This morning in Parliament, straight-talking Lee Anderson told Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab exactly how he thinks the government should solve labour shortages:
“Prisoners and ex-offenders out on licence should help fill the labour shortage and […] on release, all prisoners – including ex-Labour MPs – should be ready for work and starting work should be a condition of their licence.”
Guido can’t imagine Claudia Webbe is a fan of the idea…
Claudia Webbe has been sentenced to ten weeks in custody, which will be suspended for two years. She has also been handed 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay £1000 in compensation, plus £120 in court costs. Webbe was found guilty of harassment last month, after threatening to throw acid over a friend of her partner.
Reacting to the news, a senior Tory source tells Guido:
“Webbe is the seventh Labour MP to be handed a jail sentence, suspended or otherwise, in the past 10 years. We had Illsley, Chaytor, Devine, McShane and Morley thieving; Onasanya perverting the course of justice and now Webbe harassing members of the public. Everything from fingers in the till to acid in the face. It’s hardly surprising that they’re so strongly against the police and sentencing bill. Thankfully we are building thousands of new prison places.”
Guido’s mole also tells him Webbe’s barrister argued that she’s broke, and can only pay a maximum of £100 a month towards her compensation costs. Presumably Claudia’s hoping the judge is unaware that MPs’ salaries are public knowledge.
UPDATE I: Labour have confirmed that Webbe has finally been expelled from the party. She was told she’d be booted after the guilty verdict came through last month and was given 14 days to appeal – she didn’t. Now she’s gone.
UPDATE II: Webbe has released a statement:
“I am very disappointed by the decision of the magistrate and want to strongly reiterate that I am innocent. I am lodging an appeal and despite today’s sentence I fully expect the appeal to be granted and that, ultimately, it will be successful.”
This afternoon the government quashed Barry Gardiner’s fire & rehire bill on the grounds they do not believe the bill will do what it claims. Labour have gone in hard on the issue, with Starmer publishing an op-ed this morning, and Barry Gardiner attending Tory conference to try and win over rebels. Seemingly to no avail…
In astonishing scenes, Steerpike’s parliamentary mole claimed to have seen none other than Claudia Webbe posing with her ex-comrades on the estate to support the bill – a photo surely no sitting Labour MP would be so stupid to be caught in following the MP being found guilty of harassment. Guido was astonished to discover not only was it true, Labour MPs have proudly posted the photo all over social media…
So far, both Janet Daby and Mohammad Yasin have posted their group selfie with Claudia. Seema Malhotra, on the other hand, very bluntly cropped the photo to avoid embarrassment.
Proud to be in the Commons today supporting @BarryGardiner’s Bill to end #FireandRehire— Seema Malhotra MP 💙 (@SeemaMalhotra1) October 22, 2021
The Tories may have blocked the bill today, but we’ll continue fighting against this damaging practice. @GMB_union @unitetheunion pic.twitter.com/7nCe7HGxIE
How David Lammy, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary of all people, didn’t grasp the poor optics of standing directly next to the shamed MP Guido cannot understand…
Claudia Webbe’s parliamentary career hasn’t even begun cooling, yet Labour has already begun preparing for a very likely Leicester East by-election. Campaign plans forwarded to Guido show the party intents a weekend push in the constituency, asking members to “spare an hour or two over the next week”:
“We need your help to speak to voters over Leicester East about the issues that matter most to them.
Don’t worry if you have never done any door knocking before – full training by friendly Labour faces will be provided”.
The party’s planning nine campaigning sessions totalling around 20 hours across this Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Guido wonders what Keith Vaz’s weekend plans are looking like…
Following the guilty verdict and a warning from the judge that she could face a prison sentence, Labour has officially called for Webbe to quit her seat, which would trigger a by-election. Webbe is protesting her innocence and has made clear that she plans to continue as an MP. “While I’m preparing for the appeal I want to assure the people of Leicester East that I will continue to stand up for them in parliament, fighting on their behalf,” she says, meaning she will continue to collect her £6,827-a-month salary during the months she is on bail awaiting her appeal date. Keith Vaz, however, doesn’t think she will win the appeal and is working to reclaim the seat she took off him after he was disgraced. What have the people of Leicester East done to deserve these rogues?
Vaz has been campaigning hard for the nomination as the Labour Party’s Leicester East candidate, maintaining an office in the constituency which has been full with people out the door all hours; he’s summoning activists one-by-one in preparation for a by-election with himself as candidate. His message is “it’s either me or lose the seat”. One source tells Guido “the interesting thing is he’s been summoning people since Monday, it’s like he knew all along Claudia would be found guilty.” More likely, he was hoping.
Guido is told that Vaz has 2 unofficial constituency offices in Leicester – one on Melton Road and one on Uppingham Road. They are staffed, yet we do not know how they are funded, they compete with Webbe’s own constituency office. The Uppingham Road office Vaz has had in operation for 2 years, since Sunday night it’s had a queue outside to get in, he’s summoning all the Labour members that he controls – they call him “boss” – to further his reselection with the argument “because of her we will lose all this hard work and our representation”, he’s expected to feign an “I didn’t want to do it again but the members selected me, what can I do” stance.
If Labour make the seat an all women shortlist seat, he has his daughter lined up to succeed Claudia. If Starmer bites the bullet and gets the NEC to select a candidate – on emergency grounds – Vaz is explicitly saying they will lose the seat and implicitly hinting he might stand as an independent, guaranteeing Labour lost the seat. If Starmer allows Vaz to be the candidate it will stink of corruption and old fashioned machine politics. The Tories last won the seat in 1983…
Claudia Webbe told the court:
“I am not mad, I am a Member of Parliament.”