David Cameron resigns: Former PM quit over Brexit and did not want to be ‘backseat driver’ says aide


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Labour would have fewer than 200 seats for first time since the 1920s, according to an expert analysis of proposed boundary changes.

The Government wants to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and a planned redistribution of voters would see mainly Labour constituencies disappearing from the electoral map.

The changes announced today would see 532 constituencies in England reduced to 499.

An expert analysis by Martin Baxter, of Electoral Calculus, has revealed that the party would be left with its lowest number of seats in almost a century.

Labour shadow minister Jon Ashworth said: “The current proposals to redraw constituency boundaries are unfair, undemocratic and unacceptable.

“These changes are not about fairness to voters, they are about what is best for the Tory Party and they must not go ahead. The commission must rethink and ensure that no elector loses out.”

Sam Hartley, secretary to the Boundary Commission for England, denied that the Conservatives had influenced the proposals.

He told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “It’s absolutely not the case. Every MP’s view is worth the same as every member of the public’s.”

Mr Hartley said the organisation did attempt to minimise the changes caused by the review.

“That is difficult under the new rules we’ve been set,” he added.

Theresa May has this morning met Burma’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss how the country’s new civilian government can support reconciliation and respect for human rights.

Mrs May hosted the Nobel Peace Prize laureate at Downing Street the day after she met Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in London’s Lancaster House.

Ms Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy party swept to victory in 2015 elections, endured years of house arrest and harassment by military rulers while continuing her non-violent campaign to unseat them and usher in the first civilian government in more than five decades.

She holds the country’s specially created post of state counsellor – her two sons’ British citizenship prohibiting her from becoming president because of the country’s military-era constitution.

The Prime Minister has been accused of wanting to lead a “one party nation” because of her “partisan” politics.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner attacked Theresa May for her controversial decision to back the return of grammar schools, which she warned would reduce the life chances of millions of children because of segregation.

“Just weeks ago the Prime Minister solemnly promised on the steps of Number 10 to govern for the many, not the privileged few, to be led by the evidence when making decisions, to be a one nation leader.

“But this is aimed not just at serving a privileged few, but creating a privileged few. A policy that is about partisan politics, announced to Tory MPs in private even as it was being denied in public.”

Ms Rayner told the TUC Congress in Brighton that a pattern was emerging following the grammar schools announcement and the boundary review to “gerrymander” the Commons.

She said: “She doesn’t want to lead a one nation party, but a one party nation.” 

Ms Rayner said the grammar schools move was being made at a time of a school places crisis, teachers leaving the profession and half a million children in super-sized classes.

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg has suggested this morning that the proposed changes to constituency boundaries may never happen because MPs would effectively be voting to sack themselves if they push through the changes.

She talks of the discontent of many Tory backbenchers, not to mention the Labour MPs, over these proposals which came about thanks to David Cameron.

In her article she points out:

“Theresa May is perfectly prepared to ditch the previous PM’s promises, still has a tiny majority and a difficult agenda to pursue.

With risks of huge discontent over Brexit and grammars already, it would be one way of mollifying angry backbenchers as and when things get tough.

It’s worth watching today and in the coming weeks to see whether this is another of David Cameron’s promises that will bite the dust.”

The Boundary Commission for England has dismissed suggestions that they have suggested constituency boundary changes to favour the Tories at the next general election.

Sam Hartley, secretary to the Boundary Commission for England, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We don’t take into account any political ramifications of our proposals. We are an independent boundary commission, we are not the government, we are not parliament.”

Today Shami Chakrabarti, the former director of civil liberties group Liberty, will officially be introduced as a Labour peer in the House of Lords.

Ms Chakrabarti was asked by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to look into anti-Semitism in the party after MP Naz Shah and former London mayor Ken Livingstone were suspended.

A row about Mr Corbyn’s nomination of Ms Chakrabarti for a peerage soon mounted, with his deputy Tom Watson saying he had not been consulted and it was a mistake.

Ms Chakrabarti has been criticised by MPs and Jewish groups after it emerged that she had suppressed an interview with Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, in her “whitewash” report into anti-Semitism in the party.

Cabinet ministers have arrived at 10 Downing Street this morning for their weekly meeting with Theresa May.

Wouldn’t you love to have been a fly on the wall at this dinner?

A well informed source in Brighton tells me David Cameron & wife Samantha have been dining with Tony & Cherie Blair recently. Interesting!

Darren Williams, who sits on Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee and is a councillor in Cardiff, said the boundary review presented an opportunity to select new candidates who “may be more in tune” with the views of party members.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think where MPs have consistently demonstrated a disloyalty to the party leader and to the views on which he was elected then I think party members are within their rights to ask whether those MPs should continue to represent them.

“I do think the redrawing of boundaries does present an opportunity for the selection of some new candidates who may be more in tune with the views of ordinary party members.”

Jon Ashworth, the Shadow Minister without Portfolio, has denied Jeremy Corbyn allies are plotting to use the boundary review to deselect ‘moderate’ MPs.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “That is not the position of Jeremy or his people. We have a very clear process. If your seat disappears but you have some territorial claim to a neighbouring seat, you have the right to contend that seat.

