Labour on course to win more than 400 seats and majority of 154, suggests poll – UK politics live | Politics

Labour on course to win more than 400 seats, and majority of 154, YouGov MRP poll suggests

YouGov has released polling suggesting Labour is on course to win more than 400 seats at the general election, and a majority of 154.

Its survey, using a technique called multilevel regression and poststratification (MRP), also suggests the Conservatives are on course to win just 155 seats, which would be a worse result than the party suffered in 1997 under John Major.

This would be an even bigger win for Labour than projected by the last YouGov MRP poll, carried out in January. That had Labour set to win 385 seats, and the Conservatives 169.

The latest YouGov figures are not as bad for Rishi Sunak as the results of an MRP poll by Survation published in the Sunday Times at the weekend, which had Labour on course to win 468 seats and the Conservatives just 98. But this is unlikely to be much consolation to the PM.

Here are the full figures, which are based on a survey of 18,761 people carried out between 7 and 27 March.

MPR poll
MPR poll Photograph: YouGov

YouGov says its poll suggests Reform UK would come second in 36 constituencies, but would not come close to winning any of them.

And the Green party is on course to hold Brighton Pavilion, YouGov says. It also expects the Greens would lose narrowly to Labour in Bristol Central.

YouGov says, under this scenario, several prominent Tories would lose their seats. It says:

The data projects several big name Conservative figures will be defeated. The most prominent casualty could be chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who is currently fractionally behind the Lib Dems in his Godalming and Ash seat.

With recent weeks seeing rumours that Penny Mordaunt could issue a leadership challenge against Rishi Sunak, we find that the Commons leader is four points behind Labour in her Portsmouth North seat. Cabinet colleagues Michelle Donelan and David TC Davies are also trailing Labour in our latest model, as are former leader Iain Duncan Smith and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

MRP starts with conventional polling, asking a large sample of people how they intend to vote. But the results are then broken down in some detail demographically, and those results are used to assess what the election result might be constituency by constituency, using data about the demographic composition of the electorate in each seat. A YouGov MRP poll in 2017 suggested the election would result in a hung parliament, when almost all conventional polls pointed to the Tories winning another majority, and since then MRP has been viewed as a ‘gold standard’ polling method.

Key events

The Conservative Post, an obscure Tory website linked to rightwingers and Boris Johnson loyalists in the party, has published an article urging its readers to seek the deselection of 10 Conservative MPs it says “aren’t actually being conservative”.

Two cabinet ministers are on the list: Victoria Atkins, the health secretary and Laura Trott, the chief secretary to the Treasury.

The other eight are: Bim Afolami, Alicia Kearns, Tobias Elwood, Alan Mak, Roger Gale, Simon Hoare, Caroline Nokes, and Alberto Costa.

Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, said this showed the Conservative party has become “ungovernable”. In a statement he went on:

To be in the traditions of one nation Conservatism is now to become a target for deselection.

Rishi Sunak had a choice when he became prime minister: to take on this factionalism and govern in the interests of the whole country or to pander to it. He chose the latter and now both his party and the governance of the country is being held hostage by ever more rightwing factions.

Labour says government must halt arms sales to Israel if legal advice says Israel in breach of international law

Labour has firmed up its position on arms sales to Israel a bit. Until now it has been resisting calls for a ban (on his media round this morning Darren Jones suggested suspending arms sales would not make much difference – see 10.13am), but now it is saying they should be halted if government lawyers have said there is a risk of Israel using them in breach of international law.

Given that there are good grounds for thinking that government laywers are telling ministers Israel is in breach of international law, it is clear what Labour is implying.

In a statement David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, said:

Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of the three heroic Brits who put their lives on the line to get Palestinian civilians the aid they desperately need. But Israel must face serious consequences, not just tough rhetoric, for their appalling deaths.

It’s totally wrong that the foreign secretary has gone silent on the question of whether or not Israel is complying with international humanitarian law, after saying he’d get new advice nearly a month ago. There are very serious accusations that Israel has breached international law, which must be taken into account.

The law is clear. British arms licences cannot be granted if there is a clear risk that the items might be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law.

Labour’s message to the government is equally clear. Publish the legal advice now. If it says there is a clear risk that UK arms might be used in a serious breach of international humanitarian law, it’s time to suspend the sale of those arms. If David Cameron has received this advice, he must act on it.

On 8 March Cameron, the foreign secretary, told the BBC that a judgment would be made on whether Israel was compliant with international law “in the coming days”. But, if there has been a new assessment, it has not been published or announced.

However, ministers have not denied a report saying government lawyers have concluded Israel is in breach of international law.

David Lammy Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

SNP calls for parliament to be recalled so MPs can debate ending arms sales to Israel

At Westminster the Liberal Democrats are notorious for demanding the recalling of parliament in almost any crisis situation. Unusually, today they seem to have missed a trick because today the SNP has got their first. It says that the killing of aid workers in Gaza, including three Britons, by an Israeli airstrike means parliament should debate a response.

Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster, has written an open letter to Rishi Sunak, Keir Starmer and Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons speaker, saying:

As you know, the SNP has been calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel since October last year. We have repeatedly urged the UK government to do more to secure an immediate ceasefire, including by ending arms sales to Israel …

With three UK citizens among those killed in the Israeli strike on World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers, it is essential that the UK parliament is recalled immediately. This situation demands that the prime minister comes to parliament without further delay to outline the UK government’s response to the killing of UK citizens by Israel, to enable MPs to scrutinise the UK government’s response, and so that parliament can finally debate and vote on ending arms sales to Israel.

While parliament could debate and vote on ending arms sales to Israel, this does not need to happen for arms sales to end. Ministers could prevent them by refusing to issue further licences.

Stephen Flynn speaking in PMQs last month. Photograph: UK Parliament/Maria Unger/Reuters

Labour says today’s NHS waiting time figures from the Office for National Statistics show that there are around 10 million people in England waiting for a hospital operation or treatment. Andrew Gwynne, a shadow health minister, said:

Pull back the cover and the crisis in the NHS is even worse than it appeared. One in every five people in England are stuck on waiting lists, and they are waiting longer than ever before.

Here is a chart with more details from one of the three ONS datasets published today. These are the results of a survey carried out in late January. (LCL stands for lower confidence level, and UCL upper confidence level – survey results are never statistically precise, and these figures are the boundaries within which the actual result is most likely to be.)

NHS waiting times data Photograph: ONS
Sadiq Khan, the Labour mayor of London, with shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves during a visit to the Francis Crick Institute in London today. Photograph: Jordan Pettitt/PA

Around one in seven adults (14.7%) in England who are waiting for a hospital appointment or treatment say they have been waiting at least 12 months, PA Media reports. PA says:

The figure is highest among 16 to 24-year-olds (21.3%) and lowest among those aged 70 and over (8.5%).

Among those people who are disabled and whose day-to-day activities are limited a lot by their health condition, nearly one in four (23.6%) say they have been waiting at least 12 months, compared with nearly one in eight (11.8%) who are non-disabled and have no health conditions.

There is also a sharp contrast between people living in the most deprived areas, where the figure is 21.3%, and those in the least deprived areas (12.4%).

The survey was carried out between January 16 and February 15 2024 by NHS England and the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and is based on a sample of adults aged 16 and over in England who said they had been waiting for a hospital appointment, test or to start receiving medical treatment through the NHS.

The figures are age-standardised rates, which means they take into account population size and age structure, and are therefore a better comparison between different groups.

Delegates at the National Education Union’s annual conference in Bournemouth have voted for a motion saying Ofsted should be abolished. Commenting on the result, Daniel Kebede, the union’s general secretary, said:

NEU members have made their feelings very clear: Ofsted causes more harm than good and we need urgent and fundamental reform. The profession can be trusted to do their jobs effectively without a punitive, high-stakes system to keep them in line.

Sunak says arms exports to Israel kept under ‘careful’ review, but resists calls to halt them

Rishi Sunak has said that arms exports to Israel are kept under “careful” review, but he has resisted calls for them to be halted.

In an interview recorded today with the Sun’s new politics programme, Never Mind the Ballots, when asked if he would suspend arms sales to Israel, Sunak replied:

We’ve always had a very careful export licensing regime that we adhere to. There are a set of rules regulations and procedures that we’ll always follow.

And I’ve been consistently clear with Prime Minister Netanyahu since the start of this conflict that whilst of course we defend Israel’s right to defend itself and its people against attacks from Hamas, they have to do that in accordance with humanitarian law, protect civilian lives, get more aid into Gaza.

Sunak told the programme that, when he spoke to Netanyahu last night, he told him that the situation in Gaza was “increasingly intolerable”. Sunak said:

I spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu last night and I was very clear with him that the situation is increasingly intolerable and what we urgently need to see is a thorough, transparent investigation into what happened.

But also a dramatic increase in the amount of aid getting into Gaza, removing the barriers.

Also, closer work with aid agencies so that things like this don’t happen again.

Sunak also described the killing of the three British aid workers in an airstrike in Gaza as “an awful, awful tragedy”.


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Lib Dem leader Ed Davey says government must suspend arms sales to Israel after aid workers killed in airstrike

Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, has said the UK should halt arms sales to Israel. In a statement he said:

The deaths of these British aid workers in Gaza is an absolute disgrace. These brave people were trying to help starving families in Gaza.

Clearly, the thought that British-made arms could have been used in strikes such as these is completely unacceptable.

The government must take swift action to suspend arms exports to Israel. We must redouble our efforts to secure an immediate bilateral ceasefire.

