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Andy McDonald: Senior Labour MP suspended over ‘deeply offensive’ comments at pro-Palestine rally | Politics News

A senior Labour MP has been suspended from the parliamentary party following “‘deeply offensive” comments he made at a pro-Palestine rally over the weekend.

Andy McDonald held various shadow ministerial roles under Jeremy Corbyn, and served under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership before resigning from the front bench in 2021 over a disagreement in policy with the leadership.

Over the weekend, he attended a pro-Palestine rally, in which he said: “We won’t rest until we have justice. Until all people, Israelis and Palestinians, between the river and the sea, can live in peaceful liberty.”

He went on to shout “free Palestine”.

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Downing Street said it was “not acceptable” for people to chant “from the river to the sea” – a phrase referring to the land between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea – as it is “deeply offensive” to many.

While Mr McDonald did not immediately face consequences for his words, he was later suspended on Monday evening.

Sir Keir and his party have been far from united on their response to the conflict in the Middle East, with the leader calling for “humanitarian pauses” but not a ceasefire, while other Labour MPs – including shadow ministers – have called for a stop to the fighting.

A Labour spokesperson said: “The comments made by Andy McDonald at the weekend were deeply offensive, particularly at a time of rising antisemitism which has left Jewish people fearful for their safety.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald
Andy McDonald has lost the Labour whip

“The chief whip has suspended the Labour whip from Andy McDonald, pending an investigation.”

The chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” has been heard during recent demonstrations.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has previously said the slogan is antisemitic, adding that she thinks it is “widely understood” to call for the destruction of Israel.

Pro-Palestine campaigners contest this definition.

Mr McDonald’s suspension came shortly after Tory MP Paul Bristow was sacked from his government job for calling for a permanent ceasefire – as the government policy is the same “humanitarian pauses” as Sir Keir is advocating.

John McDonnell, who served in Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet with Mr McDonald, said the suspension “isn’t just unjust it is absolute nonsense”.

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He claimed that Mr McDonald “turned a slogan some are concerned about into a peace plan”.

Kate Dove, the co-chair of the left-wing campaign group Momentum, claimed the suspension as “appalling and opportunistic”.

Andy Foster: Two men charged with murder of 26-year-old who died in suspected ammonia attack in Gateshead | UK News

Two men have been charged with the murder of a 26-year-old man who died in a suspected ammonia attack.

Andy Foster was attacked when he opened the door to a property he was inside in Wrekenton, Gateshead, on 20 August.

Ambulance workers attended the scene at around 11pm and found him in a critical condition and took him to hospital, where he died shortly afterwards.

Kenneth Fawcett and John Wandless, both 32, have been charged with murder, Northumbria Police said.

Fawcett, of Balkwell Avenue, North Shields, and Wandless, of no fixed abode, are due to appear before magistrates sitting at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday.

Two women and a man who were arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, and another man who was arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, have been released under investigation.

Detective Inspector Tomasz Fowler said: “Our thoughts remain firmly with Andy’s loved ones at this extremely difficult time and we will continue to offer them all the support that they need.

“We would like to thank members of the public for their continued support and cooperation throughout the past week.

“Whilst these charges are a big step forward, it’s important to remember this investigation is far from over and we are still keen to hear from anyone with information which could help us in our enquiries.”

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Mr Foster’s family said in a statement on Friday: “Andy was such a kind and funny boy who was so loved by his family and many friends.

“He was our only son – as well as a loving and supportive partner, grandson and cousin – and was particularly close with his grandad who was very special to him. We are absolutely devastated and heartbroken beyond words that we have sadly lost our boy.

“Andy still had his whole life left ahead of him – and we are struggling to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer here with us.”

Matt Hancock ‘better at Bushtucker trials than clinical trials’, Andy Burnham says | Politics News

Matt Hancock is “better at bushtucker trials, than clinical trials”, Greater Manchester’s mayor has said.

Andy Burnham said he did not think Hancock was a “bad person” but that his decision to appear on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! demonstrated “bad judgement”.

