Four whistleblowers speak of top Labour aides interfering in antisemitism investigations - video

Labour MP’s and commentators supportive of Jeremy Corbyn are being advised on how to respond to tonight’s Panorama programme, according to HuffPost’s Paul Waugh.

Revealed: Here's how Corbyn team want MPs and 'outriders' on media to fight back on BBC story.

— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) July 10, 2019

Former shadow business minister Stella Creasy tweeted:

If this is actually real and has been produced by someone within the Labour Party then heads should absolutely roll for it .. We need to tackle the problem of antisemitism, not try to ‘spin’ or ‘drown out’ the voices brave enough to speak out about it.


Jeremy Hunt has confirmed he was not the Tory leadership candidate who raised concerns about the composition of the BBC debate between him and Boris Johnson, which was slated for next Tuesday.

Can confirm I am not said candidate.

— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) July 10, 2019

This just in from Jessica Elgot and Peter Walker.

Eight whistleblowers have told how they felt consistently undermined by senior Labour bosses in attempts to tackle antisemitism, alleging consistent interference in complaints and claiming that one key aide mocked their efforts.

Four of the whistleblowers, including the former Labour general secretary Iain McNicol, who left his post last year, have broken non-disclosure agreements to come forward.

Speaking to the BBC’s Panorama programme, about which the Labour party has raised complaints to the highest level at the BBC, former officials allege key aides including Labour’s director of communications, Seumas Milne and Labour’s new general secretary, Jennie Formby, interfered with investigations.

Jeremy Corbyn’s personal email address was also copied into leaked email chains, which former officials allege show interference.

Labour robustly denies any interference and say that “former disaffected employees sought the view of staff in the leader’s office, which was complied with in good faith”.

Labour peer Lord Falconer has said the party is “still in denial” about antisemitism within its ranks.

He told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme:

The thing that most strikes me about it, is it’s a Labour party still in denial. Hearing Andrew Gwynne, who is a decent man, still trying to defend what’s going on is a problem.

Falconer said that Labour was not taking the issue seriously, despite:

  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission launching a full statutory investigation into allegations of anti-Semitism within the party.
  • Suspended MP Chris Williamson “baiting the Jewish community by his persistent and utterly inappropriate support of people that are antisemitic”.
  • Peter Willsman, an NEC member, saying “all this antisemitism is got up by the Israeli embassy”.

The Labour Party, my party, will not take it seriously and it is absolutely appalling. I don’t know why it is, I think it is because too many people think it is wrapped up in factionalism.

On whether much of the criticism over antisemitism was disguised to undermine Jeremy Corbyn as leader, Falconer said:

I don’t think it is. I think there is a very real problem about antisemitism. I think there are some people who want to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn who draw attention to the problems of antisemitism. I don’t think that means the problems of antisemitism are illusory or unreal. But whatever the position, what you’ve got to do is look at the evidence.

Now I haven’t seen the Panorama programme, I’ve only heard the extracts that you’ve read me, those extracts are as hair-raising and as anxiety-inducing as the Willsman case I referred to, and the Williamson case which everyone knows about.

He added that he did not believe antisemitism was part of Labour’s DNA, and stressed he did not believe Corbyn was antisemitic. However, he claimed a number of antisemites had joined the party since 2015 and “must be thrown out”.

Falconer went on to criticise Labour for using non-disclosure agreements to stop former staffers from revealing details of how the party handles complaints. He said the NDA’s were being wielded by a party acting more “like a big business or an executive” who sought to cover up abuse.


After speaking to the Foreign Affairs select committee, the department’s permanent under-secretary Simon McDonald convened an all-staff meeting to express solidarity with the outgoing ambassador to the US, Kim Darroch.

At @foreignoffice we stand together. More colleagues attended my all-staff meeting to express solidarity with @KimDarroch than any other in my 4 years as PUS

— Sir Simon McDonald (@SMcDonaldFCO) July 10, 2019

This is from Mark Warner, a Democratic senator in the US and vice chair of the senate intelligence committee.

.@KimDarroch was an outstanding Ambassador who served his country with honesty and integrity. He was a true friend to the United States, and it’s a shame to see him go.

— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) July 10, 2019

This counters President Trump’s claim (dismissed as absurd by diplomatic experts) that Kim Darroch was “not liked or well thought of within the US”.

That’s all from me for today.

My colleague Mattha Busby is taking over.

BBC reveals details of its Panorama programme about Labour and antisemitism

Here is the top of the embargoed news release that the BBC has sent out about its Panorama tonight about Labour and antisemitism.

Eight former Labour officials, including seven from the complaints and disputes department, have spoken to BBC Panorama, to discuss antisemitism in the Labour party. They all worked for the party over the last four years, and all have now left. Four are speaking out despite having signed NDAs with the Labour party. In total Panorama has spoken to more than 20 Labour officials, which includes many of the officials who have been dealing with antisemitism complaints since 2015.

Their testimony reveals:

A complaints and disciplinary system that had to deal with a huge increase in antisemitism complaints since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015.

Allegations that there were substantial disagreements within the party about what constituted antisemitism.

Allegations of interference in the complaints process from the leader’s office, including a claim that there was even one occasion when complaints were directly processed by aides in Jeremy Corbyn’s Westminster Office.

Discussion by the general secretary about interference with the national constitution committee (NCC), the independent body within the Labour party that has the final say over expulsions.

David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister and Theresa May’s de facto deputy, was speaking to the Commons Brexit committee this afternoon. The Economist’s John Peet has some highlights.

Answering Pat McFadden, Lidington quite explicit: no deal Brexit a great challenge to the unity of the UK and this has not had sufficient focus. Sad that Boris seems impervious to this point

— John Peet (@JohnGPeet) July 10, 2019

What happens if an election campaign crosses Oct 31? Hilary Benn says cabinet manual implies caretaker PM would seek A50 extension to preserve options. Lidington seems to agree. But Bone says neutral status quo means Brexit just happens willy nilly

— John Peet (@JohnGPeet) July 10, 2019

Lidington pours bucket of cold water on chances of amending the backstop. Also clear that those hoping to invoke AXXIV are misreading its purpose

— John Peet (@JohnGPeet) July 10, 2019

Jeremy Hunt (right) and Amal Clooney (centre) at the Global Conference for Media Freedom at The Printworks in London this afternoon.
Jeremy Hunt (right) and Amal Clooney (centre) at the Global Conference for Media Freedom at The Printworks in London this afternoon. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Boris Johnson is has been widely criticised at Westminster today for not backing Sir Kim Darroch, the outgoing ambassador to Washington, after President Trump said he would no longer deal with him.