The SNP has also called for arms sales to Israel to be halted.

But the government is refusing to publish its legal advice about whether or not Israel is complying with international humanitarian law. Accepting that Israel is in breach of international law would lead to arms sales being halted. And Labour has said that suspending arms sales would have little impact anyway. (See 10.13am.)

Ed Davey campaigning in Gloucester today. Photograph: Annabel Lee-Ellis/Getty Images

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Cameron suggests prospect of Trump’s re-election increases need for all Nato countries to spend 2% of GDP on defence

In his brief comments to the media at the Nato summit, David Cameron also suggested that the prospect of Donald Trump winning this year’s presidential election in the US made it particularly important for all Nato countries to be spending at least 2% of GDP on defence.

Cameron said it was vital that all countries in the alliance met the 2% defence spending target. He went on:

Many more countries are now doing that, but we need every country to do that.

Frankly, that’s the best thing we can do to make sure the Nato Summit in Washington this summer is a success.

And it’s also the best way to prepare for the American elections in the autumn, whatever the outcome may be.

Cameron was referring to the prospect of the US presidential election being won by Trump, who did little to hide his lack of respect for Nato during his first term as president and who recently suggested that he would encourage Russia to attack any Nato member not paying its fair share of defence spending.

Even if a second Trump presidency did not lead to the US leaving Nato, it is widely assumed that the alliance would be severely weakened by having as leader of its most powerful member someone not fully committed to the principle of collective defence.

As prime minister Cameron hosted a Nato summit in south Wales in 2014 where he made getting Nato members to increase defence spending a priority. But many members are still not reaching the target. Here are figures from 2023.

Defence spending by Nato countries Photograph:

David Cameron, the foreign secretary, has welcomed Israel’s announcement that it will hold an inquiry into the airstrike that killed seven aid workers, including three Britons, in Gaza.

Speaking to reporters at the Nato summit, the former PM said:

I welcome what the Israeli foreign minister said yesterday to me about a full, urgent and transparent inquiry into how this dreadful event was allowed to happen, and we want to see that happen very quickly.

I also welcome the fact he spoke about much more aid getting into Gaza, up to 500 trucks a day.

That is essential, we have been promised these things before and it really needs to happen, including longer opening times at the vital crossing points.

But, of course, the extra aid won’t work unless there is proper deconfliction, unless aid can be taken around Gaza and we avoid the dreadful incidents like we have seen in the last couple of days.

That is vital and Britain will be watching very closely to make sure that that happens.

David Cameron speaks to the media at the Nato summit in Brussels. Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/EPA

Darren Jones plays down concern about Labour losing members by saying people who joined under Corbyn ‘preferred protest’

In another interview this morning Darren Jones, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, brushed off questions about Labour experiencing a sharp fall in membership numbers by claiming that people who joined under Jeremy Corbyn preferred being in a party of protest to being in a party taking the “difficult decisions” needed in government.

The question was prompted by a report in the Observer at the weekend by Toby Helm. Toby said:

In a report to the NEC last week, the party’s general secretary, David Evans, caused surprise when he revealed that membership, which had stood at 390,000 in January, had plummeted to 366,604 at the latest count, with more than 11,700 of these being in arrears. Labour membership reached a peak at the end of 2019 when it hit over 532,000.

One senior Labour figure who was there said: “It is a big fall in just two months. People were surprised, even taken aback.”

Labour insiders believe that the fall has been caused primarily by anger among Muslim and others Labour supporters over Keir Starmer’s position on Gaza and his refusal over several months to call for an immediate ceasefire.

Asked about the figures on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Jones said that “membership numbers of parties go up and down all the time”. He went on:

There was also a huge surge in membership of the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn and many Jeremy Corbyn supporters preferred a party of protest as opposed to a party who have had to make difficult decisions around the trade-offs in its preparation for government in the hope that we get to run this country.

We’ve still got plenty of Labour Party members across the country, I think more than any other party.

Jones is right to say that, overall, Labour has more members than any other UK party. But, in proportional terms, the SNP’s membership is much bigger. Its membership has been falling, but a recent report said it was still 69,235 at the end of December. Given that Scotland’s population is less than a tenth of Britain’s, it has more members per head in the country where it contests elections than Labour does.

Darren Jones. Photograph: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy

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Widespread agreement in UK and US that Israel has ‘gone too far’ in Gaza, says Labour’s Darren Jones

There is widespread agreement in the UK and the US that Israel has “gone too far” in its war against Hamas, Darren Jones, a Labour Treasury spokesperson, said this morning.

In an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Jones said:

I think what we’ve seen from President Biden, from Keir Starmer, and now from Lord Cameron, our own foreign secretary, is that countries that supported Israel’s right to defend itself and to recover its hostages from Hamas terrorists in Gaza, which clearly is their right to have done in the first place, have all said that you’ve gone too far, that we need to bring this war to an end, we need to get around the negotiating table, we need to aid to get to people who desperately need it in Gaza.

This latest situation, not only has it resulted in the death of aid workers, which is unacceptable, but it’s now making it much harder for aid to be made available to people who are in the most desperate situations.

But Jones did not support the call from Lord Ricketts (see 9.50am) for the UK to end arms sales to Israel. Asked if he was in favour of this, Jones replied:

The fact of the matter is if the UK, for example, stopped supplying arms, the war would not end. What we need to do is get the parties to a position where the fighting can stop.

Jones also sidestepped a question about whether he thought Israel was in breach of international law. He said:

As always, on questions of international law, it’s for judges and courts to make that decision, not for politicians.

Scottish government minister refuses to say if JK Rowling comments could have been non-crime hate incident

A Scottish government minister has refused to say if comments by Harry Potter author JK Rowling could have been recorded by police as a non-crime hate incident, PA Media reports.

As Libby Brooks reports, Police Scotland said yesterday that comments by JK Rowling challenging police to arrest her for online misgendering did not amount to a crime.

But it is not clear yet whether or not this is being logged as a hate incident. The Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser has recently threatened to take legal action against Police Scotland unless they delete a complaint against him now recorded as a hate incident.

As PA Media reports, the Scottish government’s community safety minister Siobhian Brown told the BBC this morning that it was an operational matter for the police to decide if the JK Rowling complaint should be recorded in these terms.

Britain should stop arming Israel, says former national security adviser

The UK should stop arming Israel, Lord Ricketts, a former national security adviser, has said, after seven international aid workers were killed in Gaza in an Israeli airstrike. Sammy Gecsoyler has the story.

Education ‘will grind to halt’ unless pay rises address recruitment crisis, teachers’ union leader warns

Good morning. Rishi Sunak’s first year in office was blighted by a wave of public sector strikes. Some of those disputes were ultimately resolved, but the problem has not gone away and this morning Daniel Kebede, president of the National Education Union, has been warning about the prospect of a further strike by teachers in England unless pay is improved.

The NEU is holding its conference this week and, an interview with the Today programme, Kebede said recruitment was now such a problem that education was at risk of grinding to a halt.

I would say there is a mood of desperation, if we’re being honest. The profession is very much on its knees. Morale is at an all time low.

And of course, we can see that in the crisis in recruitment and retention; 9% of the teaching profession left the profession last year prior to retirement. The government is continually missing its recruitment targets for new teachers. We missed it by 50% for secondary teachers this year.

Quite simply, if we continue on this direction of travel, education will grind to a halt …

Teacher pay has plummeted by 25% over the last decade. A teacher in England in their fifth year of teaching earns £7,500 a year less than a teacher over the border in Scotland. It’s grossly unfair.

Kebede said the union would debate whether to hold a strike ballot later this week. But it has already held a preliminary ballot (an online ballot that doesn’t have the legal authority of a proper, postal strike ballot), and those results showed 90% support for strike action for an above-inflation pay rise, on a turnout of just over 50%. Kebede said the government should take this seriously.

We’re a union of half a million members. To get over 50% of members voting at a rate of nine in 10 for strike action is incredibly significant.

Last year the government tried to minimise the impact of strikes in the public sector by passing the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act, giving employers the right to force some workers to come in on strike days to maintain services at a particular level. But there is fresh evidence today this is not working. In a story for the Daily Mail, David Churchill says rail companies are refusing to use the law to lessen the impact of the Aslef strike taking place this weekend. He reports:

MPs called on train chiefs to resign or have funding pulled for failing to use the powers which would force unions to keep 40% of services running during stoppages this week and next.

The deadline for lodging their intention to use the ‘minimum service levels’ laws passed on Monday.

But industry sources told the Daily Mail that bosses for the 16 train firms affected had failed to meet it.

Drivers from the Aslef union will now inflict travel misery on millions with industrial action on different parts of the network between tomorrow and next Tuesday.

Parliament is in recess and there is not much in the domestic political diary for today. The biggest debate in politics today is about whether or not, in the light of the killing of seven aid workers, including three Britons, in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, it is now time for the UK government to declare Israel in breach of international humanitarian law, but most of our coverage of that story will be on our Israel-Gaza war live blog.

If you want to contact me, do use the “send us a message” feature. You’ll see it just below the byline – on the left of the screen, if you are reading on a laptop or a desktop. This is for people who want to message me directly. I find it very useful when people message to point out errors (even typos – no mistake is too small to correct). Often I find your questions very interesting, too. I can’t promise to reply to them all, but I will try to reply to as many as I can, either in the comments below the line; privately (if you leave an email address and that seems more appropriate); or in the main blog, if I think it is a topic of wide interest.


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