It’s been another busy day of election results, with England’s final local councils and West Yorkshire’s mayor declared amid mounting tensions around Labour’s reshuffle. Here’s what we’ve had today:
- After what felt like a very long 24 hours, Angela Rayner has been promoted to shadow Cabinet Office minister, as well as taking on the roles of shadow chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster and shadow secretary of state for the future of work.
- The reshuffle has also seen Rachel Reeves replacing Anneliese Dodds as shadow chancellor, while Dodds was made party chair. Veteran chief whip Nick Brown has been replaced by his deputy, Alan Campbell.
- England’s 143 local council elections delivered notable wins for the Conservatives and the Greens. The Tories won the most seats, as well as gaining control of 13 councils, giving them 63 in total.
- Although they remain without a council majority, the Greens more than doubled their number of seats nationally, with 88 more councillors elected to take them to 151.
- In contrast, Labour lost control of eight councils, leaving them with 44 in total. The Lib Dems gained one council, taking them to seven.
- Mayoral races delivered better results for Labour however, with their candidate Tracy Brabin elected West Yorkshire’s inaugural mayor. Brabin is also the first female metro mayor in England.
- Brabin’s victory – which will now trigger a by-election in her constituency of Batley and Spen – means that Labour have won 11 of the 13 mayoral contests, including two gains from the Conservatives.
That’s all from me for today – we’ll be shutting down this blog shortly. Thanks for reading along.
Keir Starmer handed his deputy, Angela Rayner, a major promotion on Sunday night after a day of fraught negotiations and power battles. He also sacked his shadow chancellor and promoted his close ally, Rachel Reeves, to the role in a move likely to further inflame tensions with the party’s left.
The reshuffle of Starmer’s shadow cabinet was derailed by a prolonged standoff with Rayner, who was locked in talks with the party leader’s team for hours on Sunday. It came after leaked plans to sack her as party chair and national campaigns coordinator triggered an outcry.
Angela Rayner has put out a statement on her new shadow cabinet positions, which were announced in a reshuffle following a fraught 24 hours.
As well as outlining her ambitions in her new roles, she thanked “friends from all across the Labour party and our movement who have been in touch”, saying: “United we stand, divided we fall. The past we inherit the future we build.”
John McDonnell blasts the sacking of chief whip Nick Brown as “inept in the extreme”:
Announcing his shadow cabinet reshuffle, Keir Starmer emphasised the need for “bold ideas” and “a relentless focus” on British people’s priorities.
Starmer said in a statement: “The Labour party must be the party that embraces the demand for change across our country.
“That will require bold ideas and a relentless focus on the priorities of the British people. Just as the pandemic has changed what is possible and what is necessary, so Labour must change too.
“In the last 24 hours we have seen fantastic results for Labour metro mayors, as well as the Labour government in Wales under Mark Drakeford. They have shown the difference Labour can make in power, standing up for their communities.”
Here is what Labour’s shadow cabinet looks like now – the changes are in bold:
- Deputy Leader, Shadow First Secretary of State, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Shadow Secretary of State for the Future of Work: Angela Rayner
- Party Chair & Chair of Labour Policy Review: Anneliese Dodds
- National Campaign Coordinator: Shabana Mahmood
- Shadow Chief Whip: Alan Campbell
- Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer: Rachel Reeves
- Shadow Chief Secretary to HM Treasury: Bridget Phillipson
- Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs: Lisa Nandy
- Shadow Secretary of State for the Home Department: Nick Thomas-Symonds
- Shadow Secretary of State for Justice: David Lammy
- Shadow Secretary of State for Defence: John Healey
- Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care: Jonathan Ashworth
- Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Ed Miliband
- Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions: Jonathan Reynolds
- Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade: Emily Thornberry
- Shadow Secretary of State for Education: Kate Green
- Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Jo Stevens
- Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Luke Pollard
- Shadow Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government: Steve Reed
- Shadow Secretary of State for Housing: Lucy Powell
- Shadow Secretary of State for Transport: Jim McMahon
- Shadow Secretary of State for International Development: Preet Gill
- Shadow Secretary of State for Wales: Nia Griffith
- Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland: Ian Murray
- Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland: Louise Haigh
- Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities: Marsha de Cordova
- Shadow Leader of the House of Commons : Thangam Debbonaire
- Shadow Attorney General: Charlie Falconer
- Shadow Secretary of State for Mental Health: Rosena Allin-Khan
- Shadow Secretary of State for Child Poverty: Wes Streeting
- Shadow Secretary of State for Young People and Democracy: Cat Smith
- Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights & Protections: Andy McDonald
- Shadow Leader of the House of Lords: Angela Smith
- Opposition Chief Whip in the House: Tommy McAvoy
Jessica Elgot sums up:
Keir Starmer sacked his shadow chancellor on Sunday night and promoted his close ally Rachel Reeves to the role, moving Anneliese Dodds to the back office role of party chair, in a move set to further inflame tensions with the party’s left.
