Sarah Wollaston, the former Conservative MP for Totnes, has joined the Liberal Democrats. Wollaston resigned from the Conservative Party in February 2019 to join what became Change UK and has now joined Chuka Umunna, a former Labour MP who made a similar transition.
Wollaston said in a statement:
“After very careful thought, I have come to the conclusion that I can best serve the interests of my constituents by joining the Liberal Democrats. Brexit has not only sucked all the political oxygen from government over the past three years, but it has also consumed the funding and energy that should have been invested in local communities, tackling climate change and supporting the workforce and infrastructure of our NHS, schools and transport.”
Umunna said in a statement:
“Absolutely delighted that the wonderful Dr @SarahWollaston- hugely respected across the House of Commons and the country – has joined the @LibDems family! This underlines that we are the biggest and strongest #Remain party in the UK.”
Chuka Umunna, the former Labour MP for Streatham, has left Change UK to join the Liberal Democrats. He will also serve as the party’s Treasury and Business spokesman, but has ruled out standing in the party’s leadership campaign.
Umunna said in a statement:
“I am unapologetically an internationalist which is why I oppose Brexit and am fighting for the UK to remain in the European Union. These are very much the values of those I represent in Streatham and the same things that I stood on at the last General Election.
Our country is one of the greatest in the world and has so much potential. But too many people in my constituency and across the UK face barriers in fulfilling their aspirations and people don’t get the support they need.”
Seven Labour MPs have quit the party mentioning the leadership’s lack of support for remaining in the European Union and for not tackling anti-semitism. The MPs will sit as independents and are Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey.
Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has been criticised following claims he made this week that he didn’t mention Turkey during the Brexit referendum. Answering a question from a journalist, Johnson said:
“I didn’t say anything about Turkey in the referendum campaign. I didn’t say a thing about Turkey”.
“Boris Johnson talked about the issue of Turkey joining the EU several times in the lead-up to 23 June 2016 and was co-signatory of a letter to the prime minister warning about Turkish membership a week before the vote”.
Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP for Streatham, said on Twitter:
“Earlier today, Boris Johnson claimed that he never spoke about Turkey during the 2016 referendum. It’s yet another lie he’s been caught out on. Don’t let him get away with lying again”.
The Labour Party has confirmed that conference delegates will not get the chance to discuss Brexit as one of the eight key debates chosen for discussion. The debates will instead focus on other domestic issues such as housing, social care and the economy.
John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that a debate might split the party, saying:
“On Brexit, the interesting thing is people are trying to build a consensus now, and not divide the party. And also, what I think is interesting is to build a consensus not just in our party but within our communities. I think that’s the nature of the decisions”.
Chris Leslie, the Labour MP for Nottingham East and the former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, criticised the move and said on Twitter:
“How utterly ridiculous. Many members will be shocked at manoeuvring to avoid biggest issue of our time”.
Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP for Streatham, also criticised the move writing on Twitter:
“I can’t believe no Brexit related motion is being debated at #Lab17 tomorrow. We should not be ducking this debate -we should be leading it”.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP for North East Somerset, has said in an interview that he opposes all abortions and remains opposed to gay marriage. Rees-Mogg, who has been rumoured to be a future leader of the Conservative Party, was though criticised by MPs for across the political parties.
Speaking in an interview on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Rees-Mogg said:
“Life is sacrosanct and begins at the point of conception”.
Asked if he also opposed abortion for rape cases, he replied “I’m afraid so”. Rees-Mogg also explained that he opposed gay marriage saying:
“Marriage is a sacrament and the decision of what is a sacrament lies with the Church not with Parliament”.
Margot James, the Conservative MP for Stourbridge, said on Twitter that “his views are absolutely abhorrent”.
Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP for Streatham, said:
“I won’t criticise Jacob Rees-Mogg for expressing a view, but I find them completely disagreeable and out-of-touch with what modern Britain actually is”.
John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, has been criticised for quoting Chairman Mao in his response to the annual spending review. It is thought that up to 60 million Chinese died due to the economic policies of Mao Tse-tung.
Chris Leslie, Labour’s previous Shadow Chancellor said after McDonnell’s comments that it was “a misjudged stunt”.
Chuka Umunna, Labour’s former Shadow Business Secretary said:
“I haven’t quoted a Communist before and I have no intention of doing so in the future”.
During questioning by the BBC McDonnell didn’t apologise but said about the former Chinese leader:
Within just hours of Jeremy Corbyn being elected as the new Labour Party leader there have been numerous resignations from the party’s Ministerial spokespeople.
Those already announcing their departure include Tristram Hunt, Emma Reynolds, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, Chris Leslie, Chuka Umunna, Rachel Reeves and Jamie Reed with others expected to stand down later today. Ed Miliband, the former party leader, has also confirmed that he wouldn’t serve in a Corbyn-led Shadow Cabinet.
“I know from experience the challenge and demands of running in a leadership campaign, so I have good reason to respect the commitment and integrity of all the candidates. I have been struck since the beginning of the campaign by the plain speaking, fresh thinking and political courage of Liz Kendall and the new generation of politicians – Chuka Umunna, Emma Reynolds, Tristram Hunt – who have declared their support for her. From industrial policy to the devolution of power, from housing to education, they got the message from the 2010 and 2015 elections that trying to turn the Labour clock back to the pre-Blair era made no sense”.
Miliband also criticised strongly the policies of Jeremy Corbyn saying:
“The Corbyn programme looks backwards. The pledges of nationalisation, 7p in the pound increases in national insurance for those earning more than £50,000, and equivocation about Britain’s place in the EU are the same ideas that I learned were wrong when I joined the Labour party in 1981”.
Miliband’s intervention came after similar criticisms of Corbyn’s chances from former senior Labour figures including Tony Blair, Alan Johnson and Jack Straw. Gordon Brown also strongly indicated in a speech that economic credibility was crucial in what was seen as a criticism of the Corbyn campaign.
Downing Street has confirmed that the minimum wage is to increase to £6.70 an hour, an increase of 20p (3%) from the old rate of £6.50. This increase was recommended by the Low Pay Commission with the minimum wage rates for 18-20 year olds (up 3% to £5.30) and 16-17 year olds (up 3% to £3.87) also increasing.
The Low Pay Commission also recommended an increase in the national minimum wage for apprentices of 3% but the Government has opted for a 20% rise to £3.30 an hour.
David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said:
“At the heart of our long-term economic plan for Britain is a simple idea – that those who put in, should get out; that hard work is really rewarded; that the benefits of recovery are truly national. That’s what today’s announcement is all about – saying to hardworking taxpayers, this is a government that is on your side. It will mean more financial security for Britain’s families; and a better future for our country.”
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said in a statement:
“This is just one of the many ways in which we’ve created a fairer society whilst building a stronger economy. If you work hard, this government is behind you all the way. Whether you’re on low pay or starting your dream career through an apprenticeship, you will get more support to help you go further and faster.”
Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Business Secretary, said:
“This 20p rise falls far short of the £7 minimum wage which George Osborne promised over a year ago. Ministers have misled working families who have been left worse off.”