But, according to this YouGov poll, public opinion on this is fairly evenly divided. YouGov found 41% of respondents saying the government should support Darroch when it polled on this yesterday, but 35% saying Darroch should be replaced with someone more amenable to the White House.

YouGov poll on Darroch
YouGov poll on Darroch Photograph: YouGov


The BBC was meant to be holding a Question Time special with both Tory leadership candidates next Tuesday. But, according to the Sun’s Steve Hawkes, it now looks as if that will not go ahead.

BBC admitting the Question Time leadership special planned for next Tuesday is almost certainly off now - because of one candidate's concerns about the make-up of the audience.
You can of course catch both the night before in The Sun's debate

— steve hawkes (@steve_hawkes) July 10, 2019

Tonight the BBC is showing an hour-long Panorama programme looking at how Labour has dealt with allegations of antisemitism. There have been claims that the revelations will be damaging and Labour, which has been approached for its side of the story, has responded with a long letter to Tony Hall, the BBC director general, complaining about the programme.

Here is an extract from the Labour letter.

We’ve had a number of questions put to us by the Panorama team and we’ve answered them fully and extensively.

We’ve given them 50 pages of documentation in response to their questions and we’ve also complained to the BBC at various levels including director general level over the way the process has been engaged in, the lack of engagement with us at an earlier stage and the failure to come to us with a balanced and fair set of questions.

And from what we’ve seen of the questions and the nature of the investigation, the Panorama team had already come to a conclusion about where its investigation was going before it looked at the evidence in full.

We are absolutely adamantly opposed to antisemitism in all its forms and we will continue to take the strongest action to eradicate it from the Labour Party and we’ve taken a series of steps.

Momentum, the pro-Corbyn Labour group, has also been using Twitter to attack John Ware, the reporter who made the programme.

What do you think?

Sign our letter to the BBC here:

— Momentum (@PeoplesMomentum) July 10, 2019

As the Times’ Matt Chorley reports, this is the same John Ware who was described as an “ever-vigilant investigative journalist” in a congratulatory Commons early day motion signed by Jeremy Corbyn in 2002.

Momentum launch attack ad against Panorama's John Ware ahead of tonight's expose of Corbyn & antisemitism.

In 2002 Jeremy Corbyn sponsored a Commons motion. "This House warmly congratulates Panorama,” the motion read, “and the ever-vigilant investigative journalist, John Ware.”

— Matt Chorley (@MattChorley) July 10, 2019

Asked about the Labour criticism, a BBC spokesperson said:

The Labour party is criticising a programme they have not seen. The programme adheres to the BBC’s editorial guidelines. In line with those, the Labour Party has been given the opportunity to respond to the allegations.

Emily Thornberry labels Boris Johnson 'an obsequious weakling'

Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, says the resignation of Kim Darroch has shamed the UK. In a statement she said:

The fact that Sir Kim has been bullied out of his job, because of Donald Trump’s tantrums and Boris Johnson’s pathetic lick-spittle response, is something that shames our country. It makes a laughing-stock out of our government, and tells every one of Britain’s brilliant representatives abroad that the next Tory prime minister will not stand up for them, even when they are simply telling the truth and doing their job.

Sir Kim Darroch should hold his head high for the wonderful job he has done representing our country, while Boris Johnson should go and hang his head in shame. He claims to regard Winston Churchill as his hero. But just imagine Churchill allowing this humiliating, servile, sycophantic indulgence of the American president’s ego to go unchallenged.

Johnson likes to accuse opponents of being ‘supine invertebrate jellies’. How does he think he looks today? If this is what represents the future of leadership in our country, then it is all the more reason why we must force Johnson to call an election, and let the British people decide if such an obsequious weakling should be our prime minister.

Emily Thornberry
Emily Thornberry Photograph: Richard Gardner/REX/Shutterstock

House of Lords staff have been subject to bullying and harassment, says report

House of Lords staff have been subject to bullying and harassment, an inquiry has found. The investigation by Naomi Ellenbogen QC stated:

The prevailing culture and behaviours in the House of Lords, as a place of work, have not been conducive to an open and supportive culture to ensure that all those working there are treated with dignity and respect.

Staff have bullied and harassed other staff. Members have bullied and harassed staff.

On the whole, staff who have experienced bullying and harassment have tended not to complain, formally or otherwise, in the belief that nothing will happen and/or for fear of reprisal.

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has described it as “shameful” that Kim Darroch has been forced out “for doing the job that diplomats are appointed to do”. Responding to a tweet from Nigel Farage that suggested Darroch be replaced by a Brexiter, Sturgeon added:

Who could Farage be thinking of? The last thing that should happen is the politicisation of the civil service and the replacement of honourable diplomats with charlatans like this guy.

Who could Farage be thinking of? The last thing that should happen is the politicisation of the civil service and the replacement of honourable diplomats with charlatans like this guy.

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 10, 2019

Meanwhile, the SNP’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Stephen Gethins MP, said that the resignation was a “deeply concerning and a worrying sign of where the UK’s role on the international stage is heading”, adding:

The integrity and impartiality of the civil service must not be compromised.

It would be unacceptable if the UK’s diplomatic service and appointments were outsourced to the whims of the Trump administration.

Corbyn says, unlike Boris Johnson, he won't let another country's leader choose who represents UK

Jeremy Corbyn says Boris Johnson’s refusal to back Kim Darroch in the ITV debate last night showed “he won’t stand up to Donald Trump”.

Boris Johnson’s refusal to support Kim Darroch shows he won’t stand up to Donald Trump, or stand up for Britain. Johnson wants a sweetheart trade deal with Trump that would open our NHS to US corporate takeover. I'll never let another country's leader choose who represents the UK

— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) July 10, 2019

Mark Francois, the Tory Brexiter, says Theresa May should leave it to her successor to appoint the next ambassador to Washington. Speaking at an Institute for Government event, he told the Guardian:

This must have been a very difficult decision for Kim Darroch. But what is most important now is that it is the new prime minister who takes the decision on who his replacement will be because the relationship with the US will be fundamentally important, not least when we have left the EU.

The head of the civil service in Northern Ireland has warned against “complacency” over political limbo in the region as an official report predicts that 40,000 jobs are at risk in the region in the event of a no-deal Brexit. (See 2.07pm.)

