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General election latest news: Labour candidate steps down over 'Shylock' comment as party’s anti-Semitism crisis intensifies

​Read the latest news on the 2019 general election campaign here​​​

 

A second Labour candidate has stepped down over claims of anti-Semitism, after it emerged the would-be MP for Clacton used the offensive term "Shylock" in front of a Jewish councillor. 

Gideon Bull confirmed his intention to step aside this morning but insisted it was a "genuine accident".

He said: "I grew up in a working class area in Ilford where this was a common saying, but I didn't know it was offensive."

"This was a genuine accident and I reiterate my sincere apology for this mistake."

It comes after a Scottish Labour candidate stepped down last night over controversial blog post in which she compared Israel to a child abuser.

Kate Ramsden, who was standing in the Gordon constituency currently held by Conservative Colin Clark, had said Israel is like an "abused child" who then goes on to commit abuse.

Labour said the candidate had resigned for "personal reasons".

This morning veteran Labour MP Maragaret Hodge repeatedly refused to say she wants Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister, after prominent former members of the party urged voters to back Boris Johnson.

When asked if she would prefer to see her party leader or Mr Johnson in No 10, she said only: "I want a Labour government.

“I think any government is more than any one individual, and I think that was as true of the past as it is of the present."

Ms Hodge said the fact that she is one of only two female Jewish MPs left in the Labour ranks was a “terrible reflection” on the party.

She said: "I will not give up fighting for what I believe to be right and moral and important. I will never do that."

Margaret Hodge has refused to back Jeremy Corbyn for Prime Minister Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images/Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti reacted to her comments, saying: "I'm sorry to hear that from Margaret who I've worked with and debated with great mutual respect for a great many years.”

Yesterday two former Labour MPs Ian Austin and John Woodcock said the party’s supporters should “vote for Boris Johnson”.

Mr Austin accused Mr Corbyn of “poisoning” the Labour Party with anti-Semitism.

 

Goodnight

That's all from us for today.

It's been a bad day for Labour, with their election campaign being marred by resignations of candidates over anti-Semitism.

Boris Johnson has been throwing himself into campaigning, drinking tea with hospital staff in Nottinghamshire, modelling a clay figurine in a school art class, and visiting Iceland Foods HQ in North Wales.

We'll leave you with this picture of him hard at work hauling a consignment of frozen chocolate gateaux.

Thanks for joining us.

Boris Johnson visits Iceland Foods HQ in Deeside, North Wales Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Boris Johnson protest rave planned in Uxbridge

Labour activists from the #FckBoris campaign are holding a rave in his Uxbridge constituency.

In order to try and get young people registered to vote, Jeremy Corbyn supporters are advertising over two dozen “DIY register & Rave parties” in towns and cities across the UK.

Provocatively, they will also be taking their rave to Mr Johnson's Uxbridge constituency.

Rosa Caradonna, activist in the #FckBoris campaign, said: "Boris has the backing of millionaires and climate change deniers. He has already tried to block students, young and BAME people voting - and we are saying NAH.

"It’s our generation that have to deal with the worst effects of the climate crisis, rising racism and xenophobia, the destruction of the NHS and years of Tory cuts to our basic services."

Nicola Sturgeon: 'It's for Scotland to choose our own future'

The SNP leader said: “It is for Scotland to decide if there is another independence referendum.”

She said she is prepared to work with Labour for assurances on a second Scottish independence referendum.

Boris Johnson criticised for Northern Ireland video

In the clip, posted to social media, the Prime Minister praised his Withdrawal Agreement as a "great deal" for Northern Ireland because it keeps "access to the single market" - despite wanting to pull the rest of the UK out.

The Liberal Democrats have criticised the PM following his comments for wanting to treat the region differently to the rest of the UK.

Tom Brake, the Lib Dems' Brexit spokesman, said: "The single market and freedom of movement are a great deal - even Boris Johnson recognises this.

