Sadiq Khan adds voice to calls for UK to remain in single market

The Guardian reports: Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, is calling on the government to fight to keep Britain in the single market, as senior opposition politicians step up the pressure on Theresa May for a softer Brexit after her Commons majority was wiped out at the general election.

Khan said: “The prime minister sought a mandate from the British people for her version of hard Brexit but the electorate registered their opposition. It’s time she heeded the message.

“The Brexit goalposts have been moved. The government must now listen to the will of the people by putting aside ideology, and negotiating a sensible Brexit that ensures continued membership of the single market.”

He said continued single market membership represented the best chance to preserve London’s tech, pharmaceutical and financial services industries.

Some of the prime minister’s cabinet colleagues, including the chancellor, Philip Hammond, appear to have taken the election result as a vindication of their view that the economy must take priority in the negotiations, which started on Monday.

Hammond told the BBC on Thursday morning, as May prepared to travel to Brussels to meet her EU counterparts, that transitional arrangements as the UK leaves could last as long as four years, to avoid a “cliff edge” for businesses. [Continue reading…]

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Queen gives no indication of welcoming Trump to the UK

The Guardian reports: The Queen’s speech has given a further indication that Donald Trump’s planned state visit to the UK has been put on hold, after the monarch did not mention it in her address.

The speech usually mentions any state visits planned for the duration of the parliament. Speaking on Wednesday, the Queen said she and Prince Philip “look forward to welcoming their majesties King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain on a state visit in July”.

However, it did not mention the visit of Trump, initially planned for this summer after Theresa May invited him on behalf of the Queen when she visited the US president in Washington DC in January, shortly after he took office.

This Queen’s speech is intended to herald a parliament lasting two years, rather than the usual one, indicating that no date for Trump’s visit has been scheduled for the near future. [Continue reading…]

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America in retreat, Europe en marche

Sylvie Kauffmann writes: As British conservatives licked their wounds a week ago, and French voters were electing hundreds of rookies to Parliament to strengthen the hand of President Emmanuel Macron, Ukrainians at last had a reason to celebrate — and they did, partying by the thousands in Kiev. For them, June 11 was the dawn of the long-awaited era of visa-free travel to Europe. One local magazine called it “Ukraine’s Berlin Wall moment.”

This event, little noticed in the midst of so many political upheavals, is a fresh sign that Europe is moving forward. Giving some 45 million Ukrainians the right to travel freely through the 26 countries of the Schengen area is something of an achievement at a time when, across the European Union, the word “immigration” sounds like a recipe for electoral disaster.

Don’t expect European Union leaders to boast about it; that is not something they are good at. Yet a new mood is taking hold in Brussels and other European capitals these days, a wind of hope and optimism rarely felt in the last two decades.

After so many existential crises, believers in the European Union are suddenly waking up to realize that the reports of its death were greatly exaggerated. The eurozone has not collapsed. Britain’s exit, which shocked and destabilized the union a year ago, is now perceived as an opportunity for the 27 remaining members to regroup. [Continue reading…]

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Outside Britain, the mood in the EU is on the upswing

Natalie Nougayrède writes: That Helmut Kohl, the man who oversaw the reunification of Germany and was for so long a giant on the European stage, should die on the eve of negotiations leading to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU seems symbolic. The former German chancellor made the best of the extraordinary circumstances and public mood that followed the collapse of communism and the opening up of eastern Europe.

Today’s European leaders are, by contrast, confronted with an especially adverse set of circumstances. Trump, Putin, Erdoğan, terrorism, unprecedented flows of migration, unemployment, the rise of populism and, of course, Brexit. But, just as Kohl and his French contemporary François Mitterrand relaunched the European project in the early 1990s, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron are, as Britain prepares to leave, readying their ambitions and vision for the continent.

At stake is no less than Europe’s role in defending liberal democratic values and a rules-based international order at a time when – as one former Obama administration official put it to me recently – Trump’s America is “missing in action and the UK is disappearing into oblivion”. The words may be harsh, but they underscore that Britain’s central weakness lies not only in its internal political confusion – but also with a dangerous ignorance of what its European neighbours are setting their sights on.

