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Boris Johnson most senior minister while PM is away

Boris Johnson is currently the most senior duty minister in Whitehall. Credit: Niklas Halle'n / PA Wire

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is currently the most senior duty minister in Whitehall while Theresa May is on holiday, Downing Street has said.

Johnson takes over from Chancellor Philip Hammond who was the senior duty minister last week when the Prime Minister began her annual walking holiday in Switzerland.

However, a Number 10 spokesman stressed that Mrs May still remains in charge of the government even though she is out of the country.

The Prime Minister is very much in charge and is constantly kept abreast of what is going on.

– Number 10 spokesman

Dame Margaret Beckett: New Labour members just 'Corbyn fans'

Labour stalwart Dame Margaret Beckett has said many of the people who have recently joined Labour because of leader Jeremy Corbyn are not members of the party, but "of a fan club".

Dame Margaret said Corbyn supporters are turning Labour into a 'fan club' Credit: Gareth Fuller / PA Archive

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Dame Margaret said "vast numbers" of new Labour members do not care about the party and some would be happy to see it split.

In principle everyone should be happy that more people are wanting to join the party, as long as it is the Labour Party they're wanting to join.

We have had examples of people saying 'I want to join the Labour Party because of Jeremy but of course if he ceases to be the leader I shall leave'. Those are not members of the Labour Party, those are members of a fan club.

It's perfectly nice and legitimate thing to be a member of a fan club and they may get a great deal of satisfaction from it but that doesn't mean you belong to the Labour Party and I'll be sorry to think that vast numbers of those people in fact do not really want to be in the Labour Party, they just want to support Jeremy.

– Dame Margaret Beckett

She urged members to carefully consider how they vote in the upcoming ballot, insisting the contest between Corbyn and Owen Smith was not about punishing the embattled "saint".

She said: "This is not about persecuting some innocent little saint who happens to have become the leader of the Labour Party.

"This is about whether or not we have an alternative to the present Government which otherwise will be set free to wreck people's lives, as I fear that they will."

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson claimed that "Trotsky entryists" were infiltrating the party to boost Corbyn's support.

More than 130,000 new members have joined the party in the last six months.


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