The Telegraph 2024-07-07 04:11:10

‘Open season’ for small boats after Rwanda killed, warns former immigration chief

Sir Keir Starmer’s decision to scrap the Rwanda plan will lead to “open season” for small boats crossings, a former Border Force chief has said.

Kevin Saunders, who was Chief Immigration Officer covering Calais and Dunkirk, told Times Radio: “The trouble is he [Sir Keir Starmer] is being very negative about Rwanda. Well, that’s fine. He’s bound to be.

“But we don’t have anything from him about how they’re going to stop the boats. It’s going to be open season.”
Mr Saunders also claimed that migrants in camps in northern France were worried about Rwanda scheme and believed that a Labour government would be better for their immigration chances

“There’s been a lot of unease in the camps in northern France about the Rwanda scheme. They were very, very worried,” Mr Saunders said. 

“Now, of course, we’re seeing that the Kurds over in northern France have come up with a name for Kier, which I think means ‘the friendly one’, because they all believe that he’s going to be very good for illegal migration,” he added.

Mr Saunders estimated that 50,000 to 60,000 people could make a small boats crossing this year. 

According to Home Office data, the highest annual small boats crossings to date was 45,774 in 2022. 

Nigel Farage on Saturday criticised Labour plans to tackle illegal migration.

“What Keir Starmer is proposing, which is, tackle the gangs, well, frankly, you know, the last Government were doing that for the last few years, it’s not going to work,” the Reform UK leader said. 

In his first press conference as Prime Minister on Saturday, Sir Keir Starmer said the Rwanda plan was “dead and buried”

Labour has said it will prioritise strong border security, promising to tackle the problem at root by “smashing” organised trafficking gangs. 

The party has pledged to launch a new Border Security Command with counter-terror powers and hundreds of specialist investigators. 

It also said it would set up a 1,000 strong Returns and Enforcement Unit to ensure the removal of failed asylum seekers.

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Judy Murray ‘astonished’ by Raducanu’s withdrawal from mixed doubles with Andy

Andy Murray is understood to be extremely disappointed by Emma Raducanu’s decision to bring his Wimbledon career to an early close by withdrawing from their mixed-doubles match. His mother Judy said Raducanu’s decision was “astonishing”.

The affair appears to have driven a wedge between the two most successful and high-profile British players of the 21st Century.

Murray and Raducanu had been scheduled to face Marcelo Arevalo and Shuai Zhang in Saturday’s final slot on No1 Court. But then, soon after 2pm, Raducanu’s management team announced that she had woken up with “stiffness in my right wrist”.

Through her withdrawal, Raducanu put a sudden and controversial end to Murray’s storied Wimbledon career.

When the experienced commentator Marcus Buckland described the withdrawal as “astonishing news” on social media, Judy Murray replied “Yes, astonishing”. It seems likely that the comment triggered an avalanche of replies, because she locked her posts on X – the network formerly known as Twitter – soon afterwards.

On Instagram, meanwhile, Murray’s mother posted a photograph of Serena Williams and Andy Murray sharing a high-five at Wimbledon in 2019. The image also showed a quote from Williams that said “Playing mixed doubles by your side was one of the highlights of my life.”

Unable to play singles because of a recent operation on a spinal cyst, Murray had already lost a first-round doubles match alongside brother Jamie on Thursday. He was then interviewed by former BBC anchor Sue Barker as part of an emotional farewell ceremony on Centre Court. Yet his intention was always to come back for at least one last match in the mixed doubles.

The Prince and Princess of Wales congratulated Murray on his career on social media, writing: “An incredible Wimbledon career comes to an end. You should be so very proud. On behalf of all of us, thank you! C”.

Raducanu: ‘I’ve got to take care’

In explaining her decision to withdraw, Raducanu said “Unfortunately I woke up with some stiffness in my right wrist this morning, so therefore I have decided to make the very tough decision to withdraw from the mixed doubles tonight. I’m disappointed as I was really looking forward to playing with Andy but got to take care.”

The explanation makes a certain amount of sense, as Raducanu missed seven months of the 2023 season after surgery on both wrists. Yet few believed that she was in any real physical difficulty, and the BBC cameras found her smiling as she walked to her training session at Aorangi Park – the location of Wimbledon’s practice courts – soon after her announcement.

Raducanu wore what looked like strapping around her right wrist while hitting. Even so, there was no suggestion that her fourth-round singles match against Lulu Sun, a qualifier ranked No123 in the world, was in any danger.

Instead, the impression was that Raducanu had prioritised her singles campaign, fearing the possibility of a late-night finish, and the knock-on effects on Sunday’s singles meeting with Sun. Such pragmatic withdrawals from doubles events are extremely common in tennis, yet Murray’s involvement gave this one a very different complexion.

In an ideal world, the All England Club would have placed Murray and Raducanu earlier on Saturday’s schedule, but the delays caused by the showery weather of the past week have created a backlog of tennis.

Friday’s rain meant that their first-round opponent Arevalo was due to finish his own second-round men’s doubles match on Saturday morning. As it proved, Arevalo finished things off quickly and was done by soon after 1pm. But with singles matches stacking up because of the ongoing wet weather, the AELTC were in no position to fast-track a mixed-doubles match – not even one featuring their two biggest homegrown stars – onto a roofed court.

Raducanu’s late withdrawal also left Murray with no time to find an alternative partner. With Rajeev Ram and Katie Volynets being drafted in to fill the vacant slot in the mixed doubles draw, Murray’s 19-year Wimbledon career thus reached a deeply unsatisfying conclusion.

Until this moment, relations between the Murray camp and Raducanu had been warm and mutually supportive. Raducanu had even turned to Andy Murray’s father-in-law, the experienced coach Nigel Sears, to help oversee her training sessions when her regular coach Nick Cavaday fell ill for a fortnight in May.

On Wednesday, Raducanu had spoken about her decision to accept Murray’s invitation to join him in the mixed-doubles draw, simultaneously stressing her own excitement and admitting that her advisors were less keen.

“In my team,” Raducanu explained, “they were asking me, ‘Emma, are you sure you want to play? Just in case … You’re still in the tournament. I was like ‘No-brainer’.”

She added: “I think that it [Murray’s invitation] gave me so much energy, and just knowing that I’d be able to have that opportunity and experience, it made me so happy and I slept very peacefully and woke up very happy as well.”

Yet Raducanu’s mood had shifted by the time she came off court after her superb 6-2, 6-3 victory over ninth seed Maria Sakkari on Friday night. Asked about the order of play, she replied “The scheduling of that was not ideal. I just came off court and found out myself.”

If nothing else, her decision to maximise her singles prospects showed a ruthlessness that the young Murray might have admired. There are two narratives at work here. One relates to the ultra-competitive world of singles tennis, the other to the pageantry and emotion of Murray’s last Wimbledon.

As two of Great Britain’s finest players now find themselves at odds, these contrasting imperatives have clashed in the most unfortunate way.

Difficulty of combining doubles and singles success

There are precious few examples of players experiencing success in both singles and mixed doubles in Wimbledon history. The peerless Martina Navratilova was the last to win both simultaneously, climbing the mountain in 1985, having paired with Paul McNamee. She took the singles title again the following year but lost in the final of the mixed doubles with Heinz Günthardt.

The only other women in history to pull off that particular double was Ann Jones in 1969 (doubles with Fred Stolle) and Billie Jean King in 1973 (doubles with Owen Davidson).

Several have tried and failed since. If we dial down our expectations to deep runs in both events, we could point to singles quarter-finalist Mary Pierce winning the mixed doubles with Mahesh Bhupathi in 2005, or Yaroslava Shvedova in 2016 reaching the quarter-finals in singles and a semi-final in the mixed in 2016. This particular double has proved too tall an order even for Serena Williams, who won the mixed in 1998, four years before she won her first Wimbledon.

