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As it happenedended1558373787

Brexit news: Farage hit by milkshake in Newcastle as Tories jockey for position in race to replace May

Conservative leadership race continues as health secretary refuses to rule out bid

Zamira Rahim,Jon Sharman
Monday 20 May 2019 16:13 BST
Jeremy Corbyn says free movement 'open for negotiation' if a Labour government was negotiating Brexit

Nigel Farage has been attacked with a milkshake during a campaign stop in Newcastle. The Brexit Party leader was furious with his security team and later said that "normal campaigning is becoming impossible".

It came as Theresa May was set to make a last-ditch offer to MPs in a fourth attempt to win support for her Brexit deal, even as the race to replace her as Conservative leader continues. She will enter discussions with senior ministers after cross-party talks with Labour broke down last week.

Her plan has yet to be finalised, but it is understood to include additional protection on workers’ rights and the environment, as well as clarification of how the UK will seek to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. There is scepticism throughout Westminster about its chances of passing.

But the PM suffered a blow when the EU Commission said it would not revisit the withdrawal agreement.

It came as the Liberal Democrats warned that British consumers could face a greater risk of exploitation after Brexit if the UK loses the EU's clout to fine multinational companies.

New analysis by the party shows 44 companies have been fined a total of €13.8bn (£12.1bn) by the European Commission since May 2017, for offences that increase prices and reduce choice for consumers, such as operating cartels, abusing market dominance and misleading competition authorities.

And away from Brexit, the new defence secretary, Penny Mordaunt, was forced to order an urgent review of a secret policy under fire for allowing ministers to share intelligence with allies even if there is a risk of torture.

See below how we covered the day's events live


Welcome to our live coverage of today's news from Westminster

Zamira Rahim20 May 2019 08:51

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out standing for the Conservative leadership.

"I don't rule out standing for the leadership," he said in an interview with the BBC.

But the politician added that his current focus was on delivering Brexit.

"It's flattering that lots of people have asked me to put my name forward and proposed to support me if I do but that isn't the point, which is we still have to get this legislation to deliver Brexit through," he said.

When asked if he didn't want to because he had 1 per cent grassroots support in a recent poll he said: "No, because the contest hasn't started yet.

"I have a strong view about the sort of leader that we need - we need a leader not just for now but also for the future, we need to be absolutely four-square in the centre-ground of British.

Zamira Rahim20 May 2019 08:54

Theresa May will enter discussions with senior ministers this week in a final attempt to win parliamentary backing for her Brexit deal.

Her proposed package of measures, which is believed to include additional protection on workers' rights and the environment, is aimed at winning widespread Commons support, but few Westminster insiders believe that it will pass.

The prime minister's deal has already been rejected by the Commons on three occasions.

Her fourth attempt comes after cross-party Brexit talks with Labour broke down last week.

Zamira Rahim20 May 2019 09:03

Ireland's deputy prime minister Simon Coveney has said that the European Union will not renegotiate the Brexit withdrawal agreement, regardless of who succeeds Theresa May as prime minister.

"The EU has said very clearly that the withdrawal agreement has been negotiated over two-and-a-half years, it was agreed with the British government and the British cabinet and it's not up for renegotiation, even if there is a new British prime minister," Mr Coveney said on Sunday while speaking to RTE.

Prominent Conservatives including Boris Johnson and Andrea Leadsom, have entered the leadership race as pressure mounts on the prime minister.

Zamira Rahim20 May 2019 09:14

Gordon Brown will accuse the SNP and the Scottish Conservatives of taking "ever-more hard-line policy stances" on Scottish independence and devolution while ignoring issues such as the economy and the NHS.

The former prime minister will appear at a campaign rally in Glasgow on Monday, ahead of the European elections.

"I fear for the future of Scotland unless it can break free from this non-stop, never-ending, constitution-obsessed SNP/Conservative Punch and Judy show," he is expected to say.

"Both parties bang on day after day about independence, continuously ratcheting up the decibel levels with their ever-more hard-line policy stances - the SNP for all-out independence, nothing less, that now has become even more extreme with their plans to abandon the British pound and exit the UK customs union and single market - which would not now count as a soft independence, but a hard independence.

"Meanwhile, the Conservatives increasingly reveal their hand as hostile to devolution - and because in Scotland they can't talk about Europe or about their policy for austerity they talk about nothing else than the constitutional issues."

Zamira Rahim20 May 2019 09:26

Heidi Allen has said that Change UK may not exist in its current form by the time of the next general election.

"The format might be slightly different," she said, when asked about whether she would stand as an MP for the new centrist party.

The Change UK leader also hinted at the possibility of the party being a part of a coalition government in the future.

Zamira Rahim20 May 2019 09:37

Gordon Brown has urged the electoral watchdog to probe how Nigel Farage's Brexit Party is financed, ahead of this week's European elections.

"Nigel Farage says this election is about democracy," he is expected to say in a speech at a campaign rally in Glasgow later today.

"Democracy is fatally undermined if unexplained, unreported and thus undeclared."

The Brexit Party has surged in the polls ahead of Thursday's vote, despite concerns over its financing. 

Zamira Rahim20 May 2019 09:47

Clive Lewis, the shadow treasury minister, has said that Jeremy Corbyn's position would be "in peril" if he fails to support a further Brexit referendum.

“You can only drive a wedge so far between yourself and the people who put you in that position before your opponents start looking at their options,” the Norwich South MP told The Independent.

Zamira Rahim20 May 2019 10:08

Richard Tice, the Brexit Party chairman, has told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he is not certain whether the party has foreign donors or not.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown has written to the Electoral Commission calling for an investigation into Brexit Party funding.

Initially Mr Tice dismissed the row as "utterly ridiculous".

"People are just jealous of our success and the fact we're on course to win these elections," he said.

"We've got a Paypal account for people paying less than £500; above that we apply the appropriate Electoral Commission rules.

Asked whether he had just confirmed that the party did take cash from foreign citizens, Mr Tice said: "I don't sit in front of the Paypal account all day so I don't know what currencies people are paying in, but, as I understand it, the Paypal takes it in sterling."

Zamira Rahim20 May 2019 10:29

Sajid Javid has told British citizens in northern Syria to leave the area within 28 days or to face a ten-year prison sentence if they try to return to the UK.

In a speech to security officials at Scotland Yard, Mr Javid told UK citizens in northern Syria that they were "on notice".

The home secretary said he was also considering banning British nationals from travelling in the first place to Idlib province in north-west Syria - the last remaining territory held by rebel groups - and other areas in the north-east of the country.

Mr Javid is believed to be considering a leadership bid, as the race to replace Theresa May continues. 

Zamira Rahim20 May 2019 10:43

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