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PMQs: Theresa May faces Jeremy Corbyn after three Tory MPs quit party – Politics...

Brexit has re-defined the Conservative party - undoing all the efforts to modernise it. There will be times when we will support the government, for example, on measures to strengthen our economy, security and improve our public services. Yours sincerely, (@NickyMorgan01) Very sorry to read this from my principled and fearless friend @Anna_Soubry - any political party should be a broad church and we should regret losing three such talented women from the Conservative Party (@joswinson) "a purple momentum is now subsuming the Conservative party... marching the country to the cliff edge of no deal"Kudos to the brave MPs who have left the broken Conservative and Labour parties. Exclusive interview on @bbcsoutheast at 1330 Theresa May has issued a statement in response to the news that three of her MPs have left the Labour party and will join the Independent Group of eight former Labour MPs in parliament. Of course, the UK’s membership of the EU has been a source of disagreement both in our party and our country for a long time. I am determined that under my leadership the Conservative party will always offer the decent, moderate and patriotic politics that the people of this country deserve. They say the Conservative party has shifted to the right. Over in Greece, Britain’s ambassador, Kate Smith, has welcomed the news that the rights of an estimated 45,000 UK citizens living in the country will be fully protected in the event of a no-deal Brexit. “There is a substantial Greek community in the UK and a sizeable UK community in Greece and we wish for both of them to continue to enjoy fully the benefits and privileges they had before withdrawal,” Katrougalos wrote in a letter to his British counterpart, Jeremy Hunt, published by the UK government this morning. Kate Smith tweeted: “Delighted that the Greek government has confirmed that in the event of no deal the rights of UK nationals already living in Greece will be fully recognised and guaranteed, in line with the reciprocity offered by the UK to EU citizens.” (@KateSmithFCO) The letter from Minister of Foreign Affairs G. Katrougalos addressed to Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt regarding UK nationals rights after the EU Exit, is available in English:

Jeremy Corbyn splits from Labour to join Independent Group

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has today announced he will join the seven other splitters in leaving the party and joining the Independent Group. Corbyn cited Labour’s position on Brexit as well as Labour MPs disinterest in his stories about his allotment as the main reasons. ‘And don’t even get me started with the eye-rolling when I start talking about my jam making exploits,’ Corbyn told the press. Jeremy Corbyn’s move to the Independent Group has seen a swell of support online as thousands have already joined and donated to the cause. It’s believed that Corbyn is now the red-hot favourite to become the group’s leader, which could be problematic for other MPs in the group. ‘If he becomes the leader then the rest of us will have to splinter off again. Frankly, we spunked most of our creativity on creating the Independent Group name. I have no idea what we’d call a new group,’ said Chukka Umunna.

Tributes as Newport West Labour MP Paul Flynn dies aged 84

Newport West Labour Party confirmed in a tweet that Mr Flynn died on Sunday, saying he was "a hero to many of us". He was an independent thinker who was a credit to the Labour Party. He campaigned on a wide-range of issues, including benefits, animal welfare and devolution. "He was an independent thinker who was a credit to the Labour Party. Mr Corbyn's deputy, Tom Watson, said Mr Flynn was "one of the great characters in politics" adding he was "loved and revered by many", Report Jayne Bryant, the Welsh assembly member for Mr Flynn's constituency, first met the MP when she was nine years old. She told BBC Radio Wales: "He absolutely loved Newport. "He really, really cared for people and I think that sometimes gets lost in politics." Conservative Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said Mr Flynn was an "exceptional constituency MP", and said it was a "privilege to work with him". 'Fascinating' "We've lost someone who put his values and his beliefs at the heart of everything he said and did," wrote Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies. Jo Stevens, the Cardiff Central MP, said Mr Flynn was a "kind, principled, fascinating man who was devoted to his constituents".

Theresa May survives vote, but Britain remains in Brexit deadlock

In a statement in Downing Street on Wednesday night, the prime minister exhorted politicians from all parties to “put aside self-interest”, and promised to consult with MPs with “the widest possible range of views” in the coming days. May keen to start alternative Brexit talks after no-confidence motion fails – Politics live Read more A day after overwhelmingly rejecting her Brexit deal, rebel Conservatives and Democratic Unionist party (DUP) MPs swung behind the prime minister to defeat Labour’s motion of no confidence by 325 votes to 306 – a majority of 19. With just five days to go before May must make a statement to parliament setting out her Brexit plan B, Downing Street continued to indicate that she was not ready to budge on her red lines, including membership of a customs union. “We will support any real opportunity to take down the Tories with relish. We will not be party to Corbyn using spurious means to avoid Labour policy, by pursuing unwinnable no-confidence votes,” the source said. May’s spokesman said a no-deal Brexit could not be ruled out. May’s spokesman suggested a customs union was not up for discussion: “We want to be able to do our own trade deals, and that is incompatible with either the or a customs union.” After meeting party leaders, May is expected to extend the invitation to opposition backbenchers over the coming days, as well Tory Eurosceptics. The prime minister has lost control and the government have lost the ability to govern.” Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, wound up the debate for his party by saying May would for ever be known as “the nothing-has-changed prime minister”. A group of more than 70 Labour MPs announced on Wednesday morning that they were backing the call for a “people’s vote”. Failing that, all options are on the table, including that of campaigning for a second referendum.

Labour must stop the Tory Brexit dream

On 6 February the TSSA transport union sent a report it had produced to Momentum which showed what a lot of us, Labour party members and supporters, already sensed was true. After the abysmal general election of 2015, and Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for Labour leader, I saw a wave of exasperation turn into a wave of hope quicker than I’ve ever seen before. I campaigned enthusiastically in both leadership challenges on the promise of much more than Corbyn’s solid left-wing credentials. Corbyn lays out Labour’s terms for backing May on Brexit Read more I saw an opportunity to stem the rightward drift in the political discourse, to forever bury the immigration-control mugs, to never again chase after the electorate while allowing its views to be shaped by a more and more reactionary media culture. In short, I saw a party that had the rare chance to reinvent itself into a force of principled politics, policy-making from the ground up, participatory democracy and workplace organising. Welfare reforms and austerity cuts are now widely recognised as political tools in the hands of Tory ideology, rather than necessary evils that the financial crisis visited upon us. Waves of attacks on Early Years services for example, usually administered by local authorities, are met with ever more robust opposition in local Labour parties across the country. Our sovereign conference, the annual occasion where members set policy, is growing in popularity and participation. The party seems to be slowly learning how to respond to the concerns and issues that its active members take to heart. The path of constructive ambiguity has seen us attempt to be all things to all people, quietly reassuring to Remainers with key figures making positive remarks, while in parliament Labour attempts to expose the inadequacy of the government and demands an election.

Daily Mail stockpiling Jeremy Corbyn smears in the event of a no-deal Brexit

The Daily Mail has revealed they’ve been forced to stockpile slurs against Jeremy Corbyn to prepare for a possible no-deal Brexit. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, smears against Corbyn may dry up – forcing the Daily Mail to stockpile as many as possible now. ‘We love the idea of a no-deal Brexit, but it could seriously affect our supply of spurious stories and half-truths against Jeremy Corbyn. That’s why we’ve taken the proper measures to build up as big a reserve as possible, just in case,’ said Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig. The Daily Mail has claimed they already have a reserve of 100 smear stories to use against Corbyn and they hope to double that figure by the end of the month. ‘This is our top priority at this time,’ confessed the editor. Current smears stockpiled include ‘Corbyn dined on falafel with Hans Gruber just hours before Nakatomi terror plot’, ”Illegal immigrant claims Corbyn let her live in his scruffy beard for five years’ and ‘Jeremy Corbyn causes cancer.’

Labour: May proposals for workers’ rights likely to be rejected

Trade unions involved in discussing a possible workers’ rights package, which the government hopes will help some Labour MPs support its Brexit deal, said they had yet to see anything from ministers they could support. Union sources said they would want to see the government commit to putting future protection for workers’ rights in the Brexit agreement struck with the European Union, rather than in UK legislation that could be repealed by a future government. They said May had shown no sign of taking on board their concerns about existing labour market regulation, under which, according to one official, an average UK employer “can expect a visit from an enforcement agency once every 500 years”. The prime minister met several union leaders last week, including Len McCluskey, the Unite general secretary who is a key supporter of Jeremy Corbyn; the Unison leader, Dave Prentis; and Frances O’Grady, who heads the TUC. Union officials held meetings with civil servants on Thursday. So far, the government has said only that parliament would be able to vote on whether such improvements should be matched. The ministers have also been talking to Labour backbenchers in leave-supporting areas, including John Mann, in the hope of getting at least a dozen to back May’s deal and make up for the lost votes of Tory Brexiters who will not support any deal May strikes with the EU. Ian Lavery, Labour’s chair, said backbenchers should be careful about talking to the government, and that the prime minister was trying “the last move in the well-thumbed Tory playbook: divide and rule”. Quite simply, taking such a bribe would be fool’s gold,” he wrote in an article for Labour List. The prime minister’s spokesman declined to give any details about the plans, but said any such initiative would cover “every part of the country” that needed investment, not just mining areas.