David Sterling was accused of engaging in “operation fear” in March by a Brexiter Conservative MP by warning of the “grave” consequences for the region.

Today he said he had “developed a thick skin” in the face of such criticism but that those fears still hold.

“Our assessment is that no-deal would have a profound and longlasting impact on Northern Ireland and society, a point I made back in March and it remains valid today,” said Sterling speaking at the Institute for Government in London.

He said the uncertainty over Brexit was now impacting on investment with latest local purchasing managers index (PMI) data showing the “strongest reduction in output since September 2012”.

He also warned that there would be an increase in smuggling on the border and the community relations in those areas could deteriorate.

[No-deal] could change the attitude in communities which over time could have an impact in the culture of those areas.

While tensions around parades has been in “decline” and there was “less street disorder”, there were “other societal tensions that are probably the result of the political impasse,” he said.

We wouldn’t want to overstate it but at the same time I wouldn’t be complacent … it would wrong to be complacent and think this will be the same for evermore.

He said the absence of Stormont has meant that Northern Ireland issues don’t get the airing they should in Westminster.

“We have lacked that ministerial voice in Whitehall that has championed the cause of Northern Ireland,” he said adding he not want to see direct rule.

Foreign Office chief says he fears more leaks are coming

Here are the main points from Sir Simon McDonald’s evidence about the Kim Darroch leak to the foreign affairs committee.

  • McDonald, the head of the Foreign Office said he was bracing himself for more leaks of sensitive diplomatic memos. “I fear there may be more,” he said, when asked about the possibility of further leaks.
  • He said that he could not think of another example in his 37-year diplomatic career of a head of state refusing to deal with a British ambassador, in the way President Trump said he would refuse to deal with Sir Kim Darroch. McDonald said he could not think of this happening even with governments hostile to the UK, although he could think of precedents for an ambassador resigning because of difficult relations with an unfriendly power.
  • McDonald described the leak as the “worst breach of trust” he had seen in the diplomatic service in his career.
  • He said Foreign Office staff were “shaken” by what had happened.
  • He said that the police were involved in the leak investigation.
  • He said he had had a “free and frank” exchange of views with the charge d’affaires at the American embassy about Trump’s comments about Darroch.
Sir Simon McDonald (centre), head of the Foreign Office, giving evidence to the Commons foreign affairs committee.
Sir Simon McDonald (centre), head of the Foreign Office, giving evidence to the Commons foreign affairs committee. Photograph: House of Commons/PA

A Labour source said Boris Johnson was behaving as Donald Trump’s “patsy” if his lack of support prompted Sir Kim Darroch’s resignation, the Press Association reports. The Labour source said:

If that’s the case I think it is clear that Boris Johnson is effectively behaving as Donald Trump’s patsy and he’s doing that clearly because he’s banking on a sweetheart trade deal and is putting himself in hock to the US president.

It’s clear that he is not prepared and won’t stand up to Donald Trump and he won’t stand up for Britain and that’s clearly the result of a policy on Brexit that is putting the country at risk of a no-deal exit from the European Union.

This is from David Miliband, a Labour former foreign secretary.

While Kim Darroch has acted with dignity the failure of Boris Johnson to back him last night was utterly spineless. It signals a weakness inherent in the Brexit process: in today’s global villlage when you pull away from your neighbors everyone can take advantage.

— David Miliband (@DMiliband) July 10, 2019

From my colleague Peter Walker

Does anyone else think it's politically a bit odd that Boris Johnson is supping pints with Leave-mad pub tycoon Tim Martin, just a couple of weeks after Martin was the star turn at the Brexit Party's biggest rally?

— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) July 10, 2019

These are from Nick Boles, who used to be a Conservative MP but who now sits as an independent.

Boris Johnson isn’t even PM yet and he is already responsible for a grievous blow to the UK’s international reputation. By refusing to back Kim Darroch in the face of bullying by President Trump, he made his resignation inevitable.

— Nick Boles MP (@NickBoles) July 10, 2019

The British people can now see that Boris Johnson will be Donald Trump’s poodle, that his response to any command from the White House will be: “How high, Mr President?”

— Nick Boles MP (@NickBoles) July 10, 2019

Boris Johnson sold Brexit to the British people as the way to regain our independence and to restore our national pride. Instead he is ushering in a craven subjugation to the narcissistic whims of a right wing nationalist US President.

— Nick Boles MP (@NickBoles) July 10, 2019

A no-deal Brexit could cost 40,000 jobs in Northern Ireland, an updated report from the region’s department of economy has said. It said:

A no deal would have a profound and long-lasting impact on NI’s economy and society.

No-deal could lead to a sharp increase in unemployment with at least 40,000 jobs at risk.

It said the impact of EU tariffs and non-tariff barriers will mean that whatever the Irish government and the EU do “many businesses will no longer be able to export to the Irish market, leading to a major reduction in NI’s exports to Ireland,” it said.

It predicted the impact of EU tariffs could reduce NI’s exports to Ireland by 11% to £100m to £180m.

Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Irish Retail Consortium, said the report made for “stark reading” but “no surprise” as business had been warning of the consequences of no deal for more than a year.

Downing Street said Theresa May spoke to Sir Kim Darroch for around five minutes shortly before PMQs today.

This is from the Labour peer Andrew Adonis on the removal of Kim Darroch.

Kim Darroch’s removal, at the effective direction of Trump, is a testament to Brexit Britain

It’s how we used to treat China & India in times past

— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) July 10, 2019

Back in the foreign affairs committee Sir Simon McDonald, head of the Foreign Office, says he has served as an ambassador twice. He says diplomats use ‘diptels” (diplomatic telegrams) when they want information circulated quite widely in the system. They are not used for information that is particularly sensitive. But they are there if an ambassador wants to pass on information not being picked up by the media.

Here are comments from three Labour MPs on Kim Darroch’s resignation.

From Ben Bradshaw, a former Foreign Office minister

The shameful forcing out of Kim Darroch after Johnson failed to back him shows Johnson as PM would be nothing more than Trump's lap dog. What a humiliating prospect for our United Kingdom. #brexitshambles #finalsay #PeoplesVote

— Ben Bradshaw (@BenPBradshaw) July 10, 2019

From Bill Esterson

The resignation of Kim Darroch, our US ambassador shows that the UK government is happy to let the US President bully them. Contemptible from our government.

