This article is from the source 'guardian' and was first published or seen on . The next check for changes will be

You can find the current article at its original source at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2021/may/04/starmer-elections-poll-tories-hartlepool-win-covid-coronavirus-latest-updates-politics-live

The article has changed 18 times. There is an RSS feed of changes available.

Version 14 Version 15
No 10 refuses to deny Tory donor was asked to pay for Johnson son’s nanny – live No 10 refuses to deny Tory donor was asked to pay for Johnson son’s nanny – live
(32 minutes later)
Latest updates: spokesman says ‘prime minister has covered all the costs of all childcare’ after claims donor was asked to fund nannyLatest updates: spokesman says ‘prime minister has covered all the costs of all childcare’ after claims donor was asked to fund nanny
Sir Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, has told PA Media that he has written to Amanda Milling, the Conservative party co-chair, asking her to lift threats to a abolish the Electoral Commission. He said: Sir Keir Starmer has sought to manage expectations ahead of what he admitted will be a “very important set of elections for [Labour]”, but promised he would take “full responsibility” for his party across the country.
Last year Milling said that, if the commission does not become more accountable, it should be abolished. Downing Street has refused to deny reports that a Tory donor was asked to pay the costs of a nanny for Boris Johnson’s son. (See 1.04pm.)
A cross-party group of MPs has pushed for formal action against Boris Johnson for allegedly misleading the Commons over the transparency of Covid contracts, saying the cabinet secretary, Simon Case, incorrectly cleared the prime minister of wrongdoing.
More needs to be done to encourage women into politics, the UK’s leading charity for gender equality has said, as data reveals that just one-third of candidates in this week’s English council elections are women.
Hopes that holidays to popular tourist destinations could soon restart have been boosted after the government scrapped advice that said people should avoid all but essential travel to areas including mainland Portugal and Spain’s Canary Islands.
Teaching unions, scientists, public health experts and parents are calling for masks to remain compulsory in classrooms in England to protect children and their families and reduce the risk of a third wave of Covid-19.
Recent data on Covid deaths and rates of infection in the UK are “very encouraging”, and though a third wave of infections was possible in late summer it was unlikely to overwhelm the NHS, the leading epidemiologist Neil Ferguson has said.
That’s all from me for today. But our coronavirus coverage continues on our global live blog. It’s here.
Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, has announced that the UK will convene an in-person meeting of G7 finance ministers. It will take place at Lancaster House in London on 4-5 June, before the G7 leaders’ summit in Cornwall on 11-13 June.
Edwin Poots, Northern Ireland’s agriculture minister and a leading candidate to succeed Arlene Foster as DUP leader, has threatened legal action over post-Brexit trading arrangements with Great Britain. As PA Media reports, Poots told Stormont MLAs that the Northern Ireland protocol “ultimately needs to go”. PA says:
This is from Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s external affairs minister, on the migration deal with the UK signed earlier. (See 3.27pm.)
Sir Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, has told PA Media that he has written to Amanda Milling, the Conservative party co-chair, asking her to lift threats to abolish the Electoral Commission. He said:
Last year Milling said that if the commission did not become more accountable, it should be abolished.
Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative backbencher, launched a fresh attack on the commission in a TV interview last week (although at one point he muddled it up with the independent adviser on ministers’ interests).Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative backbencher, launched a fresh attack on the commission in a TV interview last week (although at one point he muddled it up with the independent adviser on ministers’ interests).
The UK has recorded only four further coronavirus deaths, and 1,946 new cases, the latest update to the government’s dashboard shows. Yesterday just one death was recorded. Week on week, deaths are down 37% and new cases are down 13.2%.The UK has recorded only four further coronavirus deaths, and 1,946 new cases, the latest update to the government’s dashboard shows. Yesterday just one death was recorded. Week on week, deaths are down 37% and new cases are down 13.2%.
Here is some more Twitter comment on Hartlepool and today’s poll (see 9am) from journalists and academics.Here is some more Twitter comment on Hartlepool and today’s poll (see 9am) from journalists and academics.
