New Labour Leader to be Announced on 4 April 2020

Labour’s NEC has confirmed that the new party leader will be announced on 4 April 2020 at a special conference. Anyone who is a member of the party, or an affiliated organisation, on 20 January 2020 will be entitled to vote in the election.

There are currently six candidates standing in the election, Clive Lewis, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips, Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry.

Keir Starmer Takes Lead in Poll of Labour Members

Sir Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, has taken a lead in a poll of Labour members of who should become the next party leader. The survey, undertaken by YouGov, reported that Starmer was the first choice in all regions of the country amongst party members.

The polling suggested that Starmer had the support of 61% of party members, compared to the 39% who supported Rebecca Long-Bailey if the two candidates were running against each other.

Amongst party members, the following were the first choice of those interviewed:

Keir Starmer – 31%

Rebecca Long-Bailey – 20%

Jess Phillips – 11%

Clive Lewis – 7%

Yvette Cooper – 7%

Emily Thornberry – 6%

Lisa Nandy – 5%

Foreign Secretary Issues Statement Following Attacks in Terrorist Attacks in Sri Lanka

Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, has issued a statement following a series of terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. There are currently 207 people confirmed as dead with over 450 more injured, although the total is expected to rise over the coming days.

Hunt said:

“I’m deeply shocked and saddened by the horrifying attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka today, and the tragic news of more than 200 people killed, including several British nationals.

To target those gathered for the simple act of worship on Easter Sunday is unspeakably wicked. Everyone has a right to practice their faith in peace, safety and security but tragedies like this, and the one in Christchurch, remind us that there are some who hate these rights and freedoms.

These despicable acts were carried out at a time when millions of Christians celebrate Easter while living under the shadow of persecution. Many gather in churches at risk of attack; countless more will have suffered threats or discrimination.

The UK stands in solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world and with the government and people of Sri Lanka. My prayers are with all the victims and their families.”

Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, posted on Twitter:

“Terrible to wake up to the news of the explosions in Sri Lanka this morning. My thoughts and deepest sympathies to those who are injured, those have lost loved ones and those involved in rescue efforts.”

Labour Warns of No Deal Over Brexit

Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, has warned that the Government is heading for no deal with the EU over Brexit. Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, said though that he felt that a deal could be reached with enough political will.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, Thornberry said:

“I think what we may be seeing is the Europeans trying to make it clear that it is not their fault that there are these difficulties – the intransigence does not come from their side, it comes from Theresa May’s side. And in the end I think the reality is the intransigence is on Theresa May’s side, because she doesn’t have the strength or the authority to be able to control her backbenchers, let alone her cabinet. And I think we are heading for no deal, and I think that that is a serious threat to Britain and it is not in Britain’s interests for that to happen”.

Fox said on Peston on Sunday when asked if he regretted saying that a trade deal would be easy:

“No I don’t. The point I was making was that it is unique because, as I said, in most trade deals you’re trying to reduce a distance but in the European Union trading agreement we are already at the point where we have no tariffs and we have complete regulatory equivalence. That has never happened before. I don’t think they are difficult in terms of the trade law or the trade negotiations themselves. The difficulty is the politics”.

Jeremy Corbyn’s Reshuffle Criticised by Chairman of Parliamentary Labour Party

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The shadow Cabinet reshuffle announced this week by Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has been criticised by John Cryer, the chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Referring to the request by Labour MPs to hold elections to the Shadow Cabinet Cryer said in a letter to every MP from the party:

“This led to negotiations involving myself and the then chief whip, Rosie Winterton, and people from the leadership team”.

He added:

“As far as Rosie and I were concerned, the talks were held in good faith with the aim of striking an agreement which would allow some places to be filled through elections while the leader would retain the right to appoint others. It now seems to me that the party’s leadership did not engage in the talks in any constructive way”.

Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, rejected the criticism and said:

“The problem is that on the one hand people criticise Jeremy for being weak and taking too long on his reshuffles and yet when he decides that he needs to do one in order to fill vacancies and reach out, people then criticise him for being too decisive and too strong”.

Jeremy Corbyn Conducts Shadow Cabinet Reshuffle with Diane Abbott as Shadow Home Secretary

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Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has reshuffled some members of the Shadow Cabinet, with further announcements expected later on.

Rosie Winterton has been sacked as the party’s chief whip after six years and will be replaced by Nick Brown, who held the role during Gordon Brown’s premiership. Diane Abbott has become the Shadow Home Secretary, replacing Andy Burnham who is running to become the Mayor of Manchester.

Baroness Shami Chakrabarti  becomes the Shadow Attorney General and Sir Keir Starmer becomes the new Shadow Brexit Secretary, despite Emily Thornberry trying to retain that as part of her role.

Sarah Champion becomes the Shadow Woman and Equalities Minister, Jo Stevens the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales and Jonathan Reynolds the Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury. Clive Lewis moves to become the Shadow Business Secretary, with his former role of Shadow Defence Secretary being taken by Nia Griffith.

Labour Shadow Cabinet Split on Trident Vote

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Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has rejected the advice of Clive Lewis, the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, and Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, and pledged to vote against Trident.

In a joint article for the Guardian, Lewis and Thornberry wrote:

“Labour should not play this game. We should treat this government and this vote with the contempt they deserve. Moreover, there are clear principled and practical reasons why Labour MPs should refuse to vote with the government on Monday. They propose an open-ended commitment to maintain Britain’s current nuclear capability ‘for as long as the global security situation demands’. Such a vague, indefinite commitment precludes any possibility of Britain ever stepping down the nuclear ladder and contributing to global multilateral disarmament”.

Corbyn rejected the advice, saying to the Guardian:

“I will be voting against continuous at-sea deterrent, because it rules out any compliance with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty”.

Damian McBride Denies Leaking Names of Hostile Labour MPs

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Damian McBride, the controversial adviser sacked by Gordon Brown, has denied allegations that he has leaked details of how loyal MPs are to Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition.

The Guardian newspaper said:

“Some backbenchers suspect the hand of Damian McBride, the combative spin doctor to Gordon Brown who recently joined the team of the shadow defence secretary, Emily Thornberry, may be behind the release of the list, which they believe is aimed at demonstrating that Corbyn would have the support of enough MPs to make it on to the ballot paper if a leadership challenge emerged”.

McBride has denied the allegations. The former advisor to Gordon Brown admitted previously that he had deliberately made up allegations about Conservative backbenchers as part of a smear campaign.

Andy Burnham says Labour may not be able to agree on Trident

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Andy Burnham, the Shadow Home Secretary, has said that it may not be possible to get agreement in the party on a Trident policy. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme Burnham said that the debate was difficult whilst Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Defence Secretary, said that there needed to be a debate.

Burnham said:

“We always knew this was going to be a difficult debate for the party – there are two positions here that are difficult to reconcile, maybe impossible to reconcile, and the party’s got to find some way of accommodating those positions and move forward and not let this issue take over everything”.

Thornberry added:

“The idea of the Trident replacement is that it can hide in the sea. If technology is moving faster than that then it may well be that Trident may not be able to hide. And if that’s right, and if we are to bet everything on ‘mutually assured destruction’, we have to be assured that it will work – and if it cannot hide any more then that is a problem”.

The comments came after a planned Shadow Cabinet debate this week on Trident was postponed. It has been rumoured that the subject could split the party with Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, known to be against renewal of Trident.