"So why isn't he keeping them for the whole of the UK as part of the many benefits of EU membership?"

The former London mayor sought to clarify his comments when interviewed by broadcasters on Friday.

He replied: "I'm not going to hide it from you that Northern Ireland has a good deal but so does the the whole of the UK."

Many have also questioned Mr Johnson's claims that Northern Ireland trade with Great Britain will not be subject customs declarations.

Dawn Butler has said a Labour government would 'dismantle the structural barriers' facing women in the workplace

The shadow women and equalities minister said white, straight men have "a privilege code to the lift", fast tracking them into managerial positions.

She added that a Labour government would "lay the grounds for an elevator" for women, to help them secure a level playing field in the world of work.

Speaking to a group of businesswomen at the Business and Technology Centre in Stevenage, Ms Butler said Labour's workplace reforms are "a common sense approach to the modern way of life".

Questioned on Labour's policy of businesses having to offer flexible working in all positions or explain why it cannot be offered for a particular role, she added: "It's really quite easy, it works."

Ms Butler also met the all-female team at Lawrence Dean Recruitment, adding that it was "amazing" that the company's director Kelly Notley had found flexible working "simple to incorporate".

Dawn Butler launches Labour's plan for women in the workplace Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Dominic Grieve asks supporters to stop donating to his election campaign

The former Conservative, who is now standing as an independent in his Beaconsfield constituency, has been so overwhelmed with support that he has had to ask the public to stop donating to his election war chest.

The former attorney general said: “In 10 days we have been able to raise not only enough money to fight the campaign proper, which is £15,700, but also raise and spend another £20,000 in the pre-campaign period. We are now in fact telling people to stop sending us funds. 

“I am immensely grateful to the many people who have sent small donations and the very generous larger donors who have helped.”

Mr Grieve had the Conservative whip withdrawn over Brexit in September.

Dominic Grieve has asked people to stop donating to this election campaign Credit: Dinendra Haria/LNP/Dinendra Haria/LNP

How are the parties doing in each region?

New research reveals how the parties are faring in each region of the UK.

The Tories are leading in every English region outside London, apart from the North East. Interestingly, this is where the Brexit Party are polling the highest.

Labour are down by 20 per cent in their Northern heartlands since 2017, while the SNP are dominating Scotland with 42 per cent intending to vote for the nationalist party.

Labour election candidate defended ‘Jewish final solution’ slur

Laura McAlpine, who introduced Jeremy Corbyn at a speech in Harlow two days ago, defended her aide after he wrote about a "Jewish final solution", according to reports.

Ms McAlpine allegedly supported her aide Brett Hawksbee in emails to colleagues, despite one party official warning he had breached the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism "in almost every single way possible”.

Mr Hawksbee blogged in September 2018: “The fear of many on the left is that the ideological successors of the bombers of the King David Hotel, the mass murderers who decimated Deir Yassin, would be quite happy to see a pogrom in Gaza and the West Bank, a Jewish final solution to the Palestine problem.”

Jewish News are reporting that Ms McAlpine resisted calls to publicly condemn the remarks.

One email circulated to Labour staffers said "she doesn’t want to be disloyal to someone who ‘organises so much for her and who she is on the phone with three times a day’".

The email continued: “She also echoed his view that the context somewhat excuses the remarks. I made it clear that her loyalty is now to the reputation of the Labour Party but not sure what impact that made.”

The Lib Dems aren't happy...

It seems the party isn't best pleased with the news that the BBC will be hosting another head-to-head debate with Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.

Jo Swinson had previously threatened ITV with legal action after they announced their own face-off between the two party leaders.

She has now accused the BBC of being "complicit in another establishment stitch-up" because she was not selected to take part.

Ms Swinson said: "Millions of people voted to Remain in 2016. After three years of chaos, it is shocking that the Liberal Democrats - the strongest party of Remain - are being denied the opportunity to challenge Johnson and Corbyn on Brexit."