Angela Rayner has been handed significant new powers, including as shadow Cabinet Office minister, shadowing Michael Gove, and retaining control over party matters, ahead of Dodds. She will also be shadow cabinet minister for the future of work.
Other key moves Thangam Debbonaire as leader of the House of Commons and Alan Campbell replacing Nick Brown as chief whip.
Angela Rayner promoted to shadow Cabinet Office minister
Angela Rayner’s move to the shadow Cabinet Office after she was removed from party chair is understood to have held up Sunday’s reshuffle.
She has been moved to two other roles – shadow chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster and shadow secretary of state for the future of work.
The news of the reshuffle follows a long 24 hours, with Keir Starmer facing anger from MPs across Labour as he was accused of “scapegoating” Rayner for the party’s poor results.
Valerie Vaz has left as shadow Commons leader:
Rachel Reeves has replaced Anneliese Dodds as shadow chancellor.
Angela Rayner has been moved to the shadow cabinet office.
Anneliese Dodds has been offered the role of party chair.
Sky’s Sam Coates has this statement from a spokesman for Nick Brown, who has been sacked as chief whip:
Brown has served as whip under Starmer, Corbyn, Brown and Blair.
The Guardian understands Anneliese Dodds has been sacked as shadow chancellor:
Reaction from LabourList editor Sienna Rogers:
Following rumours that the shadow foreign secretary could be moved to a less prominent role, The Times’ Patrick Maguire says:
Here we go...
Local elections summary
The last of England’s 143 council election results have now been declared, bringing an end to three days of counts after voters in England, Scotland and Wales elected mayors, councillors, representatives in devolved parliaments, and one MP on Super Thursday.
The Conservatives have won the most seats, as well as gaining control of 13 councils, giving them 63 in total. There are now 2,346 Tory councillors across England – an increase of 236.
However, the elections also delivered significant gains for the Green party, most notably in Bristol, where they more than doubled their number of seats, although they remain without a majority on any council. The party also more than doubled their number of council seats nationally, with 88 more councillors elected to take them to 151.
In contrast, Labour lost control of eight councils, leaving them with 44 in total. The party now has 1,344 councillors – a fall of 327.
The Lib Dems have seven councils after gaining one (St Albans). They won seven more councillors, giving them 586 in total.
Voters also elected a further 39 independent councillors, meaning there are now 255 without party affiliation.
Here is Heather Stewart on the backlash from Angela Rayner’s supporters amid plans to demote her:
As well as delivering a win for Tracy Brabin, the West Yorkshire mayoral race brought in nearly 59,000 votes for the Yorkshire party, which was only created in 2014.
The mayoral results showed a surprisingly strong performance from Yorkshire party. Its candidate, Bob Buxton, received almost 59,000 votes to reach third place, beating the Greens and the Liberal Democrats, despite his party only having been formed in 2014.
Buxton, 42, a parish councillor, campaigned on a programme of “real devolution” for Yorkshire including a regional parliament.
“I’m absolutely delighted. We’ve surprised a lot of people by coming ahead of the Greens and Lib Dems. This is a watershed moment and we now have much higher status heading into the upcoming byelection.”
Tracy Brabin has said she “has no doubt” that Batley and Spen will remain a Labour constituency following her win as West Yorkshire metro mayor.
Brabin’s victory means a byelection will be triggered. She will have to give up her seat in Commons, as the mayor of West Yorkshire – a newly created role – is also the police and crime commissioner (PCC) for the area. MPs cannot be PCCs.
She told PA: “I think Batley and Spen is a seat we’ll win. We have a community that understands what Labour can deliver for us.
“I think there is that understanding that a Labour MP, working with a Labour mayor and other Labour MPs across the region, we can really flourish.
“I know that the people of Batley and Spen will remain Labour, I am sure, I have no doubt about it.”
The Times’ Patrick Maguire with some insights into who Labour could select for the Batley and Spen byelection following Tracy Brabin’s metro mayor election:
It may prove a pyrrhic victory, however, as Labour’s win means Brabin must stand down immediately as MP for the constituency of Batley & Spen under electoral commission rules that make the police and crime responsibilities in her new role incompatible with being an MP. This will trigger another byelection this summer, with Labour sources saying 22 July has been mooted as the date for the contest.
Tracy Brabin has thanked voters for choosing her to be the first metro mayor of West Yorkshire, describing it as “an honour [she] just can’t put into words”.
As well as becoming the region’s inaugural mayor, she is also England’s first female metro mayor.
In a speech after the results were announced, Brabin said: “Growing up on free school meals in a Birstall council flat ... I never imagined I would be elected as a member of parliament for my hometown, let alone be asked to serve as the first ever metro mayor of West Yorkshire, the first ever metro mayor in the country.
“My belief is as strong as ever that Labour has the right answers for our cities, towns and villages. The election results have shown how hard we must work to prove that and I won’t ever take your support for granted.
“I hope in some small way, my election will say to working class kids across our region – it doesn’t matter where you live, what your parents do for a living, how much money you have in the bank or where you went to school. You can reach the very top.”
