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Politics | The Guardian

Latest Politics news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Published: Sat, 03 Dec 2016 00:21:50 GMT2016-12-03T00:21:50Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2016

Edward Heath child abuse investigation 'not a witch-hunt'

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 19:52:43 GMT2016-12-02T19:52:43Z

Wiltshire chief constable says significant number of people have disclosed claims of historical abuse against ex-prime minister

The chief constable of the force investigating claims that Sir Edward Heath sexually abused children has vowed not to buckle under “unacceptable” media pressure, insisting the investigation into the late prime minister is not a “fishing trip” or a “witch-hunt”.

A “significant number of individuals have disclosed allegations of abuse”, the Wiltshire police chief, Mike Veale, said on Friday in an extraordinary 1,600-word statement that sought to rebuff media criticism and keep the 15-month investigation on track.

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Richmond Park byelection: Tory Brexit voters switched to us, say Lib Dems

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 15:37:55 GMT2016-12-02T15:37:55Z

Tim Farron claims a third of Tory leave voters helped Sarah Olney overturn Zac Goldsmith’s 23,000 majority

The Liberal Democrats secured a stunning byelection victory to unseat Zac Goldsmith by convincing up to a third of leave-supporting Tory voters to switch to the party, Tim Farron has claimed, adding that the outcome could change the direction of British politics.

The Lib Dems overturned a 23,000 majority on Thursday to remove the former Conservative MP in a vote that became a de facto plebiscite on the government’s Brexit plans.

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Zac Goldsmith: anti-runway campaign failed to take off in pro-EU seat

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 12:01:55 GMT2016-12-02T12:01:55Z

Old Etonian millionaire lands with a thump, going from a 23,000 majority to losing London mayoral poll and constituency

As falls from political grace go, it has been one of the fastest. At the last general election, Zac Goldsmith was re-elected in Richmond Park with a massive 23,000 majority; since then the Old Etonian has lost the London mayoral election and his seat in south-west London after forcing a byelection in the wake of the government’s decision to build a third runway at Heathrow.

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UK will not block closer EU defence ties, says Boris Johnson

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 11:42:32 GMT2016-12-02T11:42:32Z

Foreign secretary hints he still wants UK to leave EU customs union, and says Brexit vote was a demand for democratic control

Britain will not seek to obstruct greater European defence and foreign policy cooperation as it prepares to leave the EU, Boris Johnson has pledged.

The foreign secretary said the UK was not bent on the destruction of the EU, and would not adopt a “dog in the manger” manager to disrupt member state cooperation if they continued to meet the goal of spending at least 2% of their GDP on defence.

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Run the NHS and social care like John Lewis, says Frank Field

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 06:00:08 GMT2016-12-02T06:00:08Z

Ex-Labour welfare minister says new integrated service run on a mutual basis should be funded exclusively by national insurance contributions

The NHS and social care would be run by a John Lewis-style mutual organisation and funded by higher national insurance contributions, under a radical shakeup proposed by Labour MP Frank Field.

The former welfare minister says a looming financial crisis could be tackled by making the NI system more progressive and earmarking the entire proceeds to pay for the health service and care for the elderly.

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MPs condemn decision to block BME woman from Channel 4 board

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 17:31:10 GMT2016-12-02T17:31:10Z

Cross-party letter urges culture secretary to explain ‘unprecedented’ move that led to appointment of four white men

A cross-party group of 56 MPs have called on the culture secretary, Karen Bradley, to explain her decision to block the only female BME applicant to Channel 4’s board.

It emerged this week that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport had taken the unusual step of vetoing the unnamed candidate, who was one of five put forward by the regulator, Ofcom. The remaining four applicants who were accepted are all white men, and the Channel 4 board has no members from ethnic minorities currently sitting.

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Police investigate tweet calling for someone to 'Jo Cox' MP Anna Soubry

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 16:39:44 GMT2016-12-02T16:39:44Z

Conservative MP says tweet is second death threat she has had in a week and ‘tolerance and free speech must prevail’

Police are investigating a tweet calling for someone to “Jo Cox” the Conservative MP Anna Soubry.

The murder of the Labour MP Cox by an extreme rightwing terrorist raised concerns about parliamentarians’ security and the level of abuse they have directed at them.

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Boris Johnson: democracy is in retreat across world

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 00:01:01 GMT2016-12-02T00:01:01Z

In speech at Chatham House, Britain’s foreign secretary will warn that the cult of the strongman is taking hold internationally

Boris Johnson will issue a warning that democracy is in retreat across the world and that a “cult of the strongman” is taking hold, raising the prospect that the concept of a global liberal order will fade into irrelevance.

Related: Boris Johnson is a clown who has united the EU against Britain | Jean Quatremer

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European free trade area could be UK's best Brexit option, says judge

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:08:19 GMT2016-12-01T13:08:19Z

Efta offers single market access and more sovereignty, and may rethink requirement of free movement, court’s president argues

Britain could retain access to the European single market and considerably more national sovereignty if it joins the European Free Trade Association (Efta), the president of the body’s court has said.

