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Raab Repeats Call for U.S.-Iran De-Escalation: U.K. Update

Lucy Meakin

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The U.K. has repeated its call for de-escalation between the U.S. and Iran after the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns from his Christmas vacation. Meanwhile in domestic politics, the lineup for the coming contest to lead the opposition Labour Party became clearer, after front-runner Keir Starmer formally declared he’ll stand.

Read more: Trump Ramps Up Iran Rhetoric as De-Escalation Vow Quickly Fades

Key Developments:

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urges the U.S. and Iran to avoid warKeir Starmer formally begins run to lead Labour PartyHigh Speed Rail inquiry member issues dissenting report

Starmer Attacks ‘Irrational’ Trump on Iran (10 a.m.)

Labour front-runner Keir Starmer criticized the government’s response to Iran, describing Trump’s order as “the unilateral act of an irrational and erratic president.”“We cannot blindly follow the Americans into what could well turn out to be a war in the Middle East,” he told the BBC. “We’ve done this before and it’s the wrong place to go.”

Phillips: Open to Rejoining EU After Brexit (9:50 a.m.)

Labour leadership hopeful Jess Phillips told the BBC that the contest now “has got to be about whether the Labour party can speak and connect and be trusted by the public.” While she didn’t explicitly commit to pulling back on some of its pre-election pledges such as free broadband for everyone, she said that it “just wasn’t believable” at a time when essential services are struggling with funding.

Phillips, who opposes leaving the European Union, also refused to rule out rejoining in future if the economic case was compelling. “If our country is safer, if it is more economically viable to be in the EU, then I will fight for that regardless of how difficult that argument is to make.”

High Speed Rail Inquiry Member Dissents (9:20 a.m.)

Tony Berkeley, who was deputy chairman of the review into Britain’s High Speed 2 rail project to link London with the north of England, has issued a dissenting report -- before the official one is published -- attacking the proposal. “The project is completely out of control financially,” he told Sky News, saying the figures had been fiddled to justify it.

While his attack will give succor to many Conservatives who oppose HS2, it suggests that the review, which Johnson commissioned, is going to come out in favor of the line.

Nandy Says Labour Disconnected From Voters (9:15 a.m.)

Lisa Nandy, who is running for the Labour leadership, told Sky News that “there is definitely a disconnect between the hierarchy of the Labour Party and the people of the country and towns like mine.” Nandy said her voters in Wigan, Northwest England, felt they “lacked the means to effect change in their own lives,” and that the party’s response had been “paternalistic.”

Raab Repeats Calls for De-Escalation (8:50 a.m.)

U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab reiterated his calls for de-escalation following the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Speaking in an interview on Sky News, Raab said: “De-escalation is necessary and absolutely essential. I don’t think anyone would benefit from a war in the Middle East. The only people who would benefit is the terrorists.”

Raab said he has a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo scheduled for next week, and will also speak with his French and German counterparts. Responding to criticism of Boris Johnson, who has remained on holiday during the crisis, Raab said that the prime minister is “in charge” and has been in constant contact throughout his trip.

Even so, Raab said he understood why the reasons behind the attack. Soleimani “was a regional menace and we understand the position that the Americans found themselves in. They have a right to exercise self defense.”

Earlier:

Trump Ramps Up Iran Rhetoric as De-Escalation Vow Quickly Fades

Keir Starmer Starts Campaign to Succeed Corbyn as Labour Leader

Jess Phillips Starts Bid to Win U.K. Labour Party Leadership (2)

To contact the reporter on this story: Lucy Meakin in London at lmeakin1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Robert Hutton, Marion Dakers

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