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Pro-Palestine protesters arrested after van driven through factory gates

Three women have been arrested after driving a van through the gates of a factory allegedly linked to the Israeli military.

Activists from the group Palestine Action forced their way onto the premises of the Teledyne CML Composites factory in Bromborough, Wirral, and sprayed red paint on the building in the early hours of Friday morning.

The group claims that the site is used to manufacture parts for F-35 fighter jets for weapons companies that supply the Israeli military.

Police officers arrived on the scene at around 4:45am and arrested three women.

A 40-year-old woman from Toxteth, Liverpool, was arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass; going equipped for criminal damage; possession of an offensive weapon; and criminal damage.

A 30-year-old woman from Hackney, London was arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass; criminal damage; possession of an offensive weapon; and dangerous driving.

A 20-year-woman from Aigburth, Liverpool, was arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and criminal damage.

The incident comes three months after activists attacked another site belonging to the same parent company in what they said was a bid to “undermine and undo British complicity in Israeli occupation, genocide, and colonial violence.”

Teledyne CML Composites has been approached for comment.

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Only ‘Lord Almighty’ can tell me to stand down, says Biden

Joe Biden has said only the “Lord Almighty” can tell him to stand down, as more Democrats broke ranks and urged him to make way for a younger successor.

The US president, 81, gave an interview to ABC News on Friday evening that was billed as an opportunity for him to recover support after a torrid week of criticism about his mental state.

Nevertheless, in the hours following the broadcast, a fifth Democrat in the House of Representatives warned the president could not beat Donald Trump in November’s election, and said he should stand aside for the “next generation”.

In the interview, with the broadcaster George Stephanopoulos, Mr Biden refused five times to say how he would react to being told by allies he should leave the presidential race.

“If the Lord Almighty said, ‘Joe get out of the race’, then I would get out of the race. But the Lord Almighty’s not coming down,” he said.

He denied claims that some of his closest allies, including Hakeem Jeffries, the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, believed he should consider bowing out.

“I’ve met with them. I’ve met a lot of these people,” he said.

“I’ve talked with them regularly. I had an hour conversation with Hakeem. I had more time than that with Jim Clyburn. I spent time with, many hours off and on the last little bit, with Chuck Schumer.”

Asked finally what he would do if those people asked him to stand back for a younger candidate, he replied: “I’m not going to answer that question. It’s not going to happen.”

The polls are a ‘toss-up’, says Biden

Mr Jeffries is expected to meet with senior House Democrats on Sunday, where they will discuss Mr Biden’s candidacy and the aftermath of his dire performance in last week’s presidential debate.

Mr Biden said he had not watched his debate against Trump, which has sparked fresh calls for him to give up his re-election campaign.

The president was defensive about his health, his campaign and his poll ratings ─ implying several times that reports of his mental infirmity had been exaggerated by the media.

He denied that his position in the opinion polls had worsened since the debate, telling the broadcaster: “All the pollsters I talk to tell me it’s a toss-up.”

A polling aggregation by FiveThirtyEight shows Mr Biden, who was tied with Trump last week, has lost ground to the Republican every day since the debate and is now more than two points behind him nationally.

President is ‘out of touch’

The interview did not appear to have placated Mr Biden’s critics, who have been calling for him to stand down since last Thursday.

Angie Craig, a Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota, publicly called on the US president to stand aside on Saturday morning, telling him: “This future of our country is bigger than any one of us.”

Citing Mr Biden’s debate performance and his inability to mount a “forceful response” to critics, she said he could not “effectively campaign and win” against Trump in November.

It means five House Democrats have broken ranks in a growing revolt against the president, while others are said to be mulling a similar move.

Several were infuriated when Mr Biden signalled that he would be content to lose to Trump as long as he did the “goodest job” he could, the New York Times reports.

