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Starmer ‘doubles down’ on promise for assisted dying vote – but hints it could take a year | Politics News

Sir Keir Starmer has “doubled down” on his promise to hold a free vote on assisted dying in the future.

The new prime minister has not committed to a timeline for considering a change of law, although hinted it may not be in the coming year.

But his stance is that MPs will be able to choose to vote with their conscience, rather than along party lines.

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Speaking on his trip to NATO in the US, the new prime minister was asked when he would hold the vote he had previously promised on the topic.

He said: “What I said was that we would provide time for this, obviously by way of a private member’s bill.”

A private member’s bill is a proposed change of law suggested in the Commons by an MP and not on behalf of the government.

The prime minister added: “There’ll be a free vote – that remains my position for reasons I set out.

“Having probably got more experience in this than most people having personally, looked at, tens of cases in my time as director of public prosecutions.

“As to the timing of it. I haven’t made a commitment on that, and I don’t want to because… It’s just, we’ve got to set our priorities for the first year or so.

“But I will double down on the commitment that we are going to do that. We will allow time for a private member’s bill. It will be a free vote.”

A free vote is when MPs can vote with their conscience or personal belief, as opposed to being told how to by their parties.

It is common on matters to do with health, religion or military intervention.

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‘Why make them suffer?’

Read more:
Starmer promises Dame Esther vote on assisted dying
Five stories that bring the assisted dying debate home

The debate on assisted dying is often impassioned, and has come to the fore recently following comments from Dame Esther Rantzen.

The That’s Life! presenter revealed she had joined the Swiss Dignitas clinic after being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.

She said she believed it was “important the law catches up with what the country wants” in making assisted dying legal.

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More than 200,000 people signed a petition calling for a vote on assisted dying, and MPs debated the matter at the end of April this year.

Many shared stories related to losing relatives and loved ones, and how it informed their view on the topic of assisted dying.

Britain’s homeless question whether to vote in the general election when political promises always fall short | UK News

Trevor is too scared to sleep in a tent at night like the other rough sleepers.

He sleeps on a park bench or in a doorway. It’s safer.

“Some people come along and set your tent on fire,” he tells me.

He says no one ever zips up their sleeping bags or tent doors in case they need to escape quickly.

This shocking story of the dangers faced by being homeless on the streets of London doesn’t seem to shock Trevor. It’s just part of life, he says.

“There’s no point reporting it to the police, they won’t do anything.”

At 53 years old, Trevor has been homeless for the best part of a decade.

Trevor
Image:
Trevor often sleeps on a park bench or in a doorway

In and out of temporary accommodation, night shelters and hostels. He says he’s tired.

But he’s also fed up with what he says is a long line of broken political promises that have failed to tackle Britain’s worsening housing crisis.

“Every government has always said that they are going to solve this problem. But none of them have,” he says.

Trevor is right. Because the latest figures are stark and reveal a worsening situation.

In the run-up to the election, all of the political parties are promising to tackle the issue.

A ‘source of national shame’

The annual rough sleeping snapshot provides the government’s estimate for how many people were rough sleeping on a given night in autumn 2023.

It shows that 3,898 people were sleeping rough across England, an increase of 27% on the previous year.

And the number of people sleeping rough is now 61% higher than it was 10 years ago.

The Conservatives defend their record despite not having met their 2019 manifesto promise to build 300,000 new homes a year.

Homelessness in London
Image:
Broken political promises that have failed to tackle Britain’s worsening housing crisis

While Labour says they want to build 1.5 million new homes in their first five years in power.

But crucially, there is no target for the number of affordable or social homes Labour would build.

And that is central to easing the housing crisis, according to Matt Downie, chief executive of the homeless charity Crisis.

“The scale of rough sleeping is now a source of national shame. It is a sign of extreme inequality and must prompt a rethink at the highest levels of government,” he says.

