The Guardian newspaper has reported that several Conservative MPs may quit the party should Boris Johnson become the new leader in the event of Theresa May standing down or being forced out.
The Guardian noted:
“One minister said she would leave the party if Johnson and his supporters, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, took over the Conservatives. Another minister said he knew of five or six Conservatives who were openly saying they were so opposed to a Johnson premiership that they could not stay in the party run by him and a group of ‘Brexit ultras’.”
Currently Bet365 have Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid as the most likely to take on the Tory leadership as speculation at Westminster increases about the Prime Minister’s position.
The Office for National Statistics (the ONS) has confirmed that unemployment has fallen to a 44-year low. Unemployment fell to 3.9% from last month’s figure of 4.0%, the lowest level since 1975. The number of people in employment has also increased by 222,000 people to 32.7 million, the highest figure on record.
Alok Sharma, the Minister of State for Employment, said in a statement:
“Today’s employment figures are further evidence of the strong economy the Chancellor detailed in last week’s spring statement, showing how our pro-business policies are delivering record employment.
2019 has continued to be a record breaker, with the employment rate topping 76% for the first time, record female employment and unemployment falling below 4% for the first time in 44 years.
Our jobs market remains resilient as we see more people than ever before benefiting from earning a wage. By backing the government’s Brexit deal and giving certainty to business, MPs have the chance to safeguard this jobs track record.”
Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has confirmed that there will be a delay to Brexit in what Downing Street has conceded is a “crisis”. The Prime Minister confirmed that it is now too late to leave the European Union with a deal and she will write to the EU to ask for an extension.
The Prime Minister has refused to reveal the date that she is intending to ask for an extension for, but the BBC have said that sources are suggesting that the date will be 30 June 2019, but with the option of a much longer extension as well.
Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, has said that the British Government welcomes moves by the European Union, Australia, Canada and the United States against Russian aggression in Ukraine. There will also be EU sanctions imposed against a number of Russian individuals in an attempt to put pressure on Vladimir Putin, the Russian President.
Hunt said in a statement:
“Today, the UK and our international partners in the EU, Australia, Canada and the US have sent an unequivocal message to Russia that their attack on Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait and Black Sea last year was absolutely unacceptable. These sanctions are another example of the international community standing up to Russia as it persistently violates international law. We will continue to take necessary action together in response to Russia’s efforts to destabilise Ukraine.
Russia must immediately release the 24 detained servicemen and return the seized vessels. We remain deeply concerned for the safety and welfare of the servicemen who are unjustly held in Russian custody. Russia must allow free and unhindered passage of Ukrainian and international ships through the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov. We, with our international partners, stand with Ukraine in opposing Russia’s ongoing efforts to undermine Ukrainian security, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has condemned a terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, where 49 people have been killed in a mosque multiple shooting. Another 48 people have been wounded and the police have confirmed that a man has been arrested and charged with the offences. It is the largest terrorist attack which has ever taken place in the country.
In a statement May said:
“I have been in contact this morning with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to express the UK’s deepest condolences at the horrifying terrorist attack that took place at two mosques in Christchurch.
To target Muslims as they were attending their place of worship is despicable. And our thoughts and prayers are with the people of New Zealand, with the families and friends of those who have died in these attacks and with all those who have been injured. The UK stands ready to support New Zealand however we can.
Through terror attacks that have taken place on UK soil we know only too well the pain that such horrifying attacks can cause. As New Zealand has stood by us so we stand shoulder to shoulder with them, and with Muslims in New Zealand, here in the UK and around the world.
There can be no place in our societies for the vile ideology that drives and incites hatred and fear. Together we will defeat those who seek to destroy our values, our way of life and seek to divide us.”
MPs have voted today in the House of Commons to delay Brexit which may potentially delay the planned leaving date of 29 March when the UK was to leave the EU. 413 MPs voted to delay Brexit against 202 who opposed the move, giving a majority of 211. Delaying the Brexit process could be seen as a major humiliation for Theresa May, the Prime Minister, and the Government confirmed that preparations were still being made for a no-deal Brexit.
The House of Commons has rejected the Government’s proposed Brexit deal after only 242 MPs supported it and 391 MPs opposed it. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has confirmed that there will now be a free vote in the Commons on whether to leave the EU with no deal.
Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, has confirmed that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been given diplomatic protection. The unusual move is intended to secure the release of the joint UK-Iranian citizen who the British Government have claimed is being denied medical treatment.
Jeremy Hunt said in a statement:
“Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is an innocent woman who has spent the last three years in an Iranian jail, separated from her daughter and husband. We have been working hard to secure her release but despite repeated efforts have not been successful. We have not even been able to secure her the medical treatment she urgently needs despite assurances to the contrary.
So I have today decided that the UK will take a step that is extremely unusual and exercise diplomatic protection. This represents formal recognition by the British Government that her treatment fails to meet Iran’s obligations under international law and elevates it to a formal State to State issue.
I have not taken this decision lightly. I have considered the unacceptable treatment Nazanin has received over three years, including not just lack of access to medical treatment but also lack of due process in the proceedings brought against her. My decision is an important diplomatic step which signals to Tehran that its behaviour is totally wrong. It is unlikely to be a magic wand that leads to an overnight result. But it demonstrates to the whole world that Nazanin is innocent and the UK will not stand by when one of its citizens is treated so unjustly.
Iran is one of the oldest civilisations in the world. I know there are many in Iran who understand the unjustness of this situation. No government should use innocent individuals as pawns for diplomatic leverage so I call on Iran to release this innocent woman so she can be reunited with her family.”
The measures introduced by the Government to ban the terrorist groups of Hizballah, Ansaroul Islam and Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam Wal-Muslimin (JNIM) have come into force today. It will now be an offence under the 2000 Terrorism Act to either be a member of these groups or to canvass support for the groups.
Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, said in a statement:
“My priority as Home Secretary is to protect the British people. As part of this, we identify and ban any terrorist organisation which threatens our safety and security, whatever their motivations or ideology which is why I am taking action against several organisations today.
Hizballah is continuing in its attempts to destabilise the fragile situation in the Middle East – and we are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party. Because of this, I have taken the decision to proscribe the group in its entirety.”
Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has confirmed that the Labour Party will now support a second referendum after the party’s alternative Brexit plan was defeated in the House of Commons.
Corbyn, who is thought to have been encouraged to call for the second vote by senior colleagues on the shadow front bench, said:
“We will back a public vote in order to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit or a disastrous no deal outcome. We will also continue to push for the other available options to prevent those outcomes, including a close economic relationship based on our credible alternative plan or a general election.”