David Axelrod, a former adviser to Barack Obama who served at the same time Mr Biden was vice president, said after the interview: “The president is rightfully proud of his record.

“But he is dangerously out of touch with the concerns people have about his capacities moving forward and his standing in this race.”

Mr Biden blamed the disastrous debate, in which he stuttered and froze, on a cold he had contracted and his decision to work too hard in the days before it.

“I was sick. I was feeling terrible,” he said. “As a matter of fact, the doc’s with me, I asked if they did a Covid test.

“We were trying to figure out what’s wrong. He did a test to see whether or not I had some infection or virus. I didn’t. I just had a really bad cold.”

He also suggested the reason for his unease on the debate stage was Trump interrupting him.

“Even when I was answering the question, and when they turned [Trump’s] mic off, he was still shouting and I let it distract me,” he said. “I’m not blaming, but I realised that I just wasn’t in control.”

Biden insists he is well enough to run

However, Mr Biden repeatedly denied that he was not mentally or physically fit enough to run for office again.

He said: “Can I run the 110 flat? No, but I’m still in good shape.”

Asked several times whether he would agree to a cognitive test, Mr Biden said he showed his mental abilities “every day” through his work and had not been asked by doctors to complete one.

“No one said I had to,” he said. “No one said…they said I’m good.”

The interview came after a week of intense criticism of Mr Biden, including from two sitting Democratic congressmen who said publicly that he should stand down.

The interview came after a week of intense criticism of Mr Biden. On Friday night, Maura Healey, the governor of Massachusetts, became the most high-profile sitting Democrat to publicly call for him to consider his position.

“The best way forward right now is a decision for the president to make,” she said.

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Brexiteer Tory MP who increased majority to run as Chairman of 1922 Committee

A Conservative MP who increased his majority in the general election is to run to be chairman of the 1922 Committee, The Telegraph can reveal.

Bob Blackman, who was re-elected for Harrow East, has thrown his hat into the ring to lead the powerful committee of backbench Tory MPs, which plays a crucial role in organising the process to choose the next party leader.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, a veteran MP and longstanding member of the committee’s executive, has also told The Telegraph that he intends to run for the chairmanship.

Mr Blackman has been the MP for his north London constituency since 2010.

In Thursday’s election, he pulled off the rare feat of increasing his majority, even as the Conservatives lost 251 seats across the rest of the country. His majority increased from 8,170 in 2019 to 11,680.

‘It was sheer hard work’

Speaking to The Telegraph on Saturday, Mr Blackman said: “It was sheer hard work, slogging nine hours a day for six weeks during the election campaign, knocking on doors, talking to people, running a very local campaign, I have to say.

“That’s what I do every weekend, out on the doors talking to people, Saturdays and Sundays, meeting people, and loads of people said to me on the doorstep, ‘I’m voting for you but I wouldn’t vote for anyone else if they were standing for your party’.”

Mr Blackman said that he had benefited from the Tories achieving a “wipeout” of Labour in council elections two years ago, which “gave us the building blocks”.

He also acknowledged that he had been aided by other factors. 

“Personal vote is important, but I got more or less the same vote as I got in 2019,” he said. 

“What did happen, of course, was that there was a remarkable drop in the Labour vote [from 18,765 in 2019 to 13,786].

“Obviously, we had all the parties standing, whereas in 2019 we didn’t, so you get a fragmentation of the vote.”

In terms of where the Conservatives go next, Mr Blackman said that because he is planning to stand as chairman of the 1922, “I’m not going to make comments about who should be our leader or the direction of travel.”

However, he said that the party’s national campaign had been “disastrous”.

“The national campaign went off the rails from the word go,” he said.

 “Whatever anyone’s view of Rishi [Sunak], the fact that he was announcing the election in the pouring rain, it just set a scene unfortunately. And then there were mistakes made along the way which we know.

“The issues over leaving D-Day early, that was bad news on our doorsteps, I know. The betting scandal was really upsetting to people, and quite rightly.”

