The five things you need to know on Tuesday May 10, 2016…
1) TRUMP STUMPED
Can he travel to the US? Yes he Khan. Well, maybe. Donald Trump has executed his very first policy rethink of his entire US Presidential campaign, telling the New York Times that Sadiq Khan could be an “exception” to his proposed Muslim travel ban.
Trump is perhaps realising that his bonkers plan is crashing into something called the real world. Of course, it’s far from certain that he won’t just change his mind again. Soon after his mad idea was unleashed in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, he actually said that he could exempt ‘sporting events’ from the travel restrictions.
Khan has now reacted. And he’s managed to be both dignified and punchy: “This isn't just about me - it's about my friends, my family and everyone who comes from a background similar to mine, anywhere in the world.”
But the billionaire’s magnanimity in agreeing that Khan wasn’t after all a security risk because of his Islamic faith poses a problem for the Tories. Michael Fallon - and No10 yesterday - refused to say whether London was ‘safe’ under the new Mayor. So the British Government is currently to the right Trump: not a great place to be.
Khan had already accused David Cameron, Zac Goldsmith and CCHQ of running a campaign that felt like ‘something out of the Donald Trump playbook’. Cameron and the new Mayor had a short phone conversation yesterday but Sadiq is still demanding the Tories say sorry for their tactics. Among his other words to the PLP last night (see below), the Mayor said: “We can’t let the Tories off the hook just because they lost. The Tory Party owes London an apology.”
Note that Boris’s deputy mayor Stephen Greenhalgh told the Standard yesterday that Londoners had “resoundingly rejected the idea of guilt by association”. “You have got to be judged on what you say personally, not whether you appear at a public meeting with other people whose views you may disagree with vehemently.”
There’s a rumour in Tory circles that Goldsmith will make a public mea culpa sometime soon. But maybe it’s time the PM did one too, before it becomes the big issue of PMQs…
2) JEZ BE FRIENDS
Last night’s PLP was an emotional affair for many Labour MPs and they cheered to the rafters Sadiq Khan’s victory (he had a minute-long ovation), as well as wins for new MPs Gill Furniss and Chris Elmore, and Lord Bach’s surprise win as Leicestershire PCC.
But Labour MPs say the tensions between Corbyn and Khan were not hard to pick up, and the Mayor rammed home his advantage with a warning that ‘there is no such thing as glorious defeat’ and that the party ‘cannot afford to miss any open goals’ (he seemed to be referring not just to PMQs sitters ballooned over the bar, but other self-inflicted wounds). Khan now carries the aura and authority that comes with his office, and his words weren’t lost on Team Corbyn.
The strange diplomatic dance between the pair of them was clear in the Mayoral campaign and it was odd that it took until 5pm until Monday for them to be photographed together (in what looked like Corbyn greeting a fellow left-of-centre party leader from another state). I’m told that in fact Corbyn had gone to the Khan celebration party on Friday night, but thanks to the delays in the result had left by the 2am arrival of the new Mayor. There was also an ‘open invitation’ to the Southwark Cathedral event on Saturday, but Corbyn had to head to Bristol to be with Marvin Rees.
As for the PLP meeting, there were some grumbles about the election results, not least Peter Hain pointing out to Corbyn that Wales saw a far from a perfect night. Jess Phillips had a pop, and Wes Streeting raised concerns about the damage Ken Livingstone had done.
Yet what was notable to some was the way Corbyn handled the criticism and the lack of venom on the whole. Allies of the leader felt that the situation was a far cry from PLPs earlier this year, and that the mood has changed significantly.
Corbyn’s spin team were wise to put out before the event his own words of warning about divisions costing the party votes and how parading before the media was counter-productive. But Caroline Flint wasn’t impressed at how John McDonnell had take to Twitter to attack her for saying the party should be doing more than ‘hanging on’ to councils against an unpopular Tory government.
Harriet Harman told Today that the results overall were “not nearly good enough”.
3) COSY FAN MUTTI
IDS has let rip in the Sun against what he claims was David Cameron’s decision to cave in to Angela Merkel over his EU renegotiation. He says that the PM dumped his ‘red line’ on an emergency brake on migration (rather than a brake on migrant benefits) after Mutti Merkel said it was unacceptable.
In his speech this morning, IDS will say just how the Brits are now just too cosy to Berlin at the expense of taking control of our own destiny: ”We have gone from wanting to lead in Europe to being on the end of a lead in Europe."
The most startling bit of IDS’s Sun claims is this: Cameron agreed to drop his centrepiece demand less than 24 hours before he planned to spell it out publicly for the first time. “It’s like they were sitting in a room, even when they were not there. There was a spare chair for them - called the German Chair,” IDS says.
No10 says it does not ‘recognise’ (always an interesting word) IDS’s version of events. A source says: “The Prime Minister made clear at the time that the government had looked at an emergency brake but he decided it was not the most effective way forward.”
Jeremy Corbyn has just been launching Labour's In campaign today alongside Alan Johnson and Gloria De Piero.
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR…
Watch this hypnotic video of a marble run.
4) SITTING ON DEFENCE
There’s more heavy pounding by the Remain camp today of the Leavers’ position on defence. Six former Nato secretaries general have written to the Telegraph, warning that it "would be very troubling if the UK ended its membership of the European Union”. The Times has a letter from US former Secretaries of State making similar warnings.
Boris's own speech yesterday was typical Boris, complete with a burst of Ode to Joy in German. But it was on the Q&A as usual that he seemed to drop the ball, suggesting the EU was to blame for the Ukraine crisis. All those 'Putin apologist’ claims rained down, but Boris and Vote Leave were furious at the counterspin.
Meanwhile Theresa May is ‘tooling up’, as the Sun beautifully puts it, for a leadership bid, by hiring ex Sky man Joey Jones as her personal spokesman.
5) GAME OF DRONES
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has investigated the use of drones in the wake of an attack in Syria on Reyaad Khan, a British citizen and member of IS who was killed by an unmanned mission over Syria last August. And it doesn’t make easy reading for Whitehall or ministers.
While accepting there were legal grounds for the strike on Khan, the JCHR called for the Government to set out a case on ‘targeted killing’ airstrikes against terrorists who were not part of an ongoing war. The legal basis for this seems dubious at best. In normal times, backbencher Jeremy Corbyn would be on the warpath…but will he hold back today?
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