And Luciana Berger is asking the BBC why they are "denying the public the opportunity to hear from" the party leader.

Emmanuel Macron: Brexit will hurt British middle classes and help UK elites

Emmanuel Macron has warned Brexit will hurt Britain’s middle classes and only help the UK’s elites, The Telegraph's Brussels Correspondent James Crisp reports.

The French president said that the British would be better off keeping a European style of social protection, rather than a slash and burn of regulation and red tape after Brexit

Mr Macron said that Britain was moving towards a Singapore-style model of low tax and regulation and that he had raised the matter with both Boris Johnson and Theresa May. 

Read more here:

Boris Johnson's 'do or dry' pledge

The Prime Minister has given up drinking "until we get Brexit done".

The remark came while chatting about health matters with nurses at the King's Mill Hospital in Sutton-In-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.

Mr Johnson asked them to tell him more about Ashfield, noting: "Someone said there's a lot of first-time mums who are smoking or something like that. Is that right?"

He was told a lot of people smoke in Ashfield before he switched his attention to vaping, saying: "I'm not certain about it.

"It might just encourage them to get into nicotine."

He then asked "what about alcohol?" before adding: "I've had to give it up until we get Brexit done."

Boris Johnson has given up alcohol  Credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool via REUTERS/Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool via REUTERS

Labour insist they're 'not doing deals'

Keir Starmer is asked if he can rule out a second Scottish independence referendum next year.

The shadow Brexit secretary said: "Yes, we're not doing deals. We're not in this to do anything other than win, and we're not doing deals."

It comes after Nicola Sturgeon hinted Jeremy Corbyn would support Scottish independence.

BBC announce Boris Johnson vs Jeremy Corbyn debate

The Conservative and Labour leaders will go head-tohead live in Southampton on Dec 6 - six days before the poll.

A seven-way podium debate will also take place between senior figures from the UK's major political parties on Nov 29, live from Cardiff.

Former BBC political editor Nick Robinson, who will present the two debates, said he hoped they would "illuminate the choice we all face between competing parties, leaders, policies and visions for the country".

How much will the environment matter in the general election?

Climate change and concern for the environment has been dominating headlines since summer and polling shows it's well and truly on the public's mind.

But how much of a role will it play in December's general election?

Watch this video to find out:

Boris Johnson takes part in an art class

The Prime Minister was given a tour of a school near Nottingham and tried to make a clay figure inspired by Sir Antony Gormley, whose works include the Angel of the North.

Speaking at the George Spencer Academy, Mr Johnson remarked he had "gunk" on him before declaring the task would be "a piece of cake".

But seconds later Mr Johnson paused before joking "it's all going horribly wrong" as he had not followed the guide and noted he was creating a figure similar to "Terminator".

He also told pupils: "He's an interesting chap Antony Gormley - all his sculptures are modelled on himself and then he persuades people to pay colossal sums for his own image around the world. It's amazing success he's had.

"We had a plan in the Olympic Games in 2012 to make a huge human being like this with steps sort of all the way up so you could walk up him.

"Gormley was going to do it but it was going to cost a huge amount."

Boris Johnson participates in a school art lesson Credit: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images/DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Nigel Farage challenges Boris Johnson to debate him

The Brexit Party leader says: "If you really believe that this is a great deat... let’s have a civilised head-to-head debate on what this EU treaty means."

He claims he'd be "only too happy to stand with Boris and talk this through".

Mr Farage says he is "wondering whether" Mr Johnson has read his deal because of answers he's given on Northern Ireland and fishing.

He thinks that the Prime Minister's deal "will not survive scrutiny".

Britain legally bound to nominate commissioner to Brussels

The European Commission has said that Britain is legally bound to nominate a commissioner to serve Brussels until Brexit, The Telegraph's Brussels Correspondent James Crisp reports.

Boris Johnson said in July he would not name a commissioner for the new commission, which is due to take power on Dec 1, “under any circumstances”.  Britain is expected to leave the EU on Jan 31.

The commission’s chief spokeswoman said that the EU treaties and a European Council decision on October 29 meant Britain had to name a successor to Julian King, the current British commissioner. 

Ursula von der Leyen, the incoming president of the commission, has written to Mr Johnson asking him to name a preferably female candidate “as soon as possible”. The Telegraph understands a deadline of Monday has been set. 

“This is black and white in a legal decision to which the UK has agreed and to which the president elect reminded Prime Minister Johnson of in her letter,” the spokeswoman said.  

The European Council decision of October 29 said the UK has an obligation to name a commissioner and, while a member state, uphold “the duty of sincere cooperation”. 

This duty means the UK must refrain from “any measure that could jeopardise the attainment of the Union’s objective in particular when it concerns the decision-making process of our Union.”

 “We have not received any news from the British government,” a spokesman for Mrs von der Leyen said. 

The Telegraph understands that the government may not be able to nominate a commissioner because international appointments are not allowed during a general election. 

Nigel Farage claims Brexit Party got rid of the worst PM 'in the history of our nation'

He claims their European election victory went towards getting rid of the "worst Prime Ministers in the history of our nation".

He is referencing Theresa May, who announced her resignation the day after the European elections in May.

Mr Farage also takes aim at the Unite to Remain pact, which he accepts may have "significant" influence in Wales.

He said: "Amazing isn't it? That you can just seek to abolish the result of the greatest democratic exercise in the history of these islands. 

"At least we know what they stand for."

"You may know that I've been calling for a Leave alliance," he says.

He claims if a Leave alliance were put to the country it would "win a very big majority" but says it is currently being thwarted by the Tories who are "putting party interest ahead of the national interest".

Nicola Sturgeon hints Jeremy Corbyn supports Scottish independence 

She said: "Jeremy Corbyn is someone who supports self-determination for literally every other country in the world. It would be mighty strange if he didn't support it for Scotland."

The SNP leader says any alliance with Labour would need to include a referendum on independence.

She adds: "Labour, I think on this, is moving in the right direction."

Nicola Sturgeon: 'We will look to form alliances to stop Brexit'

The SNP leader said: "We will not give up on trying to stop Brexit for the whole of the UK.

"We will see what the arithmetic is in the House of Commons after this election.  We will look to form alliances and build majorities in the House of Commons to stop Brexit."

She admits that a hung Parliament is "potentially, in many ways, the best outcome for Scotland".

Nicola Sturgeon launches this SNP's election campaign Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Meanwhile, in Edinburgh...

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that the SNP would "seek to form a progressive alliance to keep the Tories out of power” if there is a hung parliament.

She is putting the promise of a NHS Protection Bill, which she claims will protect the NHS from privatization and future trade deals, at the heart of her campaign launch.

She adds: “My intention is the people of Scotland will decide our future in an independence referendum next year.”

Ann Widdecombe attends Brexit Party rally

She begins her speech by asking the crowd in Pontypool: "Which way did Wales vote in the referendum?"

"Leave," the crowd replies.

The former Tory continues: "And we haven't left. That is because you have been comprehensively betrayed by Westminster."

She claims the "poor souls" in Westminster don't like language such as surrender and betrayal.

"Well if they don't want to be upset, let them stop surrendering and betraying," she said.

Ms Widdecombe adds: "When you hand the power that should belong to your country to a foreign power, that is an act of surrender."

Boris Johnson says it is 'pure Loch Ness Monster' territory to suggest NHS up for grabs

Asked if he would legislate to protect the NHS from US intervention the PM told broadcasters "the NHS is not for sale".

He added: "It's not going to be on any kind of international trade negotiation."

Mr Johnson said it is "pure Loch Ness Monster, Bermuda Triangle stuff" to suggest the NHS is up for grabs under his Brexit deal.

