General election - latest: Fourth Tory investigated over betting scandal ‘who placed dozens of bets’

The Conservative’s data chief has become the fourth person in the party to be investigated for alleged betting on the date of the general election.

Nick Mason has taken a leave of absence after becoming the latest Tory to be reportedly investigated by the Gambling Commission for allegedly betting on the timing of the election before the date had been announced.

The latest allegations were published by The Sunday Times, which claimed dozens of bets had been placed with potential winnings worth thousands of pounds. A spokesman for the official told the paper that he denied wrongdoing.

The revelations are a fresh blow to Rishi Sunak’s hopes of getting the Tory election campaign on track after three other Conservative figures were caught up in the scandal.

They are Craig Williams, Mr Sunak’s parliamentary private secretary standing in Montgomeryshire, Laura Saunders, standing in Bristol North West, and her husband Tony Lee, director of campaigning at the party.

Prior to this latest revelation, Michael Gove suggested this scandal was proving as damaging as partygate, adding: “It looks like one rule for them and one rule for us.”

Key Points

  • Senior Tory becomes fourth accused of betting on date of general election

  • Mystery cabinet minister may be among Tories in betting scandal

  • Lib Dems call for Sunak intervention into betting scandal

  • New poll suggests ‘truly historic’ election victory for Labour

Public money not used on stamps for our campaign, Swinney insists

11:09 , Matt Mathers

Scotland’s first minister has been “assured” by his staff that no stamps bought on Holyrood expenses were used for party campaigning.

The SNP is currently under investigation by Scottish parliament officials following a complaint that public money was being used.

Reports on Sunday suggest Mr Swinney’s own office manager had said the “stamp fairy is very useful when it comes to campaigns” in a WhatsApp group chat with other office managers.

“I’ve obviously discussed this with my staff and I’ve been assured that no parliamentary stamps that have been provided by parliament have been used to support election purposes,” he said on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.

He later added he was “confident” there has not been any use of public money to prop up the SNP’s campaign.

The First Minister said he was ‘confident’ there had been no use of public money in his party’s election campaign (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)
The First Minister said he was ‘confident’ there had been no use of public money in his party’s election campaign (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

‘Coal miners of this generation'

10:50 , Matt Mathers

Sharon Graham, leader of the Unite trade union, has warned the Labour manifesto risks allowing oil and gas workers to become “the coal miners of this generation”.

Speaking to Sky’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips programme, Ms Graham said: “There were good things in the manifesto and I want Labour to win.

“But whilst there are things in there around moving to net zero – and everybody wants to do that – you cannot allow oil and gas workers to become the coal miners of this generation.

“I won’t allow that to happen and because of that I could not endorse the manifesto.”

Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham (PA) (PA Archive)
Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham (PA) (PA Archive)

Sunak attacks Starmer over Brexit

10:13 , Matt Mathers

The prime minister has used the anniversary of the EU referendum to attack Sir Keir Starmer’s attempts to reverse Brexit, Archie Mitchell reports.

Rishi Sunak said: "8 years ago today, I proudly voted for Brexit.

"While we delivered on the will of the people, Keir Starmer tried to reverse your vote.

"That’s the difference between us."

Cleverly: I’m working closely with EU leaders to stop the boats

10:08 , Matt Mathers

James Cleverly has said he is working closely with leaders across the European Union to stop small boat arrivals in the UK.

The home secretary insisted that the Rwanda plan was working as a deterrent when pressed on why 12,000 people - up on the same period last year - had made the treacherous journey so far in 2024.

He told the BBC: “When those first flights take off it will have a shock wave - the point is, we and other European nations who are also struggling with the numbers of people...that the people smugglers are pushing through the European countries - we work together, I speak regularly - still, even though there’s an election called, I still conversely regularly with interior ministers across Europe. This is a Europe-wide challenge.”

 (BBC)
(BBC)

The bar was pretty low in 2019, Bridget Phillipson says

09:56 , Matt Mathers

Bridget Phillipson said the bar was pretty low in the 2019 general election and Jeremy Corbyn was “not a great choice” for prime minister, Archie Mitchell reports.

She was pressed over Sir Keir Starmer’s claim that the left-winger would have made a better leader than Boris Johnson.

The shadow education secretary told the BBC: “I didn’t think Jeremy Corbyn was ever going to win.

“And that was very, very clear on the doorstep. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t a great choice and it certainly wasn’t a great choice that Labour put forward in 2019.”

She added: “The difference now, however, is that Keir Starmer has got what it takes to be a brilliant prime minister of our country, and to turn the page on the years and years of Tory chaos and division.”

Cleverly: ‘Disappointing’ and ‘frusrating' that 900 people crossed Channel on Tuesday

09:54 , Matt Mathers

James Cleverly said it was “disappointing and frustrating” that 900 people arrived in the UK by small boat on Tuesday.

He was asked why voters should trust his claim that the government’s Rwanda plan would work as an effective deterrent to illegal migration.

The home secretary told the BBC: “There’s always a whole load of complicated factors. What we saw in the weeks leading up to those figures - and they are disappointing and frustrating figures - an extended period of good weather, where almost no one came across the Channel.”

“If you’re going to report the bad days you should also report the good days,” he added.

Labour would strengthen rules on women-only spaces - Phillipson

09:47 , Matt Mathers

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson has said a Labour government would take steps to strengthen women-only spaces, Archie Mitchell reports.

Asked if a biological woman would know for sure that she would not have to share any spaces with a person who is not biologically a woman, Ms Phillipson told Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips on Sky News: "Yes, because the Equality Act allows for that.

"We will also make sure that there is strengthened guidance that sets out the position so that service providers can have absolute confidence in the delivery of services.

"I do believe in the importance of single-sex provision, but I also believe that trans people have the right to appropriate care as well. I don’t think it is about one or the other."

Ms Phillipson said "statutory guidance" would be set out by a Labour government.

Election result ‘not a done deal’ - shadow education secretary

09:45 , Matt Mathers

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said a Labour victory is "not a done deal" as she accused the Conservatives of pursuing a "voter suppression" strategy, Archie Mitchell reports.

Ms Phillipson told Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips on Sky News: "People shouldn’t look at the polls and think this is a done deal.

"If people want change, if they want to turn the corner on 14 years of failure, then they’ve got to get out and vote Labour on July 4."

Ms Phillipson later said: "I’ve been across the country, there’s a lot of people that have still not made up their minds in this election and in those seats a couple of hundred votes will be the difference between a Labour government or five more years of the Conservatives."

She added: "What the Tories are doing - very, very cynically - is a voter suppression strategy. They want people to think this is all in the bag, don’t worry about it, you don’t need to come out and vote.

"Worse than that, I think it’s an attempt to distract from their manifesto, which if they got the chance to implement that would crash the economy just like Liz Truss did."

Lib Dems - Rwanda is a ‘disatrous waste of money'

09:42 , Matt Mathers

Responding to the reports that James Sunderland called the Rwanda scheme “crap’” Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said: “The Rwanda policy is an immoral, costly gimmick and everyone, including top Conservatives, knows it.

“Rishi Sunak has poured hundreds of millions into his failing vanity project - it’s a disastrous waste of money.

“Liberal Democrats would smash these gangs putting lives at risk and fix our immigration system.”

Cleverly appears not to deny for a second time that he used word ‘bats***’ to describe Rwanda plan

09:37 , Matt Mathers

James Cleverly appeared not to deny for a second time that he used the word “bats***” to describe the government’s Rwanda plan.

As we reported a little earlier, the home secretary for the first time denied claims he called Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda deportation scheme “bats***” in an interview with Sky News.

The home secretary has previously refused to deny he used the slur to describe the PM’s plan to send asylum seekers to the east African nation.

When pressed by the BBC about the comment, he said: “What I’ve said...I’ve said this before, this is not new - I said this in an interview, I think, within days of being appointed that my frustration - and if I have used intemperate language is because my frustration, was that, I think, as a government we spoke exclusively about one policy and didn’t speak about all the other things like immigration enforcement, who send dozens of people every single week - sometimes hundreds - deported, who have no right to be here, we didn’t talk about that, which is perhaps why Yvette Cooper is thinking about having this new - allegedly new - returns unit, which is exactly what immigration enforcement already does, and a border command which is exactly what the small boats operation...”

Cleverly insists aide was trying to grab audience attention with Rwanda is ‘crap' comment

09:19 , Matt Mathers

James Cleverly is now being interviewed by Laura Kuenssberg on the BBC.

He repeats his claim that James Sunderland was trying to grab the attention of the audience by saying the Rwanda plan was “crap”.

Mr Cleverly says that, when people listen to the clip in full, they will realise his aide is supportive of the Rwanda policy because of its deterrent effect.

 (BBC)
(BBC)

Cleverly: I won’t defend those caught up in betting scandal

09:14 , Matt Mathers

James Cleverly has said he would not defend any Tories found to have placed bets on the election date.

The home secretary told Sky News: “I’m not in any way going to defend people who placed bets on that.

“There is an investigation by the Gambling Commission and we have been told very, very clearly that we are not to discuss the investigations.”

He said that “my understanding is that it is a small number of individuals” involved.

Asked if any Cabinet ministers were involved, he said: “I’ve got no reason to believe any of them were, at all.”

Asked why Rishi Sunak was not sacking anyone who admitted placing a bet, Mr Cleverly said it was a matter for the Gambling Commission to investigate.

Cleverly refuses to deny members of the cabinet bet on the election date

08:56 , Matt Mathers

James Cleverly has refused to deny that members of Rishi Sunak’s cabinet bet on the election date before it was announced, Archie Mitchell reports.

The home secretary said he has “no reason to believe” any of his cabinet colleagues were involved.

And he said the Gambling Commission has made it clear the Tories are not supposed to discuss the ongoing investigation.

Mr Cleverly stressed that is was "a small number of people" who were involved, and he was "not defending the actions".

 (Sky News)
(Sky News)

James Cleverly denies for the first time calling Rwanda plan “bats***”

08:46 , Matt Mathers

James Cleverly has for the first time denied claims he called Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda deportation scheme “bats***”, Archie Mitchell reports.

The home secretary has previously refused to deny he used the slur to describe the PM’s plan to send asylum seekers to the east African nation.

But, after it emerged a senior aide to Mr Cleverly had described the scheme as “crap”, the home secretary denied for the first time having made the comment.

Asked by Sky News whether he described the plan as “bats***”, Mr Cleverly said: “No.”

“This is what Yvette Cooper has alleged that I said… she has never given any indication of where I said it or who I said it to,” Mr Cleverly added.

Home secretary James Cleverly (PA Wire)
Home secretary James Cleverly (PA Wire)

My aide was only trying to grab audience’s attention, Cleverly insists

08:39 , Matt Mathers

James Cleverly said he was “surprised” to learn about his aide describing the Rwanda plan as “crap”.

The home secretary said James Sunderland had been supportive of him and the policy in private.

Mr Cleverly claimed to Sky News his aide was putting forward a “very counterintuitive statement” to grab the attention of the audience.

The home secretary was previously accused of describing the policy as “batshit”, which he denied.

Mr Cleverly told Sky News: “He did it clearly for dramatic effect to grab the attention of the audience. But he is, and it’s clear in the recording, completely supportive of the detail.”

James Cleverly aide says Rwanda plan is ‘crap’ in leaked recording

08:35 , Matt Mathers

An aide to home secretary James Cleverly described the government’s Rwanda plan as “crap” in a leaked recording.

James Sunderland, Mr Cleverly’s parliamentary private secretary, can be heard asking if anybody has their phones on before making the comments, published by the Labour Party.

Listen:

Tories claim there is a £2bn black hole in Labour spending plans

08:30 , Matt Mathers

The Conservatives have claimed that there is a £2bn black hole in Labour’s spending plans, meaning the party would have to raise taxes.

The party claims their analysis shows there is a funding shortfall for 2025-26 between Labour’s plans for public services and the tax increases announced in its manifesto, because their revenue-raising measures will not be delivered in full until the final year of the parliament.

Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, said: “By only publishing her tax and spending plans for the last year of the parliament, Rachel Reeves was hoping to get through the campaign without explaining the immediate tax rises she will have to implement.”

Darren Jones, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “This is more desperate nonsense from a Conservative Party whose manifesto promises £71 billion of unfunded tax cuts and is set to hike mortgages for families by £4,800.

“Labour’s manifesto is fully funded and fully costed.”

Starmer: Working people want ‘success’ more than state support

08:20 , Matt Mathers

Working people want “success” more than state support, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

“Serving the interests of working people means understanding they want success more than state support,” he told The Sunday Telegraph as he set out the party’s plans for the economy.

“Yes, this is about aspiration. I know our country is driven by it. Entrepreneurs. Parents working extra hours to give their children security. Young people striving for their first home.

“But it is also about dignity. The Labour mission was built on the pride of working people earning a decent living for themselves.

“We will never turn our backs on people who are struggling. But handouts from the state do not nurture the same sense of self-reliant dignity as a fair wage.”

Keir Starmer (PA Wire)
Keir Starmer (PA Wire)

Labour will struggle to grow economy without EU membership - economists

08:10 , Matt Mathers

Labour will struggle to grow the economy without rejoining the EU, economists have said.

Dimitri Zenghelis, an economist and Brexit expert at the London School of Economics,  said extra trade barriers since 2020 had cut business with the EU and stifled investment.

He told The Observer Labour’s plans to talk to Brussels in a more constructive way could “change the mood music for foreign investors”.

He added that rejoining the single market and customs union “could the UK shift the dial in a meaningful way”.

An Opinium poll for the Observer found  that 56 per cent of voters now believe Brexit has been bad for the UK economy.

Just 12 per cent thought it had been good for the economy.

Sir Keir Starmer yesterday ruled out rejoining the customs union or single market, saying Labour had no plans to take the UK back into the EU.

Keir Starmer (PA Wire)
Keir Starmer (PA Wire)

Politics ‘takes it toll’, Gove says

08:00 , Matt Mathers

Politics “takes its toll” on people’s lives, Michael Gove has said as he outlined his reasons for standing down ahead of the election.

“I think that most of us have a shelf life in politics,” he told The Sunday Times.

“I think a useful ministerial career is a maximum of 10 to 15 years … Politics takes its own toll. Service takes its own toll.”

Minister for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities Michael Gove during a housing visit in West London (PA Wire)
Minister for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities Michael Gove during a housing visit in West London (PA Wire)

Farage has been ‘infected with the virus of Putinism’ - Zelensky

07:50 , Matt Mathers

Nigel Farage has been “infected by the virus of Putinism”, Volodymyr Zelensky has said after the Reform leader suggested the West had provoked Russia into invading Ukraine.

“The virus of Putinism, unfortunately, infects people,” a source in the Ukraine president’s office told the BBC.

Mr Farage doubled down on the comments first made in an interview with the BBC, saying he was the only politician who has been “consistent” and “honest” about the war.

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage appearing during a BBC General Election interview (Jeff Overs/BBC) (PA Media)
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage appearing during a BBC General Election interview (Jeff Overs/BBC) (PA Media)

Sunak campaigning in North Yorkshire

07:40 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak will be campaigning in North Yorkshire on Sunday, ahead of gearing up for the final two weeks on the election trail.

No media is expected.

Mr Sunak’s own seat of Richmond is nearby, where he is defending a majority of 27,210 - a seemingly unassailable lead but some polls have suggested he could be at risk due to the size of Labour’s lead in the polls.

The revelations are a fresh blow to Rishi Sunak’s hopes of getting the Tory election campaign on track (via REUTERS)
The revelations are a fresh blow to Rishi Sunak’s hopes of getting the Tory election campaign on track (via REUTERS)

Gove: Fallout from betting scandal could be as bad as partygate

07:27 , Matt Mathers

The fall out from the betting scandal engulfing the Conservative Party could be as bad as Partgate, Michael Gove has warned.

The outgoing cabinet minister said the row risked looking like “one rule for them and one rule for us”.

“That’s the most potentially damaging thing,” the housing and communities secretary told The Sunday Times. “The perception that we operate outside the rules that we set for others. That was damaging at the time of partygate and is damaging here.”

Michael Gove (via REUTERS)
Michael Gove (via REUTERS)

What to expect on the campaign trail today

07:11 , Matt Mathers

Home secretary James Cleverly and shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson will be in the broadcast studios on Sunday morning after fresh revelations in the election betting scandal broke.

The Conservative Party’s chief data officer is the latest Tory official caught up in the allegations of betting on the general election’s timing before it was public knowledge.

Mr Cleverly is the first minister who is set to face questions in the light of the reports first aired in The Sunday Times.

The Home Secretary has asked for a ‘full, urgent explanation’ as to why officers appeared to use a police car to ram an escaped cow (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)
The Home Secretary has asked for a ‘full, urgent explanation’ as to why officers appeared to use a police car to ram an escaped cow (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)
Bridget Phillipson said Labour wants to tackle sexism by addressing it in schools (Jordan Pettitt/PA) (PA Wire)
Bridget Phillipson said Labour wants to tackle sexism by addressing it in schools (Jordan Pettitt/PA) (PA Wire)

How the Euros could change the result of the election

07:00 , Tom Watling

How the Euros could change the result of the election

Gove: Betting scandal is as bad as Covid partygate

06:00 , Tom Watling

The row over government insiders betting on the general election is as damaging to the reputation of the Tories as partygate during the pandemic, Michael Gove has said.

“It looks like one rule for them and one rule for us – the perception that we operate outside the rules that we set for others. That was damaging at the time of partygate and is damaging here,” he said in an interview with The Sunday Times.

You can read everything we know about the betting scandal here.

Michael Gove has claimed the row over government insiders betting on the general election is as damaging to the reputation of the Tories as partygate during the pandemic (Getty Images)
Michael Gove has claimed the row over government insiders betting on the general election is as damaging to the reputation of the Tories as partygate during the pandemic (Getty Images)

Tories ‘held in contempt by the electorate’ as pressure mounts on Rishi Sunak over betting scandal

05:00 , Tom Watling

Tories ‘held in contempt’ by voters as pressure mounts over betting scandal

Farage accused of ‘playing into Putin’s hands’ as he doubles down on Ukraine invasion comments

03:00 , Tom Watling

Farage accused of ‘playing into Putin’s hands’ as he doubles down on Ukraine comments

The great election turn-off: the true scale of millennials and Gen Z who won’t vote

02:00 , Tom Watling

The great election turn-off: the true scale of millennials and Gen Z who won’t vote

A crisis is looming for councils – but you won’t hear about it in this election

01:00 , Tom Watling

A crisis is looming for councils – but the main parties are silent

Shadow health secretary says doctors striking ahead of election ‘won’t achieve anything’

Sunday 23 June 2024 00:00 , Tom Watling

Wes Streeting says doctors striking ahead of election ‘won’t achieve anything’

Tory data chief under investigation over alleged betting on election date

Saturday 22 June 2024 23:48 , Tom Watling

Tory data chief under investigation over alleged betting on election date

Lib Dems call for Sunak intervention into betting scandal

Saturday 22 June 2024 23:46 , Tom Watling

Rishi Sunak must personally intervene in the “all-out scandal” of Conservative candidates and officials being investigated for betting on the date of the election before it was public knowledge, the Lib Dems have said.

Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “This is now an all-out scandal at the heart of Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party.

“Sunak must personally intervene to order a Cabinet Office inquiry and suspend all those under investigation by the Gambling Commission.

“People are sick and tired of this sleaze. Day by day, hour by hour, the Conservative Government mire themselves in more of it.

“From the mini budget to the crisis in our NHS, the Conservatives have bet against Britain. Now, people are voting for the Liberal Democrats to deliver the change our country desperately needs.”

Senior Tory takes leave of absence after being accused of betting on date of general election

Saturday 22 June 2024 23:09 , Tom Watling

The Conservative Party’s data chief has become the fourth person to be investigated for alleged betting on the date of the general election as senior Tories say the fallout from this scandal is as bad as the coronavirus partygate.

Nick Mason has been forced to take a leave of absence after becoming the latest Tory to be investigated by the Gambling Commission for allegedly betting on the timing of the election before the date had been announced.

Priti Patel accuses Labour of trying to fool electorate

Saturday 22 June 2024 23:00 , Tom Watling

Dame Priti Patel has said that the Conservative Party should “always promote” low taxes.

The former home secretary said the Tories must always promote an environment where “the nation’s entrepreneurs and wealth creators” could flourish.

She claimed that voters “should not be fooled” by Sir Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves over their promises to prioritise “wealth creation”.

“This is just a glossy veneer and smokescreen which covers up their plans to tax enterprise, the markets and investment to pay for their bankrupt policies,” she said.

Former home secretary Priti Patel speaking during the unveiling of a statue of murdered MP Sir David Amess on Chalkwell seafront, in Southend (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
Former home secretary Priti Patel speaking during the unveiling of a statue of murdered MP Sir David Amess on Chalkwell seafront, in Southend (Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

Labour’s VAT on private school fees would not come in until 2025, Rachel Reeves says

Saturday 22 June 2024 22:00 , Matt Mathers

Labour will not impose VAT on private school fees until at least 2025 if it wins the general election, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has suggested.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party believes it can raise some £1.6bn a year by ending the 20 per cent VAT exemption as part of its plans to recruit around 6,500 specialist state school teachers in England.

Full report:

Labour’s VAT on private school fees would not come in until 2025, Rachel Reeves says

Windrush campaigners demand citizenship for all families in first 100 days of new government

Saturday 22 June 2024 21:00 , Matt Mathers

Campaigners are demanding citizenship to be granted to all families affected by the Home Office’s Windrush scandal within the first 100 days of the new government.

Ahead of Windrush Day celebrations on Saturday, a coalition of anti-racism charities and groups has unveiled a “Home Office scandal manifesto”, outlining key demands for new ministers after the 4 July general election.

Full report:

Windrush campaigners demand citizenship for families in 100 days of new government

New poll suggests ‘truly historic’ election victory for Labour

Saturday 22 June 2024 20:03 , Tom Watling

A new poll has predicted that Labour are set to win a “truly historic” victory at the general election.

Pollster Savanta, in an exclusive poll for The Telegraph, showed Labour on 42 per cent (up two points), the Tories on 19 per cent and Reform on 16 per cent (up two).

It is the third poll in a row in which Reform has achieved its highest share in a Savanta poll since the party’s official creation in January 2021.

Emma Levin, Savanta’s associate director, said: “Our research suggests that we could be watching the collapse of the Conservative Party in real time. This is the lowest Conservative vote share ever in a Savanta poll, for the third poll in a row.

“Part of the reason for this is that Reform UK continues to make gains, at their highest level in a Savanta poll since January 2021.”

She added: “If Labour’s vote continues to hold up, while Reform UK and the Liberal Democrats eat into Conservative support, Keir Starmer’s party could be on for a truly historic election victory.”

A crisis is looming for councils – but you won’t hear about it in this election

Saturday 22 June 2024 20:00 , Matt Mathers

Nobody knows what will happen to council tax over the next parliament, least of all voters in this election, as Sean O’Grady explains.

Read Sean’s piece in full here:

A crisis is looming for councils – but the main parties are silent

X appears to block Reform UK ad account

Saturday 22 June 2024 19:00 , Tom Watling

X appears to have blocked the Reform UK ad account in what leader Nigel Farage has claimed shows the social media site is trying to “stop” their message.

Johnny Mercer urged to apologise for accusing Labour rival of lying about military service

Saturday 22 June 2024 19:00 , Matt Mathers

Johnny Mercer has been urged to apologise for accusing his Labourgeneral election rival of lying about his military service and withdraw the “deeply disrespectful” remarks.

The veterans minister, who is standing for re-election in Plymouth, Moor View, has been widely condemned for suggesting former Royal Marine Fred Thomas lied about leading men into combat to boost his political career.

Full report:

Mercer urged to apologise for accusing Labour rival of lying about military service

Watch: Sunak accuses Farage of ‘playing into Putin’s hands’ with Ukraine comments

Saturday 22 June 2024 18:00 , Matt Mathers

Sunak accuses Farage of ‘playing into Putin’s hands’ with Ukraine comments

Farage doubles down on comments that West ‘provoked’ Russia into invading Ukraine

Saturday 22 June 2024 17:15 , Tom Watling

Nigel Farage has doubled down on comments that the West “provoked" Russia into invading Ukraine, claiming that he shouldn’t be “blamed for telling the truth”.

In a comment piece forThe Telegraph, he claimed that he was not a “mouthpiece” for Russian leader Vladimir Putin, before repeating that he knew the war would happen back in 2014.

“There is no easy solution to the war,” he wrote. “But facing up to the truth about the causes and consequences must be a start.

“That is why I simply want to tell it as it is, and have done for a decade. Those slanderers who claim that telling the truth makes me a “mouthpiece for Putin” only reveal the weakness of their own case.”

He did not, however, offer any alternative policy for the war in Ukraine, despite claiming that he was being valiant in not conforming to popular backing of the invaded country.

Nigel Farage has been accused of being a Putin apologist (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA) (PA Media)
Nigel Farage has been accused of being a Putin apologist (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA) (PA Media)

JK Rowling accuses Labour of ‘abandoning’ women over transgender rights

Saturday 22 June 2024 17:00 , Matt Mathers

Author JK Rowling has criticised Labour for “abandoning” women concerned about transgender rights.

The controversial Harry Potter author said she would struggle to vote for Sir Keir Starmer, saying she had a “poor opinion” of his character.

Full report:

JK Rowling accuses Labour of ‘abandoning’ women over transgender rights

Tories believe Sunak ‘has given up’ after surprise auction lot admission at fundraiser

Saturday 22 June 2024 16:30 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak appeared to pull up the white flag of surrender at the party’s summer garden party fundraiser with what guests saw as an admission that he will not be prime minister after 4 July.

The event at Hurlingham Club, one of London’s most exclusive venues, on Thursday, was meant to be one of the party’s major fundraisers during the year, and came in the middle of an election campaign where the Tories have, according to insiders, run out of money.

Full report:

Tories believe Sunak ‘has given up’ after surprise auction admission at fundraiser

With his Putin comments, Nigel Farage has reminded us who he really is

Saturday 22 June 2024 16:00 , Matt Mathers

It’s strange that we spend so much time talking about Nigel Farage, writes Ryan Coogan.

The one-time leader of Ukip and full-time agent provocateur has stood for election as an MP seven times, and successfully managed to become an MP precisely zero times.

If you repeatedly reject somebody for a job and then they show up to work anyway, you don’t patiently listen to him rant about his ideas on how to run the company – you lock the doors and call security.

Read Ryan’s piece in full here:

With his Putin comments, Nigel Farage has reminded us who he really is

Recap: Everything we know about Tory election betting scandal

Saturday 22 June 2024 15:35 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak’s election campaign was dealt another blow on Thursday after it emerged that a second Conservative Party candidate was being investigated over a bet on the date of the general election.

Laura Saunders, the Tory candidate for Bristol North West, is understood to be under investigation by the Gambling Commission (GC) over claims she may have had inside knowledge about the prime minister’s decision to call a snap poll for 4 July.

Full report:

Everything we know about Tory election betting scandal

Starmer: Labour has no plans to rejoin the EU

Saturday 22 June 2024 14:38 , Matt Mathers

Labour has no plans to join rejoin the EU, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

The party will not be going back into the single market or customs union, he said.

“No. It isn’t our plan, it never has been, I’ve never said that as leader of the Labour Party and it is not in our manifesto,” he added.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said he wanted a better trade relationship with the EU (PA Wire)
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said he wanted a better trade relationship with the EU (PA Wire)

Johnny Mercer’s attacks on Labour rival sad and desperate, Sir Keir Starmer says

Saturday 22 June 2024 14:05 , Matt Mathers

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer’s attacks on his Labour electoral rival are “sad and desperate”, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

Mr Mercer, who is standing as the Conservative candidate for the Plymouth Moor View constituency, claimed his Labour opponent Fred Thomas was “bloating” his military service.

Full report:

Johnny Mercer’s attacks on Labour rival sad and desperate, Sir Keir Starmer says

Davey vows to crack down water companies’ sewage spills

Saturday 22 June 2024 13:50 , Matt Mathers

Water companies will not be allowed to “get away” with sewage dumping, Sir Ed Davey has warned as he fed chickens on a farm in East Sussex.

The Liberal Democrat leader was pecked by hungry farm birds he described as the “best photo chicken op ever” as he handed out grain and picked up the poultry at The Mac’s Farm in Ditchling.

Full report:

Sir Ed Davey warns water companies to invest as he feeds chickens on farm

Starmer: Taylor Swift was ‘absolutely fantastic’

Saturday 22 June 2024 13:35 , Matt Mathers

Sir Keir Starmer has described Taylor Swift as “absolutely fantastic” after he was pictured attending her Friday night concert at Wembley Stadium.

The Labour leader shared a photograph of himself and his wife Victoria at the stadium on social media site X, formerly Twitter.

“‘Swift’ campaign pitstop,” the image was captioned.

Asked about his opinion of the American pop star’s performance by reporters on the campaign trail in south London, Sir Keir replied: “She was fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.”

He added: “I know I will be asked what is my favourite song and I am not going to pretend I have got every album and know every song, although Change is the one for obvious reasons.”

Labour to target ‘weak’ Sunak over ‘dirty dozen’ Tory candidates

Saturday 22 June 2024 13:18 , Matt Mathers

Labour are set to launch a new social media campaign aimed at Rishi Sunak’s judgement by ramping up pressure for him to suspend 12 candidates caught up in different controversies including the betting scandal.

The new campaign will feature an unnamed cabinet minister who allegedly put a bet on the election date, and 11 named Tory candidates involved in a range of issues highlighted in the campaign.

Full report:

Labour to target ‘weak’ Sunak over ‘dirty dozen’ Tory candidates

How Sir Keir Starmer set a trap for Boris Johnson over Partygate scandal

Saturday 22 June 2024 13:10 , Matt Mathers

Sir Keir Starmer has set out for the first time how he laid a trap for Boris Johnson over Partygate, luring the former prime minister into the lies that saw him forced out of parliament.

The Labour leader, and Britain’s former chief prosecutor, said he knew Mr Johnson’s instinct under pressure was to lie and detailed how he “forensically” led the then prime minister into misleading the House of Commons.

Full report:

How Sir Keir Starmer set a trap for Boris Johnson over Partygate scandal

Starmer outlines Labour’s Windrush compensation plans

Saturday 22 June 2024 12:50 , Matt Mathers

Sir Keir Starmer has outlined his party’s plans to tackle delayed compensation for those affected by the Windrush scandal.

The Labour leader met with people who came to Britain during that time and their family members at the Lilian Baylis Technology school in Vauxhall.

He said: “Today is Windrush day so it’s a day about telling the history of Windrush, the great contribution that’s been made to this country and the change that brought about, but it also needs to be a reset day.

“And that’s why I was very pleased to be able to talk to people about this reset today because the compensation scheme which is there to deal with the real injustice is going too slowly. We’ve got too many examples of people who’ve died before they’ve got the compensation that they’re entitled to.

“The Windrush unit needs to be re-established in the Home Office and we will set up a permanent commissioner to be a champion and an advocate for the Windrush generation to make sure that these injustices are put right.”

Starmer says he’s ‘proud’ of Labour record on women’s rights after Rowling attack

Saturday 22 June 2024 12:40 , Matt Mathers

In response to comments from author and former Labour donor JK Rowling that the party had “abandoned” women, Sir Keir Starmer said he was proud of Labour’s track record on women’s rights.

He told reporters in Vauxhall: “I’m really proud of the long history of the Labour Party in making real progress on women’s rights, passing landmark legislation that has changed millions of lives.

“Now that battle is never over and we need to make further progress which we will hope to do if we earn the trust and confidence of the voters at the General Election.

“As we do so, I’m also determined that one of the changes that we will bring about if we win the election is a reset of politics, to make sure that as we make progress, we do it in a context that brings people together and all dialogue all debate is always done with respect for the views of everybody involved in those progress and in that discussion.”

Starmer: Farage’s Ukraine comments were ‘disgraceful'

Saturday 22 June 2024 12:20 , Matt Mathers

Nigel Farage’s comments on the invasion of Ukraine were “disgraceful” and anyone standing for parliament should make clear Russia is the aggressor, Sir Keir Starmer said.

Speaking to reporters during a campaign visit in London, the Labour leader said: “On the question of Farage, his comments were disgraceful.

“Anyone who is standing for Parliament ought to be really clear that Russia is the aggressor, Putin bears responsibility, and that we stand with Ukraine, as we have done from the beginning of this conflict, and Parliament has spoken with once voice on this since the beginning of the conflict.”

Sir Keir added: “I have been really clear that we stand with Ukraine, I have been really clear that we are unshakeable in our commitment to Nato because this is about defending Ukraine, but it is also about defending our hard-won democracy and freedom, and anybody standing for public office ought to understand that.”

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (right) speaking to the media at a school in Vauxhall, London, while on the general election campaign trail on 22 June (Aaron Chown/PA Wire)
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (right) speaking to the media at a school in Vauxhall, London, while on the general election campaign trail on 22 June (Aaron Chown/PA Wire)

Ed Davey: Putin to blame for war in Ukraine, no one else

Saturday 22 June 2024 12:01 , Matt Mathers

Vladimir Putin and Russia are to blame for the invasion of Ukraine, not the West, Sir Ed Davey said in response to Nigel Farage’s comments.

The Lib Dem leader told broadcasters on a visit to south east England: “It is Putin and Russia who are to blame for this, no one else.

“I strongly support the efforts that Britain has made to support Ukrainians. I wish we had done more actually, and I think British people would be shocked if we do anything else.”

He also said: “I don’t share any values with Nigel Farage.”

Sir Ed went on: “My message to the British people we need to support the Ukrainian people.

“This is a time of deep insecurity in our world. I’m worried when I look to later this year, if Donald Trump wins the presidential election, it’s possible that the United States will give less support to Ukraine and Britain and the rest of Europe will have to stand up and work together.”

Ed Davey visits a farm in East Sussex while out on the campaign trail on 22 June (Anahita Hossein-Pour/PA Wire)
Ed Davey visits a farm in East Sussex while out on the campaign trail on 22 June (Anahita Hossein-Pour/PA Wire)

All parties must commit to Windrush compensation - Davey

Saturday 22 June 2024 11:45 , Matt Mathers

All political parties must commit to proper compensation for victims of the Windrush scandal, Sir Ed Davey has said.

Asked about Labour’s promise to expedite compensation, the Lib Dem leader said: “I think that’s right. I think we have been disappointed that the Conservatives said they were going to compensate people affected by the Windrush scandal.

“I think the British public want them to, they’ve seen how people have been so badly treated.”

He added: “I think all parties should commit to proper compensation for people who’ve been victims of the Windrush scandal.”

Don’t let Labour ‘sleepwalk’ into No 10 - Sunak

Saturday 22 June 2024 11:30 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has said Labour should not be allowed to “sleepwalk into Number 10” amid claims colleagues are focusing on preventing a Labour “supermajority”.

When asked by broadcasters if he was “deluded” for thinking he could win the election, Mr Sunak said: “Of course I’m going to fight hard until the last day of this election because there is a choice for the country.

“Continue having your taxes cut with the Conservatives, providing you with that financial security, protecting your pension, getting down immigration. The alternative is handing a blank cheque to the Labour Party, and once you’ve handed them a blank cheque you won’t be able to get it back. And that means your taxes are going to go up by thousands of pounds.

“Don’t let Labour sleepwalk into Number 10, scrutinise their plans, ask what it means for you and your family.

“Can you really afford Labour’s thousands of pounds of tax rises? I want to keep cutting your taxes. That’s the choice that everyone has in front of them in a couple of weeks’ time.”

PM defends Home Office over Windrush scandal

Saturday 22 June 2024 11:05 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has defended the Home Office amid claims from Windrush campaigners that thousands of people still have not been granted citizenship.

The prime minister told broadcasters: “So many people suffered an injustice under successive governments over a long time. And since all this came to light a while ago, the Home Office has been working hard to rectify things.

“I think over 16,000 people now have been given the appropriate documentation that they deserve and tens of millions of pounds in compensation has been paid out and something like 200 different community and outreach events have also been organised.

“But of course the Home Office is always reflecting, taking on feedback and seeing how it can improve and make sure that we right the wrongs of the past.”

Sunak looks down as he meets with nighttime economy representatives in central London on Saturday (AP)
Sunak looks down as he meets with nighttime economy representatives in central London on Saturday (AP)

I love the UK ‘deeply’, says Sunak after Farage’s culture comments

Saturday 22 June 2024 10:52 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has said he loves the UK “deeply” after being accused of not understanding “our culture” by Nigel Farage.

He told broadcasters: “I love this country deeply for what it has done for my family.

“My grandparents emigrated here with very little and two generations later I have the enormous privilege of being our prime minister.

“And that’s why I will work my hardest to repay this country for everything that it has done for my family.”

Farage’s Ukraine comments ‘play into Putin’s hands’, Sunak says

Saturday 22 June 2024 10:36 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has said Nigel Farage was “completely wrong” to say the West “provoked” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The prime minister told reporters: “What he said was completely wrong and only plays into (Vladimir) Putin’s hands.

“This is a man who deployed nerve agents on the streets of Britain, who’s doing deals with countries like North Korea. And this kind of appeasement is dangerous for Britain’s security, the security of our allies that rely on us and only emboldens Putin further.”

 (AP)
(AP)

ICYMI: Tories ‘held in contempt by the electorate’ as pressure mounts on Rishi Sunak over betting scandal

Saturday 22 June 2024 10:05 , Matt Mathers

Sir Keir Starmer has accused Rishi Sunak of “total lack of leadership” after the prime minister failed to deny cabinet ministers are among senior Tories who placed bets on the election date.

As pressure mounted over the betting scandal, Labour also condemned Mr Sunak’s decision not to suspend two candidates who are under investigation by the Gambling Commission.

Full report:

Tories ‘held in contempt’ by voters as pressure mounts over betting scandal

Labour should join the Tories in ignoring the polls

Saturday 22 June 2024 09:45 , Matt Mathers

With less than two weeks until election day, Keir Starmer’s high command is so concerned about the effect their 20-point lead in opinion polls might have on the result, they are considering banning them during the final stretch of future campaigns, says Andrew Grice.

Read Andrew’s piece in full here:

Labour should join the Tories in ignoring the polls

Starmer: I would not go private even if my children were ill

Saturday 22 June 2024 09:22 , Matt Mathers

Sir Keir Starmer has said he would not use private health care even if his children were ill as he denied being “ideological” about the health service.

The Labour leader said he would not be willing to “jump the queue” as he praised the NHS as “absolutely the best” for treating acute health problems.

“On acute care, people said, ‘well, what if your child was really ill?’,” he said. “On acute care, the NHS is absolutely the best, so much so that private hospitals refer into the NHS. So if we had an acute case, I’d want to be treated by the NHS.”

When pressed on the issue, he added: “No I wouldn’t. I’m not going to say to the country, ‘I’m going to drive down your waiting lists but I’m going to pay to sort of accelerate myself to the front of the queue’”.

The Labour leader went on to add that t if he became prime minister his cabinet would be free to go private if they wished, adding: “I’m not ideological about it.”

Keir Starmer (PA Wire)
Keir Starmer (PA Wire)

Starmer will reverse Brexit, Badenoch claims

Saturday 22 June 2024 09:14 , Matt Mathers

Sir Keir Starmer will reverse Brexit if Labour wins the general election, Kemi Badenoch has claimed.

The former business secretary said leaving the EU was a “10 to 20 year project” as she suggested the UK had not yet seen the benefits of leaving the bloc.

“Making sure everyone is focused on getting those benefits is absolutely critical. I think that’s one area where I’ve tried to do as much as possible, but we need more of that strategy,” she told The Daily Telegraph.

“That’s something that’s going to disappear if Labour come in; they will take us backwards. They will take us back to square one. They’re just going to copy what the EU does.”

Labour has said it will not rejoin the EU or customs union and there are no plans in the party’s manifesto to do so.

Kemi Badenoch (PA Wire)
Kemi Badenoch (PA Wire)

Farage is a ‘pub bore’ who doesn’t understand ‘real world’ of politics

Saturday 22 June 2024 08:38 , Matt Mathers

Nigel Farage is akin to a “pub bore” who does not understand the “real world” of politics, Conservative former defence secretary Ben Wallace said.

Mr Wallace, who is not standing in the general election, was asked about Mr Farage’s admiration for Vladimir Putin and his suggestion the west provoked the Russian leader’s invasion of Ukraine.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think Nigel Farage is a bit like that pub bore we have all met at the end of the bar who often says if ‘I was running the country’ and presents very simplistic answers to actually I am afraid in the 21st century complex problems.

“It is not that easy to govern a country but also to find international solutions to problems.”

Mr Wallace added: “If he became prime minister tomorrow morning, what is his solution to dealing with a President Putin that he alleges he admires? A man who remember was involved in the murder of a British citizen Dawn Sturgess with deployment of nerve agent in Salisbury.

“Is his answer to that we provoked him? He is going to have to deal with the real world.”

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

Farage is wrong on Russia - Wallace

Saturday 22 June 2024 08:22 , Matt Mathers

Nigel Farage is wrong to suggest that the West provoked Putin into invading Ukraine, the former defence secretary has said.

Ben Wallace told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme that the Refom leader had been “consistently wrong” on the subject.

Mr Wallace pointed to a 7,000 word essay written by Putin in 2021 titled the “historical unity of Russia and Ukraine” which mentioned Nato in “only one paragraph.”

The piece talked about ethnic nationalism and the right of Russia to “effectively expand itself”, Mr Wallace added.

His comments came after Mr Farage last night doubled down on his remarks about Ukraine, saying he has been “consistent and honest” about the war.

JK Rowling accuses Labour of ‘abandoning’ women over transgender rights

Saturday 22 June 2024 08:05 , Matt Mathers

Author JK Rowling has criticised Labour for “abandoning” women concerned about transgender rights.

The controversial Harry Potter author said she would struggle to vote for Sir Keir Starmer, saying she had a “poor opinion” of his character.

Full report:

JK Rowling accuses Labour of ‘abandoning’ women over transgender rights

Johnny Mercer urged to apologise for accusing Labour rival of lying about military service

Saturday 22 June 2024 07:55 , Matt Mathers

Johnny Mercer has been urged to apologise for accusing his Labour general election rival of lying about his military service and withdraw the “deeply disrespectful” remarks.

The veterans minister, who is standing for re-election in Plymouth, Moor View, has been widely condemned for suggesting former Royal Marine Fred Thomas lied about leading men into combat to boost his political career.

Full report:

Mercer urged to apologise for accusing Labour rival of lying about military service

What’s happening on the campaign trail trail - continued

Saturday 22 June 2024 07:45 , Matt Mathers

SNP leader John Swinney will visit the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, where he will put the spotlight on his party’s drive for “sustainable funding for farming” with financial backing rising “to at least pre-Brexit levels”.

The party has also called for a rural visa pilot scheme to “mitigate against the severe labour shortages” which it attributes to Brexit, and a veterinary agreement with the European Union.

“We will always seek to protect Scotland from the damage of decisions taken by Westminster,” Mr Swinney said.

In southern England, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey will also visit a farm on the campaign trail in a week where the Conservatives have sought support from rural communities – and some sheep, perhaps with less success.

In southern England, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey will also visit a farm on the campaign trail in a week where the Conservatives have sought support from rural communities – and some sheep, perhaps with less success.

John Swinney (PA Wire)
John Swinney (PA Wire)
Ed Davey (PA Wire)
Ed Davey (PA Wire)

Outrage continues over ‘Putin apologist' Farage’s ‘disgraceful’ Russia comments

Saturday 22 June 2024 07:35 , Matt Mathers

Nigel Farage is a “Putin apologist,” Labour’s shadow defence secretary said after the Reform leader claimed the West provoked Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Mr Farage told the BBC in an interview broadcast last night that the “ever-eastward expansion” of Nato and the EU gave the Russian president an excuse to start the war.

John Healy said: “These are disgraceful comments, which reveal the true face of Nigel Farage: a Putin apologist who should never be trusted with our nation’s security.

“Up until now, there has been a united front amongst Britain’s political leaders in supporting the people of Ukraine against the unprovoked and unjustifiable assault they have suffered at the hands of Vladimir Putin.

“Nigel Farage has put himself outside that united position, and shown that he would rather lick Vladimir Putin’s boot than stand up for the people of Ukraine. That makes him unfit for any political office in our country, let alone leading a serious party in Parliament.”

What else to expect on the campaign trail today

Saturday 22 June 2024 07:20 , Matt Mathers

Labour’s shadow environment secretary Steve Reed will visit a county on the south coast to talk about sewage.

His party has pledged to give the water regulator powers to block the payment of any bonuses to polluting water bosses until they have “cleaned up their filth” and go further – to “make water bosses who continue to oversee lawbreaking face criminal charges”.

Water companies would also be unable to mark their own homework, with new independent water monitoring, plus “severe and automatic fines that companies can’t afford to ignore for illegal sewage discharges”.

Mr Reed claimed the Conservatives have “just folded their arms and looked the other way while water companies pumped a tidal wave of raw sewage into our rivers, lakes and seas putting the nation’s health at risk”.

And Reform UK campaigning continues on the Tendring Peninsula in Essex, as Nigel Farage hosts a bumper set of campaign days in the Clacton constituency he is contesting – against the Liberal Democrats’ Matthew Bensilum, Climate Party’s Craig Jamieson, independent Tony Mack, the Green Party’s Natasha Osben, Labour’s Jovan Owusu-Nepaul, the Heritage Party’s Tasos Papanastasiou, UKIP’s Andrew Pemberton and Conservative incumbent Giles Watling.

Steve Reed (Getty Images)
Steve Reed (Getty Images)

What to expect on the General Election campaign trail on Saturday

Saturday 22 June 2024 07:09 , Matt Mathers

Here is your guide to the main developments in the general election campaign on Saturday:

In advance of Saturday night, prime minister Rishi Sunak will trail his party’s plan for pubs, clubs and festivals.

The Conservative Party has also timed its announcement ahead of the Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, as fans pack their bags before the gates open on Wednesday.

Ministers would look into ways to “crack down” on councils imposing “disproportionate conditions” on licences, according to party figures.

Business minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “We’ll continue to back our night-time economy – Labour would cripple it further with higher taxes and more burdensome regulation.”

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

The Tory betting scandal - what is it?

Saturday 22 June 2024 05:50 , Alex Ross

The Tory party has been dogged by a betting row with Rishi Sunak forced to address it while launching the party’s Welsh manifesto on Friday.

But what is it?

It started when Craig Williams, the party’s candidate in Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr and Mr Sunak’s parliamentary aide, admitted to having “a flutter” on the date of the election after it was disclosed he was under investigation by the Gambling Commission.

It has since been reported that another candidate, Laura Saunders, and her husband, Tory director of campaigning Tony Lee, were also facing a Gambling Commission investigation, while a member of Mr Sunak’s close protection team has been arrested and removed from operational duties over similar allegations.

The matter was referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) which said, at this stage, the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards should investigate.

Ms Saunders, the Conservative candidate for Bristol North West, said she “will be co-operating with the Gambling Commission” investigation, while Mr Lee took a leave of absence from his role with the party on Wednesday, just 15 days before the polls open.

Laura Saunders and Tony Lee pictured together (Supplied)
Laura Saunders and Tony Lee pictured together (Supplied)

Another challenging day for Rishi Sunak

Saturday 22 June 2024 04:50 , Alex Ross

Rishi Sunak faced further questions on Friday on gambling by Conservative candidates, as he sought to move on from the scandal, telling voters not to “sleepwalk to July 4”.

Speaking at the launch of the Tories’ Welsh manifesto, the Prime Minister acknowledged voters’ “frustrations”, but suggested the general election is too important to be used to send the party a message.

The questions he faced after his speech continued to focus on allegations that a string of people with links to the Conservative Party or Number 10 bet on the timing of the contest before he announced it.

Mr Sunak refused to be drawn on whether he is aware of other Conservative candidates or officials who placed bets on the date of the election, saying there are “multiple investigations” under way that are “independent” and “confidential”.

Rishi Sunak speaks to journalists on a campaign bus as he travelled to Wales on Friday (Getty Images)
Rishi Sunak speaks to journalists on a campaign bus as he travelled to Wales on Friday (Getty Images)

Labour responds to Tory plans to boost night-time economy

Saturday 22 June 2024 03:50 , Alex Ross

The Conservative party says it would look into ways to “crack down” on councils imposing “disproportionate conditions” and restrictions on licences as part of a bid to boost the UK night-time economy.

But Labour criticised the scale of ambition behind the announcement and said it was time to call “last orders” on the Conservatives.

A party spokesperson said: “After 14 years in power, Rishi Sunak’s offer to voters is ‘a review’.

“On the Tories’ watch, “night fever” is dead. Nightclubs, venues and music festivals have shut in their droves, and thousands of pub landlords have pulled their last pint.

“The Prime Minister simply has no answers to the problems facing the country.”

Tories say they will help the night-time economy if party wins general election (PA Archive)
Tories say they will help the night-time economy if party wins general election (PA Archive)

Tories also promise to strengthen planning enforcement

Saturday 22 June 2024 02:50 , Alex Ross

As well as announcing support fo the night-time economy, the Tory party has promised to strengthen enforcement of the “agent of change” principle in the planning system, whereby developers take responsibility for problems that might arise from building near a music venue, for example by soundproofing new properties.

The party said it would “work with” local government and the private sector to make licensing hours data openly accessible so that people can find venues that are open late in their area.

The offering will be touted by the Conservatives on Saturday as the Prime Minister attempts to move on from the row over allegations of gambling by Conservative candidates.

More on the Tory’s plan to boost night-time economy

Saturday 22 June 2024 01:50 , Alex Ross

On announcing the Tory party would provide greater support for the night-time economy, Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “The night-time economy is a vibrant sector that’s vital to our economy and our society as a whole.

“We’ve always supported our night-time economy, with business rates reliefs, economic support during the pandemic – but wherever Labour have been responsible for the sector, it’s suffered.

“We’ll continue to back our night-time economy – Labour would cripple it further with higher taxes and more burdensome regulation.”

Tory candidates should face consequences for backing Brexit - John Swinney

Saturday 22 June 2024 00:50 , Alex Ross

Scotland’s First Minister has said Conservative candidates should face the “consequences” of backing Brexit at the last election.

John Swinney has criticised Tories Andrew Bowie and Douglas Ross, who are standing to be elected to Westminster again on 4 July.

He said their actions of backing former prime minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposals at the 2019 vote was a “betrayal” to Scotland.

He was speaking ahead of a campaign visit to the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, at which the SNP will launch its rural manifesto.

He said: “During the last Westminster election, the Tories in rural Scotland shamefully sold Boris Johnson’s Brexit, making promise after promise, and every single one of them has now been broken.

SNP leader John Swinney says the Tories ‘shamefully’ sold Boris Johnson’s Brexit (PA Wire)
SNP leader John Swinney says the Tories ‘shamefully’ sold Boris Johnson’s Brexit (PA Wire)

Tories to focus on night-time economy ‘in first 100 days of government’

Friday 21 June 2024 23:50 , Alex Ross

Slashing red tape for Britain’s pubs, restaurants and music venues would be the focus of a review launched within the first 100 days of a Tory government, the party has said.

Ministers would look into ways to “crack down” on councils imposing “disproportionate conditions” and restrictions on licences as part of a bid to boost the UK night-time economy, the Conservatives say.

It comes as Rishi Sunak seeks to shift the focus of the campaign away from the betting scandal that has thrown his party into fresh turmoil in recent days.

The Tories used the announcement to attack Labour’s record on nightlife in London and Wales, as polls continue to put the opposition party on course for a historic victory on July 4.

Business minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “The night-time economy is a vibrant sector that’s vital to our economy and our society as a whole.”

Business minister Kevin Hollinrake says a Tory government would back the country’s night-time economy (PA Wire)
Business minister Kevin Hollinrake says a Tory government would back the country’s night-time economy (PA Wire)