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Labour defends welcoming rightwing Tory MP Natalie Elphicke into party – UK politics live

Dover MP hit out at ‘broken promises of Rishi Sunak’s tired and chaotic government’ as she defected to Labour moments before PMQs

Matt Mathers
Wednesday 08 May 2024 23:12 BST
Starmer welcomes Natalie Elphicke after Labour MP defects from Conservatives

Ms Elphicke has defected hitting out at the “broken promises of Rishi Sunak’s tired and chaotic Government”.

The Dover MP astonishingly crossed the floor in the Commons just moments before Prime Minister’s Questions.

She said in a statement: “I have carefully considered this decision. The change has been dramatic and cannot be ignored.

“For me key deciding factors have been housing and the safety and security of our borders.”

The move has been hit at from all sides, with MPs slamming Sir Keir Starmer for welcoming the right wing politician with open arms and Tory members branding the decision “idiotic”.

Despite ferocious criticism, Labour has defended Ms Elphicke and said it is “happy” to have the Tory MP on board.

In a new humiliating blow for Rishi, Ms Elphickle joins Dr Dan Poulter and Christian Wakeford in joining the opposition.

The walk-out was took place during the first face off since last week’s local election results, where Sir Keir Starmer hit out at the Conservatives for losing nearly 500 council seats in last week’s elections.

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Live: Grant Shapps updates MPs after Ministry of Defence data breach

Watch live as defence secretary Grant Shapps MP is expected to comment on a massive hack affecting armed forces in the Ministry of Defence.Watch more on Inde...

Maryam Zakir-Hussain7 May 2024 16:10
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Britain ‘implores’ Israel to reopen border crossings into Gaza

Britain is “imploring” Israel to reopen border crossings into Gaza, including Rafah, to ensure humanitarian aid can get though, a foreign minister has told Parliament.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon also echoed concerns over the threat of a military offensive on the southern city, where around half the population are children.

The Tory frontbencher said: “We are imploring Israel to ensure that the crossings that were shut are opened immediately, including in Rafah.”

He revealed the Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron had spoken to the president of Israel on Monday morning.

Lord Ahmad said: “We do believe this is an escalation which needs to be immediately resolved. Because there are now 600,000 children in Rafah, almost 50% of Rafah is children. We need to ensure their safety and security and at the moment we have not been reassured at all in terms of any detail of plans as to where these people would move.”

He added the suggested place of evacuation was “pretty barren land”.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain7 May 2024 16:14
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Holyrood votes for SNP leader John Swinney to be Scotland’s next first minister

Members of the Scottish Parliament have voted for new SNP leader John Swinney to be Scotland's next first minister, succeeding Humza Yousaf who formally resigned from the post earlier on Tuesday.

Mr Swinney won the backing of 64 MSPs, with his nearest rival Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross picking up 31.

It comes just eight days after predecessor Humza Yousaf announced he was stepping down, after his decision to terminate the powersharing agreement the SNP had with the Scottish Greens at Holyrood left him facing a vote of no confidence in his leadership.

John Swinney won the backing of 64 MSPs
John Swinney won the backing of 64 MSPs (EPA)
Andy Gregory7 May 2024 16:19
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The Government has been pressed over the use of British troops to distribute aid in Gaza once a maritime supply route had been established.

Tory former Cabinet minister Lord Clarke of Nottingham said: “We are very near to the prospect of aid being delivered by sea once the Americans have finished the construction of a quay that they are undertaking.

“Has the Government made any progress in reassuring us about the orderly distribution and safe distribution of aid by that route when the quay is ready?

“And what is the Government’s present position on direct British involvement including the use of British troops if necessary to try to work to get proper distribution of that aid to the people we hope will be able to receive it?

Responding, foreign minister Lord Ahmad said: “On the issue of safe distribution within Gaza that is a key component of this.”

He stressed the need to ensure the safety of aid workers who had “the expertise”.

Lord Ahmad added: “We are looking at all of the dynamics on the best way to support a British operation in support of this international effort.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain7 May 2024 16:41
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Shapps apologises to armed forces personnel

Defence secretary Grant Shapps apologised to the armed forces personnel affected by the Ministry of Defence cyberattack.

Speaking in the Commons on Tuesday afternoon, he said: “I want to apologise for the men and women affected – it should not happen.”

He added that the plan to fix the system means it will not happen again.

(PA Wire)
Joe Middleton7 May 2024 17:06
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Cyberattack was work of ‘malign actor,’ Shapps says

Grant Shapps said the hacking of the Ministry of Defence “was the suspected work of a malign actor” but added “we cannot rule out state involvement”.

The defence secretary said the cyberattack shows the UK is facing “rising and evolving threats” adding: “The world is becoming somewhat more dangerous.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain7 May 2024 17:09
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Up to 272,000 personnel affected by cyberattack

Up to 272,000 service personnel may have been hit by the data breach, Grant Shapps told MPs.

He set out an eight-point plan to support and protect those potentially affected.

The Cabinet minister declined to identify the culprit, telling the Commons: “For reasons of national security, we can’t release further details of the suspected cyber activity behind this incident.

“However, I can confirm to the House that we do have indications that this was the suspected work of a malign actor and we cannot rule out state involvement.”

He also said: “We’ve launched a full investigation, drawing on Cabinet Office support and specialist external expertise to examine the potential failings of the contractor and to minimise the risk of similar incidents in the future.”

Initial investigations have found no evidence that any data has been removed, but affected armed forces personnel have been alerted as a precaution.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain7 May 2024 17:33
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John Healey flags ‘serious concern’ cyberattack was reported in media before Parliament was updated

Shadow defence secretary John Healey has said there will be “serious concern” that news of a cyberattack was reported in the media before Defence Secretary Grant Shapps was able to update Parliament.

He told MPs: “My overriding concern is for the safety of serving personnel and veterans affected. Worried about the risk to them and their families, hearing first about the data being hacked from the media and not from the MoD (Ministry of Defence).”

He added: “On the contractor, Defence Business Services say Shared Services Connected Limited (SSCL) has the MoD contract for core payroll and other business services. How many contracts does SSCL or its parent company Sopra Steria have with the MoD? What action has been taken by other government departments with similar SSCL contracts?”

Mr Healey further stated: “The media have clearly been briefed that China is behind the hack but the Defence Secretary only tells us about a malign actor. Now, the Government rightly has a very rigorous system before official accusations or attributions are made but if this deep data breach is found to be carried out by a hostile state, it would represent a very serious threat to our national security.”

Mr Shapps replied: “The media release last night was coincidental and unwelcome as far as we were concerned. Unfortunately, of course, a lot of people were involved in this. (Mr Healey) asked how many; 272,000 is the number of personnel who have been affected.”

He further confirmed that SSCL was the contractor involved and that a “full review” has been ordered of their work within the MoD.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain7 May 2024 18:03
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Tory MP wonders if he is the ‘most hacked MP in Britain'

Tory MP Bob Seely (Isle of Wight) said it was “a little frustrating” to hear his information could be compromised and wondered if he is “the most hacked MP in Britain”.

He said: “I would like to thank the minister for his call this morning, it is a little frustrating to be told that one’s bank details and National Insurance number are winging their way to Beijing or wherever they’ve gone.

“And considering I was also caught up in the Ipac breach, I’m wondering if I’m currently in the running to be the most hacked MP in Britain.”

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps responded: “I want to thank him for his service and I’m sorry he had to receive that phone call about what’s happened.

“I want to stress, actually, that we do not believe the data has necessarily been stolen, so there’s a danger here of just running a couple of steps ahead.

“What we’ve done is to respond with the eight-point plan as if it has been stolen, because we think that that is the best position to put everybody, himself included, in given the seriousness of this potential breach.”

(Bob Seely)
Maryam Zakir-Hussain7 May 2024 18:33
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Labour questions continued arms exports to Israel with Rafah humanitarian crisis

David Lammy moved Labour closer to calling for an outright ban on arms sales to Israel as the row over the Middle East crisis exploded in the House of Commons.

With Labour under pressure from its own MPs and activists to take a harder line against Israel on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Mr Lammy used an urgent question to ratchet up his party’s position.

It follows concerns in the party leadership that Muslims and others are not voting Labour because of its position on the conflict.

Our political editor David Maddox has more:

Labour questions continued arms exports to Israel with Rafah humanitarian crisis

Labour pressed deputy foreign minister Andrew Mitchell on arms sales to Israel as he responded to an urgent question in the Commons

Maryam Zakir-Hussain7 May 2024 19:00

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