Roundup of England's mayoral contests
With the last mayoral race finally called, here’s a quick summary of overall results of the 13 elections held in England.
There’s significant variety in the scale of the roles: Doncaster and Salford are local mayors, while Greater Manchester and Liverpool city region are regional “supermayor” roles.
Labour won 11 mayoralties, including London, while the Tories got two.
Of Labour’s 11 wins, two were a gain from the Conservatives – Cambridgeshire & Peterborough and the West of England. Both the Tory victories were holds.
In London, the race between incumbent Sadiq Khan (Lab) and Shaun Bailey (Con) was much closer than expected. Khan was reelected for a second term following the count of second preference votes.
Labour wins West Yorkshire inaugural mayoralty
Labour’s Tracy Brabin has been elected mayor of West Yorkshire after second preference ballots were counted, winning a total of 310,923 votes (59.8%).
Matt Robinson, the Conservative candidate, came second with 209,137 votes (40.2%) overall.
Brabin’s victory means that she will have to give up her seat in Commons, as the mayor of West Yorkshire – a newly created role – is also the police and crime commissioner (PCC) for the area. MPs are not allowed to be PCCs.
This will trigger a by-election in Brabin’s Leave-voting constituency of Batley and Spen – likely to be another difficult race for Labour.
From the political editor of Politics Home as we continue to await news of Labour’s reshuffle:
A Conservative candidate has withdrawn from the election for the post of Wiltshire and Swindon police and crime commissioner over a 30-year-old driving conviction.
Jonathon Seed, a Wiltshire councillor, said he had declared the conviction and believed he was eligible for the post.
In a statement he said: “Party officials confirmed my belief that my offence did not disqualify me. I have now been advised that this is not the case, and that I am disqualified as a PCC candidate. I have therefore withdrawn. I am bitterly disappointed.”
The count will go ahead on Monday in Salisbury but will have to be re-run if Seed wins the vote.
Green party co-leader Jonathan Bartley heads to Bristol after the city’s council gained 13 seats from Labour, more than doubling its number of councillors:
Green party more than doubles its number of seats in Bristol
A tremendous result for the Green party in Bristol, where they more than doubled their number of seats on the city council – and tied with Labour.
The parties both won 24 seats. Labour was down from 33 and the Greens up from 11 while the Conservatives remained on 14.
One of the new Green councillors is 18-year-old Lily Fitzgibbon, a founding member of Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate.
She helped organise last year’s climate emergency protest in the city attended by Greta Thunberg.
Two Labour cabinet members, Afzal Shah, and Kye Dudd, lost their seats in Easton and Central wards respectively.
Labour’s Marvin Rees had already retained his position as directly-elected mayor – giving the party an extra vote at full council meetings.
Nicola Sturgeon’s spokesman has said the first minister made it clear to Boris Johnson that “the question of a referendum is now a matter of when - not if” during a phone call on Sunday.
He said: “The first minister made clear that her immediate focus was on steering the country through Covid and into recovery, and that a newly elected Scottish government would work with the UK government as far as possible on that aim.
“They also agreed the importance of the two governments working together closely and constructively to achieve a successful hosting of and outcome from Cop26.
“The first minister also re-iterated her intention to ensure that the people of Scotland can choose our own future when the crisis is over, and made clear that the question of a referendum is now a matter of when – not if.”
Michael Gove calls Scottish referendum a “massive distraction” from the coronavirus pandemic:
The Green party have won Windmill Hill ward in Bristol from Labour:
The Greens are making inroads in Bristol – at a cost to Labour.
Overall, the party has gained 70 councillors across England so far, giving them a total of 123.
See the full results here:
Mary Kelly Foy, Labour MP for the city of Durham, reflects on the party’s first loss of Durham county council in a century:
West Yorkshire mayoral count goes to second ballot
Labour’s Tracy Brabin is in the lead in the West Yorkshire mayoral race but, with a share of 43.1%, has not achieved a majority in first preference votes.
Here are the full results, sent in by Alex Mistlin:
- Labour - 261,170
- Conservatives - 176,167
- Yorkshire Party - 58,851
- Green - 55,833
- LDs - 30,162
- Reform UK - 14,943
- English Democrats - 8,969
No candidate has over 50% so we’re heading for a second ballot.
The Guardian’s Alex Mistlin reports from the count in Leeds, where Labour received 30,000 more votes than the Conservatives in the West Yorkshire mayoral race.
We should have the full results soon.
Hello, this is Clea Skopeliti taking over the blog as we wait for the final handful of council results and the mayor of West Yorkshire to be declared.
As always, you can contact me on Twitter if you want to draw my attention to something. Thanks in advance.
The SNP leader has promised a new referendum on Scottish independence in the first half of the next parliamentary term, but only after having tackled coronavirus.
Nicola Sturgeon viewed Westminster contesting the referendum as “absurd, outrageous and completely unacceptable” as the UK government would be contesting Scottish democracy.
Beccy Cooper, who in 2017 was the first Labour councillor to be elected in Worthing for 41 years, was delighted the party had gained five seats and now had 18.
She told the PA Media news agency the party’s success was due to working with the community, saying:
All politics is local, if you lose sight of local focus, you can become irrelevant, and voters will move to more entertaining people instead.
I support the national team, but you need to find a voice, to listen to communities and reflect the best of the communities through leadership.
(We should) not be interested in what opposition parties are saying.
Labour gained five seats in Worthing, with the Conservatives only narrowly retaining control of the council in their Sussex heartlands.
The Conservatives lost four seats, and now have 19, with Labour on 15 and the Liberal Democrats three, PA Media reports.
Here’s our tracker of the results so you can keep fully up to date:
Nicola Sturgeon is trying to force the UK government into a court battle over a second independence referendum in order to distract from her party’s failure to secure a majority at Holyrood, Douglas Ross has said.
Speaking to the media on Sunday afternoon, the Scottish Conservative leader was in jubilant mood as he proclaimed he had stopped a SNP majority and “stopped indyref2”.
He said that “within hours of the polls closing [Nicola Sturgeon] had resorted to her usual message of division”.
As Michael Gove did earlier this morning, Ross dodged the question of whether the UK government would take the Scottish government to court if it progressed legislation for a second referendum – as Sturgeon has said she will, after the immediate Covid crisis has passed.
He said that it was more important to focus on the competency of the Holyrood parliament, implying that the matter was unlikely to get to a court battle.
Let’s just look at what the Scottish parliament has the powers to do right now. I do think Nicola Sturgeon is focusing her argument on a hypothetical court battle about getting something through the Scottish parliament that currently it doesn’t have any competency over, to distract attention from the fact that she has on two occasions failed to secure a majority government.
She is framing this as a battle she believes she can force the UK government into taking the Scottish government to court … Nicola Sturgeon is many steps ahead to distract from the issues within her own party and the disappointment for many members of the SNP that she has failed to gain a majority.
He pointed out that both the lord advocate and the presiding officer had a role in deciding what legislation is competent to be passed by the Scottish parliament – according to the Scotland Act, matters relating to the union are reserved to Westminster, hence the need for a section 30 from the UK government.
Labour narrowly missed out on a majority in the Welsh parliament, finishing with 30 of the 60 seats, but the signs are it may choose to govern alone rather than forming a coalition or partnership.
The counsel general, Jeremy Miles, suggested as much in an interview on BBC Radio Wales when he said there were “precedents where we have successfully been able to negotiate budget agreements, legislative arrangements on a case-by-case basis with other parties”.
I think the mathematics of this Senedd, the response that the people of Wales have given, allows for that range of possibilities.
On Saturday the first minister, Mark Drakeford, said:
We’ve demonstrated in the past that you can govern successfully with 30 seats, but my approach will be to work with other parties where there are policy ideas that we have in common.
In the last Welsh government, the only Lib Dem, Kirsty Williams, served as education minister. Williams did not stand for reelection.
The only Lib Dem elected this time, Jane Dodds, has ruled out joining the government.
The Welsh Conservatives Senedd leader, Andrew RT Davies, said he hoped someone from his party could be the next Llywydd – or presiding officer.
With Friday’s constituency results turning the map canary yellow, it was never in doubt that the SNP had secured a comfortable victory and a historic fourth term at Holyrood. And while it remained on a knife-edge into the late afternoon whether Nicola Sturgeon’s nationalists could reach the 65 seats required for an outright Holyrood majority, senior party figures were eager to manage expectation, concentrating on the party’s sweep of constituencies and increased vote share.
It was an extraordinary result by any standards after 14 years in power. Indeed, due to the proportional nature of the Holyrood voting system, a majority has been achieved only once since the Scottish parliament was established, in 2011 by the SNP under the leadership of former first minister Alex Salmond.
Much analysis during the campaign was given over to how pro-independence voters might respond to Salmond’s argument that hundreds of thousands of ballots cast for the SNP’s list candidates in 2016 were “the ultimate wasted vote” as they led to only a handful of MSPs being elected. A vote for Alba, the party he launched only six weeks ago, would help secure a “pro-independence super-majority” at Holyrood, Salmond said, and make it far harder for Boris Johnson to refuse a second referendum.
Last week, SNP candidates reported that, while voters were asking more questions about the two-part voting system this campaign, their growing awareness was not benefiting Alba, but the Scottish Greens instead. But as Salmond’s tactical pro-independence plan tanked, with Alba not expected to return any MSPs, there was significant evidence of pro-union voters acting strategically.
Read the full article here:
The Liberal Democrats have taken control of St Albans council after gaining seats on Sunday morning.
The council was previously under no overall control, with the Liberal Democrats and Conservative both holding 24 of the 58 seats.
The St Albans Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper tweeted she was “super proud” of the St Albans Lib Dems team.
A social care reform plan will be “heading for the statute books” by the end of the year, a senior government minister has said.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, asked whether social care reform would form part of this week’s Queen’s speech, told Times Radio:
We’re working to make sure that we have an effective social care plan at the moment. That work is going on.
So, by the end of the year you will have a specific social care plan that is heading for the statute books at the very least.
We want to make sure that we can get cross-party support for it. That is critical. That’s the point the prime minister has always made. The more support we can get for it across parties, and I hope we do, the quicker we can be.
Anti-fascist campaigners have been celebrating a dismal performance by far-right candidates in elections around the UK, from Scotland to council polls in England.
But their disastrous showing was also attributed to what the campaign organisation Hope not Hate described as Boris Johnson’s “hyping of a cultural war” and the attraction of former far-right votes to a populist agenda that included strong anti-immigration messaging.
The far-right group, For Britain, got less than 50 votes in 25 of the 47 council wards for which results were available on Friday afternoon. More than 100 votes were secured in only 10 of the wards contested by the party.
The results confirmed how politically irrelevant the British far right has been becoming in recent years, according to Nick Lowles, the chief executive of Hope Not Hate.
After the BNP’s collapse in 2010, most of its supporters had been swept up by UKIP and then the Brexit party, he said, while many of the same voters had since switched to the Conservative party.
With his pro-Brexit and rightwing populist agenda, which includes strong anti-immigration messaging and deliberate manipulation and hyping of a cultural war, there is currently very little political space for traditional far right parties obsessed with racial nationalism and Islamophobia.
The BNP tapped into political discontent that existed in many white working class communities, and while these voters were strongly opposed to immigration and a multiracial society, they were also uneasy about the BNP’s more extreme views. When offered slightly more moderate versions of the same anti-politics, anti-immigrant and nationalist messages, these voters quickly jumped ship.
In the elections to Scotland’s parliament, the former deputy leader of Britain First, Jayda Franzen, lost her deposit after polling a paltry 46 votes in Glashow Southside. Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, had confronted her and described her as “a “fascist” and “racist”.
Ukip was wiped out in the assembly elections in Wales, losing all of its members of the Welsh Senedd after its 2016 breakthrough, when it won seven seats. Its candidate in the London mayoral elections, Peter Gammons, polled just 14,393 votes, or 0.6%.
The Conservatives gained control of Amber Valley in Derbyshire from Labour after winning 13 of the 16 seats being contested.
The party gained nine seats from Labour and the new council make-up is Tory 28 and Labour 16, with one Green.
Woman ‘sexually harassed’ by ex-Hartlepool MP says Labour failed to support her
A former Westminster staff member has accused Labour of abandoning her after she complained of being sexually assaulted and harassed by the party’s former MP for Hartlepool, Mike Hill.
Known as Woman A, she told the Guardian that the party, under both Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn, had shown no interest in her wellbeing for the past 18 months.
She also questioned why Hill, under a parliamentary scheme, was fully insured for legal costs while she had struggled to pay legal bills while sleeping on friends’ sofas.
Hill resigned as Labour MP for Hartlepool in March, sparking Thursday’s byelection and a victory for the Conservatives. Hill will face claims of sexual harassment and victimisation, which he denies, at an employment tribunal in central London on Monday.
In a statement sent through her barrister, Woman A said she was disappointed in the lack of care shown by Labour. She said no one from the party had contacted her about the case for the past 19 months.
I was not at all well supported by the Labour party, who I feel owed me some duty of care. My complaints have been ignored by those who could have intervened. They have shown no interest in my wellbeing.
I have had to rely on my family and lawyers for a good deal of support … whereas I understand Mr Hill is fully insured for all legal costs and damages.
Read the full story here:
Asked earlier if she would be the first minister to deliver independence for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon said: “I hope so.”
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, she said:
I have just won a landslide election and another five-year term as first minister.
I have got the energy, the appetite, to get on with the job. Firstly to get us through Covid, that is my priority, and then I hope to lead to Scotland to independence.
The future of Scotland, and I hope the independent future of Scotland, is much bigger than any one individual politician.
Keir Starmer is expected to reshuffle his frontbench on Sunday, including finding a significant new role for his deputy, Angela Rayner, after his decision to remove her as party chair and national campaign coordinator caused a backlash.
Rayner’s sacking was criticised as “scapegoating” by the former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, while the newly reelected Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, tweeted that he could not support it.
Senior Labour sources were confirming on Saturday evening that Rayner had been asked to relinquish both roles, as the party shakes up its approach to campaigns in the light of a raft of disappointing results in Thursday’s Hartlepool byelection and English council elections.
Allies of Rayner were baffled and furious, and a string of MPs lined up to criticise the decision. The row overshadowed the announcement of positive results for Labour, including Burnham’s thumping victory.
But by Sunday morning, the Starmer loyalist Ian Murray, the shadow Scottish secretary, was claiming Rayner had been offered a “significant promotion”.
“Angela Rayner hasn’t been sacked, as I understand it, Angela Rayner has been offered a significant promotion, to take her from the back office of the Labour party running elections, to the front office where she’s talking to the country,” he told Sophy Ridge on Sky News.