— Bill Esterson (@Bill_Esterson) July 10, 2019

From Yvette Cooper, chair of the home affairs committee

Appalling it has come to this. Kim Darroch is a serious & honourable public servant who was doing his job. British representation across the world should not be decided by hostile security leaks or bullying belligerence from abroad

— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) July 10, 2019

The Conservative MP Bob Seely asks McDonald if he accepts that it looks as if only a relatively small number of memos were leaked, rather than a large cache. McDonald says he does not want to comment.

And Tom Tugendhat, the committee chair, asks McDonald if he has met his counterpart in the American embassy recently. McDonald said he did have a meeting. They had a “free and frank” exchange of views, he says.

Labour’s Chris Bryant goes next. He asks McDonald thinks there will be more leaks.

McDonald says he is “braced” for further revelations. “I fear there may be more,” he says.

Back in the committee Labour’s Ian Murray asks what the Foreign Office would think about having a political appointee as the next ambassador to Washington.

McDonald says there is one in post already, Ed Llewellyn, the ambassador to Paris.

He says political appointees are subject to security procedures after their appointment.

Q: What would happen if they failed?

McDonald says that has not happened before. If it were to happen, he would have to have a difficult conversation with the PM, he says.

Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, said Kim Darroch’s resignation will lead to soul-searching across the Foreign Office and he criticised the failure of the former foreign secretary Boris Johnson to offer the ambassador his backing. Kerslake said:

Darroch did nothing wrong ... We cannot pander to Trump’s insecurity. There is going to have to be a lot of soul searching in the FCO as to how we arrived at this point.

Asked whether Johnson’s lack of support may have been a factor in Darroch’s decision, Kerslake said:

It was depressingly predictable for Boris. I wish that he had stood up [to the president] and been more forthright. Boris will rely on robust advice from ambassadors if he becomes prime minister. Hunt gave a much better answer to this question [in the ITV debate].

Back in the foreign affairs committee Sir Simon McDonald, head of the Foreign Office, says diplomats have been “shaken” by what has happened.

Asked if he thought the establishment should stand should to shoulder with a diplomat like Kim Darroch, he said of course. He said the Foreign Office was grateful for what Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt have said about this.

On a campaign visit to a pub in London this morning - alongside Brexiteer and JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin - Boris Johnson was asked about John Major’s threat to go to court to stop Johnson proroguing parliament. (See 8.52am.) Johnson replied:

What we are going to do is deliver Brexit on October 31, which is what I think the people of this country want us to get on and do.

I think everybody is fed up with delay and I think the idea of now consecrating this decision to the judiciary is really very, very odd indeed.

What we want is for Parliament to take their responsibilities, get it done as they promised that they would.

They asked the British people whether they wanted to leave in 2016, the British people returned a very clear verdict so let’s get it done.

Boris Johnson visiting Wetherspoons Metropolitan bar in London
Boris Johnson visiting Wetherspoons Metropolitan bar in London
Photograph: Henry Nicholls/POOL/EPA

McDonald says the most sensitive diplomatic memos are only circulated to between five and 10 people. But every computer has a forward button, he says.

McDonald says the Foreign Office will pursue who was responsible for this leak with all means at its disposal.

And he says diplomats must continue to give frank advice to London. But he will urge people to think again about what can be done to ensure their communications are secure, he says.

This is from Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former communications chief.

Have known @KimDarroch for years. He worked for Labour, coalition and Tory governments with total professionalism. His career has been sacrificed to the madness of Brexit, the venality of @BorisJohnson and the narcissism of @realDonaldTrump

— Alastair PEOPLE’S VOTE Campbell (@campbellclaret) July 10, 2019

Back in the committee McDonald says some of the leaked memos were “diptels”, diplomatic telegrams, that are circulated quite widely, and others were email letters, which have a much smaller Whitehall readership.

Here is the full quote from what Sir Alan Duncan, the Foreign Office minister, told the BBC about Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson - a former foreign secretary and he hopes to be the future prime minister - has basically thrown our top diplomat under the bus,

There are a lot of people in the Commons who are very, very angry and feel that he has lost so much respect for having done what he has done.

His disregard for Sir Kim and his refusal to back him was pretty contemptible and also not in the best interests of the country he is trying to lead ...

Commenting on Johnson’s failure to defend Darroch in the ITV debate last night, Duncan said:

For someone who wants to lead, let alone unite, the country, that was contemptible negligence on his part.

He has basically thrown this fantastic diplomat under the bus to serve his own personal interests.

Alan Duncan
Alan Duncan Photograph: Michael Crabtree/REUTERS

Q: What is the process for appointing a new ambassador?

McDonald says the standard procedure is for the post to be advertised, candidates to be interviewed, and then decisions taken by the foreign secretary and the prime minister. But that process is not always followed when a new ambassador to Washington is being appointed, he says.

McDonald says Darroch knew that the government was committed to keeping him in place.

But Darroch decided to go anyway, he says.

Head of Foreign Office questioned by MPs about Kim Darroch leak

Sir Simon McDonald, the head of the Foreign Office, has just started giving evidence to the Commons foreign affairs committee about the Kim Darroch affairs.

He starts by saying that Darroch decided to resign partly because of the pressure on his family.

And he says that, in his 37 years as a diplomat, he can think of no other example where a friendly government has refused to deal with a serving ambassador, in the way that President Trump said he would refuse to deal with Darroch.

McDonald says there have been occasions where a government has refused to accept a proposed ambassador in the first place.

Q: Has the UK ever had difficulties with America before?

McDonald says the last time there was a problem like this was in 1856, when the Americans objected to the British ambassador recruiting Americans to fight in the Crimean War.

PMQs - Snap verdict

PMQs - Snap verdict: Jeremy Corbyn had a good case to make on legal aid cuts, and he presented it quite well - being only moderately unsettled by Theresa May’s attack over antisemitism - but it was still something of a lost opportunity for him, highlighting how his lack of dexterity at PMQs continues to hold him back. A more strategic leader of the opposition would have prepared questions on Kim Darroch, to drive a wedge between May and the person who will almost certainly be leading her party two weeks’ today and a first-rate parliamentarian would have rewritten the script at the last moment, after Darroch’s resignation was announced, to hammer Boris Johnson with lines we are now hearing from fellow Tories. (See 12.41pm and 12.45pm.) But why should he follow the media, you might ask? Aren’t legal aid cuts more important than the career of one civil servant? Yes they are. (Read the brilliant The Secret Barrister.) But PMQs is a media event, and if Corbyn had chosen go focus on Darroch, he would have got his attack lines into the top of the news bulletins. As it is, his legal aid critique is unlikely to get much further than Facebook. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but you can’t chalk it up as a communications victory.