In an interview with the Guardian, Carl Baudenbacher urged Britain to study the advantages of joining Efta seriously. Baudenbacher’s private secretary has submitted a 19-page paper to the Cabinet Office, setting out how an updated version of Efta could be “a natural home for the UK post-Brexit”.

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Samantha Cameron pursues long-held goal with fashion label launch

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 16:57:41 GMT2016-12-02T16:57:41Z

Friends say fashion has always been central to her ambitions for life after No 10, and she is working flat out to succeed

On a warm Wednesday afternoon in July, Samantha Cameron stood on the steps of Downing Street, her three children by her side, while her husband, David, gave his final press statement as prime minister. She blushed as he thanked her for her personal support, described her as “an amazing wife, mother and businesswoman” and praised her work in aid of volunteering.

The soon to be former PM’s wife did not comment to the waiting journalists, but her departure from No 10 made a statement nonetheless. She was wearing a £1,495 navy and orange dress by Roksanda Ilincic, one of a number of British-based designers whom she had championed during her time in the spotlight. The outfit was perfectly unshowy and appropriate, but the long, exposed zip from its front neckline to hem spoke of something else, a hint of the fashion-forward edginess that she had made her signature.

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Michael Howard convicted in speeding case

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:28:43 GMT2016-12-01T18:28:43Z

Former Conservative leader failed to reveal who was driving car when it was caught by speed camera in south-east London

Michael Howard, the former leader of the Conservative party, has been convicted of failing to say who was driving his car when it was caught breaking the speed limit in south-east London.

The Tory peer and his wife, Sandra, told Wimbledon magistrates court that either of them could have been driving their Toyota Prius when a speed camera clocked it travelling at more than 37mph in Lewisham, on 24 January, breaking the road’s 30mph speed limit.

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London mayor issues pollution warnings at bus stops and tube stations

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:16:32 GMT2016-12-01T18:16:32Z

UK capital experiences high pollution levels on Thursday with warnings telling people to avoid strenuous exercise

Air quality alerts have been issued at bus stops, tube stations and roadsides across London because of high pollution levels, said a spokeswoman for the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

The alerts will notify Londoners on Thursday evening during their commute home from work.

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Tunisia attack: UK wants inquests to be held partly in secret

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 15:19:23 GMT2016-12-01T15:19:23Z

Families of Britons killed by gunman at resort said to have agreed it would be better to keep security measures secret

The UK government wants the inquests into the deaths of 30 British tourists killed by a gunman on a Tunisian beach to be held partly in secret over fears certain material could be used by terrorists to plot further atrocities.

Security measures at hotels and resorts and details of how the UK and Tunisian governments work together to protect travellers are among the evidence that the government deems too sensitive to be discussed in public.

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Ofsted chief links divide in education to 'malaise' behind Brexit vote

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 09:33:32 GMT2016-12-01T09:33:32Z

Michael Wilshaw says failure to raise standards in parts of England feeds into sense of being treated unfairly

The head of the schools watchdog has linked the Brexit vote to the failure to raise education standards in parts of England.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, speaking before the publication of the Ofsted annual report on Thursday, highlighted the continuing geographical divide in education, with schools in the north and east Midlands continuing to lag behind those in London and the south.

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CBI warns May that immigration shakeup could harm economy

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 06:00:39 GMT2016-12-01T06:00:39Z

A draconian regime could deprive British firms of vital workers, says CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn as report on regions is unveiled

Theresa May must avoid making any new immigration system too bureaucratic or risk harming Britain’s businesses, the CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn has warned.

Sources suggest ministers hope to negotiate a Brexit deal that would allow the government to control high- and low-skilled immigration.

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Bob Geldof rails against Brexit as he backs Lib Dems in Richmond Park

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:43:16 GMT2016-11-30T18:43:16Z

Singer who ‘wants to argue with guys who want out’ calls for tactical voting in byelection to defeat Brexiter Zac Goldsmith

Bob Geldof’s last significant intervention in the Brexit debate saw him chased down the river by a flotilla commandeered by Nigel Farage. With the battle of the Thames lost, Geldof is hoping for a better result back on dry land, campaigning with the Lib Dems to oust Brexiter Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park byelection.

Appearing alongside the Lib Dem candidate, Sarah Olney, by Richmond station in south-west London, Geldof said he did not want to see MPs block the referendum result but said pro-EU arguments still had a place in the debate. “We accept the result of the referendum, but it’s our responsibility and duty to debate it, to persuade people,” he said. “This is a bust. We can’t derail the process, but we are voting in some like [Olney] who will stand in parliament and speak for her constituents who voted overwhelming to stay in Europe.

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National anti-hate crime campaign to launch after spike in incidents

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 00:01:32 GMT2016-12-01T00:01:32Z

#BetterThanThat has cross-party support and backing from PM, and will promote ‘true British values’ post-Brexit vote

A national anti-hate crime campaign backed by the government is to be launched on Thursday in response to the rise in incidents after the EU referendum.