Read the full story here:
Nicola Sturgeon confirmed she would attend a summit called by Boris Johnson with the leaders of the devolved administrations.
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, she said:
I will work with the prime minister and anybody in the interests of Covid recovery, of course I will, I have done it all through the last year.
I also want to be in a position where our decisions around the Covid recovery long-term are not dependent on decisions Boris Johnson takes.
Because I guess at some point we will find out that takes Scotland in a direction we don’t want to go in.
Here’s the full story on the prime minister’s summit by my colleagues Severin Carrell and Libby Brooks:
Nicola Sturgeon said if the UK government “refuses to accept Scottish democracy” it would mean Westminster would be “saying the UK is no longer a union based on consent”.
Instead, she said it would see Scotland “retained in that union by force of law”.
The Scottish first minister, speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, said:
If that is the argument, then we are going into unprecedented territory.
If the argument of the unionist side is that Scotland is trapped, it strikes me that is one of the strongest arguments for independence.
The UK government knows that if we ever get into a situation where this is being determined in the courts, then actually what the UK government is arguing is that there is no democratic route for Scotland to independence, then they are in a very, very bad place.
I don’t think it will get to that point.
UK government would be 'absurd' to block new independence referendum – Sturgeon
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said it would be “absurd and completely outrageous” if the UK government went to court to block a second independence referendum.
For this to end up in court, which is not something I ever want to see, it would mean a Conservative government had refused to respect the democratic wishes of the Scottish people and the outcome of a democratic election and tried to go to the supreme court to overturn Scottish democracy.
Sturgeon told BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show it was “up to the Scottish people” to decide the country’s future.
In this election they have voted overwhelmingly for the SNP and we stood on a manifesto commitment to firstly … continue to steer the country through the Covid pandemic.
But after the crisis to give the people of Scotland the opportunity to choose our own future in a referendum.
The fact that we are sitting here having a debate about whether or not that outcome is going to be respected says a lot about the lack of respect for Scottish democracy that this UK government has demonstrated for quite some time now.
For those wondering how the actor Laurence Fox got on in the London mayoral elections, he is among 16 mayoral candidates set to lose their £10,000 deposit.
Candidates have to achieve 5% of first-preference votes to have the money returned.
Anti-lockdown activist Fox, was polling 2%, despite a well-funded bid for City Hall.
My colleague Maya Wolfe-Robinson has shared the manifesto of a candidate who got more votes than Fox, despite a much smaller budget:
In case you missed it late last night, Sadiq Khan has been elected as mayor of London for a second term, following a victory that was less emphatic than predicted after a late increase in support for his Conservative opponent.
As recently as March, polls had given Khan a 25-point lead over his Tory rival, Shaun Bailey, handing him 53% of the vote.
That would have seen him win outright on the first round of counting, without the need to count the second preferences of voters. However, with polls tightening in recent weeks, insiders suggested the issue of crime had dented Khan’s lead.
After the first day of counting votes on Friday, Khan had a lead of just 24,267 over Bailey. However, as counting progressed on Saturday, it became clear Khan was leading in most of the outstanding areas.
When the first preference votes had been counted, Khan was on 1,013,721 (40%) while Bailey had 893,051 (35.3%). Siân Berry of the Green party came third with 197,976 (7.8%) while the Liberal Democrats’ Luisa Porritt was fourth with 111,716 (4.4%).
In the runoff, Khan received 192,313 to win a total of 1,206,034 (55.2%), while Bailey received 84,550, bringing his total to 977,601 (44.8%).
It was announced Khan had won a second term at 11pm on Saturday, amid earlier suggestions that the declaration would be delayed until Sunday.
Read the full story here:
Ian Murray, Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary, said an independence referendum was not the priority of the Scottish people at the moment.
He told Sophy Ridge on Sky:
The important thing to realise from these elections, which is critical for all sides of this debate, is that Scotland is completely split down the middle.
In terms of the constituency vote pro-independence parties just fell short of 50% and on the regional list just got over 50%, so Scotland is completely and utterly split down the middle.
The first minister promised this election would be about Covid recovery and we will be holding her to that, and if she brings a bill to parliament about a referendum when she promised it would be about Covid recovery we will certainly not support that.
What we’re doing and what our MSPs will be doing when we come back to parliament on Thursday is having a sole focus on what everyone promised in this election, which is Covid recovery, that’s the priorities of the Scottish people and that’s the priorities of our MSPs when they go back into that chamber, and it should be the priority for everyone, and both the UK and Scottish government have to work together to make this work, otherwise Scotland and the rest of UK will be much diminished.
Keir Starmer will carry out a reshuffle of his shadow cabinet team later on today
Labour leader Keir Starmer will carry out a reshuffle of his shadow cabinet team on Sunday, the PA Media news agency understands, as the fallout over the party’s dismal election performance continues.
Starmer has come under fire after opting to sack his deputy Angela Rayner from her role as party chairman and national campaign co-ordinator on Saturday, with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham telling him that it was “wrong”.
The opposition leader will look to reshape his top team further across the weekend as he looks to reverse the party’s downward spiral in England.
As well as undertaking a reshuffle, the former director of public prosecutions has also hired Gordon Brown’s former chief pollster Deborah Mattinson – who has written a book about why Labour lost the so-called “red wall” at the 2019 general election – as director of strategy.
It comes after Labour received a drubbing in some parts of the country, losing control of a host of councils and suffering defeat at the hands of Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in the Hartlepool byelection – the first time the North East constituency has gone blue since its inception in the 1970s.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said that his “understanding is that Angela Rayner is going to take a different position in the shadow cabinet”.
She has been a fantastic deputy leader, I am proud she is deputy leader of our UK party.
I don’t think you can scapegoat anybody, I don’t think anyone is saying one person is to blame, it is a collective effort, and we have all got to collectively pull this Labour Party together.
Asked directly if she had been promoted or demoted, Sarwar said:
I am not in charge of who promotes who on what in Westminster, I am in charge of the party here in Scotland.
Michael Gove is speaking to BBC’s Andrew Marr and is being pushed quite hard on the potential second referendum question.
Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell said sacking Angela Rayner as national campaign co-ordinator was a “huge mistake” by leader Keir Starmer.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show:
I haven’t spoken to Angie. And let me be clear, I don’t have any brief for Angie. I didn’t support her as deputy leader, I supported Richard Burgon.
When the leader of the party on Friday said he takes responsibility for the election result in Hartlepool in particular and then scapegoats Angela Rayner, I think many of us feel that is unfair, particularly as we all know actually that Keir’s style of leadership is that his office controls everything.
It is very centralised and he controlled the campaign, so many of us think it is really unfair.
What public relations genius thought this was a good move on the very day, actually, we were having successes – Andy Burnham in Manchester, Steve Rotheram in Liverpool, Paul Dennett in Salford, Marvin down in Bristol, Sadiq in London.
The very day we’re recovering a bit and having successes, then they do this. I just think it is a huge mistake.
Amid more questions on the possibility of a second referendum on Scottish independence, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove told Sophy Ridge on Sky:
We have a Queen’s speech coming up in the Westminster parliament in just a few days time, at its heart are a series of bills and measures which will strengthen our NHS.
He later added:
I think if you had a referendum on the question of whether or not they should be talking about the constitution or the NHS, I think it would be the NHS by a landslide.
The Green party was celebrating what it called a “landmark result” in Bristol, where the party came second to Labour’s Marvin Rees.
Candidate Sandy Hore-Ruthven said:
The number of Green votes shows that the tide is turning and it’s time to change how we run our cities.
Tens of thousands of Bristolians have used their vote to say we must protect our natural world and ensure no-one is left behind.
In 2016, the party finished in fourth place behind Rees, the independent George Ferguson and the Tories.
Jonathan Bartley, the national co-leader of the Green party, tweeted: “Huge surge to the Greens in Bristol! Great work.”
Veteran Labour MP Diane Abbott said the party’s leadership should revisit the “popular” policies of the its 2019 general election manifesto to get it back to winning ways.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Abbott, who described the Hartlepool byelection loss as “distressing”, said:
I think we need to be building on the policies in the 2019 manifesto, many of which were forward-thinking and popular. We need to get the strategy right.
Put to her that Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto had failed, Abbott added: “It was a manifesto that, taking the policies individually, was very popular.”
Asked whether the Hartlepool loss was a hangover from the Corbyn-era, his ally replied:
We won Hartlepool twice under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and, importantly, with a bigger proportion of the vote.
You can’t say that Jeremy is responsible for the Hartlepool result. The disaffection in post-industrial Britain long predates Jeremy’s leadership and we have to look at the roots of it.
Angela Rayner's sacking 'baffling' and 'not unifying', says Diane Abbott
Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the decision to sack Angela Rayner as Labour chairman was “baffling”.
She obviously didn’t get the memo that the new line is that Rayner hasn’t actually been sacked (see post below).
She told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday:
I think sacking Angela Rayner is not a unifying thing to do. I think it is baffling why he (Sir Keir Starmer) sacked Angela Rayner.
She didn’t take any of the big decisions around Hartlepool and we’ve not heard anywhere in the country people saying they didn’t vote Labour because of Angela Rayner.
Asked what she thought the decision said about Starmer’s leadership, Abbott replied:
I think it is puzzling to sack Angela Rayner and it really is unfair to have her take (the blame).
Angela Rayner has not been sacked, Ian Murray has told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
The Labour frontbencher said:
Angela Rayner has not been sacked. She has taken a significant promotion, which takes her from the back office to the front.
However, he did not know what new position Rayner has been asked to do.
Ridge asked whether this decision was made after the backlash to the news she was fired as party chair but Murray didn’t have a clear answer.
Second independence referendum for Scotland 'not an issue' – Gove
Asked whether there are any circumstances when the prime minister would agree to a second referendum on Scottish independence, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “It’s not an issue for the moment.”
Of course, the people of Scotland, as we saw in the referendum in 2014, they have that right, but it is absolutely important that we concentrate now on the issues in front of us.
