The Telegraph 2024-07-10 00:12:49

LIVE Starmer hails ‘most diverse Parliament ever’ as MPs sworn in

Sir Keir Starmer hailed the “most diverse Parliament by race and gender this country has ever seen” as he spoke in the House of Commons for the first time as Prime Minister this afternoon.

New MPs are being sworn in ahead of the State Opening of Parliament and the King’s Speech on July 17.

“Mr Speaker-elect, you preside over a new Parliament, the most diverse Parliament by race and gender this country has ever seen,” the Labour leader said.

“And I’m proud of the part that my party has played, proud of the part that every party has played in that.

“Including, in this intake, the largest cohort of LGBT+ MPs of any parliament in the world.”

You can follow the latest updates below and join the conversation in the comments section

License this content

Braverman claims Tory rival Jenrick is on Left of the party

Suella Braverman has described rival Robert Jenrick as a “centrist Rishi supporter” and a Remainer “from the Left of the party” as the pair jostled ahead of the Conservative leadership race.

The former home secretary made the claims in a speech to the National Conservatism conference in Washington on Monday, in which she called for the Tories to provide a “credible” offer to Reform UK voters and abandon the “liberal conservatism” of Rishi Sunak.

No candidates have yet announced they are running for the Tory leadership – but Mrs Braverman, Mr Jenrick and several others are expected to compete for Mr Sunak’s job when he stands down later this year.

Over the weekend, Danny Kruger – one of Mrs Braverman’s key allies – decided to support Mr Jenrick in a move that left her campaign described as being “dead before it starts”.

But speaking to The Telegraph, Mrs Braverman said it was “great” that Mr Jenrick represented a “different wing of the party” as she sought to portray him as pro-Europe on Brexit and the European Convention on Human Rights.

“He definitely comes from the Left of the party,” she said. “He voted for Remain in the Brexit referendum. He was a big, kind of centrist, Rishi supporter. 

“I remember talking to him about leaving the ECHR a year ago, and him looking horrified by that prospect. It’s really good that he’s moving in a different direction. Wasn’t the story that he was sent by Rishi to keep an eye on me in the Home Office?”

Mrs Braverman said she hoped leadership contenders would “conduct ourselves with an attitude of the amicable and friendly” during the contest, adding: “At the end of the day, whoever is leader we will have to work together”.

Mr Jenrick campaigned to remain in the EU in 2016, but has since called for Britain to leave the ECHR. He resigned from his post as immigration minister in December, when he claimed the then government’s Rwanda Bill did not go far enough.

Appearing on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme at the weekend, he said the Conservatives had lost the election “fundamentally, because we failed to deliver on the promises that we made to the British public”.

He declined to rule out standing for the leadership when Mr Sunak steps down, expected to happen before the autumn.

The Conservatives’ unprecedented election loss on Thursday has prompted several Tories to make statements about the party’s failings in what has been widely interpreted as the beginning of leadership campaigns.

Other possible contenders are thought to include former Cabinet ministers Kemi Badenoch, Tom Tugendhat, Priti Patel and Victoria Atkins.

While some have suggested the Conservatives have drifted too far to the Right since 2019, Mrs Braverman said on Monday that the party should offer more to voters who chose to back Nigel Farage’s Reform UK.

“Reform aren’t going to magically vanish unless we do something about the concerns of their voters,” she told the National Conservatism conference.

Her pitch appeared to set her up as the most Right-wing leadership contender as she said the Tories should be “unashamedly the champions of family” and of “traditional culture specific to our nation”.

Mrs Braverman told The Telegraph Mr Sunak was “a nice guy” and a “good dad” who worked hard, but had “led a disastrous election campaign and got things wrong as prime minister”.

She also backed calls for party members to have a vote in the contest, pointing out that it was MPs who chose Mr Sunak to replace Liz Truss in October 2022.

Declining to confirm that she was running for the leadership, she added: “I’m just having lots of conversations with colleagues. I’m encouraged by this conversation and flattered by positive feedback from colleagues. There is no rush to make an announcement.”

License this content

Steve Wright died from ruptured stomach ulcer

Steve Wright, the BBC DJ, died from a ruptured ulcer in his stomach.

The broadcaster, one of the most familiar voices on the UK’s airwaves, died in February at the age of 69.

In May, Westminster Coroner’s Court confirmed that an inquest would not be required.

Causes of death listed on the certificate were acute peritonitis and a perforated gastric peptic ulcer, the BBC reported.

Peritonitis is an infection of the lining of the stomach, according to the NHS. A perforated ulcer is a rarer complication, when the lining of the stomach splits open.

The broadcaster reported that Wright’s death had been registered at Westminster Register Office by a family member on July 3.

The Metropolitan Police previously said the death, at a flat in the Marylebone area of central London, “was unexpected, but is not being treated as suspicious”.