Home Office figures showed the number of racially or religiously aggravated offences leapt 41% in July, compared with the same month last year, prompting fears that the Brexit vote had fuelled intolerance.

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Keir Starmer: UK should guarantee EU citizens' rights before talks begin

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 16:00:22 GMT2016-11-30T16:00:22Z

Shadow Brexit secretary says Theresa May should act immediately or risk souring tone of negotiations over leaving EU

Theresa May should unilaterally pass legislation to secure the rights of up to 3 million European Union citizens to stay in Britain or risk souring the tone of the Brexit talks, according to Labour’s Keir Starmer.

The shadow Brexit secretary said May should act immediately and abandon her increasingly controversial position of refusing to make any concession over the rights of EU citizens in the UK without securing equivalent guarantees for the 1.2 million UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU.

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EU negotiators outrank UK ministers in Brexit 'power list'

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:45:25 GMT2016-11-30T18:45:25Z

Brexit50 list includes 22 Brits and 25 from elsewhere in Europe, with Theresa May joint top and Boris Johnson only 21st

Britain may have voted to leave the European Union, but its short-term fate still lies predominantly in the hands of foreigners, according to a new Brexit “power list” that attempts to measure who wields the most clout in the tricky negotiations to come.

Theresa May and Germany’s Angela Merkel jointly share top spot in the Brexit50 ranking – drawn up by a panel of independent experts – as befits their respective roles as Britain and Europe’s most powerful politicians.

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Sleaford's Brexit byelection: a people united by fear for the future – video

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 14:46:10 GMT2016-11-30T14:46:10Z

John Harris visits Sleaford in Lincolnshire, where 62% of people voted to leave the EU, and the Tories, Labour and Ukip are contesting a byelection on 8 December after the resignation of Conservative MP Stephen Phillips. Older voters are concerned about immigration and national identity, while younger people seem to be on a different planet. But could shared fears bridge the generation gap?

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Hundreds of MPs back campaign for Syria aid airdrops

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 13:32:35 GMT2016-11-30T13:32:35Z

With 201 MPs listed as supporters of the plan, government backing would mean a Commons majority in favour

More than 200 opposition MPs and backbench Tories, including Emily Thornberry and Michael Gove, are supporting a campaign for airdrops of aid into Syria, meaning there would be a majority in parliament for the humanitarian plan if the government were to give its support.

The campaign, organised by the former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell and the Labour MPs Alison McGovern and John Woodcock, has been collecting signatures in an attempt to shift No 10’s position in favour of the plan.

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Edward Heath case police chief statement – video

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 20:12:25 GMT2016-12-02T20:12:25Z

Wiltshire’s police chief constable says a number of people have come forward with claims during the investigation into child sexual abuse allegations against the former Conservative prime minister Sir Edward Heath. During a recorded statement, Mike Veale also highlights the difficulties facing the investigators.

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Push for hard Brexit led to Richmond Park win, says new Lib Dem MP

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 19:42:14 GMT2016-12-02T19:42:14Z

Sarah Olney says 21.5% swing in byelection was secured because Tory remain voters felt PM was only focusing on leave camp

Theresa May’s decision to pursue a hard Brexit is driving Conservative-supporting remainers to desert the party, the Liberal Democrats’ newest MP said in the aftermath of her sensational win in the Richmond Park byelection.

In an interview with the Guardian, Sarah Olney said her victory over Zac Goldsmith on a 21.5% swing was secured thanks to voters who felt the prime minister was only focusing on the part of the population that voted to leave the EU.

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Farron: 'Richmond was a vote against hard Brexit' – video

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 18:55:11 GMT2016-12-02T18:55:11Z

Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, says that the Richmond byelection result sends a message to prime minister Theresa May that people don’t want a ‘hard Brexit’. Speaking to journalists in London on Friday, alongside newly-elected MP Sarah Olney, Farron also says the result shows that nothing is inevitable.

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What progressive parties can learn from the Richmond Park result | Letters

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 18:42:52 GMT2016-12-02T18:42:52Z

Following its victory in the Richmond byelection (Report,, I write to suggest that the Liberal Democratic party should change its name to The European Party. We of the forgotten 48% are surely more numerous today, now that Brexit’s rudderless fiasco is becoming as obvious as the shameless lies earlier told by its advocates. Even the lead rat of the leavers has signalled his inclination to leave the sinking ship and become a migrant to America.

Today, we of the swelling 48% are cheering the Lib Dem victory in the byelection. This was a genuinely democratic, constitutional victory (Britain is a parliamentary democracy not the mob-rule “democracy” conjured up by David Cameron for the purposes of internal Tory politics). And it is widely agreed that the byelection was fought mainly on the issue of Brexit.