He also said that the party had not done enough to “emphasise how well we’ve recovered in terms of the economy”.

The chairman of the 1922 Committee plays a pivotal role in the Conservative Party.

With Sir Graham Brady, the long-standing chairman of the committee, having left the Commons, the vacancy has arisen.

The committee helps organise leadership elections, and the chairman is famously the recipient of letters of no confidence which Tory MPs can use to try to change their leader.

Sir Geoffrey, who was first elected in 1992 and won the newly drawn up seat of North Cotswold on Thursday, is also standing to be chairman.

Chairman with authority

He said the Conservatives needed a “chairman with the authority to be able to get the party together to be able to hear every view and then take everything forward”.

“I’ve been around since 1992, I’ve seen the debacle in 1997, I was there in 2010 when Cameron tried to get rid of the 22, I’ve been through all the seminal events with Theresa May, with Boris, with Liz Truss and the election of Rishi… I’ve been there at all the crucial moments for a long time” he said.

A timeline has not yet been set for electing a new chairman and executive, but Mr Blackman said he thought it would make sense to do it on Tuesday, when all MPs will be in Westminster to elect the Speaker and be sworn in.

“The 1922 executive will decide what the process will be to elect the new leader,” he said. 

“That will be agreed with the party board and then the starting gun will be fired in terms of the leadership contest.”

An important question will be how long the process should be, with some senior Tories calling for a longer contest so the party can conduct a full post-mortem on why it lost and properly test the leadership candidates.

Another matter to be resolved is how long Mr Sunak stays on as party leader. 

The State Opening of Parliament and King’s Speech will take place on July 17, with Parliament expected to go into recess at the end of the month.

Because Prime Minister’s Questions do not take place on the day of the King’s Speech, it is possible that if Parliament goes into recess on July 30, there may be only one PMQs before the summer break, on July 24.

If a relatively concise leadership process is opted for, Mr Sunak could face Sir Keir Starmer across the dispatch box on July 24 and remain leader until his replacement is chosen later in the summer.

However, if the party goes for a longer process concluding in the autumn, he may wish to hand over to an interim leader.

Mr Blackman said that Tory MPs owed it to Mr Sunak to “give him the opportunity to [resign] in an appropriate way”.

“If I’m elected as chairman of the 1922, then I will obviously be conducting the process for who is elected, and then helping whoever is elected as our leader to transform the party back into a fighting machine ready to take Labour on, not just in the next general election, but also in the local elections which will come next year and the year after in the build-up.

“The way that we win back power is through local government, and we’ve got to get fit and ready for that.”

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OMG, I just got elected! Meet Britain’s youngest MP

It had seemed that Sam Carling, 22, was never destined to become a member of parliament. In November he was Labour’s second selection, after its first-choice candidate was ousted, to fight for a seat that had never in its history been red. So when yesterday’s exit poll came in at 10pm it appeared to seal an obvious end: by pollster John Curtice’s measure, there was just a 26 per cent chance that North West Cambridgeshire would have Carling as its representative. 

Clearly fate had other plans. Today Carling has become both Britain’s new Baby of the House, as its youngest electee, and the joint-youngest Labour MP in modern history, almost tied to the day with title-holder Malcolm Macmillan, who triumphed in 1935.

Carling contested veteran Conservative Shailesh Vara, who was elected into North West Cambridgeshire in 2005 and held on to his seat right until this year, sticking around for long enough to be a minister in three separate governments. Staff whispers from early on in the night suggested that Vara would surely hang on, and that it was not only the seat’s voting record and the exit poll that seemed to stand in Carling’s way.

The new Baby of the House comes from, “a totally apolitical family, in quite a deprived part of the north east of England,” he says. Though Carling has lived in Cambridge since he was 18, studying natural sciences at the University of Cambridge before becoming a research fellow there (one of his two present jobs, alongside sitting on Cambridgeshire Council), his strong north eastern accent still means that he is an oddity in this pocket of the blue wall south. 

If Carling ever felt that he was bound to become a Labour MP one day, then, and in the south of England at that, this is a belief that he has deftly hidden. “I’m absolutely thrilled,” he said after making his winners’ speech. “I’m very grateful to all the residents who have put their trust in me, and I’m very cognisant of the responsibility that comes with that,” he adds, like any good new politician is wont to do. 

As we speak, on the floor of Peterborough’s enormous Kingsgate Conference Centre auditorium, the young man is constantly beset by photographers. It’s easy to see why. On this momentous night, when pictures speak much louder than words, Carling looks for all the world like a sixth former who has just been crowned head boy. 

Even after his victory Carling still displays a hint of the nerves that had plagued him throughout the night, and by 6am he was more exhausted than ecstatic. “All the predictions were all over the place,” he says. “The exit poll said I would lose, but by our own data, we thought I still might win.” There was a dramatic 5am recount after Carling was initially found to have won the seat by just 23 votes – in the end, as if by magic, they found him an extra 16. “It was very, very uncertain right until the last minute,” he admits. 

It’s asked of every new Baby of the House, and many a fresh MP in their 20s, how they can hope to represent their constituents in Parliament given their lack of life experience. Carling has better grounds for argument than most. He has been a city councillor since the age of 20 and now manages a budget worth £17 million, as well as hundreds of staff. 

Throughout the night, however, it seemed as if someone had forgotten to inform the councillor that to become an MP meant an entrance into public life. He arrived bang-on-the-dot at 10pm, hot on the heels of the exit poll and more than three hours before Vara appeared. The Labour lad immediately announced that he would not be making any comments to journalists until after the result was called, “and even then I might not”, he said, as he flitted between the rooms hosting the North West Cambridgeshire count.

When Vara made his landing at the count at just past 1am, he stopped to dispel some wisdom to his young rival. But Carling was clearly flustered by the sudden appearance of the photographers who had trailed Vara up the stairs towards the ballot boxes: he was distracted by the “flurry”, he pronounced. Soon afterwards the candidate was snapped on his phone while sitting on a chair in the corridor, something of a classic Gen Z pose, and much to his protests; afterwards he tried to steer clear of snappers all night, darting between rooms to avoid attention. 

Who was he texting? Perhaps his friends, who he imagines now are “proud” – “obviously a lot of them have been out supporting me,” he says, “though I won’t be seeing them for a few hours, because priority number one will be going to sleep”. 

Or maybe he was congratulating another super-young candidate, such as the new Labour MP for Hertford and Stortford, 24-year-old Josh Dean, who with Carling will form Gen Z’s political debut. But Carling is careful. “I know some of them as friends and as colleagues,” he says. “I’m sure I will get to know more of them, but I don’t really know who’s been successful at this stage.” 

After this the candidate maintained his solitude until just past 3.30am, when the first hints of his seat’s new status were revealed. At 3.48am Carling was standing by the count table on the summons of the returning officer, looking gleeful for the first time in that long evening. It seemed he had won: but the margin was so small that the Conservatives had demanded a recount.

Just down the aisle were a friendly but tense-looking midlife couple with lanyards that designated them as “count agents”, peering down at Carling with concern. In a room full of plain-clothed people their northern accents gave them away. The candidate’s parents had followed him to the count. But “I won’t confirm or deny that,” Carling’s mum said. Clearly he had them well-trained too. 

Despite even this, Carling is keen not to be defined by his age. “At the end of the day I’m the Member of Parliament for North West Cambridgeshire, as weird as it sounds,” he says. “I want us as a society to get into a position where we’re not obsessing over people’s age when they’re elected to these positions, because realistically they are just as capable as anyone else.”