Joining BBC Radio 1 in 1980 to host a Saturday evening show, Wright went on to hold a variety of positions.

After a stint at commercial radio, he returned to BBC Radio 2 in 1996 to host Steve Wright’s Saturday Show and Sunday Love Songs, and three years later presented Steve Wright in the Afternoon every weekday on Radio 2.

Wright stepped down in September 2022, replaced by Scott Mills in a schedule shake-up, but continued to present Sunday Love Songs on BBC Radio 2. He was made an MBE in the 2024 New Year Honours for services to radio.

In a tribute released following his death, his family said : “In addition to his son Tom and daughter Lucy, Steve leaves behind his brother Laurence and his father Richard.

“Also, much-loved close friends and colleagues, and millions of devoted radio listeners who had the good fortune and great pleasure of allowing Steve into their daily lives as one of the UK’s most enduring and popular radio personalities.”

License this content

Watch: White House admits Parkinson’s specialist evaluated Biden

The White House confirmed Joe Biden was evaluated by an expert in Parkinson’s disease three times before stonewalling questions over the doctor’s repeated visits to the presidential residence earlier this year.

Dr Kevin Cannard, a specialist in the early signs of Parkinson’s, performed neurological examinations on Mr Biden during the three annual check-ups he has received since becoming president, the White House said.

But it refused to elaborate on why Dr Cannard visited the White House eight times from July 2023 to March this year, according to visitor logs, including one January meeting with the president’s personal doctor.

The three annual check-ups found no signs of Parkinson’s, the White House said, with Karine Jean-Pierre, the press secretary angrily refusing to go into further detail on the recent visits in a combative press conference on Monday night.

Medical experts have suggested the 81-year-old has some symptoms consistent with Parkinson’s and there are calls on Mr Biden to take a public test to prove he is mentally able to lead the US.

On Monday he said that every day as president amounted to a neurological exam and said people questioning his fitness “drives me nuts” in a call to MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Mr Biden has not been evaluated for Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative condition which affects the brain, since February and never outside of the annual checks, the White House said.

On Sunday, House Republicans demanded the president’s doctor testify over why he has not ordered a test.

Doctors have said that the president’s tilting posture, open-mouthed expression and loss in his train of thought could be early signs of the disease, while stressing diagnosis is impossible outside of medical facilities.

On Monday, there were bad-tempered exchanges between reporters and Ms Jean-Pierre, which at times descended into a shouting match.

She refused to explain Dr Cannard’s presence at the White House but suggested it might be connected to treating other government personnel.

“There are thousands of military personnel that come to the White House and they are under the care of the medical unit,” she said after repeatedly dodging questions about whether Dr Cannard’s visits were for the president.

She said that Mr Biden is not being treated for Parkinson’s disease and has not seen a neurologist outside of his annual physicals.

Dr Kevin O’Connor, the White House doctor, who met with Dr Cannard in January, published a letter to quash the speculation over whether Mr Biden was being evaluated for Parkinson’s.

“President Biden has not seen a neurologist outside of his annual physical,” Dr O’Connor said in his letter.

He said an “extremely detailed neurologic exam” did not find anything “consistent with any cerebellar or other central neurological disorder, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or ascending lateral sclerosis”.

Dr O’Connor said Dr Cannard’s visits to the White House were for neurological clinics aimed at supporting “thousands” of active duty members assigned in support of White House operations and not to treat the president.

Mr Biden’s official physician took office in January 2021 and is in daily contact with the president, who he last gave a clean bill of health to in February.

It’s been reported he has never recommended the president take a cognitive test. He once told a trade publication his most important job was to offer Mr Biden an affirmative “Good morning, Mr President” to get his day off to a good start.

Dr Cannard is a movement disorders specialist from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, who has been an on-call neurologist for the White House since 2012.

He has co-authored research on treatment for early Parkinson’s disease at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and has not responded to requests for comment.

Dr Cannard visited the Obama White House at least 15 times between 2012 and 2013, according to visitor logs, and was twice signed in by Barack Obama’s doctor.

He made one visit in 2014, four in 2015 and eight in 2016.  There are no records for the Trump administration because he dropped the voluntary visitor log system, which was brought back when Mr Biden became president in 2021.

One former White House official told Reuters he was treated by Dr Cannard for migraines in 2016.

Dr Cannard’s last eight visits began on July 28 2023 when he met Megan Nasworthy, a White House liaison to Walter Reed hospital, whose responsibilities include arranging primary care for the president, his family, vice president and members of Mr Biden’s cabinet.

Ms Nasworthy was listed as the person visited for seven of the eight meetings, which were held between 7 and 9am on Fridays, except for the last meeting, which was on the Thursday before Good Friday.