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Lib Dem win in Richmond Park could change government's Brexit policy, says Farron - Politics live

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 18:02:27 GMT2016-12-02T18:02:27Z

Rolling coverage of reaction to the Lib Dem byelection win in Richmond Park, where Sarah Olney overturned Zac Goldsmith’s 23,000 majority

So that is really the lesson of last night for Theresa May: she is the prime minister for the whole of the United Kingdom, not just for her party or the hardest of hard Brexiteers. She must reach out, urgently, to those millions of people who simply do not share the worldview of Farage, Gove and Fox. Yes, the Brexiteers won on June 23 — but with victory comes magnanimity and responsibility. It is now Theresa May’s duty to show a bit of both. Otherwise Richmond may turn out to be the first of many election upsets.

We had an election and we had a referendum. The referendum result was very clear and the majority of the country expressed an opinion for us to leave the EU. The message from the British people was loud and clear on June 23 that there is a desire for us to leave the EU. The government is getting on with delivering that.

He was heroic and principled in standing up for what he believes in on Heathrow expansion. He will be missed but he will certainly be back.

The Liberal Democrats’ newest MP walked out of a live radio interview after being given a grilling over her position on Brexit, the Press Association reports.

Sarah Olney, who ousted former Tory Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park by-election, disappeared off air just three minutes into the Talk Radio broadcast.

The premature exit came after tricky questioning by presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer on her calls for a referendum on the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

New Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney dragged off air by PR after grilling by Julia | talkRADIO via @talkRADIO

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What the Richmond Park vote could mean for a general election

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 17:32:24 GMT2016-12-02T17:32:24Z

The wider implications depend on how much voters were aiming a V-sign at Zac Goldsmith, and how much at Theresa May

Byelection results should not be overinterpreted. After all, with their inevitable focus on single issues and low turnouts, these mid-term votes regularly throw up unusual outcomes that do not shed light on what might happen in a general election.

Nevertheless, the reasons that voters use them to stick two fingers up at a sitting government can be telling, and ought to be listened to.

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'I wasn’t planning to become an MP': Sarah Olney on her shock byelection win

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 17:17:42 GMT2016-12-02T17:17:42Z

Former accountant labelled ‘utterly dreary’ by Zac Goldsmith’s brother only joined the Liberal Democrats a year ago

Sarah Olney, the new MP for Richmond Park and north Kingston, only joined the Liberal Democrats last May after the party’s crushing defeat in the general election that handed the Conservatives an unexpected majority.

Before that, the 39-year-old accountant, who lived in a semi-detached house in north Kingston with her husband and two children, had voted Lib Dem but never been a member of any political party.

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George Osborne defends earning £320,000 on speaking tour

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 16:47:13 GMT2016-12-02T16:47:13Z

Ex-chancellor who imposed strict austerity measures in government says he is behaving no differently from predecessors

George Osborne has defended earning £320,000 in five speeches since being sacked as chancellor in July, saying he is behaving no differently from his predecessors.

In an interview with the Guardian in Liverpool about his plans to close the north-south divide by continuing to build his “northern powerhouse” from the backbenches, Osborne said he did not think people hit by austerity measures would consider his extra-curricular earnings unfair.

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The Guardian view on Richmond Park: slowly does it | Editorial

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 19:01:18 GMT2016-12-02T19:01:18Z

The byelection was an epic victory for the Lib Dems, but it does not mean a halt to Brexit

The Liberal Democrat victory in Richmond Park was a triumph for Sarah Olney, her campaign team, and the strategy of the leader, Tim Farron, who declared in his conference speech in September that the party could win as the voice of the 48%. It is also a compelling example of what can be achieved if pro-European Tories, Labour, Greens and Lib Dems work together. And while Ms Olney’s defeated rivals will take comfort from the nature of the byelection – in a prosperous, pro-European corner of south-west London that might have been tailored for a Lib Dem revival – there is no hiding from the fact that it was a personal humiliation for Zac Goldsmith. It was his second defeat of the year, close on the heels of his shameful campaign to become London mayor. It should, at the least, give the prime minister, whose working majority is now just 13, reason to reconsider her divisive rhetoric. And Labour, which won fewer votes than it has members in the seat, must bang heads together to get a clear, less contested approach to Brexit.

After the rout of the 2015 general election, many Lib Dems gloomily anticipated years of rebuilding. They may still be right. Yet even if Richmond Park, a seat they held from 1997 to 2010, could hardly be bettered as a battleground for them, it remains an extraordinary achievement to win it with a 20-point swing from the Tories. The party’s once-formidable byelection machinery had been well-oiled and successfully trialled at the Witney byelection in October. Party activists and past leaders turned out in impressive numbers to support a strong local candidate, who – new to politics – was untainted by association with the coalition years. In her victory speech in the early hours of this morning, Ms Olney sounded exactly the right note of unity and conciliation over Europe, ending on the rousing pledge that “we will not let intolerance, division and fear win” – an overture all the more attractive in the light of the bilious response to the result from the Brexiters.