Trevor
Image:
Trevor has been homeless for the best part of a decade

“It cannot be overstated how dehumanising sleeping on the streets is. Through our frontline services we hear directly from people who have been spat at, urinated on or attacked simply because they do not have the security of a safe home. Things have got to change.

“To bring these numbers down, we urgently need Westminster to put long-term funding into the proven solutions. We need to see a commitment to build the levels of social housing we need every year.”

For Trevor, who is desperate to find a place to call home, the sums do not add up.

In his area of Brent, northwest London, rooms rent for upwards of £1,000 a month. He has come to a Crisis drop-in centre to get help.

But they are busier than ever, explains operations manager Nick Bradshaw.

Nick Bradshaw
Image:
Nick Bradshaw says Crisis has seen a 40 to 50% increase in some of the people approaching them for support

“Over the last six months, we’ve seen a 40 to 50% increase in some of the people approaching us for support. Which is huge,” Mr Bradshaw says.

“We’re seeing a lot more older adults in their 60s, 70s and 80s who have been in insecure accommodation, who are not able to stay there any more or have been sofa surfing.”

A rise in older homeless people

This rise in older people needing help is worrying charities like Crisis.

Older people can be more vulnerable, struggle with their health and can be harder to house because they might have less financial stability.

Homelessness among those aged 65 onwards has jumped by 13% in the last year. Now almost 14,000 people are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, according to the charity Independent Age.

67-year-old Cleon Riley
Image:
Cleon Riley, 67, has been homeless since his partner died

At the drop in centre, I meet 67-year-old Cleon Riley, who has lived in this area all his life.

He tells me his partner died last month and the landlord wanted him out of the flat they shared.

“The landlord changed the locks and I was out on the street,” he says.

He tells me that one landlord wanted £1,000 for a room. He cannot afford that. So he has been sleeping in a night shelter and wandering the streets during the day.

Stats

This centre is full of people who have been let down by the housing system. Most here tell me they feel forgotten about.

But there is one thing they can do to make their voices heard.

‘I don’t have faith in politics’

In the kitchen area, the homeless men are being urged to sign up to vote in this election.

Trevor is looking over the forms he needs to fill out in order to vote on 4 July.

Trevor hasn't voted since Brexit
Image:
Trevor hasn’t voted since Brexit

He says he has always tried to vote. Brexit was the last time he went to a polling station.

“I don’t have much faith in politics or the government. I don’t think they’ve given me much inspiration recently,” he says.

And it is perhaps understandable that Trevor feels this way.

Read more:
Plans to ‘criminalise’ homelessness scrapped
Families homeless despite empty houses
Almost one million renters given no-fault evictions

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The COVID pandemic and subsequent cost of living crisis has not just hit the homeless hard. Britons have seen the biggest drop in living standards in a generation and public services are stretched.

I ask Trevor if he will vote. He’s not sure.

“Who am I voting for? Voting for change? What change? I’m 53 years of age. Nothing will change for us after this election. It’s like we’ve been forgotten.”

Premier League clubs to vote on whether to scrap VAR after proposal by Wolves | UK News

Premier League clubs are set to vote on whether to scrap video assistant referees (VAR) after a proposal by Wolves.

The use of technology has infuriated some clubs but the league believes it is effective in eradicating decisions and is being improved.

A Premier League spokesperson said: “The Premier League can confirm it will facilitate a discussion on VAR with our clubs at the annual general meeting next month.

“Clubs are entitled to put forward proposals at shareholders’ meetings and we acknowledge the concerns and issues around the use of VAR.

“However, the league fully supports the use of VAR and remains committed, alongside PGMOL [Professional Game Match Officials Limited], to make continued improvements to the system for the benefit of the game and fans.”

VAR has been in place in the Premier League since 2019 and is used by major leagues in Europe – although Sweden recently opted against its introduction.

There have been concerns about lengthy delays in Premier League matches caused by VAR checks and on-pitch reviews by referees of incidents on screens.

