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    Starmer faces rumblings of discontent as polls point to tough elections for Labour

    Discontent with Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership is set to burst into the open if Labour fails in three crucial electoral tests on Thursday, MPs have warned.Party campaigners were horrified by polling suggesting the Tories may have a lead of as much as 17 points in the Hartlepool by-election – in a town which has voted Labour since the 1960s – and be set comfortably to hang on to mayoralties in the Tees Valley and West Midlands.MPs on the left of the party told The Independent that defeat in the three votes would show that Sir Keir had failed to articulate a vision capable of attracting voters away from Boris Johnson.But centrists insisted that the legacy of Jeremy Corbyn and the hangover from Brexit were still holding the party back in “red wall” areas where traditional working-class supporters regard the former leader as an extremist.Party sources disputed reports that internal canvassing returns were suggesting that as few as 40 per cent of former Labour voters in Hartlepool plan to stick with the party on Thursday. One senior source said that the leadership was not aware of and did not recognise the findings, reported by The Guardian to have come from conversations with more than 10,000 people in the town.But a bombshell Survation survey for ITV’s Good Morning Britain suggested Sir Keir was in deep trouble in the northeast coastal town, putting the Tories on 50 per cent to Labour’s 33. And a separate poll by Opinium gave Tories a 54-37 lead over Labour for the West Midlands mayoralty and 63-37 in Tees Valley.Sir Keir acknowledged the party has a “mountain to climb” to rebuild trust with voters.“We lost very badly in December 2019, and my job is to rebuild trust, and confidence and reconnection with the Labour Party and that’s what I’m doing,” said the Labour leader, who has visited Hartlepool three times during the campaign. “That will take time, of course it will take time. We’re fighting for every vote in Hartlepool.”But one former member of the Corbyn frontbench told The Independent: “If we don’t win all three of those on Thursday, that will be a disaster. It’s a pretty low bar to set. If we can’t clear it, then the plan clearly isn’t working.”Backbench MPs, speaking to The Independent on condition of anonymity, grumbled that Sir Keir’s pitch to voters was based on the fact that he was not either Corbyn or Johnson, but said he had failed to set out a positive vision of what he was offering.One said it had been difficult to persuade activists to campaign for a man who had suspended Corbyn from the parliamentary party, saying: “Letting Jeremy back in would be a start.”But another former frontbencher said the problem was more deep-rooted, noting that Labour appeared to be making few inroads in Scotland despite Nicola Sturgeon fighting publicly with former mentor Alex Salmond.“There is a major rethink needed about how we make Labour back into a national party,” said the ex-shadow minister. “It’s looking increasingly unlikely that Labour are going to be in a position to win back power within the kind of timescale we give our leaders.”Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown, said: “We need to form a winning coalition. Jeremy managed to start doing that in 2017 but he lost it in 2019. The danger now is that we are building a coalition on one flank, but losing it on the other. We have to show people on the left and people thinking of voting Green that we share their values on things like nationalisation or trans rights or housing.”Speaking either on or off the record, no MPs expected an immediate threat to Sir Keir’s position if results are bad on “Super Thursday”, which also sees elections to the Scottish and Welsh parliaments, London assembly, several mayoralties and almost 150 English councils.One asked where a challenge would come from, while another said: “I don’t think the Labour Party have ever had the stomach for getting rid of leaders.”But another said: “The general election is likely to be in 2023. No doubt Keir will say it’s too risky to change leaders with so little time to go. But others will think if we’re going to do anything, we’d have to give a new leader time to make an impression. If the results are as bad as the polls suggest, there will be rumblings.”Former minister Ben Bradshaw said Sir Keir must be ready to see off gripes from the left, dismissing any suggestion they might imperil his leadership.“The hard left, who have never been reconciled to Keir’s leadership, will continue to do their best to undermine it,” he said.“But I think most people understand that the enormous damage that Corbyn and Corbynism did to Labour is going to take more than a year to recover from. ‘Keep calm and carry on’ would be my advice to colleagues.”Another centrist MP said: “Keir has neutralised some of the negatives by showing that the party is under new management and he is not Jeremy Corbyn, but he has still got a way to go to turn that into something positive to persuade people to come out and vote for us.“He is absolutely going in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to do around demonstrating that we believe in Britain and believe in being able to stand on our own two feet and are a patriotic party.”Speaking to reporters on the campaign trail in St Asaph, north Wales, Sir Keir said: “The task I took on as leader of the Labour Party was to rebuild out of the worst general election result since 1935, and put the Labour Party back in a position to win the next general election.“And that’s a mountain to climb. We’re climbing that mountain, it has taken difficult decisions and I’m absolutely up for any further difficult decisions there will be.”Growing Tory hopes of taking Hartlepool have been reflected in the prime minister’s decision to visit the town three times, while never venturing north of the border to join the Scottish Conservatives’ campaign.But Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, insisted that winning the northeast seat remained a “massive challenge”.“I think the fact that Labour is facing such difficult circumstances in their heartlands goes to the issue of what the problem with the Labour Party is, which is they’ve lost sight of standing up for working people, of standing up for jobs and growth in Britain, and that’s what we’re campaigning on,” she told Times Radio.“We’re running a positive campaign, but it would be a hard task to win a seat like Hartlepool which really has been Labour for generations.” More