Speaking on BBC’s Question Time about Hancock’s time in the jungle, Burnham said: “He’s clearly better at showbiz than he is at politics…better at Bushtucker trials than clinical trials, for sure.”

He continued: “He’s not, in my view, a bad person, but it is a bad judgement because politicians should be about we – what’s good for us.

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“But this is all about me, isn’t it, me, me and my situation and a cost-of-living crisis for his constituents.

“(There) are things that he should be here answering for, not in the jungle trying to curry favour with other celebrities and the British public.”

Hancock held the post of health secretary during the majority of the coronavirus crisis, during which time the vaccine was developed and tested.

On Thursday the West Suffolk MP avoided elimination for the sixth time, after radio DJ Chris Moyles was voted off the show.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham before the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 Group A match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Picture date: Wednesday July 6, 2022
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham (file pic)

Moyles, 48, told hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly he was “gutted” that Hancock was more popular than him after making his exit from the show.

After his exit, he told McPartlin and Donnelly: “I’m gutted that Matt Hancock is more popular than me, what the bejesus is going on?”

Moyles admitted it was difficult for him living alongside the former health secretary in camp, saying: “I really struggled with it, to be fair.

“And then what I did was, because I slagged him a bit, I separated Matt Hancock with Matt because we were living with this guy, and he was doing his best to win us stars for food and everything and chipping in so I had to separate the two.

“Matt Hancock I’ve got major issues with but Matt – less issues.”

Duran Duran’s Andy Taylor forced to miss Hall of Fame induction due to stage 4 cancer treatment | Ents & Arts News

Duran Duran’s original guitarist Andy Taylor was forced to miss the band’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame due to ongoing treatment for stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer.

The British new wave group revealed Taylor, 61, was ill by reading a letter from him to the audience at the ceremony at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles.

Taylor had been due to reunite with his former bandmates – singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor – but they said he had suffered a setback that would not allow him to travel to Los Angeles from his home in Ibiza.

The ceremony was set to be the first time the five-piece band from Birmingham had played together in 17 years, having last reformed for a world tour and the album Astronaut in 2004.

John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Simon Le Bon, and Roger Taylor of Duran Duran on stage in LA
John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Simon Le Bon, and Roger Taylor of Duran Duran on stage in LA

The group were the first act inducted during Saturday’s ceremony and took the stage by performing their 1981 breakthrough hit Girls On Film.

They continued with a set that included Hungry Like The Wolf and Ordinary World before addressing Taylor’s absence by reading the letter.

Taylor wrote: “Just over four years ago I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer.

“Many families have experienced the slow burn of this disease and of course we are no different; so I speak from the perspective of a family man but with profound humility to the band, the greatest fans a group could have and this exceptional accolade.

“I have the ‘Rodgers and Edwards’ of doctors and medical treatment that until very recently allowed me to just rock on.

“Although my current condition is not immediately life-threatening, there is no cure.”

Rodgers and Edwards refers to Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, the pop producers and founders of Chic, who worked with Duran Duran throughout their career.

Taylor added that he was “truly sorry and massively disappointed” he could not attend the ceremony, noting he had even bought a new guitar for the occasion, but that he was “very proud of these four brothers” and “overjoyed” they were accepting this award.

“I often doubted the day would come. I’m sure as hell glad I’m around to see the day”, he added.

Also inducted during the ceremony were Lionel Richie, Pat Benatar, Eminem, Carly Simon, Eurythmics, Harry Belafonte, Judas Priest and Dolly Parton.

Duran Duran formed in Birmingham in 1978 and were one of the biggest acts of the 1980s, with hits including Rio, Wild Boys and Bond theme A View To A Kill. The three Taylors are not related.

The group has risen to prominence again recently, releasing their 15th studio album, Future Past, last year and undertaking a 40th anniversary celebration tour, including headlining the British Summer Time festival in London’s Hyde Park this year.

They also performed at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace and starred in the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Birmingham.