Boris Johnson Expresses Disappointment on Venezuelan elections

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has expelled disappointment following the announcement of the Venezuelan election results. Nicolás Maduro, the President, was re-elected amidst allegations of electoral fraud. Sanctions are expected to be announced against Venezuela by several countries in response to the results.

Johnson said in a statement:

“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that Maduro pressed ahead with deeply flawed elections to secure his own survival. They were neither free nor fair, and have further eroded Venezuelan democracy. There is an urgent need to restore democratic order, release political prisoners, and respect the National Assembly and political opposition.

The condemnation of the international community is loud and clear. We shall work closely with our EU and regional partners in the coming weeks to determine how we can continue to support a political resolution.

I remain deeply concerned by the man-made humanitarian and economic crisis, which is growing worse by the day. I urge the Venezuelan government to take immediate action, and let the international community deliver essential food and medicines. The suffering of ordinary Venezuelan people cannot be allowed to continue”.

Ken Livingstone Quits Labour Party

Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, has quit the Labour Party following on-going disciplinary action. Livingstone said that he did not though accept comments he made were anti-semitic, although he apologised for any offence caused.

Livingstone said in a statement:

“After much consideration, I have decided to resign from the Labour Party.

The ongoing issues around my suspension from the Labour Party have become a distraction from the key political issue of our time – which is to replace a Tory government overseeing falling living standards and spiralling poverty, while starving our schools and the NHS of the vital resources they need.

We live in dangerous times and there are many issues I wish to speak up on and contribute my experience from running London… from the need for real action to tackle climate change, to opposing Trump’s war-mongering, to the need to end austerity and invest in our future here in Britain.

I do not accept the allegation that I have brought the Labour Party into disrepute – nor that I am in any way guilty of anti-Semitism. I abhor anti-Semitism, I have fought it all my life and will continue to do so.

I also recognise that the way I made a historical argument has caused offence and upset in the Jewish community. I am truly sorry for that.

Under Labour’s new general secretary I am sure there will be rapid action to expel anyone who genuinely has anti-Semitic views. I am loyal to the Labour Party and to Jeremy Corbyn. However any further disciplinary action against me may drag on for months or even years, distracting attention from Jeremy’s policies.

I am therefore, with great sadness, leaving the Labour Party.

We desperately need an end to Tory rule, and a Corbyn-led government to transform Britain and end austerity. I will continue to work to this end, and I thank all those who share this aim and who have supported me in my own political career”.

Livingstone’s decision comes two weeks after Shami Chakrabarti, the Shadow Attorney General, said that he should be expelled following his comments and behaviour. She said:

“It is very difficult to see that any rational decision-maker in the light of what has happened in the last two years could find a place for Mr Livingstone in our party at this moment”.

Queens Confers 13 New Peerages

The Government has confirmed that the Queen has conferred thirteen new Peerages for individuals to sit in the House of Lords.

The individuals have been confirmed as:

Nominations from the Leader of the Conservative Party

Diana Barran MBE – founder and lately chief executive of SafeLives

The Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Garnier QC – lately Member of Parliament for Harborough and former Solicitor General

The Rt. Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst – lately Member of Parliament for Saffron Walden and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons

The Rt. Hon. Peter Lilley – lately Member of Parliament for Hitchin and Harpenden and former Secretary of State for Social Security

Catherine Meyer CBE – founder and lately chief executive of Action Against Abduction

The Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles – lately Member of Parliament for Brentwood and Ongar and former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

The Rt. Hon. Sir John Randall – former Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Treasurer of HM Household and Deputy Chief Whip. Vice-Chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister

Amanda Sater, JP – lately Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party. Chairman of StreetGames and of The Queen’s Club Foundation

The Rt. Hon. Andrew Tyrie – lately Member of Parliament for Chichester and former Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee

Nominations from the Leader of the Labour Party

Martha Osamor – campaigner on immigration, employment rights and racial discrimination

Pauline Bryan – author and campaigner

Iain McNicol – lately General Secretary of the Labour Party

Nomination from the Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

Dr. William McCrea – lately Member of Parliament for South Antrim

The Ministry of Defence Confirms the Death of Corporal Steven Wainwright

The Ministry of Defence have confirmed the death of Corporal Steven Wainwright after being involved in a car crash at the Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area in Cyprus.

