Labour Leadership Candidate Owen Smith Calls for General Election or Second Referendum to Confirm Brexit Deal

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Owen Smith, the Labour MP who is contesting the leadership of the party against Jeremy Corbyn, has said that he would support a second referendum which would be on the Brexit deal or for voters to have a say in a General Election.

Talking to BBC’s Radio Five Smith said:

“Labour still believes that we should be a part of the European Union”.

He added that:

“Labour will vote in Parliament to block any attempt to invoke Article 50 until Theresa May commits to a second referendum or a general election on whatever EU exit deal emerges at the end of the process”.

Smith called on Jeremy Corbyn to back his move, but the current leader has previously ruled out supporting a second vote.

Jeremy Corbyn Admits Seats Were Available on Virgin Train

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Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has confirmed that seats were available on a Virgin train which he had previously said was “ram packed”. Corbyn was videoed on the floor of a train to highlight the problem of over-crowded trains.

Corbyn had said at the time whilst sitting on the floor:

“This is a problem that many passengers face every day, commuters and long-distance travellers. Today this train is completely ram-packed”.

Virgin Trains this week published evidence that there were seats available, both reserved and unreserved. Virgin said that they “took issue with the idea that Mr Corbyn wasn’t able to be seated on the service, as this clearly wasn’t the case”. Evidence was shown that Corbyn was seated for the majority of the journey and did walk by empty seats.

After the evidence was presented Corbyn said that he wanted a pair of seats so that he could sit next to his wife.

Owen Smith, Corbyn’s rival in the Labour leadership contest, issued a Tweet saying:

“My campaign remains on track. Proud to be genuinely standing up for ordinary people”.

UK Unemployment Falls to 11-Year Low

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UK unemployment has fallen to 1.65 million people, 4.9% of the workforce, which is the lowest figure for 11 years. The figures relate to the March to May 2016 period, before the referendum vote to leave the European Union.

The number of people in work also rose in the same period by 176,000. Earnings also increased by 2.2% over the previous 12 months in the figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

Boris Johnson Calls for Hostilities in Yemen to End

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Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has called on all sides in the Yemen crisis to end hostilities. There has been a continuation of attacks in the country and it today has been reported that ten children have been killed in an attack in Haydan.

In a statement Johnson said:

“The UK continues to strongly support the work of UN Special Envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, and his tireless efforts in working with all parties to bring about peace in Yemen. I deeply regret the failure of the parties to reach an agreement and I urge them to find the compromises that will end the current conflict.

I am seriously concerned about actions being taken by elements of the Houthis, the General People’s Congress, and allies in defiance of the Yemeni Constitution and the UN process, and encourage all parties not to take any action that undermines the possibility of peace.

It is critical now that all parties to the conflict renew their commitment to the Cessation of Hostilities for the sake of the people of Yemen, including active participation by the Houthis in the De-escalation and Coordination Committee. The dire humanitarian and economic situation in the country means it is absolutely imperative that the talks continue, and a way towards peace is found. The UK will continue to be fully engaged as the international community seeks a solution to the crisis in Yemen, building on the Quadrilateral meeting we hosted in London in July, and the £85 million that the UK has committed so far as the fourth largest donor of aid”.

Labour Leader and Deputy Leader Clash on Extreme-Left Wings Groups Infiltrating Labour

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Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, and Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, have clashed over allegations that the party has been infiltrated by Trotsky entrists.

Speaking in an interview with the Observer newspaper, Corbyn said:

“I just ask Tom to do the maths: 300,000 people have joined the Labour party – at no stage in anyone’s most vivid imagination are there 300,000 sectarian extremists at large in the country who have suddenly descended on the Labour party. Sorry Tom, it is nonsense – and I think he knows it’s nonsense. Let’s get on with campaigning, Tom. Thanks.

I just wish that members of the parliamentary Labour party, including Tom, would recognise that we have a very strong and very large party membership who joined for a reason. They want a different kind of society and a different kind of Britain. They want us to oppose austerity, they want us to oppose inequality, they want us to encourage investment and that kind of society that develops that includes all”.

Watson replied:

“I have never claimed that hundreds of thousands of new joiners are revolutionary socialists, and those who claim I did are attacking a straw man. I simply want to ensure that organisations like the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, who have instructed all their members to join the Labour party and target our youth sections for recruitment, are dealt with under our rules. It’s undeniable that this is happening. AWL even published these instructions on their website”.

Labour NEC Wins Appeal to Restrict Members who can Vote

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The Labour NEC have won an appeal court judgement over whether they had the power to restrict voting rights to only those members who had been members for six months or more.

