Move to oust Labour deputy leader Tom Watson over Brexit 'disloyalty'

The Labour Party’s ruling body is to consider abolishing the post of deputy leader.

According to two party officials, Momentum founder Jon Lansman, a key ally of leader Jeremy Corbyn, brought the motion, citing deputy leader Tom Watson’s disloyalty over Brexit.

The chair of Labour’s National Executive Committee ruled the motion should be thrown out but it is likely to go back before the committee on Saturday.

A party spokesman did not comment but a source close to Mr Watson told PA news agency that the situation was “completely outrageous”.

Tom Watson causes outrage by asking for a second referendum

Mr Watson recently called for a new Brexit referendum to be held before a general election.

Mr Corbyn, on the other hand, says Labour will offer people a second referendum only after an election.

Earlier this month, Mr Watson said his party must “unambiguously and unequivocally back remain” but Mr Corbyn has always been more cautious about this approach.

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Others in Labour also criticised the move against Mr Watson.

The party “should be about putting forward a strong, unified message and showcasing the policies that will win that election”, said Justin Madders, a Labour MP.

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Former Labour leader Ed Miliband tweeted: “The move to abolish the deputy leader post without warning or debate is undemocratic, wrong and should not happen.

“Those who came up with the idea for the eve of Labour conference have taken leave of their senses.”

Ex-minister Yvette Cooper tweeted: “This is completely mad and incredibly destructive. Country faces serious challenges and general election could be imminent. @UKLabour conference should be about country and about pulling together. Instead we get this.”

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Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: “Tribal infighting in the middle of a Boris Johnshon-inspired national emergency makes me want to weep.

“My constituents and millions of others across the country desperately need the Labour party united right now. The Tories, not Tom Watson, are our opponents. Let’s fight them.”

Former Conservative MP Anna Soubry, who defected earlier this year and is now leader of The Independent Group for Change, tweeted: “If @jeremycorbyn and his gang can’t tolerate @tomwatson #Corbyn is hardly likely to be a credible ‘caretaker’ PM – the leader of a Government of National Unity.”

Labour’s party conference begins on Saturday in Brighton and Mr Corbyn is likely to come under pressure to be more active in backing those who want to remain in the EU.

But some party members fear this will result in a loss of support from Brexit voters in places such as northern England.

Harry and Meghan attend wedding of friend who set them up

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have joined a star-studded guest list attending the wedding of fashion designer Misha Nonoo and her oil tycoon fiance Michael Hess.

It is understood the royal couple jetted to Rome on a commercial flight for Ms Nonoo’s big day – but they did not take baby Archie.

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Ms Nonoo is one of Meghan’s closest friends and is credited with setting her up with the prince on a blind date in 2016.

She used to be married to Harry’s friend Alexander Gilkes.

Image: Misha Nonoo arriving for her wedding

For the wedding, Meghan wore a black beaded gown with puff sleeves in light-weight tulle and Harry sported black tie.

Other royals attended too, including Princess Eugenie who was among the bridal party as they arrived at the venue, while her sister Princess Beatrice was also in the crowd.

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Princess Beatrice was among the bridal party

Image: Princess Beatrice was among the bridal party

Sir Paul McCartney, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, James Corden, Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry were on the guest list.

Josh Kushner, Jared’s brother, and his partner supermodel Karlie Kloss were also present.

Singer Katy Perry and actor Orlando Bloom arrive to attend the wedding

Image: Singer Katy Perry and actor Orlando Bloom also attended together

Reports say the Sussexes are enjoying a bit of downtime before they begin their royal tour to South Africa on Monday.

James Corden gestures as he attends the wedding

Image: James Corden gestures as he attends the wedding

Ms Nonoo recently collaborated with the duchess on her Smart Set capsule wardrobe in aid of the Smart Works charity.

Thomas Cook gives up hope of private rescue deal

The ailing travel group Thomas Cook was close to abandoning hope of a private sector rescue deal on Friday evening as a City blame game engulfed the UK’s oldest travel agent.

Sky News has learnt that a series of possible scenarios that were on the table in recent days have been ditched after it became clear that the company could become insolvent within hours.

Sources said that Thomas Cook, its lenders and advisers had been working on a plan earlier on Friday to devise a way of keeping its airlines in the UK, Germany and northern Europe out of administration while letting its British tour operating arm fail.

They said that that plan had been discounted as being too complex.

A separate proposal which would have involved CQS Management, the hedge fund run by the London Stock Exchange Group’s former chief executive, Xavier Rolet, providing a big chunk of the £200m additional funding demanded by Thomas Cook’s lenders had also been aborted.