The Franco-German engine is not focusing on Brexit but rather on consolidating the 60-year-old European project through further integration and cooperation. At the heart of this stands an emerging Macron-Merkel deal, intended to act as Europe’s new powerhouse. On 15 May, the French and German leaders met and spoke of a new “roadmap” for the EU. The thinking goes like this: in the next two to three years, as France carries out structural economic reforms to boost its credibility, Germany will step up much-needed European financial solidarity and investment mechanisms, and embrace a new role on foreign policy, security and defence. [Continue reading…]

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‘Hero’ imam praises group that saved Finsbury Park suspect from angry crowd

The Guardian reports: In the chaos and terror of the moment, events might have taken an even darker turn.

Outside the Muslim Welfare Centre, three men wrestled to the ground the driver of a van which had ploughed into people leaving the mosque.

Amid confusion, distress and anger, a crowd gathered. Fists and feet struck out. Suddenly a voice shouted: “No one touch him – no one! No one!”

It came from Mohammed Mahmoud, the mosque’s imam, later hailed as the hero of the day. He urged the crowd to be calm and restrained until the police arrived. [Continue reading…]

 

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Following latest terrorist attack in UK, Trump remains silent

The Guardian reports: A man has died and eight others have been injured after a van ploughed into a group of people near a north London mosque in an attack police are treating as terrorism.

A 48-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Two people hit by the van were said to be “very seriously injured”.

The prime minister, Theresa May, who was woken to be told of the early morning attack in Finsbury Park, said in a statement from Downing Street that the “hatred and evil” of the kind seen in the attack would never succeed.

May said the attack had “once again targeted the ordinary and the innocent going about their daily lives – this time, British Muslims as they left a mosque, having broken their fast and prayed together at this sacred time of year”.

She added: “Today we come together, as we have done before, to condemn this act and to state once again that hatred and evil of this kind will never succeed.”

May said the attack on Muslims was “every bit as insidious and destructive to our values and our way of life” as the recent string of attacks apparently motivated by Islamist extremism, adding: “We will stop at nothing to defeat it.”

It is the fourth terrorist attack to hit the UK in the past three months. [Continue reading…]

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How Jeremy Corbyn changed the rules of British politics

Gary Younge writes: Our views about the world do not come from nowhere. We begin with preconceptions and personal experiences, and then adjust our opinions on the basis of what we see, know, hear and feel. But those influences are not neutral. They bend to the prevailing winds of power and status, because we pay more attention to sources that possess greater authority. When it comes to political matters, we are more likely to listen to politicians or newspaper columnists than people we talk to on the bus or in the supermarket, because we assume they are more informed about the relevant facts.

There were good reasons to doubt that the election result would turn out the way it did. Labour started more than 20 points behind, by some estimates, after two years of infighting and disarray. Last month, the party was heavily defeated in local elections. The carnage and heartbreak of terror attacks in Manchester and London had stalled the campaign and given May the chance to play the role of prime minister.

But it is also true that the reported predictions of a Tory landslide – and the premises on which they were based – were so dominant and pervasive that people chose to filter what they saw through that lens. These assumptions coloured observations about the election campaign, which were then either dismissed or adjusted to align more closely to the original predictions.

What we saw did not chime with what we thought we knew. But what we thought we knew was underpinned by a political calculus that no longer held.

So when mainstream commentators saw the huge crowds that turned out to see Corbyn speak, they were keen to explain that this did not necessarily mean huge electoral support – which is correct – but they rarely made much effort to think about what it did mean. When they heard reports of masses of young people registering to vote, they were also keen to point out that many were concentrated in places that would be unlikely to affect the outcome of the election (which is, again, correct) and that, in any case, young people could not be relied upon to actually vote (also true).

When they saw the trend of hard-left parties surging and even, at times, eclipsing the soft left across Europe – in France, the Netherlands, Greece, Spain, Portugal – they said Britain was different, and that even if something similar were to happen here, its effects would be blunted by the first-past-the-post system.