“This is not about deselecting MPs.  If people think this is about deselecting MPs they are in for a shock.”

Boundary changes are a charade. It's daft to cut MPs when population is growing and base seats on registered voters rather than population

Liberal Democrats said they were “confident” of holding all of their eight seats under the proposals and gaining at least one in Cambridge. But a spokesman said the party had “serious concern” about using the “out of date” electoral roll.

“Tory claims that this process will lead to ‘equal votes of equal value’ are plain wrong,” said a Lib Dem spokesman. “This process will still leave a plethora of safe seats across the country, and millions of votes which don’t count.”

Greens, who see significant changes to their only seat – co-leader Caroline Lucas’s Brighton Pavilion – said that only a Government with a “profoundly skewed” set of priorities would push ahead with the changes while ignoring the “deep-rooted sickness” of an unelected second chamber and non-proportional voting for Westminster elections.

The Maidenhead seat of Prime Minister Theresa May remains as it is, while Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Runnymede and Weybridge is largely unchanged.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) faces a substantial redrawing of the electoral map, but would appear well-placed to secure the Conservative nomination for the new seat of Hillingdon and Uxbridge.

The seats of Cabinet colleagues such as Liam Fox, Jeremy Hunt and Amber Rudd escape unscathed, but Brexit Secretary David Davis sees his Haltemprice & Howden constituency in East Yorkshire cut in two.

The planned reduction of the size of the House of Commons from 650 to 600 MPs is expected to hit Labour hardest, with more constituencies abolished or merged in strongholds such as London, Wales, the North-East and North-West than the Tory-dominated shires.

The party has signalled it will fight the “unfair, undemocratic and unacceptable” changes, stressing they are based on an “out of date” version of the electoral register based on populations recorded in the electoral roll for 2015 and missing two million voters who signed up to vote in the EU referendum.

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership rival Owen Smith sees his Pontypridd seat merged with the neighbouring Cynon Valley constituency of veteran backbencher Ann Clwyd.

Mr Smith is one of a number of prominent critics of the current leadership who could face a fight to ensure selection for the 2020 election by constituency associations swollen by the ranks of Corbyn supporters over the past year. Even if Ms Clwyd, 79, decides to step down, Mr Smith is far from certain of inheriting the new constituency in south Wales.

Chuka Umunna (Streatham), Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) and Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central) are among leading moderates facing significant changes which could leave them vulnerable to de-selection attempts by hardline Corbyn supporters.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington North constituency is one of 50 to be abolished at the next general election, under proposals published by the Boundary Commission for England.

A shake-up of seats in north London sees the constituency which Mr Corbyn has represented since 1983 divided in two, potentially pitting him against two of his closest lieutenants – shadow health secretary Diane Abbott and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry – in the race for selection as candidates for the new seats of Islington and Finsbury Park & Stoke Newington.

Mr Corbyn said he was “very unhappy” about boundary changes which could affect his constituency in North London.

Speaking as he arrived for a private dinner with the TUC general council in Brighton, he said he was “very confident” about the future, adding there was a long way to go before any suggested changes came into effect.

“I look forward to representing some parts of Islington, ” he said, adding he was very unhappy about the suggested size of a new constituency.

David Cameron did not resign over grammar schools, he quit because of Brexit, his former head of Policy Unit has said.

Camilla Cavendish, now Baroness Cavendish of Little Venice, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t think grammar schools are the main issues at all. David Cameron did actually move a bit in the last year on grammar schools. He agreed to create some selective sixth forms. I think he felt that the blanket ban on selection had probably gone too far.

“The much bigger issue for him, had he stayed in parliament, would have been Brexit. He feels deeply and passionately that Brexit is a huge challenge for the British economy and he would have found that much harder to just sit through. I think that it is very sensible for him to stand down.”

Baroness Cavendish added that Mr Cameron would not have wanted to be a “backseat driver” or “an absentee MP”.

She said: “The day before we left Number 10 he did say he was thinking of staying as MP for Witney until 2020.

“I thought at the time that in fact he would become a sort of backseat driver, which he would not want to be, or an absentee MP like Gordon Brown. I think it is very clear that upon he reflection he thought that he cannot play a proper role in parliament.”

On resigning as Prime Minister, she added: “It would have been untenable for him to remain as Prime Minister. It was quite clear that morning when we were all in Number 10 and he got up to make that statement, it was absolutely obvious to all of us who know him, that there was no way he could have seen through or presided over negotiations on something he didn’t believe. It would have been completely wrong.”

One of David Cameron’s predecessors as Conservative leader has praised the former prime minister’s decision to stand down as an MP.

Lord (William) Hague of Richmond backed Mr Cameron’s assessment that former PMs can become a “diversion” while sitting on the backbenches of the House of Commons.

Mr Hague, who returned to the frontbench under Mr Cameron after four years as a backbencher following his unsuccessful leadership of the Tories, tweeted: “Right decision by David Cameron to leave Commons – former prime ministers are either accused of doing too little or being a distraction.”

In his Telegraph column today he argues that Mr Cameron is a great talent – but had to stand down.

Read William Hague’s column.

Prime Minister Theresa May will today meet Burma’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss how the country’s new civilian government can support reconciliation and respect for human rights.

Mrs May will host the Nobel Peace Prize laureate at Downing Street the day after she met Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in London’s Lancaster House.

The Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman said: “It will be an opportunity to talk about bilateral relations between the two countries, the process that’s under way in Burma and what we can do to support reconciliation and democracy and respect for human rights there.”

Ms Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy party swept to victory in 2015 elections, endured years of house arrest and harassment by military rulers while continuing her non-violent campaign to unseat them and usher in the first civilian government in more than five decades.

She holds the country’s specially created post of state counsellor – her two sons’ British citizenship prohibiting her from becoming president because of the country’s military-era constitution.

Mrs May could raise the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, who have suffered institutional discrimination by the authorities and in wider society.

The issue was raised by Mr Johnson, who welcomed the establishment of the Rakhine Commission, led by Kofi Annan, to tackle the situation facing the Rohingya community.

Following his meeting with Ms Suu Kyi, the Foreign Secretary also praised Burma’s government for making progress in freeing political prisoners.

“It’s a great pleasure to meet Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and congratulate her in person on her victory in the November 2015 elections and forming Burma’s first civilian government for over 50 years,” Mr Johnson said.

“The Burmese transition to democracy is an historic achievement.

“The courage and sacrifice of the Burmese people, not least of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi herself, has led to a major shift from military dictatorship to a more civilian, democratic and accountable government.

“The UK is pleased to have played an important role in bringing about Burma’s emergence from decades of repression and isolation.

“We remain committed to supporting Burma’s extraordinary reforms and we welcome a democratic, stable and prosperous Burma that can contribute to stability and security in South East Asia and beyond.”

David Cameron has quit as an MP saying that he did not want his  disagreements with Theresa May to become a distraction, amid a growing  row over grammar schools. 

Mr Cameron quit with immediate effect despite previously  indicating that he would stay on as a backbencher until at least 2020. 

He announced his resignation just minutes before Justine Greening, the  Education Secretary, was due to make a statement on the creation of new  grammar schools in the House of Commons. 

The plans are highly controversial and, as well as Mr Cameron’s objections,  Mrs May is facing rebellion from up to 40 MPs, sources told the Daily  Telegraph. 

Mr Cameron denied that the decision was linked to Mrs May’s grammar schools  policy, insisting that the timing was coincidental. 

However, allies said that it is almost inconceivable that he could have  voted for the plans in the coming months if he had remained in Parliament. 

Just months after becoming Tory leader in December 2005, Mr Cameron  described the prospect of bringing back grammar schools as wrong. 

Allies of Mr Cameron said that he resigned because he did not  want to be seen as a back-seat driver and that anything he said as a  backbencher would be seen as slavish or scheming. 

Another source said that he did not want to become another Ted Heath, the  former prime minister who stayed on the backbenches and made attacks on the  policies of Margaret Thatcher, who ousted him in 1975. 

However, one source said that the former prime minister will have been  seething in recent weeks as he watched Mrs May distance herself from much  of what he achieved whilst in Government.

 Mr Cameron said in an interview with ITV: I spoke to Theresa May and she  was very understanding about this decision. I support her and I support  what she’s doing. I think she’s got off to a cracking start. 

Obviously I have my own views about certain issues. People know that.  That’s really the point. As a former PM it’s very difficult to sit as a  back bencher and not be an enormous diversion and distraction from what the  Government is doing. I don’t want to be that distraction. 

Mrs May said she was “proud to have served” in Mr Cameron’s government and  under his leadership “we achieved great things not just stabilising the  economy but also making great strides on delivering serious social reform”. 

Meanwhile, this newspaper understands that up to 40 Tory MPs have concerns  about Mrs May’s grammar schools policy, amid growing fears it could be  defeated in the Commons. 

Theresa Villiers and Anna Soubry on Monday became the latest former  ministers to criticise the plans.  Nicky Morgan, the former education secretary sacked by Mrs May this summer, has warned that the government faces a “real challenge” to win a vote on  lifting the grammar schools ban. 

There was speculation last night that Mr Cameron will now take up a  lucrative post on a company board. 

However, allies said he would either take a significant international job  or do something in Britain focused on his life chances agenda. 

He feels he can be far more use representing causes close to his heart not  as a backbench MP, a source said. 

Mr Cameron said he wanted to continue making a public service contribution and would speak out about international issues in the future – a hint he may seek a new role on the world stage. 

He said: “I want to thank everybody here in West Oxfordshire who has been so supportive. It has been a great honour and privilege to serve this area and to serve these brilliant people.

“I’m going to go on living locally. I will go on supporting the local causes and charities that make this such a great place in our country. But obviously I’m going to have to start to build a life outside Westminster.

“I hope I’ll continue to contribute in terms of public service and of course contribute to this country that I love so much.”

News Source TelegraphNews

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