Politics latest news: Sir Keir Starmer pledges to 'carry the can' if Labour fails to retain Red Wall strongholds

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Sir Keir Starmer has pledged to "carry the can" if Labour fares badly in tomorrow's elections, after a string a polls suggested the party could lose further ground in the Red Wall.

The opposition leader had hoped to prove that he is righting the ship after Jeremy Corbyn's tenure, but the critical Leave-voting seat of Hartlepool could turn Tory for the first time in more than 50 years.

Sir Keir will bear some responsibility for the fact that Labour's candidate Paul Williams, a former Remainer, was picked from a 'longlist' of one. The party's Corbynite wing are already asking what it means for his leadership.

But Sir Keir said he was prepared to take responsibility, while stressing his focus was "winning the next general election", suggesting a resignation is unlikely.

"When things go right, the leader takes the plaudits; when they don't go right, the leader carries the can and takes responsibility," he told journalists today. "That's what I will do with these elections, as I will do in everything that the Labour Party does.

"I'm conscious, the whole party is conscious, that this is but a step on the road to the next general election."

Boris Johnson sought to downplay the forecasts, telling journalists: "These are tough contests and Hartlepool in particular you'd have to say, that hasn't been a Conservative since its inception... That will be a very tough fight but I hope everybody gets out to vote."

​​Follow the latest updates below.

02:43 PM

Labour has 'further work to do' whatever the outcome, says Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer has said Labour has "further work to do, whatever the results tomorrow", as he faces a drubbing at the ballot box.

Asked whether there might be a change in strategy if poll predictions are proved right, the opposition leader broadcasters: "The strategy is to get from where we were in 2019, to winning the next general election.

"That is the sole focus of what I'm doing, what my leadership is doing. It's going to take time. We're making progress, that is good - but I never thought it was going to happen in a year.

"We've got further work to do whatever the results tomorrow."

02:34 PM

Sir Keir Starmer will 'carry the can' if Labour fares badly

Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner in Birmingham - PA
Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner in Birmingham - PA

Sir Keir Starmer has said he will "carry the can" if Labour fares badly in tomorrow's election, as seems likely given the state of current polls.

Speaking to journalists, he said: "I take full responsibility for everything the Labour Party does, including the elections whatever they are tomorrow.

"And for me it's very important - it's the same approach I took when I was director of public prosecutions running the Crown Prosecution Service for five years, which is when things go right, the leader takes the plaudits; when they don't go right, the leader carries the can and takes responsibility.

02:25 PM

Have your say: What's your forecast for the elections?

Pollsters - and it has to be said journalists - are notorious for calling elections wrong.

In recent years, the only thing that was ever reliable was that such forecasts could not be relied upon.

That goes some way to explaining why both Sir Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson are keen to downplay the predictions that suggest the Tories are on course to gain ground in the Red Wall.

So will it be a wash-out for Labour - or will the Tories start to struggle?

Have your say in the poll below.

02:23 PM

Ben Habib: Britain should get used to hostile tactics from the EU

The Brits do not get it. It is not relevant that fishing, in terms of contribution to GDP, is a rounding error, writes Ben Habib.

The French, on the other hand, do. They understand the value of fishing. It is not about GDP. It is about controlling the supply of this phenomenal renewable resource and the livelihoods of the people who rely on mining it. That is why they fought tooth and nail to retain access to our waters.

These British waters are much richer than their own despite the abuse they have suffered during 47 years of the Common Fisheries Policy. And that is why they have threatened to plunge Jersey into a blackout if the island does not issue sufficient fishing licenses.

Jersey’s External Affairs Minister described the threat as disproportionate. He is wrong. The French are simply using the leverage they have to force the UK to do their bidding.

Read the rest of Ben's column here.

02:12 PM

Boris Johnson arrives at the G7 summit

Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab outside Lancaster House in London - Getty
Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab outside Lancaster House in London - Getty

Boris Johnson has arrived at Lancaster House in London, where foreign ministers from the G7 group of nations have been holding face-to-face talks.

The Prime Minister was greeted at the summit venue by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, both wearing face masks, before going inside.

He was due to be meeting representatives of the Indian government, including foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, but that will now take place on Zoom.

02:04 PM

Michel Barnier's 'Secret Diary of Brexit' sounds... polite

The inside story of Brexit will be told by the EU's former chief negotiator in a new book, published tomorrow. Given the tension that sometimes spilled out into press briefings, it sounds surprisingly polite.

Michel Barnier's The Grand Illusion: A Secret Diary of Brexit apparently offers little in the way of salacious revelations from his four years locked in the room with British counterparts.

One preview, on AFP, details how he describes former British prime minister Theresa May as "a courageous and tenacious woman surrounded by many men who put their personal ambitions ahead of their country".

However Boris Johnson, and David Cameron, who called the 2016 Brexit referendum, bear "a real responsibility before the history of their country", the book claims.

Meanwhile Nigel Farage was "just as cordial and polite in private as he was violent and demagogic in public", writes Barnier.

01:44 PM

Donald Trump's Facebook ban upheld by oversight board

"Given the seriousness of the violations and the ongoing risk of violence, Facebook was justified in suspending Mr Trump's accounts" - AFP
"Given the seriousness of the violations and the ongoing risk of violence, Facebook was justified in suspending Mr Trump's accounts" - AFP

A ban on Donald Trump from using Facebook has been upheld by the social network's oversight board - though the group raised concerns about the indeterminate duration of the measure.

The former US president was blocked from the platform indefinitely following violent clashes in the US Capitol on January 6, in which five people died.

Sir Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs and communications, said the firm was "pleased" the board recognised the "unprecedented circumstances".

He added: "We will now consider the board's decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate. In the meantime, Mr Trump's accounts remain suspended."

01:27 PM

Chop chop: Boris Johnson gets a helicopter after blitzing the campaign trail

So long, Stourbridge: Boris Johnson boards his helicopter  - Alamy
So long, Stourbridge: Boris Johnson boards his helicopter - Alamy

Boris Johnson might enjoy a leisurely bike ride in normal times. But when it comes to getting around the country in the midst of a hotly-contested election campaign, he has the chopper on standby.

The Prime Minister is hightailing it back to London for the G7 summit.

01:15 PM

Leaders' G7 summit will go ahead in June, Boris Johnson tells Angela Merkel

Boris to Angela: "We'll meet again..." - AFP
Boris to Angela: "We'll meet again..." - AFP

Boris Johnson has told German counterpart Angela Merkel he still intends for her to come to London in June, despite the outbreak of Covid at this week's G7 summit (see 9:42am).

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel this afternoon, ahead of the Petersburg climate dialogue tomorrow.

"They discussed the importance of all countries making concrete commitments to reduce carbon emissions and supporting developing countries to do the same, including by raising contributions towards climate finance."

She added: "The Prime Minister looked forward to welcoming Chancellor Merkel to the UK for the G7 summit in June."

01:06 PM

Nadhim Zahawi joins Shaun Bailey on the campaign trail

No one is expecting him to win tomorrow - but could Shaun Bailey shave off some of Sadiq Khan's lead (see 10:40am)?

The Conservatives' mayoral hopeful has been canvassing with vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi to keep the pressure up.

Shaun Bailey (right) with vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi today - PA
Shaun Bailey (right) with vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi today - PA

12:57 PM

Is Labour's dominance slipping in Wales?

Labour's position in Wales has never been questioned: the party has been the largest name in play at every devolved election and every Westminster election since 1922.

Yet polling over the course of the Senedd campaign suggests that dominance might be slipping.

A YouGov survey out yesterday has Labour getting 36 per cent of the vote. The Conservatives are nipping at Mark Drakeford's heels with 29 per cent of the vote, while Plaid Cymru has fallen to third place, with 20 per cent.

All that means Labour's lead has narrowed, partly as those who voted Tory in 2019 moved from "don't know" at the start of campaigning to give Boris Johnson the benefit of the doubt once again.

However Mr Drakeford has consistently been viewed positively for his handling of the pandemic, with his personal ratings rising to match.

Labour will be hoping to increase their share of the vote here as proof that they can still win over blue collar voters, but it could yet prove out of their grasp.

12:35 PM

Could growth in Green support point to another trend?

Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats leader, campaigns in London - Getty
Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats leader, campaigns in London - Getty

With the focus on how the main parties will fare in this election, it can be easy to overlook some of the smaller ones. But while we consider whether it's time to find a new name for the Red Wall, London could be pointing to another long-term trend.

According to a YouGov poll, the Greens are on course to come third in the mayoral race, beating the Liberal Democrats.

This is Sian Berry's third time standing as a candidate, and she has come third before. But according to the results of this latest survey, which was carried out earlier this week, Ms Berry could double her previous result.

Along with the general decline of the Lib Dems, there is a growing awareness of climate issues - as touted by the Prime Minister - that means we could see more of the Greens than we have before.

12:22 PM

Windfall tax on pandemic profits best way to fund services, survey finds

A windfall tax on companies who have profited from the coronavirus crisis is the most popular way to fund frontline public sector workers and services, new research suggests.

A survey of more than 1,000 adults for the GMB union also indicated that a rise in corporation tax is the second most popular way of plugging financial gaps.

The least popular policy was a rise in council tax, said the GMB.

Clearly Boris Johnson and the Conservatives have run similar figures: the Prime Minister and his top team have repeatedly attacked Labour for running councils with the highest council tax.

12:09 PM

Why are the Scottish Tories slipping in the polls?

Ruth Davidson drove a tank through her Scottish rivals - Getty
Ruth Davidson drove a tank through her Scottish rivals - Getty

Whatever the outcome of the Holyrood elections tomorrow, Nicola Sturgeon will have plenty of clear blue water between the SNP and the second largest party.

But which party will that be?

An Ipsos Mori poll out this afternoon suggests Labour could leapfrog over the Tories, although other polls have them neck and neck. This would be quite a feat given that Anas Sarwar has only been leader of Scottish Labour for just over two months. So why are the Tories not doing better?

Partly, it's Boris Johnson. While he may be winning over voters in the Red Wall and beyond, north of the border he is rather less liked. That might explain why Douglas Ross has made some strident comments about the Prime Minister needing to resign if it's found he broke the ministerial code.

However, the undeniable truth is also that Mr Ross is no Ruth Davidson, who led the party to become a genuine force to be reckoned with as Labour crumbled. Perhaps it's time for a tank.

11:53 AM

At least the Nazis kept the lights on': UK blasts France for threat to cut off Jersey's power

Britain has attacked France for “unacceptable” threats to cut off Jersey’s electricity supplies in a row over Brexit fishing rights with government sources warning that not even the Channel Island’s Nazi occupiers sank so low.

French Maritime Minister Annick Giradin said yesterday that Paris could shut down three undersea cables that provide Jersey with 95 percent of its electricity if the dispute over fishing licences in its waters were not resolved.

"At least when the Germans invaded they kept the lights on," a Government source said, referring to the five years of occupation during World War Two.

"The problem is there is no undersea connector to Jersey, so it's not as though we could turn on a switch if they turn one off."

Read the full story here.

11:51 AM

Boris Johnson: Get out and vote

Boris Johnson is not leaving anything to chance, urging would-be backers to "get out and vote" as he blitzes the campaign trail ahead of tomorrow's election.

The Prime Minister joined Andy Street, the Conservative candidate for West Midlands mayor, on a bike ride as the pair met locals.

11:49 AM

Have your say: What's your forecast for the elections?

Pollsters - and it has to be said journalists - are notorious for calling elections wrong.

In recent years, the only thing that was ever reliable was that such forecasts could not be relied upon.

