Cabinet received an update from the health secretary and the prime minister on the coronavirus outbreak. The PM wished Nadine Dorries a speedy recovery, noting that she was following official advice to self-isolate.
The chancellor set out the measures being taken to manage the impact of coronavirus, laying out details of his economic action plan that will be announced at budget.
He outlined how this plan – combined with the measures announced by the governor of the Bank of England this morning – will make the UK one of the best placed economies in the world to manage the potential impact of the virus. The chancellor added the budget will ensure businesses, the public and those in public services working on the front line against the virus get the support they need.
He said despite the impacts of the outbreak being uncertain, we have the economic tools to overcome the disruption caused by the virus and move the country forwards.
The chancellor also said that despite coronavirus being “front and centre in our minds”, the budget will implement the manifesto on which the government had been elected. He said it was vital that people know this is a budget that delivers on the promises made to the British people – investing in public services and cutting taxes for millions of hardworking people – and that there could be no delay in laying the foundations for a decade of growth where opportunity was spread equally across the UK.
The PM said that this budget starts to tackle head on the challenges facing our economy and country – addressing productivity and regional imbalances – and showing that the government is responding to the public’s desire for change. It will set the path for further action through the year.
The last Glastonbury-style festival to celebrate the Labour Party leader, dubbed JezzFest, took place in Tottenham, North London in June 2018. Plans for a JezzFest reboot come despite Jeremy Corbyn overseeing the party’s worst general election performance since the 1930s, and admitting he will quit in a matter of weeks. A new JezzFest Twitter account has been opened for the planned event, with a GoFundMe page launched by Nathan Harmer in a desperate bid to raise money for it.
The page has more than 2,000 followers but at the time of writing, just £50 had been donated from a total of four people less than 24 hours after the GoFundMe page was opened.
A tweet on the account says: “Thank you for everyone’s support for this event.
“We’re crowd funding for the event and every penny will help lots.
“Any surplus will be donated to food banks and to homeless charities.
“#JezzFest is going to be epic!”
Twitter user @JakeLex1989, who’s Twitter bio says “#Socialism will prevail, still hoping for a #LabourGov in the future” broke the news of the planned JezzFest reboot.
He tweeted: “OK guys, we’re organising a rally in #Islington some time in early to mid Feb 2020 to show our thanks to @jeremycorbyn.
“Early stages right now but for updates you can follow @JezzFest which is the dedicated account.
READ MORE: Furious Labour MP calls on Corbyn to be replaced as soon as Monday
Another person tweeted: “I wouldn’t mind betting the ERG and the new @Conservatives MPs from former @UKLabour stronghold seats would sponsor the do in grateful thanks for all the help he gave them.”
A third Twitter user wrote: “On behalf of all Tories, I’d love to pay Jeremy our heartfelt thanks for all his hard work over the last four years in helping us stay in power.
“Now he has given us the best Christmas present – a landslide majority. He’s done more for our movement than anyone since Thatcher
Several other Twitter users were so baffled by the relaunch of JezzFest they questioned whether it was actually a joke.
One person said: “Please tell me this is a parody?”
Another Twitter user wrote: “Is this some deep level sarcasm?”
Last year’s event cost a reported £1million to stage but was dominated by dwindling crowds and struggling ticket sales.
The festival was hit by a strong of problems, fuelling fears it was just a vanity project for the Labour leader, who might have been keen on replicating his popularity when he gave a rousing speech at theGlastonbury Festival to tens of thousands of fans a year earlier.
Tickets had been priced at £35 just two days before the event but were quickly slashed to just £10.
Unite, Britain’s biggest trade union and a major donor for the Labour Party, also reportedly spent up to £35,000 buying tickets to hand out to supporters for free.
Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth has insisted his apparent criticism of Jeremy Corbyn in a leaked secret recording by his Tory activist friend was “banter”.
The recording was leaked to Tory-supporting website Guido Fawkes.
He told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire he was “joshing” when he told his friend that he thought there was no way Labour could win the election.
The shadow health secretary added he did not think Mr Corbyn would be a security threat if he was elected.
Mr Ashworth named the friend he was speaking to as former local Conservative Association chairman, Greig Baker, and he did not deny that he made the remarks.
Latest on campaigning as election day nears
Asked on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme about his comments that the situation for Labour was “dire” and the party had made a mistake by not getting rid of Mr Corbyn as leader, Mr Ashworth insisted this was not his view.
In the recording he says his party made an error in 2016 “when we went too early” – appearing to refer to an unsuccessful plot to oust Mr Corbyn, instigated by some of his MPs in the aftermath of the EU referendum.
“People like me were internally saying ‘this isn’t the right moment’ but I got kind of ignored,” Mr Ashworth is recorded as saying.
Mr Ashworth told the BBC: “Of course it makes me look like a right plonker, but it’s not what I mean when I’m winding up a friend, trying to sort of, pull his leg a bit.”
He said he was “having a bit of banter” with his friend “because he was saying ‘oh, the Tories are going to lose’ and I was, like saying, ‘no you’re going to be fine’, joshing as old friends do.
“And he’s only gone and leaked it to a website – selectively leaked it – and I thought he was a friend, Greig Baker, but obviously he’s not.”
When asked if he believed, as the recording suggested, that Mr Corbyn was a threat to the UK’s national security, Mr Ashworth replied: “Of course I don’t.”
Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly said Mr Ashworth’s remarks were “an honest and truly devastating assessment” of Mr Corbyn’s leadership “by one of his most trusted election lieutenants”.
He said: “If even Corbyn’s closest political allies think he is unfit to be prime minister, why on earth should voters be expected to put their trust in him and them?”
It’s striking that in the dying embers of this campaign – which has been so carefully scripted and choreographed by the parties – suddenly events have burst into it and changed the dynamic.
Yesterday it was that photo of four-year-old Jack lying on a hospital floor. Today it’s that recording of Jonathan Ashworth – by someone who was meant to be his friend.
They clearly knew his views of Jeremy Corbyn and basically it amounts to what looks like a sting – because the individual he was talking to is a Conservative activist.
Nevertheless, the remarks are out there and they are damning.
Here you have the man who is meant to be fronting Labour’s attack on the NHS basically saying they haven’t a hope of winning, that voters believe they blocked Brexit and they don’t like Jeremy Corbyn.
And, perhaps most damning of all, seeming to suggest that Mr Corbyn is a risk to national security.
So this is absolutely going to dominate the headlines today.
Khan, who was freed on parole 11 months ago with an electronic tracking device on his ankle, began his attack Friday afternoon as he was entering a conference intended to rehabilitate violent offenders and terrorists. He stabbed at least five people before he was tackled by members of the public and shot dead by police. The queen honored the bystanders who intervened as heroes.
Police on Sunday named the second victim of Khan’s attack: Saskia Jones, 23, a volunteer with the Cambridge University program that hosted the conference in London. Police had earlier named Jack Merritt, 25, who worked for the program. Three other victims were in the hospital recovering from their wounds.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, appearing on a BBC political affairs show, said “the reason this killer was out on the streets was because of automatic early release, which was brought in by a lefty government.” He was referring to the government of former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown, which ended in 2010.
Host Andrew Marr repeatedly challenged Johnson, reminding his guest — and viewers — that Johnson’s Conservative Party has been in power for nearly 10 years.
Johnson refused to concede any responsibility. Whatever the Tories failed to do in the past, his government will fix it if he wins a majority in the Dec. 12 elections, he said.
“I think it is ridiculous, I think it is repulsive, that individuals as dangerous as this man should be allowed out after serving only eight years, and that’s why we are going to change the law,” Johnson vowed.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Johnson’s principal opponent in the elections, called the government’s early release of Khan “a complete disaster” and called for a “very full investigation.”
In a speech in York on Sunday, Corbyn took aim at the cuts to police forces since the Conservatives came into power — a deficit of some 20,000 officers compared to years before.
“A failure to recruit has left huge staffing shortfalls and staff supervising more cases than ever expected, posing again a serious risk to our security,” Corbyn said. “You can’t keep people safe on the cheap.”
Into this febrile mix, President Trump is scheduled to arrive for a meeting of NATO leaders on Tuesday and Wednesday. Trump in the past has found it irresistible to wade into British electoral politics, and all sides expect him to do so again.
As Johnson, a Trump ally, was swatting back blame, the Justice Ministry revealed that 74 people convicted of terrorist offenses are living under supervision in British society.
The Sunday Times reported that Khan “had been granted permission by his parole officer to travel to London even though he was one of 3,000 extremists” on the MI5 “watch list.” The MI5 is Britain’s domestic intelligence service.
Ian Acheson, a former top counterterrorism official, wrote that he had warned Conservative officials for years that they were treating released terrorists with “jaw-dropping” naivete.
Corbyn, who has long spoken out against military action, said Britain’s foreign interventions have fueled conflict and brought terrorism to Britain.
He told supporters he had warned against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and “we are still living with the consequences today.”
“The war on terror has manifestly failed,” Corbyn said. “Britain’s repeated military interventions in North Africa and the wider Middle East, including Afghanistan, have exacerbated rather than resolved the problems.”
Johnson has often accused Corbyn of siding with militant groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
Opinion surveys of voting intent for the coming election have consistently shown Johnson’s Conservatives with a solid lead and clear path to majority government. But pollsters warn the electorate is still making up its mind — divided not only over parties and ideologies but Brexit — and they note that former prime minister Theresa May squandered her 20-point lead in days in the 2017 election.
Jo Swinson, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, accused Johnson of “politicizing” the terrorist attack, of turning it into a “distasteful” election issue.
Johnson said he would seek much tougher sentences for convicted terrorists.
“The suggestion that there’s some immediate law change, that you can do this with some tough rhetoric and, as he has done, link majority government to success in tackling terror, I just think it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth,” Swinson told the BBC.
Khan killed two of the very people who were tasked with helping him and other prisoners return to society as peaceful, productive citizens. Jones and Merritt were Cambridge graduates.
“What should have been a joyous opportunity to celebrate the achievements of this unique and socially transformative programme, hosted by our Institute of Criminology, was instead disrupted by an unspeakable criminal act,” university Vice Chancellor Stephen Toope said in a statement.
David Merritt, Jack’s father, described his son as a “beautiful spirit” who “always took the side of the underdog.”
He said his son would “not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily.”
Shami Chakrabarti, a top member of the Labour Party and an attorney, told the BBC, “I’m not prepared to say that any political party could have prevented what happened on Friday.”
Butler says we need to be honest about what Britain did wrong in the past.
When people ask why people can’t get over this, they don’t realise how offensive that is.
Turning to the Windrush scandal, she refers to the case of Hubert Howard, a Windrush victim who died recently without having had compensation or an apology. Butler says the system that created that injustice is still in place.
Butler is now talking about the value of diversity.
She says Norman Tebbit used to talk about the cricket test as a way of evaluating if people were loyal to the country. But this year England won the cricket world cup with a team that included a West Indian, a Pakistani, a South African, an New Zealander and an Irishman.
She says Labour will establish an independent review into the rise of the far right.
And it will ensure more black history is taught in schools. Because black history is British history, says says.
She says, within a month of taking power, Labour would launch a review into the shortage of BAME teachers in schools.
Jeremy Corbyn says he is just the warm-up act for Dawn Butler, the shadow minister for women and equalities.
Butler takes to the stage. She says there are people trying to divide the country. She says a video has gone viral of a man and his children receiving antisemitic abuse on a train. It is unsettling to watch, she says. She says some of the people on the train did not intervene. But it was a woman in a hijab who intervened, she says. She says the woman said she knew what it was like to be abused like this.
Butler says all forms of racism are wrong.
She says after Boris Johnson compared Muslim women to letterboxes the number of incidents of Islamophobia went up by 375%.
Corbyn says antisemitism ‘will not be tolerated in any form whatsoever’ under Labour
Corbyn says sometimes when people are challenged they are asked if they are “tolerant” of others. He does not like the word, he says. He prefers the idea of being respectful, he says.
He says abuse has no place in our society. Attacks on people, and attacks on churches or synagogues or mosques, are attacks on all of us, he says. He says Labour would ensure there was full protection for places of worship. And attacks on places of worship would count as aggravated crimes, he says.
Antisemitism in any form is vile and wrong. It is an evil in our society … It grew in Europe … and ultimately led to the Holocaust … Under a Labour government it will not be tolerated in any form whatsoever.
He says Labour has a rapid process for dealing with these complaints. That process is constantly being reviewed. And Labour supports educating people about the problem, he says.
Corbyn says he wants to work with people of all faiths and none. It has always been his pride and his pleasure to do this, he says. In government, his door will be open to all faith leaders, he says.
He says the chief rabbi will be very welcome, as will be the archbishop of Canterbury, and leaders from other faiths.
Corbyn says he thinks history may be the most important thing children learn at school.
Labour would promote the emancipation education trust, to ensure that children learn more about slavery. It should not just be taught during black history month. It should be taught all year round, he says.
Corbyn says there is not proper BAME representations at the top of public life. There are only 25 black female professors in British universities. He says a Labour government would carry out a review to ensure BAME people are properly represented at the top of the education system.
Corbyn speaks at launch of Labour’s race and faith manifesto
Jeremy Corbyn is now speaking at the Labour race and faith manifesto launch. He starts by thanking Alf Dubs for what he said, and for all his campaigning on behalf of immigrants.
He is speaking at the Bernie Grant arts centre in Tottenham. Corbyn says he knew Grant very well, and is proud to be speaking at an arts centre named after him. He says Grant taught people a lot about the impact of Britain’s colonial past.
He says N15, the postcode area where he is speaking, is the most diverse in Britain. He says 150 languages are spoken here.
Chief rabbi’s attack on Corbyn over antisemitism ‘unjustified and unfair’, says Lord Dubs
Lord Dubs is speaking now at the Labour event.
He says he is “bitterly disappointed” at what the chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, said about Jeremy Corbyn and antisemitism. He does not accept a lot of what Mirvis said, although Dubs says he thinks Labour should have addressed the problem more quickly. But the chief rabbi’s comments were “unjustified and unfair”, he says.
Q: Why won’t you take part in the Channel 4 News debate on the environment on Thursday?
Johnson says he is taking part in other debates. He says as mayor of London he showed how emissions could be cut without the economy being harmed. But Labour would take a sledgehammer to the economy, he says.
Q: Do you think Nicola Sturgeon should consider the chief rabbi’s comments before propping up a Labour government?
Johnson says Corbyn has not been able to stamp out antisemitism in his party. That is part of a wider failure of leadership, he says. He says you cannot be PM and refuse to take a position on Brexit. He says you cannot be neutral on that any more than you can be neutral on antisemitism.
(Bloomberg) — U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn tried to shut down questions about his Brexit position by saying he’d stay neutral in a second referendum on whether to leave the European Union.
Corbyn has previously refused to say what he’d do, something that has dogged him in the campaign for the Dec. 12 general election. His pledge came in a BBC question-and-answer show featuring the leaders of Britain’s four main political parties, in which all of them came under hostile questioning from a studio audience in Sheffield, northern England.
“My role as prime minister will be to adopt a neutral stance so I can credibly carry out the result,” the Labour leader said. “My role and the role of our government will be to ensure that that referendum will be held in a fair atmosphere, and we will abide by the result.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has focused his fire on Corbyn’s previous refusal to say which side he would take in a second referendum, and Labour’s decision to shift position on such a critical issue mid-way through the campaign suggests the attacks were hitting their mark.
The Labour leader argues the public should be given a final say on whether to back any new deal he agrees with the EU, or to remain in the bloc. The position reflects the way his party has found itself caught between its activists, who mostly oppose Brexit, and the large section of its voters who support it. The new position may not solve the problem.
Johnson, speaking last, said Labour’s stance “seems to have mutated tonight.” The premier said being “neutral or indifferent” would make it harder for Corbyn to negotiate the new agreement with the EU he says he wants.
The prime minister had his most difficult moments when he was asked about offensive language he’d used in his career as a journalist. He also appeared uncomfortable when he came under attack for his party’s record on welfare and public services, in particular the National Health Service.
He tried to distance himself from the Conservatives’ period in government since 2010 by arguing he’d been mayor of London for much of that time, and only became prime minister a few months ago.
“For most of that time I was running London,” he said.
Johnson was challenged repeatedly about the issue of trust and honesty — his first questioner asked how important it was for someone in his position to “always stay on the truth,” provoking laughter and applause from the audience. Later, he struggled to defend newspaper columns he wrote describing women in Muslim dress as looking like “letterboxes,” gay men as “bumboys,” and black people as “piccaninnies.”
“If you go through all my articles with a fine tooth comb, you can take out individual phrases. There is no doubt that you can find things that can be made to seem offensive,” Johnson said, to ridicule from the audience.
Another questioner said the Tory government was characterized by “carelessness and callousness.” In an intervention that was loudly applauded by the audience, the questioner talked about the government’s treatment of immigrants, of people on benefits and of the victims of a tower block fire in London.
Not Buying It
The issue of trust came up again when talking about the National Health Service. One junior doctor asked why people should trust Johnson’s promises of more money for the NHS when “we’ve got years of cuts and people are dying.” Johnson responded again by talking about his time running London.
Corbyn had a tough start, asked by his first questioner whether businesses should be “frightened” about a Labour government, and challenged by another audience member about antisemitism and misogyny in his party. “I don’t buy this nice old grandpa,” he said of the Labour leader’s image.
Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson was questioned about her assertion at the start of the campaign that she could be the country’s next prime minister. “Do you now agree how ridiculous that sounded?” she was asked.
Swinson replied that she was “dismayed” by the choice the country is being presented of a government led by either Johnson or Corbyn, pointing out that her party is standing in more than 600 seats.
She was asked about her party’s record in coalition with the Conservatives from 2010 to 2015, including her own backing for benefits cuts and support for university tuition fees.
Her party’s signature policy, that if it wins a majority it would simply cancel Brexit, went down badly with audience members who called it undemocratic. “In terms of our policy, we are being very straightforward as a party that we want to stop Brexit,” Swinson said. “You might agree, you might disagree with us, but we have been crystal clear.”
If it doesn’t win a majority, she said her party would pursue a second referendum. She could “work collaboratively” with Labour, but said she couldn’t support Corbyn in government, citing antisemitism in his party. Asked if she could form a coalition with the Conservatives again, she replied “certainly not under Boris Johnson.”
Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party, said she was confident she could get an independence referendum next year, despite Corbyn’s insistence he wouldn’t agree to one for at least two years. She said he’d be willing to pay her price to get into office.
But the alternative argument also holds: Having opened by saying she couldn’t “in good conscience ever put Boris Johnson into Number 10,” Sturgeon would have no one to support but Corbyn, even if he didn’t offer her what she wanted.
(Updates to add detail starting in eighth paragraph.)
–With assistance from Charlotte Ryan and Greg Ritchie.
Jeremy Corbyn was campaigning in Stoke-on-Trent after launching the Labour Party’s manifesto on Thursday. The Labour leader announced plans to radically overhaul the British economy and unleash an unprecedented spending boom. But, he had to brush off hecklers when he arrived to rally support in the constituency, according to footage online.
As he left a boat, two men standing on a bridge above the canal booed the Labour leader, to which he responded by smiling at them and saying “nice to see you, OK”.
Mr Corbyn was greeted by a friendlier crowd when he spoke at a rally in Fenton Town Hall.
He was welcomed by his familiar chant before being given a huge ovation by around 100 people who managed to gather in the hall.
Before departing the city, Mr Corbyn had shouts directed at him which described him as an “IRA lover”.
READ MORE: BBC presenter challenges Corbyn ally on Labour manifesto forecasts
A man, dressed in a Northern Ireland-themed flag, did not get a response from Mr Corbyn as he had already got into a car to leave.
It comes just a day after he was heckled in Birmingham.
Protestors in the Midlands city chanted “scum” repeatedly at Mr Corbyn.
The footage was posted on Twitter by ITV journalist Romilly Weeks.
One user said: “Given that it is 45 years ago yesterday that many people died in the Birmingham pub bombings, I don’t think anyone should be surprised at his reception.”
Another tweeted: “Serves him right. Going to Birmingham on today of all days shows how little he cares about the victims of this IRA atrocity. Not fit to be PM.”
A third said: “No set up. Just extremely angry people voicing their opinion. I applaud them.”