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Do we need vegan-friendly fivers? Catch up on our live look at the week

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 16:53:13 GMT2016-12-02T16:53:13Z

From a Richmond by-election to Trump and more, look back on our real-time discussion about the week’s news and comment

Ok everyone. I will be heading off now, but please feel free to continue the discussion below the line. Thanks all! Email over thoughts and suggestions about this feature if you have any (

They are always welcome!

I had one of those moments parents dread this week. Just as I was putting the kids to bed my eldest, aged 7, asked “Does Father Christmas really bring us the presents, or is it you and mummy who get them?”
The question took me aback, and I’m afraid my reply was the rather unconvincing fluff of “Well, what do you think? It’s magic.”
She said to me “Look me in the face and say that, so I can see if you are lying.”
I was most conscious though that this was all in earshot of her 3-year-old brother. It’s been my policy not to lie to my children about anything. If they’ve asked where babies come from or questions about religion they get a very biological or honest answer. “Well some people believe Jesus was the son of God. But daddy doesn’t believe that.”
However, Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy all make an appearance in our household - which I guess makes me a bit of a hypocrite on the honesty front.
I was pleased today to find out I’m not alone, here is a lovely little collection of what parents tell their kids about Santa which is well worth your time.

Related: 'It shocks people that I refuse to lie': what parents tell their children about Santa

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The Lib Dems have rediscovered their byelection mojo – can they capitalise? | John Curtice

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 16:08:25 GMT2016-12-02T16:08:25Z

Sarah Olney’s win may be unlikely to affect Brexit, but her party’s victories in Richmond Park and elsewhere point towards a new chapter

Richmond Park was a byelection made in heaven for the Liberal Democrats. Their opponent – a prominent leave campaigner whose father had funded the anti-EU referendum party in the 1990s, and who upset many of those of a small “l” liberal disposition with the style and tone of his London mayoral campaign in the spring.

The constituency was a Lib Dem stronghold for over 40 years (until the vote collapsed, like almost everywhere else, in last year’s general election) where over 70% of voters had voted to remain in the EU, putting it in the top 10 pro-EU constituencies. Local Labour voters were long used to voting tactically for the local Liberal Democrat. All the party had to do was to turn this unusually propitious set of circumstances to its advantage.

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At last, a flag-and-lighter solution to a bureaucratic nightmare

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 15:45:02 GMT2016-12-02T15:45:02Z

The PM backs Christmas, a Times writer rages against the MSM, and six cabinet secretaries enter a room …

The Emmanuel Centre in Westminster is doing good business out of Ukip. Over the last few months I have lost count of the number of leadership elections, leadership resignations and general cock-ups I’ve been to there. On the latest visit, Ukip announced Paul Nuttall as its new leader. Nuttall was at pains to state he would be in post for at least a couple of weeks before Nigel took over again, because he had the overwhelming mandate of 63% of the vote. However, it’s worth looking at the numbers of this mandate. In last place in the contest, with 2,775 votes, was Jonathan Rees-Evans, the man who believed a gay donkey had tried to rape his horse. In second place, with 2,973, was Suzanne Evans. Nuttall won with 9,662 votes. Which leads me to think Ukip is ripe for a Corbynista style takeover. If just 10,000 Momentum supporters joined Ukip they would be in a position to seize the party and install John McDonnell as its leader. That would kill two birds with one stone.

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The ‘war on drugs’ doesn’t work. It’s time for a grown-up conversation | Alan D Miller

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 14:10:00 GMT2016-12-02T14:10:00Z

People will always take drugs, regardless of personal risk and the legality of it. Our laws should be amended to reflect that

“People have always consumed psychoactive substances, risking harm.” This is the opening sentence of a recent article by Fiona Godlee and Richard Hurley in the British Medical Journal, which goes on to state that around one in 20 adults worldwide are thought to have taken an illegal drug in 2014.

Related: I blame Fabric’s closure on this country’s backward drugs policy

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Year of electoral tests may end European Union as we know it

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 13:58:35 GMT2016-12-02T13:58:35Z

Populist, nation-first parties to contest key elections buoyed by Brexit vote and Donald Trump victory

In Italy and Austria this weekend a shaken EU faces the first of a series of pivotal electoral tests that could profoundly change the political landscape of the bloc, and conceivably herald the end of the European project in its current form.

Shortly before last May’s G7 meeting in Tokyo, Martin Selmayr, the senior Brussels official who runs the cabinet of the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, tweeted what he described as his populist “horror scenario”.

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Whether it’s Brexit or Trump, populists are such sore winners | Nesrine Malik

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 13:30:17 GMT2016-12-02T13:30:17Z

Unlikely political victors in the US and UK are now even angrier: because, robbed of the ability to blame everything on others, they can no longer play the victim

After the EU referendum, a curious thing happened. The winners were neither happy, nor triumphant. The victory announcement by Boris Johnson was funereal, almost resentful. It was almost as though the campaigners had practised and perfected their “outsiders against the establishment” lines during the campaign, and once on the winning side had no script.

Related: Trump claims 'millions voted illegally' but offers no evidence

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Boris Johnson may wish otherwise, but the old world order is finished | Simon Jenkins

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 12:55:51 GMT2016-12-02T12:55:51Z

The new populism and the conflicts of the current century require fresh ways of thinking. His latest speech shows the foreign secretary is stuck in the past

The thoughts of a British foreign secretary on world affairs are like those of a sommelier on wine – they don’t alter the taste. Boris Johnson, so often off message, was back on it today at that home of the bland, Chatham House. He gazed at the horizon and declared himself in favour of “a rules-based international order”, and against “reverting to an older and more brutal system, where the strong are free to devour the weak”. He was worried at the emergence of “non-state actors” with contempt for global liberalism. In that favourite Foreign Office phrase, he said, “We cannot allow this to happen.” Big deal, feel my muscles.

The only question just now that matters is: how is Johnson to deal with Donald Trump, insofar as he (rather than Ukip’s Nigel Farage) has influence in the new Washington DC? Here, he is all over the shop. He wants Britain to go on spending absurdly on old-fashioned defence equipment. He is in favour of Nato countries doing likewise. He is against Russia’s resumed occupation of Crimea and against it winning in Syria, except against Isis. He wants to talk with Russia, but wants to get tough with it on the Baltics. In other words Johnson wants the old Foreign Office ragbag of the unachievable in pursuit of the unacceptable, in defiance of the inevitable.

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First Dog on the Moon proudly presents ... George Brandis as The Croquembouche!

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 04:22:32 GMT2016-12-02T04:22:32Z

What on earth am I doing? Any vestiges of my naive faith in government’s capacity to even accidentally act decently have been swept away by 2016

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Richmond Park byelection sends message from London to the UK

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 07:33:41 GMT2016-12-02T07:33:41Z

The Liberal Democrats’ byelection triumph is a local reassertion of the capital’s values in all their difference from much of the rest of Britain

A bizarre suburban byelection has been rescued from meaninglessness by 20,510 Richmond Park electors who have put Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney into the House of Commons and given erstwhile Tory pin-up boy Zac Goldsmith an almighty boot in the Brexits. The billionaire’s son who was once the environmentalist facelift of David Cameron’s rebranded Conservatives and who began the year with hopes of becoming London mayor will end it twitted, tarnished and politically unemployed.

Everything about the contest was unreal. Goldsmith resigned as the affluent, Thames-side seat’s Conservative MP in protest at the Conservative government’s decision to expand capacity at Heathrow airport despite regretting having promised to do so when initially winning the seat in 2010. The party he has formally left in order to see that pledge through as an independent indulged him in his act of reluctant principle by not standing a pro-expansion candidate against him.

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Labour's Ukip problem – Politics Weekly podcast

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 16:11:48 GMT2016-12-01T16:11:48Z

Heather Stewart hears from Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer on protecting the rights of EU nationals in Britain. Plus Robert Ford on the new Ukip leader Paul Nuttall, Jessica Elgot in Richmond Park and Stephanie Kirchgaessner on Italy’s referendum. With James Morris, Rafael Behr and Anne Perkins

After months of disarray, Ukip has announced that Paul Nuttall is its new leader – and his immediate plan is to target northern England’s Labour heartlands. So how worried should Labour be? We hear from Manchester University’s Robert Ford, author of Revolt on the Right.

Also this week, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, tells us that Theresa May should act unilaterally to guarantee residency rights for any EU nationals already living in Britain and end the uncertainty about their status after Brexit.

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Tories seek positive uncertainties in a deluge of negative certainties

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 19:40:21 GMT2016-11-30T19:40:21Z

MPs grill Robert Chote over the OBR’s gloomy post-Brexit predictions: wasn’t it possible all the forecasters were wrong?

Just after the chancellor’s autumn statement, Conservative Jacob Rees-Mogg had rubbished the Office for Budget Responsibility for making unnecessarily gloomy predictions about the government’s handling of Brexit and suggested we would all soon be dancing towards fun-filled days of forever summer. A lot can change within a week. Not least that it now appears the OBR was a ray of sunshine compared with almost every other economic forecaster.

So when Rees-Mogg got to meet the OBR chairman, Robert Chote, face to face at the Treasury select committee, he was rather more temperate than he had previously been. The OBR had done its work very properly, he observed, the model of noble politesse. It was just completely incorrect in its findings. How could the OBR be so certain about the levels of uncertainty?

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Three-minute election: How did David Cameron and the Tories do it? And what happens now? – video

Fri, 08 May 2015 11:05:00 GMT2015-05-08T11:05:00Z

Columnists Jonathan Freedland and Matthew d'Ancona discuss the general election result: a bloody night for Labour and the Lib Dems and a stunning victory for David Cameron. How were the media and political class beguiled into believing that Labour could get away with being behind on the economy? And are the Conservatives as surprised at the result as everyone else? Continue reading...140x84 trailpic for Three minute video - What just happened? And what's next for the Tories?140x84 trailpic for Three minute video - What just happened? And what's next for the Tories?

