Oliver Dowden suggests Fire Brigades Union’s concerns over asylum seeker barge politically motivated – UK politics live | Politics

05.09 EDT

Robin Harper, who became the UK’s first Green parliamentarian when he won election to the inaugural Scottish parliament in 1999, has quit the Scottish Greens in protest at its stance on independence and gender recognition.

Harper, who served as co-convenor of the Scottish Greens from 2004 to 2008, stepping down as an MSP in 2011, has made little secret of his antipathy to the party’s pursuit of more radical policies under the leadership of his successor, Patrick Harvie.

The Scottish Greens became a staunchly pro-independence party after Harper stood down, joining forces with the Scottish National party before the 2014 referendum, and has taken an uncompromising stance on the case for gender recognition reform.

Harper was highly critical of the party’s decision to sign a cooperation agreement with Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP government in 2021 after the Scottish Greens won a record eight seats, pushing the Liberal Democrats into fifth place. Harvie and his co-leader, Lorna Slater, became junior ministers.

In his resignation letter, reported by the Times, Harper told Harvie a number of people had told him they believed the party had “lost the plot”.

Harper told BBC Radio Scotland on Thursday morning the independence debate had become “sterile”, with no prospect of any movement on it.

The debate should be around the radical constitutional reform being offered by Labour, including replacing the House of Lords with an elected assembly. Harper is on the board of Gordon Brown’s Our Scottish Future thinktank which co-wrote Labour’s reform strategy.

A Scottish Greens spokesman thanked Harper for his service, but said:

Independence and human rights, including the rights of trans people, are at the core of our vision and have been since our party was founded over 30 years ago. Our commitment to that vision has seen us achieve record result after record result in recent elections.

Updated at 05.22 EDT

04.49 EDT

Rishi Sunak insists the government’s pay offer to doctors is ‘fair’ and ‘final’

Rishi Sunak has insisted the government’s pay offer to doctors is “fair” and “final”.

Writing in the Daily Express, Sunak said “there will be no more talks on this year’s pay” and he urged doctors to call off their strikes.

He called the NHS “an institution the UK is rightly proud of” thanks to the “extraordinary men and women who work so hard to protect our nation’s health”.

Sunak wrote:

For that reliable, high-quality service to continue, we need our brilliant doctors to be on the front-line treating patients.

He called the government’s pay offer to doctors “very generous”, saying a first-year junior doctor would see pay rise by 10.3%.

He wrote:

Our pay deal is fair, so I urge all doctors to know when to say yes and call off their strikes.

That’s the right thing to do.

Because on every day of industrial action, tens of thousands of appointments are cancelled.

And at a time when millions of people are already waiting for treatment, that’s causing waiting lists to go up, not down.

Sunak said he made tackling waiting lists one of his priorities and it should be a “national mission”.

He said:

I know that most doctors just want to get on with their life’s work of caring for patients.

And in the end, no amount of strikes will change our decision. This offer is final.

Sunak faced heavy criticism on Wednesday from a junior doctor for insisting striking doctors are to blame for record-high NHS waiting lists.

Updated at 05.23 EDT

04.39 EDT

Environmental campaigners cover Rishi Sunak’s North Yorkshire home in black fabric in protest against drilling ‘frenzy’

Police are at the North Yorkshire home of Rishi Sunak after it was scaled by Greenpeace activists, a No 10 source said.

Greenpeace activists have climbed on to the roof of Rishi Sunak’s mansion in protest against his new drilling “frenzy”.

The campaigners have draped the prime minister’s manor house in North Yorkshire with an oily-black fabric to “drive home the dangerous consequences” of continued use of fossil fuels.

Sunak and his family are on holiday in California.

This week Sunak announced plans to “max out” the UK’s oil and gas reserves by granting more than 100 new licences for extraction in the North Sea.

Downing Street said:

The police are in attendance.

We make no apology for taking the right approach to ensure our energy security, using the resources we have here at home so we are never reliant on aggressors like [Vladimir] Putin for our energy. We are also investing in renewables and our approach supports 1000s of British jobs.

Rishi Sunak’s house covered in black fabric. Photograph: Luca Marino/Greenpeace/PA

Updated at 05.28 EDT

04.26 EDT

Oliver Dowden says asylum seekers will be housed on the Bibby Stockholm barge ‘in the coming weeks’

Oliver Dowden said asylum seekers will be housed on the Bibby Stockholm barge “in the coming weeks”.

The plans to move migrants on to the barge, docked in Portland on the Dorset coast, have been beset by delays, with government sources suggesting the first arrivals may not be on board until next week.

The plan is to move more than 500 adult male asylum seekers to the Bibby Stockholm, which will save the government the cost of putting them up in hotels. Aside from major doubts over whether it is a fit place to house potentially traumatised people, serious questions have been raised over whether the vessel is even safe.

Campaigners have called the government’s plans cruel and inhumane. One local authority whistleblower has said it has the potential to become a “floating Grenfell”. And the Fire Brigades’ Union has said it considers the vessel a “potential deathtrap”.

Asked about the plans, the deputy prime minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

We have to undertake a number of inspections and other measures to make sure that these vessels, and this vessel in particular, is suitable and ready.

But I am confident that in the coming weeks we will have people on those barges.

Dowden added on the Bibby Stockholm:

We are confident that we will be able to address all of these concerns, I’m absolutely certain of that, and I’m absolutely certain we will be able to get people on this vessel in the coming weeks.

Aerial view of the Bibby Stockholm immigration barge in Portland Port, on July 25, 2023. Photograph: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

I will be looking after the politics blog today. If you have any tips or suggestions, please get in touch: [email protected].

Please note, comments will open at about midday today after scheduled maintenance.

Updated at 04.55 EDT

Source link

Scroll to Top