Former Conservative attorney general Dominic Grieve leaves No.10 Downing Street earlier this year. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Dominic Grieve warns Cameron that anti-terrorism plan would breach UK law

Former Tory attorney general says proposal to prevent British terror suspects from returning home would "offend basic principles of our own common law". 

After several days of coalition negotiations, David Cameron has just delivered his Commons statement on how the government plans to fill what he described as "the gaps" in Britain's anti-terrorism armoury. As expected, he announced that the police would given the "temporary power" to seize passports at the border (currently they can only be removed by the Home Office). But he also went further and promised to explore a new "targeted, discretionary power" to prevent British terrorist suspects from returning to the UK and to reintroduce "relocation powers", which the government earlier abolished. 

In response, in a largely supportive reply, Ed Miliband criticised Cameron for "the mistake" of scrapping Control Orders in 2011, which allowed the police to relocate suspects. It is worth noting, however, that even in their tougher form, the government's TPIMs (Terrorism Investigation and Prevention Measures) remain less draconian than the measures they replaced.  

But the most notable moment came when former Tory attorney general Dominic Grieve, who was sacked in the recent cabinet reshuffle, warned that Cameron's plan to prevent British nationals from returning would breach both international law and UK law. He said: 

I do share concerns that have been expressed that the suggestion British nationals, however horribly they may be alleged to have behaved, should be prevented from returning to this country. Not only does it offend principles of international law, it would actually offend basic principles of our own common law as well.

He added: "The best course is to bring these individuals to justice". In response, while agreeing that it was best to prosecute people where possible, Cameron insisted that the most important thing was to address the "gaps" in the government's powers. While earlier promising cross-party talks on the issue, he offered no indication of how he would overcome Grieve's objection. 

After his forced departure, owing to his strong support for the European Convention on Human Rights, the former attorney general is emerging as a fierce critic of Cameron's approach. He recently warned that allowing parliament to overrule the ECHR would be "not dissimilar from Putin using the Duma to ratify his annexation of the Crimea". With Cameron likely to make human rights reform one of the centrepieces of the Tory conference, Grieve will be a useful ally for Labour and the Lib Dems. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Theresa May’s stage-managed election campaign keeps the public at bay

Jeremy Corbyn’s approach may be chaotic, but at least it’s more authentic.

The worst part about running an election campaign for a politician? Having to meet the general public. Those ordinary folk can be a tricky lot, with their lack of regard for being on-message, and their pesky real-life concerns.

But it looks like Theresa May has decided to avoid this inconvenience altogether during this snap general election campaign, as it turns out her visit to Leeds last night was so stage-managed that she barely had to face the public.

Accusations have been whizzing around online that at a campaign event at the Shine building in Leeds, the Prime Minister spoke to a room full of guests invited by the party, rather than local people or people who work in the building’s office space.

The Telegraph’s Chris Hope tweeted a picture of the room in which May was addressing her audience yesterday evening a little before 7pm. He pointed out that, being in Leeds, she was in “Labour territory”:

But a few locals who spied this picture online claimed that the audience did not look like who you’d expect to see congregated at Shine – a grade II-listed Victorian school that has been renovated into a community project housing office space and meeting rooms.

“Ask why she didn’t meet any of the people at the business who work in that beautiful building. Everyone there was an invite-only Tory,” tweeted Rik Kendell, a Leeds-based developer and designer who says he works in the Shine building. “She didn’t arrive until we’d all left for the day. Everyone in the building past 6pm was invite-only . . . They seemed to seek out the most clinical corner for their PR photos. Such a beautiful building to work in.”

Other tweeters also found the snapshot jarring:

Shine’s founders have pointed out that they didn’t host or invite Theresa May – rather the party hired out the space for a private event: “All visitors pay for meeting space in Shine and we do not seek out, bid for, or otherwise host any political parties,” wrote managing director Dawn O'Keefe. The guestlist was not down to Shine, but to the Tory party.

The audience consisted of journalists and around 150 Tory activists, according to the Guardian. This was instead of employees from the 16 offices housed in the building. I have asked the Conservative Party for clarification of who was in the audience and whether it was invite-only and am awaiting its response.

Jeremy Corbyn accused May of “hiding from the public”, and local Labour MP Richard Burgon commented that, “like a medieval monarch, she simply briefly relocated her travelling court of admirers to town and then moved on without so much as a nod to the people she considers to be her lowly subjects”.

But it doesn’t look like the Tories’ painstaking stage-management is a fool-proof plan. Having uniform audiences of the party faithful on the campaign trail seems to be confusing the Prime Minister somewhat. During a visit to a (rather sparsely populated) factory in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, yesterday, she appeared to forget where exactly on the campaign trail she was:

The management of Corbyn’s campaign has also resulted in gaffes – but for opposite reasons. A slightly more chaotic approach has led to him facing the wrong way, with his back to the cameras.

Corbyn’s blunder is born out of his instinct to address the crowd rather than the cameras – May’s problem is the other way round. Both, however, seem far more comfortable talking to the party faithful, even if they are venturing out of safe seat territory.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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