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Pro-Palestinian demonstrators who have vandalised offices and sent threats to MPs have “crossed the line from protest to intimidation”, Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has said.

The party has been split over its approach to the Israel-Hamas war, with a number of MPs calling for a ceasefire, while the leadership instead demands “humanitarian pauses” to get aid into Gaza.

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The division came to a head on Wednesday, when 56 MPs rebelled against the party’s position in the Commons to back an SNP amendment calling for an immediate ceasefire – including eight frontbenchers, who quit their posts as a result.

But speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said there still remained “great unity” on his benches as every member was doing “everything they can to alleviate the suffering we are seeing”.

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Starmer responds to Labour ceasefire split

Since the vote, some Labour MPs have faced protests at their constituency offices for not backing calls for a ceasefire.

Shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens saw her Cardiff office sprayed with the word “murderer” and covered with posters saying she had “blood” on her hands, while large numbers of protesters gathered outside Rushanara Ali’s office in Bethnal Green.

Sky News has also been told of cases where MPs have received death threats or had their home addresses posted online.

Protest outside the office of the Tower Hamlets Labour Party in Bethnal Green, London, in an area represented by Labour MP Rushanara Ali, in protest at Labours stance on the Israel-Hamas war. Picture date: Thursday November 16, 2023.
Protesters gathered outside the office of the Tower Hamlets Labour Party in London, in an area represented by Labour MP Rushanara Ali

Asked about the incidents on Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, Ms Reeves said: “I believe in the right to protest, I don’t believe in the right to intimidate, and some of those protests… I believe have crossed the line from protest to intimidation.

“Protesting outside people’s homes, putting pressure on them in that way I think is totally unacceptable.”

The shadow chancellor said MPs “represent their constituents, but they also listen to all of the evidence”, and to attempt to “intimidate” or “put pressure” on them to vote in a certain way was “anti-democratic”.

Ms Reeves said she was “hugely concerned” by the incidents, and worried it was putting “good people” off entering politics “because they don’t want to put their families through what we are seeing at the moment”.

She added: “That would be a real loss to our politics if good people were deterred from going into it.

“So I would urge those people who are conducting those protests, I understand why you call for a ceasefire, but do things in a responsible way and don’t intimidate or put pressure in that way on elected representatives or anyone else for that matter.”

Rachel Reeves
Rachel Reeves condemned ‘intimidating’ protests outside Labour MPs’ homes and offices

Her remarks were backed by former Labour adviser Alastair Campbell, who condemned the “nastiness” of the incidents.

Speaking to Trevor Phillips, he added: “We’ve got such short memories in this country. Jo Cox… [and] David Amis have been killed, and you now see [this] situation because MPs are doing what they’re paid to do, which is represent [people] and take part in votes.

“I think Rachel’s absolutely right. Protest is fine. Trying to intimidate people and silence them is wrong.”

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UK weather: New warnings issued as 1,500 properties still without power




UK weather: New warnings issued as 1,500 properties still without power

Around 1,500 homes and businesses are still without power after heavy snow caused major power cuts in Cumbria.

It came as much of the country was hit by cold and wet conditions over the weekend, including a low of -12.5C recorded in northern Scotland overnight.

Freezing conditions are forecast to continue on Monday and the Met Office has issued new yellow weather warnings for snow, ice and rain.

Cumbria was one of the worst affected regions over the weekend, with up to 30cm of snow falling in places.

Officials declared a major incident in the county on Saturday and advised people not to travel unless necessary.

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Cumbria residents seek refuge in church

Dozens of motorists in the Lake District were forced to abandon their cars overnight. Many were forced to seek refuge in local community centres, primary schools and a church.

Electricity North West said its engineers had been “battling treacherous conditions” throughout the weekend and were still working on restoring supplies on Sunday evening.

Another 7,500 homes and businesses have been reconnected after earlier being hit by power cuts.

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Met Office weather warnings for 04/12/2023. Pic: Met Office screenshot
Weather warnings for Monday. Pic: Met Office.

The weather also caused disruption to travel, including at East Midlands Airport, which was forced to temporarily close its runway on Sunday.

It came after some flights were cancelled at Glasgow Airport and London Stansted Airport on Saturday.

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The Met Office’s new weather warnings include alerts for ice across much of northern England and parts of the Midlands, as well as snow for higher areas of Wales and the Peak District.

The weather agency said there was a risk that snow will lead to major travel disruption and there could be “accumulations of 2cm to 5cm on some roads above around 150m, and perhaps 10cm to 15cm on roads above around 350m”.

The warning runs from Sunday evening until 12pm on Monday.

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Weather causing chaos in Cumbria

The Met Office also issued a yellow weather warning for rain across parts of southern Wales and southwest England, with the alert due to come into force from midnight and run until 6pm on Monday.

Forecasters said there was a risk of flooding to some homes and businesses, as well as potential disruption to train and bus services.

The RAC warned northern parts of the country were facing an “ice rink on Monday as snow refreezes overnight” and advised motorists to take care.

Spokesperson Simon Williams said: “We’re expecting some very treacherous icy conditions in northern parts, so those who have to drive should exercise great caution.

“If it’s possible to delay or even abandon journeys that may well be the best option.”

However, Met Office meteorologist Tom Morgan said the weather would likely become milder later in the week.

He added: “So there is an end in sight to the wintry weather.”

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Rishi Sunak suggests more tax cuts are on the way – but refuses to commit to triple lock manifesto pledge




Rishi Sunak suggests more tax cuts are on the way - but refuses to commit to triple lock manifesto pledge

Rishi Sunak has suggested more tax cuts are on the way because the economy has “turned a corner”.

The prime minister told reporters that while he would not comment on specifics, trimming taxes was “the direction of travel from this government”.

But it came as he refused to say if the pensions triple lock would be in the next Conservative Party manifesto – despite Downing Street insisting in September that it was “committed” to the policy.

Mr Sunak’s comments echo similar remarks by his ministers in recent weeks.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt also said last month that the economy had “turned a corner” just before he unveiled a cut to National Insurance in the Autumn Statement.

However, four million people could also end up paying higher taxes if their wages rise after the government decided to continue the freeze on tax thresholds.

Reports suggest the Conservatives are considering additional cuts in 2024 as the party tries to woo voters and reduce Labour’s 20-point lead in opinion polls ahead of the next general election, which must take place by January 28 2025.

Cuts to stamp duty and inheritance tax are among the options reportedly being looked at by ministers.

When asked about the two policies, Mr Sunak said: “I would never comment on specific taxes. But what I will just say, though, is we have turned a corner.

“We have got inflation down, as I said we would, we have grown the economy and we are now focused on controlling spending and controlling welfare so we can cut taxes. So when we can do more, we will.”

He added: “We want to grow the economy, we want to reward people’s hard work and aspirations and cut their taxes responsibly. That is the direction of travel from this government.

“If you want controlled public spending, controlled welfare and your taxes cut, then vote Conservative.”

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Mr Sunak was unable to make similar promises about the triple lock, which ensures the state pension must rise every April by whichever is highest out of average earnings, inflation or 2.5%.

The policy has come under fire in recent months by critics who claim it has become too expensive and gives the government less financial “headroom” to deal with economic shocks.

Some senior Tories have called for it to be scrapped and Labour has refused to guarantee the triple lock will remain in place if it wins the next election.

While the government continued with the policy in its recent Autumn Statement, ensuring the state pension will rise by 8.5% in April 2024 to £221.20 a week, Mr Sunak refused to be drawn when asked directly if it would be in the next Tory manifesto.

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Analysis: Autumn Statement 2023

Speaking to journalists as he flew between the UK and Dubai for the COP28 summit, he replied: “[I’m] definitely not going to start writing the manifesto on the plane, as fun as that would be.”

Mr Sunak acknowledged there had been “some scepticism” about if policy was going to form part of the Autumn Statement, but said its inclusion had been “a signal of our commitment to look after our pensioners who have put a lot into our country”.

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Reindeer block dual carriageway in Suffolk




Reindeer block dual carriageway in Suffolk

A major road was closed by police in both directions after a “large number” of reindeer wandered in front of traffic.

Police were called to the scene, on the A11 near Barton Mills in Suffolk, at around 3.20pm on Sunday.

National Highways East said no traffic had been able to pass due to the “large number” of the animals on the road and added that police had been “trying to catch them”.

The reindeer eventually left the road at around 5.20pm and it was reopened shortly afterwards, officials said.

In an update on X, formerly Twitter, National Highways East confirmed police closed the A11 “in both directions between A1134 and A1101”.

There are not thought to be any wild reindeer in England and it is unclear where the animals came from.

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