Boris Johnson has said he regrets the resignation of Kim Darroch. Describing Darroch as “a superb diplomat”, he went on:

I think whoever leaked his diptels (diplomatic telegrams) really has done a grave disservice to our civil servants, to people who give impartial advice to ministers.

I hope that whoever it is, is run down, caught and eviscerated, quite frankly, because it is not right that advice to ministers that civil servants must be able to make in a spirit of freedom should be leaked.

It is not right that civil servants’ careers and prospects should be dragged into the political agenda.

In PMQs Sir Vince Cable says Theresa May’s last job will be to recommend to the Queen who her successor should be. How will she be sure that that person can command a majority in the Commons?

May says, whoever wins the Tory leadership contest, they will make an excellent PM.

From my colleague Jennifer Rankin

2017: Ivan Rogers resigns after hostile briefing, with no protection from a PM pursuing fantasy Brexit.

2019: Kim Darroch resigns after hostile leak, with no backing from a PM candidate pursuing fantasy Brexit.

— Jennifer Rankin (@JenniferMerode) July 10, 2019

This is from Peter Ricketts, a former head of the Foreign Office.

Kim has been an outstanding public servant with a distinguished career in the highest-profile jobs. It should not have ended like this. He has been taken out by an act of political sabotage. What does this say about the state of our country?

— Peter Ricketts (@LordRickettsP) July 10, 2019

Another senior Tory has criticised Boris Johnson for refusing to stand up for Sir Kim Darroch, This is from Patrick McLoughlin, the former Tory chief whip, who is supporting Jeremy Hunt for the Tory leadership.

It is unedifying to see someone who wants to be prime minister failing to stand up for hard working civil servants, who have done nothing wrong, under attack from foreign governments. Leadership involves standing up for your team. If we don’t call out those who want a witch-hunt through the civil service we are complicit in creating divisions that may never heal.

Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, has put out this statement about Sir Kim Darroch’s resignation.

I am deeply saddened by Sir Kim Darroch’s decision to resign as Her Majesty’s Ambassador in Washington. For 42 years, Sir Kim served his country with the utmost dedication and distinction.

He brought dispassionate insight and directness to his reporting to ministers in London. Whenever I visited Washington as foreign secretary, I was struck by Sir Kim’s professionalism and intellect. I am outraged that a selection of his reports should have been leaked.

I am sure that our ambassadors worldwide will continue to provide the objective and rigorous reporting that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has always prized. I profoundly regret how this episode has led Sir Kim to decide to resign. He deserves to look back upon his career as a servant of Britain with the greatest satisfaction and pride.

Sir Alan Duncan, the Foreign Office minister, has told the BBC that Boris Johnson’s treatment of Kim Darroch was “contemptible”.

Darroch resignation is explosive

Sir Alan Duncan, a foreign office minister and Hunt backer, tells BBC:

‘Boris Johnson has basically thrown our ambassador under a bus’

He says the way Boris treated Sir Kim , by refusing to guarantee his future, is ‘contemptible’

— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) July 10, 2019

Last night Duncan, who is backing Jeremy Hunt for the Tory leadership, described Johnson as an “utter wimp”. (See 11.07am.)

Civil servants' union condemns Boris Johnson for failing to back Kim Darroch

This is from Dave Penman, the head of the FDA, the union which represents senior civil servants, on Kim Darroch’s decision to resign.

Sir Kim Darroch has been placed in an impossible situation, firstly by the leaking of confidential communiques and then by the failure of Boris Johnson and his supporters to provide unequivocal support.

As a loyal public servant he has, as he always did, put his country first. Can we honestly say that about those who took to the airways and equivocated? Johnson and his allies have sent the clearest signal possible to Sir Kim, the diplomatic corp, the wider civil service and unfortunately to foreign governments: that their professional, impartial advice is needed, but they are ultimately expendable if it proves politically expedient.

And this is from my colleague Patrick Wintour, the Guardian’s diplomatic editor.

In effect, sacked by Johnson on the orders of Trump.

— Patrick Wintour (@patrickwintour) July 10, 2019

This is from the Daily Mail’s Jason Groves.

Friends of Sir Kim Darroch say he decided the game was up last night after watching Boris Johnson refuse to back him during live TV debate

— Jason Groves (@JasonGroves1) July 10, 2019

This is from Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, on the resignation of Kim Darroch.

It is shameful that Kim Darroch has effectively been forced out for doing the job that diplomats are appointed to do. Boris Johnson’s failure last night to stand up for him - and stand up to the behaviour of Donald Trump - spoke volumes.

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) July 10, 2019

The SNP leader at Westminster, Ian Blackford, says every time Theresa May speaks in Scotland, the SNP vote goes up.

He says today is the Srebrenica memorial day.

He says it is a pity that Boris Johnson did not stand up for Kim Darroch yesterday.

Mark Carney says the UK economy is not growing. And Danny Blanchlower says the economy is already in recession, Blackford says. (It sounds like he’s been reading Aditya Chakrabortty’s Guardian column today.)

May says the economy is doing well, but would have been doing even better if the SNP had voted for a Brexit deal.

Blackford says May is driving the UK economy over the cliff. He urges her to take a no-deal Brexit off the table.

May repeats her point about how the SNP could have taken no-deal off the table by voting for her deal. She says forecasts show the Scottish economy is expected to grow more slowly than the economy in the rest of the UK under the SNP.

Here is the full quote from Theresa May earlier on Kim Darroch.

This morning I have spoken to Sir Kim Darroch.

I have told him that it is a matter of great regret that he has felt it necessary to leave his position as ambassador in Washington.

The whole cabinet rightly gave its full support to Sir Kim on Tuesday. Sir Kim has given a lifetime of service to the United Kingdom and we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.

Good government depends on public servants being able to give full and frank advice.

I want all our public servants to have the confidence to be able to do that and I hope the House will reflect on the importance of defending our values and principles, particularly when they are under pressure.


Corbyn says he is totally committed to tackling racism in any form in the Labour party. Shouldn’t May address Islamophobia in the Conservative party. He says May should listen to what the UN said about the government’s disregard for the rights of disabled people. And he turns to Windrush. Does May agree that that scandal would not have happened if legal aid had not been cut?

