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Politics | The Guardian

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

Published: Tue, 16 Jan 2018 21:26:31 GMT2018-01-16T21:26:31Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2018

Momentum official replaces veteran chair of Labour's disputes panel

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 18:33:21 GMT2018-01-16T18:33:21Z

Election of Christine Shawcroft follows Momentum-backed candidates winning NEC seats

Senior leftwing Labour figures have used their new dominance on the party’s governing body to immediately replace the longstanding chair of a key panel that considers disciplinary matters.

The vote to remove Ann Black from her role on the disputes panel and replace her with Christine Shawcroft came a day after the balance of power on the national executive committee shifted further in Jeremy Corbyn’s favour.

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Ben Bradley under fire for blogpost urging jobless people to have vasectomies

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 20:35:32 GMT2018-01-16T20:35:32Z

MP appointed as Conservative party vice-chair wrote article in 2012 saying unemployed people should not have large families

A Conservative MP who has been appointed as a party vice-chairman once suggested that unemployed people should opt for free vasectomies rather than continuing to have children they could not afford to support.

In a blogpost, Ben Bradley claimed that the country would be soon “drowning in a vast sea of unemployed wasters” if workless families had four or five children while others limited themselves to one or two.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg to lead influential group of Tory Eurosceptic MPs

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 20:13:35 GMT2018-01-16T20:13:35Z

Election as chair of European research group comes after vow to help government make a success of Brexit

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been elected chair of an influential backbench group of Eurosceptic Tory MPs after promising to help Theresa May carry out the type of Brexit she originally promised.

The MP for North East Somerset will lead the European research group (ERG), which was formed to support Conservative MPs as the party delivers Brexit.

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Labour complains about Boris Johnson's latest Brexit claim

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:48:02 GMT2018-01-16T15:48:02Z

Keir Starmer asks watchdog to intervene after it previously said £350m claim was ‘clear misuse of official statistics’

Labour has complained to the statistics watchdog about Boris Johnson’s claim that even more than £350m could be clawed back from the EU each week after Brexit.

Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, asked the UK Statistics Authority to intervene after it previously said the foreign secretary’s repetition of the £350m figure used by the Vote Leave campaign was a “clear misuse of official statistics”.

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Gerry Adams appeals 1975 convictions for Maze escape attempts

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 17:11:43 GMT2018-01-16T17:11:43Z

Lawyers say Sinn Féin leader was unlawfully interned without trial at time of planned jail breaks

The Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, has launched a legal attempt to overturn two convictions connected to a planned IRA jail break at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Adams’s lawyers argued at the court of appeal in Belfast on Tuesday that the 1975 convictions for earlier escape attempts from the Maze prison, then known as Long Kesh, should be quashed.

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Education secretary urged to act over report on abuse at his former school

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 12:30:41 GMT2018-01-16T12:30:41Z

Survivors of abuse at St Ambrose College want Damian Hinds to push for publication of independent review

Survivors of abuse committed at a Catholic school attended by the education secretary, Damian Hinds, are asking him to press for the publication of an independent review they claim has been hushed up.

Hinds was a pupil in the 1980s at St Ambrose College near Altrincham in Greater Manchester. Alan Morris, a former chemistry teacher, was jailed for nine years in 2014 for indecent assault and gross indecency against 19 boys between 1973 and 1990.

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Carillion: ministers fast-track inquiry into directors' conduct

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:08:01 GMT2018-01-16T15:08:01Z

Insolvency Service to investigate present and past bosses as unions gauge extent of job losses

The government has asked the Insolvency Service to fast-track an investigation into the conduct of the directors who ran Carillion, the outsourcing firm with scores of government contracts that went into compulsory liquidation on Monday.

The move came as politicians and unions held a series of emergency sessions to discuss the collapse, which has put 20,000 UK jobs at risk.

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UK green energy investment halves after policy changes

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 13:35:16 GMT2018-01-16T13:35:16Z

Investment in green energy fell 56% in UK in 2017 – biggest fall of any country – after ‘stop-start’ support from government

Investment in clean energy plunged further in Britain than in any other country last year because of government policy changes, new figures show.