Of course, one of the things to bear in mind is that while Nicola Sturgeon obviously secured a good result, the SNP did not get a majority in this election as they did in 2011.
In 2011, the SNP under Alex Salmond got a majority, a referendum then followed. It’s important to remember that at that time every party in the Scottish parliament thought that it was appropriate to hold a referendum then.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the UK and Scottish governments should “concentrate on the things that unite us” rather than “constitutional wrangling” over a second independence referendum.
Asked whether the Westminster government would block a second border poll, Gove told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday:
No, what’re working on doing at the moment is working together to deal with all the challenges that we face across the whole United Kingdom.
If we get sucked into a conversation about referenda and constitutions then we are diverting attention from the issues that are most important to the people in Scotland and across the United Kingdom.
I hope that what people want from a Holyrood government, and also from the Westminster government, is a commitment to work together on these issues.
So, instead of concentrating on the things that divide, let’s concentrate on the things that unite and let’s concentrate on all of us to work together to serve the people that just vote for us.
Referencing the SNP’s desire for a second referendum, Gove added it was “a slightly skewed set of priorities to imagine that that is the most important issue” in the light of the pandemic recovery.
Pressed on whether the UK government would look to block legislation from the Scottish parliament pushing for a second referendum, Gove said: “We are not going to go there.”
Michael Gove was asked on Sophie Ridge on Sunday whether there were any circumstances where Boris Johnson may agree to a second independence referendum.
Here’s what he said:
More on this, shortly.
Carol Monaghan, SNP MP for Glasgow North West, said she would like to see a bill for a second independence referendum go through the Scottish Parliament this year.
She told Times Radio:
I think we need to be drawing that up pretty quickly. Unfortunately, initially we need to approach Westminster in order to have that referendum first of all anyway, so we will wait and see.
Boris Johnson has been quite clear that he’s not going to grant that, so then we need to look at do we need to go to the courts in order to seek some kind of permission to go ahead with the referendum.
What we don’t want is a wildcat referendum, we want this to be legal and we want it to be a gold standard referendum.
I would like to see this being drawn up by the end of the year and I would like to see a referendum taking place sometime in 2022, that’s my personal position but that’s the timescale I’d be looking for.
Boris Johnson will put repairing the NHS at the heart of his next programme for government, as his team draws up plans to lock in the huge local election gains in the north of England and Midlands.
With more NHS funding inevitable after the damage and delays caused by Covid-19, Downing Street wants to neutralise an issue that could undermine progress among voters who have switched to the Tories. The NHS England head, Sir Simon Stevens, has already said cancer care and extra funding needs to be a priority. NHS waiting lists are seen as one of the government’s major vulnerabilities.
“We have to be honest with the public about the damage done to the NHS by coronavirus and the scale of the challenge ahead,” a No 10 source said. “Now, more than ever, the NHS is the government’s priority – and recovery of patient services is at the heart of that. We need to achieve a national recovery that spreads opportunity and transforms the whole UK, and this Queen’s speech will have that ambition at its core.”
There were 4.7 million people in England waiting for routine operations and procedures in February, the highest figure since 2007. Demand will grow as routine check-ups return this year. The government is providing £325m for diagnostics and £1bn to kickstart elective services.
Read the full story here:
Newly elected mayor of the West of England Dan Norris has said he felt Labour is still the party of the working class.
He told Times Radio:
Absolutely (it is). But it’s also the party of other people as well, not just the working class. That was the reason for my success in the election in the West of England.
We had a real breakthrough and it wasn’t just in our traditional strong land, it was across all the area.
When asked, Norris said he felt he owed his victory to Keir Starmer.
He told the radio station:
I think he unlocked the discussion in the West of England. People were able to listen to what Labour were saying and think about it and reflect on it. And then they decided to support it significantly.
He was very very important indeed. I believe that will happen in the rest of the country. It’s a very tough time, I think, to become leader of the opposition during what is a national emergency and we all know what happened in the second world war: Churchill was supported by people, then lost by a huge, huge amount straight after the war.
I think it’s different times, it’s the first pandemic election that we’ve ever had to face. Anyone would be very unwise to take anything on from this because, I think, it’s so exceptional.
Newly elected SNP MSP Neil Gray said Nicola Sturgeon will ask Boris Johnson to “simply … respect democracy” and grant a second independence referendum.
Gray told BBC Breakfast:
There has never been as great a pro-independence majority in the Scottish parliament and he needs to respect that outcome.
Clearly the health impact of the pandemic needs to be dealt with first and then we need to take a decision as a nation … about who gets to decide about the economic priorities about our recovery from the pandemic.
Do we want the powerful decisions of that being made by Boris Johnson for us in Scotland? Or do we want to be able to take those decisions ourselves and reject the austerity-driven, Brexit-driven isolationist UK government?
Welcome to today’s liveblog on the UK elections. Get in touch if you think there is something I should be covering that I’m not. My email address is email@example.com and I’m @Nicola_Slawson on Twitter.