Group Captain Andrew Dickens OBE, Commanding Officer 903 Expeditionary Air Wing said in a statement:

“Our deepest condolences go to Cpl Steven Wainwright’s family and friends at what is a terrible, tragic time. He was a popular member of No. 6 Squadron, who are currently deployed as part of 903 Expeditionary Air Wing based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. As a highly skilled aircraft technician, Cpl Wainwright was making a key contribution to Operation Shader in ensuring Typhoon aircraft could complete the challenging mission against Daesh. Cpl Wainwright was a dedicated professional who had served his country with distinction. All our thoughts are now with Cpl Wainwright’s family, friends and colleagues as they come to terms with his tragic death”.

Conservative and Labour Parties Hold Bulk of Their Local Councillors

In a night of English local council elections the Labour and Conservative parties have maintained their level of support, without making significant headway. The Liberal Democrats performed strongly, whilst the UKIP vote collapsed.

Labour currently have 2,310 councillors elected in yesterday’s elections, an increase of just 59, whilst the Conservative Party had 1,330 councillors, a decrease of just 31. The Liberal Democrats secured 536 councillors, an increase of 75, whilst the UKIP vote collapsed, with just three councillors elected compared to the 126 elected in the 2014 elections.

Amber Rudd Resigns as Home Secretary

Amber Rudd has today resigned her role as Home Secretary following the Government’s treatment of what has become known as the Windrush generation. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, is expected to complete the reshuffle later today.

Rudd wrote to the Prime Minister:

“Dear Prime Minister,

It is with great regret that I am resigning as home secretary. I feel it is necessary to do so because I inadvertently misled the Home Affairs Select Committee over targets for removal of illegal immigrants during their questions on Windrush.

Since appearing before the select committee, I have reviewed the advice I was given on this issue and become aware of information provided to my office which makes mention of targets. I should have been aware of this, and I take full responsibility for the fact that I was not.

The Windrush scandal has rightly shone a light on an important issue for our country. As so often, the instincts of the British people are right. They want people who have a right to live here to be treated fairly and humanely, which has sometimes not been the case. But they also want the government to remove those who don’t have the right to be here. I had hoped in coming months to devise a policy that would allow the government to meet both these vital objectives – including bringing forward urgent legislation to ensure the rights of the Windrush generation are protected. The task force is working well, the residence cards are being issued well within the two weeks promised, and the design of the compensation scheme is making good progress.

The Home Office is one of the great offices of state and its job is to keep people safe. It comes with the responsibility to fight terrorism, support and challenge the police and protect people against the abuse, as well as manage migration.

It has been a great privilege to serve as your home secretary. I have seen first-hand the second to none commitment and bravery of our police, fire and intelligence services, they truly are the best in the world and we should rightly be extremely proud of them.

I have been particularly pleased that we were able to set up the first Global Internet Forum for Counter Terrorism which has led the way with encouraging social media sites to go further and faster in taking down radicalising and terrorist material, which plays such a dangerous part in increasing extremism.

Setting out new laws to tackle the scourge of knife crime and acid attacks and helping to steer our young people away from a life of crime and violence by providing them with credible alternatives have been particularly important to me.

Opportunities to work on issues that safeguard the vulnerable, champions women and make a lasting impact on people’s lives particularly stand out for me. New policies to fight domestic violence and abuse against women are out to consultation, and will lead this country to taking a new approach. Helping to bring thousands of refugees, including child refugees from both Calais and the Middle East region, and meeting some of the families who fled the terrible situation in Syria and have now been given a chance to rebuild their lives here in the UK in safety and security is something we can be proud of.

It has been an honour to work on a new security treaty with the EU as part of our new partnership going forward and to participate in your Brexit sub-committee helping to ensure that we have the best possible EU deal for our economy, businesses, jobs and people across the UK.

The new Economic Crime Centre that i launched with the first use of unexplained wealth orders will be important to the confidence of London as a financial centre.

I will continue to support the Home Office ministerial team whenever possible on all these important subjects, supporting the government from the back benches and continuing to work hard for my constituents of Hastings and Rye.

Best wishes,

Amber Rudd”

The Prime Minister replied:

“Dear Amber,

Thank you for your letter of this evening tendering your resignation as home secretary. I was very sorry to receive it, but understand your reasons for doing so.

When you addressed the House of Commons and the Home Affairs Select Committee last week on the issue of illegal immigration, you answered the questions put to you in good faith. People who have entered the United Kingdom illegally or overstayed here should expect to face the full force of the law and know that they will be removed if they will not leave this country voluntarily. Just as importantly, people who have come here legally and enriched the life of our country should not expect the state unreasonably to challenge their presence here; rather, it should help them prove their right to continue living here and contributing to the life of our nation.