The amount companies spent on green energy in the UK rose during the years of the coalition government (2010-2015) but has now fallen for two years in a row under the Conservatives, according to analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

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Eddie Izzard says Labour infighting must end after NEC defeat

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 10:03:25 GMT2018-01-16T10:03:25Z

Comedian defeated in bid for seat on Labour’s ruling body says party must focus on winning election

Eddie Izzard has suggested Labour’s leadership should not seek to create new divisions in the party, after the comedian was defeated in his bid for a seat on the party’s ruling body by three Momentum-backed candidates.

Related: Momentum founder elected to NEC calls for Labour transformation

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MPs criticise UK over Myanmar's treatment of Rohingya

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 10:32:17 GMT2018-01-16T10:32:17Z

Report slams lack of action over ethnic cleansing and asks why more sexual violence experts have not been sent to area

International plans for the potential return of 100,000 Rohingya to Myanmar without a clear understanding of their legal status, destination or willingness to return represent a grave risk, a select committee has warned.

In a tough report questioning the UK government’s strategy towards the military regime in Myanmar, the all-party international development select committee challenged ministers to “reflect on why so much evidence of discrimination, marginalisation and abuse of the Rohingya people in Myanmar was seemingly ignored for so long, rather than translated into effective action by the international community”.

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Leave campaign's £350m claim was too low, says Boris Johnson

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 21:30:06 GMT2018-01-15T21:30:06Z

Foreign secretary says campaign ‘grossly underestimated’ amount of money UK sends each week to EU

Boris Johnson has ratcheted-up his defence of Vote Leave’s infamous assertion on the side of their bus that Britain sends £350m a week to the EU by saying the group could have used a much higher figure.

The foreign secretary said the UK’s weekly gross contribution would rise to £438m by the end of a post-Brexit transition period and insisted leave campaigners were right to pledge extra cash to the NHS.

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The Guardian view on Carillion’s collapse: no hiding place | Editorial

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 18:09:29 GMT2018-01-16T18:09:29Z

It’s clear what went wrong with the giant outsourcing company. Those responsible must pay the penalty

The smoke from Carillion’s billion-pound disaster is beginning to clear and the wounds are starting to hurt. Subcontractors do not know when they will be paid what they are owed or if they will be paid for work outstanding. As a result they are having to make people with mortgages and car loans redundant. Councils are making panicked arrangements to cover school dinners. Ministers are making urgent arrangements to replace a major defence contractor. Accident investigators are moving in. Yet it is clear enough what went wrong. The urgent matter now is to understand why it did, and act to stop it happening like this again.

The roots of the crisis in private finance projects lie in austerity. The dramatic fall in the number of public sector contracts after the coalition came to power in 2010 and abruptly slashed funding for schools and other public projects intensified competition between the major suppliers. Margins were cut, profits eroded, and the number, rather than the size, of contracts became the way of generating cash flow. No surprise then that when two of Carillion’s biggest building projects, the new hospitals in Liverpool and the West Midlands, hit problems, Carillion itself was in trouble. That may explain why ministers handed it a further £2bn of contracts after the first of three profit warnings last summer. Meanwhile Carillion’s bankers were getting nervous. Reports suggest that the state-owned RBS was the first creditor to say “no more”.

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The Carillion scandal must bury the rip-off PFI dogma for good | John McDonnell

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 16:14:21 GMT2018-01-16T16:14:21Z

The Tories still can’t see the utter failure of outsourcing. Only a Labour government will demolish this sordid economic model

This week 20,000 Carillion workers and many more in the supply chain have had their livelihoods put at risk. The responsibility lies with this shambolic Tory government and mismanagement by Carillion’s fat-cat bosses.

Related: I’m not surprised by Carillion’s failure – companies like this shouldn’t exist | Simon Jenkins

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The new work and pensions secretary is an insult to disabled people

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 13:37:00 GMT2018-01-16T13:37:00Z

In previous roles, Esther McVey never cared about the impact of her policies and appeared to relish removing disability support

As backlashes go, the days following Esther McVey’s appointment as the new work and pensions secretary have seen intense criticism. Between 2012 and 2013, as minister for disabled people and later employment minister, McVey was famed for defending the indefensible, saying it was “right” that people were having to use food banks and claiming that benefit sanctions “teach” jobseekers to take looking for work seriously – going as far as comparing unemployed people to naughty schoolchildren being punished by a teacher – despite the destitution and death that sanctions have since caused

Related: Calls for Theresa May to reconsider Esther McVey's move to DWP

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How government policy is forcing poor people into catastrophic debt | Abi Wilkinson

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 13:10:21 GMT2018-01-16T13:10:21Z

The benefit cap, zero-hours contracts, and now universal credit have all exacerbated the debt burden on people already struggling to eat and pay rent

It is extraordinarily expensive to be poor. The less money you have, the more expensive many things are likely to cost. Those with the lowest incomes are often forced to access electricity and gas via prepaid meters – forking out hundreds of pounds more annually than those who pay by direct debit.