‘Meaner and angrier’: Brexit exposes growing fractures in UK society

Britons have become angrier since the referendum to leave the EU, according to a survey which suggests there is widespread unhappiness about the direction in which the country is heading. Sixty-nine per cent of respondents said they felt their fellow citizens had become “angrier about politics and society” since the Brexit vote in 2016, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, a long-established, annual survey of trust carried out across the globe. Intolerant post-Brexit Britain: history shows we can be better than this | Hugh Muir Read more Forty per cent of people think others are now more likely to take part in violent protests, the UK results from the survey show, even though violent political protest in Britain is rare. One person in six said they had fallen out with friends or relatives over the vote to leave the bloc, the survey found. Some 60% of people who identify with the Conservatives think the country is heading in the right direction, but among Labour identifiers, the figure is just 20%. According to Edelman, which conducted online interviews with more than 2,000 people in the UK between December 18 and January 7, the results show “party politics is clearly failing many Britons”. Play Video 0:45 Both May and Corbyn have seen their trust ratings among their supporters fall considerably over the past year. Some 72% of respondents said they thought life in Britain was unfair, 68% said they wanted to see change, and 53% said they thought the socio-political system was failing them. The figures were similar for those voting leave and remain, but those leaning to Labour (66%) said they were more likely to feel unrepresented than those leaning to the Conservatives (43%). Commenting on the findings, Edelman’s UK and Ireland chief executive, Ed Williams, said: “We are a disunited kingdom – a country that is seen as increasingly unfair, less tolerant and headed in the wrong direction.

Britain ‘could triple state aid for industry under EU rules’

Britain could triple state aid spending to industry without breaching EU rules, according to a study that compares government subsidies to promote economic growth across Europe. EU state aid rules “do not prevent an active industrial policy”, the report found, giving the green light to the UK government for an increase in its £7bn of state aid to nearer £21bn. The report by the left-leaning IPPR thinktank found that the EU’s state aid rules would apply to the UK once it had left the union because officials in Brussels would enforce the measures through a trade deal. That would give it huge scope to support key areas of the economy, whether we remain in the EU or leave it.” The IPPR has not taken a view on Brexit, but its intervention in the debate over state aid will be keenly examined by Labour party supporters who voted to leave the EU. It is normally prohibited to prevent trade and competition between firms from being distorted, discouraging investment and increasing costs to consumers. However, the EU has allowed hundreds of public investment programmes to go ahead that support businesses under a regime that the IPPR said was more flexible than it might appear. The report said: “It restricts state aid where it wastes public money and exacerbates pan-European inequalities. Britain only invests £825m a year in its rail system, according to EU, compared with Germany’s £10.3bn and France’s £10.7bn. Marley Morris, an IPPR senior research fellow and lead author of the report, said: “Successive UK governments have said their hands are tied in developing more proactive industrial policy by European Union rules. But it appears that this is not, in fact, true.”

Labour youth tell Corbyn: come off the fence on Brexit

Much has been made of the need for Jeremy Corbyn to listen to pro-Brexit voters in Labour’s northern heartlands. Among the activists was Ryan Simms, 26, who works in procurement for the NHS in Leeds and has been a Labour supporter for six years – but only joined the party after Corbyn became leader. “Corbyn wants an election, but it’ll be one where we have the choice between a Tory Brexit deal and some magical unicorn Brexit deal promised by Labour,” Roberts said. She usually supports Labour, but next time she’ll vote Green unless Corbyn backs a people’s vote. More young activists were out demonstrating in areas including Bristol, Leicester, Warwick, York and Edinburgh. “He can enable a Tory Brexit or back a public vote. The large majority of Labour members want a public vote, with 88% saying they would vote to stay in the EU if there was a public vote.” Imagine the proportion of young Labour members who want to stay – 90, 95%? Of the 1.6 million young people who have joined the electorate since 2016, who say they are certain to vote in a future EU referendum, 87% would vote to stay in the EU. “We beat the expectations of the establishment in 2017 because they didn’t pick up my generation’s appetite and enthusiasm for change. But that was when a better Brexit deal was possible, and two years before exit day.
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