Tory leadership LIVE: Crisis as scores of ballot papers never arrive 'lost right to vote'

Posted on Jul 16 2019 - 12:42am by admin

The race for Number 10 enters its closing stages and many see tonight’s debate in front of a live studio audience in London as the last chance to change its course. Mr Hunt’s team believe he is closing the gap on Mr Johnson, with everything to play for in the final days of campaigning. It was thought most ballot papers from the party’s 180,000 grassroots members would have been returned by this stage of the contest.

But reports suggest votes have been returned slower than expected, sparking suggestions many members have been keen to see how the two candidates perform in the campaign before making up their minds.

The last encounter, in an ITV debate last week, was a spiky affair dominated by the fallout from the leak of the diplomatic dispatches of Britain’s ambassador to the US Sir Kim Darroch criticising Donald Trump’s White House as “dysfunctional” and “inept”.

The following day Sir Kim resigned amid accusations that Mr Johnson’s lack of support for him in the debate – in contrast to Mr Hunt’s strong backing – had made his position impossible.

The former foreign secretary was angrily denounced by MPs and senior civil servants with claims he had effectively thrown Sir Kim “under the bus”.

Tory leadership race

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt (Image: GETTY)

Brexit sis still dominating the debate with Britain due to leave the European Union by 31 October.

Mr Hunt has admitted he may “pay a political price” for saying he could not guarantee the UK’s departure from the UK by Christmas.

Speaking at a leadership hustings in Colchester on Saturday, he said: “Maybe I will pay a political price for being honest with people.

“But the reality is that we face a hung parliament with people – not just in the Labour Party but in our own party – absolutely determined to stop us leaving without a deal.”

Mr Hunt will spent most of Monday in Brussels with the foreign ministers of France and Germany, discussing the growing crisis in the Gulf.

SCROLL DOWN FOR BREXIT LIVE UPDATES

6.00pm update: Lords attempt to prevent next leader suspending parliament

Labour joined with Liberal Democrats and leading independent crossbenchers in the Lords to try to thwart the next Tory leader from suspending parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit

The move would require progress reports on restoring devolved government in Northern Ireland to be debated regularly in Parliament, effectively preventing it being prorogued.

Introducing the call, former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation Lord Anderson of Ipswich said “defensive fortifications” were needed to prevent the new Prime Minister proroguing Parliament to achieve a no-deal Brexit, to which Parliament is opposed.

He said the move was justified by the “extraordinary gravity” of what was being contemplated.

He added: “For Parliament to have its voice removed, precisely because of its anticipated opposition, would be astonishing, unconstitutional and without precedent in recent times.”

4.40pm update: Hunt outlines plan to tackle homelessness in the UK

Jeremy Hunt has pledged to take a “housing first” approach to ease the homelessness crisis by giving rough sleepers unconditional access to permanent shelter and treatment.

Mr Hunt said that if he beats Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership race his proposal could get an extra 1,000 people off the streets in the short term.

Mr Hunt wrote in the Big Issue: “This approach operates on the basis of two key principles. That housing is a basic human right, and that once homelessness is resolved other clinical and social issues will be resolved faster.

“This would be an immediate step-change but longer term I will publish a full cross-Government strategy to use every lever at my power to eradicate this scourge.”

Official data shows the number of people recorded as sleeping on the streets of England rose from 1,768 in 2010 to 4,751 in 2017, but charities warned the true figure could be more than double this.

4.05pm update: Junker’s replacement opens door for next leader to delay Brexit

Jean-Claude Juncker’s likely successor has claimed the European Union should delay Brexit again if the next Prime Minister asks for more time to break the deadlock.

Ursula von der Leyen, who is expected to become the European Commission’s first woman president, said Britain could be granted a further extension “if good reasons are provided”.

Setting out her vision to MEPs, she pledged to deliver an “ambitious and strategic partnership” with Britain if she is handed Brussels’ most senior role tomorrow. I

In a blow to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, she insisted Theresa May’s Brexit deal is “the best and only possible deal for an orderly withdrawal” and will not be renegotiated.

READ MORE: Juncker’s replacement wants another Brexit delay so UK can hold another EU referendum

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Ursula von der Leyen has opened the door for another Brexit delay (Image: GETTY)

3.45pm update: Hunt confident of beating Boris – ‘We have been getting huge numbers’

Jeremy Hunt has dismissed any suggestion the Tory leadership contest is over and Boris Johnson will come out victorious.

The Foreign Secretary returning from Brussels is confident he has closed the gap on Mr Johnson following the ITV debate and Andrew Neil interview on the BBC.

Mr Hunt wrote on Twitter: “Getting back to the UK and reading a raft of stories that assume Boris will be next PM. Don’t! We have been getting huge numbers of switchers, won both the ITV debate and Neil interview and this all depends on how far Boris was ahead at start which no one knows.”

3.30pm update: Hammond warns he will do ‘everything’ to stop ‘cliff edge’ Brexit

Philip Hammond has warned Tory leadership rivals Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt he will do “everything” to stop a “cliff edge” no deal Brexit.

The Chancellor told CNBC television: “If the new government tries to drive the UK over a cliff edge called no-deal Brexit, I will do everything I can to stop that happening.”

2.30pm update: Barclay warns next PM of Brexit challenges

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has warned the next prime minister “many MPs” will work to stop attempts to leave the EU without a deal.

Mr Barclay’s comments came as Tory leadership contenders Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt faced mounting threats of legal challenges and parliamentary manoeuvres.

Both men vying for the Conservative crown have threatened to pull the UK out of the bloc without a deal if necessary.

But Tory former prime minister Sir John Major has suggested he could use the courts to prevent certain efforts by Theresa May’s successor to push through a no-deal exit without MPs’ support.