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    Local elections — live: SNP majority ‘too close to call’ as No10 refuses to say if PM asked donor to pay nanny

    French foreign minister fist bumps Dominic Raab’s elbow during G7 arrivalA bombshell new poll shows the Tories on course to snatch Hartlepool from Labour in Thursday’s crucial by-election contest, in what would be a historic win for the ruling party.Survation’s poll for Good Morning Britain puts the Conservatives way out in front with a 17-point lead in the seat, which has been held by Labour since its creation in 1974.North of the border, the Scottish National Party looks set to record a slim majority, according to a separate Opinium poll. It puts the party on 51 per cent, down two per cent on a survey conducted in April, but still with enough support to form a majority government.Elsewhere, Alba leader Alex Salmond has claimed he could have “destroyed” SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon during their spectacular fall-out. “If I wanted to destroy her, that could have been done.”Meanwhile, the EU has stolen a march on Britain over a trade deal with India. The EU-India pact could be forged as early as this weekend, while the UK government announced only an enhanced partnership with India.Show latest update

    1620139136Poll: London mayor Sadiq Khan on course to secure second term with big winLabour’s Sadiq Khan is on course to secure a second term as London mayor.An Opinium poll projects the incumbent will win 48 per cent of first-round votes.When a candidate in London’s mayoral election gets 50 per cent of the vote they are elected.The Conservative candidate, Shaun Bailey, is projected to win 29 per cent of first-round votes, according to the poll.Mr Khan is expected to pass the 50 per cent threshold in the second round vote share.Opinium says the race has remained largely stable since its first mayoral poll in March when Mr Khan and,Mr Bailey were on 53 per cent and 28 per cent respectively.The Labour mayor’s final margin of victory could be 63 per cent to Mr Bailey’s 37 per cent.Matt Mathers4 May 2021 15:381620137134Nicola Sturgeon’s chances of winning outright majority at Holyrood ‘too close to call’, pollster suggestsThe SNP’s chances of winning an outright majority at Holyrood this week is “too close to call”, with “razor-thin margins” determining the outcome of the contest, pollsters have suggested.Our politics correspondent Ashley Cowburn reports: Matt Mathers4 May 2021 15:051620136060Could an independent Scotland re-join the EU by 2031?Nicola Sturgeon wants to take Scotland out of the UK and back into the EU.If Ms Sturgeon gets her way and Scotland does become independent, is the path back into the bloc a simple one? My colleague Adam Forrest speaks to constitutional experts to find out: Matt Mathers4 May 2021 14:471620135242Labour calls on Boris Johnson to say if he asked donors to pay for childcareLabour has stepped up calls for Boris Johnson to provide details of his financial support from Tory donors after Downing Street refused to say whether he had asked for help with childcare costs.Our politics editor Andrew Woodcock has more details: Matt Mathers4 May 2021 14:341620135034Lib Dems: Tory attacks on Electoral Commission are ‘deeply alarming’Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey says he is “deeply alarmed” by Conservative criticism of the Electoral Commission, accusing Tory critics of “damaging democracy”.It comes after senior Tory MPs hit out at the timing of the commission’s announcement regarding its investigation around the refurbishment of the prime minister’s flat.During a visit to Edinburgh, Mr Davey said: “I’m deeply alarmed that the Conservatives continue to attack the independent watchdog, the Electoral Commission when that independent watchdog is investigating the Conservative Party.“Conservatives are damaging democracy at every stage. Whether it’s their sleaze or their attack on democratic institutions, I think that Boris Johnson is a dangerous Prime Minister.”He continued: “You’d have thought the Prime Minister would have been focused single-mindedly on tackling the pandemic, it looks like he’s worrying about curtains and carpets.”Matt Mathers4 May 2021 14:301620133559G7: France and UK discuss climate change, education, immigration and healthForeign secretary Dominic Raab and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian held a bilateral meeting in the margins of the G7 summit.A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The Foreign Secretary and Minister Le Drian discussed the importance of co-operation ahead of Cop26, particularly on international climate finance.”Both ministers discussed the need to ensure ambitious action to replenish the Global Partnership for Education.”They also discussed the ongoing bilateral work to tackle illegal migration in the Channel and the need to work closely on the challenge it presents.”Finally, both ministers agreed on the strength of the UK-French partnership and discussed how they could work together to address shared concerns including climate change, vaccines supply and global health.”G7 foreign ministers meet amid tight coronavirus restrictionsMatt Mathers4 May 2021 14:051620132463Starmer: I’ll take full responsibility for election resultsKeir Starmer has said he’ll take “full responsibility” for Labour’s showing in Thursday’s local elections.Polls show the Tories with a huge cushion in the crucial Hartlepool by-election. The party’s candidates for the Tees Valley and West Midlands mayoral elections also have big leads.Mr Starmer told Radio 4: “I take full responsibility for the results, just as I take full responsibility for everything that happens in the Labour Party under my leadership.”Matt Mathers4 May 2021 13:471620131527‘No plans’ to end lockdown restrictions earlier than 21 June, No10 saysThe government has “no plans” to bring forward the earliest date for the end of lockdown from 21 June, despite “hugely encouraging” data on Covid transmission, Downing Street has said.Our politics editor Andrew Woodcock reports: Matt Mathers4 May 2021 13:321620130741Polling boss says he’ll never survey a constituency again if Labour wins HartlepoolDamian Lyons Lowe, the boss of polling company Survation, has said he’ll never survey a constituency again if Labour wins the Hartlepool by-election.His comments come off the back of his firm’s bombshell poll showing the Tories with a 17-point lead in what was once a Labour stronghold.The survey was conducted between 23 and 29 April and had a small sample of just 517 people, but the size of the lead suggests Labour is in trouble.Matt Mathers4 May 2021 13:191620129610Johnson appoints Tory MP Neil O’Brien as adviser on ‘levelling up’ agendaBoris Johnson has appointed Tory MP Neil O’Brien as his adviser on his “levelling up” agenda, Downing Street said.The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said that the MP for Harborough would be working with Government departments on developing policies ahead of a “levelling up” white paper.”His role is going to be to work alongside departments to develop the policies that sit within that – the bold policy interventions which are going to help improve opportunity and boost livelihoods across the country,” the spokesman said.”We are making multibillion-pound investments to transform the country’s prosperity and spread opportunity already.”We have the opportunity to go further and that is the work Neil O’Brien has taken up.”Matt Mathers4 May 2021 13:00 More

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    Could an independent Scotland re-join the EU by 2031?

    Nicola Sturgeon believes Scotland has a brighter future inside the EU. “Scotland will be back soon, Europe – keep the light on,” the first minister tweeted on 1 January, when the UK finally turned its back on the bloc.The SNP leader hopes a new dawn will break, eventually. But her own plan to get Scotland out of the cold, dark wilderness of post-Brexit Britain and back inside the EU’s rosy glow is still somewhat murky.Sturgeon has yet to illuminate a clear path forward, despite her promise to stage a “legal” referendum on Scottish independence by the end of 2023 if there’s a pro-indy majority at Holyrood after this week’s election.In the absence of any SNP roadmap for Europe, others have produced their own. The Institute for Government claims the route back to Brussels could take up to 10 years.Other constitutional experts point to a similar timeframe. But however long and bumpy the ride – though indyref2, a divorce deal with London and an application to Brussels – it’s just about conceivable that Scots could once again be EU citizens by the end of 2031.So how easy would it be for an independent Scotland to win EU membership? Would it mean accepting the euro? Could it involve yet another referendum for Scots – on EU membership – at the end of a negotiation process?The Independent spoke to legal experts and political figures about what lies ahead if Scottish independence becomes a realistic prospect, and how Sturgeon and her team might best manage the process.Anthony Salamone, who runs the Edinburgh-based political analysis firm European Merchants, thinks it would could take two to three years for a divorce deal with the UK after a successful independence referendum in 2023 – if all goes according to Sturgeon’s rough plan of action.It would then take four to five years for the EU to accept an application from Scotland, Salamone thinks. “There’s no point pretending it would be really fast, or pretending that it would be impossible,” says the EU analyst.“The process would be very much about Scotland demonstrating it is ready to be a member state. It would take some time to set up the institutions of a state – a central bank and so on. It would depend how quickly and efficiently an independent government would be able and willing to transform itself.” More

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    Labour calls on Boris Johnson to say if he asked donors to pay for childcare

    Labour has stepped up calls for Boris Johnson to provide details of his financial support from Tory donors after Downing Street refused to say whether he had asked for help with childcare costs.Deputy leader Angela Rayner branded the issue “another cover-up” and urged Mr Johnson to publish all correspondence relating to any efforts to get wealthy donors to pay for his lifestyle.The prime minister’s official spokesperson said Mr Johnson has personally covered all the costs for childcare for his son Wilfred, whose first birthday was last week.But the spokesperson refused to be drawn on whether the PM had initially approached supporters for help him and fiancée Carrie Symonds pay for a nanny.The Sunday Times quoted one party backer as complaining that they had been asked for a donation, adding: “I don’t mind paying for leaflets but I resent being asked to pay to literally wipe the prime minister’s baby’s bottom.”In response, Mr Johnson’s spokesperson said: “The prime minister has covered the costs of all childcare.“I have nothing more to add to that.“I am not going to be getting into any more detail.”The report comes amid continuing questions over how Mr Johnson paid for the reported £200,000 refurbishment of his Downing Street flat.Mr Johnson has said that he met the cost himself but has refused to say whether initial bills were paid by donors.The Electoral Commission last week launched an inquiry into whether any loans or donations made in connection with the refurbishment work had been properly declared.The PM’s new adviser on ministerial standards, Lord Geidt, and the cabinet secretary, Simon Case, are also looking into the matter.But Mr Johnson’s official spokesperson said he was not aware of the PM being approached by the parliamentary standards commissioner Kathryn Stone, after Labour’s Margaret Hodge last week asked her to open an inquiry into a possible breach of the rules on MPs’ conduct.Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner called on Mr Johnson and the Conservative Party to publish all correspondence relating to his attempts to get Tory donors to fund his lifestyle.“We are seeing what looks like another cover up from the prime minister, who is trying to hide his attempts to fund his lifestyle through secret payments from wealthy Tory donors,” she said.“Boris Johnson forcing his MPs to vote against free school meals and making stealth cuts to schools at the same time as asking Tory donors to pay for his own childcare is yet more evidence that it’s one rule for him and his mates, another for everyone else.“What did these donors expect in return for their generosity, and what were they promised?” More

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    Nicola Sturgeon’s chances of winning outright majority at Holyrood ‘too close to call’, pollster suggests

    The SNP’s chances of winning an outright majority at Holyrood this week is “too close to call”, with “razor-thin margins” determining the outcome of the contest, pollsters have suggested.The survey by Opinium suggested support for the SNP was slightly down in both the constituency and regional section of the ballot, but projected the pro-independence party could win a slim majority in the Scottish Parliament.Nicola Sturgeon “will argue that a good result this week gives her the mandate to put the question [of independence] back to the Scottish people, demonstrating just how important this week’s vote will be for the future of the Union,” the pollsters added.In the constituency vote, the poll found the SNP are down two points to 51 per cent while the Conservatives under Douglas Ross were up two points (23 per cent) with Labour slightly behind on 19 per cent.On the regional ballot, SNP support also dropped by two points to 23 per cent, with the Tories up by one point to 23 per cent and Labour, led by the recently elected Anas Sarwar, remaining steady on 17 per cent.The polling — commissioned for Sky News — projects Ms Sturgeon could win an outright majority with 67 of the 129 available seats at Holyrood, with the Conservatives in second place with 29 MSPs and Labour behind in third place with 20 representatives.Meanwhile, the Scottish Greens, who run mainly on the list section, were at 8 per cent on this, ahead of former first minister Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party, which was on 3 per cent.On the issue of Scottish independence, however, the poll also found that voters were split 50-50 — down from 51 per cent support for Yes in April’s poll.While remaining the most popular leader, the survey suggested Ms Sturgeon’s favourability ratings had seen a “noticeable fall”, with a net approval rating of + 17 — down from +23 the last time the poll was conducted.“The campaign finishes much where it started, with razor thin margins set to decide whether Nicola Sturgeon can govern alone or will need the backing of other pro-independence parties,” senior research manager at Opinium Chris Curtis said.“But despite that fact, our latest polling shows the Scottish public are not necessarily keen on another Scottish independence referendum. Even if she does win a majority, just 43 per cent think there should be one in the next five years, compared to 50 per cent who think there shouldn’t. We have also seen Labour voters harden in their view over the campaign, with just 24 per cent willing to back one in those circumstances. He added: “Regardless, Sturgeon will argue that a good result this week gives her the mandate to put the question back to the Scottish people, demonstrating just how important this week’s vote will be for the future of the Union”.It comes after Ms Sturgeon stressed last week she was not proposing a “referendum right now”, as she suggested the SNP would reject a proposal from the newly formed Alba party to immediately negotiate a second vote after the Holyrood elections.The Scottish first minister insisted the immediate focus needed to be concentrated on the recovery from the pandemic, but the party has said a referendum should be held on Scotland’s future inside the UK “once the Covid crisis has passed”. More

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    ‘No plans’ to end lockdown restrictions earlier than 21 June, No10 says

    The government has “no plans” to bring forward the earliest date for the end of lockdown from 21 June, despite “hugely encouraging” data on Covid transmission, Downing Street has said.Boris Johnson is coming under pressure to bring forward the end-date for remaining restrictions following the publication of data showing the impact of coronavirus falling to the levels of last summer in the UK.The most recent daily figures, released on Monday, showed just one death from Covid-19 and 1,649 positive tests. The latest hospitalisation figures show 160 patients admitted on 27 April and 994 over the previous week across the whole country. Meanwhile, a total of more than 50 million vaccinations have been administered.And there has been little sign of the spike in cases after each easing in restrictions predicted by the prime minister’s Sage scientific advisory group when he first set out his roadmap to normality in February.An announcement is expected next Monday that the next step will go ahead on 17 May, with pubs and restaurants allowed to serve indoors and cinemas and hotels reopening. A “green list” of countries to which international travel can resume from the same date is expected on Friday.But at least seven weeks remain before the final removal of restrictions on 21 June at the earliest, allowing nightclubs to open and ending limits on the size of weddings, with ministers hinting that mask-wearing and social distancing may continue beyond that point.Following calls from Tory MPs for Mr Johnson to consider bringing forward his plans, the prime minister’s official spokesperson told reporters: “We have not plans to deviate from the approach set out in the roadmap.”Figures on cases, hospitalisations and deaths are “in line with expectations, which is hugely encouraging”, said the spokesperson.But he added: “That emphasises the need to adhere to the roadmap, which provides the certainty which the public and businesses have been asking for.”And he said: “We continue to believe that the dates set out in the roadmap are the right ones.”The Conservative MP for Poole, Sir Robert Syms, said: “Infections, hospitalisations and deaths have fallen quite rapidly and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that any of the unlocking has caused any sort of spike.“It didn’t happen when schools reopened and hasn’t as a result of shops reopening. We need to push the government to get on with it. A lot of normal life could be returned.”Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, whose modelling work informs Government scientists, said he was “feeling fairly optimistic that we will be not completely back to normal, but something which feels a lot more normal by the summer”.Concerns about the possibility of a resurgence of coronavirus in the UK in late summer and early autumn were “diminishing” in the light of new data showing the effect of vaccines on transmission of the virus, he said.But there remains risk that new Covid variants with resistance to vaccines could lead to a “very major third wave” in the autumn, he warned.It was therefore “essential we roll out booster doses, which can protect against that, as soon as we’ve basically finished vaccinating the adult population, which should finish by the summer,” Prof Ferguson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.Commenting on the prime minister’s view that the one-metre plus rule on social distancing could be scrapped in June, Prof Ferguson said it was a political judgment on how much infection was acceptable, given deaths had been driven down.He said “we do expect transmission and, to some extent hospitalisations and deaths, to tick up in late summer if we completely go back to normal, but at a much lower level than we saw, for instance, back in December and January”.“So it’s obviously a political judgment as to what is acceptable in terms of number of infections, but we don’t see any prospect of, for instance, the NHS being overwhelmed – with the one caveat around variants I’ve already mentioned – so it’s always a matter of judgment.”He said there would need to be “much higher levels of infection in society in order to risk overwhelming the NHS and we think that’s actually unlikely to happen unless a variant comes along which resets that relationship again.”Sage member Professor Stephen Reicher of the University of St Andrews said the public should take the PM’s suggestion that social distancing could be scrapped in June with a “little bit of a pinch of salt”.He told BBC Breakfast that “things can change very rapidly”, adding: “The real important issue is this – if we take this as a signal that things are all over, if we relax and if we mix now, the paradox is we will push up the infections and will make it less likely that we can relax on 21 June.”And Prof Reicher warned: “Even after restrictions go, it makes sense to have sensible and cautious precautions; not in a way that limit our everyday lives, not in a way that stops us seeing people or hugging people, but just realising, for instance, that on the whole, we are safer outside, don’t sit too close to people, open the windows.” More

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    NHS app may not be ready to act as ‘vaccine passport’ when travel resumes