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UK could pay EU for access to single market, ministers say

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 21:00:00 GMT2016-12-01T21:00:00Z

David Davis and Philip Hammond cause surprise by expressing willingness to pay to retain lucrative single market access

Britain could end up paying the European Union to retain access to the single market, David Davis and Philip Hammond have said, in a concerted attempt to signal that the government is willing to take a flexible approach to the looming Brexit negotiations.

Related: It won’t be easy to stop Brexit. But here are four ways to do it | Martin Kettle

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Boris Johnson criticised for promoting book on official Serbia visit

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:47:09 GMT2016-11-30T18:47:09Z

Labour calls on foreign secretary to explain why he took time to discuss The Churchill Factor and sign copies at Belgrade store

Boris Johnson spent time on an official trip to Serbia as foreign secretary promoting his latest book about Winston Churchill, it has emerged.

Johnson discussed The Churchill Factor, his biography of the wartime prime minister, and signed a few copies at a bookstore in Belgrade on the second day of his trip earlier this month.

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MPs demand Theresa May permits aid drops to Aleppo

Sun, 27 Nov 2016 00:05:46 GMT2016-11-27T00:05:46Z

Group calls on PM to allow the RAF to fly food to the besieged city

More than 120 MPs – including former Tory cabinet ministers Michael Gove and Andrew Mitchell – today call on Theresa May to authorise immediate airdrops of food and medicine to ease the desperate plight of adults and children trapped in besieged areas of Syria.

In a letter to the prime minister, the cross-party group says “the time for excuses is over” and that it is unacceptable that “nearly 100,000 children are facing the slowest, cruellest death because we cannot reach them with food and medical supplies”.

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Michael White reflects on 45 years as a Guardian journalist

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 10:21:29 GMT2016-10-28T10:21:29Z

As the former political editor and columnist retires, he considers his career at the paper and the greatest scoop he never wrote

Michael White, the Guardian’s assistant editor, retired last week after almost 45 years at the paper as a reporter, foreign correspondent and columnist. He was political editor from 1990-2006, Washington correspondent (1984-88) and parliamentary sketch writer (1977-84). Here he reflects on his Guardian career.

When did you first know you wanted to be a journalist?
I was never a student journalist but, after failing a few interviews for industry in my final student year, I decided – correctly – that I am by nature an observer, not a doer. I was lucky in my timing: 1966 was a very good time to embark on a career in journalism.

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Demonstrations outside tree-felling court hearing in Sheffield

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:36:59 GMT2016-12-01T13:36:59Z

Protesters gather to support Simon Crump and Calvin Payne, who appeared in court after trying to save 100-year-old tree

Approximately 150 people have staged a protest in support of two men who appeared in court in Sheffield after they tried to stop a 100-year-old tree being cut down.

Simon Crump and Calvin Payne are two of five people to have been arrested in the long-running battle over the local authority’s tree-felling programme.

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Court battle looms over priests’ right to pick pupils for Catholic schools

Sun, 20 Nov 2016 00:04:22 GMT2016-11-20T00:04:22Z

Challenge follows ruling by schools adjudicator that definition of ‘practising’ religion is unclear

The Catholic church is taking the government’s schools admissions watchdog to the high court to protect the rights of priests to determine whether pupils are eligible for a place on the basis of their faith.

The schools adjudicator ruled earlier this month that a new policy across all Catholic schools under which priests certified on a pupil-by-pupil basis whether they were from a “practising [Catholic] family” was unfair.

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'Disastrous decline' in HMRC customer service predicted due to cuts

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 00:01:00 GMT2016-12-02T00:01:00Z

Public accounts committee delivers stark warning to tax authority dealing with spending and job cuts, office closures and Brexit

Plans to save money at HM Revenue & Customs by moving more of its operations online are leading towards a repeat of a “catastrophic collapse” in customer service, according to parliament’s spending watchdog. The public accounts committee said it was not convinced that the tax authority had a credible plan to prevent a “disastrous decline” in service while facing spending and job cuts, office closures and the implications of Brexit.

MPs believe it is possible that tax officials could experience a similar collapse to 2015/16, when members of the public were left waiting for around 4m hours for telephone calls to be answered following a reduction of 5,600 in staff numbers. They also questioned whether HMRC might be “painting too rosy a picture” of its success in reducing the gap between the amount of tax due and the total collected.

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Brexit: 1m EU citizens in Britain 'could be at risk of deportation'

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:33:39 GMT2016-12-01T18:33:39Z

Campaigners say it would take the Home Office 47 years to process applications from EU citizens for permanent residency

The government has been warned that up to 1 million EU citizens living in the UK could be at risk of deportation if it does not come up with a simple way of recognising their status in the country.

