Sir John Major Joins Legal Action Over Proroguing Parliament

Sir John Major, the Prime Minister from 1990 until 1997, has confirmed that he is joining in with legal action to question the advice behind the decision to prorogue Parliament.

Major said in a statement:

“I promised that, if the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament in order to prevent Members from opposing his Brexit plans, I would seek judicial review of his action. In view of the imminence of the prorogation – and to avoid duplication of effort, and taking up the Court’s time through repetition – I intend to seek the Court’s permission to intervene in the claim already initiated by Gina Miller, rather than to commence separate proceedings.”

Clive Coleman, the BBC’s legal correspondent, said:

“You could scarcely have more heavyweight support in this legal challenge to try and stop the suspension of Parliament. We are in unprecedented times and this is an unprecedented intervention.”

Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party said on Twitter:

“Proroguing Parliament is an unprecedented affront to democracy. The rights and freedoms of our citizens have been vandalised. I will be joining the Judicial Review launched in the High Court by Gina Miller and supported by John Major.”

Jo Swinson, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said in a statement:

“The attempt to shut down Parliament is an anti-democratic, authoritarian power grab by Boris Johnson, who wants to silence the people and their representatives.

The Liberal Democrats are doing all we can, both in the courts and in Parliament, to prevent both the shutdown of our democracy and a no-deal Brexit. That’s why I’ll be joining the High Court judicial review launched by Gina Miller.”

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, denied that the timing was meant to limit debate on Brexit, saying:

“We are coming up to the last period before we leave on 31 October and in that period, Parliament is going to have a lot to time – they’ve spent three years debating Brexit by the way without actually getting it over the line. They are going to have a lot of time for further consideration.”

Tom Watson Says Government Should Fund TV Licences for Over 75s

Tom Watson, the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has said that the Government should provide funding to ensure that over 75s can continue to receive free television licences. The Government has said that the funding for this should be provided by the BBC.

Watson said:

“This Prime Minister’s disregard for older people is appalling. He is trying to blame the BBC for his own Government’s policy, but this obfuscation will not work.

The blame for scrapping free TV licences lies firmly with the Government. Keeping the free licences was a Tory manifesto promise, but because of this Government’s refusal to fund the concession, millions of older people will have their free TV licences scrapped next year.

This is a cruel policy that will leave many of our oldest citizens either worse off or cut off from the wider world. This Government must stop passing the buck and step in to fund the free TV licences today.”

Tom Watson Condemns “Mob” in North West Durham Labour Party

Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, has condemned a decision made by North West Durham Labour to expel Hilary Armstrong, their former MP, from the party.

Posting on Twitter, Watson said:

“This misdirected mob justice degrades our great party. These attempts to silence dissent will fail. This is not the party I know.”

Pat Glass, the previous Labour MP for the constituency, posted:

“I cannot believe that @NWDurhamLabour have passed a motion to expel former MP @HilaryArmstrong but it seems it is true. She has broken no rules unless free speech is now banned in the @UKLabour”.

Laura Pidcock, the current Labour MP for North West Durham, was reported to have been at the meeting but chose not to speak and has made no comment on the expulsion.

Charlie Falconer, the Labour Peer, posted on Twitter:

“Dianne Hayter and Hilary Armstrong have given their working lives to Labour and made real Labour change. The idea Dianne should be forced off front bench or Hilary out of the party is completely wrong. If Labour isn’t wide enough for both of them it’s not Labour anymore.”

Anna Turley, the Labour MP for Redcar, posted:

“If this is true [the expulsion] it is disgraceful. Hilary has served the Labour Party with commitment & distinction for decades, as a former social worker, particularly for the vulnerable. She is Labour to her marrow and if there is no place for her in it, it is done”.

Jeremy Corbyn Under Pressure to Suspend Chris Williamson From Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, is under pressure to suspend Chris Williamson, the Labour MP for Derby North, from the party. Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader, and ninety other Labour MPs and Peers have written a letter to Corbyn asking for him to take action.

Watson posted the below on Twitter:

The letter says:

“We call on Jeremy Corbyn to show leadership by asking for this inappropriate, offensive and reputationally damaging decision to be overturned and reviewed. Ultimately, it is for Jeremy Corbyn to decide whether Chris Williamson retains the Labour whip. He must remove it immediately if we are to stand any hope of persuading anyone that the Labour party is taking antisemitism seriously”.

Williamson had earlier posted on Twitter following his readmission to the party:

“I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks for the avalanche of goodwill messages from grassroots members. I can now focus on representing local people in Derby Nth and working for a Corbyn-led Labour govt to positively transform the lives of millions. Together anything is possible!”.

Jewish Labour Movement Pass Vote of No Confidence in Labour Leader

The Jewish Labour Movement organisation have passed a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party. There were speeches made by Labour MPs Margaret Hodge, Ruth Smeeth and Louise Ellman before the members of the movement almost unanimously agreed with the motion of no confidence.

Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, said:

“I hear the message the Jewish Labour Movement and the Jewish community are sending our party. We have utterly failed to deal with antisemitism in our ranks. It’s unacceptable and shameful. I reiterate my personal commitment as deputy leader to use all my powers to rid our party of this scourge.”

