Breaking this morning, the Commons standards committee has recommended that Blackpool South MP Scott Benton should be suspended from parliament for 35 days, concluding that the MP had committed an “extremely serious breach” of parliamentary rules. The MP – suspended from the parliamentary Conservative Party in April – could face a by-election if the Commons backs the committee’s recommendation.
Labour’s candidate for the seat Chris Webb has been quick out the blocks this morning calling for support for his campaign to help him “fight for justice and bring positive change to our community”. You can donate to his campaign here, see campaign sessions here, and watch his campaign video here:
Runners and riders to succeed Mark Drakeford
“A true titan of Welsh and Labour politics.” Keir Starmer was among the numerous Labour figures to pay tribute to Mark Drakeford yesterday after the Welsh First Minister announced that he is standing down. Shadow Wales Secretary Jo Stevens praised his “remarkable stewardship” of Wales through Covid and role as a “builder” of devolution and Labour’s electoral success in Wales, while shadow justice minister Kevin Brennan called him an “exemplary” public servant. Fellow Welsh Labour MP Beth Winter called him “collegiate”, “compassionate” and said he “championed a uniquely Welsh Labour”.
Attention has rapidly turned to who will succeed Drakeford as Welsh Labour leader. Drakeford – who has led the Welsh government since 2018 – said in a statement to the press yesterday that nominations for his successor will open “shortly” and that he is “confident” the process can be concluded by the “end of the spring term”. He added that, in the meantime, he “will remain as First Minister in the full sense of that job”.
A number of news outlets have pulled together lists of runners and riders, with both BBC News and Politico identifying economy minister Vaughan Gething and education and Welsh language minister Jeremy Miles as “early frontrunners”. Other names highlighted by the two outlets are health and social services minister Eluned Morgan, deputy minister for social partnership Hannah Blythyn, counsel general Mick Antoniw and finance and local government minister Rebecca Evans (though Politico reports that she is said by colleagues not to be keen on a run). Elsewhere, The Guardian also suggests climate change minister Julie James as a potential candidate.
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In other Labour news…
HOMELESSNESS: Shadow Levelling Up Secretary and deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has declared that “only Labour will tackle the scourge of homelessness at its roots” after analysis by Shelter found that levels of homelessness in England this Christmas are likely to be 14% higher than last year (The Independent).
STAFF SHORTAGES: London mayor Sadiq Khan has said government plans to cut legal migration will lead to a “full-blown recruitment crisis” in the capital. Khan described the polices set out last week as “misguided”, highlighted the “contribution of successive generations of immigrants working side by side with trained Brits” and called for “more” to be done to train up British workers (The Guardian).
RAILWAYMAN: Jurgen Maier, former UK head of Siemens, has been appointed by Labour to lead a review into how the delivery of large rail projects can be improved. Announcing the move, Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh said her party is “serious about learning the lessons from the staggering failure of the last decade and will draw from the brightest and best from around the world” (The Times).
BIRMINGHAM LATEST: BirminghamLive reports that the council has so far found £149m worth of cuts, including a £57m cut to children’s services, an almost £22m cut to adult social care and a £5.8m cut to city housing. According to the outlet, the council has a further estimated £75m-worth of cuts still to be allocated (BirminghamLive).
APOLOGY AND A CORRECTION: Yesterday, in our rush to bring you breaking news of Drakeford’s departure as Welsh Labour leader, we incorrectly stated that he was leaving as First Minister with immediate effect. As noted above, his departure from government will not be immediate and he will remain as First Minister “in the full sense of that job” during the process to select his successor. Sorry.
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