Mr Barclay said the legal default is an exit on October 31 but acknowledged MPs could thwart this.

He told BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show: “Of course, it’s for Members of Parliament to seek to change that if they wish.

“Now, they’d need to pass legislation in order to do so, to change the law because the legal default is we would leave without a deal.

“But it would be for Parliament to seek legislation – that’s obviously challenging for Parliament to secure – but there will be many MPs, I’m sure, that will try.”

12.55pm update: Lib Dem leadership hopeful challenges Johnson over Trump

Liberal Democrats leadership contender Jo Swinson has challenged Boris Johnson to call out Donald Trump over alleged racist tweets.

The US President sparked outrage when he said four outspoken liberal congresswomen should “go back and help fix” their “broken and crime infested” countries.

Ms Swinson tweeted: “The President of the United States is a racist. Every political leader should call this out. Will you @BorisJohnson?”

Donald Trump

Donald Trump has been accused of racism after (Image: GETTY)

12.10pm update: “Special relationship” tested again as May condemns Trump tweets

A fresh row has broken out between Donald Trump and the British Government after Theresa May condemned the US President’s “completely unacceptable” language after he was branded racist over a Twitter outburst.

Mr Trump said four outspoken liberal congresswomen should “go back and help fix” their “broken and crime infested” countries.

In a tweet on Sunday night, Mr Trump said it was “so sad” to see Democrats supporting the women.

While Mr Trump did not name the four, he is believed to have been referring to congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib. Only Ms Omar, from Somalia, is foreign-born.

Downing Street made clear the Prime Minister’s view of Mr Trump’s comments.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Her view is that the language which was used to refer to the women was completely unacceptable.”

10.54am update: Lammy brands Johnson “utterly clueless”

Labour MP David Lammy has warned Boris Johnson trying to negotiate a free trade deal with the US before Brexit would be in breach of European Union law.

Responding to reports Mr Johnson was planning a speedy post-Brexit trade deal with the US should he become prime minister, Mr Lammy tweeted: “It’s not that he is utterly clueless. He knows what he’s doing: making fantastical promises to the British public and hoping they won’t notice that he’s lying through his teeth.”

10.20am update: Swinson attacks Johnson US trade deal plans

Liberal Democrat leadership hopeful Jo Swinson has accused Boris Johnson of “throwing himself at the feet of a bully” in response to reports he is planning a speedy post-Brexit trade deal with the US if he becomes prime minister.

Ms Swinson tweeted: “Boris Johnson’s plan is to throw himself at the feet of a racist bully in order to get a trade deal and some chlorinated chicken.

“Britain deserves better.”

9.08am update: Tories launch membership hotline

Tory chiefs have set up a “membership hotline” to help activists amid fears some party members have not received their ballot papers.

The Campaign for Conservative Democracy said members had inadvertently lost their right to vote because standing orders have not been increased or debit cards had expired.

Campaign spokesman John Strafford said he had heard of “a number of problems regarding credit card renewals and standing orders”.

A party insider said: “We have got a membership hotline and a special team working round the clock to resolve where there have been issues.

“The main issue has been people getting in touch to say ‘my membership has lapsed and I have not noticed’ because we don’t automatically renew memberships – they have to opt into that.

“Another problem has been that members failed to update their regular standing order.”

It follows reports of thousands of members receiving multiple voting slips ahead of the leadership election.

Around 160,000 Conservative Party members are eligible to vote in the leadership election.

Supporters need to have been a member for three months to be included in the ballot.

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt is Brussels for talks on Iran (Image: PA)

8.30am update: Hunt meets EU counterparts for Iran talks

Jeremy Hunt is in Brussels for emergency talks with fellow EU ministers aimed at defusing tensions in the Gulf.

Britain, France and Germany have issued a joint statement urging the US and Iran to pull back from conflict amid fears of a slide to war.

The Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Twitter he wanted to reduce tensions over the seizure of the Grace 1 supertanker, but hinted that Iran would face consequences if it did not abide by the terms of the nuclear deal.

He said: “Heading to Brussels for urgent talks on how to reduce tensions with Iran.

“Their approach to Mid East has been profoundly destabilising but we want to reduce not raise tensions over Grace 1 and avoid a nuclearised region.

“But a deal is a deal and if one side breaches it…”

8am update: Fox dismisses Johnson US trade deal reports

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has dismissed suggestions Boris Johnson would be able to strike a free trade deal with the US as soon as the UK leaves the EU on October 31.

Mr Fox, who is supporting Jeremy Hunt for the Tory leadership, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We can’t negotiate anything with the US until after we have left the European Union.

“It would be in breach of European law for us to do that.

“You’ve got the added complication, just remember, that we’re now getting very close to the American pre-election year where it is quite hard to get things through congress.

“So even if you negotiate them quickly, you would not necessarily be able to ratify them.”

His comments came amid reports Mr Johnson was be planning an early trip to the Washington to start laying the groundwork for a post-Brexit trade deal.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson on a visit to an Essex garden centre (Image: GETTY)

7.30am update: Johnson makes tax pledge to firms which support staff

Boris Johnson said he offer “preferential” tax treatment to companies which look after their staff, particularly in terms of supporting them through mental health issues, if he wins the Tory leadership race.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph he said: “It is time for the Treasury and the NHS to work together to review the rules.

“And if they can come up with a plan – and I am sure that they can – we should put it into effect this autumn in what, if I am lucky enough to be elected, would be the first budget of the new Government.

“Yes, of course all tax breaks cost money. But any loss in revenue would be more than made up by the gains in productivity and the savings in NHS spending.”

(Additional reporting by Simon Osborne)

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