May says Corbyn needs to consider his arguments. She has apologised for what happened to the Windrush generation. She says a review found 18 people wrongly deported, but some of those cases happened under Labour. She says Labour claims to back whistleblowers, and yet it uses NDAs. He used to back leave, but now backs remains. He lives up to the words of Marx, not Karl but Groucho - “Those are my prinicples. If you don’t like them, I’ve got others.”

Corbyn says he will not take lectures from May. Her party consorts with racists in the European parliaments. He says legal aid cuts have disproportionately affected the poor and the disabled. Millions are denied access to justice because they are poor. Isn’t that a burning injustice?

May says Corbyn can try to avoid the antisemitism issue. She quotes the former Labour general secretary saying that one day Labour may be anti-racist, but not today. She attacks Labour for wanting to to tax more. Labour used to have a slogan, “Education, education, education.” Now it is just, “Tax, tax, tax.”

Corbyn says the coalition cut legal aid, and introduced fees for tribunals. But his union, Unison, took the government to court and won. He quotes a leaseholder who is being threatened with eviction who cannot get legal aid. He has been working until 2am every night collecting evidence. Doesn’t he deserve legal aid?

May says a quarter of the ministry of justice’s budget is spent on legal aid. He says the government is reviewing legal aid schemes.

Corbyn says Labour is committed to restoring legal aid for family law, housing, judicial review preparation and real action on immigration cases. He says the government should restore the cuts affecting disabled people.

May says spending on disabled people is at a record high. If Corbyn is interested in tackling injustice, he should deal with antisemitism, she says.

Jeremy Corbyn says he also regrets the resignation of Kim Darroch. He says the comments made about him are beyond unfair and wrong.

He says many people welcomed the points Theresa May made when she was first appointed about burning injustices when she became PM. Does she agree that access to justice is vital?

May says there are many aspects to this. She says the racial disparities audit she commissioned highlighted an important aspect of what needed to be done.

Corbyn says the coalition slashed legal aid. The results are unfair, he says. There are legal aid deserts across the country. Has that helped or hindered the fight against burning injustices.

May says tackling burning injustice is not just a matter of access to the legal system. If Labour cared about this, they would have done more when they were in power.

May implicitly criticises Boris Johnson for refusing to back Kim Darroch

Theresa May starts by saying she spoke to Sir Kim Darroch this morning and told him it was a matter of great regret that he felt the need to resign. The whole cabinet supported him on Tuesday, she said. She said good public servants should be able to offer honest advice. And she says MPs should reflect on the importance of standing up for principles when they are under threat.

  • May implicitly criticises Boris Johnson for refusing to back Kim Darroch.

UPDATE: See 12.21pm for the full quote.


'You were simply doing your job' - head of Foreign Office plays tribute to Darroch

And this is what Sir Simon McDonald, the head of the Foreign Office, said in his reply to Sir Kim Darroch.

On behalf of the diplomatic service, I accept your resignation with deep personal regret.

Over the last few difficult days you have behaved as you have always behaved over a long and distinguished career, with dignity, professionalism and class. The prime minister, foreign secretary and whole of the public service have stood with you: you were the target of a malicious leak; you were simply doing your job. I understand your wish to relieve the pressure on your family and your colleagues at the embassy; I admire the fact that you think more of others than yourself. You demonstrate the essence of the values of British public service

I want to stress my deep appreciation for all you have done over the last four decades. In a series of demanding roles - including national security adviser and permanent representative to the European Union - you have loyally served the government of the day without fear or favour. We have been lucky to have you as a friend and colleague. You are the best of us.

What Kim Darroch said in his resignation letter

This is what Sir Kim Darroch said in his resignation letter.

Since the leak of official documents from this embassy there has been a great deal of speculation surrounding my position and the duration of my remaining term as ambassador. I want to put an end to that speculation. The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like.

Although my posting is not due to end until the end of this year, I believe in the current circumstances the responsible course is to allow the appointment of a new ambassador.

I am grateful to all those in the UK and the US, who have offered their support during this difficult few days. This has brought home to me the depth of friendship and close ties between our two countries. I have been deeply touched.

I am also grateful to all those with whom I have worked over the last four decades, particularly my team here in the US. The professionalism and integrity of the British civil service is the envy of the world. I will leave it full of confidence that its values remain in safe hands.

Kim Darroch has resigned as ambassador to Washington

Kim Darroch has resigned as ambassador to Washington, my colleague Jessica Elgot reports.

BREAKING - US ambassador Kim Darroch resigns

— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) July 10, 2019


Starmer admits it would be hard for Labour to go into general election backing leave

Yesterday Labour announced that it would campaign for remain in any second referendum on a Tory Brexit deal. But Jeremy Corbyn refused to say that the party would propose in its manifesto if there were an early general election. At a meeting earlier this week union leaders said the party should go into an election promising to negotiate a Labour Brexit, with the outcome put to the public in a referendum, but the shadow cabinet has not agreed to this plan.

In an interview on the Today programme this morning Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said Labour’s election position would be decided at the time, and it would depend when an election was called. But he conceded that it would be hard for the party to remain committed to leave given what it is now saying about backing remain in a pre-election referendum.

Here is the key exchange with Today’s Justin Webb.

JW: There’s a thing called logic. You can’t be campaigning effectively for remain effectively before an election and then say afterwards you might change your mind.

KS: Well, I accept that. There is a logic in that. We will build on the policy position that we’ve got, as we always do ....

JW: What I’m suggesting to you is that ... the one thing that you’ve decided on commits you to the second. You could not have an election where you say, ‘Actually, you know what, we might leave anyway.’

KS: Look, having got a position by consensus, and a strong and clear position, obviously we build on that as we go into a manifesto. What I can’t do, Justin, is suggest that the shadow cabinet at this stage can decide what we will say in our manifesto ... Obviously a critical question is going to be when that election is.

Sir Keir Starmer.
Sir Keir Starmer. Photograph: Mark Thomas/REX/Shutterstock


Parliament has a new group, the Independents. These are not to be be confused the independent MPs, the ones sit without party affiliation (normally because they have resigned from or been suspended by the party they were representing when elected). There are currently five Independents.

Just to make things complicated, four of them - Heidi Allen, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker and Angela Smith - used to be members of what started life as the Independent Group before it turned into Change UK. Change UK then split when six of its 11 MPs became independents.