Insiders added that in recent days Fosun Tourism Group – the Chinese company which has agreed to provide £450m to Thomas Cook in return for a 75% stake in its tour operator and 25% of its group airlines – had tweaked its offer to bondholders.

Under the revised plan, Thomas Cook’s bondholders would have been able to hold shares in Fosun itself, rather than the British company’s travel agency business.

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However, that proposal had also been withdrawn, prompting a number of bondholders to abandon support for the rescue package.

Thomas Cook’s syndicate of more than a dozen bank lenders has been criticised by unnamed sources for demanding the additional £200m of standby funding to see the company through tough winter trading – a demand revealed by Sky News last week.

People close to the situation said on Friday evening, though, that blaming Royal Bank of Scotland, one of the biggest lenders to Thomas Cook, was “a ludicrous position” given the travel group’s frequent revision of its future financing needs during the last six months.

A request for emergency government funding was made by Thomas Cook earlier this week, with executives arguing that the cost to taxpayers would be dwarfed by the bill incurred by the repatriation, led by aviation regulators, of 165,000 customers currently overseas.

One senior Whitehall source said the possibility of a government loan on commercial terms could not be entirely discounted, but was remote.

In recent years, failing companies including Carillion, the construction group, and British Steel have seen last-ditch pleas for state financial support rebuffed.

Sky News revealed on Thursday that Thomas Cook, which was founded in 1841, was expected to crash into administration as soon as Sunday night unless a solution to its £200m funding gap could be found.

One source said that AlixPartners, the firm lined up to handle the insolvency, had approached the Official Receiver this week to seek a compulsory liquidation of the company.

That approach is understood to have been rejected.

Among the other scenarios examined by Thomas Cook this week in its desperate battle to raise cash was the sale of its Nordic operations to Triton Partners, a private equity firm with which it held talks earlier this year.

More than 20,000 jobs across the group are at risk if it collapses, with 9000 of those jobs in the UK.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which is leasing aircraft in order to help fly British holidaymakers home under the code-name Project Matterhorn, managed a successful – albeit smaller – repatriation programme when Monarch Airlines collapsed two years ago.

Several hundred thousand people from other European countries are also current customers of Thomas Cook at scores of vacation destinations.

It would be the biggest-ever repatriation operation involving the customers of a UK-based company, and the largest evacuation of Brits since Dunkirk.

Thomas Cook had already warned that it could face collapse unless it finalises a rescue deal this month, saying in a court filing last week, revealed by Sky News, that it “would be likely to run out of money and enter into formal insolvency proceedings” if it did not.

Some 11 million customers will have travelled with Thomas Cook by the end of the crucial summer season.

Efforts to secure its rescue have, though, been hampered by weak trading and the competing demands of financial stakeholders including its pension trustees and the holders of insurance against default on its debts.

Thomas Cook has been targeting the injection of new money from the recapitalisation by early October in order to pay hoteliers and other key suppliers.

In order to survive, it would also need to persuade the CAA, which administers the ATOL scheme covering travel companies, that it should renew its licence at the end of September for another 12 months.

Current trading at Thomas Cook is understood to have remained difficult for months, with the ongoing political crisis in Westminster contributing to soft consumer demand for autumn and winter bookings.

Shares in Thomas Cook have whipsawed for months as investors have sought to calculate whether the stock retains any residual value.

On Friday they closed at 3.45p, more than 95% lower than at the same point last year.

The British company was founded in 1841 by a 32-year-old cabinet-maker and former Baptist preacher who began offering one-day rail excursions from Leicester to Loughborough for a shilling.

From there, it went on to become one of the world’s largest holiday companies, marking its 175th anniversary three years ago.

Thomas Cook, CQS, RBS and Fosun declined to comment.

Brexit: Leaked memo says UK proposal fails to solve backstop issues

A leaked European Commission memo has said the UK government’s latest draft proposals for a new Brexit deal “fall short of satisfying all the objectives of the Irish backstop”.

In a UK exclusive interview with Sky’s Sophy Ridge, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker confirmed he had been sent documents by Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlining the ideas for a new deal.

However, the document obtained by Sky News said the proposals did not provide “legally operational solutions” to the Irish backstop.

It added that the draft failed to:

  • Avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland
  • Protect the all-island economy and north-south co-operation
  • Preserve the integrity of the Single Market and Ireland’s place in it

The memo from the European Commission to the Council and Parliament, comes as Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay took part in talks in Brussels.

“We both recognise that a deal is in the interests of both sides,” Mr Barclay said after his sit-down with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

He added that “no-one wants to see no-deal” but cautioned there was “still a lot of work to do” to avoid the scenario.

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But Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said that while the so-called Irish backstop had only ever been a “means to an end”, “we haven’t seen any proposals” that could replace it.

In his interview with Ridge – which took place before he read the latest proposals – Mr Juncker said a no-deal Brexit would have “catastrophic consequences” and that he was doing “everything to get a deal”.

He said he did not have “an erotic relation” to the backstop, which he said he was prepared to remove from a withdrawal agreement, so long as “alternative arrangements [are put in place] allowing us and Britain to achieve the main objectives of the backstop. All of them”.

Student found hanged in university halls 'let down by every service'

A student found hanged at her halls of residence faced an “unacceptable delay” waiting for a mental health appointment at her university, a coroner has said.

University of Liverpool student Ceara Thacker was found dead in her accommodation in May last year.

Iain Thacker said his 19-year-old daughter had mental health problems since the age of 13, but she kept in regular contact with her family after moving from Bradford to Liverpool to study philosophy in September 2017.

He said the family had not been told she had taken an overdose in February 2018 and believed she was continuing to take anti-depressant medication.

Recording a conclusion of suicide at an inquest into Ceara’s death on Friday, coroner Anita Bhardwaj said she would make a report for the prevention of future deaths to the NHS.

The coroner said she would recommend that the issue of parental involvement with consent is included in mental health assessments.

She added: “It’s difficult and unclear whether Ceara would have had a different outcome had she had additional mental health appointments, been given an urgent appointment and had family involvement.”

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The coroner described a delay of two months between Ceara referring herself to the university’s mental health advisers in February and being given an appointment in April as “unacceptable”.

Speaking after the inquest had concluded, Ceara’s mother Lorraine Dalton-Thacker said: “We felt confident she knew how to ask for help and she approached every service and every service at every point let her down

Image: Ceara’s father Iain Thacker said the family were not told of her previous overdose

“I can’t imagine how frightening that must have been for her. She should not have had to face this and it breaks our hearts that she did.

“We don’t want any other family to go through this pain.”

Iain Thacker said he couldn’t understand why his family had not been contacted by the university when Ceara was having problems.

He also expressed his disappointment that the University of Liverpool had no plans to change its policy regarding consent.

Dr Paula Harrison Woods, director of student administration and support at the University of Liverpool, told the inquest that changes had been made following Ceara’s death.

They included establishing guidelines on asking students suffering mental health problems whether they wanted their families to be informed, she said.

But Dr Harrison Woods added that the university had decided not to introduce an “opt-in” process, which the court heard has been adopted at Bristol University, where students fill in a form when registering to ask whether they would want their parents to be contacted in the event of mental health problems.

The coroner also said she would recommend additional training for dealing with people found hanging, in her report for the prevention of future deaths.

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.

New Crown trailer shows Olivia Colman as 'old bat' Queen

A new trailer for The Crown shows the Queen’s transition from Claire Foy to Olivia Colman.

The short clip, released by Netflix on Friday, is the first full trailer for the upcoming series, and reveals a scene of the monarch having her portrait taken for a new set of stamps.

Image: Colman’s Queen surveys her new stamps. Pic: Netflix

Oscar-winner Colman has taken over the role from Foy to play an older version of the Queen for the third series of the lavish period drama.

It sees a new guard sweep into Downing Street as the royals struggle to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing Britain.

In the trailer, Colman’s Queen is told by an aide that the portrait is to be “an elegant reflection of Her Majesty’s transition from young woman to…”

“Old bat?”, she interrupts.

“Settled sovereign,” is the diplomatic reply.

“Just the tiniest changes.”

As Colman’s Queen looks at an older stamp, showing Foy, compared with the new one, she says: “A great many changes. Nothing one can do about it. One just has to get on with it.”

The new series of The Crown will cover the period from 1964 to 1977 and will see Tobias Menzies taking over the role of the Duke of Edinburgh from Matt Smith.

Helena Bonham Carter follows on from Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret, while Ben Daniels replaces Matthew Goode as Margaret’s husband Tony Armstrong-Jones.

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Josh O’Connor will play the Prince of Wales, Erin Doherty will appear as the Princess Royal, Marion Bailey as the Queen Mother and Jason Watkins as prime minister Harold Wilson.

Killing Eve series two writer Emerald Fennell plays Camilla Shand, now the Duchess of Cornwall.

Earlier this year it was confirmed Emma Corrin will play Lady Diana Spencer in the fourth series of the drama, which will film later in 2019.

The third series of The Crown will launch on Netflix on 17 November.

Sala's sister blasts 'evil' pair who accessed post-mortem footage

The grieving sister of Emiliano Sala has branded a man and a woman who illegally accessed mortuary footage of his body as “wicked and evil”.

The Argentine striker’s family were left distraught after post-mortem images were leaked on social media, just days after his body was recovered from the English Channel.

A victim impact statement from his sister Romina Sala was read to Swindon Crown Court on Friday, where Sherry Bray and Christopher Ashford are being sentenced for accessing the footage.

Image: Sala’s sister Romina was pictured visiting Cardiff City Stadium in January

Ms Sala, who lives in Argentina, said: “I have seen photos of Emiliano’s body leaked on Instagram, and I cannot believe there are people so wicked and evil who could do that.

“I phoned Emiliano’s agent and told him what was circulating on the internet. I called our brother, Dario, and he did not want to see the photos.

“I tried to keep images off social networks. My mother could not see those horrible photos. I was sad as people were making jokes about it.

“I’ll never erase the images from my head. My brother and mother can never forget about this. It’s hard for me to live with this image.”

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Emiliano Sala

Image: Emiliano Sala died when his private plane crashed into the English Channel

Sala had just signed for Cardiff City when he was killed after a private plane taking him from France to the UK crashed in the English Channel north of Guernsey on 21 January.

Around two weeks later, the aircraft wreckage was found with the 28-year-old’s body still inside and it was then removed from the plane and brought to Portland in Dorset.

The story of Emiliano Sala: The deal, the crash, the unanswered questions

The story of Emiliano Sala: The deal, the crash, the unanswered questions

The body of pilot David Ibbotson has never been found.

Swindon Crown Court heard how Bray, the director of CCTV firm Camera Security Services Limited in Chippenham, Wiltshire, and her employee Ashford accessed footage of a post-mortem examination being conducted on Mr Sala.

Sherry Bray, a CCTV company director, is to be sentenced for illegally accessing footage of footballer Emiliano Sala's body

Image: Sherry Bray is being sentenced for illegally accessing footage of Sala’s body

They replayed the clip before Bray took a picture of it on her mobile phone. She then sent it to a family member on Facebook Messenger, leading it to be widely shared on social media.

After discovering police were investigating, 49-year-old Bray deleted the file from her phone and asked Ashford, 62, to do the same.

Evidence from Bray’s phone also revealed that she had taken a picture of another body in the mortuary, a man named Andrew Latchem, who had died in non-suspicious circumstances.

Christopher Ashford, 62, leaves Swindon Magistrates' Court where he and Sherry Bray, 48, were summonsed to appear over an image that allegedly showed the remains of footballer Emiliano Sala at the Holly Tree Lodge mortuary in Bournemouth.

Image: Christopher Ashford said he was ‘ashamed’ of his actions

Bray’s lawyer expressed his client’s apologies and remorse to the court, saying they were supported by her guilty pleas.

The defendant said she had sent the picture to her daughter but did not post it on Twitter.

Ashford’s lawyer said his client was “devastated and ashamed of his actions”, in particular to hear of the trauma he has caused to others.

Bray, from Corsham in Wiltshire, and Ashford, from Calne in Wiltshire, each admitted three counts of computer misuse at Swindon Crown Court in August.

Bray also admitted to perverting the course of justice by instructing Ashford to “delete your pics”, as well as deleting the post-mortem camera from the live feed camera facility and deleting the mortuary image of Sala from her phone.

Following the guilty pleas, Detective Inspector Gemma Vinton said Sala’s family have been “significantly impacted” by the case.

Bray and Ashford will be sentenced on Monday at 10am.

Dave's Mercury Prize win criticised by mum of teen his brother killed

The mother of a teenager stabbed to death by rapper Dave’s brother has told Sky News it is “disgusting” that the star won the Mercury Prize for music featuring his sibling.

Dave, 21, whose full name is David Orobosa Omoregie, collected the prestigious award on Thursday evening for his number one debut album Psychodrama.

The Mercury Prize judges described the album as “the musical equivalent of a literary masterpiece” which would have “lasting relevance for a generation”.

The album ends with the track Drama, which features an audio track from Dave’s brother Christopher, who is currently in prison for the murder of 15-year-old Sofyen Ghailan at London’s Victoria station in 2010.

Image: Sofyen Ghailan was murdered at London’s Victoria Station aged 15

In the track, in which he praises his brother but not his brother’s crime, Dave raps: “I just hope you’re proud of me brother” and “You’re my hero”.

Dave also thanked his brother on stage while picking up the Mercury Prize and said the story of Psychodrama was inspired by therapy his sibling received.

Naima Ghailan, the mother of murder victim Sofyen, told Sky News that she thought it was “disgusting” Dave got an award for the song featuring her son’s killer.

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She said: “In this sad society now, killers are seen as heroes. He [Christopher] will probably get an award too when he comes out of prison.”

She added: “Whatever I say isn’t going to change anything. I lost my son for ever, nothing will bring him back.”

Psychodrama, Dave’s debut album, begins with the rapper talking to a therapist, a motif carried throughout the record which also looks at a number of issues including racial inequality.

Some of the lyrics to the track Drama look at the impact of having a sibling going to prison and Dave’s love and anger for his brother.

Christopher Omoregie is rapper Dave's brother. Pic: Met Police

Image: Dave’s brother Christopher Omoregie was jailed for murder. Pic: Met Police

He raps: “I remember when you got sentenced and I was throwing up / It’s like they took a piece of my freedom when I had opened up / I just lost the only f***ing person that I idolised.”

Asked about her thoughts on the track featuring her son’s killer, Ms Ghailan said: “As for the song, it’s disgusting how his brother is on that from prison and he [Dave] still got an award.

“The only people who listen to that crap are people under the influence of drugs and alcohol. No one in their right mind [would] listen to them sort of songs.”

Eight people were convicted for killing teenager Sofyen, who is sometimes referred to as Sofyen Belamoudden, during rush-hour at Victoria station on 25 March 2010.

Up to 15 people are thought to have stabbed him, hit him with weapons, kicked him and punched him to death.

Dave

Image: Dave brought his mother on stage as he accepted the Mercury Prize

Sofyen, who was described by his family as “not into gangs or guns” and wanted to become a pilot, had nine stab wounds to his body.

One of the knives used was found in then 16-year-old Christopher Omoregie’s bag.

During the sentencing, Christopher Moss QC said of Dave’s brother he was one of the “principals in the attack” which the judge described as ” ferocious and merciless”.

Christopher Omoregie was found guilty of murder and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm in 2012. He was sentenced to a minimum term of 18 years.

Sky News has contacted Dave’s representatives for comment.

Harriet Harman 'will not back down' over Speaker bid

Labour MP Harriet Harman vowed not to “back down” after local members demanded she abandon a bid to become the next House of Commons Speaker.

She lost a vote by her Camberwell and Peckham constituency party expressing its “disquiet” at her running for the post.

Members also said they could field a Labour candidate at the next election to oppose her if she does get the top parliamentary job.

Conventionally, the main parties never fight the incumbent Speaker at elections because they are meant to be impartial.

Image: The MP for 37 years is trying to replace John Bercow

Ms Harman, who is the longest serving woman MP, is standing on a platform of making parliament more modern and family-friendly, and would be the second woman ever to be in charge of overseeing Commons proceedings.

She tweeted that she “will not back down”, as she pledged her commitment to her constituents.

She added: “A confident & respected House of Commons representing every constituency in this country & holding govt to account is vital to our parliamentary democracy.

More from Harriet Harman

“The Speaker is at the heart of this – that’s why I [am] going for it.”

But London Labour figures said Ms Harman was targeted for her candidacy.

The motion was led by Nick Wrack, who was readmitted into Labour after standing against Ms Harman for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition in 2015, HuffPost UK reported.

He announced the result on Twitter as passing by 26 votes to 22, with seven abstentions.

Sky News has contacted Mr Wrack for comment but none was received at time of publication.

House of Commons. ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Image: The next Commons Spaker election is on 4 November. ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Ms Harman is thought to have decided to stand for the post without consulting key local party figures.

One member said they were “so embarrassed” at the result.

While a London Labour figure added it was “odd” that members “would prefer a Tory MP to become Speaker than a Labour MP”.

Camberwell and Peckham Labour Party secretary Dave Lewis said: “It was expressing disquiet about Harriet’s decision to stand for the Speaker role and asking her to reconsider.”

Mr Lewis said the concern was she would have to resign from Labour in order to be impartial in the House of Commons.

Who could be the next Speaker?

Who could be the next Speaker?

Here are all the MPs and their pitches to take one of the top jobs in British politics

Ms Harman, an MP for 37 years, vowed to carry on campaigning in the run up to replace John Bercow in the Speaker election being held on Monday 4 November.

“I’ll always be there for the people of Camberwell and Peckham as I have throughout the last 37 years,” she wrote on Twitter.

“I have pledged that my commitment to them will be unshakable if I become Speaker.

“The overwhelming majority of members of Camberwell and Peckham Labour Party understand the importance of a strong and fair Speaker, and support me in this bid.

“I will not back down! #SpeakHer.”

Camberwell and Peckham is considered one of the safest Labour seats in the country.In 2017, Ms Harman was re-elected with 44,665 votes – a majority of more than 37,000.

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