General election 2019: Conservatives promise ‘equal’ immigration system

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to staff and students during a visit to Bolton University chancellor"s building after a huge blaze damaged a block of student accommodation flats in Bolton on Friday eveningImage copyright PA Media

The Conservatives have set out more details of their plans for immigration after Brexit, saying migrants will be treated equally regardless of where they come from.

The cost for migrants to use the NHS would also rise, while the rules on claiming benefits – which currently favour EU nationals – would change.

The Tories say they want the “brightest and best” from around the world.

But business leaders say they need access to workers of all skill levels.

Labour is yet to announce its immigration policy, but it is expected to be released in the party’s manifesto on Thursday.

And the Lib Dems are pledging a “fair, effective” immigration system if elected – with plans to resettle 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children a year.

The Conservative government has already promised that, after Brexit, immigration rules would apply to EU nationals and non-Europeans in the same way.

Earlier this week, party leader Boris Johnson also said that if he won the election, he would try to reduce the number of so-called “unskilled” migrants coming into the UK.

Announcing more details of their immigration policy on Sunday, the Conservatives said freedom of movement – which lets EU citizens travel, live, study and work in any member country – would end in the UK in January 2021.

The “vast majority” of migrants would need a job offer to come to the UK to work – although there will be a “small number of exceptions” for example high-skilled scientists.

Image copyright Getty Images

Rules on claiming benefits will be “equalised”, meaning that like other migrants, EU citizens would have to wait five years before they can access benefits and will not be able to send child benefit payments abroad.

And the immigration health surcharge – the payment charged to migrants to use the NHS – would apply to all migrants, both EU and non-EU, and would be raised from £400 to £625 a year.

“As we come out of the EU we have a new opportunity for fairness and to make sure all those who come here are treated the same,” said Mr Johnson.

Home Secretary Priti Patel added that after Brexit, “immigration will finally be subject to democratic control, allowing us to get overall numbers down”.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Earlier this week, Home Secretary Priti Patel promised to reduce “overall” immigration to the UK

Meanwhile, writing in the Mail on Sunday, Michael Gove said it was “unfair that people coming from European countries can access free NHS care without paying in while others make significant contributions”.

“Our country is made stronger by welcoming people with talent from across the globe,” he added.

“But it’s not right that people from Bulgaria and Slovenia can come here without any controls and have automatic rights that people from Bangladesh and Singapore do not.”

‘All skill levels needed’

Responding to the plans, business leaders said it was important that companies still had access to the workers they needed.

Matthew Fell, from the Confederation of British Industry, said there was “concern that the focus of a new system is so squarely on skills”.

“The UK has labour shortages that must also be filled,” he said.

“A new approach must be just as open to workers who pick, process and transport the food we eat as the architects needed to build new homes and schools,” he said.

“Business and government need to work together to train UK workers while developing an open but controlled immigration system that grows our economy.”

Meanwhile, Hannah Essex from the British Chambers of Commerce said “access to skills at all levels is essential”.

A “flexible and simple immigration system” is needed that “allows firms to recruit the people they need at all skills levels, including temporary, seasonal and permanent roles,” she added.

The head of the Food and Drink Federation, Ian Wright, also called for an immigration system which “ensures easy access to the workers we need, at all skill levels”, while Tom Ironside, from the British Retail Consortium, said any immigration system must ensure the industry was “able to access workers across all skills levels in sufficient numbers”.

The Conservatives say they would introduce an Australian-style points-based system, which would consider migrants’ skills and whether they meet certain criteria.

In recent years, the party had a long-standing goal – first introduced by David Cameron and also a promise in the 2017 election manifesto – to cut net migration to less than 100,000 a year.

But the government never came close to meeting the target and faced repeated calls to drop it.

When draft proposals for a new immigration system were published last year, the target of 100,000 was left out.

Earlier this week, Ms Patel said the Tories would “look to reduce the numbers” of immigration through better controls but would not set “arbitrary” targets.

Labour has yet to announce its policy on immigration.

But Jeremy Corbyn has said he would commit to “a fair immigration process that recognised the huge contribution made by migrant workers to this country”.

“We have got to be realistic about the needs of our economy for bringing workers in, skilled workers in to help us,” he added.

An SNP spokesman said earlier this week that cutting immigration would be “hugely damaging” for the Scottish economy and called the issue to be devolved to the Scottish government.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50449039

General election 2019: Labour vows to end dental check-up charges

Dental check-upImage copyright Getty Images

Everyone will be entitled to a “free teeth MOT” in England under a Labour government, the party says.