The decision made by the judges, which reversed a decision by Mr. Justice Hickinbottom said:

“We allow the appeal. On the correct interpretation of the Party Rules, the National Executive Committee has the power to set the criteria for members to be eligible to vote in the leadership election in the way that it did. We find that there is express provision in the Rules which enables them to do this, in particular where the Rules state: “The precise eligibility criteria [‐ that is to say, to vote in the election ‐] shall be defined by the National Executive Committee …”. With respect to the judge, we unanimously consider that he erred in law in reaching the contrary conclusion and therefore allow Mr McNicol’s appeal”.

The Labour Party welcomes the decision of the Appeal Court. The Party has said consistently throughout this process that we would defend vigorously the decisions of the NEC.

A spokesman for the NEC said:

“It was right that the Party appealed the judgement on the freeze date, just as we would have appealed if the Court in the previous case did not uphold the NEC decision that the incumbent Leader of the Labour Party did not require nominations. It is crucial to the Labour Party that our governing body has the authority to debate, decide and implement the procedures, timetable and voting eligibility for our internal elections and selections”.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Party, criticised the decision saying:

“The court’s ruling disenfranchises nearly 130,000 Labour members who joined the party since January and were explicitly told that they would have a vote in any leadership election”.

Owen Smith, who is contesting the leadership election against Corbyn, said that he would continue his campaign in the same way and that it wouldn’t make a difference.

RMT Union Announces Seven-Day Strike on Eurostar

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The RMT union has said that it is calling a strike over working conditions on Eurostar, which will run from 12 to 15 August and from 27 to 30 August. The move is expected to cause some disruption over what is the busy summer period.

A spokesman for Eurostar played down concerns, saying:

“On the days of the strike we have made some small changes to our timetable to ensure that all passengers booked to travel will be able to on those days. Passengers affected will be notified in advance”.

A spokesman for the RMT said:

“The dispute centres on Eurostar’s failure to honour an agreement from 2008 which sought to ensure that train managers could expect a good work-life balance in terms of unsocial hours and duty rosters. RMT members voted massively in favour of strike action on the basis that Eurostar had failed to honour their commitments and the fact that work-life balance was being repeatedly undermined”.

Louie Howlett Case to be Sent to Sentencing Council

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The case of Louie Howlett, a 21-year old who drove at 154 mph on the A11 in Icklingham in Suffolk is to be referred to the sentencing council. Magistrates in Bury St. Edmunds gave Howlett a driving ban of 56-days, despite it being one of the worst speeding cases ever recorded in the country.

Tim Passmore, the Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, confirmed that he would be referring the matter to the Sentencing Council. Suffolk Police also made an appeal against the leniency of the sentence.

A police spokesman said:

“This speed is truly staggering and shows a complete disregard for other road users”.

All six Labour NEC places go to Corbyn Supporters

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Corbyn supporters now make up a majority of places on the Labour NEC following elections where all six successful candidates were loyal to the leader. The NEC is Labour’s governing body and the election results are a boost to Corbyn and his strength over the party’s machinery.

The full result was:

BLACK, Ann 100,999 Elected
SHAWCROFT, Christine 97,510 Elected
WEBBE, Claudia 92,377 Elected
WILLIAMS, Darren 87,003 Elected
WOLFSON, Rhea 85,687 Elected
WILLSMAN, Peter 81,863 Elected

REEVES, Ellie 72,514
IZZARD, Eddie 70,993
BAILEY, Bex 67,205
BAXTER, Johanna 60,367
DHANDA, Parmjit 53,838
AKEHURST, Luke 48,632
WHEELER, Peter 44,062
GALLAGHER, John 22,678
GUL, Amanat 14,693

 

Prime Minister Speaks to Danish and Dutch Counterparts

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Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has spoken to the Prime Ministers of Denmark and the Netherlands, Lars-Lokke Rasmussen and Mark Rutte.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said:

The Prime Minister spoke by telephone yesterday to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and to Danish Prime Minister Lars-Lokke Rasmussen.

“Both offered their congratulations on the Prime Minister’s appointment, and said they looked forward to working together closely. In both calls, the Prime Minister explained that we are keen to approach negotiations for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union in a constructive and positive way. The Prime Minister said we would not be triggering Article 50 before the end of the year, which would provide time for both the UK, and the remaining EU 27, to prepare properly for the negotiations, helping to ensure a smooth and orderly departure of the UK from the EU. The Prime Minister made clear that the UK wanted a positive relationship both with the EU and bilaterally with its member states after we had left the EU”.