The 3 Million, a grassroots group lobbying for the rights of non-British citizens who have made the UK their home, has told the home secretary it would take the Home Office 47 years to process applications from EU citizens for permanent residency (PR). “We are people with families, children, friends and work colleagues, and we are rightly worried about a very uncertain future,” said Nicolas Hatton, chair of the 3 Million, in his letter to Amber Rudd.

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Why we voted to get rid of Zac Goldsmith

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 12:53:06 GMT2016-12-02T12:53:06Z

Readers who elected Lib Dems’ Sarah Olney in the Richmond Park byelection cite Brexit and Zac Goldsmith’s controversial mayoral campaign as motivation

Zac Goldsmith may have wanted the Richmond Park byelection to be a referendum on Heathrow expansion, but local voters had other ideas. The Lib Dems’ Sarah Olney won after a marathon local campaigning effort focusing on Brexit, with the party’s remaining big guns spending significant time in the borough.

Related: Richmond Park: Lib Dems' celebration should be a cautious one

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Nigel Farage doubts he will be envoy to US but says 'anything is possible'

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 21:00:44 GMT2016-11-24T21:00:44Z

  • Donald Trump had suggested British Ukip leader should be ambassador
  • Farage says he ‘would love to play a constructive middle-man role’

Nigel Farage, of the UK’s rightwing Ukip party, said on Thursday “anything is possible”, in response to Donald Trump’s proposal that he become UK ambassador to the US.

Farage, who is the party’s former and interim leader, admitted he did not expect to get the position, which the British government has made clear is not vacant, but said he “would love to play a constructive middle-man role” between the two countries.

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Richmond Park: Lib Dems' celebration should be a cautious one

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 07:42:02 GMT2016-12-02T07:42:02Z

Tim Farron’s party capitalised on Brexit in a fiercely pro-EU constituency to win, but this is only a tiny step back to electoral relevance

The Liberal Democrats threw everything they had into the Richmond Park byelection triggered by Zac Goldsmith’s resignation from the Conservative party.

In the weeks since he announced his decision to stand as an independent in protest at Heathrow expansion, activists have carried out more than 150,000 door-knocks, resulting in more than 50,000 conversations.

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Lib Dems win Richmond Park byelection, overturning Zac Goldsmith's 23,000 majority – as it happened

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 03:07:03 GMT2016-12-02T03:07:03Z

Here is an extract from Sarah Olney’s victory speech.

A year and a half ago I was not involved in politics, I was not a member of a political party, I had never been involved in a political campaign, I had never thought about being a politician. But I knew I was a liberal. I believed in openness, tolerance, compassion, working with our neigbours around the world.

When I saw what happened at the general election last year I felt I had ot get involved.

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Labour ‘confused and chaotic’ but far from defeated | Letters

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:39:02 GMT2016-12-01T18:39:02Z

I agree with Owen Jones (Labour would save the NHS – but it won’t save labour, 1 December) that Labour needs to find a message that “chimes with the concerns of the overwhelming majority of society”. However, he said nothing about how Labour must convince voters that it is a party of patriots, for patriots.

When up against the forces of the Conservative right and Ukip, it is easy for some to conflate patriotism with nationalism but patriotism is, as George Orwell notes, “devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life”, while nationalism is a poisonous force that disregards the national interest.

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10 lessons from the Richmond Park byelection result

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 09:56:21 GMT2016-12-02T09:56:21Z

Sarah Olney’s victory is a boost for the Lib Dems but not necessarily a protest against Theresa May’s government

Zac Goldsmith triggered the byelection so he could stand as an independent and register his opposition to a Heathrow third runway, but the Lib Dems neutralised that by saying they would oppose the Heathrow third runway just as strongly. Instead they invited voters to use the byelection to vote against “hard” Brexit and in favour of a second referendum. But Lib Dems who campaigned in the seat admit many people supported them not because they were opposed to what May and David Davis are doing but because they wanted to vote against the entire 23 June referendum result. In other words, it may well have been more of a vote against Vote Leave than a vote against the Conservative government.

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Lib Dems are back in the game after Richmond Park, says psephologist

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 11:52:58 GMT2016-12-02T11:52:58Z

Elections expert Prof John Curtice says party is poised to make general election gains after byelection win

The Liberal Democrats’ victory in the Richmond Park byelection could place the party back on the road to significant gains in the House of Commons, according to one of the country’s leading psephologists.

Prof John Curtice said Sarah Olney’s defeat of Zac Goldsmith was not simply an indirect loss for the Conservative party but also ought to worry Labour, which he described as a “fragile creature” that had taken another blow.

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Lib Dem Sarah Olney beats Zac Goldsmith to win Richmond Park byelection – video

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 07:46:52 GMT2016-12-02T07:46:52Z

Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney wins the Richmond Park byelection in London on Thursday, overturning a 23,000 majority to remove former Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, who quit the party over plans for Heathrow airport expansion. Olney says her ‘shockwave’ victory is a clear message to the government

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