That goes some way to explaining why both Sir Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson are keen to downplay the predictions that suggest the Tories are on course to gain ground in the Red Wall.

So will it be a wash-out for Labour - or will the Tories start to struggle?

Have your say in the poll below.

11:32 AM

Ursula von der Leyen: 'Openness rhymes with fairness'

European Commission boss Ursula von der Leyen has got people scratching their heads after she confidently pronounced that "openness rhymes with fairness".

Unveiling new plans to restrain companies that benefit from foreign subsidies to buy EU businesses or take part in public tenders, as part of efforts to fend off unfair competition from China, the president said her goal was "to ensure a level playing field in these challenging times and support our recovery".

The Telegraph's James Crisp was on hand to fact check her.

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11:24 AM

Why politicians shouldn't eat in public, in pictures

Theresa May was never the most natural in front of the camera - PA
Theresa May was never the most natural in front of the camera - PA

Getting up close with the public has its pros and its cons for politicians, but nothing can be more damaging than an awkward photo of a politician eating (or drinking) in the wild.

In fact, it's not going too far to say that in some instances it has even cost a career.

From Ed Miliband's bacon sarnie to Theresa May's chips, we look back at some of the most memorable moments caught on camera here.

10:54 AM

Government committed to 'long-term' solution to social care, says Boris Johnson

Social care is "a massive priority for this Government", Boris Johnson has said.

Asked if he would be putting forward social care funding proposals in the Queen's Speech, the Prime Minister said: "We're determined to bring forward new proposals and there will be something about it in the course of the next few months."

He added: "The pandemic has helped to expose... the amazing work that social care workers do and all the help they give to our society.

"They've borne the brunt of the pandemic, so we invest hugely in social care as a Government... but we also have to think about the long-term issues, the long-term costs and how we should be funding it."

10:36 AM

Rishi Sunak: Man eats chip (but it's harder than it looks)

Rishi Sunak nails the art of eating a chip - Reuters
Rishi Sunak nails the art of eating a chip - Reuters

One of the real tests of campaigning is whether MPs and ministers can eat and drink like normal people.

From Ed Miliband's bacon sandwich gaffe to the way Zac Goldsmith held a pint of beer, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that it is harder than it seems for Westminster's luminaries.

Rishi Sunak has, however, nailed the art of eating a chip.

10:26 AM

Boris Johnson defends in-person G7 despite Covid outbreak

Boris Johnson has defended the decision to hold the G7 foreign ministers meeting in person, despite two members of the Indian delegation testing positive for Covid.

Asked if it was a mistake, the Prime Minister told reporters: "I think it's very important to try to continue as much business as you can as a Government.

"We have a very important relationship with India and with our G7 partners.

"As I understand it, what has happened is the individuals concerned are all isolating now.

"I will be seeing the Indian foreign minister later this afternoon and that will be a Zoom exchange, I'm given to understand."

10:23 AM

Boris Johnson 'could not continue' if he has breached code, says Scots Tories leader

Boris Johnson would have to resign if it is found that he breached the ministerial code, the leader of the Scottish Tories has said.

Speaking to Sky News, Douglas Ross noted there were "three separate investigations" into the question of donations used for the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat, and there were "questions that need to be answered".

But he added: "Those who seek to hold the highest office in the land have to hold the highest standard. If the Prime Minister has breached the ministerial code he could not continue."

This is broadly reiterating what he said during an interview on Sunday - but it comes just a couple of hours after vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi tried to argue it was not what had been said (see 8:29am).

10:17 AM

Scots Tories leader calls for pro-union public to 'lend us their vote'

Douglas Ross has urged pro-union voters to "lend their vote" to the Scottish Tories in a bid to prevent renewed pressure for a second referendum.

The leader told Sky News "this is election is on a knife edge", and that an SNP majority would result in more "division and debate on independence, rather than recovery".

However he repeatedly side-stepped questions about whether the SNP would be granted a second plebiscite if they secured a majority.

Instead he stressed that "the Scottish Conservatives are the strongest challengers" to independence.