Yet he exudes a particular kind of frenetic energy that is most commonly found in A-level exam halls. After the recount was announced Carling paced the room, tugging at his mound of curly mouse-brown hair or dutifully adjusting his Labour rosette. His black jacket was slightly too big, the matching trousers slightly too short. The first to be delivered the news of the recount were his parents, and until the ballots were collected for a final time, it was only them that he wanted for company. 

Others in the room clearly see Carling in a different light. Alongside his parents at the count were many of his council colleagues. “We’ve seen him improve a lot in the last two years,” says one, who is old enough to be Carling’s grandfather. “We’ve had to slow him down a bit, because he used to talk so fast, and that’s helped with understanding his accent too,” he explains. “But he’s really learned how to interact with the public. He’s very well-liked. He’ll go a long way.” 

The council will be sad to lose Sam to Westminster as “he’s good, with his vibrance,” another colleague explains. “He’s got that sort of confidence you only have when you’re so young. North West Cambridgeshire will never be a safe seat, unless he does exceptionally well, but we are looking at someone who is going to be a big name in politics within the next few years.” 

While Vara detachedly observed the recount from his feet, slowly hovering by each table, Carling sat at the desk directly opposite counters with his back straight and hands together, as if he could will the ballots to change in his favour. It almost seemed that he was counting the papers himself, with a forensic precision he perhaps has honed in his work as a cancer research scientist at Cambridge University – he is precocious in more ways than one. 

Perhaps it’s this intensity that makes Carling cut something of a lonely figure. One colleague of his jokes that he fits his council work and research, formerly his Cambridge natural sciences degree, “around his paper round”. You have to wonder how he makes the time to be 22, and how he will adjust to life in Westminster and in London, one that could be more slow-paced and low-stakes than that which he currently leads.

“It’s a bittersweet moment,” Carling says when asked how he feels about the prospect of leaving Cambridge University and the council behind. He had originally planned for a career in science, though all that changed during covid, when he realised that “actually, I want to work in politics” – around the time that his school’s sixth form was shut down. 

“I’m thrilled to be taking on the role, and that’s the main focus,” he says, “but there’s a little pang of sadness. But then I think I can bring a lot of the experience I have from working in science to Parliament and building up evidence-based policy and social circles,” Carling says, as if this is just any other LinkedIn-boosting graduate job. 

Shortly before 5.30 the room silently acknowledged Carling’s victory. There was a brief moment when a third count might have been called, it was thought, before Shailesh Vara conceded defeat. He gracefully shook Sam’s hand again and smiled at his parents, before hugging and kissing his own supporters. From some within that camp there seemed to be tears. 

In Sam’s camp too hugs abounded – his parents beamed – but there was a sense of finality to all this rather than that of a new beginning. As one councillor said, all had thought Carling would “walk it in”, despite what local officials and national polls may have claimed. 

The young new MP clearly has huge respect for 63-year-old Vara, too, despite his determination to right what he sees as the ruin done to North West Cambridgeshire by Tory rule. “The overriding thing for me is the manifesto I stood on,” Carling says. “It’s Labour’s mission, it’s those first steps of change. We’re going to get on with that straight away, in terms of rebuilding Britain’s public services and getting our country’s future back in essence,” he says. 

But this night could not have been less about the nation. The seat’s recount was called fifty minutes before Rishi Sunak would concede defeat to Starmer, and when that national defeat was screened on the count room’s enormous TV no one batted an eyelid. Nor did they when an enormous cheer could be heard from the bottom floor as Peterborough constituency declared for Labour. 

In regards to his own victory and to his party’s, “I don’t think I have any plans to celebrate,” says the new MP, besides going to bed – by the end of the night he has a pounding headache. “I know there was a party over in Cambridge with a lot of my colleagues in the city council, though that will probably have wrapped up by the time I get there.”

Carling leaves the conference centre at 6am after local media and the BBC have had their fill of questions. Some wondered whether he is now Britain’s youngest MP, if not only Labour’s. Carling is so self-serious that his age can be easily forgotten, as can the fact that he has never before voted in a general election – until you see the Baby of the House with his parents in tow, on the way to the family car in the parking lot. 