On the day of the vote, Labour MPs in safe seats said things were going well in their own constituencies, but that they were hearing terrible things from the marginals. Others were saying that Labour turnout was surging, but only in places where the party already had huge majorities. The pessimism had become so intense and paranoid that one Labour MP told me last year, during the London mayoral election, that the party was only leading because the Tories were deliberately throwing that contest. That way, the MP suggested in all seriousness, Corbyn would be less vulnerable to a leadership challenge, which would mean that the Tories could reign supreme on a national level.

There were signs. Not of the outcome we have witnessed, necessarily, but of a result that defied the predictions of abject calamity. It all depended on who you spoke to. But the trouble is that in a moment of flux like this, the people you would usually expect to know may well have no idea. Labour MPs, many of whom had already shown themselves to be out of touch with the views of their own party’s members and supporters, may not have been the best judges of the national mood. Canvassers, who tend to focus on people whose preferences are already known, would be unlikely to pick up a surge of new voters.

As long as journalists, politicians and party workers were – for the most part – talking to each other, they were only reinforcing each others’ narratives. If events had been unfolding as normal, then everything they said would have made sense. But nothing was normal. And as long as they were tied to the old way of thinking, there was no way for them to know it until the votes came in. [Continue reading…]

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‘She’s adrift’: Tories concerned over Theresa May’s Grenfell response

Michael Savage writes: Concern is growing within the Conservative party over Theresa May’s handling of the Grenfell Tower fire, with some fearing it could become “her poll tax moment”.

Several of the prime minister’s allies defended her response to the tragedy on Saturday after she was criticised for her initial failure to meet residents and stilted interviews that left many questions unanswered.

They said there was an unfair narrative that did not reflect efforts she had been making behind the scenes. “There is a story out there and facts are selected to fit it,” said one.

There is concern, however, among Tory MPs that the disaster has again placed the spotlight on May’s difficulties in demonstrating empathy and responding on her feet, weaknesses that were exposed during the election campaign.

“It is an extraordinary tragedy and there will be a lot of questions to ask, but I can’t help feeling that in some people’s minds this might be her poll tax moment,” said one former minister. “You can see real anger.

“Labour may not be able to form a government without an election, but they could get people out on the streets. We have a really difficult problem inside the Commons and tough times with this sort of emergency coming up outside.”

Margaret Thatcher’s plan to introduce the poll tax, officially called the community charge, was eventually abandoned following riots in 1990. [Continue reading…]

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The murder of Jo Cox

 

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Theresa May chased from church as angry crowd brands British PM a ‘coward’

 

The Telegraph reports: She came to try to make up for her mistake but it only served to enrage this close-knit community even more.

Theresa May had provoked widespread criticism and anger on Thursday after failing to visit the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire when she came to the Westway road – staying for 15 minutes and swerving any contact with locals.

On Friday afternoon, word spread she was due to come back, this time to visit St Clement’s Church, where volunteers had been boxing up donations. Before long a crowd had gathered, filling the street outside the church.

As they waited, the people became increasingly hostile, shouting at her to come out and face them. One man began chanting: “Get her out! Get her out!”, while another screamed at police barring the door to the church: “Why have you brought her here? If she cared she would have come yesterday.” [Continue reading…]

The Guardian reports: More than 70 people remain unaccounted for after the Grenfell Tower blaze and 30 are confirmed dead, it has been revealed.

Police released updated figures on the deaths on Friday as anger in the community grew over what residents said was a lack of information being released to them. Scores of protesters entered Kensington town hall in the afternoon chanting: “We want justice.”

In a press briefing during which residents shouted their own questions at police and fire service representatives, Metropolitan police commander Stuart Cundy said 30 people have been confirmed dead, including one victim who died in hospital. But he acknowledged that the death toll would increase.