Labour is proposing to scrap band one dentistry charges, which cover a check up, a scale and polish, and any X-rays that may be needed.

It believes patients are put off going because of the fee – a check up costs £22.70 – with many ending up in A&E.

Dental leaders welcomed the move, but said there was a shortage of dentists that needed addressing too.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said charges were a real barrier to access services for some.

“With 135,000 patients presenting at A&E with dental problems every year, it’s time we put prevention at the heart of our approach to health.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn added: “This is the first step towards making all dentistry services free of charge.”

Labour said the policy would cost £450m a year.

Health is devolved so the policy only covers England. Wales and Northern Ireland both charge for check ups, but Scotland does not.

How do the charges work?

Image copyright Getty Images

There are three fee bands for treatment. They are:

  • Band one (£22,70) – check up, scale and polish and any X-rays
  • Band two (£62.10) – all the treatments in band one plus fillings, extractions and root canal treatment
  • Band three (£269.30) – all treatments in band one and two plus crowns, dentures and bridges

People on low incomes, pregnant women and under 18s or under 19 and in full-time education are exempt from charges.

Nearly half of treatments delivered each year are provided free.

However, the exemption system has been criticised for being overly complex and has been blamed for people getting fined for wrongly claiming free dental care.

How many people are going without dental care?

Official NHS figures show about half of adults have not used an NHS dentist in the past two years and about four in 10 children for the past year.

But that does not mean that they are all going without care.

Some patients may feel they do not need to go, while large numbers pay to see dentists privately.

The figures also do not cover those who get care from specialist community teams, such as those with mental health problems, learning disabilities and some people in care homes.

No data is published on the actual number of people going without care when they need it.

Labour has pointed to figures suggesting one in five delays going because they cannot afford to see dentists, but that is from research a decade ago.

Will this policy solve the problem?

Image copyright Getty Images

In theory, free checks should make a difference. The British Dental Association points to data from Scotland, which has had free check ups since 2006, that shows higher rates of NHS dentistry use.

BDA chair Mick Armstrong said the system of exemptions was complex so simplifying the system should encourage more people to come forward for check ups – although they still face the prospect of charges if they need any work done.

But he also said workforce problems needed to be addressed if access was going to improve significantly.

Research by the BDA has suggested three quarters of NHS dental surgeries have vacancies they struggle to fill.

“Any plans to boost access must go hand-in-hand with support for a service facing serious recruitment problems.

“NHS dentistry cannot be delivered without NHS dentists.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50448108

Stephen Graham: Actor tells Desert Island Discs ‘I didn’t know how to cope’

Stephen GrahamImage copyright Getty Images

Actor Stephen Graham has opened up about the time he attempted to take his own life, after suffering a breakdown.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, the star of Line of Duty, The Irishman and This Is England said he “didn’t know how to cope” at the time.

The ordeal came about after he had left home to go to drama school in London.

The 46-year-old said a series of traumatic family events that occurred before he moved away from home for the first time contributed to his collapse.

In the space of a few years, his beloved grandmother died and his mother gave birth to a stillborn child. “I’d been through these few traumatic things and never really grieved,” said the Liverpudlian actor.

His mother later became pregnant again and a baby brother arrived the day before Graham, then 20, went to start his new life in the capital.

“This beautiful joyous occasion of this little boy coming into my life and mum and pop’s life and then me having to leave was kind of a bit difficult,” he told host Lauren Laverne. “But when you’re 20 you have the world in front of you haven’t you, so you try not to focus on that stuff.”

He added: “I had a breakdown with all of these things that had happened traumatically from my late teens that I hadn’t really dealt with or I hadn’t come to terms with.”

Image copyright BBC/World Productions Ltd
Image caption Stephen Graham played undercover officer DS John Corbett in Line of Duty

The star recalled how he returned home and tried to explain his feelings to his parents, who tried to help him, but in vain.

He went on to attempt to hang himself in his room. “It was very calculated,” he said.

“I heard my nanna’s voice – and I know it sounds strange and weird… and she shouted ‘Stephen’ and I thought I’d gone, because I’d tried to do that. And I just came to, I opened my eyes and the rope had snapped, thankfully.

“And then I put a high neck jumper on, one of them zip-up jumpers, and my ma and da came back and then my mum kind of saw it and she went, ‘What’s that?’ And she seen it properly and then the three of us… I really opened up then, everything just came out and I just [said], ‘I don’t know how to cope.’

