Swift U-turn by the Prime Minister after he kicks off devolution dust-up

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
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There is no holding back this PM. Self-isolating or otherwise, he has proven once again his formidable ability to put his foot in his mouth and kick off an almighty row. Reports emerged last night that Boris Johnson claimed “devolution has been a disaster north of the border” and was Tony Blair’s “biggest mistake” during a meeting with around 60 Tory MPs. Labour’s Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has slammed the comments while Shadow Scotland Secretary Ian Murray said they confirmed that Johnson “doesn’t believe in devolution and would put the future of the UK at risk”. Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross argued: “Devolution has not been a disaster. The SNP’s non-stop obsession with another referendum — above jobs, schools and everything else — has been a disaster.” Downing Street gave a clarification just two hours after the story broke, and now the PM apparently thinks devolution is “great”.

Jeremy Corbyn has issued a statement this morning following his suspension nearly three weeks ago for his comments on the Equality and Human Rights report into antisemitism within the Labour Party. The party took disciplinary action after Corbyn argued that “the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”. Referring to his initial statement, the former Labour leader has now said: “I regret the pain this issue has caused the Jewish community and would wish to do nothing that would exacerbate or prolong it. To be clear, concerns about antisemitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’.” He added that he hopes the matter is “resolved as quickly as possible”. LabourList sources say the national executive committee panel considering his case is set to meet this afternoon.

The Tories last night voted down a Labour amendment that would have required pension schemes to develop strategies to comply with the Paris agreement on climate change by 2050. Critics within the labour movement pointed out that the party’s position on the bill, requiring funds to meet the objectives 30 years from now “or sooner”, represents a significant shift away from the net-zero carbon emissions 2030 commitment under the last leadership. Labour for a Green New Deal spokesperson Lauren Townsend described the amendment as an “unacceptable betrayal of party democracy”. The 2019 Labour conference committed Labour to working “towards a path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030” and Ed Miliband spoke out in favour of the 2030 target in July this year.

Our editor Sienna spoke with former Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti to discuss the government’s legislation on covert human intelligence sources, or ‘CHIS’. While Labour under Keir Starmer abstained on the bill at both second and third reading in the Commons, Baroness Chakrabarti is tabling amendments and working cross-party to radically reform the proposed law. The former director of advocacy group Liberty warned: “If the CHIS bill passes, a real Rubicon will have been crossed”. And we have more great content for you this evening. Tune in here at 6pm to see Sienna live in conversation with Liam Byrne. You can email us here with any suggested questions for Labour’s West Midlands mayoral candidate.

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