The scale of the disaster came into stark focus as it was revealed for the first time that 70 people are believed to be unaccounted for since the blaze. Police fear the fire was so intense and devastating that some victims may never be identified. [Continue reading…]

Polly Toynbee writes: That tomb in the sky will be forever Theresa May’s monument. Grenfell marks the spot and her visit marks the moment the last vestiges of her career were finally rubbed out. She made it her own yesterday by that fateful “visit” to a handful of senior fire officers, guarding her from any contaminating contact with the bereaved and newly homeless. Dead to emotion or empathy, she sealed her fate.

Precise blame comes later in the public inquiry: we are all overnight experts in cladding and sprinklers now. But political blame spreads right through the Conservative party, with no escape on offer. This goes far beyond the precise shockers – the Tory MPs who mockingly rejected housing regulation; the cuts to funding to councils responsible for retro-fitting fire suppressants; the disregard of coroner’s instructions after the 2009 Lakanal House tragedy; and even the plan to opt out of EU safety regulations. Conservative Kensington and Chelsea council allegedly blocking its ears to tenants’ well-founded anxiety is just the immediate scandal. But this event reaches far deeper, to the very sinews of its party’s policy.

That tower is austerity in ruins. Symbolism is everything in politics and nothing better signifies the May-Cameron-Osborne era that stripped bare the state and its social and physical protection of citizens. The horror of poor people burned alive within feet of the country’s grandest mansions, many of them empty, moth-balled investments, perfectly captures the politics of the last seven years. The Cameron, Osborne, Gove Notting Hill set live just up the road. [Continue reading…]

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From Russia with blood

BuzzFeed reports: The London square was still and cold when the body fell, dropping silently through the moonlight and landing with a thud. Impaled through the chest on the spikes of a wrought iron fence, it dangled under the streetlamps as blood spilled onto the pavement. Overhead, a fourth-floor window stood open, the lights inside burning.

The dead man was Scot Young. The one-time multimillionaire and fixer to the world’s super-rich had been telling friends, family, and the police for years that he was being targeted by a team of Russian hitmen – ever since his fortune vanished overnight in a mysterious Moscow property deal. He was the ninth in a circle of friends and business associates to die in suspicious circumstances. But when the police entered his penthouse that night, they didn’t even dust for fingerprints. They declared his death a suicide on the spot and closed the case.

A two-year investigation by BuzzFeed News has now uncovered explosive evidence pointing to Russia that the police overlooked. A massive trove of documents, phone records, and secret recordings shows Young was part of a circle of nine men, including the exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who all died suspiciously on British soil after making powerful enemies in Russia. The files reveal that Young lived in the shadow of the Russian security services and mafia groups after fronting for Berezovsky – a sworn enemy of the state – in a series of deals that enraged the Kremlin, including the doomed Russian property deal known as Project Moscow. British police declared the deaths of all nine men in Berezovsky’s circle non-suspicious, but BuzzFeed News can now reveal that MI6, Britain’s secret intelligence service, asked its US counterparts for information about each one of them “in the context of assassinations”. [Continue reading…]

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Emmanuel Macron says door to remain in EU is open to Britain

The Guardian reports: The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has claimed the door to the EU will remain open to Britain during Brexit negotiations that get underway next week.

In remarks that will be taken as an encouraging sign by opponents of a hard Brexit that there may be room for compromise, the newly elected French leader said the decision to leave the EU could still be reversed if the UK wished to do so.

Speaking in the gardens of the Élysée Palace in Paris in a joint press conference with Theresa May, Macron made it clear that he respected the sovereign decision of the British people. However, he added: “Until negotiations come to an end there is always a chance to reopen the door.”

And Macron suggested that time was of the essence, saying: “As the negotiations go on it will be more and more difficult to go backwards.” [Continue reading…]

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British government suppressing evidence of Russian assassination in the UK

BuzzFeed reports: The British government is suppressing explosive intelligence that Alexander Perepilichnyy, a financier who exposed a vast financial crime by Russian government officials, was likely assassinated on the direct orders of Vladimir Putin.