And when your income is only just enough to cover your basic living costs, even modest unexpected outgoings can push you into debt. New school shoes, perhaps. Or a train ticket to visit a hospitalised elderly parent. The situation is even scarier with larger buys. What are you supposed to do if you live in a rural area and your car breaks down – borrow the money to fix it, or risk losing your job because the patchy local bus service won’t get you in on time?

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An Ancient Greek idea could foil Brexit’s democratic tragedy | Nicholas Gruen

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 10:00:21 GMT2018-01-16T10:00:21Z

Given the chance to think on each others’ views, we become more tolerant: a citizens’ assembly is how to fight illiberalism

There’s a chasm between the will of the British people as expressed in their 52% vote for Brexit and their considered will. It turns out that ordinary Britons deliberating with their peers think things through, “unspinning” much of the surrounding media hysteria.

In late 2017, a group of universities selected 50 people by lot to be representative of ordinary Britons in a “citizens’ assembly”. Between the referendum and the end of two weekends spent deliberating on Brexit, a group exemplifying the referendum’s 52:48 Brexit vote had swung to 40:60 against.

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Britain’s shameful treatment of Chagos islanders must end | Benjamin Zephaniah

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 09:00:20 GMT2018-01-16T09:00:20Z

A bill going before parliament today will cut the prohibitive cost of UK citizenship for families, victims of a disgraceful exile

I bang on about the plight of the people of the Chagos Islands a lot, and sometimes even I might use statistics too much, so let me tell you about Jeanette. Jeanette’s mother, Monique, was born on the Chagos Islands and was therefore a British subject. But her time living there was destined to be short. In the late 1960s, she, like the rest of the population, was forced to leave.

Her removal came when the UK leased the islands to the US military, so it could build a base on the largest island, Diego Garcia. Chagossian deportees were dumped on the docks of Mauritius and Seychelles. Compensation was promised but those exiled to Seychelles, such as Jeanette’s mother, never received a penny. Even for those in Mauritius, meagre compensation arrived almost a decade late.

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Theresa May is preparing for another election with the same old education policies I Laura McInerney

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 06:50:17 GMT2018-01-16T06:50:17Z

Damian Hinds’ appointment shows the prime minister has not given up on more grammar schools despite lack of enthusiasm by experts or voters

The new education secretary, Damian Hinds, is an unknown quantity for most teachers and parents, but we do know he is a grammar-educated former strategy consultant who would like to see an “elite” selective school in every town and reportedly said that only “mums” can really make a difference to children’s learning in the early years.

The controversial removal of the comprehensive-educated Justine Greening and her replacement by Hinds makes sense only if you believe, as I do, that the prime minister is preparing for another election based on the same key commitments as last time. Yes, even though they didn’t go down hugely well with the electorate.

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What happens when the jobs dry up in the new world? The left must have an answer | John Harris

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 06:00:17 GMT2018-01-16T06:00:17Z

We need to address the questions raised by rapid automation, and find new ways to redistribute power

If modern Britain has a defining problem, it boils down to an across-the-board failure to leave the past behind. Brexit, self-evidently, is a profoundly retrogressive project, helmed by Tory politicians split between continuity Thatcherites and devotees of a supposed one-nation Conservatism who still yearn for a quiet, sepia-tinted England. The latter are personified, in her own shaky way, by the prime minister. Labour, meanwhile, has a clear set of moral responses to an obvious social crisis, and the first stirrings of a convincing programme for government. But it, too, has a tendency to take refuge in fuzzy dreams of yesteryear: 1945, old flags and banners, the idea that a dependable job in a factory is still a byword for emancipation.

