Tories split over whether they should seek post-election merger with Reform UK – UK politics live

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an interview with GB News yesterday, Emily Thornberry, the shadow attorney general, implied she was not bothered by the prospect of the policy leading to parents taking their children out of private schools and putting them in the state sector instead, driving class sizes up.

Thornberry said that some state schools had vacancies and could accommodate extra pupils. But she went on:

And if we have to, in the short term, have larger classes, we have larger classes.

This morning Phillipson said Thornberry was wrong because she was not making allowance for the fact that a fall in the number pupils enrolling in schools meant this would not be a problem. She told Times Radio:

I am afraid [what Thornberry said] just wasn’t right.

Actually what we are seeing across the state sector is a falling number of pupils in our classrooms because of the falling birth rate, and there are fewer young people arriving at school.

So, actually, we are going to be in the position pretty soon – and it is already the case in places like London – where schools are merging and closing because of falling numbers.

Rishi Sunak had left D-day commemorations early, but insisted the prime minister would recover politically from the mistake, Peter Walker reports.

the polls make it impossible for any sane Tory to believe for a moment they have any chance of staying in power after 4 July, the debate is focused on where they go in opposition, and Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, has kicked off a row by suggesting the party should work with Nigel Farage and his Reform UK. In an interview with the Times, “she said that the Tories should find a way to merge with Reform UK because ‘we shouldn’t be divided on this side of the political spectrum’,” Matt Dathan and Chris Smyth report in their story. Braverman told the paper:

We need to, in the future, to find some way to work together because there shouldn’t be big differences between us. I would welcome Nigel into the Conservative party. There’s not much difference really between him and many of the policies that we stand for.

We are a broad church, we should be a welcoming party and an inclusive party and if someone is supportive of the party, that’s a precondition and they want Conservatives to get elected then they should be welcomed.

But on Radio 4’s Westminster Hour last night, Robert Buckland, the former justice secretary, said he was strongly opposed to the idea. Buckland

Nigel Farage wants to see the destruction of the Conservative party. He has said that very often. He’s not a Conservative.

In fact, he’s a very European-style of politician. He’s not a very British politician at all. It’s a one-man band, this Reform outfit, and he fits much more, I think, the populist mould of politicians in other countries not too far away. He’s much more of a Poujadist than a Conservative. We are a broad church, but we’re not an Amazon warehouse.

I’ll post more on this as the day goes on. Here is what is coming up.

Morning: Keir Starmer and Bridget Phillispon, the shadow education secretary, are on a visit in the West Midlands as Labour say they plan to create more than 100,000 new nursery places.

10am: Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, co-leaders of the Scottish Green party, speak at a campaign launch in Stirling.

Morning: Rishi Sunak is on a vist in West Sussex where he is due to speak to reporters.

11am: Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, launches his party’s manifesto at an event in London.

12pm: Nigel Farage, the Reform UK leader, holds a press conference.

Afternoon: John Swinney, the SNP leader and Scottish first minister, is on a campaign visit in Glasgow.

8pm: The BBC broadcasts an interview with Rishi Sunak conducted by Nick Robinson.

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