Perepilichnyy, who faced repeated threats after fleeing to Britain, was found dead outside his home in Surrey after returning from a mysterious trip to Paris in 2012. Despite an expert detecting signs of a fatal plant poison in his stomach, the British police have insisted there was no evidence of foul play, and Theresa May’s government has invoked national security powers to withhold evidence from the inquest into his cause of death – which is ongoing.

But an investigation by BuzzFeed News has now obtained fresh evidence that the authorities have deliberately sidelined, and has uncovered how Perepilichnyy spent his last days in Paris. Secret documents and interviews with more than a dozen current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials in the US, France, and the UK reveal:

  • US spies said they have passed MI6 high-grade intelligence indicating that Perepilichnyy was likely “assassinated on direct orders from Putin or people close to him” and lambasted the British police for their “botched” investigation.
  • A highly classified report on Russian state assassinations compiled for the US Congress by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last year asserts with “high confidence” that Perepilichnyy’s murder was sanctioned by Putin, Russia’s president.
  • French police are treating the financier’s death as a suspected organised assassination – but say they have been repeatedly stonewalled by their British counterparts.
  • Perepilichnyy travelled to Paris before his death for a secret assignation with a 22-year-old Ukrainian woman named Elmira Medynska, who gave an exclusive interview to BuzzFeed News, but who British and French police never spoke to.

The British government refused to comment on the revelations before Perepilichnyy’s inquest – a judicial inquiry to establish his cause of death – reaches a verdict, and the Russian embassy in London did not respond to questions from BuzzFeed News. But Theresa May is now likely to face urgent questions about her role in suppressing evidence said to point to a Russian assassination on British soil amid mounting international concern that the Kremlin is brazenly interfering in the West. The prime minister directed the government’s successful bid to withhold documents from Perepilichnyy’s inquest on national security grounds, and as home secretary her department oversaw the police force that concluded the whistleblower’s death was not suspicious. [Continue reading…]

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Theresa May’s unholy alliance with Northern Ireland’s theocratic alt-right

Matthew d’Ancona writes: Every step the prime minister has taken since the election has reinforced my conviction that she should already have announced a resignation timetable. There has been not a hint of contrition, humility or – to be frank – connection with the new political realities.

The sacrifice of her chiefs of staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, was a disgraceful revival of the 17th-century notion of “evil counsel” – as if these two advisers were to blame for the disaster, rather than the boss they advised. Much worse, the proposed deal with the Democratic Unionists party is wrong in principle, and idiotic in practice. In aligning herself with Northern Ireland’s theocratic alt-right, May will undo a 20-year long process of Tory “detoxification” – a process in which she played a noble part by daring to tell her party in 2002 that it was perceived as “nasty”.

The DUP is a gang of homophobes, creationists and enemies of gender equality. Has the prime minister no shame? And, if shame does not do the trick, what about political calculation? In the immediate aftermath of an election energised by young voters and an unexpected surge of optimism, the worst conceivable response is to stand shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of joyless reactionaries . As one seasoned Tory MP put it to me with admirable candour: “It will ensure we get obliterated at the next election”. [Continue reading…]

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Merkel’s hoped-for G-20 climate alliance is fracturing

Der Spiegel reports: German Chancellor Angela Merkel had actually thought that Canada’s young, charismatic prime minister, Justin Trudeau, could be counted among her reliable partners. Particularly when it came to climate policy. Just two weeks ago, at the G-7 summit in Sicily, he had thrown his support behind Germany. When Merkel took a confrontational approach to U.S. President Donald Trump, Trudeau was at her side.

But by Tuesday evening, things had changed. At 8 p.m., Merkel called Trudeau to talk about how to proceed following Trump’s announced withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. To her surprise, the Canadian prime minister was no longer on the attack. He had switched to appeasement instead.

What would be wrong with simply striking all mentions of the Paris Agreement from the planned G-20 statement on climate, Trudeau asked. He suggested simply limiting the statement to energy issues, something that Trump would likely support as well. Trudeau had apparently changed his approach to Trump and seemed concerned about further provoking his powerful neighbor to the south.