The repeated visits were first reported by the New York Daily Post.

Dr Rob Howard, of University College London, told the newspaper that Mr Biden displayed many symptoms indicative of Parkinson’s disease, including “fluctuation in attentional function, his facial appearance, and his gait”.

“I am not saying it’s Parkinson’s disease, I am just pointing out that there are features to him that are consistent with Parkinson’s disease,” Dr Howard said.

The speculation over Mr Biden’s mental abilities has built after the gaffe-strewn TV debate last month, which the White House blamed on a cold and jet lag.

In a radio interview on Thursday, Mr Biden said he was “proud” to be the “first black woman to serve with a black president”.

A poll released on Tuesday by Bendixen & Amandi had Mr Biden trailing behind Trump by 42 per cent to 43.

Sixty-one per cent of the voters who watched the debate said the president did not have the mental capacity to serve another four-year term. Just 33 per cent said he should remain the Democratic nominee, while 52 per cent said he should step down.

Kamala Harris, the vice president, is now ahead of Trump at 42 per cent to 41 per cent, according to the poll. Hillary Clinton, who Trump defeated in 2016, would lead Trump 43 per cent to 41 per cent, it found.

License this content

Rowling attacks Starmer over new women’s minister

Sir Keir Starmer sparked a row on Monday by appointing a women’s minister who said that there are many definitions of a woman.

JK Rowling, Martina Navratilova and other feminist campaigners attacked the Prime Minister’s decision to appoint Anneliese Dodds as the women and equalities minister.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour in 2022, Ms Dodds said there are “different definitions legally around what a woman actually is”. When asked again, she said: “I think it does depend what the context is.”

She has also pledged that Labour is “committed to modernising the Gender Recognition Act”, saying the current process was “intrusive, outdated and humiliating”.

It comes after months of criticism of Sir Keir’s stance on gender issues. He had previously said it was “wrong” for one of his MPs to say only a woman has a cervix, and last year said 99.9 per cent of women do not have a penis. He has since changed his stance and said biological men should not be allowed to use women’s lavatories.

After Ms Dodds’ appointment, Rowling described her previous comments as “nonsensical”. The Harry Potter author, who gave Labour £1 million in 2008, has accused it of having “abandoned” her and others campaigning for women’s rights.

Writing in the Times, she said she would struggle to vote for Sir Keir, saying she had a “poor opinion” of his character and accusing the party of a “dismissive and often offensive” approach to women’s concerns under his leadership.

Rowling has become known as a fierce advocate of the rights of biological women after criticising Scottish Government proposals to introduce self-identification for transgender people.

Ms Navratilova, the nine-times Wimbledon singles champion and another prominent gender-critical campaigner, responded to the announcement by tweeting: “Dodds is just awful…”

Susan Hall, the former Tory London mayoral candidate, said: “Women need someone to defend their spaces, not someone who cannot even properly define them.”

Sir Keir announced that Bridget Phillipson, the Education Secretary, would also have the title minister for women and equalities because the title legally has to be held by someone of secretary of state rank.

Ms Dodds will take the lead on equalities issues even though she is only a minister of state. She will attend Cabinet.

She had said in opposition that she was going to be the first Secretary of State for Women and Equalities. Instead, she will combine her equalities role with that of aid minister, in what will be seen as a significant downgrading of the position from pre-election promises.

Tess White, a Tory member of the Scottish Parliament, said: “In March 2022, on International Women’s Day, Anneliese Dodds could not define what a woman is while being interviewed on Woman’s Hour. Shockingly, she said ‘woman’ can mean ‘all kinds of things’. She is now Minister for Women and Equalities. That should alarm us all.”

Ms Phillipson has also been criticised for her approach to women’s issues after she refused eight times to say whether a biological male should be able to use a women’s lavatory during an interview with LBC radio in the run-up to the election.

Joan Smith, the journalist and author, tweeted: “Biological reality, and Labour MPs who recognise it, snubbed by Keir Starmer. Dodds and Phillipson now in position to carry out manifesto commitments opposed by thousands, if not millions, of women. I knew he couldn’t be trusted.”

A spokesman for the What Is A Woman campaign said: “The Government will be judged on its actions. The Prime Minister promised voters to protect singles-sex spaces for biological women and ban the teaching of gender ideology in schools. He and Dodds must now uphold that promise in law.”

Maya Forstater, the chief executive of Sex Matters, a women’s rights charity, said: “The prominence of sex-based rights during the election campaign showed that most people think genuinely single-sex spaces are essential, and that the Government should move swiftly to fix the legal muddle that means service providers are frightened to provide them.

“However Sir Keir decides to organise the women and equalities brief, we look forward to working with the incoming administration to ensure that the law works to guarantee women’s safety, dignity and privacy and to protect everyone’s human rights.”