Now four of those six are Independents. The other two were Chuka Umunna, who has joined the Lib Dems, and Sarah Wollaston, who is still an independent.

The fifth Independent is John Woodcock, who used to be Labour MP before resigning in protest against Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism (although he was also suspended at the time over a harassment allegation that he strongly denied).

Hi. We're #TheIndependents – a co-op of politicians working together, and with you, to find a better way to do politics.

— The Independents (@IndTogether) July 9, 2019

We're collaborating across political divides to provide a real alternative at the next election.

Our current MP members are @heidiallen75, @lucianaberger, @gavinshuker, @angelasmithmp and @JWoodcockMP. #TheIndependents

— The Independents (@IndTogether) July 9, 2019

Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan calls Boris Johnson 'utter wimp' for refusing to stand up to Trump

Sir Alan Duncan, the Foreign Office minister who is backing Jeremy Hunt for the Tory leadership, has described Boris Johnson as an “utter wimp” because of his refusal to stand up to President Trump over the British ambassador, Kim Darroch.

Am severely disappointed that Boris Johnson appears unwilling to stand up for our Ambassador to the US, our PM or our country. What does that tell you? Utter wimp when the crunch comes when he should be making a stand. Err... next PM??? #ITVDebate #HastobeHunt

— Sir Alan Duncan MP (@AlanDuncanMP) July 9, 2019

Matt Hancock, the health secretary who is supporting Boris Johnson for leader after his own bid failed, has been taking the Johnson line on Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the US, in interviews this morning. He refused to say that Darroch should stay in his post, and he argued that the relationship with the US needed a “reset”.

.@MattHancock says he agrees with @BorisJohnson's refusal to back the British ambassador to the US after leaked messages about President Trump and his administration.

The health secretary says the relationship with the US needs to be "reset" - more here:

— Sky News Politics (@SkyNewsPolitics) July 10, 2019


Britain’s Next Prime Minister: The ITV Debate was watched by an average of 4.3m viewers, ITV has said. According to viewing figures from ITV, the debate had a peak audience of 4.7m viewers.

This is from the Spectator’s James Forsyth.

‘Effectively, Jeremy Hunt resigned last night’ one leading Boris backer told me this morning. Party unity means Hunt will have to be offered something, But this quote another sign of how tense things are getting

— James Forsyth (@JGForsyth) July 10, 2019

The pro-independence National newspaper leads this morning with the fact that the union and Scotland were not discussed at all during the televised Tory leadership debate on ITV last night. After last week’s plea from Theresa May – made in Scotland – to defend the union, and both Hunt and Johnson’s promises on the subject, one doesn’t have to be a staunch nationalist to note this omission.

Today's front page: SNP group urges party to adopt new roadmap for kicking Trident out of an independent Scotland + Scottish issues are ignored yet again in Tory leadership debate. In shops now!

— The National (@ScotNational) July 10, 2019

Elsewhere, the Herald has a fascinating read-out of Theresa May’s most recent cabinet meeting which, according to UK political editor Michael Settle, discussed the threat to the union and rising support for independence at length, and concluded that extra spending was needed to promote the cause of UK unity.


This is from Nikki da Costa, Theresa May’s former director of legislative affairs at Downing Street.

Feel the need to point out that the last tactical prorogation of Parliament, for political means and to avoid Commons looking at something in more depth was by John Major to avoid the publication of a Cash for Access report when the House was sitting, leaving to long gap till GE

— Nikki da Costa (@nmdacosta) July 10, 2019

John Major was asked about this in his Today interview. He did not specifically deny calling the 1997 election a bit early to avoid the publication of a cash for questions report, but he said that by the time he did call that election, the parliament had already more or less run its full course.


When Sir John Major said that a judicial review challenging the prime minister’s decision to advise the Queen to prorogue parliament for a no-deal Brexit might succeed, he may have been influenced by the arguments in this Times article (paywall) by David Pannick QC. Pannick represented Gina Millar in the article 50 case and he explains why he thinks the JR route might work.

Until the mid-1980s, judges decided what prerogative powers were enjoyed by the crown, but would not assess the way in which such powers were exercised. More recently, the courts have held that the legal reviewability of governmental action depends less on the nature of the power being exercised, and more on whether the grounds of review raise legal issues that the court is equipped to address ...

What could be challenged is the legality of the advice on prorogation given by the prime minister. The claimant would need to show that the advice breaches a fundamental legal principle. One such principle is the sovereignty of parliament. The supreme court so held in January 2017 in the case brought by Gina Miller (for whom I acted as counsel) successfully challenging Theresa May’s decision to notify the EU of Britain’s intention to withdraw from membership without first seeking the approval of parliament.

Whether prorogation is a breach of the constitutional principle of parliamentary sovereignty depends on the circumstances of the case. In Canada in 2008 [where parliament was prorogued for political reasons] the issue did not come to court.

There would be three important features of a case in October. First, the prime minister would be seeking to prorogue parliament for the purpose of avoiding parliamentary sovereignty on an issue of significant constitutional importance.

Second, he would be seeking to stop parliament sitting when time would be of the essence, given the deadline of the end of October.

And third, he would be seeking to evade parliament because it has previously made clear its wish to prevent a no-deal Brexit. If he were to advise the Queen to prorogue parliament in these circumstances, the courts would be likely to hear an urgent application and then declare his advice to be unlawful.

In a useful Twitter thread, starting here, the barrister Jo Maugham has compiled a list, with links, of some more articles addressing this question.

A short bibliography of some of the literature on whether the could be a judicial review of (in effect) the decision to seek a prorogation of Parliament. /THREAD

— Jo Maugham QC (@JolyonMaugham) July 10, 2019


The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg points out that, given where the Conservative party membership is on Brexit, John Major’s threat to go to court to stop a no-deal Brexit prorogation will probably be helpful to Boris Johnson.

In the dynamics of this Tory race tho, Major’s threat will probably give more fire to Brexit supporters

— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) July 10, 2019

Charlie Falconer, a former Labour lord chancellor (and that was in the days when the lord chancellor had to be a QC, not just a jobbing cabinet minister), says John Major is right to say that there would be a good case for taking a decision to prorogue parliament to avoid a no-deal Brexit to judicial review (JR).