The telephone call made it clear to Merkel that her strategy for the G-20 summit in early July might fail. The chancellor had intended to clearly isolate the United States. at the Hamburg meeting, hoping that 19 G-20 countries would underline their commitment to the Paris Agreement and make Trump a bogeyman of world history. A score of 19:1.

If even Trudeau is having doubts, though, then unity among those 19 is looking increasingly unlikely. Since then, the new formula has been to bring as many countries as possible together against one.

The first cracks began appearing on the Thursday before last. After returning from the G-7 summit in the Sicilian town of Taormina, Merkel had sent a clear signal to her team: “We have to stay together, we have to close ranks.”

But even before Trump announced the American withdrawal from the Paris Agreement that evening in the White House Rose Garden, it had become clear in Berlin that they would miss their first target. Led by the Italian G-7 presidency, the plan had been for a joint reaction to Trump’s withdrawal, an affirmation from the remaining six leading industrial nations: We remain loyal to Paris.

Suddenly, though, Britain and Japan no longer wanted to be part of it. British Prime Minister Theresa May didn’t want to damage relations with Trump, since she would need him in the event of a hard Brexit, the Chancellery surmised last week. And given the tensions with North Korea, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe couldn’t put his country’s alliance with the U.S. at risk. In other words: Climate policy is great, but when it comes to national interests, it is secondary. [Continue reading…]

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Trump scared of facing mass protests in the UK — he’s even afraid of visiting his home in New York

The New York Times reports: President Trump is considering scrapping or postponing a planned visit to Britain later this year amid a billowing backlash over comments he made after the recent terrorist attack in London, two administration officials said.

Over the past week, Mr. Trump has expressed increasing skepticism to aides about the trip after coming under intense criticism for a misleading charge he leveled against London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan. A day after terrorists killed eight people in the British capital, Mr. Trump went after Mr. Khan on Twitter, saying the mayor had played down the danger to citizens in the wake of the assault.

The visit was originally scheduled as part of a trip to Europe next month. Then it was tentatively penciled in for the fall. National Security Council and State Department officials were working on the details but had not undertaken the usual “preadvance” trip to work out the specific logistics of joint appearances, said a person familar with the situation.

Mr. Trump, who was visiting his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., over the weekend, has not definitively ruled out going, the officials said. But he has told his staff that he wants to avoid a marathon overseas trip like his nine-day trek to the Middle East and Europe, which he found exhausting and overly long.

One other factor leading to his reluctance, said one of the officials, is his preference for having foreign leaders visit him — not the other way around.

But optics and politics are major considerations, too. Mr. Trump is deeply unpopular in Britain, and any visit by him — let alone a state visit with all its pomp — would probably be met with widescale protests. Recent polls have found that more than half of the British public views Mr. Trump as a threat to global stability.

At the same time, his poll numbers at home are hitting historic lows. The president has avoided trips to his home in New York, in part because of the potential for disruptions, several people in his orbit have said. [Continue reading…]

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Theresa May is a ‘dead woman walking,’ says former chancellor George Osborne

The Guardian reports: George Osborne has called Theresa May “a dead woman walking” and suggested the prime minister would be forced to resign imminently.

The former chancellor said the campaign had undone the work of himself and former prime minister David Cameron in winning socially liberal seats such as a Bath, Brighton Kemptown and Oxford East, now lost to Labour and the Lib Dems.

“She is a dead woman walking and the only question is how long she remains on death row,” the editor of the Evening Standard said, defending his paper’s attacks on May as speaking from a “socially liberal, pro-business, economically liberal position” that he said had been consistent as editor and chancellor. [Continue reading…]

The Guardian reports: Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour will invite parties to defeat the government and vote for Labour’s manifesto in a “substantial amendment” to the Queen’s speech, as well as suggesting the party would also kill off the ”great repeal bill”.

“We are ready and able to put forward a serious programme which has great support in this country,” he said, though the Labour leader conceded his party “didn’t win the election”.