  • If you or someone you know are feeling emotionally distressed, these organisations offer advice and support. In addition, you can call the Samaritans free on 116 123 (UK and Ireland). Mind also has a confidential telephone helpline- 0300 123 339 (Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm).

His best friends Lee and Jamie were “magnificent”, he said. “They were really supportive and my mum and dad and slowly built me back, slowly come around to the understanding it was OK. Life was worth living, thankfully.”

Graham also spoke about how he first attended a youth theatre group at Liverpool’s Everyman theatre as a teenager on the advice of local actor Andrew Schofield, who lived over the road from his grandmother.

One of Graham’s grandfathers was Jamaican, and he told Laverne that at times in his youth he didn’t know where he “belonged”.

“There were times there growing up when I was slightly unsure where I fitted in,” he said, referencing his white and black cousins. He stressed that his parents encouraged him “to find my own way within it”.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Graham (second left) with Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Al Pacino and the cast of The Irishman last month

Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman review ★★★★☆

He can now be seen playing mobster Anthony Provenzano in Martin Scorsese’s film The Irishman. The director had previously cast him in Gangs of New York and as Al Capone in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

Graham admitted he was “really nervous” to meet Robert De Niro, his co-star in The Irishman, because movies like The Godfather, Taxi Driver and The Deer Hunter were “the films that I grew up on”.

His dad showed them to him on video straight after he confessed to having a proper interest in acting. “That weekend we watched those three films, and I think we watched The Godfather twice actually. It was amazing,” he recalled.

“But that was that kind of a moment where he went to me, ‘If you’re serious, this is how it’s done, seriously and brilliantly.’ That began my love affair with films.”

Desert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 at 11:15 GMT on Sunday and then online.

Follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If you have a story suggestion email .

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-50431391

UK government and military accused of war crimes cover-up

British soldiers approach a Chinook helicopter in the Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand Province, AfghanistanImage copyright PA

The UK government and armed forces have been accused of covering up the killing of civilians by British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

An investigation by BBC Panorama and the Sunday Times has spoken to 11 British detectives who said they found credible evidence of war crimes.

Soldiers should have been prosecuted for the killings, say insiders.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it rejected the unsubstantiated allegation of a pattern of cover-ups.

The new evidence has come from inside the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which investigated alleged war crimes committed by British troops during the occupation of Iraq, and Operation Northmoor, which investigated alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

The government decided to close IHAT and Operation Northmoor, after Phil Shiner, a lawyer who had taken more than 1,000 cases to IHAT, was struck off as a solicitor following allegations he had paid fixers in Iraq to find clients.

But former detectives from IHAT and Operation Northmoor said Phil Shiner’s actions were used as an excuse to close down criminal investigations. None of the cases investigated by IHAT or Operation Northmoor resulted in a prosecution.

One IHAT detective told Panorama: “The Ministry of Defence had no intention of prosecuting any soldier of whatever rank he was unless it was absolutely necessary, and they couldn’t wriggle their way out of it.”

Another former detective said the victims of war crimes had been badly let down: “I use the word disgusting. And I feel for the families because… they’re not getting justice. How can you hold your head up as a British person?”

Panorama has re-examined the evidence in a number of alleged war crimes cases. One such case investigated by IHAT was the shooting of an Iraqi policeman by a British soldier on patrol in Basra in 2003.

Image caption Raid al-Mosawi was serving as an Iraqi policeman in Basra when he was shot dead

Raid al-Mosawi was shot in an alleyway as he left his family home, and later died from his wounds. The incident was investigated at the time by the British soldier’s commanding officer, Maj Christopher Suss-Francksen.

Within 24 hours, Maj Suss-Francksen concluded the shooting was lawful because the Iraqi police officer had fired first and the soldier had acted in self-defence.

His report said another British soldier had seen the shooting and confirmed the Iraqi had fired first.

IHAT detectives spent two years investigating the case and interviewed 80 British soldiers, including the soldier who had supposedly witnessed the shooting. But he told detectives he was not in the alleyway.

In his statement to IHAT, this soldier directly contradicted Maj Suss-Francksen’s report: “This report is inaccurate and gives the impression that I was an eyewitness. This is not true.”

Image caption Raid’s brother shows where the soldier was when he fired the fatal shot

The soldier said he had only heard one shot, which suggested the policeman had not fired at all. This was confirmed by other witnesses interviewed by IHAT.

