Senior Tories are at war over the appointment of a new ambassador to the US, as one ally of Boris Johnson accused Theresa May of being “in denial” over the fact she must soon give up the reins of power.
Mr Johnson has come under fire after it emerged that Sir Kim Darroch had decided to quit after Mr Johnson refused to support him during a televised leadership debate.
Elsewhere, Labour was plunged into fresh rows after whistleblowers claimed Jeremy Corbyn’s team had interfered in the handling of antisemitism complaints.
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The nominee to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as EU commission president has vowed to defend the “precious” Irish backstop and signalled that she would not reopen Brexit talks.
At a hearing of MEPs in Brussels, Ursula von der Leyen took the same line as her predecessor, dashing hopes in Westminster that the EU would use the leadership handover to adjust its stance.
“I think it’s a good deal, but it is your responsibility and your noble task to sort this out,” the German politician told a remain-backing British MEP in the European Parliament.
Responding to the Gemma White report, Theresa May’s official spokesman said: “The findings in this report are appalling and raise serious concerns.
“As the prime minister has said before, everyone working in parliament deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. There can be no place for bullying or abuse in Westminster or any workplace.
“It’s important that the parliamentary leadership now responds fully and promptly to the concerns raised in this deeply worrying report.”
He added: “The findings of the report are appalling and they do raise serious concerns. Some of the individual testimonies which have been given are shocking.”
The spokesman was unable to say whether Ms May had signed up to attend a training course on the new behaviour code.
Boris Johnson has been labelled a “casual racist and a misogynist” by Labour’s Dawn Butler, who urged MPs to “Chuck Boris”.
The shadow women and equalities secretary raised questions about the impact of the race disparity audit and gender pay gap regulations implemented by Theresa May, noting they are “symbolic of her failures”.
Ms Butler added: “We now have a real possibility of a casual racist and a misogynist entering Number 10. I’m afraid it’s true.”
She sought assurances that the women and equalities agenda will “not go backwards” under the next prime minister, adding: “To adapt Stormzy lyrics, we have to be honest, rule number two, don’t make the promise, if you can’t make the deal just be honest, equalities will never die, it’s like Chuck Norris, rather chuck this government and chuck Boris.”
MPs are ignoring training to stamp out bullying and sexual harassment of their staff, which remains at an “unacceptable” level, a damning report finds today.
Just 34 out of the 650 MPs have joined a course to enforce a new ‘behaviour code’, introduced one year ago, says a QC asked to investigate the ‘Pestminster’ scandal.
Her alarming report highlights how MPs routinely “shout at, demean, belittle and humiliate their staff on a regular basis, often in public”.
A cabinet war over the appointment of a new ambassador to the US has escalated, as one ally of Boris Johnson accused Theresa May of being “in denial” over the fact she must soon give up the reins of power.
The prime minister is coming under intense pressure to leave the choice of a replacement for Sir Kim Darroch to her likely successor, who is thought to be keen to parachute in a pro-Trump, pro-Brexit envoy who can smooth the way to a US trade deal.
But Downing Street has not ruled out an appointment during Ms May’s final two weeks in office before she steps down on 24 July.
Sir Alan Duncan is answering an urgent question about the resignation of Sir Kim Darroch, the UK ambassador to the US, in the wake of leaks of his confidential memos criticising the Trump administration.
The foreign office minister says Sir Kim served with the utmost distinction and declared the leak of his comments “an outrage”.
He says the tributes paid to Sir Kim are fitting and rightly deserved.
Pat McFadden, the Labour MP who secured the urgent question, said it is a “dark day” for the UK and condemns the lack of mature leadership from Donald Trump.
He condemns Boris Johnson for “an appalling abandonment” of Sir Kim, adding, “real leaders protect their people, they do not throw them to the wolves”.
He said these actions were a “chilling warning” of what is to come under Mr Johnson in Downing Street.
There is a “significant problem” involving workplace bullying and harassment by MPs towards their staff, a new probe into abuse at Westminster has found.
The long-awaited report by Gemma White QC found workplace harassment and bullying by MPs towards staff “has been tolerated and accepted for too long”.
“It has seriously affected the health and welfare of far too many people,” she said.
“There is a pressing need for a collective response to what is clearly a significant problem.
“I am concerned by the amount of time it has taken to act on recommendations from previous reports and would urge the House to move more swiftly.
“While the House of Commons is not alone in tolerating these behaviours, it is the home of our policy makers and a taxpayer-funded institution. It should therefore be at the forefront of good employment practice.”
Liam Fox, the international secretary, says he greatly regrets the resignation of Sir Kim Darroch and he “hugely decries” the unpatriotic and unethical leak.
Boris Johnson has agreed with Donald Trump that Theresa May’s approach to Brexit was “foolish”, in a decidedly undiplomatic comment.
The Tory front-runner spoke approvingly of Trump’s tweets about Ms May, telling Politico: “I can’t dissent from that.”
“When it comes to the context of what the president has said about the Brexit deal, I find it hard to disagree.
“He has strong views about Brexit and he has strong views about the deal. Probably, from the point of view of those of us who want to get Brexit done and make a great success of it, it would be fair to say this is a debate that’s best conducted within the UK,” Johnson added.
“But you know — the president has his style and his approach.”
Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, is in the Commons to answer questions this morning, followed by an urgent question on the resignation of US ambassador Sir Kim Darroch.
Dr Fox was in Washington this week, where he met with the Trump administration and Sir Kim, so here’s hoping he gets asked about it.
Labour has made a complaint to the Bioreports about the Panorama programme, which it says is one-sided.
The chief rabbi has issued a damning statement over the Panorama allegations, accusing the Labour leadership of complicity in antisemitism problems.
Tom Waton told Today there needed to be a rule change to “auto-exclude” party members who have a “prima facie case to answer of using anti-Semitic behaviours and language”.
“I think we need to change the way we investigate these systems,” the deputy leader said.
“Not casting aspersions on the current people, but I think we need to take these cases away from them and have a full, independent system of investigating cases of anti-Jewish racism that involves representatives from the Jewish community of Britain of standing…
“I think we need a rule change – and this has been argued by others like Keir Starmer and Gordon Brown – that allows us to auto-exclude from the membership people who have a prima facie case to answer of using anti-Semitic behaviours and language within our own structures.”
Mr Watson said he thought Mr Corbyn was the “only one” who could fix the antisemitism issue within the party.
“Not only do I think he can fix it, I think he is the only one who can fix it. And if he adopts some of the proposals that I’m making then these rule changes will go through our party.
“It won’t be enough to rebuild Bioreports with the Jewish community but it will be a start of trying to challenge a culture of permissiveness that allows anti-Jewish racism to be casually used in political discussion within one of the two great parties in the United Kingdom.”
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson had the key 8.10 slot on the Today programme, where he was outspoken in his criticism of handling of antisemitism cases in Labour.
He said there was “almost a permissive culture” towards antisemitism in the party, as he claimed there was evidence of “some participation” from Jeremy Corbyn’s office in disciplinary cases.
“In the last four years, since Jeremy and I were elected leader and deputy leader of the party, there is a growing belief that there is a sickness in our party, that this kind of abuse has been in some way allowed,” he said.
“That there’s almost a permissive culture that people can use anti-Jewish, racist language both in our meetings and to each other on social media and we’ve failed to address that properly.”
He went on: “It does seem to me that there is obviously some participation in these disciplinary cases from the leader’s office, which means they are responsible for dealing with the rebuilding of Bioreports in the Jewish community.”
Another story dominating the airwaves today is a furious row over antisemitism in the Labour ranks. The much anticipated documentary by Bioreports Panorama claimed Jeremy Corbyn’s team repeatedly interfered in disciplinary cases relating to antisemitism, according to revelations made by Labour whistleblowers.
The Labour leader was personally copied into emails in which Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary, appeared to promise to interfere in a case involving an activist who had claimed Jews were responsible for the slave trade.
In another case, Seumas Milne, Mr Corbyn’s director of communications, told party staff they were “muddling up political disputes with racism” and said Labour needed to “review where and how we’re drawing the line”.
Read our piece here:
Here is a clip of Lord Howard’s interview on the Today programme:
Conservative former leader Lord Howard has said proroguing parliament to allow a no-deal Brexit would be a “very bad idea” and warned Boris Johnson that Tories defy him in a confidence vote.
“I think it’s a very bad idea because I think it would set a terrible precedent – we live in very uncertain political times and no-one can exclude the possibility of a Corbyn government,” he told Bioreports Radio 4’s Today programme.
“And the thought of creating a precedent which Jeremy Corbyn could use to bypass parliament to do all sorts of things which would be seriously damaging for our country is not a thought which really should be entertained for a minute…
“The second reason is that I don’t think it would work because I think it would outrage enough Conservative MPs – and it wouldn’t need very many of them – to provoke them into supporting a motion of no confidence in the government.”