Related: Let’s wrench power back from the billionaires | Bernie Sanders

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Labour ‘arms race’ as unions aim to sway MP reselection battles

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 20:12:41 GMT2018-01-16T20:12:41Z

Guardian learns of scores of union branches quietly affiliating to party to get crucial say in votes

Labour-supporting trade unions are quietly affiliating scores of branches to the party – allowing those branches a vote on party positions – in key constituencies in a bid to influence future reselection battles, the Guardian has learned.

In what one senior Labour figure called a “cold war arms race”, the GMB union has been encircling supportive MPs with newly affiliated branches, all of which would have a vote in any “trigger ballot” to reselect the sitting candidate.

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Our historic Brexit vote could now be reversed, admits Nigel Farage

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 09:32:50 GMT2018-01-14T09:32:50Z

Remainers ‘are making all the running’ and could swing a vote in parliament, former Ukip leader warns

Nigel Farage today makes a dramatic admission that the vote for Brexit could be overturned because Remainers have seized control of the argument over Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

The former Ukip leader told the Observer that he was becoming increasingly worried that the Leave camp had stopped fighting their corner, leaving a well-funded and organised Remain operation free to influence the political and public debate without challenge.

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Labour centrists express fury about Momentum's Christine Shawcroft taking over key party post - Politics live

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 17:52:39 GMT2018-01-16T17:52:39Z

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happenWhat Donald Tusk told MEPs about BrexitICM poll reveals how May and Corbyn seen on key issuesAfternoon summary 5.25pm GMT It’s not surprising that the unions, members of the shadow cabinet and three Momentum backed NEC reps chose Christine Shawcroft over Ann Black - as many ordinary members are deeply frustrated with her. In 2016 Ann voted to to exclude 130,000 new Labour members from the leadership election, forcing them to pay another £25 to participate. When you deny members the right to choose the leader of their own party, it does tend to create a certain amount of resentment.I hope that the other place will make an enormous number of changes to this bill. The idea that the bill with all these Henry VIII clauses is going to have an untroubled passage through the House of Lords is an illusion. The House of Lords, I hope, will throw back some of the bizarre extensions of the Henry VIII principle in this bill but also some of the European things ...This is a pathetic parliament so far in the way in which it’s handled this extraordinary measure before it. House of Commons votes 319 to 296 to reject Amendment 57 to the #EUWithdrawalBill. of Commons rejects Amendment 4 to the #EUWithdrawalBill by 317 votes to 299. The Amendment would have retained the Charter Rights in UK law and afford them the same level as protection as the rights in the Human Rights Act. votes 320 to 297 against #EUWithdrawalBill New Clause 7 relating to #animalsentience. 4.58pm GMT The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has said Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s lead Brexit spokesman, was wrong when he said this morning that the UK’s plastic bag crackdown was an EU initiative. (See 9.51am.) A Defra spokesperson said:It is not true to claim that our plastic bag charge is a result of EU regulation. We set out our plans before the EU and we have gone further than EU regulations require.The 5p levy on plastic bags in England was announced in September 2013 and introduced in October 2015. EU plans requiring member states to reduce plastic bag use were set out in November 2013.EU directive 2015/720 (amending Directive 94/62/EC) was passed 29 April 2015. Govt’s Single Use Carrier Bags Charges (England) Order 2015 No. 776 (a statutory instrument) came into force 5 Oct 2015. #KeepUp #FactChecked #NailedIt Continue reading...[...]

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Britons in Netherlands take fight for their EU rights to Dutch court

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 12:06:27 GMT2018-01-16T12:06:27Z

Lawyer says favourable ruling could lead to UK citizens keeping generous EU rights while EU citizens have meagre UK rights

A group of UK nationals living in the Netherlands are going to court to challenge the right of the British government and the European commission to negotiate away their rights as EU citizens in the Brexit talks.

The claimants will argue that the rights of UK citizens are independent of the country’s EU membership, according to legal documents seen by the Guardian.

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Has this MP fallen asleep during Ken Clarke's speech? – video

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 17:26:43 GMT2018-01-16T17:26:43Z

MP Sir Desmond Swayne appears to nod off during Kenneth Clarke’s speech to the House of Commons about the EU withdrawal bill.

Positioned just behind his Conservative colleague, Swayne seemingly falls asleep a few times, before being startled awake.

