Gerard Coyne, Unite’s regional secretary in the Midlands, has announced this morning that he is challenging Len McCluskey for the leadership of the union. My colleague Rajeev Syal has details here.
Speaking to reporters this morning Coyne said that McCluskey had spent too much time “dabbling in politics”.
Unite has become too much of a political commentator and not actually focusing on the concerns of our membership …
The reality here is there’s been much criticism about the fact that the general secretary and the union more generally has just been dabbling in politics all the time.
I’m not going to fall into the trap of trying to determine who the leader of the Labour Party is.
I am saying that actually my focus is on the members.
It’s not a political organisation, it’s a trade union.
Coyne also said that Unite would “always support the Labour Party” but that if it “genuinely represents the world of work, then all political parties will listen to us – not just the Labour party”.
Here is the start of the Press Association story about the inflation figures.
Inflation rebounded to a two-year high last month, driven by a hike in the price of clothes and fuel.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the consumer price index (CPI) measure of inflation hit a higher-than-expected 1.2% in November after easing back to 0.9% in October from 1% in September.
Economists had been pencilling in growth of 1.1%.
The ONS said a stronger performance from the pound last month took the edge off import prices for manufacturers despite total input costs climbing 12.9% in the year to November, compared to a 12.4% rise in October.
Sterling’s plunge to 31-year lows since Britain voted to leave the European Union is expected to push up the cost of living as manufacturers pass on higher costs to consumers.
Mike Prestwood, ONS head of inflation, said: “November’s slight rally in the value of sterling eased the inflationary pressure on businesses importing raw materials but consumer prices continued to edge upwards, due mainly to the rising cost of clothing and fuel.”
Tories claim Labour still wants to block Brexit
The Conservatives are determined not to let Labour escape the accusation of wanting to block Brexit. A Conservative party spokesman issued this statement in response to the extracts from Sir Keir Starmer’s speech. (See 9.13am.)
Only the Conservatives can deliver the right deal for Britain as we leave the EU – where we can make our own decisions about immigration and deliver the best possible trading arrangements for British firms, both with the EU and the rest of the world.
Labour suggested they would support the government unconditionally in triggering Brexit talks. But behind closed doors they talk about second referendums and now seek to attach conditions and tie the government’s hands.
The truth is Labour just don’t believe Britain can thrive outside the EU, and keep looking for any new excuse to try to block Brexit and overturn the decision of the British people. They’re out of touch with the concerns of ordinary, working people.
Inflation rises to 1.2%
The inflation figures are just out.
- The rate of consumer price index inflation rose to 1.2% in November from 0.9%
There is more coverage on my colleague Graeme Wearden’s business live blog.
Labour will fight to stop a ‘hard’ Brexit, says Starmer
There were differing views as to how successful Labour was when it held a debate its debate on Brexit last week. On the up side it forced the government to confirm that it would publish a Brexit “plan” of some sort before article 50 is triggered. But, on the down side, Tory MPs rallied behind the government’s amendment (saying Theresa May’s article 50 timetable should be respected) and on the night it was the Labour party that split, with some MPs defying the party line, not the Conservative party.
The debate, though, may have gone some way to quash claims that Labour are recalcitrant “remoaners” who refuse to accept the result of the referendum (because most Labour MPs backed the government amendment saying article 50 should be triggered by the end of March) and in a speech today Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, will seek to reframe the debate and turn it into an argument about not whether or not to accept the referendum result, but whether or not to have a “hard” Brexit. And Labour will oppose a “hard” Brexit, he will say.
In an extract released overnight he says:
As we stand on the brink of profound change, it is clear that there are two versions of our future that could be negotiated.
The first is a future that tears us apart from our EU partners. Out of the single market. Out of the customs union.
Reverting to World Trade Organisation rules which would entail a range of harmful new barriers to trade and a desperate rush to sign new agreements with third party states to compensate.
A global race to the bottom which would not only put our economy and jobs at risk, but which would also abandon our shared scientific, educational and cultural endeavours with the EU. A so-called ‘hard’ Brexit.
The second version of our future is a version where we exit the EU but build a new and strong relationship with our EU partners based on the principles of co-operation, collaboration and mutual benefit.
A future which preserves our ability to trade in goods and services with our biggest market.
A future that values joint scientific, educational and cultural work with our EU partners.
A future which allows the UK to retain its leading position in the world, influencing and contributing to developments across Europe and beyond.
The battle between these two versions of our future is the battle of our times.
I will be covering the speech in detail.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.50am: Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, gives a briefing in Strasbourg.
10am: Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, gives evidence to the Lords committee on the long-term sustainability of the NHS. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary gives evidence to the same committee at 4pm.
12.30pm: Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, gives a speech.
Around 12.40pm: MPs begin an emergency debate on Syria and Aleppo.
2.30pm: George Hamilton, chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, gives evidence to the Commons Northern Ireland committee on the future of the land border.
We’ve also got the Southern rail strike today, but my colleague Matthew Weaver is writing about that on a separate live blog.
As usual, I will also be covering the breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web. I plan to post a summary at lunchtime and another in the afternoon.
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