Chris Williamson Suspended From Labour Party

Chris Williamson, the Labour MP for Derby North, has been suspended from the party after allegations that he made antisemitic comments. Williamson, who has denied the allegations, will be suspended until investigations are completed.

Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the party, condemned the words used by Williamson, saying:

“Chris Williamson has produced a long-winded and heavily caveated apology. It is not good enough. If it was in my gift I would have removed the whip from him already.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews also condemned Williamson, saying:

“We reject Chris Williamson’s half-hearted apology, which appears in any case to have been written by someone else.”

Ian Austin MP Resigns From Labour Party

Ian Austin, the MP for Dudley North, has quit the Labour Party and said that he is “ashamed” of the party. Austin has represented the constituency since 2005 and won by a majority of just 22 votes in 2017.

“I grew up listening to my dad, who was a refugee from the Holocaust, teaching me about the evils of hatred and prejudice. One of the main reasons I joined the Labour Party as a teenager here in Dudley more than 35 years ago was to fight racism and I could never have believed I would be leaving the Labour party because of racism too.”

Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader, said that the news was “a serious blow” to the Labour Party. Austin said that he didn’t intend to join the new Independent Group of 11 MPs, who had left the Conservative and Labour parties, due to a difference of opinion on Brexit.

Calls for Labour NEC Member Peter Willsman to Resign

There have been calls today for the resignation of Peter Willsman, a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC). Willsman, an ally of the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn, questioned whether claims of anti-semitism in the party actually existed. The recording was made privately and Willsman made an apology after being confronted with the audio.

Willsman said in a statement:

“Not all of what I said has been accurately reported. But I accept that what I did say, and the way I said it, fell short of the requirement, which I accept, for discussions of contentious issues to be conducted in a fully civil and respectful way. I deeply apologise for any offence caused to those present and those to whom my remarks were reported”.

Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, condemned Willsman and said on Twitter:

“For the avoidance of doubt: Peter Willsman is and always has been a loud mouthed bully. He disgusts me”.

Jennie Formby, the General Secretary of the Labour Party, has also been questioned as to whether she intervened following Willsman’s comments. The President of the Jewish Board of Deputies said on Twitter:

“Was Jennie Formby there to hear what was said? If yes, why did she let Willsman off so lightly?”

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, has yet to comment.

Labour’s Leader and Deputy Leader Clash Over Syrian Airstrikes

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, and Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, are at odds over whether to support the US’s military attack on Syria. The attack, which has been backed by the British Government, came in response to a chemical attack that the Syrian Government was alleged to have authorised.

Corbyn said in a statement:

“The US missile attack on a Syrian government air base risks escalating the war in Syria still further.

Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack was a war crime which requires urgent independent UN investigation and those responsible must be held to account. But unilateral military action without legal authorisation or independent verification risks intensifying a multi-sided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of people. What is needed instead is to urgently reconvene the Geneva peace talks and unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.

“The terrible suffering of the Syrian people must be brought to an end as soon as possible and every intervention must be judged on what contribution it makes to that outcome. The British government should urge restraint on the Trump administration and throw its weight behind peace negotiations and a comprehensive political settlement”.

Watson had earlier said that the US attacks were “direct and proportionate as chemical weapons attacks on civilians can never be tolerated and must have consequences”.

Labour Party Splits Over Decision Not to Expel Ken Livingstone

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, is under pressure today to comment on the decision of the party not to expel Ken Livingstone. The party’s disciplinary panel decided yesterday to suspend the former London Mayor for one year, despite Livingstone himself expecting to be expelled.

Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, issued a statement fiercely attacking the decision:

“I find it incomprehensible that our elected lay members on the disciplinary panel found Ken Livingstone guilty of such serious charges, and then concluded that he can remain a member of the Labour Party.

When I read the words of chief rabbi Mirvis, who says that ‘the Labour Party has failed the Jewish community, it has failed its members and it has failed all those who believe in zero tolerance of anti-semitism’, I can’t disagree with him. I wish I could, but I can’t. I am ashamed that we have allowed Mr Livingstone to cause such distress.

It isn’t just Jewish people who feel disgusted and offended by what Mr Livingstone said and by the way he has conducted himself over this matter, and it isn’t just Jewish Labour members who feel ashamed of any indulgence of his views anywhere in the Labour Party. This shames us all, and I’m deeply saddened by it.

Mr Livingstone’s unrepentant media appearances in recent days have continued to discredit the party I love. His current behaviour is still bringing the Labour Party into disrepute. It is hard not to conclude that his use of inflammatory language to dismiss the fully justified outrage of the Jewish community and others will incite further distortions of the Holocaust in our public discourse.

My party is not living up to its commitment to have a zero tolerance approach to anti-semitism. I will continue the fight to ensure that it does, and I will press my colleagues to do so too”.

Lord Levy, a Labour Peer and former special envoy to the Middle East, said:

“Do I stay in the party? It is something that I’m going to reflect on very seriously. I am very upset with the party’s attitude. I do not believe there has been a zero-tolerance policy towards antisemitism”.

Jon Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary, Barry Gardiner, the Shadow International Trade Secretary and Sir Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, have all today said that Livingstone should have been expelled.