Detectives concluded the soldier who shot Raid should be prosecuted for killing the Iraqi police officer and Maj Suss-Francksen should be charged with covering up what happened. But military prosecutors have not taken anyone to court.

Maj Suss-Francksen’s lawyer said: “My client has not seen the IHAT material and is unable to offer any comment on the quality or reliability of the evidence gathered by the IHAT investigators or why it was insufficient to satisfy a prosecution of any soldier under UK law.”

Operation Northmoor was set up by the government in 2014 and looked into 52 alleged illegal killings.

Its closure was announced by the government before Royal Military Police detectives even had a chance to interview the key Afghan witnesses.

One Northmoor detective said: “I wouldn’t write off a job until I have spoken to both parties. If you are writing off a job and the only thing you have got is the British account, how is that an investigation?

“My view is that every one of those deaths deserved to be examined and due process of law to take place.”

The MoD said military operations are conducted in accordance with the law and there had been an extensive investigation of allegations.

“Investigations and decisions to prosecute are rightly independent from the MoD and have involved external oversight and legal advice,” a spokesperson told the BBC.

“After careful consideration of referred cases, the independent Service Prosecuting Authority decided not to prosecute.”

“The BBC’s claims have been passed to the Service Police and the Service Prosecuting Authority who remain open to considering allegations.”

Panorama, War Crimes Scandal Exposed is on BBC One at 21:00 GMT on Monday 18 November.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-50419297

Prince Andrew ‘categorically’ denies sex claims

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Media captionPrince Andrew: ‘Going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do’

The Duke of York has “categorically” denied having any sexual contact with an American woman, who says she was forced to have sex with him aged 17.

Answering questions about his links to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in a BBC interview, Prince Andrew said the alleged incidents “never happened”.

Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers, claimed she was forced to have sex with the prince three times.

The prince said he was at home with his children on one of the occasions.

Prince Andrew, who is the Queen’s third child, has been facing questions for several months over his ties to Epstein, a 66-year-old American financier who took his own life while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

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Media captionPrince Andrew says he has wracked his brains but cannot recall any incident involving Virginia Roberts.

Virginia Giuffre – then called Virginia Roberts – has said she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew between 2001 – when she was 17 – and 2002, in London, New York and Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis, the prince said: “It didn’t happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened.”

“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”

He said Ms Giuffre’s account of him “profusely sweating” and “pouring with perspiration” when they danced at the club on the night in 2001 when she says they first had sex was impossible, because he had a medical condition preventing him from perspiring.

In an extraordinary interview, which you can watch in full on BBC iPlayer in the UK or YouTube elsewhere in the world, the duke said:

  • He had investigations carried out to establish whether a photograph of him with Ms Giuffre was faked, but they were inconclusive
  • He would testify under oath if “push came to shove” and his lawyers advised him to
  • He was unaware of an arrest warrant against Epstein when he invited him to Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party at Windsor Castle
  • He does not regret his friendship with Epstein because of “the opportunities I was given to learn” from him about trade and business
  • Speaking out about his relationship with the financier had become almost “a mental health issue” for him

Addressing Ms Giuffre’s claims that she had dined with the prince, danced with him at a nightclub, and went on to have sex with him at the house of Ghislaine Maxwell, a friend of the prince, in Belgravia, central London, he said “there are a number of things that are wrong with that story”.

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Media captionPrince Andrew on Epstein: ‘There was no indication, absolutely no indication’

He said the date when Ms Giuffre says he had sex with her was 10 March 2001, when he had taken his daughter Beatrice to Pizza Express in Woking for a party before spending the night at home.

“Going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do,” he said. “I remember it weirdly distinctly.”

No memory

Ms Giuffre described him providing her with alcohol at a nightclub, but Prince Andrew said: “I don’t drink, I don’t think I’ve ever bought a drink in Tramps whenever I was there.”

On claims he was sweating, he said: “I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don’t sweat or I didn’t sweat at the time,” he said, blaming it on “an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War”.

He said he had only started to be able to sweat again “in the recent past”.

Asked about a photograph of him and Ms Giuffre being taken at Ghislaine Maxwell’s house, he said he had “absolutely no memory” of it.

Image copyright Virginia Roberts
Image caption The duke was pictured with his accuser in Ghislaine Maxwell’s London home in 2001

“Investigations that we’ve done” have been unable to prove whether the photograph was faked, he said, “because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph”.

Prince Andrew said he did not recall going upstairs in that house, said he was not dressed as he usually would be if he was in London and added “we can’t be certain as to whether or not that’s my hand”.

“I’m at a loss to explain this particular photograph,” he said.

A thick skin

On the further accusation that he had sex with her in New York, the duke denied he was present at Epstein’s home that day, although he had been travelling in the US.

He also denied the claim he had sex with her on Epstein’s private island with a group of seven or eight other girls. “Absolutely no to all of it,” he said.

Prince Andrew said he never suspected Epstein’s criminal behaviour on his visits, describing the house as a busy place with staff like Buckingham Palace.

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Media captionFootage appears to shows Prince Andrew inside Jeffrey Epstein’s New York residence in 2010

He said: “I live in an institution at Buckingham Palace which has members of staff walking around all the time and I don’t wish to appear grand but there were a lot of people who were walking around Jeffrey Epstein’s house. As far as I aware, they were staff.”

But he denied that there were large numbers of underage girls present and said Epstein “may have changed his behaviour patterns not to be obvious to me”.

Asked if he would testify under oath, the duke said: “I’m like everybody else and I will have to take all the legal advice that there was before I was to do that sort of thing. But if push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so, then I would be duty bound to do so.”

‘The wrong thing to do’

The duke rejected the perception of him as “the party prince” in the past, and said “going to Jeffrey’s was not about partying, absolutely not”.

He said he had first met Epstein through his girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell in 1999 but it was a “stretch” to say they were close friends and they saw each other “a maximum of three times a year”.

Prince Andrew acknowledged he had stayed on Epstein’s private island, visited his home in Palm Beach, Florida, and travelled on his private plane.

He said he wanted to learn more about the “international business world and so that was another reason” for going to visit the 66-year-old American financier in New York, as the prince became special representative for international trade and investment.

He invited Epstein to Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday at Windsor Castle in July 2006 but said “certainly I wasn’t aware” that a warrant had been issued in May for his arrest for sex crimes.

But the duke said he ceased contact with Epstein later that year, until 2010.

Epstein was convicted of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution in 2008 and received an 18-month prison sentence after prosecutors forged a deal with him.

Image copyright News Syndication
Image caption Prince Andrew said this meeting with Epstein in 2010 was to end their relationship

In July 2010, Epstein was released and in December, Prince Andrew went to visit him in his New York mansion.

Challenged on his decision to stay at the home of a convicted sex offender, he said: “I went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen together.”

He stayed several days and attended a dinner party, however. “It was a convenient place to stay,” he said, but added “with a benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do”.

The duke denied an account by another guest that he had been seen receiving a foot massage from a Russian woman.

Asked about a picture of him and Epstein taken in Central Park in 2010, Prince Andrew said “somebody very cleverly took that photograph” but that they had not been able to “find any evidence” that Epstein had set it up.

‘A sore in the family’

The fallout over Epstein’s arrest had been “a constant sore in the family”, the prince said.

Following the allegations made against him in a 2015 deposition, Prince Andrew said the wider Royal Family “couldn’t be more supportive” and his immediate family “were at a loss”.

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Media captionPrince Andrew: Epstein ‘a constant sore in the family’

The duke denied the episode had been damaging to the Queen, but said “it has to me, and it’s been a constant drip in the background that people want to know”.

He said he would like to be able to give “closure” on the issue but “I’m just as much in the dark as many people”.

He said that choosing to talk about the allegations was “almost a mental health issue to some extent for me”, adding that “it’s been nagging at my mind for a great many years”.

Meeting Epstein after his conviction was “the wrong decision and the wrong judgement” but the allegations from Ms Giuffre were “surprising, shocking and a distraction”, he said.

But he refused to entirely disavow his relationship with Epstein, saying it had “some seriously beneficial outcomes” that were unrelated to the accusations against them both.

“Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes,” he said.

After interviewer Emily Maitlis challenged him, describing Epstein as a sex offender, the duke said: “Yeah, I’m sorry, I’m being polite.”

Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview was shown on BBC Two on 16 November 2019 and can be seen on BBC iPlayer in the UK and the full interview can also be seen on YouTube.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-50446065

Jersey Bulls beat Epsom and Ewell to register 15th-straight league win

Jersey Bulls play their home games at St Helier’s Springfield Stadium

A first half penalty from captain Jay Giles and a late own goal was enough for Jersey Bulls to claim a 15th-successive league win as they beat Epsom and Ewell 2-0 at Springfield.

The win means they have still won every competitive game they have played.

It keeps the side top of the Combined Counties League Division One table – they are now 16 points clear.

The match was the start of three back-to-back home games to see off November, with Cove visiting next weekend.

Jersey Bulls’ winning start to the league season
3 August: Beat Ash United 3-0 (h)
14 August: Beat Deportivo Galicia 6-0 (a)
17 August: Beat Godalming Town 5-0 (a)
25 August: Beat Fleet Spurs 4-0 (h)
26 August: Beat Westside 1-0 (a)
7 September: Beat Bagshot 7-1 (h)
14 September: Beat Kensington and Ealing Borough 5-1 (a)
21 September: Beat Eversley & California 5-1 (h)
28 September: Beat AFC Hayes 2-1 (a)
5 October: Beat Sandhurst Town 4-1 (h)
12 October: Beat British Airways 4-0 (a)
19 October: Beat Walton and Hersham 1-0 (h)
2 November: Beat Dorking Wanderers Reserves 5-0 (h)
9 November: Beat Bedfont and Feltham 3-0 (a)
16 November: Beat Cove 2-0 (h)

General election 2019: Police ‘assessing’ call for peerage claim probe

Lord Falconer, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Lord Chancellor, makes a speech at the Labour Party Conference
Image caption Lord Falconer of Thoroton served as Lord Chancellor in 2007

Police say they are assessing two allegations of electoral fraud, after claims the Tories offered peerages to Brexit Party election candidates to persuade them to stand down.

Labour peer Lord Falconer has urged the Metropolitan Police and prosecution service to launch an investigation.

He said the claims – first raised by the Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage – “raise serious questions” about the integrity of the 12 December election.

The PM says the claims are “nonsense”.

“I am sure there are conversations that take place between politicians of all parties but certainly nobody’s been offered a peerage,” Boris Johnson said on Friday.

The claims came after the the Brexit Party had announced that it would not field candidates in any seats won by the Conservatives in 2017, to avoid splitting the pro-Brexit vote.

But the party said it would contest all other seats, prompting pressure from Conservatives who urged Mr Farage to withdraw more candidates to help Mr Johnson win a majority in Parliament.

In a video posted on Twitter earlier this week, Mr Farage claimed he and eight other Brexit Party figures had been offered jobs “in the (Brexit) negotiating team and in government departments” while there had been “hints at peerages too”.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Brexit Party candidate Ann Widdecombe and leader Nigel Farage both said they had been approached

Ann Widdecombe, a Brexit Party candidate, said she was prepared to swear on the Bible that she had been approached with an offer of “a role” in the next phase of Brexit negotiations.

A Conservative source also told the BBC that the Brexit Party candidate in Peterborough, Mike Greene, had been offered an unpaid role in education in the hope it would convince him to stand aside.

The Brexit Party candidate’s team said Mr Greene would definitely be running in the Cambridgeshire constituency, which Labour held narrowly at a by-election in June, .

‘Exceptionally serious’

In a letter, Lord Falconer, the former Labour Lord Chancellor, said he wanted to raise the issue “as a matter of urgency”.

He wrote to Cressida Dick, the Met Police commissioner, and Max Hill, the director of public prosecutions, saying: “I believe these allegations raise serious questions about the integrity of the upcoming general election, and in particular whether senior individuals at CCHQ [Conservative Campaign Headquarters] or No 10 have breached two sections of the Representation of the People Act 1983.”

Lord Falconer added: “These are exceptionally serious allegations which the DPP must, in accordance with his statutory duty, fully investigate as a matter of urgency.

“In addition, in order to maintain public confidence in the integrity of our electoral processes and this election, it is crucial that the Metropolitan Police also examine these accusations.”

In a statement, the Met Police said it “has received two allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice in relation to the 2019 general election.

“The MPS Special Enquiry Team is responsible for investigating all such criminal allegations. Both allegations are currently being assessed.”

The force added that it would not comment on individual cases.

The lord chancellor is a role dating back many centuries, and which also heads up the Ministry of Justice.

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Media captionBoris Johnson: “Nobody’s been offered a peerage”

Speaking during a question-and-answer session on BBC Radio 5 Live on Friday, Mr Johnson responded to Mr Farage’s comments, saying: “What is this nonsense?

“I am sure there are conversations that take place between politicians of all parties but certainly nobody’s been offered a peerage.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50443430