10:06 AM

Starmer suggests he will not step down if Labour suffers at the polls

Sir Keir Starmer has said he is committed to ensuring "the Labour Party is in a position to win the next general election when it comes", in a sign that he won't step down should tomorrow's election result in a wash-out.

The leader of the opposition has said he will take "full responsibility" for the results - but not what that means.

He told reporters: "We are fighting for every vote in Hartlepool. We have a very good, strong candidate there to be a strong voice for Hartlepool and that's the spirit in which we are going into the elections tomorrow.

"There was a mountain to climb when I took over as leader of the Labour Party - we lost in December 2019 very badly and I've got to make sure the Labour Party is in a position to win the next general election when it comes.

"That's the mountain we're climbing. We're on that mountain, we're climbing and we're going into the elections tomorrow fighting for every vote."

10:02 AM

Sir Keir Starmer: Rebuilding trust in Labour will take longer than this

Sir Keir Starmer said he would take responsibility, whatever the outcome - Getty
Sir Keir Starmer said he would take responsibility, whatever the outcome - Getty

Sir Keir Starmer has admitted he does not expect Labour to recover from its 2019 general election result, but refused to comment to a change if the polls are proved right in tomorrow's election.

During a visit to West Yorkshire, Sir Keir told reporters: "We are fighting for every vote into those elections tomorrow... Whatever the results are, I will take responsibility, as I take responsibility for everything in the Labour Party."

Pressed on whether he might have to rethink his leadership approach if the results are poor, the party leader added: "Well, look, I took over the Labour Party after the worst general election result since 1935.

"We've got to rebuild into the next general election - that is the task in hand.

"This is the first test and we go into that test fighting for every vote, but I never thought we would climb the mountain we have to climb in just one year - it is going to take longer than that."

09:58 AM

Boris Johnson side-steps referendum question

Boris Johnson has refused to comment on whether an SNP victory in Holyrood would result in a referendum - despite this being the thrust of the Scottish Tories campaign.

Asked if he should allow a referendum if people in Scotland voted for pro-independence parties, the Prime Minister said: "Well, let's wait and see what actually happens.

"I think that most people in Scotland, most people around the whole of the UK, feel that this is not the time, as we're coming forward out of a pandemic together, this is not the time to have a reckless, and I think irresponsible, second referendum.

"We had one only a few years ago - I think what most people want is to focus on the country and taking it forward and rebuilding our economy and getting people into work.

"That seems to me to be the priority."

09:56 AM

Boris Johnson hits the campaign... towpath

The man who gifted the world Boris Bikes doesn't need much prodding to get on two wheels.

The Prime Minister has joined West Midlands mayoral candidate Andy Street on the campaign towpath, ahead of tomorrow's elections.

Boris Johnson rides along the towpath of the Stourbridge canal in the West Midlands - AP
Boris Johnson rides along the towpath of the Stourbridge canal in the West Midlands - AP
Meeting the locals: Boris Johnson gets out and about in the West Midlands - AP
Meeting the locals: Boris Johnson gets out and about in the West Midlands - AP
Andy Street joins the PM for a bike ride - AP
Andy Street joins the PM for a bike ride - AP

09:43 AM

Sir Keir Starmer demands answers over Indian Covid scare

Sir Keir Starmer has challenged the Government to explain why the Indian delegation travelled to London for the G7, after two positive coronavirus cases were detected.

The Labour leader told reporters during a campaign visit to St Giles Food Share in Pontefract, West Yorkshire: "I do think we need to ask questions about how this happened, if only to make sure it is not repeated.

"It is a reminder of how vigilant we need to be about our borders - we've been challenging Government on this for some months.

"Let's get to the bottom of how this happened - we cannot have a repeat."

09:40 AM

Just how bad could tomorrow's elections be for Labour?

Sadiq Khan will still win, convincingly - but that might not tell the whole story - Getty
Sadiq Khan will still win, convincingly - but that might not tell the whole story - Getty

Labour appeared to take much of yesterday's dire polling on the chin, with Sir Keir Starmer stressing how long it will take him to rebuild bridges after Jeremy Corbyn's tenure.

The received wisdom in Westminster has been, for some time now, that Labour is weakest in towns but remains resilient in the cities.

So the fact that a YouGov poll suggests that Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey has closed the gap with Sadiq Khan by nine points in the last month should be ruffling some feathers in Southside.

While there is no suggestion that Mr Khan will lose in London, if the Tories are gaining popularity in the metropolis, tomorrow could be a damning indictment of Sir Keir's "new management".

09:27 AM

Scottish polls underscore just how fluid Holyrood race is

When it comes to England, the polls seem to point to one conclusion: Labour is heading for a bad time at the ballot box tomorrow. The only question is how bad.

But in Scotland, things are much more difficult to call. A Survation poll for the Courier this morning (see 8:11am) has the SNP gaining a further three seats, securing a majority with 66 MSPs.

However a separate poll for the New Statesman keeps Nicola Sturgeon and co on 63 seats, falling short of an outright majority - but bolstered by a surge from the pro-independence Greens.

YouGov meanwhile has the SNP gaining 52 per cent of the constituency vote, while Savanta ComRes puts it at 42 per cent.

09:17 AM

Why a West Yorkshire win could be a Pyrrhic victory for Labour

Tracy Brabin's success in West Yorkshire could leave Labour fighting another challenging by-election - PA
Tracy Brabin's success in West Yorkshire could leave Labour fighting another challenging by-election - PA

Sir Keir Starmer is on the campaign trail with Tracy Brabin today, hoping the former actress has the star power to in the West Yorkshire mayoralty tomorrow.

But if she does, this presents the Labour leader with another challenge. The Batley and Spen MP, and former shadow culture minister, will have to stand down, triggering another potentially painful by-election in a Red Wall seat.

Given the state of the Hartlepool race, where Labour now looks likely to lose a seat it has held for more than 50 years, you can expect that to be pushed back for as long as possible. The opposition will be hoping that things will turn their way when furlough starts to be withdrawn and the anticipated reckoning on jobs begins.

But either way, a win in West Yorkshire tomorrow could be a Pyrrhic victory for Labour.

09:02 AM

Priti Patel not isolating despite meeting Indian foreign minister

Priti Patel met Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar yesterday - but will not have to self-isolate currently.

Mr Jaishankar is self-isolating but has not tested positive - however, if he does so, that may mean the Home Secretary will also be forced to quarantine.

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08:56 AM

Why did the UK Government invite a delegation from India to the G7?

The in-person G7 summit in London was meant to herald the start of something resembling normality.

Attendees might have been wearing face masks and forced to elbow-jab hello, but it was the first face-to-face gathering of the word's leading foreign ministers in two years and, as such, a step in the right direction.

But now it seems as though it was more of a misstep, with the entire Indian delegation having to self-isolate following two Covid cases.

Many questions must follow, chief of which is why people were allowed to travel into the UK from a country that has been enduring record-breaking cases and deaths. Given that Boris Johnson's trip to the country that sits on the red list was cancelled just a couple of weeks ago, it seems foolhardy at best.

Why was it not identified before they travelled? How many members of the public have potentially been put at risk because of this? And which variant are the cases?

08:46 AM

But the G7 show must go on....

Foreign ministers from the G7 group of nations have arrived at Lancaster House in London for the second day of their first summit in over two years - despite a Covid outbreak among the Indian delegation.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, wearing a face mask, arrived at the venue ahead of officials from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, the US and the EU.

He welcomed them in the courtyard, including guests invited as part of the UK's tilt to the Indo-Pacific region, with an elbow bump replacing the usual handshake.

Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is now having to attend virtually, although he has not tested positive.

08:42 AM

Entire Indian delegation self-isolating following two Covid positive cases

India's entire delegation to the G7 summit in London is self-isolating after two of its members tested positive for Covid-19, a senior Government source has confirmed.