License this content

New York mayor hails new solution to conquer rubbish… wheelie bins

With more than three million rats and mounds of foul-smelling bin bags lining the streets, New York has become famous for its filth.

But on Monday, the mayor unveiled the much-anticipated solution to the issue that has been plaguing the city: the wheelie bin.

Eric Adams hailed the bins, which have been a hallmark of British refuse collection for decades, as part of the “trash revolution”.

Demonstrating the design at a press conference, Mr Adams proudly rolled a black wheelie bin down a driveway and deposited a black bag inside to the sound of Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind.

“Many people thought it was impossible that these babies here, the bins, were going to be part of our trash revolution.”  Mr Adams told reporters.

“We are only catching up to what other municipalities across the globe, what they are currently doing.

“When I visit other countries, they are blown away that we still use plastic bags. 

“We are leaders, we lead from the front and we’re going to catch up with everyone else and get these plastic bags off the street.”

Hailing Jessica Tisch, the New York City department of sanitation commissioner, as a “visionary”, Mr Adams said that the bins will be “a game changer for our city”.

“We all have one unified dislike and those are those pesky New York City rats,” he said.

“They are getting more and more bold. They no longer run from you, they just hang out and just do what they want and we want to make sure we change that in a real way.”

He added: “It is a real revolution, this is a rat-proof container and is going to do the job.”

Mr Adams described the bins as “durable, they are attractive and New York-affordable”.

The city is selling official NYC bins for less than $50 (£40).

From Nov 12, all New York City properties with up to nine residential units must use a bin with a secure lid.

“Today, we are tossing even more black bags into the dustbin of history and taking the next step forward in our ‘trash revolution’,” Mr Adams said.

License this content

Migrants at detention centre smoking cannabis openly, report finds

Drug use by migrants at one of the UK’s main detention centres is so widespread that detainees smoke cannabis openly, an inspection report has found.

Charlie Taylor, the chief inspector of prisons, said he was shocked by the “chaos” at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre, next to Heathrow Airport, where failed asylum seekers and foreign criminals are held before deportation.

He said the accommodation was decrepit and violence had “substantially increased”, while drug use was brazen.

Inspectors “could smell cannabis and saw detainees openly smoking in communal areas without being challenged by staff, who largely kept to offices with ‘do not enter’ taped across their doors”, the inspector said.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, Mr Taylor said: “I was absolutely shocked walking into the place – the whole place smelt of cannabis – and there were people openly just walking around, detainees openly walking around smoking joints.

“I walked over to a table where there were some detainees sitting chatting to each other, and one of them was sitting rolling a joint at the table and just about covered it up as I arrived to sit down. But I’ve never seen anything like that in immigration or indeed in a prison.”

‘Decrepit’ building

Mr Taylor called conditions at Harmondsworth the worst he had seen, and was so concerned by what he found that he raised his concerns with James Cleverly, then the home secretary, who never replied, according to the watchdog.

There had also been several serious suicide attempts at the “decrepit” building, which can hold close to 700 men, according to the findings published on Tuesday, while the number of assaults had doubled since the last inspection.

Mr Taylor said: “The level of chaos that we found at Harmondsworth was truly shocking, and we left deeply concerned that some of those held there were at imminent risk of harm.”

While the new director had a “good understanding” of many of the challenges faced by the centre and was “beginning to make good progress” in improving conditions, she would “need strong and consistent support at every level to succeed”, Mr Taylor added.

Mitie Care and Custody, which runs the centre, faced numerous challenges including staff shortages and a “shambolic retendering process” led by the Home Office meant that leaders had “no idea whether they would still be running the centre in the next few months”, according to the findings.

The contractual uncertainties had been a problem since last year, which made it “all but impossible to recruit permanent senior staff, who might only be in post for a matter of weeks”.

‘So much taxpayer money’

The report also found that most failed asylum seekers held for deportation are released. Mr Taylor said: “Nobody should be detained in an immigration removal centre unless they are going to be removed quickly from the country, yet around 60 per cent of detainees were released from the centre, with only a third deported.”

He added that it begged the question “of why so much taxpayer money was being spent keeping them locked up in the first place”.

Detained migrants are released on bail if they are considered at low risk of absconding or criminality, or are waiting for removal but there is “no realistic prospect” of that.

Last year, David Neal, the then chief inspector of borders and immigration, issued a report warning that the Home Office had lost its grip on the handling of foreign criminals due for deportation.

Even criminals who had volunteered to be deported were not being removed quickly, it found. This was largely down to delays in caseworking which add to the significant challenge and costs of detaining foreign national offenders.

The findings explain why the number of foreign criminals eligible for deportation who are living in the country hit a record high of 11,769 in March. Of those, 3,708 were released from prison more than five years ago, according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics.

License this content

Leave a Reply