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EU leaders say UK can reverse Brexit decision if it wants to

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 11:42:03 GMT2018-01-16T11:42:03Z

Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker say door to EU remains open if Britain changes its mind on Brexit

The door remains open to the European Union if the UK wants to change its mind on Brexit, the most senior leaders of the EU institutions have said.

Related: UK still has time to change its mind about Brexit, says EU chief Donald Tusk - Politics live

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May faces tougher transition stance from EU amid Norway pressure

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 07:29:17 GMT2018-01-16T07:29:17Z

Exclusive: Norwegian officials tell Brussels they may seek radical rethink of their terms if UK has access to single market for key sectors

Theresa May has been hit with a double Brexit blow as the EU toughened up its terms for a transition period and Norway privately warned Brussels that giving in to the UK’s demands for a “special” trade deal could force it to rip up its own agreements with the bloc.

A paper on Michel Barnier’s demands for the transition period, leaked to the Guardian, reveals that the EU plans to insist on the free movement of people throughout the period and the inclusion of people moving to the UK before 31 December 2020 in any post-Brexit agreement on citizens’ rights.

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Backbench toadying and frontbench floundering at Treasury questions | John Crace

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:49:38 GMT2018-01-16T15:49:38Z

Giving business some clarity on Brexit? The Treasury team were horrified by the suggestion

It’s sometimes hard to know what to be more concerned by. That the latest figures showing inflation is still at 3% doesn’t even rate a mention. That almost none of the Treasury frontbench team shows any enthusiasm for the government’s Brexit strategy, yet still hang-doggedly promotes it. Or that someone of Liz Truss’s limited abilities should be second in command of the country’s finances.

The first Treasury questions of the new year got under way with a bit of shameless Tory backbench toadying. Was it not true that the economy was in fantastic shape, observed Charlie Elphicke, and that people on low pay were better off than they had ever been? He might as well have said “You’ve never had it so good”. The chancellor nodded appreciatively. It was all part of his tireless work to build a Britain fit for the future. Tick for the day’s first meaningless soundbite.

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Minister contradicted vow that rights would not be lost after Brexit

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 16:45:19 GMT2018-01-15T16:45:19Z

Suella Fernandes said exiting EU charter of fundamental rights would avoid extra protections

One of Theresa May’s new ministers has claimed the UK’s plan to drop the EU charter of fundamental rights after Brexit would help avoid an “extra layer” of human rights, contradicting the government’s assurance that no protections would be lost.

Suella Fernandes, who was promoted to the Brexit department last week, had warned in November that transposing the “flabby” charter into British law would give UK citizens additional protections on issues such as eugenics, personal data and collective bargaining.

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Boris Johnson: 'Let us have a grown-up conversation with our American friends'

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 21:30:06 GMT2018-01-15T21:30:06Z

Foreign secretary stresses ‘crucial’ nature of UK-US relations in exclusive Guardian interview before flying out for North Korea talks

Boris Johnson has banned himself from using the phrase “special relationship” to describe Britain’s longstanding links with the United States: it sounds, he says, “a bit needy”.

But as Donald Trump’s White House lurches from one crisis to the next – the latest being his remarks about migrants from “shithole” countries – Britain’s foreign secretary has no intention of distancing himself from the controversial president.

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UK ministers pressed to reveal legal advice on reversing Brexit

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 08:36:52 GMT2018-01-16T08:36:52Z

MPs seek transparency on whether article 50 can be overturned as Commons prepares to votes on EU withdrawal bill

Pro-EU MPs will attempt to force the government to reveal its legal advice on whether article 50 could be reversed, allowing the UK to potentially withdraw from the Brexit process.

A cross-party group of about 20 backbenchers will try to pass an amendment to force the government to reveal its advice when the EU withdrawal bill returns for debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

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Ukip leader's future uncertain despite splitting from girlfriend

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 16:32:11 GMT2018-01-15T16:32:11Z

Henry Bolton ‘will resign or be sacked’ over his handling of racist comments by Jo Marney

Henry Bolton’s future as Ukip leader is in the balance, with some senior party figures calling on him to resign despite him ending his relationship with an activist found to have sent a series of racist and offensive messages.

Suzanne Evans, formerly Ukip’s deputy leader, said she expected Bolton to either resign or be sacked because of how he handled his relationship with Jo Marney, who made racial slurs against Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s fiancee.

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