From the New Statesman’s Stephen BushFrom the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush
From the Times’s David AaronovitchFrom the Times’s David Aaronovitch
From the New Statesman’s Harry LambertFrom the New Statesman’s Harry Lambert
From Rob Ford, a politics professorFrom Rob Ford, a politics professor
From Paula Surridge, a political sociologistFrom Paula Surridge, a political sociologist
From Charlotte Riley, a historianFrom Charlotte Riley, a historian
On a campaign visit to north Wales, Sir Keir Starmer was asked why Tory “sleaze” allegations did not seem to be making a difference in the election campaign. He said he did not accept claims that these issues did not matter. He told reporters:On a campaign visit to north Wales, Sir Keir Starmer was asked why Tory “sleaze” allegations did not seem to be making a difference in the election campaign. He said he did not accept claims that these issues did not matter. He told reporters:
The UK and India have also agreed a joint migration agreement, the Home Office has announced. It is intended to help young Indian professionals visit the UK for work, while also speeding up the removal of illegal migrants from India.The UK and India have also agreed a joint migration agreement, the Home Office has announced. It is intended to help young Indian professionals visit the UK for work, while also speeding up the removal of illegal migrants from India.
In a press notice, the Home Office said:In a press notice, the Home Office said:
Priti Patel, the home secretary, said the deal was an example of how the government’s new post-Brexit immigration policy is intended to attract “the best and the brightest” to Britain. She said:Priti Patel, the home secretary, said the deal was an example of how the government’s new post-Brexit immigration policy is intended to attract “the best and the brightest” to Britain. She said:
Full details of the migration and mobility partnership are here.Full details of the migration and mobility partnership are here.
Downing Street has said Boris Johnson and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, agreed to work for a “quantum leap” in the UK-India relationship when they held a virtual meeting at lunchtime.Downing Street has said Boris Johnson and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, agreed to work for a “quantum leap” in the UK-India relationship when they held a virtual meeting at lunchtime.
The two leaders have agreed a 2030 roadmap covering cooperation across health, climate change, education, science and technology, and defence.The two leaders have agreed a 2030 roadmap covering cooperation across health, climate change, education, science and technology, and defence.
Alex Salmond has insisted that remarks he made about “destroying” his successor, Nicola Sturgeon, were taken “completely out of context”. In a New Yorker profile of Sturgeon and the drive for Scottish independence, Sam Knight states:Alex Salmond has insisted that remarks he made about “destroying” his successor, Nicola Sturgeon, were taken “completely out of context”. In a New Yorker profile of Sturgeon and the drive for Scottish independence, Sam Knight states:
At a press briefing today, Salmond also told reporters that despite polling suggesting his newly launched Alba party was failing to cut through and that his own popularity ratings were dismal, “we sense on the ground we are doing extremely well”.At a press briefing today, Salmond also told reporters that despite polling suggesting his newly launched Alba party was failing to cut through and that his own popularity ratings were dismal, “we sense on the ground we are doing extremely well”.
Salmond said his argument that voting for the SNP on the regional list was “wasted” because the party did so well in the constituency vote was “striking home” with voters.Salmond said his argument that voting for the SNP on the regional list was “wasted” because the party did so well in the constituency vote was “striking home” with voters.
He said he was pleased that his concept of a “pro-independence super-majority” at Holyrood, which he argues Alba can help secure, had become one of the key subjects of the campaign.He said he was pleased that his concept of a “pro-independence super-majority” at Holyrood, which he argues Alba can help secure, had become one of the key subjects of the campaign.
At the Downing Street lobby briefing the prime minister’s spokesman was asked about a Tory leaflet that has been posted on social media apparently showing the Conservative MP Sir David Amess suggesting the government would do less to help an area with a Labour council than an area with a Conservative council. This tweet is from a Lib Dem councillor:
The prime minister’s spokesperson said he could not comment on a party leaflet, but he said the government was focused on helping the entire UK. Asked if the government would discriminate against areas based on how they voted, the spokesperson said his answer was a “firm no”.
According to Left Foot Forward’s Josiah Mortimer, Amess has said he did not approve the quote put out in his name.
Despite the No 10 claims and the Amess denial, voters could be forgiven for thinking this quote is not a totally inaccurate way of describing how public spending is allocated. After the budget it emerged that 39 of the 45 towns getting funding from a £1bn towns fund were represented by Tory MPs. And decisions about who gets priority for a separate levelling-up fund also seem to favour Conservative areas.
UPDATE: Here is the full quote from Amess’s office.
Angela Rayner, the Labour deputy leader, says No 10’s refusal to deny that a Tory donor was asked to pay for Boris Johnson’s nanny (see 1.04pm) implies there has been a cover-up. Downing Street should publish all the correspondence about attempts to get donors to fund the PM’s lifestyle, she says. She says:
Here are the main points from the Downing Street lobby briefing. With parliament in recess, it will be the only lobby briefing this week.
Downing Street refused to deny reports that a Tory donor was asked to pay for a nanny for Boris Johnson’s son. (See 1.04pm.)
