Alan Johnson, the Labour former home secretary who for several years was top of the list of ‘best alternative leaders’ for many in the party, has announced he is standing down. In a letter to his local party, posted on the Guido Fawkes website, he says:
For me the personal decision is whether to retire now or in 2022 when I’ll be into my 70s.
I’ve decided that going now will give me the opportunity to do other things with my life and is therefore in the best interests of me and my family. I also think it’s best for the party.
Here are some key election dates from the Press Association’s Ian Jones.
This is from Rupert Harrison, George Osborne’s former chief of staff.
What he means is that, if Theresa May comes back with a large majority of Tories in favour of cutting the aid budget and building more grammar schools, those backbenchers will not allow her to compromise over Brexit.
Is that true? It depends who the new Tory MPs are.
The Manchester Gorton byelection, which was due to take place on 4 May, the day of the local elections, will be cancelled, Sky’s Jon Craig reports.
Leading leave campaigner Micheal Gove has predicted that the election will provide a “transfusion of democratic energy” to ensure that Theresa May’s vision of Brexit prevails.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme, Gove claimed that May’s position within her party was now “politically impregnable”.
He said the election, which he is certain May will win, would provide the means to see off opposition to Brexit in the House of Lords and from the Scottish Nationalists.
Gove said: “It is clear that within the House of Lords, there will be a determination to fight a guerrilla campaign. It is also clear that the Scottish National Party will do everything in its power to act as a parliamentary hooligan in order to try to disrupt this.
“One thing they will not be able to resist is a mandate of general election victory which I’m absolutely confident Theresa will secure. That means given the constitutional balance in the House of Lords, they will have to respect both her leadership and the popular vote.”
He added: “The Conservatives will gain ground in Scotland.”
Lord Stewart Wood, formerly an adviser to Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, agreed that the election was likely to boost May’s position on Brexit. He said: “There will clarity at the very least, but clarity for the hard Brexit that I suspect she’s been wanting for a long time.”
Wood admitted that election would be a “struggle” for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “People around him would be the first to admit that,” Wood said.
He said: “The election we are facing is hard Brexit mandate election. Essentially it is a Brexit referendum mark II … and Labour has to realise that.”
But he added that May runs the risk of “looking arrogant and opportunist” if she portrays the election as a presidential contest between herself and Corbyn.
Sir Vince Cable, the former Lib Dem business secretary, is going to stand again for his party in Twickenham.
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Here is the Plaid Cymru leader, Leanne Wood, on Theresa May’s decision to call an early election.
The British government has committed our country to a path of extreme economic recklessness. It doesn’t have to be their way. Wales needs MPs who will stand up to the Tories and be the voice of reason in parliament, defending our country’s vital economic links with Europe and the rest of the world.
Plaid Cymru is united and we’re up for the opportunity to advocate for Wales’ best interests. The more Plaid Cymru MPs, the stronger Wales’ voice will be. The official opposition is divided and unable to agree a position on the most important of decisions. Plaid Cymru in Westminster will stand up for our interests and make sure the decisions being taken now are made with future generations in mind, and not to cynically appease the extreme rightwing of the Tory party.
Plaid Cymru will provide real opposition to the Tories. The Party of Wales will contest every seat in June to make sure Wales has a stronger voice than ever before.
Jeremy Corbyn has made a personal plea to members for extra funds as he seeks to beat a well-funded Conservative party in a general election.
In an email sent to up to half a million members, the Labour leader asked them to provide donations to fight a Tory campaign bolstered by wealthy, individual donors. He wrote:
The Tories already have a war chest provided by a small group of multimillionaires and, with just 50 days until this election, whatever you can afford will help. We will hire organisers across the country, order print and advertising and kickstart our digital campaigns.
Speaking to ITV, Theresa May said she had thought “long and hard” about the decision to hold an early election on her Easter walking holiday in Wales.
Before Easter, I spent a few days walking in Wales with my husband, thought about this long and hard and came to the decision that to provide for that stability and certainty, this was the way to do it. I trust the British people. I’m going to be asking the British people to put their trust in me.