He might appear more like a sixth form prefect than a future leader after an overnight count, but are we looking at a future science or education secretary, as his colleagues believe, or perhaps even a future Prime Minister? “I’ve only just been elected, so let’s just take things one step at a time,” Carling says before he departs. “I really haven’t had time to think about that in great detail, so let’s leave that for later. We’ll speculate on that one.” 

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England fans in Germany claim they will ‘drink more pints than Tories have seats’

England fans in Germany have been enjoying the escape from the general election by trying to drink more pints than the number of seats the Conservatives have remaining.

As 50,000 descended on Dusseldorf before the Three Lions’ quarter-final clash with Switzerland, fans on tour in Germany were glad to be missing the tedium of the election at home.

On Friday, on Dusseldorf’s Rheinuferpromenade of bars on the river, few were interested in the change of government back home, which left the Conservatives with fewer than 125 seats.

“It’s 100 per cent better here than watching the election,” said Elliot Fribbens, 28, a carpenter from Portsmouth, as he enjoyed another local beer with Matt Rees, 28.

“That’s as long as we win. We didn’t watch it last night, we do know the result.

“Hopefully [Gareth] Southgate won’t be following [Rishi] Sunak out the door, and we will somehow be bringing it home. I’m so glad I wasn’t in England yesterday, I couldn’t care less.

“People at home were watching the election at 3am and we were just getting in. I think between us we probably will get through more pints than the Tories have seats.”

In the next bar, fans were equally disinterested in Labour knocking the Conservatives out of power.

“What election?” asked Carl Stevenson, 45, an insurance broker from Blackpool. “Maybe it will be, if we don’t play [well] tomorrow it will be Sunak out, Southgate out.

“Tomorrow, we will win on penalties, so it might be a bit closer than yesterday. We got the ferry over and I don’t remember the rest of the day. We went for a couple and then it was 36 pints. That was an early night.”

In the city centre, where thousands of England fans were beginning to gather, George Rawkins, 22, from London, dressed in full England kit, said that he was glad to be in Germany as he and friends began a bar crawl around town.

“It’s a bit of a relief to be here, it’s a lot more fun here. There is a strong chance we will have more than 121 pints over the weekend.

“We’ll have a round that would beat the Reform done in the next 10 minutes. We were praying England would get here, we were nearly watching Slovakia against Switzerland.”

While most of the fans mingling with the English in Dusseldorf yesterday were Germans supporting their side against Spain, locals further afield have revealed that they “fell in love” with the England team while growing up under communism.

Reinhard Lisker, 66, who recently watched Southgate’s men train at a stadium in Jena, said he was supporting England.

“As a boy I supported teams which played against West Germany. So I became an England fan the day they won the World Cup in 1966 and have never looked back.”

He added:  “I’m proud to wear my England shirt today alongside my family who all support Gareth Southgate’s team, and it’s a thrill to see them in my hometown.”

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The Daily T: Labour in power and Iain Duncan Smith on Farage

It’s official: we have a new prime minister. When Sir Keir Starmer spoke on the steps of No 10 Downing Street he became just the seventh ever Labour politician to lead the country – but the challenges he is facing are vast. 

Kamal and Camilla take a look at the issues at the top of his in-tray, from a sluggish economy to immigration concerns. Plus with a low vote share and a historic number of seats won by the Lib Dems, Reform, the Greens and independent pro-Palestine candidates, they ask whether Labour can really be the “government of service” Starmer wants them to be?

Plus, Iain Duncan Smith joins Kamal and Camilla in the studio to discuss how he held on to his London seat and what next for the Tories as they reel from one of their worst electoral losses ever. 

Watch all episodes of the Daily T here or on YouTube.

Or if you would prefer to listen to the audio only, then use the player above. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts, and subscribe to The Daily T newsletter for updates. 

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