"Two members of the Indian delegation have tested positive as part of the testing protocols put in place," the source told the Telegraph. "The Indian delegation has yet to attend the meeting at all - they were only due to attend today and last night, but haven't yet attended in person."

However it is understood that the individuals, including Home Secretary Priti Patel, had other meetings in advance of the meeting, although Public Health England has "determined the risk to those in the meetings is low" and does not require individuals to isolate.

It is understood that the positive results were not picked up in pre-flight testing but as part of the G7 daily testing protocol.

A senior UK diplomat said: “We deeply regret that Jaishankar will be unable to attend the meeting today in person but will now attend virtually , but this is exactly why we have put in place strict Covid protocols and daily testing.”

08:27 AM

Police investigate Labour's brownie breach

Police are investigating claims the Labour candidate for West Yorkshire Mayor has broken election laws.

There are allegations Tracy Brabin broke the law by offering people brownies.

A Lib Dem Councillor, Tom Gordon, tweeted it was the "second time in as many days" he had seen Ms Brabin "out and about with boxes of brownies on them that say "Vote Labour" on them".

Labour says the cakes were offered to party members after they had been campaigning – which would not be against the rules.

The Electoral Commission says there is only a breach of the law if there is “corrupt intent” and it does not apply to hospitality.

08:06 AM

G7 Covid 'scare' among India delegates

The Foreign Office is not responding to requests for confirmation of reports that there has been a Covid outbreak among delegates attending the G7 summit in London this week.

Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi was asked about it twice during the broadcast round this morning (see 8:20am and 8:04am) but couldn't shed any light.

However Sky is reporting that the Indian delegation is now self-isolating.

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08:01 AM

Boris Johnson’s broadcast boycott continues

Throughout the 2019 general election campaign, Boris Johnson gained something of a reputation of dodging all but the most straightforward of interviews.

He was the only leader not to submit to Andrew Neil’s grilling and at one point, famously, hid in a fridge rather than answer awkward questions.

Old habits die hard, it seems: the BBC and ITV note he is the only party leader not to have given an interview in the current campaign.

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08:01 AM

'Tory voters more likely to turn out', says Labour frontbencher

Labour could still outperform election polls, such as the dire prediction it will lose the seat in Hartlepool, if turnout is higher than expected, a shadow minister has said.

Jonathan Reynolds, shadow work and pensions secretary, told Radio 4's Today programme he was shrugging off the forecasts “until we have the actual election taking place”.

He added: "If you look at where there is a Conservative poll lead in some polls it's heavily down to turnout. We know from previous elections polls went wrong because Conservative voters are frankly more likely statistically to turn out.”

He urged those who want “strong local candidates that will make a difference in your area focused on public services and your welfare” to get to a ballot box tomorrow. "If people do that we might outperform many of those polls."

07:29 AM

Douglas Ross did not say Boris Johnson should resign, minister insists

The Scottish Tories leader did not say Boris Johnson should resign if it is found he has broken the ministerial code, the vaccines minister has claimed.

Douglas Ross said on Sunday that Mr Johnson should “of course” quit if he is found to have breached the code over the Downing Street flat refurbishment.

But this morning Nadhim Zahawi told Radio 4's Today programme: "The question that was asked of Douglas Ross was to do with Nicola Sturgeon, and there had already been a report by a cross-party committee saying she has broken the ministerial code.

"I watched it very, very carefully - he began by addressing the issue of Nicola Sturgeon."

Challenged again, he added: "I would not want to pre-empt any part of this inquiry until.. that inquiry reports."

07:20 AM

Minister further quizzed about Covid scare at London G7 summit

The vaccines minister has been asked a second time about a possible Covid outbreak at the London-based G7 summit this week.

Dominic Raab yesterday welcomed fellow foreign ministers to Lancaster House for the first in-person meeting in two years. Boris Johnson even popped in to meet the US' new Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

But this morning rumours are circulating that some individuals are having to self-isolate. Asked about this by BBC Breakfast, Nadhim Zahawi said: "Protocols apply to the summit and the foreign ministers who are in town at the minute.

