Politics latest: 'Expulsion from party' only route - reaction as Diane Abbott apologises for racism comments (2023)

Key points
  • Labour suspends whip from Diane Abbott over article comments| Here's what this means
  • 'Right thing' for Raab to resign, new deputy PM says
  • Labour calls into question Rishi Sunak's judgement
  • Withdraw whip from Raab, Lib Dem leader insists
  • Sam Coates:Dowden refuses to agree that Raab was treated unfairly - so, is the civil service fit for purpose?
  • Live reporting by Faith Ridler


Diane Abbott 'tries to redefine racism'

More now from the fall out of Diane Abbott's controversial letter in today's Observer, which led to Labour suspending the whip pending an investigation.

Jake Wallis Simons from the Jewish Chronicle has told Sky News that Ms Abbott "tries to redefine racism as only the experience of black people," adding that it was "right" for Sir Keir Starmer to suspend her.

You can hear more of what he had to say in the clip below...


'We should be unified in our struggle against racism'

Reaction is continuing to emerge after Labour opted to suspend the whip from MP Diane Abbott.

The Jewish Labour Movement has welcomed the move, stressing that Labour "should be unified in our struggle against racism, not divided against one another".

It added: "Diane Abbott is one of the most respected people in the Labour Party as an activist who overcame racism and prejudice to become Britain's first black woman MP.

"A hierarchy of racism only divides communities and assists the racists. We must not allow this.

"We take seriously our responsibility to unite with friends and partners across the Labour movement to fight racism together."


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Cleverly tells Britons still in Sudan to register - but gives no details of further rescue plans

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has been asked whether there were plans for British citizens still in Sudan, as only diplomats and their families were rescued in the first stage earlier today.

The news for those Britons waiting in Sudan for help is not encouraging - they are being told to register their details with the Foreign Office (see the link at the bottom of this post if this affects you), take shelter and wait.

Mr Cleverly told UK media: "Our duty to British nationals in Sudan remains our top priority.

"Alongside our international allies and other members of the international community and in response direct threats targeting diplomatic community in Khartoum we have taken the decision to temporarily close the embassy and to relocate our embassy staff.

"That gives us the best opportunity to project our diplomatic support back into Sudan.

"We have taken advantage of a temporary lull in the violence that we are seeing in Sudan but we remain absolutely committed to support British nationals in Sudan.

"We will do so in close coordination with our international partners.

"But the best thing we can do to support British nationals indeed everyone in Sudan is push the generals involved in this conflict to bring it to an end and that will be remain the priority of our diplomatic focus in the region."


Labour urged to expel Abbott after controversial racism comments

Labour has been urged to expel MP Diane Abbott after she suggested Jewish people do not face racism, but instead suffer prejudice similar to "redheads".

Ms Abbottwrote a letter to The Observer newspaper, in response to an article which had the headline: "Racism in Britain is not black and white. It's far more complicated."

She later withdrew the comments, but the Labour Party decided to suspend the whip from her pending an investigation.

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: "Diane Abbott's claim that Jewish people cannot suffer 'racism' is outrageous in itself, but made all the more extraordinary given all that has unfolded in the Labour Party over the past few years.

"She and her allies on the far-left of the Party could never accept how bad antisemitism had become because they do not even acknowledge that it is a form of racism.

"We already made complaints against her, which the Party has never investigated. Her suspension now is past time, and must be the first step towards her expulsion from the Party."

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Evacuation of British Embassy staff from Sudan involved 1,200 personnel - Wallace

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said the operation to remove British Embassy staff from Sudan involved more than 1,200 personnel from the British Army, Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force (RAF).

"This morning, UK Armed Forces undertook a military operation alongside the United States; France and other allies," Mr Wallace said in a written statement.

"They have evacuated British Embassy staff and their dependants from Khartoum due to the escalating threats against diplomats.

"The operation involved more than 1,200 personnel from 16 Air Assault Brigade; the Royal Marines and the RAF. I am grateful to all our partners."

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: "Due to escalating threats against foreign diplomats, the UK has evacuated embassy staff from Sudan.

"Our top priority remains the safety of British nationals.

"We are working around the clock to broker international support to end the bloodshed in Sudan."


UK diplomats evacuated after 'significant escalation in violence', PM says

UK diplomats and their families have been evacuated from Sudan after a "significant escalation in violence", Rishi Sunak has said.

British troops and military aircraft had earlier been moved to an overseas base to prepare for the high-risk rescue mission into an active conflict zone.

It comes as France, the Netherlands, Belgium and other allieswere getting their diplomats and citizens out, hours after US special forces airlifted all American staff from their embassy in Khartoum.

On Saturday, about 70 American nationals were flown from a landing zone at the embassy to an undisclosed location in Ethiopia, an unnamed US official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the mission.

But the White House said it has no plans for a government-coordinated evacuation of American citizens trapped there.

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SNP 'most transparent party' despite police finance probe, deputy leader claims

The SNP has been described as the "most transparent party" by its depute leader despite a police probe into finances.

Keith Brown acknowledged the "internal challenges" facing the SNP but said First Minister Humza Yousaf was addressing outstanding transparency concerns.

A transparency row erupted within the party after former chief executive Peter Murrell resigned after denying the party had dropped around 30,000 members, a claim which the SNP then confirmed was accurate.

Police are investigating how more than £600,000 of donations earmarked for independence campaigning were spent, with Mr Murrell and former treasurer Colin Beattie arrested and then released without charge pending further investigation.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Brown said: "In the meantime, we are one of the most transparent parties in the UK, you will have a very good idea of the SNP membership... do you know what the membership numbers are for the Scottish Tories or the Labour Party in Scotland?"

When challenged on the remark, he added: "You can't just gloss over the fact they haven't misled us (on party numbers), they haven't told you.

"We are the most transparent, most successful party... in Scotland."


No 'reason to doubt' school inspection after death of headteacher - Ofsted chief

Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman has said she has no "reason to doubt" the inspection before the death of headteacher Ruth Perry.

Ms Perry, who was headteacher at Caversham Primary School in Reading, took her own life in January while waiting for an Ofsted report which downgraded her school to the lowest possible rating, her family said.

Pressure has been mounting on the schools watchdog in England following the incident, but its chief inspector has defended the system used to give rankings.

Ms Spielman told the BBC: "I think the findings were secure and I think the inspection team worked with the professionalism and sensitivity that I would expect from our inspectors.

"From what I've seen, I don't have any reason to doubt the inspection."

She acknowledged that a culture of fear exists around school inspections, but said the "vast majority" of schools have a "positive and affirming experience".

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An inspection report, published on Ofsted's website in March, found Ms Perry's school to be "good" in every category apart from leadership and management, where it was judged to be "inadequate".


New drivers under 25 could face young passenger ban under 'graduated driving licence' scheme

New drivers under 25 could face a ban from carrying young passengers in their vehicles as part of a proposed "graduated driving licence" scheme.

Transport minister Richard Holden will consider the plan with road safety campaigners at a meeting on 16 May.

The proposal has already been approved by Support for Victims of Road Crashes, an advisory committee to theDepartment for Transport.

The scheme could be implemented via the Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act, which imposes a probation period on new drivers who get their licence revoked if they get six penalty points within two years of passing.

Under the plan, first reported by The Sunday Times, drivers would not be allowed to carry passengers under 25 in the first year or six months after passing their test.

You can read more from Sky News in the link below...


Watch: Economist says limiting migrant labour would be a 'mistake'

Earlier, Sky News spoke to Andy Haldane, the former Bank of England chief economist.

He said expanding the workforce is crucial for growth in the UK, adding that "limiting migrant labour is a mistake".

You can see more of what he had to say in the clip below...


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