Politics update: May hints at another meaningful vote, Corbyn speaks up for Julian Assange


Corbyn: Assange should not be extradited to US

Julian Assange
Julian Assange after being arrested on Thursday.

Jeremy Corbyn has said that Julian Assange should not be extradited to America, because he is being punished for exposed “evidence of atrocities in Iraq in Afghanistan”.

The Labour leader made a public intervention on Thursday after Assange was arrested at Ecuador’s London embassy, where he had been granted asylum since 2012.

Mr Corbyn shared a video of the arrest on twitter, saying: “The extradition of Julian Assange to the US for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be opposed by the British government.”

On Thursday, US president Donald Trump denied having any knowledge of Assange or his co-founded organisation Wikileaks, despite having previously said he “loved” Wikileaks during his election campaign.

Though he added: “I’ve been seeing what happened with Assange and that will be a determination, I would imagine, mostly by the attorney general, who’s doing an excellent job.”

May looks towards another meaningful vote

Theresa May

Theresa May looks set to bring her withdrawal agreement back to the Commons one last time, ahead of the European elections in May.

The prime minister has highlighted to MPs that Britain could avoid taking part in EU elections – set for the 23 May – if her deal is passed in the Commons in the coming weeks.

As the Commons broke for a recess for Easter on Thursday, May told MPs to “reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return,” further hinting that a vote could take place soon.

May added that talks with Labour would continue in order to try and reach a compromise: “However challenging it may be politically, I profoundly believe that in this unique situation where the house is deadlocked, it is incumbent on both front benches to seek to work together to deliver what the British people voted for. And I think that the British people expect their politicians to do just that when the national interest demands it,” May said.

Tory MPs may boycott EU elections

Conservative MPs may stop their local parties from participating in EU elections, with many fearing a possible backlash against those taking part.

Some Tory MPs and activists oppose the notion of Britain taking part in EU elections, made likely by Theresa May agreeing to extend article 50 up until the end of October. If no deal is agreed in the coming weeks, Britain is set to take part in the elections on 23 May.

The prime minister has already suggested that elections could be avoided if her controversial Brexit deal is passed in the Commons in a meaningful vote, which could take place after MPs return from the Easter recess.

One MP reportedly told the Guardian newspaper: “People are so angry on the streets, the local elections are going to be a massacre, and if we have EU elections no one will turn up and it will be won by the Brexit party by default,”

“I wouldn’t campaign in an EU elections, God no, we will get lynched – metaphorically speaking. We cannot waste local party finances on this.”

Government pulls back on no-deal preparations

The government has reigned in preparations for a no-deal Brexit, standing down 6,000 civil servants in light of Britain’s delayed departure date.

The Cabinet Office made the decision to stand down the group of civil servants, whose preparations were estimated to cost the government £1.5bn.

Labour’s Hilary Benn said that the sum was a “costly price” to pay for the prime minister’s insistence of keeping no-deal on the table.

“It was important to plan for all contingencies, but this is the huge cost of the prime minister repeatedly saying: ‘My deal or no deal’ when she knew that leaving without a deal was not in the national interest. This is one example of how Brexit is proving to be very costly for our country,”

Tory Brexiteer Steve Baker said that the decision to stand down the no-deal staff was “sheer spite”:

A letter from the Cabinet Office leaked on Thursday said: “In common with the rest of government, we have stood down our no-deal operational planning with immediate effect. This morning, at a meeting chaired by the cabinet secretary, we agreed that the objective is to ensure we wind down our no-deal planning in a careful, considered and orderly way.”


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