Politics

Tories ‘to take Hartlepool’ — follow election news live

French foreign minister fist bumps Dominic Raab’s elbow during G7 arrival

A bombshell new poll shows the Tories on course to snatch Hartlepool from Labour in Thursday’s crucial by-election contest, in what would be a historic win for the ruling party.

Survation’s poll for Good Morning Britain puts the Conservatives way out in front with a 17-point lead in the seat, which has been held by Labour since its creation in 1974.

North of the border, the Scottish National Party looks set to record a slim majority, according to a separate Opinium poll. It puts the party on 51 per cent, down two per cent on a survey conducted in April, but still with enough support to form a majority government.

Elsewhere, Alba leader Alex Salmond has claimed he could have “destroyed” SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon during their spectacular fall-out. “If I wanted to destroy her, that could have been done.”

Meanwhile, the EU has stolen a march on Britain over a trade deal with India. The EU-India pact could be forged as early as this weekend, while the UK government announced only an enhanced partnership with India.

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Starmer: I’ll take full responsibility for election results

Keir Starmer has said he’ll take “full responsibility” for Labour’s showing in Thursday’s local elections.

Polls show the Tories with a huge cushion in the crucial Hartlepool by-election. The party’s candidates for the Tees Valley and West Midlands mayoral elections also have big leads.

Mr Starmer told Radio 4: “I take full responsibility for the results, just as I take full responsibility for everything that happens in the Labour Party under my leadership.”

Matt Mathers4 May 2021 13:47

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‘No plans’ to end lockdown restrictions earlier than 21 June, No10 says

The government has “no plans” to bring forward the earliest date for the end of lockdown from 21 June, despite “hugely encouraging” data on Covid transmission, Downing Street has said.

Our politics editor Andrew Woodcock reports:

Matt Mathers4 May 2021 13:32

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Polling boss says he’ll never survey a constituency again if Labour wins Hartlepool

Damian Lyons Lowe, the boss of polling company Survation, has said he’ll never survey a constituency again if Labour wins the Hartlepool by-election.

His comments come off the back of his firm’s bombshell poll showing the Tories with a 17-point lead in what was once a Labour stronghold.

The survey was conducted before the “cash for curtains” scandal and had a tiny sample of just 301 people, but the size of the lead suggests Labour is in trouble.

Matt Mathers4 May 2021 13:19

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Johnson appoints Tory MP Neil O’Brien as adviser on ‘levelling up’ agenda

Boris Johnson has appointed Tory MP Neil O’Brien as his adviser on his “levelling up” agenda, Downing Street said.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said that the MP for Harborough would be working with Government departments on developing policies ahead of a “levelling up” white paper.

“His role is going to be to work alongside departments to develop the policies that sit within that – the bold policy interventions which are going to help improve opportunity and boost livelihoods across the country,” the spokesman said.

“We are making multibillion-pound investments to transform the country’s prosperity and spread opportunity already.

“We have the opportunity to go further and that is the work Neil O’Brien has taken up.”

Matt Mathers4 May 2021 13:00

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Alex Salmond claims he could have ‘destroyed’ Nicola Sturgeon

Alex Salmond has claimed he could have “destroyed” SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s political career if he had wanted to.

My colleague Adam Forrest has more details here:

Matt Mathers4 May 2021 12:15

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SNP slips back in election poll — but still on course for majority

The latest Opinium survey for the Scottish election finds the SNP slipping back by 2 per cent on the constituency vote, with the union-backing parties getting small uplifts.

But the party is still on course to form a majority government, according to the survey, and is projected to win 67 of the 129 seats available.

Chris Curtis of Opinium said: “The campaign finishes much where it started, with razor thin margins set to decide whether Nicola Sturgeon can govern alone, or will need the backing of other pro-independence parties.”

Matt Mathers4 May 2021 11:56

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Brown: PM’s position ‘untenable’ if he’s found to have broken rules

Former Labour PM Gordon Brown has had more to say about the various “sleaze” claims surrounding the government – saying public service “cannot be a platform for private gain”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour: “I think if he’s (Boris Johnson) breached the ministerial code and he’s told the House of Commons something that turns out not to be true, that becomes untenable.

“I think the issue at the moment is, can you have rules for gifts? People should not be receiving gifts because they’re in government because you become beholden to people, you become in their debt, you cannot have that and clearly gifts have got to be declared.”

Adam Forrest4 May 2021 11:42

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G7 ministers separated by screens as talks begin

As the G7 foreign ministers’ discussions get under way, foreign secretary Dominic Raab and his counterparts were separated from one another by clear screens in order to minimise the Covid risk.

Raab began the meeting by running through the agenda, with sessions today focused on “geopolitical priorities”. Ministers are set to talk about relations with Russia, China and Iran, as well as the crisis in Myanmar, violence in Ethiopia and Syria.

A working dinner at Lancaster House will close the first day’s session.

Dominic Raab kicks off G7 talks

(PA)

Adam Forrest4 May 2021 11:19

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Starmer: Vaccine rollout would have happened under Labour

Returning now to some of the more interesting comments made by Keir Starmer this morning. The Labour leader claimed “the inequality that’s built into our economic model is morally unjust” and “economically stupid”.

The Labour leader told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The inequality and injustice in our economy were baked in because of austerity before we got to the pandemic … We’ve got to decide, do we go on to a different and better future, or do we go back and try to patch up what we had before?”

Asked if the purchasing of the vaccines would have happened under Labour, Starmer told Today: “Well, of course it would.

“We would have set up a taskforce and, in fact, during the course of last year, we were pressing on the government the need for taskforces on a number of issues, including getting our schools back open again as quickly as possible, which ended up being a right fiasco.”

Adam Forrest4 May 2021 10:48

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Another grim poll for Labour

The latest Opinium poll for The Times has the Tory candidate Andy Street 17 points ahead of Labour’s Liam Byrne in the West Midlands mayoralty contest.

Adam Forrest4 May 2021 10:08

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