“We are going to put down a substantial amendment to the Queen’s speech which will be the main points of our manifesto so we will invite the House to consider all the issues we’ve put forward – jobs-first Brexit, policies for young people and on austerity,” he said. [Continue reading…]

Bloomberg reports: U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s hopes of clinging to power were dealt a fresh blow after her office was forced to admit that it hadn’t, after all, reached a deal to govern with the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, hours after announcing that it had.

May’s office said at 7.30 p.m. on Saturday it had “agreed to the principles of an outline agreement” in which the DUP would back the Conservatives on some key votes, ensuring the premier has a majority in the House of Commons. At midnight, the DUP said the talks would continue next week, and a half-hour later, the premier’s office issued another statement, saying that the accord hadn’t yet been finalized. [Continue reading…]

 

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Jeremy Corbyn could still become PM as new poll finds Labour would win a second general election

Business Insider reports: Jeremy Corbyn could be heading for Downing Street if a second general election is held this year, a new poll has found.

The Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday finds that Labour would win 45% of the vote to the Conservatives’ 39%, if voters were sent back to the polls.

Survation / MoS poll:

  • Labour: 45% (+5)
  • Conservative: 39% (-3)
  • Lib Dem: 7% (-)
  • UKIP: 3% (+1)
  • (Changes with the general election result)

It is the first time Labour have been ahead in a national opinion poll since March 2016.

Such a result would leave Labour as the largest party in parliament with Corbyn the favourite to lead a minority or coalition government.

The poll also found that voters now believe that Theresa May should resign as prime minister. 49% believe she should now stand down as opposed to 38% who believe she should stay.

Asked if she was a “strong and stable leader” just 36% agreed and 50% disagreed. [Continue reading…]

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Drop hard Brexit plans, demand MPs

The Observer reports: Senior Tory and Labour MPs called on Theresa May to forge a new cross-party approach to Brexit as fears grew that the prime minister’s weakness could lead to the imminent collapse of talks on the UK’s exit from the European Union.

In a dramatic demonstration of May’s loss of authority, as a result of Thursday’s general election – which stripped her of a Commons majority – the MPs demanded that she in effect drop her own Tory “hard Brexit” plans in favour of a new “national” consenus, that would be endorsed by members from all sides of the House of Commons.

The proposal, if adopted, would throw open the debate on what kind of Brexit the country wants, with just a week to go before May is due to lead the country in formal negotiations with the EU on the terms of exit.

It comes as senior EU figures expressed their concerns that the process could collapse because of May’s lack of authority in what are bound to be many months of tough and complex talks. A leading Christian Democrat ally of the German chancellor Angela Merkel – the MEP Elmar Brok – told the Observer that the chances of a collapse in the talks had significantly increased. “The British people saw through her [May]. The negotiations have become more difficult because Britain has not got a government of real authority,” he said.

May went to the country asking for a mandate on Brexit only to lose her Commons majority. In an intervention that will alarm hardline pro-Brexit Tories, the former foreign office minister Alistair Burt, backed by ex-education secretary Nicky Morgan and other pro-EU Tories, said Brexit could only be agreed and delivered if the Conservative minority government built cross-party support behind a plan that would unite politicians and the country. [Continue reading…]

The Observer reports: Theresa May had set Britain on a course for a hard Brexit, prioritising sovereignty at the expense of close economic ties. Nevertheless, most EU governments had hoped she would win big on 8 June, so that she would be strong enough to face down the Tory right in pushing through painful compromises. They now face a prime minister whose authority is crumbling. Yet the general election makes the prospect of a softer Brexit plausible.

May’s instincts are probably to keep pushing for the hard Brexit that her right wing desires. But there is no parliamentary majority for a hard Brexit. Just a few pro-EU Tories could join opposition MPs to defeat May. If she wants to pass the Brexit deal – and the many Brexit-related laws that are required – she will have to collaborate with Labour and other opposition MPs.

Such a volte-face would be uncharacteristic of May. But if she doesn’t reinvent herself as a soft Brexiter, it is hard to see how she can stay in office. And if she falls, her successor will find that survival means working with the opposition to achieve a softer version of Brexit. [Continue reading…]

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