"I commend the Public Health England team that makes sure everybody is protected, and anybody who has any symptoms self isolates. I have no further detail that that."

07:13 AM

Jersey hits out at France's 'disproportionate' electricity threat

Jersey's external affairs minister has accused France of making "disproportionate" threats after Paris warned it could cut off electricity to the island in a row over post-Brexit fishing rights (see below).

"This is not the first threat that the French have made to either Jersey or the United Kingdom since we are into this new deal," Senator Ian Gorst told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"It would seem disproportionate to cut off electricity for the sake of needing to provide extra details so that we can refine the licences."

Mr Gorst added: "I do think a solution can be found. I am optimistic that we can provide extra time to allow this evidence to be provided."

07:11 AM

Nicola Sturgeon heading for SNP majority in Holyrood, new poll finds

Feeling gruff? New poll puts SNP ahead in tomorrow's elections - Reuters
Feeling gruff? New poll puts SNP ahead in tomorrow's elections - Reuters

Fresh from the Hartlepool poll that caused such upset, Survation has just published another eyebrow raising survey - this time showing that Nicola Sturgeon is on course for an SNP majority.

The pro-independence party is expected to pick up three more seats than in 2016, ending with 66 MSPs, in tomorrow's election.

The Scottish Conservatives could cling on as the largest opposition group – but only just at a reduced 24 seats, the poll for the Courier found.

That would leave the SNP able to claim a mandate for a second referendum - although there remains a huge question-mark over whether Westminster would grant one.

07:07 AM

UK and EU must 'iron out' issues amid threat to Jersey's electricity

A Government minister has said the EU and UK had to "iron out" any issues following news of France warning it could cut off electricity to Jersey in a row over post-Brexit fishing rights (see below).

Speaking on Sky News, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said: "I think my very strong feeling on this is that we need to work constructively.

"This is an issue for the commission to work with our team and all the indications from minister (David) Frost and his team is that the commission is taking seriously some of these operational challenges that we need to fix together."

07:06 AM

Testing investment announcement unrelated to election, minister insists

The vaccines minister has insisted the timing of an announcement about a new "future proof" testing facility at Porton Down had nothing to do with the election.

Nadhim Zahawi said the multi-million pound investment would see the creation of a new facility in January next year, adding the current vaccination programme was "working effectively against the dominant virus in the UK".

When asked why the announcement was being made the day before elections on May 6, he said: "Until you make the investment and they're ready, we announce when we sign, when the system is ready to accept that investment when the plans are signed off.

"Ministers have very little to do with the timing."

07:04 AM

Has there been a Covid outbreak at the G7?

Foreign ministers descended on London yesterday for the first in-person meeting in two years.

But it seems there has been a Covid outbreak.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi appeared to confirm that some people had tested positive, but told Sky News he did not know the details.

"Obviously Public Health England and the team that are organising G7 take this very seriously," he said.

"We continue to have one of the most robust set of protocols around testing and so we will make sure that happens, but I don't know the numbers."

He added: "This is news to me ... I can't really comment."

06:48 AM

France threatens to cut off Jersey's electricity as Brexit fishing row grows

France threatened to cut off Jersey's electricity supplies on Tuesday as the row over post-Brexit fishing rights between Paris and London deepened.

"We are ready to use these retaliation measures," Annick Girardin, the maritime minister, told lawmakers in the French parliament. "I am sorry it has come to this. We will do so if we have to."

Ms Giradin mentioned the underwater cables that supply Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, with about 95 percent of its electricity and suggested they could be shut down. The remaining five per cent of its electricity is provided by on-island diesel generators.

The self-governing British Crown Dependency would face all-island power cuts if the French threat was carried out. There were three island-wide power cuts in six years until a new £40 million pound, 16.7-mile cable was laid between Jersey and France in 2016.

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