John Major says he would apply for an immediate Juducial Review against the Prime Minister preventing him advising HMQ to prorogue Parliament to facilitate No Deal. JR would succeed most lawyers think ( see eg Lord Pannick). 👏👏👏 to John Major.

— Charlie Falconer (@LordCFalconer) July 10, 2019


From Sky’s Tamara Cohen

A Boris Johnson campaign source on Sir John Major threatening to go to court over suspending Parliament:

“The fella’s been driven bonkers by brexit. Wouldn’t you if you’d virtually destroyed your party over Maastricht only now to see all the effort as wasted?”

— Tamara Cohen (@tamcohen) July 10, 2019


John Major's Today interview - Summary

Sir John Major has never been a fan of Boris Johnson. As a Telegraph journalist in the 1990s Johnson regularly ridiculed the Major government, and the former prime minister hasn’t forgotten, or forgiven. In his Today interview this morning Major said he was supporting Jeremy Hunt for the Conservative leadership, despite some reservations (he does not agree with Hunt’s willingness to accept a no-deal Brexit as an option). But Major spent most of the interview criticising Johnson, and in particular two Johnson positions that were illuminated in last night’s ITV debate: Johnson’s refusal to rule out the idea of proroguing parliament to stop MPs blocking a no-deal Brexit, and Johnson’s refusal to confirm that he would keep Sir Kim Darroch as ambassador to Washington following President Trump’s declaration that he will no longer deal with Darroch.

Here are the main points.

  • Major said he would be willing to go to court to seek a judicial review to stop Johnson proroguing parliament to facilitate a no-deal Brexit. Although proroguing is a prerogative power that is hard to challenge, Major said he thought a legal challenge was possible.

In order to close down parliament, the prime minister would have to go to Her Majesty the Queen and ask for her permission to prorogue. If her first minister asks for that permission, it is almost inconceivable that the Queen will do anything other than grant it ... She is then in the midst of a constitutional controversy, that no serious politician should put the Queen in the middle of.

Now, I think this is completely and utterly against parliamentary tradition, and against the way in which our government should work.

If that were to happen. I think there would be a queue of people who would seek judicial review. The Queen’s decision cannot be challenged in law. But the prime minister’s advice to the Queen can, I believe, be challenged in law and I for one would be prepared to go and seek judicial review to prevent parliament being bypassed.

I served in parliament for over 20 years. I’m very proud to have done so. I have huge admiration for our parliamentary traditions. I’m not going to stand by and see them disregarded in this fashion. It is utterly, utterly and completely the wrong way to proceed.

  • Major said proroguing parliament to facilitate a no-deal Brexit would be “utterly and totally unacceptable for any British parliamentarian or democrat”. He also said it would be hypocritical from someone like Johnson, who campaigned for Brexit so that parliament could take back control. Major said:

Let’s strip away the jargon of proroguing and contemplate what this actually means. What it means is that a prime minister – Prime Minister Johnson, presumably – because he cannot persuade parliament to agree with his policy, will close down parliament so that he can bypass it until his policy comes into operation.

Now, nobody has done that since King Charles II in the 1640s and it didn’t end well for him. And it shouldn’t end well. You cannot and should not bypass parliament in this fashion. And I cannot imagine how anyone could conceivably think that is right ...

I seem to recall that the Brexiteers, led by Mr Johnson, actually campaigned in the referendum for the sovereignty of Parliament ... They can’t be concerned for the sovereignty of Parliament except when it is inconvenient to Mr Johnson.

  • Major said the UK government should keep Sir Kim Darroch as ambassador to the US, despite President Trump’s refusal to deal with him. He defended Darroch, and said that in giving his “unvarnished views” about the Trump administration he was just doing his job. Major said it was unacceptable to allow foreign governments to choose the British ambassadors who should serve in their countries. Major went on:

There is a secondary point that Mr Johnson and everybody else should ponder. The whole of the diplomatic service, which is vital to the interests of this country, will have seen that one of their most senior diplomats was prepared to be thrown to the wolves because of the criticism of a non-British government. I do not think that is good for the morale of the civil service. And I do not think anybody who does that will endear themselves in obtaining the loyalty of the civil service in future. Loyalty is a two-way street. Mr Darroch has not misbehaved. He has behaved exactly as he was expected to behave, indeed, probably instructed to behave. And he deserves the support of the British government.

Major said the government should keep Darroch in post even if this meant a “short-term freeze” in relations with Washington.

If this means a short term freeze in relationships, that would be very unfortunate, because America [is] a very important ally of this country and always [has] been. But nonetheless there comes a time with principle has to come first. And the principle that we stand by our ambassadors when they have behaved entirely properly, is one that cannot be changed.

Former British PM Sir John Major will "seek a judicial review" to prevent the next prime minister suspending Parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit #r4today

— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) July 10, 2019


John Major threatens court action to stop Boris Johnson proroguing parliament for Brexit

In the ITV Tory leadership debate last night Boris Johnson, the clear favourite to be the next prime minister, again refused to rule out proroguing parliament to stop MPs blocking a no-deal Brexit. This morning, in an extraordinary intervention, Sir John Major, the former Conservative prime minister, told the Today programme that he would be willing to go to court to seek a judicial review to stop this happening. He said:

I think the idea of proroguing parliament is utterly and totally unacceptable from any British parliamentarian or democrat. I for one would be prepared to go and seek judicial review to prevent parliament being bypassed.

I will post more from Major’s interview shortly.

Here is the agenda for the day.

10am: David Gauke, the justice secretary, gives evidence to the Commons justice committee.

10.20am: Matt Hancock, the health secretary, gives a speech at the King’s Fund’s leadership and management summit.

12pm: Theresa May faces Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs.

1pm: Sir Simon McDonald, head of the Foreign Office, gives evidence to the Commons foreign affairs committee about the leak of the Kim Darroch memos about the Trump White House.

1pm: David Sterling, head of the Northern Ireland civil service, gives a speech to the Institute for Government.

2.30pm: Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan police, gives evidence to the Commons home affairs committee about progress since the Macpherson report.

3.15pm: Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary and Tory leadership candidate, speaks at a conference on media freedom.

As usual, I will be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web. I plan to publish a summary at lunchtime and then another when I finish.

You can read all the latest Guardian politics articles here. Here is the Politico Europe roundup of this morning’s political news. And here is the PoliticsHome list of today’s top 10 must-reads.

If you want to follow me or contact me on Twitter, I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter.



Mattha Busby (now) and Andrew Sparrow (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

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