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Matches regularly go beyond 90 minutes with some extending over 100 minutes.

Referees can defer to video replays for scenarios like checking goals, penalties, and straight red cards.

Semi-automated offsides are coming in to reduce delays on checking decisions.

However, Wolves filed the resolution after having been on the end of several controversial refereeing decisions this season.

They warned the decision review system was “undermining the value of the Premier League brand” and added in a statement: “The introduction of VAR in 2019/20 was a decision made in good faith and with the best interests of football and the Premier League at its heart.

“However, it has led to numerous unintended negative consequences that are damaging the relationship between fans and football, and undermining the value of the Premier League brand.

“The decision to table the resolution has come after careful consideration and with the utmost respect for the Premier League, PGMOL and our fellow competitors.”

They said they were not looking to place blame, but the price paid for a “small increase in accuracy” was at odds with the “spirit of our game”.

Kingswood by-election: Labour takes seat from Tories in key vote | Politics News

Labour has taken Kingswood from the Conservatives, in another by-election victory for Sir Keir Starmer’s party.

Damien Egan won 11,176 votes, while Tory candidate Sam Bromiley polled 8,675, giving Labour a majority of 2,501.

The seat in Gloucestershire had been held by Tory MP Chris Skidmore since 2010, but he quit in January in protest over government legislation to boost North Sea oil and gas drilling.

By-election results live: Follow updates here

Kingswood by-election full results

  • Damien Egan – Labour Party – 11,176
  • Sam Bromiley – Conservative Party – 8,675
  • Rupert Lowe – Reform UK – 2,578
  • Lorraine Francis – Green Party – 1,450
  • Andrew Brown – Lib Dems – 861
  • David Wood – UKIP – 129

The former energy minister had increased his share of the vote at each of the four elections in the past 13 years, from 40% in 2010 to 49% in 2015, 55% in 2017 and 56% in 2019.

Sir Keir said: “This is a fantastic result in Kingswood that shows people are ready to put their trust in a Labour government.

“By winning in this Tory stronghold, we can confidently say that Labour is back in the service of working people and we will work tirelessly to deliver for them.

“To those who have put their trust in us, you can be safe in the knowledge that the Labour Party will deliver on your priorities. Labour will give Britain its future back.”

Notably, Reform UK – previously the Brexit Party – came in third place, winning 2,578 votes – the first time their vote share at a by-election has surpassed 10%.

This means that the total of the Conservative and Reform vote equates to more than the Labour vote.

A Labour source told Sky News they believed they had won the seat at around 1.30am – the results were announced at around 1.50am.

Before 2010, Labour had won the seat at every general election since 1992.

The turnout this time was 24,905 – which equates to around 37.1% of eligible voters in the constituency.

This is a significant drop of 34 percentage points from the 2019 general election.

To win, Labour needed a swing in the share of the vote of 11.4 percentage points – equivalent to a net change of 12 in every 100 people who voted Conservative in 2019 switching sides.

Provisional calculations show the swing ended up being 16.4 from the Conservatives to Labour.

In total, the Conservative Party’s vote share fell by 21.3 percentage points, meanwhile the Labour Party’s vote increased by 11.5 percentage points.

The Liberal Democrats vote fell by 3.4 points, and the Green Party went up by 3.4 points.

Votes are counted for the Kingswood by-election at the Thornbury Leisure Centre, Gloucestershire.
Image:
Votes are counted for the Kingswood by-election at the Thornbury Leisure Centre, Gloucestershire. Pic: PA


Speaking after his election, Mr Egan said: “Thank you for giving me your trust and for allowing me to serve the community I’m from.

“It’s a trust that I promise to repay, to show that politics can be different and can make a difference.”

He added: “Fourteen years of Conservative government have sucked the hope out of our country.

“There’s a feeling that no matter how hard you work, you just can’t move forward, and with Rishi’s recession we are left once again paying more and getting less.”