"The NHS, free at the point of use, is a fantastic service and we not only believe in it, but are investing more in it than at any time in recent memory and we'll continue to do so," he said.

TfL confirms Crossrail will not open in 2020

It was supposed to launch in 2018, but Crossrail's CEO Mark Wild now says that it will open "as soon as practically possible in 2021".

The delay will mean costs of a further £400 to £650 million.

Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey said the news was "nothing short of embarrassing for TfL and Sadiq Khan".

Matt Hancock is 'ready to go'

Twitter users are having a lot of fun with this video of the Health Secretary.

Why is he doing a piece to camera in the middle of a country lane? Where did he come from ? And is that a disposable cup?

Boris Johnson takes a tea break

The Prime Minister enjoys a brew on a visit to King's Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, and meets staff.

Mr Johnson will finish his whistle-stop UK tour with a visit to Wales this afternoon.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes a drink of tea as he meets staff and nurses during a visit to King's Mill Hospital Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Boris Johnson meets hospital staff Credit: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Image/DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Image
Boris Johnson shakes hands with a nurse Credit: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images/DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

Public confidence in the future of the Union is much lower than it was five years ago

New Ipsos MORI research shows that people in Britain have become less confident that the UK will continue to exist in its present form in the medium term.

Just 29 per cent of those polled believe the UK will stay in it's current form in 10 years time. When polled in 2014, 45 per cent said they were confident the union staying intact.

Jean-Claude Juncker has vowed not to interfere in the general election.

The president of the European Commission said that Britain was approaching the "exit gate" out of the EU, The Telegraph's Brussels Correspondent James Crisp reports.

He told the Suddeutsche Zeitung: "I do not interfere in elections, and the way I see it, this is not a second referendum." 

Mr Juncker has warned that EU-UK trade talks after the Brexit deal is ratified will be long and difficult. 

He said: "Johnson always says that we should lock ourselves in a dark tunnel and keep talking until we've seen the light again. I am against a tunnel when I do not know whether there is an end to it.

"This will be a difficult phase of the European governance."

Labour candidate's foul-mouthed rants at female politicians

This morning LBC have uncovered a series of disturbing online posts from Labour's Liverpool West Derby candidate Ian Byrne.

On Facebook he shared a post about Baroness Michelle Mone, the founder of underwear brand Ultimo, calling to “hit the c*** where it hurts.”

When Esther McVey was at risk of losing her seat, Mr Byrne called her a “b*****d" and said she was "soon to be gone”.

He also called Prince William a “horse-faced tw*t”.

In September, it was reported that he wrote “it can only be a matter of time before Boris Johnson’s mum comes forward and tells us that she was raped by Jimmy Saville in 1963”.

Trade Secretary Liz Truss has responded, saying: “This is a man who Jeremy Corbyn has stood on a stage with.

"The Labour leader continually calls for a kinder, gentler politics but has continued to preside over a culture of sexism, misogyny and abuse within his own party.”

Which political parties have had the worst election so far?

Anew poll commissioned by YouGov for Sky News has found that the majority of voters think the Conservatives are having the worst election so far.

When asked which party was performing the worst, 25 per cent picked the Tories, 22 per cent chose Labour and just eight per cent plumped for the Lib Dems.

The Brexit Party did the best of the bunch, with only six per cent thinking they'd had the worst campaign.

When asked who had done the best so far, the majority of those polled picked 'none'.

51 Labour candidates join 'Remain pledge'

The candidates have signed an election pledge which states: “Labour is committed to a confirmatory referendum, to give you the final say on Brexit.

"If elected as your Labour MP, I pledge to campaign to Remain in the EU”

 Signatories include Wes Streeting, David Lammy, Margaret Becket and Helen Hayes.  

Boris Johnson says there will be no checks on goods going from NI to GB

Speaking at an event in Northern Ireland, Mr Johnson insisted: "There will not be checks on goods going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain."

He added: "We're the Government of the United Kingdom and we will not institute or implement or enact such checks."

Labour candidate quits over accusations of anti-Semitism

The Clacton  candidate Gideon Bull  has stepped down over the accusation that he used an antisemitic term in front of a Jewish councillor.

Mr Bull admitted in an interview with BBC Essex to using the term “Shylock” in a meeting, but said: “The allegation that I called a Jewish cabinet member ‘Shylock’ is entirely false.”

Confirming his intention to stand down, he claimed "I did not know that Shylock was Jewish and I would never have mentioned Shylock if I had known this".

He added: "I grew up in a working class area in Ilford where this was a common saying, but I didn't know it was offensive.

"This was a genuine accident and I reiterate my sincere apology for this mistake."

Ian Blackford sets out SNP's proposed NHS Protection Bill

The former SNP leader at Westminster said the proposed legislation is designed to protect the NHS in any future trade deals.

The Bill would  block give devolved parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland a veto on such deals.

Mr Blackford said: "We know the NHS is under threat because Boris Johnson and the Conservatives want to do a trade deal with the US.

"We’ve got the situation where Donald Trump has talked about making sure that higher prices paid for medicines that come from the US.

"We have to recognise that there is a potential threat from US corporates seeking to get into the National Health Service.

"Importantly we need to make sure there aren’t mechanisms that create that access to the National Health Service."

He also said the SNP are calling for a Scottish independence referendum in 2020.

"We need to make sure we can have that referendum so we can demonstrate to Europe that we want to Remain," he said.

Mr Blackford added he had "not detected" any increased support in Scotland for Jo Swinson's Liberal Democrats.

Priti Patel says new NHS visas are part of 'balanced immigration' strategy

The Home Secretary has heralded the plans for the fast-track visas as "balanced immigration" that would bring "qualified people into our NHS".

She said the new visa would be open to skilled healthcare professionals from "around the world".

Ms Patel said that applicants would need to be "doctors, nurses and qualified healthcare professionals" and would get a guaranteed place in the NHS if successful.

When asked why social care workers were not included in the scheme, she said: "We want to introduce and Australian-style points based immigration system.

"This NHS visa route is for skilled doctors and nurses and healthcare professionals."

She added it was "clear" that other NHS roles, such as cooks and cleaners, could be filled "within our own labour market".

When asked if there would be an increase in immigration under the points based system, she said: "We want a balanced and fair approach to immigration.

"Under a points based system we would have controlled immigration. I think it’s fair to emphasise that during the referendum campaign, the Brexit referendum campaign, the public voted for immigration control."

Royal Mail seeks injunction over planned strikes by workers

Bosses at Royal Mail are seeking an injunction to block a planned strike by postal workers, claiming there are "potential irregularities in the ballot" making the vote unlawful.

The company will go to the High Court on Friday for an interim order against the Communication Workers Union, whose members voted overwhelmingly for walkouts.

Royal Mail said: "The company is making this High Court application because the integrity and legal soundness of any electoral process is vital.

"This is particularly the case in relation to potential industrial action around the General Election on 12 December 2019. Royal Mail is also making this application because of the damage industrial action would do to the company and its customers in the run-up to Christmas."

Read more here:

Good morning

Labour is putting worker and maternity rights at the heart of their election campaign today, while the Tories and SNP are focusing on the NHS.

The Conservatives will today unveil plans for a "NHS visa" as part of a promised "points-based immigration system". The plan will aim to attract doctors and nurses to Britain with the fast-track visa.

Dawn Butler will be in Stevenage at a small recruitment company today selling Labour’s policy of workplace reforms for women. Under Labour plans mothers will be given maternity pay for a full year after the birth of their children.

But there are more woes for the party after their veteran MP Margaret Hodge refused to say she'd want Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister.