UK politics - live: Michael Gove accused of ‘witch-hunt’ as he vows ‘pro-Palestinian marchers will pay’

UK politics - live: Michael Gove accused of ‘witch-hunt’ as he vows ‘pro-Palestinian marchers will pay’

Michael Gove has been accused of a ‘witch hunt’ after saying he wanted pro-Palestinian marchers to pay for the massive weekly protests.

The secretary of state for levelling up labelled pro-Palestine university encampments as ‘antisemitism repurposed for the Instagram age’ and he accused activists of hostility towards Jewish students.

In a speech on Tuesday, Mr Gove also accused organisers of not doing enough to stop some demonstrators spreading anti-Jewish messages, which he claims, included chants calling for the “annihilation of Israel”. His remarks have sparked furore among organisations supporting Palestinians in Gaza, who have been holding huge protests in London every weekend since the 7 October Hamas attacks.

His speech came ahead of the publication of the Lord Walney review into political violence, which recommended government tighten laws to ban Gaza protests taking place on certain days as well as calling for powers to help businesses claim damages from protest organisers.

But on the same day, the High Court ruled the Home Office had acted unlawfully when it implemented regulations to lower the threshold for police intervening in protests.

Key Points

  • Activists slam Michael Gove for antisemitism accusations

  • Palestine Solidarity Campaign hit out at Gove

  • Home Office acted unlawfully over anti-protest law

  • Lord Walney report to crack down on protests

‘Jewish people should feel safe on our streets'

19:41 , Salma Ouaguira

Karen Pollock CBE, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “For far too long, our city centres have been filled with violent chants and placards calling for the elimination of the Jewish State of Israel.

“Antisemitism has become commonplace with medieval tropes modernised to attack the only Jewish state, the Jewish star of David compared to a Swastika and Zionism being equated to Fascism.

“Jewish people, like everyone else in this great nation, should feel safe on our streets and these recommendations are the first step in ensuring this becomes the case once again.”

In full: First infected blood scandal victims to receive payments by end of 2024

19:00 , Salma Ouaguira

Announcing the details of the Infected Blood Compensation Authority, cabinet office minister John Glen promised all those affected by the scandal will be eligible to claim compensation under the scheme, Archie Mitchell writes.

First infected blood scandal victims to receive payments by end of 2024

Infected blood scandal: Tributes paid to seven-year-old boy

18:00 , Salma Ouaguira

Tributes have been paid to a seven-year-old boy who died of AIDs after he was given an infected blood transfusion.

Colin John Smith was just 10 months old when he was infected with the deadly virus when he received a blood transfusion under NHS care.

Newport East Labour MP Jessica Morden told MPs of the stress and heartache Colin’s family have been through as she urged the government to “put victims first”.

Cabinet Office Minister John Glen assured her the government heard her plea.

Mr Glen confirmed that the first full compensation payments to victims of the infected blood scandal will be made before the end of the year.

Jewish activist group hits back at Michael Gove

17:12 , Salma Ouaguira

Glen Secker, member of the executive committee of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, told The Independent: “Michael Gove’s remarks is a work of fiction. It resembles nothing to the reality. Each 1,000 members of us at JJP attend demonstrations each time and we are welcomed by everybody. There is no hostility.”

On Jews not being accepted in pro-Palestinian marches, he added: “It is a fictional line, you wouldn’t get organisations like us to obey his instructions on what we can or cannot say.

“What Michael Gove has done is to wipe out a whole vision of antisemitism in favour of shutting down protests.”

On the presence of antisemitic slogans and symbols, he says: “I have been on every demonstration since October 7. People clap at us and thank us. I have never seen anything of what Gove is describing.

“You could have one or two who have antisemitic slogans buried in a march of thousands of people. In the past I have confronted people and they have taken them down.

“The protests have been amazingly peaceful.”

He adds: “We don’t identify with Israel in its current form and we separate ourselves from Israel’s actions. The genocide in Gaza has left no middle ground, you either condemn it or support it.

“That doesn’t excuse what Hamas did on October 7, we condemn that, but you have to put it into context. The context of repression whether you call it imperialism or colonialism doesn’t matter. It is what you do to people and it’s going to cause a reaction.

“It doesn’t excuse the violation of human rights but you have to understand it.

“Everyone should be able to live in Palestine with equal human rights, that’s what ‘from the river to the sea’ means. Our freedom as Jews is not complete without the freedom of Palestinians.”

Benefits reform will uncover hidden 'treasure' in the talents of unemployed Brits, cabinet minister claims

17:00 , Kate Devlin

Welfare reform will help uncover the hidden “treasure” in the talents of unemployed Brits, the Work and Pensions secretary has claimed.

It came as Mel Stride said ‘skills bootcamps’ would be used to cut a reliance on overseas workers.

The UK has relied on foreign labour “for too long” and “I am determined to put that right”, he said.

Benefits claimants are to be offered training for roles in key sectors such as hospitality, care, construction and manufacturing.

In a speech on reforming the benefits system, he said: “I want to use the power of welfare reform to uncover the treasure that is the hidden talent in our country, to unleash the potential in communities that have too often been overlooked.”

AI to be implemented in research and tests

15:58 , Salma Ouaguira

Ten nations and the European Union have agreed to establish an international network of publicly backed AI Safety Institutes to advance global research and testing of AI.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the agreement would mean “international progress” could be made on AI safety, after it was announced at the end of the first day of the AI Seoul Summit.

The UK announced it would create the world’s first AI Safety Institute during the AI Safety Summit held at Bletchley Park in November last year, to carry out research and voluntary evaluation and testing of AI models, with a number of other countries since announcing their own domestic institutes.

Click here to read Martin Landi’s full story

Lord Walney report: Activists condemn sweeping measures

15:38 , Salma Ouaguira

Palestine Solidarity Campaign has attacked John Woodcock’s guidance for “undermining long-held democratic principles”.

Rejecting the proposals, PSC activists claim: “This thoroughly compromised report should be allowed to gather dust in the obscurity it deserves.

“Unlike Michael Gove, the organisers of the recent demonstrations against Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza have a proud track-record of challenging all forms of racism.

“Every single one of the fourteen London demonstrations for Palestinian rights that we have organised in the past seven months has been attended by thousands of Jewish people including an organised and highly visible Jewish bloc and Jewish speakers on every platform.”

‘Anti-semitism is a cancer but Israel actions can’t be overlooked,’ councillor says

15:22 , Salma Ouaguira

Liverpool Cllr Alan Gibbons has reacted to Michael Gove’s speech.

Taking to social media, he said antisemitism is a cancer but actions of Israel can’t be forgotten.

Protests crackdown: Lord Wanly recommends creating buffer zones

15:04 , Salma Ouaguira

The government’s adviser on political violence Lord Walney has outlined new measures in a bid to “protect our democratic values from intimidation”.

The tough guidance could include:

  • Making protest buffer zones around MPs’ constituency offices and local council chambers.

  • Force organisers pay towards policing.

  • A review of undercover surveillance of activist groups.

  • A blanket ban on face coverings at protests.

  • Making it easier for businesses or members of the public claim damages from activist groups.

  • Measures to restrict the ability of some groups to organized fundraise.

In his 292-page report on political violence and disruption, he also claims law enforcement do not know enough about “the extreme left”.

Just Stop Oil said it did not recognise the legitimacy of the report because of the links.

In full: What did Michael Gove say about pro-Palestine marches?

14:54 , Salma Ouaguira

The communities secretary has used his time at the Jewish community centre in North London to attack organisers.


In his speech, he said: “The organisers of the marches say that there are Jewish people on their demonstrations.

“But they are only safe if they deny what is dear to so many Jewish people - the safety of people in Israel. If they are to be accepted on these marches then they must knuckle under, accept the calls to globalise the intifada or end the Zionist entity.

“They have to obey the rules laid down by others - those march organisers. Who reserve the right to tell Jews both where they should live in the world and how they should live on our streets.

“It is a classic antisemitic trope to set the terms on which Jews will be accepted. Safe, provided they live in their ghetto. Safe, provided they don’t get above themselves. Safe, provided they don’t contemplate the use of force in self-defence.

“Until, of course,  they aren’t safe anymore.”

Pro-Palestine march organisers hit out at Michael Gove after antisemitism speech

14:42 , Salma Ouaguira

Organisers of the massive London marches Palestine Solidarity Campaign have slammed the Tory MP.

Director of PSC Ben Jamal tells the The Independent: “Nobody truly committed to anti-racism and to suppressing hatred is going to take any lessons from Michael Gove, a politician with an egregious track record of promoting Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism.

“That he should choose to issue his speech at a moment when Israel is on trial in the world’s highest court for the crime of genocide and the day after its leader has been threatened with arrest warrants for war crimes from the ICC, is grotesque, but given his track record, unsurprising. He should be devoting his energies at the moment to ensuring his Government upholds its responsibilities under international law rather than trying to smear those who are protesting against the current genocide.

“Furthermore, his attempts to use his speech to once again push the arguments for the pernicious anti-boycott bill to become law, reveals his agenda.

“This bill contains a clause that seeks to uniquely protect Israel above all other states in the world from the peaceful, ethical tactic of divestment and boycott, even whilst it commits genocide. Mr Gove discredits himself, not the Palestinian solidarity movement.”

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Infected blood scandal: MPs urge Gov to introduce NHS passports for victims

14:20 , Salma Ouaguira

The Father of the House of Commons Sir Peter Bottomley has called on the government to launch NHS passports for those impacted by the infected blood scandal.

The move would protect victims from intrusive questions every time they seek medical attention.

The Conservative MP said: “It is important, I think, that those who are young in conditions should actually understand that if you see that there’s a haemophilia or a whole blood infection, that you can take for granted a lot of things which you don’t need to ask. That humanity, I think, needs to be spread.”

He also urged to help compensated victims through the process of receiving the funds because “families sometimes don’t find it easy to decide how money should be shared”.

Watch: Moment John Glen announces infected blood scandal compensation

14:00 , Salma Ouaguira

In case you missed it: Austrian leader lauds UK’s efforts on migration and cites its plan for deportations to Rwanda

13:50 , Salma Ouaguira

Austria’s leader praised Britain Tuesday as a “pioneer” in outsourcing asylum proceedings to places outside Europe, citing a U.K. bill to send migrants to Rwanda as he hosted Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Vienna.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer’s conservative party has long taken a hard line on migration and faces a strong challenge from the far-right Freedom Party in an election expected this fall.

Calls grow to strip Ken Clarke of his peerage

13:30 , Kate Devlin

Calls are growing for Ken Clarke to be stripped of his peerage after he was condemned for “indefensible” actions during the infected blood scandal.

A cabinet minister has said demands to kick the former health secretary out of the House of Lords “totally understandable”.

Mel Stride also said the Tory grandee still had questions to answer over the biggest healthcare failure in UK history.

Calls grow for Ken Clarke to be stripped of his peerage over infected blood scandal

Lord Walney report: Further recommendations from the Independent Advisor on Political Violence

13:20 , Holly Bancroft

  • Crackdown on people who praise terror groups or individuals.

  • Those who suffer loss or damage from extreme protest movements should be able to get redress from the group who organised the action.

  • Government should consider making protest organisers contribute to the policing costs of their demonstration.

  • Improve the recording and reporting of harassment and intimidation directed against MPs.

  • Don’t automatically suspend teachers if they are involved in blasphemy-related incidents.

Watch: Mel Stride grilled over infected blood scandal compensations

13:10 , Salma Ouaguira

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride has been asked about where the compensation money for victims of the infected blood scandal will come from.

The Tory minister was quizzed about how the government plans to pay millions of pounds of compensation to those impacted when he appeared on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday (21 May).

Host Susanna Reid asked him: “We are talking ten billion pounds, how will we pay for it?

“Does it mean borrowing money or do people get taxed for it?”

Richard Madeley asked: “Will you go after the pharmaceutical companies?”

Mr Stride replied: “It doesn’t need to be about that.”

Infected blood scandal: Victims to get compensation of £210,000

13:08 , Salma Ouaguira

John Glen has announced victims of the blood scandal will receive payments worth thousands.

He told the House of Commons: “Payments of £210,000 will be made to living infected beneficiaries, those registered with existing infected blood support schemes as well as those who register with a support scheme before the final scheme becomes operational and the estates of those who pass away between now and payments being made.

“I know that time is of the essence which is why I am also pleased to say that they will be delivered within 90 days, starting in the summer so that they can reach those who need it so urgently most.”

The payments will be rolled out before the end of 2024 and it will be exempt from income, capital gains and inheritance taxes.

Activists and left-wing parties accuse Gove of spreading lies

13:06 , Salma Ouaguira

Members of the Revolutionary Communist Party have hit out at the Tory MP for accusing them of antisemitism.

Speaking today, Mr Gove said: “On the extreme Left, academics such as Professor David Miller and groups such as the Socialist Workers’ Party, the Socialist Party and the Revolutionary Communist Party jostle to share platforms with Islamist groupings.

“Deploy aggressive language about ‘zionists’, support calls for intifada and praising te the resistance - a synonym for Hamas - in terms that Jewish students say cause them physical fear.”

In response to the blatant accusations, the Marxist party has labelled his remarks an “attempt to distract from the Tories’ support for genocide”.

Watch live: Government expected to announce £10bn infected blood scandal compensation

12:42 , Salma Ouaguira

Michael Gove condemns call to arrest Netanyahu for war crimes

12:34 , Salma Ouaguira

The Conservative minister has slammed the International Criminal Court for seeking an arrest warrant on Benjamin Netanyahu.

Speaking on Times Radio, the housing, communities and levelling up secretary said: “The one thing that seems to me to be absolutely clear is that of course you can criticise Israel, and there are plenty of grounds for doing so.

“You cannot equate Israel with Hamas.

“Hamas is a terrorist organisation, bent on slaughter.

“Israel is a state like all states, an imperfect one, but trying to defend its people, so equating the two is just nonsensical.”

But he also described Israel as an imperfect state which is trying to protect its population.

Gove continued: “Yes there are grounds to criticise Israel; yes, there are grounds to criticise Netanyahu for some of the mistakes he has made.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could face an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court after its chief prosecutor said he would apply for one on Monday (Ohad Zwigenberg/AP) (AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could face an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court after its chief prosecutor said he would apply for one on Monday (Ohad Zwigenberg/AP) (AP)

Government should have a permanent Independent Adviser on Political Violence

12:26 , Holly Bancroft

Lord Walney has recommended that his role is made permanent so that government is better informed about the threats posed by protest movements.

He references Extinction Rebellion as an organisation which is misunderstood, saying that while it is an environmentalist group it “is also fundamentally rooted in an anarchist analysis of society and ways of organising”.

Lord Walney has said that police should improve their intelligence on these groups and conduct a review “on whether undercover surveillance is being used appropriately”.

MPs should not engage with activists that resort to illegal activities, Lord Walney recommends

12:24 , Holly Bancroft

Lord Walney assessed that popular and “worthy” causes are being highjacked by “extreme activists”.

He has recommended that central and local government do not fund, work or consult with groups who resort to illegal activities to secure change.

He also recommended that, outside of government, MPs and other elected representatives of political parties should not engage with such groups.

He also writes that “too little attention” has been paid to the “serious forms of violence, intimidation, and incitement of hatred on the extreme left”.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

We must defend our democracy from extremists, government's adviser on political violence says in landmark report

12:12 , Holly Bancroft

The UK democracy is “at a crossroads” and must be defended from extremists on the left and right, the government’s independent adviser on political violence has said.

In a comprehensive report released on Tuesday, Lord Walney warned that “extreme political activists are targeting core elements of Britain’s democracy”.

He said that there “is a serious risk of enabling increased radicalisation on issues such as climate change that could result in more violent disorder in future.”

In the summary of his report, Lord Walney added: “I conclude, unsurprisingly, that there is a greater violent threat from the far right.

“Yet I find a worrying gap in our understanding of the extreme left, whose activists do not routinely employ violent methods yet systematically seek to undermine faith in our parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.”

Michael Gove has just delivered a major speech on antisemitism

12:11 , Salma Ouaguira

Here are the key takeaways from what the communities secretary said:

  • Pro-Palestinian protest organisers are not doing enough to avoid antisemitism.

  • Jewish students are not safe in university campuses and they are source of antisemitism agitation.

  • He has called out far right figures including BNP Nick Griffin, Patriotic Alternative, Britain First, Patriotic Alternative antisemtic movements.

  • Announcing new legislation, he said the government will prevent universities from enabling antisemitism by endorsing the BDS campaign.

  • He has also suggested pro-Palestinian marchers should pay for policing costs.

You can read the full keynote speech here

Jeremy Hunt speaking from the IMF live

11:59 , Salma Ouaguira

You can watch the full speech on the Internatinal Monetary Fund economy report below.

He is accompanied by  IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva, who was earlier welcomed to No 11.

‘Government will uncover treasure with welfare reforms,’ Mel Stride vows

11:56 , Salma Ouaguira

Speaking on reforming the benefits system, the work and pensions secretary said he plans to curve unemployment.

He says: “I want to use the power of welfare reform to uncover the treasure that is the hidden talent in our country, to unleash the potential in communities that have too often been overlooked.

“Of course, our tools in this endeavour are wide-ranging, reflecting the different approaches that we are taking, from the fine chisel and soft brush for tailored and targeted support to boost skills and help recruit people into high demand sectors; to the large-scale excavator helping to deliver our structural reform, ensuring welfare supports and reflects the changing modern world.”

UK economy has room for rate cuts, IMF says

11:47 , Salma Ouaguira

The International Monetary Fund has published its lates growth forecast report and said the economy is set for a “soft landing”.

The report said the GDP is expected to rise by 0.7 per cent this year, followed by a 0.6 per cent growth over the first quarter.

Commenting on the results, chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “Today’s report clearly shows that independent international economists agree that the UK economy has turned a corner and is on course for a soft landing.

“The IMF have upgraded our growth for this year and forecast we will grow faster than any other large European country over the next six years - so it is time to shake off some of the unjustified pessimism about our prospects.”

 (Aaron Chown/PA Wire)
(Aaron Chown/PA Wire)

University encampment organisers accuse Gove of ‘smear campaign'

11:38 , Salma Ouaguira

Pro-Palestine student Fiona Lali has replied to Michael Gove’s attacks on protesters.

Taking to social media, she has accused the communities secretary of starting a smear campaign.

Breaking: Home Office acted unlawfully over anti-protest law

11:25 , Salma Ouaguira

The High Court has ruled government’s move to extend police powers around protests was unlawful.

The ruling comes after civil liberties group Liberty started a legal action proceeding on the home Office last year.

The measured lowered standards of what is considered “serious disruption” to community life, from “significant” and “prolonged” to “more than minor”.

After the ruling Akiko Hart, Liberty’s director, said: “This ruling is a huge victory for democracy and sets down an important marker to show that the government cannot step outside of the law to do whatever it wants.”

In full: Michael Gove wants to “make marchers pay” in pro Palestinian protests

11:22 , David Maddox

Michael Gove has revealed plans to “make marchers pay” for the massive weekly pro-Palestinian protests dominating the centre of London at weekends.

People take part in a pro-Palestine march in central London organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PA Wire)
People take part in a pro-Palestine march in central London organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PA Wire)

The communities secretary announced a number of measures to tackle extremism from Islamists, the far right and the extreme left.

He declared that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement on the left directed at boycotting Israeli academia and businesses is “antisemitic”.

Among his measures was a threat to “make marchers pay” for the repeated disruption and cost of policing.

He said: “I don’t want to make it unaffordable for groups to protest but when groups protest again and again and again then I think it is fair to ask them to pay.”

Mr Gove also urged Labour peers to stop slowing down the progress of legislation to allow antisemitism to be tackled more effectively.

He said there will be national advisers on antisemitism and hatred against Muslims.

‘Decolonisation’ calls only benefit UK’s adversaries, says Gove

11:13 , Salma Ouaguira

Speaking from north London, the levelling up secretary said the notion among activists that West prosperity was built on exploitation and empire was “inherently flawed” and only benefited the UK’s adversaries.

Mr Gove said: “But these ideas are deeply congenial to those authoritarian states who are increasingly arrayed together against us. For Iran, for China and even for Russia the decolonisation narrative is meat and drink.

“The idea that the success of liberal Western nations is based on plunder and exploitation… is central to their efforts to advance their goals.”

Gove announces new legislation to tackle antisemitism

10:57 , Salma Ouaguira

The communities secretary is outlining government’s new steps to stop rising numbers of hate.

He urges leaders to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

Mr Gove also promises to set out a government independent adviser to tackle antisemitism and a parallel one on anti-Muslim hatred.

‘Antisemitism repurposed for the Instagram age’

10:51 , Salma Ouaguira

The Conservative MP claims student protests across the country have caused hostility towards Jewish students.

Slamming the pro-Palestine university encampments, he says it is “antisemitism repurposed for the Instagram age”.

He then urges university and leaders to punish antisemites on campus and to “listen to the Jewish community”.

Meanwhile in Vienna...

10:47 , Salma Ouaguira

Rishi Sunak says the arrest warrant for Netanyahu is unhelpful.

Speaking from Vienna, the PM says: “Of course it is still subject to a final decision, but it remains deeply unhelpful nonetheless.

“There is no moral equivalence between a democratic state exercising its lawful right to self defence and the terrorist group Hamas. It is wrong to conflate and equivocate between those two different entities.

“What I am very clear is that this will make absolutely no difference in getting a pause in the fighting, getting aid into the region, or indeed the hostages out.”


‘The BDS movement is antisemitic,' Michael Gove says

10:40 , Salma Ouaguira

“From the river to the sea,” is a chant for the erasure of the Jewish home, Michael Gove claims.

He says the phrase is directed at Israel and any endorsements are explicitly antisemitic.

Mr Gove goes on to attack the BDS movement and says it stresses the need to “eliminate the state of Israel.”

Michael Gove says antisemitism is the common currency of hate

10:37 , Salma Ouaguira

He says the far-right and the far-left are equally undermining UK democracy.

The Tory MP condemns figures from both spheres and claims BANP Nick Griffin, Patriotic Alternative, Britain First, have been invited to share space with Islamists with the common ground of concern the Jewish state.

He has also accused the Revolutionary Communist Party of antisemitism adding hate “is a virus that evolves”.

Gove condemns pro-Palestine organisers

10:32 , Salma Ouaguira

Michael Gove claims organisers deny participation of Jews in marches.

He ads the pro-Palestine marches have been a source of intimidation for the Jewish community and they haven’t been able to take part due to “antisemitic tropes”.

The communities secretary says: “It’s an ironclad law of history that countries which are descending into darkness are those which are becoming progressively more unsafe for Jewish individuals and the Jewish community, the Spain of the Inquisition, the Vienna of the 1900s, Germany in the 30s, Russia in the last decade.

“It is a parallel law that those countries in which the Jewish community has felt most safe at any time are the countries where freedom is most secure at any time.

“The Netherlands of the 17th century, Britain in the first decades of the last century, America in the second half of that century.

“So when Jewish people are under threat, all our freedoms are threatened. The safety of the Jewish community is the canary in the mine. Growing antisemitism is a fever which weakens the whole body politic.”

A student activist waves a Palestinian flag at a pro-Palestine encampment at Oxford University (Getty Images)
A student activist waves a Palestinian flag at a pro-Palestine encampment at Oxford University (Getty Images)

‘We’ve seen an explosion in antisemitism'

10:30 , Salma Ouaguira

The levelling up secretary says there has been a skyrocketing spurge in hate against the Jewish community.

He claims there have been a recorded 4,103 incidents since the 2023.

He claims there have been svastikas and Hamas banners portrayed during the pro-Palestine marches.

Mr Gove says many protesters are “thoughtful, gentle, compassionate people”, they are “side by side with those who are promoting hate”.

Michael Gove is now speaking from London

10:26 , Salma Ouaguira

The Conservative MP is delivering a keynote speech on rising antisemitism to the Jewish community.

He starts saying: “Since the Hamas attack, we’ve seen a shadow spread in the UK.

“There is growing evidence of a remarkable phenomenon...a questioning of the fact a blaming the victims, a campaign of hate redirected not only to the Jewish state but Jews everywhere.”

‘MPs could be prosecuted over various criminal offenses'

10:21 , Salma Ouaguira

Although corporate manslaughter charge cannot be used, Max Hill,  a former director of public prosecutions said there are other options.

He told Times Radio: “If the evidence is there, there is no bar to an investigation and a prosecution.

“Now, sadly, corporate manslaughter came into force as a criminal offence on April 6, 2008 – much too late to deal with this case.

“However, there are other criminal offences which pre-date corporate manslaughter, where individuals have a duty of care and [if] they breached that duty in a gross way – that’s a legal term – they can be held liable.

“Gross negligence manslaughter comes to my mind and also misconduct in public office.

“It’s not for me to know whether either of those are feasible in these circumstances, but the criminal law does provide answers such as this even decades after the event.”

Infected blood inquiry: ‘Lord Clarke has questions to answer’

10:17 , Salma Ouaguira

Mel Stride claims Lord Clarke has questions to answer over the infected blood scandal.

The former health secretary is facing calls to be stripped of his peerage following the inquiry resolution he had misled the public.

The detailed blood inquiry report claims he had done so in an “indefensible” way over transfusion risks.

Mr Stride told LBC: “Sir Brian has come forward with some very strong observations of Ken, in the context of the scandal.

“Clearly there are questions that I’ve no doubt Ken will be addressing in time.”

Infected blood scandal: Mel Stride warns MPs could be taken to court

10:12 , Salma Ouaguira

Conservative MP Mel Stride claims politicians involved in the scandal could face prosecution.

The work and pensions secretary said: “I think all of those things should and will be looked at ... I have no doubt that all of those things will be extremely carefully looked at, because in that 2,700-page report, there are many questions and many short failings that have surfaced, and they all need to be looked at very carefully.

“And it is not inconceivable that what you’ve described may be something that transpires.”

It comes as Rishi Sunak has vowed to deliver a comprehensive compensation to victims following a damning report yesterday.

Work and pensions secretary says politicians involved in the infected blood scandal could face justice (PA Wire)
Work and pensions secretary says politicians involved in the infected blood scandal could face justice (PA Wire)

We’re just a few minutes away from Michael Gove’s speech

09:57 , Salma Ouaguira

You can follow the full event live on the link below.

In full: Gove’s extremism warning

09:55 , Salma Ouaguira

Mr Gove is set to urge members of the House of Lords to pass the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill.

The policy will stop businesses and organisations – including those affiliated with Israel – being targeted through ongoing boycotts by public bodies, leading to community tensions and a rise in antisemitism.

Gove’s extremism warning as antisemitism incidents rise by 147 per cent

Michael Gove blames protest organisers for ‘anti-Jewish hate'

09:42 , Salma Ouaguira

The leveling up secretary is just minutes away from delivering a major speech slamming pro-Palestine organisers.

Mr Gove will accuse them of not doing enough to stop the rise of antisemitism.

Condemning recent marches in London, he will also say that many protesters are “thoughtful, gentle, compassionate people”. But they walk “side by side with those who are promoting hate”.

Michael Gove speaks on antisemitism after Jewish hate crimes triple in London (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
Michael Gove speaks on antisemitism after Jewish hate crimes triple in London (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)

Labour to build new generation of towns

09:35 , Salma Ouaguira

Angela Rayner is set to deliver a speech today outlining the party’s plans to tackle the housing crisis.

Speaking from Leeds, the shadow deputy leader will promise voters the creation of new towns.

Ahead of the speech, Ms Rayner said: “Labour’s new towns are just one part of our ambitious house-building agenda which will see swathes of good quality, affordable houses built in the national interest.

“Developers who deliver on their obligations to build high quality, well designed and sustainable affordable housing, with green spaces and transport links and schools and GPs surgeries nearby, will experience a new dawn under Labour.”

Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner looks at a home under construction during a visit to the Nightingale Quarter on April 19, 2024 in Derby (Getty Images)
Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner looks at a home under construction during a visit to the Nightingale Quarter on April 19, 2024 in Derby (Getty Images)

‘UK is a pioneer with Rwanda deportation plan,’ says Austrian chancellor

09:31 , Salma Ouaguira

Karl Nehammer has praised Rishi Sunak’s plans to fly asylum seekers out of the country.

Speaking today, he said: “The UK is therefore also a pioneer for this model, a model and a path that will be important for the Europeans as well.

“The Rwanda model is a solution for us to have asylum proceedings in safe third countries and that is something we need to put on the EU’s agenda as well.”

He added: “We support the British path and the British model.”

More countries to implement Rwanda plan, PM confirms

09:15 , Salma Ouaguira

The PM has confirmed Austria could implement a similar plan on their territory.

Discussing the Rwanda policy with chancellor Karl Nehammer in Vienna, he revealed 15 countries now support the plans.

He also vowed the UK will continue “bringing others along with us on the journey”.

‘Business as usual won’t solve this problem,’ PM says

08:49 , Salma Ouaguira

Praising the Austria-UK cooperation, he says: “Austria is an important friend to the United Kingdom.

And the UK has now “taken steps to deepen that relationship even further,” he adds.


The PM says illegal migration is “truly one of the defining issues of our time” and that “we face criminal gangs that are growing in strength across the European continent and beyond”.

Referring to his Rwanda plan, Mr Sunak said he and Mr Nehammer agree that “business as usual won’t solve this problem” and “we have to think creatively”, such as by creating a deterrent with removals to safe third countries under the Rwanda scheme.

“It’s increasingly clear that many other countries now agree that that is the approach that is required – bold, novel, looking at safe country partnerships,” he said.

Rishi Sunak is speaking now from Vienna

08:43 , Salma Ouaguira

Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer says the UK is a pioneer in deporting asylum seekers to third countries.

Mr Nehammer says: “Tackling illegal migration is something that affect us here in the European Union,” but also in the UK.

He says the UK plays a key role in making that happen, after the PM launched a pioneering schemeato send asylum seekers to third countries.

Rishi Sunak ready to speak from Austria

08:33 , Salma Ouaguira

The prime minister is set to appear alongside Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer from Vienna in a few minutes.

You can follow his live speech below:

Exclusive: Antisemitic hate crimes in London treble in year, data shows

08:26 , Salma Ouaguira

Ahead of Michael Gove’s speech this morning, new figures obtained by The Independent show antisemitic hate crimes have risen in London in the last year.

Freedom of information data also showed that hate crimes flagged as Islamophobic rose by 49 per cent in the same period, from 940 to 1,405.

Reports of antisemitic behaviour dramatically increased after the Hamas attacks on Israel on 7 October, according to Jewish security organisation The Community Security Trust (CST), which recorded 4,103 antisemitic incidents in the UK in 2023, a 147 per cent rise on the 1,662 incidents in 2022.

MPs urge South West Water to deliver compensation customers deserve

08:24 , Salma Ouaguira

SWW has increased compensation to £215 for customers in recent days after reports emerged residents are still boiling water.

The advice came after water supplies across Devon were contamination by cryptosporidium – a waterborne disease which can cause unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting.

Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall, whose Totnes constituency covers Brixham, has said customers should get a level of compensation they “deserve” following the outbreak.

According to the Government, 16,000 households and businesses in Brixham, supplied by SWW, were urged last week not to use their tap water for drinking without boiling and cooling it first.

Two people have been taken to hospital as a result of the outbreak.

Contaminated water scandal: South West Water confirms £3.5m compensation

08:18 , Salma Ouaguira

South West Water bosses have revealed a payout worth £3.5million to customers affected by the parasite outbreak in Devon.

Pennon boss Susan Davy said: “We are 100% focused on returning a safe water supply to the people and businesses in and around Brixham.”

She also confirmed normal service has returned for most customers. She added: “Our absolute priority continues to be the health and safety of our customers, and our operational teams are working tirelessly around the clock to deliver this.”

It comes as thousands of Brixham residents have been forced to boil tap water before drinking.

The number of confirmed cases of parasite in Brixham is expected to continue rising for up to two more weeks (PA) (PA Wire)
The number of confirmed cases of parasite in Brixham is expected to continue rising for up to two more weeks (PA) (PA Wire)

Pictured: Rishi Sunak at the Federal Chancellery Ballhausplatz

08:07 , Salma Ouaguira

Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer and prime minister Rishi Sunak (AP)
Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer and prime minister Rishi Sunak (AP)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
 (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
(Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)

Gove to speak to the Jewish community in London

08:00 , Salma Ouaguira

The government has expressed huge concerns after a 147 per cent increase in antisemitic incidents since 2022.

The number has risen from 1,662 in 2022 to 2,699 incidents in the UK during the period on or after 7 October 2023 - the day when Hamas terrorists slaughtered and kidnapped hundreds of Jews in Israel.

Mr Gove’s hard-hitting speech comes on the same day as Lord Walney publishes a landmark report on political violence and disruption.

And ahead of the publication of the government’s Counter Extremism Action Plan in the coming weeks.

Click here to read David Maddox’s full story

Rishi Sunak and Austrian chancellor last night discussed, dogs?

07:54 , Salma Ouaguira

In their initial meeting last night, Karl Nehammer’s Bavarian mountain hound sat in the chair used by Rishi Sunak the day before.

Mr Nehammer posted a cheeky picture on Instagram featuring his dog Fanny in his office.

“For what occasion is Fanny rehearsing here?” the translated caption read, accompanied by a Union Jack emoji.

Mr Nehammer also wrote about the need for “asylum procedures outside the EU” to address migration pressures faced by the continent, adding: “For me it is clear: Europe needs a completely new asylum system.”

Good morning and welcome back to the Indy Politics Blog

07:46 , Salma Ouaguira

Here’s the stories to keep an eye on this morning:

  • Prime minister Rishi Sunak is in Vienna today to meet Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer to discuss illegal migration.

  • Leveling up secretary Michael Gove will slam organisers for pro-Palestinian marches and condemn rise in antisemitism.


  • Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is set to give briefing on UK economy at the International Monetary Fund.

  • Angela Rayner to deliver keynote speech at the UKs Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum outlining Labour’s plans for New Towns.

Rishi Sunak is in Austria

07:37 , Salma Ouaguira

The prime minister landed yesterday night in Vienna to meet Chancellor Karl Nehammer.

In an attempt to promote his controversial Rwanda plan, Mr Sunak will discuss third countries as part of the solution to tackle illegal migration.

UK and Austria previously signed a migration and security agreement to cooperate closely during Suella Braverman’s time at the Home Office.

Austria was the first EU country to sign such a deal while the deportation scheme was still on hold at the Supreme Court.

Rishi Sunak to meet Austrian chancellor for illegal migration talks

07:23 , Salma Ouaguira

The prime minister is set to meet his Austrian counterpart face to face today to discuss illegal migration.

He will try to promote his third-country deportation schemes - such as the government’s Rwanda plan.

Sunak’s visit comes after the government announced the UK will give extra£25m to the National Crime Agency to stop smuggling gangs.

The meeting comes after 15 EU countries signed a letter urging the European Commission to toughen migration policies.

At the time, Mr Sunak said the UK was “leading the charge with partners across the continent to meet the challenges caused by intolerable levels of illegal migration”.

He added: “Our disruption of the cruel trade of criminal gangs, together with our Rwanda scheme, are part of a deterrent to stop illegal migration once and for all.

“It is the British public who should make decisions about who crosses our borders.”

Rishi Sunak is meeting Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in Vienna today (PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak is meeting Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in Vienna today (PA Wire)

Angela Rayner agrees with Gove’s speech

06:30 , Sian Elvin

Deputy Labour leader and shadow communities secretary Angela Rayner said: “There is no place in Britain for antisemitic hate and those who push this poison should face the full force of the law. We all have a responsibility to condemn this vile hatred and show that it will never be tolerated.

“Michael Gove is right that most people on these marches have been protesting peacefully and lawfully, but we cannot tolerate the hateful minority and the appalling incidents of antisemitism.

“Labour will continue to urge Ministers to reverse the downgrading of recording requirements for non-crime hate incidents, bring forward a new Hate Crime Strategy, and crack down on online extremism.

“Our door will always be open to working together on finding ways of tackling this hate.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

‘Dark heart of their world view’ Gove’s speech blast antisemitism

06:00 , Sian Elvin

The communities secretary will say later today: “It’s an ironclad law of history that countries which are descending into darkness are those which are becoming progressively more unsafe for Jewish individuals and the Jewish community, the Spain of the Inquisition, the Vienna of the 1900s, Germany in the 30s, Russia in the last decade.

“It is a parallel law that those countries in which the Jewish community has felt most safe at any time are the countries where freedom is most secure at any time.

“The Netherlands of the 17th century, Britain in the first decades of the last century, America in the second half of that century.

“So when Jewish people are under threat, all our freedoms are threatened. The safety of the Jewish community is the canary in the mine. Growing antisemitism is a fever which weakens the whole body politic.”

He will add: “There is one thing which, increasingly, unites the organisations and individuals which give cause for extremist concern. Antisemitism. It is the common currency of hate.

“It is at the dark heart of their world view. Whether Islamist, far right or hard left.”