    The NHS app may not be ready for use as a “vaccine passport” when international travel resumes on 17 May, Downing Street has confirmed.A “green list” of countries regarded as safe for travel from that date is expected to be released on Friday this week.As few as 10 states are expected to be on the list drawn up by the government’s Global Travel Task Force, with others added in June if their coronavirus rates drop.Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has previously said the app – currently used to book medical appointments and order repeat prescriptions – will display evidence that someone has been vaccinated or recently tested.But the Prime Minister’s official spokesman indicated that officials were working on alternative plans when international travel resumes.”(Mr Shapps) set out the approach we are looking to take,” the spokesman said.“Obviously we will be able to confirm ahead of the 17th at the earliest what measures are used for those initial countries that are available for travel, be it the app or another approach.”The spokesman added: “There are other routes to achieving the same end goal. We are working on the app at the moment at pace, to have it ready, and we will be able to confirm ahead of the 17th at the earliest what approaches we will be using.”The European Commission has boosted hopes of holidays on the continent this summer.In a statement, the Commission said it was ready to ease restrictions on non-essential travel “not only for all persons coming from countries with a good epidemiological situation, but also all people who have received the last recommended dose of an EU-authorised vaccine”.Epidemiologist Prof Neil Ferguson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think if for instance, by the summer, infection levels in France and Italy are the same sort of level as they are here, then there’s no risk associated with travelling overseas.“The risk comes from going from a place like the UK with very low infection levels and going to a place with much higher infection levels and therefore having the risk of bringing infection back.“If the two places are at comparable levels, and that’s what the EU is saying, then there is no particular risks associated with travel.”Meanwhile, Portugal’s secretary of state for tourism, Rita Marques, said the country is “taking the lead” at the European Council in negotiations aimed at opening up the EU to UK holidaymakers.She told BBC Breakfast: “We are really pushing hard to open up to third countries like the UK.”But International Trade Secretary Liz Truss urged people to wait for an announcement from the UK’s Travel Task Force.She told Sky News: “What we don’t want to be doing is reimporting this virus after we’ve done such an excellent job in getting the levels down in the UK… We need to be cautious and we need to make sure that we’re not simply importing the virus after we’ve successfully dealt with it in Britain.” More

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    Who are the candidates standing for mayor of London this year?

    On Thursday 6 May Londoners are heading to the polls to elect their mayor, as incumbent Sadiq Khan hopes to win a second term.This election was originally due to have taken place in May last year, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.His main rival, ConservativeShaun Bailey has been languishing in the polls, with a recent poll putting him 13 points behind Labour’s Mr Khan.A total of 20 candidates are standing for mayor this year, with those from mainstream parties such as the Liberal Democrats and Greens going up against everyone from former actor Lawrence Fox – running on an anti-lockdown agenda – to Count Binface.Who are the candidates?Sadiq Khan – LabourFormerly MP for Tooting from 2005, Sadiq Khan was elected mayor in 2016, comfortably beating the Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith. Before entering politics, he worked as a human rights lawyer and chaired the Liberty advocacy group. Considered to be on Labour’s soft left, he was brought into the cabinet by Gordon Brown as a junior minister in both the communities and then transport departments. His major policies as mayor have included a freeze on transport fares, introducing the Hopper bus fare with unlimited journeys in one hour and expanding charges on polluting vehicles.Shaun Bailey – Conservative Born and raised on a housing estate in North Kensington, Shaun Bailey later founded a youth work charity called MyGeneration and in the late noughties was seen as a rising star in the revitalised Cameron-era Big Society Tory party. He was selected to run for the Hammersmith parliamentary seat in 2010 but lost to Labour. In 2012 his charity was wound up due to financial problems, but he was appointed as special advisor to David Cameron on youth and crime issues. In 2016 he was elected to the London Assembly, but a year later he failed in a second bid to become an MP in the Lewisham West constituency. His main policies include hiring 8,000 more police officers, cutting council tax, and building 100,000 new homes.Luisa Porritt – Liberal DemocratA journalist, communications consultant and political advisor, Luisa Porritt joined the Liberal Democrats days after the Brexit referendum in 2016 and in 2018 was elected a councillor in Camden, where she grew up. A year later she was elected to the European Parliament for the London constituency and became the Liberal Democrats’ deputy leader in Brussels briefly before the UK left the EU in 2020. She won the party’s nomination after their initial candidate for London mayor – Geeta Sidhu-Robb – was suspended following allegations of antisemitism. She describes her priorities as more homes, cleaner air and better jobs for Londoners. More