Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer agreed to halt campaigning for next month’s local elections until after the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.
The Prime Minister was informed of the duke’s death while working in Downing Street yesterday morning. He called the Labour leader to agree the suspension.
Campaigning in the elections for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly has also been halted and Downing Street has imposed a near blackout on government announcements. Parliament has been recalled from the Easter break on Monday, a day early, to allow MPs to pay tribute to the duke.
Government sources said only ‘essential’ announcements would be made, mostly linked to the pandemic.
No10 said the next stage of the road map out of lockdown will go ahead as planned on Monday, allowing shops, gyms, hairdressers and beauty salons to reopen.
Pubs and restaurants will also be allowed to reopen for outdoor service. The Prime Minister had said this week that he would be visiting a pub on Monday and ‘cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips’ to mark the latest stage in the road map. But No 10 said last night the trip would now be cancelled.
Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer spoke this afternoon and agreed to suspend campaigning ahead of elections in May
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip watching a flypast of Spitfire & Hurricane aircraft on July 10, 2015
Ministers have been ordered to cancel media interviews in the coming days and will not appear on the normal Sunday morning political shows.
Senior ministers were also issued with guidance on how to conduct themselves.
Any ministerial announcements will have to be cleared by No10. Cabinet ministers attending public engagements have been advised to wear dark clothes, with male ministers asked to wear a black tie.
The guidance is part of the Operation Forth Bridge plans for the duke’s death.
Downing Street said arrangements for the funeral were ‘a matter for the Palace’. But sources confirmed that it would be covered by Covid regulations, which limit the number attending to 30.
Mr Johnson will make a statement to MPs on Monday about Prince Philip’s death and will lead tributes to his life. Sir Keir is expected to respond for the Labour Party.
Parliament will sit until 10pm but sources said tributes could run into Tuesday if time runs out.
Prime Minister’s Questions will take place as normal on Wednesday but will probably also be dominated by the duke’s death.
A man thought to be a member of the armed forces stands to attention at Buckingham Palace after leaving a floral tribute
Buckingham Palace announced the death of Prince Philip at just after midday today – and described the Queen’s ‘deep sorrow’
The Labour Party said: ‘As a mark of respect following the sad death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Labour Party has today suspended all campaigning.’
Amanda Milling, co-chairman of the Conservative Party, tweeted: ‘In light of the sad news from Buckingham Palace all campaigning has been paused until further notice.’
Sir Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: ‘As a mark of respect to the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen and the Royal Family, the Liberal Democrats are suspending the national election campaign today.’
Scotland’s major political parties have suspended campaigning for the Holyrood election.
The SNP tweeted: ‘We have suspended our election campaign with immediate effect.’
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said: ‘This is not the time for political campaigning. It is a time for national mourning.
‘Out of respect for Prince Philip, Her Majesty The Queen and all of the Royal Family, we have now suspended our campaign until Monday.’
The Cabinet met last night to pay tribute to Philip and MPs on all sides released statements paying their condolences.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faced criticism after his initial response to the duke’s death was to tweet a message in ‘solidarity’ with socialists in Bolivia.
Mr Corbyn, a lifelong republican, later deleted the message and posted a tribute, saying: ‘Losing a loved one, as so many families have this past year, is always heartbreaking. My thoughts are with Prince Philip’s family and all who loved him.’
Staff of some Labour MPs exchanged messages complaining that Monday’s Commons tributes to the duke would be ‘intolerable’, the Guido Fawkes website claimed.