 votes to 215 votes.

Other candidates who took part in the ballot were Meg Hillier, Edward Leigh, Rosie Winterton, Harriet Harman and Eleanor Laing.

Priti Patel’s Chief of Staff Ejected from Houses of Parliament

The Guardian newspaper has reported that James Starkie, the Chief of Staff to Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has been ordered out from the Stranger’s Bar following a violent incident.

A spokesperson for the Houses of Parliament said:

“We can confirm there was an incident with an individual in Strangers’ Bar. The individual was asked to leave and was escorted from the estate by parliamentary security.”

Patel has yet to comment on the incident.