Under your tenure, the Home Office has been working to enforce a firm but fair immigration policy – working to increase the number of illegal migrants we remove, while ensuring that we continue to recognise the huge contribution of everyone who has come to the UK legally, and remain open to the brightest and best from across the globe.

When you spoke in the House of Commons, you said that you had not agreed specific removal targets, but that the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement command had been using local targets for internal performance management. You also said that you were not aware that those operational targets had been set.

I understand why, now that you have had chance to review the advice that you have received on this issue, you have made the decision you have made and taken responsibility for inadvertently misleading the Home Affairs Select Committee.

I am very sorry to see you leaving the Home Office, but you should take great pride in what you have achieved there – working with internet service providers to set up the first Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism and take extremist and terrorist content offline; countering the cyber threat to British families and businesses; standing up for the victims of crime, abuse and domestic violence; offering shelter to refugees from Syria and elsewhere; and advancing the cause of equality as minister for women and equalities.

This comes on top of the considerable contribution you have made to Government since 2012 – first as a whip, then as minister and subsequently secretary of state at the department for energy and climate change – as well as the devoted service you have always given, and will continue to give, to your constituents in Hastings and Rye.

As a former home secretary myself, I appreciate the particular demands of that great office of state. You should take great pride in the way you have led the Home Office and its dedicated public servants through a number of serious challenges, including five terrorist incidents and other complex national events. You have done so with great integrity, compassion, and selflessness – notwithstanding the personal and political challenges you have faced during this period.

I know that you have a great contribution still to make to national life, and look forward to seeing you do so.

Yours,

Theresa.”

Theresa May Speaks with German and French Leaders over Iran Nuclear Deal

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has spoken to Emmanuel Macron, the French President, and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, by phone regarding the Iran nuclear deal.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister held separate phone calls with the French President Emmanuel Macron and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday and this morning.

They discussed the importance of the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) as the best way of neutralising the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, agreeing that our priority as an international community remained preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

They agreed that there were important elements that the deal does not cover, but which we need to address – including ballistic missiles, what happens when the deal expires, and Iran’s destabilising regional activity.

Acknowledging the importance of retaining the JCPoA, they committed to continue working closely together and with the US on how to tackle the range of challenges that Iran poses – including those issues that a new deal might cover.

They also noted the vital importance of our steel and aluminium industries and their concern about the impact of US tariffs. The leaders pledged to continue to work closely with the rest of the EU and the US Administration with the aim of a permanent exemption from US tariffs.

Finally, they all agreed on the value of continued engagement in the E3 format (Britain, France and Germany) to advance our shared interests and our security”.

Michael Martin, Former Commons Speaker, Dies at the Age of 72

Michael Martin, who was the Speaker of the House of Commons from 2000 until 2009, when he resigned following his handling of the MP expenses scandal. He had been a Labour MP since 1979 for Glasgow Springburn before taking on the Speakership, and he kept that constituency as an independent until 2005, when he became the MP for Glasgow North East until he resigned. He was then elevated to the Peerage as Baron Martin of Springburn, sitting as a crossbench Lord.

Martin took a leave of absence from the House of Lords in September 2017 and died on 29 April 2018, following a short illness.

David Gauke Announces Reform of Parole Board

David Gauke, the Secretary of State for Justice, has said that the Government is to begin an overhaul and reform of the parole board. The reform has been announced following the case of John Worboys, whose release from prison was eventually overturned by the High Court.

Gauke said in a statement:

“Today I am announcing a package of measures to reform the Parole Board and introduce transparency of its decisions. But we are going further and consulting on a new way to challenge Parole Board decisions that would be judge-led and could, in some circumstances, be open to the public. And we’re not stopping there.

Today I also produce the terms of reference for our comprehensive review of the entire Parole Board, including whether we should in some circumstances name panel members, whether we should define the panel composition and what kinds of further scrutiny measures should be introduced.

We will also improve the process for victims, who in this case were clearly let down. It is my ambition that the outcome of this process will mean victims have more confidence in the system.

We have moved at pace to address the shortcomings of the Parole system which the Worboys case has brought to light. But we must take a balanced approach. I am determined to lead a thorough reform process, the first action of which we launched today”.