The prime minister’s spokesman refused to deny a report in today’s Times (paywall) saying that the announcement of plans to reform adult social care are being delayed until after the Queen’s speech later this month. In his report, Steven Swinford says the speech is expected to mention reform plans - without giving details of what they are. Asked about the story, the spokesman just said the government was standing by its commitment to finding a long-term solution to social care.
The spokesman declined to confirm that by 17 May people would be able to use the NHS Covid app to prove their Covid status when travelling abroad. Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has said the plan is to use the app for this purpose. International travel is due to open up from 17 May at the earliest. Asked if the app would be ready for this purpose on time, the spokesman said the government was working at pace to get it ready. But he also stressed that that there were “other routes to achieving the same end goal”.
The spokesman described as “speculation” a report in the Sunday Telegraph (paywall) saying the government will commission a new boat seen as a successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia that will be named after the Duke of Edinburgh. The Telegraph has been campaigning for this for years, and, asked about the report, the spokesman did nothing to suggest it was not true. (“Speculation” is normally a term used by Whitehall spin doctors for a story that is true, but set to be announced later.) The spokesman said:
For those of us who covered Tony Blair’s election campaign in 1997, the Royal Yacht story brings back happy memories. John Major’s government was committed to buying a new one, thinking that this would be popular. But the line in Blair’s standard stump speech that always attracted the loudest applause was when he said that in government he would have to take hard choices, and that he was sorry to have to tell everyone that he would not be able to go ahead with spending £60m on a new Royal Yacht. Blair, ever the actor, would always pretend to be surprised when he announced this anti-monarchy spending cut. A recent reader survey in the Daily Express, which is not a paper for leftwingers or republicans, suggests public opinion has not changed much since 1997.
Johnson was speaking to his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, this lunchtime, the spokesman said. In advance of the talks, the government announced new trade deals with India.
Johnson is meeting the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, in Downing Street this afternoon.
The Downing Street lobby briefing has just finished. And the prime minister’s spokesman refused to deny reports in the Sunday papers claiming that a Tory donor was asked to fund the prime minister’s nanny.
Asked about the stories, the spokesman just said that political advisers had already said over the weekend that “the prime minister has covered all the costs of all childcare”. The spokesman also said he had nothing more to add on this.
Here is an extract from the Sunday Times story (paywall) by Caroline Wheeler, Tim Shipman and Tom Calver carrying this story at the weekend.
Sky News has published new polling that suggests the SNP is on course to win an outright majority at Holyrood in the election this week.
Here is the Opinium projection for what this might mean in terms of seats at Holyrood.
In a Twitter thread starting here, Sky’s Beth Rigby says the SNP having a majority would be a nightmare for Boris Johnson.
Here are two blogs worth reading on the Hartlepool poll.
James Forsyth at the Spectator says that if the Tories win, that will show the 2019 electoral realignment was not just being driven by Brexit. He says:
Ailbhe Rea at the New Statesman says even a narrow win in Hartlepool would not be impressive for Labour. She says:
Downing Street has just announced that it will publish a white paper on levelling up later this year. It has also confirmed that Neil O’Brien, the Conservative MP for Harborough and the former head of the Policy Exchange thinktank, will serve as the PM’s levelling up adviser. A new No 10/Cabinet Office unit is also being set up to pursue this agenda.
In its announcement No 10 said:
Until now “levelling up” has been seen as little more than a slogan - Downing Street has never explained what metrics will be used to assess whether or not it is exceeding - but the appointment of O’Brien, a genuine policy expert, has been seen as evidence that Boris Johnson is now taking this seriously. This is what Torsten Bell, chief executive of the left-leaning Resolution Foundation thinktank, said about O’Neil’s appointment when it was reported yesterday.
My colleague Patrick Wintour thinks the appointment may have something to do with Michael Barber, the former head of Tony Blair’s delivery unit, now acting as an adviser to Johnson.
The ONS has also published figures today on the extent of Covid infection in schools in England in March. The survey was conducted between 15 and 31 March, soon after most pupils in England returned to class, and it found 0.34% of secondary school pupils testing positive, and 0.19% of secondary school staff.
These figures were “significantly lower” than the equivalent figures when schools were surveyed for Covid in November and December, the ONS says.
Gordon Brown, the Labour former prime minister, told Radio 4’s Women’s Hour that it would cost around £30bn a year to ensure that most of the world is vaccinated against coronavirus and that this would be a “very small price to pay” for the benefits. He told the programme:
A majority of people who test positive for Covid-19 are continuing to follow the rules for self-isolating, a new survey has suggested. PA Media reports: