We must talk about Palestine – without being antisemitic | Layla Moran

The scandal in Labour is creating a fear among MPs of speaking out for the Palestinian right to equality, justice and statehood

It’s hard to write or talk about antisemitism and the Labour party’s handling of it without descending into deep despair, and not just at the mirror the sorry tale is holding up to the whole of our society, which seems to be becoming less tolerant, more racist and less safe for minorities. This is having greater consequences than the Labour leadership can imagine. In particular, it is stifling the ability of commentators and decision-makers to talk sensibly about the real issues in Palestine.

Related: Jewish leaders accuse Labour of 'letting off' antisemites

Continue reading...

Incoming prime minister poses a Brexit puzzle for Brussels

Officials unsure of next Tory leader’s true views on EU or whether MPs will back them

While Westminster has been gripped by the Tory leadership race, Brussels has been on a Brexit break.

That respite will soon be over. And despite rumours of Brussels compromises in the works, the EU has no off-the-shelf Brexit plan for the new prime minister, who is expected to be announced on Tuesday.

Continue reading...

Boris Johnson’s braggadocio will soon come back to haunt him at Number 10 | Andrew Rawnsley

Lusting after the job is entirely different to doing it, and Britain’s next prime minister has made promises he cannot hope to keep

For Theresa May, the worst has been saved for last. After taking her final prime minister’s questions, she will be driven to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday afternoon to perform the most personally disagreeable task of her time at the top. After tendering her resignation, which will be painful enough, she will have the even more hateful duty of recommending that the Queen invites Boris Johnson to become the new prime minister.

Her failings have been a major contributory factor to his ascent. Tory activists think he will deliver them the Brexit that she couldn’t and cheer them up after the torture of the May years. Tory MPs believe that he has the campaign skills to scupper Nigel Farage and squash Jeremy Corbyn. None of which is going to be much use to him in the critical opening weeks of a premiership that will inherit all the problems that defeated Mrs May and with some extra challenges of his own.

Continue reading...

The diary of Carrie Symonds, aged 31¾ | Catherine Bennett

In an Observer exclusive, we bring you the candid thoughts of a woman close to our next PM. Probably

Downing Street minus seven

Usual mad dash to get in before lunch, but enough time to see my Sun debate strategy was a game-changer! Long to tell B but he said he’s got lifesaving surgery first thing, so I’m not on any account to worry he’s met someone younger and stayed out all night.

Continue reading...

Labour MPs are furious as local party votes to expel former chief whip

Hilary Armstrong had criticised Corbyn over Labour’s antisemitism crisis

Labour MPs expressed outrage last night after a local constituency party voted to expel former chief whip Hilary Armstrong from the party for accusing Jeremy Corbyn of a lack of leadership over antisemitism.

The move by the North West Durham party promoted angry responses from Armstrong’s colleagues in both houses of parliament. She served as an MP from 1987-2010 before being elevated to the House of Lords.

Continue reading...

Jewish group urges Labour party to end ‘institutional racism’

The Jewish Labour Movement asks for ‘real leadership’ on antisemitism in letter sent to shadow cabinet members

The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) has written to every member of the shadow cabinet urging them to show leadership and end what it says is “institutional racism” in the party.

The move by the JLM, which is affiliated to Labour, comes ahead of crucial meetings this week of the national executive committee (NEC) and shadow cabinet at which the crisis over antisemitism is due to be discussed.

Continue reading...

Boris Johnson will find the switch from campaigning to leadership a tough one

The stunts and soundbites of the run-up to victory are no preparation for running a country

The moment of political glory can be short-lived and bittersweet. Three years ago, when I and the rest of Theresa May’s campaign team entered Downing Street for the first time via the long corridor from the Cabinet Office, our jubilation was broken by David Cameron’s tearful advisers being ushered out the other way. A scheduling mix-up, we were told – or perhaps a deliberate reminder from the civil service of the fragility of power.

The switch from the stunts and soundbites of a leadership campaign to the serious work of leadership of the country is discombobulating and difficult. Campaigns are chaotic and tactical. They require command-and-control decision making and a threadbare operation staffed by volunteers recruited on the basis of enthusiasm rather than expertise. The candidate’s headline policies are often little more than two-page briefings, floated in focus groups but untested against the trade-offs of government.

Continue reading...

The national interest lies in MPs on all sides working to stop no deal | Keir Starmer

It is time for rebel Tories to join the responsible majority and block Boris Johnson’s ‘do or die’ pledge

We are in the middle of the most intense political crisis for a generation. And in a few days Boris Johnson could well be handed the keys to No 10. That will make things worse, not better.

Any responsible future prime minister would have spent the past few weeks seeking to find a consensus in parliament for a way forward, building bridges with our European allies rather than Donald Trump, and making the case for unity not division across the country. For Labour, we have also made it clear that whoever becomes prime minister should have the confidence to put their deal, or no deal, back to the people in a public vote.

Continue reading...

Hilary Armstrong ‘very sad’ over vote to expel her from Labour party

Ex-chief whip had signed an ad criticising Corbyn over handling of antisemitism complaints

A former chief whip under Tony Blair has said she was “very sad” after her local constituency party voted to expel her from the Labour party.

Hilary Armstrong issued a statement after a meeting of the North West Durham constituency party, where she was MP until 2010, after the decision, which came days after she added her name to an advertisement accusing Jeremy Corbyn of having “failed the test of leadership” over his handling of antisemitism complaints within Labour.

Continue reading...

Labour and Tories both plan to borrow and spend. Is that wise?

The Conservatives would use cash for tax cuts, while Labour plans investment. But the economic climate is chilly

As the next Tory leader, and possibly a general election, loom, the UK electorate must consider one fundamental economic question: does it want a huge increase in government borrowing?

Both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are ready to break out of the austerity straitjacket and spend huge sums. Not just to blast their way through the chaos that will follow leaving the European Union on 31 October, but also to inflate spending on a long shopping list of items, from social care to defence.

Continue reading...

Gloria De Piero quits Labour frontbench over ‘lack of tolerance’

Shadow justice minister and MP for Ashfield also says she will not stand at next election

The shadow justice minister, Gloria De Piero, has quit the Labour frontbench and announced she will not be standing at the next general election, citing the party’s “lack of tolerance”.

The former BBC journalist, who has been the MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire for nine years, told local members on Friday she did not know if she could give them “the commitment you deserve for what could be a further eight years”.

Continue reading...

Johnson likely to avoid immediate confidence vote if he becomes PM

Labour fears tactic could backfire while Tory rebels favour giving new prime minister a chance to prove his mettle

Boris Johnson is expected to escape a confidence vote brought by Labour on his first full day as prime minister, with senior Conservatives saying he should be given a “time-limited chance” until the autumn to show that he has a plan to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

Labour has been having doubts for some time about bringing a vote of no confidence in Johnson immediately before MPs go on their summer holiday, because would-be Tory rebels have indicated that they want to let the new prime minister attempt to strike a deal with Brussels first.

Continue reading...

Jewish leaders accuse Labour of ‘letting off’ antisemites

Party says it is taking ‘decisive action’ after leaked draft of disciplinary process sparks further anger

Labour has been accused by the Board of Deputies of British Jews of “letting off” people accused of antisemitism without sanction, after a leaked draft of the party’s disciplinary process showed that some members can avoid punishment in serious cases where they have apologised and agreed to undergo education.

The Board of Deputies, a leading Jewish organisation, said Labour’s disciplinary processes were still not good enough and appeared too permissive towards antisemites, following the emergence of a draft of the party’s “antisemitism decision-making matrix” from March.

Continue reading...

The Guardian view on Boris Johnson: bad actor, dishonest script | Editorial

‘Boris’ is a stage persona that Britain’s likely next prime minister uses to mask serious character flaws

The most insightful contribution to the Conservative leadership contest was made this week by a smoked fish. That does not reflect well on the human candidates, one of whom brandished a kipper as a prop to facilitate a rhetorical point. Boris Johnson told a hustings audience that “Brussels bureaucrats” had caused distress to a businessman by requiring that shipment of his product be accompanied with an “ice pillow”.

But the kipper told a different story. Its refrigeration was a matter of domestic rules. “The case described by Mr Johnson falls outside the scope of EU legislation,” a European commission official clarified. The prop was only there to set up a pun about “kippers” as former Ukip voters, whose repatriation to the Conservative fold is a promised electoral benefit of Mr Johnson’s candidacy. It was a theatrical flourish to tickle a receptive audience. To that end, facts were immaterial.

Continue reading...

I tried to find an upside to no deal. I couldn’t | Jonathan Freedland

Awful as it might be, perhaps crashing out will cure the country of its Brexit fever? No – the only option is to fight it

Think of it as a coping strategy. Just as supporters of a team knocked out of the cup console themselves that “Now we can concentrate on the league”, so I have tried to reassure myself that a no-deal crash-out from the EU might not be such a disaster. That, you never know, it might even be a good thing.

Related: Tory rebels send stark warning to Boris Johnson over no-deal Brexit

Continue reading...

Boris Johnson uses Sky executive’s townhouse as campaign HQ

Tory leadership frontrunner has been plotting first 100 days in office from Andrew Griffith’s lavish house in Westminster

Boris Johnson has this week been plotting his first 100 days in office in a £9.5m residential Westminster townhouse owned by the senior Sky television executive Andrew Griffith, who rose to the top of the broadcaster during its Murdoch years.

Johnson has been holed up for at least four days in Griffith’s Grade II-listed, five-storey house planning his transition to government, with visitors including senior Tories Jacob Rees-Mogg, Stephen Barclay, Matt Hancock and Gavin Williamson.

Continue reading...

Held captive by his carers for four weeks, let’s look at Boris Johnson’s best bits | Marina Hyde

Barring applying to join a sex cult, we must conclude there is no process as rigorous as the Tory leadership election

T-minus five days off a likely Boris Johnson premiership, I would like to thank all the Conservatives who explained exactly why putting us through the stone-cold shitshow of a campaign was so essential. It was important, these red-trousered political scientists all told us, because the process allowed the candidates to be properly tested. It didn’t happen last time, and look how that turned out.

Preach. Had we gone through the whole rigmarole in 2016, we might have found out about teenage Theresa May’s Betamax crop-circle habit before it was too late. Or that, if asked to state a preference between Midsomer Murders and Sherlock, May would one day simply reply, “I’ve watched both.” Instead, what happened, happened. I guess you don’t make that magnitude of mistake twice.

Continue reading...

Gordon Brown wants to save Britain. It might be too late for that | Ruth Wishart

The former prime minister is again extolling the virtues of staying British. Scotland isn’t buying it

Whatever other quality Gordon Brown may be said to lack, it is not consistency. His announcement this week of a new thinktank to help sustain the UK union is the latest initiative from one of the most vocal supporters of a no vote in 2014. At regular intervals he pops up to extol the virtues of being and staying British.

It’s a clarion call to support the continuation of the four-nation state that has found echoes in Boris Johnson’s pledge to be a “minister for the union” as well as a prime minister, and the former Tory leadership hopeful Rory Stewart’s earnest plea that a post be created to oversee the business of all the devolved administrations.

Continue reading...

No-deal Brexit is not inevitable – our new prime minister will still have options | Charles Grant

The EU is gloomy about the prospect of Britain crashing out, but political realities could see a compromise emerge

The top EU officials working on Brexit believe that the most likely outcome is for Britain to leave without a deal at the end of October. Last Monday’s debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt – in which both said that the withdrawal agreement’s “Irish backstop” would have to be excised altogether rather than just modified – reinforced the gloom in Brussels. EU officials do not want no deal but think they are powerless to prevent it. They see the Conservative party driving the UK towards the cliff edge and fear MPs are incapable of grabbing the steering wheel to avert disaster.

For many months EU officials have thought that Johnson, the likely next prime minister, had only two options: either to “put lipstick on the pig” and dress up Theresa May’s deal to make it prettier, with extra protocols and interpretations; or to seek a fundamental change such as insisting on a time limit for the Irish backstop. The EU would have been happy to collaborate over the first option, but Johnson has now explicitly ruled that out. He has even rejected a time limit on the backstop.

Continue reading...

Sajid Javid praises Nigel Farage in speech on extremism

Comments come amid speculation about role Farage might play if Boris Johnson becomes PM


The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has singled out Nigel Farage and the Brexit party for praise in a speech in London, saying: “They are not extremists.”

In an incongruous moment in a speech about countering extremism, Javid said “credit” was due to Farage for walking away from his former party, Ukip, as it lurched to the far right. The move will be seen by some as an effort by the Tory party to extend an olive branch to the Brexit party.

Continue reading...

No deal would be disastrous. Labour must lead a national campaign to stop it | Owen Jones

After alienating supporters with its Brexit stance, it can regain the initiative by blocking Boris Johnson’s dangerous fantasy

Off a cliff they march: bowler hat-wearing, besuited Englishmen, left leg raised theatrically – à la Ministry of Silly Walks – over the precipice before they topple into the abyss. This was the front-cover image of the New Yorker sketched in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum result, but it surely even better captures our current predicament. Sing it gently: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like No Deal.

Under Theresa May, this was always an empty threat, even though she paved its way with her inflammatory declaration that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. Under the clownish charlatan due to succeed her – drunk on rightwing populism, English nationalism, messianic delusion and Conservative existential angst – it is now a tangible possibility.

Continue reading...

Farewell, Theresa May. Your best was far from good enough | Gary Younge

Her shortcomings are many and failures in office self-evident. Her successor is likely to be worse – but she deserves no pity

On Wednesday, in her last major speech, Theresa May lamented a growing culture of absolutism in politics. Introspection was never her strong suit, and this speech to the Chatham House thinktank was no exception. In a scarcely veiled swipe at the populist right, at home and abroad, she bemoaned an “inability to combine principles with pragmatism … [from those who believe] that if you simply assert your view loud enough and long enough you will get your way in the end”.

This from the leader who produced a deal without consulting other parties, refused to compromise on it, put it to parliament three times and lost every time, and would have tabled it for a fourth time if she’d been able.

Continue reading...