While the Kingswood seat is disappearing at the next general election due to boundary changes, Mr Egan is standing for Bristol North East, which contains much of the same electorate.

Mr Bromiley left the hall where the vote was being counted within seconds of the declaration, with the door shut behind him to prevent journalists from following him.

Lib Dem Lords to ignore convention and vote against Safety of Rwanda bill | Politics News

Liberal Democrat peers are poised to ignore a convention dating back to Gladstone’s day to stage a protest against the Rwanda bill in the House of Lords.

The Lib Dem group has announced that its 80 peers will vote against the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill at its second reading next Monday.

It’s a highly unusual move and won’t win support from Labour peers, who regard such tactics as a publicity stunt used by smaller parties like the Lib Dems to gain media coverage.

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And Downing Street is urging peers “not to frustrate the will of the people”, claiming that as the Rwanda bill has the support of the Commons it should be passed by the Lords.

Traditionally, opposition parties don’t vote against government bills at second reading in the Lords, but instead move amendments at committee stage which are then voted on at report stage.

But the Liberal Democrats claim that since the Rwanda policy wasn’t in the Conservative general election manifesto, the convention supported by Labour and the Tories doesn’t apply.

Last year, the Lib Dems moved a motion to “decline” the government’s Illegal Migration Bill at its second reading in the Lords. That was rejected by 179 votes to 76 and a similar result is likely this time.

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Sunak warns Lords over Rwanda Bill

The deal between the major parties is known as the Salisbury-Addison Convention, which evolved because of big Conservative majorities in the House of Lords during Liberal and Labour governments.

Lord Salisbury was Conservative prime minister in the 1880s and 90s, before and after Liberal giant William Gladstone, and Lord Addison was Labour leader in the Lords after Clement Attlee’s 1945 general election landslide.

But a government defeat in the Lords this week, on a motion to delay ratifying the Rwanda treaty until safeguards have been implemented, has emboldened the Lib Dems to defy the convention again.

In a defeat that spells trouble for Rishi Sunak, peers voted by 214 votes to 171, a hefty majority of 43, in favour of calls for protections to be introduced before deportation flights can take off for Rwanda.

Read more:
Rwanda plan suffers first defeat in House of Lords
Path to plan success harder after symbolic Lords defeat

What is the plan and why is it controversial?
How policy became a leadership issue for Sunak

Revealing the Lib Dems’ intention to vote against the bill, a spokesperson told Sky News: “From the beginning, Liberal Democrats have been clear: We have no faith in the Conservatives’ failing Rwanda scheme.

“It’s totally unworkable and extortionately expensive for the taxpayer. Of course, we all want to stop boat crossings in the channel, but this policy will do nothing of the sort.

“So much time and money has already been wasted, with nothing to show for it. Instead, we want a long-term sustainable solution, which must include an efficient processing system to clear the asylum backlog, and safe and legal routes for refugees.

“We have opposed the bill every step of the way, voting against it at every stage in the Commons. It should be no surprise that our strategy will be the same in the Lords.”

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A party source added: “The Rwanda bill is not a manifesto bill. We wouldn’t be voting against it if was in a manifesto. And the convention was a pact between the Tories and Labour. We’re not formally a party to it.

“We voted against the Illegal Migration Bill at second reading and we feel the same way about the Rwanda bill. Since the Lords voted against the treaty this week it makes logical sense to vote against the bill as well.”

But a Labour source told Sky News: “No. We’re not backing it. Why would we stop abiding by our long-term commitment to the Salisbury-Addison convention?

“The whole thing of trying to stop a second reading is obviously a way of a smaller party getting some coverage for something that won’t happen.”

Reacting to the defeat on the Rwanda treaty and looking ahead to the bill’s second reading, a Number 10 Downing Street source told Sky News: “It’s disappointing, but Labour are once again voting against our plans to stop the boats.

“We urge the Lords not to frustrate the will of the people.

“This is the toughest legislation ever introduced in Parliament to tackle illegal migration and makes clear that if you come here illegally you will not be able to stay.

“The bill has the support of the Commons, it is now in the House of Lords. We need to get this through to ensure we get flights off to Rwanda, deter people from making perilous journeys across the Channel and stop the boats.”

Robert Jenrick ‘prepared’ to vote down Rwanda bill as Tory divide deepens | Politics News

Robert Jenrick says he is “prepared” to vote against the Rwanda bill if the government does not adopt “robust” changes to the proposed legislation.

The proposed law is heading back to the Commons for two days of debate this afternoon, with the aim of deterring asylum seekers from coming to the UK via small boat crossings.

Rishi Sunak has said the new bill, which includes clauses to define Rwanda as a “safe country” and reduces the ability for people to appeal, answers the concerns of the the UK Supreme Court – which ruled the plan unlawful – while also ensuring deportations will take place.

But many on the right of the party – including Mr Jenrick, who resigned as immigration minister over the issue – want the prime minister to toughen up the legislation with a raft of amendments, including one that would block injunctions on flights taking off.

Make this move, however, and Mr Sunak risks upsetting the centrist wing of his party, with the One Nation faction already concerned the bill goes too far from the UK’s international obligations.

Politics live:
Johnson tells PM to accept rebel amendments

Speaking to Sky News’s political editor Beth Rigby, Mr Jenrick said he did not want to get to the “situation” where he would have to rebel against the government, but added: “I am prepared to vote against the bill… because this bill doesn’t work, and I do believe that a better bill is possible.

“So the government has a choice. It can either accept my amendments… or it can bring back a new and improved bill, and it could do that within a matter of days because we know the shape of that bill.”

He added: “The opportunity here is immense. Let’s not waste it by creating a scheme that is like a bucket riddled with holes.”

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Jenrick: ‘Tens of thousands more’ will come if bill not ‘fixed’

The former immigration minister said he “didn’t accept” that if the bill failed in the Commons, Mr Sunak’s premiership would be in crisis – despite two deputy Tory chairmen now risking the sack to vote for the rebel amendments.

“This isn’t about the prime minister or his leadership of the Conservative Party,” Mr Jenrick said. “This is about fixing one of the biggest problems facing not just this country, but countries all over the world.

“And as I’ve set out in great detail since I resigned on principle last month, if we don’t fix this problem, we’ll see tens of thousands more people coming to our country.

“I don’t want to see the bill either fail or proceed in its current state. Neither is a satisfactory outcome. But I do know that a better bill is possible and the ball is in the government’s court here.”

He added: “The point is that there’s no point having a moment of unity in passing a bill that doesn’t work – that’s an illusion.

“What matters is whether it works. And if we’re celebrating this week, but in August there are still thousands of people coming across in small boats, no one will remember the events of this week.”

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PM claims Tories are ‘completely united’ in wanting to stop the boats

Govt ‘risks clogging up the courts’

Sky News understands the government still doesn’t plan to accept any of the amendments from right-wing MPs.

However, shortly before the debate was set to begin – and in an attempt to appease rebels – Justice Secretary Alex Chalk confirmed 25 hearing rooms had been prepared and more than 100 additional staff had been recruited to help speed up appeals and deportations.

But Mr Jenrick said: “Adding more judges into the mix simply accepts my central argument that there will be an absolute cascade of individual claims from migrants as they arrive into the country and [that] will clog up the courts.

“It will delay things and the scheme will become completely inoperable.”

The former minister also rejected the government’s argument that any strengthening of the law would lead to the Rwandan government pulling out of the scheme altogether, rather than risk being linked with breaches of international law.

“It is quite an implausible suggestion from the government, which was raised at the 11th hour,” he said.

“I think it’s a highly convenient argument… you weren’t born yesterday, neither was I. I don’t think that is going to wash with parliamentary colleagues.”

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Would Labour support Rwanda plan?

Mr Jenrick continued: “All we care about is what works. It is absolutely critical for the country not to talk about the government, but to actually get the Rwanda scheme up and running.

“Illegal migration is doing untold damage to our country. I won’t allow that to continue.

“I said, as did the prime minister, that we would do whatever it takes. And the bill before parliament this week is not that.

“That is why we need to amend it, to toughen it and to ensure those flights do truly get off to Rwanda.”

Whatever happens in Rwanda vote, Rishi Sunak is in deep trouble | Politics News

Whatever happens in the vote over emergency legislation tomorrow, Rishi Sunak is in deep trouble.

In making flights to Rwanda this totemic policy of his premiership, he has stoked a civil war in this party which threatens to blow up his benches and his leadership, as Brexit did for Theresa May.

Because just as with Brexit, the left and right of the party is split, unable to find common ground.

In essence, moderates are crystal clear that Sunak shouldn’t do anything that undermines the rule of law, while the right of the party wants the prime minister to harden up the bill – with some even believing the government should pull out of international obligations such as the European Convention of Human Rights.

Read more:
What is the revamped Rwanda asylum plan?

On Monday night, Sunak did win the backing of the One Nation moderates, who said they’d vote for the emergency legislation tomorrow, but they also made it very clear their support is conditional.

“We have taken the decision that the most important thing at this stage is to support the bill despite our real concerns,” Damian Green, chair of the group, said.

But, he also said: “We strongly urge the government to stand firm against any attempt to amend the bill in a way that would make it unacceptable to those who believe that support for the rule of law is a basic Conservative principle.”

Shortly after that statement went out, representatives on the right of the Conservative Party sent out this: “More than 40 colleagues met tonight to discuss the bill.

Every member of that discussion said the bill needs major surgery or replacement.

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‘No plans’ to pull Rwanda bill

While Sunak says he will listen to concerns, allies have made it clear that he will not support a significant rewrite of the legislation.

He is a prime minister who wants to stay within the bounds of international law.

Over the next 24 hours, he will urge the right-wing rebels to stick with him. But what is so obviously clear is that winning tomorrow is only the beginning, not the end of the war.

Because if the right of the party back him now, it will be to amend the legislation further down the line.

These MPs will probably hope the government will support them at a later stage. And they would still retain the nuclear option of voting against the bill at the third reading. That doesn’t bear thinking about for the prime minister.

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For now, Sunak is pulling out all the stops to win the vote tomorrow. His argument will be that this emergency legislation is all about the fundamental principle of tackling illegal immigration and that the party must be seen to be voting it through.

But he knows, too, that his is a showdown delayed not resolved. A party in civil war and a prime minister unable to stop it.

Nurses to vote on England-wide strike action after rejecting 5% pay rise | Politics News

Nurses will vote on whether to hold England-wide strike action later this month after rejecting the government’s 5% pay rise.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members have held a series of strikes over the past six months and while 14 health unions last week agreed to a 5% pay rise, the nurses union rejected the offer.

Their previous six-month mandate to hold strikes ended last Monday.

The new ballot will open on 23 May and close on 23 June, the union said on Tuesday.

Pat Cullen, head of the RCN, told MPs on Tuesday: “I would really urge the Secretary of State to get into the room this week with the Royal College of Nursing about pay and other issues.

“Let’s not push our members to ballot on 23 May for another six months.”

If nurses vote for further strike action this time it could mean every NHS trust in England where RCN members are employed could take industrial action for the first time.

To achieve a country-wide mandate, 50% of all eligible members must vote and the majority must say “yes” to strike action.

In an email to RCN members, Ms Cullen said: “Every day, patients are at risk due to chronic staffing shortages. The government has tried to turn people against us by saying strikes are unsafe.

“But it’s their failure to invest in nursing that has made our wards unsafe.

“Record waiting lists, people left for hours in A&E, staff forced to treat patients in corridors – it’s all been caused by tens of thousands of nursing vacancies, not by our strikes.”

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Nurses’ strikes could last ‘until Xmas’

Last week, Unison, GMB, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists and the Royal College of Midwives were among the 14 unions who supported the 5% pay offer, plus a cash top-up.

Unite and the RCN both rejected the offer, with Unite saying it would take “escalating” action during the short period of time they have left as part of their mandate to strike.

Unite will also re-ballot its members on whether to continue taking action.

Douglas Ross: Row erupts as Scottish Tory leader suggests people should vote Labour to oust SNP | Politics News

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has suggested that Tories should vote Labour in the next election, prompting fury from his party’s Westminster HQ.

Douglas Ross said people should “do what’s best for the country” and support the candidate most likely to beat the SNP in their constituency – and in many Scottish seats, it is likely to be Labour or even the Lib Dems who are the most serious threat to the Scottish nationalists.

Mr Ross said he wants to loosen the SNP’s grip on Scotland, adding that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer should also be looking “a bit beyond their own narrow party agenda” in favour of keeping the UK together.

He told The Sunday Telegraph: “The public know how to tactically vote in Scotland.

“I will always encourage Scottish Conservative voters to vote Scottish Conservatives, but I think generally the public can see and they want the parties to accept that where there is a strongest candidate to beat the SNP you get behind that candidate.

“If parties maybe look beyond their own narrow party agenda and do what’s best for the country and for me as Scottish Conservative leader what would be best is if we see this grip that the SNP have on Scotland at the moment is loosened.”

But a Tory spokesman in Westminster insisted that tactical voting was not the official position south of the border, saying: “This is emphatically not the view of the Conservative Party.

“We want people to vote for Conservative candidates wherever they are standing as that’s the best way to keep Labour and the SNP out.”

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The news comes just weeks before the local elections, where Mr Sunak and his party are expected to lose more than 1,000 seats, according to a recent report in the Daily Mirror.

This would be a blow to the impression he is trying to give of a prime minister repairing the reputation of the Conservatives.

East of England ambulance workers vote to strike | UK News

Almost 1,000 East of England ambulance workers have voted to strike in a dispute over pay and staffing, the GMB union says.

Paramedics, emergency medical technicians, call handlers and other staff are set to walk out in the region.

The union said its members voted by an 86% majority for industrial action.

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) is the only service not to have been on strike in the latest wave of action.

Workers across the ambulance service have voted to strike over a pay dispute with the government.

The GMB union will meet with representatives in the coming days to discuss potential strike dates for the EEAS workers.

The union said its members are determined to campaign for better pay and are “furious” over the government’s “apparent attempts to smear” them over life and limb cover on strike days.

GMB organiser Lola McEvoy said: “East of England was the only ambulance trust in the country not to have been on strike – that will now change.

“As industrial action spreads to all corners of England, the Scottish and Welsh Governments have begun constructive talks with the GMB and seen walkouts suspended.

“Ministers in England don’t seem to want to listen, leaving NHS workers and the English public being treated like second-class citizens.

“It’s simple – talk pay now and make a decent offer for this year. Our members and the public are waiting.”

Read more:
Strikes: Who is taking industrial action in 2023 and when?

Ambulance workers across large parts of England and Wales have taken strike action in recent weeks and another walkout is planned on Friday by members of Unison.

It comes after nurses continued with their industrial action today after walking out on Monday alongside paramedics and call handlers in what was the largest strike in NHS history.

Meanwhile, more than 100,000 civil servants are to strike on budget day in an escalation of a dispute over pay, pensions and job security.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has announced a new strike date of 15 March, when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is due to unveil his spring budget.

It follows a strike last week that saw hundreds of thousands of members in 123 government departments walk out across England, Scotland and Wales.