Boris Johnson puts army on standby amid fuel supply crisisKeir Starmer and industry leaders call on PM to do more as ministers decide against immediate deployment of troops Drivers continued to stockpile fuel at petrol stations despite government warnings that they were exacerbatRead More »
Prime minister says new measures will focus on rail links and pub closures. Boris Johnson has announced another election package costing hundreds of millions of pounds for neglected towns, some of which will be spent in marginal constituencies. Concentrating on rundown high streets, the closures of pubs and post offices and the restoration of rail links, the prime minister has claimed that the measures will build upon the £3.6bn towns fund first announced in July. Towns that have been singled out in the new measures include Cleveleys, near Blackpool, where the Conservatives are defending a majority of 2,023, and Willenhall in Walsall North, where they hope to improve on a 2,601 majority. Labour said last night the Conservatives were responsible for the destruction of the high streets they are now claiming they will help. Andrew Gwynne, the shadow communities secretary, said: “The Tories are destroying our high streets and towns. A decade of vicious cuts to the services that people in our communities rely on has taken 60p in every £1 from council budgets.” Johnson said a future Conservative government would extend the retail discount on business rates to 50% next year. For businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000, this will mean an increase on the current retail discount of 33% in 2020-21. This would amount to “an effective £280m tax cut” for small businesses, the party claimed. A new £1,000 business rates relief for pubs would also be introduced under a Johnson majority government – an £18m tax cut for next year, it is claimed. The Conservatives said they would also introduce a £150m fund that will help groups trying to take over and run pubs and post offices threatened with closure. Following on from previous pledges to reverse rail cuts recommended by Dr Richard Beeching in the 1960s, Johnson has also pledged to set up a £500m Beeching Reversal fund. Towns such as Ashington, Seaton Delaval and Blyth, with a combined population of 100,000, will receive cash following a request from Northumberland council for £99m to reinstate stations, the Tories claimed. Willenhall and Darlaston in the West Midlands will receive £18m to reopen stations – a further £10m has already been provided by the government, the party said. Investment will also be provided to connect Skelmersdale to Liverpool and Manchester. A disused railway line will be funded to improve transport connections for Thornton-Cleveleys and Fleetwood. In a statement last night, Johnson said: “For too long, too many towns and villages across Britain have been overlooked and left behind. When the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, many communities felt their voices had been heard for the first time in decades and that their lives would improve. “We will invest in these communities and help people put the heart back into the places they call home.” One organisation representing retailers said Johnson’s plans did not go far enough to revive the UK’s troubled shopping districts. Tom Ironside, director of business and regulation at the British Retail Consortium, said the majority of the UK’s 3 million retail workers were employed in businesses that would not benefit from today’s announcement. “It is essential that the next government scraps ‘downwards transition’, which costs retailers £1.3bn, freezes next year’s rates increase, and introduces an improvement relief to encourage investment in our high streets. “To ensure the long-term vitality of our town and city centres, the next government should follow the recommendations of the treasury select committee and commit to wholesale reform of our broken business rates system,” he said. The Conservatives have been accused of using public money to boost their election prospects after it emerged that funding from the towns fund was going to wealthier Tory marginals. An analysis by the Times found this week that a third of the 100 towns due to receive some of the £3.6bn pot were not among the 300 most deprived towns. These included Loughborough, which was won by Nicky Morgan, the culture secretary, at the last election, with a majority of around 4,000. Kirby was not on the list.
Unions vote down local Labour parties’ call to axe first past the post. Motion to back switch to proportional representation in elections fails at Labour conference
Liberal Democrats seek to challenge new laws on Australian political party names in high courtThe newly enacted legislation forces new parties to seek permission to use any words in their name that are already used by existing political partiesGet our free news app; get our morning email briefing A pre-polling booth in the electorate of Lilley during the 2019 election. The Liberal Democrats are challenging a federal electoral party registration laws in the high court. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The
A Labour MP has dramatically quit the shadow cabinet midway through the party's Brighton conference with an attack on Sir Keir Starmer's leadership and policies. The 63-year-old, who has been MP for Middlesbrough since 2012, previously served in former leader Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet and is a left-wing ally of Sir Keir's predecessor.
As Boris Johnson loses control, Keir Starmer is starting to get a gripIt’s a long way back – but the Labour conference is revealing a revitalised party ready to take on this government of incapables Keir Starmer speaks to members of the media at Labour’s annual party conference in Brighton, 27 September 2021. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters
Harassment case | An MP threatened to send naked pictures of a woman to her family because she was jealous of her friendship with her partner, a court has heard. Claudia Webbe, 56, also allegedly called 59-year-old Michelle Merritt "a slag" and made a threat against her involving acid during a campaign of harassment. Read on for details.
Proportional representation would spell disaster for Labour. Party members should reject itPR would make Labour majorities all but impossible, yet give the Lib Dems a permanent foothold on powerRichard Johnson is a lecturer in politics at Queen Mary University of London Keir Starmer, Labour leader, and Angela Rayner, deputy leader, at conference in Brighton. Photograph: James McCauley/Rex/Shutterstock
As the UK faces soaring energy bills and fuel shortages, a Conservative MP said the situation 'feels very reminiscent' of the crises of 1978.
The favourite to become Germany’s next chancellor has lectured Britain about its lorry driver crisis despite Europe's biggest economy suffering its own huge shortfall.
The answer is to relax the rules on immigration, and not just from the EU, and make use of those so desperate to come and live in Britain
Families who have lost loved ones to coronavirus are set to meet Boris Johnson in Downing Street, where they will press him to "immediately" begin a public inquiry into his government's handling of the pandemic. Members of the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign group will hold talks with the prime minister in Number 10 on Tuesday, more than a year after Mr Johnson promised to do so. Sky News has contacted Downing Street for comment.
The Government has suspended competition laws to help the industry keep petrol stations topped-up amid panic buying by motorists
Brexit is "obviously a contributory factor" to the shortage of HGV drivers that is having a knock-on effect across the economy, the shadow chancellor has told Sky News. "But when you cut off a supply of labour which we did when we left the European Union then you are of course contributing and adding to problems."
San Marino referendum ends with 77% voting to end abortion ban. Over 40% of residents of landlocked state in central Italy voted to end total ban in place since 1865
Trade unions have criticised Boris Johnson for leaning on foreign labour to plug holes in the HGV driver shortage, saying it amounts to “going backwards”.
Boris Johnson to consider using army to supply petrol stationsMinisters to discuss emergency plan Operation Escalin after BP reveals a third of its forecourts have shortages BP forecourt Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters